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The Light Within Us - A Regency Reylo AU Story

Chapter Text

As the heavy oak door to the sitting room opened, the candle flames flickered in unison, casting shadows that danced like spirits along the walls and ceiling.

The room was nearly silent, but for the crackling flames in the grand hearth, and the muffled sound of voices and song that floated down the hall from the ballroom where his guests enjoyed the lively entertainment.

Rey’s ears perked as the melodic murmuring was silenced by the shutting door.

They were alone now. She could feel his presence, his very energy reached out to her from across the room. She didn’t have to look to be sure, there was no mistaking the way she felt when the Lord Ren, her Ren, was near.

For a moment she worried they would find themselves in the middle of a scandal, but his absence would go un-noticed as the guests’ bellies were full of expensive champagne and good food. And as always, no one expected much from the sweet quiet girl who lived a life unseen by the rest of the village.

Rey looked back to the flames, watching them lick the stone walls and reach up into the chimney. The heat that warmed her face and bare arms and the small twin swell of her breast raised high by her dress, was suddenly matched by the heat of lord Ren’s body, who had come to her without making a sound.

Shutting her eyes, Rey let an involuntary smile settle on her lips. They’d been talking of this moment for so long. Coming so close… now that the time had come it seemed almost dreamlike. In this dim smokey room, they would share a private moment before rejoining the party.

And as she felt the burning touch of his fingertips gently slipping up her arms, she thought back to the moment the man had come barreling into her life.

 

 

** **

 

 

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 she 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 beasts’ protest until it gave one last defiant blow through its’ 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 night 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 nor 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 of 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 crossed the room. 

“Lord Ren.” She dipped quickly 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 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 a 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. “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 broody 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 never deny wanting 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 Knights. 

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. 

“Pardon?”

“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 and 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 finger from her mouth and kissed her passionately as he reached down, taking that wet finger and 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 obeyed turning her head a bit to see him. 

Rey still looked slightly afraid, but he would not cause her real harm. “Don’t look away.” He said and she bit her lip moaning again as he raised his finger to find that sweet, swollen spot.

She moaned loudly and shut her eyes. 

“Open them, look at me. Do not look away.”

One again she obeyed though it proved to be very difficult for her. 

Around and around, slowly, he worked, sometimes dipping down to her opening 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 slim thighs, then back up to her face where she waited for him to command her again. 

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

“Yes” she breathed. 

“Because you are mine.”

Rey’s mouth shut 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 and shut her eyes. 

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.”

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 when she thought she would die from the pleasure, having never felt anything so intense before.  

“Yes you can.” He growled, working his arm now. “You're strong, and you're mine” He flashed a pained smile, such was his love for her. “And I am what?” He asked watching her intently. 

She moaned deeply, back arching. “You are mine, my lord and master.” She managed, the mantra as effective as his skilled attention to her. 

“And you will come for me now.” He said and pressed firmly, grabbing and rubbing simultaneously until Rey cried out, her thighs shaking and her breath stopped. 

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 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 it 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 moaned a little 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 looked away, face awash with worry. “ I just don’t know that this group can be trusted. And if he… 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.” He said, 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. 

Rey stood up straight suddenly feeling a chill. 

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 that man was not kind or 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 him 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 ripples of the most glorious sensation when she thought back to the pond made her furious, and then desperate to feel it again until she found herself in bed alone touching the same place as he had. 

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

When she remembered the way it felt when he closed his fist around her neck, and the sight of his arm, the long muscles moving as his fingers played.

She would mimic those movements until she felt the building pressure and its body 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, it was because she 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 knights to lead, and a ruling power to overthrow. 

True he’d put off writing it for too long, but as always his mentor had guided him and he’d done what needed to be done, and thought she would perhaps understand his reasoning, perhaps 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 small 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 be there.

And then it came to him suddenly and 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 hallway.

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 warehouse 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 asked slamming a fist on the desk.

Sighing, Hux sat back and narrowed his pale green eyes. “What?” He asked already having had enough of this. 

“You intercepted my letter home. You sent her someone else.”

Hux seemed to be thinking of this 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 before returning 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 was 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 that one pitied while the other envied. To wield such force was dangerous and they both knew it, it was their 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. 

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 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 that 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 curtly 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 of 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 as the chilly breeze touched her skin. With a nod she led them and sat 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, Rey followed. 

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

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.  

Their secret endings had been perfectly safe, until today. 

“Stop that!” Palpatine shouted from the back 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 so strange, he never came down through the servants entrance.

“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 this wonderful thing for her. 

“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 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 to settle his affairs. 

The thought of Alderaan threatened to change his mood but he brushed the thoughts 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. 

“I’m not talking about the Order” 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.”

“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 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’d left her and collapsed in the chair by the fire, and lay there looking at 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 re-joined 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 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 sherry, 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 with 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 a 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, searching desperately.  

“I say, Lady Palpatine!” 

She stopped nearly colliding with a servant only to find Lord Holdo sitting with friends. “My  Lord!

“What on earth are you doing here?”

She eyed the men quickly before looking over her shoulder, he would not 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. 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. 

“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 looking 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. 

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. 

 

*

 

The return of Lord Ren had thrown her 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, 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 stood back with her friend to 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. The lush greenery made a vibrant background to the day and Rey, soaking it all in, laughed 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 the dances loved by everyone, who all rushed 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 she 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 for far too long. 

*

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 stating 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 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. 

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 floor to her side where he surprised Rey by lifting her up at 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.  

He let the display go on for another bar before turning away, his heart aching 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, he kept walking, 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. 

Where was he going he wondered, 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!”

“It truly was not like that” He said and 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 tried again. 

This time he was sure to be clear and direct so that he’d 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, and how the man had been there for him since he was young and lost. 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. 

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 of her lantern 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. 

Like their first kiss, he carried her. He walked back to into the stable, their 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.”

*

Rey shook her head against Kylo’s mouth, pulling away from the kiss. She felt desperate for air.

He raised up a bit watching her. He seemed nervous. Not as much as she but still much more hesitant than he normally was.

Feeling dizzy, Rey turned her head away from the little fire he’d made and let the cool night air touch her skin. 

Perhaps it wasn’t his weight on top of her, but the crushing reality of what was happening that made her head spin.

She took a breath and looked up at him. At the sight of his pretty eyes glowing in the firelight, his black hair a curtain around them, tickling her cheeks. 

Quickly, Kylo ran his fingers through it, brushing the thick strands to the side before looking down at her again. 

She gave a little nod of permission and he sighed, reaching down between them.

He was guided himself to her, she could feel the impossibly soft skin of him against her own heat and wet, and she gripped his shoulders bracing herself unsure of what would come next.  

He 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 now he was slowly pushing his way into her. 

So careful was he that Rey began to wonder if Kylo was being too delicate with her. She was after all a strong, healthy woman. But as she felt the sheer size of him begin to spread her apart, Rey silently thanked him for his care. 

Ren stroked her contorted face.  “Are you alright?” He asked, voice a little 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 little too hard. 

He was trying not to hurt her but clearly the sensation was overwhelming and she presumed it must have taken some restraint to go this slowly. 

Little by little, he began to move, the in more alarming than the out, until something changed. 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. His mouth brushed along her face 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 being touched by him completely, his lips on hers resulted in a lovely pulsation below. She smiled into his hair when he pulled away, her first wave of pleasure rushing over her body. Her breath began to match his rocking until she was moaning in his ear, into the night air, the feel of him completely and wonderfully unrelenting. 

He moaned “Forgive me”  And his eyes met hers with a darkness in them.

“For what?” She managed. 

“For 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 moving quickly to hold onto his sides. Her thighs were tight against his hips and 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 explosive for a moment but wanting him all the more for it. Because the pain was giving way to indescribable pleasure now and she was floating somewhere between feeling everything and complete numbness. 

Just as she worried he would break her in two, and her cries could not be silenced, she felt him stop and turn hard as stone before a rhythmic explosion filled her belly. 

Her shuddering breath was quick as she lay shaking beneath him. Kylo pulled his arm away and hovered 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 again. 

His smile was weak but he gave it and 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 wasn’t sure how to feel, but as she turned onto her side, her hip bones aching, the blanket a bit scratchy beneath her,  she locked eyes with him and knew that she’d made the only choice that could be right for them.

Yes it was difficult. He would push her to her limits, but he loved her and needed her. And she him. It seemed there were many forces at play trying to keep them apart, but she knew in that moment it would never be so.  

Kylo brushed her hair back, pushing the strands behind her ear and kissing her sweetly before pulling her close and closing his eyes. 

She 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, and 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 over his arm, a dress. 

Her smile spread across her face until her cheeks ached. 

“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 sat down. 

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 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 of his.  

“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 word 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 if I can” She said still so sore from last night. 

He was leaning to the side to look at the way her breasts responded to his touch, not really listening, 

“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 to absolutely not 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. 

Her breath was rhythmic, and her moaning deep as he began to push a finger into her very wet opening.  

“It hurts.” She gasped quickly shaking her head.  

“Just at first” He assured with a mumble. 

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 had not known of its existence until now. 

It made her groan and her eyes roll back as she dropped her shoulders to the ground. 

Over and over, he would not stop, 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 and pressed down on her belly with his free hand, the other working at a steady, pounding pace. 

This was like the first time at the pond but on another level. 

When she felt that pressure build and build, Rey opened her eyes and looked up him like she had before. He smiled at her and nodded. “Let it happen.” He said softly and Rey 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 his fingers 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 beside her in seconds if he didn’t take care. 

He watched her expressions changing quickly in a wash of joy and worry. 

He knew just how she felt. It should be said, but they would let this ride just 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 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 all of that, frowning.” Her petting picked up pace. 

“ I wouldn’t speak to harshly about Lord Ren, I’ve heard from my father that he heads a new political party that has seen a surge in the north. They have great sympathy amongst the large houses” Miss Fairlane said sounding very nervous. 

“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 allowed, letting her normal 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, neither is this.” She said with a deep inhale as he pushed himself against her. 

“I was not trying to be.” His breath tickled her ear, his hands slid around to press against her belly, pulling her closer 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 Ren. 

“Where is the message?” He 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.”

Ren looked away thinking this over before looking up at Rey who was staring 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 understood.

He wanted her to be a bigger part of this side of him as well.

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 loves’ 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 arrived, 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. 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 reactions 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. 

Rey looked away, trying to work through 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 most obvious answer. “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 shrill little voice  and her 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, confusing 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 lies.  

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, but it was so beautiful in it’s simplicity. 

“You bought this for me?” She asked, fingers curling into a fist in the air mid grab. 

“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 hand 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 of course 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 her grandfathers blessing, 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, and all 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, one that specialized 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 for her.  

With her delicate off shoulder neckline and gathered sleeves that puffed as light as clouds about her, she 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 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 a 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 things 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 cape 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. 

Reys 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, pushing forward until hip bone met flesh and he could go no farther. 

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 in this position 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 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 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. 

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 him, 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 him breathing, 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, as her 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 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 by 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 a such spark of light in his eye, 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 with a faint sharpness of the firewood from 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 used 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, brushing strands of hair back from her face, gazing 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 it 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 and 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, they were so very similar. 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 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 to keep 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 was 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 soft skin 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 mouth 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, other arm out the window, his flat palm pushing 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 crawling up to sit beside him. 

She lay back in the crook of his arm and both closed their eyes, the carriage lulling them to sleep 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. 

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 year 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 heat of anticipation and adrenaline 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, but 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 truths. 

“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 families 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 and lowered to a knee, their eyes meeting as he took her hand. “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 leaned away from her. 

“The person who knew him best is sitting in this room, and its 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 would call 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, 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. 

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 until finally a few tears fell. 

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 looking 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 far off 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 his 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 and made 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. 

And then finally, It was over, she knew. 

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 horse. 

“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, she truly understood and laid her hand over his.

Living a life made of up 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 him for a moment, the broad strong shoulders slumped, his head down hiding his eyes, his hands lay lifeless in his lap…he looked defeated, empty and finished with it all. 

Sliding her fingers tighter around his palm she leaned down to look up at him, making him look her in the eye. “It’s alright,” Rey said softly before reaching with her other hand to gently slip his hair behind his ear. Her warm hand pressed to his cheek, and she smiled and lifted his head inviting him to look at her. “I don’t know exactly you feel, but I know loss, and hurt and anger. I know what it is to hate and love and feel the awful mixture of both for one person.” She pushed down her feelings for Palpatine and focused on him. 

“Ben.” She said and he looked at her. “You’re not alone, I’ll help you.”

He glared at her nearly unbelieving, but her smile and the way she looked at him said that she did in fact understand, and she would not leave him.

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 shut her eyes 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 some things that were her parents, but it was enough to need the coach to carry.  

“Theres 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 Creedence 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 man 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 his 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 laughed a little and nodded as he studied her face. “It’s good to see you smile.” He said gently and she looked away, her 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 as he looked over her face, 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 like putty in her hands, Rey realized just how desperate she was to feel in control of something.

Ben was pliable, easy to bend to her will especially when it came to this. A little part of her relished such control, though she would never admit to it. 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 he was eye level with her, 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 right here and now. 

Ben wrapped his arms around her holding Rey close as she kissed his forehead, her hands again on his shoulders, directing him down. 

Understanding what she craved, he submitted, laying back on the cool grass, holding her by the hips to set 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 below 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 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 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 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, Rey 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 said with a little laugh. “If you feel the need to forget it all again, I am fully at your service.”

She laughed and lowered to kiss his cheek before sitting up and looking 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.