Title: Before You Were Born
Author: Disco Shop Girl
Time Period: ROTS/Post-ROTS/Post-ROTJ
Genre: Time travel
Summary: A ROTS AU (I'm obsessed with them!)
In the years between ROTS and ANH Anakin Skywalker briefly resurfaces from the depths of Darth Vader. After his death Luke and Leia's attempts to understand the downfall of their family unwittingly drags them back in time.
Author's Notes: This is a fic I've been messing around with for awhile. Since I've mostly done Anakin and Padmé up until this point, I'm still struggling when writing Leia and Luke, so please forgive my mis-characterisations. I needed a break from Hidden for a little while. Thanks for reading!

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Chapter One - Barely months after the events of ROTS

Darth Vader laid ramrod straight on his sleeping platform. For the most part he enjoyed his life. Finally, finally people appreciated him, appreciated his power. He took on the tasks everyone had been afraid to before, and in return the Emperor gave him the respect he'd always craved, trusted him as the Jedi council never had.

The only thing he couldn't get used to was this. Trying to fall asleep on a rigid slab. Night in, night out, sleeping in the same place, same position. As a Jedi he'd rarely sleep the same place every night in a month. And he'd spent every night in Padmé's cushy bed towards the end…

He gasped in breath and his eyes slowly slid closed in agony. A single tear slipped out of the corner of his eye and down his cheek. He could feel the cool drop of water tingling his ear and tried to focus on the path it took. It didn't work. His heart still screamed out in pain.

Padmé. He wanted Padmé. So much. Before it had been almost bearable to be without her. At least then he'd known that they couldn't be apart forever. Now it couldn't be called living, knowing that they wouldn't be together again. Ever. Ultimately, he regretted nothing but that.

Tortured as he was most nights he hung between waking and sleep, overcome with remorse. He still didn't understand how, even in a fit of rage, he could – he could…Choking back his tears he forced himself to acknowledge it. He could hurt her. Not only that, he could kill her. No, she'd been alive, she'd not been that badly hurt, he'd felt it, he'd…

The longing to be back in her arms, even just once, eventually stripped him of his consciousness.

But as he left for the world of dreams another was in pain. One linked to him in a way he would never understand. Of course, if he'd taken the time to sit down, meditate, he would have understood right away. Another part of life he'd miss without the Jedi to regiment his time.

That moment where both were in agony linked them. His mind reached out, stretched far across the galaxy. His body needed rest, but the force was intent that he understand, so it started to manifest what he was feeling into a dream. Or so he thought.

Silently he stood back, blinking as a room appeared around him. He immediately identified all the elements and believed to be in no more than his subconscious. A baby's room. His closed his eyes briefly and tried to swallow down the choking sensation. Was this the room Padmé had planned?

There was another life force in here. Someone in pain. His heart was screaming to stay away, to protect itself. He didn't need to see a baby, it would only torture him further. Unfortunately Anakin and Darth Vader were one in the same, and his rage and anger and hate were driven by his need to protect all that was good, to love that which he'd destroyed himself.

The baby. There it was. A little girl.

He looked down at her in silence. His daughter. A precious baby daughter that Padmé had been protecting inside her. This was the little thing he'd felt moving.

Staring down at her he didn't register how his body manifested itself. Three flesh limbs, one mechanical. Just as he'd been when he last touched Padmé. When he'd last playfully touched Padmé over their baby.

All he saw was the perfect little thing, whimpering up at him. She was hurting, he could feel it. It leaked into the force and tugged at his compassion.

"What's wrong?" he murmured very softly.

Not noticing his voice was back to normal.

She looked up at him longingly, her cries becoming stronger.

Then it hit him.

"Oh," he whispered.

Running his hand over her cheek he tried to channel the force into the aching of her gums. She was teething.

"That hurts huh?" he consoled, leaning down without thinking and picking her up into his arms.

A single gasp escaped him, the baby quieting simultaneously. It felt amazing. Her weight was perfect. She was soft, not too heavy. Rested her head against his chest and reached out her hand to him.

It was almost automatic when he captured her tiny hand in his fingers in response. He sunk into a nearby chair without noticing what he was doing. Neither of them noticed the fingers she held were mechanical – it was the act of sharing, not the fabric beneath.

She nuzzled at his shoulder and whimpered quietly again.

"I know Leia, I know," he tried to assure.

He just knew she had the name they'd chosen for her. They'd thought it was so beautiful, and now he saw how it suited their beautiful little girl.

Carefully he stroked his fingertips over her lips. Clumsily he drew on the lightside of the force as he hadn't in more than a year. His precision was not what it once would have been, but it didn't occur to him to tug at the power of the dark for his purposes. The love inside him automatically reached out to the light for what he needed.

Trying his best he channelled what he could into the crying baby.

"Leia, Leia, it's ok. I'll make it better," he assured softly.

She curled further into him with his words, quieting a little as he tried to minimise the pain of her first tooth coming through. Her cries softened and she clutched his hand tightly.

Quietly he stroked over her tiny fingers, directing energy away from the nerves that were transmitting her pain.

As she settled he closed his eyes, releasing his connection to the force.

"Shhh," he rocked.

And she did. The little thing burrowed even further into him and quieted down. Anakin stopped breathing for a moment of sheer fulfilment. Leia loved him. She didn't know why, and she didn't understand him, but she knew he would protect her, and that he'd taken away the sharp pangs in her mouth.

He could feel it all spilling out into the force, clear as only thoughts from another Jedi were. A Jedi that wasn't shielding themselves. Like a baby that was born one.

The door behind him opened and Anakin was suddenly clasping at air.

"Shhh, Leia, you're alright," an older man he only saw the back of soothed.

Anakin sat up, distraught to find the baby had disappeared from his arms in the blink of an eye. Sadly he watched as the other man lifted her out of her elaborate cot.

He wanted to yell at the man to get out. That he wasn't her father. That he had no right to be in here. But Anakin was already fading from the room and suddenly his connection to Leia was severed.

Twitching in his sleep on the other side of the galaxy Darth Vader shook his dreams off angrily and surrounded himself in a cloak of darkness. Unconsciously, the instinct of a loving father lingered. That love, that overwhelming delight he'd felt when Padmé told him she was pregnant had, if only briefly, resurfaced. And once again it would do everything within its power to safeguard his family.

To protect his daughter from the anger of his waking hours, the memory of his encounter with her was wiped away. Even as a dream it no longer existed in his experience. And with it went the only expression of humanity and happiness he'd had in more than a year.

When he awoke he associated the feeling of warmth inside him with allowing himself to think of Padmé. And with that only came the tearing feeling of aching as he was forced to remember he would never be with her again.

Across the galaxy Bail Organa was pleasantly surprised to find that Leia had already calmed herself by the time he arrived to comfort her. In fact, she was quite chirpy…