FernWithy (fernwithy) wrote,

Pretty art...

undomielle did a Father's Heart picture for me. :)


Just grinning.

This is from "Imperial Entanglements," part 4 of "Father's Heart," and I think it may be an older version than the one on TFN, which I can't get and can't find on my computer, but not much changed--this was the central image from the story, and it didn't change much from the initial idea to final form. EDIT: Thanks to helpful editors, I got the updated version.

Leia nodded. "Is there something you need of me, Lord Vader?"

Vader looked out the window, noticed the probe droid. "Walk with me, Your Highness. We have matters to discuss."

There was no question of not going. Leia took a cloak from her closet, locked her door, and followed him out.

He set an uncomfortably quick pace, and despite his professed desire to speak to her, said nothing as they walked. He led her past the Senate chambers, up a level, and across a series of walkways to another narrow staircase. They went up for several more levels, until Leia began to lose her breath from the altitude and exertion. Finally, they emerged onto what seemed to be a landing platform, many levels above the main part of the city. There was nothing special about it, except for the sheer drops on three sides... and the fact, Leia realized, that they were above the altitude at which the standard probe droids were able to function. She was alone with Vader. Was it for her protection? For his own? Was he planning to kill her here? Or to defect to the Alliance? To arrest her, or to help her?

She wished she understood him better. Or at all.

He walked to the very edge of the platform, still saying nothing. His cape flew back in the wind. Leia pulled her own cloak more tightly around her shoulders -- it was cold up here. She glanced down and noticed that the platform was made of interlocking squares of metal. Between them, they looked like the end of a chess game, the last piece on either side, moving aimlessly around the board. She wondered who had been checkmated.

Finally, he turned to her. "Your Highness," he said, "you could have a brilliant career in the Empire."

"I don't want a career in the Empire."

He came to her, knelt before her so they were eye to eye, and wrapped his large hands around her upper arms. It wasn't a rough gesture, nor did it seem meant to confine. It was merely a connection, almost a tender one.

The thought crossed her mind that her opponents would have a field day with the image, as it would feed into their perverse fantasies. And she could imagine herself slipping into his arms right now, letting him hold her, wrapping herself inside his overwhelming presence. She thought he wanted her to. But it wasn't what they would make of it. It was a different sort of holding altogether.

"I cannot protect you forever, Leia," he said. "If you place yourself as my enemy, you will be my enemy. Do you know what that means?"

Leia nodded dumbly, not knowing what to do or say.

"It is not what I wish," Vader said. "I ask you to reconsider. If you move through channels, as you have in your relief efforts, you could accomplish a great deal more than you will with your Rebellion."

"What do you want of me? I have reconsidered. Then I reconsidered again. And again. The answer doesn't change." She bit her lip. "I have to do what's right."

She had expected the hands to tighten on her arms, possibly to snap a bone like a twig. Instead, his grip became looser, and one hand came up and cradled her face. His thumb ran lightly across her cheekbone. She felt something both soft and sharp under her finger, and realized that her own hand had risen to his wrist, and was skating along the neat crease of his leather glove. She had never stood so close to him before, so close that she could see, behind the deeply tinted eyeguards, the shadowy suggestions of his eyes.

For an instant, an image came unbidden to her mind -- a young, strong man with blue eyes so stormy and intense that they were only partially offset by his casual grin and easy laughter. Leia knew those eyes from somewhere, knew she could place them if only she had time.

Then he was gone.

Vader let go of her abruptly and stood up. "Of course, Your Highness," he said. "We must all do what we feel is right. I apologize for that... indiscretion."

A bitter wind blew up from below, and stole what little warmth there had been on the platform, tearing it harshly out of the folds of Leia's cloak. The top of an Imperial transport came into view, and its engines drowned out all speech. It landed at the far end, and Governor Tarkin stepped out of it. "Lord Vader," he said without ceremony, "your presence is required on La'azum. The Inferno awaits your arrival. You will leave immediately."

Leia had never directly seen Vader take an order before. He had always seemed perfectly in control of his surroundings. But when Tarkin delivered his instructions, Vader simply nodded curtly, wished her farewell, and left.

Tarkin smiled at her. "You assume far too much of Vader, and give him more credit than he has earned," he said. "He is under my command, not vice versa."

"I'm well aware of Imperial bureaucracy," Leia said, not wanting to let Tarkin know that she'd tacitly assumed Vader operated outside of it. "It's hard to miss a system that manages to combine all the inertia of the Republic with all the brutality of the Empire. But at least it seems to be blessedly inefficient."

"As charming and respectful in midair as you are in the Senate. What a lovely trait." He gestured to his transport. "Come, Your Highness. I'll give you a ride back to your quarters."

Leia realized with dismay that she hadn't been paying close enough attention when Vader brought her here, and it would take some time to find her way back alone. "Thank you," she said. "But I prefer to walk."

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