A/N: This is not light or fluffy. This is no happy family reunion, or unrealistic forgiveness. This is real and angsty. If you're like me, then you believe that Leia never forgave Vader for what he did. She's not like that. She's not like Luke, all good and light and forgiving. Leia is her father's daughter, at least, that's the way I see it.
I wrote this some time ago when watching ROTJ, and I found it the other day when I was just searching through old plot bunnies of mine. If you haven't guess by now, I love angst. This story is about finding closure. I hope you enjoy xx
The nightmares plagued her. They had ever since Luke had told her the truth. Dreams, haunting dreams, of her father being replaced with Vader, holding her hand as a child, tucking her into bed at night, reading her bedtime stories in that terrible, artificial voice, the deep, heavy breathing. It was terrifying. After each one, she woke up with a start, body covered in perspiration, chest heaving. Han would always hear her, hold her to his chest, and brush her hair, trying to calm her down.
But this night, her husband was away. She was alone, in her senatorial chambers on Coruscant, and when she woke from her nightmares, there was no one there to comfort her or to stroke her hair. She was completely alone.
"I used to have those, too."
The sudden, unfamiliar voice startled her, and she immediately reached for her blaster, aiming it in the direction of the voice. A man was standing at the end of her bed, hands behind his back, watching her with a small smile.
"Who are you?" she demanded, training the weapon on him. "What do you want?"
The man just shook his head, smiling at her, and it was then she noticed how blue his eyes were, so familiar. "You could shoot me, but I don't think it would do any good."
Leia shot. She was not one to take chances, and her trust had worn thin. Shoot first. Ask questions later. The laser went right through the man without leaving so much as a mark, before blasting a hole in the wall behind him.
The man just laughed. "You really are my daughter."
Daughter? No, it couldn't be. She gazed at him, eyes wide, mouth hanging open, as she took in the bright, blue eyes – like Luke's – the tan skin, the dark blond hair that curled to his shoulders. He was so… so familiar, and it sent tremors of fear, of hate, through her body.
"No. No, you can't be here," she hissed. "I didn't ask you here. I – I hate you!"
He merely crossed his arms, an irritating smirk on his face, and quipped, "I can't appear unless you want me to be here, my daughter."
"Don't call me that," she snarled at him, still not putting down her blaster, even though he was an apparition and it would be pointless against him, but it gave her something to do with her hands, instead of tearing her eyes out. She had to be still dreaming. This… this wasn't real. He wasn't here. "You have no right to call me that!"
He set his jaw in a firm, determined stance, yet there was still that arrogance and confidence to him that made her grit her teeth. "I have every right," he told her. "I'm your father, Leia, whether you accept that or not."
Anger. Rage. Hatred. Fear. All those dark, terrible emotions were directed towards the man in front of her. How had Luke forgiven him? Forgiven this monster? The monster that had taken her mother away from her, contributed to the deaths of millions, blew up her home planet. No. Leia could never forgive him. Even if he had killed the Emperor.
"You were never my father, Vader."
The name made him flinch, and all his arrogance disappeared, replaced by – was that guilt? His eyes sparkled with regret and he looked away. Good, she thought darkly.
"I'm – " he faltered, suddenly unsure, voice thick with emotion. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, Leia. If – if I had known… I would never have - "
"- What?" she screamed at him, trembling with overwhelming hate. "Let me be tortured? Blown up Alderaan?"
"I was against that idea from the start," he insisted, but Leia barked a cruel laugh before he could finish.
"I'm not like Luke," she choked back the tears of rage that were threatening to overflow. Her emotions were getting the better of her, but she would not let him see her cry. "I don't care what final act of goodness you did before you died. I will never forgive you!" she spat out the last words with venom, and he merely watched her fall apart, an expression of great sorrow on his face. She didn't want to see that. This was Vader, the emotionless, soulless murderer. He couldn't have emotions. He couldn't feel…
"No, you're not like Luke," he muttered quietly, closing his eyes and breathing deeply, and Leia just watched, heaving with the intensity of her emotions. "Luke is all her. You, my daughter," his eyes opened and fixed on hers, burning into her soul like blue flames and she felt so vulnerable. "You have your mother's eyes," he told her. "But you're exactly like me."
She shot at him again, knowing it would do nothing, but needing him to understand her immense loathing for him. It was unlike anything she had ever felt. It was consuming her, fuelling her anger which had dwelled deep within her soul for all these years. "I'm nothing like you," she whispered, voice trembling, through clenched teeth.
Her. Her mother. The mother she had never known. Leia had never known her mother, never seen her, didn't even know her name. Her father, her real father, Bail Organa had never told her who she was, only that she looked like her. She wanted to ask him about her, what she had been like, but she was too overwhelmed by hatred to even look at him.
"Aren't you?" he replied, sadly. "I can feel it, Leia. Your anger, your hatred, your fear. It's consuming you."
She glanced up at him and was taken aback by the look of utter concern on his face. Such an expressive face it was, young, youthful, yet aged in a different way, hardened by hardships and war and the Dark Side. It was a face that had known pain. Leia wondered if her own face held the same hardness.
"And what do you care about it?" she retorted sharply.
He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "You're my daughter, Leia. Regardless of how you feel about me, I have been watching over you these past five years. I love you."
The words surprised her, and she blinked several times, mouth slightly agape, staring at him with wide eyes. Love? That was an emotion she had never thought him capable of feeling. Sith Lords did not love. They only hated. Yet, perhaps Luke had been right. Maybe he had changed. If he loved her, surely he could no longer be a Sith. It was all too confronting. She was not prepared to have to face this, to face him.
"If you let your fear control you, my daughter, you will only end up as I did." The sadness in his voice, the sincerity and honesty and raw affection that spilled out with every word… she was not ready for it. "Fear is the path to the Dark Side," he continued, while she merely sat on her bed, absorbing all that was unfolding before her in shock. "Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate. Hate… leads to suffering."
A wry smile pulled at her lips. "How very poetic of you," she drawled, narrowing her eyes.
"A wise Jedi Master once told me that," he explained with a small smile.
"Pity you didn't take his advice, Vader," her words sliced through the air, inflicting pain.
"Anakin," he insisted, a hint of desperation in his words. "My name is Anakin Skywalker. Darth Vader is no more."
"And why should I believe you? After everything you've done…"
He fell silent once again. How young was he, exactly? He looked younger than her, even. Was this who he had been before he'd turned? Was this the true Anakin Skywalker, the Jedi Knight, the Hero With No Fear, before Darth Vader had taken form? All these burning questions plagued her thoughts… Why had he turned? Who was his mother? Why did he let them separate her from Luke? Why had he never come back for her? Why, why, why?
"I – I can't undo the past," he admitted after several moments of silence, his voice deathly quiet, almost eerily so. "I can't change what happened… believe me, I wish, I wish, I could. But… I can try to make it up to you. Make you understand. If – if you will listen."
He was suddenly very vulnerable and this different, unexpectedly soft side of him stirred something deep within her. Maybe it was the look in his eyes, so much like Luke's, that softened her resolve. Or maybe the infinite sadness etched across his face. Either way, she swallowed the lump in her throat and nodded curtly, willing to hear his apology or explanation or excuse… whatever it was he was going to tell her.
"I always wanted a daughter, you know," an affectionate smile graced his face. It was a handsome face, Leia conceded, much like Luke's. The semblance between the two was uncanny, and yet Anakin held himself differently, teasing little smirks, a dangerous glint in his eyes. Where Luke was light, Anakin was dark. "Your mother was insistent that we would have a son. But I knew. I could feel you," he looked at her then, and his eyes were glistening with moisture, so clear and full of such remorse that Leia almost felt sorry for him - almost - but not enough.
"I could feel you through the Force. You would talk to me."
The words came out smothered in miserable affection. It left Leia wondering who this man actually was. Who he had been before he was Vader. Although she could sense the darkness within him, there was also this overwhelming sense of passion, and love, and fierce protection – something a Sith Lord could not possibly feel. It was akin to her own personality, she realised with a start.
"I was never home for longer than a few days, a week at most, and I sought solace from you… from your mother." His eyes grew sad. "You look exactly like her."
"Who was she? My mother?" At first when she had found out about her true parentage, she had been convinced that Vader had raped her mother. He must have. No woman could love him. It just wasn't fathomable. But now she wasn't so sure. The way Anakin talked about her, the way his expression softened, made her rethink her previous judgement. Vader could not be loved, but Anakin? He might have been.
"My angel," he muttered, an affectionate smile breaking out on his face, which caught Leia by surprise. "Your mother was Padme Amidala, Senator for Naboo. And she was… everything to me," he closed his eyes, at some distant memory that Leia was not privy too. "Beautiful. Passionate. Kind. She had a good heart. We fell in love, when I was assigned to protect her and were secretly married on her home planet of Naboo. It was forbidden, you see, for a Jedi to marry, or form any attachments. You and your brother are very rare," his smile turned into a smirk, "you are the first Force Sensitive children with a Jedi as a father."
That was news. She hadn't known that rule about attachment before. If she was being completely honest, she thought it was rubbish. Luke was training her to be a Jedi, and she had a husband! That wasn't going to stop her. Han was her… life. She wouldn't give him up. You're exactly like me. She laughed cruelly… The more she thought about it, the more she and Anakin had in common. It was ironic. She had spent so many years despising this man, and yet the similarities between them were uncanny.
Her mother had been a senator. A respectable senator from what she could gather. And they had been married. They had been in love. It contradicted her previous notions. If her mother, a kind, wise senator could marry such a man, maybe Anakin really had been different. I was conceived out of love, she thought, a strange sense of relief washing over her. For all her twenty-eight years, she had believed that she was conceived out of rage, hatred, rape. That her mother had died because she couldn't bear to look at Leia and be reminded of her ordeal. But now she saw that was not true. Her parents had been married.
"I wish I could have met her…" she whispered sadly. "But you took her away from me. You killed her." The hatred for him resurfaced. Bail might not have told her who her mother was, but she knew she had been killed by Darth Vader. That act itself was unforgivable.
Anakin sighed and Leia thought she could see a single tear rolling down his check, but that couldn't be right, because he was merely an apparition, a being of the Force. He couldn't actually cry. "Yes." That caught her by surprise. She hadn't expected him to admit to his crime. Deny it, yes, but here he was, taking responsibility for his actions, for her sorrow. "I did kill her." His voice was quiet, so quiet, and Leia could practically feel the emotion seeping out of him. "Not physically. Not really. But…" he broke off and Leia waited patiently, because she needed to hear this. She needed this closure.
"They say she died of a broken heart."
The air between them grew thin, uncomfortable, impossibly still and Leia stared down at her clasped hands and crossed legs. It was all too much. Too much to take in. She felt herself fall apart as her emotions got the better of her and tears welled in her eyes. Leia had always been strong; a strong leader, a beacon of hope for the Rebel Alliance. But that strength was failing her every second. She was an emotional wreck.
"Why?" she demanded thickly, the words caught in her throat as she stumbled through her tears, fighting them back. "Why did you turn? Why did you abandon her? Luke? Me?"
She desperately needed the answer. That question had haunted her for five years, five agonisingly tormenting years. She needed to know.
"I thought I could save her," he answered softly, refusing to meet her swimming eyes. "I thought… by becoming more powerful, I could save her. But – I was consumed, consumed by fear, by this lust for power, Leia. It… I brought it upon myself."
The tears spilled from her eyes then. How ironic. It was almost tragic, really. He wanted to save the one he love and in the end, he ended up killing her. Leia felt a stab of pity for him, small though it was, but enough to soften her resolve just enough to accept that maybe, just maybe, Anakin Skywalker was not evil.
"You never came looking for me," she told him. "It was always Luke. But never me." She hadn't realised before how much that had upset her. He'd only been interested in finding Luke, his perfect, wonderful, brilliant son. But not his daughter.
Anakin looked at her then, those blue eyes drawing her in – had her mother succumbed to those eyes too? – and she couldn't look away. "I didn't know. I didn't know I had a daughter, Leia, I swear… or else, things might have – might have been different." He sighed deeply and reached out with his hand, as though to touch her face, but then thought better of it. "The Emperor wanted me to turn Luke to the Dark Side. But, it was no use," a proud smile curled his lips then, and he coughed a small laugh, "Luke is too much like her, like Padme. He would never turn to the Dark Side. But you…" he held her gaze, "be glad I never found out about you, little one."
She knew what he was insinuating and she glared at him, clenching her fists in her sheets. "I would never have joined you. I would never go over to the Dark Side!" she declared, boldly, fiercely, but Anakin simply sighed, his shoulders sagging a little, looking more miserable than ever.
"You might," he told her. "To save the ones you love."
Han. Luke. Her children. Her home. The people she loved more than anything else, the people she would sacrifice everything for. She froze in fright as she realised that, yes, she might have. She might have. Leia was fiercely protective, she would stop at nothing to save those she cared about. Maybe I am like him, she thought, shocked, concerned, even frightened. And it was there, in the darkness of her room, that she finally understood. She understood the motivations behind the man before her, the sheer complexity of him, the unyielding love he felt for his wife that had ultimately been his downfall. She understood because she knew.
She met his eyes and recognition flowed between them. "I don't forgive you," she told him sharply. "I don't know if I ever will." He nodded, he understood. Of course, he understood. He was her and she was him. They were one and the same. "But…" she took a deep breath, closed her eyes for a moment, before snapping them open again. "I understand. I understand why. Because…" she said with such sincerity that it surprised her, and seemed to surprise him as well. "Because I would have done the exact same thing."
The moment the words left her mouth, an overwhelming sense of calm washed over her, gently, like waves. A huge weight was lifted, a weight that had been suffocating her for five years. She closed her eyes at the sensation, it had been a long time coming, and she embraced it with open arms. This was what she need, the closure that she had desperately need.
When she opened her eyes again, Anakin was gone. She suspected he wouldn't be back. He had only appeared because she had needed to confront him, to let go of her hatred and leave the past behind her. Slowly, she sank back into the pillows, feeling more at ease than she had for five years. Her eyes drifted closed and she soon found sleep, dreamless, blissful sleep.
Leia was finally, finally, at peace.