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The Light Within Us - A Regency Reylo AU Story

Chapter Text

 

The lord Kylo Ren came to the country side quite suddenly, like the rolling grey clouds of an unexpected storm, he rushed in and purchased the Alderaan estate with the ease one takes in buying a nice hat, or new cravat.

Of course the village gossip had started instantly, and he’d been bombarded with invitations to dinners and parties thrown in his honor so quickly, Rey wondered if he’d even managed to unpack his belongings.

Everyone wanted to have him at their table first, eager to uncover all of his wealthy secrets. And the man had an abundance of both.

As the lady of Naboo Manor, Rey had lived next to the impressive grounds of Alderaan her entire life, but had never known anyone to actually inhabit the estate. She rightfully assumed there were few who could afford it. And her lord grandfather wouldn’t say much about the family that used to live there except that he did not get on with them at all, and in voicing his opinion stated that “surely whoever desired a home formerly inhabited by such miscreants could not be a person of good morals or taste”.

At one point, she’d stood upstairs in the library windows, watching from afar as a black coach went rushing past their small manor to the estate, and again found herself wondering who he was.

“Get away from there!” Her grandfather snapped. She sighed, watching until the canopy of trees hid the carriage from view.

Pulling herself from the window to focus on him, Rey replied with bubbling frustration. “We could try to be neighborly grandfather.”

The ancient lump that was her only relation sat in his chair, heavy as a stone, but small and withered from a life that seemed to go on and on and on…

Rey eyed his open book, which lay over one frail thigh and noted that he hadn’t picked it up all morning. Instead, he would sleep and wake long enough to stare off, angry over some argument forgotten by all but him, or find reason to snap demands at her.

“Neighborly is what you are to someone worth knowing.” He shot back. "He is not.”

Rey crossed her arms, brows furrowed with the burden of his hot temper. “You don’t know that because you don’t even know who he is.” she said with some exasperation.

“I don’t need to know who he is.” He said, his voice pitched high with age.

“No, but maybe it would do you some good to venture out beyond these walls, or even extend the invitation to him.” She knew her words would be lost before they could reach his stubborn ears.

He did ignore her, but already in a foul mood the quick conversation had set him off on some long winded rant about why a man must never be told what to do by a girl or be forced to go traipsing through the forrest to meet a stranger. 

And there she’d left him, because she’d had enough of it, and because today was a Tuesday, which had been her day for shopping for years now. 

Having lost favor with all but a few fellow villagers as well as a great deal of money in bad deals and broken partnerships due to a raging temper most could not endure, her grandfather had reduced them to a life wanting and it had been that way for as long as she could remember. The cold rooms, simple food and dusty drapes drawn to block out any light or the hope it may offer was all too familiar. 

The sad truth that Naboo Manor had once been a great estate, would haunt her mercilessly. Seeing it dilapidated and overgrown in spite of her best efforts frustrated Rey to no end as she was a woman of strong will who had undeniably inherited her grandfathers burning temper. The villagers liked to say it wasn’t their management that kept the place running, but their combined stubborn tenacity that willed it to stand year after year.

Their lowered living did not afford them the luxury of employing more than a butler, the occasional maid, and their cook, which left Rey to do her own shopping. Though truth be told she enjoyed it and could not imagine sending someone else out to purchase her things, few and simple as they were.

 As Rey gathered her basket from the kitchen hook and put on her hat, she opened the side door and took a deep breath, filling her lungs as she stepped out. 

The air had been damp that day, the sun dim behind a wall of grey sky and a dense fog which made visibility low. 

Something felt off as she walked along, but she could not place it. She’d taken the path and had known these grounds since childhood, nothing scared her here.  However she found herself looking over her shoulder more than once with the strange feeling that she wasn’t alone. 

She’d shrugged it off and distracted herself with thoughts of her shopping list and how to stretch her few coins.  

Almost to the end of the lane, she heard it then. The sound of horse hooves nearing quickly. When she turned there was nothing, no horse or rider, but still the sound came. She stopped and peered through the mist trying to make out any sign of life but to no avail. 

“Hello?” She said eyes darting back and forth. And then back again. There, just feet away, to her left and off the path between the trees, a beast of a stallion came breaking through the mist, and on its back a dark rider. 

Rey gasped and stumbled out of the way nearly falling as the rush of air blew her hat off, freeing loose strands of hair to whip at her face. 

She caught herself before she could hit the damp ground and grabbed her hat, quickly rising up to watch as they disappeared into the swirling mist almost like they’d never been. 

Hand to heart, Rey stood breathing heavy, too shocked to move. Who would ride like that with nothing to run from, she thought, He could have trampled me! She gave a huff, offended by the reckless behavior. 

Angry as she was though, her curiosity got the best of her and she found herself lingering on the spot, unsure of how she’d move on and ignore such a strange encounter, 

When she finally resigned herself to letting the mystery be, the horse and rider appeared again. 

The man brought the horse to the path and pulled up on the reigns, circling the animal to a halt. 

He leaned forward and whispered calming words in its long ear, ignoring the beast’s protest until it gave one last defiant blow through large nostrils and stood still.

And then he turned his attention to the girl standing in the middle of the lane 

The flush that came on surprised and embarrassed Rey, and she hoped he wouldn’t notice, but to pretend that he wasn’t the most alarmingly handsome man was impossible. 

Hair as black as a starless night framed his face in thick waves, his dark wild eyes settled on her own, and she felt a violent stabbing at her heart. His full mouth set in a stern line parted, as though he might speak, but he stopped himself and looked her up and down. 

Rey was suddenly very aware of her dress that had gone out of fashion some time ago, and of her simple hat and hair pulled back in a plain but practical chignon. Her eyes darted down surveying the dull fabric and muddy boots, but then she took a breath and raised her head not yet ready to feel inferior to a man she knew nothing about. A man who clearly had no sense of decorum, though she herself sometimes despised the many etiquettes of life,  there were still simple manners that should be respected. 

“I did not see you until it was too late.” He finally said without the slightest sign of a hello. “You’ll forgive my behavior.” He commanded. 

His voice was deep and the cadence strange, strange in a way that made her take a step closer. She gave a curious nod and peered up at him. 

“I accept your apology.” She said pointing out that he’d given none. She turned her nose up at him and squared her shoulders. “But, I must say,  there is a perfectly good path for riding.” She suggested nodding towards the well worn stretch. 

His brow raised slightly as he rubbed the neck of his horse. 

“I’ve not yet ridden through these woods, and I want to explore every inch of them, if that’s alright with you.”

Rey swallowed and found words hard to come by. She could only give a curt nod and pull her basket closer. “Forgive me, I’ve not seen you before.” She said fairly certain of who he was, but, she was still entitled to a formal introduction. 

He understood and relaxed a bit in the saddle as he said, “I believe I am your new neighbor.”

“My Lord.” She said with the hint of a curtsy. 

He returned the gesture with a hesitant bow and looked up to eye the road ahead. “Have you no carriage to take you to town?” He asked. 

Rey glanced over her shoulder noticing for the first time just how far she had to go. “No but I do enjoy the walking.” She said politely. 

He seemed to think about this for a moment before a certain look of annoyance washed over his face. “Very well, Good day, miss…?”

“Palpatine.” She answered. 

“Miss Palpatine.” 

With a final assessment of her person, Lord Ren turned the horse, gave a command and went galloping off into the grey, leaving her speechless on the road. 

 

** **

 

Lady Rey spent days thinking of that bizarre encounter. She would walk silently down the halls of the dark house, eyes glassed over as she remembered the way he looked at her, the way his black boots shone against the dark flank of his horse. How the leather of his gloves creaked when he tightened his grip on the reins. 

His voice was still so clear to her, as though the moment happened each morning. Still, she would not see him again for some time. 

When they did at last find themselves in close proximity again it was at a small gathering held by the Lady Holdo. 

Rey sat amongst the women of the village engaging in polite conversation, grateful they didn’t shun her, no thanks to her grandfathers' best efforts to see them cast out from society. 

It was a perfectly normal night, made all the better by a steady flow of good wine. The conversation was a bit stiff, but there was always her friend Rose. 

Eyes scanning the room, Rey finally found the young woman who might have been the only person in the place capable of making her genuinely laugh. 

“Excuse me ladies, I see the Lady Tico and I must speak with her,” She announced politely. 

As she turned to set her empty glass on the drink table, Lord Ren was announced. 

A pregnant hush fell over the guests. People found themselves peeking around the shoulders and heads of their friends to catch a glimpse of the still illusive man. 

Ren came stalking into the room eyeing them all quickly. His fiery gaze paused but once when he spotted Rey sitting amongst a host of women . She looked up at him somewhat startled by his appearance, fingers tight around the stem of her empty glass. 

And then, as he seemed to accustom to doing, he took the drink that was offered and settled into a corner letting the curious ones come to him.

Rey noted just how quiet he was, only answering questions or giving very short opinions on things that she couldn’t always hear from across the room. He never smiled, never seemed to find any joy in anything at all. His black hair and black eyes were as dark as his demeanor, which was something she found to be off putting if not completely unattractive, no matter how pleasant he was to look at. 

Through the many monotonous conversations, Ren didn’t look at her, though she’d lost sight of Rose and stayed sitting near the piano with the other ladies, which put her in plain sight of him should he choose to look. 

The only time they spoke was when the Lady Holdo decided she would go and greet him and perhaps somehow aware of their silent connection, invited the younger lady to accompany her.  

He regarded Rey as stranger, which yes, she was, but still… she’d hoped he would catch her eye when no one else was looking, or perhaps even a secret nod to say, yes hello it was me who nearly killed you on the lane that morning. But no, he just bowed to her curtsy and acted as though their very uncouth first encounter had never happened.

Rey was beginning to think me might be an incredibly impossible man. 

Feeling a flush of anger rise up her neck, she crossed the room, leaving him to his corner and rejoined the other ladies trying not to think of it, though she did very casually glance over to watch him off and on.

Lord Ren seemed to find himself in small circles of very important men that he seemed completely unimpressed with. 

They would chatter on, and he, apparently capable of only a glare or frown would stare at them as they spoke, no doubt imagining them choking on their lofty aspirations. He had the distinct air of a man secure not only in himself but of his place within this world and everyone else either bored or angered him.

He was also among the wealthiest here, or so she’d heard. But there was something else. A sense of pride that seemed to run very deep. He carried the sort of life confidence typically saved for royalty, and she found herself wondering who his people were. What sort of union produced a man like this.

Rey couldn’t help but smile when she saw him come very close to full on pouting the longer the night wore on. He clearly hated the benign conversation of his peers and something about watching him squirm amused her so. 

Finally the Lady bid farewell to her guests and the carriages were called. 

Rey and her grandfather thankfully climbed inside the coach lady Holdo had given them the loan of for the night. 

Once settled Rey sighed, feeling the tingle of too much wine in her limbs. She looked up through the little window at the stars as the old man signaled for the driver to go forward. 

The carriage lurched and began its' crawl with a lovely crunch over the pea gravel drive.

Like the body segments of a caterpillar the coaches moved in turn until Reys' led the way to the tree lined path that would take them home. 

As they rounded the large stone fountain that sat bubbling in the middle of the carriage way, Rey innocently eyed the other passengers until she spotted the somewhat vampiric figure of Lord Ren through the open window of his own black carriage. He had his eyes fixed firmly on her and she wondered how long he’d been watching.

Of course, now that the night was over and he could not be cornered into a conversation with the woman he sought her out. 

Rolling her eyes, Rey looked away, bothered by him. But the moment was fleeting and his gaze far too flattering to be ignored, no matter how much she wanted to.

She found him again, quickly before the coach driver steered them to the straight path ahead and the connection would be lost. 

Encapsulated in the dark, Rens' pale skin was illuminated a soft blue in the moonlight. A stunning contrast to his dark features and hair.   

She could not place the look on his stoic face at first, but then just as she was beginning to loose sight of him, she realized that the only word to describe the way he looked at her, was hungry.

*

Rey lay in bed that night, her tiny fire keeping the chill at bay, thinking of the way he’d gone all evening ignoring her, stone faced and cold only to look at her as though the sun would not rise the next morning without some sign of affection from her. 

Being the sort of woman who did not appreciate the playing of games, not of this sort, she’d given him no such comfort and the memory of his haunted gaze was the last thing she saw before closing her eyes to sleep that night. 

 

**  **

 

The problem with seeing the man again was that now Lady Rey found herself thinking of the Lord Kylo Ren more than ever. 

The excitement and frustration brought on by their interactions was unmatched, which made her feel desperate to experience the thrill again, and more.

However, as the days passed without another run in, normalcy returned though she clung to her daydreams of him riding up on that beautiful stallion, which made her feel as foolish as a girl still under the care of a nurse. Try as she might to ignore the fluttering of her heart, flutter it did. And without him galloping across her path, or gazing at her on moonlit carriage rides, the dull days seemed more gloomy, the ticking of the hall clock irritating as she busied herself with menial tasks. 

So when a knock came from the front door and their butler Soames answered , she found herself stunned to see Lord Ren himself standing in their vestibule. 

“Lady Palpatine.” He said in his curt way as the butler took his coat and hat.

“Lord Ren.” She replied, her voice sounding small even to her own ears. “This is most unexpected. What brings you to Naboo?”

He accepted her offer to follow into the parlor. 

“Tea please.” She gently ordered the butler who bowed and disappeared. 

Ren looked around a bit confused for a moment. “Do you not know?” He asked eyeing their worn furniture and drab trappings. 

“Know what?” She asked with some trepidation. 

“You’re late.” 

Both lord and lady turned to watch as Lord Palpatine came shuffling into the room. 

Ren gave a deep respectful bow and watched as the man sat in his high backed chair near the fire, his black coat too big, billowed like a cape around him. 

“Forgive me Lord Palatine, but I believe I am five minutes early.”

“Which makes you late!” 

Rey rolled her eyes at him before giving Ren an apologetic smile. “He is quite obsessed with time. Something to do with respect…” She said softly with a shrug.  

“Do not whisper about me girl. Away with you, we have business.” 

Wide eyed, Rey looked from Ren to her grandfather. This was odd to say the least. The old cretin despised Ren for no reason she knew of, other than the fact that he lived in the home of Palpatines former enemy. And her grandfather was famed for holding onto his hate no matter how unfounded, for years. Strange that he would suddenly change his ways. Unless at some point they had made a connection? Perhaps at Lady Holdo’s party? She’d only left the room for a moment but it must have been long enough for them to speak. Still… 

“I’ll stay thank you.” She said and sat in her own spot near the window. She wanted to know just what was going on. 

“Please, don’t send her away on my account.” Ren offered, going to the small couch across from Palpatines chair

“You?” Palpatine raised his chin to look at Ren, his old eyes sparkling with something that could be mistaken for amusement, though Rey was sure he was incapable. “No Ren, she must leave if we are to talk of things beyond the comprehension of a woman.”

Rey felt a rage surge through her that threatened the mans life. She hated him, hated him the way one hates the worst qualities in themselves, which meant the feeling ran deep. It currently threatened to consume her, but when she realized both men were watching her, she cleared her throat and sat up straight smoothing her skirts. Her emotions had the awful habit of showing on her face when she least wanted them to. 

“And what things might those be grandfather?” She said composed. “Talks of politics? Talks of money? The things I see to everyday in my letters and ledgers?”

Ren very nearly smiled then but managed to keep his solemn face as he turned to Palpatine, curious of the reply. 

“And who taught you to do such things?”

“If you’re implying it was you…” She sighed “I pride myself on the things I am capable of my Lord.” She said turning her attentions to Ren “Such as teaching myself how to run a household, no matter how small.”

Palpatine bristled at this throwing his hand up in disgust. “She thinks she knows so much.” He turned his pale small face towards her, his eyes narrowing until they were no more than two beady black points “You. Know. Nothing. Leave! Before I have this man throw you out”

Rey’s arms tingled with a rush of adrenaline. She glanced at Ren who’s expression had not changed in the least. He just looked at her, distant, not a touch of sympathy. 

“You would have a stranger in our home treat me so cruelly?” She asked standing. “No need” Her voice was calm, collected. “I’ll go, I’ll leave you to your guest. But I will not forget your insult Lord grandfather. I will not forgive it.”

He made an obnoxious sound, waving her away as she got up to go. 

“Lord Ren.” She quickly dipped her head before rushing from the room. 

The doors shut behind her and Rey stood shaking, her anger nearly outdone by her hurt. The old bastard would drive her to violence one day. 

And he just sat there… she exhaled before taking a deep slow breath to quiet the storm inside her. 

“Tea m’lady.” Soames said coming towards her with the tray. 

Still a bit wobbly, Rey glanced up. He saw her face and his own fell, sympathetic to whatever injustice Palpatine had done her today, as he did most days.   

“Go on in, I will not be joining them.” She said managing a weak smile. 

“Yes m’lady.” He said with a deep bow before he went through the doors. 

 

*

 

Lord Kylo Ren looked over his shoulder as the butler entered. 

Beyond the ragged man carrying tea, he spotted Rey turning from the room, her head down as she walked away. 

His shaking fist tightened on his thigh as he turned to face the old man again. 

“Whiskey in it Soames!” Palpatine ordered. The butler bowed and took the tray to the sideboard. 

“Now, lets get right to business, I do not have time to engage in frivolous conversation.” He croaked. 

Ren studied him, eyeing the way the weight of his world seemed to pull the skin from his bones, and the way his malice seemed to seep from his yellowed eyes. 

How the Lady Rey had come from this creature was beyond him, but that was not his concern. He was only here because he’d been told to come. 

“Yes my Lord.” Ren said sitting back. “ I’ve been sent a letter from the supreme leader himself instructing me to make contact with you.”

“Yes, yes of course.” Palpatine mumbled accepting the whiskey with a splash of tea from Soames. “And did he tell you why?”

“No my Lord”

“Well, it seems we have much to discuss.”

“Yes my Lord.”

“But first, let me ask you a question.”

Ren looked up at the man simultaneously rejecting the tea. 

“How long have you been looking at my granddaughter?”

“My Lord?”

“Don’t play the fool with me boy. The supreme leader may see much in you, I however have seen nothing but a sniveling child sent to do the work of a man.”

His jaw clenched but he ignored the jab. “Lady Rey is a beautiful woman, that’s all”

“Yes, well, she’s not for you. She’s not for any of you.”

“Yes my Lord.”

“Yes my lord, no my lord.” He mocked him and scoffed, shaking his head “They said you had a fire in you something fierce. I’ve not seen it!”

“And pray you never do.” Ren replied cooly. 

“Oh!” Palpatine laughed. “Oh, a young bull feeling the weight of his balls!” He cackled. You feel big hmm? You feel even bigger, threatening an old man?” 

“I know who and what you are. You can take my threats” Ren shot back unfazed.

Palpatine noted the younger mans reserve and grumbled something. “Indeed.” He sniffled and took another drink “She is beautiful, and strong, too much for you. Prove me wrong and perhaps I’ll allow it.”

Ren bowed his head accepting this though he did not take the old mans' words to heart. He had never been in the habit of asking for permission. 

“Now. About your reason for coming here in the first place.”

Ren listened, but as Palpatine went on and on, he couldn’t help glancing over his shoulder at the open doors wondering if she might pass by again. 

“Ren!”

He snapped to attention. “Yes, I’m listening.”

“And you’ll complete the order before the end of the month.”

“Yes my Lord, of course.” He said nodding to confirm that the plans were still set in place. 

“Good. Now, leave my house, let me sleep. You’ve taken too much of my energy as it is."

“Of course.” He said standing, glad to be rid of the little boil. 

Leaving the room, Ren looked around the old manor wondering how it all fell apart for Palpatine. This house had once been beautiful, now it was as ruined as its' master, no matter his position in this new order. 

“You’re finished then?”

Ren spun to find Rey standing at the top of the stairs bathed in the only beam of sunlight breaking through the dirty glass panes behind her. 

She came down the steps keeping her distance, allowing him to see her beautiful face clearly. 

“Yes.” He said unable to say more

“Well, I hope it was a worthwhile endeavor”. She said and bowed before turning to leave. 

“Lady Palpatine.” He called. 

She turned to him with the look of a woman who had been broken into pieces again and again, with only herself to put them back together he imagined. 

The sadness in her eyes could not be concealed behind her earnest effort to smile and it tore at him, like a little bird scratching at the fabric of his coat, pecking through his flesh to pierce his heart. 

“My Lord?” She asked when he didn’t respond.

She was not his mission, but she had become something of a secret obsession. 

It was not healthy to worry over this woman so much. He looked away to find Soames waiting at the door with his coat and hat. “It was…”He looked back at her confused face. “I am happy to have seen you again.” He blurted. 

Her expression melted to a look of doubt. “Thank you?”

He nodded then and turned to leave afraid to say much more.

*

Rey watched him walk away to gather his things. Ren swung the long heavy coat over his shoulders, arms slipping in easily. With the black hat snug on his head, he took a moment to look over his shoulder, his profile elegant in the shadows. 

She chose to smile at him this time.

He almost returned the gesture. 

And then he was gone. 

*

Alone with her grandfather again, Rey tried but of course no answers would be got from the old man. He brushed her inquiries about Rens' visit aside as one does a bothersome child. She gave up after a few attempts over meal times and decided that she would eventually find out but that it must have been nothing more than her grandfather trying to better his status now that “proper” money had moved into the village. 

He did however seem to be in a better mood than she was used too and it was strange to say the least. He actually greeted her in the mornings and said goodnight as she went to the stairs after dark

Soames and cook seemed alarmed by this development as well, but it was welcome in the otherwise somber home. 

Luckily, escape from these strange days came in the form of a lovely visit from her dear friend Rose just two weeks later. 

Lady Tico came to Naboo Manor uninvited knowing she was always welcome at the Palpatine door, proven by Rey’s enthusiasm as she flung her arms around the womans' neck nearly knocking her pretty hat off. 

Roses' family was well regarded in the village. Her father had been a decorated general in the kings army, but died of a fever some years ago leaving Rose and her sister a comfortable sum and a life of warm welcome by their peers. 

Rey loved her dearly and was thankful for the friendship of a woman as strong and carefree as Rose.

“Gods but I am glad to see you dear Rose!” Rey said wrapping an arm around her friends' shoulders to escort her inside. 

They shared tea and some little cakes that weren’t very good, of course Rey knew not to worry about things like that with Rose, she cared nothing for the state of their wealth or the lack of it, just for Reys' friendship, which made her a true friend indeed. 

Sensing Rey needed to get away from the manor for a bit, she suggested they go into town. The day was too bright for staying indoors and they could both use the air. 

 

**

 

The two young women strolled through the bustling village center, casually popping into the shops they knew well but hadn’t visited in some time.

As they left the milliners, arm in arm, deep in humorous conversation, Rey, very nearly walked into the solid wall of Lord Rens' chest. 

“I’m so sorry! I didn’t see you there.” She rushed, cheeks hot with embarrassment. A quick flash back to their first meeting came to her, the humor of the roles reversed not lost on Rey.

Glancing up she saw a look in his eyes that gave her pause, but she did manage a quick curtsy. 

“The fault was ours my Lady.” 

Ren wasn’t alone. Standing beside him, about a foot shorter was a more traditionally handsome man with beautiful black skin and a bright smile. Had he not been walking with Ren, he would have cut quite a figure. 

Still flustered but always ladies, Rey and Rose waited for an introduction, however Lord Ren seemed to have forgotten himself and instead was staring intently at Rey. 

She cleared her throat and gave a tiny nod towards his companion. 

Blinking, Ren lowered his gaze and stepped back to present his friend. “My Ladies, forgive me this is my friend Mr. Finn.”

“They both dipped and bowed smiling at the man whose eyes seemed to sparkle with the sort of internal joy one does not come by easily. Rey found him to be the most genial man. 

“It’s lovely to meet you sir. Are you here visiting the village?”

“I am, just for a few days, and then I’m off on some new adventure.” He said and smiled at Rose whos' ears perked at the word. She was a restless sort, always ready to dart off to experience something new. 

Rey did admire it, but she felt the need to stay put just a while longer, her grandfather needed her, as much as he insisted he did not, as did their estate.

“Rey?” Rose gave her a friendly nudge. 

“Oh, excuse me, I was lost in thought for a moment.” She said a little jumpy. But when she looked up at Lord Ren, a look of understanding passed over his usually stoic face. The way it softened his features made her pulse quicken. But this was different from the way she’d felt during their other encounters. This felt like the beginning of something, like some tiny flame had been lit. A spark of hope? But hope for what exactly. The man was young and unwed but still a mystery to everyone. Even she was still uncertain of him and he’d been inside her home.

“Perhaps we may call on you, and you can tell us more of your plans for your future endeavors.” Rose said to Mr. Finn who seemed delighted by the idea. 

“Wonderful plan, don’t you think Ren.” He said looking up, smile broad, eyes beaming. 

Ren scanned them all before he squared his shoulders. “Perhaps.”

Finn smiled and sighed dismissively patting Ren on the chest. “We will send word as soon as we are fit for company.” He told the two Ladies. 

Rose and Rey agreed with genuine excitement and bid farewell.

“How do you suppose they know one another?” Rose asked, the girls turning in unison to watch them walk away. Rey bit her lip, her eyes narrowed at the sight of Rens black hair and jacket like a cloak around him, and shrugged. “I think there are many things about that man that we may never know or even understand.” She said softly before smiling at her friend. “But for now, let’s finish our shopping shall we.”

 

**

 

Much to Rey’s surprise, invitations did indeed come.

She’d been sitting with her grandfather in the library reading quietly when Soames came in carrying the silver letter tray with a single packet for her. Fortunately Palpatine was nodding off and didn’t notice. 

She thanked the butler and took the letter, opening it as quickly as she could without making a sound when she saw that the initials pressed into the wax seal read “KR” 

Sitting up at attention, her book forgotten, she scanned the page quickly, and it was clear to her what it said, but the rush, the incredible heat that rose up from her belly and spread like wildfire through her arms and legs stunned her. 

Had she read the words wrong? No, but she had to read them again and let them resonate.

Slipping quietly from her chair, Rey trotted through the grey rooms and the dim hallway fleeing her grandfathers watchful eye.

She pressed the letter to her chest as she flew up the creaking staircase, her eyes shutting as she calmly sat on the worn and dusty brocade cushion.

This had been her place since childhood. The window seat at the top of the stairs where she could watch the goings on below and look out to the pale moors over her shoulder. 

The maid was never instructed to shut the curtains here, and it was here that she would read his words again.

 

Lady Palpatine, 

I hope this letter finds you in good health and high spirits, though I am convinced you have never had a solemn day, and so I say, no, request you, brighten the mood of this empty house and honor it with your presence. 

An invitation has been sent to your friend the Lady Rose Tico as well and it is my sincerest desire that you will both join myself and Mr. Finn for refreshment this Friday, the 12th at two o’clock in the afternoon.

I hope it is not too forward of me to say, that I think of our encounters often. Even when occupied with matters of importance, my wandering thoughts are most often of you. I look to the future with hope for what may come of this friendship.

There is a light in you, my Lady that few posses and many will try to claim. All I ask, is that you allow me to bask in your brilliance but for a day.

Most Sincerely,  

Lord Kylo Ren. 

 

She pressed her fingers to her lips keeping any sound at bay but her heart would not quiet. It beat with the steady drumming of a thousand horses. 

Shaking her head she inhaled deeply before opening her eyes again to see the stroke of his pen, the long thin lettering, the way the ink pooled with his signature. 

She must have looked like a dragon hoarding treasure, but appearances did not matter to her at the moment. The letter was most precious to her. 

Funny, she thought looking out the window to the endless ocean of pale green long- grass. She’d had plenty of suitors as any Lady who is out in society might, but they were never to her liking or standards. Not because of money or station, but because of quality, and all had been lacking.  Then this one comes along in the most unruly way and she could not rid her mind of him. 

Surely a man able to bring on such bold emotions through nothing more than words on paper could be a man worth knowing? 

She felt it deeply but still there was something about him that struck her as a bit… dark. Still, she would not turn the invitation down and she would not leave him unanswered. 

Hurrying to the desk in her rooms, Rey grabbed paper and pen and began to write slowly, mindful of the words she chose. 

*

Ren was sitting at his desk when his butler Edmonds came in with the mail. He glanced at the letters, ignoring those of little interest, but two caught his attention immediately. 

One bore the sigil he’d been waiting to see amongst the endless stacks of letters, the other one did not. 

He ignored the blood red seal of The First Order, and instead chose to pick up the thin paper closed with a simple dot of bright red wax. 

He opened it to find the fluid lettering of a woman’s hand, easy to spot without a word read, but as soon as he started and he realized what he held, Ren took a moment to rise and go to the window where his mothers chair sat. 

Lowering into the seat that was a little too small for him but still able to bring some comfort, he began to read again. 

 

Lord Ren,

I have received your letter and your invitation, and I can say most assuredly that nothing would make me happier than to accept. 

I find myself remembering our fleeting moments shared in dark carriages, doorways and fog covered paths with fondness. Each unexpected, but all most welcome encounters.  

Please know that a friendship between us is most important to me and I look forward to continuing in our getting to know one another. 

As for what many will want of me. I am a Lady of free will, I alone choose my company and no other. And so I say with certainty, that I choose to spend more than an afternoon with you. 

Affectionally,

Lady Rey Palpatine.  

 

She would be his undoing. 

Years he’d spent building his reserve, finding ways to pour his anger and hurt and darkest feelings into his work, and this one girl, no, woman, could bring him to his knees. 

He’d felt it from the moment they met, her looking at him as though he were a monster in the forest. He felt her rage directed towards him and it alarmed him to see his own fire burning so bright in another. 

Rubbing his chin as he sat in thought, Ren smiled a bit remembering when she’d nearly plowed into him on the street. She had a bad habit of blushing and going saucer eyed, but it was sweet, especially coming from a woman who seemed quite capable of being anything but. 

She was unaware, but he knew things about her now. He’d heard things. Been told things directly by her own grandfather and all had peaked his interest, but to know her in the flesh… 

He sighed and crossed the room placing the letter in his top desk drawer, happy for the acceptance of his invite, resigned to busy himself with work for the next two days. 

Slowly, he looked to the other letter, it’s pages thick and it’s blood red seal calling to him. He knew there would be no rest for him until the day came. 

 

**

 

Realistically, it was just tea, and as far as anyone else knew, just tea with friends and neighbors, but… she would be near him, for an extended period of time, in his home. 

Gods, but she had nothing to wear. 

Rey spent entirely too much time worrying over which dress looked the least worn and which could pass as something modern but allow her to still feel like herself. Once she’d reached peak tizzy, she stood in the middle of her mess and had a laugh. Enough was enough. Lord Ren would just have to accept her as she was or not at all. 

In the end, her simple yellow dress won the war. She put it on and paid it no mind. There was so much more to her than a dress after all … or so she kept telling herself as she studied her reflection in the mirror. 

For a moment she wondered what he saw when he looked at her so intently. She knew that she was attractive, but it had never played a large role in her life.

People who saw her treated her with the sort of polite geniality a woman with handsome features and a sweet disposition could expect. 

Lord Ren looked at her like she was the only woman alive. 

The thought made her flush and an absent minded smile spread over her dark pink lips. Feeling every bit the woman she was, Rey turned a bit to check her hair which was up in a braided bun on top of her head, a few dark tendrils hung over her small ears brushing the tops of her collar bones. 

Satisfied, she gave herself a confident nod and left the room, her dress floating behind her as she trotted down the stairs. 

Rose was right on time and came smiling from her carriage. Rey greeted her with a hug and the two chattered on until they decided to walk the few miles to Alderaan. It was an easy choice as the late morning was lovely and carried the promise of an even nicer afternoon.

Of course, not be be forgotten, Palpatine’s angry shouts of disapproval came after them, but they skittered away ignoring his ridiculous warnings about reputation and young women galavanting across the moors.

They went on with a bit more energy than usual, especially after Rose was able to confirm that they were the first to be invited to Alderaan. There had been many dinners and teas for Lord Ren to attend but so far, only once had he extended the offer. Rey tried not to read too much into this, but after his letter how could she not. 

Eventually the worn path split off to the right and they followed it to the topiaries that marked the entrance of the estate. 

Rey managed to keep her calm and engage in some harmless gossip with Rose, but by the time they reached the large double doors, she thought her heart was going to pump right out of her chest. The anticipation of this day was going to kill her, she thought with a little sigh. 

Ren’s footman answered quickly. He was a tall thin man with a square face and large nose and he welcomed them in with a bow as they passed, taking their hats and shawls. 

Rose entered with her usual eager positivity, however Rey hung back feeling something else entirely. 

It was real now. Not just a lazy daydream in her window seat. She’d crossed over into his world and as she turned a slow circle, her eyes drawn up and in,  the feeling of being consumed by him made her feel unease. No one had ever brought on such a strong wanting in her before. It was overwhelming, almost as much as this home. 

To call the entry, grand, was an understatement. In its’ sparse decor, one could really take in the artistry that built such a manor. 

Its’ sweeping stone walls left any visitor feeling very small. Aiding in this effect was the imperial staircase that rose up before them in dark oak, as wide as a room and looming as a mountain. 

The mezzanine ran the circumference of the entry and gave anyone with the higher ground a perfect view of the goings on below. 

Rey noted the way the dark wood and grey stone let only a minimal amount of sunlight through, in spite of the beautiful windows that ran from the stair landing to the ceiling. 

Overall, a stunning, moody space that made her want to explore its’ halls and discover all its’ secrets. Was the Lord who owned it aware of the self projection he’d put on display, she thought with a sly grin. 

“My ladies.” 

The girls spun to find Mr. Finn approaching with a wide smile and his arms open in welcome. 

Rey thought he looked like a candle burning in the dark. 

“Thank you for the invitation” She said kindly. 

“Ah, save your thanks, it was Ren who insisted we set a date, but don’t tell him I told you so.” He said with a wink. Rose giggled, but Rey sank back a bit, feeling the delicious excitement in knowing this was Rens' idea.

The sound of a door shutting upstairs and far away raised the hairs on the back of her neck. 

As Rose and Finn chatted, Rey listened to the heavy footsteps nearing. 

She looked over her shoulder, up to the black balcony and waited. 

Ren appeared quite suddenly from a dark hallway, their eyes meeting as he walked along the mezzanine. 

“Ah, there he is.” Finn announced. 

The three of them watched as he rounded the corner to the steps. The feeling of having all the air sucked from her lungs as he descended made Rey dizzy, but he was even more dashing within the familiar confines of his estate than he was on mist covered lanes and candle lit ballrooms. 

The crisp white shirt and perfectly laid cravat he wore, deepened the black of his jacket, pants and boots, most notably, that thick head of hair, as black and shining as a crows wings. 

As Ren touched flat ground and neared, she thought he looked more like a prince than a Lord, and not in the romantic sense of the word. He carried himself in the manner of someone so far above his station the idea of being placed in society at all seemed comical. 

  Though he didn’t smile, he seemed less distant than he had before and gave a bow to Rose. “Lady Tico.”

“Lord Ren” She said a little breathless. it seemed Rey hadn’t been the only one to admire his entrance.  

Rising up, he turned suddenly focusing on Rey completely. “My Lady,” He addressed her intimately.

Dear god, he was bold! 

Rey glanced past him to Rose and Finn, one amused the other intrigued, both looks interchangeable. She met his gaze again and lowered in respect. 

“My Lord.”

How could she respond any other way, her heart would not allow it…. And here we are, thinking of the heart already, she scolded herself as he offered his arm to her. 

“This way." He said and she accepted, slipping her hand around the crook of his arm, allowing herself to be led down the hall, Rose and Finn not far behind. 

“Alderaan is more beautiful than I could have imagined,” Her eyes could not stay on one alcove or tapestry for too long, she was trying to take in every hand carved detail they passed.

Ren glanced at her, a bit stiff but with a light in his eyes. “ You’ve brought a glow to these dark halls, I’ll say that for it.” 

She looked up at him, strong nose high in the air, hair obscuring a clear view of his most striking face. “I have been looking forward to this.” She said softly hoping only he could hear.

“As have I.” His reply was very matter of fact, but she noticed the way his lips twitched with the threat of a smile. Rey lowered her head quickly to hide her own wide grin. Caught you, she thought feeling every so slightly giddy.  

Ren led the procession through the wide doorway and showed Rey to a lovely chair of green silk and pale pink floral embroidery. He gave her hand a small squeeze before she sat, the resulting flush in her cheeks impossible to hide.

Rose and Finn joined them, busy with chatter of some far off place both had somehow managed to confirm a visit too, before they could even sit. 

On the opposite sides of the busy talk, Ren and Rey found one another again and the looks exchanged were nervous but excited. 

Two maids were ushered in with tea, though Ren opted for a small glass of port.

Rey let the warm delicious liquid calm her as she settled into her seat all too aware of the way Lord Ren watched her with a sad sort of smile clearly birthed from some fond memory. She wondered what she’d done to bring on such thoughts, but that would have to wait. 

“Lady Rose.” Finn said in his boisterous way. “You’ll be happy to know I’ve brought a few of my finest treasures with me today. All from my last journey to the desert. The people I met there were wonderful and gifted me a few trinkets and items I’m sure you’ll enjoy!” 

Rose lit up with anticipation and nodded emphatically. She could hardly contain herself as he waved them over to the long desk closest to the window. 

Rey set her tea down and followed her friend. 

Laid out on display were things that she recognized but had been made from such exquisite materials.

A comb of bone, a bowl of what looked to be jade but when held up to the light became nearly translucent. Rose ran her fingers along the impossibly soft fabric of a scarf with a squeal of delight. 

“This is the most wonderful thing I’ve ever touched!” She said. 

Smiling, Mr. Finn picked up the bright orange fabric. “May I?” He asked. 

Rey giggled a bit, stepping back to watch as he draped the fabric around Roses' shoulders, and quickly swooped it up and over her hair leaving nothing but her pretty face exposed. 

“This is how the Tuskan women wear it. The scarves protect them from the sun and sand.”

“You look beautiful.” Rey offered with a wide smile. 

Rose blushed and gave a little spin before Mr. Finn helped her unwrap. 

Noticing an absence, Rey looked over her shoulder to find Ren sitting near the fire, one long leg crossed over the other, casually holding his drink. 

Expecting to find him judging their joy, Rey braced herself, but instead she saw a look of true contentment. 

He was such an easy man to look at when he wasn’t brooding and cold. 

She imagined curling up beside him like a cat, small and happy and safe…

“I say, would you like to try?” Mr. Finn asked. 

Rey gave a start and shook the daydream, “Oh! Yes, yes please.”She said with an earnest smile. 

Swathed in the silk, she felt like a foreign princess as Rose clapped approval and Mr. Finn gave a boisterous call. 

“What do you think Lord Ren?” She asked turning to him with a coquettish smile. 

He took a swallow of his drink and eyed her head to toe. 

As the moment went on too long, Rey’s smile started to fade, Mr. Finn cleared his throat. 

“Perfect,” Ren finally said, shaking his head every so slightly as though he couldn’t believe there was any other option. His voice had been light, as though the word stuck in his throat. 

Rey’s body responded in a way she’d never felt before. The gentleness of his voice had reached across the room and stroked the skin of her most hidden places. She took a shaking breath, her hands sliding across her belly and neck as she felt so very naked standing before him.

“Let me help you” Finn said assuming she wanted the silk off. 

She nodded a thanks before returning quietly to her seat across from Ren.

“Lunch is served My Lord.” Edmonds said from the doorway. His announcement ended the unblinking gaze shared between them.

“I had it set up on the veranda,” Ren said somewhat awkwardly “I hope you approve” He was addressing her as though no one else was in the room and she found his boyish delivery sweet, if not unexpected. It became clear then, that everything happening today was just for her. Rose and Finn were a nice addition, but everything would have been done just the same if they were alone. 

She nodded and took a last sip of tea. “That sounds lovely.”

*

The morning warmth had indeed delivered a perfect afternoon. They were given a cloudless sky and brilliant sun with the strong scent of spring in the air.

From the food, to the wine, to the comfortable familiarity the four of them seemed to find so easily together, Rey knew before their goodbyes could even be said, that today would become a lasting memory. 

At one point, Ren even laughed out loud while Mr. Finn told a particularly funny story. Rey almost choked on her drink at the sound, but it was delightfully infectious.

After lunch, the gentlemen offered a walk through Ren’s gardens which both ladies were happy to accept. 

Their stroll was just shy of leisurely. Rey felt so at ease amongst the manicured hedges and mature trees, bird song distant but constant, and those two glasses of wine flowing through her veins. 

She nearly laid her head on his shoulder as they walked arm in arm. But no, not yet, she would not let go all her inhibitions, instead she let her head hang back, the sun kissing her lips and cheeks. 

He was watching her, she could feel it. He was eyeing the long line of her neck and the soft skin of the space just behind her ear…  she opened her eyes and looked up at him hoping he understood that she wanted him to look. 

The understanding was made and passed between them, as they silently resigned themselves to their wonderful fate. 

In the peace of the gardens, Rey slipped her hand further around his arm to pull them closer in confirmation.

Ren did smile then, a slow, pleased gesture that she adored.  

Glancing back, she laugh a little and shook her head watching Finn and Rose playing with some funny toy he’d brought from a trip to the mountains. They were in their own happy world, and had conveniently stopped just before the vine covered archway and trellised tunnel that led to this small clearing. 

They were as alone as a respectable man and woman could be, and Rey felt the pressure of the moment urging her to say something. 

Being a woman who was used to speaking her mind, especially having grown up with Palpatine, she did not shy away from this internal command and stopped walking to turn to him. 

Rey was not short, she was in fact very proud of her height, but before Ren, she felt as tiny as a sprite. The same pleasant sense of safety and warmth she’d felt in the sitting room came back tenfold. 

Her eyes went along up the lines of his fine clothes, past the hint of skin beneath his high collar and stock, over his full lips and to his eyes, that she now for the first time noticed were actually an array of greens and golds and browns. 

His eyes were hazel, not black, not cold dark and brooding, but soft and kind and gentle. 

Her hand was on his chest, very near his heart. She did not remember placing it there, but she would not move either. 

He wrapped his fingers around her wrist, his other hand slipping to the small of her back, ever so slightly bringing her closer, were they stood in an unmoving dance. 

“I hope you don’t think that I’m being too forward.” She said so softly her voice was as light as the breeze circling her skirts. 

He shook his head a bit “No, my Lady. No, you can not be forward when your actions are encouraged.” He said and Rey felt her pulse quicken against his light touch. “I don’t believe I’ve been very open with my intentions because, I never meant to have any at all. Not towards you or any woman. That’s not why I’m here.”

She found herself gazing at his mouth as he spoke and she wondered what he might taste like. 

“Why are you here?” She asked his lips. 

Ren’s small smile made her look up to his eyes again. 

“I have business here, but, you are quite successfully making me forget it all.”

She lowered her gaze sheepishly pulling away. 

Ren let her go but not without trying to keep her. 

“Then I shouldn’t be here. I don’t want to distract you from your work” She said turning away from him. 

There was a pretty array of flowers amongst the bushes to look at as she waited for his reply. 

“ And what if I find your distractions, your, presence in my life to be necessary?” He asked, his voice deeper than she’d ever heard him. It commanded her attention and she turned to face him. 

“You don’t even know me, not yet.” She smiled though the truth of it made her hesitant.

“No, but I will.” He said with confidence. 

Rey felt overwhelmed, like she had when she first walked into the manor. 

What was it? Was she afraid? That didn’t make sense. He was not frightening in a traditional sense. But, whatever it was between them was so powerful she worried she might do something foolish. This man, this exquisite stranger had come into her life so suddenly, and had consumed so much of her thoughts, it didn’t seem right. But then, how could anything that felt like this not be?

“Don’t be afraid.” Ren said with kindness, shaking his head. And then he was suddenly very near her, his body blocking the sun.  

She took a breath and looked up at him, her heart racing as his eyes narrowed and searched her face. “I feel it too.” His voice was laced with a deep understanding of what she was experiencing, as though he could read her very thoughts.

Rey exhaled, she wanted to nearly cry as he slowly grabbed her arms to hold her there, his lips coming down to meet hers, parted and ready. 

“My Lord Ren!”

She gasped as he snapped up to full height, glaring over his shoulder. 

It was his butler Edmonds. 

“Forgive me my Lord, urgent news for you at the house. I thought you would want to know immediately.”

Ren held her firm as she watched the interaction. 

“Who is it from?”

“My lord? I don’t believe I’m at liberty to say.” The older man said, eyes down so as not to insult his master. 

Ren left her then with a speed she hadn’t expected. 

He nearly stomped across the grass to the man. 

“Who?” He growled. 

“The Order. My Lord.” Edmunds said and gave a small bow. 

Ren hung his head, his shoulders rising and falling with what seemed to be anger. She was unsure, she couldn’t see his face, but his body seemed as tense as a wire. 

“Yes…yes, alright. Thank you Edmunds.” He said and dismissed the man. 

Rey waited. It took him a while to turn back to her, but when he did, she saw a different man for a moment, a flash of someone with a rage inside him so awful that she nearly walked away. But, when he looked at her and truly saw her, that fire died so quickly she wasn’t sure she’d seen it at all. And maybe, perhaps, he had some bad business to deal with. She would not judge him too quickly, but she would not forget it.

“Forgive me” He said with a sigh and started to come to her again but thought better of it. 

“It’s alright” She assured. 

He nodded and took a few steps back to the arch. “Finn and Lady Tico are waiting for us, shall we go back. I’m afraid I do have to see to this.”

“Of course!” She said and quickly went to him.  

“What’s wrong? Some sort of trouble?” Finn asked as they approached. 

Ren gave a dismissive grumble. “I intend to find out. Will you come with me?” He asked clapping his friend on the shoulder. 

“Of course.” Finn answered and they both looked back to the ladies waiting together. 

“This is not how I wanted to say goodbye” Ren said stepping towards Rey so that she knew this was meant for her alone. 

“I know,” She said understanding. 

“Will you come again?”

“Is this an invitation?” 

“Officially”

“Then I will come.” She said, and for a fleeting moment they were alone again in the little clearing. Her, completely enamored and him, hopelessly committed without a word being said. “And Rose?” She asked breaking the bond. 

He blinked and looked over to Rose who was trying her best not to watch them “Well yes of course. Please.” Ren said stepping back to address them both. “I extend the invitation to you both. Perhaps Saturday. I’ll clear my day.” He said as though his words became law upon saying them. 

Rey grinned and nodded. “I look forward to it, but please, go! I do believe Edmunds is going to start begging.” She said nodding past them. 

Ren and Finn looked over their shoulders, Finn laughing a bit at the butler who was pacing and fretting in a way unbecoming of a man in his position.  

“Until then.” Ren said to Rey and turned to take long strides across the grounds leaving her to wonder just what she’d gotten herself into. 

 

**

 

“It seems a bit soon doesn’t it?” Rose asked as they turned onto the graveled path of the Alderaan estate. 

Rey look up. Sunlight drenched the south tower peaking out from the trees still a mile away. It shone like a beacon guiding her back. 

“Are you alright?” Rose asked. 

Reys' attempt to assure her friend that she was fine was half hearted. Truth be told, Rose hadn’t said anything Rey wasn’t already thinking and considering the fact that Rose was not involved in this other than for the sake of friendship, Rey took her words to heart. 

No romantic daydreams had clouded her vision. 

And Rey felt like her head had been in a fog for weeks.

When he’d asked them back while standing in the garden, it made all the sense in the world, and then they’d left Alderaan and returned to reality. Her worry had set in by the time they reached the end of the drive. Because although the ladies traveled together, two unmarried women in the company of two unmarried men would have caused at least, an afternoons' worth of gossip. And though the opinions of the great houses in her village should not have mattered to her, they did. 

Rey refused to let her foolish heart lead her down the path to complete expulsion from society. A life alone with her grandfather in that house would end her much quicker than a broken heart. 

So why was she here, with Rose, walking right back towards him? Shaking her head she sighed knowing exactly what the answer was. 

No amount of risk could stop her from finishing what they’d started two days ago. It had been blossoming for over a month, spread out over run-ins cut short and stifled conversations. And finally, after weeks of imagining it, she was here to be with him, she was here to receive the kiss that almost happened. 

Rey’s breath grew short when she thought back to the moment and how close they’d come. It was completely agonizing to think he’d been that close to kissing her and the need to be near him again ached in her bones. Simply put, Rey was coming back because she must. 

“I know, it’s a bit unorthodox,” She said slowly “But we did have to leave in such haste last time. Perhaps today we’ll have a proper parting?”

Rose eyed her sidelong. “If you think so.” She said, not an ounce of ignorance in her words. She knew what was going on, and while there was nothing forbidding the Lord and Lady from advancing their friendship, there was a way to go about such things and this seemed the least proper. In fact it was the fastest way to throw tradition aside and attract unwanted attention. 

However, what Rey was still unaware of was the fact that for Rose, being near Mr. Finn brought out a side of her that she usually had to keep quiet. He allowed her to laugh loudly and express all of her thoughts on every topic. So while she worried for her friend, she also worried for herself. 

At the house, the footman took them to the back sitting room where Finn was glaring at a painting on the wall and Ren stood with a sword at eye level pointing it towards the middle of the room, slowly turning his wrist as he examined the blade.  

“Have we interrupted you?” Rose asked grinning. 

Ren’s eyes darted across the room to find them smiling at him. Slicing the sword down at his side he tossed his hair back and gave a small bow. 

“Lady Rose, Lady Rey. Forgive me, I just received a gift from an old friend and I was eager to see it.” Ren said walking to the glass case along the wall that held no less than six other swords. 

Rey curtsied to Finn and followed Ren. 

“You seem a natural with that blade,” She said watching as he placed it on the brackets and shut the glass display doors. 

Ren gave a self deprecating laugh shaking his head.“It’s not that I am a natural, it’s that I have held a sword in my hand for so long I can’t remember a time that I did not.”

“All men must be ready to fight for their king” She said with a teasing smile. 

Ren looked down at her, his brows raised slightly. “All men must know how to fight for themselves my Lady.” He replied, eying her profile. 

Rey was examining each sword. Some were very old, the ones near the top were new and so sharp she could see the light catch on their lethal edge. 

“You and my grandfather seem to agree on that.” She said casually. 

He turned to her curious. Rey looked up, a mischievous look in her eyes as she spoke.“He may be an old fool, but he did know how to spot a gift when he saw one. So he was sure to see me trained, or at least he did when I was a girl.”

“You know how to wield a sword?” He asked almost dumbfounded. 

She laughed and nodded. “Yes, I know, it’s most unusual, but he was an old man when I was born, with no use for a little girl. He never cared about having me learn the things I inevitably did learn from the maids and the cook, but he did like to see me fight with the boys from the village with our wooden sticks.” Her gaze wandered as she thought back fondly on the wild days spent running with boys too rich and too well bred to walk with her now “I was good, like you, a natural. I took lessons once a week until I turned thirteen and then we could not find…. reason, for me to continue.” Her voice trailed off at the end, surely alerting Ren to some underlying trouble, but she did not want to discuss that anymore than she had to.

“Your grandfather truly saw you trained?” He seemed to find this hard to believe. She was the most extraordinary woman but a lady of her station usually stopped at needle point with regards to wielding sharp objects. 

“I can not say that I have ever met a Lady who may also be called a swordsman, but I am determined to see.” He said playfully, though there was a tone in his voice that made her bite her lip, and he smiled knowing the effect he was quite capable of having on her. “But, not yet, tea first?” He offered standing straight and turning with his elbow bent for her. 

“Please.” She said accepting his arm. 

They had tea in the parlor just as they did before, however as the small talk faded, Rey noticed that the mood was not exactly what it seemed when they first arrived. Ren was very quiet, not like he’d been the first time they came, but most notably was Mr. Finn. 

While still his happy self he wasn’t bouncing around, chatting about the habits of the jawa desert nomads. Instead he sat at the little table opposite Rose and spoke in a nearly somber voice. 

She could not place it but something had happened and the men were trying to go on as though nothing was wrong. 

“I trust everything sorted itself out after our quick departure Thursday?” She asked and took a bite of the tiny scone. Gods but that was good, her cook never bothered with adding enough sugar to anything. 

He gave a nod. “Yes, thank you.”

Not ready to talk about it, she thought with a sip of tea. No bother, she wasn’t sure she cared, but she needed to know what was going on. “Are you planing to stay much longer Mr. Finn, you know Rose and I will miss you terribly when you do leave.”

Finn shifted in his chair and blinked looking down at his cup. “I will miss you all, very much.” He said and looked up at her. 

Rey felt her blood run cold. “Mr. Finn, are you alright?” She asked, the look in his eyes was alarming. 

He nodded and tried to smile. “Yes, just, sad to go.”

Rose was very smart but not always as intuitive as Rey, she did however pick up on her friends’ reaction and looked at Finn with worry. 

“Mr. Finn has been asked to assist with a task neither of us are at liberty to speak of, other than to say it will be somewhat dangerous, but, it is his duty.” Ren stated. 

Rey shot him a look. “What sort of task?” And what was that tone, she wondered. The voice of authority?

“I can’t say.” Ren replied. 

“Theres just a little trouble with some of the negotiations in the south.” Finn offered. 

“Negotiations?” She asked

“Finn.” Ren warned. 

The other mans' eyes lowered, his head tilting to the side as though something pained him, like the lie he was about to tell was very hard to get out. “Simple, diplomatic negations my Lady, nothing for you to be too concerned with.”

“You seem concerned Mr. Finn.” Rose said and slipped her hand over his arm on the table. His eyes wide, he glared at her hand with a look of both heartbreak and excitement, when their eyes met it was clear that something more had been developing between them as well and had just been confirmed. 

Rey had been so wrapped up in her own affairs she’d dismissed their friendly exchanges as nothing more than that. How clear it was to her now that she was not the only one here for a reason. 

“Finn is one of our best men Lady Rose, you do not need to fear for him.” Ren said in an attempt to comfort her. 

“When you say our best….” Rey searched his face looking for answers to this annoying puzzle. 

“I mean ours. Finn belongs to the same order as I do.”

“And that is?”

“You don’t need to concern yourself…”

“So long as I sit at your table, I think I’m entitled to know with whom I dine.” She replied quickly shutting him down. 

A shadow fell over Ren’s eyes as he straightened in his chair and set his tea down. He leaned back blinking as he thought this over, clearly trying to find the words. 

“To put it simply,” He began. “We are loyal citizens of this nation who find its leaders lacking in the ability to keep us on course. Their path is one many of us can not follow.”

“Is this a political party?” She asked. 

“It is, but I can assure you, we only have the interest of the people at heart. Which is why it’s so…bothersome “He said through his teeth “When we have to deal with these sorts of situations.” 

Rey noted the way his lip twitched when he spoke, the quick raising of his brows suggesting he was holding back, and quite a bit. 

Her heart was pounding. This was wrong, all wrong. But still she could not place why. Thinking back to the last village pamphlet she’d read about two weeks ago, she couldn’t remember seeing anything about a new political party. But then, she did remember seeing something on her grandfathers desk. A letter with a dark red seal and a sigil she’d never seen before. She’d skimmed over the first few lines and remembered something about a call to arms, but no one said those sorts of things literally. Did they? Could these be connected? She looked up at Ren again who was staring at her. 

His jaw was clenched and the hand that rested on the table was balled in a fist so tight, his arm shook. 

“My Lord.” She said alarmed and dared to reach out. 

Her long fingers edge closer, slowly, hesitant to touch this caged animal. Ren looked down and watched her coming near him until she finally pulled his fist open and gripped his fingers. He looked up at her, still trying hard to keep his calm. 

“Please don’t let my questions upset you so, I’m just curious.” She said soundly nearly hurt. 

Ren looked away, breathing through his mouth for a moment before looking back to her. “It’s not your curiosity, that…upsets me.  It’s your ignorance” He said, nearly spitting the words at her. “You should know what’s going on around you, and yet you have no idea.” 

Rey yanked her hand back to her side, stunned by his rude delivery, but was she really surprised? Wasn’t this always the man he’d been. The same arrogant lord that almost trampled her, ignored her at the party, refused to defend her when her grandfather insulted her in her own home… it occurred to her quite painfully that perhaps he was not the kind man she’d seen under the cold facade. He was a powder keg of unruly passion and she the new obsession for him to consume and burn up. Rey could feel it in the air between them and she wanted to hurt him back. 

“How should I know what silly club you belong to.” Her voice was cold, the sound of it shutting the formerly open door to her heart.  

Mr. Finn grabbed Rens arm before the man could forget himself. 

“Please, it is much more than that.” Mr. Finn offered. 

“Clearly.” Rey said raising her brow. 

“Maybe, maybe you could explain just a bit to us?” Rose offered timidly. 

Finn smiled at her and let go of Ren. “It’s really not worth discussing now my lady.” 

“He seems to think it is.” Rey said stirring the pot. Ren glared at her. “If your friend here is going off on a mission for your political party that could endanger his life, one that we, and by we I mean myself and Lady Rose, actually care about, I should think you might want to explain to us why you’re so adamant that he do so,”

Ren seemed to be considering this and looked at Finn who gave his friend a small smile as he shook his head no in a way assuring Ren that he did not have to say anything. 

There was a deeper hidden meaning behind the gesture for certain, but she liked Mr. Finn too much to pressure him. 

However Ren was another beast entirely. 

“It’s called the First Order.” He said clearly. “I suggest you learn more about it. We grow, every day. More men and woman come to our side”

“Side? We’re taking sides now?” Rey asked. 

He sighed and shook his head. “Yes, don’t be so obtuse. We should all take a side. The side of the king or the side of the people. Which do you think you might belong to should you be asked to choose.”

And now she was being obtuse? He implied she was too simple to understand the complexity of her own government. He implied she was a foolish girl and Rey wanted to slap him across the same mouth she’d nearly kissed two days ago. 

Her own temper now reaching dangerous levels, Rey took a deep breath and thought about this. 

“My Lord Ren, I will always choose the people over a monarch. But the monarch should work for the people.”

“And you think ours does?”

“In some ways, yes.”

“And what about all of the other ways Rey.”

She gasped. Rose nearly dropped her tea.

“Oh enough with the ettiequte.” He snapped. The sound of her name on his tongue still echoed through the room. “Who came up with these rules? Dead men from a dead past. I’ll call you whatever I want” He growled at her. 

“You will call me by my title!” She shouted ready to jump to her feet. 

“Your title will mean nothing if the current power has it their way.” He said trying to make a point without actually coming out to prove it which made her want to scream.

She was breathing so hard. This was ridiculous. How had they come to this so quickly! She had been completely enamored with him, and now he insults her and praises some secret order… at least she was fairly certain it was a secret. Perhaps she did need to learn more about it. 

Still that did not excuse his horrible behavior. 

Setting her sights on the man she cleared her throat. “I can admit to not knowing anything about this party. And I’m not too proud to set aside my own beliefs to learn about new ones or other opinions. I will find out more Lord Ren. That being said… you have proven yourself to be no true friend of mine. You are forward and rude. You sit here looking down on me as though I am some country simpleton, when it’s you, shut up in this grand palace angry at the world, who knows nothing. You have everything and still you carry such rage.”

“It’s almost like looking into a mirror.” He sneered at her. 

Rey was beyond insulted, now she was hurt. Why would he think her to be anything like him.

But worse, what if he was right.

There was something so familiar about his brooding that she had to take a moment and think back to her own occasionally sour disposition. There were times she’d sit alone, thinking of how much she hated the world she lived in, how much she wanted to change it all. But she stayed, loyal to her home and her grandfather though neither seemed to care for her in return. The house crumbled around her as fast as the old man hardened his heart.

Still and again, this was not an excuse for his behavior! 

“You’re impossible” She whispered feeling her chin quiver. 

“No, I’m right… and so are you” He said nodding his chin at her admitting his own faults with few words.

She sighed hard and shook her head. But then he reached out and took her hand before she could pull away. It shocked her to be touched by him after their exchange.

“I told you not to be afraid. Of me, of this, of what the future holds for us.”

“Im afraid there is no future here.” She lied to him, and to herself.

His grip on her hand tightened. 

“Is that so?” He asked, and she swore she saw him smile. He was looking at her like he had in the garden and she wanted to pull away and curse his name, but something kept her sitting there. 

“Yes, please. Let go of my hand.” She whispered. 

“No.”

“Ren!” Mr. Finn was appalled. 

“Search your feelings Rey,” He went on ignoring everyone but her “You know it’s true.”

“The only thing I know, is that you are a pompous ass and if you don’t let go of me, I shall… I shall take your new sword and, run you through.”

His eyes lit up and he did smile then. It was sinister and delicious. 

Rey leaned in ever so slightly, unable to look away. 

“Is that a challenge?” He asked. 

She blinked rapidly, nearly unable to believe what she was saying, much less what she was about to do. “Yes.”

“Oh Rey, enough!” Rose said tossing her napkin onto the table. 

“Yes, agreed, isn’t this too much.” Finn asked. 

Ren shook his head still looking at her. “Are you sure?” He asked, his voice low. 

Rey gave a defiant nod. “I will best you, and knock you off that bloody high horse.”

*

They marched down the hall side by side stealing glances at one another as they walked. Finn and Rose hurried behind them, their protests falling on deaf ears. 

Ren took them down a back stair and through double wooden doors to an impressive open room. Not every house comes with a room just for sport, and she wondered how he managed to choose one that did. 

Quickly, Ren took off his jacket tossing it to the floor and showed her to the armory chest. “Though I’m sure you’d like to end me today, I’m afraid I have my sights set on tomorrow.” He said and pulled two swords from their stand “Sparing weapons, to keep us both alive.” He said and Rey agreed quickly, accepting her dull blade. 

It was long, just an inch too much, but she would adjust quickly. 

“Finn, Lady Rose, Take a seat please.” Ren instructed them, though his focus was already on the woman who walked the room familiarizing herself with the weapon. 

They obeyed if only out of morbid curiosity and went to the wooden bench in the spectator box at the end of the room.

Rey raised her arm and judge her piece. It would have to do. She was ready to make quick work of him no matter what she held. 

Turning to face him, she began to circle her opponent not letting her anger cool. She wanted to face him with all of her adrenaline flowing.

Gods but he was big… no matter though. She knew she stood a chance at completely ruining the man.

Ren was nearly distracted by the look in her eyes, and the way she licked her lips. She would throw him off his game if he wasn’t careful. 

Rounding his shoulders, holding the sword out low, he looked past her brown almond shaped eyes and the way her breast rose up from her dress with each breath. She was his enemy for now, and he would treat her as such. 

They began to circle one another, both graceful and mindful of their steps. A lock of thick hair fell in Ren’s eyes and he flung it aside, keen on keeping her in clear view. 

Brow raised, Rey spun the sword in her hand. Her lithe wrist rotating with little effort, the sword swooshing in the air as it rounded again and again. She snapped it back with perfect control to prove a point. Her smile was coy, she knew what he saw and she was proud to show her skill to a man of such pride.

Watching her now, Ren did not doubt her training for a second and he applauded Palpatine for allowing it. In his wisdom the old man saw potential in her. A sort of given talent that made him ignore the ettiequte of the day and he’d actually paid some brave soul to train her. Because if he had not, Rey would have snuck off and learned on her own which would have done neither of them any good.   

“You think they’d actually hurt one another?” Rose asked eyeing them suspiciously. 

Finn shifted his weight on the bench feeling a little uncomfortable himself. “No but, after that display over tea, best keep a look out eh?” His pleasant voice laced with worry. 

Rose flashed a nervous smile before her face fell into a scowl of concern. 

Ren was walking around Rey, too confident, too cocky, an arm casually behind his back as if to imply he could beat her this way. 

Rey, watching him from the corner of her eye spun with the grace of a swan, her strike lighting quick. Rose gasped, Finn slid to the edge of his seat. 

Lord Ren turned with a perfect block, their swords clashing with the loudest clap of steel against steel. 

Swords pressed at the apex, Rey pushed her full weight into the blade to keep him at bay. She glanced down and quickly place her palm flat on his chest, close to where she’d touched him in the garden, but in an effort to create enough momentum to push away from him this time. She succeeded, But Ren wanted more. 

He advanced, even as she struggled to find her footing, but was surprised by her agility as she dodged his strike simultaneously raising her sword in two hands to block him.

Their eyes met again. He searched her face for a sign of weakness, for a reason to call an end to this parle but there was none. No, in fact what he saw was something else entirely. He saw that same anger as he had in the parlor but now there was a furious determination. She had the sort of raw energy he himself struggled to control, but control it she did. Only the clenched muscles of her jaw and that light in her eyes gave it away. It was stunning. He nearly forgot himself again but she was not finished yet. 

Rey smiled then, deciding that if he didn’t want to play by the rules, she wouldn’t either. Her kick to his shin was so fast, she nearly stumbled, “That’s for calling me by my name without permission” She called after him with a little laugh.

Ren gave a shout turning away, giving her a false sense of victory. 

He shot her a look over his shoulder, chest rising and falling rapidly with each breath as the tension grew. If she really wanted to fight that way, he’d show her how it was done. 

“Dear god they will kill each other” Rose said gripping Finn’s forearm. 

He gave her a reassuring pat and shook his head agreeing that this was going too far.

"My Lord! My lady! Well matched!” He called trying to end it. His words might as well have been the chirping of a bird outside. They heard nothing. 

Rey reset her stance still holding that smile on her lips when she saw the look on his face change. 

Lord Ren, recovered from her dirty blow, stood to his full height and looked down on her from across the room. Her heart raced, her grip on the hilt of her sword tightened. 

He advanced with the speed and power of a freighter coming directly towards her, his sword held like an extension of his arm, ready to strike,

Rey’s stance wavered as she felt for the first time a twinge of fear. 

He came up so quickly she missed her mark and he knocked the training sword from her hand grabbed her wrist and with the force of his body pushed her back, her feet trotting to keep her upright before she felt the impact of the wall behind her. 

“Lord Ren!” Rose shouted. 

Rey gasped trying to spot her sword on the floor but he blocked her view, all she could see was black, black and the pale fury of her opponent. 

“Yield” He growled at her. 

With a start she met his gaze and realized something then. 

Being this close to him again, the fear faded from her like sunlight at dusk and in it’s place, the most overwhelming sense of want. It made her eyes widen, her lips part. She took a gasping breath and tried to ignore it but he was too much.. 

With his body pressed so firmly against hers, she could for the first time feel the tension of his muscled arms, his thigh, pushed between hers felt as solid as stone. His breath brushed her lips and collar bones. Was he bent over her or she lifted up to him? She felt dizzy. 

“No” She whispered refusing to back down. “I bested you.” She dared. “Just as I said I would”

He quickly laughed that off and the grip on her wrist eased just a bit, “You think so?” He asked mocking her.

Rey raised her brow and directed her glance indicating he look down. 

Ren hesitated for just a second but when he did follow her instruction, he found her free hand holding his small decorative dagger that had been on display in the cabinet, and it was pointed right at his stomach.

Eyes as wide at plates, he looked back up to find her wicked smile. 

“Remove yourself sir” She ordered. “And let us finish this in a civilized way.”

Rens nostrils flared, his jaw so tight his head shook as he pushed away from her and went stomping back to his side of the room.

Rey ran and grabbed her sword, raising it in attack. 

“Rey!” Rose shouted trying to stop her. 

Grinning, Rey felt the impact of his block resonate through her arm. The look in his eye confused her for a moment, for what she thought was anger could have also been seen as something like lust and It spurred her on. 

Over and over she would advance on him and he back at her. Their size difference seemed to matter not as she was quick and wild. 

It drove him to insanity to be pushed so hard by a woman with such old techniques and he noted that she must not practice often, but what she did know had been put to memory. She really should practice more, he thought and lunged to end it with what would have been a deadly cut had she not spun around him, her back pressed against his own for just a fraction of a second, and instead actually touched blade, dull as it may be, to skin.

The cut was just on his shoulder but it stung his pride deeply. With a shout he turned and advanced again, sword raised high and ready to strike, only to be stopped in his tracks by Mr. Finn 

“Do you actually mean to fight her this way! Cause her harm?” He shouted, hands gripping his friends shirt that had come untucked in the tussle. 

“You must stop Rey! He is mad!” Rose pleaded with her friend who in spite of her best efforts was still under some trance and staring intently at Lord Ren. 

Like two raging bulls they glared at each other, breathing hard, sweat trickling from his temple, a sheen across her flushed face. “You’re bleeding!” She snapped, angry that she’d gone so far and that he brought out this side of her. Why couldn’t this have ended while they still sat with some dignity over tea. 

Ren glanced down, then back at the woman. Strands of his black hair clung to his face. He’d had enough and tossed his sword down with violence. It clattered as it spun and flopped across the room while he stormed off towards the hall.

“Forgive him!” Finn said rushing to Rey’s side. 

She watched the man go before letting out the breath she’d been holding. Her own hair had gone into a floppy bun, her cheeks burned, her arms shook with unfamiliar use. 

No instructor had ever made her fight that way before. No one had ever pushed her into such a delicious frenzy. 

Without a second thought, Rey freed herself of Roses’ grasp and went running after him.

Entering the corridor she caught sight of him just as he slipped into a room near the back French doors.

Trotting down the marbled floor, her shoes clicking against the stone, Rey ignored the voice in her head that shouted for her to turn around and go back. She would not leave on these terms. 

Rushing into the room, she instantly doubled back. “Oh!” Quickly averting her eyes, she steadied herself on the doorway as the last of his shirt slipped over his head and he turned to look at her. 

“Why did you follow me” He demanded. 

Not waiting for a reply, she watched as he tossed his shirt onto a bench and went to the little sink in the corner. 

Looking about she realized this room had been used for many things. Judging by the layer of dust over the furniture, that was long ago. There was a piano in the corner covered in a tarp and an easel and some canvases against the far wall.  A paint stained cloth was draped over the side of the sink. 

There were signs that a happy life once existed in this room, and for a moment she wondered if Ren had been a part of it. 

Opening the cupboard above the sink he pulled out a little box before crossing the room again. He sat heavy on the bench that looked as tiny as a stool under him. 

“I-I….” She bit her lip unsure of what to say and watched as he angrily opened the box, found the little jar he’d been looking for and opened it to apply whatever medicine it held to the cut on his shoulder.  “Oh, let me help you” She offered but he shot her a look that froze her to the spot. “You don’t need to be so ill mannered!” She shouted. 

“Oh and you think you’re better?”

“What does that mean?”

“It means, that I was not arguing alone out there. That conversation could not have happened without a little assistance from you. And I certainly did not get this on my own!”

“I was merely asking some questions out of concern for my friend. You’re the one who got defensive and.. brutish.”

He gave a loud quick Ha! “You think I’m a brute, while you sit around defending a king who would turn his back on you if you stood bleeding before him” Ren shook his head, hair falling over his eyes. “ I’m a brute, but you’re the one who drew blood.”

“Because you wouldn’t stop.”

“You didn’t want to stop.”

Now she laughed. “You dare blame me for your horrible temper! I was simply defending myself.”

“Oh, I believe this was about more than defense.” He replied raising a brow. 

She thought for a moment and rolled her eyes. “If it was, it was your fault for being so… so…” she gave an exasperated growl tossing her head back “You’re just a monster Lord Ren.”

“And you are an insufferable woman,” He replied with a cool tone. 

“You need to leave me alone.” She said repulsed. 

“ And you need a teacher!” 

“A…what?” She asked confused. Of all the things…  She crossed her arms waiting for an explanation. He really was the most impossible man. 

Ren shook his head sighing as he shut the medical box and and looked up her. “You need a teacher. Lady Palpatine. How’s that for a title.” 

Rey rolled her eyes with a huff. 

“You’re naturally gifted with a sword,” He went on. “More than you even realize, but your style is dated and too predictive.”

“I literally just cut you…” She nodded towards the sparing room. 

“No, yes… yes you did but that’s not what I mean. If a woman of your status has taken the time to learn this much and with such ability, how foolish is it to not continue, and to become better.”

“Oh I see.” She said, head cocking to the side. “And did it occur to you that perhaps I never would have given up my lessons had it been something we could afford. But bread or lessons is never a hard choice Lord Ren. Not everyone has the luxuries you’re accustomed to.”

He sat up straight and raked his messy hair from his eyes. 

Rey shifted her weight and looked out the window trying not to find herself distracted by the sight but by all accounts he was perfect, and one does not look on perfection often. 

She dared to peek back at him, at the way his black hair brushed his white shoulders, how his broad chest rose and fell with steady breath now instead of rage. His biceps flexed as he leaned his weight on his palms against his thighs and started to speak. 

“Do I think you can be insufferable? Yes. After today…” He sighed and shrugged a bit. “But, you’re also extraordinary. With a dull blade and a sharp tongue.”

Rey almost forgot she was mad and nearly smiled. 

“Untrained for too long” He said, voice rising as he nearly walked back the complement  “But I believe it would do you some good to learn properly. Perhaps when that energy is released you’ll not fight me so viciously,” He said subconsciously reaching for his shoulder.  “Or vocally. Perhaps even making you a better guest.” He jabbed.

Her brows raised and she huffed. “Is this some sort of ploy! Some attempt to get me to be a quiet lady? Oh yes, use my energy sparing so that I may be more demure for you? A bit easier to take tea with” She spat, lips curled back in disgust “Well I refuse to be contained sir. My grandfather knew better, and now you should too. Be warned, I am not…

Ren laughed. 

She drew back, mouth shutting in confusion and then a little outrage. “Are you laughing at me?” 

Ren let the last deep wave of hilarity wash over him before he sighed and stood, shirt forgotten. 

He came to her, stopping just inches away. 

Rey stepped back, but he was too quick, she could smell his sweat, his soap, feel the heat of him.. shutting her eyes for a moment she took a breath trying to ignore it.. 

“I am a jovial person Lord Ren but I will not be laughed at in such a way.” She continued but with much less gusto this time. Now when she spoke her words were light and her heart not in them. It was when he was this near, she could not focus on anything but him in the most primal way. 

“My dear lady.” He said so gently that she opened her eyes to look up at him, her throat tight and her heart pounding. “I was not laughing at you. I believe, I’m just amused at the situation I find myself in.”

“Which is?”

“Well, Ive been insulted, my beliefs belittled, physically abused and accused of financial bigotry all within the span of one afternoon and yet I can not ignore the fact that at no time did I feel anything less, than completely awed by you.”

“Oh” She sighed and looked away. 

Ren reached up, his long finger crooking under her chin. He raised her head and with the lightest touch passed his thumb over her bottom lip. “Why must you torment me” He asked  with a wavering smile, his voice strained in that way that clawed at her heart. 

Rey inhaled deeply. She felt a tingling that originated in places she was embarrassed to think of as Ren bent down. His lips, which were much softer than she’d imagined, met hers with a slow building pressure. 

This more than made up for the kiss that almost happened in the garden. She was almost thankful, it seemed the wait made it all the more incredible. 

Ren pulled away just enough to really taste her. His tongue was warm and as skilled as his sword leaving her unable to control the small moans he seemed to pull from her body with his own.  

The muffled sounds were exquisite to them both, if not a little embarrassing for her. No one had ever kissed her well enough to elicit much more than a smile.

As she melted into his arms, Rey relished in the way he used his mouth to calm her. He was so gentle, but how could that be. This same mouth had just been so vile. So completely horrible that she wanted to pull away and curse his name to remind him that she nearly hated him five minutes ago, but instead she slipped her hands onto his bare chest and up over his shoulders. 

Ren took her by the hips and she was quickly reminded of his strength. The very same power that had come at her with rage was now steady and reassuring. He would use those arms to challenge her, and to hold her.  

Arms that now wrapped around her waist until he lifted her up so easily that she broke from the kiss, startled. Her own arms instinctively went around his neck, her fingers lacing through his hair, as soft as the long moor grass, and pressed against the solid base of his skull. She clung to him, but he held her with such confidence she relaxed into a smile, fading into the kiss once more.

He couldn’t help but to match her happiness with his own and smiled against her lips. “This is a better way to settle our differences my Lady.” He mumbled making her chuckle against him. 

Slowly, letting her body settle over his own, he carried her, one arm around the small of her back, the other hand slipping along the length of her thigh to hinge behind her knee. Ren walked her to the piano in the corner and sat her down. 

It all made Rey a little restless. She knew more about finances and sparring than she did this, but she could not persuade herself to stop. After all she was very fast learner. 

Her breath was coming in shallow gasps as he left her lips to kiss her neck and that spot behind her ear. She opened her eyes to look beyond him to the window and through it to the tress blossoming with spring colors. Learning or not, this was moving so fast. 

“Ren” She managed. “Please, stop” She said, leaning away and pushing him from her. “I know it feels as though we do, but we really do not know one another.”

He looked down at the ground, his head on her shoulder for a moment before he rested his weight on his palms on either side of her. 

“We’ve seen the best, and nearly the worst in each other. Neither have convinced us not to pursue this. You must know by now that I wish to know everything about you.”

Her mind raced with possibility and fear and delight. “My Lord, I, don’t know what you mean. Is this a formal declaration?”

He scanned her face, settling on her lovely brown eyes before reaching up to cradle her cheek in his palm. “Is that what you want?’ He asked with intensity. 

Rey opened her eyes. She hadn’t even realized they were closed, but he was so warm… “I think so? I’m not sure. Forgive me but I can not forget all of the things that were said today.”

He sighed, taking his hand away. “I understand. And, for what it’s worth, I am sorry. I just, I’m a man of conviction, and I will not apologize for that. But, my dearest Rey. I am sorry for being such a… brute.”

She gave a little laugh and shook her head only ever so slightly annoyed. “If I need someone to teach me how to wield my sword, then you need someone to teach you patience.”

Brow raised, Ren eyed her up and down. “ Oh and who would you suggest?”

“I can think of a few options,” She said laughing as he tried to quiet her with a kiss. “There's the preacher,” She ducked to the right, too quick for him “He can show you many verses on the matter.” She nearly made it back the other way, but he grabbed her shoulders making her gasp and squeal as he nuzzled her neck. “Oh! There are the village tutors, they are always patient men” Rey’s laughter lowered to a moan as he pulled her close, her legs opening to make room for him. Ren grabbed her face locking eyes with her “My lord grandfather!” She continued stifling a laugh “That’s who! If ever there was a lesson on patience, spending a day with a man who never stops complaining but does it so slowly you nearly fall asleep between the words, now that is the perfect lesson for you my dear” She paused and looked at his parted lips, the urgency overwhelming  “Dear man”

The kiss erupted from them. Hands grabbed and pulled, tongues fought skillfully. If any anger was left between them, it came out now in slow, deep movements that left them breathless. 

Ren’s bare skin felt hot against her hands, the muscles of his back moving in waves as he pulled away to rise above her.

She looked up into his eyes and found them changed. In the garden she thought she saw a gentle man, during their fight she saw a monster, but the truth was not so black and white. He was many things, she could not condemn or pardon him yet. And the light in his eyes ignited a spark in her that promised greatness. 

“Come here, to Alderaan, every day and I will teach you everything I know.” He desperately offered. 

She smiled shaking her head. “ I don’t think that would work. Once a week perhaps?”

He nodded. “Once a week, but then you must come again for tea,”

“She visits his house not once but twice a week!”Rey said imitating the busy bodies of the village.

“Bring your chaperone I don’t care!”

“I have no one my Lord, I told you, we are not wealthy people.”

“Then I will come to you.”

“My grandfather would never allow it.”

His jaw clenched and he looked beyond her for a moment. “He will. Leave that to me."

Did he think himself some sort of magician. “My Lord if you can persuade that man to let you into our home to train me in swordplay then you may come to me as often as you like” She laughed as she raised her self up as straight as she could to kiss him. 

“My lady!” 

“Rose!” Rey pulled away, her lips a deep red and a bit swollen. She peeked around Ren’s large frame.

“Oh Rey! Please!” Rose cried exasperated.

Lord Ren smiled at Rey and hung his head knowing it was over for now. “My lady.” He offered and quickly set her down on the solid ground. Rey brushed the wayward strands of hair from her eyes and bit her lip wondering if he’d let his thigh press into her like that on purpose. She shook it off and ignored the feeling between her legs. 

“Rose.” She said again as composed as she could manage. “Yes, I’m sorry, we should be going.” She said as Mr. Finn walked into the room. He looked from one person to the next sussing the situation fairly quickly. 

“My Lady” He said bowing to Rey before fixing his sites on Ren. “ Lord Ren, we’ve been looking for you.” 

Rey followed her friend to the door, sure to take one last look over her shoulder at Ren, her beautiful sparing mate and now master. 

He smiled for her before turning his attention to Mr. Finn who was loudly whispering his disapproval of his Lords behavior but not wanting to insult the lady. 

“I can not believe what I just saw!” Rose exclaimed in the same soft but outraged voice as Mr. Fiinn. 

She had her arm crooked around Reys’ almost as if she were afraid her friend might run off if she let go. 

The lady Tico led Rey to to the front door picked up their shawls and purses and went to the door. 

“My ladies” The butler said and bowed. 

“Thank you” Rey said with a slow curtsey only to be pulled up and away by Rose. 

“Don’t do that!” She huffed as the women broke out into the fresh spring air. “And please please never do that again!”

“I’m sorry Rose.” Rey couldn’t look her friend in the eye, she’d walked in and saw… and Ren shirtless, with her legs around him, she must have seen more than any unmarried lady ever had. 

“I’ve never seen anything like it. The violence of it, the anger…”

“I don’t know, there is something dark in the man but there is light too,” Rey said dreamily as she trailed behind. 

Rose spun, glaring at her friend. “It is not Ren that I speak of” She said and Rey stopped, instantly hurt by the implication. 

“Rose?”

“Rey. You argued with him, and then you fought him, challenged him! As any man would. I know you are not a conventional woman, and I love that about you, neither am I. But what just happened in there… if this were to ever get out. You’d been shunned from society! We’re lucky Mr. Finn is so  dear a friend to Lord Ren and I am certain he would not want to see his reputation ruined either, but to put either of us in that situation…

She was deeply wounded and had every right to be so. Feeling a profound disappointment in herself, Rey ran to her friend throwing hers arm around her. “Oh forgive me sweet Rose, for you are my dearest, most loving friend! And to know that I caused you any harm would break my heart. I am truly sorry!” She pleaded. 

It took a moment, but true friend she was. Rose rolled her eyes and shook her head before returning the embrace. “Please, don’t let it happen again.”

“No, of course not.” Rey reasoned emphatically. She pulled away smiling at Rose before glancing over to the house. “I don’t know what it is about him but he makes me feel so many things.”

“Possibly the hair, the eyes, the imposing way he stalks about, or perhaps the depth of his voice which seems to find its way into your very soul? She said casually. 

“Rose!” Rey looked back at her friend a little stunned, until she broke into a hearty laugh that made Rey laugh too.

“What? Did you actually believe you’re the only woman in all the village who has’t noticed him .” Rose said, laugh fading to a smile. 

“Well, no…

“He’s quite something. A bit too brooding for my taste though.” She assured Rey with a nudge “Mr. Finn however, well he is just a delight.” She looked back to the house with her own version of a lovelorn sigh. 

Both women stood gazing at the dark stone and vine covered walls of Alderaan manor minds on things that would see them cast out from every dinner party for life. 

Shaking her head in defeat Rose sighed and took Reys' arm. “Shall we come back next week?”

 

 

Chapter Text

“Good. Again!” Lord Ren urged, quickly wiping the sweat from his brow. 

The heat in the forgotten stables of Naboo was stifling. 

Rey grumbled but followed his order and advanced on him with precision and speed. The impact of each strike reverberated through their arms, the sensation familiar as it spurred them on equally. 

Paired with the sound of metal against metal the rhythm they created sang an ancient song that echoed off the crumbling walls around them just as it had the grounds of both Alderaan and Naboo for the past few weeks.  

They’d worked together, slow and awkward at first, until Rey found her strength.

She truly gave it her all today, and her determination showed. 

“Good!” Ren called again over the clatter, his smile wide in spite of his effort to keep her at bay.  

Again and again she advanced and struck until she saw her moment and slipped her sword around his, knocking Rens’ blade aside to push the tip of her weapon to his throat. 

Wide eyed with amazement at her ability and a twinge of fear, his eyes focused on the would be deadly point of the blade, but the feeling was instantly replaced with pride and a fierce desire the moment he looked down the length of steel to her beaming face. 

“Very good.” He concluded with a sincere nod that made her grin. 

“Enough for today?” Rey asked sounding pleased. 

She lowered her sword and turned, walking back towards the makeshift stand where they’d been keeping the dull blades.  

The swagger in her stride made Ren laugh to himself. 

Lady Palpatine was feeling quite accomplished lately, but to be fair, she had beaten him three times today alone. Her confidence was well earned.

But yes, that was indeed enough, any more and he would not be able to show the restraint needed to continue as master and student. 

Her training had proven to be a true test of his own temperament. 

She had been right all those weeks ago. If she needed someone to teach her how to fight, he needed someone to show him patience. 

Between teaching her the movements and technique, he’d learned control by slowing his pace and working with her until she knew each step. Only then could they be put together, and this could not be rushed, nor could he explode in anger when she got it wrong like he was so inclined to do, though a few times he had shouted at her, which Rey more than gave right back. 

Aside from the swordplay, Ren had also learned the patience needed when getting to really know a woman. 

He’d never been the sort to force himself on anyone, but he’d never actually had to wait either. Rich men’s daughters found him dangerous, pretty girls stuck in taverns thought he was an escape, and bored Ladies found him thrilling.  

Rey, was not so easily won over. She’d given in to that first kiss, wanting it just as badly as he, but a true Lady, she insisted they act with some decorum and had not allowed him much more than a few stolen kisses when no one was looking. The resulting want that ached in his body had been yet another lesson in living life as a patient man. 

But damn it all if she wasn’t the most desirable woman. In that simple white cotton dress she wore for training, she became irresistible.

Especially with his imminent departure approaching quickly.  

Joining her at their makeshift stand, he put away his weapon, stealing a glance at the glow of sweat along her bare arms and face, noting the glisten along her collar bones even over the curve of her breasts. He drew a strained breath stepping away. 

Rey casually handed him a towel which he quickly used to rub the filthy, wonderful thoughts from his mind, pressing it against his hot face until he could look at her again. 

“Your best yet my Lady.” He told her, clearing his throat and regaining his composure. She smiled with a light bow in thanks.

“I really felt it today.” She still radiated a distinct feeling of accomplishment. “I’m not certain but, it’s as though the two weeks you were away gave my mind time to connect with my body? And now, I can not remember having ever not known the way.”

He smiled at her adoringly when she turned. 

“Will you come back next week?” She asked sheepishly. 

He sighed a bit and looked out the empty window frame to the pond. It sat on his land but was a quick five minute walk away. Hoping she would accept his change in topic, he nodded towards the water. “It’s a bit hot, don’t you think my Lady?”

She rolled her eyes at his attempt to distract her but nodded as she dabbed the towel along her neck and shoulders. “Oh yes, nearly unbearable. What on earth has gotten into us, sparing for so long” She teased.

Ren eyed her “It’s hard to stop once you find your stride.” He said reaching over to give her cheek a soft rub with the back of his hand. 

“As we have” She said gently looking up at him. 

She really was so beautiful. Her brown eyes could look at him with the terrifying intensity of the sun, or as she did now, the innocence of a lamb. 

He sat on the sill and took her hands “Come with me, for a swim, before I…”

“Before you go.” She finished for him. 

He could not say it, and the silence was thick. Rey pulled free turning her back to walk to the open doorway.

This place was like a dream, a ruin of stone and moss and ivy and she the pale ghost to haunt it. He took a moment to admire her before joining her side. 

“I am sorry my Lady.” He offered knowing she did not want the apology. She wanted him, and he could not deny the need to stay with her, but his work called him away. The First Order required much more attention than he'd been giving it lately.  

Ren had very nearly built an army of like minded men and women with nothing more than his quality as a leader and a little persuasion from the muscle of his most devoted loyalist. 

The violence that happened in dark alleys and behind closed doors was not dignified but he knew what must be done to ensure their continued rise. This most assuredly included him returning to their northern headquarters as often as he could.  

Which meant, he would have to let his Lady down. 

With a bit of a grimace Ren reminded himself of his weeks schedule which had been looming over his head for days.

He was to meet with Hux again. He hated the tight faced upstart but could not deny his dedication and value to the movement.

They were working together on securing one of their men in a position close to the King that could see them set for some time.  It could not be missed. Still, he felt a special sort of anger towards his compatriot for pulling his attentions away so soon after having just come back.

And now, before he left for the cold north and Hux's regrettable company, Ren wanted to give her more than just the memory of him as her instructor.

He wanted to remind Rey that he was the man who loved her, though the words had not been spoken, there were other ways to say it. 

Rey smiled when he slipped his hand around her elbow and gently pulled her out into the grass. 

“What do you think you’re doing?” She asked with a giggle. 

“I want to take you away for a while.”

“And if my grandfather should call?”

“He wont.”

“And if a servant sees? Don’t you worry about your reputation?” She asked only half teasing.

“Do you worry about yours Lady Palpatine?”

She scoffed and gave him a light smack on the shoulder, the very same she’d wounded just a few weeks ago. “The Lady Aaron thinks that we spend our time running naked across the moors. She’s been working very hard to inform our fellow villagers.”

“Doing what?” He asked stopping in his tracks, drawing away from her. “Who?”

Rey laughed, tossing her head back “The Lady Aaron! She has been busy spreading quite a few rather scandalous rumors my dear Lord Ren.”

“I should pay this Lady a visit.” He said, dark eyes narrowing as Rey walked past him.

“Hush,” She said looking up at the sky as she went. “She’s a lonely old woman, let her find some joy through ours in her final days.” She said and turned to him. 

“If we must. But let us at least give her something to truly speak of.” He said and walked up on her in a way that made Rey bite her lip.

She inhaled quickly, nearly intoxicated by his overwhelming size as he swept her up like a bride. 

It made her laugh and she crossed her arms behind his neck. 

He stood holding her for a moment, just enjoying the sight of her eyes level with his own before kissing her.

Walking forward, very sure of his steps, Ren pulled away only when they neared the edge of the pond. 

Setting her down, he stepped on the heel of one tall boot to slide it off, and then the other before leaning over to roll up his breeches. 

Rey followed suit kicking off her own shoes and gathering her dress up between her legs. She walked to the water and sat down on the long grass letting the cool ripples lap at her ankles. 

Squinting against the sun she looked up smiling at him. “It is so peaceful here.” She said tossing a few pebbles. 

He reached down to rub her neck for a moment before sitting beside her. “It is.”

Ren leaned back on his side, propped up on his elbow, enjoying the view of her face from this angle. It was very rare for him to look up at her.

“Do you really need to leave?” She asked leaning back on her flat palms, her toes spread in the cool water. 

Hanging his head for a moment Ren sighed. “I must...And you must not forget me”

Rey rolled her eyes. “Surely you don’t believe that to be a possibility”

“In my absence anything is possible.”

“But not that.” She replied to the water.

“Show me” He said reaching out to turn her face to him. 

“What do you mean?”

“Show me” He said taking her by the chin and bringing her face down to his. 

The kiss was deep, a call back to their first, but this, he would see through to something more. 

When he did pull away, Rey was breathing heavy on her back. 

“Kylo, how can you even suggest I forget this, or you or what we have”  She was stroking his face and playing with his hair. Every touch felt like fire to him. She was the burning heat of his love in flesh form and all he wanted was to be consumed by her… but not yet. That time would come. Until then, he would leave an impression on his dear lady. 

Leaning back to rest his head on his fist,  Ren used the other hand to run his finger along the ups and downs of her profile, lingering a bit on her lips before slipping down, along her neck and to the first hint of the valley between her breast.

With the lightest touch, he traced the soft curves and then slowly, so that she may feel it, he closed his hand around her neck. He was careful but it was enough that Rey looked up at him with wide eyed alarm. “I won’t hurt you,” He said every so slightly tightening “Not unless you ask me to.”

Her response was immediate. She shut her eyes and slowly raised her throat just enough to imply that the pressure was welcome. 

There had been an unspoken understanding between them during their sparring sessions. They took such pleasure in pushing one another, small injuries were had, but something about the pain in it urged them on. He’d even given her backside a slap when she'd tried another dirty trick while training. Her little yelp and the flush in her cheeks had made him nearly throw her over his knee. Now, he wanted to explore it without the burden of a blade in his hand. 

She took a light breath and the sound made him shut his eyes. 

“I would like,” She whispered “For you to do with me as you will, until I say it is enough.”

He opened his eyes and looked down on her in this vulnerable position. She was always so headstrong and determined. It would be interesting to see how she would respond to his hinting at his own natural dominance. 

Letting go of her neck, he slid his hand down over the smooth flat front of her dress to her thighs and slowly began to gather the dress up. 

Rey tensed, as the threat of exposure seemed to frighten her, but she did not say no, and so he went on, inch by inch pulling until her long legs stretched out towards the water. 

He sat up on his side, gently brushing along her bare skin. Up and down, back and forth until she made a little mewling sound that put a fierce strain on his breeches. 

He pushed the dress up just an inch or so more, her plain white under things fluttering a bit in the late spring breeze.

Slowly, he pulled her thighs apart, not so much that she might be shown to him, but enough to hint at what lay beneath her coverings. He admired the sight before returning his attention north.

“Open your mouth” He said, his deep voice resonate. 

She obeyed a bit nervously, and he gripped her chin while pressing the tip of his index finger to her lips until she allowed him to push his way into her mouth. 

Encompassed by her warmth and the wetness he knew was matched in another area, Ren sighed willing himself to stay calm. 

He drew himself up towards her face, pushing in deeper, watching in awe as her eyes searched his. She was breathing heavy with excitement, her mouth reflexively starting to suck gently, making him groan. 

Hard as a stone, he had to pull his wet finger from her mouth. kissing her passionately, he reached down, slipping it between her legs. 

Her gasp was lost against him. 

He did not go too far, just enough to show her that he knew the delight she held there. Light as a feather, he ran his finger up and down her soft skin until he parted those lips as well and felt her slickness match that of his finger. 

She nearly growled in response.

“Look at me.” He said and she hesitantly obliged, turning her head a bit to see him. 

Rey still looked slightly afraid, but he would not cause her real harm.

He shook his head “Don’t look away.”

Rey bore down against the pressure of his movement, moaning again as he raised his finger to find that sweet, swollen spot.

She sighed loudly and shut her eyes. 

“Open them, look at me. Do not look away.” He spoke softly, not a whisper, but with an absent sort of, thoughtless fascination.

Once again she obeyed in spite of the natural reflex to shut her eyes.

Around and around, slowly, he worked, sometimes dipping down to bring up more of her natural lubricant. 

Her hips were rocking gently, her moans fading to quick heavy breaths. He looked down to enjoy the sight of his large hand pressed between her strong thighs, then back up to her face where she waited for him to command her again. 

Instead he said, “I must leave you, but I will come back. And you will wait for me?”

“Yes” she breathed. 

“Because you are mine.”

Rey’s mouth shut as she moaned again, her head lolling to the side as he gently circled his finger. 

“Say it.” He said calmly, working faster now, the pressure more firm. 

“Because I’m yours.” She managed. 

“And I am yours,” He replied lovingly before his eyes went cold “Your Lord and master.”

She whimpered a nod. 

“Say it.” 

She shook her head defiantly and shut her eyes. He was not the only one excited by the tease of control. 

Ren pulled his hand away so abruptly then that she gasped, startled by the loss, only to feel him wrap his fingers around her throat, his grip tighter this time.

“Say it.” He said, his forehead pressed to her temple, his breathing heavy.

She opened her eyes parted her lips and obediently said, "You are mine, my Lord and master." Her voice was as light as air.

He nearly smiled and released her, tossing her skirts back up, quickly finding his place again. 

She cried out in response, one thigh laying open without care. Her eyes fluttering shut.

“Please, I can not take more.” She gasped certain she would die from the pleasure.  

“Yes you can.” He replied, working his arm now.“And I am what?” He asked watching her intently. 

She moaned deeply, back arching. “You are mine. My Lord. My master.” She managed, the mantra as effective as his skilled attention.

“And you will come for me now.” He said gently, with a firm application of precise pressure and simultaneous circling until Rey cried out with her thighs shaking.

The world froze for five glorious seconds. Ren’s own breath matching hers, the ache in his pants horrible as he watched her climax. 

And then it was done. 

She crashed back to the grass, empty as a shell. 

He watched her chest rising and falling in short, shaking breaths until at last she calmed. 

He pulled Rey's dress down to cover her and laid back on the grass, pulling her onto his chest where she stayed until he was nearly certain she’d fallen asleep.But then he felt her small hand reach up to hold his. The very same that had tested her limits. 

“Have you ever had anyone do that to you before?” He asked. 

Rey shot up, her eyes hazy, hair a bit wild. “Lord Ren… Kylo. You can not be serious”

He smiled holding her cheek. “Then I am your first in everything?

“You are.” She said and looked away, shy about it perhaps. “Is it always this way? You… you made me feel.” She paused to find her words “I can not say those things when we're not…”

He laughed and hushed her, pulling her back down to him. “The things that are said when we, well… you must know I see you as a most capable woman. What I said to you then, I mean and I feel, but no one else needs to know.”

“So you won’t make me call you master in front of other people.” She laughed. 

He chuckled and gave her a pat on the back “No, sweet Lady, I will not. But, do not forget what you felt in that moment,” He said in all seriousness. “And that it was me who made you feel it"

She moaned into his shirt feeling that incredible pulsing again and raised up to look at him. “I could never my Lord.” She look away hesitant before meeting his gaze.

“When you come back, I want to feel it again.”

Ren smiled and pulled Rey down to kiss her, already anticipating his return. 

 

**

 

Two days later, Kylo left in the rain, Rey standing at his door, her grandfather by her side.

The two men had formed some strange bond she could not understand but was thankful for none the less. 

She stood in the doorway, just shy of the windy downpour and watched him go until the coach pulled from view down the wooded drive. Her heart ached as much as her body, still recovering from their endless training. 

This would be the longest wait yet. He’d come and gone often over the last two months, but she could feel it in the air, these doors would not open to him for some time. 

“Come in. You’ll catch a deathly chill.” Palpatine said bluntly. “And let Edmunds serve us tea while we wait for it to stop” 

She nodded and went past him surprised by the way he ever so gently touched her back as she passed. 

It was nearly a loving touch and Rey bit down on her lip to stop herself from spinning and throwing her arms around the old man, she so needed the comfort. 

“My Lord, my Lady, tea is served” Edmunds said bowing as they went to the parlor. 

It was a bit strange to be here without Lord Ren, but it would be silly to walk home in this and rude to Ren’s hospitality. 

They sat in comfortable silence, lost in their own thoughts as the sound of rain brought Rey very near to sleep. She sat her cup down on the little table beside the couch and watched the droplets stream down the window panes. Her eyes lazily followed individual drops on their random paths noting how, much like the sporadic moments of life the water seemed so sure on its way until a new unexpected course took it to the left or right. 

One second you’re a quiet, but hopeful girl living a solemn life, the next you’ve become a woman capable of so many things, your path taken off course in the most wonderful way.

The pitter patter was the song of all the beautiful chaos in the world and she smiled as it sang to her. 

Rey sighed and stirred on the soft, silk couch, realizing that she had in fact nodded off. 

Opening her eyes, she looked around to find the room empty and the rain finished. There was blanket over her legs and someone had lit a small fire. 

Groggy, she raised up on her arms and looked about for her grandfather. 

Either he was somewhere in this enormous house or he’d gone home. Rey felt a little worry for him on the two mile journey alone, but it quickly faded when she saw something across the room on Ren’s desk. 

A letter sat, the top half pointing up from the fold, a dark red seal calling to her like a spot of blood on a white rug. 

She lowered her legs and sat for a moment wondering if it had been there before. She could not remember, but still, there it was. 

It felt a little sneaky to be looking through his things, but the letter was just out, in the open. If he didn’t want it seen he should have put it away, she reasoned with herself. 

Rising up, she crossed the room and hovered over the desk for a moment before plucking the paper up to scan it quickly. 

It was a request for him to join someone named General Hux with Friday’s date on it.

Formally written and not very interesting she sat it back down. But something about the look of that seal. The First Order. The name seemed to follow her around like a dark shadow. 

They had not talked of it again after their first argument. Neither had been willing to risk the fight, but Rey had been asking questions here and there in other places. 

Her grandfather called the ones who belonged to the party, good countrymen with strong leadership and said that he was "Excited to see any new developments” but some of the folks in town, the Lords and Sirs of the village did not share his enthusiasm. 

“A group of militant riffraff.” Sir Elsby had said at the Two Suns public house. 

Rey hadn’t even been asking that time, she just overheard him talking to some of the other men. 

Rose said she’d written to Mr. Finn and that he was well, but so busy he was unsure of when he’d be back to visit again. Apparently he had gone up in their ranks, which they seemed to have now, and he would be working with others in the north. 

Rey wasn’t sure what to think or feel as she stared down at the paper. Loving someone with so much passion had proven to be quite consuming, she was not sure she could make room for this as well. 

“Snooping are we?”

“Grandfather!” She jumped looking up “I wasn’t, I just... this letter was here and I’ve seen the seal before. On your desk I believe. It’s from the First Order?”

He nodded and joined her. “Yes, Rey. Your Ren seems to be making quite a name for himself.” He said looking at her curiously. 

She turned away, face awash with worry. “ I just don’t know that this group can be trusted. And he's a good man grandfather I know it.” She said in an attempt to convince herself more so than him. 

“Oh, to be sure of it.” Palpatine said, his craggy voice heavy with mockery “And good men are capable of doing a great many things. Things that have lasting effects on many people.”

“You think he’s ranked so high?” She asked eyeing him. 

Palpatine shrugged “I think he’s a natural leader, and you should be prepared to see him less, a movement needs its momentum.”

His words stung her heart. She nearly sat in Ren’s chair, but steadied herself on the desk. “I can not believe he would leave me, not after…"  She glanced up and looked away before he could read her mind. “He’ll come back of course, I just worry that this group is much more than I’ve allowed myself to believe. ”

“You are still a child. A girl trying to fit into a world too grand for you.” Palpatine said looking deep into her eyes. 

A sudden chill gripped her.

The old man didn’t look so very old just then, and for an instant she could see the sort of man he must have been once, a long time ago. And he was neither kind, nor good. 

“Mark my words young woman. There are changes coming. You would be wise to keep him close. But if you can not accept the change, then let him go.”

“What does that mean?” She asked not understanding at all. 

He smiled at her, but there was no feeling in it. “You shall see.” He said and started to walk away leaving Rey to her confusion. 

“Come, let’s be off. This home is too, large for my taste” He said shaking his head in disapproval as he went. 

Leary but without choice, she followed her grandfather to the door. 

Not another word was said about it, but Rey could not shake the feeling that things were happening around her she’d never taken the time to notice before. She would have to change that and soon.

 

**

 

Days quickly became weeks and no word came. Rey hadn’t expected a letter every day, but nothing at all was surprising and though her pride would not allow her to say so, it hurt a great deal. 

At first she’d been sad and long faced as she went about her daily tasks, and then angry, refusing to speak his name or respond when friends asked after him. 

Secretly she hated that he’d touched her and made her body respond in that way, only to leave her without a thought.

And the fact that she felt the most glorious sensations ripple through her body when she thought back to the pond made her furious, and then desperate to feel it again, until she found herself alone in bed, touching the same place, just as he had. 

She’d discovered this incredible spot hidden within her own body some time ago, and it always felt good, but now, she had something to think of. 

She'd remember the way it felt, when he tightened his grip around her neck, and the sight of his arm, long muscles moving as his fingers played. She would mimic those movements until the building pressure began, followed by the sweetest wave of numbing release. 

And then she would lie in the dark and damn him for it all. 

 

*

In time, Rey resigned herself to the simple fact that even though she’d promised not to forget, he had all but erased her from his mind, why else would he go so long without writing. 

She felt the sting of rejection each morning when she remembered, and the hollow pain seemed to follow her throughout the day, but, determined not to let it define her, Rey decided to move on to other things.

Time with Rose, teas with friends, she would start attending the events she’d been invited to instead of sitting alone like the spinster she was not. 

He was after all, just a man and she was very much a young woman with a life to live with or without him. 

Winning over the favor of the great houses after having gone ignored by them for so long, was a fulfilling distraction. The pursuit would see actual benefit unlike the waste of time loving Ren had proven to be. 

 That being said, rumors of her romance with the Lord had spread quickly, before word of their unspoken estrangement could be known. So long as folks thought she might possibly become the Lady of Alderaan, making her the wealthiest woman across this land, she would use it to her advantage. 

At one lovely dinner, she sat next to the Duke of Bespin and thrilled him with her quick wit and natural humor.

A tea with the Lady Secura surprised her in it’s success. Rey was even able to smooth over an old grievance between the Lady’s father, and Palpatine.

Feeling accomplished and ready to start setting her sights on advancing their sum by speaking to the bank about investments, the letter she finally did receive from Lord Ren was unexpected. Not only because she’d given up on ever hearing from him, but because of its content.  

 

My Lady Palpatine

Forgive me for my prolonged absence. I did not realize my leadership would be so desperately needed, nor did I expect to find matters moving so quickly here.  

As you know my duty is to the First Order. I must remain where I am needed most. That being said, I will not leave you without a proper instructor and so I am sending someone to take my place in your lessons. I hope you find him satisfactory. 

I must also, with a heavy heart inform you that in light of my responsibilities within the Order, I can not continue to keep you. 

I must free you from any attachment you may have to me unspoken or otherwise. And I must be free to continue in my pursuits.  

 

Sincerely, 

Lord Kylo Ren

 

The letter made no sense, not for it to have been written by the man she knew. 

Ren was many things and she had thought one of them to be kind and the other, honest.

To be so bluntly set aside felt like, a lie. But here were his words, written in his own hand. 

Perhaps it was the distance, she wondered. Perhaps it was the pressure of his work. 

Or perhaps he had simply never felt for her what she’d been so certain of before. 

No matter the reason, he’d said it and with him nearly two days journey away, she could not simply cross the moors and go to him demanding an answer. 

He was gone, and that was it. 

And she felt the wave of anger and betrayal washing over her, rising like the great swell of a storm.

Foolish, silly girl, she scolded herself again and again as she sat holding the letter, too stunned to move. 

He’d seduced her with dark ways that seemed exciting but now she saw were no more than tricks. 

With a rage in her heart, she finally stood and went to the little fire kept for her grandfather, even in summer and burned the letter.

As the flames consumed the paper, she felt as though the smoke was choking her. The room felt very small and shut in. 

Taking a pained breath, Rey fled from the sight of the blackened page and made her way through the house to the back door. 

She would find refuge in the magical world of the stables. The thought was a comfort as she stomped across the lawn desperately holding in her tears.

Once there, she went directly to the corner and yanked her sword from the stand.

She slashed at the straw man Soames had made for her, again and again.

Her aggression rose as her sounds of attack became shouts that morphed into cries.

She felt for a moment very much like Ren with his violent temper, but she pushed that feeling aside because the thought of him made her want to die and death was not an option.  

“My lady, supper is ready” Dear old Soames said from the doorway. 

Rey looked up from her spot on the floor.  At some point during her outburst, she’d finally lost her strength and dropped the sword stumbling to the ground.

All she could do was cry. She cried for the hurt and embarrassment of having ever loved him at all. Him, with his ridiculous opinions and sad eyes.

He had left such a scar on her heart.

“Thank you” She managed and wiped her face with the back of her hand. And then she thought of the fact that Soames had not come to find her for supper since she was a little girl.

Looking up, she watched as he came near, stopping a few inches away. Silently, he reached one large old hand down to her. 

He knew, he understood, and the dear old thing loved her like a daughter. He was hurting too. 

She graciously accepted his hand, and let him help her to her feet. 

Wiping her eyes, Rey looked over her shoulder at the once romantic world she’d created with Ren here. It was beautiful, but like them, broken and ruined. 

It was over and so was her love for this place. 

 

**

 

3 MONTHS LATER  

 

Sitting at her desk, Rey’s lips twitched with a smile. She would finally write to him. After so long, she felt as though she was able to respond in a way befitting his own letter. 

 

Lord Ren,

I hope you are well. 

It has taken me some time to find the words to say to you, because as I’m sure you must know, I felt some hurt. But, I am quite recovered. 

As you said, we must do what is best for ourselves, especially in these strange times. 

I hear more and more of your beloved Order and though I don’t see it growing into much, it seems to bring you some happiness which I’m sure is a welcome sensation. 

I wish you good luck in your journey, and I thank you for sending Mr. Aftab Akbar to me. He is an exceptional teacher and has shown me many things.

While I had hoped to speak with you face to face, perhaps it is better for me to say it this way,  I hope you are happy with your choices. And I hope you find what is it you are looking for. 

 

Regards,

Lady Rey Palpatine

 

**

 

Kylo Ren sat the letter down, rubbing his finger to his lips in thought. 

Three months it had taken her to reply. Either she never cared at all or he’d underestimated the pain he’d caused. 

Sitting forward, he rubbed the bridge of his nose and sighed. 

Writing to her had nearly broken him, her response was having the same effect. It wasn’t because he didn’t love her. Rey was a tether to a world that simply did not fit in with this one. He could not be tied to frivolous days of playing with swords and sun drenched luncheons.

He was second only to Hux. He had his men to lead, and a ruling power to overthrow. 

True, he’d put off writing to her for too long, but as always his mentor had guided him, and he’d done what needed to be done. He had, rather foolishly thought she would perhaps understand his reasoning, possibly even saying that she still cared for him. 

That was selfish of course, but, he had hoped. 

Glancing at the letter again his eyes focused on the last part. 

He’d been so preoccupied with her dismissal, that it was only now sinking in. 

“Who is Aftab Akbar?” Ren asked looking up across the room. 

His assistant sat at his small desk busy with what, who knew. 

The man looked up, his young face fearful, his eyes round with worry that he would be blamed for something he knew nothing about. “Forgive me my Lord, I don’t believe I know the name”

Ren eyed him for a moment before standing. 

“Some time ago, I gave you a letter, in it was an invitation to a man named Sabine. He is a sword master. Sabine is not where he should be and in his place is a man named Aftab Akbar.Who is he?” He asked in that stunted way that threatened without threat. 

“Forgive me my Lord, I truly do not know.” 

“Ritter,” He addressed the man. “Did you deliver the letter to the post as I told you to?”

Ren rounding his desk. 

Ritter nodded. 

He was a weak man but he was good at his job. Ren believed him, but could not understand how this could have happened. 

Back and forth he paced occasionally looking over at the assistant as though the answer might still lie with him.

And then it came to him suddenly.

In a rage Ren realized what had been done. 

His frustrated sigh terrified poor Ritter who protectively covered his head, though Ren paid him no mind. 

He threw open the door of his office and went charging down the hall, passing other workers who all flung themselves against the walls to make room for the man. 

Ren didn’t even notice them. Instead he set his sites on the door at the end of the long dim corridor.

The headquarters of the First Order were far up north where cold and grey were the only feeling and color to be seen. It suited him just fine. 

The incredible, but run down estate had been procured though some underhanded dealings, and by the time he’d arrived, everything looked as sleek and shining as any spartan palace might. 

And down here, at the end of the hall was the room where Hux had made his office. 

Without knocking Ren threw the door open. 

Hux jumped in his seat, his already tightly drawn face outraged instantly. 

“Ren! What is this!” He demanded. 

“What did you do?” He demanded slamming a fist on the well organized desk.

Sighing, Hux sat back and narrowed his pale green eyes. “What?” He was no in the mood to entertain Ren's hysterics today. 

“You intercepted my letter home. You sent her someone else.”

Hux seemed to be thinking, but truly looked confused. “I can admit to many deeds, but not the ones I know nothing of. Please, leave my office.”

Ren straightened still trying to make sense of it. If not him, then perhaps… but no. Why would he care?

After a moment, Ren glanced at Hux and took a sharp inhale. “I’ve made a mistake” He said without sign of remorse. 

“Yes, well, thank you for stopping by” Hux mumbled as Ren turned and left the room, chaos in his wake, as he went storming down the hall.

“I really do hate that man,” Hux mumbled, shaking his head as he returned to his papers. 

 

**

 

“Come in Lord Ren.”

Kylo went past the guards stationed outside the sprawling office. 

“My Lord.” He said and bowed deeply. 

“I did not send for you, what brings you to me?” The impossibly deep voice rumbled across the cold room.

Ren looked up passed the grey stone walls and floor, ignoring the red banners with the First Order sigil, to the wide desk and black leather chair where the Supreme Leader sat. 

Lord Snoke was the sort who could draw truth from a dishonest man, and set fear into a brave one. He would strike down any who stood in his way simply for the joy it brought him. 

Ren had long admired and hated him, and now felt a bit foolish coming to ask after something so trivial, but it wasn’t really. It mattered. She did still matter. 

“Forgive me my Lord, I have a question.” He said showing no sign of intimidation as so many often did. 

“Ask it.” Snoke said patiently. 

Ren analyzed him for a moment.

The two of them could look one another in the eye, easily, which wasn’t common. Most men looked up to Ren, but he stood equal in size with his master.

They seemed to share a power over others between them, power that one pitied, while the other envied.

To wield such force was dangerous and they both knew it. This was their deepest connection. 

Snoke was waiting, his dark eyes peering out across the long room right into Kylo’s. Those eyes could drive a person to madness.

He was difficult to look at, even for a man who had known him for as long as Ren had. 

He seemed somehow ancient but still strong and capable. And he kept his hair shaved to display that brutal war wound which ran from his head to his mouth.

Kylo knew he liked the way it made others uncomfortable. The way it twisted the mans face drawing it in along the cheek to his mouth, made too small by the scar tissue. It was most memorable.

“There are only so many who have access to my personal affairs.” Ren finally said.  “I’ve received one denial in this matter, and I believe him, that leaves only you.”

“What are you asking ”

Ren stood up straighter refusing to feel as though his concern was not valid. “I sent for a teacher, for someone back in the village where my estate is located. The one I sent for is not the one that came. Did you do this?” He asked. 

Snoke leaned forward a bit, the silence deafening and endless until at last he sat back drawing a nasally breath. “You think I interfered with this matter?”:

“I do.” Ren said, his deep voice thin but he spoke with confidence.

“And why would I do that?” He asked. 

“I don’t know my Lord, and I honestly do not care, however I will not have my personal life controlled by anyone. Not even you.” He stated.

Snoke blinked at his pupil for a moment before rising. 

He crossed the room slowly but with his usual grace as he neared. His long coat swaying as he came until finally he reached Ren. 

“I see, such greatness in you young Lord.” He said clapping a large hand around the back of Ren’s neck. “Greatness that can not be distracted.” His hand was cold, like the clamp of a vice. 

“So it was you.” Ren determined. 

“It was,” Snoke admitted with a nod. “She will have forgotten you by now, with the letter and someone else to pay attention to her, the girl will have moved on, and now so can you,”

“She is not a distraction.” Ren insisted, though he knew whatever he felt for her had certainly made him doubt his actions at times. 

“Isn’t she.” Snoke said with a tight, pained smile. “I will not speak of this further Ren” He said quickly removing his grip. “Your dedication is to this Order, and this Order alone. She may be the granddaughter of Sheev Palpatine, but that does not mean she shares our vision.” He started to walk away but stoped and turned, looking over his shoulder. “You realize there are many women in the village here. Use them if you want, call them by her name until you’ve fucked them all and can get back to doing what it is you do best.”

Ren was breathing too hard, his head down to hide his clenched jaw, though his fists gave him away. “Which is?” He asked between his teeth. 

Snoke stopped and turned fully, looking back at the man. “Whatever I say.”

He shut his eyes tight wanting to lash out, but he shook the feeling aside and stood fast.

“Now, choose another woman,” Snoke said as though it were so simple, “And choose one who understands what must be.”

Ren watched him walk until he sat back down at his desk.

“Yes, my Lord.” He said and bowed before turning away, raging past the guards. 

*

One of the men stationed outside Rens office looked up at the two suited men approaching.

They  looked as though they had a scheduled meeting with Ren, but both halted at the sound of what seemed to be the man’s furious cries paired violently with the sound of destruction 

The guard looked at the two of them and shook his head no. 

Wide eyed both men quickly retreated back down the hall their meeting abandoned.

 

 **

 

Rey couldn’t stop laughing. She struggled to catch her breath as she leaned over until the grass tickled her face. 

Aftab laughed too enjoying the sound of her voice, pleased he could bring her to such hysterics. 

“You must stop please!” She managed waving her hand for him to end the story. 

“But I haven’t even told you about milking the thala-sirens!” He insisted. 

Rey didn’t even know what that was but just the sound of it made her fall back onto the grass, arms tight around her aching stomach as she cackled.

She had not laughed this hard in a very long time. “Oh my dear Mr. Akbar, you must stop. I am begging you! As your student!”

He grinned and gave her leg a friendly pat. “Alright, alright, another time perhaps.”He said and stood. 

Exhausted Rey followed, brushing grass and dirt from her dress before inhaling and exhaling deeply to calm herself. 

“May I ask my Lady?” Akbar started as they went to gather their things. “Why is it that you train? I’m certain I’m not the first to point out how rare it is. And for the payment to come from your absent neighbor…”

So he’d figured it out then. Rey stiffened at the implication and brushed the hair from her eyes.

“I used to as a girl because my grandfather didn’t know what to do with me and because I was good. I do it now because I wouldn’t know what else to do with myself. I love it, its as much a part of me as my name. As for the payment…. I’d prefer not to speak of it. If you don’t mind.”

His kind face dropped a bit as he understood things were clearly complicated.

“Well, I am glad for it. Training with you has been a great joy in my life.” He said and she smiled kindly if not a little hesitant. 

He was looking at her just a touch too long. Rey quickly picked up her swords and started the walk back only to have him pull the items from her arms. 

“Allow me my Lady.” He quickly offered.

Her lips pressed together as she held back protest and nodded. “Thank you Mr. Akbar.”

They went up to the house where he helped her put everything back in the little shed, just outside the kitchen. 

“Shall we sit outside during our breathing?” He asked.

Rey looked up at the sky.

The crisp days of Autumn were upon them, and with them came pale blue skies and golden leaves.

She adored the season and relished in every moment spent in the warm sun.

The chilly breeze touched her skin, still warm from training, and with a nod she led them, sitting away from the shade of the house in a nice thick band of sunlight. 

Mr. Akbar sat opposite her, crossing his legs as he’d shown her to do. 

They both closed their eyes and began to take deep, slow, breaths. 

“We release the energy within, to allow the intake of the world around us.” He said with a soothing, even tone. 

Rey had become quite skilled at this portion of her lessons. 

When Mr. Akbar first came, she wasn’t so sure that sitting and breathing and “opening her mind” would do much of anything, but over the weeks, it really had created a deeper connection for her, to everything and everyone. And when they finished their meditations, she felt as though something that had been asleep within her had finally come to guide her though life, and it’s many challenges. 

However, her grandfather knew nothing about it. She had a very strong feeling that he would not have allowed it, and so she insisted they only meditate out of his sight. He was such a cantankerous old thing, something new, like an opening of the third eye, might be seen as dangerous.  

The secret ending of their lessons had been perfectly safe, until today. 

“Stop that!” Palpatine shouted from the servants door. 

Rey felt the world spin and lurch as she opened her eyes, the feeling was very much like falling from a high perch. 

“My lady!” Mr. Akbar grabbed her by the arms to steady her.

“‘I’m alright.” She insisted and looked back to Palpatine. “Grandfather, please, it’s alright. It’s just a breathing exercise.”  This was strange indeed. He never came down through the servants entrance, she hadn't even been sure he knew where it was. 

“I said stop!” He shouted and she jumped back.

She’d never seen him this way before. It was as though some fear consumed him and enraged him and she felt both afraid and guilty for having upset him so, but damn him for ruining it. She didn't have much, would he take this too?  

“I would never do anything to cause the Lady harm!” Akbar insisted following her as she rose and went to the man.  

“Get out!” Palpatine shouted. 

“Enough!” She demanded “Mr. Akbar is my instructor and a good friend! You will not speak to him this way!”

“This is my house, and you are my granddaughter. And you,” He shoved a crooked white finger in the man’s face. “Leave!”

Offended, but not so badly that he could not square his shoulders and look down at the Lord, Akbar cleared his throat and bowed to Rey. 

“I will take my leave today, but please, if you need me again my Lady, do not hesitate to call.”

“You would dare speak to her that way in front of me!” Palpatine shouted raising his arms, hidden by the heavy cowl he wore. 

Rey’s heart was pounding as she nodded to Akbar, trying to show that she still cared before letting him go. 

Once alone, she turned on the old man.

“How could you!” She screamed. “He is my friend! You have insulted him deeply grandfather!”

“I don’t care about that mans feelings! Now go into the house!”

“I’m not a child!” She shouted going through the door. “I am a woman and you must show me some respect. Some love!” She said before she could stop herself. 

Once inside the empty kitchens she waited and braced for what she knew would come. 

“Love?” He said as though the word were a foreign language “Love is this house, love is that food, and those people who make and bring it to you! Love is not putting an end to your ridiculous behavior sooner.”

“What do you mean?: She asked turning.

“Sparring with Ren was one thing. He is a man of wealth and consequence. This… thing. He is nothing, no one. You will not continue.”

“Ren pays him to train me,” She said defiantly, as though this might stop him.

Palpatine nodded. “Yes, wealthy and important does not make him smart. He does it to keep you close, though he told you he does not want you. No man would do such things for a woman he doesn’t want in his life.”

Rey leaned back on the high butcher block. She hadn’t allowed herself to consider Ren as anything more than a ghost from her past now with one somewhat bizarre connection. Perhaps this awful man was right and Ren did love her still, but no. It mattered not. He was up north with his men, and she was here, alone with this one. 

“You’re detestable.” She said shaking her head. “I Believe I might actually have enough room in my heart to hate you both.” Her broken voice was soft as she turned, leaving her grandfather alone in the kitchens. 

*

“Lord Ren. Come back to bed.”

Kylo stood looking out the window of the small room he kept in the northern village.

The snowfall was fresh and pure white, sparkling under the pale moon.

The sky was a brighter blue at midnight than he’d ever seen in the south and something about it made him feel alive which was welcome after the dark haze he’d been in for the last few weeks. 

Looking over his shoulder, his brow furrowed he studied the girl laying in the bed. 

She was beautiful and tall, with yellow hair and green eyes. Her husky voice deeply accented by this wild northern land. 

He’d had her before, and too many times tonight. He should be exhausted but the air here filled him with a vitality he wished to take with him when he did eventually return to the estate, just to settle his affairs of course.  

Thoughts of Alderaan threatened to change his mood, but he brushed the them aside and went to her again. 

“Will you come back to the village again soon? I do so enjoy your visits” She asked with a sly smile. 

Ren lay on his back beside her, their naked bodies pressed together. He looked up at the dim ceiling. “I’m not the sort for, visits.” He said. 

She snickered and shook her head. “Not even me?” Her long thin fingers traced lines down his torso to the thin skin of his hip and thigh. 

She nearly tempted him to pull her on top of him again, but he couldn’t.

He blamed Alderaan. Because Alderaan was her and thoughts of her ruined any moment shared with another woman, though this one had been the only girl who’d been invited back. 

“Your castle isn’t so far that you can’t come to me more often.”

“It’s not a castle.” He said annoyed. 

“I’m not talking about the base” She said looking into his eyes, waiting. 

Ren glanced and her and then away again.

“You know the south is no place for you my Lord. You’ll be back, you must, you’re too needed up here.” She encouraged.

“I have things to settle."

“Things? You mean her?”

Kylo shot the girl a look that made her sit back a bit but not much. She was after all a generals daughter, all she’d known were the fierce looks of angry men.  

“Do not speak to me of things you know nothing about, Sylvia”

“You’re right.” She said leaning towards him again and planted little kisses on his chest. “I know nothing of it,” Her words muffled. “But I know a broken heart when I see one.”

Ren turned his face from her, sickened by her words. He was not one for showing vulnerability, or so he thought. 

“It’s alright, we all have that one.” She said and sat up. 

He watched her rise and crawl over him, leaving the bed. She padded across the wooden floor, her elegant curves hypnotic as she went.

Reaching into her jacket that hung on the door hook she pulled an already rolled cigarette from it. 

Ren watched her light it with a match, her movement slow and efficient, before she walked over to the window. 

Sylvia raised the pane, letting the cold cut through the fire warmed space like a knife, and blew the smoke out in a steady stream. 

She leaned her arms on the windowsill,  resting her weight on one foot, hooking the other around her calf which made her hip jut out in the most appealing way. She rocked her hips side to side, just a bit, as she blew another stream of cigarette smoke out the window, knowing he would come to her soon. 

And he did because he wanted to keep the thoughts of Alderaan at bay, and because he did not belong to anyone anymore, which meant he could have her all he wanted. 

No harm could be done, he thought coming up behind her and smoothing his hands over the soft curve of her backside. Ren groaned a bit, the touch of her skin on his was electric. 

She was an extraordinary woman. The headstrong daughter of a general, she had been making a name for herself in their propaganda department. And Ren had been aware of her for a while, mostly because she made no secret of her intentions with him. 

She’d worn him down quickly once thoughts of his past and the feelings that went with them were pushed down deep. When at last he added Rey to the dark pool of hurt that plagued his heart, he opened his mind to the idea of other women who he could never love, but could at least enjoy.

Her laugh was low and sultry as he grabbed her hips and guided himself to slide into her quickly.

This was the third time since they’d come to his apartment, the one he kept when the base was too much, when Hux bothered him or Snoke’s very existence felt stifling, or, when he needed to fuck a woman and forget that he’d ever loved one. 

Ren sighed as the sensation went tingling through his limbs. She was hot around him and he groaned as he started to move. 

She tossed the cigarette out into the snow and gripped the windowsill, her head out in the cold, her body on fire in the heat of the room. 

Laughing at first, she could only moan and cry out as his movement became short violent thrusts that left her gasping. She looked back over her shoulder, her face contorting each time he jerked forward. 

He watched her face. She did not say stop, and he would not until he was finished with her. 

Ren’s hand slammed against the wall as he came, again and again he pulsed until his muscles relaxed and he pulled away. 

Sylvia went to the floor, her body shaking, her blonde hair covering her face.

He left her and collapsed in the chair by the fire, and lay there watching her, waiting for her to move. 

Just as he started to worry he’d done some damage, Sylvia reached up and brushed the hair away. 

Relieved, Ren shut his eyes.

“Who was I just then?” She asked. Her voice raspy now. 

“What?” He asked eyes still closed. 

“Who was it you fucked so cruelly? Couldn’t have been me, I never did anything wrong to you.” She said, her thick northern accent making her words hard to understand sometimes

Ren opened his eyes and looked her up and down. She was sitting on her side and he saw the red marks that his grasp had left on her hips. Those would be bruises by tomorrow.

He grimaced and sat up ready to say something when she held up a hand. 

“No no, I know you, I know what your story is, and I still come when you call, even when you don’t.” She said flashing a smile “Just don’t forget, I’m not the one you left behind.”

“I never left her.” I He said defensively. 

“Well, this surely isn’t the south” She teased.

He sighed and sat back. “I did what had to be done.”

“You did what they told you to do my dearest.”

His eyes narrowed on her. 

“Don’t look at me like that, I never told you to do anything but fuck me harder. Maybe not so fierce as you just did, but still…” She said and laughed a little. 

She didn’t lie. “If you still feel so strongly then go back, she’ll take you.”

Ren laughed this off. Rey would never look at him again, not after all this time, nearly a year. And certainly not after Sylvia. She would turn her nose up at him and walk the other way, as she probably should. 

“No,” He said shaking his head against the back of the chair. 

Sylvia squinted in the dark nearly stunned to find him looking so wounded.

“It’s done” He said, his gaze wandering out the open window to that dark blue sky.

Fighting it as best he could, Ren focused on the moon through the wavering line of tears that blurred his vision until they cleared and he felt no danger of releasing Rey from the dark pool of regret he’d resigned her to. 

 

**

 

 

8 months later

“Oh my dear, you surely can’t know what all of that means?” Lady Arlo said truly surprised as she fanned herself. 

Rey smiled politely and nodded. “Actually, I do, every bit of it.”

Lady Arlo, a pretty, somewhat vapid thing shook her head, her thin pink lips pursed. “I simply can not understand figures nor the need to know such complicated equations.” She said and brushed the previous conversation about managing the finances of a household away. 

Lady Holdo rejoined her table, smiling sympathetically at her guest, Lady Rey. “No” she said in her soft voice “It’s not for everyone, but Lady Palpatine should be admired for her skill with finances and commended for her managing of the estate. It is a great undertaking, but one I’m sure your grandfather appreciates.”

Rey sipped her tea and nodded. “I think, in the end, perhaps he does.”

“Well,” Lady Arlo continued, her shrill voice rising above the others. “ I should think you will be most glad when your Lord Ren returns, perhaps things will progress and you can leave this business up to him.”

Rey froze, her fingers tight on the delicate tea cup. She hadn’t bothered to stop the rumors of their ending, but perhaps because she was so liked in the village it was slow to spread. No one wanted to see her humiliated. 

Ever loyal, Lady Rose glanced at her friend, Lady Holdo and finally Arlo. She raised her chin and addressed them “When and if Lord Ren and Lady Rey come to an understanding, I believe it would be best if she continue in her own pursuits as I think it should be. If she were Palpatines grandson would it not be so? She has the knowledge and skill, as Lady Holdo said, it is most admirable.”

Rey set the cup down and flashed a little smile at Rose. 

Lady Arlo continued on about how wonderful her own betrothed was with the managing of his estate, which became a conversation about weddings in the summer versus spring, and that’s when Rey stopped listening. 

“Forgive me, I just need some air.” She said to Lady Holdo who excused her. 

Out on the balcony, Rey inhaled deeply.

It was June and the air was still with the sort of heat perfect for sleeping, or swimming. Neither of which she would be able to do today, but she was thankful for a lovely afternoon with friends, no matter how bothersome they could be. 

“You’re doing well.” Lady Holdo said joining her. 

Rey looked up and the slender beauty that was Amilyn Holdo. She was a soft spoken woman, with the sort of commanding presence Rey aspired to emulate. 

Lady Holdo gave her a knowing smile and touched the girls cheek with the gentleness of a mother. “The pain will stop eventually.” She said, and Rey looked away afraid that Holdo’s kindness would bring on tears she refused to cry. 

“I will say, I am surprised you didn’t go to him. Or you’ve just made no mention of it?” She asked leaning over a bit to look down at Rey’s face. 

Rey gave a resigned sigh and shook her head. “I don’t think I’d like the north much.”

Holdo blinked and looked out to her gardens, the rushing water of the fountains relaxing, the song birds calming. “No my dear I meant here” She said. 

Rey looked up at her. “He wrote to me weeks after he’d gone, not before he left.”

Lady Holdo’s face went from sympathetic to upset. “Oh, my dear I’m sorry, I thought you knew,”

“Knew what?” Rey asked feeling her body tingle with anticipation. 

“Lord Ren returned last week. He was just here to speak with my husband but two days ago. I did not see him myself, but Lord Holdo spoke of it briefly.”

Rey’s hand gripped the wide marble bannister. She could only shake her head in disbelief as she looked out at the bright green land. 

How could she not have known? He must have come back under the cover of night and had clearly been avoiding the path when he was sure she would take it. 

“Are you alright?” The Lady asked, worried over Rey’s pale face and wide eyes. 

“Yes” Rey managed, though she felt anything but. 

He’d come back without a word said or sent… but, wasn’t that as it should be. 

They had after all ended their relationship nearly year ago.

It was over, and he now he treated her as a man with no attachment might, but the unbearable disappointment was threatening to crush her. 

“No, of course you’re not.” Holdo said with a frown as she put her arm around Rey. She sighed and held the girl close. “Men don’t know what it is they do to us when they act so recklessly. But that is why you must be strong, and push him aside now. You are young, intelligent, and beautiful. You will find love again, and with someone a little less… well, less.” She said leaning closer, her nose scrunching up with her playful smile. 

A quick laugh escaped Rey in a rush, it felt like a release of the many emotions swelling up inside her. 

“I heard Mr. Akbar’s son, Aftab had been calling on you a bit.”

Rey nodded “My grandfather did not approve.” Her voice broke as she spoke, but she did feel a little of the pressure lifting. Thinking of dear Aftab reminded her that there were other men of course. 

It was just so hard to see them through the haze. 

“Well, there will be others. And you have us.”

Rey leaned into the woman just a touch more, wishing she could lay her head on her chest and cry. Lady Holdo was so kind and good, she really felt like the mother Rey could not remember. 

“I think it might be time to switch to the sherry.” Lady Holdo whispered and Rey laughed genuinely now as she was turned and led back inside. 

*

After an afternoon of too much laughter and a little too much wine, Rey felt strong again.

She went on through the next few days feeling energized, especially after learning of some new developments from a friend at the Two Suns Tavern. 

He was a scruffy sort, one a Lady should not be seen with, but given her love of sneaking into the public house though the side door, she didn’t see the harm in enjoying the company of the other patrons. 

Mr. Dameron was handsome, funny and exciting in the ways Ren was not capable of being. 

Rey asked him to come to lunch at her estate, only to have him turn her down in the most wonderful way.

Somehow when he said he wasn’t one for fancy sandwiches and tasteless tea, she didn’t mind. He told her instead he liked sitting with her here, in a real place, in the real world surrounded by real people. 

He also mentioned some new findings in his travels. One in particular being the discovery of a new mineral said to have unimaginable capabilities. 

With a nose for this sort of thing, as she’d proven again and again, Rey set out to find more information, and was eventually convinced that she should indeed procure a loan and invest before it was too late. 

Simple as this should have been, being an unwed woman of twenty proved to be her biggest hurdle. In a world ruled by men, it seemed one in particular would not give her the chance to present her findings, he would not even let her through the door. Such was the obstacle known as Mr. Carson, bank manager and provider of loans.

It wasn’t so much the making of appointments, she’d had one nearly every day for a week, it was the actual meeting in person that had proven to be impossible. 

He would always have some reason for not being available. Illness, mistaken time, another more important meeting. Always something to keep her from his office. 

At first she’d believed him, but when she finally went and sat in the lobby for nearly two hours, she noticed that all of the men who came to call were being admitted, welcome even. She being a young self reliant woman, would see no such kindness.

And so, she would use her training now. 

Her ability to think and see a few steps ahead just might help break down that damned door.

*

The smoke was thick, Reys lungs burned the moment she stepped into the entry hall of the gentleman’s club. 

“You can not go in past the parlor my Lady” The footman whispered loudly to her, frantic eyes darting back and forth. 

“Yes I know, but please, I believe a Mr. Carson is here. The manager of the bank? I wish to speak with him, and this seems to be the only place I can do so.”

“You must wait here, I’ll go and see to it.” 

He bowed and trotted off terrified by the idea of a woman standing within these most sacred walls of their mens only club.  

Lady Rey did not wish to be here anymore than they wished to have her, she would make this as quick and painless as possible.

Peeking around the marble wall, she spotted the footman who was gesturing wildly with what looked to be the head butler. 

It became clear that they were not going to admit her. She had to take the risk. 

It wasn’t as though a woman had never set foot here before, but each time had been scandalous and spoken of for months after. 

 Rey hadn’t had a proper scandal since Lady Aaron’s accusations of her naked tromps across the moor. 

She bit her lip and took a quick breath. 

Light on her feet and silent as a whisper, she took to the stair well, up faster than the footman could turn to see her go. 

Once upstairs, she rushed past the curious men who eyed her as though they’d never seen woman before, and went to the library rooms. 

She’d had it on good faith that Mr. Carson liked bourbon and a pipe in this room after lunch, and so she went, assuming it wouldn’t be hard to find him. 

Rey slipped into the open doors and realized instantly just how challenging this might prove to be when she saw the length of the room. 

There were more books here than the grandest estate, and the room seemed to stretch the length of the building. Small tables and large chairs housed the men of her village and the neighboring ones as well, each of them mumbling their disapproval as she went along, searching desperately.  

“I say, Lady Palpatine!” 

Rey stopped, nearly colliding with a servant only to find Lord Holdo sitting with friends. “My  Lord Holdo!"

“What on earth are you doing here?”

She eyed the men quickly before looking over her shoulder, for any sign of that footman. Holdo wouldn't betray her, would he?

“I’m here on urgent business, I must speak with the bank manager, Mr. Carson. It’s about an investment that we must act on at once”

The men gave each other funny looks, brows raised, laughter stifled. 

She ignored them and looked to Lord Holdo. 

“My dear are you sure your grandfather can not speak with him?”

“My grandfather wouldn’t know a good deal if it crawled out of the grass and bit him on the….”

More outrage. 

Grumbling she shook her head. “I promise to go as soon as I’ve spoken with him, if you could just point me in the right direction.”

Lord Holdo seemed to think this over for a moment, he clearly did not approve nor did he wish to be made an accomplice in her actions, but the man knew his wife cared for her, and she for Lady Amilyn. 

With a begrudging sigh Holdo pointed behind her. 

Rey spun and spotted the manger right away. He sat alone at a table in the sunny half circle of a bay window, drinking and smoking just as she’d been told he would be. The smoke swirling and white around him in the light. 

“Thank you!” She mouthed to Lord Holdo before rushing away. 

“Forgive me sir, but if I may have a moment.”

The old man with a large belly and long face opened his eyes and looked up at her startled. He sputtered something along the lines of “who are you?” And “how did you get in here” before she motioned for him to calm. 

“I will not take more than five minutes of your time good sir, but seeing as you will not give me even that in your office, I’ve had to come and find you here.”

“You must make an appointment, like everyone else!”

“The thing is, I have, actually. A few times. I know it’s not what you’re used to, but I’ve been trying to speak with you about the matter of a loan for an investment.”

“A what?” He withdrew aghast at her suggestion. 

“An investment." She pressed on "A rather promising one actually. I have very good reason to believe that there is money to be made in the mining of a particular mineral recently discovered.”

His eyes narrowed as he looked her over. “What do you know about investments… mining.”

“Enough that I have seen my sum rise some three percent this year. I don’t except much more, but with this I believe there will be enough profit to make it worth my time, and yours."

The bankers brows raised and he cleared his throat sitting forward. He was clearly interested, and she dared to allow a glimmer of hope. 

“You send your grandfather to me,” He said smiling. So he did know who she was, this revelation made her all the more angry over his treatment of her. “And we will talk. But I will not do business with a woman.” He said with a firm nod before pushing back into his chair. 

Rey felt the flush rising. She wanted to kick him over but she took a breath and steadied herself. However, as she began to speak, she was cut off by a most unwelcome interjection. 

“You would be wise to listen to her Mr. Carson.”

She shot a look over her shoulder and went cold instantly. 

Mr. Carson looked up too, but he just frowned and shook his head. “Lord Ren, you should know better than to defend a woman as brazen as this.”

“She is a most determined woman.” He said glancing at her sidelong, before looking to Carson. “ If she says it’s worth the investment sir, I would at least give her the decency of a meeting in your office.”

Rey felt her entire body shaking. She clenched her fists in an attempt to stop it. How had she not seen him, she wondered closing her eyes in a vain attempt to shut out the sound of his beautiful voice so close. 

“And” Ren continued  “It’s my understanding you’ve had some troubles of late, problems with collecting on loans.”

She opened her eyes then, glancing up at Ren and back down to Carson. 

The banker was furious but could not find the words to say so. 

“Give her the meeting Carson.” Ren said calmly, though there was no mistaking his tone of command. 

With a huff the man looked from one face to the other, realizing he could not win the battle.

Red faced and grumbling, he agreed, waving them away. “Go and make the appointment with my secretary” He said desperately reaching for his bourbon.  

Rey’s eyes lit up, her grin illuminating the room. 

She was too happy in that second to notice the way Ren looked at her, as though her smile had soothed the ache within him. 

“Yes, I’ll go now! Thank you Mr.Carson!” 

Bounding with excitement, she turned to leave but was reminded that all had not been accomplished on her own. She turned and looked up at Ren who was staring at her.  

“Thank you.” She managed with a dip before turning and hurrying for the door. 

Out in the enormous hall of white marble, the glass roof was letting rays of sunlight in to flood the grand atrium. Reys celebrations were cut short when she spotted the footman and butler below. They saw her too and pointed up with enraged shaking fingers and fists.

“You!” The footman called. 

She froze wondering what they might actually do beyond the humiliation of being tossed from the front doors. This wasn’t a crime was it?

“You came to find me, and now I’ll escort you out.” Ren instructed appearing at her side.

Not missing a beat he took her by the elbow and began leading her down the hall and to the steps. 

“Lord Ren, is this Lady with you?” The butler asked as they came trotting down to level ground. 

“She is.” He said just as confident as ever. He didn’t bother to stop, just spoke to them as they passed. “Forgive me good sirs, there was an urgent matter but I’ll show the Lady to the door.” 

She looked back at their scowling faces, nearly running to keep up with Ren. 

Once outside, Rey began to pull away from him. “Will you please let go of my arm!” She demanded, yanking until finally he let go and she stumbled back. 

Angry, she spun to curse him but stopped, struck by the sight of him after so long. 

He’d let his hair grow longer. And he looked a bit older, not with lines or greys, but there was a look in his eyes, the look of a man who had seen and done many things… one of which happened to be breaking the heart of a young Lady.

She collected herself and raised her nose. “Forgive my intrusion Lord Ren, good-day.” 

“You look well” He said, his words stopping her before she could go. 

Hesitant, Rey blinked up at him but shook her head. “Good bye Lord Ren.” She said and spun into a brisk walk towards the village square. 

Ren was on her in a few steps and she damned his long legs. 

“That was, brave, my Lady.” He said nodding back towards the club.

“Was it?” She dismissed, looking around as though she might see some friendly face to save her. 

“It was, though I’d expect nothing less from you.”

She wanted to scream and strike at him like a wild cat, but she kept walking. 

“You seem to be doing well with the estate. And I’ve heard you’ve made quite the impression on the older houses, attending all of the parties? ”

“Yes, I suppose so.” She said trying to walk faster. 

“I can’t find much point in going.” He said absently. 

“Well, you already have everything you need, don’t you.” She said stopping to face him again. 

Ren was looking at her as though he was hurting too. As if his stone heart could ever beat again. She rolled her eyes shaking her head, annoyed by him. 

For a second he looked nearly distraught, and she never despised him more. 

“Do not look at me that way Lord Ren” She threatened, her voice was low and her jaw set. 

“If we might,” He paused and looked down “If I might just have a moment.”

“A moment?” She asked and managed to quickly smile at a couple passing by, who were both staring at them. “You ask me for a moment” She whispered with some aggression, “When I was willing to give you a lifetime!” She stepped near him, her eyes fire, but she quickly calmed herself. 

Finding her reserve, Rey swallowed the lump in her throat. “If you truly regret your choice, I’m sorry that you’re in pain. However, I believe you will find peace in time. As for me,” She took a shuddering breath. “It’s no longer my concern. Now please, I must go!” 

Lady Rey spun and ran off as best she could while still holding onto some dignity. 

She did not look back, and she did not let the tears that stung her eyes fall. The voice in her head cried out to, please, for goodness sake, go back and speak with the man. But she shamed her foolish heart and kept going, instead setting her sites on a meeting that might change her life for the better. 

 

 

Chapter Text

The return of Lord Ren had thrown Rey for a loop, but her financial success was quite the consolation. Not to mention the pride she felt in having done it all on her own

A few days after she’d snuck into the gentlemans club, Rey got her meeting and her loan. 

She was now the proud investor in a new mineral called Kyberite 

Rens insistence with Mr. Carson that she be given a chance had played a roll too, but it was she who took the chance and it was her right to celebrate her success. 

The solstice festival would be the perfect indulgence. 

Rey’s village considered itself to be a place of good people, with good morals, and while they did not loose sense of said morality, when solstice came, allowances could be made. 

This was a village wide event that everyone, with the exception of Sheev Palpatine, took part in. 

Rey and Rose had helped with the planning of the music and decorations this year, and as they arrived, the two women stood back to admire a job well done. 

They’d come with baskets of flower crowns to be given to the single women of the village. The single men wore crowns of thin branches.

The players were beginning to strum and strike their instruments, welcome by the joyful cheers of the crowd. 

“To a job well done!” Lady Tico said handing Rey a cup of punch. She was most proud of it, having gotten the recipe from a letter Mr. Finn sent, who got it from a Dutches’s chef. 

Rey accepted and linked arms with her friend eager take in the festivities. 

They walked among neighbors and strangers, the feeling in the air dreamlike, as everyone felt deliciously intoxicated by the solstice sun.

The park was alive with excitement and the lush greenery made a vibrant background to the day with Rey, soaking it all in, laughing with the children who played around she and Rose.

She also noticed, with her keen eye, the looks from some of the young men who now seemed to notice her, though last year she’d been nearly invisible. She paid them no mind, though the looks were flattering, she was not here to find love, just some happiness. 

As the day became evening, She and Rose wandered down the gentle slope of the park towards the graveled yard to watch in awe as the fire eater swallowed flames and the woman on stilts waved long ribbons in the air. There was a juggler and a contortionist that elicited gasps and cheers from the large crowd. 

After the spectacle was over they went into the glass flower house and tasted the decadent treats from the buffet, donated by the Holdo’s and the Hutts before being called back out to circle the maypole.

Under the deep pink sky, the slowly setting sun blazing orange, Rey and Rose along with with the other unwed women, wrapped the ribbons around and around until they were all in a fit of laughter, their vibrant spirits infectious, and their white dresses and loose hair taunting the branch-crowned young men.

As the pink sky faded to purple, so late on this endless day that it was actually night, the musicians began to play songs loved by everyone. There was a great rush to fill the wooden dance floor that had been set over the grass, until it was full to the edges.

Moving gently to the music on the side of the stage, Rey laughed as a cup of wine was thrust into her hands by a handsome man she did not know, who asked for a dance, which she promised...but not yet. 

Instead she took the first three lively dances with Rose, until Lady Tico was whisked away by Harris Snell who had grown a solid foot in the last year. 

Happy to share her partner, Rey found herself in a circle of women who gave into the night, and danced free of any restrictions enforced during a more traditional event.  

Another cup of wine from another young man who hoped to dance came at her through the circle, and quick enough, Rey was floating on a golden fog that brought her closer to happiness than she’d been in some time.  

*

The sky was growing dark, and Ren watched the men light torches and lanterns around the revelry. 

The dancing went on with such noise, he was sure it would drive him back to the sanctuary of Alderaan. But he’d promised himself some escape from the never ending darkness that filled his days of late. 

He’d come back here to ready the estate. He’d wanted it sold as soon as possible, but the moment his coach pulled into the village, his heart felt a change happening.

The rushing urgency of life in the First Order seemed unnecessary once here, in this peaceful place. 

And as he’d passed Naboo, the doors to a feeling once shut, opened in spite of his best efforts. 

And so he lingered.

At first, to buy himself some time, he’d sent a rather curt assurance to his master that he would in fact return.

Then he’d had his first encounter with Rey at the club, which had been unexpected to say the least, but encouraging. She hated him, but not so much that she did not look at him without some flicker of what once was.

And so, he stayed.

His last letter delivered to Snoke, stated that he was quite capable of traveling when need be, but that, since they’d secured their man in a position on the Kings council, he would not be needed so often now.

His lingering had officially become permanent, and there was once again the promise of more than conquering and power. 

In the middle of the crowd was Rey, like a glowing emblem of that promise, her presence called to him, and he went quietly to her.  

Hidden under the veil of night, Lord Ren came to the edge of the dance floor. 

He watched, entranced by her movements which became a beautiful extension of the life within her, and as she spun, time itself slowed. 

She tossed her head back in laughter, her long brown hair flared out as she twirled, one way, and then the other. The crown of flowers she wore highlighting her beauty like a goddess. 

All of the young women wore white, as did Rey, but the white she wore was her sparing dress and the sight nearly killed him. 

She raised her arms up in elegant movements that swept back down just as quickly,  reaching for heaven and earth, her body the connection between them. 

The driving beat of the music seemed more primal now as the sun finally disappeared beneath the horizon, and Rey responded to it with a natural ease that spoke to him. 

Other men saw her too, but she paid them no mind. 

This was her time to feel free, he could see it in the way she laughed without care, the way she danced as though no one else were here. 

She seemed so truly happy without him. 

And as she spun near him, he froze, afraid she’d seen him. But the glowing torch flames blinded her to the night around the floor, and she stood breathing hard, her smile wide and bright as the music slowly died down, and the dance finished. 

Unable to resist, he reached out and touched his fingertips to hers.

Rey gave a start and peered into the night, her eyes slowly scanning the wall of darkness as she tried to see past it.

“Hello?” She asked softly, playing with her hair as she waited for a reply.

Her grin faded to just a small, curious smile as she continued to try and see who had touched her. 

Carefully, Ren stepped back. He could not bear the change in her face when she saw it was him. He would not take this night from her. 

Perhaps, he thought watching as she trotted off, he’d been right in ending it. But right was rarely easy, and when he saw her, he felt such overwhelming doubt in his choices.

“You don’t mind if I ask her to dance do you Ren?” The sound of another mans voice broke his trance.

Glancing down, he found Ashford Wilcox glaring at Rey.

He was an arrogant little shit, who Ren imagined would be one of the first to go once the First Order came to power. 

“No” He said ignoring the thoughts racing through his mind, and returned his gaze to the dance floor.

Ashford gave him a hard couple of pats on the back in thanks, and quickly crossed the wooden platform to her side where he surprised Rey by lifting her up by the waist, not missing a step in the dance.  

Rey squealed laughing as they went down the line together. 

It was painful to watch, but the sight of her happy kept him calm, and he thought that maybe he’d let Wilcox plead his case in the new order.  

Watching the display go on for another bar before turning away, his heart ached from it all.

In the dark, away from the warmth and happiness, Ren felt more like himself, or the self he so carefully created over the years.  

He would take the long walk home tonight in the dark, and be reminded of why he’d left her the first time. 

 

* 

Feeling the wine a bit more than he’d expected, Kylo sighed as he started down the path to Alderaan.

He fought internally with the light in his heart and the dark thoughts of his mind. 

This walk should have begun to clear his head. 

Instead he felt more clouded than ever. 

The sounds of the festival followed him for a while until the natural melody of nightfall took over.

Crickets and frogs, the soft rustling of dark leaves in the summer winds. All the things he’d missed while in the north. 

Nearing Naboo, he looked up to find, unsurprisingly that not a single candle had been lit, she would come back to a dark, cold manor. 

He rubbed the ache in his neck that came from stress and worry, but, she was not his concern, not anymore.  

However instead of home, and in spite of his better judgement, his steps carried him down the drive to the stone facade of the old manor.

He looked up at the wooden doors, and windows.

Funny, he thought, the beauty of the place could still be seen, if you looked hard enough. 

Slowly, quietly, Kylo kept walking. Down along the side of the house, occasionally looking out to the moor to take in it’s eerie beauty.

His own estate sat hidden in that direction. And he wondered if she ever looked this way from the windows. 


He’s begun to wonder where he was going, until it became clear to him the further along he went. 

The run down stable.

He’d led himself back to the last happy place they’d shared together.

Once there, he carefully stepped inside, as though any sudden movement would wake the ghosts of their past.

Looking around Kylo noticed that it hadn’t changed much in the year he’d been gone, just more ivy, more moss, nature reclaiming what man had left behind. 

Her weapons were gone. That surprised him, he was certain she would continue training even without him, or that, Mr. Akbar. 

Otherwise, it still felt as perfect to him as it had before, standing now as the embodiment of their fractured relationship. 

“Kylo.”

Ren spun to find Rey standing in the doorway with a little lantern, still in her festival flowers and dress. 

“My Lady, I’m sorry… I-I don’t really know how I ended up here.” He said looking around as though she’d pulled him from a dream, and was suddenly aware of where he was. 

Her lips pressed tight and she shook her head looking at him. “I thought I made it clear that I don’t want to see you.” She said. Her tone was cool but not completely unreceptive. 

“I had no intentions of being seen.” He replied. 

“You’re on my property.”

“I thought you would stay at the festival.”

She went to speak but stopped looking away. “I did too, but…” She shrugged. “I was happy, truly. It felt wonderful to laugh and dance and forget that I’ve any troubles at all. But deep down” She paused shaking her head “I could not find the peace I seek” She said shrugging sadly. 

“So you came here?” He asked. 

She stood unresponsive for a moment then nodded. “It still has some fond memories left” She admitted. 

“Rey..” He said coming to her. 

“No, please, please don’t” She held up a hand stopping him. “I can not bear it my Lord, please.” The instant swell of emotions in her had been bubbling at the surface since their run-in at the club. 

Kylo would have dropped to his knees to plead if he thought it would have worked. Instead he sighed and looked over his shoulder towards the pond and Alderaan. “I’ll go, forgive the intrusion.”

He sulked away, wondering if he should just keep walking on until there was nothing left of him, when he heard her say his name. 

Turning Kylo held his breath.  

“I would have waited.” She said, and he could tell that it pained her to say it. 

“I know.”

“Then why? Why did you say such things, why did you turn your heart against me?”

She looked so small in the dark holding her light. “I, didn’t” He tried. 

“Yes you did!” She snapped. “You left and forgot me, and then you brushed me aside as though there was nothing between us!”

“And it was never my intention to make you think so, in spite of all that I said.” He dared to come back to her. “Please, will you let me explain.”

She stood, her face in and out of darkness as the lantern swayed, but, she didn’t stop him, and so he made a second attempt.  

This time he was sure to be clear and direct, so that he would never have to say why he’d left her again. 

He managed to explain that while his time with her was more than he could have expected or hoped for, she was never his reason for being here.

He had a large roll to play in the First Order, and she made him question his own ambitions.

He told her that he’d gone to his mentor Snoke for advice, Snoke, he explained, had been there when his own father had not. And now, he needed Kylo, and he would not let the supreme leader down. The pressure had come at him from all sides and in a dark moment of weakness he decided that ending it would be better than to continue with something that at the time, he could not be a part of.  “And I’ve regretted it every day since.” He concluded feeling empty. 

Rey shook her head. The Lady hated him, he knew, but at least she’d heard his explanation. 

Resigned to look on her face one last time, he peered through the dark only to find her cheeks streaked with tears, and he could not stand by any longer. 

Kylo rushed to her, hesitant to touch, but needing to so deeply that he dropped to a knee and looked into her eyes nearly level with his own.

“I have been a fool my lady. There is nothing left of me without you." He stopped and calmed himself. "We became more, but in the beginning I think we were friends, I would gladly take that title at least, if nothing else. If you would have me.”  

Rey’s surprise shifted to distrust. She studied him by the dim yellow light, and he felt the world slowing around him as he waited for some kind word, a cruel word, just a word. His eyes were pleading.

Rey took a deep breath and looked at him in a way he thought relegated to memory.

Fingers trembling, she reached out, her warm hand pressing gently against his cheek.

“You have wounded me deeply Lord Ren, but, I believe you, and I would have you.” She paused searching his face, settling on his eyes. “I would have you or no one else.” And she slowly leaned over to kiss him. 

Ren wrapped his arms tight around Rey and stood, pulling her up along with him. 

He carried her, walking slowly back into the stable. Their own special place among the broken stones and ivy, and tasted her until she pulled away. 

“You must stay with me tonight” She whispered breathless, tears staining her face.

“Tonight my Lady, and always.”

*

Moaning, Rey pulled away from the kiss to inhale a deep breath of air. 

Kylo raised up to watch her. 

He seemed nervous. Not as much as she, but still more hesitant than she’d ever seen him before, as though she were a precious thing and he did not want to break her. 

Feeling a bit dizzy, she turned her head away from the little fire he’d made, and let the night air cool her face.  

Steady now, Rey looked up at him, marveling at the sight of his pretty eyes glowing in the firelight and his black hair like a curtain around them, tickling her cheeks. 

Quickly, Kylo raked his fingers through the thick strands, tossing his hair to the side before looking down at her again. 

He was waiting for her. 

Rey's smile was faint as she nodded her permission, and he sighed, reaching down between them. 

She could feel the impossibly soft skin of him against her own wet heat, and she gripped his shoulders bracing herself, unsure of what would come next.  

Ren was such a large man. When he’d finally stood naked in front of her, Rey’s conflicting feelings of absolute desire and virginal fear made her tremble.

Almost unsurprisingly he was as large there, as he was everywhere else.

And though she'd found his incredible form intimidating when unclothed and bathed in the shadow of night, his efforts now were so gentle that she began to wonder if he was being too delicate. She was after all a strong, healthy woman.

But as Rey felt him begin to press into her body and spread her apart, She silently thanked him for his care. 

Ren stroked her contorted face.  “Are you alright?” He asked, his voice thin. 

She nodded, squeezing her eyes shut as he continued until her breathing became a long moan. 

She’d expected some pain, but the completely unfamiliar feeling of being stretched and filled made her bite down on her lip a bit too hard.

Little by little, he began to move, the in more alarming than the out, until something changed and she began to understand what it could be, instead of what it temporarily was. 

Kylo hung his head, resting it on her shoulder with a groan as he moved a little faster. Sliding his mouth against her cheek, until they met in a kiss, all the while him gently working his hips, letting Rey feel the thick length of each stroke. 

She was covered by him completely, and his lips on hers resulted in a lovely pulsation below.

She smiled into his hair when he pulled away from her mouth, her first wave of pleasure rushing over her body. Her breath began to match his rocking until she was moaning into his ear and out into the night air, the feel of him completely and wonderfully unrelenting. 

“Forgive me” He moaned, and his eyes met hers with a darkness in them.

“For what?” She managed. 

"This.” He whispered and reached forward pressing a hand on the wall to brace himself.

She gave a sort of gasping cry as he began to thrust. It was awful and exquisite.

Her hands, pressed into his chest, seemed to push him away at first, but then slid around his neck welcoming him. Her thighs, pressed to his hips, relaxed and opened as he slid his other hand under her backside, lifting her up a bit, allowing him to reach deeper. 

Rey moaned and arched her back involuntarily, like she had at the pond. The pain was explosive for a moment, but only just, as the fleeting discomfort gave way to indescribable pleasure, and she floated somewhere between feeling everything and nothing at all, nothing but him. 

Just as she worried he would break her in two, and her increasing moans could not be silenced, she felt him stop and turn hard as stone before a rhythmic explosion filled her belly. 

They were still. Frozen in the moment until her shuddering breath roused him.

Kylo came back to life and pulled his arm away, hovering over her, inhaling and exhaling as though he hadn’t for days. His soft sounds of relief made her heart skip a beat. 

Finally he looked down at her with a smile, an empty sort of euphoria in his eyes as he kissed her quickly.  

Rey smiled too, only to wince as he pulled away. 

She felt a warm rush leave her body followed by a strange emptiness. It was all so new, she was uncertain of what she should feel now, but as she turned onto her side, her hip bones aching, and the blanket a bit scratchy beneath her, she locked eyes with him, and what she saw there told her most assuredly that she’d followed him to the stables for the right reasons. Namely one, that had not been said but could not be ignored.

Yes, this love was difficult. He would undoubtably continue to push her to her limits, but the love was indeed there, he needed her. And she him. It seemed there were many forces at play attempting to keep them apart, but she knew now, it would never be so.  

Kylo brushed her hair back, pushing the strands behind her ear. He kissed her sweetly before pulling her close and closing his eyes. 

Rey listened to the drumming of his heart, the rise and fall of his breathing like the rocking of a ship at sea, until the waters quieted and the night closed in.

And they slept intertwined, lost in a world of their own making. 

*

Groggy from last nights wine, Rey’s eyes slowly fluttered open. 

The heat of the morning sun was already drawing a fine sheen of sweat from her body and she longed for a drink of water. 

With a groan, she turned onto her back, a blissful breeze crossing her skin, when she realized suddenly that she was not in her bed. 

Her eyes flew open and she looked down, finding herself completely naked and alone. 

It all came back in a rush and she sat up, regretting it the moment her head spun towards a fierce ache. 

Where was he… 

She looked around slowly, already feeling worry and regret. He couldn’t possibly have left her again, not after everything that was said and done.

“You’re awake.” Kylo said stepping over the uneven threshold. 

He was carrying a tray, and hanging over his arm, a dress. 

Her smile spread across her face until her cheeks rounded. 

“What’s all this?” She asked reaching for the softer of the two blankets. Going up onto her knees and crossing her ankles to sit back, Rey watched with anticipation as he lowered. 

On the tray was bread, butter, jam, some bacon and two cups of water. “I couldn’t find much else without your cook seeing me.” He said and tossed his hair back as he reached for a slice of the dark brown bread. 

Still grinning, Rey followed suit and began spreading the bright red raspberry jam across her bread. “What’s that for?” She asked nodding towards the dress he’d laid at the bottom of the blanket. 

“I didn’t think you’d want to put the other back on, so I found this for you in the laundry.”

She chewed and studied him for a moment.

So, was this is the real him then? Considerate and accommodating. Thoughtful and kind. 

Her heart felt the wonderful pain of love. 

The mouthful of food could not stop her from rising up on her knees and leaning over to slip her hand under his chin. She raised his head, amused by the look of surprise on his face, and kissed him. 

“Thank you.” She whispered and sat back down. 

He was watching her now, looking content and somewhat sleepy, which she found to be her new favorite expression on him.  

“Did anyone see you at all?” She asked grabbing the cup of water. 

He shook his head washing down his own breakfast. “No, I don’t think so.”

Rey nodded and sat the cup down to pull her hair back from over her shoulders into a loosely twisted bun, low on her head. 

The look on his face changed a bit then, and she felt some trepidation. “What is it?” She asked already knowing. 

Ren was eyeing the places where her skin was exposed. She was holding the blanket over herself between her chin and chest, looking up at him as she finished her hair. 

He brushed the crumbs from his hands and slid the tray down near the dress. 

“Don’t you dare” She warned, her voice funny as she tried to hold the blanket up and talk. 

He gave a deep nearly sinister laugh as he reached over, like some big cat on the prowl who’d found his prey.

Grabbing the blanket he pulled and it fell away leaving her naked for him

Rey sighed sitting back on her heels. “You find my nakedness so amusing sir? Would you humiliate me for your own enjoyment” She said through a smile. She didn’t mean a word of it which was fine as Kylo clearly could not hear a thing she said. 

He got onto his own knees and looked down at her.

Cupping her small pert breast in his hands, he ran a thumb over her nipple and she gave a little purring moan.

“Wait, I don’t know that I can” She said still feeling the ache from last night. 

He was leaning to the side to look at the way her breasts responded to his touch, still paying her no mind.

“I’m not” She tried to speak “It’s still…” She couldn’t get a word out between the sensations distracting her. He was gently pulling and rubbing each dark pink nipple and she felt the resulting moisture below betray her protest but this time he heard. 

“Let me make it better for you.” He said, his soft voice as stimulating as his touch. 

Her frown of confusion turned to shock when he pulled her down to the ground stretching her legs out on either side of him. 

“What are you doing?” She asked with a nervous laugh.  

“Just, trust me,” He said, and the tone in his voice said absolutely not to do any such thing. 

“Lord Ren!” She demanded rising up onto her elbows just as he lowered to his stomach. His enormous body stretched out long in front of her, his right knee bent letting him rest on his side. He laid his head on her thigh and began to look. She was amused but very surprised to find that he seemed happy to just lay there looking at her. 

The feeling of such exposure and examination was making her squirm. “Please, my Lord? I’m not sure I know what you intend.” She said, her voice breathy as he kissed her thigh. 

“I’ll show you.” He said and pushed himself forward an inch or two. Rey opened her mouth ready to demand an answer, when she felt the incredible warmth and softness of his lips on hers.

She tossed her head back with a heavy gasp, the wet heat of his tongue shocking and wonderful as he began to lick her, actually lick her. 

She could not believe such a thing could be done, or that such a thing could be so horribly wonderful. It seemed so indecent, her mind would not let her think about it, nor would her body as the only thing she could manage was to feel glorious. 

Where last night had been shared, this was about her and her alone as he ran his tongue up and down her now glistening divide. 

Rey dared to peak down, and nearly finished at the sight of his black hair spread over her thigh, his strong hand pushing that same leg open, and the slow movement of his head between her legs. 

Letting her own head drop back, her lips curled into a wicked smile as she forgot all else and relished in the feel of his skilled attentions.

As her breath found a rhythm, and her moaning went deep, Kylo began to push a finger into her wet opening.  

“It hurts.” She gasped quickly shaking her head.  

“Just at first” He assured, his voice muffled

She shut her eyes tight through the burning stretch until she felt something happen deep in her body that she hadn’t even felt last night. He was stroking a place so far inside of her, she'd not known of its existence until now. 

It made her groan and her eyes roll back as she dropped her shoulders to the ground. 

One finger was two and she cried out only to laugh with amazement when it felt even better. 

With a growl of encouragement and lust, he sat up just a bit, pressing down on her belly with his free hand, the other working at a steady, pounding pace. 

Rey could feel the pressure building, swelling like a wave. She opened her eyes and looked up him, for assurance perhaps. Ren smiled at her and nodded.

“Let it happen.” He said softly and Rey sighed, sinking deeper, giving her body over to him completely. She nearly screamed as her thighs trembled and her muscles tensed. 

The contractions seemed to go on forever, Ren moaning at the grip and release on his fingers until she made one last sound and motioned for him to stop. 

He was slow as he pulled free, and she lay there, hand over her forehead trying desperately to catch her breath. 

Finally, she looked up at him. He was just sitting there waiting, the smallest smile on his beautiful mouth. 

“I didn’t know.” She said shaking her head feeling a rush of emotion. “I didn’t know it could feel like that” She nearly wanted to cry, which was confusing and wonderful. 

“I told you my Lady” He said with a little smirk “You need a teacher.”

*

They parted ways, but just barely. 

He must have walked back to her three, possibly four times loosing himself in her kiss until finally he knew the demands of the day would not wait, not for even this. 

“I must see to my work, but I will send a note for you to come.”

“Tonight?” She asked a little surprised. 

“Of course.” He said smiling in the sun. His normally stern face was beaming as he turned his back and started for his property. 

“Kylo!” She called standing naked in the shade, the blanket barely hiding the parts of her that would have him back at her side in seconds if he didn’t take care. 

He watched her expressions changing quickly in a wash of joy and worry, and knew just how she felt.

It should be said, but they would let it be as it was for a while longer. “I know.” He said with a confirming nod.

Rey smiled wrapping her arms around herself and watched him turn and walk away. 

“I love you, I love you, I love you.” She whispered and laughed a little, shaking her head at her change in circumstance before she went to grab the dress he’d brought out for her. 

 

*

 

“Can you believe it? Lady Palpatine is throwing a dinner party!” Lady Arlo whispered leaning towards her company. 

She slowly stroked the head of her spoiled pug and eyed her companions for their reaction. 

“Do you suppose they’ll make a formal announcement?” Miss Fairlane wondered looking from one prim face to the next. 

The women were sat around Arlo’s card table, teas and cakes nearly overflowing, her colorful parlor smelling sweet with fresh picked flowers. 

“Well,” Miss Akbar said sitting back “It would be the proper thing to do, after snubbing my dear Aftab to run wild with that, that man….” She fanned herself shaking her head. 

The women fell silent for a moment until Lady Arlo spoke up “He’s not all bad. Though I don’t know how she can stand so much frowning.” Her petting picked up pace as she thought of Lord Ren. 

"I wouldn’t speak to harshly about the Lord. I’ve heard from my father that he heads a new political party that has seen a surge in the north" Miss Fairlane said with a nervousness that grabbed the attention of the other women at Arlo's table. "They have great sympathy amongst the large houses” 

“He would” Miss Akbar snapped. 

“Well, we should be proud that our dear friend has landed a Lord of such ambition, and perhaps he’ll be better equipped to help manage her new found wealth, unlike that grandparent of hers.” Lady Arlo said, shaking her head. “As for the party, I shall wear my new blue dress,” She thought aloud, letting her natural state of ignorant bliss wash over her face. “My dear Lord Henly brought it back from Paris just this week.” She said proudly. “I believe it will be a fine dinner.”

 

*

Damn this party.” Rey said with a huff. 

She stood looking around the dining table, place cards in her hand. 

“It can’t be all that important. Just throw them up in the air.” Kylo said coming up behind her. “And let the guests sit where they fall” He brushed the fallen tendrils of hair aside and kissed her neck. 

Reys eye’s shut involuntarily. “That is not helpful my Lord"

“I was not trying to be.” His breath tickled her ear, as his hands slid over her hips, pulling her close until she could feel exactly what he was trying to do. 

“Lord Ren.” She shot pulling away. “Compose yourself!” She was grinning and he groaning with wanting her as she stepped away. 

“I am the picture of composer my Lady” He said and she laughed at the pathetic sight. 

“Help me, please my Lord, you of all men must know the importance of where one is sat.”

Still distracted, he looked around. “Don’t put me near Lady Arlo. That is my only word of advice.”

“Oh, you’re no help at all!” She sighed exasperated. 

“I can however, help you feel better.” He offered and she shot him a look that made him rethink his steps towards her. 

“My Lady.” Soames said walking into the room. 

Ren rolled his eyes and sat at the head of the table, slouched down like a pouting child. 

“My Lord has received a message.”

She nodded and waved him towards Ren, her mind still on the diplomacy of seating arrangements. 

The old man approached him. 

“Where is the message?” Ren asked. 

“It was from Edmunds my Lord. He said a messenger came after you’d left for your morning ride. A General Maddox to see you sir.” 

Ren sat up and pushed his hair from his eyes.

“When?”

“Now my Lord, he’s arrived very early.”

Kylo looked away thinking this over before looking up at Rey who was staring intently at him. 

“Is everything alright?” She asked cautiously. 

With a nod he stood. “I must go.”

Her acceptance was reluctant but, this was not unusual.

He had not spoken of permanently leaving Aldreaan again, but the demands of his position were no less. He often left for a day or so before returning exhausted. 

“Are you coming?” He asked in the doorway. 

Rey looked up confused but then she understood.

He wanted her by his side in this, he wanted her to see his work.

She could not refuse him, he seemed to need her, and she wondered with a chill, who this Maddox was. 

*

He turned out to be an elderly man who had the look of a sly fox, with beautiful grey hair and bright blue eyes. He said he was here as a friend.

Rey doubted this very much and at one point she was certain a look passed between the men that spoke of some deep rivalry. 

She pitied general Maddox if he thought Ren would cow to him, but admired her love's restraint when the older man slid subtle insults towards Alderaan and the village.

In the end, polite politics ruled the day and Rey invited him to the party which he accepted graciously. 

He added that it was a shame his daughter Sylvia had not joined him this time, she did so love a grand dinner.

Rey offered her a seat should they ever find themselves in the village again, and immediately noted the color drain from Ren's face.

There was bad blood here to be certain. 

“Do not sit me near him” Ren mumbled as they watched the man climb the staircase of Alderaan, a footman leading the way. He had been given a room to rest and change for the party.  

“That’s two.” She said and glanced up at him smiling, only slightly worried for the cold look in his eyes. 

*

The storm that rolled in an hour before the start of the evening nearly ruined Rey’s mood, but in the end, the placements were done perfectly, the candles were lit, the table set with the finest silver from the old cabinet and, most importantly, the look on her grandfathers face when he’d been stuffed into his old dinner jacket and neckcloth left Rey in hysterics. 

“Do try and enjoy yourself my dear” She said patting his crisp shirt gently. 

He grumbled and she left him to his chair in the library where he sat until Ren and the general arrived. 

The other guests came streaming in, with high praise for the turn around the old manor had made.

Though she was not finished, Naboo showed glimpses of its once splendid glory. 

Their guest of honor finally arrived, his beaming smile a welcome sight. The return of Mr. Finn who had been given leave to attend and stay the weekend with Ren was nearly applauded by those that knew him

But it was Lady Rey Palpatine who would be praised most this night.

Once all had been escorted into the dining room and settled in, Lady Holdo raised her glass in a toast that was very touching and worthy of Rey. 

Dinner came out, presented by the servants of Alderaan, on loan to her by Lord Ren as he had no use for them tonight. 

Feeling quite content, Rey sat her glass down, folding her hands on her lap. She slowly looked around the table to take in the sight of all the faces she cared for most in the world, and it felt indescribably good to finally have a moment like this within her own home. 

Though the weather had failed her, these good people did not. Satisfied, she thanked them all silently. 

“Tell me, my Lady, will you visit us in the north?” The only unfamiliar voice asked from a few seats down the table. 

She leaned forward to see General Maddox, her head tilted with curiosity  as she thought. “I suppose it would be nice to venture out beyond the borders of the village, but perhaps someplace a bit warmer.” She said receiving polite laughter from the surrounding guests. Her tone was sweet but dismissive of the idea, clearly Rey had no intentions of leaving. 

“Well, if you do decide to come, I’m sure Lord Ren will be happy for the visit. The days are short and the winds unrelenting. A reminder of gentler climates and connections to home are always appreciated.” He said smiling and raising his glass to her. 

She sat back, her eyes shifting across the table to Ren who was looking at her as though the last bite he’d taken had lodged itself half way down his throat. Clearly, he’d been caught. 

Sussing the situation quickly, Rey’s energy shifted and she reached out to grab her wine. She began to drink, motioning for the footman to fill her cup again when it was empty. 

She drank half that and wiped her mouth with a napkin which she placed all to perfectly back across her lap. 

Ren watched her reaction the entire time. He knew what those precise movements meant, and what that look in her eyes was saying without her lips parting. 

“General,” She said glancing down to the man who was already speaking with Lord Holdo. “When you say remind him of home, will that be his current or former estate of Alderaan.”

The general looked back and forth between them, a little cautious, but he sat up straight and spoke clearly. “My Lord” He said addressing Ren “If you wish to keep your estate after the move, might I suggest a good house manager to keep things ship shape for any holidays you may have in mind,” He said this as though he were a genius, delivering some brilliant tip. 

Ren’s eyes flitted across the table and he gave a little nod of thanks to Maddox before going back to Rey. 

She looked away, trying to work how to go about this in front of her guests, but he had lied. She found no other way to deal with the man but to pursue a direct course. 

“You’re leaving again Lord Ren?” She asked straightening in her seat. 

His eyes narrowed, the flickering flame of the candlesticks glowing warm in them. He  glanced up and down the table at the others and rested his arms on the white linen before leaning towards her. “It’s something that has been discussed.” He replied, tense already. 

“With everyone but me it would seem” She was staring into his eyes and Ren could not look away no matter how much he did not want the confrontation. 

The guests closest to them slowly stopped speaking. 

“Nothing has been set in stone my Lady. I had every intention of speaking with you about it before any decision had been made.”

“And yet, Lord Ren, you did not.” She said. 

He sighed shaking his head. “And what would you have me do? Come to you fist?’

“Yes!” She said in disbelief that this was not the a most obvious choice. “Yes I would. However this seems to be an impossible request, so perhaps I should stop expecting anything of you at all. My lord.”

“This dish is absolutely exquisite.” Lady Arlo interrupted. Her voice and desperate attempt to end the exchange, cut through the air like a knife. 

“Yes, complements to your chef Lady Palpatine!” Mr. Finn added quickly. 

They were trying to join together to defuse the situation but Rey could not be settled. 

She and Ren were shooting daggers at one another across the fine table settings and delicious food, all of it seeming very silly to Rey now. 

“My Lady, has it occurred to you that I can not always come to you first, not when matters of importance are presented to me with no time to…” Interrupted as she stood, Ren gave a heavy sigh tossing his napkin onto the table in anger.

“Please, forgive me I feel as though I need some air.” She said to the disappointment of those close and the confusion of those at the other end of the table. 

She made a swift, but silent exit from the dining room, rushing past her grandfather who was too slow to call to her. 

“What’s this? What’s the matter with her?” Palpatine demanded as Ren went to follow. 

He looked down at the man, picking at his food like a sick bird. 

“She’s fine my Lord, I’ll see to it.”

“See that you do!” Palpatine insisted, as though any of this made some difference to him. 

Rey pushed past the doors and went out into the hall. He was following her and all she wanted was to get away at least for a moment. 

Running to the back of the house, she went down the stairwell and to the kitchens where the hired cooks looked up in alarm. 

She ignored them all, breaking through the back door and out into the rain. 

She’d forgotten about the storm, but, too late, it was done. A second in this and she was soaked. 

No matter, She needed to be free of him and his lies and hurt and all the ways he seemed to ruin her life just when it was getting better. She’d nearly crossed the lawn before she heard him.

“Please! Rey! Come inside!” He called from the open doorway. 

“Leave me alone!” She shouted and spun to keep walking. 

“Where are you going?” He called. 

“Away from you! Away from them, and this!” She was beginning to feel embarrassed. 

“What do you mean?”

“This lie! This bloody lie that were living!”She stomped back towards him “You don’t care! You never have, if you did you would not do the one thing you swore to never do again!”

Kylo shook his head as he walked out into the wind and rain with her. 

“I did no such thing. I haven’t made any final arrangements to go.”

“But you will! I’m sure of it! You can’t stay here and pretend to be the man you’re not! You’re much more than a Lord. I know that about you, you’re important to them, and to me, but they win every time. Every time!” She shouted. 

“Rey!”

“No!” 

“If you come inside and just listen.”

“To what? Another promise?” She asked blinking hard against the downpour.

He was struggling to reply. She imagined he held back, unable to find the best way to phrase his deceptions.  

Having lost all patience for him, she let loose an angry growl of frustration and turned to run away, only to have him grab her arm and spin her around. 

“I will not have it.” He demanded. “I will not have you running off like this. You’re the most stubborn, impossible woman!” 

“Then what would you have, my lord.” She shot back, her voice heavy in her throat.

He let go of her arm and stepped back, standing straight and tall in the rain, his black hair slick on his face, dilated pupils making his eyes go just as dark. 

Rey’s chest rose and fell with exasperation as she brushed the rain from her eyes happy for its veil as warm tears began to flow in unison with the downpour.

Her breath shuddered as her fists clenched. She wanted an answer, a true, honest answer, for these would be his last words to her If he couldn’t say what it was he wanted.

She would end it here and now and leave him to his precious Order, and the north. 

Kylo’s expression changed the longer he looked at her, as though the sight were unbearable. His brows knitted together in distress, but beneath the dark ridge, his eyes spoke of something much more tender.

His own breath ragged, he sighed heavily and hung his head for a moment before looking at her. 

“You, Rey.” He said sounding very tired.  “I would have you.”

And while her young heart leapt, she shook her head refusing his words. She’d heard this before and never doubted his wanting her, but what more was there? A life half lived? Love spread over miles with yearly visits. It would never satisfy them, they both knew it.  

But then, Lord Ren took a few steps closer, blocking the worst of the rain. His large frame nearly engulfed her as he reached to cradle her face. “Rey. My dear girl.” He said softly.

He leaned over a bit to get her to look up at him, smiling at her in spite of their anger when she did.

His eyes danced across her face, settling at first on her lips, and then her own brown eyes.

“I would have you as my wife.”

Rey’s immediate reaction was to shy away. She turned her head, her lungs seemingly incapable of catching a breath. His voice tore at her, beat her to a pulp but, his proposal was honest. His proposal was true. Just as she’d wanted. She saw it clearly in his piercing eyes.

She was shivering and the rain was unforgiving. When he realized she would not give him a reply so quickly, he glanced over his shoulder. “Will you come inside, please?” He called over the wind.

She nodded letting him protectively escort her back to the kitchens. 

Once inside, the heat of the ovens and fires began to warm them both instantly.

Kylo quickly dismissed the servants who went scattering from the room to leave them alone with the steaming foods of the next course and the good smelling chaos of a downstairs kitchen. 

He handed Rey a towel from the counter which she took thankfully and wiped her face. 

He followed suit and laid the towel back where it had come from, taking the moment with his back to her to steady himself. 

In spite of it all, their reconciliation, the bodily oaths they’d sworn more than once, he’d disappointed her again it would seem and she was not one to forgive so easily. He’d barely found himself in her good graces after the last time, and though he had been in talks with the generals about permanently relocating, at no point had he considered leaving Rey behind.  

Quite the contrary, but, he would respect her wishes if she felt it better this way and leave her to a life free of him, though he was certain it would kill him in the end.  

Clearing his throat, Kylo sighed and pushed away from the countertop. “Rey.” He started, resigned to his fate yet again. 

“No” She stoped him. 

He turned to her deeply afraid of what she would say next. 

“My Lord. Kylo. I…” She was struggling to find the words. He felt it certain then that she meant to reject him but couldn’t find a way to do it without mortally wounding him. 

Ren’s shoulders squared and he took a breath bracing for the blow.

“My Lord,” She said again and took a few steps closer. “From the moment you came charging into my life I knew this was more than just, friendship between neighbors, or even a typical courtship. I believe we have proven to be well matched in every way. Even in our ability to wound one another. Though it seems you do like to strike first.”

He looked away a little ashamed. 

“You must understand that I can not bear the pain of our separation again, not like that. Without a word, and then, well… too many words. It broke my heart and I shall find it hard to believe you won’t do it again.”

“I swear it. I had every intention of telling you,”

“You say that now” She insisted. “You tell me, and then you disappear.”

“I say it now because it’s true. I say it because there’s nothing else I can say.” She didn’t seem to believe him and the thought of loosing her over his mistake from so long ago, was making him feel hopeless. 

Ren shrugged as though he’d accepted the loss and began reaching up and into his jacket. “I’d been saving this, but I feel it may be my only alibi.”

Rey stepped back, hands covering her mouth. Time slowed as he pulled a little velvet satchel from his breast pocket and opened it. 

With ease, Kylo pulled a small golden ring from the sack and held it between his fingers, both of them staring intently the piece. 

“I never wanted to leave you Rey, not the first time and certainly not now. But I let the influence of others guide me instead of trusting myself, which was a most regrettable mistake. I hope this is proof of that,”

Her hesitant trembling fingers reached out. She was nearly afraid to touch the ring, it was so beautiful in it’s simplicity. 

“You bought this for me?” She asked, fingers curling back into a fist, still too nervous to touch it. 

“No” He mouthed. “This has been in my family for a very long time.” He glanced at her  “I never imagined myself with a wife, I never imagined anyone could make me smile long enough to want my company, but you have.”

She looked up and saw the far off gaze of a memory in his eyes. It touched her deeply to see him so, hopeful. 

Stepping back she spoke. “My Lord, you once told me not to be afraid. You felt a thing between us that I felt stirring as well. It connects us, and while I don’t know that this shared thing is good, I do know that it is powerful, and I” She looked away, her eyes downcast “I can not fight it and I can not deny it and I will not pretend that it does not exist. You and I are one in the same. And it is my firm belief that to go on living a life separate from yours would be to deny myself the truth.”

“Which is?”

“That you are my constant, you and I have found our balance, and we must be together. There is a space for light and dark in our hearts, and I feel the only way to keep us both centered is to stay together.”

He straightened his back, raising his chin to look down on her, his dark eyes wavering with tears.  

Rey smiled, “And.” She continued, guiding her hand up along his cheek to lace her fingers in his hair, her other hand slipping over his that held her ring.

“Because I love you….very much.”

He shut his eyes and pulled her close. A thin tear fell over one cheek and then the other.

He wrapped his arms around her easily, holding her so close she nearly disappeared. 

Exhaling into her hair, Kylo opened his eyes and looked into the fire of the kitchen hearth. “And I you.”

*

They went back up together. Silent in the awe of their new engagement. 

Rey stopped in the hall and glanced down at her finger, still shaken by the sight of the thin gold band and the deep green emerald at it’s center. 

Noting her hesitation, Kylo gently took her hand and raised it to his lips, before looking at the dining room doorway. 

“I suppose I could stand a dinner and an announcement tonight.” He said with a sly smile as he looked down at her. 

Rey pulled her gaze from the doorway and up, behind her to find his face. “I believe I’ve made quite a scene my Lord, the strange dinner habits of Rey Palpatine will circle the village quickly.”

He shook his head holding her hand “The people in that room are your friends my Lady, no one would speak a word, no one would dare”

She smiled and leaned her wet head back on his damp shirt “Please, try not to strike down the entire village my love.”

He rested his lips against her head and laughed a little. “No…my love. I will try to restrain myself.”

Though he joked with her, the weight of the moment seeped into his bones.

They had spent days sparring, nights intertwined, a year apart and months together, and only now did they say it.

The word seemed to spread its self over them like honey. It stuck to every inch of skin, every strand of hair. Love.

And who would have guessed he could, in the end and after everything, be worthy of it. And from her, he could scarce believe she'd opened her heart to him in the first place. 

Kylo was capable of so many things, cruelty, dominance, and violence, but he had been cowed by this woman. By her very existence. He felt for the first time in his adult life that there was purpose beyond a mission, he felt a need to be a part of something created out of this one simple word.

And as they walked, her small ringed hand hooked around his arm, he thanked her for finding him worthy though he did not. Even if everything he'd worked for came crashing down around them, he would die a happy man next to his dear Lady wife. 

Chapter Text

 

 

The wedding of Lord Kylo Ren and Lady Rey Palpatine caused a scandal.

Instead of an expensive event that could have lasted days, they ran off to Paris to wed, depriving everyone in the village the lavish affair that had been expected. 

This was undoubtably the most selfish thing a young couple of means could do according to those who had been looking forward to a spectacle, and was discussed over countless teas and luncheons for weeks. 

Of course when all was said and done it was completely acceptable given Lord Ren’s wealth and the blessing of Lady Rey's grandfather, but, still a missed opportunity according to certain circles. 

However, the moment was theirs and theirs alone, to do with as they wished. 

 

*

 

After a journey across land and sea, they spent two days in a small but comfortable inn full of foreign delights. 

Having taken separate rooms so as not to upset the keepers, Rey woke alone the morning of her wedding to a deep yellow sun rising slowly, spreading a carpet of golden light across the green hillside that crept up to the windows of her room. 

She’d accepted the help of two young maids sent by Lord Ren, and felt as decadent as the French Queen, Antoinette while they fussed over her, dressing and styling the bride until finally agreeing that they were satisfied.

Their efforts did not go unnoticed by the fellow occupants of the inn, nor the townsfolk who watched the lady board her coach before she was carried away, to the little gothic chapel at the bottom of the hill. 

Resplendent in her gown which had been purchased at an atelier specializing in the simplistic elegance of French fashion, Rey stepped from the carriage like a blossoming white rose and thanked the footman who’d opened the heavy double doors of the church for her.  

With her delicate off shoulder neckline and gathered sleeves that puffed as light as clouds about her, Rey gathered her delicate skirts and stepped into the chapel.

Curling tendrils of her chestnut hair brushed her neck and shoulders as her brown eyes fixed ahead on the man that waited for her.  

Lord Ren’s chest rose as he drew a deep breath, overcome with love for her, watching in awe as she neared. 

They met before the pulpit, facing one another below the pale stained glass with all the nervous excitement of any young couple. 

It seemed no matter how many times they’d shared a bed, or sat talking of finances or politics, to be here now, committing to a lifetime, left them feeling as new to their union as eager strangers. 

The priests’ murmurings were practically ignored as they exchanged glances in near disbelief that this reality was theirs.

Rey’s soft glances were wrapped in the smile of a bride calmed by love, and his looks shifted from fear, to wanting, to the gentle gaze of adoration.  

Sitting in the back of the church was a weathered old man of no relation, who’s late joy in life was found watching the morning weddings. 

He was the only other person in attendance, and it was he who noted with a smile the way the Lord's entirely black wedding suit and boots created a dark backdrop for the Lady’s dove white elegance.  

He listened as they made their promises and were pronounced to silence, and it was a beautiful thing to witness.

The old man would speak of it to his few friends often. With his eyes wistful, he would recollect aloud the breathtaking beauty of the young couple was as they exited the chapel... “The groom had a stern face, like he’d always felt some hurt, or anger. But today his eyes were smiling! No doubt over the joy felt while escorting his Lady wife down the isle and out into the sun,” The old man’s smile would waver as he spoke “Her white lace and silk gown sparkled, like a snow drop in summer. And how it saddened me to see her go, floating up the steps of her black coach like a little bird, swallowed up by the dark”

*

At her husbands command, the coach driver snapped the reigns stirring the two black horses. 

Rey poked her head out the window as she was whisked away, watching the place of their wedding fade into the morning light. 

It seemed everything had happened in a matter of minutes, and with Kylo having already had their belongings packed and loaded on the carriage, they went without stopping resigning their morning nuptials to a beautiful memory. 

He informed her they would be staying at the home of a family friend. 

’Ville dans les Nuages’ it was called.

“City in the clouds”. Rey whispered sometime later as they rounded the drive. 

A grand estate of white stone, with a marble fountain, it sat looking both weightless and rooted to the land with its bright green ivy wall connecting it to the earth around them. 

They were met by the staff as well as the man who owned the ethereal structure. A man who also happened to be a Count named Lando Calrissian.

Wearing a beautiful cream suit and shining brown boots, he approached with his hand out to shake Rens’ 

Rey hung back taking him in, eyeing his waving black hair sprinkled with grey, and his dark eyes that sparkled, outdone only by his seductive smile. 

Calrissian clearly knew his way around words and women, winning Rey over nearly instantly to the friendly irritation of Lord Ren. 

He made quite the first impression, she thought, matching his grin with her own as he escorted her to the entry hall.   

Once inside, they were given champagne, which Kylo refused asking instead for brandy. They kept their talk small and polite with Count Calrissian, wanting desperately to be alone. 

“Your hospitality is already more than we deserve dear Count.” Rey said sweetly. “Please, give us leave to freshen up and ready for dinner”

He laughed and nodded “Of course!” 

He called for a butler to show them the way, winking as they left the parlor. 

Shown to a set of exquisite rooms in the east wing and told their reception would start at six, Rey and Kylo both relaxed once the door was shut and they were alone again. 

“Did you plan all of this? The party I mean?” Rey asked looking around as she walked the rooms. 

“No” Ren replied “ Lando will turn anything into a reason to eat and drink if he can.”

“And you know this man how?” She asked peaking around the doorway from the dressing room. 

“He was a friend of my fathers, I knew him as a boy” He said and she watched him walk to the window, arms crossed, head down as he gazed out at the pastoral view. 

Sensing some forgotten memories were being awakened, Rey went to him, sympathetically holding him from behind, laying her head on his back. 

“He seems a kind man.” She offered.

“He’s a lying scoundrel like my father, but he’s been there for me when I’ve needed him.” He said softly. 

Rey opened her eyes and looked around the beautiful room of white molding, silk wallpaper and a bed the size of her sitting room. The Count was certainly the type to show off, and there was a recklessness about him that kept her on edge, but she felt as safe here as she could in the home of a stranger. He seemed to genuinely care for the son of his friend, and she would not let worry keep her from enjoying their honeymoon. 

With a little smile she slipped around to Ren’s side. “Then that’s what matters.” She said and looked up at him, brushing his hair back from his face. “And that we’re here together.”

He looked down on her, still in that heavenly dress and sighed. Turning, his large hands cradled her face for a moment before he leaned in to kiss her. 

Rey reached up, and with deft fingers, pulled at the edge of his black cravat, loosing the painstakingly tied knot.

He’d never minded the undoing of anything less. 

Kissing him still, she slid the fabric from around his neck dropping it to the floor. She began to unbutton his shirt, moving quickly. 

Feeling eager, Kylo pulled away, standing to full height and freed himself of his jacket. He watched in silence as his wife undid the last of the buttons, pulling the tucked fabric from his breeches. She looked up into his eyes, a fierce little fire burning in them that ignited his own. 

He wanted her naked, as much delight as he took seeing her in her wedding gown, he wanted nothing to keep him from touching her bare skin. 

Glancing down, Kylo frowned, scanning her dress. “There are so many… things."

Rey chuckled and turned her back allowing him to begin the unbuttoning process.

Nearly to the small of her back with his efforts, he looked over her shoulders to see the dress was now loose enough to droop down and expose the fabric of her chamise which was so thin he could see the pink of her flesh beneath. Impatient, Ren turned her around to face him. 

She laughed at his boyish wide eyes as he lowered to a knee, flattered by his admiration. “You’ve seen me before sir.” She teased.

“You were not my wife before,” He responded to her breast and pulled at the delicate undergarment, agonizingly slow for them both, until at last each nipple sprang free. 

He set to work instantly, sucking and toying in turn until he pulled away with a crude, wonderful sound to admire the way they glistened in the light. 

Rey was breathing so heavy he thought she might reach her peak before he could even rid himself of his clothes. 

Kylo quickly pulled his shirt off the rest of the way and toss it aside, eyelids heavy with the look of a man ready to devour, wanting to feel her fingers press into his back and shoulders as she came. 

He set himself to relishing her breasts again, one hand reaching up under her skirts, desperately groping for the smooth skin and soft hair. 

Her breast in his mouth, his hand under skirt, his wife holding onto him for dear life, Kylo was completely lost as the door opened and a maid walked in. 

“O!” She exclaimed. 

Nearly mid moan, Rey looked up, her mouth clamping shut, and met the eyes of a young woman holding a tray of tea and cakes. Swallowing the sound, she pulled away from him and cleared her throat. 

Kylo’s eyes narrowed when he saw the look on Rey’s face. Glancing over his shoulder, he sighed, annoyed by the interruption. “Set it down.” He nodded towards the little table by the bed. 

The maid hid her blushing grin as she went and quickly put the silver on top of the table before glancing at them again, her eyes pausing on the sight of the beautiful, half naked Lord with his black hair cascading to his shoulders, and his sweet wife just as nude, perfect breast rising and falling with quick breaths, so clearly in the throws of her arousal. 

“Forgive me!” She said with a thick accent and giggle as she pulled the door shut behind her. 

Alone again, Rey waited for him to look at her before she started to laugh. 

She could not stop, the humor in it childish and below her station, making it all the more hilarious.

Kylo waited, pushing his own urge to smile aside, instead shaking his head as he rolled his eyes.

Having had enough of it, he reached up under her skirts another few inches. 

Rey gasped, the laughter gone, and she grabbed his shoulders bracing herself as he maneuvered a finger into her still wet entrance. 

Her head slowly rolled back, and she moaned, rising up on her toes to match his movements until she tapped his shoulder, “No no, I want you.” She said breathless, opening her eyes, lips parted as she took him in. 

He smiled, and Rey saw the change happen.

There was always a little flicker of something wicked when he looked at her this way and she smiled too, knowing. Her heart skipped a beat with anticipation. 

Never breaking their gaze, Kylo removed his hand from under her wedding dress and reached over taking his fallen tie from the floor. He smoothed it out long in the space between them, grabbing onto both ends. 

She bit down on her lip nearly purring. 

“Put your arms behind your back.” He instructed. His voice made her skin goose. That soft, deep cadence touched her like being stroked with the tip of a feather.

Slowly, knowing to disobey would see her back side warmed and red, she did as told. 

He reached behind her, finding her arms and tied her at the wrists. 

Rey’s faint moans as he looped the fabric until it was tight made him shut his eyes. He lay his head against one breast, hands working blindly but with precision, inhaling deeply, filling his lungs with the familiar scent of her skin.  

She pressed her head to his as he finished, her breath hitching as he ran his fingertips up along her arms to her shoulders and up to her neck where he closed both hands around her throat. 

With his thumb against her chin, he tipped her head back and admired the sight of her in this nearly submissive position. 

Raising a brow he nodded. “Get on your knees.”

She did so slowly, her dress billowing out around her. With her arms tied it was not easy, but she managed and with her head still back, looked up at her Lord husband and smiled. 

He ran his thumb across her lips and along her cheek before standing, quickly shedding the rest of his clothing. 

“Open” He grunted, hand already working his hard length. 

Rey opened her mouth waiting, hating this part. He knew because she once said she felt like a little dog waiting for a treat which made him laugh, and of course he never forgot it.

There was shameless pleasure to be had in riling her up, in fact he enjoyed making her a little angry, it made her more aggressive. 

He stepped closer and guided himself to her mouth carefully pushing inside until her hot wet tongue curved below his smooth shaft and she tried to open her throat, but he was too much, they both knew it. 

Eyes rolling shut, he put his hand on her head and started to move. 

The feeling was as always both incredible and awful, as she could only take him so far. 

It was more a tease for what would come, but if this was his tempting, let it be so. 

Rey’s eyes shut tight and she pulled back a bit when he started to build speed. He would have to stop, but not before one last deep thrust. 

She pulled away gasping and he reached down, easily pulling her up by her restraints.

Kylo was controlled speed as he led her across the room, her breast bouncing as she ran to keep up. 

Into the bath they went, stopping in front of the impressively large mirror leaned against the wall, it's heavily gilded gold boarder catching the afternoon light.

He pulled her close, pushing her head so that Rey would have to look at her own reflection.

Kylo wanted her to see what he saw. She looked small and perfectly disheveled in front of him…

“Look. Look at how perfect you are,” He whispered, face pressed against hers, his fingers holding onto her chin to keep her still. 

Rey obeyed taking in the sight slowly. 

Kylo stood behind her like a living sculpture, the work of a stone master come to life, each long line of pale muscle was a stunning reminder of the strength he held. And she, with her arms tied, could do nothing but submit to that power. 

He stepped back to finish unbuttoning her dress, pulling it down to help her step free before draping it across the claw foot tub behind them.

The rest of her underthings were removed in order until she was naked, her hair still piled up in shining curls from the wedding, her white silk slippers still on her feet. 

She did look stunning, even to her own eyes she held the sort of beauty reserved for a bride and she was proud of it. 

Slowly, she felt the press of his hand along her spine, gliding along, stopping between her shoulder blades.

He pushed her down until she stood, bound and bent for him, waiting anxiously. 

Kylo grabbed her by the hips, and found her slick and warm. He sighed, shutting his eyes as Rey inhaled, both feeling that indescribable rush that happens in the first few exquisite seconds of joining, he pushed until hip bone met flesh and he could go no further. 

Rey was breathing hard, the size of him having never been something she could take easily, not right away.

He went slowly, admiring the sight of her stretched around him and Rey relaxed, reminding herself to trust him.

Being tied and bent made it hard to balance, but he held her with ease, just as he always did. No matter what position she seemed to find herself in.

Their rather unconventional taste in sex might upset one of a weaker constitution, but for the Lady and her Lord, it was an extension of their love. A play on power and possession that never left the moment, but made each time they indulged all the better for it.

This was the perfect example of such love and trust, as Rey felt safer tied up with Ren, than she ever could have with one of her more traditionally minded suitors.  

He was bucking into her now and she felt each stroke so deeply it made her belly ache, and the sensitive places between her legs tingled, a familiar vibration that started there and spread out in hot waves through her arms and fingers.

Such a wonderful thing, to be so ravaged by the man you love, she thought with a little yelp and a smile, and it felt divine as it always did, but, she wanted him to touch her. She needed him to turn his attentions to the spot that made her scream with delight, but she was still bent over and moaning as she took him in again and again.

The closer he seemed to come, the more she longed to be free to join him in the climax. 

Seemingly able to sense this, Kylo stopped and grabbed the cravat, uniting her with one hand until her arms fell and the bondage was forgotten.

With an urgency Rey stood, pulling away from him. In a whirl she faced her new husband, hopping up into his arms.

Kylo caught her and a fist full of her hair, pulling her head back to suck and kiss her neck.

She curled her arms up around the back of his head, raising her own to kiss him. 

“I want to feel it, I want you to do the …thing.” She mumbled and he smiled amused by her shy request but more than willing to oblige. 

Taking her to the bed, Kylo let her drop , watching as she sank down into the feather soft mattress. 

The sight of her on her back and her long legs falling open, nearly finished him off. Quickly, he leaned over his bride and pushed into her again.

Rey took him in with a wince, her eyes shutting the second she felt his thumb slip past her wet lips and begin to circle.  

Her body responded, instantly going tense. It was an involuntary response to having the apex of her nerve endings caressed this way. 

He watched her face, the looks of delicious agony beautiful.

His own pleasure was pushed aside for a moment, though he stayed inside of her, he would make her come first. 

Slowly he circled and pressed, his thrust more an absent back and forth as he watched, anticipating the shaking and gasping that would happen, soon, very soon, and then yes. 

Rey’s breathing became little gasps and she cried out, as an unexpected tear streamed from the corner of her eye.

Her entire body felt hot to the touch and there was a flush on her cheeks and between her breasts, her tight muscles rippling around him. 

Quickly, Kylo removed his hand and stood, pulling her by the hips until he was fully sheathed and finished with a moan before she could come down from her own high. 

Time passed in a slow haze.

He leaned over and kissed her, wiping her tear with his finger, their eyes locking as an unspoken understanding of love, trust and devotion passed between them. 

Kylo then lay beside her, his long legs hanging over the edge of the bed.

Rey was still until her breathing calmed and her eyes opened. She listened to the sound of his breath, now relaxed as well, and the very faint, very distant sounds of the reception preparations happening somewhere below them.

“Do you think that maid will say anything?” She wondered aloud looking up at the canopy. 

Kylo was still feeling the full rush of the moment as he turned his head to see her.  

“Wouldn’t you?” He asked and Rey giggled.

“Oh if it were me, the entire staff would know by now.” She said and pulled herself up to lay on him.

He sighed shaking his head in spite of his amusement “She didn’t seem too bothered”

“No! I think she would have joined if we’d asked.”

He laughed and rubbed his eye with the palm of his hand.  “I should not have brought you to France.” He said with a crooked smile “Or perhaps I’ll leave you here." 

 

**

 

The call to supper came not long after they’d bathed and Rey had ushered Kylo out of the dressing room so that she could take her time with the help of the maid Calrissian had assigned her.

Choosing one of the other dresses she’d purchased in town, Rey turned left and right, happily admiring the frock. 

This one was white as well, but where her gown had given her a delicate innocence, this gave her the look of a young woman turned seductive wife.

The waist was synched tight, her hips accentuated by a small panniers under the dress, and the silk fabric had been sewn in a gathered sort of way that gave her thighs a more curved silhouette.

She sat in front of the vanity, marveling at the way her breast had been pushed to great heights, while the last few strands of hair were gathered up and twisted into a bun on top her head

A light knocking caused both Rey and her lady’s maid to turn, finding Lord Ren standing in the doorway tugging at the sleeves of his dinner jacket. 

“Ready?” He asked with a smile so warm, she blushed and looked away. 

“Do you think so my Lord?”

Kylo walked over and looked down at her in the mirror, finger hooking under her chin to raise her pretty face to the light.  “I do,” He said with a nod and their reflections smiled at one another. 

The maid quietly stepped away, thinking of the gossip spreading downstairs based on what Delphine, the new maid, saw earlier. She hid her knowing smile behind her small hand, glancing up at them. 

This house saw all types, people came and went as often as the changing of the weather, and rarely did she see real love shared between it’s guests. This kind Lady and her somewhat frightening Lord were of the small few who knew the blessing of it. She hoped they would feel that love longer than most. 

*

With an arm out to escort her, Lord Ren and his Lady came down together, making their way to the dining room. 

The reception was a small, private affair.

They knew only Lando and apparently another friend of Ren’s father, made known to her by his embrace of Kylo who shockingly did not fight it, in fact, she was certain she saw his eyes go a bit moist. 

The man was named Chewbacca, which she found fascinating, having never heard a name like it before.

He was a kind, funny fellow as tall as, if not taller than Lord Ren, with a lovely sense of humor and an unusual accent.

Rey felt an instant connection to him and had to be pulled away to greet the rest of the dinner guests.  

The fact that no one knew them seemed of little importance as everyone was enthralled with the couple.

Rey found herself retelling her story multiple times, though she tried to keep it as short and nondescript as possible.

After dinner, instead of the parlor or sitting room, they moved out to a large tented area on the grassy hill.

Rey felt like she’d been living in a dream from the moment she opened her eyes this morning, or better yet a story penned by some hopeless romantic with a wicked sense of self, it all felt so indulgent. 

Lanterns were sat and hung all around them. Over sized cushions were strewn about the floors and expensively upholstered chez were occupied by those Lando wished to have in attendance. 

The drinks and deserts were passed and shared with enthusiasm, making Rey feel like an ancient Roman queen.

From her seat on the long sofa, she grinned and took a swallow of the sweet red that seemed to come from an endless wellspring of wine. 

Looking over her shoulder at her husband who reclined behind her, she watched him smiling at a joke told by an especially bawdy guest, his own cup held tight and nearly empty.

How had they ended up here, she wondered with a contented sigh. 

But then, how could they have ever been any place else.

From that moment on the road to the first time he kissed her after their raucous fight, she’d known it would culminate in something beautiful and otherworldly. 

Above the revelry, a silver moon hung low and stars dotted the black sky. Their reception tent sat like a beacon on the hill, calling out to lost souls with a dark heart, capable of love. 

 

**

 

Kylo had arranged for them to stay for two weeks, which was more than Rey could have hoped for. 

She spent time in the vineyards and enjoyed the company of the Count’s closest friends, a man named Lobot and a beautiful woman named Tendra who seemed to believe Calrissian in love with her. 

But it was her talks with Lando that truly struck a chord.

He never revealed anything more than a few fond memories of his friendship with Kylo’s parents, but this only made her want to know more. 

It seems Kylo’s father, Han, was quite a character. When Lando spoke of their misadventures, he did so with such a spark of light in his eye, that Rey felt as though she were transported through time and space with his story telling. 

Truly, it felt good to connect her husband to something and someone real.

Flesh and blood that explained his own wild nature. 

However he still refused to speak of his mother, and when she asked if the Lady was alive, Kylo simply replied, “of course” as though Rey were silly for implying otherwise

It worried her, but she knew it would all have to come out eventually, but perhaps a little coaxing would help. 

*

Alone in the fields one day, Rey walked ahead of Kylo nearly unaware of his presence.

They’d had a lovely, relaxing lunch near the fountains and she’d enjoyed a little more of Count Calrissian's white wine than she’d realized.

It left her feeling warm and hazy and completely carefree.  

Kylo watched her from a distance, admiring the way she looked when the weight of the world was not upon her smooth, soft shoulders. 

He reached for her, in her summer dress of light blue, needing to touch her, but in her ignorance to his efforts, she moved away and bent to pick a few flowers. 

Smiling, Kylo waited until she stood and gently ran his fingers down the length of her bare arm to tickle her palm with his touch. 

Rey looked up at him over her shoulder, startled, but instantly calmed to find him there.

She smelled the flowers before walking on, content to have him follow her silently. 

They went, leisurely breaking through the tall grass, leaving a trail of shining bent blades in their wake until they came to a large tree. 

She gave him a sidelong glance that dared him to catch her and with a laugh ran towards the thick trunk. 

Cutting to the right, she spun and went back to avoid capture only to have him surprise her by grabbing her wrist to the left of the trunk before she could run. 

With a gasp and laugh she went tumbling back against him, falling comfortably into his embrace. 

Rey inhaled his scent, aroused by the physical change in him, brought on by this easy life no doubt.

He smelled of palm oil soap from their shared bath this morning, a sharpness from the fire last night, and just a touch of French brandy.

His white shirt caught in the breeze, unbuttoned to his collar bones, and no cravat to stiffen his movements. He wore grey breeches with his boots instead of the black she was so used to, and this version of her brooding Lord awakened a joyfulness in Rey she’d not yet felt. 

Slipping free and turning to tease him, she narrowly escaped his grasp again and again, all the while admiring the way he looked in the sunlight, watching as his black hair touched the white fabric of his shirt, like the strokes of a pen, elegant marks that changed with the winds.

And then his mouth was on hers quieting her laughter, and she felt the scrape of bark on her back as he guided her to the tree. 

The air cooled her thighs as they both raised her skirts, and she dropped her collection of wild flowers to the dirt below, interlacing her fingers around the back of his neck as he easily freed himself from the confines of those lovey grey pants. 

Out here in the sprawling green countryside, they were were truly alone. 

And they fucked like the only two people alive.  

In a sweating mess husband and wife lay in the grass afterwards, neither speaking for nothing needed to be said. 

At the peak of this new bliss, Rey sat up, tossing her hair from her eyes. She gazed out to the left and right, happy to see nothing but land and sky for miles. 

She stood and pulled away from him, wandering around the tree, admiring the patterns made by the bark and overlapping green above them.

This was a special place, a place of peace, and she would use this natural environment to open the conversation he’d been refusing to have for far too long. 

“Kylo”

He opened his eyes, his head cradled in his hands beneath him.   

She took a moment to admire his astonishing form, long and relaxed, his shirt still open, breeches open too, just enough to show a hint of silky black hair… she swallowed and looked away.

He’d just finished fucking her into the ground, and still she blushed at the sight.

Composing herself, Rey looked back into his eyes. “Tell me who you are.” She said softly.

He lay unmoving, face unchanged. She wondered if he’d heard and then he spoke. 

“You know who I am.”

“I do, and I do not.”

“What you know, is the best and worst of me, and there’s really nothing more.”

“I doubt that very much.” She said sitting beside him.

“Not here. Please.”

“Why not here? It’s seems a perfect place for truths to be told.”

“It’s no so simple as that.”

Rey studied him for a while before nodding. “Alright,” She said. “It’s just that, you never speak of them.” She dared to push on. 

“Theres nothing to say”

“Theres Nothing to say, there’s nothing more to you than what I already know….Kylo, you must stop holding back from me. Enough keeping your past locked away, out of what? Fear?” She asked and stroked his face in a single movement. 

He looked up at the sky for a while before turning his head to her. “I’m not afraid. Just not interested in discussing it.”

“It, I believe the word you’re looking for is them. Them, your parents, your family.”

“You’re too concerned with the past Rey. How many times have I told you to let it go, let it die. The past was never kind to us, either of us. I like the future.” He said and pulled his hand from under his head.

He touched her face, and then let his palm lay over her belly. 

Rey’s eyes shot up at him. He wouldn’t... “You dare distract me with something so precious. You truly must fear your secrets being told to stoop so low.”

He pulled away and sighed. “I never thought I’d be a good father, I never thought I’d be a husband either.”

“You’re only a week in my love, do not boast.” She shook her head looking away.  

He snorted a laugh and shut his eyes. “I never thought I’d be those things because until you, I never wanted them or thought anyone would want them with me. Children will happen, and they won’t care who I come from.”

“Oh, and you’re angry that I do.”

“Not angry” He said shaking his head. “Just not interested.”

“You’re impossible.”

“I know, we both seem to find the other to be rather improbable”

“You’re just so stubborn and difficult.”

“Yes”

“Don’t agree with me!”

“Why not?”

“Because it’s, well it’s very annoying,” She snapped and turned away to face the open field. 

He laughed and reached over his head for her, long fingers groping until she sighed and slapped his hand away. 

“Don’t be upset.” He said and smiled. 

“Well, I can’t help it, I’m worried that what you’re hiding will be something terrible that could change everything between us.”

He was silent for a while, though she could hear him thinking. 

Like a sleeping giant waking for the first time, Kylo slowly rose up to sit behind her, long limbs working until he was comfortable with his back against the tree.  

Pulling a somewhat reluctant Rey to him, he crossed his arms around her, holding her close.

“The mistakes of my father, the, poor choices made by my mother, are all things that have shaped me. I won’t let it determine who we are. I don’t want to talk about it because I don’t want it to define who I am anymore.”

“Thats impossible” she said softly, her head laying against the hard curve of his bicep. 

“Somewhat, but, I try to be better.”

Rey smiled knowing this was true, though when he failed his temper was still spectacular, his efforts did not go unnoticed. “Just promise me that nothing from your history will haunt us as we build our own life.”

“I promise” He said quickly, arms tightening around her. 

“And.” She sat up and looked back at him, his clear hazel eyes bright in the afternoon light. “Promise me, that the man you are here and now is who you will be when we return. I don’t like what the First Order does to you. I want you to be strong and stand up for yourself when Snoke sends for you.”

“Forgive me Rey, but that is something you’ll never understand”

“Possibly, but, I can not continue to pretend I don’t know that you’re a part of something that frightens me, and a lot of other people.”

“No one should fear us. We are not the enemy”

“Well surely you don’t think so, you see the good in your cause, I see all the ways it could go wrong. It’s new, but growing so fast, I’m afraid you’ll be swept up in the tide.”

“I am the tide.” He said looking away. 

She felt a chill, very much akin to the way she felt when her grandfather spoke in this tone. Something about them was so similar that it gnawed at her daily, though she ignored it. Her beloved Lord could never be like that man, but then, hadn't he already proven it to be true. She was sure Snoke was of the same ilk and for a moment she felt her world go grey as the color of ignorant bliss faded and the dark reality of the men around her stole her joy. 

“But, I have no intentions of using my status to hurt anyone.” He said, his palm against her cheek. 

Rey looked up and saw the kindness in his eyes return. 

She sighed, laying her hand over his. “So many things to question, but then you look at me and I forget everything. I don’t know if I should hate the power you hold over me or let it consume me.”

He held her wrapt with his gaze, slowly pulling her close until he kissed her. “I know how you feel” He said softly and watched as she laid against his chest. “And I’m sorry”

“For what?” She asked moving until she felt comfortable. 

“I did not mean to distract you with the idea of children, that was not my intent.”

Rey smiled and nodded. “Apology accepted.”

She looked out at the waving blades of thin grass and listened to the steady rhythm of his heartbeat. “When it does happen, you’ll be a fine father Kylo, I know it. Your capacity for love is as great as your ability to hate. Our children will be worshiped.” She said and closed her eyes, all too aware of the way his heartbeat quickened. 

*

Sitting back, the old man looked over his letter, reading once more to be sure of his message. 

Grumbling, he approved and set to sealing it with the wax and hidden stamp in the locked drawer of his office desk, where he kept it from prying eyes. Namely, the inquisitive watch of his unruly granddaughter. She may be away on her honeymoon, but he still felt the need to keep his secrets safe. 

Once the paper had been folded, it’s words hidden from all but it’s intended, and the seal of his true nature pressed into the blood red wax, he called for Soames and instructed him to have it sent right away. 

Satisfied, he allowed himself to take a sip of port before settling back to think over all that had happened.

Years had he spent putting things into motion, years of sleepless nights and endless moments of meditation and deliberation maybe even some regret, but not much.

Now, things were falling into step and he could watch as his many seeds were sewn, having sprouted into fully formed plans to be harvested.  

Ren had been perfect in his acts as commander. Hux even more so, though he lacked the natural abilities of his equal, his tireless efforts were to be commended. 

With Snoke securing a firm hold around the unsteady legs of an already crumbling monarchy, all that was needed was the final squeeze and the entire thing would come crumbling down, and then, they would build on the rubble. 

From the ashes of one fallen power would rise another, greater empire, that would see his life’s work fulfilled. 

He tossed the rest of the dry wine down his throat, his celebration silent but no less grand. 

Pride was never something Sheev Palpatine lacked. To build an empire you must see yourself as worthy, you must understand that the sacrifice of a few meek men is necessary to give the strong ones a platform to stand on. 

A little smile twitched across his lips as he thought back to the years of betrayals and the lives he’d ruined all for this one purpose. Yes, he was proud of his work indeed, he was proud of the empire he’d built, and once he’d used them all to cement it, he would proudly call himself Emperor. 

*

The sunrise was stunning, turning sky and clouds a deep, rosy pink. 

The pale stones of ‘Ville dans les Nuages’ shone a soft white, living up to its name. 

Rey and Kylo made a quiet exit, thanking Lando for his hospitality with hugs from her and a long handshake from him, before climbing into the carriage that would carry them to their ship. 

As they pulled away from the estate, Rey rested her arm on the window ledge laying her cheek down to watch as the place slowly faded from view. She seemed to always find herself leaving the places she loved most.

With a reluctant sigh, she slipped back into her seat and looked over at Kylo who was smiling at her. “You want to stay?” He asked

“Yes, of course” She replied dreamily. “I’ll miss it very much. But, we must get back and see to things at home. I do worry I’ll forget that any of this ever happened though. It was all so lovely. Almost too perfect to be real.”

“All the more reason for us to come back, in time. I think Calrissian's maids were tired of us.” He grinned. 

She laughed a little and shrugged. “I take no blame for that, you’ve become nothing more than a wild animal since our vows. Rampaging about, naked like a great beast on the hunt.”

He shot her a look that made her giggle. 

“Breaking things, leaving all of our bed linens in heaps on the floor!” She went on dramatically. 

Kylo raised a finger of warning at her which only made her laugh. His intimidating ways might work on strangers, men who coward in his path, women who had never had him on his knees before them, but not on his wife.

She was amused, enamored, but not a drop of fear to be seen. 

“You’re a mad, wild creature and if I were Lando I would never permit you to step foot on my land again!” She snapped though her sparkling eyes broke the facade of outrage.

Rey screamed with laughter as he grabbed her legs and yanked her onto her back simultaneously dropping to his knees to press his hips to hers.  

Kylo leaned down to kiss her lips, the sort of kiss that held the want for more and she knew he would not give up so easily.

“Oh, Kylo no! It’s so early, and the poor coachman!” She tried pushing him away. “Im certain he doesn’t want to hear that.” 

He shook his head no, black hair spread out over her as he nuzzled her breast and found the hem of her skirts. “You’d better stop!” Rey said, eyes up on the ceiling of the carriage, smiling lip held between her teeth.  “Don’t you dare!” She demanded knowing what he had planned. 

“I can not imagine a better way to start my morning.” He said thoughtfully, eyes gleaming before he tossed her skirts up. 

“Kylo! No!” She shouted but could not stop her laughter when he shoved her legs apart and growled his approval.

“This is not how a gentleman behaves!” She laughed and gasped as he kissed the inside of her thigh. 

He stopped then and looked up at her, head cocked, brow raised. “My, dear woman, you know very that well I am not a gentle man.”

Rey cried out the moment he dove back down, his warm mouth found her quickly, and he did not hesitate to bury himself in the wet divide. 

Wanting her out and exposed, he shoved her skirts up more until Rey could hardly see over the dark fabric and white lace of her underthings. Not that she could keep her eyes open. 

He paused for a moment to admire the half naked sight of her before taking each thigh in hand. 

She was so wet and restless. The carriage hit a stone in the road making her legs open a bit more and he could not decide which way he wanted his wife.

In the moment all options were as desirable as the next. But the taste of her was strong on his lips making his decision much easier. 

Tossing a leg over each shoulder, Ren lowered and used his fingers to spread her apart before tasting her again, and again until he had her bucking against his face. 

Rey slapped the wall of the carriage, fingers digging into the thin fabric wishing she had something the hold onto. 

“Kylo please!” She said slightly embarrassed by the sounds the coachman surely heard. 

He stopped and pushed down her mess of clothes to see her face. “Rey, you are my wife. I am a Lord and you are a Lady.” He said simply. “You may do as you like, and currently it seems that you would like to come. Would you?” He asked.

Her heart was pounding as she nodded. Gods but she did love this man. “Yes” She managed and he yanked her legs apart again. 

“Then shut your eyes and forget about all of this,” He said shrugging towards the walls of the carriage. “And come for me.” 

The black coach went rolling past a small orchard on it’s way to the docks, and a flock of birds flew off as it passed, the high pitched cry of the woman inside enough to frighten them away.

Kylo helped the exhausted Rey back up onto the bench, returning to his own seat to smile at her. 

Eyes half open, she was liquid against the wall, unable to speak, but she smiled at him, noticing the firm outline of his breeches along his thigh.

She grinned and managed to  pushed herself up, going to her knees. 

His eyes went wide, surprised to find her ready to return the act, but more than willing to accept. 

Within seconds, she had her lips firmly around him, his hand stroking her soft hair as she started to slip her mouth up and down, bobbing her head gently, her tongue working miracles.

He looked out the window at the view of the French countryside and wondered when they would come back, should they even leave… This place was freedom from so much, and she turned into this… he looked down again and gripped the bench beneath him, his other arm hung out the window and his palm pushed into the side of the carriage. 

She moaned, sucking and swallowing him as far as she could and Kylo shut his eyes with a deep sigh. 

The poor coachman indeed.

His moaning was not as boisterous as his wife's, but the physicality of his orgasm surpassed hers as he went rigid before exploding into her mouth and down her throat, the pulse of life beating until he was finished. 

Rey pulled away and looked up at him, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand before accepting his invitation to join him on the bench.

She crawled up, sitting beside him, laying back in the crook of his arm and let her eyes close as he kissed the top of her head and settled in, feeling complete and perfectly empty.

there was a sense of calm nothingness inside the coach. No worries or fears, just their love and the satisfying exhaustion.

Both closed their eyes, now, lulled to sleep by the rocking carriage as it carried them home.

 

 

**

 

 

It felt strange to pass Naboo without stopping. 

The manor sat unchanged, lonely and cold, even in this warm weather, the windows were still dark, the front garden still looked badly in need of tending and she was certain her grandfather would be sitting in his chair near the fireplace grumbling about everything and nothing at all. 

Her heart sank a bit at the sight, but she did find some joy in knowing that Soames was there to see to things until she could make time to check in, which she had every intention of doing, eventually, perhaps she’d send a note first. 

For now it was time to settle into her new home, and Alderaan looked lively and warm as they pulled up. 

The servants were in line, waiting to greet them, Edmunds being the first to bow as they exited the coach. 

“My Lord, we’re most pleased to see you and the mistress returned.” 

“Thank you Edmunds,” He replied reaching back to help Rey down. She smiled and greeted Ren's trusted butler, happy to be back. 

But in that moment, all heads turned at the unexpected sound of a procession coming down the drive. 

“Who is that?” Rey asked still holding Kylo’s hand. They certainly weren’t expecting guests before stepping through their own door after so long away. 

He went forward trying to make out any sign of who might be in this carriage but there was nothing.

No sigil or indication of it’s occupant, just a driver, the coach, and behind it two men, who looked very much like guards on horseback. 

And then the simplicity of it became clear so suddenly, Ren nearly fell back but steadied himself, free hand curling into a fist. 

“Kylo, my love what’s wrong.” She asked unable to take her eyes off the nearing party. 

No one said a word after that until the coach stopped and the driver hopped down to open the door. 

Rey held her breath as the rider was revealed to be, a woman.

Older, but not so old that she looked bothered by the journey. 

In fact she looked regal, her thick hair done up in an elegant fashion, pearl earrings and a large pearl ring her only indication of wealth. That and the fine cut of her dress. 

She thanked the driver before looking across the gravel path to Rey and Kylo. 

“Who is she?” Rey asked, her voice a whisper. 

Unsteady, and breath light he answered “My mother.” 

Had Rey been looking she would have seen the pained look of a son standing before his mother for the first time in far too many years. His eyes wavered with tears, jaw clenched to fight them.

Her dark eyes fixed on him with the look of a woman who loved him in spite of so many things. She was calm but Rey could sense her many emotions bubbling at the surface as she studied his face. And then she raised her chin and with a smile she spoke

"Hello Ben." 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Rey was in awe.

She could not stop staring at this small, extraordinary woman who was indeed her husbands mother, a husband who seemed to have completely forgotten himself. 

Kylo was standing there, silently fuming, manners and respect all but lost with the shock of her unannounced arrival.  

Annoyed by his childish display of mutism, Rey frowned up at him and pulled her hand away from his. She crossed the path quickly to greet the woman. “My Lady.” She said with a deep curtsy, rising to find dark eyes very much like Lord Ren's. “It is, an honor to meet you, I am Lady Rey.”

“I know.” She said nodding kindly, wisdom and wit alight in her eyes. “And It would seem you are my new daughter. I’m Leia, Leia Organa Solo.”

Rey stiffened, surprised by her informality and even more so to hear a name she did not know. 

“Lady Solo.” 

“It’s, princess actually, but please, don’t bother yourself with that. You may call me whatever you wish.”

Rey’s head was spinning. None of this made a bit of sense, but then, how could it, his refusal to share his history had finally caught up with them both. “P-Princess…” She stammered. 

Leia smiled sympathetically and gave a look of contempt her to her son. “It seems he failed to inform you of a few things…apologies, I hope to remedy that soon.” She said and focused her attentions on Ren.  

Ignoring the whirlwind of questions flooding her mind, Rey watched mother and son, noting the energy between them. 

Neither spoke, but the tension was thick. Some sort of standoff was taking place and it was clear that even they were uncertain of what would come next. There was a deep power at play here and Rey hung back to give them the time they so clearly needed.

Finally, realizing it would have to be her, Princess Leia took the initiative “It’s been a long time” She started. 

“It has.” He replied looking somehow angry and excited at once, like a boy, a little afraid of the trouble he might be in. 

“You look well, and taller if that’s possible.” She said with a little laugh that warmed Reys heart. 

Kylo could be a little kinder though, Rey thought glaring at him. No matter what had occurred between them, surely it could not be so bad as to refuse his mother basic hospitalities. 

“Why have you come here?” He asked, and though there was no malice in his voice, choosing such distant words had not been unintentional. 

“Kylo!” Rey snapped, appalled.

The princess turned her head a bit, catching a glimpse of Rey from the corner of her eye. She seemed appreciative, but held up a hand to quiet her. 

Rey respectfully stepped back, lowering her head.

Leia sighed, her shoulders slumping ever so slightly, weary for just a moment before she seemed to find her reserve and looked back up at him.

She eyed her headstrong offspring and another moment of silence passed between them that only they knew the meaning of. 

“Kylo?” The princess asked, her tone somewhat accusatory as she folded her hands in front of her.  

He could not meet his mother's eyes, nor hide his discomfort as he glanced at Rey. He looked as though he might be worried over something that Rey could not pin down. 

Looking away, Kylo hung his head, and Rey realized she’d not seen him so chastised since their reconciliation in the old barn. 

“I’ve come to see you, and to meet your wife.” Leia went on moving past the moment.  

“I never sent a letter.” He replied raising his eyes to look at her. 

“No, but word does travel. You’re...known.” She said with a little shrug and an alert sounded in Rey’s head, but she remained silent. “I had to try.” The princess added quickly, with a hint of desperation. 

This seemed to strike a nerve and he softened a bit.

His twitching, nervous energy was very akin to his anger, but more painful to watch. Rey worried for him, but did not know the way to broach the unspoken subjects without causing more distress. 

“Well, I really wish you hadn’t.” He said. 

“I’m sure that's true, but still, here I am. Now either you’re going to let me in, or you’re going to turn me away. Which is it to be?”

He stared down at her as though he were trying to read her mind. When this did not elicit a response from her, Kylo cleared his throat and raised his chin defiantly.

Both women drew a breath preparing for his decision. 

“Rey.” He called. 

She quickly went to his side. 

“Will you ask your maid to prepare my mothers room.”

Leia exhaled.

“Which?” Rey asked looking from one face to the other. 

“I see Edmunds is still with you.” Leia interjected. She smiled at the butler who bowed to her. “Have him tell her.”

Rey blinked hard, clarity coming to her. So, this had been her house, or at least she'd stayed here at some point. 

With a touch of stern determination in her voice, the princess asked once more, "Now, may I please come in?" 

Kylo gave a stiff nod, offering her an arm to guide her along the path to the door. 

“Edmunds?” Rey gathered her skirts and went to the butler reaching for him with her free hand, her fingers spread, desperate for anything solid and steady. He offered his own arm for her and both watched mother and son walk into the house. 

“Yes my lady?” He asked, sounding as removed from their lives as ever. 

“Who on earth is Ben?”

 

**

 

Rey’s tea was cold and forgotten.  

She’d been sitting quietly in the dim library trying her best not to listen in, but they were just across the hall in the parlor, and though they never shouted, she was still able to follow the flow of their voices and catch the occasional few words. Any that she could not, she most certainly could feel, as there was a sense of deeply rooted anger and hurt in their tone. 

The torture of hearing snippets of their lowered words was nearly enough to drive her mad. 

Chewing her lip, looking over at the old clock along the wall and fidgeting in Kylo's leather chair, Rey grew more and more restless until finally she’d had enough. 

“More tea my Lady?” The maid young maid Sarah asked as she walked into the room. 

“No.” Rey snapped not intending to be so short as she waved the girl away, but her patience had grown thin. 

The princess was most welcome, but the lid to the box of secrets she’d opened would never close again. Every hidden history would come spilling out now, and Rey braced herself as she pushed up from her seat and marched across the room, beating the maid to the door.

She quickly crossed the wide hall and appeared in the parlor in a rush of skirts and nervous energy.   

Both Kylo and his mother looked up from their conversation a little surprised. 

“Forgive me my Lord, Princess, but, I can not sit in that room pretending as though every thing I’ve known for the last two years hasn't been a lie." She said wringing her hands as she turned her attention to him " Kylo, I must know what’s happening. You never told me a word about being, royalty… and, and did she call you Ben? Or was it Ren and my ears are aging faster than the rest of me.”

“She’s spirited” The princes said with such approvable Rey almost forgot to be angry. 

Kylo however did not seem amused and sighed deeply before coming to her. “Please, Rey, I promise to tell you…”

“You’ve promised me for too long. You always promise and then nothing comes of it!” She said, voice rising as she pulled away from his reach. 

Rey walked to the couch facing her mother-in-law and sat heavy, crossing her arms in front of her. “I want to know everything, and I want to know it now.”

Leia looked up at her son and shrugged a bit. “You really should tell her my dear, it’s nearly cruel to keep the truth from her.” 

Rey felt the grip of anticipation as she waited. Her heart was racing and a horrible little lump was growing in her throat as unexpected tears began to well. She so feared what she was about to learn, and hoped these revelations would not change the love she held for her husband. 

He sighed and brushed his hair back, giving himself a moment to ready his words. 

Walking to the middle of the room, facing both women in his life, Kylo spoke. “I'll tell you what you think you want to know Rey, what comes of it, I can not say." He said and she held in a little cry as she nodded. "This woman is my mother, and my mother… is a princess." He said as though he'd nearly forgotten it himself. "Which yes, does make me a prince but a prince of what? A few forgotten estates and a nearly forgotten name. It never made any difference to me, or to him.”

“Him who?” Rey asked somehow able to brush past the news of his true status, too hungry for more. 

“His father” Leia said. She looked truly sad now and Rey wanted to reach over and take the woman’s hand but she resisted the urge. 

“What happened?” Rey asked instead.

“Love” Leia replied, brown eyes smiling. “Love and maybe a bad choice or two.”

“Yes, one or two,” He shot back.  

Leia ignore this and went on. “I fell in love with his father, Han, Han Solo, who was about as royal as a stray dog" She said with a little chuckle as she shook her head. "He was not my family’s choice, and while I had my reservations, I did find happiness with him,”

Rey smiled involuntarily at the sight of such fond memories etched along the lines of her face. 

“Han was, a good man. He loved us very much, he just never managed to settle down.”

“He left” Kylo said “He left us again, and again. And I watched you watch him leave, and you put on a brave face, but the hurt was there. I saw it. Just as I saw the way he came alive the moment he stepped out the door. Yes, he loved us. He wasn’t cruel, just never there, but that’s all it takes.”

Leia looked wounded by his words, but she’d clearly heard them before. She shut her eyes for a moment before continuing. 

“After a while, I asked him to just stay away" She said gently tossing her hands up in defeat. "I couldn’t keep letting him disappoint our son.” She said and looked at Rey, “Our son Ben.” 

Rey’s eyes went from Leia's waiting face to Kylo's nervous one. It was the same look he'd given her outside and Rey understood now. He was unsure of how she'd react to him never having told her his real name, and neither was she.  

“Why do you call yourself Kylo Ren?” She managed to ask. 

He went to her quickly, lowering to a knee, their eyes meeting as he took her hands into his own.

“Because that is who I am. Who I once was, doesn’t matter.” He said, the intensity of the statement palpable. “I was born into a world where I did not belong. I was a boy named Ben Solo, and I was sad, and angry and disappointed. When I left and found my own way, I found my name and my purpose.”

Leia sat watching, disturbed by his explanation but also amazed at the way her son seemed to worship this woman. She was a beautiful girl, strong and not easily silenced. So, I did have some influence after all, she thought with a smile

“Why did you lie to me?” Rey asked sounding horribly disappointed. “I left this village to marry a man I thought I knew, and now I've come back as his wife only to find that I am as ignorant of your history, as a stranger Kylo..." Her mouth clamped shut as though the name had slipped out before she could stop herself. 

“Yes you do.” He shot back. “You know me better than anyone Rey and I’ll not let something as foolish as my, name, change things between us. I am Kylo Ren, and you are my wife.”

“But, you’re Ben Solo” She said softly and touched his cheek as a tear fell over her own. “I wish to know who he is too.” She said and he shut his eyes frustrated with her insistence as he pulled away from her. 

“The person who knew him best is sitting in this room, and it is not me.” He said standing and without another word, turned to leave the parlor. 

Rey watched him go. She held her breath, her chin quivering as she fought the tears, but as soon as he was gone, she released the pressure.

“You shouldn’t cry for him” Leia said softly, as though she didn’t want to intrude. 

“Not for him, for me,” Rey answered looking at Leia who nodded in understanding. "Perhaps that's selfish but I feel very much alone right now princess, forgive me."  

"Forgiven." Leia answered quickly, and Rey had a strong feeling that the older woman might understand more than she let on.

“Was he at least a kind man before?” Rey asked wiping her face. 

“He was, it seems he may still be.” Leia said glancing up as though he were still there. 

“With me he is, but, I’ve seen such anger in him Princess, he is a man possessed at times.”

“He never got over his father leaving, and he certainly never got over his death.”

“I only know that he died but, if you don’t mind me saying, I never learned how or why.”

“Well, I’m fairly certain that’s because Ben blames himself.”

“But why?”

“Because he killed him.”

Rey blinked away the last of the tears, stunned by Leia's blunt words.

She sat up straight and cleared her throat. “He did what?”

“Before he came back here to Alderaan, Han did try to bring him home one last time. He went to their headquarters, you know of the first Order of course.” Leia said, Rey nodded. “He, well to put it plainly he asked Ben to leave that nonsense behind, to come home and free himself of Snoke’s hold before the entire thing got out of hand. There was some sort of altercation between them and from what I’ve been able to piece together Ben killed him to save Snoke.”

“No one is capable of such a thing” Rey said shaking her head refusing to believe it. 

“No, but a scared, lost, hurting child who lives on in a man grown and powerful, yes. Yes he was and is quite capable.”

Rey slumped back, hand covering her mouth. “I. I married him… I’m his wife…” She took a gasping sob and went to stand but her legs felt numb and heavy.

“Please." Leia said reaching over to her. “Please, Ben is still good, I know he is. What happened there, I believe in my heart was true manipulation. The danger is not Ben, or as you know him, Kylo Ren. The true threat lies with the man who convinced him to commit this act of violence. Snoke pokes at his open wound, knowing that with Ben’s skilled sword and leadership he can take power.”

“Thats what this is about?” Rey asked still reeling. 

Leia nodded. 

“Power and control?” She mumbled. 

“Isnt’ it always.” Leia said disgusted by the fact. “He has done things, things that I know of, some I don’t, but I know that it’s not really him. Those things were done out of desperation for some meaning, he was cast aside and looked for someone to care.”

“You cared.” Rey said wanting to defend the woman. 

“I did, but, I can not pretend to be innocent in this. My duties to the people took me away from him often. Many things happened in my life and to my family that I will not go into just yet, but my title as princess lost a bit of meaning after the death of my family. Still, I found myself leaving home too often or taking him with me and forgetting him when a cause won my heart. I love my son, but I let him down too. And when I worried he was growing too wild, too full of rage, I sent him to live with my brother in the hopes that he could calm him.”

“Your brother? You mean, Kylo has an uncle? Is he dead too?”

Leia laughed a little shaking her head, “No, he is not dead, but he has gone into seclusion. I receive letters from him occasionally but I don’t know where he’s gone.”

“Why? And how did he go from living with his Uncle to being controlled by Snoke?”

“Luke, Ben’s uncle, is a… he’s different. A wise, wonderful man. Skilled in many things. He is an exceptional swordsman, and believes in living a life of contemplation and devotion.”

“He’s a priest?”

“No.” Leia said with a chuckle. “He is his own faith. A man well traveled who has learned and taken from many people, on and on until he built a little religion all his own. He taught Ben to meditate and understand and control his rage.”

Rey’s ears perked, she’d never told Kylo about her learned skills with Akbar. It seems they had a secret in common. 

“It seemed to be going well, but something happened between them, neither has ever been willing to tell me everything, but they fought or nearly did and it seems Ben felt betrayed and left. I was away on a mission of peace and when I came to retrieve him, Luke told me he’d gone. Two months passed before I got word. I think a part of me died in that time, I really haven’t felt the same since.” She paused and her beautiful dark eyes looked, for the first time, the eyes of an older woman filled with years of regret and worry. “Finally he came home, but only to tell me that he was alive and well and that he’d decided to start a new life. He told me not to worry, that he was going to make things right. And that was it.”

“That, was the last time you saw him?” Rey asked astounded. “How old was he?”

“Just twenty.”

“It’s been nearly ten years?”

“It has.” Leia said, the weight of those words heavy in her tone. 

“Dear god, I am so sorry” Rey whispered. “I’m also now understanding much more about him in this short time than I ever have before.”

“And yet you saw it in him, the good. You loved him in spite of who he’s become.”

Rey met the woman’s eyes. “I love him because of who he’s become. Kylo is an incredible man. Flawed yes, but all men are. Everyone is. And he loved me in spite of my shortcomings, my lineage, my lack of wealth and lost status.”

Leia frowned and leaned forward a bit. “Your lineage?”

“Well, I just mean…” She drew back realizing they would have to meet now and she was not looking forward to that. “What I wish to say is that my grandfather is rather difficult and while I will not be rude and deny you a meeting,  I will not request it of you either…. he is an acquired taste to be sure.”

There was a look of suspicion in the woman’s eyes but she just nodded and sat back. 

“May I ask you something?” Leia asked. 

Rey nodded still trying to let the volumes of information sink in. 

“Are you aware, truly aware of what the Order intends?”

“No," Rey replied a little surprised by the change in topic. "But I worry every day.”

“You should dear daughter. You should worry every minute.”

“Surely Kylo does not have plans for anything beyond the starting of this political party..”

Leia just looked at the girl “You’re in denial, You love him and you don’t want it to be true. But it’s time to face the facts. If all goes according to their plan, you will be married to the man who helped bring down a monarchy”

Rey felt hot and the room lurched. “I can’t believe it.”

“You can and you must.”

“But, I can not love a man like that. Between his father and now this… ”

“You already do.”

Rey looked at her, the pain and shame contorting her face until she calmed herself and nodded. “Perhaps I can try to reason with him?”

“That’s a place to start.”

After a moment of thought, Rey looked up, understanding clear on her face. “Is that why you’ve come? To stop him?”

Leia nodded. “I want my son back. I want to free him from Snoke’s hold and I want to help him see that his path does not need to lead to such an end.”

Rey nodded. “Then, I think it’s time I stop pretending. Will you help me?”

Leia smiled then and reached out, Rey took her hand instantly. “I’ll do everything that I can.”

 

*

They’d moved to the doorway of the parlor. Leia held onto Rey's arms, smiling up at the girl she now called daughter.

“Go,” She said gently “He’ll destroy the entire house if you don’t go to him.” She knew just what her son was capable of, and just how powerful his new wife’s influence was over him. 

Rey took a deep breath and nodded. She composed herself quickly and Leia admired her spirit. Ben was never an easy child, and now he was a man still as difficult but with years of hurt and a lot of anger to fuel him. The Lady was a brave one indeed. 

For her part, Leia was sorry. She never meant to raise such a man, but, she had, though his mistakes and crimes and bad deeds were his own and she would not blame herself for those, she’d still come to right the wrongs of the past, happy to know that she had Rey to drive her words, and her actions home.

“Edmunds!” Rey called into the hall. 

The butler appeared and Leia stood next to her daughter-in-law. 

“Tea for the princess please, and anything else she should need.”

“Yes my lady” He replied with a bow. 

“And where is my Lord husband.”

“I believe he is in the gardens now my Lady”

Rey looked down at Leia. “I’ll let you rest, and, I’ll try to talk to him” She said rather unconvincingly. 

Leia gave her arm a little pat and Rey ran off, disappearing down the hall.  

Well, you did it, you’ve gotten the hard part over and done with, now we wait, she thought going back to the silk sofa. She sat with a sigh and thought of her son, wanting so deeply for him to find some happiness in his life. 

At least he was here at Alderaan, and though it was not the same as the realm it was named for, it was the place of his birth, his childhood. If any peace could be found, it would be here where his fond memories had been made, playing and growing among the remnants of the Organa legacy. 

Leia sat, running her hand over the still pristine fabric of the couch. This one had been her grandmothers. 

The estate had been her childhood home as well, and when her father was called to court they left it behind, breaking her heart.

Years later, as an adult she made sure to acquire the home, not that Luke would have fought her for it, he was always happier in a hovel. She chuckled to herself a bit and sat back looking around the parlor. 

Ben had left it all the same, not a thing out of place or touched. Whether this was from a lack of concern for stylings or a touch of nostalgia, she did not know. She was just happy to be back in her beloved home. 

So much had happened here over the years nearly all of it wonderful until the death of her parents…she’d closed the house up not able to come back for a few years. But then she’d met Han and once they’d settled down after too many adventures with Luke, their very small wedding happened just outside in the rose garden. 

She’d given birth to Ben in this house as well, upstairs, in her old rooms… 

He’d been such a sweet boy. Quiet and too smart for his own good. But eager to please and truly kind.

She remembered watching him the first time he picked up the wooden sword on the lawn to fight with his father and dear old Chewbacca.

When he could visit, Luke would spend all day out there with him, amazed at the child's abilities.

They’d had five beautiful years here, and then it all ended. The call to duty would not let them live a life of parties and cakes. 

They left, never coming back and to be here now was bringing up a few too many emotions. 

“Oh! Thank you.” Leia said as the servant brought the tea, startling her from her memories. 

She took a few sips letting it warm her wounded soul before getting up to look around. 

The familiar smells of the estate in summer made her smile as she walked, touching the curtains, running her hand over the piano that had been her mothers. 

At the small desk near the bookcase, she lay her hand on the smooth wood and remembered her father, and a lump grew in her throat as she rubbed the surface just like she would the dear man's arm when he worried over her. 

With a sigh, shaking from her repressed tears, Leia looked down noticing a clipping from the village paper.

Tilting her head, she saw why it had been laid out so nicely. 

At the bottom, in the announcements, was a small paragraph that read “The Lord Kylo Ren has wed the Lady Rey Palpatine in a private affair in Paris.”

She read the words so quickly her reaction to them seemed to happen before they sank in. 

Leia stumbled back landing heavy in the desk chair. 

No, she thought. No, it couldn’t be. Not after all this time. After so long…that name.

Her lineage. That’s what Rey said, without knowing how profound the statement was. 

Rey was Sheev Palpatine’s granddaughter. 

Her mouth hung open as she read again and again. How had she not known this, how could this have been kept from her? 

But of course Ben hadn’t spoken to her in nearly a decade, much less kept her informed of his brides family line. And even if he had, he would not have known who he was marrying, no one knew. In fact, any who knew of Palpatines capacity for evil was dead or had long since moved on. She may in fact be one of the last people alive who had survived his cruel intentions and now, her only, most loved child, was married to the mans granddaughter. 

Shaking her head, her hand curled to a fist, her face flushing as she looked up.

Once, Palpatine had tried to take everything from her, If he was still alive, she would kill him before he got the chance to finish the job. 

 
  

Chapter Text

 

Kylo took a wide stance at the edge of the stone patio. 

He relaxed his arms behind his back, eyes squinting against the sun to look out at the grand swath of land that he owned.

Typically there was comfort to be found in this view, but today it looked unremarkable and yet somehow cumbersome, like an infertile crop to a farmer.

“She’s incredible” Rey said suddenly appearing beside him. He glanced at her, unsure he was ready to speak just yet. 

“You’re lucky to have such a mother.”

He just turned back to the sprawling lawn, eyes shutting wishing she would disappear for a moment.

“You should talk to her more,” Rey said ignoring his silence. “I think she’s truly hurting.”

She is?”

“Oh, Kylo, ten years! No mother should have to endure such a loss.”

He raised a brow and glanced at her. “She seems just fine.”

"Don’t be ridiculous. She is a woman of pride and consequence, she can not be expected to walk around in the depths of despair forever, but surely you can not be so blind. It’s clear she’s been hurting all this time. If I had a son, I certainly would” She added looking off at the rolling green. 

He wanted to be alone but she was not the sort to leave him to his dark thoughts. It was nearly pointless to hope so. 

“She told me Kylo” Rey said, something in her voice scaring him instantly. 

He looked down at her, leaning away as he scanned her face, his own eyes growing wide. He was not ready. 

“She told me about your father…” Rey touched his arm “What you did.”

He looked away exhaling deeply, nearly falling apart before her. 

He’d known the truth would come out with Leia here, and though he’d hoped it would take a while, his wishes were futile. Any further attempts to hide this black stain that tarnished his past would only prolong the inevitable. 

“I want you to know, I choose to believe as she does,” Rey said, though she was not looking at him. She spoke intently to a patch of grass, as if she could not look him in the eye for this bit. “That you’ve been manipulated and corrupted by that man, Snoke. I dont think you’re capable of doing something like that on your own.” She said and managed to look up at him though it clearly pained her to do so.  

“Then I’m afraid you do not know me at all” He replied and walked away.

There was truth in what she’d said, but he was not ready to hear it. He’d been suppressing all thoughts and feelings about that day for years now, and he was not ready to process them simply because his mother thought his wife should know. 

Accepting that he’d been corrupted by his mentor would allow Kylo to forgive himself and to forgive would be to forget that in the moment, he had made a choice, and the choice resulted in killing the one man he never wanted to loose. No matter how many times he’d wished his father lost at sea or thrown in some debtors cell for two lifetimes, he never really wanted him gone, just to hurt. To know what it felt like to be betrayed by the one person who should never fail you.

Unable to keep his tears in, Kylo pressed his palm to his forehead hating himself. 

Remembering the day, his mind went straight to the moment he ran the man through. 

The look on his fathers face had been hollow, the shock and betrayal crushing, just as Ren had always wanted. But then the look faded, melting away to an expression of love.

Complete and utter love for his son.

And as Han touched his face, Kylo felt the energy of that bond course through him, just before his father fell, dead at his feet.

Rey followed him to the edge of the gardens and was reaching over to touch him now, but his reaction was one of disgust as he pulled away, rejecting anything that could make him forget what he’d become on that day. 

Ignoring her calls Kylo went walking towards the open moors, on and on, nearly aimless as he struggled to quiet the voices of the demons that plagued his mind.

Breathing hard, with an onslaught of anxiety, he stood, every muscle in his body tense as his eyes scanned the landscape searching desperately, But for what? 

Kylo felt lost. Until quite suddenly, he didn’t. 

Standing near the rocky hillside, he spotted a familiar group of stones . He paused, remembering the sight of his father taking a seat on the largest of them as a young Kylo… Ben,  would run down the steep sandy slope to the small beach below. 

Han would call out for him to be careful as his son ran full speed towards the water, but the boy would never listen. He was reckless and wild.   

Taking heavy steps towards his fathers empty spot, Kylo sat. 

Palms pressed against his knees, he took a deep breath of the crisp air and looked out to the dark raging waters allowing a few tears to fall. 

He hated feeling anything but anger and hurt when he thought of Han Solo, but with his mother being back, and these memories awakened, he seemed to only find the loss and sadness. 

Shaking his head he looked down, “I’m sorry” He whispered so quietly nothing was really said at all. Those two words played over and over again in his mind until the only thing he could hear was the far off rush of waves breaking on the beach, his voice lost among them. 

But there was more to it than this. He could not ignore the overwhelming feeling of being called, by who or what he did not know, but it seemed to urge him down. As though the answers to his unknown questions were waiting within the waves and sand, this force pulled him further along the path.

Feeling empty and powerless to it’s beaconing, Kylo made his way, sliding down the incline with ease until he stood on the flat sands. 

He quickly scanned the beach until he saw where he needed to be.   

The mouth of the old cave he used to play in as a boy was black, and to anyone else, quite an ominous thing, more a warning than an invitation. But this was the same place that he and his father had camped many times, late in the night after the tide, their little fire keeping them warm all night. Occasionally his godfather Chewbacca would come too, though he would sleep out under the stars, too big to fit. 

Kylo went to it without question, boots pushing against the soft sand until he stopped at the entrance. 

Leaning down to look inside, Kylo peered into the darkness finding it empty, except for some drift wood from the previous rising waters. 

He went inside wondering for a moment how his father, nearly as tall as he was now, fit inside with a lanky child tagging along. 

At some point the back of the cave had collapsed creating a jagged wall which stopped him from venturing too deep. 

Turning, nearly bent at the waist, he sat in the middle of the darkness, and looked out to the water, watching the white breaks on the shore across the pale grains. 

He sat that way for so long, waiting, just waiting for something to tell him what to do, how to move forward.

His state of concentration became meditation easily and he forgot the water and the cave and the sun that would fade soon. 

Deep within the void of his open mind, Kylo felt a shift. And then, as if the old man himself were here sitting beside him, he started to feel the weight of his guilt lift.

Sloppily brushing tears he’d been nearly unaware of from his face, he smiled thinking of the way his father would pull him close and say something silly to make him laugh when he was sad or hurt as a child.  

Solo had been larger than life, and any time he left home, he seemed to take that incredible energy with him. Its loss was nearly unbearable for Kylo as a boy, no, he thought with a pause, for Ben. 

But, no matter how often he’d gone, and even after the horror of that day, his father had never stopped caring.  

Perhaps even now, if he could, Han would make his son laugh and perhaps even forgive him.

But still, Ren heard the voices, dark and deceitful as they insisted he never forget who he was and what horrors he was capable of. 

This internal battle waged for so long, the meditative state became a near trance as he laid back on the cool sand.   

Lost to the war inside him, he’d fallen into a deep, fitful sleep, still unable to overcome the grief. 

Evening came on quickly , and the tide rose without regard for who might be lost in the cave. 

As his chest rose and fell with deep breaths, his eyes moved rapidly beneath his shut lids and long black lashes.

Images of Snoke’s angry, gnarled face ordering him to strike the man down deep in the belly of the First Order’s walls would be replaced by the sight of his father asking him to come home, the echo of Han’s voice fading to his mother’s. Leia’s pleas the same as her estranged husbands.  

He would cry out to them that he was sorry but it seemed no one was willing to forgive him, no matter how true the words were, it felt as though his voice had lost all power, his actions proving to be too loud.

Over and over again this brutal cycle played out until at last he saw Rey, her sweet face, and understanding smile, he felt her gentle touch. She called to him in his restless sleep and suddenly he was thrust out of the First Order’s dim halls and dropped to the beach. 

He was sitting on the rock now and beside him, was his father. Surprised but overjoyed, he turn to him and waited. 

Han glanced over and gave him a very familiar smile. Crooked, a little sad, but kind and warm. 

No words were spoken, the man just reached out and touched the boys face. 

And in that perfect moment, he knew. 

Ben understood what it was he had to do, and that he’d always had the strength to do it. He just needed someone to remind him. 

“Wake up son.” Han said, his voice so clear it broke Ben’s heart all over again. “Wake up…you’re drowning.” 

Eyes flying open, Kylo pushed up to sitting with a sputtering gasp, choking on the water that had covered his face. 

Lost for moment he flailed until he realized at some point he’d fallen asleep in the cave. 

Rising up he fell against the wall of the cave, still struggling to breathe. Quickly he assessed the severity of the situation and knew he had only minutes to wade through the water and get back to the hillside.

Pushing along the wall, he splashed against the current to escape and made his way out to a black sky and a full moon. He’d been here for hours.

Still catching his breath, Kylo pushed through the water, that reached him mid thigh already. He forced his way to the path, which was too soft to find his footing.

He slid back down on hands and knees, going under for just a second before rising up again, angry at the world for trying to stop him. 

Determined not to die alone in the dark, swept away in the unforgiving tide, he grit his teeth and pushed up to more solid ground, grabbing a large old root that jutted out from the rocky slope.

With one last attempt, Kylo engaged every muscle, focusing his attention on moving up and out, finally reaching solid ground.

Breathless but alive, He left the cave and the memories that would consume him behind.

*

After the sun set with no sign of him, Leia did her best to assure Rey that “he just needed some time” and that "he would come home and all would be right, very soon.” 

Leia also insisted he’d always been a bit dramatic, which came as no surprise to Rey, but this was different and she was truly worried for him.

To have this all come out unexpectedly had clearly pushed him further than the weight of keeping the secrets ever had.  

But, Rey tried her best to take her mother-in-laws words to heart, and so she dressed and sat at dinner, picking at the food, and swallowing a little too much wine. 

Leia did seem a bit off, Rey thought as she set her glass down. In spite of her collected demeanor, that line of worry between her brows seemed to be for more than just her missing son. But Rey did not have the strength to ask what was wrong, not tonight.  

After dinner, Rey went to their rooms, awkwardly accepting the help of her new ladies maid, Sabe. 

The young woman brushed her hair, which was a surprising comforting and Rey put on the simple nightdress that she’d lain across the bed. 

Each task was made easier with the help but were really nothing more than attempts to stay sane as she worried herself sick over Kylo. 

Finally, she’d managed to fall asleep though it was restless, and a frown fixed on her face as she tossed and turned never really succumbing to the night. 

Until finally, It was over. 

Opening her eyes, aware of his presence in the room, Rey looked up at her dripping husband.

“Kylo!” She said in a whispered hush as she leapt from the bed. 

Rey threw her arms around his broad, cold shoulders.  “You’re soaked to the bone.” She said confused as she looked him over, searching for signs of injury as nothing else could explain his absence and condition. 

He nodded watching her fuss over him. 

“I’m alright” He said, voice hoarse. 

“What happened?”

He shook his head and reached for her arm pulling her away. “Go back to bed, we’ll talk in the morning, I’m alright.” He said again, scanning her beautiful face. 

Irritated by his disregard for her concern, she looked up, ready to demand answers, but her gaze softened when she noticed that he looked at her as though he never had before.

Something was alive in his eyes that until now had been dormant. “You should get dry.” She said, ignoring his previous comment, her suspicions strong in her tone. “Come on.” Rey said turning to lead the way to the dressing room, convinced that he was anything but alright. 

*

While Kylo had been peeling himself out of his wet things, Rey had called for Sabe to light the fire in their room. 

It crackled and danced before them now as Rey stood behind a seated Kylo who’d pulled the tufted bench from it’s spot at the foot of the bed to the rug in front of the hearth. 

He closed his eyes letting the warmth settle over his naked skin, bare but for a towel around his waist while his wife brushed the thick black locks away from his face with the heavy silver brush she’d brought back from Paris.

Rey was listening intently as he tried his best to explain what happened. 

“Do you feel as though you can move on? Like you’ve gained his forgiveness?” She asked sometime after he’d finished and she was able to process it all.  

She quickly sat the brush down on the mantle then joined him on the bench, her legs towards the bed, his the fire. 

He looked down, lost in thought for a moment before nodding. “Yes”

She gave a little smile and ran her hand over his slick hair. “I think he would too.” She drew back and swallowed, steadying herself as she spoke. “Actually, I’ve thought of nothing else since you went off, and though I still have questions, I think I can too.”

Kylo looked her in the eye, surprised to receive the acceptance. 

“Rey, I need to ask you something.” He said.

“What is it?” She asked, turning towards him on the bench. She watched him, waiting and wondering where this might lead, all the while feeling very small next to him, as though the size of his problems were as large as the man himself. It was distracting for a moment but she smiled encouraging him to go on, hoping that what he had to ask would see their night end well. 

“I… I chose my name because I needed the protection” He said looking away, the orange flames reflected along the side of his face. “I wanted to wear the armor of a name no one knew, that I could mold and make my own. I realize now that I never really became that man. I’ve been fighting who I am for a very long time, and… I’m tired.”

Rey knew what it was he wanted to ask, though he seemed incapable of doing so, still, she truly understood and laid her hand over his.

Living a life made of secrets and lies tied together by heartbreak, would be more than most could stand. And it seemed to have finally proven too much, even for him. 
She studied the man for a moment, his broad, strong shoulders slumped, his head down hiding sad eyes, hands laying lifeless in his lap…he looked defeated, empty and finished.

Sliding her fingers tighter around his palm Rey leaned down a bit forcing him look her in the eye. “It’s alright,” She said softly before reaching with her other hand, gently slipping his hair behind his ear. She stroked his cheek,  and lifted his head, ignoring the way he resisted at first. 

“I don’t know exactly how you feel, but I know loss, and hurt and anger. I know what it is to hate and love and to feel the awful mixture of both for one person.” She pushed down her feelings for Palpatine and focused on him. 

“Ben.” She said his name and he looked at her. “You’re not alone, I’ll help you.”

He glared at her nearly unbelieving, but the honesty was alive in her eyes, as was her love and commitment to him, no matter his past mistakes. She would not leave him, and she had used his name.

He could only manage a quick nod as tears welled in his eyes and she leaned up to kiss him.

 

*

 

Rey sat in the window looking out across the moors. The worn cushion of her seat seemed a little more thin now, the shut in musk of a house with windows that were never open, more offensive. 

How had she lived in this stifling world for so long.

And then she felt his hand on her shoulder and she looked away, willing her heart to stop breaking. 

“We should be leaving.” Ben said softly. 

Rey nodded and took one last look out the window, a window she would never visit again. 

Her entire life had been lived looking through these wavering panes of glass, and now it was over. 

Princess Leia had been the one to deliver the blow, the death sentence to end any relationship she’d ever had with her grandfather, and she loved the woman all the more for it. 

In one afternoon, everything that Rey had ever questioned had been answered, why he was so cruel, why he never seemed to truly love her… she tried very hard not to cry as they walked down the stairs together. 

“Ready miss?” Soames asked with a smile. 

She nodded and touched his cheek so thankful for his love. 

The dear old butler it turns out had been a friend of her parents. He'd taken the position of head butler, and for these last few years, the only butler, to ensure that Rey would know some kindness in her life. 

The poor soul had served under Palpatine all these long years just to watch over her, as he’d promised he would and Rey was overjoyed to be bringing him back to Alderaan with them. 

The three walked out of the dark, silent home. 

Her back to them, Rey listened as Ben shut the doors to the manor. 

Naboo would stay in her name, but she would not allow anyone else to live in the home that had belonged to such a master. 

“We’ll see you there Soames, careful on the road” Ben said patting the man on the back as he climbed aboard the loaded carriage. 

Rey didn’t have much to bring with her, mostly books and items she'd collected over time, but it was enough to need the coach to carry.  

“There's room enough for you both my Lord.” Soames said taking the reins. 

Ben shook his head, as Rey watched from the drive. “We’ll walk, we need some time.”

The old man nodded and was off without another word. 

Rey smiled up at her husband who rubbed her arms and bent down a little to look into her eyes. “Ready?” He asked. 

She nodded and fell into step beside him. “Do you think he’ll come back?” She asked glancing over her shoulder. 

Ben shook his head. “I doubt it very much.”

He was right, why would he. 

The arrival of the princess had not gone unnoticed and as soon as Palpatine got word, he fled. Shocking that a man capable of doing the things he had, felt fear enough to run away, but indeed he had. 

There was no word, no note or letter sent, just Soames at the door of Alderaan a day after Rey found out the truth, to inform the Lady that the old man had gone. 

Assuming he had retreated to his cottage in the deep country, still owned but never maintained, Rey convinced the princess and Ben that this was enough. Let him die alone in the wilds. 

As they walked, she thought over the things her mother-in-law had revealed. 

Palpatine had sat on the then kings close council and assumed he would be able to marry the mans daughter and take over the throne upon the kings untimely death. 

She however, secretly wed another, and through this marriage was able to retain her seat on the throne. 

This bold, defiant act, had only been possible through the risks taken by two people who in the end had been Luke and Leia’s true parents, a young noble named Padme and quite possibly the source of Ben’s raging nature, the young knight Anakin, or so Rey gathered based on the description Leia had given.

After Padme died in childbirth and Anakin joined Palpatine in his cause, the children were taken and hidden from him in an attempt to save them from their father. 

Leia was raised a princess by her birth mother’s truest friends. Luke, was taken off to live a common life by their fathers former mentor. And the secret of who they were and the evil of Palpatine became nothing more than a forgotten rumor. 

Through the years, Palpatine made a name for himself and settled here at Naboo, the manor that had belonged to Padme Amidala. He'd taken it over after the death of Anakin in some bizarre sense of having conquered the family. 

That revelation had sent a shiver down Rey’s spine, and she’d made up her mind to shut the house down immediately. 

Now, of this part Leia was not certain and she would not give credence to hearsay, but Sheev was not a kind man that much was certain. But there had been talk that a woman showed up with a boy saying the child was his, he did not deny it, and allowed her to live on his property and cared for the boy as far as food and shelter were concerned, but nothing more.

She died of a fever and the boy, seeing what sort of man his father was, left home as soon as he was able. He came back just once as a man, begging Palpatine to take in his daughter and give her what he could not. And though the man's dark heart and strange ways were feared, the son was desperate for his child to live. Palpatine was her only hope.

Rey’s only recollection of this was standing in the drive, her childish cries echoing down the grey lane as she begged for them to come back… which they never did. 

She'd been no more than three at the time and over the years the memories faded. She’d assumed it was her father who left her, but had never been certain. Now she knew.  

And so, while Rey was being raised by cooks and maids, running the moors like a wild foal, Sheev’s ambitions grew reckless and he lost most of his fortune resulting in the humble life Rey had known. 

“Ben, I wonder, does he have more to do with the First Order than we know? More than what you’ve already told me?” She asked, thinking back to Ben's confessions after Leia explained it all to them. 

He shook his head. “No, he’s just a name on a list of supporters, nothing more.”

Rey nodded, not quite sure if she believed this. But Ben really had told her everything. At least what he knew.

From coming back to Alderaan in a desperate attempt to run from the deeds that haunted him, to following the command of Lord Snoke to make contact with Palpatine who he’d described as an old friend. A very powerful friend.

Snoke was certain of Palpatines ability to advance their cause and sent him his best man to ensure things went as planned. 

Rey did not understand how her ancient, curmudgeon of a relation could have ever helped any one but himself, and to a second glass of whiskey at that. But Ben had come anyway, and she was thankful for this. 

Ben told her, in what she believed to be all sincerity, that he’d been turned into something of an errand boy between the two older men. Letters and messages back and forth, a few times he’d had to draw his sword when the owner of a warehouse didn’t listen to their need for his space, and once he’d killed a man who plotted against Snoke, but “that was all”. 

She’d laughed at that remark, completely unamused. He killed just like the solider they’d turned him into. 

Still, he seemed to have a moment of clarity after Leia explained things to them and for the first time, he did not defend the actions of the First Order. 

In fact, Rey was certain his doubts were growing into firm ideas. 

Looking up at him as they made their way down the drive to Alderaan, she studied his profile for a moment, still awed by his unearthly good looks and sighed. 

“I’m not quite ready yet,” Rey said glancing up at the house and back to him. “Will you ride with me?” She asked already feeling the wind in her hair and the indescribable feeling of freedom that only a good ride could bring on.

Ben gave a nod, looking a bit relieved himself. “Of course.” He said, and led the way to the stables.

 

*

The steady rhythm of a full gallop rippled through Rey’s arms and legs. The thunderous sound of hooves hitting the ground exploded in her ears, and it was glorious. 

She’d purchased the beautiful mare as soon as her finances allowed for it and their bond was immediate. She’d named her Ifa, as the light that shone on the silver strands of her mane that day seemed to come from within. 

Rey held her reigns with ease as she guided Ifa down the lawn, and the young mare was as happy to fly free as her mistress was to ride her. 

Together they crossed the gardens and went down into the moors, avoiding the rocky cliffs, instead going up the slope of the hillside towards the woods. 

Glancing behind her, Rey grinned when she spotted Ben on his own black stallion. 

Whipping her head back around, she set her determined sites on the horizon ahead knowing today she would get to their spot first.

The ride would clear her head, but not as much as winning. 

With a little nudge she pushed Ifa to go faster, worried Ben had been holding back. He’d done it before only to eclipse her in the last leg of their race.

Their rides had become more and more competitive over time, especially after she acquired her own horse. She’d always come close to winning but never seemed to maintain her lead. 

Today she could just feel it, she would best him and declare victory, and for just a while Rey would forget that everything she’d known had been a lie to cover horrible, painful truths. 

From the corner of her eye she spotted the flared nostrils and black velvet curve of Nehru’s muzzle. 

Ben was not going to give up his tittle without a fight, as he should. It wouldn’t be a true win if she didn’t have to work  for it. 

With one last effort, Rey leaned forward to urge the grey mare on until at last she saw the little clearing. It seemed to come up in seconds, and with a triumphant cry Rey enjoyed the feel of the trees whizzing past her, successful at last.

“Well done” Ben called riding up beside her.  

With a toothy grin she rounded Ifa and wrinkled her nose at him. “I know”

Kylo laughed shaking his head as he dismounted and brought Nehru over to tether the reigns around a tree.  

“Pride is not a virtue my Lady.” He scolded playfully over his shoulder as Rey dismounted and led her horse to the same tree. 

“Then you, are the least virtuous man I have ever known.” She said with a sly smile as she finished tightening the leather reigns around a low branch. 

Squinting against the sun, Rey looked up as he took two steps towards her and wrapped an arm around her waist.

Ben smoothed her wind blown hair back with one gloved hand, letting a long strand slip over his fingers. 

Rey pulled her own riding gloves off and casually gave his chest a little slap with them. “Don’t be too disappointed, I’m sure you’ll stage an epic return.” 

He chuckled and nodded in agreement as he studied her face. “It’s good to see you smile.” He said gently and she looked away, the smile wavering. 

He was right, this was the first time she’d laughed since Leia sat them down in the parlor and told them everything.  

Looking back up at Ben’s concerned and furrowed brow, she smiled again, inhaling slowly, her eyes closing as he stroked her temple. 

“I don’t know how long it will last, but right now, it feels very good to be here,” She said still soaking in the moment. “Away from everything, alone with you.”

“She’ll be off soon”

Rey gave a quick laugh and opened her eyes. “I didn’t mean it like that! I love your mother, very much.” Her affection for Leia was clearly something she held dear. 

“I’ve always heard mothers-in-law drive their new daughters to madness.” He said holding her closer. 

Rey shook her head no. “Not mine, Im a very lucky woman.”

Ben nodded, his gaze lingering on her lips “Always able to see the good amongst a sea of bad.” He mumbled, his lips closing in on hers. 

Rey tossed her gloves aside to run her hand up along the plane of his chest and over his shoulder. She pulled him closer as she kissed him, her tongue playfully exploring. 

Ben closed his hands around her waist, moaning against her mouth as she pulled at his shoulders.  

With her husband so pliable in her hands, Rey realized just how desperate she was to feel in control of something.

Ben so easily bent to her will, especially when it came to sex. A little part of her relished the power, though she would never admit to it. After all, It was his love for her made it possible, but she would accept it just the same. 

Her lids heavy as she pulled away to look at him, Rey’s parted lips whispered something he could not hear, but the look on her face said it all. 

She began to push him down and watched with increasing excitement as the mountain of a man lowered.

Holding his face once their eyes were level, Rey ran a finger over his soft lips. She brushed the warm skin of his cheek with the back of her hand, and smoothed his brow with her thumb. 

Ben was and would always be, the most beautiful man she’d ever seen. And without the burden of so many secrets, there was a newfound ease to his dark features that gripped her heart. 

She sighed and kissed him hard, running her fingers through his hair, holding his head in place as she ran the tip of her tongue along his lips. He was hers to do with as she pleased and what pleased her most was having him, here and now. 

She kissed his forehead, and with her hands again on his shoulders began to direct him down. 

Understanding what she craved, he submitted, laying back on the cool grass while holding her by the hips, easily setting her down on top of him. 

She smiled with delight as she ran her hands over his broad chest, and down his torso, enjoying the feel of the solid muscle beneath his shirt.

She slipped her hand between them, fussing with the buttons of his breeches until she could easily slide her hand under the fabric where the familiar touch of soft hair met her fingers.

Wrapping her hand around him, she offered a few encouraging strokes, though he didn’t need it, and with a single smooth motion pulled him free to admire the thick length that sent a shiver through her belly.  

Ben moaned, eyes shutting quickly only to open again as he raised his head to look down. He watched in awe as she slowly ran her fingers along the underside of his shaft making his skin goose. 

Rey pulled away and began to gather her skirts, slowly inching the soft cotton up until her bare skin felt the touch of the breeze and his warm, gloved hands on her thighs. 

Rising up a bit, she reached down and met his gaze as she guided the way until they both felt the press and inhaled. 

Holding herself up with the strength her legs, Rey lowered, her moan deep and wild as he slowly filled her, as long and wide as a broadsword.  

Opening her eyes, she sat breathing heavy, ever so slightly rocking her hips. It took little movement to send her over the edge, and Ben was already lost to her, overcome by the feel of his wife’s perch. 

As her pace quickened, Rey looked up at the bright blue sky breaking through the branches of the trees above and for a moment wondered if she would find peace like this again once they rode back for Alderaan… 

His grip was bruising on her hips and thighs as she rode her husband. Peace or no peace, this was bliss and she would not let her fears of the unknown take it from her. 

Lashing out like a snake, she grabbed his neck, her fingers closing around his throat as she rocked liked the skilled rider she was until she felt the tingling numb spread down her arms. It was the same feeling as the first sip of a good wine. Warm and electric as it filled her with a buzzing high. 

“Ben.” She breathed her grip still strong, her other hand pressing down on his stomach for leverage. 

He looked up, brows knitted close, the look of pleasure so like the look of pain. He growled approvingly, a smile flashing across his face so quickly she nearly missed it. 

"My Lord.” She sighed and let go of his neck. Rey rested her hands on his shoulders and rose up and down, fast and deep, a steady rhythm until she cried out, lowering one last time to feel him touch the deepest part of her, reveling in the waves that sent her mind into a wonderfully empty oblivion for a few precious seconds. 

When she opened her eyes again, it was just in time to watch as he came with a few gasps and deep short breaths before his body went limp. 

“My Lady.” He replied with a little laugh. “If you feel the need to forget your troubles again, I am fully at your service.”

She laughed and lowered to kiss his cheek before sitting up to look over her shoulder.

“I will need you more than ever my love.” Her voice small as she looked back down at him. 

Ben reached up, cupping her cheek. “And I you.”

“I love you Ben” She whispered shutting her eyes, feeling their bond more now than ever. 

“I love you too.” He replied quickly and pulled her back down holding her close.

Neither was sure they were ready to leave the protective shade of the trees and the distant call of the birds. To walk away from this respite seemed foolish, why go back to the endless demands and danger of the reality around them...

But, as they pulled away from one another and brushed the dirt from skin and clothes, untied the horses and mounted up again, they rode off together, knowing that the strength of their love and determination would see them through whatever perils would most certainly come their way. 

Chapter Text

 

Rey stood beneath the night sky, its blue deep and glowing from within. 

The stars were speckled across the dark expanse, like paint flung from a brush. 

The beauty of this night however was lost on Rey completely, as the only thing she could see, was that which stood before her now. 

The little cabin, its timber black against the bright night, and the pale, hooded figure that stood in its door. 

She’d imagined what this moment might bring, over and over again on her journey form the north, she’d pictured it.

All that long way to the remote hideout of Sheev Palpatine, she’d gone through the many possibilities, and all of the outcomes. But now that she was here, she realized nothing could have prepared her for such a strange reality. 

When she’d paid the last coachman at the edge of the lane, and he asked if she was sure she wanted to go off wandering in the woods alone, she realized then that perhaps sneaking away from Ben and the safety of his body and sword were not her best choice.

But in her anger, and feeling the pain of a broken heart having come to terms with the unbearable truths about Palpatine, she’d run off into the night determined to confront him on her own.

After all, it had always been the two of them, her and her grandfather, why shouldn’t it be that way now at the end of it all.  

Still, there was an eerie feeling in the air, as though she were living in an altered reality  between asleep and awake.

It hurt to know that the man who’d taken her in when she was just a toddling child, really was the horrible evil behind everything happening, and had been all along. 

So many unspeakable things had been done at his command. So many lives, the lives of the people she loved most, had been ruined, all because of him. 

But real it was, and there was no turning back from it now. 

As the cold winds touched her face, and the strong sent of damp wood and earth filled her lungs with every breath, Rey resigned herself to this bleak night and raised her head to look him in the eye. 

“Come out grandfather.” She commanded. “Come and face me properly” 

One foot in front of the other, she took slow, sure steps through the waist high grass towards him. 

There was no path to the cabin in the large clearing. It looked as though the house had been dropped from the sky, becoming a part of the landscape and was known only to them that stood here now. 

“No more hiding,” She went on, “No more lies. You will face me and we will see this through to the end.”

His cackling laughter popped like lightning, echoing across the field. “You sound like a true Palpatine, granddaughter.” He said through his pink grin as he hobbled down the few steps. “That fire in you is strong, burning you up from the inside.” He could not have sounded more pleased if he tried. 

Rey had to shut her eyes and take a moment to calm herself.

She would not let him into her head so easily.

Yes, she may be like him, but she would not give in to her darker tendencies. 

“Will you face me?” She called forcing herself to look at him again. 

“That depends, do you intend on pulling that shining new sword from your side? I fear, my glory days with a blade are far behind me.” He said suddenly sounding very feeble, nearly begging for pity. 

Rey rolled her eyes annoyed with the antics and took a few more steps. “No, I don’t intend on killing you. But, you must be brought to justice.”

“Oh, and do you plan on taking me in yourself? Bind me up and drag me to the gallows?”

She ignored his dramatics and went on. “I’m here as your last chance to live. The rest of your life will not be what you’re accustomed too, but I don’t think this is either” She said looking around. 

Naboo may have been a ghost of its former self, but it looked like a palace compared to this ramshackle hut. 

Honestly she was surprised to find that this was the place he’d run to. She thought it would have been a comfortable cottage, not this square gathering of logs. 

“And will you show me the same mercy you showed Snoke?”

She looked back to him and wondered how the news had reached this hideout so quickly. There would be time to work that out later, she decided and focused on Palpatine again.

“Snoke would have killed us if we hadn’t stopped him. He deserved his end ” She called confidently. “He was evil. He wanted to burn the world to the ground just to dance on the ashes.”

“Oh, no no my dear, I’m afraid you are terribly, terribly wrong.” Palpatine said and began to wade through the grass towards her, his pale face illuminated in the dark by the sliver of moon, hanging high. “Those words are true, but they are mine. If Snoke ever said anything like it, he was merely expressing my, influence.”

“What does that mean?” She asked. 

“I made Snoke.” He said sounding proud. “He was no more than a lunatic general locked away in an asylum for war crimes. I took him from that filth laden cell and filled his head with beautiful delusions. He swallowed it all like a full bodied red.”

Rey stepped back. Snoke’s words suddenly made sense. He’d practically told them as much during his ranting. It was impossible to understand then, but now, out here in the dark, nothing to hide the truth from her, she could see clearly that yes, just as Palpatine had been the one behind the rise of the Order, he’d also been the master pulling Snoke’s strings.

“Was there ever a time it wasn’t you?” She asked 

He thought for a moment “No.”

Direct as always. 

Rey hung her head feeling the weight of knowledge crushing her skull. “You’ve nearly killed us all.” She said softly. “And for what?” She asked looking up with tears in her eyes. 

Palpatine stared at her for a moment before replying “For everything. What are the lives of a few when the masses will rise up greater and stronger.” 

“Rise up? Grandfat… Palptaine, there will be nothing left to rise from. What happens after your war, after you’ve rid the country of the king and his men. You begin to rule and what? The people love you? After you’ve taken everything from them?” She scoffed.

“Love? Again you look to this word as though it means anything! Fear is what a leader must use! Fear holds the key to unlimited power!”

The tears that fell rolled over her cheeks, and her heart ached as she wrapped her fingers around the hilt of the Skywalker blade.

Rey held her breath feeling the power of generations course through her.

She would have to do it. 

After everything it seemed it had really come down to this moment and she would be the one to rid the world of the devil Paltpatine, if she could just find the strength to strike him down. 

Rey paused before pulling the blade and looked once again on the face she’d known all these years as family, and wondered what it would feel like to watch him fall. 

How has it come to this? She thought shaking her head against the pain. How have we ended up this way… 

 

TWO MONTHS EARLIER

 

Grunting and grumbling her way through the basic movements, Rey cursed the day she’d stopped her training as part of a weekly routine. 

Ben however, seemed to enjoy mercilessly attacking his poor, tired wife. That wide grin giving him away completely.

One move spun into the next and clashed with another, pushing Rey towards her abilities, no matter how much she struggled to find her stride again. 

Of course she knew what she was capable of, but her body seemed to have forgotten, though her husband clearly had no intentions of allowing it to continue. 

She winced after a particularly aggressive block and damned her stiff limbs.

Too much time off to make room for a wedding, and an indulgent honeymoon... she growled in frustration forcing her body to keep going. 

How was Ben able to move his sword like he’d never put the thing down, she wondered through a frown as she called him a few choice names, none of them being the two he’d gone by.

Still, his efforts did seem to be having an effect. 

There was something maddening about his overly cocky smile and unnecessary flourish that spurred her on. 

Her fiercely competitive pride would not allow him to best her like this. And she reached down deep to awaken her sleeping strength, roaring like a lion as she dodged his strikes and turned the tide to rain an assault of lighting quick moves down on him. 

So well matched were they that Ben, seeing no end to the sparring lowered his sword and called a truce, which she breathlessly accepted with a grin.

Reaching her hand out to shake his, Rey gave a shout that exploded into laughter as Ben yanked her from her spot on the floor and into his arms. 

She protested but only to annoy him. She had no intention of fighting the natural progression of their combat and smiling against his kiss, she moaned approval, dropping her sword to wrap her arms around him. 

Ben’s attentions to her body were as skilled as his swordsmanship, and though Rey didn’t need the guidance in either anymore, the encouragement was always appreciated.

Up against the wall, skirt gathered, and her legs around his waist, Ben could hardly pull away long enough to fuss with the buttons of his breeches, but managed and Rey gasped in anticipation, feeling the pause before he found his way into her with a jolt making them both sigh.   

There was such a furious wanting that always followed them through their training. Techniques and moves could be forgotten, but this was as natural as breathing.

From that first time when she was just his angry guest and he the smitten, but prideful Lord, until now, the urgency of sex after a good match was still wonderfully powerful. 

Ben moaned into her neck, the deep rattle vibrating through her chest as her heavy breathing matched his rhythm. 

She hissed through her teeth as he gave her ear a piercing bite only to close his lips around her sensitive skin. 

Her fingers pressed into his back and she opened her eyes for a moment to see the way his shirt hung at his collar bone, a hint of his muscled shoulder enough to send her into a  frenzy. 

Rather unfortunately, Mr. Edmunds was currently nearing the doorway to the sporting room, certain he’d spotted the Lord and Lady on their way here shortly after lunch. 

Apparently, half way though their training, two guests had begun the journey down the lane towards Alderaan. 

Spotting the coach from the field, the young scullery maid had run back to the house and into the kitchen alerting the chef, and through a rather quick round of running and telling, both the butler and head maid went off to find the pair and ready them for visitors.

Mind lost in a world of organizing and running a house, Mr. Edmunds heard the faint sounds of the mistress but paid it no mind as he came to the door, only to quickly turn back, ignoring what he’d seen. 

Skilled steps silently returned him to the stairwell where he decided to keep lookout and spare them any further exposure.

“Mr. Edmunds!” He looked up and watched as a nearly breathless Miss Ferris, the new head maid, came trotting down the steps. “Sir! Have you found his Lordship or the Lady of the house? It seems one of the guests is from the First Order! ” She said wide eyed, as though this should have been enough to send the man flying from her path. 

When she tried to politely push past to no avail, Miss Ferris looked up, shocked that he could not be moved.

“The Lord and Lady will be up momentarily.” He said stone faced and unfazed. 

Miss Ferris narrowed her eyes suspiciously, until she heard a very particular sort of yelp which resulted in a deep crimson flush across her cheeks as it became awkwardly apparent why he’d taken a guardianship like stance. 

“Y-yes sir, excuse me, I’ll see that the chef has something light prepared for tea.” She managed, peaking around Edmunds towards the sounds before turning to scurry back up and away.

And had another soul been there, it would have been a sight to see as an amused Edmunds stifled a laugh. 

*

Rey ran through the stark halls of Alderaan that she’d grown to love, face aching from the smile. 

Not just Rose, Edmunds had said, but Finn too! On their way and probably walking up to the door this very moment. And after so long! 

The news had been enough to keep her from complete mortification on finding Edmunds standing guard near the steps. How long he’d been standing there, she didn’t dare wonder, but he’d informed them that the carriage was spotted half way to the estate, and the young maid had seen Lady Rose from the window.

Rey was a little nervous as she went, after all she’d written to Rose pleading with her to come and stay the weekend, to which Rose simply replied “perhaps” before moving on to another topic.

It was very unlike her dearest friend. 

But that didn’t matter now that she’d come, Rey thought, nearly sliding into her rooms. 

Ben had kindly offered to go up and meet them in his less that Lordy state, giving Rey time to at least change into a clean dress. 

“Sabe! Hurry!” She called to her lady’s maid with a giggle. 

The girl grinned and did her best to quickly pull the damp, somewhat smelly dress from her Lady and slip a clean one on. 

“I’ll take a long bath tonight to make up for it” Rey said glancing in the mirror as her maid tucked thick loose strands of hair back up into her bun. “Thank you!” She said flying to the door. 

She ran in a manner befitting an unruly girl instead of a lady and it felt glorious. Quickly down the hall she went, stopping along the banister of the mezzanine where she spotted them greeting Ben. Still grinning she trotted over to the steps. 

“Rose!” She called from the landing “If this much time passes before I see your face again, I swear I shall hunt you down and drag you back to Alderaan myself” She teased, bounding down the grand staircase.

Rose laughed and gave a little scream as she was nearly knocked over by Rey’s enthusiasm. 

“Not since before our wedding Rose!” Rey scolded. 

“Please, forgive me, I know I’ll have time to explain once we’re settled.” Rose said and Rey could not bring herself to be angry now that she was here. 

“I’m just happy that we’ve managed to come together!” Rose added as Rey pulled away and reached for Mr. Finn.

“My lady,” He said with a warm laugh as he kissed her cheek. “You look radiant! Marriage suits you so well I’m afraid to leave you alone with Lady Tico, she’ll begin to get ideas.” He said in a mock whisper from the side of his mouth. 

“Oh stop.” Rose hushed him with fierce disapproval replaced almost instantly by a smile as she shook her head at the man. 

From the doorway, Ben, back to answering to Kylo for the sake of secrecy and safety cleared his throat. “Rey, I’m afraid our friend Finn here is insisting I venture into town with him. Business that can not wait apparently.”

Rey looked up at the man, his perfectly smooth dark skin glowing as though he’d just come back from a very sunny climate. She narrowed her eyes and glanced from him to her husband before nodding. “Well, yes I suppose if it can’t wait? But surely there’s time for tea, you’ve only just arrived.”

“I’m sure you and Lady Rose have plenty to catch up on, as do we,” Finn said kindly. 

The girls looked at one another and resigned themselves to a lunch without the men, though, truth be told they both felt some relief for their own as of yet, secret reasons. 

“Back in time for dinner please.” Rey ordered as Ben gave her chin a playful pinch. “And for gods sake, put on a jacket” She teased in a whisper, glancing his lovely body up and down, that wrinkled white shirt showing more than was socially acceptable.

Ben looked away nearly sheepish which made her laugh, but he obeyed and quick goodbyes were said to the men as they grabbed riding crops and gloves from Soames. 

Rey turned to her friend. 

With a great sigh of relief she held her hand to her forehead “Thought it’d be much harder to get rid of them! Now we're free.” She said with zealous relief, and they stifled their laughter as the men walked out the door.  

*

Tea was shared in the parlor, during which Rose was introduced to the princess.

Her title was as much a surprise to Rose as it had been to Rey and she selfishly enjoyed watching Lady Tico nearly choke on her oolong when the women were introduced. 

Yes, Rey thought hiding her smile, she had indeed managed to marry a prince without knowing it. The stuff of strange fairy tales indeed. 

“She’s exquisite!” Rose exclaimed once she and Rey escaped to the gardens for a walk. 

“Isn’t she. It seems almost unfair to all of the women out there cursed with cruel mothers-in-law that mine should be so kind.” Rey said feeling carefree for a moment. 

The end of summer was hinted at with these cool afternoons, but she did love them so. The sun was such a deep color this time of year, and the sounds of nature intensified, making a lovely symphony as they strolled. 

“Well, I certainly hope to have half your luck.” Rose said with a little shrug.

Rey glanced side-long at her companion and a smirk grew on her lips as they rounded the gravel path and came to the ivy covered walkway. 

“And how soon should I be expecting some news?” She asked. 

Rose waved her inquiry aside shaking her head. “Oh I was only being silly. I’ve no need for a husband, not really.”

“I see, keeping Mr. Finn close should you suddenly… need him?”

“Oh Rey! Don’t be crude…. We are dear, dear friends.” She said and Rey noticed the way Rose’s hand lay gently over her heart as she thought of the man. “But I don’t believe either of us is quite ready for the commitment, not yet. Thats not to say it’s entirely out of the question, but, in its own time”

“Perhaps I should have considered your devotion to the life of an unwed woman.” Rey said wistfully, and Rose reached over taking Rey's arm firmly stopping her on the path.  

The two friends met eyes, and Rose frowned “ Don’t say such things Rey, surely your love is not in question. It’s clear to everyone that you’re both deeply in. So what is it that makes you doubt your choice?”

“I don’t, not truly.” Rey confessed and looked away, walking again “It’s not even B… Kylo, it’s just. There are so many things that have happened Rose. So many things, and the weight of it all feels crushing at times,” Rey bit down on her lip, afraid tears would fall as they walked.

Clearly alarmed by this, Rose led Rey to a bench nestled in the flower gardens.

The young women sat down, Rose holding onto Rey’s hand as she patiently coaxed her friend along. 

“I’m sure marriage is not easy, and he’s a very.. passionate man.” Rose said trying to find the right words. “But again, he does love you. I should think you’re of the lucky few, married for love and with money to spare. It’s not a common thing Rey, and you know it.” She said trying not to scold. Thinking quickly, she looked up and asked “Are there other things wrong… things that perhaps, you might wish to speak to another married woman about?” She hinted with discomfort. 

Rey’s head snapped up to attention, her eyes wide before she began to laugh. A great cackling laugh that eventually annoyed Lady Tico. 

“Alright, I understand” Rose said rolling her eyes. “That, isn’t the problem”

“Oh I’m sorry,” Rey managed as she sat up straight on the bench “I just… well it’s just funny to even imagine that being the issue.” 

“Please. Do not go on” Rose said holding up her hand to stop Rey before she could no longer look her friend in the eye.

“In that matter we are fine,” Rey said “Honestly, I wish it were so simple.” And the humor quickly drained from her face. 

“Please, just tell me.” Rose said turning to face her better. “Surely you can manage to explain it.”

“I can” Rey said glancing at her, “But I don’t know that I should.”

Rose pulled away a bit, her eyes narrowing as she searched Reys face. “I think you’d better tell me before I begin to accuse him of horrible things.”

Rey nodded and looked down at her hand in her lap, her wedding ring still a beautiful and shining reminder of their union.

It wasn’t exactly true. Her marriage wasn’t really the problem. But how do you tell your closest friend that you’re worried your husband might bring down an entire established monarchy only to put a tyrannical ruler in it’s place. 

She sighed and looked up to the sky. Everything she wanted to say sounded so ridiculous, she could scarce believe it was her life at times, but so it was, and she would try her best to explain it, after all if not to your closest friend, then who.  

“There are things,” She said and paused to put the words into place “Not only about Kylo, but my own family as well that have come to light, and I’m trusting you not to breath a word of it. Not to Finn, not to anyone. And the reasons why you can not will become clear soon, but please let me speak before you make any judgements. Do I have your word?”

Rose was looking at Rey in a way she’d never seen before, as if for the first time since they’d met, Rose Tico did not trust her. 

It stung, but Rey pushed past this knowing she would soon understand. 

“I think it’s best I tell you everything in the order that I found out,” she said  “I fear it’s the only way I can do our stories justice really, ” Rey paused and took a moment to remember what it felt like to call Rose a friend, as there was a chance she might not be after the story was told. 

“Yes, Kylo is royalty.” She began “His mother is the Princess of the lost kingdom Alderaan, the lands this estate are named for, but, the man you know as Kylo Ren, never really existed. His name  is Ben. Ben Solo.” 

 

*

The sound of Sabe’s voice calling out for Rey, cut through the silence that hung between the two women. They raised and turned their heads towards the house, neither able to move yet. 

The color had drained from Rose’s face as though the ghosts of Rey’s past were powerful enough to haunt even her. “Send her away,” She said softly, her voice gone after listening for so long. 

She cleared her throat and looked directly at Rey “There is more to this story.” She said with a confidence that alarmed and confused Rey.

“I don’t understand?” Rey said wiping her eyes. She’d gone through all of it, ending the tale on Palpatines unceremonious departure and the shuttering of Naboo. 

The retelling had taken a small toll emotionally, bringing both women to tears, but Rose had stayed quiet, holding her questions until the end, just as Rey had asked. 

“Send her away, I must tell you more.” She continued in all seriousness. 

Rey nodded as she got up. Whatever it was, Rose had come with every intention of telling her, she could see that now. Perhaps this secret was the thing that kept her away for so long. 

Eager to know, Rey went down the covered path to find Sabe crossing the lawn still calling her name.

“My Lady,” She said with a bow when she spotted her. ” Your Lord husband and your guest Mr. Finn are back from their trip to town and dinner will be soon. Please my Lady you and Lady Tico should come back to get ready”

“Is that all?” She asked annoyed. “We’ll be in soon,”

“My Lord insists you come back.” Sabe said sounding nervous. 

Rey’s brow raised. “Tell him I said to be patient.”

“My Lady?” Sabe would never dare. 

Rey huffed and shook her head, “Yes, Sabe, please, go, tell him we’ll be right behind you.” She said turning to go back to Rose.

“Yes, my Lady, but the Lord does yell so..” The girl called sounding desperate. 

Rey stopped and looked back at her. She was younger than Rey, but very skilled, and very kind. Rey couldn’t help but to smile as she walked up and and reached out, laying a gentle hand on Sabe’s shoulder. “Don’t let him scare you, he’s just big, and loud, but he’s harmless, and I know he likes you.” She said and Sabe tried to smile. “Now go on, and I promise we won’t leave you to answer to his Lordship alone, not for too long.”

The young maid tried to look brave, though worry pressed her brow as she turned back towards the house. 

Rey sighed and quickly returned to Rose. “Well, it seems the Lord of the manor might not have lost all of his old ways after all.” She mumbled sitting back down. 

When she looked up at her friend though, it was clear the tone had not changed. 

Rose still looked anxious as she sat nearly wringing her hands. 

“Alright, what more is there? Tell me” Rey said feeling as ready as could be.  

Rose nodded. “Our visit today isn’t just a friendly one Rey.”

“I gathered.” She said lips pressed as she thought about what it could mean. “By chance does this have something to do with why you’ve stayed away from me for so long?”

Rose blinked hard as she thought. “My distance was never intentionally meant to hurt you, I would never. But the things I’ve come to learn about the First Order and Kylo did keep me from visiting. You see… Finn and I, we’ve stayed in touch through letters. Many, many letters. As you know. And in time our correspondence became more than friendly contact. He began to confide in me. I became a source of escape for him and so he told me everything. It was on a mission from the Order somewhere south when things really went wrong. The very one that you and Lord Ren argued over that day.”

Rey blushed a little remembering. 

“They were giving commands to do horrible things. Things that no one should be told to do, all in an effort to secure more men to their cause. They bully people into following them Rey. And any who resist find their homes burnt to the ground, family members missing… Poor Finn was, well he could not in good faith continue, but he knew walking away would be his end. When he reached out to Lord Ren to be removed from this post, with the hopes of eventually leaving all together, he received no response. And so he faked documents saying he was to be reassigned to an area not yet so, heavily infiltrated. Luckily it worked and he wrote to me, that on his journey back north, he met a man. A man named Mr. Poe Dameron.”

Rey gasped. “I know him! Rose, he was my friend, well, not so closely acquainted, but it was while Ben was away, when we weren’t together.  Mr. Dameron was very kind. He said he was just traveling through.”

“And he was, but why do you think he was here?”

“Tell me.”

“He was here because of Ben… well I suppose it would be more appropriate to say Kylo. You see, Poe is a part of a sort of, resistance. People who see the Order for what they are and want to stop them, because If this goes to far, Rey…”

“I know Rose, I truly do understand. I think I’m just a little stunned. After all, if Mr. Dameron was there because of Ben, then I’m certain he knew who I was and it feels a bit like a violation to be honest.”

“I’m sorry Rey, but his aim was true, he meant you no harm. Poe is a strong ally, and Ren is, was the enemy.” She stopped and laid her hand over Rey’s “And I apologize for not letting you in on our secrets, but I didn’t want to put you in harms way either. I couldn’t say too much before I knew it was safe for you, and for us as well. Any attention to Finn’s new location could have put everything at risk.”

Rey smiled weakly, “Yes of course” She mumbled feeling somewhat sick about it. All of this going on, all of it, had been caused by her own husband. And though she knew he’d been heavily manipulated over the years, and finally seen reason, it was still a bit disheartening. And it hurt to know that Rose had been afraid to talk to her because at one point, not so long ago, Ben had been very dangerous. “Im just happy it’s all out now.” She sighed, “No more secrets, no more lies. For any of us.”

Rose agreed and hugged her tight. Pulling away Rey looked up at the house. “Rose?”

“Yes?”

“Leia knows, doesn’t she? I mean, about this resistance being real. She’s hinted, but I can see it now that she knows already.”

“Rey, she’s the one leading the charge.” Rose said barely containing her excitement “I already knew who she was when we arrived, but this was my first time meeting her.”

Rey smiled. She took a deep breath and sat back. Of course. How silly had she been not to see it before. “She is such a force. I’m thankful for the leadership to be honest. I fear I have no sense of direction on this course, other than to just start burning it down and starting all over.” She said, her eyes suddenly dark and cold. 

Rose stared at her for a moment, a little surprised, until Rey turned her head and smiled. 

Rose laughed nervously, “You’ve always been a little frightening, you do know that don’t you?” 

“I’m harmless” Rey said with a little wiggle of her nose, though Rose couldn’t quite find the humor. Still she pushed aside her concern knowing that Rey’s heart was in the right place. “So,” Rey said brushing her skirts, and sitting up straight. “I suppose this means the only one who doesn’t know who his friends really are, is Ben himself.” She glanced up at the house. “Unless of course that’s why Sabe came running out here. I do hope he hasn’t gone wild, tearing up the house in a rage of betrayal.”

“Well you say he’s changed, perhaps he’s learned a little self control too.”

Rey shrugged, “Yes, but if we’re to stop this thing, we’ll need him to keep just a bit of that fire.”

*

Ben leaned back on the ledge of the balcony wall, his back to the drop and the gardens below, his head down in thought. 

Across from him, sitting at the white wrought iron table, Finn waited patiently, daring to hope.

The energy of the day was still high, though the silence between them now was hard to bear. And yet he understood. He’d practically pulled the rug out from under a man who was not used to, nor did he handle surprise very well.  

Not that Finn hadn’t had his fair share today too. 

No longer Kylo Ren, but Benthat’ll take some getting used to, he thought with a sardonic laugh.

But today seemed the day for revelations and deceptions. 

The trip to town he’d insisted Ren accompany him on had been a ruse. He’d used the First Order to get Kylo alone and let him know that he and Rose had been asked here by Leia Organa herself. 

She’d written and told them that there was a chance her son would leave the Order if he knew they weren’t alone and so, they’d come together. 

Rose had been so excited on the long ride to Alderaan, he remembered it with a smile. He could only sit beside her, pretending as best he could that he was not in fact terrified.

Kylo Ren was not a kind man when he felt justified in his rage. If Leia had been wrong, if she’d misjudged him even in the slightest, well, Finn was just happy it hadn’t come to that. 

Truth be told, he felt quite a sense of accomplishment having bravely told Ren everything, while mounted on one of the horses naturally, in case he had to make a break for it. 

They’d ridden down the lane, side by side, keeping the animals slow. 

Finn had tried a few times to begin, only to change the topic to something unimportant. However, the moment he found his courage and started talking, he couldn’t seem stop. 

The purging of his many secrets and all that he’d been through felt incredible and he saw no need to keep anything from his commander and friend.

By the time he was finished they were near town, and Finn, with nothing left to say waited for Ren’s reply.

In keeping with the theme of the day, there was no furious outburst as Finn had been  expecting, instead, Ren surprised him by saying nothing at all, just sat, looking silently ahead. 

When they reached the end of the lane, Ren halted his horse and looked over at his companion. “Why are we going to town?”He asked deeply suspicious.  

Finn swallowed hard and glanced towards the village square. “Well, there’s someone we want you to meet actually, a good friend of your mother. It was her idea that you should see who has come to our side. Poe Dameron is probably one of the best we have.”

“You talk as though you’re assembling an army.” Ren said, his deep voice nearly accusatory.

“Maybe we are,” Finn replied daring to sound defiant. He studied Ren’s face waiting, but the man was a pillar of stoic reserve, much like he was when stalking through the halls of their northern base, and Finn wondered if the chill he felt was in the air or in his blood.  

“Good, you’ll need it.” Ren said rousing his horse on towards the busy square. 

At the time, Finn wasn’t sure he’d succeeded in his mission. He followed nervously considering what his chances might be in a duel against Kylo Ren. 

Watching him part the crowd on that incredible black beast, his own dark presence resembling a wraith, Finn looked away, angry that already he knew what the outcome would be. 

But, it wasn’t over yet. 

Ren hadn’t given him a reason to think there was no hope in his efforts, so he took lead again, stopping them along side the Two Sons, where they would meet their ally. 

He’d stood next to Ren as they waited in the shadows of the pub’s back alley, and constantly found himself glancing at the taller man, whose electric energy seemed to fill the air, in spite of his physical stillness and while Ren hadn’t said a word, it was more than apparent it brought him no joy to be there.  

And yet, Finn couldn’t quite call it anger. He knew Ren, he’d known him for years now, and in that time he’d never really been able to place it, but there was a profound sense of sadness just below the surface of his volatile behavior. 

Still, whatever the man was feeling it put Finn on edge to say the least, and by the time Poe showed up, he was nearly ready to call the meeting off, afraid it would all go wrong. 

But when Ren stepped aside to welcome Poe, Finn decided to let it play out. 

So he'd stood by and silently watched his commander listen to the cocky, energetic Poe, who went on and on, telling Ren how he’d already had the pleasure of meeting his wife, though she hadn’t been when they met. He also made sure to mention his interactions with Leia telling him his mother was as force to be reckoned with. 

Eventually he got down to the business at hand which was a very quick telling of the people and houses they’d rallied to their righteous cause and just a taste of the plans they’d devised to stop the rise of the Order. 

If finding out that there was already such a strong resistance to the party Ren lead was upsetting, he gave no outward indication. 

He just stood there listening, watching… Finn could hardly stand it the longer Poe went on. He readied himself for Ren’s outburst, but none came. 

The only change he saw was when Poe mocked him for following Snoke. 

Ren’s already dark eyes went black, his fists and jaw clenched simultaneously, and Finn held his breath, certain he and Poe would meet their end in the beer and piss soaked dirt behind the pub, but instead, Ren narrowed his eyes and looked deep into Dameron's own sparkling brown pair. 

In a move that seemed genuine, he extended his gloved hand. 

Flashing a grin, nearly in relief, Poe glanced at Finn then back to the commander.

“Welcome to the resistance.” He said, and clapped his hand into Ren’s 

Their firm shake solidified, this was the beginning of the end. 

 

*

When they'd nearly gotten back to the estate, it became impossible for Finn to ignore the nervous behavior coming from the otherwise confident Lord.

“Is something wrong my Lord?” He asked, flashes of Ren’s skilled swordsmanship racing through his mind. Surely he hadn’t played along all this time just to strike Finn down now, here, alone on this endless stretch of silent nature… 

“No.” Ren had said, Finn not believing him for a second. 

“If it’s Poe, I can assure you he’s got a lot of brass, but the man is trust worthy and… 

Ren held up his hand annoyed. “No, it’s not, Poe.” He said not sure how he felt about him yet. 

“Something else I can help with?” Finn asked cautiously. “Lord Ren?”

“My name isn’t Ren,” He blurted.

“Commander?” 

With a sigh, Ben looked back to the road ahead, riding quietly for a while before he spoke again. “My name is not Kylo Ren. I chose it a long time ago, but that’s no longer who I wish to be.”

“Oh, oh I see” Finn said trying his best to hide his shock. 

“The name that was given to me by my mother is Ben, and my fathers last name is Solo.”

“Ben Solo.” Finn said falling behind. When he realized his horse was reaching for a bite of grass he quickly gave it a little kick to catch up. “ Are you telling me for any reason my Lord?”

He shook his head “Not particularly, other than the fact that I can not stand to be called Ren by someone I consider a true friend.” He said and looked over at Finn, who could not help but smile. 

“Don’t let it go to your head. I’m still your commander” Ben said, irritated by Finn’s joy. 

“No! Of course not! I’m just…” He looked down at the silk mane of the brown stallion he rode. “I think I’m just honored that you shared the truth with me.”

Ben gave a nod “This can not go further than the house. You understand?”

Finn quickly replied “Yes of course.”

“I still need access to the Order,” He added. 

“I understand” Finn said and glanced over at the tall black haired prince, who for the first time since they met years ago seemed a little softer around the edges. 

He’d been living with a deep sadness, and Finn had always suspected a bit of that to be a result of suppressing a few painful truths about himself. It was satisfying to know that he’d always been right. 

And it would seem that Ben Solo had been on a bit of a journey. One of self discovery.And while it was clear that some secrets would be kept just that, Finn felt lucky to be entrusted with this one. 

A comfortable, understanding passed quietly between them, and continued for the rest of the ride to Alderaan following them up the steps of the balcony, where Finn sat now, waiting for a way to break the silence. 

Finally, Ben raised his eyes and looked at Finn. “Everything you told me earlier, all that you’ve been though … I’m sorry you were made to do those things.” He said sincerely. “I’m also sorry to have been the one who gave the orders.”

Finn nodded his acceptance. He would never forget what he’d seen and done under the command of the Order, or Kylo Ren, but, Ben Solo’s apology seemed a good way to move forward. 

“I know.” Finn gave a firm nod, and nothing more was said about it. 

Ben pushed up to standing and sighed. “I knew she was up to something” He shook his head, black brows casting a shadow over his eyes. 

“Who?”

“The princess of course, she’s a… very determined woman.” He managed. “It’s not always easy being her son.” And that quickly he was lost in thought.

Ben sat at the table, sinking heavily against the intricately carved iron seat as memories of his childhood distorted his face. 

“Perhaps it was hard when you were a boy, but, you’re a man now. A man in charge of a lot of people.” Finn said hoping the scope of this statement reached Solo. “People that myself, Poe, Rose, your mother, all think can be swayed by your command.”

“You’re suggesting I keep my position?” He asked though he already knew the answer. It was the only way this could ever work, he just wanted to hear someone else say it aloud. 

“Yes.”

Both men looked up to find princess Ogana herself walking out to join them. 

Ben glared at her for just a moment, a twinge of betrayal stabbing at him, but he could not be upset with her. She’d wisely kept her involvement with this rebellious group quiet, instead choosing to help him see it clearly in his own time and in his own way.  And though it went against his nature to turn his back on such strongly held beliefs, he was no fool. Once he stopped ignoring the facts, he found himself eager to continue on this path. 

“Ben, with you at the helm we can stop this before they begin the next phase.” Leia said walking towards him. “Dont you see. You are the First Order. Snoke is past his prime and he’s simply using you. But, maybe you should let him.” She said head down, brow raised, that mischievous twinkle in her eye. 

“The people want a leader.” Finn added, hoping to build momentum off the back of her words. “But they also want to choose the right person for the job.”

“Then why not you?” Ben asked his mother “You’re most likely the reason I’m this way.”

She laughed a little and crossed her arms casually at the wrists, settling back in her stance. “Oh my dear son. I am too old, like Snoke, past my prime. You are young, strong and fearless. Direct them on their path, change them, mold them, and then we can take the king down, but done the right way.”

“That’s still overthrowing a monarchy,” He said with a thin smile trying not to let her know just how much he admired this side of her.

A quick memory of his father looking at her just as he did now flashed through is mind and Ben blinked the thought away, the tug at his heart a little too strong. 

“Not if it’s done the right way.” She said enthusiastically “And ridding ourselves of one corrupt party only to let another rule is no way to revolt”

Now Ben laughed. “I really do get it from you, don’t I.”

Her smile grew wide as she walked to him and held his face in her smooth hands. “And him too.” She said gently, and Ben looked very much like the son she remembered for a moment before she pulled away. 

“Im sorry my love, we were, lost in our own world.” Rey announced as she and Rose came walking up the steps to the side balcony.

Both Ladies looked as though they’d been deep in conversation, perhaps even crying? He stood and went to her, taking her hands in his own, looking her over as he was in the habit of doing. 

Rey smiled and shooed him away. “I’m fine, Ben, it is Ben in front of all present company right?” She guessed with a smirk glancing at Finn. 

“I sent Sabe after you as soon as we got back. After the day I’ve had with him, I wanted to make sure you and Rose had, spoken…. Sabe never came back though.” He said wondering what had happened to her. 

Rey smiled and gently turned him back towards the table. “Well my dear that’s because you scare her.” She said rubbing his arm a little as they walked. 

Ben made the sound of a man thoroughly confused. “It seems the only people who aren’t afraid of me are at this table.” He smiled and looked around at the faces he loved most in the world.

Standing with his arms crossed, looking at each of them and considering the risks, he sighed with a smile and shook his head.

What an odd group, but irreplaceable. “I think it’s fair to say, we absolutely need a plan.”

*

Rose and Finn stayed for the weekend, and in between riding, tea and sport, the young alliance did indeed develop a plan, along with the help of the princess who would watch her small band of rebels from across the room as they spoke over drinks by the fire, late into the night. Her sense of pride had grown to new heights, and she knew then that they would not fail. 

Letters were written and readied. Rose and Finn would deliver them by hand to allies Leia trusted with her own life. They would need continued support in high places should everything come together, and with her name, they hoped to secure it. 

When the time came for them to leave, it was not with sadness but hope that Rey stood at Ben’s side waving until her arm ached as their carriage rounded the corner. 

“I pray this all works.” She said eyes still ahead. 

“It will.” Ben replied putting an arm around her shoulders. “It must.”

Chapter Text

 

Not long after Finn and Rose left the comfort of Alderaan, the need to prepare for what was to come hit Rey with the impact of an anxious brick.

With the first of their plans put into motion, she decided a few changes would need to be made, starting with herself. 

After a quick trip to town just after lunch, she retreated to their rooms with a long box from the dressmakers, which currently lay open on the bed, tissue paper scattered across the duvet. 

She stood in the mirror pulling a face before shaking her head, ready to tell Sabe to have the dress sent back, when there was a knock at the bedroom door.

Ben would never knock, and he'd gone off riding. 

Rey glanced over her shoulder with a knowing smile. “Come in.” She called.

Leia pushed the door open stepping inside cautiously, not wanting to intrude. 

“Princess.” Rey said and turned to face her with a quick curtsey. “I was just trying on this dress…” She said arms out in defeat. 

Leia nodded and came closer. “It’s lovely, quite smart.” She said. “I didn’t see you after lunch Rey, how are you feeling?”

A mothers intuition never lets anything go unnoticed. Rey glanced at her through the mirror and decided not to lie.

“Nothing like the woman I need to be I’m afraid.” She said and looked back at her reflection. “I’d hoped it would make me feel a little less like a country girl and more like the wife of a leader.” She thought out loud.

But still here she stood looking like Rey Solo, the woman who enjoyed clashing swords with her husband and racing off to the cliffs or up into the forest free and wild. 

Leia made a soft sound of understanding. 

“I just… I know who I am and what I’m capable of, but the thought of being looked at as the wife of a commander, well…” She shrugged and shoved the wayward strands from her face, frustrating Sabe who had been trying some new styles on her. 

Leia laughed a little and went to sit on the tufted bench at the foot of the bed. “I remember feeling the same way when my coronation came. The dress, the hair, I felt like a stranger was looking back at me. But then I realized, those things just helped the people to see me for who I was. They didn’t see the sweet little girl, they saw a woman, ready to learn and ready to lead. I wore it as my armor, as should you.”

Rey smiled feeling a new appreciation for the sleek dress that made her look older and more refined. “What did happen to Alderaan? If I may ask.” She turned from the mirror satisfied for now and went to the princess.

Leia looked a bit sad but she didn’t deny Rey the truth. “Many things, but worst of all, Palpatine.”

Rey’s guilt by association took her strength and she sat next to the woman with a solemn face. 

“He corrupted my father and was able to ruin our family. When the neighboring kingdom came, well, we didn’t stand a chance. Their army was backed by Palpatines deep purse of course.”

“And how did you manage to survive?”

“I was on a mission disguised as a peaceful envoy, when truly I left to seek the help of some allies far west.” 

“How horrible, I’m so sorry.”

“So am I. But because of it, I was reunited with the brother I never knew I had and I met Ben’s father. Still, not a day goes by that I don’t wish I could have stopped it all from happening.”

“Perhaps now we can.” Rey said and the women looked at one another. 

“Rey” Leia said “I want you to know, he can not do this without you. He has nearly everything he needs to make this work, but without you, there’s no one to balance him. Please, for all our sakes, be with him always, and through you, he will be a better leader.”

She gave a hard nod, her mouth tight as she held back the emotion welling up in her chest.

Leia sighed and shook her head. “If only our country could handle a revolution and a woman leading, I wouldn’t hesitate to have him step aside for you.” She said and smoothed Rey’s hair down, cupping her cheek. 

Rey basked in the glow of Leia’s praise for a moment, her eyes closing and she wondered if this was the feel of a mothers touch, even more so than the Lady Holdo. 

She was fortunate indeed to know such women. 

“I think, the best thing Ben and I can do now, is to finish this together.” She said and opened her eyes to the beaming look of approval. 

*

The morning Leia was set to leave was a quiet and peaceful one. 

Rey and Ben spoke softly across the breakfast table with Leia watching from her place at the end, making sure to memorize each moment. 

She studied the way Ben smiled when Rey spoke, and how Rey patiently listened as he did. 

They could see and hear one another so clearly, it gave her a deep comfort to witness their love in all it’s purity. 

 There was something to be said for these simple moments. The mundane that none of them would see again for some time,  perhaps not for the rest of her life. 

Should this plan fail, the Order would not stop until they were all thrown in prison or worse.  And once again, everything would be taken from her, just as It was all those years ago.

Rey laughed and gasped pretending to be offended by something he’d said and Leia blinked away the bad daydream, amused once more. 

She rested in her seat watching for a moment, her finger crooked and pressed to her lips until she saw an opportunity to speak. 

“I have something for you, a parting gift.” She said softly. 

Ben and Rey looked down the table at her. 

“Oh, princess, that’s not necessary!” Rey said glancing at Ben. 

“Don’t worry, I didn’t buy you anything, but I do have something to show you.”

Ben furrowed his brows nervously. “What is it?” He asked intrigued. 

Leia raised a brow. “Something I’ve waited a long time to give you, and it’s right under your nose,”

This stumped them both for longer than it should. 

Leia tossed her head back with a laugh. 

Finally she gave a little clue by nodding down at the table.  

Ben and Rey looked at one another, then slowly down at the table. 

“Ben,” Leia said “Reach under the table, and when you think you’ve gone far enough, keep going. You’ll feel a button carved into the wood. Press it.”

Slowly, cautiously, he did. 

Rey watched with bated breath as he leaned down to find this mysterious button. 

And then his eyes lit up as his long fingers found and pressed. 

Almost immediately, a compartment opened along the right side of the table. 

He and Rey jumped. 

“What is it?” Ben demanded much to his mother amusement. 

“Go and see” She said and both of them stood and went to look. 

A bracket hung from under the table, and resting perfectly was a blade. 

Stunning in it’s simplicity, they both stood, completely awed, nearly unable to believe such a weapon had been there all this time. 

“I never knew” Ben said reaching slowly.  

“No one did, just myself, and Luke.”

Like two heads on one body, Rey and Ben looked over at Leia. 

Ben stood up straight retracting his hand. 

“This blade was his?” He asked

“It was” Leia answered a flash of worry in her eyes on seeing the way he recoiled. 

“Ben?” Rey lay a concerned hand on his forearm.  

He glanced at her, then down at the blade, glaring at it as if the thing might be poison. 

“It’s a beautiful sword. I think you should take it.” Rey said gently, trying to encourage him.

The silence went on until finally he reached out and touched the hilt, his fingers closing around it. 

Like Arthur himself, Ben pulled the blade from it’s hiding place and stood back, he and Rey examining the cold, grey steel for a moment.

“I don’t want this.” He said and looked at his mother. “I can’t have this,” 

Holding his breath, Ben placed the blade down on the table and stepped away. 

“What happened between you two?” Leia asked as though she’d had enough of the secrets. 

Eyes still cast down, mind lost in the memory, Ben spoke. “He feared what he thought I would become, I hated him for it.”

“Theres more to it than that surely.” Rey said. 

He ran his fingers through his hair and with a sigh went to take his seat.

Crossing one long leg over the other, he leaned back thinking about all that had happened.  “He tried to kill me.” Ben finally said, his voice breaking. 

“No. Luke would never do thatl” Leia shot back instantly. 

“Why would I lie?”

“You were scared, just a scared boy.”

“I was nearly twenty years old mother, I think I know what I saw, and what I saw was my uncles fear, of me.” He shifted, lowering his leg, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees, resting his head in his hands before looking up at them. “I was bold, even then and I told him what I thought of the monarchy and what should happen to it. Luke insisted the best thing to do was, bring peace to all that we could, but I couldn’t see it that way. How can there be peace when corruption rules everything and everyone. I told him I saw a different path, one that would see real change. He told me I was heading in a dark, dangerous direction, and I told him he was a coward.”

Rey looked to see how Leia was handling this. She hadn’t moved since he began to speak. 

Ben continued, “I, foolishly told him that I’d been contacted by Snoke, and I woke that night to him standing over me with a sword, not this one, but a weapon all the same.” Ben shook his head and sat up. “I, can not take it.”

Leia slumped down making a strange sound as she sank, like the life had been squeezed from her suddenly. Rey gasped and rushed to her side. 

“Leia! Leia are you alright?” She asked kneeling at her chair. 

The princess gave a weak nod, but the hollow look in her eyes nearly broke Reys heart. 

“Ben! Do something!” Rey shouted over her shoulder. 

He was there awkwardly trying to reassure her that everything was alright, much to Rey’s annoyance. She pushed him aside. 

“Call for the doctor!” 

“No, no, don’t fuss.” Leia said finally raising her head. “I’m fine, just tired. Just very tired. I think I should go and lie down.”

Rey helped her to her feet and escorted her slowly to the guest room.  

As she and Sabe helped the older woman into bed, Leia reached up and grabbed Rey’s arm. 

“You must take the sword Rey. I’m too old now, too tired. Ben is, not ready. But you are. You must find Palpatine” She said and her grip went loose as she sank back into the pillows. 

Rey watched in horror as her eyes shut. 

“Leia!”

“I think she’s just sleeping my Lady” Sabe whispered hovering her ear close to Leia’s face to listen for a breath.   

Rey nodded, she knew that, it was Leia’s words that left her shaken

She did not want this, she’d never asked for it, and now here it was. Yet another burden thrust upon her shoulders. 

Angry, she clenched her jaw as she stood up straight, staring at the sleeping face that looked ever so slightly like Ben’s.

That stupid man, she thought with a sigh of exacerbation. Couldn’t he have just taken it!

Rey jumped up and flew from the rooms to find him pacing in the hall. 

“Are you trying to kill her?” She demanded “You abandoned her ten years ago, and now you tell her that her own brother is capable of nepoticide ! Have you no regard for anyones feelings but your own!”

Ben winced at her words and turned away defensively, as though trying to protect his heart form her verbal lashing. “Of course I do,” He said timidly. 

“You’re selfish!” She snapped pushing his shoulders, again and again until he grabbed her arms. 

“Enough!” 

“You couldn’t do this one thing for her?”

“For her? Rey! I just told you, and her, what happened. You want me to go marching around carrying the sword that belongs to a man that wants me dead?”

She inhaled, ready to berate him again but stopped and looked up. There was a sad truth in his eyes that told her, whether or not his uncle really meant him harm, Ben thought that was the case, and it had scarred him deeply. As it should. 

Looking away, Rey shook her head no and pulled free. 

She wrapped an arm around her waist covering her face with her other hand, ready to scream 

“She wants me to have it now,” She blurted, her face red where her hand had been. 

Ben watched her fretting over the unknown until he’d had enough and moved to take her hand.

“And you should have it. I understand perfectly why she thinks it should be yours.”

“You do?”

He nodded and smiled, his features softening in a the way that showed his love for her. “You’re as fit to carry that blade as any man. Probably more so. And just because I don’t want it, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have it.”

“But if he threatened your life? Surely you can not mean for me to carry a reminder of your trauma at my side.”

He shrugged and stroked the back of her hand with his thumb as he spoke. 

“I was becoming a bit of a…” He paused looking away to find the right words. “Well I was a shit. Honestly. Not an excuse but, I wouldn’t be against knowing exactly what Luke would have done had I not woken when I did.”

“What did you do when you saw him?” She asked. 

“I jumped to my feet, and rather shamefully I must admit I, well, I hit him.” He said sounding a little surprised by his own words, as though he’d never really considered it until now.

“Ben.” She said disapprovingly. “You didn’t”

“I’m afraid I did.” He said looking down at the floor between them.

Rey’s brows raised as she regretfully felt the need to ask, “Is he as big as you?”

Ben looked up into her eyes. Slightly embarrassed he shook his head. “No.” Was his simple reply. “But much more skilled.” 

“That’s terrible. But I supposed given the situation, understandable.”

“After that I just left. I got my things and I left him and the life he wanted me to lead behind”

“You think taking that sword might be admitting that he was right, and that perhaps you did need some guidance.”

Ben grumbled and shrugged again. “I dont know that I’m ready to admit that yet, wife.”

She smiled and pressed her forehead to his chest. “You should go and talk to your mother when she wakes. I know she’ll want to hear all of this.”

  Resting his chin on the top of her head, Ben sighed and shut his eyes. 

Why must this woman always be so damned right. Just once he wished she could be wrong, like he seemed to be so often. Would it really be so bad for her. 

Laughing to himself, Ben gave up the hope of such a fantasy and considered that perhaps his father had been onto something.

The life of an adventuring seeking scoundrel with a knack for disappearing was beginning to have a certain amount of appeal. 

*

That evening, Rey and Ben took dinner casually in the small dining room. 

There was a sense of relief in the house now that the doctor had come and assured them that she simply needed rest.

Leia wouldn’t say why, but sleep did not come easy to her these days and she was exhausted.

She suggested Edmunds bring up a small dram of whiskey to help keep her settled. Neither Rey nor Ben dared to deny her.  

Now they sat at the table eating in peace.

Catching her eye, Ben held Rey’s gaze with his own. 

The warm glow of the fire in the small hearth, and the candle light between them gave him a golden hue that Rey found terribly pretty to look at. 

A woman who knew what she wanted and felt no shame in claiming it gave the servants the orders to go, and went to her Lord husband, swinging a leg over his lap to straddle him.

Delighted by the surprise, Ben leaned back smiling, his hands settling on her hips. 

“No more fighting,” He said looking up into her eyes. “No more disturbances or interruptions for two days. Two days that belong to us. Yes?”

She nodded in agreement before kissing him.

His hands pressed up along her back, as hers slid through his hair. 

She loved the thick, soft strands and the way she knew just how to stroke and massage to elicit the deepest moan of approval from him. 

Pulling away, Rey stroked the side of his face, pushing his hair back and touching his lips with her fingertips. 

Her progressing affections were stopped by the sound of a knock loud enough to be heard from the back of the house.

“Who could that be?” She asked with a heavy sigh. 

Was one single moment too much to ask for, she thought looking over her shoulder.

Ben groaned, pressing his face to the soft haven of her breast before looking around her. “Whoever it is, had better have a good reason for calling at dinner.” He grumbled, eyes back on the bare length of his wife’s neck, her smooth peach flesh begging to be touched. 

Groaning with disappointment as she slipped from his lap, Ben sighed, raked his hair from his eyes and stood.

“Go, sit, I’ll see to it.” He said and she smiled accepting his kiss before he walked the length of the dining room leaving her to sit back down to the nearly forgotten food.

“My Lord, General Maddox.” Edmunds announced stepping into the room before Ben could greet him. 

Two figures appeared in the door way, male and female. 

“And his daughter, Miss Sylvia Maddox.”

*

Rey felt an unease, not just from the presence of First Order people in her home, but there was also something about this woman what did not sit well with her. 

They’d exchanged polite greetings, and the general professed Rey to be a most beautiful bride of the First Order, which made her skin crawl. She’d married a man, not a movement, but to Maddox it all seemed to be the same. 

Ben politely requested they stay for dinner, though it clearly pained him to do so.

And now here they all sat, watching as more food was brought up to be devoured by the general while Rey studied Miss Maddox over the shimmer of her crystal wine glass.

Miss Maddox, a tall, angular blond with pretty eyes, seemed a strange sort, but a sort Rey had known her entire life. 

She read as a sneaky, cold, and possibly quite manipulative woman. There was a darkness in her eyes that Rey had seen before in her own grandfather. This sort of aloof detachment was  something she’d grown very sensitive to over the years. 

“What is it that you do, within the Order?” Rey asked, genuinely interested as she placed her empty glass on the table, comforted by the sound of the footman refilling it. 

Sylvia’s sparkling eyes met Rey’s and she smiled sweetly though it had a sour quality to it. “I head the propaganda department”

“Oh? I’ve never heard of such a thing, what does that entail?”

“I open a window to the power behind the name Lady Ren,” She said with a smirk “You see, I simply make the Order accessible to the masses. I ensure everyone understands that the First Order is the voice of the people,” She said with no lack of pride. “Those banners hanging from the doorways of some of your neighbors great houses are my own design.”

Rey felt her muscles twitching, her fight or flight reflexes told her to choose one and fast. “Fascinating.” She lied. 

“Yes, and your husband tells me that you’re something of a business woman?” She asked. 

Rey glanced at Ben who had become rather silent since their arrival.

When had he found time to tell this girl so much about her?

“I suppose you could call it that.” Rey said prying her suspicious glare away from Ben “I managed my grandfathers estate and made some rather successful investments.”

“Yes. In Kyberite?’ The general asked looking up from his plate with enthusiasm. “Remarkable stuff that.”

“So the workers tell me” Rey said and picked up her glass. “And, how is it that you know Lord Ren?” She asked Sylvia feeling a bit irritated by this stuffy game of cat and mouse. 

This woman was about something, that much was clear. Rey had the awful feeling that whatever it was she’d come for could not be settled over the dinner table. 

“We found one another during his last stay in the village.” Sylvia replied siting back in her seat. She reached for her own glass and brought it slowly to her lips letting the deep red wet them as she drank. She licked her lips as she sat the crystal down, her eyes fluttering towards Ben, who was watching her with a slight scowl on his face. 

“Village?” Rey asked him weakly. She cleared her throat trying not to look back to Miss Maddox, afraid of what she may see. 

Ben looked, for lack of a better word, tired. The sort of exhaustion associated with secrets and the pressure to keep them was a heavy weight indeed 

He raised his eyes to look at Rey, then over to Sylvia. Taking a slow breath he sat up straight and nodded. “Yes. An escape if you will.”

“Would everyone go?” Rey asked. 

“Oh yes, men and women of the Order alike loved to come down to our little village and drink at the pubs, taking their leave, easing their stress. Innocent fun, so long as his Lordship never found out.” Sylvia answered for him with a little giggle.

Ben shot her a look of surprise that did not go unnoticed by Rey. He seemed nearly relieved, as though he’d been expecting her to say so much more.  

“Tell me what you know about this Kyberite. I think I should like to learn!” The oblivious general said clearly uninterested in the strained conversation between his daughter and their hosts.

Rey blinked and turned to him. “Excuse me?” 

“The kyberite.”

“Oh, well, yes…” She stammered not the least bit sure of how to divert her attentions from what was happening across from her. 

“Why are you here general?” Ben suddenly asked, though he stayed focused on Sylvia. 

The general, taken off guard, cleared his throat and sat up to look the other man in the eye. “Yes, forgive me my Lord. If we might retire to your study, perhaps leave the women to get to know one another better. I’ll get you up to speed.”

Rey and Sylvia locked eyes. 

“No, that won’t be necessary.” Ben said dismissing this notion. “Rey, is my equal in all things.” 

His words broke the standoff between Rey and  Sylvia who both turned their attentions to him.

He seemed, sad, like he was hurting and Rey wanted desperately for him to tell her everything, but she knew he wouldn’t in front of them.  

“How very modern of you.” Sylvia nearly teased. 

“Yes, modern indeed.” Maddox said with hardly the same regard for their relationship. 

“Modern or not, it’s fact. So, I’ll ask again general Maddox. What business brings you here?”

“Yes.” Maddox said, as he seemed to remember who was in charge. “We’ve come with a direct message for Supreme Leader Snoke.”

This got the attention of the entire room. 

“It would seem there’s been some trouble with our man in his position with the king. Lord Snoke requests you come, as does general Hux. Your assistance is urgently required.”

Ben nodded “Well timed, my Lady and I were just preparing to venture north.”

“Were you?” Sylvia asked. 

He glanced at her “Yes.”

“Yes, we were actually.” Rey said sitting back. “We’ve not been since the wedding and Lord Ren does know he is needed in more places than just his estate. We were planning on leaving this Friday actually.”

“Well, that is fortunate indeed.” Maddox agreed. 

“Is that all?” Rey asked, “Surely a letter could have been sent.”

“Well, I had business in the south and offered to deliver the message myself on the way back to base. Perhaps even persuading his Lordship to ride up with us.” He replied “Supreme leader does tend to look favorably on those who serve him well.”

“Indeed” She said understanding that Maddox was simply securing his place in Snokes good favor by attempting to deliver commander Ren.

“And you Miss Maddox, do you always travel with your father?” She asked. 

“No, not especially, but I thought I’d accompany him this time. I’ve heard a great deal about your village here and was, curious?”

She certainly seemed to know everything about Rey and her life, but Rey knew nothing of her. 

Nothing but the look on Sylvia’s face when she looked at Ben. 

It was a sorrowful gaze, cast by the eyes of a woman hurt and forgotten, nearly desperate to find herself in his favor again. 

Her unspoken feelings for him were as loud as clap of thunder, ringing in Rey’s ears.

She’d never asked Ben what he did up north during their time apart. Mostly because she never felt the need to. But now, sensing the connection between the them, it became clear that the real reason she never asked stemmed from a fear of the possibilities. 

With his family wealth thanks to Leia’s foresight, and his growing yearly sum through the Order, Kylo Ren was more than a commander, he held the promise of an easy life for any woman, should you happen to believe in the politics. It actually made perfect sense for Miss Maddox to look at him so. The man she still knew at Lord Ren was perfect. 

“If you’ll forgive me, I must check on our guest.” Rey said feeling as though she might forget herself and all sense of decorum. 

She stood quickly not caring that her chair scraped loudly across the floor.

Fleeing the room before any protest could stop her, she nearly slapped Ben’s hand away as he reached for her. 

Maddox and his daughter looked at one another, her amused, him appalled. 

The moment she was gone, Ben spun his head, his dark look of outrage enough to wipe the smile from Sylvia’s face in an instant.

“What are you playing at?” He snapped

“Pardon me?” The general interjected squaring his shoulders. 

Ben ignored him and leaned in towards the mans daughter. “What are you trying to do?” He ordered. 

She jumped at the sound of his voice. 

“You have a guest?” She asked with wide nervous eyes trying desperately to divert the attention. 

Ben blinked and sat back. “My mother is with us.” He answered quickly.

“Oh, I would be so pleased to meet her.” She said smiling, “I’m sure she’s just like you.” her attempts to calm him like the flailing of a falling man. 

“She’s unwell, and you are not welcome to make her acquaintance.” His tone was cold and his words final. 

Sylvia shut her mouth and hung her head. 

“My Lord, forgive me but what has my daughter done to deserve such treatment?” Maddox asked, straining to show respect to the much younger man. 

Ben looked over her light eyes, and blonde hair, so very opposite Rey. He looked at her lips and neck and thin frame and wondered how his wife had been able to tell. What was it she saw in Maddox’s behavior…  

“My Lord.” Sylvia said, but her voice sounded very far away, and the room suddenly  seemed too smokey for him. Very smokey and very small, as though the walls would crush them where they sat.

“Lord Ren?” The general poked. 

“Please, excuse me” He said and rose to leave the table, following his wife. 

 

*

“Don’t touch me” Rey snapped yanking her arm from his grasp before she could reach their rooms. “Just leave me be!”

“No, You don’t understand!”

Spinning to face him in the candle lit hall she glared up at his face. “I believe I understand perfectly well.” And digging deep to find the courage to ask, she took a breath and let it happen.

“When my Lord? Was it before or after the letter?”

He sighed and looked away. “After.” 

“You don’t deny it?”

“No”

She nodded, biting her lip, tears welling. “And she’s come here? To Alderaan! Why? What do you owe this girl?” Gods but she was terrified to know. 

“Nothing, nothing at all. Please.” He reached for her but she stepped back, her eyes as wide as plates in warning. 

“Rey.” He said calmly, palms up in an expression of peace. “I did not intended for you to find out, not because I have something to hide, but because you and I were not, us, then. And as I’ve said before, I was not thinking clearly… in my own selfish defense, I did nothing wrong, but I know that does little to stop the hurt I’ve caused. Still you must believe me, you must know how sorry I am.”

“She’s here!” Rey’s voice strained against her throat in a violent whisper. “In our house! Ben, what… what have you done to give her such entitlement. Did you love her?”

“No” He answered quickly. “And I truly did not think she felt anything for me,” He said the look of confusion distracting them both. 

She gave a sarcastic snicker “Just your cock from time to time.” 

“Rey” He frowned at her crude reply. 

She rolled her eyes and turned away wiping her face. 

“I was lost, I felt, broken without you.”

“So you bedded a generals daughter to try and fix yourself?’ She asked glancing back over her shoulder. 

“Yes” He answered easily. “ I make impulsive decisions, and they do seem to haunt me” He said wistfully. Focused on Rey again he took a step towards her "When I left, it was with no promise of a return to her. I don’t know that I ever really saw her, she was there of course but, Sylvia existed in a time where everything seemed… suspended. Like living in a dense, mindless fog. If I ever felt anything for her it was born from a deep yearning, to feel nothing for you, and it never worked. Not once did I find any comfort in my attempts to forget you”

Rey exhaled deeply and looked out the windows of the hall. She knew he wasn’t lying, but it still ached in her bones to have this woman sitting at her table as though she laid some claim on him. 

“They must go, I can not have her here. I do believe you, but she must leave.”

He lowered his head in a bow of submission and respect. She was the master of his heart and he would not disobey her. 

Turning to go and handle this mess, Ben stopped, surprised to find that Sylvia had followed. 

“No need to tell me, I’ll go.” She said as though it made no difference to her, though the opposite was very clearly true. 

Rey spun around shocked that the woman would dare invade their privacy. 

“And certainly no need to work yourselves up so, I only came to see it for myself.” She said walking closer. “I couldn’t believe she actually took you back, not after all the things you did to me, or that we did to each other.”

Rey looked away in disgust. 

“But now I see. She never knew.”

“Whatever you wish to have happen, will only end in disappointment.” Ben said standing next to Rey. “You’ve done damage here tonight, but it will leave with you.”

“Will it? Because, it would seem the only person in this hallway that knowingly bedded a woman, while another loved them still, is you, and it doesn’t seem like you have any intentions of leaving, though perhaps you should consider throwing him out.” She said to Rey. 

“Leave my house.” Rey spoke softly, but with such conviction she was nothing less than frightening. 

Sylvia Maddox did not know what the woman was capable of, but the look in her eyes and the eerie calm in her voice was enough that she understood the time had come to go.

Unfortunately she did not move fast enough and Rey took a step towards her, a flash of violence in her eyes. Her advance stopped only by Ben’s arm blocking her path.  

Speaking out of fear, and her anger at Rey for being more than just a pretty, stupidly happy wife, Sylvia lashed out through her thin veneer of nonchalance. “I will leave, but, know that your Lord husband would seek out and ruin another woman just to forget you!”

Rey could not stop the sob that escaped as she pushed away from Ben and spun to storm down the hall. 

“Congratulations on your nuptials my Lord.” Sylvia said with a quick curtsy before turning away to run back to her father. 

Alone in the hall, Ben went to the windows and looked out into the night and seriously considered that his uncle Luke had not been wrong in taking on the life of a hermit.  

*

“Oh my lady, you know he loves you. And you alone, I’ve never seen a man so devoted to a woman.” Sabe said rubbing Rey’s back as she cried into a mountain of pillows on the large bed. 

“It doesn’t matter, what’s done is done. But I can’t even look at him”

“I’ll go and see that they are made to leave immediately. I’ll tell Soames to get their things.”

“No, it’s alright, I know he’s got to finish his business with the general, to keep up appearances.” Rey said wiping her face. She pulled herself up and turned to sit, arms around her knees, and looked at her maid. 

Funny, these people serve her daily, know everything about her, comfort and aide her and still she was supposed to pretend to be above them. 

Sabe was a friend as much as any other, and Rey was thankful for her. 

“I don’t think I’ll sleep here tonight.” She said looking at his side of the bed. 

“You should, I’ll have Edmunds turn down the Lords old bed, he should be the one to sleep outside the comfort of this room” Sabe made no effort to hide her disdain for the man. 

Rey laughed a little and wiped her eyes. “ I’m so torn. We really weren’t together then, and I very much entertained the idea of letting Mr. Akbar pursue me, I allowed and engaged in flirtation with a man I thought I could grow to feel some affection for. Oh and Mr. Dameron.” Rey let out a laugh and shook her head. “I admit freely that he, awakened something in me. His smile, his eyes, the way he spoke of life with such enthusiasm… he nearly made me forget I’d ever known a man named Kylo Ren.”

Sabe laughed. “But you didn’t, did you my Lady?”

Rey shook her head and sniffled. “How could I”

“You and Lord Ren are quite well matched. And I hope you don’t mind me saying so. I’m sure he’s very sorry for it, I saw him in the hall on my way to you… he looks ever so sad.” And the maid nearly forgot that they both hated him. 

Rey rolled her eyes and flopped back onto the pillows. “He can look sad for as long as it takes for him to feel like the arrogant, selfish, pompous ass that he is.”

Sabe laughed amused to here a Lady speak so openly. “Deservedly so, that woman was awful”

Now Rey laughed a little and raised up onto her elbows. “ I should scold you but I won’t” 

Sabe gave a little bow of the head in thanks, her lips curled up in a wicked smile. “Now,” she said hopping up from the bed “Let me get your night things ready, I’ll go and pass on the message of his lordships changed sleeping arraign…

The bedroom door opened suddenly stoping Sabe mid sentence.

Ben stood there, waiting to be welcomed in. 

Sabe eyed him, but lowered her head out of habit as she bit her tongue. 

“Rey?”

She looked up at him then back to the bedding. 

“Can I .. can I please come in?”

Taking a deep breath she turned her head to face him. “Edmunds will ready your room for the night, until then you’re free to go anywhere in this house, except this room”

“My Lady” Sabe whispered and dipped before trotting past Ben to escape the impending fight. 

“You can’t mean that?” He said and stepped forward. 

Rey’s hand shot up, her finger pointing. 

“No. I said no, you are not welcome here.”

Ben sighed and dropped his head back “Rey please, enough. It’s done, they’ve left to board at the inn. She’s gone and that’s the last we’ll see of her.”

“Except of course when we go north, or have you forgotten? Her father is your general…my Lord.”

“No, I’ve not forgotten, but we have no reason to see her again.”

“Oh, she’ll concoct something, to be sure. Or are you so blind that you don’t see?”

“See what?”

“That she loves you, or thinks she does. Though if she knew all the trouble that comes along with loving you, she would run right back to her mountains and snow.”

He looked wounded and leaned against the door, long arms crossed in front of him, his head down. “I suppose I had that coming.”

“Yes, you did, and much more. But I’ll spare you so long as you leave me to my anger.”

His mouth twitched in a smile. “You’re absolutely stunning when you’re angry with me”

“Oh don’t you dare!” She spat disgusted as she got up from the bed. “Get out” She said shaking her head in disbelief as she went to the dressing room. 

His heavy steps were on her quickly, and Rey spun just as he reached out and pulled her close. 

“Enough of this. Yes, I’m a pig and a beast, a monster, just like you’ve always said. But one thing I’m not, is willing to go on living with you hating me for something that never mattered to begin with.”

“Don’t insult the poor creatures.” She said pushing away, but he held her firm.

“What do I need to do?” He pleaded. 

She looked up into his fiery hazel eyes and thought for a moment. “Give me time, give me space. I know that you don’t love her Ben. But I know that you touched her, bedded her, and I don’t think I can stand it.”

“I’ve had many women Rey.” He said nearly annoyed. “You don’t hold that against me,”

“Well, I  didn’t know you then,” 

“You didn’t know me when I was with her either.  And I believe I made it clear in my letter that we had no attachment, I told you to forget me.”

“You bastard” She said and nearly slapped him, but he grabbed her wrist and held her tight until she backed down. “Leave this room!”

“No” He said pulling her hand down. “I will not leave you until I know that you don’t hate me completely.” He said sounding very worried for a moment.

“You’ll wait a lifetime I’m afraid. I can’t even stand to look at you.” She snapped, all the while looking him directly in the eye.

He pulled her a little closer and the anger began to turn to something else as they gazed at one another.

“I hate you.” She whispered. “I hate everything about you.” She tried, her eyes pausing on his full soft lips, her own breath light, as his was deep and slow.

Before she could stop him he’d pushed her back against the far wall. 

“Have you lost your mind.” She snapped with feigned outrage. 

He shook his head, holding her by the shoulders as he scanned her body, as though he were deciding where to start.

Shocked that he would try, and even more so that she wanted him to, Rey came close to pushing him away as she demanded he stop,  but her protest melted into soft moans, when he began to kiss her neck. 

She very nearly forgot how it felt to hate him, undone by the soft press of his mouth on the curve of her shoulder, until she opened her eyes and remembered the look Miss Maddox had given him at the table.  

“Stop it!” She ordered “Go, and, and…” She gasped when he took a knee returning his attention to her breasts as he had before they were interrupted earlier in the evening. 

“This won’t work.” She mumbled, head back against the wall, eyes fighting to stay open. 

“I don’t want anything to work Rey.” He said looking up at her. “I want you to forgive me, and to remember that it’s you I love, only. And always.”

She bit the corner of her bottom lip as her head cocked to the side, her heart pounding at the sight of his pitiful gaze.

She clung desperately to her anger, but when he looked at her like this… “ Alright, I don’t hate you but I do wish you’d stop, pestering me,” 

He smiled and pulled her hand up to his lips, kissing it gently. “But who else am I to, pester, if not you?” He stoped as a thought struck him and looked at her. “Please, do not say Sylvia Maddox.”

The small laugh was out before she could stop it. 

laying her palm on his cheek she sighed. “You certainly have a way with women, don’t you.”

“I swear it to you, I did not try.” He declared. 

“Not even with me?”

“Oh no, with you,” He kissed her wrist, “I had to keep myself from looking like a fool.” He kissed the sensitive skin in the crook of her elbow. “You remember. The first time we met on the lane. You, looking like a naive country girl with your hat and basket.”

She opened her eyes wide. “Ben!”

He chuckled and guided her hand back to her side, then reached up to brush her long hair back over her shoulders. 

“I knew I would love you, even then. I felt it so deeply I couldn’t find the words to simply say hello.”

“Is that why you were so rude?” She asked smiling.

Ben shrugged. “No, I think I’ve just acquired bad manners over the years.” He said and they both laughed a little. 

“I’m sorry, but I do doubt your words” She replied, enjoying the way he traced along her collar bone with his finger. “You didn’t love me yet, you did not know me. I could have been a cruel, empty headed thing.”

“No” He shook his head and looked into her eyes. “I saw you. Just as I see you now.”

Both his hands slipped over her shoulders and down her back to hold onto her waist. “Since that day, and every day after. I’ve seen a woman who was more than my equal. Rey, you are my superior.” He stoked her arms and kissed both her hands, nearly worshiping the woman who had taught him so much more than patience. “The only time I forgot that, was when I listened to the people who have their best interest at heart, with no regard for mine. Or the simple fact that it belongs to you.”

She sighed knowing any attempts to continue in anger were futile.

“I am sorry for it,” He said desperately sincere. “I will be eternally.”

She frowned, her own heart aching. She was still appalled that the woman had come into their home as though she had any right. 

Surely Ben must have given her some reason to think he might want her to come?

Rey glanced at him and instantly thought better of it. He stilled looked at her the way he had so long ago, sitting alone in the dark of his carriage as they left Lady Holdo’s party. 

He loves me, and only me she thought and slowly stroked his temple. The foolish man had done something to forget that love, and in doing so he’d managed to gain the affection of a woman he cared nothing for. 

Looking up in surprise, Rey realized she actually felt a little sorry for Sylvia Maddox. She’d kissed these lips, Rey looked down at his face close to hers. And felt this body beneath her touch, she stroked down the side of his neck massaging her fingers into the solid muscle, gliding her hand down around his shoulder feeling the firm flesh beneath his shirt.

Ben’s black hair had probably grazed Sylvia’s bare skin when he kissed her, and she knew the feeling of having him inside her. 

Teetering on the edge of rage and overwhelming desire, Rey narrowed her eyes at him. 

“I want you to make me forget.” She said, her voice low.

Ben listened intently to her every word.

“I want to feel your body on mine, and to know that it belongs to me and only me. I want you inside of me until I forget that any of this ever happened.” Her lips were pink and parted letting him see a glint of light in the moisture. He licked his own before kissing her holding her as though she might disappear if he let go.

Rey pulled from his kiss, and with a look in her eyes that promised he would be the one to call her master before the night was through, she took his hand and led him to the bed. 

*

As the rising sun of daybreak warmed the bedroom, Rey stirred under the sheets and opened her eyes to find Ben quietly stripping off his jacket as he tried to sneak into the dressing room.

“Where did you go?’ She asked suddenly alert, a twinge of suspicion lining her words.

Last night had seen him reaffirming his love through all manner of delights that she still felt deep in her belly.

It was a tingling of happiness and wanting, brought on by the memory of him and those skilled hands, tongue and… Rey was blushing when he looked down at her, clearly knowing what it was that made her flush.

Still, forgiven or not, it was very early for him to be coming back into their rooms fully dressed.

“I went for a ride, and to check on my mother.” He said, attempts at sneaking abandoned. 

“How is she?” Rey asked sitting up. 

“Well.” He replied tugging at the collar of his shirt. 

She watched her stunning husband with heavy lids, her bottom lip fixed between her teeth as he untucked his shirt tails and undid the buttons, the morning light giving his bare skin a warm glow.

“And where did you ride to?” She asked scooting over when she saw that he meant to join her in bed.

Ben lay on his back, arms under his head, caring little for the fact that he still had on his boots. “I went to town,”

“And what business did you have in town so early?” She asked sitting up with her arms and legs crossed ignoring the perfect sight of him.   

“I went to make sure they left.”

“Sylvia and her father?” She spun her head around to look down at him. 

“Yes” He said with no shame. 

“And did they go?” 

“They did”

“Well I certainly don’t think you should have done that. She’s libel to think you seeing them off was a sign of affection.”

“I stayed out of sight. Don’t worry.”

“Oh, and you expect me to think they didn’t see you? You hardly fit through the doorway.” She quipped, not giving in to the urge to smile, though she finally allowed herself to admire his beautiful half naked form.

“I was not seen my love, I swear it.” He said laughing to himself. 

She gave a firm nod, “Good.” She said “And I prey she stays far from us when we arrive north.”

“I think the point was made clear.” He said and pulled his hand free to hold her by the back of the neck “There is no mistaking who I belong to.” He said gently. 

Rey pressed her lips against the urge to grin but leaned down to kiss him quickly. She’d been a bit hard on him last night, demanding he pledge himself to her again and again. The pleasure found in watching him submit was something she would never tire of. 

“Good.” She said softly. 

Sitting back up she let her mind shift to the other reason for his early rise and her heart sank knowing the time had come.

She would miss Leia so much. But her departure a day later than had been planned meant their own venture to the First Order base would begin in just two days. 

With a sigh Rey leaned back against the headboard. “Do you think, we can manage to stay out of harms way, and to not fight before Friday?” She asked with a coy smile. 

Ben shook his head grinning. “Absolutely not” 

“Funny, how insular this world can be” She said looking out the window. “We could live twenty years on these grounds acting as though our squabbles and fears are all that exist. When really, there is so much happening and all at once that to step foot out the door seems like a death wish”

Ben pulled himself up and put an arm around his wife. He thought about her words and agreed nodding as he leaned down kissing the part in her hair. 

Sighing, he spoke, his voice muffled a bit against her head. “Rey, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my thirty years on this earth, it’s that you can never think too much about what’s happening around you. It’ll swallow you whole.”

“You really think that way?” She asked curious. 

He smiled and shook his head. “No. Not at all. But I thought it might make you feel better. Did it work?’

Her body shook with laughter. “Oh a great deal! All of my worries have been quieted by your wise words my Lord.”

“Excellent. ” He grinned and pulled her close. “Now, go and get dressed. Let’s begin saying our goodbyes to the princess, and perhaps by evening it won’t hurt much to see her go.”

*

Rey walked into the long, empty, sporting and games room. 

The entire house seemed eerily quiet now with Rose, Finn and Princess Leia gone. 

She’d felt off since Leia boarded her carriage after tea. Like all the people who made her feel complete had gone, leaving her to worry and analyze the upcoming events. 

Down here though, she could distract herself with some practice.

Light on her feet, Rey went to the display wall and looked up at the array of weaponry.  

At the top of the mounted pieces, unassuming and nearly forgettable compared to the finery below it, lay Luke Skywalker’s blade. 

Now hers. 

Drawn to it, she used the step ladder to reach and wrapped her fingers around the hilt.

Slipping the blade from it’s place, she climbed down and went to the center of the room moving it slowly, getting a feel for the weight and length. 

Leia found her worthy of this weapon, but Rey wondered if she would ever live up to those expectations. 

Moving like a dancer, she spun , swinging the blade with her, slicing through the air. 

She’d been doing this for nearly her entire life, now she felt as though she had a piece that could elevate her talents, but could she wield it as it deserved?

Twisting her wrist, she swiped the sword in an x, advancing on her invisible enemy. 

And who should her victim be? Snoke? Palpatine? 

One hand out for balance and centering, she raised the sword back, it’s deadly tip just over her head. Like a scorpion ready to strike, she held the stance and closed her eyes. 

I dont know you, but I think you are here with me. Show me how to use this blade for good.  

Her voice was clear in her mind as she thought of Luke, this mysterious man who seemed to impact the events unfolding around her without even being present.  

She opened her eyes and lashed out, a perfect stab that would have impaled even the strongest foe. 

Satisfied, she lowered her arm and walked casually, eyes down on the steel. She noted the way the blade seemed to catch the candlelight, causing a brilliant glimmer. 

At first she was certain her eyes were playing tricks on her, but as she toyed around with it, there was no denying something was different about this metal…

If Luke had never feared Ben, she went on thinking,  would any of them be here now? Would Ben have stayed and learned to quiet his demons, silencing them into submission as he does the followers of the Order? 

She raised the blade and eyed the steel curious about the way the light seemed to effect it… 

If she’d never met Kylo Ren, her grandfather would be here still, and she would live a dull life, in a rundown house, dreaming of more but never daring to take the first steps towards it.  

Everything might have been so different. 

Pushing those thoughts aside, Rey walked to a sconce on the wall. She held the blade up and turned it slowly, her attention on nothing else but this sword. 

Like a flame creeping up the cold grey, she watched as the edge caught the light and reflected it back, not orange like the flame, but a bright blue.

“Kyberite,” 

Rey jumped and looked over her shoulder. 

“Soames.” She frowned and went back to studying her sword. “You scared me.”

“Sorry my Lady.” He said and came shuffling over. 

Standing next to her, he watched nearly as much in awe as she, as the blue hue spread to the tip. 

“What about Kybertie?” She asked in a whisper. 

“They used to put it into the metal, makes the blades glow somethin’ fierce. Not many people know, scares the devil out of your opponent.”

“How do you know?” She asked and glanced up at the kind old face.

“Oh, I listen, and I learned some things working for your grandfather, and I saw this once before”

“You did?” She asked looking up at him now. 

“Yes, it was a sword that belonged to your father.”

Rey slowly lowered it and watched as the light faded away. “My father, had a sword like this?”

He nodded, his smile shaky as he spoke. “He wasn’t a bad man my Lady, just poor. He may have been Palpatines son, but he had a good heart.”

“Then why did he leave me there?” She asked feeling the familiar blow to her heart. 

“Desperation. No one wants to see their child die.”

Rey’s eyes shot up at him. “What do you mean die?”

“You were half starved my Lady. They just couldn’t seem to keep enough food in you. You were just a scrawny thing when they came. Your father brought you to the door, your mother, poor thing was too overcome to do it. She stood back by the tree sobbing to see you go. But they did the right thing.”

“Even though they knew he was cruel?”

“Thats why they asked me to come too my Lady.”

She nodded already aware. “And I still thank you for that Soames.” 

He smiled shyly and shrugged. “Your father was a good man who wanted to help those in need. Sad thing was helping out folks as poor as yourself doesn’t put food on the table. In the end, I think he ended up selling that beautiful sword.”

Rey shook her head, hurting for a man and woman she would never know. “I wish it could have turned out better for them.” She said through the lump in her throat. 

“Well, I like to think, it did.” He said and reached out to give her cheek a pinch,  which she imagined must have been much easier when she was a child. 

“Thank you for telling me,” She said softly. 

“I only ask that you do one thing in return for my service.” He said getting her attention. 

“What is it?”

Soames leaned closer. He was a large man, even in his old age he was much taller than her and had large jovial features that made it easy to confide, and trust in him. 

“Never underestimate your grandfather.” He said, his blue eyes going dark. “Palpatine is to blame, for everything, I know it.”

Rey’s muscles tensed and she gripped the kyberite sword, feeling its power like a warm hum, much stronger than her fear.  

She looked up at her silent protector Soames, and saw the same look of fear reflected in his eyes. He of all people should know just what sort of man her grandfather really was. 

Rey had done her best to push Sheev Palpatine from her mind after he ran off. She decided it best to relegate him to a sad memory, his death surely imminent out there in the forest. But when she looked up at her old butler, her friend, she knew he would not give her this word of warning if it weren’t warranted. There was more to this and eventually she would have to face it. 

But as her worry began to consume her, Soames let the fear fade, replacing it with a very distinct look of hope. 

“You’ve grown into a fine Lady.” He said as though suddenly aware of the fact that she was not a child anymore. “And you will be the one to end it.”

His words were ominous, but he looked at her as though the dawn of a new day were near. And Rey thought of Leia, who so often looked at her the same way.

A single nod, and a look of determination from Rey made Soames smile and grunt his approval.  

“I won’t let you down.” She said and reached out to lay a comforting hand on his shoulder.

Chapter Text

 

In the dim light of their rattling coach, Ben sat, lost in thought, until his weary eyes rested on Rey asleep on the bench across from him. 

He pulled his mind from the dark recesses that overflowed with detailed plans for the Order, finally allowing himself a moments rest.  

There was some peace found in watching her sleep, and it had always been a secret pleasure of his. 

Smiling, Ben settled in his seat, amused that while Rey typically slept sound, every once in a while, her brows would knit together into a little frown, just as she did now, and the expression was very much like the one she wore when he pushed her to try harder during one of their wild sparring matches. Him, urging her on, knowing she held back when all he wanted was to watch her come alive, slashing and cutting at him, until she showed no mercy. 

Laughing silently to himself, certain it was he that haunted her dreams, Ben reached over and gently shook her knee. 

Rey’s brown eyes fluttered open, fixing on him, her frown smoothing into the soft look of content.

“We’re close” He said quietly. 

Rey gave a little nod to let him know she’d heard then shut her eyes nearly drifting back to sleep before he reached over once more. 

He hated to wake her. The time for a full nights sleep had passed the moment they left Alderaan, and he could not say when they would see proper rest again. Still, he needed her alert when they arrived, not yawning and stretching like a little cat, drawing him in, making him forget the trials ahead. He held his breath watching her sleepy movement. Her languid limbs reaching and beautiful in the dark of the coach. 

Looking away, wincing from the agony of not having the time to touch her, Ben cleared his throat. “We’re not far now.” He said to himself, nearly sorry for the truth of it and the sudden urgency he felt to have her one last time, before he was no longer Ben Solo. 

But, there would be many opportunities to take her into his arms, strip her of her dress, touch her bare skin and kiss her impossibly soft lips… when it’s all over, he thought and looked back to Rey who was reaching over her head now, raising her chest to stretch her back.  

Quickly distracting himself, Ben pulled a letter from the breast pocket of his coat.

He’d received the message just as they were leaving for the base and had nearly forgotten, but now seemed the perfect time to busy himself with something other than indecent thoughts of his beautiful wife. 

Rubbing his eyes for a moment, Ben studied the page. The sun was very nearly set, but the rising moon’s light reflecting off the snow was bright enough to read by, if he held the letter to the window.

As he began to read, his mind drifted, aware that some part of him had been putting this off out of fear that could not be denied. Not for what the letter might say, but what it might not. 

Even with the royal name of his mother attached to their righteous message, not everyone would rally behind them without guarantee that the Order would not seek some retribution. 

He had only himself to thank for that. As Kylo Ren, he’d managed to spread a blanket of fear quickly and effectively. Could he fault them now for hesitating to turn their backs on what many saw to be a formidable political party. 

Webs weaved, traps set, plans within plans. He sighed feeling a bit dizzy, but read on. 

Across from him, Rey resisted the urge to sink back into sleep and kept her eyes open, noting how much colder she was now. 

Reaching for her thick cloak, she sat up and pulled it on settling down into the heavy wool.

With the velvet curtain open, she could watch as the country side passed by. 

Everything had gone completely white with snow. For as far as she could see there was an untouched blanket of sparkling fluff. 

“I’ve never seen anything like it.” She said softly. 

Ben glanced up from his reading. “Yes.” He mumbled, returning to the page. 

Her lips pressed tight as she watched him for a while. 

She’d been wondering how quickly he would slip back into his role as commander. 

It seemed as though he may have already made the switch, and rather easily she feared.  

“You said we’ll be there soon?” She asked watching him carefully.  

“Yes,” He said engrossed in the pages. 

“Ben?”

His black brow raised as he glanced up, moving only his eyes. “Don’t call me that” He warned. 

She looked away with a huff. “No one can hear.”

“In this place, everyone is always listening. Don’t forget it.” He scolded her and pointed in the direction of the driver.

She nodded deciding not to argue, since he of all men should know. 

Shrinking back, Rey let the collar of her cloak go up over her ears. 

“It’s cold.” She whispered, speaking only a little of the weather. 

Ben ignored this statement but sensing her worry, he sighed and pocketed the letter. He reached over and slid the curtain shut letting darkness fill the space. 

Chewing her lip she took a breath to speak but hesitated, twice she attempted to say something but seemed to find it difficult.

“I dont know if im ready.” She finally confessed, turning to find his face in the dark.  

“You’re the strongest woman I know” He replied kindly. 

Rey smiled but his words felt hollow. “But, am I ready? This is no small undertaking… Kylo, we’re marching right into the dragons lair, and without much armor I might add. I don’t know that I’ll ever be ready. Are you?”

She could make out his pensive face and waited for an answer.  

Ben began to speak just as the carriage turned sharply and he looked up. “We’re here.” He said distracted from his own thoughts.  

Rey felt a rush of adrenaline as she sat up and smoothed back her hair. She grabbed the black fur hat she’d brought from Alderaan, and slipped it on. 

Without making a scene she took a moment to shut her eyes filling her lungs with a few calming breaths, willing herself to remember the techniques Mr. Akbar taught her, what felt like a lifetime ago. 

When she opened her eyes, Ben had pulled the curtain aside again and was watching as the imposing sight of the First Order’s headquarters came into view. 

Down the long drive they went, slowly now for the snow, but steady none the less. 

When the wheels of the carriage finally stopped, Rey’s entire body responded with a start.

This was it. There was only so much planning that could be done before all that was left to do was to act, and with some luck, succeed. 

She tilted her head and listened as the sound of boots marching against gravel approached. 

The quick rhythmic steps were unsettling, There must have been one hundred men, she was certain, but peaking out the window, Rey saw that there were no more than ten.

They’d come out to greet them and were lined up, according to rank, or so she guessed.

In their black uniforms, with caps pulled low, they looked like faceless shadows, haunting and inhuman. 

To see their organized discipline in the flesh made it very apparent how a group of unknowns had so quickly become a notable power, and in that moment Rey truly wondered how she would make it through this without breaking the facade of approval.

She would simply have to, her life and the lives of her loved ones depended on it. 

Shivering, she retreated into the darkness of the carriage.  

“Im here.” Ben said offering some comfort. 

He could sense her unease, the followers of the Order were after all, intentionally quite intimidating. And this would overwhelm anyone unfamiliar with their ways, much less someone here with the goal of stopping them.  

Reaching over he gave her hand a squeeze. 

Rey glanced up at him with wide, worry filled eyes, just as the coach door was yanked open. Her first instinct was to slam it shut and demand the driver take them back to the safe haven of home, but she just held his hand for a moment in return. 

“Come on” He said and rose to step out first.

She followed, thankful for the help down, not for lack of knowing how to exit a carriage on her own, but because she could not seem to stop shaking. 

As Rey stepped down, her eyes raised, taking in the incredible sight of the structure that was the First Order’s base headquarters. 

The sun was fully set now and stars dotted the deep blue sky creating a bright background to the black silhouette of the manor. It was a dark, brutal place of corners and towers that chilled her blood. 

“My Lord. Welcome back” The sound of a mans voice pulled her attentions down to ground level. 

Funny, she thought looking at the thin young man that greeted them, the last time she’d heard those words was when they’d arrived home from Paris and Edmunds met them with the staff.

How different the phrase was coming from this, pale, lemming of a man, with his dead eyes and downturned mouth.

“My Lady,” He bowed to her. 

She gave a little nod and looked up at Ben who had effortlessly gone back to his dark persona. 

“Thank you Ritter” He said absently. “Update me.” He ordered leading the way, ready to get on with it. 

“Supreme leader Snoke will be back in time for dinner this evening” The young man said falling into step beside his master as they began to cross the drive. “Until then, rooms have been readied, for you and Lady Ren.”

Rey was silent as she listened to this man, Ritter, ramble on, something about meetings and schedules. “They are in position, awaiting your command” He said at one point in a voice that was meant to be low, but Rey easily heard, and she wondered just what sort of commands Ben would give? It all felt so strange to know that the same man she held so dearly in her heart, could hold such power over these people.  

As Ben motioned for Ritter to stop the flow of information, Rey glared at the uniformed men still lined up, as the three of them passed.

They were unmoving, like true soldiers they stood watch, and she realized then that they were not there to greet, but to protect. 

Gods she’d truly found the worst of them hadn’t she. And fallen in love with their leader…  and what did that say about her, she wondered, watching as anyone they encountered bowed their heads to Ren before stepping out of the way. 

It was something like walking with a king she thought. But then wasn’t that the goal. Snoke had a few good years left, but eventually this would all land in the hands of a man as capable as he, and who better than Ren.

To the people here, he’d always been the royalty she’d only recently discovered him to be 

Glancing up at his long profile, Rey felt a chill. He wore the face of Kylo like some macabre mask hiding his true self away until it was safe to reveal their intentions.  

Odd though, now that she knew him for who he really was, she did wonder how she’d managed to see the warmth behind such a cold exterior.

Nearly trotting to keep up with the long legged men, Rey pushed the thoughts aside for now and focused on being present. She had quite the performance ahead of her. 

Through the heavy doors and into a long hallway they went, large flaming torches lining the way for light. The space between them as black as the abyss, thrusting them into darkness again and again as they walked. 

She stuck to Ben’s side fearing that if she stepped too far away, she’d be pulled off into the black recesses of the manor, never to be seen again.

And as they came to the grand atrium, she suddenly remembered her first time at Alderaan. Its entrance had been very much like this one, but while the wood and stone had seemed somewhat ominous that first time in, the tasteful beauty that waited in the other rooms of the estate had been a lovely surprise. Rey was certain that no such rooms could exist within these halls. The base was exactly as presented and there would be no soft space to find solace here. 

“Where is Hux?” Ben asked. 

“I believe he is in his office my Lord.”

He suddenly stopped, Ritter and Rey having to turn back to him. “Ritter, take my wife to our rooms” He said looking at Rey. 

He could not mean to leave her with these people alone. 

“Yes my Lord,’ The man said and bowed. 

“Please. Kylo, don’t leave me, we’ve only just arrived.” She said rushing back to him with a false smile plastered on her face as she tried not to lash out in front of the assistant or the other scattered few moving around them like mice, skittering in the dark. 

He leaned down and kissed her forehead, his gloved finger and thumb pinching her chin as he raised her face to look at him. 

“You’re safe. I promise. There’s something that I must see to, and while it can not wait, I know that you can.”

Rey’s eyes were wide with fear as she glanced at Ritter who glared at her, not bothering to hide his distaste.

She had to be stronger than this.

“Yes,” She said letting go of Ben’s arm, remembering her place as the commanders wife. “Well then, Ritter is it? Show me the way.”

“Yes, of course my Lady.” He replied and turned to offer his arm for her.
Rey took it and began walking with the stranger,  though a few times she turned to look over her shoulder to find Ben still watching her. 

For just a moment she wondered if he’d betrayed her, but the thought was fleeting. He just played his role so convincingly, but then, he had lived this life for more than a decade. 

“My Lady, we’ve assigned two maids to your rooms.” Ritter said drawing her gaze from Ben “Please, let them assist you in your preparations for dinner.”

“Where is my husband going? To general Hux’s office was it?” She asked as they started to climb up the wide stairs. 

The young man glanced at her suspiciously, but quickly looked forward again. “Yes, my Lady. He’ll return to you shortly. Until then, please, stay within your rooms.” He said and she wanted to press him on why Lord Ren’s wife should be confined to anything, but decided to keep quiet. 

They went down the outer hall, turning first right, and then left, completely confusing her. Past doorways and rooms she hadn’t a chance to peer into, he led her until at last they turned down a much more narrow hall with smaller torches. 

He took Rey down the deep red carpet in silence, and she caught glimpses of the night sky out the high windows as they walked. 

“Here we are” He said stopping at the end of the hall before a pair of intricately carved double doors, as black as his uniform. 

Startling Rey, one of the doors slowly opened to reveal two young girls, heads down, pale faces resigned to a life of servitude.

“Until dinner my Lady.” Ritter said abruptly pulling away.  

The girls bowed and curtsied as Rey watched him hurry off. 

“My Lady” One of the maids greeted her, though neither of them looked up. 

With a sigh, feeling just as weighted to her duties as these two women, Rey put on a brave face, or rather the face of a woman who would find this all to her liking and not the least bit unsettling.

“Thank you.” She said but did not bother to look at them as she entered the room.  

 

*

 

There was a clock, far down the hall somewhere. The incessant ticking was beginning to drive Rey mad as she stood completely still, feeling very much like a seamstresses dummy 

Rolling her eyes while one of the maids tugged at her dress, Rey sighed as it seemed every inch of her person must be examined and perfected. 

“We’re finished my Lady.” One of them finally announced after the meticulous fussing ended. Who was it? She narrowed her eyes at the tops of their lowered heads. Possibly Mary? It was hard to tell them apart. 

Rey moved on past her irritation and looked herself over in the large mirror, glad to be done.

For lack of a better word, she looked perfect. 

If perfect was the stripping away of her warmth and personality. 

The dress was black silk, the bodice cut low, the sleeves long. She wore her hair up but tighter than she usually would, and over her eyes they’d placed a thin, nearly invisible veil of black tulle, with one of them explaining that this was the height fashion here.

“All of the general’s wives wear it m’Lady” The other girl told her as she lowered the hem of the thin netting, casting a soft shadow over Rey’s eyes.  

“Jewels my Lady, a gift from the Supreme Leader” Possibly Mary said, and presented a very expensive necklace to Rey before laying the piece across her chest. She pulled it up gently, making Rey’s skin goose from the light touch as she clasped it shut.

“Black diamonds set in silver” The maid announced softly, running her long fingers over the black gems that sparkled in the candlelight. Rey could only wonder if she’d been instructed to tell her exactly what she wore so that Snoke’s generosity may be admired.

“Thank you, it’s beautiful” She whispered, because it was, but the feel of it was very much like having the heavy hand of a stranger around her throat. 

She stood and the maids slipped her feet into a pair of lined slippers and smoothed the ink colored skirts down before fluffing them back up, only to smooth them down again. On and on, primping and preening until Rey nearly screamed.  

Clearing her throat she stepped away “I believe this is as good as I am going to get.” She said through her teeth looking from one girl to the next. 

Their worried faces touched her empathetic heart and she forgot her frustrations, smiled kindly at them, and thanked each one in turn. 

Mary nearly smiled back and nodded, stepping away. 

“Lord Ren will be waiting to escort you to dinner. Please, allow me to show you the way.” The other offered.  

“What’s your name?” Rey asked still staring at this dark version of herself. 

“Vera.”

“Vera… is it all a bit, much, for dinner?” She asked a little overwhelmed by the adornments.  

“Oh no, not at all my Lady, you are a vision,” The girl said with the sort of enthusiasm it must have taken years to perfect. “And you’re to take dinner with Lord Snoke himself. You’ll want to look your best as he’ll expect nothing less.”

Rey nodded. Of course he wouldn’t, she thought rolling her eyes quickly. 

“Well,” She said with a sigh. “Best lead the way then.”

The girl curtsied and turned, Rey following closely behind. 

Out of the warmth of the rooms, she was thankful for the long sleeves and thick slippers. This estate seemed to be made of the same cold rock and earth that it sat on, with no regard for comfort. 

Vera led her back down the long hall, through the maze of red carpet and flaming sconces that eventually opened to the center atrium. 

As they neared the grand staircase, Rey’s ears perked at the sound of Ben’s voice coming from below. She looked over the bannister just as he raised his eyes, possibly noting the motion above, and the feeling of relief upon unexpectedly seeing his face was so powerful she nearly broke out into a run to him,

“Oh, my Lord Ren is here!” Rey called to the girl who hadn’t stopped. “I’ll be fine on my own now” She said and Vera gave a look of confusion but backed away the moment she spotted Lord Ren. She cast her eyes and head down, disappearing into the shadows. 

Rey bristled at the way the girl looked at Ben, but it wasn’t her fault. He had quite the talent for scaring maids.

Turning to the steps, she picked up her skirts and made the long descent down to him, all the while, Ben watched as though this was his first time seeing her. And there was some truth in it. Rey like to enhance her appearance with a bright dress or a few loose tendrils of hair, not jewels and embellishments. So she could not deny that it felt somewhat good step out of her familiar shell and live in this gilded cage for a moment, if only for the sharp thrill that ran through her when she saw the way Ben admired the results of the maid’s efforts.

Ritter and the two other men that flanked Ben’s sides continued talking to him, but he cared little for their fussing, if he heard it at all, which clearly upset the tall red-haired man who’d caught Rey’s eye. 

“My Lady.” Ben said coming to her when she reached the floor. 

He was a bold man, and felt no shame in slipping his hand around her waist to pull her close. 

“You look beautiful.” He said eyeing her as though he might rip the dress from her body.  

Rey flushed a deep pink and smiled. “Thank you Lord Ren,” She leaned in and raised up to whisper “You wear your lie beautifully too” She smiled. 

While Ben may have been distracted, she could not ignore the anxious behavior behind him. “I believe your men are waiting” She said pulling away with a sly grin. 

He nodded absently caring little for anyone but her.

Gently taking Rey's hand as though she were some glass figurine that might break, he looped her arm around his, resting her hand on his forearm, the heat of his touch still quickening her pulse even after all this time. 

Turning back to the men he pulled his gaze from Rey just long enough to ask “Is Lord Snoke near?”

“He arrived not long ago and is in his rooms my Lord.” Ritter said and extended his arm, palm up. “Please,” He offered, inviting the couple to lead the way.

“I dont believe we’re finished here Ren” The red haired one said hardly stifling his irritation. “I said, I don’t believe we’ve finished!” He called. 

Ben escorted Rey past them, tossing his hand up to halfheartedly dismiss him.

The red head shut his mouth, glowering at Rey as though her very existence were enough to cause outrage.  

She dared to glance back, but one look from those piercing green eyes was all she needed to quickly turn away “Is that one Hux?” She asked quietly. 

Ben nodded, the displeasure of knowing the man rippling through him. “Yes.” 

Wonderful, she thought, another one to watch out for.

Ignoring Hux as best she could, Rey looked around, taking in the spartan architecture of this sprawling manor. 

She found it impossible to place the design, and the building seemed to exist outside of  any known time, feeling somehow neither old nor new. 

The resulting effect was very unsettling and she wondered if this had been done intentionally.

They went down a hall as wide as a gallery, it’s outer wall lined with windows that rose nearly to the ceiling allowing all to admire the night sky from within the confines of the base.  

“I’ve heard we’re to be blessed with Lord Snoke’s company.” Rey said suddenly, as though she’d almost forgotten ”Is he really going to dine with us?” 

Ben glanced down and nodded. “It’s something of an honor, you should be impressed.” His tone was serious but the look in his eye gave away his sarcasm, making her smile.

Lord and Lady continued on, carrying themselves as superiors quite convincingly, with Rey taking to it now that she must, and him looking exquisite in his black formal clothes and solemn face. 

The procession seemed intentional Rey noticed. Ben must have planned for them to come this way, which explained why Vera had been confused when he met her in the atrium. They could have taken a more direct route to the dining room, to be sure, but he wanted the show. The people needed to see that he was more than the strong right arm of Snoke, but a man capable of love and being loved. They would also be more inclined to trust a man with a wife, and a wife that looked like Rey would win them over quickly.

The whispers of approval from the edges of the hall were proof of that.

Some however turned their noses up at the pair, Rey especially. 

She was an outsider. They knew nothing of her other than the fact that because of her, he was never here. This was about more than just him being seen with her, but Rey being seen as a wife deserving of Ren. 

The thought angered her but she kept her eyes ahead and ignored them as best she could, though two men in grey uniforms with scowling faces stole her attention. She gave them a cold glare before raising her head high. 

If these were to be the people they turned to their cause, she would wait to pass judgment on them for as long as she could, but she would not show weakness to people so easily fooled by promises of some bleak utopia… it would clearly not be easy to hold back her feelings.

They will see who we really are, she thought glancing at an older couple walking towards the dining room. The woman smiled at Rey but it was strained and meant to make her feel unwelcome. 

They will see and they will understand , that the love between us was built on a foundation of respect, Rey told herself. Ben was without a doubt hers, and she had married this man willingly and loved him deeply.

This single thought carried her through to the glowing destination ahead.

Stepping into the opulent dining room was like stepping into another world. The longest table Rey had ever seen was dripping with every sort of indulgence one could imagine, and candelabras were placed so closely together, the room seemed to glow with the deep yellow haze of the sun.

“Oh, oh my” She whispered not noticing the way Ben eyed the spread. 

It was a disgusting display but one he pretended to appreciate. 

Snoke was not so much a man of refined taste as he was the sort who simply loved the taste. And he enjoyed showing those below him all that he had and all that he could offer them, should they remain loyal. 

It was a fitting way to bring his tyrannical rule to an end before it could begin. Let him choke on the spoils of a war he would never fight for just a while longer. 

Let him sit like the king of fools, relishing in their false loyalty, Ben thought and was sure to greet the men in the room who turned away from the display just as he did. They would be the ones to unknowingly aid him in Snoke’s demise, and he smiled knowing that the wheels were in motion. 

Rey was formally introduced, though everyone already knew who she was. 

They kissed her hand, curtsied and bowed to her. They showered her with praise and insisted it was an honor to meet her. She found the showy affection wanting and sad. 

These men and women were so delighted to be a part of what they were sure would be a new ruling government that they would accept a woman they knew nothing about as their queen. But such is the way of royalty and politics, she sighed. 

Feeling the fatigue much quicker than she’d imagined Rey did her best to smile and speak kindly, she was after all a lady and would treat them with enough respect to get the job done. 

The men though, were ever so stiff, much more concerned with “advancing the cause” than getting to know her. The women who agreed with the men frightened her more. 

She was so used to finding solidarity with the women in her life, it was troubling to feel such distance from the ones surrounding her now. 

She thought of the Princess, Lady Holdo, and of course Rose. She smiled as she was introduced to an older women with dark eyes and remembered Miss Akbar and dear Lady Arlo in all her vapid glory. She missed even her… 

There were a few though, the light of their kindred spirits dim but glowing in the crowd. 

The quiet women who did not dare look her in the eye, for fear of being found out. They were the ones trapped in this room with her, desperate to flee.

Soon friends, Rey thought and smiled at the wife of a horrid man she tried to ignore. The woman, Mahla looked nearly surprised when Rey spoke with her as though she were worth the time.

It should not have been a surprise that a regime like the one Snoke and yes, Kylo Ren, were trying to put into place would attract the sorts it did, but to meet them in the flesh did seem to knock the wind from her. 

Relief from the never ending introductions came in the form of a whisper to Ben from one of the butlers.

He leaned down to hear the old man, and nodded reaching for Rey. 

Without a word, he escorted her to her seat before rounding the head of the table to sit opposite her, at his own.

As she sat, Rey realized the entire crowd had gone quiet, watching as the commander took his seat, and then in near silence, they followed his lead finding their places as well. 

No one touched a single bite of food, or drop of drink on the table.

Rey was fascinated by the strange rituals they’d invented but played along without question. 

Quite suddenly, Supreme Leader Snoke was announced and everyone stood, Ben and Rey among them.  

She’d listened to Ben’s description of the man, but seeing was something else entirely. 

He entered the room quickly, flanked by two guards.

The long robe of heavy gold brocade he wore was lined with a crimson velvet and showed both his wealth and disregard for societal norms. 

They, must all dress for dinner.  He, chose whatever suited him for the night. 

Rey wondered if this peacocking was more a deterrence. Surely he wished to pull the attention away from his horribly scarred face? 

Had he been a good man she would have admired him, but he was not. It was clear enough to see, even without prior knowledge of his ways, that he was completely abhorrent. Everything Ben had described and more.

She could nearly feel the hate simmering in her blood, as he sauntered down the length of the table, eyeing people as he passed, none of whom dared to meet his gaze. 

The parade stopped at the end of the table where Snoke lowered his cold glare down to Rey. 

She looked up, studying the mottled face and brilliant blue eyes peering out from under a heavy brow ridge. She could not say for sure, but she thought he might have been smiling.

“Lady Ren.” He said her name slowly as if he needed to know how it felt on his tongue. 

Inhaling deeply, he straightened, displaying his height. “You’ve managed to steal my best commander away, my Lady.” He teased with a scolding tone. 

Rey swallowed, her eyes glassed over for a moment, distracted by the man’s incredible ability to make her feel his malice with a single look. 

It was impressive, Ben had been right, however she was not so unfamiliar with this sensation and she quickly found her voice.

“Forgive me my Lord, but I’m sure you must know,” She flashed a tiny smile toying with him, “Your commander came willingly” 

Snoke raised his stunted nose at her and glanced at Ben. 

His hesitation to reply was excruciating, as she wasn’t sure what to expect, but he did eventually smile. 

“He did that.” The man agreed. “And, from the whispers floating through my halls, it would seem, he’s left for more than a pretty face. You’ve done well for yourself?”

She bowed her head in humble confession. “I am a determined woman. I merely seized an opportunity when I saw one worthy of pursuing.”

“You speak of Ren, or your financial endeavors?”

Rey’s sparkling eyes met his. “It’s not polite to share such details.”

Snoke’s shoulders shook with a silent laugh. “Perhaps I will take time get to know you better,” He said as though he’d considered it before, and was confirming it now. 

He stepped closer and Rey stiffened leaning away. 

“A beauty with wit and charms to spare.” His strange eyes narrowed. “But, more than that must be given, to keep a man of Ren’s taste. And taken.” He said this in such a way, that it made her feel very small and painfully vulnerable. 

Ben stepped back from his place across the table and came around to her side so quickly, Rey nearly backed into him. 

“Your travels were extensive, you’re tired my Lord.” He told his mentor with a tone of warning. Placing a gentle hand on Rey’s shoulder, he steadied his wife.

Snoke looked from man to woman, finally nodding in agreement, seemingly pleased with the reaction from Ben. “Yes. I suppose you’re right. Sit, now. All of you” He ordered and the room lowered in a wave. 

Ben went back to his place across from Rey,  giving her a look of reassurance as they both took their seats.

Moving in their rehearsed dance, the footman began to pour wine, the butlers began to serve the first course and the sound of conversations sparking like little fires filled the room.

“How long will you be staying this time Ren?” 

Hux. Rey shut her eyes, he did have the most awful voice.

She’d nearly forgotten he was to her left and her only option for conversation as Snoke sat at the head of the table to her right and she wanted nothing more than that to shut him out completely. 

“As long as im needed.” Ben answered before drinking his wine. 

“And your wife, will she be staying the entire time?”

“As my wife, I’m sure she’d like too.”

“Yes, as your wife, but I wonder, will you be able to take yourself away from your duties as a husband long enough to ensure we are on track? It would seem she’d be more, comfortably occupied back home in that, what.. village? And perhaps, with the distractions gone, you'd be a bit more attentive to your work.”

Rey spun her head surprised to be talked about as though she weren’t sat at the same table.

“Excuse me, Lord, Hux is it?” She asked. 

He eyed her sidelong and gave a curt nod.

“Yes.”

“lord Hux, I’m perfectly capable of speaking for myself. If you are truly worried for my wellbeing, you simply need only to ask. Now, As for me, I’ll stay here if I like, or go if I like, whatever happens shall be what I decide.”

He turned his head, eyes wide with shock, and Rey was certain he’d never talked to a woman like her long enough to have one actually talk back.

Hux looked over to Ben as though her husband might silence her, but Ben just smiled and raised his glass with admiration.  

Snoke made a sound like a chuckle and nodded approvingly. “You’ll remember Hux, this is Ren’s bride, not some sniveling servant from the mountains!” He said and Hux made a face as though the suggestion was vile. “Now, with all that out of the way, what news have you to share with me Ren, What of the south?” Snoke went on, his mind already having moved on from the silly squabble. 

Rey listened for as long as she could stand hearing the names of places and people she knew nothing about until she let her attentions shift down the table.

Beside her, the droning tone of Hux’s mindless chatter wore on her nerves. He was engrossed in talks with the incredibly tall woman beside him. It seemed their entire reason for speaking to one another stemmed from a mutual obsession with the Order.

Rey managed to introduce herself, feeling as though she should know this particular enemy as well as one would a friend, and learned the woman’s name was Phasma. 

She was a fanatic who seemed to have no sense of humor or joy. She was made up of pure work and discipline, leaving little for she and Rey to discuss, which allowed for the conversation to return more comfortably to she and Hux. They went on, out doing one another with tales of greatness within the party.

Nauseated, Rey looked around the table noticing every once in a while, that one of the men would look to her with a sort of knowing in their eye, and she wondered who among them really knew. 

They’d taken such risks involving others, but it had been done in such a way that the ones who thought they’d been told everything, were actually and completely unaware of the true plan. They knew as much as she and Ben needed them to, and no more. But it would be enough to see Snokes fall from grace successful. 

Sighing, she drank her wine and sat back, thankful Ben had not told her names. That was for her own safety should this fail, but in this room tonight she considered it an unexpected blessing. 

Looking up from her cup she spotted general Maddox at his place in the middle of the table. That seemed a good location for him.

Nearly at the opposite end, sat far from the higher ranks nearest Snoke, was his daughter. 

The two women did manage to look at one another, but neither instigated a second encounter. It seemed they’d come to a mutual understanding that they were both better off pretending the other did not exist. 

Unfortunately, Rey could not pretend the people nearest her were invisible and she found herself matching wits with Snoke, though they danced around the awful feeling of knowing that they were both frauds. 

As the night wore on, Rey found herself longing to escape the stifling room. The food was beautiful but so rich she could not eat more than a few bites. The wine was incredible but so strong she had to refuse her next glass. The dining room smelled like too much perfume mixed with the sweat of fear, and lies. The nervous laughter that rose above the clatter of voices could have been any of the people here, as she was certain no one trusted their neighbor at all. 

Snoke kept looking at her, Hux and Phasma were exhausting, and Ben had become kylo Ren so completely, she nearly didn’t trust him either. 

Silent in a room full of noise, Rey remind herself that this was the man she’d fallen in love with. She’d seen the good in him, and knew him to still be that man, he simply put on an act.

An act which needed to work.

Her eyes narrowed as she watched him.

His long black hair hung in thick waves to his shoulders creating a dark, shining halo around his perfectly imperfect face. 

I love you Ben Solo, but please do not forget who you are , she said to herself as she listened to the cadence of his deep voice while he spoke with the others. Just hold on a little while longer.

This ends soon.  

For now however, she would sit through the feast and if the night was merciful, she would sleep, and wake tomorrow ready to silence them once and for all. 

*

Free of her veil and dress the color of mourning, Rey eased into bed, stretching her arms and legs out long, the feel of cold sheets against her skin welcome after the heat of the dining room.

They’d come back to the sanctuary of their suite once the diner was over and stripped themselves of their cumbersome facade. 

Too exhausted to endure the rituals, Rey sent the maids away skipping the need for others to dress and undress her, and relished in being alone with him and free, if only for a night. 

She sighed into the pillows, deeply relieved, only to be pulled close by his strong arms. 

“Remind me that I am not him, that you love me, and that I am not who I once was”

Ben held her to his chest, whispering the words of a man on the verge of breaking.  

Surprised into silence, Rey shut her eyes and listened to his racing heart. 

It had not occurred to her that he might find it taxing to be back here. Back to his old ways and nearly forgotten habits. 

Back to being Kylo Ren. 

She slid her head back to see him clearly, finding the worry she could hear in his words etched into the lines of his brow.

Moving closer, Rey touched his soft lips before kissing him slowly, her mind racing for the right thing to say.

Slinking up and over, she spread her naked body over Ben’s.

“I don’t need to tell you who you are. You know in your heart you were never really Kylo Ren. You, Ben Solo are my rock, and I am yours. We are strong together.” She whispered smoothing his brow. 

The long, elegant curves of Rey’s body were highlighted by the faint moonlight that tried desperately to break through the cloudy sky outside their windows.

Ben could not see her, but felt what she must have looked like in this cold empty room, her unyielding spirit the only spark of life. 

Longing to believe her, desperate to feel anything but the torment of Kylo Ren’s demons, he took her soft hips in hand.

Ready without effort, he pushed her down so that he found her and slid into the warm refuge he sought, slowly enough to calm himself.  

She’d been right, together was the only way to make it through this night. 

Rey stayed laying over him and moaned into the pillow, wonderfully loud in his ear.

“Remind me as I did you, that I am still a good man.” He whispered reaching up to grab her hair, and she gave a little cry as he lifted his hips, filling her completely. 

Rey pushed up to sitting reaching for his hands, her fingers interlacing with his as she began to rise and fall. 

“You know that you are..” She started but gasped. The words melted away, fading into heavy breaths and soft sounds shared between them. 

She used her lips and breasts, her circling hips, and firm touch to show him what it was he needed to see, and feel, convincing him that he was in fact the same man he’d been just days ago. He was still the man she loved, and he was worthy of such affection. 

Rey laid over him again, sliding her hands between the cool sheets and his shoulders. Wrapping her arms around his neck, pressing her cheek against his, and rocking her hips just the slightest bit, she worked until she felt him hold his breath. 

With a shudder he came as she held onto him, letting him fill her until he exhaled. 

“You are the best man I know Ben, and I love you deeply ” She said once their hearts slowed. 

He opened his eyes to the dark, thankful that she sat up, so he could see her once more before the inevitable exhaustion took him, which it quickly did, spurred on by the soothing strokes of her fingers through his hair. 

Quietly, Rey slipped away and lay beside him, nestling against his now calm body. 

As she looked out to the patches of moon shining through the clouds, her own eyes grew heavy as sleep finally showed her some mercy. 

Her final waking thoughts were hopes, that Ben could believe her, and that he would not falter.

 

*

The incredibly difficult thing about relying on intricate plans, is that sometimes, they don’t go as expected. 

When Ben left their rooms the next morning, it was with the intention of confronting Snoke about the letter he’d supposedly found

The letter was in Snoke’s writing and signed by him. 

The letter was proof of his betrayal and sympathy for the crown. 

The letter was a perfect forgery. 

Snoke would argue and deny it of course, but he would not challenge it. Not with Kylo’s men, his knights, some had started calling them, by his side. It might even be easy for Ben to have the shamed Supreme Leader put in chains and taken away. 

Rey knew the details as well as she knew her own name. She also knew how it would end should Ben pull it off successfully. It was the waiting for the moment they’d planned for to come, to see her husband walk into the room claiming victory, that was causing her to nervously pace the floors. 

She was not a naturally anxious person, but these strange times had brought on a sense of dread in her so fierce it threatened her sanity at times. 

She’d only picked at breakfast and had turned the maids away needing quiet, not two girls fussing over her.

Again and again she ran through the plan, and each time it ended the way they’d discussed, so that when Rey turned to the slowly opening door of their suite and saw Hux in the frame instead of her husband, she staggered back wanting to break into a run, shocked by this turn of events.

“General Hux?” She tossed aside the fear and cleared her throat, her arms rigid at her side. “What brings you here so early? These are our private rooms.”

“Come with me.” He said, void of any emotion. 

“Where is my husband?” She demanded. 

Hux ignored her inquiry and turned his back, giving the two guards that appeared from around him a single command 

“Take her.”

“What is this! Where is Kylo?” She shouted and they closed in on her, but Hux had already left the room. 

“Don’t touch me! I can follow him on my own.” Rey snapped with such ferocity it actually gave both men pause.

Brushing past them, she stormed out of the room, repulsed by the very idea of being led away like some criminal.

“What are you playing at general!” She shouted as he disappeared around a corner in the hallway. 

She followed Hux away from the living quarters of the manor, with it becoming clear that he had no intentions of answering her. Knowing she had to stay calm, Rey resigned herself to follow him quietly, the two guards at her back not giving her a chance for escape. 

She was nearly dizzy with the twists and turns they took before he guided her down a very narrow stair to a small landing.

Wishing she’d been able to grab something, a letter opener, a paper weight, anything to defend herself, Rey hung back half way down the steps trying to see where it would end.

The unforgiving wall formed by the two guards pressed her forward in spite of her protest. 

But there was no dark crypt or damp cells. This stair led to a surprisingly peaceful courtyard. 

Rey hesitated, genuinely confused. She’d thought for sure they’d been found out and that Hux was leading her to the dungeons below. 

But here, the sun was breaking through the grey morning clouds, glittering across the untouched snow piled at the base of the walls and over the branches of the small trees. 

In the middle of the unexpected winter garden sat a small fountain. It’s top tier covered in a thick blanket of flakes, and it’s basin, nearly empty had drawn a single bird to flit around in it’s icy water. It was lovely, and it was quite possibly the most private space she’d seen since they arrived which frightened her even more. 

With his back still turned, Hux held up a hand to keep the guards from following him.

“What is this?” Rey asked cautiously stepping out into the bright white. 

He spun to face her, glaring down as though he might lash out, but instead, he clenched his jaw and raised his nose looking away. 

The man was nearly as tall as Ben, but lacked the build and presence that gave Solo the advantage. Hux felt the need to make up for this by being as smug and unpleasant as possible. 

“I’m going to tell you something,” He said glancing at her “And I need you to believe me. We don’t have much time so listen carefully.”

Eyes narrowed with suspicion, Rey nodded for him to proceed.  

“The man you and Ren seek to betray is not here.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Don’t, play games with me girl. I know what you’re up to. You and your… prince.”

“I don’t know what you mean.” She said, her heart beating so hard she could feel the pressure in her ears. 

“Fine,” He sighed rolling his deep green eyes. “Let’s just say, you have someone working for you, who as it would happen, works for me. As I’m sure you’re aware, all of our bases must be covered. When you married Ren, myself and others who will remain nameless, began to worry about our dear lords abilities, not only to lead, but we began to question his decision making as well.”

“Because he married?” She asked baffled. 

“Because he married you. And you are not a part of this” He said, eyes darting around to take in the grey stone walls and snow around them. “He is a man of conviction, but I’ve seen what a woman can do when she sets her mind to ruining a man.”

Rey snickered and stepped back crossing her arms. “Oh surely you can not think that I alone could, corrupt, Lord Ren.” She nearly teased. 

Hux leaned forward, eyeing her slowly. “You, and apparently his disgraced mother, the princess of some sacked kindgom.” 

Rey’s arms dropped to her side and she stepped forward “Do not speak of things you know nothing about. I’ll warn you but once” She said, and for a moment, Hux seemed to cower, the look in her eyes gripped him, holding him in silence. However showing any sign of weakness was a great character flaw to the man who based everything on appearance. He squared his shoulders and cleared his throat. 

“No matter, the fact is, I know of your plan. And I’m telling you, that ending Snoke, does not end the Order.”

Rey calmed herself and allowed Hux’s words to settle. Though she could not believe him completely, the possibility that they had been betrayed remained. 

The hurt was deep, but that pain would have to wait.

“Where does it end then?” She asked, an inkling stirred deep but she ignored it. 

“That we don’t know. But, when Ren makes his move, he will not succeed if you do not figure that out.” He raised a brow and added, “If you think you have my sympathies, you do not. But I am a survivor. And I’ve known your, husband, much longer than you. He will not show mercy to those who side with Snoke.”

‘You’re making your allegiance known then?”

Hux sighed and shut his eyes. “My allegiance is with the Supreme Leader. Whoever that may be by midday, is who I shall pledge myself to.”

Rey’s lips twitched, “Will you give up your spy?” She prodded. 

His eyes opened wide with insult. “I will not. And you my Lady should get back to your rooms, I don’t believe it will be safe here soon should things not go as you’d so carefully planned.”

“You may have ill intent behind your warnings Hux, but I take them to heart none the less, and I thank you for it.”

He bowed his head and Rey curtsied quickly before turning, sure to flash a look of disapproval to the guards. 

Once inside she spread out her fingers to watch her hand shaking with the shock of this newest turn of events. 

Tucking her hands at her sides, arms crossed tight around herself, she kept the anxious thoughts at bay knowing her only objective now was to get back to her rooms. 

Hux was not wrong in his suggestion. If Ben’s plans were still on track, he would at this very moment be confronting Snoke with no certainty of success. 

But damn these long dark halls and their identical rugs and doors. 

With a heavy sigh, feeling trapped, Rey spun around and realized that to her left was a small atrium were a group of the orders staff were talking. 

Regaining her composure, she shook her arms out letting the adrenaline fade, cleared her throat, and raised her head approaching the group. 

They all bowed and curtsied to her, something she would never get used to. 

“Can one of you show me the way back to the living quarters.” She said. Her natural instinct was to apologize for getting lost in the first place, but they would except nothing short of a cold demand, and it worked.

A single girl raised her head amongst the still lowered group and nodded. “Yes, of course my Lady,” She said and stepped forward.  

Rey followed her silently trying not to show worry or fear on her face, though Hux’s voice haunted her every step. 

After a few turns and a stairwell, the girl stopped “Just down this hall and to the left my Lady, I’m not permitted to go further.” She said and bowed before turning back the way they’d come. 

Rey stood looking down the long stretch as she realized, the very worst part in solving the mystery, was already knowing the answer and wanting desperately for it not to be true. 

 

*

 

With loyal men at his back, Ben Solo stood watching his former mentor. 

“Have you anything to say?” He asked waiting for Snoke’s reply. “You’ve being accused of treason against the Order. You are allowed a reply.”

Snoke sat low in his throne-like chair. Safe behind the large desk he pondered, rubbing his chin slowly. “If you believe what you say to be true, then you would have killed me already.” He deduced inaccurately.  

Ben shrugged. “I’d like to handle these inconveniences, a little differently.”

Snoke snickered shaking his head. 

“Then my boy you will fail before you take my seat!” He said and stood. 

Ben reached across his waist, the hilt of his sword solid in his hand.

Snoke rounded the table and came casually towards him, even as Ben drew the weapon. 

“You think you’re fooling me? You think this game of yours will work? You’ve been mine for long enough to know that I am not so easily tricked! One letter will not be the end of me Ren!”

Ben nodded lowering the blade to his side. “Yes, but what about five?”

One of his men stepped out of formation, holding a stack of letters.

“Each one, written and sent by you, to men close to the king. All then sent to me from their intended with words of warning against one man.” Ben spoke, watching as the knight went to Snoke to show him. 

Snoke glanced down at the papers held out to him hardly able to hide his outrage. “The nobel houses that fly our banner have been told, the men that will become commanders and generals of the First Order have been warned.” Ben continued “The dinner last night was something of a mercy. One last moment to feel the power of the Order within your grasp. But that time is over.”

“You’ve turned them all against me” He said in a low growl, looking up at Ben as the “knight” went back to his place behind his leader. 

“You’ve turned them on your own Snoke. I simply allowed them to see who it was they followed.”

Horrified, wounded by the betrayal, he looked for a moment like Han Solo, shocked to find his sons sword between his ribs. 

The memory shook Ben but only for a moment, still it was enough for Snoke to swoop in. 

“Your guilt will kill you.” He said snarled stepping forward. “Just as it did when you killed Han Solo. Yes you managed to do it,  but you barely survived. The deed split your spirit to the bone!” He closed in on Ben. “You hide behind the name and the facade you’ve worked so hard to create. But it’s no more than a mask, a pathetic way to hide the fact that you’re just a child, too scared to become a man.”

Ben took the insults with his noteworthy reserve. It may have broken him to hear, but he’d endured far worse. Snoke’s thinly veiled attempts to best him were sad really, and all he felt was as sense of shame in himself for having ever trusted the man. 

Ben met Snoke’s gaze one last time, before giving a nod to his men. 

They moved like carrion, circling and closing in on their prey. 

Snoke recoiled from their attempts to bind his hands, and Ben, feeling pity for the lie that would bring Snoke down, gave a nod of permission, allowing him to walk untied. 

The desperate insults continued, growing more vicious and wild as the man struggled with the inevitable. He’d been blindsided by this turn and was scrambling to keep his head above the preverbal water, or more realistically out of a noose. 

Shouting many things from within the circle of armed men, Snoke was determined to get a response from Ben. Things were said that hurt, some that confused and too many that threatened Ben’s safety. But Snoke was no fool and remained within that protective circle, all too aware of his former protege’s rage.  

While the shocking display spilled out into the hall, Rey bound up the center steps.

She’d thought herself lost again until she’d spotted Ben from below having not yet realized what was happening. 

Stepping cautiously onto the marble floor, after hearing a commotion, Rey watched as the men led the Supreme Leader towards her.

Ben was standing near the doors to Snokes wing with his head down as they went. 

The look on his face broke her heart, and she wanted so much to call to him but instead, found herself entranced by the sight of the shamed Lord. 

He was making a scene, calling Ben a fool, warning the men not to put their trust in him. “He’s a liar and a traitor!” Snoke shouted to any that would listen. 

Rey glanced around watching as people came from rooms and hallways, drawn in by the ruckus. 

As he passed, Snoke stopped long enough to make eye contact with Rey and nearly smiled. 

“And had he not taken me from that cell and restored me to my glory, you would still be without a leader!” He snapped at her. 

Rey could not make sense of his mad ramblings and stepped aside to make room for the men to pass. 

“You strike the arm but the head still remains! He shouted, and she looked away, pity, disgust and guilt intertwined to create a band of confusion. 

What happened then, happened quickly. So quickly in fact, that when it was over, it nearly seemed as though nothing had occurred at all, such was the amount of time that it took for those who witnessed the scene to process the chaos. 

Snoke, close to insanity, overwhelmed two of the guards causing mayhem, allowing him to steal one of their swords.

The shouting and fighting were too much. 

Frozen to the spot, Rey watched, trying to make sense of who was doing what to whom. She heard the men’s warnings too late. 

Ben, seeing it happen from the start had raised his own weapon and ran to be there, just as Snoke swung the blade in an attempt to bring it down on her.

In one fluid motion, Ben reached back finding Rey. She gasped from the impact of his arm as he swept her behind his back, protectively shielding her with his body, simultaneously blocking Snokes strike, with a great clash of metal.  

Looking up one last time, into the eyes of the man who had shown him love when there was no one else, he pushed him back, and without hesitation, swung his blade with a precision learned over years of practice. The beautiful movement was made powerful by his natural tendency towards violence. 

The blow nearly cut Snoke in half. He fell like split wood, the sound of his body against the stone floor sickening.

No one moved, no said a word, not the blink of an eye, not a single breath was taken.

In shock, a pale and wide eyed Rey staggered forward stopping next to Ben. 

The blood flowed from Snoke like a river, running and pooling at the toes of her slippers until Ben pulled her aside. 

After some time, his clear voice was the first to break the silence. 

“Take him.” Ben said still looking down at the fallen Lord. “Lay him out as a warning.” 

The men that followed both Snoke and Ren looked up in unison, from one great man to the next. Their allegiance was instant and unbreakable in the wake of such ferocity. 

Satisfied with them, Ben looked down at Rey.

She was still a ghostly white and her mouth hung open, the look in her eyes was one of horror which he regretted, but only because he’d been the one to cause it. Still, had he not done this, it would be her body lying on the cold floor now instead of Snoke.

He looked back to the men and now the others who were filling the atrium, drawn by the commotion. He had to say something to comfort them, and to save himself and Rey before questions could be asked. 

Inhaling sharply, Ben spoke. “Any who fight against us, are the enemy.” He said simply.  

“Yes… Supreme Leader.” One of the knights said with a deep bow. He then turned his head, his profile fierce as he snapped his fingers once and pointed down for the men ranked below him to tend to their Leader’s command. 

They raised Snoke’s large frame, careful not to pull him apart and slowly began to carry him away. The only thing left of the once feared man, was a deep stain along the grey marble floor, very much like the cloak lined in crimson he’d worn to dinner, just the night before.  

“Are you alright?” Ben asked turning to Rey. 

When she didn’t respond, he grabbed her arm and gently turned her face towards him, worried she’d been pushed too far. “Don’t look anymore, it will haunt you.” He said softly and pulled her close. “It’s over now.”

“No,” Rey said pushing away. “It’s not. He was not the one.” She said and reached up to touch her own face suddenly aware of herself.  

She studied her fingertips to find they were wet with tears, but tears for who? Snoke? Never. She did not feel anything but relief with him gone. Perhaps tears over seeing a man die so brutally? Yes. This was her first. But most of all, the knowledge that Ben’s act of heroics would change nothing seemed to hurt her most. 

Rey shut her eyes trying to block out the sight of all that blood. When she felt ready again, she opened them and spoke. 

“We must find Palpatine.”

*

The faces filling the large ballroom were somber with grief as Rey and Ben walked through the parting crowd. 

The people looked away, bowing their heads out of respect and fear, as the new Supreme Leader passed. 

He’d had Snoke’s ruined body laid out in the yard for all to see. This was his warning. 

And now he would show them kindness, a symbolic embrace, after such a brutal lesson.

His plan had always been to address the crowd once Snoke was removed from his position, but now with the former leaders untimely demise, the rally was imperative for securing Ben’s hold over the stunned group.  

Silent and ever aware of the loss that effected them all, Ben, followed closely by Rey and Hux, who had chosen wisely, went up onto the dais at the end of the room. 

This platform had been used by Hux to shout words of encouragement and power, working the people into a frenzy.

They would hear no such declarations today. Ben was thankfully not the fanatic that Hux was, and he would address them with a message steeped in reality. 

“Snoke is dead.” He began, scanning the crowd “He was a traitor. A liar and a deceiver. Shed no tears for him. He was our enemy,” He’d worried that this would start a wave of disapproval, but the crowd remained still. They were not shy, weak people. They could take his harsh words and hear the truth in them. “Now I look to you to continue on with our mission. We have a goal, and without Snoke to throw us off course, a successful ending is closer than we thought possible. Do not fear me, do not doubt my wife. Our allegiance is to you, and the people of this country. We will do all that we can to see this though to the end that we’ve been fighting for.”

He looked down at each of the men who’d secretly pledged their allegiance to him in turn. They’d been allies so far, but would they continue once they realized he did not want to bring an entire country to heel? With a small sigh, Ben looked away. He would in fact loose the support of many over the next few weeks. His cold eyes met theirs again.

They would not be missed. 

“As Supreme Leader, I ask only that you trust in me, as I now put my faith in you to continue on our course.” He lied. 

He looked out to the crowd again approvingly, bowed his head and then, with Rey close behind descended the platform and stalked back the way they’d come to leave the people to their whispers and worries. 

*

“Hux says it, even Snoke did before he died. Surely you must see that they are telling the truth.” Rey leaned forward on the bed.

Already on her knees she had to stop herself from leaping across the room to shake reason into him. 

They’d retreated to their rooms in an attempt to avoid the onslaught of responsibility placed upon Ben in the days following Snoke’s death. Just a few moments of calm was all he needed, and all she asked, was to take that time to speak of pressing matters he’d been ignoring. 

“You ask too much of me.” He shook his head glaring at her. “To trust two known liars?”

Rey shook her head and watched him pace the room. With a heavy sigh, she sank down to sitting. The frustration found in arguing with a man like Ben had never gotten any easier and she was certain it never would. Even now, when what she said was so glaringly obvious, so undeniably true, he still found a way to furrow his brow and shake his head. Stubborn, infuriating man.

“No.” She said speaking slowly to stay calm “But, Ben, the day your mother gave me the sword, when I was alone with her, she said as much too. She told me I had to find him, but what I think she wanted to say was that I had to find him to end this. I don’t think the princess would have said such a thing had she not serious cause for alarm. If you can not believe Snoke and Hux, please, believe me, believe her. My grandfather is the one we must confront.”

Giving in with a sigh he stopped and rubbed his temple glancing over at her. “I know Rey, of course I do.” He stepped closer “And, in spite of my hesitations, I believe you, but, I don’t think you understand how important it is that I stay here. These people will not last with Hux trying to lead in my stead.”

“Yes, but, what good will it do if Palpatine has already been stoking the flames of other factions we know nothing about.”

Ben thought this over as he turned away and laid his hands on the fireplace mantle leaning forward, head down, the pressure building as he thought. 

“You’re right. You always are, but I must stay.” He pushed up and turned to look at her, understanding how dire she felt her words of warning to be. 

Seeing her so worried, so completely determined to get him to act moved his stubborn heart, but not enough to give in completely.  

“One week, and then we’ll go.” He said, his smile pained but there. “But you must promise me you won’t do anything foolish before then.” Ben went to the bed and sat beside her. 

Rey looked down, suddenly very interested in the string she picked at on the blanket.  

“Rey.”

She glanced up and nodded. “Yes, I promise.” She said and looked away. 

*

Days later, much sooner than a full week, Rey’s eyes sprang open in the dark. 

She’d begun to worry Ben would never sleep tonight, but as his fitful tossing and turning finally quieted into the soft breath of sleep, she was able to slip silently from the bed.

After having gone over it in her mind all day, she knew the routine perfectly. She would grab her robe for warmth and her sword, which she’d had wrapped and hidden away under the bed. Then, she would proceed to the secret meeting place she’d picked. 

Slipping the heavy robe on, she quickly squatted down and reached, finding the thick fabric that concealed her weapon. 

In a fluid move, Rey pulled the blade out from under the bed and grabbed the two long ends of cloth, tying them together across her chest, letting the sword lay solid against her back.

Not even daring to breathe, she stood, took one last look at his sleeping form, and snuck out the double doors before Ben could turn over. 

*

“Thank you Vera” She whispered in the dark. 

Having made it down the hall, Rey worked with her maid to dress quickly in the unused bedroom a few doors down.

“My Lady, if his lordship should wake and find you gone, I will try my best to avoid him, but I will give you up. I can not lie to him, and I could also never forgive myself if something terrible happens to you” Vera said as she tugged Rey’s very practical and very plain dress over her head.  

Rey nodded smoothing her hair back. “If that weren’t so frustrating I’d thank you, so best you stay away from our rooms then.” She said and flashed a smile at the girl over her shoulder.

Once her boots and woolen cloak were on, Vera handed her the small satchel she’d filled with food and a purse full of coins should something happen and she needed money, though if everything went according to the plan she’d managed to arrange in just a few days, she would reach her destination without incident.

Opening the heavy door slowly, Rey waited until she heard Vera’s whisper to come out. 

With the young maids help, she was able to slip through the halls undetected. No one would dare question her, but they might mention something to him and that would end her journey before it could begin. 

She could not think of that now, not of the hurt look in his eyes when he realized she’d gone, or the worry that would consume him.

She’d tried again and again to make him see that they must confront Palpatine, but Ben was determined to do things his way, forcing her to see to the matter alone. 

Focused again on the goal ahead, Rey followed Vera down into the kitchens where only the scullery maids worked. 

They didn’t even lift their heads.

The servants entrance was always busy, with so many people to care for. There was never a time when supplies weren’t being brought in. 

The delivery carts came and went as often as the winds changed, giving Rey a perfect way to escape in plain sight. 

The two women quickly went through the kitchens and cellars and staff dining room, sneaking out the door and to the stone wall of the courtyard where they waited. 

The maid glanced up at Rey who was peering into the dark, desperate to see if her carriage would come. 

Making a funny whistle, Vera signaled and after a few agonizing seconds, it did in fact come rolling into view. 

The delivery man had already been paid off, as Rey had instructed Vera to do, and would take her to the village without question or stopping. 

She just had to hide amongst the goods of his cart until they passed the gates, which after a quick yet sincere farewell to Vera, miraculously went off without a hitch. 

After some time of being jostled around under the thick blanket covering his wares, the merchant finally gave a call over his shoulder giving her the go-ahead to come out. 

Tossing the blanket over, she sat up with a deep breath. 

Her instant reaction was to smile with relief. Looking up at the sky, she sighed, feeling as though she could finally relax after nearly two weeks within the walls of the First Order.

Even under her husbands rule, the place was oppressive. 

Climbing up and over, she joined her nameless savior in the open carriage seat, though they didn’t talk on the way. Better neither of them know too much about the other.

The absence of conversation made for a peaceful respite from the endless chaos of the base, and the old mare that pulled his cart took long enough that Rey’s racing heart began to slow a bit after taking such a risk. 

At the edge of the village, Rey left the man and found her second driver waiting outside the Rancor Tavern.

She would know this one for the scar on the left side of his face, as Vera had told her while she served tea yesterday morning. 

She spotted him easily enough and the words of passage were exchanged giving Rey access. 

And that was it. 

She could hardly believe she’d managed to leave so easily, though not altogether unharmed.

The painful stabbing at her heart was enough that for a moment, just minutes after she boarded, she got the man’s attention and he stopped the coach. 

Quickly, Rey stepped out into the cool night air, and turned to look down the long dark road that would lead her back to the base, should she choose to go. 

Ben was still sleeping, she told herself. Let the man rest, as this would be the last time he did until they were reunited again. 

“Everything alright miss?” The driver asked, leaning over to peak around the side of the carriage. 

Rey nodded, a few tears spilling over her cheeks that she quickly brushed away. “Yes.” She said and turned to him. “I thought I forgot something for a moment, but I was mistaken, ride without stopping.” She instructed and climbed back inside slamming the door shut. 

The driver listened to her instructions, or perhaps to the tune of the hefty sum he was paid, though it made no difference to Rey. She cared only about going quickly, which he did with success, and his dedication saw her make this leg of the trip in just a day. 

By the time he left her to find one last coach, she was ready for it to be over. 

Restless sleep, interrupted by worry and an unsteady ride had done her a disservice.

She’d eaten the small ration of food Vera packed, but only because she must. Her appetite had been left behind with the comfort of her sleeping husband, and the warm bed.

Luckily she found her last coach easy enough. There were always some waiting in this busy town, very near her own village in fact.

Paying the man half in advance assured her a quick ride.

She informed the driver that she wished to go to the end of the lane.

“All the way miss?” He asked, curious about the somewhat disheveled young woman who looked tired, but dangerous, especially with the unexpected shimmer of a sword under her cloak.

Rey looked the man in the eye as she stepped up to board. 

“All the way.”

 

PRESENT DAY

 

 

Everything hurt, all of her ached. Her head, her heart even her hand too tight around the hilt of the sword. 

The sting of familial betrayal was nearly unbearable and no matter how much she’d tried to prepare herself for it, nothing could have readied her for the awful reality. 

How has it come to this? She thought shaking her head, desperate to rid herself of the pain. But there would be no easy way to remedy the situation, except for the one obvious solution she still could not bring herself to act out.  

“You.” She started through clenched teeth. “Have tried to take, everything, from me.” She felt her arm tense as she began to raise the blade. “You’ve waisted your entire life, and mine, working towards something that has resulted in no more than lies, and hurt and, death.” Tears fell to the tall blades of grass below, unnoticed by Rey, as was the approaching horse coming quickly through the woods, the thrumming of it’s hooves distant but steadily growing louder.   

Palpatine watched her closely. He seemed able to zero in on each tear as it fell, and it disturbed her all the more to find him excited by her heartbreak. 

There was an internal battle waging within the girl that he saw clearly. She was compelled to kill him, he knew the look. It was a reflection of his own desire to destroy his enemies. Now, perhaps she simply wanted a resolution, but it made no difference to him. 

To see his own grandchild blazing with such raw anger was a beautiful thing to behold.

“Do it.” He whispered. “Strike me down. Let the hate you’ve harbored all these long years fill you, propel you and give you the strength to save yourself and those insufferable fools you call friends. But know this, if you raise that blade against me, I will be with you forever. My old ghost will see to that.”

Some deep part of Rey believed every word.  Killing him would awaken something within her she’d always fought to keep dormant. 

Sighing, she shook her head amazed by his ability to manipulate.

This beast had lived longer than he deserved, she should cut him down where he stood. But why would he rest peacefully in death. There was only one ending that would see justice served and her able to move on.  

“I won’t,” She said lowering Lukes sword from a lethal height. “Come with me Palpatine, it’s over, it’s time to give up.”

“I didn’t come this far by giving up, or giving in to frightened children.” He sneered. “Now, either raise that sword again and do what it is you’ve always longed to do, continue on with the legacy of your great name, or, step aside and make room for another.”

“Stop this” she said demanded. "You must end it. If you don’t I fear I will not be able to protect you from what will come.”

Palpatine smiled and nodded. “It would seem my fate has come to meet me head on, in spite of your efforts to keep me from it.” 

And Rey realized that he wasn’t looking at her anymore, but beyond. She could hear the horse clearly now, but she did not turn away from her grandfather.  

Palpatine looked past her, just over her shoulder. He narrowed his eyes and settled back in his stance as though what he saw was a comfort. 

His predictions were coming true and the inevitable end would be swift. Still, he welcomed the challenge. 

Rey shut her eyes inhaling deeply. With a sigh she opened them and shook her head not sure if she wanted this, but no matter, Ben had come. 

Like her grandfather, she too had foreseen the most likely outcome, and Vera had given her up as she’d expected the maid would do eventually. But it would seem she’d done so not long after Rey left.

Palpatine’s sinister smile spread until his mouth opened with a laugh. “And so it comes to this. The son of a princess, and the granddaughter of an emperor.”

Rey stood, hypnotized by his insanity. He saw himself as, emperor? How had she never realized the man was mad before. Cruel and cold yes but delusional? It had never occurred to her. 

“I spent years waiting,” He went on wildly welcoming Ben. “Hoping one would come along as strong and fierce as he. I did not expect that child to come from such an inadequate line, but ah, when I saw him I knew.” His hand raised as if to behold the vision that was Kylo Ren “That sad, angry boy would grow to become such a man, and, I knew he could keep you safe as supreme leader, once I left this wretched world.”

He stopped, and looked at Rey as though, perhaps he had cared?

And she cried out, clamping her hand over her mouth, ashamed that she still longed for his love.

“And that is why I wanted him in the first place.” Palpatine went on “I knew given the chance he would turn that boiling rage into something magnificent. And so I guided Snoke to him. I brought them together so that the madman might win the boys heart, broken as it was. You see, I know his secrets, and all that haunts him.” He gazed up with pity in his eyes. “But what I failed to see was just how powerful your influence would be. Taking out Snoke was a bold move, and one I admire the boy for, but it seems he never would have gotten there without you to urge him on. I failed to see, that it should have been you all along!” 

Rey shook her head, the thought of sitting on his imagined throne obscene to her. 

“As Supreme Leader you, my own flesh and blood will help me build this new empire and raise this country up to heights yet unseen! I was wrong about you Rey, you’re more than just my granddaughter, you are my legacy, a most formidable woman…. It became clear to me shortly after the princess came to the village, that if I left, you would see it too.  I knew you would leave him and come to me. You couldn’t resist it Rey.”

“What does that mean?” She begged already knowing.  

“You don’t need him! You never have. You must see now that Ren is a proud man, he has been readying for the position his entire adult like, you think he’ll give it up so easily? The title can not be shared.”

Her mind began to spin, she felt the acidic sting of vomit in the back of her throat.

At the hint of murder, Palpatine’s eyes shone with elation yet again. 

She understood completely what he intended for her to do. 

“He is formidable yes,” He droned on “But you! You can bring the people to their knees!”

Ben stepped beside her appearing in her periphery. The entangled feelings of relief and anguish nearly gutted her.

Rey shook her head with horror and dropped her sword, nearly loosing sight of it in the grass.

“I will not do it.” She whispered. 

“Pick it up. Don’t disappoint me now.” Palpatine spat.

“Rey.” Ben’s voice was calm and commanded her attention. He stood ready and more than willing to defend them both but was sure to keep a clear tone. “Pick it up like he says”

“Ben?” Rey glanced up at him, confused and afraid, completely stunned that he would encourage this. 

Palpatine shot a look at the younger man. “Gone back to your old ways have you?” The corners of his mouth turned down as though the name were bile on his tongue “Ben Solo… it does suit you better. The name of a scoundrel, a thieving, lying, coward. Yes. It suits you perfectly.”

Rey could see the hurt in Ben’s eyes, and the desire to slap the old man was strong, but she didn’t dare move. “Don’t listen to him” She said softly “You know there’s no truth in it. Thats not who your father was and thats not who you are. Just like I will never be anything like my grandfather.” She turned to him, her words bitter, her eyes full of rage.

Palpatine smiled. “You already are.” He said and with speed no one thought him capable of, he reached into the folds of his cloak and pulled a dagger. 

Rey was faster though and she’d picked up her sword, raising it to point at his throat, before the man could speak again. 

“Not another word. Throw that knife into the grass and submit.” She ordered. 

“You give commands like a true leader” He sneered and she reached forward just a touch, the deadly tip now piercing skin. 

“Do it.” She growled. 

Palpatine smiled in an attempt at compliance. He let the dagger swing down, pinched between his fingers, as through he would throw it, but instead, flung it forward snapping his wrist with the striking power of a cobra.

Rey gasped at the sight of the blade lodging into Ben’s body, blinding her to rational thought, though her instincts saw her react in a way Palpatine had not expected. 

Watching Ben stagger back, she left the standoff and rushed to Ben, screaming his name as she reached, desperate to keep him standing. 

His own hand gripped hers with crushing force, but he did not fall. 

Pulling his body close, she let him lean on her as best she could, both of them panicked from the shock for a moment until Ben shut his eyes and pressed his forehead against hers, the condensation of their breath mingled in the cool night air. 

Lowering their heads in unison they looked at the wound. 

He was cradling the handle of the dagger, the small bit of steel that showed reflecting moonlight and his gloved palm was red with blood seeping from between his ribs as he took quick ragged breaths. The stoic facade faded away, and he raised his eyes to look at her, scared. Not of death, but of leaving her in a world with Palpatine. He could not abandon her. He could not fail, not now… 

Rey nodded, hearing his silent worries. A quivering smile spread over her face in an attempt to lie. “You’re alright, you’re going to be fine.” She whispered, terrified. 

He reached up with urgency, smoothing back her hair, kissing her head. 

How he loved this woman, he thought holding her face to his own. 

No, he would not leave her. Not yet.

After all, he’d seen enough violence to know that he would in fact live, but not without the pain of being sewn back together. 

“I think we’ve done this your way for long enough” He whispered against her hair “Rey, it’s time for this to end.” He said and pulled away, ready to help her do what needed to be done. 

But when he looked in her eyes, he saw that something was wrong. Not hesitation or disagreement, something mortally wrong.  

Rey stared at him, her pretty eyes glazed over and unfocused. 

“Rey?” He frantically scanned her face.

“Ben, don’t go.” She whispered as her eyes shut and she collapsed forward. 

As she fell, Palpatine came into view, his usual look of smug success gone, replaced by, what looked to be, a hint of remorse as he lowered Rey’s sword. 

“Neither of you are worthy.” His voice had gone raspy and deep, void of all grandeur “I will finish it, and find another to continue this legacy. You have both been… my greatest regret.”

“Rey” Ben said simply, Palpatine’s strangled words ignored.

He was holding her up as she tried to find his face, but her gaze drifted, and she was already going pale. He lowered her to the ground, too stunned to breathe. 

“Ben?” She whispered, her brow furrowed with a look of blind confusion. 

“I’m here, I promise I won’t go.” He said gently “I’m here,” He stroked her hair and held her limp body close. “I’ve always been here.” He whispered through the dread and heartbreak threatening to send him into a spiral. 

He held her until everything went quiet. 

The breeze had settled leaving the tall grass silent, and the distant leaves ceased their rustling.

Ben looked up at the moon, it’s light dim on his face and he took a breath knowing he could not give in to the comfort that would surely be found in lying beside her, though it was so tempting to let the world fade away, and leave them to sleep beside one another in peace, finally. 

He’d nearly given in, but there was no time for such grief. They had only just begun to live, and so long as he could stand, he would not loose the chance at a full, long life with her. 

“I’m here,” He said again and looked down at her lifeless, but still living body. 

Grunting against the pain, Ben reached for the hem of her skirts and pulled the fabric of her sparing dress up. A little smile flashed painfully across his face. Of course she’d worn this. 

Ripping the cotton, he braced, hesitant to finish what had to be done. 

Get on with it, he scolded himself and leaned down kissing Rey’s still warm lips. If he died in this moment, at least his last act would be a peaceful one. 

Quickly he reached across to his side, pressing his lips against hers to stifle the cry as he yanked the blade free.

Wide eyed and swallowing a scream he managed to wrap the bandage made from her dress around his torso, tying it tight to stop the flow of blood.

Just hold on long enough to see this through, he told himself and took one last steadying breath.  

Rising to his feet like a dark spirit, angry and vengeful, he eyed the field. 

Palpatine had made his escape while Rey lay dying, but Ben caught sight of the bent grass, just before a breeze came to erase the path. It led to the trees behind the cabin.

Eyes ahead, Ben Solo stalked across the field with his sword in hand, past the old cabin and into the forest. The searing pain that ripped through him only fueling his hunt. 

Injured, but more than skilled in tracking an enemy, Ben made his way deeper in, past the dark trees, stepping carefully over the uneven forest floor, his keen eye spotting signs that Palpatine had been this way, until at last he came upon the old man struggling to stay seated on a fallen log. 

“You fool” Palpatine said calmly, pushing himself back up onto the giant log. He raised his beady eyes to look on the face of the one he’d put all his trust in and shook his head. “They will not let you win. You’ve only made enemies by betraying me.” 

“None of it matters.” Ben said disgusted the man thought he would still care. “It’s over Palpatine, just as Rey said.”

“No, no!” He insisted. “It is only the beginning!” His shouting was cut short by the cough that wracked his body and he leaned forward gasping for air. 

Ben stepped back trying to make sense of it. 

When at last the would be ruler sat up, he pressed his hands to his side. “You’ve come to finish me off, but she beat you to it.” He managed, and his blood wet lips rose in a grin. 

Ben peered through the darkness to see. 

She’d pierced his lung. Palpatine was suffocating. 

Flashing back to the moment he’d been stabbed Ben realized she must have done it then, before she came to him. For a second he wondered if she even knew, or if the deadly puncture had been accidental.

But of course she’d done it intentionally. Rey was a most capable woman.

He focused again, and sighed looking at the small, fallen man. 

Two would be greats, Snoke and now Palpatine. Ruined by their own ambition, and killed by the people they abused. 

“She won.” Ben said and almost smiled. 

To know that the man who had once controlled not only himself, but his own demented master would die painfully in the dark, was a comfort Solo had not been expecting. 

Palpatine sat up on the log and took a long thin breath. His eyes went wild as he struggled to breathe, and Ben watched as he came to terms with his imminent death.

All of the plans and deception, the years spent decimating the lives of not only Ben’s family, but so many others… it all meant nothing. There was no amount of pleading that would see him aid the dying man. And no amount of egotistical delusions that could change his fate.

As Palpatine felt the world fading around him, he looked up at the face of Han and Leia’s son, and for a moment thought he could see the princess looking back at him through her child’s eyes. 

He tried to speak but it was useless.

Ben turned then, sheathing his sword, leaving the man to his lonely death.

And the terrifying haze of satisfaction in Solo’s eyes was the last thing Sheev Palpatine ever saw.

 

*

 

Rey didn’t understand. 

She felt weightless in the air, and for a moment she was sure she was flying. But as the powerful gallop beneath her went on, she realized she was in fact on horseback. 

Opening her eyes a little, she could see glimpses of the moon between the black branches rushing past. 

Disorientation made it impossible to know her place in time or space. The only thing she knew for certain was that the steady rhythm below, would carry her away from the horrors that had unfolded, and that the warmth against her cheek, was a familiar wall of protection.

Shutting her eyes once more, Rey actually smiled, thankful that he had come after all.

Nestled in the folds of his soft jacket, cradled in the solid arms that held her securely, she let herself slip into sleep, as peaceful as a whisper and fading just as fast.

Ben kept a furious command of the horse, and his sights on reaching the end of the lane, his stubbornness the only thing keeping the void at bay.

Like a black star shot across the sky, the horse hurried it’s wounded cargo along the forest trail, spurred on by the unrelenting determination of it’s rider. 

*

Solo broke through the edge of the forest like death himself, pale skinned and hollow eyed.

Still cradling Rey, he exhaled at the sight of the little town ahead, his heart pounding with relief.

Quickly, he guided the horse towards the waiting group of First Order loyalist who had joined him on the journey south to retrieve Rey. 

They’d been waiting on the outskirts of the village square as he’d instructed, and there they’d remained with a single empty coach that sat amongst the group. 

Ben had it brought down to haul Palpatine north to a cell. Now he feared it would carry his wife to be buried instead, if he could not save her.  

The scattered group came together quickly at the edge of civilization, eager to see what had happened in the forest. 

As Ben approached, a wave of excitement washed over them. Some called out to others that he was back, and all of them came rushing forward. 

“Finn” He called out for the newly promoted First Commander. “Quickly!” His voice was thin and dry.

“My Lord!” Finn pushed past the group standing in the way and ran up to the man still mounted.

“Where is the physician?” Ben asked, beads of sweat across his forehead.  

“I’ll find out!” Finn said shocked by the sight of Rey unconscious in Ben’s arms. 

 “Go!” Ben ordered and shook the haze of sleep that threatened to take him under.

Finn ran off and Ben called for two of his men to come and take Rey. 

Once she was down, he slid from his horse and took a moment to lean against the animal, his breath ragged as he rested. He touched the crude bandage around his body and pulled his hand away studying the blood. This was not so bad, he’d seen worse, or so he kept assuring himself. 

Grateful for each breath, Ben slowed his racing heart and reached within to find that last bit of strength needed to see her to safety. 

Glancing over the line of his own arm, still raised to brace against his horse, Ben dared to look at her face. 

That was not Rey. That pallid skin and those blue lips belonged to her ghost, already coming to claim her, the sight scaring him so deeply he nearly vomited.

Ben quickly turned away and focused on keeping control. 

Sudden flashes of his vibrant wife, dancing in the firelight of the solstice came to him. Her brown hair tossed by the breeze as she spun, her skin tanned by long days spent in the summer sun, a crown of flowers on her head as she came laughing towards him. All of these things were Rey, and he could still feel the warmth of her fingertips on his own when he’d dared to touch her that night. 

Ben pushed up to standing and turned, forcing himself to go to her. 

Gently, he brushed damp strands of hair from her eyes.

This was still her.

He could sense it, there was in fact some life left within her. After all, Rey would never leave this world so easily, he thought and smiled. She really was a most impossible woman. 

“Here!” Finn finally reappeared, calling out as he came. All heads turned towards the town center. “The doctor is this way!”

Ben sprang to attention and pulled Rey back into his arms, hazy memories gone.

The agony in his side made him grunt as he took her, but this was nothing compared to the threat of loosing his wife and he would trust no one else in getting her to the help she needed in time. 

Making his way to Finn, seemingly unburden by the woman in his arms, Ben followed the commander down the road, past the row houses with their many dark windows, full of strangers peering out from behind their curtains. 

The life or death severity meant little to them, they could only see the uniform of the growing First Order and chose to stay within the safety of their homes. 

Oblivious to their audience, the two men came to the open door of the physician’s practice just as the small doctor came running out. 

“Whats happened?” He asked looking from one face to the other, but Ben could not find the energy to speak, and Finn knew nothing of their ordeal. 

Seeing that he would get no help, the doctor sighed and ushered the men inside. 

“Set her down there!” He ordered, the moment they came through the front door.

Ben laid her out on the large table in the front room before stepping back.

The doctor was there looking her over without a moments hesitation and Ben exhaled feeling a wave of relief. 

He stood swaying, watching through glassy eyes as the small man called for someone. Another, younger man, very similar to the doctor in his mannerism came running with a bag and a bucket. 

They began to cut and rip her dress, with the blank faces of men set to their task.  

The simple white cotton, now torn and stained with her blood and his, taunted him with the symbolism of their lives together. 

The doctor and his assistant were speaking so fast. They moved her around to asses her wound, pulling things from the bag that terrified him.

His natural instinct was to knock them aside and protect her from their small shining blades, curved hooks and large clamps, but they would save her, he had to let them do their work. 

Rey’s involuntary moan when the assistant touched the gash made the room spin, he could stand no more. And now Finn was next him asking too many questions about what happened in the woods…

Ben swayed again bracing himself on the wall behind them. The actions in the room were spinning around him, or her, or them... the world was fading fast, going in and out of focus as he watched, disconnected from the scene until the last thing that he saw was Rey opening her eyes. 

She may have called his name, or he may have imagined it, but the look of worry on her face was not for herself, but for him.

Ben wanted to reassure her that he was alright, but his first step forward took him no further than the ground, as he fell reaching for her. 

 

**

 

A cloaked and hooded figure stopped at the end of the long road.

Standing in silhouette, the stranger eyed a group of young people with sullen faces, their black uniforms looking very much like funeral suits. 

Quiet steps brought the figure into the crowd of First Order followers. Some sat on the hard-packed earth, while others leaned against a carriage. Some were even lying on the sidewalks. 

It was clear they’d been here for some time and had grown weary of waiting. But for what, the stranger wondered.  

“What’s happened here?” Surely one would respond? 

A lone head raised from the group sitting on the ground, and looked over, bright eyes shining with fear in the dark 

“Who’s there? What business have you here?” The very young man asked as though the intrusion were offensive. 

The strangers face was hidden under the shadow of a rough spun hood. “I’m a friend,” The disassociated voice of a man assured the First Order boy. “No need to worry about me, just tell me what happened.”

The young blonde man looked away shaking his head as though it hurt him to say. It was incredible to see the devotion to his party. 

“Lord Ren was injured, and we think the Lady Ren may be dead. They went in so long ago, and we’ve heard nothing yet.” He said and hung his head. 

“Both of them?” The man asked, turning to look up at the well maintained row house. 

Candles burned bright in several windows. 

“Who are you?” The blonde man asked, but the hooded stranger had already moved on.

This is too soon, the stranger thought as he walked up the steps. Too soon indeed. 

The door to the physicians office was unlocked and he opened it, stepping in to find a man in a uniform like the others, but with stripes and a few patches on the sleeves. 

He was talking softly with a shorter, much older man wearing a bloody white shirt and heavy bags under his eyes. The doctor.  

“Who are you?” The blood covered man demanded spinning to face the mysterious figure. “You can’t be here!”

There was a pause, as though he considered the doctors words for a moment and then, he simply reached up, taking the folds of brown fabric in hand. 

Flicking the hood back, he revealed a face weathered but kind and noble. 

“I’m Luke Skywalker, I’m here to help” He said calmly. 

The physician looked him up and down as though he expected some revelation, but none came. “I don’t know you.” The doctor replied as he put his glasses on and came forward. 

“No, but I know who was brought here tonight, and I tell you sincerely, I must see him. He is my nephew,”

And while Luke was watching the doctor, it was the man in the first order uniform that actually held his attention. 

Standing with his mouth agape, eyes wide with disbelief, it was clear this, officer, of the First Order knew exactly who he was.

“You’re Luke? The brother of the Princess?”

Luke smiled with a barely detectable nod. 

“It’s alright doctor!” Finn quickly assured the man as he pushed past. “Please! If you know something that will help, we need you now!” He said and grabbed Luke by the shoulder, in an attempt to lead him down the hall.

The doctor however would not have any of it and blocked the way. 

“I never agreed to this! You can not be here!” He shouted

Luke revealed a hand, holding up two fingers to indicate that silence was required. “Calm yourself.” He said softly. “You’ve done a fine job, but now, I will offer some aid” 

The doctor snapped to attention shocked that he’d been hushed in his own practice. He and Finn both stood, awed by the way Luke could give a look of understanding, and warning with a single, barely visible smile, and fierce piercing eyes. 

Mumbling his disapproval the doctor allowed the men to pass but shook the stupor and followed them. “I will have to resort to methods I do not approve of if you do not stop!” He warned. 

“I’m sorry,” Luke said and stopped. 

“You should be.” The doctor replied confused as he watched Luke turn to him, but instead of a confrontation, the strange man quickly went back down the hall the way they’d come. 

“What is this? What is he doing?” The doctor demanded of Finn, but seemed too afraid to follow. 

“I don’t know” Finny said gazing after him, just as dumbfounded as the physician. 

Within minutes, Luke came back, just as calmly as ever. This time flanked by two of  Ren’s largest men. 

“Please, doctor won’t you follow these men out for some fresh air.” Luke offered, but the meaning was clear. 

The doctor put up some verbal protest but gave in, knowing he was not match, and went out on his own leaving Luke and Finn to it.

Finn was stunned “How did you manage all that?” He asked, those men didn’t know him from Adam. He was just a wanderer, a nameless vagabond to them.  

Luke just smiled and started walking again. “Is it very bad?”He asked as he went.

Finn studied him for a moment before trotting to keep up. “The doctor worked hard,but it hasn’t been enough.” He said and slipped past Luke to lead the way. 

“Where was he hurt?” Luke asked as Finn stopped before a bedroom door, grabbed the knob and swung it open. 

Luke peered inside, a little surprised to find his nephew, now a man grown, on the edge of his chair at the beside of a young woman.

Lady Rey. 

“Not him, her” Finn said gravely. 

Ben looked up, dark circles under his eyes, his already fair skin a chalky white. He wore nothing more than black boots and trousers, and a ruined white shirt worn open and sloppy over his heavily bandaged torso.  

At the sight of his uncle, he raised up a bit, and then the last of his defenses broke. He hung his head, broad shoulders shaking as he sobbed, holding her lean hand in his. 

Luke patted Finn on the shoulder and stepped past. 

“Ben.” He said crouching down at the other side of the bed. “Let me do what I can.”

He was hesitant, worried that there might be some objection, but instead the boy, no the man looked up at him. Anger and fear over not being able to do anything to save her strangled his words. He could only nod and watch as Luke pulled a satchel from the hidden folds of his cloak. 

“He nearly ran her through” Ben finally said, watching as Luke took vials and tins from the bag. “She’s lost too much blood”

“He almost killed the doctor” Finn added absently “He said she needed leeches…”

Lukes eyes went wide and he looked up to his nephew “No no, she needs life, not to be drained of it. but that’s alright. I’m going to do what I can. I promise.” He said and Ben nodded, his face still so familiar after all these years. 

Luke reached out and laid a weathered hand on his shoulder and Ben shut his eyes. 

There would be time to make sense of the mistakes and regrets later. For now, Luke had a young life to save. 

*

“Finn, tell us something man, anything! What’s happened!” 

Finn needed air. He’d never seen anything like it and probably never would again. 

He staggered over to his friends, the same people he’d feared, now truly loyal to Solo’s cause, tricked or not, they were his. 

Sighing he leaned against the carriage and shook his head trying to find the words to calm the eager looks on their faces. 

“He came” He said and smiled, a few tears wavering in his water line “Leia must have written to him.”

“Who?” One of them asked 

Finn realized he shouldn’t say more and inhaled deeply, standing up straight. “Don’t worry my friends. Both of them will live.”

 

*

 

Rey could feel the dry heat in her mouth, her entire body hurt as though she’d been trampled by a horse, but she could not settle back into sleep again. 

Letting her eyes flicker open, she was surprised to find bright sunlight laid against the window panes of this unfamiliar room. 

Without moving her head, she looked around and tried to remember the last thing she saw.

Ben’s face, he was hurt and falling…

She shut her eyes tight, refusing to let herself fear for Ben until she was able to ask someone what had happened.

Reaching up to rub her still hazy eyes, she saw a large bandage wrapped around her arm. 

Strange, she had no memory of being injured there. 

Moving her head now, she slowly turned and began to push herself up a bit, but it was too much too soon, and she sank down into the pillows breathing hard. 

The burning, tearing pain in her side was an awful reminder of what had happened.

The ache of knowing that Palpatine, the very man who had taken her in as a child and raised her, had been capable of such evil became unbearable. Remembering the feel of his flesh, punctured by her own sword was nauseating. She hadn’t wanted to do it, not truly, but he was crazed, completely lost to her and any hope of sanity. Rey hated him all over again for forcing her hand, and she pressed her fist to her racing heart as she tried to keep the tears from falling. 

It seemed fear could wait, but heartbreak was a stubborn bastard and it gripped her tight. 

A single sob tore through her and she covered her face with her hands squeezing her eyes shut, her mouth wide with the silent cries of a woman overwhelmed.  

No, no, no. She must calm down. She could not give in to despair. 

The movement hurt her wound, and the thoughts her soul. 

Exhaling slowly, she forced her eyes open and brushed the tears away. Slowly, and with some effort she calmed and sank into the soft bedding again.  

Looking around, she tried to make a little more sense of where she was. The room was quiet and bright, very clean, very sparse but there was something about this place that made her feel as though she might live to know a little less hurt eventually. This was a place of healing no doubt.

And then the door opened and she turned her head at the sound. 

“Rey,” He whispered dropping instantly to his knees at her bedside, grabbing her hands, kissing her fingers. 

She did cry now, pain be damned. “Ben” She croaked and gritted her teeth, tears streaming down the sides of her face as she cried for joy.

He sat up, red eyed, lips still pressed against the back of her hand. 

“I’m alright, I’m here” She said.  

“What do you need?” He demanded gently leaning towards her.  

“I’m thirsty” She offered, suddenly aware of just how true this was. 

Ben was up on his feet instantly. Bare feet she noted, and where was his shirt? He wore only a thick white bandage around his naked torso and simple cotton trousers. He looked to be as much as patient as she.

And then she remembered. The last thing she saw before waking up here was his pale face slick with sweat as he fell. He’d been speared by Palpatine’s dagger. 

She remembered seeing the heavy blade in her grandfathers study. It used to sit on a little velvet pillow amongst some of his other prizes. Damn him and may he find everlasting torment. 

Ben came back with a cup and sat beside her. 

With a solid hand slid behind her back, he raised her up just enough to set the cup against her lips and Rey took a few small sips, the relief instant and sweet. 

“Thank you” She said with a clear voice as he laid her back down. 

He sat the cup on the table and came back to her, taking a seat at her bedside.  

Rey smiled, comforted by his presence and reached for his hand which he gave.

She noticed then that he too had a wrapping around the crook of his arm. 

“Where are we?” She asked ignoring the bandages for now.

“The surgeon’s practice.”

That explained the pristine room. “How long has it been?” She asked. 

“Just two days."

Rey looked away a little surprised to hear that she’d been asleep for so long. “And how are you feeling?” She asked him. 

Ben smiled, touched by her concern for him when it was she that lay in bed. “I’m fine. It would take more than that to end me,” He said making her laugh just a little. 

“Ben, I know why I’m hurting, but what is this?” She asked tapping the bandage around her arm. “You have one too?” 

He glanced down as though he’d forgotten. Blinking himself out of a daydream, he cleared his throat “I’m not all together sure what you might call it, but that’s how he saved you.”

“What did he do?” She asked wondering where the doctor was. 

Ben took a moment to find a way to explain something he himself did not understand, not completely. “My blood flows through you now.” He said and his distant gaze focused on her “You’d lost so much,” He sounded as frighted as he must have in the moments of uncertainty, but her curious eyes reminded him that he was in no danger of loosing her now, and so he went on. “Luke knew what to do, he said he’d seen this save lives before but the procedure is widely unknown. He had have the doctor held outside” 

Rey’s eyes opened wide. “Luke?” 

Ben nodded. 

“He’s here? How?”

“My mother, in all of her wisdom, wrote to him when we left for the base. There was never a guarantee he would receive it, but somehow he did. He replied in person, coming straight to Alderaan, where it seems my mother had sent another letter, leaving it with Soames, instructing him to give it to Luke, and Luke only. He pieced it all together and arrived right as I’d nearly lost hope.”

Rey laid back letting this sink in. She could hardly believe his story, but here she sat pondering it with a beating heart and breathing lungs. Someone had indeed saved her life after she’d been mortally wounded. Was it so hard to then believe it had been Luke.

“Where is he now?” She asked looking back up at Ben.

“Waiting for the right time to make myself known.”

They both looked over to the door. 

Luke came in, a smile and sparkling eyes transfixing her immediately. His thick white beard and long grey hair befitting his hermit lifestyle. The brown robe of rough sackcloth and plain brown trousers displaying his contempt for showy possessions. He was exactly who she’d always imagined him to be.

“My Lord” Rey said breathless. 

Luke laughed and shook his head. “My sister is the princess my Lady, I’m just Luke”

Rey smiled and nodded. “Please! sit.”

He sat at her left side, one leg crossed over the other, hands folded peacefully in his lap. 

She could not stop staring. He looked nothing like Ben but there was a spark in him she felt and recognized. The life within him seemed to brighten the room and she felt compelled to know all that she could about him, and too learn everything he had on his many travels. 

“You look well Lady Rey” He said with that warm smile.  

She blushed and looked down. “All thanks to you I’m told” She dared to meet his eyes again. 

Luke glanced over to Ben and gave a nod of appreciation.

“Will you come back to Alderaan with us?” She asked suddenly. 

Luke looked a little surprised and lowered his crossed leg. “Well, I hadn’t considered it to be honest.”

“Oh please do come, now that you’re here I can’t bear to let you leave! I have so much to ask you, so many things I must know. You simply can’t go on hiding yourself away.” She said with her usual enthusiasm that made others shy.

Ben chuckled and sat back. “You’ve restored her to full health uncle. I don’t know if I should thank you or damn you.” 

She shot him a fierce look paired with a grin, but it was the strange look in his eyes that told her that she’d overstepped. 

He wanted to make light of the suggestion, but that wasn’t possible, not yet. And then she realized her error. But of course. They hadn’t had time to settle their grievances. How foolish of her.

“Forgive me,” She said to Ben stroking his hand that lay on the bed. “Please, talk to him?”

Ben sighed through his nose and looked up at his uncle. “Perhaps it is time we understand one another a little better.” He offered. 

Luke’s head cocked to the side slowly as he studied Ben. “It seems you’ve grown not only bigger, but a little wiser too” He teased in all seriousness. 

“Would you walk with me?” Ben asked and Luke nodded. “I’ll dress and meet you in the garden.”

Rey looked from one man to the other, excitement bubbling. She wanted nothing more than to sneak after them to hear what it was they had to say, but this wretched body kept her stuck in bed. 

But, as she shut her eyes accepting Ben’s kiss on her forehead, and she watched him leave the room, she knew that he would have nothing but good things to say about the overdue encounter when he came back. 

Luke rose to leave as well, but paused and look down at her. 

“Lady Rey?”

“Yes my L… Luke?”

“Do you happen to know where that sword is now?”

She thought back and remembered dropping it after wounding Palpatine and just before rushing to Ben’s impaled side. “No, I don’t actually.”

He nodded and sighed. “If it should turn up, put it away, up on a shelf somewhere. Have your own made. You’ve more than earned it.”

She grinned and nodded. “Yes, Lord Skywalker.”

Luke laughed and walked out the door shaking his head. 

 

*

 

Ben stepped into the room, checking to see that she was awake first. 

Opening her eyes, Rey felt a rush of anticipation.

It faded instantly. 

With one look, she could tell, Luke was gone. 

“Why couldn’t he stay?” She asked surprised by the lump growing in her throat. She’d only met him briefly, but he had saved her life, she was devastated to loose him so soon.  

“He’s not that sort of man.” Ben answered going to the window. 

He stayed that way for a while, just starring out into the sunny village square. 

Rey watched him thinking. She could not place his emotions but was certain they hovered somewhere just above resolve and a deep sense of loss. 

Taking off his jacket, Ben tugged at the white shirt as though he felt too confided. He huffed and sat on the window ledge crossing his arms. 

“What is it?” She asked sitting up. 

They’d been gone nearly all day and in that time she’d managed a little food provided by the housekeeper and had pushed her way up to sitting twice now. 

“I… I’ve been a complete shit again.” He said glancing at her a little embarrassed. 

Rey’s brow raised “And what have you done now?”

“Well, nothing, but I spent years thinking he was a man capable of killing his own kin.” He shook his head, the disappointment in himself showing “But strip away the stupidity of youth, and a blinding hate for everything, and it’s clear that Luke was just rightfully afraid of who and what I was becoming. Granted he admitted to considering it, but for no more than a second. ”

“We all make mistakes” She offered. 

He nodded “Yes, but mine ruined multiple lives.”

Rey sighed and shook her head. “You’ve atoned for your sins dear husband, how long must you torment yourself. And after all, you saved my life.” She motioned for him to come to her. 

Ben stood and walked the room. He came to the bed, taking a knee, he laid his head on her lap. With a heavy sigh, he looked up at her like a child.

“What is it Ben, tell me.” She gently urged. 

He rested his chin on her thigh glancing up at her as he spoke. “I have such doubts  Rey. Yes, I’ve managed to turn them to our side, but barely. The people who followed Snoke are not easily quieted. They are suspicious, as they have every reason to be. But they ask things, trying to make sense of Snoke’s supposed betrayal and murder. Of why I should now ask them to go about this differently.”

She smiled and laid her hand on his head, brushing the black locks with her fingers.  "We’ve gone over it” She said gently “And the plan is solid. You and I have had no shortage of trials to be sure, and lived through a great many ordeals in the short time we’ve known one another."

He smiled. 

“And why should this be any different?” She raised his head to look at her. “We’ve managed to come out the other side, you and I. Cheated death even.” She felt her throat tighten, and her voice wavered as she spoke. “Suffered losses.” Her grandfather was gone and by her own hand…. but with him went his evil. “There is still so much left to do, and so much left to live for. You know it won’t be easy, nothing about any of this has ever been easy. Not even the love between us.” She said scrunching her nose with a grin. “But I’m here Ben.” She said intently. 

He raised up and sat on the bed, towering over her.

Stroking her cheek, Ben lifted and kissed her hand. “You are the best part of me. A constant reminder of what I can be when I don’t give in to my own angry heart.”

“You don’t need to be angry anymore” She said looking up at him. “Thats the past, and what have you told me?” She asked with a frown. 

He smiled “Let the past die.”

She nodded. “Yes. It’s time to let the past die. Live for the future we can make together. I have a feeling we’ve still a lot left to do on this earth. We need to focus on making the most of it, together.”

He smiled with a soft laugh “Together is the only way. I don’t think it’s safe for me to do this alone. Its as though we’re a dyad, you and I.”

She reached up and held his hand against her face, her fingers laying flat over his. “Which means we must be strong for one another. We must heal, and then, we must finish what we alone have started. No more listening to the schemes and wishes of old dead men, Just us. Together we can change it all Ben, I can feel it.”

His eyes danced over her face before he leaned down to kiss her. 

The memory of just such a moment out in that empty field came to him, and he silently thanked her for having the strength to hang on. 

Pulling away just enough to see her easily, he smoothed her brow and smiled, though the look was sad, as if he suddenly thought of all the wrong he’d ever done and could see it played out in her eyes. Kind, beautiful brown eyes that looked up at him on the lane so long ago. There was contempt and outrage at first, but then a softening, a look of interest, a small flash of hope. 

She’d given him the chance to be a better man that day, and though he didn’t think him self worthy at first, he did in the end decide that if a woman like Rey could see something good in him, then perhaps he was. 

Laying beside her, careful not to upset her wound, he turned to face her and let the feeling of his wife’s very energy, reach, and consume him. Her beating heart, the rise and fall of her chest with each breath. She turned her head to face him and closed her eyes with a small, content sigh. Ben smoothed strands of hair from her face taking another look at Rey before he shut his own eyes.

They could now lay in peace together, but with the promise of life on waking. 

 

 

Epilogue

 

 

“You’re sure they were seen?” Leia whispered leaning towards Luke. 

Eyes fixed on the drive, Luke nodded. “Yes, Soames himself told me,”

Leia smiled and stood straight, her heart fluttering with excitement. 

She’d left the estate just before they ventured north, and though she did not doubt their abilities, she had lost countless nights of sleep worrying over her son and his dear wife. But they had managed to do more than just stop the Order, they’d finished off Palpatine too. 

Ben had taken the time to write to her while Rey healed, and his letter had given her the details in full.

Rey would have some damage to contend with for certain. The poor girl would feel guilt as one with a good heart does. But what she’d done was right, and Leia was glad for it. Now she would do her best to help Rey make amends with her actions and move forward, just as she'd longed to do for Ben.

“How far do you think they are?” She asked squinting against the sun. 

Luke chuckled and sighed. “Close, sister, very close.”

After the unexpected events that occurred three months ago, Luke longed to return to the predictable quiet of the remote island he’d called home for over ten years now, however, the further away from Alderaan he got, the more Leia’s words had haunted him.

He’d remembered the way it felt to read her letter. The desperate plea penned by a woman who never gave in to dramatics had struck a chord, getting him to come right away. The urgency she’d conveyed had given him no time to hesitate.

But now that it was over and there was once again calm, Luke had tried to return to the comfortable life he’d made, to no avail. The more steps he took towards his life hidden away, the more his inner voice insisted he turn back. After all, there was still much to be done, and after his time spent talking with Ben in the doctors garden, Luke knew he could not abandon their mission.

So, he here was, standing in the threshold of his nephew’s grand home, no hopes of returning to his island, and no desire to do so.

“Look,” Leia said settling back. “There they are”

 She was beaming with pride. Luke smiled amused and moved by her happiness.

Looking back down the drive, he watched silently as they came. 

Together on the back of Ben’s incredible stallion, they rode as one, with him sitting tall behind her, and she comfortably sidesaddle in front of him, with his arms relaxed around her to hold the reigns. 

As they neared, Luke studied them with a look not unsimilar to Leia’s. 

His nephew, the young prince of Alderaan, was every bit his mother’s son.

Leia and Ben had both always carried themselves with an understated grandeur that Luke had been told he possessed as well, in his much younger days, though he never believed it. He had been raised a farmers boy, not royal. Perhaps it was their opposite upbringing that made him admire the natural elegance of both mother and son. 

And then there was Rey, calm though she was, the woman was beaming with the look of one reborn. Her healing had gone very well, no thanks to that doctor, Luke thought with a little frown. But no matter, she was here, with a healthy glow about her, and the same fiery spirit he’d had a glimpse of when they met. 

“Welcome home!” Leia said once Ben had dismounted and placed Rey onto solid ground. 

She embraced them in turn, overjoyed to have them all together for the first time in years.

"You said you couldn't stay" Ben said smiling down at Luke. 

The older man shrugged a little and looked at Rey who was beside herself. "I go where im needed." He smiled at the endearing young woman. 

“Whats all this?” Leia suddenly asked nodding down the lane. 

Ben looked over his shoulder and smiled. “The rest of the resistance if you will.”

Lukes eyes grew wide “The first Order?”

“Followers of Ren.” Rey said quietly. 

“And his Lady.” He added taking her hand. 

The four of them turned and watched the long line of people and horses coming down the drive led by Finn. 

Ben had chosen them carefully. They would be the ones to help stop the former trajectory, and steer towards another. 

“We’ll need them if we’re to stop the king” Rey said looking up at Ben who nodded down at her.  

Luke and Leia stole a knowing glance. This was not their first foray into an uprising. 

“Well done son.” She said with a sly smile as she looked back down the drive at the nearing mass.  “And well done to you Rey, too us all. Now it can begin”