Claudius Rodney stood quietly on a balcony of the suite that had been
prepared for them in Cantham House, Alderaan's embassy on Coruscant. Out
of respect for tradition he was dressed in Republic Classical attire
rather than his Imperial uniform. Subdued tones of blue covered his
middle-aged frame as he leant against the railing, peering off at the
never-ending series of speeders that passed through the night sky. It
had been a long hyperspace trip from Esseles, and he was looking forward
to getting a good night's sleep. However, it had been years since he
spent time on Coruscant and the sheer marvel of the cityscape had once
again captivated him.
Emerging from the shower, Htaere appeared in the near translucent
delicate fabric of her night gown, trailed by the waft of warm air and
the rich aroma of floral and citrus notes of her shampoo and bathing
wash. Using a soft velveteen towel to catch the droplets at the tips of
her hair, she paused, gazing out to the balcony momentarily. "Enjoying
the view, Claudius?"
"I remember the first time I traveled to Coruscant as a boy with my
father," Claudius explained, as he turned to look over his shoulder to
flash her a polite smile. "I did not believe men could build such
things..." he continued, as if in a trance as he turned back to look
upon the city again. "It was a dream to be stationed here. Perhaps one
day I will have that honor again..." he dreamed, feeling he was long
past due for promotion. However, his ties to the nobility and political
background had often resulted in him being passed up for promotion by
junior officers who more embraced the ideals of the New Order.
"Perhaps one day," Htaere mimicked, leaving it at that. While she
would never admit it, she found herself recalling Jelena's request so
long ago to convince him to retire. As of late, she contemplated it
regularly. Brushing out her dampened tresses, Htaere wove a quick loose
braid before joining Claudius on the balcony. "It is rather impressive,"
In the distance the monstrous structure that was the Imperial Palace
loomed over all surrounding structures. His right hand extended and he
pointed a finger towards it, so he could point it out to Htaere. "That
is where we'll be going," he explained to her, sounding quite excited
about the prospect. "It will be a great moment for the family," he said
with a nod, as his eyes fixated upon it like some unattainable treat
perched just out of reach.
Htaere's stormy grey eyes took in the ominous fortress in the
distance. She did not agree, or disagree. Instead, she reached over to
give his shoulder a squeeze. "I am happy for you, Claudius," she said
"Thank you," Claudius said to her, finally turning away from the
staring off into the distance to gaze at her. "You have done a wonderful
job with the girls in preparing them for this moment," he told her
lovingly, before stepping forward to wrap his arms around her as the
cool night breeze washed over them. Their conversation was being
monitored by the Alderaanian Guard, unbeknownst to them, who were
relishing the opportunity to have access to a serving line officer.
Htaere accepted the private display of affection and drew a deep
breath as she contemplated the feat of getting Ewwie ready. "I have
another collection of interstellar eating utensils to reward her with
after this celebration," she stated, a smile touching her lips. "I
sincerely hope she is able to recall at least the very few rules of
engagement at the most critical moments."
"In two decades she has never failed this family. I am confident that
she will not fail us now..." Claudius informed Htaere, as he slowly made
his way into the suite. A bowl of Alderaanian fruit had been placed on
one of the tables, and he grabbed hold of a citrus fruit. He began to
peel the skin as he sat down on the foot of the bed, taking a quick
bite. "It was nice of Senator Organa to allow us to stay at the embassy.
I do not remember the last time I had to book accommodations..." he
explained to her, his mind drifting to the young Princess and realizing
how much she had grown since the little girl he first met on Alderaan
nearly 20 years ago.
"Indeed. Very generous of them," she agreed moving back inside and
seating herself on the bed. Unable to resist the lure of the ultra soft
bedding, she stretched out on her back, tucking her hands under the
pillow and wriggling down further into the fluffy down comforter. "We
shall have to thank them profusely for their benevolence," she mumbled
blissfully, eyes closing in a lull of relaxation.
"I can tell I'm getting old when I start having friend's whose
children are serving in the Imperial Senate," Claudius joked as he
kicked off the boots he was wearing. He let out a content sigh as he
wiggled his toes while seated at the edge of the bed. "I wonder what my
children will end up doing as careers. We never really spoke about it.
She plans on attending University, but I don't think I've ever heard
what it is she wants to study..." he mused, standing from the bed to
slowly undress himself. The formal tunic was draped over a chair and
quickly joined by his pants. Although his clothes were civilian, his
undergarments were still very much Imperial issue.
"I suppose that path for each individual to choose, and your children
are no exception," she replied without opening her eyes, relishing in
the comfort of the bed. It was a change of scenery, change of pace and
change of routine from the usual, and she basked in the unfamiliarity of
"Did you ever have plans for a career, or was an arranged marriage
always to be your fate?" Claudius asked, perhaps broaching a taboo
subject. From what he knew of Hapan culture he was aware that females
were the dominant sex, but he was not sure what was available in terms
of careers or whether the nobility pursued such things.
"The 'career' that you refer to is to gain favor in the court and
marry higher to a direct member of the royal family, or win privilege
with the Queen Mother," Htaere replied from where she was, taking a
moment to stretch before rolling onto her side and opening her eyes
lazily. "Marriage beyond the Consortium was chosen for me because I
failed to subscribe to the treachery required to work one's way up the
royal ladder," she couldn't help but let a corner of her moth arch in a
smile. For one of her sisters, such a fate would have been worse then
death itself, disowned essentially by their mother. For Htaere, it was a
Claudius heped himself to a second piece of fruit, indulging in the
treat which he was rarely able to enjoy during his time aboard the
Warspite. He moved to the bed as he began eating the delectable, and
slid under the sheets next to Htaere. "Are you happy without a role in
society?" he asked, as he finished the last bite of fruit, rolling over
onto his side to look at her.
Htaere thought on it for a moment. "It is my birthright, and I am
tied to it forever, as such. Yet I have no interest in playing their
game," she replied quietly. "I am content to have a far more quiet
"Unfortunately our existence has been anything but quiet, my love..."
Claudius reluctantly admitted as he folded the pillow that was beneath
his head in two to give him added support. "I am afraid that is my
fault. I am sorry," he quietly apologized as his tired brown eyes looked
up at her.
"There is no fault here, Claudius," she responded. "It is merely your
job, and as your wife, 'my' job is to be supportive." Shifting a bit,
she got comfortable. "Our existence has been quite adventurous," she
conceded with a groggy grin.
"And for that I shall always love you," Claudius said as he lifted
his head tiredly from the pillow so that he might place a final kiss
upon her lips before laying back down to sleep. He would need his rest
before going before the Emperor. He would rehearse the meeting 1,000
different ways in his sleep that evening.