STANDARD DISCLAIMER/CREDIT WHERE CREDIT
IS DUE: The characters belong to George Lucas. This fic was
inspired by the song "Heads We're Dancing", which belongs to
Kate Bush. If you are interested, the lyrics to the song follow.
Darth Vader had not
wanted to attend the masquerade ball. He'd had to wear a costume
every day of his life since being thrown into a lava pit by his former
teacher, Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, and so the prospect of changing one
costume for another wasn't a thrilling one. But the Emperor (or rather
his Hand, Mara Jade) had spoken, and Vader was compelled to comply, though
he strongly suspected that the ball was Jade's idea, not the increasingly
isolated Emperor's. The Emperor generally allowed Jade to do as she
pleased, and if she wanted to hold a masquerade ball, he would indulge
her. Vader had to admit that his costume was perfect. It was
actually a prototype life support suit that Imperial scientists had had
in development for months and then abandoned as unworkable, for it would
only supply him with a couple hours' worth of life support. Changing
an expensive suit every few hours would not be feasible for both financial
and practical reasons, so Vader was left with the single finished prototype,
which until now had hung in his closet mocking him with false promises
of normalcy. Tonight, however, for the space of a few hours, he would
be Anakin Skywalker (in appearance at least) once more.
Princess Leia Organa
strolled around the ballroom of the Imperial Palace. She could see
the glitter of her jewels and smell the scent of her perfume. Her
disguise, she knew, was perfect. She wore a long purple sheath dress
with diaphanous purple and green sleeves. A purple and green butterfly
mask concealed her face, and her hair was hidden under a purple cap from
which sprouted the feathery feelers of a butterfly. She was trying
so hard to monitor the conversations going on around her that she started
in surprise when she felt a hand fall on her shoulder.
"Heads we're dancing," the blond man said, smiling.
"I beg your pardon?" she asked, forgetting for a moment to disguise her voice as she'd planned. The man drew a coin from his pocket.
"Heads we're dancing," he repeated. He flipped the coin, and Leia watched it as it spun through the air. He caught it, slapped it onto the back of his hand and showed her the results. Heads. Well, and why not? she thought. He's handsome enough… in fact, he reminds me of Luke in a way. She smiled and stepped into his arms.
She laughed as he spun her around the dance floor. She hadn't felt this carefree since… well, since before she had agreed to take the stolen Death Star plans to her father on Alderaan. She suddenly wondered when it was that she had forgotten how to be young.
Vader had known who
she was as soon as he'd spotted her. The way she carried herself,
her mannerisms, and her body language all gave her away. He knew
she was there to gather what information she could, and he knew he should
take her into custody immediately. He had approached her with every
intention of doing so, but instead, for some inexplicable reason, he'd
found himself asking her to dance. Perhaps it was the lack of recognition
in her brown velvet eyes - or perhaps it was the absence of fear and revulsion.
When she'd turned to see who touched her, she had responded to him as one
human being to another. He suddenly found he missed that. She
was young, beautiful - why not have a dance with her? After all,
he was at the ball by the Emperor's own command. Plus, there was
something familiar about her… she reminded him a bit of… no, best not to
think of that. The music came to an end, and Leia put her arm through
his and allowed him to escort her off the dance floor.
"Would you like something to eat?" he asked solicitously. She smiled up at him.
"Sure." He led her to the buffet table, his arm still linked with hers. "You know," she said suddenly, "I don't even know your name."
"Anakin," he replied. "And yours?" He didn't really expect an honest answer, but she surprised him.
"Leia," she told him. His eyebrows went up, but he did not comment. He took a clean plate and began piling it with food. "So, Anakin, what exactly do you do?"
"What do I do?" He sounded bemused by the question. "Do you mean, what is my occupation?"
"Yes," she replied, smiling up at him. "Are you in the military? Are you a bureaucrat?" He was unsure how to respond.
"I am in the military," he finally replied. He felt he should elaborate. "I am a stormtrooper," he told her. Not exactly a lie, he reflected. She shook her head; now it was her turn to look bemused.
"You find that amusing?" he asked, smiling.
"I'm sorry," she told him. "You just seem too nice to be a stormtrooper." If only you knew, Anakin thought, his bemusement suddenly taking on a bitter edge. As he handed her the plate of food he'd carefully prepared for her, a man wearing the gray uniform of a Grand Moff hurried over to them. The new arrival gave Anakin an abbreviated bow. Leia was too busy worrying that this man had recognized her to wonder why a Grand Moff would show such elaborate courtesy to a mere stormtrooper. She clung to Anakin's arm and ducked her head, trying to hide herself behind him without appearing to do so.
"What is it?" Anakin asked the Grand Moff.
"A minor situation demands your attention, Lord Vader."
"I will be there in a moment," he told the Grand Moff, who bowed again and walked away. Leia caught her breath. Vader! This charming man was Vader! She felt her blood go cold in her veins. The plate of food he had just handed to her clattered to the floor, shattering.
Vader looked down at Leia and saw the hatred, fear and revulsion in her eyes. Ah, so much like the way my beautiful angel looked at me in the end. He felt a physical pain in his chest. He closed his eyes, trying to compose himself.
"Leia Organa," he finally said. He felt her cringe, knowing she had been found out. He grasped her arm, and she shuddered. Darth Vader may have been able to take this fragile-looking child into custody and torture her for information once again, but Anakin Skywalker found that he could not. He gave her a rough shove towards the grand double doors of the ballroom. "Go," he said quietly. "Go now, before I change my mind." She remained rooted to the spot in shock and fear. "GO!" he bellowed. Leia fled.