This is fifteen random but chronological moments from the life of Emmé Harwood, who is, quite literally, the second handmaiden in the third training class of potential handmaidens chosen from amon...
01.) Blood: She cannot remember her blood family, the Naldonas, at all: except for her and her baby brother, Davin, the Naldona family was taken by a rather virulent flu virus that apparently was brought to their fair world by an ill frigate pilot (who unfortunately did not quite manage to kill himself in crashing into a part of the Kwilaan Starport) when Davin was barely two months old and she was not quite two and a half, and their only living close blood relation was a first cousin of their father’s who also succumbed to the sickness, less than a month after taking them in, so the Harwoods – a kindly older couple who happened to have a summer retreat home by Lake Varum practically next door to where their cousin, Dhabis Naldona, made his home, on the outskirts of Keren, and who took her and her brother in after Dhabis’ untimely death, fostering them gladly and only failing to adopt them legally because they were just past the age when the state generally allows such adoptions to take place when the ones involved are not in some way related by blood or by marriage – have been her family as long as she can remember, and she and her brother both chose to adopt the Harwood surname as their own, whether it was entirely legal to do so or not.
02.) Broach: The Harwoods are comfortably upper-middle-class and their own three children are grown and married and comfortably settled, so the Harwoods have felt free to make arrangements to see to it that she and her brother will inherit essentially all of their estate (except of course for some keepsakes that are being left to their children and grandchildren), which is the only reason why she finally feels brave enough to broach the subject of applying for one of the handmaiden positions for the new Queen, as she knows that Davin will be well taken care of no matter what may or may not happen to her.
03.) Proud: Ullamé and Dallone don’t particularly approve of the amount of danger she’ll be in, as a handmaiden, but they’re proud of her for wanting to serve, and Davin is practically fit to burst, he’s so proud of her and thrilled at the notion that she’ll be working in the royal court and protecting the Queen, so she gets an application together and submits it, and then waits breathlessly to hear back from the Palace.
04.) Like: She’s basically of age with the Queen (only a few months older), is brunette and fair-complexioned and somewhat petite and slender of build, like the Queen, and she’s smart enough that she’s been able to get a degree in political science and diplomacy with an emphasis in comparative law that’s almost enough to yield her another degree in law itself, so she’s not too worried about her chances of being rejected, as a potential handmaiden candidate, even if her eyes do have as much green in them as they do amber and her nose is both longer and straighter and her mouth is much fuller than the Queen’s and her brown hair is naturally straight and does have somewhat reddish highlights and her face is both rounder and softer of features than the Queen’s, not to mention probably as close to an oval in overall shape as it is to being heart-shaped, so that she really doesn’t look all that much like Amidala at all (except maybe from behind), save for in the most vague of senses.
05.) Offer: She missed the cut-off dates for the first two groups but managed to submit her application in time to be the second to receive an offer for the third training class, and, though she will miss her little brother dreadfully and worry about the Harwoods while she is gone, she’s so excited at the prospect of doing something to help make a difference in the world that she packs her things and heads to the Palace as soon as she’s able, even though it means she will be there for over three days before they plan on gathering up the class and transporting them to wherever it is that most of their physical training will occur.
06.) Flame: Amidala is even more lovely and gracious and good and kind and caring and charismatic in person than Emmé ever could have possibly imagined or believed – a true living flame of a woman, as she later hears one of her fellow handmaiden trainees remark, shedding light and warmth and illuminating and drawing out the good in everyone she meets – and Emmé feels honored and humbled just by the thought of being considered worthy enough to act as a guardian and chosen companion for such a Queen, especially after she has seen with her own eyes how very much her principal handmaidens (especially Sabé, her primary decoy, who is one of the unofficial heads of the whole handmaiden program) so obviously and whole-heartedly adore Amidala.
07.) Special: She’s not the first in her class to have arrived at the Palace: a young girl by the name of Dormé Tammesin (who looks eerily like Amidala and Sabé, though to be fair her hair is perhaps half a shade darker and she is yet young enough that she may not have finished growing and so could conceivably end up not looking nearly so much like her Queen, when she has finally grown into herself fully) has preceded her, and, though she gathers that the Queen had not known this girl before, personally, she can tell that the Queen thinks she is something special (and not just because the girl will likely be one of her decoys) from the amount of time she and Sabé make to speak with her, and it makes Emmé powerfully curious about the girl.
08.) Unsuitable: There is a girl in their training class who strikes her quite obviously as being untrustworthy and unsuitable for the life of a handmaiden, and, for the life of her, she cannot understand why the rest of the whole class can’t see it, too, or what Captain Panaka could have been thinking, to believe that this Rosé Ganesa would be a suitable handmaiden for the Queen.
09.) Over: They’re hardly at Varykino at all before they’re recalled to the Palace for duty, and things begin to happen so very rapidly, then, that it isn’t until nearly a month later, when it’s all over with and the Trade Federation and its droid armies are all gone, that she really has enough time and space and energy to even try to process it all.
10.) Blind: She would have to be blind not to see that the Queen and Sabé both have fallen in love with that heroic young Jedi who slew the Sith, and she has to wonder what kind of horribly depersonalizing training he must have gone through, to be able to be so intelligent and so perceptive of other people and yet to so obviously think so little of himself that he is so plainly oblivious even to the idea that someone could think highly enough of him and care so much about him as to truly love him that he cannot see how devoted Amidala and Sabé are to him.
11.) Obscene: They lost so many handmaidens during and just after the Trade Federation’s invasion and occupation of Naboo that it seems somehow obscene that the danger for the Queen could actually manage to increase rather than decrease, once the planet is safely theirs again, but the Trade Federation obviously does not care to be thwarted, and, too, there is the possibility of at least one more Sith Lord out there, somewhere, furious and vengeful over having had either an apprentice or a Master (though she rather suspects that it was an apprentice) slain and a scheme ruined, so perhaps it isn’t so surprising, after all, that there should be so many attempts on the Queen’s life, now that the danger is supposed to be past.
12.) Close: She and one of the older girls in her original training class, Betté Steadhart, have been close ever since that brief week of intense physical training at Varykino, and so perhaps Emmé should not have been so surprised to be caught up in an all but crushingly tight embrace and kissed breathless, after yet another assassination attempt on the Queen’s life that happened to result in Emmé being slightly singed by too close of a blaster bolt, but she’s just so used to thinking of herself as one of the few unpartnered handmaidens that it simply hadn’t ever occurred to her that she might not remain so forever.
13.) Lost: Two years after the Trade Federation crisis they are still having to deal with at least one serious assassination attempt a month, and they’ve lost so many of the newer handmaidens that, on her more cynical, tired days, she’s starting to seriously wonder if she should even bother trying to learn their names and be friendly with them, for hardly any of them (aside from a few random individuals from each new class) seem to last more than a few weeks or months before being cut down, and her heart aches with the weight of grief she’s being forced to carry around for them all.
14.) Poison: It should not have happened this way – the poison gas should have taken her and Betté both, instead of just taking her beloved and damaging her lungs and nervous system so badly that not even the best of all of the Queen’s most renown Healers can take away her tendency towards asthma or occasional erratic bouts of uncontrollable tremors and spasms – and, if it were not for the loving care of her fellow handmaidens, who are as sisters to her, she is not sure that she could have stood it, to survive, thus.
15.) Service: Dormé arranged for her to be transferred from active duty as a handmaiden at court to active duty as an instructor at Varykino in court protocol and etiquette as well as the niceties of Nabooian law and customs, and she is there for only a few months before she catches a saboteur trying to plant a bomb in the girls’ dormitory: it’s a close thing, but she’s at least as good a shot as the traitor, and so, as she lays dying, she at least has the grim pleasure of contemplating the fact that she’s removed one more serious threat to the Queen . . . and that she managed to survive just over three and a half years of service before she finally failed to be quick enough to save herself, and Betté, who she will be joining soon, will no doubt be incredibly proud of her, for that . . .