Characters: Luke, Leia
Genre: angst, darkfic, AU
Summary: And it begins anew.
Notes: Um. Two more different inspirations could not be conceived - the Star Tours ride at Disneyland and I, Claudius by Robert Graves. This is Luke-as-Augustus. Written on my iPod Touch. And contrary to what the last words imply, that's the end. I just hate ending with a simple The End.
Luminescent. That's what he is in darkness.
Black surrounds him on all sides, starless nights full of nothing. He is cloaked in darkness like silken skies, his eyes shining like pale, cold stars: light radiates from him, cold and bright and dark and beautiful, piercing the uninterrupted darkness of your cell like a beacon of almost-hope, and he looks like a god standing there in the doorway.
There are shadows in his eyes. Dark knowledge and dark power that gleam and glitter and sparkle, and the faintest faintest touch of pure sky blue shines lambent in golden depths.
You haven't seen him since Endor, where you all assumed he had died aboard the Death Star. You hadn't believed it, of course -- you'd have known if he was dead. You suspected something, but you tried to ignore it, because acknowledging that Luke had turned would have meant despairing, and you had no strength to deal with despair at the time and you certainly still don't now. You doubt you ever will.
It had been a miracle that you survived Endor yourself. The Death Star's blast had destroyed the moon just before Wedge's missile had destroyed the spacestation. Han had somehow managed to hijack a, of all things, Star Tours vessel that had been passing through the system. It's hyperdrive had been knocked out, though, and you spent a harrowing week trying to make your way back to civilization with little food, water, or oxygen.
You had been the only survivors of the Endor disaster - save for him. But by then, it had been too late. He had just moved so fast.
He calls himself Darth Sol. Dark sun, dark son. Of course. And it's so fitting, so appropriate, so right, that you almost want to laugh. Or cry. But if you start laughing now, you know you'll never be able to stop, and if you start crying now, he'll know that he's won, and you still refuse to give him that.
They had worshipped him. How could they not? They called him the Sun Lord because he would not let them call him Emperor, and they said that his hair was woven from sunbeams and that even his eyes had changed, on his ascension to the throne, from sky blue to sunlit gold.
And in the first few years, it had pleased him to act just how everyone expected. He had the Death Star destroyed. He reconvened the Senate. He refused the throne they tried to force upon him and refused to be known as Emperor. Han had wanted to go to him, then, but you knew what his golden eyes meant, even if the rest of the galaxy did not.
He had been a wise and just ruler until the Corellians unveiled their Galaxy Gun at the start of the insurrection. And then everyone realized why he had destroyed the Emperor's greatest weapon - he didn't need a superweapon. He was a superweapon.
The ability to destroy a planet, or even an entire system, is insignificant next to the power of the Force.
Palpatine had been too weak. Vader had been too noble.
The Sun Lord was neither, and Corellia was now a fine dust in space, it's pieces crushed smaller than the lingering chunks of Alderaan.
There is nothing left of your brother here, you tell yourself. Nothing here but a shell: a shattered soul and the pulse of dark power in rotted veins. Luke would never have done the things Darth Sol has. Would never even have been able to contemplate them. You're glad for the gold in his eyes, though, because you don't think you could bear looking into your Luke's bright blue eyes and seeing the darkness shining through.
But somehow it's still Luke's face that looks at you.
"You're not here to rescue me, are you?" you ask sadly, remembering a time not so long ago when a farmboy set off on a quest to rescue a princess. When those eyes were bright with hope and innocence and vision, not the dark knowledge and dark power you see shining there now.
You already know the answer. But you try to believe that the look in those pale gold eyes is almost regretful. Have to believe it, or else you'll be forced to admit that he's already fallen beyond saving.
And you're still, still not ready for that. Not yet. Maybe not ever.
He doesn't answer your question. "Leia," he says, instead. "Where is he?"
You don't answer his question either. You know he doesn't expect you to. "Tell me," you say instead, "is it true that our father turned against his Emperor to save your life, before he died? Or is that simply a story you invented to increase your credibility?"
He doesn't seem surprised by your question. "It is true," he says simply.
"Then I can still hope," you say, archly, putting everything you have into believing those simple words.
"I suppose you can," he returns. If he is amused or insulted by your response, he gives no sign. He arches a golden eyebrow. "Will you answer one of my questions, then, Princess? In repayment for your last hope? A fair trade."
If he asks you where the boy is, he must know that you will not answer. "If it is a question I can answer, then I will answer it," you say, carefully.
"How did Mara leave?"
It's not the question you expected, and you blink for a moment, somewhat dumbfounded. The faintest hint of a smirk might have curved his lip, but it was gone a moment later, as quick as thought.
"Mara came to us to save her child," you say, slowly. You watch his impassive face for a reaction, wondering if there is anything in him left capable of love, even for his wife. "She believed that you were no longer the man she had fallen in love with, my lord. That Luke Skywalker had truly died. That was how she broke your bond."
He only nods, as if he'd expected that answer. "Of course it was," he says softly, as if to himself. "That was the only way she could overcome the Emperor's last command, as well, to kill Luke Skywalker."
You play your last trump card, praying to any diety or Force that chooses to listen that something, anything, of your brother remains behind his golden gaze. Despite your earlier bravado about your dark father's redemption, you need that reassurance. "She named him Ben, you know. After your Jedi Master."
If your baiting has any effect on him, he does not show it. His face is as calm and implacable as a statue's, like the Jedi he hasn't been for a decade or more. You have seen more emotion in the eyes of a corpse than you see now in his golden eyes. "Of course she did," he says again. "But not even Ben Kenobi could hide forever, and I will find my son. And when I do, I will find my wife and, in all likelihood, your little family as well. If you tell me now, I can arrange for your children to be spared."
You stiffen, despite yourself. For some reason, you had never expected him to threaten your children, and the fact that he does now, so calmly and so simply, sends you even deeper down your spiral of agonized despair. "My children?" you echo simply, your voice threatening to break but somehow staying steady. "You would let them live?"
Pretty Jaina with her merry, brandy brown eyes and her father's love for flying. Gentle Jacen with his mischievous smile and his way with animals. Anakin, still an infant, babbling nonsense syllables with infinite love in his innocent young eyes.
Lord Sol nods his golden head in assent, and for one moment you are so terribly, terribly tempted. "I would let them live, and I would raise them as my own."
Your laugh is bitter, as you realize what trap your love for your children almost led them to. He would have had you buy their young lives for the price of their souls. "You would let them live, and you would raise them to be monsters."
The anger that you had sought earlier when you baited him about his wife flashes now in his golden eyes, and the room turns noticeably darker. "I would raise them as befits their heritage as scions of our father's line."
"Our father died so that you would be free of this."
"And yet it is not something I can ever be free of. The Imperial seat is my birthright -- our birthright, sister, and one that will belong to my son after I am gone. The Skywalker line was created for this purpose, Leia: to lead this galaxy from the depths of discord and devastation, to take the reins of worlds that would otherwise be ruled only by chaos."
"You're insane," you manage to breathe. "You are not the god they think you are, Luke, and no mortal man deserves that power or that responsibility. As powerful as you are, you are constrained by the limits of human flesh."
He does not disagree. His eyes gleam gold fire, briefly, and you know that what he offers now will be your last chance. "I know you will not break under torture, Princess. And I cannot destroy Alderaan again. But I ask you, one last time, for the sake of your children's lives, to tell me where I will find my son."
"For the sake of my children's souls, and your son's, I refuse."
He is silent.
Then. "I could have forgiven you anything, Leia. Sister. Anything but this."
Yet, I do forgive you, Luke, for everything, including this, you think but do not say. A calm peace has settled over you, a mantle of grace, now that you know what is coming, that your death at your brother's hand is destined and imminent.
"Imperial law calls for a public execution, Princess of Alderaan. For the sake of what we once shared, I will spare you that indignity."
He ignites his saber, and the light casts a bloody gleam in your cell. "Leia of Alderaan," he says, golden eyes distant and his voice devoid of emotion, "you are charged with high treason against the Imperial throne. Conspiring to overthrow your rightful Emperor. Collaborating with rebels to destroy the Imperial government and to put a new government of your own engineering in its place. Harboring traitors. Resisting arrest. Refusing to recant your actions. And kidnapping my son."
On the last one, his voice broke, and you receive the new hope, the last hope, that you had been praying for. Luke's son may be his redemption yet, as Luke was your father's. It will be too late for you, but the galaxy may yet have this darkness lifted.
"Would you defend yourself against these charges?"
You will die proudly. You will die a princess. "No."
"Then, Leia Organa, once Princess of Alderaan, for these crimes and those left unsaid, I condemn you to death. May the Force be with you."
You do not fear death, now that you have hope for the future. You close you eyes.
Luminous beings are we.
You reach out to your children. The twins and the infant Anakin, with their father and Chewbacca on Kashykk. The infant is crying, bawling in fear, and you send him your strength. The twins know that something is not right, and they are huddled in their father's arms for comfort. Han is no Jedi, but he knows. "Leia!" he shouts --
I will always love you.
You reach out to your nephew, your brother's son, halfway across the galaxy and in his mother's arms. You are thankful, one last time, for the strength that took her from her husband's embrace to seek Rebel aid. They will keep her and the boy safe, even in your absence.
The boy Ben, your nephew, your brother's son: he has his father's eyes. The eyes his father once had: bright and blue and clear. There is hope yet.
Luke's saber flashes, blood red and luminescent in the darkness.
The Light claims you.