It's unbeta'd, so concrit is most welcome and if anyone wants to beta it, that'd be great too
Bail smiled as he heard the voice of his little daughter. Her nanny had insisted that she was already sleeping, but he hadn't been able to resist the temptation to kiss her goodnight. He hadn't seen her in weeks and these days every day brought new changes in her. He hadn't been able to wait.
Leia was sitting up in her little white-curtained bed, babbling away in baby-language. The soft light by her bed fell on her curly brown head and plump arms.
"Leia, see who is come home!"
Leia didn't turn her eyes away from the starlit window. Bail called her name again.
"Mami," Leia said, stretching out one dimpled starfish hand to the window. Bail frowned. Leia never called Breha 'Mami', preferring a mangled version of 'Mother', although 'Tati' for Bail had been one of her first words. She had talked very early. Surely she was too articulate now to be assigning random meaning to a word everyone impressed upon her as the label for Breha Organa?
He sat down on the end of the bed and held out his arms to her; she grinned, not at all strange after his absence, and came climbing over his shoulders.
The next time it happened, Bail asked her about it.
"Who are you talking to, Leia?"
Leia's downy eyebrows crumpled together as she gave him the frustrated look she used when her adults were too stupid to understand what she was saying.
"My Mami!" She didn't add, 'of course', but she looked it.
"Mami's not here, Leia," Bail said gently.
"Yes she is! Tan't you see?"
The hair on the back of Bail's neck stood on end as he watched Leia holding a conversation with empty space.
"Padmé?" he murmured, feeling extremely foolish. He looked hard at Leia. Like her mother, her force of belief was strong enough to affect everyone around her, Bail thought. At two years old she had him almost believing the frankly impossible. What would she do when she was twenty?
Bail shook his head. The departed were absorbed back into the fabric of the Force. The beloved dead did not return no matter how much one wanted them to.
Bail's old nanny had children and grandchildren of her own, now. She qualified as an oracle of childcare, for Bail.
"Many children have imaginary friends," she said, when Bail tentatively broached the subject. Phennekar, my second grandson, he realised he was on to a good thing when he used to tell us, 'Phenn didn't do it, it was the other little boy.'"
"Have you ever heard of a child with an imaginary mother? We adopted Leia, you know—"
"When even a very young child is removed from her parents, she may have feelings of abandonment. It's possible that she may be compensating for that."
Bail found this conversation reassuring; this explanation vastly more convincing than the alternative. There was no alternative explanation.
"Are you sure three-and-a-half isn't too young to learn to use a data terminal?" Breha asked in some amusement.
"Not for Leia," Bail retorted. "She can't delete or send information with these settings. All she can do is browse the database."
Leia sat quite still on Bail's lap, watching as he showed her pictures of Alderaan, laughing when she recognised a building or animal, crowing in triumph when she managed to navigate between items herself.
"Look, Leia. That's the Senate. Tati works there when he goes to Coruscant."
"Cors-cant," Leia repeated carefully. Bail regarded the image with mental jaundice; the Senate was toothless, firmly under the Emperor's thumb. It almost might as well not exist.
The comm unit in the corner gave a chime. Bail looked around, but Breha was long gone. He set Leia down on the seat, saying, "Please don't break anything."
"No," Leia said obediently, stabbing the data screen with her forefinger.
The call went on for quite a while. Leia, in the background, was so quiet that Bail forgot she was there until she gave a squeal of glee. After Bail had signed off, he looked at her over the top of the data terminal. Leia looked up at him, her face glowing.
"I found my Mami!"
Bail swung the screen round. Looking out at him was Amidala of the Naboo.
Bail sat down on the table, shaking his head to try to clear it. Senator Amidala opposes military levies, the headline read, beneath a date four years back. Padmé's dark eyes stared solemnly from beneath her elaborate headdress. Bail looked down into Leia's identical eyes. How did she know? How could she know?
He knelt on the floor, bringing himself to Leia's eye level.
"Leia, did someone tell you that lady was your mother?"
The child shook her head emphatically. "She is my mami."
"Breha is your mother, darling. I'm your father, amn't I?"
An image of Leia rushing into Darth Vader's arms with a cry of "Tati!" presented itself to Bail's horrified mind. But Leia nodded this time.
"You're my Tati. Moyyer's my moyyer, but Mami is my real moyyer."
True to form, Leia would not budge from this position. Bail took her little warm hands into his.
"Leia, listen to me. You mustn't talk to anyone about your other mother. No one at all. It's a secret. Do you understand me, Leia?"
She nodded, a little bewildered.
"Promise me that you won't tell anyone else the secret."
"I promise, Tati."
And that seemed to be that. Bail fruitlessly wondered how and why, and at last dismissed it to the region where questions like Why would anyone who had been a Jedi join the Emperor? and Why would a woman like Amidala marry the man who would be Vader? lived. General Kenobi might have known the answers, but for his safely and that of the twins Bail could never ask.
Leia was almost five when Bail took her to Coruscant for the first time. He was uneasy about her being on the same planet as Palpatine, but Vader had seen her as a baby when he came to Alderaan, hunting Jedi, and if her own father didn't know her the Emperor almost certainly wouldn't. Bail didn't intend to make the experiment, anyway.
Leia liked Coruscant. She squealed at all the new sights and talked non-stop. Bail showed her the Senate building.
"That place was once great," he told her, asleep, afterwards. "It ruled the galaxy through democracy, not through fear. It was not a collection of puppets and sycophants. Little daughter, may you live to see it take its true form again!"
All the politicians who came to se Bail loved Leia, and she was in danger of being thoroughly spoilt. Generally Bail left her with her nanny when he went out of his residence, but the nanny caught Coruscanti flu, and Bail took Leia with him when he met Mon Mothma of Chandrila at her home.
Leia loved the speeder ride, although she complained that Bail didn't drive fast enough. She showed what he considered to be a disturbing taste for speed. He left the speeder on a landing platform and entered the formal lobby, leading Leia by the hand.
Suddenly, Leia stopped dead, her hand sliding from Bail's. Her eyes were huge, panicked.
"Mami! Where's my Mami? Why isn't she here?"
Oh, no, Bail thought. Why here? Why now? And then he realised. Before the names were changed, before the reassignment of Senatorial quarters, this building had been 500 Republica.
"No," Bail said. "Please, Leia."
Leia ran from Bail to the turbolifts and back again.
"Mami! Where's my Mami? Why isn't she here? I want my Mami!"
Bail bent down and picked up his squirming, screaming child. He felt as though her wide dark eyes were looking through him.
"Leia. Leia, baby. Leia!"
Other people in the lobby were staring. Bail carried Leia, still struggling, out to his speeder.
"Leia, you have to stop this," he said. "It's dangerous. Not to mention uncanny. You're scaring me."
Leia sat up, red in the face, her bottom lip trembling. "Where is my Mami?"
"You're mother's dead, Leia," Bail said at last. "She's gone."
It took several repetitions to convince Leia, but at last she collapsed into a sobbing ball in the back corner of the speeder. Bail drove back home, feeling as though he had killed a fluffy nerfling. But if it stopped Leia from telling the world that her mother had been Padmé Amidala, it was worth it.
Afterwards, Leia never remembered the scene in the lobby of the erstwhile 500 Republica, and the rest of it she buried deep.
"Stupid little planet," Leia said viciously.
"What?" Bail murmured. He was working and therefore only hearing Leia with half an ear.
"Naboo. The Emperor came from there, didn't he? And it was their Queen who let him become Chancellor in the first place, and Gungan Representative Binks who gave him his first lot of 'emergency powers'. They were all in it together. If you could go back a hundred years and wipe Naboo out of the galaxy, we would still be the Republic."
"Leia! Never say anything like that again!" She had Bail's full attention now.
"Well, only the politicians, then." On Leia's datapad Amidala, her face painted, a headdress like two horns, her mouth turning down at the corners, repeated over and over, I move for a vote of no confidence in Chancellor Vallorum's leadership. Leia looked at the holo with an identical expression.
Bail reached over and switched off the sound. "It wasn't like that at all, Leia. Don't be so quick to judge. We were all fooled by Palpatine, all his pawns. She only had the misfortune to be his Queen. She was the same age you are now, Leia, and her planet had been invaded. The Rebuplic system was flawed, it was ineffective at making decisions in a hurry. She was manipulated into calling that vote of no confidence. Neither of us would have done any better."
Leia looked unconvinced. Bail struggled briefly between leaving her in safe ignorance and having her do justice to her birth mother.
"She was one of us, Leia. She tried with us to return the Republic to democracy. She was one of the most politically sensitive people I've ever known, and she was a good woman. She opposed the miliarisation, the war and the Chancellor's power all the way."
Leia looked at her pictured mother with a little more compassion. "What happened to her? I think...I've definitely seen her somewhere before."
Of course you have. Bail swallowed nervously.
"She is dead, Leia." He hesitated; he had never told Leia any lies, only withheld parts of the truth. "The Sith killed her. If she made mistakes, she more than paid for them, in the end."
"Oh," Leia said softly.
On the screen, the image of the doomed woman silently mouthed the words that had brought the beginning of the end.