Rio Naberrie's lakeside house wasn't as large or grand as the Senatorial lake retreat Luke's parents had been wed in, but it was still luxurious compared to what Luke was used to – a dusty farm home with a cramped bedroom next to the garage, an icy cavern that he shared with twenty other Rogue pilots, a soggy lean-to that was more often than not also occupied by insects and reptiles…
"It's beautiful," he breathed as he walked through the halls, marveling.
His grandfather, Jobal Naberrie, laughed easily. "Beautiful if you're not the one who has to clean it, boy. You should hear your Uncle Rio's sons carry on…"
"I'm sure they'd rather clean this than dig sand out of vaporators," Luke replied, smoothing his robe front. "Suppose I'd better let you get ready for the wedding. Han and Leia don't want to put it off forever."
Jobal laughed again and leaned heavily on his cane. "First a Jedi-turned-Sith-turned-Jedi-again for a son-in-law, then a pirate for a grandson-in-law… this family's become pretty interesting."
Jobal slowly made his way to his room to change. Luke wondered if he should help him, but his grandfather had brushed his efforts off earlier, so he decided to let him enjoy his independence now, while he could.
Leia was in their bedroom, rifling through the dozen or so dresses she had brought with her. She flung a rather pretty-looking aqua number onto the bed and sat heavily down beside it, sighing.
"The dress I wanted flown in from Corusant hasn't arrived," she said, frustrated. "And none of these are what I wanted to wear!"
He suppressed the urge to roll his eyes, though really, he didn't see the logic in owning enough outfits to clothe the entire planet yet still not having anything to wear. "Well, what about that white dress you wore last night at dinner? It's nice enough…"
"'Nice enough' doesn't cut it, flyboy," she said in a half-teasing tone. "This is my WEDDING DAY we're talking about…"
"Then perhaps I can be of service," Rio suggested, entering at that moment carrying a plasteel box. He set it down gently on the bed.
"Uncle Rio," she protested, suddenly blushing. "You didn't have to go buy me a dress…"
"I know I didn't have to, so I didn't," he replied, flipping the catch and opening the box.
Inside, carefully folded, was a simple but elegant lace affair, beautiful because of its simplicity rather than in spite of it, and looking almost brand new. Leia gasped and reached into the box, lifting the dress out.
"This is your mother's – my sister's – wedding dress," he explained. "I think… I think she would want you to have it."
Tears in her eyes, Leia embraced Rio. "Thank you."
Luke smiled as he left the room to let Leia change. It had been almost six months since the Battle of Byss and his father's trial. In that time the Alliance – no, the New Republic had fought many more battles, beating back the rogue Imperial forces that sought to retake the galaxy. Though the war was far from over, Luke was confident that, at long last, victory was ensured for the New Republic.
After all, the Emperor was dead, the malignant heart of the Empire had been excised… and the Republic had the advantage of the Jedi Order.
Outside on the expansive patio, the wedding guests were gathering and mingling. But what an odd lot they were – members of Rogue Squadron, Republic leaders, some of Han's old pirating buddies, the Naberrie family, the Gungans of Naboo, even some of his father's Tusken comrades who had wished to honor him and his offspring. Luke had to laugh. Small wonder Jobal had called his family interesting. If it had been Luke's choice of words, he would have opted for "bizarre" or even "insane."
Two men approached Luke at that moment – a Naboo holy man and a Tusken shaman.
"Master Jedi, would you kindly explain to this savage that he is not legally qualified to marry the couple today?" the Naboo holy man asked in a rather irritated tone.
The Tusken hooted something that Luke didn't understand, nor did he want to.
"First of all, sir, Tuskens qualify as intelligent aliens under the Republic Alien Rights Act, so he's technically not a savage," Luke explained. "Second, at a marriage ceremony, a shaman is recognized by the Republic as a justice of the peace. And third, maybe we can have a little teamwork here? Maybe you say a few lines of the vows, then this gentleman says a few lines of his kind's traditional vows, and so forth."
The holy man exchanged a reluctant look with the Tusken, who understood some measure of Basic and was as unsure about the matter as his competitor.
"Very well," he said at length. "We're ready when the betrothed are."
Luke laughed a little and walked away to find Han.
Anakin stood back a little ways from the rest of the wedding guests, watching a Gungan child introduce a wary young Tusken to the shore of the lake. The poor Sandperson had never seen so much water in his life and was more than a little unsure of approaching the great body. But the Gungan was persistent, and soon the two of them were splashing and laughing gleefully – much to the distress of their parents, who'd no doubt dressed them in their finest garments for this occasion.
His gaze slid away from the children and toward a knot of robed beings, ranging in age from eight to forty-two and coming from all corners of the galaxy. Seven of them, two human, one Twi'leck, two Wookie, one Tusken, and one Gungan – the first Padawan learners of the New Jedi Order. He loved these students like his own children, and it filled him with pride to see them learn and grow under the careful eye of their masters.
/Seven down/ he thought irreverently. /Seven thousand nine hundred and ninety-three to go./
"Credit for your thoughts," Forenze said, coming to stand beside him. She had let her crest grow back out, and she wore a fashionably-cut amber gown that Anakin thought complimented her eyes quite nicely.
"We've come a long way, haven't we?" he asked.
"Naboo's not that far from Tatooine space-wise," she replied. "Sure would be a long walk, though…"
"Smart-alek," he accused with a smile.
"Hey, if five years ago someone told me I'd be standing by a maskless Darth Vader watching his daughter get married, I'd offer to examine their head for them."
"And if five years ago someone told me I'd be back on Naboo, a Jedi Knight and honorary Tusken, talking to an alien Rebel, I'd probably have them demoted for insubordination or worse."
She arched an eyebrow. "That's all I am? An alien Rebel?"
"No, Forenze." He took her hand in his. "You're far more. You were the first person to befriend me when I came into the Rebel Base. You have been a friend and confidant, and you've saved my life several times. You're far more than just an alien Rebel."
She flashed him a challenging grin. "Life as Jedi has to get pretty lonely, I'll bet."
"It can be."
"And it's dangerous."
"And you need someone to patch you up after your missions, right?"
"Are you getting at what I think you're getting at?"
"Depends. What do you think I'm getting at?"
"Are you suggesting… another level to this relationship?"
She shrugged. "If you ask, I'd take you up on it in a heartbeat."
He hesitated. Would doing so betray Padme…
But he felt something within him embrace him understandingly. There would always be a place in his heart for Padme. But he would need a companion for the remainder of this life, even if it was as unorthodox as a Fosh medical officer.
Luke waved at Anakin from the front door of the house, and Anakin gestured that he'd be over in a second. The ceremony would be underway soon. He had to go join the wedding party.
"Go on," Forenze said with a smirk. "Explain to your kids that you went and got engaged on your daughter's wedding day."
Anakin laughed heartily and strode away, joining those gathered by the door and taking Leia's arm in his. Stang, she looked so beautiful in her mother's wedding gown! Han had better count himself lucky to have her as a wife.
Leia reached up and kissed her father's cheek. "Thank you for everything."
"You're welcome, my dearest," he replied.
Luke, who was serving as best man, took the arm of Forenze, Leia's matron of honor, and the wedding party progressed across the patio to where Han and the holy man and shaman stood, ready to unite the lucky couple forever.
Anakin felt his vision fog over with joyful tears. He finally had what he'd been seeking all along.
First order of business, of course, is names. Yes, I mixed up the names of Padme's mother and father – I hate R.A. Salvatore's novelization of "Attack of the Clones" and only had the briefest of looks in it for names, and I accidentally got the names confused. But I justify this by saying that I think Jobal is more masculine a name than Ruwee. And yes, I replaced Padme's sister with her brother, Rio (whose name is Spanish for "river"), but who said I had to stick to canon? I certainly didn't when I started this whole series.
Yes, Darth M'kbeth is a nod at Shakespeare's Lady Macbeth. And Sophronia is the name of religious leader Joseph Smith's sister (I'm not making this up).
The Sith fortress draws some inspiration from the Japanese movie "Castle In the Sky," especially the final confrontation between Sheeta and Muzka in the throne room, and from the wizard's towers in Terry Goodkind's "Stone of Tears," though most of it is my own creation. Sorry if my descriptions of Byss and the Holocrons don't entirely jive with canon, but I'm not a big fan of the books.
Thank you everyone for taking the time to read this trilogy. It's been a lot of fun, and it's given me an opportunity to go in a direction I normally don't go. I'm sorry to see it end, but maybe it's time I moved on to other projects.
Onward and upward!