My Father's Eyes
When I was three years old, my first tutor asked me what color my father's eyes were.
It's a faint memory, distant and blurry, which I now know the Force has helped me to preserve. At the time, though, I knew nothing of the Force or its importance to my family, so I didn't know there was anything unusual about my gifted memory.
Her name was Sabé, and I think she knew my mother.
My real mother, that is, the one whose face I can barely see in my dreams, whose smile was kind and gentle, even as her eyes shimmered with tears of infinite sadness.
Sabé had been working with me on colors, and when she asked me what color my father's eyes were, I know she expected me to say brown. In truth, I remember being just as surprised by my answer as she was, because Bail Organa had unmistakably dark eyes to match his dark hair, but I didn't know where the word had come from.
I have no memory of my father, he had already fallen to darkness by the time I was born, but I have impressions that I can't explain, even now. I must have had them as a child, as well, and just never realized it.
My answer frightened Sabé, I knew that much even if I didn't understand why.
She never asked me what color my father's eyes were again.
As I grew older, my foster father often told me that I had my mother's eyes.
My mother's eyes, my mother's hair, my mother's height, my mother's hands, my mother's smile.
There was never talk of my father, though, although I am certain I must have asked after him at some time or another. I cannot recall when I first learned that I was not truly an Organa, some part of me always knew, I suppose, just as some part of me always knew that Luke and I were two halves of one whole.
I dreamed about them when I was a child.
All orphans do, I imagine, and I am an orphan, I always have been in some ways.
My mothers are both dead, my fathers were both stolen from me.
One particular dream stands out in my memory, if only because it is the secret wish of my heart, a wish that I was ashamed to have. I dreamed that my real father came back for me, that he carried me away to some world with great waterfalls and sweeping fields, a breathtaking place beyond words.
In a field, my mother sat on a blanket, and when she spotted us she waved, smiling.
I ran to her, my little skirts flaring about my slender ankles, and my father ran behind me, his rich laughter echoing through the air and carrying me along like an unseen wind.
But I never made it to the blanket, no matter how many times I had that dream.
In the end, my mother would simply fade before my very eyes, and my father's laughter died away, and I was left alone.
When I awoke, though, my foster father was always there to comfort me.
Bail Organa was a great man, and he was a good father. Not perfect, no matter what childish fantasies might be inclined to think of his memory, but a good father nonetheless.
Would Anakin have been as good of a father?
The first time such a thought entered my head, I felt ashamed, seeing it as a betrayal of the man who had raised me, and loved me despite the fact that I could never truly be his. We could pretend, and we could love each other just as much as if there had been blood between us, but in the eyes of the Force it was another who had claim to me.
I am not Leia Organa.
That is the name I was given as a shield from the Empire, but it is not real. It is a mask, meant to conceal my true identity, to hide me in a labyrinth of secrecy.
It is the only name I can ever remember being called, if I was ever called by another it was before the dawn of first memory. Organa was my strength, my fortress, it kept me safe and alive and whole through the early years of my life, instilled in me all that was good and just and fair.
But it is not who I truly am.
Organa was the name given to me, a gift and protection both.
My true name is the one to which I was born, the one that Force calls me to answer.
I am a Skywalker, much as I fought against it in the beginning.
I am the daughter of Anakin Skywalker, a Jedi Knight who was compassionate and brave, fearless and loyal. I am the granddaughter of Shmi Skywalker Lars, a slave who loved her son enough to let him go, who suffered her bonds with quiet dignity that I will never possess.
My mother is an enigma.
I don't know her name, or even her face beyond a murky shade of memory, but I know that she loved me.
And she loved my father.
Loved him enough to risk everything for a moment of happiness with him, as he did for her by betraying his vows to the Jedi Order.
I am the creation of that love, the same as Luke.
We are their legacy.
Just as Jacen, Jaina and the baby boy in my arms, born just mere hours ago and already an intriguing fixture in the lives of the twins, will be the legacy Han and I leave behind.
He has blue eyes, my second son.
When he first blinked up at me as the doctor placed him into my arms, my breath caught in my throat.
I knew those eyes, as well as I knew the scent of the twins' hair.
My father's eyes.
It was those eyes that did it, really.
Luke was surprised that I would decide to name my son for our father when for so long I'd done everything in my power to distance myself from the man who gave us life, who had brought the shadow upon the galaxy, but it felt right, it was really the only name I could give.
I've always known that my father lived on in Luke and I, that we carried him inside of us, but it wasn't until I saw my son's eyes that I realized he lived in my children, as well.
And now that I know to look for it, I can see it in the little mannerisms, in the way Jacen understands things no toddler could possibly understand or that eerie brightness that sometimes lights Jaina's eyes. My father was special, powerful in the Force, and my children have inherited that from him.
I can't explain it, but I feel him here, in my children, in Luke.
Anakin is a name veiled in shadows, in hurt and dread and longing.
I never knew Anakin Skywalker, as Luke was able to on our father's deathbed, after he turned on the Emperor and slew Palpatine in order to save Luke.
I only knew Vader.
I was not the child that he sought, he never even knew I existed until just before the end.
I was not the one he died for.
But I feel the ripples of that moment just the same, in the quiet stillness of meditation before a Senate meeting, in the innocent laughter of the twins, in my newborn son's eyes.
Still, it was Luke that he searched for, fought for, died for- not me.
It is a strange sort of selfishness that besieges me on occasion, and an unfair one at that.
After all, I had a father in my life, I had a parent to tuck me at night and kiss my scrapes and bruises, and Luke did not. He had Owen and Beru, who should have been a part of my family, as well, but he grew up aching for our parents, missing the warmth of our mother's embraces and our father's steady hands on his shoulders, and I know how heavily that ache weighed on him.
Discovering that our father was still alive when even Obi-Wan Kenobi, the man who had trained him and raised him as a son, proclaimed him dead, when all others had given up, wasn't just a triumph for the light side of the Force.
It was the triumph of a little boy who used to sit and stare at the stars, dreaming about how much his father would have loved him.
And that dream was real, it came true.
In that final moment, at the end, Luke knew a father's love.
How can I begrudge him that?
Because a little girl that I haven't thought of in a lifetime once sat in the transparisteel alcove of her bedroom window, staring out at those same stars, wondering why her real father hadn't wanted her.
I know now that it was never a matter of being wanted, that Obi-Wan hid us from our father, and from the Emperor, for fear of what we might become if we fell into the hands of the dark side, but at the age of seven, I couldn't understand why I hadn't been wanted.
Eventually, I'd convinced myself that my real father must be dead, and that was why he'd had to leave me.
Sometimes, even now, I wonder how things might have been different, if choices had been changed and lies exposed, if Palpatine had never driven his way into my father's life. Would Luke and I have grown up on Tatooine or Coruscant? Or maybe even our mother's homeworld, wherever that was? Would we have been trained to use the Force as children?
Would we have been happier?
I don't want to know the answer to that question, because it would mean never having Bail in my life.
No child could have asked for a better father, even if his duties kept him busy around the chrono. Bail was patient, loving, kind and compassionate, and he believed in me.
We didn't always see eye to eye, but he had faith in my abilities.
Did Vader think highly of me?
Before he renounced the darkness, before he learned the truth about my parentage, was he impressed with me despite himself? In some way, I think he might have been, that my stubborn will and fierce spirit reminded him of someone.
My mother, perhaps?
Or was it his former self?
Perhaps a little of both.
I can almost see them together sometimes, before everything began to unravel.
Her stomach swollen with the miracle their love had created, his hand pressed against the curve and an expression of wonder and awe on his face as the life within moved, reacting to his touch.
Did he laugh? Did he cry?
Was he scared of impending fatherhood? Nervous? Excited?
What was their plan? How were they going to deal with children, when their marriage was a secret?
Was he going to leave the Order and everything he'd ever known?
Did he want a son or a daughter?
Did he know there were two, one of each?
Did they have names picked out, or were we named by someone else? Obi-Wan Kenobi, perhaps, who filled the role of surrogate grandfather to a pair of orphaned Jedi infants?
He was happy, somehow I know he was.
Luke and I were a gift, a miracle, and he wanted us as dearly as a child wants their parents.
Did he weep, behind the mask and armored prison, when he learned that our mother was dead, and assumed that we, his precious children, had died with her?
I look down at my infant son, who coos softly, moving his little fists about as if they're the most fascinating thing in the galaxy and he's just discovered them all on his own, and I can't imagine ever leaving him or the twins. From the moment they were placed in my arms, they became the center of my life, my existence.
What did Palpatine promise him, to get my father to leave us?
Why weren't we enough?
Giggles filter in from the other room, but I don't bother to look up. The twins are up to mischief, as usual, but it's nothing to worry about, if it was I would know.
There are definite benefits of being a Force-sensitive parent.
And yet Bail managed to raise a Force-sensitive child without the aid of the Force himself, just as Owen and Beru did with Luke.
They were exceptional people.
When Luke asked me why I named my son Anakin, I know he was wondering why I chose that name instead of the name Bail, why I chose to honor one father over the other.
I try not to look at it that way, and hope that neither of my fathers would see it in that light, either, but the simple truth is that, for all our arguments and disagreements, Bail and I had an understanding, we were at peace when he died. I miss him, I always will, but I'm secure in the fact that I loved him and that I know he loved me.
I didn't have that with my father.
The one time that I ever saw him, the man who had fathered me and not the monster that he became, he came to me for just a flicker of a moment to ask for forgiveness.
I told him to get out, threw his evils back in his face and vowed to never forgive him for any of it.
If I had it all to do over again, I would take it back.
I've long since made peace with my father's memory, with who he was and who I am. I forgave him a long time ago, without even consciously realizing it, but I never had the chance to tell him that, to show him that I truly have let it go.
But giving my son the name Anakin was more than just a gesture of forgiveness.
It was a gesture of love.
By forgiving Darth Vader for his weaknesses and the evil he wrought, I've freed myself to love the man who he once was, even though I never knew him. Naming my son for him is a connection to my father that I can forge on my own, instead of through Luke.
I can watch my son grow and smile, knowing there's much of my father in him, like there is in his brother and sister.
Part of me is afraid, I won't deny that.
I've seen what the dark side can do, how it can overshadow even the brightest lights. I watched my brother get dragged under the surface and I had to fight to get him back.
Will I one day have to fight for one of my children, as well?
I wish I could say that I can't imagine any of my children ever following in their grandfather's footsteps, but in my mind's eye I am vividly aware of the dangerous possibility. I can see the twins and little Anakin full grown, somehow I know exactly what their faces will look like and what facial structures and features they will have in common, and I know that they will have trials to face.
Someday they, too, will have to stare down the dark side.
But my father's legacy is more than just the dread of the darkness, it's hope, as well.
He was too lost to be saved, forsaken, according to Obi-Wan Kenobi, who knew him best of all. The prison that held him entombed had physical manifestation in the armor necessary to keep him alive. There was nothing for him to live for, nothing for him to care about, no reason not to continue blindly serving the dark power that had sustained him.
And yet he turned against Palpatine, threw off his shackles and rose up to destroy the evil that the Emperor embodied.
He came back from the dark place, found the strength to pull himself out of that burning pit, and that is the legacy I want my children to remember.
It won't be easy for my little boy to grow up in his grandfather's shadow, I know that.
Some would say that it would have been kinder to make Bail his namesake, to give him a bright, untarnished life to live up to, an example of the kind of man he should strive to be.
But the name Anakin will be a source of strength, as well as a burden. My son will feel the connection, the history, and he'll take comfort in knowing that he doesn't have to be perfect. He might not understand my decision until he's older, perhaps until he's a grown man with children of his own, but he'll grow up to be a good man.
Like my father was, both at the beginning and end of his life.
In my arms, little Anakin makes a gurgling noise and I smile down at him as his face twists happily the moment his blue eyes focus on me.
I've known those eyes my whole life, even if I didn't always know it.
I will always be watching.
Those were my father's last words when he'd come to me on Bakura, after I'd told him to leave.
Hopefully now he knows that he'll always be welcome to.