Title: Novel Entasis
Era: Leia is sixteen
Characters: Princess Leia Organa, Ferus Olin, ObiWan Kenobi, OC
Summary: A Princess knows what she wants.
Disclaimer: I am not George Lucas and make no profit from this fanfiction set in his Star Wars. I don't own Star Wars, its characters or settings.
A/N: This is an intertrilogy series in its second and final part, following "Male Gaze", "Aphrodisiac", and "Getting To Entasis." The first part consisted of "Song of Myself" and "Spring Fever."
By the end of Ferus' vacation, he declared himself debugged. Leia would act as she chose to act. At sixteen, she would have just made Senior Padawan, the Force guiding her steps on the Jedi path as she honed her skills. The only difference was that she was neither his Padawan nor his daughter, merely his student; being his Princess was a fillip he would have to deal with and some days it was harder than others. Laylay is my former student, he corrected himself, as the scream of an arriving transport blotted out most of Babsie's parting words. She bent over his bag, attaching a sonic shower head to its strap "so you can pick it out easier from the mob of baggage, I may not travel anymore but I do recall the tribulations ... "
Ferus stepped aside at Obi-Wan's gentle pull.
"Ferus," Obi-Wan said in a low voice, leaning close. "Thank you for being discreet."
"Anytime, Obi-Wan. You would do the same for me."
Obi-Wan looked down. "You saw Luke last week on the street talking to his old girlfriend. What did you think of him?"
From across the wide marketplace, Luke had been nearly a mirage in the heat waves coming off the afternoon's baking weather. Ferus could not honestly say he had seen the boy's face. "He's well-grown. He looks healthy and strong. His aura resembles what I recall of his mother's." Amidala's regal aura, golden through and through, only tarnished by the circumstances of her death, what little Obi-Wan had told him of it. Somehow Ferus thought Luke's softer, inner glow was the right way to feel. Anakin's and Amidala's passions disturbed him.
Obi-Wan's eyebrows were still up, his heart open for a fellow Jedi's input on the last sixteen years of his life. My friend, you need validation. "You've done a good job. Tatooine is a challenging environment for anyone."
"I wish you and he could have met. There was no plausible reason for it, but we could have come up with something - "
Ferus smiled. "Enough conniving, Obi-Wan. I needed a vacation from intrigue and you gave me one. Let me enjoy these last moments before I must reimmerse in it."
Obi-Wan nodded towards Babsie's bustle, stroking his beard in that way he had that Ferus had caught himself doing when he was bearded. "Life can be good in many ways. Unlike you, I am far away from the Empire's daily, cloying presence. Out here, when the Empire steps in, its manner is swift and brutal. Out here, we gather our happiness where we can."
"She suits you. I like her laugh."
Obi-Wan himself laughed and Ferus knew it was self-directed. "She and I are like wine, Ferus. Aged in the barrel, flavored with smoky overtones of our wild days, smooth on the palate." Then Obi-Wan did something he'd never done before: he gripped Ferus' forearms. "You are not dead to what lies between your legs either. When the opportunity to enjoy life more fully arises, you will know it. Or as Qui-Gon used to say, 'When food arrives, eat.'"
Ferus returned the grip, then checked the departure board. It was red. "I know I should say, 'Yes, Master Obi-Wan, sir.' But I don't feel that there is much time for me to do anything pleasurable, other than eat and drink."
"Make use of what time you do have, Ferus Olin. You shall be given as much as you need in life, no more, no less."
Ferus shrugged. "We'll see."
Obi-Wan opened his mouth to reply, but Babsie approached. "Fess, you're set to go." Then she, too, surprised him. "I wish I could turn up another aurodium tea service from that burned-out hotel to give you. I think you liked mine."
So this was the answer to the elegant tea set. There was no hidden romance of a noble fallen into disfavor and personal ruin, no story of dreams discarded or thwarted. She had scrounged it in one of her salvaging forays. He took in the sight of Babsie's gap-toothed smile and Obi-Wan's hand in hers and was buoyed despite his somber thoughts. No romance for you, Olin, no matter what Obi-Wan says. He felt a burden lift. Maybe with Leia able to care for herself better, he might find the time to live simply, without complications? It was worth considering on the flight back home. "Clear skies, both of you. I'll comm you soon, Ben." And then, because Obi-Wan's advice had touched him to his core, he gave them something he had learned from Roan Lands' family. It was a group hug, and he winked at Obi-Wan as he stepped back. "Tell me when Trouble delivers her colt." The departure board turned green and Ferus left Tatooine to its destiny.
There was a delay on Delaya on Ferus' trip home. Smiling to himself as he noted the appropriate wordplay and picked out the phoneme of his Princess' name from the name of the planet, Ferus stretched his legs before passengers needed to board once more. He strolled through the spaceport, but here was nothing appealing in the usual food kiosks. There were headlines strobing obnoxiously from the news stand, bold fonts chivying him to purchase this holomag and that one, to discover what it took to begin a relationship, continue a relationship and end a relationship. Nothing sounded compelling. He considered his appearance in the 'fresher mirror of the spaceport lounge and knew he would require the Force - if he remembered how it worked in this case - to please anyone in a sexual encounter. Ferus or Fess, he was a forty-one Standard who had not been intimate with a single soul in years. Let's figure out the odds of me getting lucky. He regarded his profile. Or let's not.
A full month passed between one breath and the next, and then it was Leia's face at the door of his palace suite, back home for a break.
"I saved your greeting for last, Fess. Father said you'd been visiting us. May I come in?" Leia looked a little tired, thought Ferus, and travel worn. She had taken down her hair and loosened up, somehow, in the hour that she'd been back. He supposed Bail had offered her a welcoming toast of tarul wine, per Alderaani custom. For the first time, he found the custom lacking in propriety.
"Your Highness! My door is always open to you." I didn't think you'd want to see me for a while, which would make guarding you problematical.
Barefoot, Leia dropped her travel bag just inside Ferus' room, poking around in the outer pocket, hauling out a pair of sandals before finding what she was looking for beneath. "I remember that you like these." She proferred a white flimsi bag with enticing round shapes outlined.
Ferus took it.
"Latli's signature bonbons? A wise choice. Thank you." Ferus bit into a darkly delicious confection, tasting the cream as it dissolved on his tongue. "Have one?"
Leia chose a white piece, dusted with pale, sweet coating that the elegant restaurant's dessert cart was known for. She savored the candy a nibble at a time. When she was finished, she licked her fingers slowly, gauging Ferus' progress. He was on his third bonbon, but at her regard, sucked the creamy center out first, and then ate the shell more leisurely. He licked his own fingers, pondering this peace offering.
Leia sat stiffly on the bed, twiddling a foot until she noticed it and stopped. She sighed. "Fess, you were only trying to warn me the day I left with the Senator. I know that." She studied her toes. "And you were right."
Eh, uncomfortable topic. Change it fast, Olin. "I have your best interests at heart, Princess. I always will." He jiggled the bag. "More sweets?"
"No, thank you. I'd like to propose a toast, instead." She indicated his unstoppered bottle of Whyren's, forgotten on the nightstand. It had helped him attain sleep last night.
What? Ferus gave her Fess' wide-open grin. "You're not used to high-power spirits, milady. You'll get tipsy." He looked for the stopper. It was nowhere to be seen. He knelt on the rug, the shag a comfort to his knees. Under the bed, past her bare legs, was the stopper. Her painted toes curled with tension, he noticed.
From his knees, he looked up into her face. "I know what I want," she said. It barely sounded like her.
Ferus fumbled under the bed, tempted to use the Force to retrieve the stopper. "Here it is." He rose and recapped the bottle, gesturing at the fashionable outfit she sported, a knee-length garment, long-sleeved, high-necked, but not a gown, technically. He whisked his eyes away from the circular opening at bosom level. There was lace around it. "You look perfect in that, Leia." The knit material outlined her figure, which looked improbably fuller to his eyes. He drank her in. After one full month without her, she was all the intoxicant he needed today. He ached to hug her, but Fess was not a hugging person, more of a backslapper. Ferus detested Fess at that moment.
"Let's toast it, then, Fess. It's a couturier special. The Senator commissioned it for my initial speech." Leia swung a crossed leg now, reliving her triumph. "It was grand. You should have seen it, Fess, nearly the entire Senate was there! I was first to speak that evening session and Girn said he'd never seen a more positive response to a junior intern." She was into her tale now, smiling, eyes sparkling. "I spoke out for funding Spanos Prime Animal Nurturing Karyology."
If it were an evening session, dear Laylay, the entire Senate consisted of folks who did not want to go home: workaholics, disgruntled spouses, and those awaiting their spice connections. But I refuse to burst your bubble. There's something different in her aura, mused Ferus, but I'm not sure what. "Karyology? It was a quantitative scientific presentation, then?"
"What? Did I say karyology? I meant kalology, yes, that's it." Leia blushed as Ferus had never seen her blush. "My error." She looked at the Whyren's. Ferus knew that yearning expression. "I'm just excited over the whole experience."
"That's natural, Your Highness." She's been tippling? Was she nervous about facing me?
As she turned to him full on, he stood still, taking in the whole scene of a bubbly Leia on his bed. He held himself as motionless as if he were on a surveillance mission as she continued, "I really think this works for me, Fess. The power of persuasion and the crowd, the support of Girn, I mean the Senator, took my breath away. And the chance to help the pittins! So many soft, fluffy pittins ... erm, I mean the species needs help. There are far too many of them, and those of certain breeding stock are diminishing, why did you know that Girn says that the Spanos Prime Animal Nurturing Kar-Kalology Fund will ensure the proliferation of only the best representatives of each breed?"
Leia swung her feet back and forth. For the second time that day, Ferus thought that she had grown, but inside, never in overall height. She was going to be petite forever. He nodded, bemused.
"There's someone I want you to meet later," she went on. "Girn gave me a champion Serreno Long-Hair pittin." She stroked the shag rug with her toes, reminiscing.
"He would. Princess, you need some fresh air rather than a drink. Walk with me?" Ferus handed her up with him, allowing Fess to be graceful, for once. "Get some shoes first, all right, milady?"
Her bare feet noiseless on the carpet, Leia walked slowly to her bag. "Very well, but not too far a walk. It's been a long day." She stretched out a hand and Ferus took her elbow, steadying her, liking the feel of her leaning weight as she slid on her sandals. They strolled with linked arms past the row of suites in Leia's home, so similar to the Knights' residences of the Temple that Ferus felt nostalgic. Siri, you were once a girl. Let me remember your words: Girls are like boys, only with different plumbing.
It was a beautiful, sunny day, and the path leading away from the palace beckoned through flat grasslands to farther forest. They walked two kilometers without speaking.
Ferus broke the companionable silence.
"See this? I planted it when I first moved to Aldera." Fess cupped the bulbous white flower, whose stamens twined around his hand. Leia palmed the plant's other bloom and the spiralling stamens reached their natural limit by ensnaring her hand together with Ferus'. The candy, this promenade with me, now flowers? This couldn't be what it seemed like. "But enough of the past, Leia. What are your plans?"
"Master Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn would say to live in the moment, Fess. He was legendary, you know, the - "
"How in the nine Corellian hells did you learn about him?"
She started at his vehemence, disentangling her hand from the avid plant. "What about it? Jedi Masters interfaced with the Senate for centuries. The Empire expunged Senate records, but Father told me." She glanced sideways at him. "You're older, you remember the things I've only read about."
Ferus yanked his own hand free. "Jinn was before your time, almost before my time, and he was said to be unrepresentative of the Jedi." He regained his center with an effort. "They - They weren't all like him." Faces swam before him. "Most deserved our respect, in death or in life. I remember." He pushed down the past. "Well?"
Leia shrugged. "A number of older Senators seemed to have trouble recollecting the Republic days. It was odd, as if there was a collective amnesia, or perhaps blurring is a better word. I found only a few who would talk to me about those times." She said with a laugh, "Jinn must have been almost a rogue. His doings were not exactly scandalous, but close. Maybe that's what it takes to be remembered after you're gone."
Having no answer for that, Ferus steered Leia towards his pet project, Princess Park. A silver arch led into the new preserve, primed to celebrate her formal return in two months. This early in the construction, not everything was online yet, including the refreshers. Ferus had proposed the park, Bail had had input, and the engineers moved ahead on it while Ferus saw to Madame Vesta's newest group of girls, baronesses and countesses all. They were sweet as any teens could find it in themselves to be and he warmed to them, but none were Leia. He supposed he could not blame them for that. As Toric had said it would, after the first tortuous days after Leia's departure, life flowed in, his vacation with Obi-Wan soothed him and somewhat to his surprise, he settled into life without Leia.
Ferus whirled. Only six steps behind, his Princess had stumbled to her hands and knees in the slurry of mud left by this morning's watering.
"Princess, let me brush you off, here I've got you, steady now."
Ferus' hands were everywhere, flicking and brushing and smoothing. Leia leaned into his touch. "My hands are dirty."
"Yes, I see." From his inner tunic, Ferus whisked out a handkerchief. "Spit."
Leia spat. Ferus scrubbed at the stains that she should never have to suffer, rubbing until her palms were rid of the worst of it. There was a spatter of loam on her forehead and he smiled to himself as he wiped it off, thinking about Babsie's mark of a virgin comment. When he looked down, her face had softened, a warm glow to her gaze.
"Uh." An act? What else have you learned? "Let's continue."
Leia guided them to a zaela tree's welcome shade. "I'm tired." She arranged herself on the grass, patting the space beside her.
"It's a young zaela tree," babbled Ferus as Fess took over briefly. He seated himself a decorous distance away. "Imported from Naboo. Shiros eat it, it can grow to about fifty meters and Gungans use it for - " Someone stop me.
"Naboo is lovely in all the holos I've seen. Families are important there."
Where did this come from? "I know. They are important nearly everywhere." Except in the Jedi, but the Jedi are gone.
"I got homesick a little."
Ahah. "It's been one month. Do you want to go back with him for two more months?"
Leia's look held less scorn than he remembered. "Certainly. If interfacing with Girn's supporters can't discourage me, don't think that you can. I can learn a lot more from him than I could here, even if Father gave me more responsibility."
Absurdly pleased that she did not blow up at him or his protective question, Ferus accepted that she could grow beyond his ken. She would be always be held in his regard by the kitestrings of attachment, warming his dreams no matter where he ended up in life. It would have saddened him to think of this happening to anyone else. It made him happy to think it about himself. "I see. You've changed, Princess."
Now there was a new sort of smile. "I have?"
"You've grown up before my very eyes."
"Pfffft. Sometimes I don't think so." She placed her hand on his knee. "But I'm trying."
Ferus jumped up at the squeeze and upward slide. "Your Highness, you're not yourself."
"I know what I want," Leia repeated. "I want you to tutor me."
Distance. Must think. The zaela tree's bole smacked into his back as he retreated, the impact jarring powdery yellow pollen down on them. He had heard the fanciful excuse of narcotic pollen given to vigilant fathers when they discovered their offspring in illicit activity. Ferus cringed away from the mental image. In this case, it could not be farther than the truth. Leia teetered upon the cusp of assertion, a twitch away from the realm of aggression. "It's daylight, for stars' sake," he thought. "Do I want to do this sort of thing with anyone at all? Complications, complications and I wanted my life to be simpler!"
He could see that Intern Organa marshaled her arguments, face impassive, as she undoubtedly thought a Senatorial aide's ought to be. Her voice was clear as a chime. "So, this is to be a debate. Very well. My introduction: I want you. Three pieces of evidence: Reason One: I know you and I think you'll be nice about this. Reason Two: I think this will be good for me. I want more experience at both the personal and political parts of life and I feel I should attempt this, um, act again. Reason Three: I owe it to myself. Conclusion: I want you."
'Again?' Ferus leaned against the bole of the tree, avoiding her eyes, taking in the sight of the palace framed between the crotch formed by the bole and a thick lower branch. All the while, the breeze rose and Leia's hair drifted in a feathery veil to her hips, when he dared to look down at her. This was worse than when she had worn the sharovary to the Carnevale, and she had been far more uncovered then. He jerked his gaze upwards.
Leia rose on tiptoes to kiss the edge of Ferus' mustache. "Fess."
"Layl- erm, Leia, you're too young for me." A bald statement for a bald proposition. He stared at the palace.
"I know what I want. And saying I'm too young for you is saying the corollary, that you're too old for me. And you're not." She ran a hand up his hip.
Ferus pushed it away. "If there is anyone to be hurt in this, it shall be me, Princess, so forgive me for protecting myself. Your fa- "
"My father gave me an Alderaani Certificate of Adulthood when I returned this morning. It had scrollwork engraved on it and everything. I told him about certain things I'd ... accomplished when I was in the Senator's entourage, and he approved. He said I was fit to accompany him to the Senate, when the time comes after my internship. And anyway, who says anyone has to be hurt?"
When food arrives, eat. Yes, Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, sir. "You - I - we - "
"Conclude your debate by disproving your opponent's point. You will then reaffirm the thesis," Leia whispered. "I'm not a baby anymore."
"You're not," Ferus admitted with sweet surprise. Protective feelings warred with possessive feelings, swirling them into a melange of concern, which Leia didn't seem to need. For nearly all her life, he had observed Bail's loving care as the man gave his child a life of privilege in the galaxy, as Ferus' was a life of privilege in the Force. Since escaping slavery, Anakin's life had been privileged, too, and far luckier in many ways than any Jedi that Ferus had known. "But I'm neither Bail nor that bastard Anakin," thought Ferus, and kissed her mouth deeply. She tasted of tarul wine. He drank deeper as he took what was offered.