There were those within and without the Empire, who thought her the biggest fool alive. They reasoned that only a fool would continue in the service of a Sith Lord; a servant in a social hierarchy that thought of her only as a slave. She could have had her freedom, could have left the Empire and started a new life in the Republic, where she could be a full citizen, with rights and options. She could have even done it with his help. Even his greatest enemies could see that Darth Malgus had a soft spot for her. If she'd asked, he probably would have let her go.
But for Eleena Daru, things just weren't that easy. As a Twi'lek born into the Empire, she had been destined for the life of a slave. And as a slave in the slave pens of Geonosis, that life would have been very short indeed. But then he had come, emerging out of the red Geonosian dust like some dark avenger. He had saved her from the brutal oppression of her master, had taken her under his wing and taught her how to fight. Though he had kept her as a servant, he had freed her from slavery and by his side she could walk tall and proud for the first time in her life.
And then, she had fallen in love with him.
The idea of falling in love with a Sith Lord would have caused ridicule among most beings. The common consensus was that a Sith could not love. They were beings of the dark side, of hate and anger. Love would be a weakness intolerable in their power-based society. But she knew differently. Darth Malgus – Veradun – loved her. He never said so and she knew she could never expect to hear those words from him, but his love for her was one of the great sureties of her life. Just like her love for him.
And because she was privy to this forbidden emotion, she also knew that Veradun was not the monster most people saw him as. There was good in him, she knew that as surely as she knew that he loved her. That good was just buried beneath years of Sith indoctrination. Beneath the hate and the anger, there beat the heart of a good and honorable man. All he needed was someone to show him the way, to teach him peace, where others had only taught him war.
Eleena believed that she could be that person. She believed that she could gentle him through her love, because he had already proven that he could be gentle with her. She could act as his conscience, be his moral compass. It was a hope she clung to, like the hope that one day the fighting would be over and she and Veradun could live together in peace.
It was because of this hope that she had first become afraid when the female Jedi had confronted her. It wasn't the prospect of dying that frightened her. She had faced that possibility too many times. No, it was her fear of what would happen to Veradun after she died, that had caused her to flinch at the sight of the Jedi's lightsaber. If she died, Veradun would die with her and leave Darth Malgus behind.
So when she opened her eyes next and found herself not dead, but alive and in the arms of her lover, Eleena could have wept for joy. Particularly when she saw how he looked at her, when she felt how carefully he held her. This was the man she loved, the man she had such high hopes for.
He told her that the Jedi was gone, and that she would be safe. She knew that already, of course. She was with him. She was always safe in his arms.
"I knew you loved me." She told him, because it was the truth.
"I do," he told her and the words made her smile and her hopes rose to unprecedented heights. He had said the words she thought she would never hear. He had laid his heart bare before her and she felt her dreams for their future become just that tiny bit more solid. When she saw the tears in his eyes, she couldn't quite understand their source.
"What is wrong, my love?"
"That I love you is what is wrong, Eleena."
"Veradun," she wanted to tell him how silly he was being, how loving someone was never wrong. It was a precious thing, a powerful thing. Love could change the face of the world, or the soul of a man.
When he stood, she thought he would extend his hand to her and help her to her feet. She wasn't sure she could; she felt dizzy and there was a distinct throb in her temple, but she would – for him.
His lightsaber pierced her body and drove itself through her heart – and all of her dreams. For a moment, she couldn't grasp the reality of the situation, even as the heat of the plasma blade scorched her flesh and burned her heart. She couldn't look away from his face; the face of the man she loved, of the man who had killed her.
In those brief seconds in which life clung to a body without a living heart, it came to Eleena that she really had been foolish. She should have known that her love alone would not be enough to redeem the man standing over her. She was just a woman, a Twi'lek slave who had first caught his pity and then what remained of his heart. Her foolish dreams of peace were not enough to stand against the raging storm of the Empire and the darkness that ran through his veins. He would have needed more than that. A man needed solid dreams to hold onto, when he wanted to make his way through this galaxy, so ravaged by war. Her dreams were too flimsy to offer a steady hold, her hopes too high to be grasped by fingers used to the solid weight of a lightsaber.
She tried to tell him this, that she understood, but found her voice had left her. She saw the tears in his eyes and wanted to weep with him. By his own hand, Veradun had done what the Jedi had failed to do. He had killed her and had in extension killed what had been left of the good man she so dearly loved. He died even as she died; bleeding out through the tears that ran down Darth Malgus' ravaged face.
She took the image of those tears with her. Perhaps, in another life and another time, they could be together. Even as she died, Eleena Daru preferred to be a fool to being a woman without hope.
Author's Note: It just wouldn't stay a OneShot. This is what happens when the muse gets all worked up. Memo to Self: next time, lock away the cookie-dough ice cream.