Characters: Versé Rhisiart, Cordé Moriah. Brief mention of others in the Queen's coterie.
Rating: R (sexual content).
Era: Perhaps a year, maybe two years, before AotC opens.
Summary: Versé Rhisiart has been having a recurrent dream about fellow handmaiden-in-training Cordé Moriah and doesn't know what to do about it.
Warning: Though slightly edited as of Jan. 2008, this is still essentially a first attempt at f/f slash and it’s probably rather horrible and clichéd. If anyone has any ideas about how to improve the story, I greatly appreciate knowing! (I have it in my head that the handmaidens would almost necessarily form extremely close bonds among themselves, including pair-bonds, so I’m trying to work through the process of figuring out how to show this properly for when I get around to tackling them as a group in a longer work.)
Author's Notes: 1) This is just one brief look at the handmaidens of Naboo. I have a much longer, more thorough exploration of the handmaidens planned for sometime in the (relatively) near future. This was originally written when my SW AU trio Thwarting the Revenge of the Sith wasn’t being too cooperative (and I thought I’d distract myself from its uncooperativeness with this story) and has recently been slightly revamped, to reflect the further thought I’ve put in to the Nabooian culture and the position of handmaid(en)/chosen companion. 2) This is technically set in my WiP series You Became to Me, an AU version of the GFFA in which my ~130,000-word SW AU novel So Much for Outbound Flight and ~1,000,000-word trilogy Thwarting the Revenge of the Sith (as well as several other related "stories") are set, but it can be read simply as a bit of speculative backstory for two of Padmé Amidala’s handmaidens ~AotC. 3) Anyone at all familiar with my SW AU work will know that I tend to use real life individuals (generally actors/actresses, though sometimes musicians or other such famous individuals) as physical models for both my original SW characters and characters from the Expanded Universe materials who never appear in the actual films. Cordé and Versé are technically canon characters; yet, whereas we actually see the actress who (generally speaking) plays Cordé onscreen long enough for her to be recognizable as Veronica Segura, Versé is played by an uncredited actress and her face is never clearly seen in Attack of the Clones at all. Due to the fact that I believe Versé and Cordé are a couple (at least in my AU vision of the GFFA) and due to the fact that some of the promo pictures released for AotC included Natalie Portman’s stand-in, Holly Stringer, modelling the gown that Cordé wears, I’ve modelled my Versé on Holly Stringer. Interested parties can find pictures of both up at the wonderful Fit for a Queen website. http://www.rebelshaven.com/SWFFAQ/c
*I'm not sure why anyone would wish to archive this, but if so, just let me know first, okay?
It is only a dream. That is what she keeps steadfastly telling herself.
It might, though, be more appropriate to name it a nightmare.
Versé can only remember one small, unforgivingly razor-edged portion of it whenever she wakes, her legs tangled stickily in the sheets and sweat gluing her thick dark hair across her face and neck, but that is enough. It is more than enough. It is far too much.
That is the crux of the issue.
Perhaps . . . perhaps if I don’t think about it at all, I’ll manage to forget it completely by tomorrow morning, she tells herself, night after night, trying to calm her racing heart enough to slip back into the forgiving blanketing darkness of slumber.
And perhaps that would even be an option, if it weren’t for the picture-perfect recall that so many of the other handmaid trainees envy so much in her. She’s never wished for a lesser mind before in her life, not even when it marked her out from her fellow sisters in training, separating her from their simpler, easier world of self-defensive training and weapons training. When that happened, she had been fiercely glad. She had rejoiced to discover she, along with one other from her recruitment class, had been selected for the far more intense training required of those thought to be able to assume the role of the decoy Queen. So why . . . this? And why now?
Even in her dream, Versé knows that the blood-red velvet drapes are those in the Queen’s bedchamber, the exact same color as the vividly scarlet paint that almost inevitably, in public, colors the perfect bow of that upper lip and bisects the lush lower lip with its white paint in the traditional Scar of Remembrance. It is not her Queen, though, but her fellow student in the advance training module, who is kneeling precisely at the center of the wide bed, her beautiful heart-shaped face made up as though for a public appearance as the Queen, though her slim body is dressed in a delicate, lacy white nightgown that looks as if a soft breath of air would be enough to shiver it off of her carefully still body completely. The fragile, almost transparent material is rucked up around her hips, revealing skin the color of dark ivory gleaming an almost nacreous pale hue in the low light, her left hand pressed tantalizingly against the sleek muscle of her inner thigh, the other wet and shining in the light from the invisible, softly flickering light source, stretched out towards Versé in an attitude of supplication.
“I . . . I can’t figure out how to do it. I don’t know how to finish it. Help me?” Cordé flushes, coloring in just the same way she has so meticulously taught herself to do in order to mimic the Queen, the blush the exact same one Padmé has used to beguile domestic dignitaries, foreign diplomats, and various important visitors to the planet. It works with them. It works now.
Help her? Cordé always needs help and Versé always gives it to her, because Versé is always the first one of them who does figure out how to do such things.
Dressed in a nightdress made exactly the same way as the one Cordé is wearing but dyed a drowning shade of blue, dream Versé glides across the room and slides onto the bed behind her, guiding Cordé back into the V formed by her wide-spread knees, the frail cloth slipping back to pool in her lap, bunching above her thighs. Cordé shivers, the slender strap that is all that makes up her nightgown’s left sleeve slipping effortlessly down her fine-boned shoulder, and Versé allows her slender hands to come up and stroke lovingly down the smooth column of her neck and over the sharp points of her collarbone and to the gently mounding swell of her breasts.
Such satiny soft skin . . .
Versé can hear Cordé’s breath quicken, can feel it, her palms cupping Cordé’s breasts through the thin cloth, her thumbs with their formally painted ice-white nails circling and flicking and causing the silky-smooth nipples to pucker, the fingertips of her left hand alternately pressing against and sliding across the drumming echo of a speeding heartbeat. She runs her lips aimlessly along the feathery dark hair behind Cordé’s right ear, marking the skin with a smear of white and crimson, and cautiously moves her hands down and down, over shifting ribs and tensing muscles.
Cordé’s inarticulate moan of protest slurs into a groan of a very different quality as Versé dips her right hand under the white folds of thin cloth, carding her fingers experimentally though a thatch of surprisingly fine curls and feeling slippery liquid pool between her caressing fingers. She smiles as she leans forward, pressing herself against Cordé’s back, and reaches to take Cordé’s right hand in hers and bring it down, showing her how to rub and thrust and tease and pinch and circle and stroke. Cordé quivers uncontrollably and lets her head fall back onto Versé’s left shoulder, and Versé can feel the hot damp gusts of her breath puffing up against her cheek. She smiles, and shows her, because she always is the first one to know how to do things.
And when the dream breaks and she bolts awake, Versé kicks the snarl of sheets to the foot of the bed, dark eyes wide in panic. She lies to herself, tells herself that the heat coursing over her body comes only from the too-high temperature in the trainees’ dormitory. And as for the sweet insistent ache low in her belly . . . well . . . it has, after all, been only a dream.
It is only a dream.
It is only . . .
Force, what is she going to do?
Dreams are messages from the subconscious, they are carefully created by the mind, but they don’t always mean what a body might think they do. Fantasy is not reality. That is not a lie. She repeats all of these things to herself until they run together in a blur in her mind, until one would think that she would have to simply accept them as the truth of the matter.
Except . . . she has been half-expecting something like this, for almost a month. She has been noticing soft whispers behind her and Cordé and sideways glances at them and a certain . . . something . . . in the way that the fully-trained handmaidens act, both with each other and around their two newest potential decoy Queens. She has been avoiding meeting their eyes or looking too closely at the way they seemed to have paired off, so naturally, so effortlessly, so contentedly.
What is she going to do?
She might ask – no, she can’t. Not a teacher, not a trainer, and the stars will all fall out of the skies before she talks to Cordé about this. It’s rather a shame that she can’t speak to anyone, because Cordé gets along with their two most regular handmaiden teachers – Yané and Saché – much better than she does, and Cordé could . . .
But no. She can’t risk it. Can’t. What if she’s wrong, after all, and it’s just her? She knows the rules. Those who devote themselves to politics – either as elected officials or as the trusted handmaidens and chosen companions and helpmeets and guardians of those elected officials – must be willing to put loyalty to that responsibility first, before all else, even above duty to one’s family and the promise inherent in each member of a family to one day be able to carry on that family’s bloodline. It was explained to her, quite plainly, when she submitted her application as a potential handmaiden candidate, that she would be expected to swear herself to the Queen, to her lady, as the elected avatar of the Great Goddess of life, of light, of water, she who all Nabooians revere as the loving face of that mysterious and all-pervasive and life- and growth-loving energy sea that the Jedi know as the Force. Her life – her mind, her flesh, all of her – belong to Padmé Amidala now, and, until such a time as her lady renounces her claim on her, Versé has no more right to be contemplating beginning a relationship that could (oh, so easily!) lead to permanent bonds of familial alliance than she would to leave the training complex and formally handfast herself to the first stranger she meets on the street.
So far as she knows, anyway.
So. Perhaps her perfect memory will fail her, just this once.
After all, it is only a dream.
So she repeats the words to herself, over and over again, soothingly, to reassure herself.
Somehow, though, no matter how often she thinks them, she can never quite bring herself to believe them.
Another week, and she’s still repeating them. The endless refrain murmurs in the back of mind, humming quietly in an endless loop of (false) comfort, as she readies herself for bed, when the door chimes to let her know that someone outside wishes entrance into her small dormitory.
Startled, she places the brush down on the vanity, and strides to the door, palming the mechanism that will let the door click open.
Cordé is standing there, in the exact same long-sleeved, high-necked, many-buttoned, white nightgown that Versé is wearing, the same nightdress that all the handmaiden trainees are issued to wear, her long, loose brown hair shining in the light as though it has just been brushed, a curtain of dark silk spilling around her shoulders and down nearly to her waist.
She is even more lovely in person than in dreams, and Versé’s exceptional mind stutters to a complete halt, its calming mantra utterly forgotten. “Cordé?”
Cordé bites momentarily at her lower (entirely unpainted) lip, then replies, a little hesitantly, “I . . . have a theory that I need help testing. May I come in?”
“Yes. Yes, of course.” The agreement is instinctive, prompted by the request for help, and Versé finds herself having stepped back from the doorway, allowing Cordé to slip inside and the door to fall shut behind her.
Cordé stands there for several long moments, silent and still, in between Versé and the door, and enough of Versé’s wits are beginning to regroup towards the purpose of framing an inquiry when Cordé suddenly squares her shoulders determinedly, looks up from the place on the floor she has been attempting to bore a hole through with her steady gaze, and catches Versé’s eyes squarely. “I’ve been noticing something puzzling, lately, about Her Majesty’s fully trained handmaidens. I couldn’t figure out what it was, for the longest time, but then I had a dream about it, and things suddenly became very clear. May I ask you something, Versé?”
The question is half neutral inquiry and half fierce demand, and she has the insane urge to point out that Cordé technically has just asked her something, but instead finds herself nodding, an acquiescent murmur, “Of course,” escaping from between her lips.
Cordé’s smile is blazingly bright as she takes a step closer, moving right up in front of Versé, reaching out to place her small right hand carefully on Versé’s shoulder.
Then she kisses her. It is both that simple and that profoundly life-altering.
A million thoughts rush into Versé’s head, only to disappear again as quickly as they’ve come. Cordé’s lips are soft, the skin around them is satiny-smooth, and her tongue gently plies its way into Versé’s mouth, the slick slide of it warming her entire body through and through. At that touch, so intimate, so insistent, Versé quite suddenly feels hyperaware of every physical sensation: the heat of Cordé’s body from where she is standing, so close that her warmth is lapping all up against the front of Versé’s body; the delicate, hesitant feel of Cordé’s left hand coming to rest on Versé’s right hip; the tickling, feathery sensation of Cordé’s satiny hair falling forward into Versé’s face as she leans in closer and the kiss deepens. She feels everything, and it feels wonderful and warm and solid and real. Not dreamlike at all. Real.
Slow seconds tick by and, after what seems like a lifetime, Cordé pulls back. Versé stares at her, her mouth slightly parted, her breath coming in quiet pants, unable to think of what to do, the words, “Only a dream,” rising automatically to her lips.
Cordé’s mouth curves into a softly sweet smile, and the hand on Versé’s shoulder rises to cup the side of her face. “No, love. Much more than a dream. If you wish it.”
The words seem to come from somewhere far away, the voice pitched high and a little wavery. Versé has no recollection of thinking them, nor of moving her mouth to the shape of them, but she knows that the voice does not belong to Cordé, and so she knows that it must be hers. “The handmaidens . . . they are always in pairs.”
“To guard each other’s backs?”
“More than that. You’ve seen them. You’re cleverer than I am. You know the truth.”
“And we . . . ?”
“If you want . . . we could be that for each other, Versé.”
“And you – you want this? To be with me? To stay with me?”
“Until there is no more breath in my body.”
“Then . . . then I accept.”
Cordé smiles again, so brightly that she might put the sun to shame. “Then come to bed with me, beloved.”
Hands reach for one another, lace together, and feet turn towards the bed.
Reality shifts, and all thoughts of dreams fall blazing to the ground in a shower of stars.