main
side
curve
  1. Welcome to the new boards! Details here!

Saga "The end of all things" [a post ROTS alternate tragedy]

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Pandora, Mar 8, 2016.

  1. Pandora

    Pandora Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 13, 2005
    Title: "The end of all things"
    Genre: Alternate Universe
    Summary: The world might have come to an end, but Dormé remains with her lady--together, and forever.

    (Revised version posted 5.15.2016)

    *

    “The end of all things”


    The sky above the lake had only just started to fade into a swollen inkstained-blue evening when Amidala officially retired for the night. She stared through the mirror of her balcony door while Dormé picked the pins out of her elaborately made-up hair, and then undid the fastenings on the back of her dress. It was another frock from the most recent shipment from Theed: a nightpurple gown with grey pearl cuffs that shivered like teeth, and roses with mirrored thorns scattered over the skirts. It must have taken the seamstress, the last woman in the garment district who remained (fiercely, and stupidly) loyal to Amidala, hours to sew on all of those tiny details by hand.

    Amidala left the dress behind her in a fainted heap on the floor, and took up the brush left out on her vanity table near the scattered pins while Dormé picked it up, and draped it over the side of her arm. It smelled like warm whisperkit fur, and then, faintly, of Amidala’s perfumed sweat. She would have Nandi send it over to the steamcleaners in the morning.

    Amidala did not turn from watching her reflection when she spoke—but then, Dormé knew now, years after she should have, that she never had seen her: “That will be all, Dormé. You may have the rest of the night off.”

    She knew the lines Amidala expected to hear, and she did not have to think before she spoke the meaningless, thoughtless words. “Thank you, milady.”

    Then she retreated into the hallway, shutting the wooden back of the door behind her. She could feel the whisperedsoft air of the house breathing around her. It was too quiet—but then, Dormé suspected, from the moment of their conversation she had overheard that afternoon, that Nandi had allowed the housemaid to take off early again. She couldn’t even complain about it; the girl had only agreed to take the position after Dormé had offered her nearly twice the usual hourly servant’s wage. Of course, Amidala had never had to know that. Dormé had made certain of it.

    She had the rest of the night—the hours of time until she swallowed the little snowdrop pill that would push her into a black sleep—to herself. But there was nothing she wanted to do with it. She wasn’t interested in the imaginary adventures of the ladies in the novel on her datapad, the one that had been there for several years, or in dreammusic, or puzzle games.

    She would have spent a few of those hours tending to the crowded forest of Amidala’s wardrobe, but she had finished with that earlier, while her lady floated about in her bath for the second long slow hour that day, the petalsoft water slapping around her body.

    Dormé could only wander on through the shadowthin darkness of the hallway, towards her own little room on the other side of the house. As she approached the sitting room, the door swayed open for several inches, spilling out warm firerose light across the floor, and Nandi stepped out. She was looking down towards her feet, smacking at a scarred wrinkle in her wedding sheet white apron. Her shadow cringed along behind her on the wall.

    “Good evening, Nandi,” Dormé said—and the word of her name, as she went through the motions of standard polite behavior, somehow sounded wrong.

    Nandi lifted her head on her drooping flower root neck, and blinked over at her. Nandi Minnau was (as her half-sister Teckla had been) a lifetime servant. Apparently, she had a brother who worked as a solicitor in Keren, so she must have shown herself in the first years of reason to not be quite bright-minded. She walked in a daydreaming shuffle, and smiled, when she had to, like a kick-bruised wulf, showing her teacup-stained fist clenched teeth.

    She watched Dormé with her usual blank glass stare, but before Dormé could speak again, with a louder voice, she said in a hurried mumble: “Yes. It is a good evening.”

    Then she walked away through the hallway without another look. That was how she was—and Dormé had excused it away during the few years she had known her, thinking that she might be shy about her damaged hearing, and that she was only, merely skittish by nature. But she had finally realized it was more simple than that: Nandi didn’t like her.

    --

    (It had been only three days since Egil’s letter, an actual letter written on thick creampale paper, had arrived for her. Dormé hadn’t found the time to read it until after luncheon, and after Amidala decided, on one of her sudden whims, that she needed to look after the twins. She took it out to the lakefront balcony. When she finished, she had stared at the words until they were only mouse-clawed scratches. Egil was getting married. She had wanted to feel flushed, and pleased, with relief. He had moved on ahead with his life—as she had encouraged him, during that meeting at the riverside walk, to do. But then she remembered what he had said next, after a bitter whip-cracked hahaha: That doesn’t mean much coming from you.

    Oh, he had made his opinions quite clear enough. She had known by then, by that last day she knew him, that she couldn't tell him anything he would hear--and it was only now, when she could only remember him, that she thought he must have felt the same about her. She had explained, even though it had been self-evident to her, that Amidala needed her in her exile.

    Oh, no, she doesn’t, he had said. But apparently, you need her, and I don’t know why. I thought you had managed to survive her. It seems I was wrong.

    She could have reminded him that recently, only a few months before, he had adored Amidala along with the rest of her people. It was only the truth: but she knew what response he would have, and she couldn’t stand to hear him say--and so easily, so smugly--that the woman, the girl-senator glowing with purehearted ideals, that they had all admired, and had even loved, had only ever been an illusion. And they were not impressed with the truth.

    She could still hear the echo of her voice as she told him: But really, this isn’t your concern. And if I am wasting my life, it is still my life to waste.

    They had been sitting on one of the hillside benches, and Egil stood up to leave. She watched the sunlight glowing in his hair as he looked down at her. She had only barely seen the tiny doll-sized figures of the people below on the wading beach, and the lightpath on the water. Then he spoke. It was the last thing he would ever say to her, and she had known it.

    It was possible he had sent this letter to taunt her, but Dormé didn’t think so. Egil had had his faults, but that wouldn’t have been like him. He must have wanted to tell her himself, before she heard about it through secondhand gossip—and that was, however oddly, even worse. The thought of it cracked a papercut wound in her heart, and she clenched her eyes shut.

    She didn’t know for long she sat there in the fadedpale sunlight with the letter across her lap before Amidala sent for her. The letter fluttered with a moth-winged beat when she picked it up, and returned to her feet. Of course, while Amidala might have recognized Egil’s name—he was known, if only on Naboo, as “a fresh new artist” with the Symbolists—she would not have even considered that Dormé might know him. Dormé folded the letter together into a clenched small wedge, locking the words inside, and tucked it inside her skirt pocket.

    It turned out that Amidala had just left a difficult holo conversation with her husband, and she needed Dormé with her as she endured the aftermath. Dormé could hear, from the next room, the sound of Leia’s voice in a long throbbing howl—but Nandi knew how to distract her into calming down well enough. She went straight for the kitchen to make up a cup of mint tea for her lady.

    She nodded along while Amidala talked on about her despair over her marriage. As always, she did not have to offer a single actual word in response. And when Amidala had permitted several diamond-glitter tears to slide loose, she had reached down and patted her back, scattering the words of a love poem into her skin with her fingers. It shouldn’t have still felt that way, but it did.)

    --

    It was, according to the antique gold chrono Amidala insisted on setting on Coruscant time, nearly midmorning in the senate district, so Dormé went into the study to make contact with Moteé. She used the voice-only connection that had been reconfigured for Amidala’s grandmother—it was ancient, nearly a thousand years old, but it still worked, and Moteé would know to answer it. She was living in the apartments at 500 Imperial—and officially, she was there as the Lady Vader, with Lissé in attendance as her handmaiden. Captain Typho had suggested that last in order to make the act at least somewhat convincing. The same thought had obviously not occurred to Amidala.

    Of course, Amidala’s husband, Lord Vader, knew Moteé (a woman whose name he had never bothered to learn) was only a decoy-doll set up in his wife’s place. But Dormé suspected that the majority of the people around them knew, or at the least suspected, the same thing—after all, the decoy plan had been one of the many secrets Ellé, that traitor, that bitch, had revealed, through that sludge reporter, to an audience of millions of persons.

    But Amidala had always favored it, and perhaps from habit, she continued to do so—even when it was common knowledge that she was living in her Lake Country retreat. Dormé had wondered about her reasoning, but she had learned not to bother Amidala with any questions.

    (It had always seemed somewhat off that Amidala, the woman known as the figurehead of the people, had used the decoy plan so much—especially considering how many versions of her had died, most of them women who Dormé had never met, but still somehow knew. She had made excuses for her lady then. But now, oh now, it made perfectly obvious sense.)

    Moteé answered a second after the third ring. Her voice had a static-growl fuzz to it when she said: You know, I might have been out.

    Dormé didn’t bother with her preferred response to that—Moteé had to stay hidden inside the apartment while Lissé managed their errands. The Lady Vader was known to keep to herself. “Of course, milady. I can only apologize for not thinking of that. How have you been?”

    There was a long paused silent moment, and then Moteé spoke again. Well enough. Oh, I have on this wonderful frock that came with the last shipment. You ought to see it.

    Dormé remained silent, though she wanted to say it so badly she could feel the words heaped inside her mouth: Don’t be sarcastic, Moteé. It doesn’t become you. “Yes, milady. But since we are on that topic, I was wondering how Lissé is working out for you.”

    I see, Moteé’s voice said. You think I could use another girl to help out.

    “Yes,” Dormé said. “While, of course, I shouldn’t speak out of turn, I must say that it doesn’t do for a lady of your standing to have only one attendant. I shall send Padmé over with the next embassy transport. She should be arriving in another two weeks.”

    Oh, of course, Moteé said. Padmé was the name Amidala had used when she played the role of a mere handmaiden during her royal terms—and it was also her birthname. It had been over a year since she had made a trip to Coruscant, and Dormé did not know why she had decided to return now to reclaim the place Moteé was filling for her. But she suspected it had been inspired by that last call with her husband—Lord Vader’s voice did still have that whining edge with her.

    “The twins will be remaining here with me, milady,” Dormé said in the next shivering long pause. “I’m sure you would agree that the hyperspace trip would be too stressful for them.”

    You are quite right, Moteé said. That is what my lord husband has always said.

    After she left the study, Dormé stopped by the entrance to the twins’ room. They were both awake: she could hear them talking together in their imaginary shared language, and when she looked in, they were sitting together on Leia’s new sleigh-bed, each one holding a matching stuffed tooka. They were almost three years old, and the previous week, she had suggested to Amidala that perhaps it was time that Luke had his own room. Amidala had stared at her in surprise before she answered:

    They’re twins, Dormé. Don’t be so dense, she said, and Dormé knew that would be the end of it for years—until, hopefully at least, the twins were old enough to demand the change themselves.

    Amidala thought of herself as a wonderful mother. While she oftentimes ignored the twins, especially when she was preoccupied with her faraway husband, she spoke their names in an adoring, rottensweet voice, and when she was in the right mood, she would crash into their room and scoop them into the bars of her arms. She would drop raindrop kisses on Leia’s hair, and flutter her fingers in a patting stroke over Luke’s back.

    The twins looked nothing at all alike: Luke was blond, and Amidala seemed to favor him more for that, for her husband’s sake. But she had also told Dormé that Leia—when she had still been a young moon-faced baby—looked exactly like her. Dormé had agreed. She thought now that Leia looked only like her own distinct self, but she kept that opinion to herself.

    Dormé didn’t understand children that young at all well, and she didn’t know what they might be capable of knowing. But she had noticed, when they were trapped inside their mother’s arms, that they stared away from her with their shadowthin baby eyebrows scrunched down low over their eyes. She recognized the expression. They looked confused.

    --

    (Several weeks after Dormé had followed Amidala back to Naboo, she had been on an errand at an open market in the riverside district when she had seen her mother. It had taken her a second to even recognize her—but then she had not seen the woman in person, or as the glimmering starlight of a holo, since she had returned into service for the end of her lady’s career. Her mother couldn’t have seen her yet, and Dormé had known what to do: she had already faded in with the crowd in her violetgrey cloak, so she only had to lift the hood into place, and hunch her shoulders down, and walk on towards the next fruit stall with whisper-faded steps.

    She didn’t know what would happen if her mother should turn away from the conversation she was having with one of her colleagues, and look straight at her. She might have, after her first gasped breath of surprise, gone forward to catch her before it was too late. She might have, out of respect for Dormé’s boundaries, given her the slight smile she used for polite acquaintances.

    Or more likely: she would have been rational enough to figure out, finally, that it was best to ignore her. When Dormé had wandered back to Naboo three years after she had left it, in exile from her life in Amidala’s service, her mother had been pleased to have her return to the family—only to have her turn and leave them all behind her once again.

    She hadn’t betrayed them; she would have betrayed Amidala--the only person she had wanted to see, the only person she had loved, for those three years-- if she had not returned to her. But she knew her mother couldn’t believe that anymore than her father, or the aunts, or Egil. When her mother had made one last attempt to sway her (telling her, in all earnestness, You still don’t seem to know what that woman really is) Dormé had walked away without looking, or thinking, back.

    She had turned her mind back towards the stall in front of her filled with boxes of plump purpleblack queenberries, and considered several rows before she decided on the best one. Queenberries were one of her favorites, but these would be only for Amidala. Her lady had been in poor spirits over the last week—and it hadn’t helped matters when Rhea, the girl Dormé had hired on to replace Teckla, had quit without notice or explanation.

    The salesclerk was polite enough to her when she paid, but her face was like a blank teacup china mask. She had hardly waited until Dormé had left the counter before she had leaned in close to the other girl, and in a harsh stage whisper: I think that’s the decoy.

    Oh, Dormé had wished—for that one flushed, rage-blurred moment as she walked away—that she could turn back and slap the smirk straight off the girl’s face. And she didn’t know anywhere near as much as she thought: as the result of Ellé’s detailed, and unfortunately, quite accurate stories, that was the one duty Dormé could never again perform for Amidala.

    It was only later, after she had returned to the rental condo outside the city, that she realized she hadn’t noticed if her mother had still been there at the market. She had forgotten her within only minutes. But then, the woman was no longer a relevant part of her life.)

    --

    The lake moved out in the velvetthick soft darkness, pushing up against the sides of the boat dock. Dormé stood above it on the main balcony, staring out towards the cloudshapes of the mountains on the other side of the water. She could make out the scattered diamond sequins of lights of the village, from the lamps along the main marketplace street. The servants’ boat was gone, so Nandi must have rowed over to spend her evening at one of the teahouses. It just as well, of course, that Dormé had no interests there—they all knew her, if only as The Decoy, and she would not be welcomed. Amidala was no longer popular in the village.

    She leaned forward against the heavy-boned stone balcony fence. She had left her hair loose over her shoulders, and she clenched her toes together. Her feet had started to turn cold, but she knew how to endure that. And perhaps it was the secret-hiding darkness around her, but she felt younger—and for a moment, she remembered who, before she was only Amidala’s waiting handmaiden (and imitating decoy), she had been.

    Once, when she had been considered one of the prettier girls in her generation of cousins, and when Egil and her friends at the university had appreciated her moments of wit. She was known to be quiet—and she had known how to use that to startle people.

    She wondered if Amidala had retired fully into sleep yet. It hardly mattered if she hadn’t—she wouldn’t have any further need of Dormé. She could turn on the protocol droid her husband had bought her if she needed companionship. Dormé could stand out here, and listen to the lake, and to the windhiss shaking the leaves in one of the trees, alone with only her thoughts.

    It was too late, months and forever too late, to tell her mother and Egil this, but she knew: oh, she knew now what sort of woman Amidala was. Dormé had considered--with a voice in her head she had to admit was herself--finishing all of this by putting an end to Amidala’s life. While it wouldn’t change one thing about the Empire the galaxy had become—despite what Amidala might think, no one person, not even her, could be all that important—it would at the least set Moteé, and Lissé, and even Nandi free. They would never have to die because of her.

    That morning, she could have walked openly through the steam-blurred fresher, and over to the bathtub, and Amidala would not have seen her, would not have left her thoughts, before Dormé had her throat slit from side to side.

    Or: that afternoon, she could have included several teardrops of poison, a suitably fitting one, with Amidala’s tea. It might have even passed as a heart attack brought on by a condition that no one, especially Amidala, had known was hidden away there.

    But she knew that, if she were to ever make one of those options a reality, she would have only a few days of her own life left once Lord Vader found it out. Of course, he would not bother with the task of killing her himself—he would send one of his current underlings to manage that, someone who was already in position, and in wait, on Naboo.

    Dormé had learned, during her years in service, to care only for Amidala’s well-being—but it had turned out that somehow, however improbably, she still had some regard for herself. She couldn’t do it. They would continue on, then, inside the frozen-trapped life they had now, and she would have to know she had failed to change it.

    She had only intended to come outside for a few minutes. But she stayed out there for much longer than that. She could smell the bruised-ripe flowers growing in one of the stone vases, and a thin drifting breeze tugged at her hair. Then, finally, she turned again towards the house, and the one room that was hers—and she walked back into the darkness inside.



    --
    Notes:

    This version of Padmé is the same one I wrote about in my 2006 story "Decoy." But since I have changed some of the other details--spoiler alert: Dormé did not make it out of the Clone Wars alive--it is not set in the exact same world.

    Nandi is a (extremely minor) canon character added on to the Varykino staff in the AOTC novelization by R.A. Salvatore. She does not appear in the movie.

    Egil, Dormé's artist boyfriend, was inspired by my imperfect memories of a similar character in an abandoned fanfiction posted on the boards circa 2003 by Anyanka.

    The rest was inspired by certain AU fanfictions I have found during my travels around the internet in which Padmé was a *****, and Dormé was the doormat she stepped on, and most of this was not intentional on the authors' parts. Since this is not the sort of inspiration they would find flattering, I shall not name any of these stories.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
    Kahara, Chyntuck, AngelQueen and 5 others like this.
  2. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Dormé had learned, during her years in service, to care only for Amidala’s well-being—but it had turned out that somehow, however improbably, she still had some regard for herself. She couldn’t do it. They would continue on, then, inside the frozen-trapped life they had now, and she would have to know she had failed to change it.

    Wow, this is almost the fate of a geisha. A woman born into service and trained to function is a world of twilight & artificial smiles. Well written! ^:)^
     
  3. Pandora

    Pandora Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 13, 2005
    AzureAngel2: Wow, this is almost the fate of a geisha. A woman born into service and trained to function is a world of twilight & artificial smiles. Well written! ^:)^

    Dormé wasn't literally born into a life of service, but she certainly chose one--and even now, when she finally knows it was all a lie, she continues to live it, and graciously take the constant **** from her lady. She (like the other fanfiction versions of her that inspired this story) doesn't know how to even consider just walking away from it all.

    Thanks for reading, and commenting!
     
    Kahara, Findswoman and AzureAngel2 like this.
  4. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Since it may take me a while to catch-up with your DDC, how about I catch up with this first?

    You truly, truly pay attention to every single detail. In some other stories, I have trouble keeping up with everything, but in this one, it's not a distraction. There's the right amount of it and it sets the atmosphere perfectly. The scents of whisperkit fur and, well, perfumed sweat, the description of the clothes to the point where one can hear those gorgeous skirts ruffle...just wow! I also like the names of some of these colours. OK, all of these colours.

    Love the idea that the one with Vader on Coruscant is actually Moteé. Given that Amidala has certain woes in her marriage to Vader, one just has to wonder if Vader is just too intimidating to be around, or if Dormé's oh-so-obvious affection is going to be returned sooner lr later. Or a bit of both.

    And lesbian/femslash/whatevertheyare undertones of your Dormé/Padmé 'ship aside, the way the complicated topic of loyalty to somebody nobody else likes anymore, to somebody who betrayed a large group of people, is described here - it works for me. And it does not have to be related to the sexual aspect, or at least so I think. It could also be that Dormé is so empty that she sees nothing in life other than serving her lady.

    The symbolism of many versions of Amidala dying vs. her real self, before she betrayed the Naboo and the Republic, "dying" is interesting. It could almost imply that she is now completely ruthless and a liar, but it doesn't have to. And the ambiguity is fun, in a story where it's present on every single turn, either way. Could it be that, deep inside, Amidala prefers Luke because she can't stand having another copy of herself, either because she hates competition, or she hates who he has become? Hmmm...

    And if I am wasting my life, it is still my life to waste.

    I'm taking this, thankyouverymuch.


    P.S. The father on one of my characters works as a solictor in Keren. A strange coincidence!
     
    Kahara, AzureAngel2 and Findswoman like this.
  5. Pandora

    Pandora Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 13, 2005
    Ewok Poet: You truly, truly pay attention to every single detail. In some other stories, I have trouble keeping up with everything, but in this one, it's not a distraction. There's the right amount of it and it sets the atmosphere perfectly. The scents of whisperkit fur and, well, perfumed sweat, the description of the clothes to the point where one can hear those gorgeous skirts ruffle...just wow! I also like the names of some of these colours. OK, all of these colours.

    Thank you--I do have a lot of detailed description (I'm very detailed-oriented, though that does sometimes mean I can't quite see the larger picture, but that's off the point), and I've written for long enough that I tend to know when to use it, and when it would be too much. And I do like using colors creatively, as a way to get across atmosphere and such. Though I have to admit that my first inspiration for color names were the 64 boxes of Crayola crayons I used to have when I was a child.

    Love the idea that the one with Vader on Coruscant is actually Moteé. Given that Amidala has certain woes in her marriage to Vader, one just has to wonder if Vader is just too intimidating to be around, or if Dormé's oh-so-obvious affection is going to be returned sooner lr later. Or a bit of both.

    In this universe, Amidala seems to have gotten addicted to using decoys--there's no real reason for having a decoy set up on Coruscant, and the once secret plan is no longer a secret, but she does it anyway. I'm fairly certain that the Lord and (fake) Lady Vader have separate residences (partly for reasons I'll go into in the next sentence), so Moteé doesn't have to be around him, aside from the occasional routine visit he has to make to her apartment to make the whole thing look even remotely real. As for the marriage--it's dysfunctional, and long distance, and they don't know any other way to go about it at this point.

    And lesbian/femslash/whatevertheyare undertones of your Dormé/Padmé 'ship aside, the way the complicated topic of loyalty to somebody nobody else likes anymore, to somebody who betrayed a large group of people, is described here - it works for me. And it does not have to be related to the sexual aspect, or at least so I think. It could also be that Dormé is so empty that she sees nothing in life other than serving her lady.

    This version of Dormé didn't have sexual/romantic feelings for her lady (I ship them, but I don't have "OTPs"--I also ship Dormé with Typho, and in this universe, there was something there, but they were too busy being Utterly Devoted to Amidala to ever do anything about it, and then it was too late). I don't know if that makes matters better, or worse, but either way, Dormé chose her present life of empty service. She had another life for a while (possibly after Amidala did her a favor, if only by accident, by firing her), and she abandoned it to come back to her lady. And now, it seems that she is as empty as her life. She burned her old connections, she doesn't even seem to consider the possibility of finding new ones, and it is all she can see.

    Well: she does have her murder fantasies to occasionally take refuge in.

    The symbolism of many versions of Amidala dying vs. her real self, before she betrayed the Naboo and the Republic, "dying" is interesting. It could almost imply that she is now completely ruthless and a liar, but it doesn't have to. And the ambiguity is fun, in a story where it's present on every single turn, either way. Could it be that, deep inside, Amidala prefers Luke because she can't stand having another copy of herself, either because she hates competition, or she hates who he has become? Hmmm...

    This is the sort of universe where I wouldn't be surprised if they eventually have a clone of Amidala (possibly called Paadmé, ala the old EU) to serve as her decoy. Actually, I'm sort of surprised that, so far as I know, no one else has ever written that story. But yes: Amidala has gone through quite a few decoys, and collateral handmaidens, in this universe--that was set up in my 2006 story "Decoy," which is sort of an AU prequel for this one. I was sort of making fun of the tendency I've noticed in fanfiction for Amidala to practically have a decoy take her place when she goes to the toilet, oh sorry, fresher--whereas in the movie canon, I think she only used it a few times over the course of her political career, and only in the most dire of circumstances--in a pitch black way.

    This Amidala is definitely a hot mess--and her psyche is a deep dark abyss that even she suspects is best left ungazed into. Those two reasons probably do factor into her preferring Luke to his sister--while she claims to just adore the fact that Leia looks "just like her," she probably doesn't like herself that much. And since she doesn't even know how to consider the idea of someone being a competitor (well, after all those years surrounded by adoring and weak-willed women done up to look like her, and an adoring public outside, that isn't a surprise), I don't see things going well as Leia gets older.

    And if I am wasting my life, it is still my life to waste.

    I'm taking this, thankyouverymuch.

    You're welcome.

    P.S. The father on one of my characters works as a solictor in Keren. A strange coincidence!

    Yes, that is quite the coincidence. The reason the off-stage brother is a solicitor is because, in the fan-written "What's the Story?" backstory for Teckla, the servant girl at Varykino, she had a brother who was a law clerk--so I figured that at the time of this story, years afterward, he might well have moved ahead in his career. I think he was located in Theed, not Keren--but since this is an alternate universe, and they tossed out most of that backstory so they could kill Teckla off in the Clone Wars cartoon anyway, I can hardly see that it matters.

    Thanks for reading, and commenting!
     
  6. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Well, no one can write the rarefied world of the Naboo handmaidens like you, no one. :cool: Agreeing heartily with Ewok Poet about all the beautiful details: the colors and texture of the dress, the "petalsoft" bath water, the "firerose" twilight, the "bruised-ripe" flowers, among many others, the "blank teacup china mask" of the saleswoman's face—those beautiful descriptions that just make the world come alive as a whole. And it doesn't end with just the descriptions of the setting: there's Padmé's saccharine, insincere gestures of affection to her children (which says a lot about the kind of person she is in this universe), Nandi's ambiguous-but-ambiguous response to Dormé's greeting (a tiny little hint that nevertheless says so much about the class distinctions at work on this Naboo), the strained conversation with Egil, Ellé's tattling and (as a result) the sales clerk's semi-correct guess about the decoy. (And I do like how the story really tackles the whole decoy issue, and its implications, head-on—there were times even in the films when that whole business seemed a bit too much like a crutch.)

    One kind of gets the feeling that Dormé isn't quite sure of the nature of the relationship she has to any of these people: to her Lady, to Egil, to the other maidens; she knows that she's loyal and attached to Amidala in some way, for better or for worse, but that's all she really knows. But one also gets the feeling that in this kind of extremely rarefied, stylized environment it's not even possible to be sure of what one's exact relationship is to anyone else. One sees that especially in the conversation with Moteé-as-Lady Vader, which is in many ways emblematic of the enigmatic loyalty Dormé feels toward the real Padmé Amidala, but also highlights the ways the handmaidens aren't really ever totally able to connect with each other (a theme that I know has come up in your other handmaiden stories, notably "Versé, transformed into a flower"). It really is a "frozen-trapped" life—but oh so beautiful, too! And we readers get to revel in both aspects in a way that almost feels like a guilty pleasure—in the best possible way, of course. :D

    Keep up the fine work!
     
    Kahara, AzureAngel2 and Ewok Poet like this.
  7. Pandora

    Pandora Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 13, 2005
    Findswoman: Well, no one can write the rarefied world of the Naboo handmaidens like you, no one. :cool: Agreeing heartily with @Ewok Poet about all the beautiful details: the colors and texture of the dress, the "petalsoft" bath water, the "firerose" twilight, the "bruised-ripe" flowers, among many others, the "blank teacup china mask" of the saleswoman's face—those beautiful descriptions that just make the world come alive as a whole.

    Naboo is a beautiful world--even when things aren't going so well for the characters living there--so it only makes sense to use a certain sort of language to describe all the lush, plush beautiful details.

    And it doesn't end with just the descriptions of the setting: there's Padmé's saccharine, insincere gestures of affection to her children (which says a lot about the kind of person she is in this universe), Nandi's ambiguous-but-ambiguous response to Dormé's greeting (a tiny little hint that nevertheless says so much about the class distinctions at work on this Naboo), the strained conversation with Egil, Ellé's tattling and (as a result) the sales clerk's semi-correct guess about the decoy.

    This version of Padmé does sort of treat her children as though they're a set of expensive dolls. And it does a great deal to show how different she is from her "good" canon counterpart: while in the movies, Padmé only interacted with her children long enough to name them, one can assume she would have been a better mother if the plot had permitted her to keep her will to live. (Oooh-snap.) You can say one thing for this Padmé--her black heart is never going to be fatally broken.

    As for Nandi, she is (per the fanwritten "What's the Story?" entry I mentioned earlier) the daughter of a presumably middle-class merchant who goes to school, along with her half-sister, to learn to be a servant. When I first read it, I didn't think that made any sense, but then, whilst doing some unrelated internet research, I found this woman had a similar background, so similar that I wonder if the fan-writer was inspired by it. Otherwise, I can't speak for their intentions, but I think it says more than a little about how class works on Naboo.

    (And I do like how the story really tackles the whole decoy issue, and its implications, head-on—there were times even in the films when that whole business seemed a bit too much like a crutch.)

    I have never much cared for the decoy plot--and I will say that, the few times I've approached the subject with other handmaiden fans, they admitted to having reservations about it as well. It was a plot device in the movies that did seem, after the first few uses, to be a bit of a crutch. (Or--to be more bluntly honest--just lazy writing.) It also--as Dormé reflects in this story--seemed out of character for Amidala to go along with even as often as she did: she not only cares for other people, she prefers to take her own risks, and she would be intelligent enough to consider other alternatives. I've never really seen anyone address that.

    One kind of gets the feeling that Dormé isn't quite sure of the nature of the relationship she has to any of these people: to her Lady, to Egil, to the other maidens; she knows that she's loyal and attached to Amidala in some way, for better or for worse, but that's all she really knows.

    I don't know if Dormé has ever much examined her loyalty to her lady. She is (to quote the note that is reused as her character biography at every pertinent site, without a single change) her "most devoted aide," even after she figures out that her devotion has been misplaced, because it is all she knows, and it is what her culture must have taught her she should aspire to. She has just enough sense of self left to not want to sacrifice herself killling this woman she is still utterly devoted to, but who she almost seems to hate for that very reason.

    But one also gets the feeling that in this kind of extremely rarefied, stylized environment it's not even possible to be sure of what one's exact relationship is to anyone else. One sees that especially in the conversation with Moteé-as-Lady Vader, which is in many ways emblematic of the enigmatic loyalty Dormé feels toward the real Padmé Amidala, but also highlights the ways the handmaidens aren't really ever totally able to connect with each other (a theme that I know has come up in your other handmaiden stories, notably "Versé, transformed into a flower").

    I'm sure I must have written a few stories where the handmaidens have close, friendly relationships. While it's true that they never interact a single time in the movies, I do think they would have--especially given how, since they are invisible to everyone else around them, those would be the only relationships they could have. But I can see why they might not--they can't have any connections amongst themselves that might interfere with their loyalty to the girl-politicians they serve. And in this universe, where Amidala goes through handmaidens like tissue-paper, they would have other reasons not to risk it.

    It really is a "frozen-trapped" life—but oh so beautiful, too! And we readers get to revel in both aspects in a way that almost feels like a guilty pleasure—in the best possible way, of course. :D

    I should admit that I tend to have a darker view of the handmaidens' lives, and loyalty, than I have seen from most other people online. Mostly, I think a "life of duty without love" (to quote fanwriter taramidala) is not much of a life at all. That is especially the case in this universe, which is darker in pretty much all ways than my usual "canon" one. But at least it's beautiful.

    Keep up the fine work!

    Thank you, and thanks for reading and commenting!
     
  8. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    I finally got around to reading this story a couple of days ago, and even though I don't have much to add to the reviews above I wanted to say congrats for your well-deserved nominations! This is one of the well-written, well thought-out treats you got us used to over the years, and this version of Dormé and Padmé, who both lead a life completely void of any meaning, save for the former's belief in her sense of duty, and the latter's addiction to maintaining appearances, is outright creepy and tragic. You've taken the harshness of a handmaiden's life one step further here!
     
  9. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    Missed this one the first time around, so I'm glad to have discovered it while going through the nominated stories (congratulations, by the way! :) )

    It's fascinating and horrifying at the same time to see how Dormé seems to have chosen to be sucked into this bottomless abyss of a life. Even more so since (in contrast with that also wonderful and disturbing story with Sabé as a handmaiden trained from birth) Dormé seems to have once had a life outside of Padmé's sterile and airless existence. There are hints here and there that Padmé feels terrible about whatever compromise she has made -- and it seems to have been an awful one, whatever it was exactly -- but at the same time she seems to have bleached out in her solitude. There's not much left of the vibrant and courageous person she once was, if she ever really was in this universe. That high turnover rate among decoys is... suspicious. [face_thinking]
     
    AzureAngel2, Findswoman and Ewok Poet like this.
  10. Pandora

    Pandora Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 13, 2005
    Chyntuck: I finally got around to reading this story a couple of days ago, and even though I don't have much to add to the reviews above I wanted to say congrats for your well-deserved nominations!

    Thank you so much! And there is always something left to say about a story--while I admit that (in my responses to earlier comments) I have said most of what I have to say, I couldn't say absolutely that was all of it.

    This is one of the well-written, well thought-out treats you got us used to over the years, and this version of Dormé and Padmé, who both lead a life completely void of any meaning, save for the former's belief in her sense of duty, and the latter's addiction to maintaining appearances, is outright creepy and tragic. You've taken the harshness of a handmaiden's life one step further here!

    That is a good way to describe Dormé's sense of duty in this story, and what makes it tragic--it is completely without any meaning. She hasn't even her former illusion that the woman she serves is worthy of what she has done for her, and what she continues to do, and yet she remains in her place as Amidala's shadow. As for Amidala, she is indeed all appearance--a perfectly made, and perfectly dressed, image over a black hole she has never really shown to anyone else.

    Thank you for reading, and commenting!

    ---

    Kahara: Missed this one the first time around, so I'm glad to have discovered it while going through the nominated stories (congratulations, by the way! :) )

    The Awards can be good for bringing stories back up into the light of the first page. And thanks!

    It's fascinating and horrifying at the same time to see how Dormé seems to have chosen to be sucked into this bottomless abyss of a life. Even more so since (in contrast with that also wonderful and disturbing story with Sabé as a handmaiden trained from birth) Dormé seems to have once had a life outside of Padmé's sterile and airless existence.

    This is the other tragic thing about Dormé's life: she had an actual life outside this dutiful service, and she chose to give it up and return to her mistress. She has every reason to leave, but--just like the fanfiction versions of her who inspired this portrayal--she never so much as considers that as a possibility. She would say, were she ever asked, that she can't leave. She was probably (politely, passively) furious when that servant girl she mentions, Rhea, had the nerve to do just that.

    There are hints here and there that Padmé feels terrible about whatever compromise she has made -- and it seems to have been an awful one, whatever it was exactly -- but at the same time she seems to have bleached out in her solitude. There's not much left of the vibrant and courageous person she once was, if she ever really was in this universe.

    This version of Padmé--who I originally wrote about, as I mention in the footnotes, in my 2006 story "Decoy"--appeared on the surface, to everyone who watched her, to be just that vibrant and courageous person for years. But that was only ever a mask she wore, and there was never much behind it. But now that illusion has been broken: her political career is rather obviously over, and the Naboo ceased to love her, and now despise her. Of course, her Sithly husband still adores her, she still has her fabulous wardrobe, and oh yes--she still has her surviving handmaidens.

    That high turnover rate among decoys is... suspicious. [face_thinking]

    That would be an understatement. It is one of the things--besides Padmé being a dark version of herself--that makes this an AU: in the actual movies, I have no reason to believe that any of her decoys died before, or after, Cordé. (Of course, had the handmaidens ever shown up in the Clone Wars cartoon, that would have changed--well, look what they did to servant-turned-handmaiden Teckla. I haven't actually seen the episode, and fine, yes, I'm bitter about all of it.)

    Thanks for reading, and commenting!

    *

    As you may have gathered from the above responses, this story was nominated for the 2017 Fanfiction Awards, where it is up in the Best Story in PT and Best Alternate Universe categories. I would like to take the opportunity now to thank everyone who nominated it.
     
  11. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Your are a fantastic writer and deserve it! @};-
     
    Findswoman likes this.
  12. Pandora

    Pandora Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 13, 2005
    AzureAngel2: Your are a fantastic writer and deserve it! @};-

    Thank you!

    And once again, I would like to thank everyone who nominated and/or voted for this story in the recent Awards. It won in the best Alternate Universe category--which is also, incidentally, the first award I have ever won. The Lady Vader (who took over the spotlight--as her mere due, of course--to accept the award) would like to make a reappearance here, but as the author, I have the power to keep her restrained.
     
    Ewok Poet and Findswoman like this.
  13. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    :D

    Good choice, Pandora!

    But I would not mind seeing your Lady Vader elsewhere again. For example in a new story/ vignette/ drabble set.