This takes place just after AZARRA GOES TO CORUSCANT, and just before MediaWest 2001. The next morning, Palpatine was already in the dining room when Azarra entered. He noted that she seemed almost radiant after her first night in the Palace as Empress. She smiled silently, and allowed herself to be seated next to him. After the attendants served her, she began to ask about the upcoming evening's banquet, and just who she might expect to see in the receiving line. The Emperor looked up from his plate of food. "And what hat makes you think there should be a receiving line? I certainly have better ways to celebrate my new Empress than to stand and endure endless speeches from every dignitary that is invited to a dinner affair." "They're not coming to see YOU, so if you wish, I will stand ALONE in the welcoming line; a major social faux pas which I assume will be overlooked because you are the Emperor." Palpatine cast a grim look as he picked up his fork. "Ah, yes...Still the Diplomat! So I am now expected to conform to such trivial matters as etiquette. . .Very well. Since you think it best, I can endure this receiving line of yours." "How enlightened of you, Your Majesty," Azarra replied, noncommittal. "Should I be concerned about the menu?" The Emperor grinned. "My chefs are perfectly capable, but meet with them if you must." "We'll see what they can do on their own. But on to more pressing matters. Since most of my wardrobe is still in transit, I will need to go out and find something to wear this evening. Perhaps you would like to accompany me on this little expedition?" What little color he had drained from his face as flashes of a recent nightmare detonated in his mind. He stopped himself from a withering retort, and managed to reply, "I ...regret that I have several appointments with my senior staff this morning, which would certainly delay you until late afternoon. I'm sure that you can find someone to accompany you whose opinion about gowns would be more insightful than mine." "Majesty, I value your opinion and am naturally disappointed that you won't be accompanying me, but I understand that running the Empire comes first," she said with just a hint of mock dejection. "I hope this is not an indication of how things will always be." The rest of the meal was quiet, neither wishing to broach any other subjects. Later in the day, the Emperor's private office door whooshed open abruptly and in walked Azarra, looking a bit exasperated. "For being the capital city of the Empire, the selection of fashion houses on Coruscant is shockingly poor. I can't even remember how many stores I had to go to before I found something even remotely suitable. I can now understand why your wardrobe is so limited." The Emperor glared. "Didn't you ever hear of knocking before entering a room, or was that courtesy omitted in your upbringing? And as for my wardrobe. . .I happen to prefer wearing these robes." Azarra was startled. "You have more than one?" "I won't dignify that question with an answer. Do you think I have a laundry staff washing one robe over and over? Please!" Palpatine slammed his hand down on the desk and stood up sharply. "Now, other than breaching the security code and sanctity of my office, did you have any business to address?" he snapped, making a mental note to have his office security code changed as soon as possible. Mildly amused, she said, "I learn something new about you every day. How exciting this marriage is going to be. I don't recall you telling me what time I need to be ready for our receiving line." "Receiving line at 7:30. Dinner at 8." "Will we get through everyone in half an hour?" "There will only be 50 people attending...it's not another wedding event, Azarra. When I organized this dinner to celebrate your arrival, I was thinking it would please you to have a more intimate affair. Was I wrong?" She paused a moment before answering. "I would hardly call 50 people intimate, but I'm sure if you invited them, then I shall be intrigued to meet them. You will be doing the introductions, won't you? I do so want to meet the cream of Imperial society here on Coruscant, since I will be spending a great deal of time with these people. But, enough of this idle chatter. You must have much to do, and so do I." And she left as quickly as she had come. Lights from the Imperial Palace glittered like stars the night of the Emperor's welcoming banquet for His Empress. A steady stream of aircars deposited the invited Imperial elite. The grand entrance that the Emperor wanted gave way to a receiving line. To The Emperor it seemed endless and when it was finally over, he knew that sitting down would be a blessing. It was the last relief he was to enjoy for the remainder of the evening, for it was toward the end of the line that Azarra spotted...him. He was introduced as the son of an ambassador from some planet Azarra had only marginally heard of. As she gave the handsome young man her most alluring smile, he took her hand, kissed it, and she knew she had him. Her first conquest! Dinner was exquisite. If nothing else, The Emperor had hired excellent chefs. She had convinced him that music was necessary; a nice background to her briefly visiting every table. When she reached the table where the ambassador's son sat, she gently nudged his mind with the thought of asking her to dance. He quickly complied. This Force thing could prove to be VERY useful, she thought gleefully. They danced until the wee hours of the morning, until finally His Majesty sent everyone home after he had nodded off several times at the table. They left the hall and made their way to the lifts, followed by four Red Guards. "That was wonderful," Azarra sighed. "I could have danced all night." "Wonderful, you say?" The Emperor turned toward her with a disapproving frown. "You made a fool out of yourself, Azarra." She turned to him with a shocked expression. "Did you expect me to sit with you at that table all evening? I thought this banquet was given for me to get to know people here on Coruscant. I certainly couldn't do that sitting with you. When you didn't ask me to dance, I found a suitable partner to accompany me." "You spent every moment of your time mingling with everyone, including your handsome new 'friend', so I never knew you were interested in dancing with me. I hoped you would want to be at my side. This 'game' of yours doesn't amuse me, my dear. Despite my indifference this afternoon, I do care for you. I had intended to apologize with this gift... I suppose now is as good a time as ever." Palpatine reached into his robe and pulled out a tiny granite box and handed it to her. Inside were a pair of rare black opal drop earrings in a silver setting. "I guess we will have to work on our communication skills, " she said, a bit surprised. "Interacting with people is so very different from subjugating them. The earrings are magnificent, Your Majesty. At times, you do have exquisite taste. Tomorrow, perhaps, we can begin anew." "Perhaps we can begin our new found communication with a kiss; on the cheek, if nothing more." "Not on the first date, Your Majesty. Just think what a scandal that would cause." And with that, she was gone. Early the next morning, a far too cheerful Azarra interrupted the Emperor with the arrival of the carpenters she had hired to do some "minor alterations". Waltzing into his private office, plans in hand, she swept the few things cluttering his desk onto the floor and began to explain about some walls being knocked out, several closets being built and would have gone on interminably, if he hadn't stopped her. After they were ushered out of the Emperor's office, the carpenter said, "Empress, to do the minor changes you propose for your level will not take the week you told the Emperor we would need." Azarra smiled over at him, "I know, but I'm going to give you another project that I need completed the day I return from Port Lansing. It is meant to be a surprise for The Emperor."
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