set in the The Senator's Wife au universe.
Takes place 15 years after 'Revenge of the Sith'
The party is everything Leia expected it
to be – which is exactly why she didn’t want to come.
The music is deafeningly loud. Bodies
pack every millimeter of available
space. Despite the fact that almost
everyone present is close to Leia's age of fifteen, alcohol and other
potent diversions are readily available.
When she gets
with someone else's beverage for at least the tenth time, Leia finally
her limit. “I’m leaving,” she shouts in
Jori’s general direction.
He frowns at her. “Huh?”
Leia is struck yet again by how handsome he is.
He's somewhat on the short side, but that
hardly matters. His curly dark hair and
bright green eyes captivate her almost as much as his smile. And still, he isn't worth enduring this
Leia points to
and then the door. She turns on her heel
without waiting to see if Jori is following.
She likes him but this isn’t her idea of a good time. She doesn’t particularly like Neesah Visht or
the group of spoiled uber-rich girls with whom she surrounds herself. They’ve always been nice enough to Leia, but
she watches them. She sees the cruelty
they display to other girls who are too weak or shy or defend
themselves. Leia is breaking curfew to be
here with Jori
and while she enjoys his company, she’s not having near enough fun to
how much trouble she will be in come morning.
Leia makes her
of the gargantuan penthouse owned by the Visht family with Jori on her
heels. Outside the main entrance is a
sprawling rooftop arboretum. The party
spilled outside and there is a raging bonfire ringed by several dozen
Some of the
dance around the fire, showing off for the girls. One
of them is obviously pretending to be the
Emperor’s henchman, Vader. Draped in a
black cloak that obscures his face, he talks in a rasping voice. Leia considers the joke to be in particularly
bad taste. One of the girls seated
nearby, Inarra Deloaria is dumbstruck as she watches the display.
Over the last
Inarra's family experienced a meteoric rise in power and wealth thanks
certain biotechnologies pioneered by Inarra's mother.
It catapulted them into the stratosphere of
Coruscant's social elite. However, as a
counterpoint to his bookish and driven wife, Inarra's father is
his overindulgence in wine and women.
The man apparently ran afoul of Lord Vader at a recent Imperial
In a matter of
Inarra's family was stripped of most of their status and money. Leia noticed how quickly Neesah's circle of
friends cooled toward Inarra. Leia is
quite shocked that Inarra is even at this party and she finds it
cruel of the boy to ridicule Inarra so openly.
bonfire. Jori grabs her arm attempting
to pull her back, but she shrugs him off.
"Stop it!" she yells at the boy pretending to be Vader.
The boy pulls
black hood and scowls at Leia.
"What's your problem?" he demands.
and pull Leia away, but she ignores him.
"It's not funny," she informs the boy.
Inarra jumps to
feet, glaring at Leia. "I don't
need help," she bites out.
"Especially from you."
Leia stares at
shocked. It's true the two were never
close, but Leia has no idea what she did to offend Inarra.
"I was only trying to help," Leia
"I don't need
from the daughter of a whore!"
Leia opens her
but before she can reply, Jori succeeds in pulling her away from the
and ushering her toward the turbolift.
Leia lets him. She is stunned,
hurt, confused. They enter the turbolift
and Jori pushes the floor for the pedestrian mall.
Leia stares at him blankly.
"That was really
uncalled for," Jori says quietly.
"Inarra shouldn't have said that.
You were only trying to help."
"What was she
talking about?" Leia whispers.
Jori shrugs and
away. He finally meets Leia's gaze again
and seems genuinely shocked that she is still watching him expectantly. "Are you serious?" he asks.
"You really don't know?"
what?" Leia demands, her confusion morphing into anger.
Jori opens his
but doesn't speak. He's saved by the
turbolift door opening and he quickly exits the lift.
Leia follows him, glaring. He
starts walking toward the public transport
stop, ignoring Leia's pointed expression.
"You're going to
tell me," Leia informs him.
walking and turns to face Leia.
"It's nothing," he says uncomfortably. "You
rumors?" Leia asks darkly. She is
quickly tiring of having to ask him time and time again.
defeat. "Your mom," he says
quietly. "But you know how it
goes. People get jealous and suspicious
and they make things up."
his words. "What about my
he says uncomfortably. "That she,
uh, she … you know. It's
Leia. A rumor. People
lie all the time. I mean it's probably not
even possible. No one even knows if
Vader's even human under
repeats incredulously. Then it
clicks. "Vader and my
mother?” she yells, aghast. “That's a
"Hey look, I
didn't make it up, okay," Jori says, backpedaling.
"Besides, I thought you knew."
would I know? It's not something I
talk about around the
dinner table with my mother and my father
and my sister and brothers."
Jori holds his
in surrender. "Don't shoot the
Leia is still
but she forces herself to calm down.
Crossing her arms over her chest, she stares at Jori. "What else do you know?
He shrugs. "I heard Inarra's dad made a pass at
your mom at some Imperial dinner," he says.
"And that means
mom is having an affair with Vader?"
Leia stammers incredulously. "It's
a lie. A sad, pathetic lie.
My mom and my dad have been married for
years. They're very happy."
convinced, but he is far too bright to push the issue with Leia. "I didn't say it was true.
I just said it's what I heard."
she turns and stalks toward the public transport stop.
This night is so not worth getting grounded
to escort her to the door. She is far
too upset and she needs some time alone.
The fates must take pity on her because she is able to sneak
apartment without running into either of her parents.
Tiptoeing, she makes her way through the
apartment and out onto the sprawling veranda.
Curling up on one of the curved couches, she stares out at the
Vader. Leia’s mind
immediately, reflexively shuns the idea.
But she persists. She forces
herself to think about him, to consider Inarra’s cruel taunt as well as
information. Vader is the boogeyman, the
Emperor’s terrifying beast. He’s a
creature and Leia knows for a fact she has never considered if he is
human. She’s never met him, never seen
him up close. She knows his voice rasps
because everyone knows his voice rasps, but she has never actually
with her own ears.
Her mother and
Vader? The idea is so repulsive, so
hurtful that she doesn’t even want to think about it.
Her mother loves her father. Her
parents are happy.
But at the back
mind are the niggling rumors she has ignored for years.
None of them ever mentioned Vader, but she
knows people have questioned her mother’s devotion to her father. Leia has always shrugged it off, denying any
possibility of truth.
And yet …
She looks like
mother, everyone says so and Leia would be the first to agree. But Luke …
He looks nothing like their father.
Where their father is tall, Luke is short. Where
their father is swarthy, Luke is
fair. And while it is most evident with
Luke, the truth is none of the Organa children particularly resemble
father. Ten year old Annaé is tall,
willow thin with long curling golden blonde hair and eyes the same pure
Luke’s. Ru, the youngest at eight, shows
signs that he may one day be as tall as their father.
His hair is the same chestnut brown as both
Padmé and Leia’s, but his eyes are a cool, mossy green.
It wounds Leia
to even consider the idea that there is any truth to the vicious rumors. How could it be true? She
has fifteen years of happy memories as
evidence to the contrary. Family
vacations spent in Naboo’s lake country, holiday mornings in front of a
fire in Aldera
there are scores upon scores of memories that attest to how happy and
They are wrong. All of them.
Inarra. Jori. They
know nothing. Leia knows her family.
the living room, looking out the window when Leia exits her bedroom
next morning. Padmé turns, watching
daughter carefully as she sips her caf.
Leia asks quietly.
with him to inspect Senator Mott’s newest ship.
Annaé is at dance class with Sheltay and Winter. Luke is still in bed.”
Leia nods and
on the couch, tucking her feet beneath her body.
“You got in kind
late last night,” Padmé says carefully.
the floor. “Yeah,” she mumbles. “Sorry.”
“You know your
is going to stop letting Jori take you out if you can’t return home at
hour,” Padmé continues.
Leia nods. She looks out the window.
She and Padmé remain silent for several long
“Mom,” she says
a blush and she can’t bring herself to look at her mother.
“Some people said some things last night at
asks, taking another sip of caf.
mother’s gaze. “Do you know Lord Vader?”
still. She stares at her cup of caf with
inordinate interest. Slowly, she lifts
it to her lips and takes another sip.
“Lord Vader,” she says smoothly.
”I suppose I do know him. He is a
fixture at most official Imperial events."
She looks at her daughter carefully.
"What does this have to do with your party?"
Leia nods again,
inexplicably bothered by something in her mother’s reaction. “Jori said a few things,” Leia says, fumbling
for words. “Inarra Deloaria was there –“
her eyes shut wearily. “Deloaria. I should have known.”
“There was an
banquet several weeks ago,” Padmé explains.
“Your father and I attended.
Inarra’s father was drunk, belligerent.
He made unwanted advances toward me and at least a half-dozen
women in attendance. He finally made the
mistake of finding fault with Imperial policy very loudly at which
Vader … intervened.” She
sighs heavily. “I have no doubt that Kort
Deloaria is trying
to find any excuse, no matter how absurd, for the Imperial retribution
followed. It is much easier to fabricate
rumors than to hold one’s self accountable.”
Leia wants to
relief. Her mother’s explanation makes
so much sense. “I knew it couldn’t be
true,” she says gratefully. “I knew
there was no way that you and Lord Vader –“
Leia shudders and falls silent.
She can’t even finish the sentence.
“He’s a monster. I don’t even
know if he’s human.”
together tightly. “Yes,” she says
quietly. “It would be quite absurd.”
Oddly, Leia has
sensation she upset her mother. Padmé
smiles brightly, but somehow it doesn’t reach her eyes.
“I should run,”
says. “I promised Sheltay I would meet
her and the girls for breakfast.”
Leia watches her
leave the room and knows that something is very wrong.
The rest of the
passes as any other. Leia can’t shake
the feeling that her mother is off kilter, that something about their
conversation upset her greatly. Padmé
walks through the motions of everyday life, but somehow she seems
watches the small gestures between her parents.
She notes how her mother puts her hand on her father’s arm as
his datapad over his shoulder after dinner.
She watches her father kiss her mother on the cheek before he
himself in his office to review official documents.
her twin's bedroom. The door is slightly
ajar and she finds Luke laying on his bed searching through a database
fighters. Leaning against the doorjamb,
Leia tries to ignore the deplorable state of her twin's room. He is such
a slob. "Dad took Ru to see Senator
Mott's new ship this morning. You missed
Luke looks up at
her. "I know," he says
wistfully. "It's a new SoroSuub
Personal Luxury Yacht 3000. I've been
dying to get a look at one."
urge to roll her eyes. Luke is failing
their Literature from the Mid Rim Civilizations class because he claims
it too hard to keep track of details.
Somehow she doubts his reasoning.
his datapad, but she knows his attention is fixated on her. "What's up?" he asks casually.
her steps across Luke's room. She has no
desire to discover what lurks beneath the piles of clothing, books and
parts that litter the floor. Luke
reprogrammed all the cleaning droids years ago to avoid his room – she
questions the wisdom of that action.
Luke scoots over
she takes a seat on the bed next to him.
Neither of them speaks, but the silence is not uncomfortable. None of Leia's friends understand the
connection she shares with her brother. She
and Luke are so different in both appearance and demeanor that it's
some people to forget they're even related, much less twins. Their interests are vastly divergent and they
don’t hang out in the same social circles.
Yet, Leia counts Luke as her closest confidant and she knows he
"Do you think
and Dad are happy?" Leia asks.
datapad and rolls onto his side, looking at his sister.
He contemplates the question for a moment,
closing his eyes like he's listening to music no one else can hear. It used to unnerve Leia when he did things
like that, but now she takes it in stride.
Luke has certain abilities she doesn't want to understand.
He opens his
looks at her calmly. "They're content. They love each other."
Leia bites down
lip considering his answer.
Leia shrugs. "That party the other night.
Some people said things."
With a grunt,
rolls over and picks up his discarded datapad.
"Your friends suck," he says seriously.
are all a bunch of gear heads," Leia counters.
steps out of the
private fresher in her master suite the next afternoon and is startled
Leia sitting at her vanity examining her jewelry. "You
know you need to ask permission if
you want to borrow something," Padmé says pointedly.
Leia nods. Her already compact form is further folded up
on the small vanity bench, knees pulled up to her chest.
In her hand is a glittering jeweled necklace.
Leia glances over her shoulder at her
mother. "Where did you get
daughter carefully. Leia is quite adept
at political maneuvering, however, Padmé has years of experience
lacks. It is quite clear to Padmé
Leia is still upset about the accusations concerning Vader. Her daughter is fishing for evidence.
“It was a gift
Dormé,” Padmé explains. “As
a thank you
for introducing her to her exceptionally wealthy and attractive
husband.” She smiles wryly at her
“Oh,” Leia says,
resting her chin on top of her knees as she tosses the necklace
the vanity, Padmé carefully picks through her ornately carved
jewelry box. Respectfully, she removes a
necklace of large
silver squares. “This has been in the
Organa family for generations,” she explains, handing the necklace to
Leia. “I’m sure your father would love
to see you wear it.”
necklace, Leia lowers her feet to the floor and straightens her spine. Lifting her heavy chestnut braid, she allows
Padmé to fasten the clasp around her neck.
meeting her daughter’s gaze in the mirror.
“It looks beautiful on you.” She
presses a gentle kiss to the top of Leia’s head and then watches as
to her feet and leaves the room, all the while running her fingers over
Picking up the
discarded necklace gifted to her by Dormé, Padmé returns
it to its rightful
place in the jewelry box. Overcome by a
moment of melancholy, Padmé opens the bottom drawer on the
jewelry box and
releases the secret compartment. Reverently,
she presses her fingertips to the carved Japor snippet on its weathered
band. She knows better than to remove it
from its secret home with Leia hovering so close.
With a sigh, she
the compartment and shuts the drawer.
“I’m sure your father would love to see you wear it,” she
The next morning
breakfast, Leia watches as her father absently places his hand at the
her mother’s back to gently urge her out of the way so he can grab a
of the cabinet. It is yet another small
intimacy that speak of affection, companionship and a close bond.
in the small of Padmé’s back when he turns to face his daughter. “Is there a problem, Leia?
You seem distracted.”
She shakes her
quickly turns away, concentrating on the mathematics homework she
previous evening. “Big test,” she
Leia doesn’t see
searching look Bail gives his wife.
It’s been nearly
since the party, and despite Leia’s watchful eye, she’s found nothing
her believe her family is anything other than happy and whole. And still… she remains unsettled.
night and the Organa family retires to bed.
Yet, the restlessness that has plagued Leia all week makes it
particularly hard for her to sleep. The
snores coming from Annaé’s side of the room do not help matters. Frustrated, Leia makes her way to the living
room and curls up on the couch staring blindly out the window.
She sits there
hour, maybe more. She snaps to attention
as the door to her parents’ bedroom hisses open. She
watches as her mother glances around the
living room. Mostly obscured by a
blanket and pillows, Leia escapes her mother’s notice.
She watches as Padmé crosses the room,
grabbing her cloak and heading for the door.
Leia grabs her own cloak and follows.
Padmé makes her way to the pedestrian walkway outside
building and hails an air taxi. Several
times, Padmé glances over her shoulder and Leia is forced to
hide. Leia waits until her mother’s taxi
out of sight and then hails her own taxi and tells the driver to follow. They leave the Ambassadorial Sector and make
their way toward the exclusive Orowood District. With
each passing moment, the dread in Leia’s
driver to slow without letting Padmé’s air taxi out of sight. Padmé’s transport approaches the elite Vivendi Towers and ascends to the
penthouse. Leia can see the penthouse
has an expansive veranda and landing platform.
As her own taxi
the Towers, Leia can see the lone figure waiting on the penthouse’s
platform. She knows without a doubt it is
Lord Vader. Leia watches as her mother
exits the air taxi. There is no embrace,
no physical intimacy that would suggest an affair.
Yet her mother is visiting Lord Vader in the
middle of the night at a private penthouse in the poshest private
the planet aside from the Imperial
He does not
offer his hand and she does not ask. Wordlessly, he turns toward
entrance. She follows.
was unexpected,” he says. "Apologies for the delay. I have
been away on Imperial business."
"It's just as
Leia should consider a career in surveillance. I haven't been
able to take a step without
He waits until
they are inside to speak again. Pulling back his hood, he looks
at her and
cannot help but smile. As much as he
hungered for the young woman she used to be, he has no trouble
himself that he finds the woman she is now infinitely more beguiling
engaging. Time has been generous to her,
imbuing her with wisdom rather than wrinkles.
She is still stunningly beautiful and his body still aches for her
all this time.
She gives him a
“You never should have attacked that idiot Deloaria.”
Her topic of
conversation is a more potent mood killer than
a cold shower. Obviously, she did not
contact him for any reason they might find mutually enjoyable. He
reining in his desire for her. “Why not?”
clearly agitated, pacing back and forth in front of
him. “Leia went to a party last week
where Deloaria’s daughter and Leia’s boyfriend both alluded to our
has a boyfriend? How old is she? She’s not old enough to
have a boyfriend.”
ignores his comments on Leia’s love life. “If teenagers are
discussing us at parties, it’s
a safe bet the Emperor knows as well.”
name?” he presses.
“Would you please
Padmé yells. “The Emperor,
right. Palpatine is a much bigger threat
than Leia’s boyfriend. Though he files
that tidbit of information away for later.
He will get to the bottom of it.
“There have been
rumors for years. That’s what happens,” he says smugly, “when
none of your children look like your husband.
Why should Deloaria’s comments make any difference now?”
“Oh, I don’t
know,” she counters waspishly. “Maybe because they’re true.”
“It’s been true
for nearly twenty years,” he says,
unconcerned. “And while people may
correctly assume that you regularly cuckold the Viceroy, they have
reason to assume I’m involved. As much
as it wounds my pride, I suspect few truly believe I’m up to the task.”
snorts at the irony.
Anakin is most certainly up to the task.
He's worse now than when he was a teenager. But he’s right.
It serves the Emperor’s purposes quite well
to have people view Vader as an inhuman monster.
He crosses the
small space that separates them and forces
her to stop pacing. Gently grasping her
chin, he tilts her head toward him. “You’re
not here because you’re worried about Palpatine,” he says quietly.
She sighs, her
shoulders slumping. She shakes her head. “No.”
Padmé pulls away and walks to the couch, falling
into it heavily. “It’s Leia. Or rather, all of the
He follows her,
taking a seat at her side. “What about them?”
“I thought I could do this,” she says.
“Can you appreciate the hubris? I
thought I could lie to my husband and my children and the galaxy and no
would ever know.”
“It has to be
this way,” he says seriously. “You know that. Palpatine is
a danger to my children. It cannot be public knowledge they’re
“I’m not talking
about the public, Anakin. I’m talking about Luke and Leia and
Ruwee having the right to know their true heritage.” She looks at
him, her expression
softening. “They deserve to know you.”
He can’t meet
He pushes himself off the couch and walks to the window. “They
You’ve always known that.”
“I know,” she
“I’m just not sure I’m stupid enough to believe it anymore.”
He turns and
looks at her.
“You should have
seen Leia,” Padmé says softly. “She was so repulsed by the
very idea of you
and me together – “ She stops, searching
for words. “I don’t expect her to like
the idea. Of course the children adore
Bail, of course they’re loyal to him.
He’s the only father they’ve ever known and he has been so good to
loved them so much. But the fact that
Leia doesn’t even know if you’re human, that she can’t even wrap her
around the concept of you as a man with feelings … Anakin, that’s not
He turns away
The knowledge burns. His children
mean more to him than anything in the galaxy and it has taken years for
accept that the status quo must be maintained.
He would love nothing more than to openly acknowledge them, but he
that is not a possibility as long as Palpatine lives.
“They deserve to
know you, Anakin,” Padmé continues. “They deserve to know
how much you love them,
how much you’ve sacrificed to keep them safe.”
naïve,” he says bitterly. “They won’t see it that way.
If you step back for a moment and think about
it, you’ll see I’m right. All they will
see is your betrayal of their father, your lies and my
He sighs sadly. “They will not be happy to claim me. Don’t
do that to them.”
She is silent
for a long time and Anakin knows she is
weeping. “I love you,” she whispers at
last. “I want them to be able to love
“That would mean
everything to me,” he says honestly. “But it is not possible.”
wipes away her tears and springs from the
couch. "Something has to be done
about Palpatine. We find excuse after
excuse to maintain this course."
He rounds on
her, equally angry. "You've seen what he's done to me.
Would you have him do that to our children
watching him closely. She isn’t certain exactly what he
She doesn’t know if he refers to his physical
injuries and the inadequate care he receives from Palpatine's
physicians. Or perhaps he means the myriad mental and
emotional tortures his Master employs to keep him in line. For
years, she has watched the way Palpatine
breaks him down a piece at a time in an attempt to keep Vader firmly
thumb. It wounds her to watch the
vicious game they play, but she feels helpless to intervene.
his meaning, none of the options are something
Padmé would wish for any of her children.
"Of course not," she says.
"But what if he already knows?
What if he counts on our fear for the children to keep us all in
What if he plans to tell them himself so he
can use their anger to his own ends? You
know how devious he is. You know how
adeptly he twists the truth."
He doesn't reply
because he doesn't have an answer. It's entirely possible she's
right. It's entirely possible that Palpatine does
know about the children and they somehow figure into his plans.
She crosses the
room to him, gently placing her hand on his
arm. "You're close to him,"
she says. "You're the one person in
the galaxy who is in a position to -
"Kill him?" he
asks when she fails to finish the
"Yes," she says
boldly, sticking her chin out
He looks away
with an expression close to shame. "If it were that simple, I
done it years ago."
"You don't have
to do it alone," she says,
pleading. "There are people, powerful people who wish to
Palpatine fall. The Alliance – "
has resources and dedicated – "
he yells, finally succeeding in silencing
her. He looks down at her, his jaw
clenched tightly. "Stay away from
he says darkly. "You and the
"We have to do
something," she counters. "At least the Alliance is trying to make a
"And how does
this end?" he demands, leaning down,
his face inches from hers. "What
happens when I'm forced to arrest you or the Viceroy for treason?
Have you considered how that will affect the
She stares up at
him, her eyes shimmering with unshed
tears. "I don't know," she
His anger fades
and he pulls her close, resting his chin on
the top of her head. "I'll find a
way, something, I don't know. Just don't
do anything stupid."
Leia crouches on
the landing platform outside the penthouse,
her nose pressed against the thick transparisteel widows. There
isn't much illumination. She can see two forms, but it is
discern actions. The only time she can
see anything clearly is when one of them paces in front of the large
the other side of the penthouse and is silhouetted against the
As far as she can tell, they don't seem to be
doing much aside from pacing around the lavish living room.
Nearly an hour
later, she sees them approaching the landing
platform. Reflexively, she dives behind
a large crate. Peeking out, she watches
the pair carefully. Vader - there's no
doubt in Leia's mind as to his identity - doesn't wear his hood.
Leia is shocked to find he is definitely
human. Even more astonishing, he is
quite handsome – and young. She has no
idea what she expected Vader to look like, but it certainly isn't the
graceful man standing next to her mother.
He turns and the light catches him just right. His hair is
slightly longer than is
fashionable, curling around his ears and the nape of his neck, the same
color as Annaé's hair. His eyes are a
bright, piercing blue. He is much
younger than she expected, at least twenty, maybe thirty years younger
Vader with her mother and is shocked to realize
they must be close to the same age. She
is struck by the realization of how much older her father is than her
mother. Somehow, it never seemed odd before this
speaking too softly for Leia to hear, but Vader
says something and her mother turns to look at him. The
expression on her face isn't one Leia has
ever seen before. She looks … young.
She laughs at him and gives him a bittersweet grin.
Ani," she hears her mother say softly.
He nods in
response, but doesn't speak. The two stand on the landing
watching as the air taxi approaches. He
helps her mother into the taxi. There is
no embrace, yet the moment is so undeniably intimate Leia knows the
The taxi departs
and Leia turns to watch Vader disappear
into the penthouse. There is no ship
docked on the landing platform so he must intend to take the turbolift
building's lower levels and acquire transport from there.
Now, Leia has to
figure out how she's getting home. She leans forward, resting her
against the crate. She's stranded on the
landing platform with no way home. Short
of a miracle, she won't reach home before her mother. She doesn't
want to call Luke for help. Or Jori.
Or Typho or anyone else she would normally call.
teeth in irritation she rises to her feet…
… and comes face
to face with Darth Vader.
Leia yelps in
shock and stumbles backward. Vader reaches out, grabbing her
steadying her before she lands on her backside.
When she has her footing, he releases her and steps back, watching her
says quietly. His voice is damaged and gravelly, but it's
gentler than she was expecting, warmer.
He sweeps his
arm to the side, motioning for her to enter
the penthouse. "Allow me to escort
She shakes her
"Uh, I'm fine," she says lamely. She would cannot imagine a worse
being escorted anywhere by Darth Vader.
"It wasn't a
request," he says firmly and Leia
knows she has no choice.
The door to the
apartment hisses open and Padmé's eyes go
wide, accusing. She glares at Anakin
unable to believe he has the audacity to knock on her door in the
middle of the
night. He has always been bold, but this
is approaching insanity.
something," he says tightly, nudging
gaze drops to her daughter and a surfeit of emotions
grip her; anger, fear, embarrassment, relief.
"Leia, what are you doing?" she demands, grabbing her
daughter's arm and pulling her inside the apartment.
fixates on Padmé, then Leia, then back to
Padmé. He says nothing.
"Thank you, my
lord," Padmé says formally.
With a bow, he
turns and leaves. Padmé shuts the door.
Leia turns on
her mother, glaring. "Is he my father?" she demands in a
whisper. The rest of the house is still
looks at her daughter and is uncharacteristically at a
complete loss for words. Despite fifteen
years of knowing this confrontation was not only possible, but
finds herself woefully unprepared. In
spite of Anakin's warnings, she somehow didn't believe that Leia would
with such anger, such betrayal. She
sighs. "Bail Organa is your
father," Padmé says lamely, falling back on a lifetime of
excuses. "He signed your permission slip for the
field trip next week. It's sitting on
"That's not what
I – " Leia starts.
"I know what you
mean," Padmé says, cutting across
her. She cannot do this right now. "Go to bed."
"I have a right
Without watching to see if Leia heeds her orders, Padmé turns
for her own bedroom.
The door to the
bedroom hisses shut and Bail pretends to be
asleep. He glances at the bedside
chrono, confirming it is indeed the middle of the night. In the
dark, his lips pull into a tight
frown. It has been a long time since
Padmé disappeared in the dead of night.
Once the children reached school age, he thinks she found it easier to
away during the day.
"I know you're
awake," Padmé says quietly.
He rolls over
and looks at her in the dim light filtering
through the window.
rumors," she says. "At that party Jori took her to last
week. Some stupid scared girl threw
around some accusations she shouldn't have."
"Can I assume
this is about you?" he asks, unable
to completely quash the bitterness in his tone.
"And Vader," she
arches in surprise. Though he has always known, he did not
realize anyone else suspects his wife's involvement with Vader.
"You went to him tonight," he
says. It is not a question.
"I needed to
talk to him," she answers
lamely. "It was stupid. Leia followed me."
Bail sits up in
"It wasn't – "
Padmé starts. "He and I … we just talked. He found
Leia snooping around after I
left. He brought her home."
Bail often tries
to pity the man who used to be Anakin
Skywalker. It is easier accomplished
when his wife isn't standing in their bedroom in the middle of the
admitting she just saw Vader. Leaning
over, Bail turns on the bedside lamp. He
wearily rubs his eyes. "We knew
this would happen eventually," he says.
She sits down at
the foot of the bed facing the wall. "I've made such a mess of
lives," she says quietly.
resilient," Bails replies, putting
years of political knowledge into his words.
He knows Padmé wants him to absolve her of her sins. The
truth is he loves and accepts her,
shortcomings and all. He accepts his own
blame in this situation. He knew she was
in love with Anakin Skywalker before he proposed. He foolishly
allowed himself to believe she
could love him enough to forget Skywalker.
Even now, in his more self-deprecating moments, he acknowledges his
affair might not be such a bad thing on a galactic scope. Vader
loves her, that much is evident. Vader's attachment to
Padmé, to the children
he fathered with her humanize him in a way nothing else could. It
gives Bail hope that one day perhaps the
Emperor's apprentice might overthrow his Master.
However, at the
end of the day, Padmé is still his wife. Despite
its potential to benefit the Alliance, he will not condone
her infidelity. He may be an old man,
but he isn't dead yet.
But he also
knows there is no benefit to anyone in her torturing
herself for events she cannot change. Vader
is the children's biological father. And
even armed with that knowledge, Bail still loves his wife deeply.
He knows she loves him in return.
"Come to bed,"
he says, pulling back the covers on
her side. "It will wait until
Leia tosses and
turns for hours, unable to sleep with all
the chaos in her heart and mind. She
watches the sunrise and finally falls into a deep, dreamless sleep.
When she wakes,
it is late afternoon and she is intensely
grateful there is no school today. The penthouse
is deserted save her father who sits in his office reviewing a trade
agreement. Leia leans against the
doorjamb, watching him.
troubling you?" he asks without raising
father always reads her easily. Walking
into his office, she perches on the corner of his desk. "I need
to talk to you."
off the datapad and leans back in his chair,
regarding his daughter carefully.
"About what?" Though he
adores all of his children, he and Leia have always shared a
she searches for the words. She looks up at him, her eyes
tears as her chin quivers.
"Is this about
the rumors you heard?" he asks,
Sighing loudly, she takes a deep breath, fighting to get her emotions
under control. "Are you and mom
"I love your
mother very much," he says
softly. "And she loves me. We both love you." He
takes a deep breath, regarding his
daughter carefully. "Your mother
told me you followed her last night."
Leia frowns and
Turning back to meet her father's gaze, she asks, "You know about
last night? You know about mom and …him?”
his reply carefully. Leia is young and she is his child, so the
urge to protect her – even from the truth – is nearly
But such a move could be very dangerous. Leia needs to know the
truth. "Yes," he says quietly.
Leia looks at
"You know?" she demands.
"You know that mom is cheating on you? That she and Vader are …
are – " She
can't bring herself to say the words.
"You know she's a whore?"
Bail rises to his feet. "I
understand that you are upset, but you will not speak of your mother in
truth," Leia says insolently, but the
words are half mumbled, like she can't fully commit to the deed.
"There are many
truths," Bail says firmly. "The most important truth is that you
and your sister and brothers are the most important things in my life
Leia gapes at
"How can you say that? How
can you say she cares about us when she can do something like this to
Bail looks at
"I do not approve of everything your mother does," he says
truthfully. "But Vader cares for
her, deeply. I shudder at the thought of
what he would be like without that human connection."
monster," Leia says quietly, staring at
"Some think so,
Leia looks up at
Bail looks at
his daughter – at Vader's daughter - and
forces himself to temper his words for her sake. There is no love
lost between him and
Vader. There have been many days – and
nights – when he would have had no greater satisfaction than putting a
bolt in the bastard's back. But that
information will not help Leia and she is Bail's priority.
"Mostly I see an incredibly misguided
and manipulated young man who made some tragically bad decisions."
"You knew him
before he was Vader?"
did. His name was Anakin Skywalker. He was a Jedi Knight."
“Did you murder
around and finds Leia standing near the
shuttle’s gangplank watching him.
trooper grabs her roughly. “My lord, I don’t know how she got
Vader commands. His voice is rough, harsh, nothing like it
was last night when he spoke to her.
immediately releases Leia and she straightens
her jacket, glaring at the man.
soldier,” Vader orders.
The busy landing
platform is bustling with activity. Vader closes a good deal of
between himself and Leia, stopping only a few feet from her. “Do
your parents know you’re here?”
“No, I didn’t
I was going.” She peers
into the shadows beneath his hood looking for some reaction to her
deal with Palpatine on a daily basis, child.
Your inelegant banter will do me no damage.” Despite his words,
the icy cold in his heart
tells a different tale. “Walk with me.” He turns, striding
toward the Senate
behind his back, he measures his gait to
accommodate Leia’s much shorter stride. “How
did you find me?” He shouldn’t allow this contact. He knows
But since his conversation with Padmé last
night, he is acutely aware of his distance from his children.
Greedily, he wants to talk to his elder
attend the opening session,” she replies. “Everyone knows that.”
“And you came
here to interrogate me about my past?”
He glances over
at her and his lips curl into a grudging
smile. She’s a fiery little pest. He is accustomed to
seasoned generals cowering
in his presence, yet this little girl feels it is well within her
make demands of him. “You want to know
if I killed younglings,” he says, rather than asks. “Yes, I
And Padawans and Jedi Knights and many Jedi Masters.”
She glowers at
him and a sensation suspiciously like shame
creeps into his heart.
“Why did you
want to know?” he demands.
She refuses to
answer his question,
instead asking another. “Were you a
He stops walking
and looks down at her. She stares back up at him undaunted.
“In another lifetime,” he admits.
“That name means
nothing to me,” he replies coldly, turning
and continuing on his way.
Leia jogs after
“I don’t like you,” she snaps.
He slows his
stride, allowing her to catch up. “Pity,” he says. “I find
myself oddly fond of you. I’ve murdered leaders of entire
for daring to show me the slightest hint of insolence yet you seem to
can order me around. It is quite novel.”
“You’re a … jerk,”
she counters rather lamely.
He laughs in
genuine amusement. “You’re hardly the first to voice that
sentiment." He looks over at
her. “Tell me about Jori Semme.”
too young to have a boyfriend.”
“I am not,” she
counters testily. “I’m fifteen.
My mom was younger than me when she had her first boyfriend.”
“No she wasn’t.”
“Yes she was.”
“No she wasn’t.”
“Yes she was,”
Leia says, stopping long enough to stomp her
Vader turns and
looks at her, unable to hide his
thirteen,” Leia says, crossing her arms over her
chest and popping out one hip. “His name
was Palo. He was an artist.”
Vader leans in
close enough that Leia can clearly see his features
beneath the hood. “Your mother’s first
boyfriend was named Anakin Skywalker,” he says firmly. Then he
turns and continues walking.
after him, unsure of why she wants to continue
the conversation. She loathes
Vader. At least she thinks she
does. He fully admits to being a
deplorable human being. Yet, she feels
compelled, driven to continue speaking with him.
considered a monastic vocation?" he asks
conversationally. "There are some
truly awe inspiring convents in the Mid Rim worlds.”
Leia sputters in
horror at the very idea. “I’m not going to be a nun,” she informs
curtly. “I’m going to be a Senator. I’m going to work with
the Alliance – “
finish the sentence. Vader turns on her so quickly she doesn’t
even see him move. He has the front of
her jacket clasped in his fist and he holds her so her toes can’t touch
ground. “The words you speak are
treason,” he says in a biting whisper, shaking her hard for
“You could be executed simply for uttering
She stares up at
him, willing herself not to cry. She looks into the perfect blue
eyes. “Are you the Emperor’s
executioner? Will you kill me?”
Vader sets her gently on her feet and turns,
continuing on his path inside the Senate building.
She watches as
he rounds one of the giant columns and turns
up a hallway before she runs after him.
“You didn’t answer m-“
finish the thought. She is crushed against a hard chest and a
cold metal blaster barrel bites into the tender flesh under her
Panic floods her senses and her eyes go wide. Instinctively, she
claws at the hand holding
Several paces up
the hallway, Vader spins around.
think of going for the lightsaber,” a male voice
nauseated by the stench of booze wafting from the
man. He holds her so tight and so close she
can barely breathe.
“Release her, now.”
“No,” the man
counters, shoving the blaster barrel even
harder under Leia’s chin. She whimpers
uncontrollably and her eyes burn with tears.
The man pulls her even closer, running his stubble-roughened cheek
hers in a mockery of affection. “Heh,”
he laughs. “Guess I shouldn’t be shocked
you like ‘em young. Always took you for
a sick fuck. If you’re already nailin’
the mother, why not nail the daughter too.”
Leia is released
so abruptly she stumbles forward, crashing
to her hands and knees. She immediately
scrambles out of the way, backing herself against the wall, staring
back at her
collapses to his knees. Forgotten, the blaster clatters loudly to
floor as he scratches his neck bloody.
He makes a horrible choking noise, his eyes bulging. Time
seems suspended. Leia watches him gasp futilely for air,
fighting for breath he will not find. There
is one final crunching noise and he crumples heavily to the ground,
lolling between his purple lips.
snaps to Vader, watching as he slowly lowers his
outstretched hand. Leia’s vision
immediately returns to her attacker.
She’s never seen anyone die, never seen a dead body. She stares
at his sightless eyes, the spittle
trickling out of his gaping mouth.
Unable to prevent it, she heaves, vomiting on the floor.
She retches and
retches until there is nothing left in her
stomach. Sobbing uncontrollably, she
leans against the wall for support.
Vader is there, his hand on her shoulder. “Leia?”
turns into him, burying her face in the coarse
material of his cloak. She can’t seem to
stop crying. She doesn’t want to let go
of him. Letting go of him means having
to look at the man’s dead body again and she doesn’t think she can do
Vader pulls her
close, holding her for several moments
before he forces her to take a step back and meet his gaze beneath the
hood. He looks her over and seems
satisfied she wasn’t physically harmed.
Without a word, he tucks her against his side and ushers her down the
As they turn the
corner, Leia can't stop herself from
looking over her shoulder one last time.
The body lays exactly where it fell.
As Leia watches, a group of young Senators turn the corner and gasp in
horror. One of them looks up and locks
eyes with Leia across the distance. It
is Pooja Naberrie, the Senator from the Chommell sector.
Vader leads her
around a corner into a labyrinthine series
know where they are, some office within the
Senate complex. Imperial guards are
stationed outside the door. She sits on
a nondescript chair, her mind spinning. In
her hand is an untouched glass of water procured by some Imperial
lackey. Across the room, Vader stares out the window,
hands clasped tightly behind his back.
He hasn't moved a muscle in at least half an hour.
"Thank you," she
says, her voice scratchy from the
retching and crying.
His dark hood is pulled back far enough that she can clearly see his
face. His jaw is firmly set and there is
some emotion in his eyes she cannot read.
"I would do far
worse than rid the galaxy of that traitorous
piece of filth to protect you, Princess," he says quietly.
His words are
dark, the intention behind them even darker. Yet Leia finds them
comforting. She looks down at her hand,
at the glass of water. "Are you –
" she starts to ask and then falls silent.
She glances at him.
He looks at her,
his expression gentle. But then his vision searches the room in a
gesture she takes to mean they may not be as alone as it appears.
His lips don't
He didn't speak the words aloud.
But she hears his voice clearly in her mind. She supposes the
fact that she can hear his
answer is confirmation enough of its veracity.
She gives him a
watery smile, shocked to realize she is not
shocked. She has known this truth for
"My Lord," the
Imperial trooper positioned outside
the door announces, "Viceroy Organa has arrived."
Vader gives her
one last look before pulling down his hood
to obscure his features. "Send him
The door hisses
open and Leia looks up at her father. He immediately crosses the
room and kneels in
front of her, taking her hands in his own.
He turns, regarding Vader.
Vader says, answering the unspoken question.
"He attacked Leia."
Her father opens
his mouth to say something and Vader cuts
him off. "He's dead. It is regrettable that the Princess
Without a word,
her father urges Leia to her feet. She immediately
As they leave, she glances over her shoulder
at Lord Vader and finds him watching her.
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