A/N: For those who missed my note on chapter 8, I posted twice today, so make sure you have read both chapter 8 and this final chapter. Happy Holidays!
The first rays of morning light peaking through Luke and Leia's windows acted as an alarm to both children. It was as if their young bodies were instantly aware that it was Christmas morning. "It's Christmas!" Both children shouted excitedly in unison, to rouse the rest of the house. The two then bolted into the hall and shouted once more. "It's Christmas!"
"Let's go get Mommy!" Leia exclaimed with delight to her brother.
"Yes!" Luke said with equal jubilation as he raced his sister to their mother's bedroom, flinging the door open and running to the side of their mother's bed. Padmé was lying on her side with the japor pendant that Anakin had left for her still clutched in her hand.
"Mommy! Mommy! Wake up! It's Christmas!" Luke and Leia called out as they shook their mother awake.
"It's too early." Padmé mumbled sleepily although a faint smile was forming across her lips because she knew that would not deter her insistent children.
"It's morning, Mommy." Leia replied to her mother's response.
"Santa's come already and he left you something." Luke responded.
Sighing, Padmé woke up and pushed herself up into a sitting position against the pillows, she failed to realize that she had been holding onto the tiny japor pendant, and it fell from her fingertips to the floor as she roused from slumber. Extending her arms out wide she waited for a good morning hug from her children. "Merry Christmas my little ones."
Luke jumped into his mother's embrace, causing her dark blue nightgown to wrinkle more than it had in her sleep. "Merry Christmas, Mommy!"
"Leia, don't I get a hug from you?" Padmé asked her daughter who had ducked down to pick up Padmé's discarded necklace. "What are you doing down there?"
"You dropped your necklace." Leia stated as she climbed onto the bed, her tiny fist clutched tightly around the small pendant.
"What necklace?" Padmé's brow furrowed, she could not recall having a necklace on before going to bed.
"The one Santa brought you." Luke answered as Leia held out the necklace to her mother.
"It's very pretty." Leia added as Padmé stared dumbstruck at her daughter's hand.
Tears formed in Padmé's eyes and her hands shook as she picked up the necklace from her daughter. Padmé tried to be strong, but the emotions tied to the object in her daughter's hands were too strong to subdue. The tiny pendant in Leia's fingers was identical to the one Anakin had made her years ago. She had not seen anything like it since the Christmas day that Anakin had died. Before that fateful day, she had always worn the trinket he had made for her. However, she had lost it somewhere during the attack on her Coruscant apartment and like the love of her life, the tiny trinket had vanished forever. Seeing the copy of the pendant now tore at the wounds in Padmé's heart from losing her beloved husband.
Noting their mother's distress, both Luke and Leia were quick to respond. "Mommy, what's wrong?"
"Nothing my little ones." Padmé gathered her children into her arms and hugged them tightly, willing herself to take comfort in the fact that a part of Anakin lived on through them.
"Why are you crying?" The two twins asked with concern.
"Don't you like your necklace?" Leia added.
Padmé was silent for a moment and took a deep steadying breath before speaking. Although she was starting to win her battle against her tears, her voice was still a bit shaky when she spoke to her children. "I like it very much." Raising a hand to her face, Padmé brushed away her tears.
"Then why are you crying?" Luke asked his mother, cocking his head to one side as he searched his mother's face for an answer.
"It's nothing. I am all right. It is just your…" Padmé faltered for a moment as her voice cracked before she could continue. "Your father made me a necklace just like this one, a long time ago."
"Ah ha! Then Santa is keeping his promise." Luke stated excitedly, leaping from his mother's bed and grasping one of her hands so he could tug at it insistently. "Come on Mommy, we have to see what else Santa brought us. I think you will like it."
"Yes, Mommy! Come on!" Leia joined her brother.
Padmé laughed at her children's excitement over the holiday. "Well give me a second to find my robe and then you can see if you got the toys you asked for."
"We did not ask Santa for toys." Luke and Leia continued to tug at their mother's hands. "We asked him to bring Daddy back for Christmas."
Padmé gasped, and immediately turned her children towards her. Luke and Leia had given her a long list of toys that they had wanted for Christmas and when they had scribbled notes to Santa on their datapads, she had thought he would be receiving a similar list. Had she known what they had actually asked for she might have thought of some way to respond to the request, but without any warning she was caught completely off guard and she feared that disappointment would taint the holiday for her children.
Kneeling down to her children's level, Padmé spoke softly and slowly to make sure they understood her. "We have talked about this before. You know your father passed away a long time ago."
"Yes, but Santa promised to bring him back." Luke beamed widely at his mother while Leia nodded her head in acknowledgement.
"Guys, you cannot bring back the dead." Padmé's heart broke that she had to dash her children's dreams.
"But Santa is magical." Leia responded.
"Yes, I saw his lightsaber." Luke added.
"Santa does not carry a lightsaber." Padmé shook her head sadly as she gazed at her two children. "Only a Jedi carries that kind of weapon and even they cannot bring back the dead. I know you two miss not having a father, but we cannot bring him back." Padmé's hand tightened around the pendant of japor as her voice cracked once more.
A scowl of angry defiance that made her two children look like their father spread across their young faces. "Santa promised! Come on, we'll show you!" Not waiting for their mother anymore, Luke and Leia wrenched themselves from her grasp and sprinted towards the front of the cottage.
"Wait!" Padmé shouted back at them fearful of the disappointment that was about to ensue when they did not get what they wanted. Finding her favorite blue robe thrown over a chair next to her vanity, Padmé grabbed it and pulled it around herself as she ran after her children.
Just as she was expecting a look of shock and disappointment crossed her children's faces as they came face to face with a man in their sitting room. However, it wasn't their father, but their uncle Obi-Wan who stood ready to greet them.
"What are you doing here?" Luke and Leia asked with a hint of indignation as they stared up at their uncle.
Padmé cast Obi-Wan an apologetic look and mouthed silently that she would explain later. The wide smile across Obi-Wan's face caused Padmé's heart to ache because she knew when she told him that the twins had been searching for their father, that the smile would be gone. She might have lost her husband, but Obi-Wan had lost his best friend five years ago.
"Maybe Santa left us a clue!" Luke declared with confidence, diving for the pile of presents underneath their Christmas tree. "He brought back our tree like he said he would."
"He won't break his promise." Leia added moving to grab her own sets of presents.
A pained look came across Padmé's face as she took a seat on the large couch in the sitting room. "They are going to be disappointed."
"Oh, I would not be so sure of that." Obi-Wan replied to Padmé waving a hand so that the nearby holo turned to one of the morning news broadcasts before sitting on the opposite end of the couch from Padmé.
Padmé shook their head. "You do not know what they want."
"If the long list of toys they have been spouting off for the last few days is any sign, then I think I have an idea." Obi-Wan smiled widely. "By the way, Merry Christmas."
Padmé was about to confess to Obi-Wan, what the twins were searching for in their various boxes, but a sharp knock sounded to the front door of the cottage. Luke and Leia did not notice it as they discarded various toys into a pile as they searched for what they truly wanted, and Obi-Wan glanced at the door before turning back to the news reports. Distractedly, Padmé rose from her seat to find out who was at the door. Over the din of wrapping paper being ripped by her children, the sound of a reporter on the holo could be heard. "The big story this Christmas is that the Emperor has steeped down from his post, and restored full power to the Senate." As Padmé's fingers pressed the keypad that would unlock her front door, her head snapped back toward the holo and the news reporter who exclaimed, "The Republic is restored!"
"I don't believe it!" Padmé murmured.
"What don't you believe?" A voice Padmé had not heard in five years whispered in her ear, causing her to gasp in surprise.
Hearing their visitor's voice, both Luke and Leia leapt up from tearing through various presents and shouted "Santa!"
However, no response was given to the young children as the man they knew as Santa spun Padmé in his arms and pulled her in a passionate kiss. "Santa?" Luke and Leia's faces spread with a look of confusion at what their mother and Santa were doing.
"Why is Mommy kissing Santa Claus?" Luke asked, sticking his tongue out in disgust as he spoke.
Once again, the twins got no response from their mother or Santa as both seemed lost in each others' arms, but their Uncle Obi-Wan was able to provide them an answer. "Because that is not Santa."
"What?" Luke and Leia questioned their uncle in unison.
"That is my best friend, Anakin Skywalker." Obi-Wan smiled at the two young children whose jaws had dropped in shock. "Your father." Obi-Wan added to ensure the children knew who he was referring to.
Both twins blinked for a moment in shock, but they shook themselves out of their reverie and sprinted towards their mother and father. Finally becoming aware of his children's presence, Anakin scooped them up into his arms as he gazed at them.
"I promised you two I would make sure your father was back for Christmas and here I am. I am sorry I had to trick you two, but I wanted to surprise your mother."
The deception did not seem to bother the twins as the promptly threw their arms around Anakin's neck and gave their father a huge hug.
"And you my Angel, should always wear this." Anakin used the Force to levitate the pendant of Japor out of Padmé's fingers and secured it around her neck.
Padmé placed a hand over the pendant as tears of joy streamed down her face. "How?" She murmured, completely taken aback by her husband's presence.
A small cough sounded from where Obi-Wan rose to address the happy family. "I believe that will be a story for later tonight when I take the twins to spend the night with me." The elder Jedi winked at Anakin and Padmé before continuing. "In the meantime, I think I will leave you all to this family reunion.
"No. Stay." Anakin stated. "You are a part of this family too and you kept it together while some of us were parted. We have spent far too many Christmases apart; it is time to spend it as a family."
Although Anakin and Padmé did take Obi-Wan up on his offer to look after the twins that Christmas night so they could have some time alone, they did spend the entire day with the elder Jedi and their two children. From that point forward all Christmases were celebrated with Kenobi and the rest of the Skywalker family.
Additionally, Anakin had no trouble integrating back into his family as he had Obi-Wan's friendship, Padmé's enduring love, and the unconditional acceptance of Luke and Leia. No one on Naboo knew that a Sith Lord had almost stolen Christmas from them, and they would never learn of it. With the return of Anakin Skywalker, the Sith were destroyed and any lingering darkness left the galaxy. With love in their hearts, the extended Skywalker family and all people across the galaxy kept the joyous spirit of the holiday season alive to be enjoyed for the rest of time.