Characters: Padmé Amidala, Dormé, Anakin Skywalker
Rating: PG for one suggestive reference
Summary: There was only one thing that gown was good for.
Author Notes: This originally began as an entry for the long-ago "Corset" challenge in a Padmé discussion thread over on the fan fic resource board over at TF.N, which among other things had to explain how Padmé acquired her lovely Padawan brain-killing leather dress. ;)
Disclaimer: It all belongs to George - including Anakin, alas...
"What do you mean, you don't have a record of it?" Padmé lifted up the offending item, holding up a sheaf of something black in front of her as if it were a squirming rewl cat. "This is not the gown I sent to your designers yesterday - "
"Senator - "
"Unless I'm somehow mistaken, of course," she added, in a suddenly delicate tone.
The poor being on the other end of the comm signal looked as if he wanted to shrivel up in his chair (which itself would've been a task, as his species seemed nothing but wrinkles), and at the moment, Dormé believed Senator Amidala was not inclined to discourage him from that. "I - I'm sorry, Senator. That is the item number that our records have on file from your office."
"Then your records are wrong."
"Senator - " he began again.
"The gown I sent to be altered was to be worn at the reception being held by Chancellor Palpatine tonight," Padmé cut in softly, eyes glittering. "Does this look like something someone would wear in public, much less in front of the Chancellor of the Republic?"
Was it Dormé's imagination, or did the receptionist look like he was actually contemplating that idea?
"I - I think it's quite stunning, milady," he managed, skin flushing blue to purple. Dormé couldn't decide whether to credit the young - at least she thought he was, it was hard to tell with the wrinkles - Ardolan on the screen with nerve, or simple stupidity, venturing a comment of that nature with Padmé in her current state. Violent explosions were not in Senator Amidala's reputation, but she was more than gifted at making much taller beings seem half her small height with the look Dormé saw chiseled on her face now.
It had been four months since the Senator had taken a full day off, and not one of those days had gone by where Dormé hadn't heard the words "Military Creation Act" drip from her Lady's mouth. Padmé had never really heeded Dormé's - or anyone else's, for that matter - gentle reminders that even as a powerful Senator of the Republic, she was not superhuman. (Granted, she seemed to come close at times, this moment included.) And though she hadn't truly exploded this time, the cracks did finally seem to be wearing through to the surface, far more easily than they usually did.
Yesterday afternoon Padmé had been in the final stages of preparations for her committee's meeting with the main drafters of the Act tomorrow morning when the request had come in from the Chancellor himself about how much he would appreciate the representative of his home world making an appearance at tonight's gathering, a benefit for newly displaced refugees from the Separatist incursions on Jabiim. Palpatine had even all too-casually dropped in a reference to Padmé's own years in the Refugee Relief Movement making her an even more ideally suited representative for this reception.
Dormé knew it wasn't that Padmé didn't care about the refugee issue - far from it - but that she was expected to put aside at the last moment something she'd believed would do more in the long run for the galaxy, and these children, than symbolically patting their heads and promising help she couldn't promise would ever make it to them. Padmé's time in the Movement had made clear to her just how little that was earmarked to help the Republic's displaced made it anywhere near them - it'd been a big part of what had driven her to continue on in public service.
It was also exactly why Padmé would be going tonight.
With a scowl Padmé deactivated the comm signal, sliding back in her chair, the object of her consternation flopping pitifully over the arm of the chair next to her.
"Not very diplomatic, milady," Dormé murmured from the door; Padmé jerked up her head so suddenly Dormé almost took a step backward, but the edges of a grin didn't fade from her face.
"Would you prefer me to call and cancel your appearance? You've had a busy week, no one would think the less of you," Dormé ventured, even knowing the chance the Senator would actually agree to that.
Surprisingly, Padmé managed a smile, if a small one. "I would, Dormé. But thank you."
Dormé went to the gown and lifted it up, frowning. While certainly not something one would consider proper attire for a Senate function, it really was not unattractive - but obviously suited for events far less high-profile than tonight's. In fact, Dormé could think of only one setting this gown would be appropriate for, and found herself holding back a grin at the idea of her Lady, especially as she was at this moment, in that situation, probably the sort of imagined situation that had made the Ardolan receptionist blush.
The top of the gown was a snugly bound leather corset, surprisingly soft, leading into a clinging skirt of gray silk overlaid with black lace. With it was a matching pair of fingerless, elbow-length gloves and a feathered shawl which to Dormé seemed a halfhearted attempt at modesty on a gown that certainly wasn't tailored for it. While beautiful, it was still very much at the opposite end of the spectrum from anything Dormé had ever known Padmé Amidala to wear, and she found her grin fading.
Padmé was a stunning woman and this would have been gorgeous on her, and many humanoid males would think it even more than that. It wasn't like Padmé had never had the chance - just last week Ambassador Seljek from Corellia had approached her for drinks, Dormé watching her turn him down as smoothly as she'd debated down any number of bills and amendments in the Senate, and he hadn't been the first.
Dormé knew Padmé wouldn't trade what she was doing for any other career in the universe; that devotion to her people and cause was the trait Dormé admired perhaps the most about the Senator. She just wished Padmé hadn't apparently decided she'd had to give everything else up for it, too.
Dormé bowed her head for a moment, wiping the expression from her face before looking up again. "I don't think you need to worry, milady. I believe we still have that blue gown you had made for Senator Organa's wedding reception last year? When you were too ill to attend? You haven't worn that one."
Padmé ran a hand over her face again, exhaling, then slowly nodded, some of the tension seeming to melt from her expression. "It's a little more elaborate than I would have preferred for tonight, but I suppose - maybe without the outer coat..."
"And we can just put this away for another time," Dormé continued placatingly, moving to take the corset from her lady's hands.
"Another time? Just where am I supposed to wear...?" she trailed off, shaking her head and waving vaguely at the black mass in Dormé's hands. "There's only one thing this is good for."
Dormé's smile twitched briefly to life again. "You never know, milady."
Padmé just stared at the gown.
Padmé couldn't stop staring at the gown.
She didn't know what she'd been thinking when she'd packed it - or (perhaps more accurately) if she had been thinking. She'd told herself that if the packing process hadn't been so rushed, if she'd been paying more attention, that this thing would never have made it out of her wardrobe, much less off Coruscant.
Then a breeze from the open window had wafted in the aroma of dying rose petals from the balustrade outside, a memory of blue piercing through her -
(I am grown up)
She'd felt the excuse die stillborn.
(There's only one thing this is good for.)
Her fingers brushed against the leather, almost trembling, a kaleidoscope of sensory images from the day before swirling vividly in her mind's eye. Arms locked desperately around this same fabric on Anakin while they tumbled down the slope, her leg twined around his, his entire long length flush with her own. Snapshot-senses of his laughter tickling her ear (when was the last time she'd heard him laugh?) and its sound mingling with her own, the sun glinting gold off his hair, a whiff of wildflowers and sun-soaked leather pressing into her nose, and then that scent that made her heart lurch into her throat and stomach simultaneously, the one that was Anakin and Anakin alone –
The exact shade of pure blue staring up at her when the tumbling had stopped.
She wondered how long they would have lain there, his hands at the small of her waist, her skin burning everywhere she touched him, if she hadn't gradually become aware of something new pressing against her, the same moment he'd suddenly blushed and eased her off of him, bolting to his feet like something had bitten him.
She could have stopped it then. When he'd leapt up on that shaak and offered a hand, grinning, it would've been so easy to laugh and tell him to stop being silly, to get off before that beast decided to take a clue from its predecessor and truly trample him this time.
Except it hadn't been easy. Easy and Anakin simply did not exist in the same cosmos; Padmé didn't think they ever had. She'd stretched her hand to meet his, letting him pull her up, then clutching his comfortingly solid form against her as the beast had suddenly lurched forward. Letting him lace the fingers of his right hand through hers, and lift them to his lips, which drove everything out of the galaxy but that point of skin where they were touching her.
They seem to have the tendency to do that, part of her mind dimly registered.
Her mind had flashed to a similar ride, on the eopie on Tatooine all those years ago, and didn't believe this was the same person as that boy. The idea back then that the short, dirt-covered junkyard boy would ever have this effect on her...
When Anakin had asked her to join him for dinner tonight on the terrace, it'd never occurred to her that there might be any answer other than yes.
She'd turned down men - and he was a man now, albeit still quite a young one - before, with usually very little trouble. It simply hadn't been much of an issue; she knew her purpose, and at least for the time being, a man hadn't figured into that, at least not in that particular way.
(actually, I'd been hoping to have a family of my own by now)
But now, with Ani, she found herself realizing how few, if any, of those men she'd wanted to figure into it.
No amount of concentration seemed to be able to completely force him from her mind, and the moments she did achieve some success she found surprisingly dull. He was simply there, more so with each passing day. It was fanciful, but it almost seemed she'd feel a smile suddenly bloom on her face an instant before he came into view, before she even heard his footsteps; she'd hear his laugh a moment before he actually opened his mouth, and it was just as much music to her as the lake birds she'd told him she loved to listen to.
Before he'd leaned down and -
Padmé wet her lips unconsciously.
Though she knew it was impossible, she couldn't help the feeling that somehow he'd always been there, and she wondered why that didn't terrify her so much.
She sighed, reality's bony finger nudging her again.
Because you know it doesn't matter.
He was her guard, nothing more, nothing less. He wasn't hers to have. Nor vice versa.
At least not permanently, a voice whispered from an invisible spot seemingly behind her shoulder, a whisper that grew louder every day she stayed here.
She knew that outside this bubble on this small corner of Naboo where the only thing that seemed to matter was a young man and woman, there was a very real world of Senators and Jedi codes where this wouldn't be remotely feasible. Anakin would be expelled from the Order; she'd be disgraced in the Senate and publically as a seductress, and that would have only been the initial impact. But for now, this one evening of their lives - with no one around to whisper to outside ears -
For a few days now she'd felt the skin of the bubble around them stretching, thinning, and knew it could only take so much more, that she – they – couldn't ignore it much longer. If she felt it, then he had to as well.
And did she still want to be in this place when it couldn't stretch any more?
Her hands had gone almost immediately to this gown when she'd opened her wardrobe tonight. Yet she'd done nothing but stare at it, for what seemed like hours but she knew couldn't have been more than a few minutes.
Curvy and sleek and black and perhaps too snug. In its own way it was far more revealing than even the backless wisp she'd worn here - showing almost as much skin, but certainly emphasizing it in different places, leaving very little to the imagination (not that Anakin's probably hadn't covered a great deal already). There was nothing innocent or meek about it, and not even the shawl disguised that.
This dress sends across one message only. You know it, and he'll certainly know it.
She knew how he'd look at her. The image of that gaze – as if he actually were making love to her instead of merely thinking about it - should've unnerved her.
But it wasn't the weight of that stare that unnerved her. It was what rose up in her all too eagerly, almost painfully, when she caught sight of it.
And that she didn't want to stop it.
Padmé couldn't stop touching the dress, couldn't take her eyes from it; her entire body stirred at the memory of how this material - how he - had felt against her. It surprised her how much she wanted him to see her in this, see the way he would look at her in it. Logically she knew there was no reason for wearing it - Anakin would look at her that way if she were wearing a month old manure sack, her face covered in mud.
Yet she knew she would never feel more beautiful, more a woman, than if she wore that dress tonight with him.
She held the gown up to look at it, the scent drifting to her nose again, and she knew without question that she would be wearing it tonight.
And beyond that?
She didn't let herself think that far; it seemed to stretch the bubble's skin even more precariously.
Just tonight. If I never feel this way again - I at least want to know I did at some point.
When he knocked on her door an hour later, she was ready.