Bail Organa deals with a family issue.
(Five weeks ago)
The sound of her father’s stylus on paper was torture, exactly what he had intended it to be, yet she just stood there in obedient silence. Document after document, signature after signature, there seemed to be no end.
Leia’s legs were sore and her stomach was twisting in knots. She tried to steady her breathing, but it was difficult. Her father would pause in his paperwork every time it started to accelerate, keeping his head down, starting again as soon as she was able to slow and steady it. She refused to sigh, fearing to upset her father even more than he already was.
“Do you love him?” Prestor Bail Organa kept his head down as he continued to sign and initial the papers in front of him.
Leia nearly fainted from the relief of finally hearing her father speak. “What?”
“Do you love him?”
Her brow crinkled; she had not expected the question. “Who?”
Organa tapped a control button on his desk, bringing the video-monitor behind him to life.
Leia’s eyes went wide at the sight of the grainy-video shot by some voyeur at the club. She quickly closed them tight, wishing she could do the same with her ears. She had seen and heard that video too many times. To know that her father had seen it as well made her nauseous and set her face aflame.
Her father mercifully ended the video after an excruciatingly long ten seconds. “I ask you again, do you love him?”
Leia opened her eyes. This time her father was staring right back at her. She swallowed. “No,” was all she was able to say.
Her father nodded and returned to his paperwork, but not before she noticed his jaw clenching. He was as upset for having to ask the question as she was for having to answer it. “Good because he’ll be rigging games for Hutts by this time next year. Tycho will be lucky to be able to find a job dusting crops, and you are not to have any contact with Winter ever again.” He raised his eyes to hers. “Do you understand me?”
Leia’s jaw dropped. She had expected some form of punishment, but she hadn’t expected anything would have happened to the others. “And what would happen to me?”
Organa sat back in his chair, his eyes still pinning her to her place. “The emperor made me an offer for you.”
Her father’s statement seemed to have sucked the air out of the room. “You can’t be serious?”
“He was quite serious.” Organa’s voice remained steady and solemn. “Dozens of world leaders have… offered up their daughters to the emperor’s court in exchange for a… promise of non-interference by the empire.”
“As tempting as the offer was, Alderaan has not fallen as far as her favorite daughter for me to accept such an offer. I told him that this was an internal manner, and will be treated as such.”
Leia almost fainted again. Being forced into the emperor’s harem would be the end of her, she was sure of that.
“But I fear now that there may come a time when excessive Imperial influence in the sector may push me into rethinking Palpatine’s request.” He shook his head and sighed. “Needless to say that any political ambitions you had for a galactic audience will be delayed indefinitely.”
Leia looked down at her hands, only now realizing she was steadying herself on his desk. “If I had realized that my actions would have been so…. I’m sorry father.”
Organa did not seem to be swayed by his daughter’s apology. “Word has reached the Hapan Court about this incident. It appears that your mother’s negotiations with the Hapans will all have been in vain. I know you were unhappy with the idea of an arranged marriage, but I didn’t foresee you expressing your disapproval in such a manner.”
Tears running down her cheeks, Leia held back a sob, fearing her father would start the video and torture her more with her shame. “I’m sorry father, I’m so, so sorry. I have no idea how, or if, I can ever make it up to you and mother. Please tell me if there is any way I can wash off the shame that I have brought on Alderaan and our family.”
Bail moved to take his daughter in his arms as the sobs finally began to rack her body. He had hardened his heart for this conversation, but not so hard that he couldn’t empathize with Leia’s suffering. “We’ll think of something, my child,” he said, brushing a hand over her hair as her tears stained his shirt. “We’ll think of something.”
End part 5