A Father's Promise

**

Luke was tired – more than tired. The last year had been fuller than almost all of his years fighting in the Rebellion (now known as the Republic Revolution) and perhaps even his training as a Jedi. Mentors and friends had been lost and found, Leia and Han were starting a family, and he himself had added the mantels of husband and father to his own shoulders, and yet even for a Jedi Master, Luke was finding the balance hard to achieve.

This evening, at last meal, his wife Aubé, who was nearing the end of her pregnancy, had been barely able to keep her eyes open. She was pale and drawn, and Luke knew her father's recent passing weighed heavily on her, as it did them all, but perhaps even more so on their daughter, Pemberian.

"Go to bed," Luke said to his wife gently. "Threepio will see to the dishes, and Pem can come and Meditate with me for a bit…"

At the mention of her name, Pem's blue eyes lit up. "I'd like that Pay-Pa," she murmured adoringly. At barely 8 years old, she had only known her father for a few short months, and any time they spent together was precious to her.

"That would be wonderful," Aubé replied, suppressing a yawn. "You'll wake me if I'm asleep when you come to bed, won't you? You know what a rancor I am in the mornings…"

Smiling as he took his daughter's hand. "I'll say goodnight and goodbye in the same breath," Luke assured her. "Come along, Little Pilot, it's time to learn how to be a Jedi…"

**

"Pem, you need to settle down, and relax," Luke sighed as the little girl squirmed in his embrace. "You wanted to learn how to meditate like a grown up, didn't you?"

"Yes Pay-pa," Pemberian whispered half heartedly, turning to look at her father.

My eyes, Luke thought, absently brushing away an errant dark curl from her cheek. In almost every other way, you look like your mother, but you have my eyes…

"What is it, Little Pilot?" Luke asked gently- at once understanding that perhaps tonight was not the night for Jedi teachings - at least the pragmatic ones. He sensed concern, and questions, and an almost imperceptible something that was bothering his daughter, but it was the man that he had become that knew that it was not a matter of Jedi Master to Apprentice, but simply of being father that mattered now.

"Will you be gone long?" she cried, unshed tears suddenly appearing in her eyes. "I don't want you to go away forever! Or even months which would be longer! I just got you! Ma-mere said Gray-pa used to have to go away a lot when she was little, and you were gone since before I was born! Now that Ma-mere is going to have another baby, are you going to be gone an extra long time again? If that's true I don't want another brother! Ma-mere can give him to Uncle Kay and Uncle Toa then! I know they want to have a baby, even though they can't make one together! That way you can stay this time!" She dissolved into tears. "Don't go away, Pay-Pa! Please, I promise I'll be good!"

"Oh, Pem…" Luke murmured soothingly, pulling her close. "My Little Pilot… I'll never leave you…"

He rocked her, holding her close to his chest, all the while searching for the right things to say.

How do I even begin to explain it to her, when I don't even understand why myself? he wondered. Your mother thought it was right, at the time, and perhaps I knew all along as well, after all, I never sought her out…

"Why?" Pem asked suddenly, pulling away. "Why didn't you come see us?"

Although he was a little pleased at his daughter's inherent perception, he admonished her gently. "Pem, what have we told you about peeking?"

"It's not polite," Pem sighed, lowering her eyes. "Like when you and Ma-mere make love…"

Luke flushed a little, he would knew he would never get used to the openness of his wife's family! At this rate, his daughter would grow up to be a gifted biologist…

"But why, Pay-pa?" she pressed. "Didn't you love us?"

"With every beat of my heart," Luke murmured gently, pulling her close. "Just sometimes… grown ups – especially special grown ups with lots of responsibilities – need time… to do things."

"Jedi have too much to do!" Pem grumbled sleepily into his chest. "Are you always going to be a Jedi, Pay-pa?"

"Yes…"

"Like Grey-Pa was? And Ma-mere? And Kay? And Toa…"

"And Auntie Leia," Luke finished for her. "Our whole family, Pem. You will be a Jedi too someday."

"I don't want to be a Jedi, Pay-pa! Not if it means going away! Uncle Chewie isn't a Jedi! I want to be like him!"

"But Uncle Chewie goes away too, doesn't he? In fact, he's going to be going with me to Malastar for the Peace treaty talks…"

"And he'll come back?"

"Yes…"

"And you will too?"

"Of course…"

"Before I become a Jedi?"

"Before your brother is born…" Luke began to rise, cradling Pem in his arms. "Long before…"

"Gram-Mere says he'll be born in a few weeks, so you'll be home before that?"

"Yes…"

"Promise?"

"I do…"

"A Jedi Promise?" Pem mumbled, close to falling completely asleep, even before they had reached her bedroom, but determined to extract a final answer.

"An even better promise, Pem," Luke replied softly. "A father's one…"