Sons Over Lovers
She's not exactly known for being a loving sort of girl. She's spurned whatever affections her husband might have tried to work towards so many times that he's given up on the idea that love could ever pierce the hard shell of her exterior.
Still, everyone knows there's one thing, one person, she does love, and loves with her entire soul, and that's her son.
Romance has nothing to do with their marriage. The Emperor's father, the man that's she's now chained to, set it up shortly before he died.
"'There's a Skywalker legacy to carry on,'" the new Emperor had quoted after Vader's death in answer to her questions. "And that's why we're going to try and have a baby."
For Emperor Luke Skywalker's part there is no sentimentality involved, except for maybe towards his father, trying to carry on whatever the dead man may have wished. For Mara Jade Skywalker she can only hate him for everything he's done to her. He and his father killed her emperor so that they could sit on the throne instead. It doesn't matter to her that she is now the Empress. That holds no sway.
He'd made it quite plain to her that he was marrying to give his father grandchildren, and due to her genes, she seemed the perfect choice.
He's given up the idea of telling her that he really does think she's stunning, and that he secretly adores her. Besides, attachment is forbidden. Marry to produce an heir, not because you fell in love. So that's what he does.
She's tried so hard to convince herself that she hates going to bed with him at night, that he makes her skin crawl. In essence, he does, but with excitement, not disgust. At first she'd tried to make him as reluctant as possible to touch her, merely submitting to his passions instead of participating in them. While it clearly irked him, she couldn't make it last. She'd ended up enjoying his attentions too much to keep the mask of bored neutrality on.
She'd contemplated killing him in his sleep before, too, but never quite had the nerve to do it.
He looks innocent when he sleeps, even if it's the one and only time he is.
She'd been both nervous and depressed when it was announced that after a year and a half of trying, she was finally pregnant. For one thing, she didn't want to be a mother. For two, her husband could just get rid of her after the child was born.
But after four years, he still hasn't gotten rid of her, even though it's never occurred to her that it's maybe because he doesn't want to.
Not having seen the event which turned Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight, into Luke Skywalker, Dark Lord of the Sith, she's managed to piece it together through other people, straining what seems nonsensical from what seems probable. She's asked him his version of events, but he never tells her.
From what she can tell, he'd surrendered himself to his father in an effort to turn him. When this failed, he was tested before the Emperor, forced to watch his comrades be slaughtered like cattle. Apparently, Vader had searched the boys thoughts and found some girl that meant a lot to him, and the Emperor promised to murder her in several painful and torturous ways, trying to decide which was the worst. It seems he'd fallen begging at the Emperor's feet not to touch the girl, he'd do whatever was asked.
She's wanted to ask him several times if he was in love with this girl, but she never asks, so he never tells her.
But Vader, now allied with his son, ended up murdering the Emperor and seating himself on the throne, his son heir to the empire.
As it was, she is given to understand, that Emperor Skywalker ended up murdering the girl that had forced him to turn in a fit of jealous, desperate rage – she'd refused to join him in the Empire, or something. Mara has never been fully certain.
And she hasn't asked her husband if it's true or not.
He's pleasing to look at, and she's found herself drowning in his pale blue eyes without ever meaning to. He's just so captivating that it astounds her. When she does give in and melt into those blue eyes, he draws her onto his lap, gently stroking the curve of her waist with his hand. Just one. From experience she knows that only one feels warm and inviting to the touch. The other doesn't generally have any sort of temperature the way a hand should. He's admitted that it happened when he was about twenty, and that his father had cut it off. It is electronic, and it can feel things – pain and heat and such – but it only looks real.
She's asked him to explain so many times that if his father had done so many terrible things to him, why on earth did he – does he – love him so very much?
He never tells her. She's pretty sure he doesn't even know why.
"Sometimes," he excused at one point, "love is all we have."
Well, she has her son to love. What does he have? What keeps the master of the galaxy as sane as he ever is?
She doesn't know it, but it's her that he loves. But he'll never tell her as long as they live.
She knew that he wanted to escape her emotion filled wrath so many times during her pregnancy, but stayed only because he knew that she'd be even angrier at him once he got back. She blamed him several thousand times for making him pregnant, and said the thing she's said a billion times in five and a half years: "I hate you."
She hasn't convinced herself to believe it yet. For that matter, he doesn't believe her either.
She hasn't raged at him for impregnating her since giving birth, however. Mostly because she really has him to thank for the greatest, only treasure in her life. She finds it amazing that her son's eyes are the exact same captivating blue as his father's.
Maybe that's one reason she loves him so much.
It seems to be a pattern in Skywalker males to both look like and adore their fathers, for the four year old Imperial Prince practically worships the ground the Emperor walks on. He sees him for what he is at his core; not a murderer, or a tyrant, or someone who ended up betraying his cause for all the right and wrong reasons. He sees his father as the hero he once was.
And secretly, the Emperor would give just about anything to be that hero again.
Still, the Empress wishes that her beloved angel could see what she considers the truth about his sire; that he really is a tyrant who has murdered in cold blood more times than she'd care to count. The man that murdered the very woman his soul died saving.
He doesn't seem to have too much of a soul now. Though whatever's left of it comes out around his child, and shines through when he makes love to his wife.
At one point, a few months into their marriage, she'd caught him talking in his slip, eye lids fluttering while his face was screwed up in tremendous anguish. He was begging and pleading for someone he identified only as his friends not to leave him, to please forgive him, he was so sorry. She'd tried to comfort him in his sleep, only to have him wake up and clamp a hand around her wrist as though she were an attacker. She might not have forgiven him for it even weeks later had his terribly blue eyes not betrayed his terror and anguish. In the end, he'd ended up only falling back asleep in her arms, listening to her whisper soothing words they both knew were lies.
That sort of incident hasn't happened since, and they never talk about it.
She wonders who those friends of his were. The Rebels from before he was turned? Clandestine fellow Jedi? And was that woman among them?
She used to consider killing him.
After the birth of their son, it seemed as though he even expected her to kill him, and challenged "Why don't you do it? It'd be so easy to slit my throat at night."
It sounded like he was almost begging her to do it. It seemed he maybe wanted to meet back up with those friends in the embrace of death.
"I need you now," she explained. "You're what keeps my son safe."
"Funny," he'd dryly commented. "You seem to think him not safe at all in my presence." It was and is true enough. She doesn't even like it when the Emperor holds the boy on his lap to tell him wonderful stories of heroes that sound very familiar, the characters so recognizable.
She'd carefully organized her thoughts to rebuke that one. "He's Lord Vader's grandson as well as the Imperial Prince. Someone is going to want him dead. A Rebel out for revenge, a nut case, I don't know for certain who, but it will happen." The Emperor himself had survived assassination attempts. His father didn't have to go through that, as a combination of age old weaknesses and the after effects of murdering the Emperor had taken the strength out of him. "So long as you live, my son is safe."
"Is that all you care about?" He'd sounded jealous. In fact, as much as he loves his son, he's very jealous of the attention his mother reserves for her precious child and him alone. He'd give just about anything to have her look at him with that much love in her eyes, just once. It doesn't seem like she ever will.
"You can ask any mother; they always choose sons over lovers." He merely nodded at that, shrugging.
She'd considered killing him, but now he is far too valuable.
And though she doesn't even realize it, she's falling in love with him after five and a half years.
As for the Emperor, even if his father had arranged the marriage to merely carry on the family dynasty, he's loved her from the start.
And maybe someday she'll see him the way her son sees him.