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FIC: The Princess & The Bandit - moonspinner
moonspinner
moonspinner
FIC: The Princess & The Bandit
First of the four "Stump the Writer" fics I am honour-bound to write. :P

Title: The Princess and the Bandit (G)

Notes: For knight_ander. Before the events of A New Hope, before the events of Avatar: Book Two, Toph's family is visiting the Organas, and young Princess Leia catches Toph Earth-bending in the mountains near the palace.




Leia Organa and Bei Fong Toph met during the former’s Ninth Naming Day. Really met, that is. A few days before then, they had brought forward and introduced to each other but they hadn’t really met in the true sense of the word.

It all happened because Princess Organa’s Ninth Naming Day was also the day of her debut as a Speaking Legislator at the Royal Council Hall: her first time of formally speaking during a Royal Council meeting. She had barely slept all night in anticipation for the great moment and when she had woken up, she had been so visibly high-strung that Bail had wondered silently if she was ready. But when the moment came and the white-clad Princess stood before the Elders, flanked on both sides by members of the Bei Fong family she was representing; her face and composure had been perfectly calm as she delivered her improvised speech.

“I noticed you added a few things to the speech,” Bail commented as the two families strolled back to the Royal Palace.

“Yes,” Leia said carefully. “Did I displease you, sir?”

“No, Leia, the opposite as a matter of fact.”

Leia was still blushing as the elder Bei Fong spoke up. “Considering how recently the Omashu invasion happened, bringing it up was strategic.”

Leia stumbled a little at his last word. She was about to turn back but her father started speaking:

“You referred to recent events and brought home the point of Galactic intervention better than any speeches of the evils of the hundred year war. I just wondered what gave you the idea…?”

Preening a little and trying hard to stop herself from preening – which made it even worse – Leia tried to explain the sudden inspiration that had come to her mid-way through the speech. Bail and his friends were paying so close attention to her that they didn’t notice the other nine-year-old girl slipping away.

‘’

“There you are! We’ve been looking for you everywhere!”

Toph started and the carefully constructed cocoon of rock collapsed all around her.

“What… what was that?”

“Oh, go away, won’t you?” Toph snapped, scowling hard as she got to her feet, brushing the dirt off her clothes.

“No, really. How did you do that?”

“Oh, you mean there’s something you don’t know? Little Miss Grown-up?”

She could almost feel Leia Organa’s face frown. “What is your problem?”

“What is my problem?”

“Yes! I try to be nice to you and if our parents aren’t there, you’re borderline rude. I know you’re the one who nearly tripped me when we were coming back from the Council Hall. What have I ever done to you?”

Toph lost it. “What have you done? What haven’t you done? You’re a Legislator to the Alderaan Council. You’re an Organizer at the Refugee Relief Movement. You’re an honorable member of the Earth Kingdom Elite Youths. Everywhere I go, it’s Leia Organa this, Leia Organa that. We’re exactly the same age but you get to do everything while they keep me in a cage like a doll! Do you know how it feels like to-”

“Stop it!”

“I won’t stop! You wanted to know my problem and now you’ll hear them!”

“No, I mean it. Stop! I can’t move!”

Toph paused. And then her stomach jumped in alarm as she realized what she had been doing in her tirade. With each stamp of her foot, the smooth rocks of the Alderaan hill sides – uncannily similar to the ones back at home – had been rising and falling, consciously or unconsciously, around Leia.

Gingerly she stepped forward and confirmed that yes, the other girl was neatly trapped in a rough cylinder of rock.

Despite herself, Toph felt her lips twitched. It wasn’t funny and she’d get into serious trouble if Leia reported to her parents, but the mental image of the prissy girl’s doubtlessly bewildered and frightened face cheered her.

But she would get into trouble if her parents knew she was bending. Sighing a little, she prepared to let Leia free.

“Clearly, I have hurt your feelings without meaning to, Toph. I am sincerely sorry. Please can you let me out now?”

That did it!

“I’m not a little girl,” she screamed. “Don’t talk to me like a baby!”

“I was just being polite!” Leia retorted and her voice sounded like if she was forcing the words through clenched teeth.

“Well you can be polite all by yourself!” Toph snapped and stamped hard for good measure.

“Ow!”

Toph spun on her heel.

“You are not leaving me here!”

“Oh yeah?” Toph yelled and happily strolled off.

“Toph! Toph! Come back! Come back this moment, you Little Brat!”

“Make me!”

She was half-way down the hill when she felt them – not with her feet but the hairs on the back of her neck. She barely leaped back in the nick of time as they passed her – large, rock-sounding missiles flying past her to land in bounces on the ground before her.

She swung round, feeling for whoever had let Leia go, still trying to think who amongst her family’s companions was a Bender…

…only to realize that Leia was exactly where she had left her a few seconds ago… Only completely free of her earth prison.

Toph gasped. “Are you an Earth bender, too?” She didn’t know what she felt the most – delight at meeting a human Earthbender or dismay that Leia Organa had the one thing that made Toph better than her.

“A what?”

Toph rolled her eyes. “You don’t even know what just did? What you are?”

“I just… stretched out my hands… and the rocks flew away from me…” Leia’s voice was slow, wondering.

Toph scowled. “So you are a Bender. Congratulations.”

She walked away as quickly as she could.

‘’

“I still don’t know why you can’t teach me a few things.”

“I still don’t know why you can’t take no for an answer.” But there was almost a smile on Toph’s face as she said that and Leia thought that was a good sign.

“I’m a Princess of a pacifist state. I have to be able to negotiate in all circumstances.” The reply was automatic. It was one of the first rules of state she had ever learnt.

“Well, I’m a spoilt Little Brat and I have to do what I please. Except when I can’t do what I please.” And that almost smile disappeared behind an impressive scowl.

Leia bit her lip. The idea had been half-forming in her mind for some days now, ever since she made up her mind to win Toph’s good will and ‘Bending’ tutorship, but she wasn’t sure she had thought it through enough to sell it to the other girl now. If she wasn’t convincing enough, Toph would laugh her to pieces and Leia would lose whatever modicum of respect she had painstakingly worn from the other girl.

On the other hand, the Bei Fong family would soon be leaving Alderaan. If she didn’t get Toph to train her soon, she might not get the chance again.

“So Bei Fong Toph can’t do as she pleases… what if you weren’t Bei Fong Toph? Could you do as you please?”

“You’re not making any sense, Princess.”

Toph had a way of saying Leia’s title that made it sound like an insult. Not for the first time, Leia resisted the urge to smack the other girl. Hard.

“Have you ever heard of a secret identity?”

‘’

Celia watched the dirty girls tramping down the hill and smiled even as she wondered if they needed to get quite so dirty.

“It was good that we insisted on the Bei Fong family bringing along their little girl. I worry about Leia sometimes, that she’s growing up too fast.”

“She’s growing up exactly the way we grew up, sister,” Bail said gently.

Celia sighed. She privately believed that they all grew up too fast, that the galaxy as a whole made children grow up too fast, but it was an old argument and she was tired of it.

At that moment, one of the girls looked up and Bail waved. She waved back, and after a moment, so did the other.

Celia smiled. They should do this again.


‘’

Lao and Poppy exchanged smiles as they watched the two small girls approaching the vessel. Toph looked especially radiant, her delicate green-and-yellow dress glowing beside the Princess Leia’s white gown.

Lao was glad he had brought her to Alderaan. He had worried when he got the Organas’ request. Toph was such a different child from Princess Leia – so fragile, so innocent – and he worried that she would be overwhelmed and unhappy. To say nothing about the perils of inter-planetary travel – something that was rarely embarked upon in their world.

And at first, he had thought his suspicions were proved right and he should never have brought his daughter here. The Alderaan climate had clearly not agreed with Toph. She looked unwell, she wilted and Princess Leia was a charming child, but it was clear that she and Toph had very little in common.

But these past few days, something had changed. She had eventually adapted to Alderaan weather and her health had improved. She looked happier, acted happier. It was a testimony to Princess Leia’s skill, of course, that she had managed to draw his soft-spoken, reserved daughter out of her shell and make her laugh on occasion.

The two girls said their farewells and he caught Poppy’s eyes again. They were dancing and he knew she was thinking the exact same thing he was:

We should do this again.

‘’

“Good bye Princess Leia.”

“Good bye –” Princess Leia coughed and Toph patted her back consolingly, only just managing to muffle her own giggles.

Later on the ship, she laughed at what Leia had called her and hugged herself tightly. Life was about to become very interesting.

‘’

In the end, Leia hadn’t taken to Bending very well after all. At the end of her short apprenticeship, she could just manage to fling back small bits of rock when Toph threw them at her. But she hadn’t been able to move the rocks out of the ground as Toph did so flawlessly: A skill that Toph repeatedly reminded Leia was the most fundamental aspect of bending.

Still, she had learnt that she was completely averse to going barefoot and like her father said, every bit of self-awareness was useful.

Leia watched the ship vanish through the clouds and her grin broadened, imagining the adventures Toph – no, the Blind Bandit – was going to embark on.

the end










So, I was browsing through LJ and I read a post about the Octuplet Mommy. This particular journal was filled with consensus comments about how anti-feminist the Octuplet Mommy’s decision was.

Which made me pause.

I don’t think that the actions of this woman are a topic for feminism debates or any discussion about political correctness. Technically speaking, the fact that a woman can walk into a fertility clinic without a ring on her finger or a man at her side is a form of female empowerment. Consequently, like any form of power, it comes with responsibility. That is the issue or should be the issue: responsibility – of the individual who undergoes the treatment, the people who dispense the treatment, the technology behind the treatment – and not political correctness.

[my two cents]

Tags: ,
Current Mood: accomplished accomplished
Current Music: Good Girl Gone Bad

19 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
From: awehla Date: February 16th, 2009 12:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree about the "Octuplet Mommy". Personally I am flabbergasted that a woman would want to raise that many children on her own. It's like looking after a private school size class of children 24/7.

Lisa
x
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: February 16th, 2009 12:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm Catholic and it's hard for me to give an opinion about this that is separate from my faith. I just don't know enough about her faith and circumstances to know that I won't do the same thing if I were standing in her shoes.
From: bobill Date: February 16th, 2009 04:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
From what I've heard of the Octomom, it just seems like she's insulting feminists and liberals by taking those rights and using them totally irresponsibly. I for one am all for fertility treatment, but when you use it to have 8 babies at once in such a way that each baby is only 1 lb at birth, thus endangering their probability of survival... and then basically use your mother as a free babysitter of your little preschool... It doesn't feel like female empowerment.
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: February 16th, 2009 07:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
It doesn't feel like female empowerment.

That's probably because we usually only see one side of the power coin. Female empowerment is basically giving women the power to choose. Now what is done with that power - what choices are actually made - is left to the individual. It's like the person who practices their freedom of speech by insulting another person's family. It doesn't stop being her freedom of speech. It doesn't stop being an insult either. That's why to me Octomom (LOLOLOL!) is not insulting feminists or liberals, any more than this hypothetical person is insulting the guys who established free speech. Because the "right" itself is not a good thing or a bad thing and does not become a good or bad thing because of the way different people choose to exercise that right.
From: bobill Date: February 17th, 2009 12:45 am (UTC) (Link)
I had originally posted a thought-out lengthy reply but I realized I probably shouldn't clutter K-A's journal with it so I moved it to my own... sorry KA!
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: February 17th, 2009 06:32 am (UTC) (Link)
*blinks* This is my journal.
From: bobill Date: February 17th, 2009 04:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
wow I suck at life!

Sorry! I was wondering why you responded to everyone.

Response:
Hmm. You bring up an interesting point. I see what you mean that a right doesn't change based on how you use it. But if we accept everyone's use of a right, then what happens when we regret it? Stuff like freedom of speech has been going on for centuries, and has been tested on almost every level; no one contests punishments against purgery, false advertisements (on some levels), and verbal abuse. On the other hand, no one really knows what the deal with fertility treatment is. If those 8 children die because their lungs were underdeveloped at birth... is that murder? We don't have the answers to that. I'm not saying that Octomom is bothering anyone except her own family with what she's doing, but people's hesitation toward funding stuff like fertility treatment and stem cell research stems is based on people's irresponsibility toward what is still a tentative right.

(I'm also playing devil's advocate, so plz read this post with a playful tone.)

(Apologies for my incompetence!)
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: February 17th, 2009 07:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
lol! It happens. ;)


I'm not saying that Octomom is bothering anyone except her own family with what she's doing, but people's hesitation toward funding stuff like fertility treatment and stem cell research stems is based on people's irresponsibility toward what is still a tentative right.

But she is, isn't she? First of all, there are those 8 individuals she's brought into the world - children whose standard of life/life expectancy might be compromised because of the methods she used to bring them into the world. Who speaks for them? Who defends their rights? That's basically why the Catholic Church regards responsible use of IVF treatments as something that is inherently impossible.
frostbit_sky From: frostbit_sky Date: February 16th, 2009 06:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree about the issue should be about responsibility.
Just because a woman wants a big family doesn't make her anti-feminist.
But this woman doesn't have the means to take care of 14 children.
And I feel a bit like she is using/exploiting her children to become famous and get freebies.
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: February 16th, 2009 07:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
And I feel a bit like she is using/exploiting her children to become famous and get freebies.

Between you, me and the Internet, I have that suspicion. I hope I'm wrong because that would just be disturbing on so many levels.
frostbit_sky From: frostbit_sky Date: February 16th, 2009 08:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
For the benefit of the children I hope we wrong as well.
But then I read too much and that hope fades.
I recently read that her PR firm dropped her because they were getting death threats.
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: February 16th, 2009 08:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Why are some people filled with so much hate?
frostbit_sky From: frostbit_sky Date: February 17th, 2009 02:15 am (UTC) (Link)
I wish I knew.
Original sin is the only answer I got. :/
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: February 17th, 2009 08:56 am (UTC) (Link)
*g* I had to steal that icon.

It's half-a-joke but I think that is really it, isn't it?
knight_ander From: knight_ander Date: February 17th, 2009 01:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Great job on the story! The opening paragraph was a good attention grabber in the "huh? what does she mean by that? I should probably read more to find out" sense. Toph's whinny and occasionally rude attitude and Leia's "I'm trying to be nice but you're not making it easy" attitude were spot on. I wonder where Leia came up with the idea of a secret identity?

Nicely done. :)

Edited at 2009-02-17 01:49 am (UTC)
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: February 17th, 2009 06:28 am (UTC) (Link)
I wanted to do more with Leia's and Toph's shared talent of giving people colourful names and I wrote a scene in my mind where they brainstormed Toph's WW name together but it didn't turn out well on paper and the drabble-ficlet was already getting too long. :D

I'm glad you liked it.
vanimy From: vanimy Date: March 11th, 2009 04:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
I really liked the story. Leia was really well-written, dear. :)
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: March 11th, 2009 07:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks my dear! I got your email, btw. Work is a bit hectic this week but I promise I'll work on that over the weekend, if that's OK? :)
vanimy From: vanimy Date: March 12th, 2009 10:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, of course that's ok. :) Good luck with your work and take your time for next chapter! :)
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