A/N: Many thanks to Buttercup for her beta help! I'm aiming to update this weekly, but it may be closer to biweekly on occasion since I'm concentrating on i Severing the Past /i , also. But this bunny wouldn't rest!

The Dutiful Wife

WendyNat

Prologue
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"So the Jediā€¦ they weren't evil?"

"Shh," Natrie glanced behind her, through her child's bedroom door. "Not so loud, sweetheart. Your father-"

"I know." Mierie settled back in the bed, blinking. Her daughter fought sleep, as always, her curiosity warring with her tiredness. "Tell me more, Mom. Please?"

She smiled, and stroked her child's hair back. "A little more, then you need to sleep." In a soft, calming voice, she told stories that lay near to her heart. Stories of the truth, the honor of the Jedi. As she spoke of General Kenobi, the Negotiator, and his partner Anakin Skywalker, the Hero With No Fear, her child's eyes slid shut in contentment.

Although Mierie seemed to be asleep, Natrie continued on. As she spoke, she didn't realize her voice had risen in volume, didn't notice when a dark shadow appeared in the doorway. When she did, her heart leapt to her throat, but she tried to appear nonchalant.

How much had he heard?

"And that's why the Emperor was so sad when he found out about their betrayal. They've joined the Force now, and hopefully are paying penance for their treason." She turned, trying to keep the fear from her face, and smiled at her husband. To her relief, he smiled back.

"That's a nice story, Natrie. Is she asleep?" Her husband leaned against the doorframe, arms crossed over his chest. He still wore his Imperial uniform, and she marveled that it was still as unwrinkled as it had been that morning when he donned it.

She nodded.

"It's too bad she missed the best part," he said, gazing at their daughter fondly.

The best part. Swallowing, she nodded again and rose, and brought the mask of dutiful Imperial wife back to her face. She hated it, as she hated him, but she would do what she must to protect her child, and to continue to spread the truth.