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Ha, so when I went to open the fic, I got the name wrong, because it's Padma and politics, so it must be Party Politics, which I wept over, but then that was wrong, because, yeah, the Padma fic Party Politics never got finished, so I stole the title for an Ivan one instead. Right, so this one is Therefore Rejoice, the one where Padma is introspective and political at his wedding, not Gregor's Birthday.

That illustrates basically everything about this fic: it's about Padma as being completely aware of everything that's going on, and doing thing his way anyway. The other one was about Padma as Aral's Vor eyes and ears on the Vor, which is my headcanon for what Padma was doing on Aral's staff, so when he goes off during the party, he's completely on duty. I have all these views about everything going on under the currents of that party, because all of the politics going around must be thick in the air. But our POV character isn't sensitive to them. So this was a different POV character.

The timing of Padma's wedding is -- and I think we've talked about this before? -- totally up for interpretation. Here I'm going with it happening right after Escobar, after a long engagment, meaning that Alys got pregnant relatively early on in their marriage. Since Alys is 25 in Barrayar, though, maybe I might have put this earlier, with Alys and Padma getting married right after Gregor's born. This is under the assumption that Barrayaran Vor society does not take well to a 24 year old single woman.

But here it is after Escobar, and the timeline on that maybe could mean that Aral was present at the wedding, but it probably doens't fit. So Aral can't be there. The issue of Seconds is an interesting one, I think. It's just like in a duel, having a Second. I figure the Second has a lot of legal and historical rights and responsibilities, and that these days, no, you're not forced to marry the widow, but you still do have cultural and personal responsibilities in case something happens; you may not have to adopt the orphans, but you have to make sure they're cared for.

So the choice of the Second is not just "who do you want to stand by you at your wedding", it's "who do you want to stand by your family for the rest of their life". And for Aral, that obvious choice is Padma, and for Padma, it's Aral. But Aral's not there, so it goes down the family tree until it hits Petya, who is aware of the supreme responsibility and also aware of how it looks: Xav's descendants standing together. And so's Padma, but right now, thanks to Serg being dead, that's not a danger. And they would both prefer it to be Aral, but that can't happen.

Well, it serves Aral right, damn him to hell. Padma's spent half his life standing as Aral's Second.

And so here we go, everything Padma's done because Aral was off planet. Because Padma has a familial responsibility to Petya, but he also was his father's second, so there's that as well: not only can he talk with Aral's voice, he's supposed to. He's supposed to be the Aral surrogate when Aral can't be. This is cultural, of course, not legal: legally, it's Piotr. Padma's the Second, so he's uncle/father/cousin/brother/friend -- esentially, he's there to be a Responsible Adult when Aral isn't around to be that.

Padma's also about eleven years older than Petya, so it's a completely different dynamic than Petya and Ivan. Petya just does not have that many friends, he has *allies*, but Padma's a friend. Padma's also somebody he completely trusts, and somebody he can lean on. In every universe I've thought through where Padma has to do something horrible, Petya's been completely, unquestionnably on his side. I think he's more loyal to Padma than to anyone; it's one reason I've never been able to write Petya finding out Padma's dead. It's white noise to Petya, the end of the world. I don't think, in canon verse, he even remembers being told.

 

Petya out of trying to stow away on one of Aral's ships when he was barely old enough to understand what duty meant

Because Petya's Vor and Vor means duty and that means duty to the Emperor and that means being a soldier so, Padma, why can't I go? I'll be very quiet and small and do everything I'm told, like a good soldier! Why can't I go? I promise I'll be good!

 

or inviting himself to stay over at Vorkosigan House during Winterfair break one year when Aral'd had three months home leave and spent maybe three days of it both sober and with his son and Petya had needed someone to put him to bed, someone who wasn't the Count, someone who wouldn't expect him to stand up straight and be the proper Vor Lord and not cry

Oh, that one. That time. Yikes.

This was basically the lead up to Petya and Aral's huge, terrible fight before Komarr, the one they had after Petya insulted one of Aral's prole proteges and after dinner, Aral told him off for it, and they just started screaming at each other, and Aral told him to remember that they're superior officers and need to be treated as such, and Aral's his superior too, so don't you dare talk to me like this, and Petya's all "why are they better than me? it's because they're soldiers, then? Fine, I will be the best soldier ever." Which, if Petya and Aral had been on the same planet and had enough time, they would have probably dealt with and all that, but they never really did completely put behind them all of the repercussions.

It's Petya beginning to realize that there is something wrong with *him*, that there's a cause and effect here and Petya has to be the cause, because he doesn't see any of the other triggers, he just sees the effect, so he must be the cause, it can't be his father becaus his father is perfect, and blaming himself and then getting angry at Aral for it and getting mad at himself. And the only way to fix that and be good enough is to show Aral he's the best soldier ever, excpt that he's just a kid, he's not a soldier yet. So he gets very jealous of the proteges Aral brings home, because he sees them as competition and it's a competition he can't win.

And when Aral begins to realize that's why Petya's biting the heas off of people, he does try to fix it, but the problem is, neither of them really have time. Aral tries and Petya is prickly and then something comes up, so it gets pushed aside. They don't fix it; the only time they really could have was when Petya was home for a few years waiting for Piotr to die, and then other things just kept getting in the way, and Aral didn't see it as a priority, because Petya's goddamn forty by this point, he's not a teenager. And Petya pulls out the claws and attacks (that pre-end-of-Regency argument *really* got off on the wrong foot and Petya kept making it worse)... in a universe where Petya spends some time on Earth and then comes home, Cordelia points out to Aral that they really should fix this, because their expectations of each other keep getting tangled up. Aral wants Petya to be his son, but Petya treats him like a superior officer, or Aral wants Petya to be his junior office, but Petya treats him like his father. They're much too tangled up and talking past each other. (The one where Padma and Kareen survive and Petya comes home for mandated home leave after a few years ends up with Petya resigning his commission over how horribly tangled up they are.)

But here, it's Petya trying to be The Perfect Soldier Like His Father, and Aral realizing, too late, he has done to his son what his father did to him. Hell, even Miles salutes Aral, so Petya, without Cordelia around, didn't have much of a chance.

 

or who would listen to him talk about Carl Vorhalas and would talk him out of blaming himself when that boy decided that dealing with constant political intrigue at the preparatory academy was enough and he wasn't going to try for a commission and even more political intrigue, and then, the very next night, talk Petya out of withdrawing his own application for the Academy

I don't think Petya would have been *permitted* to do that, not with Piotr around, but Petya was in tears and panic and woe. Again, he has basically no close friends, and this is Carl (whose age I adjusted because, why not) leaving him.

If Petya had never become a soldier... I don't even know. There's really no options for him. He's Vor, it's his duty. Vorkosigans don't become town clowns, that's for other people, people who aren't good Vor.

We really barely see the other options for Vor, because canon is so focused on the military -- the Vor who aren't military (like Tien) are coded negatively, town clowns are wastes, etc. Even Bylerly, the "good" town clown, is actually not one. We don't really see high Vor men as doing things other than the military or government and that being a good thing. It's either soldiers or town clown. And I don't think Piotr would ever have allowed Petya to do something like go to university, get a degree in something and then use it to help the district. They're Vor, they're soldiers.

 

Better that than the nightmares Petya already has. And if they're picking and choosing nightmares, Padma would prefer those, too, instead of Serg and that damn shark smile and that cold voice, pressing onward, pressing further, demanding everything.

I brushed over very lightly what actually happened when Petya and Padma were interrogated by Political Education. But Padma got tortured and hurt pretty badly. Later, in that Party Politics thing that never got finished or even settled on a POV, he says that the fast-penta was just for Serg's amusement; Serg wasn't interested in talking, he was interested in making a point. And he made it very well.