The Loving Hatred of Mara Jade

"They would never really understand," Mara Jade decided as she watched Luke and his family enjoying a rare private moment together. They were so happy to be with each other, to love each other. Their love was based on tactile comfort and caring words. She had never experienced any feelings such as those; she could barely comprehend their bond.

She knew they pitied her for that.

Though she didn't understand, she took some comfort in the fact that it went both ways. Mara had experienced love. She knew what it was like to be protected, appreciated, and to be regarded with affection. She had received it all from her Master before he was killed.

It was true that the Emperor was a manipulative, evil, conniving old man that the universe was undoubtedly better off without, but he had been all Mara had. True, he had used her to his own ends, but never unwillingly. She had eagerly obeyed his every command, occasionally she even begged for him to give her an assignment. In many ways, Palpatine was her father, her brother, and her husband, all rolled into one.

With him she had a special bond. They understood each other and all he asked for was loyalty. He had never asked after her personal life, indeed he seemed unaware that she even had one. He trusted her not to let anything interfere with her duty and his trust had filled her with pride. She served him not out of fear or obligation, but out of a peculiar blend of fondness and respect. She knew he had twisted her, was aware that this warmth for him was implanted in her solely so he could use her, but it never mattered. He had a right to use people who could be used; it was the law of the universe. Might makes right, the weak fall to the strong. She should know; she exercised it almost daily.

She loved him for giving her a place and hated him for placing her as his servant. His Hand.

Even at the moment when her faith in him was at it's lowest, when she was disgusted with herself for being so completely in thrall to her dead master, she still had a sort of wary admiration for him. He was so powerful, even in death. It was only her instincts that saved her in the end, because she truly wanted to give into the voice that told her to kill Luke Skywalker. He had stolen her security and her way of life; consequentially he should pay. In blood. But her instincts told her that the emotion was not hers, and she was tired of being a person who could be used. She didn't have the strength to fight her master, but she was more than strong enough to defeat his memory. And so she had cast off her mantel of weakness and essentially ascended to the top of the food chain. Her master was master no longer.

In a way, she almost missed him.

She still thought that they were wrong, that their love was not the only love, but it no longer mattered. Just like Emperor Palpatine, it didn't matter what she thought. He believed in what he thought was the right way and they believed the opposite. Her views were inconsequential, as long as they were kept private. She didn't mind that they didn't care how she felt, it was comforting, familiar. Perhaps someday she would come to see things from their point of view.

Mara turned her back on the confusing display of affection before her and frowned. "No, they would never understand; but maybe someday I will."