"I don't remember my mother ..."
Leia felt sorry for Luke, so alone and lonely and all. Why else would he be asking her about her mother?
She sort of understood, but not really.
Leia had been adopted this fact was on the historic record of Alderaan. She had grown up with two very loving parents and she never doubted that she was loved. Her father had made sure Leia grew up with anything and everything a princess needed to know.
Well, for the most part ...
* * * * *
Princess Leia's parents, Queen Breha Organa and Prince Consort Bail, had married long before she had been born, hoping to amalgamate power and ensure a peaceful succession. But attempts at a full-term pregnancy had failed; after several attempts, healers counseled the couple not to try again. Each pregnancy weakened the Queen, so that eventually, the medics and healers feared another attempt could cause her death.
This was a shocking blow to the royal couple; it was not long ago that the Jedi Council had sent master Jorus C'Baoth to avert a war over succession on Alderaan. A previous dynasty had died and left no direct or obvious heir, and so fighting began and noble families each jockied to rise above the rest in their quest for leadership on the wealthy core planet.
Master C'Baoth had chosen the Organa family to rule. Bail Antilles proposed marraige to the newly crowned and ordained Breha Organa, and took her family name as his. Thus the most powerful and important families were joined, and other families withdrew their claims when faced with this reality.
The prospect of birthing no children filled the royal couple with dread, for if Queen Breha died without an heir, it was possible that another power-play would be made against the crown by the families who had lost the judgement. But rather than wring their hands or attempt to firm up their power by law or force, they chose to seek advice from their peers.
Behind the scenes, they spoke privately with members of the other noble families and discovered that the overwhelming desire was for the House of Organa to produce a legitimate royal heir. The prospect of civil war was a real and horrific worry the last domestic crisis was within living memory for the majority of Alderaanians. Too, Bail Organa, as the senate's representative from Alderaan, had kept them abreast of problems with the galactic Clone Wars. A peaceful future, rather than being something they could look forward, seemed as remotes as a fairy tale now. The galaxy was at war, and Alderaan could not afford to draw attention to their own political troubles.
Breha and Bail spoke of a secret adoption, of faking a pregnancy through surrogacy so that she may provide assurance of domestic peace through deceit. But such a thing would be tragic indeed if revealed; too many people knew of the Queen's health and failed attempts to bear a child. It was too fraught with risk of discovery. And if such a deceit was found, it might trigger a civil war on Alderaan, after all.
No ... no secrets from the other families, nor from the people of Alderaan. Bail and Breha agreed that they would seek a child for adoption. They would do it discretely, though not secretly.
"The child must be a girl," insisted Breha. "Ascendancy is only certain through the female line."
"Only because of the archaic tradition of knowing with absolute certainty who the child's mother is," soothed Bail. "In this case, we are accepting a child into our family, whether we know the mother or not."
The Queen shook her head, "Even if knowledge of the child's maternity will never be made public, I insist ... one of us must know who the mother is." She smiled crookedly as her eyes brimmed with tears. "I love you, Bail ... and I would not blame you if you wished to father a child by another ..."
"Breha! Never!" Bail Organa was shocked at her suggestion. "You are wary of scandal, yet you dare suggest that my having an affair with a woman for the sake of fathering a child for us ... would you believe it might not be harmful??"
His Queen closed her eyes, causing her tears to drop over her rounded cheeks, and drip down onto the ornate collar of office she wore. "No ... no. But I'm just saying ... if you bring a child to me, I will never ask ..."
It was a difficult thing to embrace his wife with all her marks of office worn on her body, but he did, noting that the palace tailors will have extra work to do tomorrow to put her robes back in a presentable state. "Breha, there are many children orphaned by this war ..."
"No!" Breha's cry was muffled by her husband's shoulder in their embrace. "The mother, we must know the mother ..."
His wife was aggitated and Bail recognized her stubbornness. It was better to acquiesce than to fight her; this was not a battle worth matching. He shushed her quietly. "Yes, Breha ... I understand. I will do my best. I promise ... now be still. It will be all right. I promise."
"Just ... hold me," demanded Breha.
So, he did.
* * * * *
Bail Organa remembered his wife's words when he watched the child of Senator Padmé Amidala Naberrie be born, and heard Master Obi-wan Kenobi tell her, "It's a boy, Padmé." He heart clenched, jealous at Padmé's luck. She had been Queen of Naboo; had she been Alderaan royalty, her son whom Bail heard was to be called "Luke" would have been a source of joy and profound celebration. What's more, he had witnessed the birth, and knew Luke to be the true son of Padmé. Perhaps this information will be of some value, he mused, wondering to whom he should ever reveal what he knew.
Then with an agonizing cry, another child was born this time, a girl whom her mother named "Leia."
A girl! Bail Organa found himself holding his breath, not able to trust himself. Padmé had had twins, a boy and a girl, and a feeling of ... it wasn't joy it was a mixture of blind rage and passionate jealousy!
It wasn't fair! No one had known she was pregnant with twins! Padmé had one child more than she expected ... I wonder ... if she would consider ... if I asked ... if I explained ...
But his anger died as he heard Obi-wan murmuring to Padmé, telling her to be strong ... her babies needed her. And he remembered being told that Padmé's life force was ebbing, though the med-droids could find nothing physically wrong with her. It was as if she had lost the will to live, they had said.
She was dying of a broken heart.
Bail Organa wondered where and whom the father of these children might be? How would he feel, forced to lose the mother of his children?
She's dying ... that's what the med-droid said! Bail Organa was deeply ashamed of himself. For if Padmé doesn't survive ... could I ...?
He saw Obi-wan's shoulders slump ... and shamefully, Bail's heart soared!
* * * * *
He gave her no details via the holonet communicator. Just that he had a gift for her and for all of Alderaan, and she would be pleased. It would be the pinnacle of accomplishment and the fulfillment of her desire, he had promised!
Breha understood immediately, and a passal of emotions stabbed and flew through her whole being! It had only been a short time since she and Bail had had the discussion about adopting a girl. Could it be that he had found one which qualified so quickly? Breha had thought it might take at least a year, if not longer.
Was it his? Had he been untrue to Breha for so long, perhaps even before their conversation?
Or had he really stumbled across a child through simple luck and serendipity?
She dared not ask openly through the intersystem transmission if Bail had witnessed the baby's birth. Who was the mother? What had happened to her? Would she come looking for this child?
But Bail had looked so excited and happy in his transmission. He was close to bursting, she knew it! His body language conveyed such joy that she would not have been surprised if he had shouted out his news to her.
But he spoke to her in normal tones, emphasizing the need for restraint without saying it. Perhaps he was afraid the transmission was tapped? Much had happened these past days, and she knew that not everything was as it seemed.
Then, Breha wondered ... what if his gift was not a child, after all?
No! It has to be! She didn't believe she could stand the heartbreak and disappointment if Bail was not bringing home a baby! It would be the cruelest joke. Surely, he would not do that to her?
She forced herself to lie down before she fainted.
* * * * *
Bail Organa bit his tongue so hard he could taste blood. He was sitting in the conference room of his Corellian Corvette, the Tantive IV; across the table from him were Masters Yoda and Kenobi. From all he'd witness these past days, he wondered if they were the very last of the Jedi.
They were discussing the fate of Padmé's children.
They had already agreed that Padmé's corpse would be delivered to her family and to the people of Naboo, and her body would be prepared so that she still looked pregnant. Yoda had emphasized that it was important that the father believe the child had died with its mother.
Yoda had also indicated that the emperor himself should not know of the conditions surrounding Padmé's death or of the birth of her children. Bail knew now that Emperor Palpatine, as he had declared himself, was a Sith lord ... he wondered who his apprentice was, a man they kept referring to as Darth Vader.
The two Jedi continued to discuss what to do with Luke and Leia, and though Bail listened well and hard, he was unsure of whom they thought the father might be. He was simply too pre-occupied, and when they came to a point in the talks where they agreed that the two children should be separated for safety's sake, Bail could hardly keep himself from rudely interjecting into their discussion.
He tried very hard to appear to be speaking with great thought and concern, but he wasn't successful. "My wife and I will take the girl. We've always talked of adopting a baby girl. She will be loved with us!" There, he had said it ... he had stated his "fee" for helping the Jedi, at great personal risk to himself. And he managed to state his demand, not ask!
Though he would never be so callous to suggest it aloud, he did worry about what would happen to him if the new emperor ever found out that he had seen the clone troopers murder a young Jedi child. Or worse, if it was discovered that he'd been harboring and transporting Jedi whom Palpatine had declared were enemies of the state and the now-deceased senator from Naboo ...
The two Jedi looked surprised. Neither had had any inkling how badly the statesman and his wife had been longing for a child, but it washed over them full-force now. The two looked at one another, and saw this as the ideal solution to their dilemma.
"A better fate imagine I could not. Go with you the girl will," Master Yoda gave his benediction. And with that, Bail's dreams came true, and any worries he'd had dissipated into the glow and relief he felt in him!
The two Jedi continued to speak, probably about what to do with Luke, but Bail Organa didn't hear anything. His only thought: I am bringing my daughter home to Breha they would be parents!
Then Yoda murmurred, so quietly that the excited Bail nearly didn't hear him say it, "Strong the Force runs in the Skywalker line. Hope we can. Done it is. Until the time is right disappear we will." With a final nod, Bail was dismissed from the Jedi presence.
Bail got up quickly, so happy to be able to confirm the good news to Breha. He had delivered the cryptic message to her by holonet shortly after Padmé had died, when a plan to ask for the girl had formed in his mind. There were so many other things to do now, in preparation!
As he rushed to the holocommunications area, he overheard the 'droid C3PO telling the astromech R2D2 that he'd have so many stories to tell Leia about her parents, and how very proud the young child would be ... and Bail made a quick decision. "Captain Antilles!"
After all these years, it still sometimes felt strange to address his cousin so formally.
But it must have been stranger for the captain to respond to his relative, "Yes, your highness?"
In the moment before his cousin responded to him, a thought distracted Bail ... had master Yoda said the Force ran strongly in the Skywalker family? Did he mean Anakin Skywalker, the Jedi Knight?
He thought back on the rumors he'd heard about men Padmé had been dating, these past months, and to the scuttlebutts who'd complained how close the senator from Naboo was with the Jedi. But everyone had assumed this had to do with her involvement on Geonosis, her opposition to the military creation act, and the assassination attempts which had followed.
Had Skywalker been her bodyguard?
Yes ... he had!
Leia Amidala Skywalker ... had her sire had been a Jedi? Not just any Jedi, but the most heroic of Jedi Knights! But that means nothing! She is Leia Organa, princess of Alderaan, daughter of Breha and Bail Organa ...
Suddenly, he understood C3PO's comment ... and he feared the consequences.
"I'm placing these droids in your care," he told Captain Raymus Antilles, "they will belong to my new daughter. Treat them well. Clean them up. Have the protocol 'droid's mind wiped." My daughter! Bail was giddy with the sound of those words!
Did he hear C3PO moan, "Oh, no," and did the astromech giggle in response?
* * * * *
Leia was a toddler when her mother died, when her care was officially passed to Bail Organa who was on record as her adoptive father. As the husband of the late Queen, he took on regent duties with the recognition that Leia would become Queen when she reached the age of majority.
Though there were some protests, the ruling families of Alderaan concurred with the decision to keep the position open for Leia to ascend. Ever since Queen Breha had fallen ill, her husband had been serving as acting head of state and later indicated his decision to resign from senatorial office. In any case, he wanted to spend more time with young Leia.
Leia actually grew up with shifting feelings about her blood-relationship to her parents. As she grew, she was made aware that she had been adopted into the Organa ruling clan, though there was no indication of who her real parents might have been. Since the death of her mother, Leia was lead to believe that she was the real daughter of Breha, and was adopted by Bail Organa so that she could live with him as her father.
In fact, this was the conclusion most people and the media on Alderaan had reached. And as the royal lineage was passed through the mother, there was no protest about Leia's potential for ascendency.
But in her teens, Leia found herself wondering if Breha really was her mother. She loved the woman and memories of the Queen reverbrated strongly in the princess's memory. Even in the Queen's absence, Leia would feel the presence of a woman whom she knew was her mother really knew and it would comfort her.
Strangely, as she grew older, she wondered if the woman in her dreams was the same woman in the portraits of the palace walls? Without meaning to, Leia had separated the muddled mental picture of her mother into two beings when she thought of her.
Both women had auburn hair, but one had straight, darker strands, while the other's curled. They both had brown eyes, but one had pale pink lips on the thinner side matched to a roseate skin tone, while the other's lips were darker and thicker, and had a more olive colored complexion. Leia knew that though both women were beautiful, but one was sad because she was dying, while the other was sad for reasons the young girl did not understand.
The woman who's portrait was on the wall had been ill; Leia vaguely remembered her coughing and looking so pale and tired. The woman in her dreams was not simply sad ... she was in anguish, as if her heart was breaking; she didn't seem physically ill in the same way the woman Leia remembered in the palace.
Leia was terribly bothered by the two impressions of the same woman, and she struggled to settle her questions. Perhaps they really were the same woman, just at different times? Or perhaps this confusion came about because she felt so close to Bail that she wanted him to be her real father, and she kept trying to find clues that Breha had been the one to adopt Leia. Perhaps she had been dreaming of a woman who had birthed her, rather than the woman who had claimed her?
She had tried to ask her father about Queen Breha, for details to help resolve Leia's memories, but Bail Organa had been very busy, too busy to chat about mother. "I'll discuss things with you when I retire from office, Leia. Which will be soon, after your election to the Senate."
Then the Death Star destroyed her home planet, and any secrets Bail Organa had been waiting to tell his daughter died with him ...
So when Luke asked about Leia's mother, Leia was unsure what to answer. The words came out of her mouth unbidden, however, "She was very beautiful ... but very sad ..."
"I never knew my mother," replied Luke.
"Luke, what's wrong?"
"The Force runs strong in my family ... my father has it ... I have it ... and ... my sister has it ..."
Hearing his words, Leia knew what he was going to say, but she was unprepared for the impact! The two women who had haunted her memory yet to Leia represented her mother seemed to fuse, and she felt a burning in her soul, as if she was a crucible and the dross was being scorched out of her heart!
Luke was saying something, but she didn't hear it. Before her, a woman's face was forming, but it never came into focus. The woman was weeping and exhausted, reaching for ...
She had been reaching for Luke ...!
Leia felt warm as she looked up to her brother, "I know ... I've always known ..."
His face ... he has mother's face ... In her mind, she was looking at her face and his, trying to piece together their mother's features. She layered Bail Organa's features, trying to subtract them from this mental composite ...
"... your father?" Leia heard herself say to Luke.
Had he been telling her that Bail Organa was not their biological father? Then ... who?
"There is still good in him, I can feel it! I have to try ..." Luke sounded older and more tired than Leia had ever known him to be.
My ... oh, my ... he sounds like our mother!
Here, she had thought her family had been destroyed. But in the space of seconds, she discovered her brother ... the true identity of her mother ... and now, Luke was telling her that their father was still alive! It was more than anyone could process, and Leia felt overwhelmed.
She knew that Luke had told her the name of the man, but for some reason, Leia could not process the concept. Bail Organa is my father, she screamed to herself!
But Luke was gone. What was Han doing here?
He was hollering at her, angry. Jealous.
For some reason, the jealousy made Leia happy. It meant he wanted to be with Leia.
But she couldn't tell him ... anything. She couldn't process it at all. But she did hear him say, "I'm sorry."
"Just ... hold me," Leia demanded, clutching onto him and weeping, burying her face in the comfort of the familiar smells and warmth of his body.
So, he did.
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