Padme has no idea how Obi-Wan does it, spending every day with Anakin without going mad. When Anakin is gone, she can pretend everything is fine.
But now, he is very much here, happily cooking what smells like her and Obi-Wan's favourite foods, and everything is very much not fine.
He bustles around the kitchen while Padme, curled up in a chair in the living room, pretends to read.
He'll be here soon, and then they'll have to spend several hours acting normally without the distraction of other people.
The three have attended functions together, especially since Palpatine's interest in Anakin.
But at those dinners and galas, there are always other people to talk to, who act as a buffer - between her and Anakin with their secret marriage, between her and Obi-Wan with their affair,
between all three of them with this extremely messed up situation. One they made happen.
It isn't like it was intentional, at least not in the beginning. An accidental touch here, a too-long glance there and all it took was one moment of weakness.
Her niece Ryoo was sick and Sola was worried out of her mind. Padme wanted to go and visit but was swamped at work with a wave of new legislation.
She didn't want to burden Anakin because he had an even more difficult job on top of the fact that he was still mourning his mother.
Which is how Obi-Wan found her crying in her office one evening, long after everyone else had gone home.
He rushed to her side. "Padme! What's wrong?"
"Obi-Wan, no, it's -" she tried to wipe the tears from her cheeks, smearing makeup. "I'm alright."
He knelt beside her chair and put a hand on her arm. "Well, clearly you're not alright."
She sniffled a little and wiped her nose on her sleeve.
"What is it?" His tone was gentle and warm.
"Ryoo is sick," she said finally, voice scratchy. "My parents say she'll be fine, it's just a childhood illness, but Sola is out of her mind with worry. And I -" She hiccupped.
"I've been away from her so much because of my work, I've missed so much of her life. I just wish I could be there for her with things like this."
He didn't say anything, just let her ramble on.
"And it's not just about Ryoo being sick. I was two weeks late for her birth, and I guess I just thought that going there now would at least start to make up for it."
"I'm sure she doesn't blame you for any of that. Your family is proud of what you do," Obi-Wan said. He took her hand, thumb gently stroking it.
"There are sacrifices you had to make - sacrifices everyone has to make, depending on what they decide to do with their lives - and your family understands that I'm sure."
She nodded, finally looking at him. His light eyes were full of empathy and understanding, and something else she couldn't quite name in that moment.
She pulled her hand gently out of Obi-Wan's so she could wipe her face again. When she saw the traces of makeup on her fingers, she laughed a little. "I must look like a disaster!"
Obi-Wan just smiled gently. "Not at all." There it was again, that something that softened his tone, that sent a strange shudder down through Padme's chest and stomach.
He rose and held out his hand to her. "You look as lovely as ever," he said as she took it and stood.
She did not let go of his hand, because it made her feel so steady and sure. She wasn't sure what to say to him.
She always put on such a strong face, that he was now on the very short list of people who had seen her cry since the beginning of her term as queen so long ago.
She just squeezed his hand tightly and said, "Thank you."
"Anytime you need someone to confide in," he said. "You can come to me."
She pulled him into a hug, standing on her toes to wrap her arms around his neck. His arms were firm and strong around her.
It was nice.
It was more than nice, much more than she cared to admit.
Neither pulled out of the hug all the way, lingering inches apart.
With hitching breaths and searching eyes they each waited for the other to make a move - either closing the distance or pulling away.
She still isn't sure who leaned in first, just that before she knew it, his mouth was on hers.
Of course they pulled away quickly, because Anakin, stumbling away from each other, because Anakin, shocked stares turning to guilty fixations with the carpet, because oh my god, Anakin.
"I'm sorry," Obi-Wan said. Maybe he had leaned in first.
Or maybe she had. "No, I shouldn't have -" She pressed a hand to her mouth and looked back at Obi-Wan as the weight of it all bore down on her. "What have we done?"
"Nothing," he said quickly. "If we don't talk about it, we can..."
"Pretend it didn't happen?" She was doubtful but the way Obi-Wan nodded, she wanted to believe it.
And, true to their word, they didn't talk about it. In fact, they very rarely spoke at all when they were together, in empty offices and Coruscanti hotel rooms under fake names.
A knock on the door makes Padme jump.
"Can you get it, babe?" Anakin calls.
"Of course." Padme closes her book, rises and walks to the door, all at a normal speed.
Obi-Wan, dressed down from his full robes, holds a bottle and smiles congenially. "Padme!" he says.
"Obi-Wan!" she matches his tone. "Come in, come in!"
They are the epitome of hostess and guest. Obi-Wan offers her the wine and she tells him he shouldn't have. He says it was no trouble and she accepts it with a laugh.
Then she offers to take over stirring for Anakin so he and Obi-Wan can sit down, but he won't hear it.
"You know what happens when you come near a stove, Padme." He shoos them into the living room. "It'll be done in a few minutes."
They sit on the long couch, a person-sized space between them.
Obi-Wan asks what's been keeping her busy at work lately and they manage to fill the long minutes discussing the lunar proxy wars in the Outer Rim.
When Anakin calls them to the table, he stands behind Padme's chair, hand on her shoulder, as he describes the meal.
"Geng Zhi with Tanlan Sauce for Obi-Wan and Krucurant Stuffed Bread for you, my dear."
Padme smiles with surprise. "Krucurant?" She looks up at him.
"I may or may not have been secretly in contact with your mother to learn how to make that." And he kisses her, briefly, sweetly, because he's happy. He's happy that he's made her happy.
And because they don't have to hide with Obi-Wan.
"The first few attempts didn't smell this good," Obi-Wan says with a smile. "Believe me."
They look at each other for a moment and an image of Obi-Wan watching Anakin work hard to learn to cook one of her favourite childhood dishes flashes across her mind.
It makes her want to break into pieces and crumble to the floor.
"Well, dig in guys!" Anakin sits down and begins to dish out the food.