Ghosts of the Force
Disclaimer: LucasFilm Ltd owns it all. No infringement intended.
Summary: Sometimes, forgiveness is the only way to truly understand. Sometimes, the truth is the only thing that matters.
Spoilers: ROTS, 2004 DVD release version of Return of the Jedi
A/N: This is dedicated to two of my fave SW gals.
Toni, my beta, for putting up with my random influxes of stories and accidental viruses
KD Skywalker, for listening to me each and every day and adopting my bunnies.
It was late. Leia peered at the chrono that was stationed on the medcentre's bedside table. She should be asleep. Her day had been…rough. Actually, rough was an understatement. Today Leia Organa Solo had given birth to twins. Han had finally gone home for the night, albeit reluctantly. The twins were asleep in matching cribs at the side of her bed. The crib's datapads proudly bore their names. Jaina and Jacen Solo.
Leia could already tell that her precious children were Force-sensitive. With what little she knew of the Force, she felt their signatures pulsating. If she let go, her own would mingle in with those of her children. It was truly an experience. Leia chuckled. They weren't even a day old and already their abilities of the Force were stronger than her own.
Luke would have been proud. Her mind wandered to the subject of her brother. A long time ago, both of them had shared the same womb, like Jaina and Jacen. And perhaps they had once lain sleeping side by side in a medcentre. As if on cue, she heard a soft knock on the door.
It was Luke. "I hope I'm not disturbing you," he apologised and quietly entered the room. Leia shook her head.
"No, it's fine. Just try to keep it quiet, they've just gotten down."
Luke nodded in acceptance and sat in the chair next to her bed. He smiled and peered into the cribs and looked specifically at the datapads. "You had them do a midichlorian test," he stated, his facial expression not revealing his thoughts.
Leia nodded. "Yeah, I did."
Luke sighed in appreciation. "I'm impressed, Leia. 9,000 each." He smiled and looked at his sister. Her face showed signs of her exhaustion but she was glowing. He was happy for her. He moved the chair back to be beside her. He held her hand and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek. "You did well, Leia. Real good."
"Thank you, Luke. I just hope twins don't run that strongly in the family. I'd hate to put Jaina though it," she joked. He squeezed her hand in support. "You'll make great parents. And I'll make a great uncle. Have you held them yet?"
Leia couldn't help the few tears that trickled down her face. "I held them just after they were born. They were covered in blood and screaming their lungs out but I didn't care. They were so beautiful, Luke. And I couldn't help but think of us being placed in our mother's arms like that. What she must have felt," she whispered, using the medcentre gown's sleeves to wipe her tears away.
"Your mother never got to hold you like that," a soft, masculine voice spoke from the doorway. Spinning around, Luke and Leia's faces became shocked. There stood, in the ghostly blue, Anakin Skywalker. He chuckled at his obvious effect on his children. He ventured further into the room. Neither Luke nor Leia said a word for a few moments, their minds still trying to register the sight before them.
"F-f-father," Luke finally managed to say, after the initial shock had worn off. He had seen his father's spirit before and even spoken to him on occasion, yet he had always appeared when he had been alone.
Her stern facial expression confirmed that suspicion. Luke could feel her turmoil through the Force. She had only come to acknowledge that Bail had not been her biological father recently. It didn't mean she had forgiven Anakin. It didn't mean she had accepted that Darth Vader was her father.
Anakin smiled sadly. "Hello Luke. Hello Leia."
Leia turned her head angrily, trying to push back the immense volume of tears that threatened to spill. Anakin didn't push her. He walked over to the matching cribs and smiled as he was greeted by two soothed Force-sensitive children. "They are truly beautiful, my daughter. Congratulations."
Luke cleared his throat and made his way to his father. He stood beside him, not wanting to completely block Leia's view of their father. Of Anakin Skywalker, he reminded her through the Force. Leia ignored him; she was enchanted by the vision in front of her. It was of a handsome, young man. Not the vision of an old, scarred monster she had pictured Vader to be.
"Why are you here?" she asked him, her voice tinged with a combination of anger, sadness and amazement.
Anakin's eyes travelled to meet his daughter's. "I am here to set things right with both of you. I have been watching you since the day Luke saved me. Tonight was the perfect opportunity for me to finally say what I needed to say."
Luke understood. He had conversed with Anakin many times, but never in this capacity. He had been so sure that one day his father would visit and finally soothe his needs to know about his family. About what had happened.
"Why now?" Leia pursued, bitterly. She was tired. No, she was exhausted and in no mood to be facing her demons at this point. This was supposed to be a happy day. She felt her blood turn ice-cold. She wasn't ready for this.
"You are ready," Anakin simply replied, looking into her eyes as if he knew what coursed through her mind. Luke sat on the chair next to his sister again and held her hand for support. He had a feeling she would need him. No, that they would need each other, much like Jaina and Jacen.
Anakin turned around and wandered to the other side of the med ward. He finally rested against the cupboard and looked directly at his children. "Your mother wanted to be here but" he paused.
Both Luke and Leia's eyes lit up. This was the first time either had a mention of their mother. Before now, they didn't even have a name.
"She couldn't use the Force. She is sorry. She wanted me to come. Said I could finally…make peace with my demons. And make peace with hers too," he said, his voice seizing up. Luke could feel the emotions swirling inside his father. Usually, it was difficult, considering Anakin was just a Jedi spirit. But tonight, something was different. It was as if he was completely here, nearly in body.
Anakin's face twisted slightly at the mention of their mother. Leia noticed this and curiously wondered why. Anakin sighed. It was time.
"I need you to listen to me. Both of you. I know some things I will say you will not want to hear. Especially you, Leia."
She stiffened under his solemn gaze.
"But you need to, nevertheless. I have come to face my demons. I have come to face the truth I left behind so long ago. It all starts with a name. Her name." With his limited corporeal Force-ability, Anakin could immediately feel the turmoil arise in both his children.
"Her name was Padmé Amidala Naberrie…Skywalker. She was the Queen of Naboo and later the Senator of Naboo in the Old Republic."
A shadow of recognition passed through the eyes of Leia. A light suddenly clicked in her head. "Naboo. That was the planet Emperor Palpatine originated from." Her voice was steady and harsh.
Anakin winced. "Yes, you're right. Your mother unwittingly helped put him into power. That is one of her demons. She died with that heavy burden on her. Don't be angry with her, Leia. She was manipulated from the very beginning. It was no fault of her own," he begged his daughter, the very act shocking her.
Luke turned to face his sister, whose tears had ceased. Her tear-stained face was set in that of the politician stare. It was hard; stern. Unfeeling. But he could feel that underneath it all, she was hurting and that she was scared. He didn't blame her.
"Padmé was my angel. You have to understand that she was my wife. I loved her very much- from the first moment I laid eyes on her to when I died on the second Death Star. She was the only woman I ever loved and I remained loyal to her, even after she died. She was my everything."
Now it was Luke's turn to be shocked. He had never assumed anything about the relationship between his mother and his father. He had never expected this.
"We married in secret." Anakin continued, seemingly revelling in his own ghostly memories. "After the start of the Clone Wars. We hid it from the Council. That was the first of many rules I broke," he chuckled.
Luke and Leia were shocked. When Anakin had appeared, neither of them had thought this was the way he would go about exorcising his Force-demons. Maybe begging for forgiveness. But nothing like this outpouring of their parents' history. Maybe that was why they were both completely enchanted.
"We were separated for months on end. But no matter what, we knew we loved each other. When I finally returned at the end of the war, she told me the greatest news. That she was pregnant."
He smiled sadly and wiped a tear away from his eye, an action that greatly shocked Leia.
"We didn't know it was twins. Padmé carried that secret to her grave, along with Obi-Wan and Yoda. After that, things started to go downhill. I began having dreams of Padmé and the baby dying. I had no control over them. I had lost my mother the same way; she died in my arms." His voice began to break slightly, as mention of his mother, of their grandmother, passed his lips. Tears flowed freely down his face now, illuminated by the bluish glow his spirit emitted.
"What nobody understood was that I had a choice. To me, it was simple. It was either save Padmé and our child…children. Or not. I made my choice. He promised me many things."
Luke knew he was talking about the Emperor. His Master.
"But above all the power he gave me, the only thing I wanted was for him to save you from my nightmares. I made the wrong choice. But all of it was to save you."
Anakin began to move from his place and once again found himself staring into the sleeping faces of Jaina and Jacen. Surprisingly, Leia didn't flinch. Instead, an odd sense of serenity flowed through her. She was actually touched by the scene in front of her. Luke had a soft smile on his face.
"He told me I killed her. From that moment on, everything I knew went into darkness for good. I had lost everything I had turned to him for. I was desperate. I had destroyed everything and Palpatine offered me a way through the darkness. A way to destroy the Jedi. A way to give myself power…and peace in the Dark Side."
He began to stroke Jaina's face. Leia swore she felt his cool, ghostly fingers stroke her face simultaneously.
"Your mother died for you. They took you both out of her prematurely to make sure you wouldn't die with her. Luke, you were born first, and then Leia was born two minutes later. Padmé didn't even get a chance to hold you, to watch you sleep, like Jaina and Jacen here."
Anakin was openly sobbing now. It was a sight that unnerved both the twins yet calmed them at the same time. Anakin Skywalker was here and he was sharing their past with them. It was surreal.
"She slipped away, knowing that she wouldn't get to see you grow. Knowing that you would be safer not knowing her name, not knowing of your heritage. Her body was sent back to Naboo, seemingly still pregnant. Your mother's family never even knew she was pregnant."
Finally, it was too much for Luke to handle. He stood up and went and laid a hand on his father's shoulder. It was his robotic hand.
"She watched over you both, you know. All this time…she did watch you grow. She stood beside you Leia, as I destroyed Alderaan. She stood beside you Luke, as you took my helmet off on the Death Star. She is proud of you both. She wanted me to tell you that."
Then, he did something completely unexpected. Using the Force, he lifted Jaina and Jacen out of their cribs and into his arms. Luke quickly shot Leia a look, expecting her to erupt at any moment. Instead, she looked on in amazement.
The spirit of the man who had been her biological father now held her newborn children in his arms, openly allowing the tears of sadness to roll down his unmarred face. Leia was struck with a realisation. Her father was holding her children. The man she had hated and detested stood here, telling her the tragedy that had forced him to turn to the Dark Side.
She didn't hate him. The realisation brought a new sense of courage to her. Using the bed as support, she lifted herself out of the bed. This was the man her mother had fallen in love with. He wasn't Darth Vader. He was a husband, a father. He had been scared. He had been torn apart by his love for his wife and his children. It was the return of Luke's love that had finally saved him in the end.
Maybe it would be her forgiveness to drive his demons away.
"I wish I could have held you both when you were born," he whispered, looking straight into Leia's eyes, and handed her Jacen. He shifted and handed Jaina over to Luke, who accepted her graciously.
Leia stared at him in amazement. He was here, openly confessing to her his terrible sins. Yet, she didn't fear him. She was amazed by him. Anakin Skywalker hadn't been a terrible man to become Darth Vader. He had been a broken man. He had been a husband and a parent. She couldn't imagine what difficulty he had faced, making the decision to save his wife's life. To save their lives.
Without another thought, Leia nestled herself into the crook of his arm. Without another word, Anakin slung his arm over her shoulder and opened the other for Luke to join them. "The Force has blessed you with this family. Cherish them, love them. Give them the life I wanted for you. Watch over them, as your mother watches you. You will both live fuller lives with these miracles."
And so, the blue ghostly figure began to fade away, leaving Luke and Leia staring down at the Solo twins.
A final "I love you both," touched the room before silence filled the air for a moment. Then, as if touched by the Force, Jaina and Jacen both began to cry.
"He was just a broken man, Luke," Leia said to her brother, her tired tears falling yet again.
He helped her put the children down and he enveloped her in an embrace. "Thank you, Leia. Together, we saved him. And now, his soul is at rest."
A year and a half later, Leia found herself in the familiar surroundings. Oddly enough, she was in the exact same ward she had been in through her first pregnancy. A little boy wrapped in a soft, white cloth currently was held in the crook of her arm.
"Hey," a voice called from the doorway. Han walked in with Luke, each holding a sleeping twin. Leia smiled at them both tiredly. Her labour hadn't been easy and she was exhausted.
They looked down into the sleeping bundle in her arms. He was only three hours old. "It's a boy," she told Luke, who nodded.
Han kissed her gently on the forehead and kissed their sleeping son.
"Have you chosen a name yet?" Luke asked.
For a moment, Leia remained silent then smiled, looking into Han's eyes. He nodded, giving his approval.
Kissing her son's forehead, she sighed.
"Anakin. His name is Anakin,"