A/N: This is a response to a challenge that I got from a different site, called Musical Songfic Roulette. Each participant was given a song from a Broadway show and we had to incorporate that song somehow into our response fics. I decided not to do a traditional songfic, and this is the result. I'm not exactly sure what my muse was thinking… it's kind of… erm… yeah. I'm not entirely happy with it, but oh well.
Anyways, this is set in a completely AU environment where the PT did not happen. It is a slightly dark Vader/Padmé one-shot in which Senator Amidala contemplates and finally faces her attraction to the mysterious Lord Vader.
The song that this is inspired by is The Music of the Night from The Phantom of the Opera.
Unto the Darkness of the Night
Twilight. The time of encroaching blackness, where the shadows of the night come to life. The time where light surrenders to dark, the time where the beauty of day draws its last breath, giving in to the beauty of dark night unfurls its splendour across the sky.
When I was a child, twilight was my least favourite hour. It heralded the monsters created by my own imagination which haunted my dreams. My only protection was the comfort of my mother's embrace, my father's soothing words. Don't cry, Padmé, for the darkness will pass…
I am no longer a child.
The night-time air gently plays across my face, brushing through my hair like a lover's soft fingers as I walk across the smooth surface of the Galaxies Opera House roof. I cannot even begin to imagine why he has asked me here. Always in the shadows, he is – the black knight, the lord of darkness. He never reveals his face. I have seen him only once, yet heard his voice so many times, gently calling out to me.
I can hear his voice across my memory, forever calling out to me, whispering my name. Ever since I came to Coruscant from my home on Naboo, he has been there, watching, waiting, always just out of sight. Were I to see him, I would not recognize him. It is only by the sound of his voice that I do know him.
His voice is the one that sets the blood in my veins aflame.
I cannot understand it. This man of shadows, whom I have never met though I know his name, intoxicates my sensations, my very being. I hear his voice and my heart soars. Though I have never seen his face, I know him more closely than any other person in this Galaxy or the next. I have been wandering in the dark ever since I came to Coruscant. From the shadows, he has taught me the ways of the city, the ways of the complex aristocracy that surrounds the Galactic Empire. If it were not for him, I would not have survived, Senator of Naboo though I am.
And so the wind plays with my hair as twilight settles in around me. I am alone here, on the roof, surrounded by shadows. My hands are held limply at my sides, gently brushing the folds of my evening gown. I lean against the railing that lines the opera house's roof, gazing out at the Coruscanti night sky. I cannot even hear faint sounds of the busy traffic below me. I am too far up, too far away from the monotone lives of others.
I am alone in the night.
I close my eyes and breathe in deeply; it is calm up here. Quiet. I wonder briefly where he is; he said that he would meet me here. He asked me to meet him here. In my mind's eye, I imagine him standing behind me, waiting for the right moment to speak. I try to imagine what he looks like, but I cannot picture a face to go with that seductive voice.
I could swear that my heart has stopped beating as I hear how my name rolls gently off his tongue. I open my eyes and turn around.
There is little light on the roof of the opera house. Lord Vader is cloaked in shadow, as he has always been. I can just barely make out his profile in the darkness, let alone any features of his face.
"You have come," he says quietly.
I nod my head a fraction of an inch. I can feel my heart thundering beneath my breast. It takes me a moment to formulate words. Why can I not think straight whenever I hear the sound of his voice? It has always been this way. I cannot understand it. It mystifies me. This is the first time I have ever been in his presence… a fact which makes it even more difficult for me to think.
Breathe, I tell myself. Just breathe.
"Why have you asked me here?" I finally say. I am glad that I am speaking with a steadiness that defies my rapid heartbeat.
"You have come here for one purpose," he replies, "and one alone."
I lift my chin. "And what purpose is that, my lord? I do admit that I came here because you asked me to. How is it that I have a purpose in mind?"
I hear a light chuckle. "I was not speaking of your desires, my lady," he says. "My invitation was due to a purpose I have for you – and only you."
I raise an eyebrow. Only me? What purpose could he have in mind? I came here out of intrigue and curiosity – and the solid, undeniable fact that I could not resist his call. His voice.
"I have brought you to the seat of my throne," Lord Vader continues, still standing still in the shadows, "to this kingdom where all must pay homage to darkness. To the beauty of twilight."
"Twilight…" My voice is a whisper. I glance at the sky, at the darkening streaks of red that still glow on the horizon. I feel the light kiss of the wind on my hair, once again. I swallow and ready myself to speak again. "Why me, Lord Vader?" I ask. "I have been on Coruscant but nine months, I have been part of the court for such a small amount of time –"
"Ah, my angel," he interrupts, "when I first heard your voice, when I first sensed your presence at the Emperor's court, I have needed you with me."
I tremble at his words. Angel, he called me. He has called me that before. The name sends a shiver down my spine – a frightened shiver, but I cannot help but feel drawn even closer to him, though we still stand yards apart.
"You serve the Emperor as the Senator of Naboo, my lady," Lord Vader says, "but your fate is one of much higher prestige."
"Come, my angel," he says, extended a hand. I notice that it is gloved. "Come with me and I will show you my realm above this world you call home."
I approach him cautiously, though my heart longs to run to him. Once again, my emotions mystify me just as much as they intoxicate me, while my brain still inserts some sense into my being.
I am now standing before him, taking his gloved hand in mine. I can see him properly now; he is cloaked in black, his hood drawn over his head, shielding his face from view. I sense a bitter tang of disappointment. I have been longing to see his face, to be the first courtier to have done so. Many stories circulate the Emperor's court about Lord Vader. Some say he keeps to the shadows because he is scarred; some believe that he is a warrior who answers only to the Emperor himself, and that is why he is never present at court; others scoff and say he is merely a phantom created by myth and legend and the court's own overactive imagination.
But I know the truth. Lord Vader is a real man, a very real man of flesh and blood – and I am to discover why he keeps away from court, though his name is on the lips of every sentient being on Coruscant.
We walk slowly, hand-in-hand, across the opera house's roof.
"Tell me, my lady," Lord Vader says presently, "are you afraid of the dark, of the night?"
I hesitate before answering. "I was once," I say slowly. "When I was a child."
"There is no need to be afraid anymore," he says softly, drawing to a halt. He raises a gloved hand and gently brushes his fingers across my cheek. I tremble uncontrollably. "The night is freedom from the garish light of day. The world of the living is cold and unfeeling. Darkness is release from that life."
"What do you mean?"
"You spend most your time at court, correct?" He turns to me and looks me directly in the face – though I still cannot see his.
"Yes," I answer.
"Can you not stand being surrounded by the richly dressed fools," Lord Vader continues, his voice low, "who's only purpose is to gossip and stab each other in the back?"
"The Senators are only fools," he concludes. "Rich, pompous fools who draw the attention of the public. The real work is done in the darkness, my angel, far away from prying eyes. It is to this world that I bring you."
My thoughts are whirling as my mind attempts to digest what he is telling me.
"Yes," he says softly. "It is I who does the Emperor's bidding, who carries out his every wish so as to make sure the Empire does not collapse. It is I, his servant cloaked in darkness, who does his duty – and you can share it with me, my lady."
He catches my wrist and pulls me close. "Turn your face away," he murmurs into my ear, "and purge your thoughts of the life you knew before. I can offer you a free life, my lady. A life in the dark – yes – but is that not better? It is only here that your fantasies can come true, only here that you can live as you've never lived before! Do you not understand?"
"No!" I exclaim. "I understand, Lord Vader, I understand every word, but I do not—"
"Then surrender to your darkest dreams," he says, interrupting my words, "and leave all thoughts of your other world behind. Come with me and stay. Trust me, my lady. Let your dream begin."
"I…" My heart has begun to beat rapidly again. I glance at my fingers, intertwined with his gloved ones. There is a lump in my throat. Everything he has said is true. Senator though I am, all they ever do is gossip and talk useless talk. Here, standing with me, is the man who is the one who serves the Galaxy – just as I wish to serve. Yes, he walks in shadows – shadows which frighten everyone – but there is a beauty about darkness as well. A calm, undisturbed quality that is uninterrupted by the boisterous distractions of the world of day… a quality that began to draw me in when I first came to Coruscant and has never stopped working since that day.
I can feel my blood pounding in my veins. So close… he is so close to me, this mysterious lord who captured my heart and intrigued my mind, the man who is offering me the chance to escape.
Twilight has descended. I raise my face and look up at Lord Vader.
And, held in his embrace, I surrender unto the darkness of the night.