Leia stood on an upper terrace of the Senatorial Tower outside her old apartment, the one she'd used a lifetime ago when she still had a planet to represent. She cupped a crudely carved fragment of wood in her hand. It had belonged to her real mother and was all Leia had of her. Of course she had shown it to Luke and he had told her more about it than she'd ever known.
"Japor ivory wood," her brother had said, taking the little pendant from her hand, "it's supposed to be lucky. So are the sand symbols," he'd traced the pattern with a finger tip, "the square symbolizes protection and the wavy lines are suppose to draw good fortune to you."
"How do you know all that?" She'd demanded, astonished.
Luke had looked at her in surprise. "Standard desert lore. Everybody knows that much."
Everybody on Tatooine he meant. 'Your father made it for me.' Mama had told her. Stupidly Leia'd always thought she meant Bail Organa. But of course she'd meant Leia's real father, Anakin Skywalker, raised like Luke on Tatooine. He had made it for her and then abandoned her for the Emperor, wrecking all their lives.
If only he hadn't turned! Things could have been so different. For a moment Leia allowed herself to dream of might-have-beens: Of growing up with her own mother, her own father and Luke here on Coruscant or maybe Naboo. There would still have been the Emperor - and the Empire - but they could have faced it together the four of them. And there would have been no Darth Vader. Vader. What her father had chosen to become.
Leia turned the crude little charm pensively in her fingers. Yet - Vader had saved her all those years ago on Sikemon. Not just saved her life but cared for her, comforted her. And he'd saved Luke and them all at Endor. She had to remember that. But did it really outweigh his crimes? Not just against the peoples of the Galaxy but against his own wife and his children: He'd abandoned Mama, left her to die of grief. Tortured Leia herself on the Death Star, and Han on Bespin. And he'd cut off Luke's hand...but she couldn't forget Sikemon, and she mustn't forget Endor.
"He wants to talk to you." Luke had said.
"He's dead. You said he was dead."
"He is. But he's not gone, he will always be with us."
She hadn't liked that at all. Why couldn't he just die and let her forget him?
"He won't come to you until you call him. You should, Leia, for both your sakes."
She didn't want to deal with this, with him. She'd hated him and everything he stood for, and yet she'd been drawn to him by a fascination, a need she'd never really understood. He had been her enemy but he was also her father. Leia took a deep breath. Luke was right, she'd be good for nothing until she got this sorted out. She swallowed hard and said, "Father?" in a small, frightened whisper. She could call him that; Bail Organa had been 'Dad' or 'Sir' on formal occasions, never 'Father'. Anakin Skywalker could have that name - besides that's what Luke called him.
She started, her hand closing convulsively around the Japor wood charm. She didn't dare turn though the presence behind her made the fine hairs on her nape prickle. She swallowed again - or tried to her mouth was dry as dust. "What was Mama like?"
"Don't you remember her?"
The voice was nothing like the one she'd been expecting, lighter and younger than Vader's, and yet somehow familiar. She relaxed just a little. "Not very well."
"She was much like you," that strange/familiar voice answered. She heard a rustle of fabric, like arms being folded into full Jedi sleeves, and guessed at a smile as he continued; "Beautiful. Spirited. Intelligent. A born leader." The unseen smile broadened; "Also stubborn, arrogant, irritating -"
A spurt of laughter bubbled out of Leia, silencing him and surprising her but he'd sounded so much like Han... "I don't look like her though," she said a little wistfully when she'd recovered herself, remembering that dark, delicate face.
"You have your mother's eyes," her father said judiciously. "But in feature you favor my mother more."
"Your mother!" that surprised her so much she actually turned to face him. He was tall and fair haired with a strong look of Luke. Only his height reminded her even slightly of Vader. Obscurely reassured she relaxed a little more.
"I did have one," Father said mildly.
She felt herself blushing. "Of course you did. What was she like?"
"Beautiful," he said almost teasingly then his voice softened into remembered tenderness; "gentle, loving, wise. And very brave."
"That doesn't sound like me at all," Leia said ruefully.
Anakin laughed, not disagreeing. "Luke is very like her in some ways."
Leia nodded agreement. Yes, Luke had a wisdom and compassion she knew she lacked. Was it really a legacy of their unknown grandmother? "What was her name?"
"Shmi, Shmi Skywalker," Father answered, continuing calmly; "She spent most of her life as a slave on Tatooine."
"A slave!" Leia gaped at him in shock.
"We both were," he said matter-of-factly, "until Qui-Gon Jinn won my freedom for me."
Leia was speechless with shock and horror. Her own father, her own grandmother, slaves? And under the Old Republic too! "How could the Senate allow slavery to exist?" she demanded, getting her voice back. "How could the Jedi? Why didn't somebody do something?"
He smiled faintly. "That's almost word for word what your mother said." He shrugged, "The Senate barely knew Tatooine existed. We belonged to the Hutts in those days."
"I killed Jabba," Leia said with satisfaction.
"I know." Father frowned, troubled. "Leia, I'm not saying you did wrong, far from it, Jabba himself gave you no choice. But you drew on your anger, your hatred for strength. That is the Dark Side.
Leia's stomach lurched in sickening fear. "You mean I..." she couldn't go on.
He moved closer and sat on the railing to put himself at her eye level. "It was a slip, understandable and forgivable but you must guard against it happening again."
The paralyzing terror ebbed a little. "But I'm all right? I'm not - not -"
"Stained? No not yet. It takes far more than one slip, but that's how it starts," the blue eyes, now so near her own, turned inward. "That's how it started for me. I thought I was strong enough to dabble in the Dark side for expediencies sake, without falling." His shoulder's slumped, "I was wrong. I wanted to free the slaves."
Leia started to reach out a timid hand to him then remembered. "But that wasn't wrong."
"No. But I needed power and I took it from the wrong source and used it in a spirit of hatred and vengeance. It was all downhill from there."
Leia shivered hugging herself. The awful thing was she understood, she could even see herself going the same way. If she'd known her own Force potential she'd have used it against the Empire in anger and hatred and fallen, just as her father had, betraying everyone and everything she loved.
He was trying to reassure her; "You haven't even started down that path yet, Leia. Learn the Jedi way. It will teach you to recognize and guard against the temptations of the Dark side."
"That's what Luke says." she admitted. "I guess there isn't much choice."
"Not for my daughter. I'm sorry."
He looked so sad. Leia tried a feeble joke. "I just wish I didn't look so awful in brown."
Her father rewarded her with a smile. "I don't believe that."
"You'll see." she retorted. She didn't flinch when he reached out to cup her cheek but she was surprised to feel a definite physical touch, light and cool.
"My beautiful little girl." Father said with love and regret. And then he was gone - but not completely. A presence lingered sad and loving in the corners of her mind. Again she remembered Luke's words 'He will always be with us.' And this time she smiled.
It could still be the four of them. Mama might not be able to materialize and talk to her children but she was there, she had always been there, and she wouldn't be sad anymore now that she had her husband back.
Leia tied the little wooden charm around her neck and turned to go back inside. She had a lot of work to do.