Title: Love Spoken and Unspoken Author: devilinthedetails Characters: Breha Organa; Bail Organa; Leia Organa. Genre: Romance; Drama. Timeline: First five sections are Saga-PT; last section is Saga-OT. Summary: Five times Breha tells Bail she loves him, and one time she can't. Author's Note: Written for the "5-1" OTP Challenge #18. Some details about Alderaan, Breha's health conditions and past, and the customs of royalty are borrowed from Claudia Gray's Leia: Princess of Alderaan book but many are my own invention. Love Spoken and Unspoken The Day of Demand “I salute you.” Bail Organa raised a flute of something clear and sparkling in a toast to Breha as they mingled at the party that followed her formal announcement on her sixteenth birthday, her Day of Demand, that she intended to claim her birthright to rule Alderaan when her mother died and that she would undertake the traditional trio of Challenges--the Body, Mind, and Heart--to prove her worthiness to inherit the throne. “You survived your Day of Demand. The three Challenges should be a breeze after this.” “My Day of Demand isn’t over yet. I still have to charm a million more courtiers.” Breha flashed him what she hoped he would see as a dazzling and not a nervous smile. She wanted to appear poised and graceful like her mother, a worthy successor to her mother, on this of all days. “And the Challenges I’ve set for myself are supposed to be harder than the Day of the Demand.” Her Challenges of the Body, Mind, and Heart were indeed daunting to think about, Breha reflected as she sipped on her own sparkling beverage that bubbled uneasily in her throat and then her stomach. For her Challenge of the Body, she would follow the Alderaanean custom and climb to the towering, snow-capped summit of Appenza Peak, the most famous mountain on Alderaan that was tall enough to be visible from the royal palace in Aldera. For her Challenge of the Mind, she would serve as aide and attache to her much older cousin Bail Antilles in the Senate on Coruscant, the glittering capital of the Republic and glistening crown jewel of the Core Worlds. For her Challenge of the Body, she would fund and establish a refugee community in Sanctuary Coast for a large population that had recently been displaced from their home planet by a series of violent volcanic eruptions and earthquakes from suddenly overactive tectonic plates. All of these would force her to prove in abundance her determination, her cleverness, her dedication to Alderaan and the galaxy as a whole, her strength, her compassion, and her capacity for self-sacrifice. “But the public speaking part of your Day of Demand is over,” Bail Organa persisted with a smile. “And it’s speechmaking that scares most people witless.” “I might have been scared witless.” Breha was startled to discover a genuine laugh springing from her in this opulent chamber full of beautiful lies and elegant artificiality. “Just not speechless.” “Spoken with true fearlessness.” Bail Organa’s eyes twinkled at her, reminding her of stars admired from a palace terrace on a still night, and she felt some mysterious attraction stir inside her, drawing her to him as a magnet pulled inexorably to its opposite end. “I have no doubt you will pass all the challenges you’ve set yourself with distinction and aplomb.” He was one of the few young men in the universe, she thought with a rising longing and desire, who could use words like distinction and aplomb without coming across as pompous and pretentious. Instead, he seemed sincere, articule, and intelligent to her as he always had. “I hope not to disappoint you.” She curtsied to him, her shimmersilk ballgown rustling and spreading around her in cerulean waves. “You won’t disappoint me,” he assured her, believing in her as only one raised beside her, chasing after her in games of tag and catch-the-glowfly in the intricate palace gardens or studying under the same stern tutors with their exacting standards that could never be truly satisfied. “And when the time comes, you’ll make a great queen, continuing your mother’s legacy of peace, justice, and patronage for the arts.” Breha loved him then for his gloriously simple faith in her and said before she could think about the impropriety of admitting love to a young man, even one she had known since childhood, before the appropriate rites of courtship were completed, “I love you for your faith in me, Bail.” She hoped he would say something gallant flirtatious to sweep her off her feet. Something about how he loved her for her beauty. Instead, he kissed her hand, lips brushing across the thin glove that covered her skin, in a courtly fashion and answered, “It’s an honor to be loved by a Princess of Alderaan. May I never do anything to disappoint or betray that love.” Maybe, even though that was a more solemn reply than she had envisioned, that was gallant enough in its own way to sweep her off her feet. At least, that’s how she felt as he bowed to her and asked if he might have the next dance as the performers on the corner stage struck up a new tune that sang like hope and joy in her chest. Challenge of the Body A rainbow of fireworks exploded in Breha’s brain as she lay, lost to the galaxy, in the palace’s medical ward. She was attended by a legion of highly qualified medics in white coats, medical droids with their syringes forever ready to dispense some healing drug, and her own parents, who wrapped their warm fingers between her cold ones whenever the medics permitted it. They hovered over her, hoping that she would survive when that wasn’t a certainty. Gradually, Breha clawed and scraped her way back to consciousness as she had clawed and scraped her way to the summit of Appenza Peak. With consciousness came pain, searing and sharp, despite the cocktail of painkillers the medical droids had injected into her veins. The cocktail of painkillers might not have succeeded in dulling her pain entirely but they did envelop her mind in a gray fog of confusion. “Where am I?” she choked out through lips that felt numb and chapped. “The palace medical ward,” her mother murmured gently. “Why?” Breha asked the only followup she could think of, her forehead furrowing because her breathing and the beating of her heart sounded somehow strange to her. “You had a nasty fall.” This time it was her father who answered as tears began to drip down her mother’s cheeks. Breha would have felt shock at seeing her mother cry when she never had before if agonizing memory didn’t surge her. She remembered losing her footing as she descended the mountain, slipping on steep, sheer rock and plummeting into a ravine. She remembered getting battered and bruised with every jolt against hard, unforgiving stone. She remembered the crack of her ribs breaking. The collapse of her lungs inside her. The panicked hammering of her heart followed by its terrible stillness when it was too damaged to pound its rhythm of life inside her. “You might’ve died if royal guards hadn’t been keeping an eye on you as you were coming down. Your lungs and heart were hurt so badly that medics needed to give you cybernetic pulmonodes in order for you to live. Do you understand what I’m saying?” “You’re saying I shouldn’t be alive.” Breha felt woozy and detached from the horror that had happened to her. The fall. The surgery. The lifelong challenge the pulmonodes represented. All she could focus on was failure and how narrowly she had escaped it. If she had fallen on her way up the mountain, she would not have passed her Challenge of the Body. Since she had climbed to the summit, her Challenge of the Body was considered successful. That was how thin the line separating success from failure could be. “I’m lucky to be alive,” she went on, feeling as if she were outside of herself. “I’m lucky to have passed my Challenge of the Body. To still have a shot of proving that I’m worthy to be queen.” “Don’t worry about that now, dear.” Her mother’s fingers tightened around hers. “Just focus on recovering.” Her mother loved her, but she didn’t understand, Breha thought from whatever distant vantage point from which she was observing the drama of her life play out in the palace medical ward. It occurred to her that there might be someone who would understand. Someone whom she had grown up, sharing all her childhood complaints. Someone who had become a handsome young man. Someone who would be a feast for her eyes if nothing else. “Bail Organa,” she rasped, struggling to adjust to the capacity of her pulmonodes that altered her breathing and heartbeat. “I’d like to speak to Bail Organa alone.” “He’s wanted to see you for awhile now, but the medics didn’t want an extra body cluttering the room until you were awake. We’ll have him summoned here at once.” Her mother gestured for the protocol droid who attended upon her always to step forward. When it had done so, she ordered it, “Please find young Bail Organa and inform him that the princess is conscious again and wishes to speak with him as soon as possible.” As the protocol droid scurried off, she looked at Breha with a glisten of humor shining through the sorrow in her gaze. “I’m sure that will get young Bail Organa running to your side. I think he’s quite infatuated with you, my dear.” “We’ve known each other since childhood.” Breha fiddled with her blanket, wishing that her mother could be more oblivious to the romantic undercurrents developing between her and Bail. “Sometimes childhood companions make the best romantic partners.” The twinkle had only brightened in her mother’s eyes. “Your father and I were childhood companions once before we became more than that.” Breha was spared the necessity of cobbling together an answer to this embarrassing remark by Bail’s timely arrival as announced in formal fashion by her mother’s stuffy protocol droid. “I know you two will have much to talk about.” Her mother rose as soon as Bail finished bowing to her and Breha’s father. “I’ll wait outside while you two speak privately.” “I’ll join you.” Breha’s father took her mother by the arm and escorted her from the room. All was silent except for the whir of medical equipment for a moment after her parents left. Then Bail held out a bouquet of the fruit cut into floral arrangements that were currently popular on Alderaan. Amidst the fruit shaped into flowers, a small purple balloon floated, bearing the encouraging message: Get Better Soon. “I brought you this. I thought it might cheer you up, Breha.” “It does cheer me up, thank you.” Breha mustered a grateful grin as she accepted the bouquet of fruit and placed it on her nightstand among bottles of medicine as a more upbeat counterpart. She bit into a slice of liwi fruit. The sunshine yellow fruit was tart and bitter on her tongue. Tart and bitter was just what she needed right now. “I almost failed my Challenge of the Body, Bail. If I’d fallen on my way up the mountain instead of down it, I would’ve failed it, and even though I passed, I’m going to be stuck with these pulmonodes for the rest of my life. I’m afraid the pulmonodes will be seen as a sign of weakness by the people of Alderaan and the galaxy as a whole when I’m on the galactic stage as queen after my mother.” “Only a fool would look at a sign of your strength and see a weakness.” Bail’s voice was deep and soothing. His faith in her sounded as unshakeable as ever, and she needed that even more than the tart bitterness of the liwi fruit. “Your pulmonodes, your surviving your fall, are only proof of your resilience, and how you didn’t fail in your Challenge of the Body but triumphed through your perseverance.” As she wondered if this was truly what love saw when it looked at her, Bail came to his fervent conclusion. “I admire you more after your fall than I did before it, and you know how fierce my admiration for you was before you fell.” Breha felt herself flush, her pulmonodes pumping a protest at the extra work it required to send blood to her flaming cheeks. Feeling clumsy and unworthy, not just of him but of the position of queenship she had been expected to inherit since her birth, she whispered, uncertain if he would even hear her, “I love you more than ever.” Apparently, Bail did hear her because he cleared his throat awkwardly. “I consider myself more blessed than ever to be loved by you.” The awkward emotions were threatening to drown Breha so she attempted an airy hand wave at the bouquet of fruit Bail had brought her. “That’s a lot of fruit for me to eat myself. I hope you’re thinking of helping me with it.” “It’d be my pleasure to help you eat the fruit.” Bail winked at her as he grabbed a piece of honeyfruit melon and bit into its sweet juiciness. “I thought you’d never ask.” Roses of Courtship Breha stood in state, a silver crown encircling the braided twin buns of her hair, in her mother’s throne room. Three noblemen, the customary number of candidates for being her husband and queen consort when her mother’s crown passed to her, had presented her with the rare white Alderaanean flame-roses that had white petals striped with flares of orange that resembled a burning fire and grew only in the planet’s most tropical regions. The white flame-roses were meant to symbolize the purity of her suitors’ longing for her, her mother had explained as she prepared Breha for this ritual courtship. Each of her suitors after presenting her a rose had been given the chance to stroll through the gardens with her alone as well as to dance and dine with her at a banquet each evening. Tonight she would make her verdict, proclaiming publicly whom she would marry by bestowing on the lucky man whose affections she returned a red flame-rose, the red meant to be an emblem of her blazing ardor for the man she would wed. Breha had blushed when her mother had explained that last bit of flower symbolism to her in preparation for this ceremony, but her cheeks didn’t burn when she stepped toward Bail, twirling the stem of the fragrant red flame-rose between her fingers that mercifully weren’t trembling. “I love you,” she said to Bail in a ringing voice that echoed in the grand arches and vaulting ceiling of the throne room so that every ear could hear. She had been pacing the row of her suitors but paused to gaze deeply into Bail’s eyes and offer him her flame-rose. “I want you serving and leading beside me for all my life and all my reign.” The words were her own. The Alderaanean etiquette books did not prescribe what a princess should say to the suitor she accepted on such an occasion. Just that they should be something meaningful. Profound. Memorable. In a way, that was more pressure than being constrained to the words of tradition, her tongue walking along a safe and well-marked path of love instead of roaming through wild, uncharted territory. “I promise to love and honor you all the days of my life.” Bail spoke as if he were reciting his wedding vows early, and the blood thudded through Breha’s pulmonodes as he leaned forward to kiss her on the lips for the first time. Queen Breha was queen herself now and had been for some time with her mother long gone to whatever great mystery awaited the soul after it departed the body. She had settled into her role as queen but still missed the mother she had lost. Bail represented Alderaan in the Senate, and he was often gone, entrusting the most important decisions of ruling Alderaan to her. Tonight, as they curled close to one another on a plush sofa in their private quarters, he was home from Coruscant as the Senate was in a recess between terms. “I can’t bear children.” Breha didn’t know what compelled her to state in a broken tone what he already knew. Perhaps it was the knowledge that she wasn’t getting any younger--that time didn’t flow backward for her any more than it had for her mother--that made her turn her mind to the gnawing question of what her legacy would be if she did not have an heir to rule Alderaan after her. Or maybe it was only the way Bail’s hand rippled through her hair that made her remember… Remember a sunlit morning with her mother’s brush stroking through her hair, untangling the knots sleep had left in it. Remember the chirping birdsong from the bushes in the palace garden as a background harmony to her mother’s soft words whispered in her ear like a secret. Remember those childhood moments as if they had happened to someone else in eons past but also as if they had happened to her just yesterday. A paradox irreconcilable anywhere but her heart. “Having a daughter changed my way of thinking.” Her mother’s voice was warm, golden sunlight in Breha’s memory. “It made me think about ruling and the future in ways I’d never considered before having a child. It was like a magical transformation of my perspective.” Breha ached to discover if such a magical transfiguration would be wrought on her perspective of ruling and the future if she had a daughter, which brought her crashing up against the permacreate wall of the harsh reality that she couldn’t bear children. The medics said with her pulmonodes that it would be too dangerous for her to even attempt to bear a child to term. “My mother said having a daughter changed her way of thinking about ruling and the future.” Sliding back into the present, Breha addressed these wistful words to Bail. “I wish I could have a daughter, but I can’t.” “You can.” Bail’s fingers were soothing in her hair, his tone calming as ocean waves along a seashore at sunset. “There are other options, Breha. Test tube babies. Surrogate mothers…” Breha interrupted this list of options she had heard too many times in the modulated, mechanical tones of medical droids, “I know. The medical droids have gone over those options with me ad nauseum. None of them are what I want. None of them feel right to me, Bail.” “Adoption then.” Bail wiped the tears she hadn’t realized she was shedding from her cheeks. “We can adopt a baby girl when this war is over and raise her as if she were our own flesh and blood. Adopted children are treated the same as biological ones in the line of succession, and there’ll be many orphans in need of a home when the Clone Wars are done.” It was true that adopted children were treated the same as biological ones in the line of succession, Breha knew. Throughout Alderaan’s long history, there had been more than one adoptive child sitting the throne or else the royal line would have been extinguished centuries ago. “Do you think the war will be over soon?” Breha pressed her head more deeply into Bail’s chest. “I don’t know, but I hope so.” Bail’s sigh made his chest shake. “I hope the war ripping apart the galaxy will end soon and that we’ll have peace again, because what are we fighting this terrible war for if not for peace.” “I hope for peace in our lifetime and the lifetime of the daughter we’ll one day adopt.” Breha turned her head to face her husband, the hint of a smile shining in her eyes. “I also hope that our future daughter will take after you in her wisdom and love of peace.” “Funny you should say that.” Bail tapped her nose teasingly. “I was just about to say that I hope our future daughter inherits your resilience and grace.” “Maybe she can inherit the best of both our traits.” Breha laughed, her heart flooding with love for this man who had always made her dance with delight and desire. An indescribable emotion impossible to put into words, but trying anyway, she said, “I love you with all my heart and soul, Bail.” “I love you too.” Bail kissed her forehead, her cheeks, and then, butterfly-light, her eyelids. “I fall even more in love with you every day, my dear.” Mother (or Adoption) As they had promised each other, they did adopt a baby girl as the Clone Wars, revealed to be nothing more than Palpatine’s nefarious scheme for destroying the Jedi and the Republic in one fell swoop, ended, ushering in not peace but a reign of tyranny under an emperor who lusted for absolute power. It was Bail who had orchestrated the adoption in the dying hours of the Republic. Bail who had been friends with Padme and been beside her when she died in childbirth. Bail who had promised two surviving and famous Jedi, Generals Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda, that they would raise the girl Padme had named Leia as their own. Bail who had suggested that she, the daughter of a powerful Jedi Knight, would be a secret best concealed in plain light as if there were nothing to hide. It was Bail who brought Leia home to the royal palace after Padme’s funeral and entombment on Naboo. It was Bail who slipped this precious, white-blanket-wrapped bundle into Breha’s arms and sat beside her as she cradled their new baby on a curving balcony bench, dusk painting the mountain-studded sky behind them in haloes of purple and pink. Breha felt an almost unspeakable joy as she gazed at her radiantly happy husband, whose pleasure reflected hers like a lake mirroring a cloudless azure sky, and her beautiful baby daughter. “I love you,” she murmured to her husband, leaning even closer to him so he could feel her love radiating like heat from her skin. “I love you both.” Bail kissed her on the lips and then bent to kiss their daughter on her young, unwrinkled forehead that Breha hoped would remain forever unmarred by stress and sorrow. Sudden Apocalypse Although Leia was off on a mission with the Rebel Alliance that Breha could only wait for her to return from and worry that she wouldn’t, Bail was home with her when a dark object like a menacing, metallic moon suddenly appeared in the sky. “Is it another moon?” Confused, Breha squinted up at the massive object eclipsing the sun. “It can’t be.” Bail gaped up at the monstrosity that wasn’t a moon with a naked fear Breha had rarely glimpsed in all their years of marriage as the shadowed sky was pierced with a blindingly bright ray that came from the unknown object looming above them. “It must be the weapon the Empire was building in secret. The one Leia has the plans to defeat.” Breha had time to panic, to seize her husband’s hand for comfort, before her world was blown to smithereens by a weapon of mass destruction on too large a scale for her to comprehend--what she had believed until her last breath to be too large for even the Emperor to wield. She didn’t have time to tell her husband that she loved him or to hear him say that he loved her, yet somehow that didn’t matter. She did not need to tell him that she loved him because she knew that he understood just how much she loved him, how much she had always loved him, in the same way she was intimately aware of how deeply he had loved her since they were teenagers. For a love as profound and trusting as theirs, the words in the end weren’t needed. She was at peace and eternally in love as she, her husband, and her entire world died. As she faded from the universe, she sent a final loving thought to her daughter to continue being an emissary of peace and justice in the galaxy. To bravely and resolutely carry on embodying all the values Breha had held dear and could no longer embody herself. To remain steadfast and devoted to the ethos of obliterated Alderaan even as it became nothing more than shards of rock and organic matter drifting through the cold, black vacuum of space, consigned to history and surviving only in memory and love.