High Flying, Adored
Disclaimer: Obviously, I don't own Star Wars or any of the characters I'm about to use. Too bad.
Author's Note: The supreme irony of this is that both of my big SW fics ended up coming from lines in songs from "Evita." For "Where Am I Going To?" I'd just seen the movie and wasn't majorly impressed. However, I thought the song "Another Suitcase in Another Hall," was pretty, and the line stuck with me. For this fic, I got the Premiere American Recording for Christmas. And it rocks. But that's not really important. Anyway, while there are some similarities to my last fic, they are really very, very different, so please keep that in mind when you read. Thank you very much. Oh, and the idea behind a relationship between Padmè and Bail is solely the fault of Kazzy, who's fantastic fic "A Moment In Time," propelled me to get into the Star Wars fanfiction scene. All of you: go read it now. It is fantastic.
Have I fallen so far
And is the hour so late
That nothing remains
But the cry of my hate?
The cries in the dark
That nobody hears
Here where I stand
At the turning of the years.
- Les Miserables
She put the boy into his arms to comfort while she did the same to the girl. It was understandable to be sobbing with terror at such a delicate, young age. They could hear the bombardment of the bunker even though they had built so far down. He watched Padmè wince involuntarily as she must of thought of the precious buildings more above ground. They'd been so sure that this time they hadn't been detected.
Assuming they repelled the attack they'd have to get up and move in a matter of sheer moments. More likely, they wouldn't, and orders would start going out to have to transport ships loaded up while they rallied up their own forces to keep the "Empire," distracted long enough to get away.
He'd never believed in his life he'd be something like this – a Rebel. He never thought that it would come to this.
"Where's Senator Organa?" he asked, and Senator Amidala blinked a moment, searching through a hazy, tired mind for an answer. As exhausted as she was, she carried such an infinite amount of strength.
"Med ward," she finally replied, sighing heavily. "Breha's still in intensive care." She must have seen the stricken look on his face; a particularly bad explosion rocked them, and she had to take a step closer to him to keep her balance – which served her purpose fine. "I'm really worried about her." She had the look in her eyes that she used whenever she wanted something.
"I…I don't think there's much I can do…" The look intensified. "But I'll do my best." She smiled at him.
"Thank you." ……………………………………………………………………………………..
"You don't have to, you know, if you really don't want to."
Luke Skywalker had been staring out the window at the Coruscant traffic far away from the serene façade of the Imperial Palace, but the voice brought him smoothly back to reality.
He blinked a few times, shook his head. "Hm?"
His father raised an eyebrow at his constant daydreaming, holding up the contract they'd been drafting. "The alliance?"
"Oh, you mean your matchmaker game."
Darth Vader, leader of a very, very large chunk of the galaxy, could be brought down very swiftly – but only by his twenty five year old son. He grimaced and groaned. "You know I hate it when you call it that."
Luke smiled, turned full from the window. "I know."
"That's not what I'm after here, and at any time you can withdraw your part in it and we'll just call the whole deal off."
"I know that, too." With a weary sigh, the Imperial Prince dropped into a chair across from his father's desk. "The Republic Confederacy isn't going to go away. We've figured that out after twenty years. On all counts, an alliance of this kind is a smart idea. If I ever do want to carry on the family tree, as it were, she's a Jedi; my children would be two fold as powerful. It's a good political tool for them, and the Republicans can't keep up a war effort forever. It's a political venture in which everyone wins, more or less."
The Emperor smiled, put the paper down and leaned one hand onto the desk. "But I was never willing to use you as a political tool."
His son smiled again. "Yes, I know that, father." He sighed, stood up. "It's silly to worry about it. They haven't accepted yet, and I'm not entirely convinced they will. Probably, but not certainly. The event is months away, there's drafts to be written, details to hash out."
"But this whole marriage thing…it seems rather ridiculous, almost."
"It's my idea," Luke reminded, relaxing indolently in the chair. "And I've already explained the reasons. If I don't like her, if you don't like her, we'll take her out of the picture. But for an alliance of this kind, they're going to want some eyes and ears in their investment. Even if they balk at marriage, they're going to want an agent of some kind here."
Vader sighed, slowly lowering himself into his chair. At forty eight, his son reflected occasionally, he really didn't look so bad. There was a scar on his face from a close fight with…with the person who Luke tried to keep unnamed, but never quite succeeded. His blond hair had grayed, his blue eyes were now more steely grey, and he was displaying a vigor of health that they both knew was rapidly declining. So Luke kind of wanted to get married in order to assure his father that the family dynasty would continue. Even if it didn't, even if it ended up being a hallow gesture, well, he'd tried, at any rate.
"Now, who's this girl you've picked out?"
The son smiled, pointed at her picture. "The youngest, prettiest Jedi girl I could find. Well, you know, if she didn't look so damn severe."
The youngest, pretties Jedi girl the Imperial Prince could find wasn't a bad pick, considering that the other established Jedi were all old from before the Empire, and well before that, if one included the dying Master Yoda, and she was the oldest of the new breed, rather one of a kind in that situation. The rest were young children under Yoda's care. What was to be done after they were no longer Younglings was being debated.
The girl was Mara Jade, twenty five, Jedi Knight. And as to her future, she'd mostly expected to take on a Padawan and spit the Empire in the eye until her dying breath. Alright, true, the few living Jedi – the remaining was a beautiful grand total of three, and that included her – had adapted somewhat reluctantly from the old ways to face the new age they were thrust into. Relationships were not yet considered taboo – sort of. She was the only one of age or interest, and she lacked the interest. Besides, if she had taken a liking to someone, Yoda would have done his worst to get her to see otherwise, and Obi-Wan would have kept a very firm eye on the entire situation. The urge had never really sprang up enough for her to rebel like the founder of the new line of Jedi – the father of the Imperial Prince.
But getting married was a step too far for all the Jedi, more or less. And she had a problem getting married for two reasons: One, she had never met this man in her entire life. And for two, he just happened to be that self same Imperial Prince, son of that self same Sith Lord who had eventually all but destroyed the Jedi.
Mara was the second Jedi not to be raised from birth – to be followed by those Younglings that now studied under Yoda. And it looked like she'd be the second to get married.
That was still being debated, she sighed to herself, as she watched the Senate tear each other to bits. But their tearing was what made the make-shift Republic what it was, and she reminded herself of that as she leaned her elbow on the railing of the visitors balcony, empty, save for her. She wasn't well versed in politics like her almost fiancée, and she wasn't interested in being his ticket to a whole lot of heirs; if he so much as tried that, there would be words. And her lightsaber would do most of the talking.
Still, she wasn't getting married. Yet. That's what the Senate was arguing over.
Anakin Skywalker didn't just destroy the Jedi, she thought to herself. He totally revolutionized them.
"Bureaucracy at its finest, isn't it?"
She wheeled, instinctually grinning to see Master Obi-Wan Kenobi leaning against the doorway. "Unfortunately," he was continuing, "that's really rather a true statement."
She tried to sort of wipe the grin off her face, and she failed miserably. "Good day, Master Obi-Wan."
"Alright," he walked in, stood next to her on the balcony and gripped the rail, "there's the niceties, now why don't you be your normal, back talking self and tell me what your think of this whole fiasco."
"I don't backtalk!" she cried, attempting to be horrified. He snorted, shot her a look. Leaning against the rail, she finally replied, "I'm not sure yet. Do they even know how ridiculous it sounds?"
"I suspect they do," he said dryly. "But that's why it makes so much sense."
She paused a moment, finally asked, "What do you think I should do? The Senate can argue all it wants, but I suppose, ultimately, its me who has to answer Skywalker's….interesting proposal."
"Mhm," Obi-Wan replied, watching as one senator stepped down and another one stood up – an endless cycle of jabbering. He gave her one good once over and said, "You're too young."
"What?" she laughed. "I'm twenty five."
"Twenty five, when did you turn twenty five?"
"You know perfectly well when, and that's not a good enough answer."
He turned and looked at her fully, smiled. "I…I don't know, Mara," he sighed. "I raised you since you were Anakin's age-"
"Now, don't start comparing me to your last Padawan," she interrupted, now glaring and starting to storm out of the balcony while he followed.
"I wasn't comparing you."
"Of course you were, you always have! Master," she turned to him in the dimly lit staircase, and Obi-Wan was struck once more with the fact that his second Padawan had grown up, they always did. "I am never going to be Anakin Skywalker."
"Just marry his son?"
She sighed heavily, continued walking. "Not necessarily. I haven't decided yet."
"Mara," he stopped her with his voice. "I would ask you to be careful."
"You know I would be."
"Ha!" he laughed. "Careful. Yoda's been calling you reckless since the day I brought you back to Alderaan. Careful. There's a laugh."
"I'm asking for your advice!" she reminded him passionately. "But I'm asking you to also respect the decisions I will make. You always knew I had to make my own choices. You said you accepted that."
"And I do," he reminded, walking slowly to her side. "And I do not believe you will be like Anakin, not if you set your mind to it. Now," he continued, taking her arm affably and leading her down a different staircase. "I believe some of the Senators wanted to talk to you about your decision."
She stopped, grinned at him again. "The Organas?"
He sighed, glanced at her. "Who else has such an appalling interest in your well being?"
The senators began to pour out in droves from the main door where Mara and her former Master waited, talking quietly amongst themselves. Some of them stopped and wished her luck in her decision, and others looked about ready to talk her ear off when a gentle hand took hers and pulled her away not only from the other senators but from Obi-Wan, who was powerless to stop politicians.
"That's enough questions, the Jedi can answer them all when they're a little better informed."
"Thank you, Senator Amidala," Mara whispered, overwhelmed by how much interest was suddenly geared in her direction. She was used to being more or less ignored unless a Jedi subject came up, and rarely had it ever given her much more publicity.
Padmè Amidala Skywalker Organa smirked at her. "You are simply not a politician, my dear," she sighed wearily. The still striking woman, now fifty three year old woman whispered to her, "You do have the right to not answer their questions."
"Much like the press," another voice piped in wryly, and Mara turned to find the elder senator's daughter walking towards them, trailed by her father, as usual. Leia was tugging furiously at the intricate braids set in her hair, and Padmè released her surrogate child to keep her biological one from destroying the beautiful work she'd done on her hair.
"Leia," she scolded. "It looks fine."
"I feel silly, and I'm a year younger than Mara, and a senator. I refuse to look silly," the brunette protested, giving up as her mother dutifully fixed her hair.
"Padmè," Bail interceded on behalf of the twenty four year old girl, "come on, she looks fine. You don't need to work on it."
Padmè muttered something unintelligible between a pin in her teeth, toying with her daughter's hair as Obi-Wan joined them, finally escaping the throng of curious senators.
"Good afternoon, Senator Organa," Mara respectfully said.
"None of that, now, I'm practically your uncle."
"That's because," Obi-Wan sighed, "you all insisted on meddling with the Jedi's raising of her."
"Oh, it's just as well," Leia replied, shaking off her mother and patting her head carefully. "Mara would have given you infinite trouble on your own."
"Infinite trouble, would she?" he retorted sarcastically as the girls smiled at each other. The serious and spunky princess by lineage and the reclusive and promising student of the Force had been the closest to being best friends as the other had had. "And what was she with your help, for goodness' sake?"
The Organa's had taken an immediate and thorough interest in Mara since the moment she'd been brought to the new Temple to train. She suspected it was largely due to Padmè's firm desire to sort of earn forgiveness for her part of Anakin's fall.
"It seems," Bail said, changing the subject, "that you've got quite a decision resting on your shoulders."
"What did the Senate decide?" she asked anxiously.
"They don't have a problem with it," Padmè sighed with firm misgivings. "But they think the ultimate decision should lie with you and the Jedi."
"They'll follow whatever you decide," Leia added, more serious now.
Mara paused a moment, glanced at the woman who had been a profound presence in her life since she was seven. "Senator Amidala…what do you think I should do? Do you like the idea?"
Padmè shook her head. "I don't like the idea. But I'm not going to influence your decision."
"Come, Mara," Obi-Wan sighed. "I think we're all going to have to have a long talk about this." They said their goodbyes and the two Jedi strolled off together. "I do agree with Senator Amidala," he spoke softly. "But I'm not sure either of our reasons are good enough to refuse the offer. It's a tremendous responsibility."
Mara paused a moment, heaved a sigh. "Would it help the people? The trading lane deals, the peace treaty, the recognition, all of that?"
"Oh, yes, tremendously."
"Then, if Master Yoda agrees," she finally said, stopping and taking a deep breath, "I will go to Coruscant."