In This Dance
Warning: This story contains both f/f slash and hints at m/m slash. Don't like it? Don't read it.
Author: Amy Fortuna (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Pairing: OFC/OFC, Q/O
Disclaimer: Lucas, Qui 'n' Obi are yours, but the girls are mine.
Warnings: F/F slashiness. Original characters (from someone who Doesn't Do OCs). Possible Mary Sue-ish situation. This story was written under the influence...of Celtic music.
Summary: Melica and Elin, queens of Be'sobe, celebrate their keremon and Elin helps Obi-Wan realize something.
Category: Romance, Drama
Feedback: Of course, to email@example.com
Notes: Thanks to kimberlite for the quick, insightful, and enlightening beta.
"I wonder who the Jedi will send to our keremon," I said to my Melica, our hands filled with bright swatches of cloth, as we sat on our bed, choosing dress colors for the dances.
"I don't know, Elli-kin," she said, furrowing her brow. "Maybe Adi Gallia?" She looked up with a smirk at my squeal.
"Oh, yes! She's so pretty!" I exclaimed.
"So excited, precious one," Melica chided lightly.
"Can't help it, it's in my nature, dearest," I said, doing an exuberant flip off the bed. I landed in a perfect five position, straightening my skirts, as she fell back on the bed, giggling.
"Well, what have we here?" I said, stalking toward her. "A maiden of the Be'sobe, a betrothed maiden, lying on a bed, laughing?" I took the opportunity to grab her hands and pull her to a standing position against me. "How very proper."
Then my lips found hers; Jedi ambassadors and color schemes were forgotten for a little while, at least until we decided the pieces of cloth on the bed were really taking up too much room, and threw them off onto the floor.
Needless to say, the color schemes were delayed another day.
The Jedi were required by ancient custom to send at least one delegate to the Be'sobe keremon, a combination of coronation and wedding, held when the bonded pair of women who had ruled the planet named their successors. In this case, the choice of successor was easy; the daughter of Queen Salen, the young Melica, was chosen with enormous popular acclaim, and her bondmate, Elin, was also hailed as highly qualified to rule the Be'sobe people.
The choice of Jedi to send was not quite as easy. Every knight wanted to see the keremon, which was rumored to be one of the most beautiful sights in the galaxy. But for some reason, the team of Jinn and Kenobi was chosen, some said as a reward for straightening out the incident with Hoth, the Trade Federation, and an underground market in Taun-Taun fur.
Enroute to the small world near the galactic core, Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon sat discussing the customs and habits of the Be'sobe.
"I've only seen holos of the keremon, before, Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon said, "but it is a sight only surpassed by the sunsets on Alderaan. No others create dances so intricate and detailed, and no other humanoid women are so beautiful as these."
Obi-Wan smiled. "I'll be looking forward to seeing it, then. I can appreciate beauty in all its many forms, you know."
Qui-Gon nodded. "As can I." The rather significant glance he cast his padawan went completely unnoticed.
Don't ask me how we got all the billions of details taken care of before the Jedi arrived; I only know that Melica wouldn't let me kiss her for the rest of the sevenday, claiming that I would deliberately distract her otherwise.
I smiled and raised my eyebrows, our childhood signal that said, "you're right, but not very much fun."
And the days went by too quickly, dresses and colors and banners and bunting got all jumbled together in my head until I could hardly remember that we'd chosen sunset blue for the dresses, morning yellow for the ground cloths, and dawn pink for the shoes.
We met the Jedi as they came down the ramp of their starship, as was
customary for the new rulers of Be'sobe. As we saw the delegates we cast half-disappointed glances at each other. Despite the fact that Adi
Gallia was nowhere in sight, we greeted them courteously.
Since the keremon is about peace, love, and unity, as well as the transition of a crown, and just some good fun, we took care to observe the Jedi pair carefully.
"The older one wants the younger one, that's easy to see," Melica said when we were back in our rooms, discussing the pair.
"Oh, let's try to remember their names, it's rather annoying to refer to them as the older one and the younger one," I said, picking up a hairbrush and pulling my hairdress off, sighing with relief.
Melica smiled. "Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi, then." She took the brush from my hand. "Don't jerk at your hair like that, you'll ruin it," she said, beginning to run her fingers through my hair.
"Anyway, yes, you're right," I said. "I picked up on that right away. Obi-Wan - that's right, isn't it - is completely clueless that he's wanted, though." I sighed, leaning into her touch. "Stop that -- what were you saying about distraction?"
She smiled over my shoulder, putting her arms around me. I could see our melded forms reflected in the mirror. "Wouldn't it be fun to help our Jedi recognize their feelings?"
The smirk that spread over my face could probably be sensed halfway across the palace.
"Knew you'd think so," she said, her lips fluttering against my neck.
Over the next few days, the young future queens of Be'sobe fussed over and flirted with Qui-Gon Jinn, leaving Obi-Wan feeling rather left out. Obi-Wan began to feel jealous whenever Elin took his master's arm, laughing at Qui-Gon's every joke, or when Melica smiled her special secret smile at Qui-Gon.
Between the endless rounds of congratulations pouring in, and the arrangement of thousands of dancers, who had been practicing their whole lives to dance the Be'sobe dances at a keremon, Melica and Elin kept a careful eye on Obi-Wan Kenobi. The Jedi had no official duties other than observing that everything was going according to tradition, so time went by like days in a vacation paradise.
Oddly enough, Obi-Wan was less impressed by the beauty of the thousands of women than he had expected to be. Instead, he found himself searching for his master's tall form among the crowds. And he spent evenings in the suite, staring out at the beautiful blue sunsets, or reading the literature of the Be'sobe culture.
They had become a matriarchy far back in troubled years, when famine was a frightening prospect. In those times, women seized hold of the government, steering the planet safely through fear of civil war.
After that, the men began to leave the planet, thousands trickling off to other star systems. Now only a few lived there. They could bond with a Be'sobe woman, should she choose it, but most chose instead to live with each other or alone.
The women raised the orphan girl-children of other star systems, brought to Be'sobe very young, if their parents could not care for them. Since females were, in many systems, still less valued than males, Be'sobe was the destined home of millions of oppressed girls.
Elin was an orphan from Satcahan, as evinced by her blond-white hair and laughing disposition. Melica was the natural daughter of Queen Selan, conceived with the willing help of a Corellian visitor.
Obi-Wan practically had the annals of Be'sobe memorized before the day of the keremon.
I was practically vibrating in place as Melica pinned the last of my hair up.
"Stop that!" she said, a bit testily. "Keep your head still."
I stopped shaking, or tried to anyway, and endeavored to keep still. "It's all going to come out when we dance anyway," I tried to plead.
"Yes, I know," she said. "But I'd like to have both of us presentable for the vows and the solemn parts of today - we can literally let our hair down after, all right, precious?"
I snatched a quick kiss. "Whatever my darling says. I am your devoted slave, you know that."
"When it suits you," she grinned. "Now, then, slave, you can do my hair, please."
"Yes, mistress," I said, and hastened to do her bidding. I love her so much, I thought to myself.
Her dark hair flowing down over the silver gown of state was one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen. She seemed equally stunned by the sight of me wearing dark blue, and I shivered under the heat in her gaze.
"I think I'll keep you in that color," was all she said, just before we turned to walk hand-in-hand down the steps of the palace to the upper courtyard.
Our citizens were gathered there on the ground already, the Jedi and our leaders congregating on one of the suspended walkways. From our vantage point, we could see the hundreds of dancers in their bright costumes, standing on golden-yellow cloth. They looked like flowers in the sunny meadows, dressed in pale blue like the skybow. Soon we would be among them, making beauty for our guests, following tradition in the most delightful of ways, on the loveliest of days.
We met the Queens eighteen steps above the ground, one step for every successful union that had ruled in Be'sobe. We would be the nineteenth pair.
Gracious bows of ceremony over, Queen Selan spoke the words of Handing-On.
"Since the Dark Days, this land has been ruled by women chosen from among you, citizens of Be'sobe. In all the land this day, Melica my daughter and her bondmate Elin, have shown themselves worthy of rulership. What say you, citizens? Shall they be queens among us?"
We held our breath, but only for a moment, as the crowd responded with a roar. "Let them be queens here!" they shouted, the formal response of a welcoming citizenry.
The transition of government over that simply, Queens Selan and Kera stepped down into the crowd, becoming a mere pair of our citizens. Our citizens. And my mouth went dry.
I, suddenly shy, turned to glance at Melica, but she was prepared.
"As Queen of this land," she said, the rustle of the crowd instantly quieting, "I choose my consort, Elin, my friend and my lover, to rule with me."
I found my voice. "As Queen of this land, I choose my consort, Melica, my friend and my lover, to rule with me."
We continued together, "We shall be as one in all things; together we shall rule you with justice, truth and patience."
The crowd responded with a shout of joy. We concluded, "As dancing is a form of beautiful unity, we will dance with you as a show of our unity to each other and to you, our people."
The crowd went wild then, and sweet traditional music started up. Holding hands, we walked down the steps to join the dancers.
Obi-Wan Kenobi had never seen anything like this before. "Is this better than the holos?" he whispered to his master, as the queens of Be'sobe caught the hands of dancers and began the Flower Dance of the Sun, a large circle dance that created star and sun-like patterns on the ground.
"Oh, yes," Qui-Gon whispered back. "This moves."
Obi-Wan flashed a quick grin and turned back to watch.
The dancers spun a colorful flower-weave of brilliance, so beautiful that, had they been machines and not humans, Obi-Wan would have said that it was a technical wonder.
But it was humans down there, moving in perfect symmetry, arms up, then down, skirts twirling just so, fingers wielding ribbons in time-honored tradition.
The Queens danced among them, perfect in their own parts, the center of the flower, golden and dark hair falling out of bindings and spinning around them, even more beautiful.
And the kaleidoscope gave way to further dances, some so simple the youngest there could join in, others so intricate that only a few could dance them.
When it was over, the silence before the thunderous applause was the highest compliment.
The rest of that day was spent in a party as exciting as any, though without the customary debauchery and drunkenness the Jedi had seen on so many other planets.
Seemingly tireless, the Queens danced with almost every guest. Melica captured Qui-Gon's hand when his turn came, leading him off onto the dance floor, leaving Obi-Wan with Elin.
"Shall we dance?" Elin said, taking Obi-Wan's hand in hers.
"Yes, lady," he answered dutifully. They swung out onto the floor, and Elin began to ply him with questions.
"What do you think of your master?" she said, smiling.
Obi-Wan was nonplussed for a moment. "I. . .honor him," he said. "I respect him, I, what do you want me to say?"
"Do you suppose it matters to me?" she grinned. "I've no romantic interest in him. Another has my heart, thank you. I'd just, well, like to know."
They danced past Qui-Gon and Melica, and Elin smiled over Obi-Wan's shoulder, raising her eyebrows.
"I'm not really sure," Obi-Wan said. "I thought I felt one thing, but I'm beginning to feel something else. How do you become closer to a childhood dream?" His voice sounded as though he didn't expect an answer, but Elin gave it anyway.
"Melica was my friend long before she was my lover," she said. "Finally one evening, I just, well, dragged up the courage to tell her I loved her." She smiled. "That night changed our lives forever."
They reached the edge of the floor as the music stopped. "I suggest that you do the same." Elin smiled again, and let go of his hand, bowing slightly.
I sat up in our bed, awakened by the wind sweeping against the curtains in a loud rush. Parted halfway, the curtains let in a stream of bright starlight, touching Melica's pale face and dark hair. And I thought for the thousandth time, looking down at her, "So beautiful."
Garmentless, I slid out from under the disarrayed covers and padded over to the window, intending to close the curtains. Instead my eyes were caught by the pale light shining over the city square where we had danced. I leaned out of the window, shivering with the thought that exploded through my mind -- ours.
Queen Elin. It sounded so unfamiliar, though I'd been addressed by that name all this evening. I was always meant to be Melica's lover, come good fortune or bad, but was I really fit to rule a planet?
"You look so lovely in the starlight," the sleepy words came from behind me. Footsteps crossed the room, and Melica slipped her arms about my waist. "What are you thinking, precious?" she asked.
"It seems so unreal," I confessed, leaning back against her. "Ruling a planet. Can I do this?"
Melica smiled against my hair.
"Dearest," she said, "I've never seen anything you couldn't conquer." She laughed lightly. "And remember, you aren't alone." Her arms tightened around my waist. "I'll be with you."
"Always and forever, in this dance," I said, turning in her arms to press my lips to hers.
"Are the Jedi happy, do you think? Did it work?" she asked when we parted.
"If they aren't," I said, "they will be. They will."
Obi-Wan lay awake on silken sheets. Starlight shone in through the window, soothing and peaceful. But sleep eluded him, for his mind was racing furiously.
Do I love him? As a lover, not just a teacher or friend? Is he everything to me, like the Queens are to each other?
Silently, he traced their lives as Jedi together. From the first moments when they looked at each other and knew they were bonded as master and padawan, to the thousands of missions defending each other through thick and thin, to the quiet times and the softening smiles on Qui-Gon's face.
Qui-Gon's face . . . relaxed, happy, open, as he had seen it this afternoon. Fingers of arousal stabbed upward through Obi-Wan's belly.
"So beautiful," he whispered. Throwing the covers off, he walked over to the window. Starlight, so bright here in the galactic core, with no artificial light to obscure it, shone through, lighting up his face with white fire.
"I love him," he whispered to the sky, and knew it to be truth the instant the words were said.
With a silent glance at the door of his room, and a secret smile on his face, Obi-Wan remained standing for several moments at the window, staring silent at the stars. One revelation was enough for tonight, and there would be time enough to discover whether the Force had destined them for each other.
The night of confessions would come soon enough.