Disclaimer: I own this not.
Author's Note: This must be inspired by re-reading LLL's truly amazing Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which re-kindled my Star Wars inspiration, which I honestly thought had gone for good. Also, Ziggy ought to be mentioned, as she once talked of writing a piece about of soprano during the Empire, which I never found out if she wrote or not.
Summary: The now-old operatic soprano, Oelil Nin, writing several years after the fall of the Empire, describes the relationship she once had with Senator Palpatine.
The Music of the Spheres
I'm slightly ashamed of myself that I'm writing this down. But then, now that I'm just another old woman in a galaxy full of old women, I don't suppose anyone will ever read this data-chip – although my grandchildren may get a nasty shock should they go too deeply into old Mama Oelil's files.
I have never talked about my relationship with Palpatine with anyone. What would people say anyway? They'd probably call me unspeakable things and then secretly wonder what it was like – what it felt like. Well, I can tell you now that he was different. Not before or since have I met someone so infallible, who really seemed to know the perfect words, the perfect manner, the perfect strategy, the perfect outcome…and the perfect caress. Perfection isn't in many people. I'm not saying he was perfect – I'm just saying that… he was it. Flawed, undeniably, obviously, awfully… but still…
These young idealists nowadays – freedom, government for the people, all that, they look on the Old Republic as a kind old granny – like me – that's looking down on them benevolently from wherever dead governments go when they die. Well. I can tell you it wasn't heaven, and it could be as mean as a rancor on a bad day – but it was damn fun, and dear gods could we throw parties back then. Wonderful parties… I remember one time when… but I digress.
I was a singer – the only human soprano to sing at Galaxies – other beings' voices having greater capacity and range. It made me want to cry sometimes, hearing creatures like Bith perform – if the gods wanted me to sing, I used to fume, why did they make me human? It was my secret shame – knowing that I could never be as good as others who where simply created better.
I worked like crazy – did everything I could – and it earned me my place in the Company. The single human, the ugly duckling who struggled to master her own voice while others saw and manipulated sound as if it were colours dancing before their eyes; jealousy coiled in my gut every time I heard anyone else sing.
But the audience loved me – I don't know why. Reviewers said my voice had a passion, it was so emotional compared to anyone else they heard back then that it resonated with the public, their palate jaded by the aural perfection others might offer. I began to be invited to all the right parties, to mix with galactic luminaries as a star in my own right. And that's where I met him.
He was one of those hide-in-a-corner-with-a-few-pals-and-sip-something kind of people, you know, the ones who smile like they're drunk but are actually taking hours over their first glass? We all know them. They'd rather be caught dead than hung over in the morning. On this particular night he was wearing a dark, midnight blue tunic. He was talking about the "problems inherent in stabilizing the outer-rim" to a group of other politicos and then he looked up at me. It wasn't love at first sight and it didn't make my heart quicken. It was just a shared glance. He excused himself and made his way over.
– You're trying to imagine anyone looking too long at your wrinkled old granny, aren't you? Well, I didn't always look like this! I was a prize in my day, gloriously young with glossy dark hair, black eyes, good skin, good figure: the whole deal; I could strut my stuff with the best of them.
"You're Oelil Nin," he stated softly, "I went to the premiere of The Mirrored Palace – as I didn't congratulate you then; may I do so now? It was sublime."
I smiled and laughed. "You're far too kind – but I don't know who you are…?"
He bowed. "Senator Palpatine, at your service – Sectorial Representative of Naboo," he was maybe in his late forties, early fifties – you will have seen holo-recordings of his speeches back then – but they don't give you anything of his manner, which was warm and polite; but less formal that you might think; he moved gracefully, like dancers move when they aren't actually dancing; not showy, but keenly aware of even the smallest movements they make, every gesture carrying meaning, calculated to illustrate something.
I'd had senators before, I'd had a lot of people before and I wasn't interested in him particularly – but it was a party and we'd connected, so why not chat? Why not do more that chat? I was in the mood, and he was there and paying me compliments and he was making me laugh too. So that's how I ended up kissing him while being flown back to his apartments.
The doors slid open and we rustled in, wrapped up in each other, but something in the décor struck me to much to ignore – it was completely red: the carpets, the walls, the ceiling, all of it exactly the same shade of crimson, it was like stepping inside a womb. Black, grey and white sculptures rose and curled about the room, their still, tall forms casting shadows in the low-lights.
"What a strange place you've made for yourself..." I breathed, gazing about. "It's almost sinister."
"Others have said as much," he admitted, "but this is Coruscant. Taste is relative." A droid brought us more drinks and we were in his bedroom, shedding clothes, both of us pasty under our finery, lives spent in dark theatres of one sort or another, under artificial lights. He ran his hands over my curves and I nuzzled at his neck, extending manicured nails through his ginger pubic hair and down to close around his sex. His eyelids fluttered and he moved his own hands down too, to massage my clit. And then he asked me gently if I would sing. And somehow when he said it, it wasn't insulting – like just me wasn't enough – but insanely flattering: here was someone so utterly turned on by my singing… it was wonderful.
I started with just a single note: an A – as if I were tuning, a long, pure note, stretching on and resounding between our bodies, and from that the melody unfolded, slow and beautiful, pulsing with vibrato, while he worshipped me with his tongue and eventually I couldn't help but gasp and the music vanished – he raised his head and his pupils of his blue eyes contracted and he just ordered me to keep going – forcing me to continue, and it was as though he himself took control of my vocal chords as he entered me, playing me like an instrument, our bodies keeping time together, and he wouldn't let me stop until it was over for both of us in one final burst of sound and everything collapsed.
He was gone when I woke up. One of his droids told me he left for his senatorial offices early and breakfasted there. So there would be no repeat of last night's performance. I lay in bed and tried to work out if it was drink that caused me to imagine him, what, possessing me or if he really had? He was no Jedi to meddle with my thoughts; everyone knew that the Jedi didn't allow people with those kinds of abilities to escape their notice, leaving me with no choice but to blame the wine… only… only I hadn't felt fuzzy, but sharply aware of every note and every thrust.
I resolved to learn everything I could about Senator Palpatine and made it a priority to have sex with him again at the first available opportunity. But first I had to get out of his bed and race like the furies to get to rehearsals on time.
He came to the opera that night. We were playing 'The Life & Death of Reecu's Heart', an old Correllian classic and I was playing Aalai, which mostly consisted of duets and ensembles – but I did have one song all to myself, second song into the third act. I'd seen Senator Palpatine during the interval (I didn't have a costume change) up in one of the boxes to the right of the stage. And although I couldn't see him when the lights went down, I felt his eyes on me and then it… happened again. My voice swelled and fell of its own accord, hypnotically, and I just had to keep singing, because if I didn't I feared that something truly terrible would happen while in the same moment rejoicing because my voice had never sounded this beautiful – last night I hadn't been listening to myself, feeling rather than hearing the sounds, gods it was heartbreaking. Aalai knows she's been poisoned and this is her death song – and pain was just pouring out of me, exquisite, beautiful, terrible, endless pain – the melody wound onward and finally it ended and the power that sustained all that anguish released me, leaving me heaving for air and falling to the floor all of my own accord, as though he'd really killed me.
There was silence and Tyr'ae entered and was just about to discover that I'd been poisoned, either by my own hand or another's, when the noise began. It rose up above and around me like a huge wave, finally crashing down into cheering, shouting, stamping, crazy applause such as only two thousand beings of 800 or more different species can make, while tears ran down my face. It went on and on and on, until Tyr'ae helped me to my feet and I managed a few wobbly bows, which only made them louder. Tyr'ae knew I couldn't lie there for two more arias as I was supposed to, so he half-carried me off-stage, handed me to a Rodian stage hand who carried me to my dressing-room and then went on with the opera pretending to cry out at seeing a body that wasn't there.
I sat there shaking, while two more acts unfolded. I expected him to come straight away, to congratulate me, kiss me, hold me, thank me, whatever. But he didn't. He sat and listened the rest of it and came in with everyone else afterward. And during the space in between I couldn't help but have the appalling thought: does he do this to every lead in the Company? Did he feel nothing for me? I was incapable going up to take my bows, of gracefully receiving the inevitable flowers, and congratulations such as I had never received and when he entered I just broke apart.
"Out!" I screamed, "EVERYONE OUT!!" my eyes fixed on his.
And then we were alone. He was affable, quiet: normal. "What you did to me… I suppose you do it to everyone, then? That's how our respected senator gets his thrills, is that it?"
He shook his head and spread his palms, lifting his arms a little, conciliatory. "Oelil, please; I assure you that what… we… have is ours alone. And your remarkable gift is yours alone…" It's a gentle murmur, reassuring; he's touching me now, his pale, veined hands on my arms. "You're a beautiful instrument, Oelil."
A beautiful instrument... I began to cry again and he took me in his arms. We were about the same height, our chins resting easily one another's shoulders. I didn't ask him how; even then I didn't want to know, for I feared that the question would destroy everything in an instant, that it would break some sacred pact between us. I wondered dumbly at this man whom I had met just last night and about whom I now solely orbited, drawn to him with all the fierce gravitational pull of a gigantic sun.
He didn't come every night and I didn't go every night either. After that first night he mostly only ever came to the premieres, for which I was grateful. As a result, people began to say that I was never the same on opening night – which it brought out something "special" in me. But just occasionally, he'd turn up on the odd night, just occasionally, you understand, and surprise me. He understood that every night would probably break me; the sex was more than enough without that as well.
Our copulation was modulated, adagio or molto vivace or moderato alla breve – he was in love with my voice and my body what he could do with them and I was in love with that too. I don't believe he ever considered me for just me, but I can hardly blame him for that, as I was as guilty of that as he was. When he became Supreme Chancellor this only escalated. He was the very embodiment of power and anyone who doesn't honestly admire that is a fool, plain and simple.
And then… and then… I lost my voice. It was on stage. I still remember every word of that opera. Kalaa & Pranessi, opening night – the end of the second Act – a song about first love, a simple aria, no complex melody, no particularly difficult passages, but as I began, that sublime power drawing such sound out of me, and I started a scale and – I stopped in a strangled, painful gasp. I didn't even think to be embarrassed; I was so shocked, that the unthinkable had really happened: I had stopped singing. I felt him take hold of me again, roughly, hurting me, and force me to try again, and again and again, but all there was were these horrible noises and I screamed, not sonorously, but with an ugly, twisted shriek, long and tortured. And then I think I must have fainted.
He didn't come. I waited and waited and he didn't come. And though everyone was full of pity and comfort – nobody really approached me or offered anything substantial. It was then that I realised how isolated I had become, how alienated from everyone around me. My life had lost its meaning and no one cared enough to help me find another.
I tried to see him repeatedly, but his aides turned me away, I'm afraid he's very busy, you must understand the hectic schedule, he's in an important meeting, I'm sorry but I have to ask you to leave.
I'd like to tell you I eventually got to rail and throw things at him while he softly explained that he simply didn't want me anymore, that he regretted it, but you can't play a broken instrument, can you? I re-played that scene so many times in my mind that it almost seemed to me as though it really happened. But it never did – I never spoke to him again. I still saw him – on the holo-net, of course, a few times at the opera in the distance, but never up close.
Eventually, I left Coruscant. Got married, had children. It was hard at first, but I found new meaning in my husband and three gorgeous girls. I never told anyone of my relationship with the man who was now our Galactic Sovereign – why should I? But now that death is breathing down my neck I think somebody should know what happened between us and that, whatever else it was, it was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life but when I think about it now, I wonder what might have happened if I had never met him – would I still have lost my voice, did he force it to its limits and break it with his strength? Or if I hadn't – how long would he have kept me? I don't know.
But I would do it all again if I could. Just one more time.
Oelil Nin died two days after saving this file. Her last word, to the surprise of her children was "Palpatine." They never found this file, which was discovered much later, hidden behind a bench, after the house was sold, and, once discovered it was promptly put on the holo-net, where it achieved a cult status for a while. Devotees of the dead Emperor cite it as an example of Palpatine's supreme, almost god-like, power and his more numerous detractors take it as an example of his unnatural need for power over people. Whose was the bright idea to put it on the required reading list for Year 16 History students all over the Republic I'm not sure, but I'm glad they did.