TITLE: “Zoé Maurello, Seventh Handmaiden in the Second Class for Padmé Amidala” PAIRING: Zoé Maurello and Remmé Hileagh, a fellow handmaiden from the same training class. RATING: Uhm, pro...
01.) Resemble: She does and she doesn’t resemble the Queen – her face is heart-shaped, true enough, but it’s longer and thinner, with a much sharper and more prominent chin, than Queen Amidala’s is; her eyes are brown, but the eyebrows over them are more triangular in shape than the Queen’s, and her nose is both longer and more sharply prominent than the Queen’s; her hair is brown, but it’s also just a bit darker and naturally straight, unlike the Queen’s naturally quite curly hair; she’s much of a height with and of the same slender build as the Queen, but she’s got no chest to speak of to fill out a dress and frankly thinks her hips are all but nonexistent – and so she hesitates over submitting an application to become a handmaiden for the Queen, agonizing over her appearance (so skinny and plain, compared to their beautiful new flower-like Queen!), until finally her (only, younger) brother (Jarris, who’s always getting after her for being so self-conscious, insisting that she’s beautiful) snatches the holopad away from her and hits the send button before she can manage to rip it back away from him.
02.) Believe: She can’t believe they’ve actually accepted her into the second handmaiden trainee class, and so she keeps pinching herself, to try to wake herself up, until the insides of both of her arms are black and blue and one of the principal handmaidens – a girl even younger than she is (and much more lovely than she is, too, she cannot help but note, with a luscious full mouth and a flower-like face the shape of which is delicately balanced between that of an oval and that of a heart-shape), whose name, she later learns, is Yané Cashillé – catches her doing it and takes her aside to make certain she’s not deliberately trying to give herself pain and just having a hard time adjusting to the fact that she’s really awake and not dreaming.
03.) Remember: She isn’t extremely clever, really, it’s just that she remembers everything she sees and hears, and it makes her seem a lot more intelligent than she really is, even though being able to recollect everything like that doesn’t necessarily mean that she understands a whit of what she’s recalling word for word or can figure out how to use the information for any kind of truly practical purpose, so she really doesn’t understand why some of the other handmaiden trainees seem to think that it’s something that makes her special.
04.) Daydream: She spends entirely too much of her time zoning out in the classes where she doesn’t need to really understand or master information so much as simply be able to remember it and regurgitate it at will, daydreaming about one fantastical thing or another, and sometimes, when her mind drifts, she sees things that she knows, somehow, either have happened or are happening, elsewhere, or might happen, in the future, but most of them are so disconnected from her (really, why should she care, if Queen Ashtara – Adeé Russe – and a member of her staff and royal court, Cianus Tammesin, had a torrid affair, during her second term on the throne?) or so trivial (so a Gungan somewhere tripped over his feet and crashed some kind of boat he’d borrowed without asking. So what? What does some random Gungan have to do with her?) or so fantastical (really, like the Queen is going to attempt to seduce one Jedi and then go on to secretly wed another!) that she usually doesn’t pay the visions any more mind than she does to her idle dreams and fancies.
05.) Doodles: She doodles what she sees in some of her visions, sometimes – sketching clothing, settings for trysts and attempts at seduction, the way the light catches on a gem or gleams off a bright eye, collecting small details that obscure the truth of the identities of the bodies of the individuals she’s drawing – and then goes back and cleans them up, later, so she can turn them in for various projects concerned with costumes that would be suitable for the Queen and for her handmaidens, to let the handmaidens all fade softly together, /en masse/, into the background, and to swallow up the truth of Padmé Amidala (or whichever decoy might happen to be wearing the guise of Amidala in order to keep the Queen safe) and so utterly dazzle and distract the eye that the beholder will see nothing but the splendor and richness and intricacy of that costume and little to nothing of the body that is wearing it.
06.) Nightmare: She wakes one night screaming fit to wake the dead, plagued by nightmarish images of one of her fellow handmaiden trainees – Essé, the one with the strangely flat blue eyes who keeps so much to herself and who sometimes brags of how highly Captain Panaka thinks of her and how strongly he recommended her for this class – drenched with blood, those unnerving blue eyes and her gleaming white teeth the only bits of her face that aren’t vividly crimson with the sanguine fluid, her naked body not just spattered scarlet but deliberately painted in whorls and swirls and hand-shapes that look sickeningly like what might result if a lover went overboard with massage oil or edible body paint, fingerprints smeared on her buttocks and upper thighs and the curve of her breasts, blood stiffening her nipples and dripping down her belly towards the core of her, and, perhaps most horrifically of all, she is grinning insanely as she lovingly licks the edge of a gore-spattered blade, her tongue and lips dancing obscenely along the blade as if in an act of fellatio, and, no matter how many times the trainees who’ve responded to her screams (Dané, Shelanné, and Nanné, whose rooms are closest to her’s) tell her that it was just a nightmare and that things are alright now and she’s safe here, she can’t quite shake the sickening sensation that what she just saw isn’t just a bad dream, but something that’s going to come to pass, in the near future.
07.) Attraction: She is powerfully attracted to one of the girls in their class – Remmé Hileagh, a girl with wonderfully alive (and not at all eerily strange and flat) bright blue eyes and slightly reddish brown hair and a gorgeously heart-shaped face with a mouth that makes her want to fling herself forward upon those lips and cover them with worshipful kisses – and she can tell, from the way her heart at once flutters and yet stills, whenever Remmé even so much as looks at her for more than a few seconds together at a time, that it’s not just some schoolgirlish crush but instead something that could easily blossom into a full-fledged, lifelong love, and a part of her wants that, desperately, but the rest of her is terrified that the attraction might be one-sided, and, anyway, she’s not all that sure she could do anything about it, even if Remmé by some miracle happened to return the sentiment, because every time she closes her eyes, she sees that blood-soaked image of Essé and her blood runs cold and her stomach flips and churns and she feels as if she’s going to be imminently sick.
08.) Snag: She can’t keep herself from following Remmé with her eyes, even when she should be paying attention to the instructors or to what she’s supposed to be doing for her classes, and, apparently, she’s obvious enough in her watching that Remmé notices, because one day, as she’s about to try to duck past Remmé in the hallway on the way back to her room, she finds Remmé reaching out to snag her hand . . . and reel her in for an embrace and a kiss and, oh, /oh/, that’s all she needed, apparently, for the nightmarish images all vanish away, and she finds herself winding her arms strongly around Remmé’s neck and back and snugging their bodies even more closely together, as close together as possible, able to spare a thought to marvel over how perfectly they seem to fit together before becoming distracted by other, even more wonderful discoveries, as she allows herself to be drawn off down the hallway and into Remmé’s bedroom.
09.) Night: The first night they are together, she dreams of light, swallowing her and her beloved whole, and, when she wakes, she cannot decide whether she is crying for longing or for fear of what it to come.
10.) Disaster: It’s a disaster worse than anyone could have imagined (for who in their right mind ever would have dreamed that a race of beings as cowardly as the Neimoidians could make an organization known, as the Trade Federation is, for its bullying as for its penchant for backing down and turning tail at the first sign of an organized force against them, turn about so much that they would actually go so far as to not only purchase but use armies of battle droids against a free and sovereign world like Naboo?), and yet, somehow, she’s not all that terribly surprised to find herself running and firing her blasters and flinging her daggers and snarling a triumphant smile back over her shoulder when one of her throwing knives nicks Essé’s right arm and jars her just enough to throw off her aim and allow Princess Ellie to escape with them with only the most glancing of hits from a blaster to her left arm (scalding it badly, without a doubt, but not burning nearly deeply enough to damage the nerves or the muscles) instead of being cut down in cold blood by that damned traitor.
11.) Sell: She knows that Amidala made it safely away, no matter how many doctored images of the Queen’s ship exploding over Naboo the Trade Federation circulates, and she can tell that the other handmaidens share her certainty, but it’s a harder point to sell to the everyday people of Naboo, who don’t know the Queen as they do and lack the connection to her that they’ve gained, in their time in service with her, and the people need that hope to cling to, and so one of their first real missions (aside from those involving the gather up of necessities of food, water, shelter, weapons, medical supplies, clothing, etc.) inevitably is to hack into the computer system being used by the Viceroy and his minions to feed these images out over the local HoloNet channels and so prove that the images are, in fact, false.
12.) Vision: When two weeks starts to stretch into three and there’s still no sign of the Queen’s return, she begins to fear that something must have happened and that Amidala might be stranded somewhere far from both Naboo and Coruscant, and she starts to try to deliberately summon up a vision that will show her where her Queen is and how she’s doing, but all she gets, for all her troubles, is a series of confusing images involving an extremely tall Jedi with long brown hair and piercing blue eyes in a somehow leonine face raiding a slave camp on a desert planet and stealing away a small boy (perhaps one and a half or two? It’s hard to tell, the child’s so badly beaten and painfully conspicuously malnourished) with bright coppery hair and eyes like the light of a blue star somehow made flesh, a beautiful young man with black hair and sloe eyes and a mouth so full that it puts even Yané’s to shame who tries to steal that boy as he’s growing into a man, and then the man the child has become, trying to place himself between the Jedi with long brown hair (now graying) and another, older child (perhaps eight? Again, it’s difficult to tell, for the child has obviously never had quite as much to eat as he really ought to) with blazing blue eyes and sun-kissed skin and gilded hair, with nary a sign or even so much as a flicker of her lady’s skirts to be found amongst them.
13.) Insane: She cries in unabashed relief when Queen Amidala finally returns to them, even though the Senate sent her no help but the Jedi who helped her make her escape from the world in the first place and she has some insane plan for winning the planet back that’s so obviously desperate and foolhardy that she can’t believe the Jedi are seriously allowing her to contemplate going through with it, and the Jedi are the man with the leonine face and the boy-man with star-blue eyes and coppery hair, and they have a boy with them named Anakin who is the other boy from her vision and who gives her such a strange feeling of mixed uneasiness (bordering on fear) and of the same wit-smothering blindly bedazzled fascination that she feels whenever she looks on the younger Jedi (the Padawan learner, the copper-haired boy now grown to a man) that she can hardly bear to look at him at all, for the confusion the sight of him brings.
14.) Decency: Dealing with the traitors and turncoats from amongst their own people is far and away worse than dealing with the Trade Federation and its minions, and she’s almost glad, in a way, that some of the worst ones – the ones whose betrayal and treachery she feels the most personally, since they were dealt by members of the Queen’s own handmaiden coterie – have had the decency to either get themselves killed or to flee the planet (and, if it please the Great Lady, hopefully get themselves captured by pirates or slavers and summarily killed, once fled from Naboo), because she honestly isn’t sure she’d be able to deal with them at all rationally, if they were still on Naboo and still in any kind of shape to be punished for their treasonous actions.
15.) Light: She sees the glimmer of light off of a metal casing and, in the instant that Remmé opens her mouth to scream out a warning, lashes out her arm to snake her hand around her lover’s wrist, knowing, in that instant, what it is that is about to happen, and determined that it will play out as she saw it, so long ago, on that first blissful night they spent together, and that the light (and heat and fire and death) of the explosion will swallow them both whole, and so leave their Queen and their other friends untouched.