Padmé and a young Leia take refuge on Alderaan after Anakin's fall. Inspired mostly by Leia's comment in Return of the Jedi about vaguely remembering her mother- which, by the way, Mr. Lucas failed to explain in Revenge of the Sith.
Since the release of Revenge of the Sith it became apparent some revising was to be done, if I wanted to pull this as far into line with canon as possible. Still, it is clearly AU but perhaps not so dated as it may have been previously. I've pretty much run rampant with creative license here, but humour me.
AN: This is not a venue for religious comment- religious references are for metaphoric purposes only. Hopefully the metaphor wont be too buried. I'm sure the die hard post-structuralists out there could read all sorts of quasi-religious/incarceration of the female meanings into my story- but it's supposed to be simpler than that.
As always read and review please.
The spiralling white towers of Aldera stretched towards the clear sky above like calcite needles, observed by a diminutive brunette woman. All white flowing fabric and meticulously arranged hair, framed by the organic arch of her balcony doors. A beauty that suited the serenity of the surrounds. Apparent peace, which belied a turbulent life. From somewhere in the recesses of her mind floated idle information-
The white towers of Aldera.
Originally constructed by an ancient denominational society. Their deity had looked down on the people from the heavens above, a smiling benefactor, the father of his kingdom. A time when Alderaan was untouched by galactic troubles- insular and isolated.
White man-made pinnacles reaching upwards as they had for hundreds of years.
They had wanted to be closer to God.
She wondered if the antiquated religions of old had afforded solace to their believers. Had the peaceful citizens of Aldera worshipped regularly, left offerings on altars? Found quiet guidance from their prayers?
The ideas echoed around in the woman's mind and for a time she thought perhaps she would have a moment of peace. A rare occasion. It was relieving to find distraction from the bleak thoughts that constantly seemed to consume her thinking space.
Or were the gleaming white towers products of a dictatorship masquerading as a religion? Had the peoples of old entrusted their faith in a worldly being- a material manifestation of their God's will? Had the deity's representative used people's faith to control them?
It never did take long for any train of thought to return to darker memories. Turning back in on itself and revisiting times she wished she could forget. Her mind acted of it's own volition, unsympathetic to the pain it caused it's owner.
Or perhaps that wasn't the case at all. Perhaps she was just a masochist.
After all, with everything that she had seen…Everything she had lost…
Regardless, religion was dead.
Just as the imaginary figures from long gone times wandered her mind's eye, controlled by faith and fear, she had personally tasted the bitter flavour of being controlled by someone through one's own naïve faith and fear. More accurately, several someones.
She had seen her own misplaced trust turned against her. Used other's trust in herself against them. Manipulator. Manipulated. Somewhere in the past the boundaries had blurred. Blurred in the same way guilt and accusation had skewed her self-perception.
Victim or perpetrator?
As much as her peace of mind demanded to know, she could not find the energy to care.
She found no consolation in entering the vicious cycle that resulted from attempting to understand her role in the demise of the Republic. And so much more.
Yet, despite all common sense, and any self-preserving instincts that may still be fighting beneath her masochistic behaviour, she couldn't resist the temptation to wallow in the guilt and misery. The self-righteous facets of her character loved every second of it.
And she hated herself all the more for it.
She didn't hate herself. She didn't hate anything. To feel hate was impossible for her. Of all the boundaries she had set for herself- now left hazy and indeterminate- hate was the only clear line left to her. A distinct separation between good and evil. On one side of the divide lay black, on the other, white. There were no grey areas here.
Lies were a grand thing. One could convince oneself of anything.
Experience had taught her exactly where the path from hatred lay.
Bitterness, hate, resentment. The door was firmly shut against such dangerous emotions. More than shut. It was locked and the key had long since been deliberately discarded.
Later she had realised, with newly discovered detachment, that one could not lock away only selected parts of oneself. One could not chose which parts one kept or cast off. No, not at all. As time had passed she noted a lack of other emotions. Events that should have triggered a response failed to do so.
Leia had spoken a new word- but she felt no joy.
The shining white stone and leafy greenery of Aldera gave her no pleasure.
Once she had treasured literature, when the world had never afforded her the time to indulge in it. Now she had too much time- time alone with her thoughts, too much done alone- and found no enjoyment in escaping to foreign worlds as she once had.
She thought it rather ironic.
At times she felt that-
At times. Time.
She felt as if she was stationary- no longer a part of the inevitable progression of time. Her only reminder was Leia's presence in her life. That small rapidly growing child with sweet brown curls. Just like her own hair had been at such a young age. All innocence and born from such miserable chaos.
The thought stirred no sadness from her. Merely evoking a deep-seated remorse.
Sometimes she wondered at that regret. What exactly was it that she regretted? She could find no particular choice, no particular turn of events that had condemned her- and everyone else too. Fate was an inexorably rolling leviathan. Completely unstoppable and holding no regard for the players. Dealing in lives with a murderous momentum.
At times she felt that Leia deserved more than she, her mother, could offer her. That the little girl should have more than a woman hollowed out by bittersweet regret for a mother. Someone who could give her more than small smiles and a twisted dependent love.
Because that was how it seemed to her. Sometimes she wondered how it could possibly be good for Leia when she felt she needed her daughter far more than Leia would ever need her.
Unwittingly, that small doe eyed child with bouncing curls held the last vestiges of her mother's sanity in her grubby little hands.
She wasn't quite sure when the strata of her sanity started to fall away. Like peeling the layers from an onion. Maybe she had been something less than sane all her life.
Perhaps it was when Jedi Kenobi had walked away with the newborn Luke. Swaddled carefully and destined for some unknown planet.
Kenobi had said he would be safe. That Luke would be loved and given the protection she couldn't provide.
But even then she had felt as though there was very little of her left to lose. It had begun before that.
Maybe it was during the occupation and subsequent destruction of Naboo. Lakes polluted and stagnant. Forestry trampled and trodden on by the white boots of the clone armies- the armies whose creation she had fought so hard against and failed. Theed burned while her people faced firing squads. It made her sick.
Her family had been trapped there.
The frantic period of running and hiding that followed the sieges of Coruscant had probably played its part too. Always on the move. Don't stop to settle. Don't stop to take a breath. Keep on moving. Hunted half way across the galaxy.
Had it been when Kenobi returned haggard and defeated from Mustafar? Technically he had bested Him, but Kenobi's participation in that confrontation had been doomed from the start. Whatever the outcome. Whether He had died or lived. Somehow, Kenobi had fundamentally failed his student.
Had it been when He walked away from her and everything she had worked so hard to achieve? Of all the hard memories she bore, surely this was the most painful. He had frightened her. Badly. And the ultimate betrayal had come when she realised He didn't care He had scared her. She had found no remorse in those eyes.
The eyes she still saw in the dark. Faceless- just eyes. At night they would leave her no peace. A foreign feeling blue, hovering inches above her own, a mockery of her few treasured memories.
Perhaps it was the long months of worry and separation. During the Outer Rim Sieges when He had been so far away- busy being a war hero. She had scraped together information from unsettling holonet reports- frustrated and alone. More alone than she had anticipated. Trapped in silence by necessity without a single sympathetic ear.
Had it begun when she had sworn herself to Him? She and their marriage hidden beneath a veil of secrecy. If it was then she had not been aware of it. So caught in rapture and the hope that she would eventually get the happily ever after she felt she deserved.
But fairytales never were meant for her it seemed.
Or, on Geonosis, when the prospect of looming death had released all of the pent up emotions she had struggled so hard to suppress.
Maybe when He had returned from the Tatooine desert with what had remained of Shmi Skywalker, and divulged the horrors He had committed.
That night at the Lake Retreat.
That day they had arrived and He had…
When He walked back into her life all those years ago. Arrogant and magnetic. Changed much in his ten year absence.
Perhaps that was when.
Remembering had become an indulgence. For reasons unknown to her, there was an ever-present desire to revisit times best forgotten. The practice only ever brought her the same regretful emptiness- she had long since deadened to the ache- and the wish that she hadn't gone to the trouble of torturing herself once again.
The end never justified the means.
It was counter-productive. Probably even self-destructive. But the unrelenting need to relive her past would not subside.
Who was she to deny it?
Surely it did her no more damage than hearing the daily reports of further crimes committed in the name of the Empire. By His hand.
They were unavoidable. On the holonet. In the few print journals. On the lips of the citizens of Aldera. Utterly inescapable.
Not that she would have ignored them had she have had the opportunity.
But she would not allow herself to think too deeply on them. Especially in Leia's presence. That would have been improper and unfair on her daughter.
It was enough to simply know. Dwelling was not permitted
Instead the facts were carefully filed away in her mind. In the disarrayed compartment labelled 'Him' to be drawn out at some later date. A time when she would be able to do more than simply intellectualise them. It seemed unfair to the victims of His crimes (but then, didn't that include herself?) to try to understand their plight without any emotional capacity available to interpret them.
Her methodical filing away of information was a fairly efficient system, but it came with its downfalls. One could not conveniently close the door on unwanted bits and pieces of information. As she had found in her attempt to remove herself from certain emotions, she found she did not get to choose only select items to store away.
No, if she closed off the parts she didn't want to know- couldn't know- about Him, she also closed away the good parts, the happy memories.
Beggars can't be choosers.
Inevitably, if she tried to unwind a single happy memory of her time with Him, the whole compartment would come unravelled and she would find herself trapped under the rubble of their self propagated chaos.
It had stung the first time she watched their house of cards fall apart.
It had stung every time she forced herself through it afterwards, too.
But now, there was nothing.
Just that emptiness.
She thought that maybe it should have hurt. The emptiness- the lack of anything. But again she was just faced with more emptiness.
It was lonely in that place.
She might have tried to fill it with synthesized attempts at life. Alcohol, or cheap sex. But her pride got in the way.
And that was why she had Leia. To keep that emptiness just a little bit occupied.
Maybe someone else in her place would have said that Leia was the one good thing she had brought out of this galactic mess that was at least partially her own fault. She wasn't someone else.
She couldn't even find the conviction that bringing Leia in to the world, this so-called New Order, was good or right.
However, for good or bad, Leia was there.
Leia. Inside. Asleep, enjoying an afternoon nap. Still so small she needed plenty of rest.
The flowing white gown grazed lightly on the marble pavers as she walked across the patio. Shoeless, because she hated the jarring click of shoes on hard marble floors. Her long introspection while leaning against the doorframe had left her stiff. Feeling older than she ought, she sat on the balustrade, leaning her back against a newel post. Lifted a leg up to dangle from the edge- bare toes pointed down to the causeway far below.
A soft breeze skimmed across the skin of her cheek. The soft glow of the afternoon sun tinted the white of her dress pale apricot. She should have been happy.
Thoughts of Leia undoubtedly lead to thoughts of Luke. And more regret.
She knew nothing more of her son's life other than what her imagination supplied her. He would be a toddler by now. If what she saw in Leia meant anything, he would also be the image of Him.
Although the overwhelming feeling of Luke's removal was loss, she couldn't help but be thankful she didn't have to see Him in her child's face everyday. Leia was enough- Luke would have pulled at the delicate threads of her memory too hard.
What kind of mother was she?
One who couldn't face her own children. But not only her children- His children.
For a moment she wished she could feel frustration. Frustration at her own inadequacies. Then maybe she could have hit her head against the pillar it rested on. Maybe she could have winced at the sudden pain. She wished. How she wished.
But wishing is fruitless. For fools.
So far above the transit lanes it was quiet. The only sound to break the stillness of the day was the chatter of the holonet she had left on. She couldn't bring herself to even step outside for fear of missing a media update. Any news of Him.
If she had been capable, perhaps she would have felt self-pity at her own patheticness.
His name caught-
New name. He had said His true name no longer held any meaning for him. Had adopted a replacement name. Maybe it had made the distinction between good and evil easier for Him. But the name He went by made no difference to her. The only thing that might have ever mattered to her was that she held Him locked in her mind, just as He carried pieces of her around with Him. Pieces once given as precious gifts- in trust- only to be abused and held hostage by the only person who could.
They would not be returned. She understood this.
His name caught her attention on the holonet. Ears straining to pick up the terrible words that seemingly innocently floated on the stirring air. More deaths. And Him.
Details filed away for later use.
Eventually the murmur of the holonet faded into the background. Leia would still sleep for another hour or two.
The blank tranquillity lulled her mind into a complacent state- somewhere between dreaming and waking. A place where she wasn't Senator Amidala or Padmé Naberrie, or anyone. Where she wasn't a broken nobody running from the single most powerful force in the galaxy. A place where it didn't matter that everything she had once held dear to her had been taken away by Him- her family; her home; her history.
She knew should she lapse into sleep proper, she would be left with His eyes. And should she awake she would be left with that emptiness again. Determinedly, she managed to remain in that lucid halfway state. The twilight of the conscious where she could find her only liberation.
Released form the bondage of the dreary everyday world, she found hard sought oblivion.
The New Order was not of this place.
The Republic was not of this place.
The Jedi were not of this place.
The twins were not of this place.
He was not of this place.
No, here she knew autonomy in it's truest from.
Here she was free to build her own gleaming white towers that stretched towards heaven.
Here she was closer to God.
And in the isolation of her self-made white prison she finally found something close to happiness.