Disclaimer: I don't own Star Wars. I'm just a sucker for redemption stories. :)

Our Lady of the Fallen

She sits on the edge of blackness and watches her son.

She watches him grow, and change, and love, and die, but not completely. She thinks with regret that he does not know how to die, that she never had enough time to teach him.

For a time, she is alone, and then the world staggers and flails in darkness and bitter flame, and now her daughter-in-law sits beside her, weeping softly. The unity of a shared pain binds them together, and in spite of everything, the weight of what is seems lighter.

They sit alone together, comforting one another, and she tells her son's wife stories of his childhood, and Padmé tells her of their time together, all the more hallowed for its brevity. Sometimes, Qui-Gon comes and sits with them, but his eyes are sad and far away, and he comes less and less as the years pass.

Obi-Wan never comes at all.

The Masters come, only once, to tell her that she must let go of the past, that her son is lost to her forever, and she must move on. She tells them that they do not understand what love is. And she waits. They do not come again.

She watches her grandchildren as they grow, and she smiles, a little sadly, at the bittersweet joy that lights Padmé's face. She watches the movements of the galaxy: the wars, and the alliances, and the deaths, and always her son is there, dark and glorious, reveling in the ruin. And she watches him at night, when he removes his mask and tries to sleep, and she sees a frightened little boy with blue eyes asking her why the world has to hurt so much.

Tavith sits with them sometimes, watching her own son. But she has long ago lost hope. Her son is lost to her as surely as though he had been swallowed by a black hole, and she knows that she will never see him again. But though the sight of him breaks her, leaves her raw and bleeding, she cannot bear to leave him for long, for she knows that when he dies, she will no longer be able to see even the shell of him.

She turns to Shmi and says, quietly, "You must not give up hope. Your son, at least, still has a chance." And then she is gone.

They watch Luke as he sits alone in the hold of an Imperial shuttle, searching the blackness for a spark of the man who was his father. They watch as everything falls apart, and Luke offers his life for his father, because it is all he can give. They watch as Anakin at last learns how to die.

And when the change comes, the vast pulsing change that runs deeper far than any of the Masters had ever expected and sets the galaxy afire with light and splendor, the two women who sit alone at the edge of blackness are the only ones not surprised.

She is filled with a warm, buoyant joy that she has felt only once before in her existence, on the day he was born. She thinks that perhaps, in the mystery of time, that day is today. Her son is coming home.

She takes Padmé's hand, and for the first time since their arrivals they leave the place on the edge of the darkness, and return to the meadow. He will be here soon, but first, there is another they must see.

She has always known that sorrow must precede joy.

They find Tavith beside the pool, where in a few moments he must come. She is not crying; Shmi thinks that she ran out of tears a long time ago.

"I'm sorry," says Padmé gently, and there is perfect sincerity in her voice. "I'm sorry about your son."

"Thank you," says Tavith, just as quietly, and then, strangely, she smiles. "But I will not say I am sorry about your husband." And then she turns to Shmi. "I am glad," she says, "that you did not lose your son. And I do not blame him for what he had to do."

"Thank you," Shmi whispers, and the three women hold one another and weep, tears of sorrow mingled with those of joy.

"I am sorry I gave up on you, old friend," she hears Obi-Wan say. "Your mother and Padmé refused to do so, and we called them mad." She thinks she hears laughter on his voice as he adds, "We still have much to learn, it seems."

"I don't blame you for not waiting," her son says, and she almost misses his words for the joy of hearing his voice. She does not know how long he has been here—a day? an eternity? time has no meaning here—but she does not think she will ever tire of hearing his voice. "You knew it was impossible for anyone to turn from the darkness, and so did I."

"But you did come back," Obi-Wan says, and she has to laugh at the confusion in his voice. It is not befitting a Jedi Master to sound so confused.

"Yes," Padmé answers for him, leaning back against her husband, her eyes twinkling, "but that was only because no one bothered to tell Luke it was impossible."

Anakin throws his head back and laughs, and his joy is contagious: soon they are all laughing, voices ringing out bright and sweet over the mountain, filling the whole world until the Force itself is laughing. And the sound of it reaches across the veil of time and space, and Luke hears, and turns to his sister, and their laughter is joined with that of the universe.

Note: For anyone who may be wondering, Tavith is Palpatine's mother.