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Happily Ever After

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"Once upon a time, there was a brave Knight and a beautiful Queen. The Knight loved the Queen very much, and after many adventures together, the Queen began to love the Knight back. They were married, and they were very happy together. The Knight stopped going on adventures so he could be with the Queen, and the Queen had two beautiful children.

"One day, the wise Chancellor asked the Knight if he would return to adventuring. The Knight replied, no, he was very happy with his wife and children. A few months later, the Chancellor asked again. And again the Knight said no, he was very happy with his wife and children.

"More time passed. The Chancellor visited the Knight and his Queen, and asked once more if the Knight would return to adventuring. Again, the Knight refused. And then the Chancellor revealed himself to be not the wise and kind Chancellor the Knight thought was his friend, but a dark and terrible Sith Lord. And he told the Knight that he must do as the Chancellor said, or he would harm the Knight's wife and children.

"The Knight was very angry. He drew his sword and attacked the Sith Lord. But the Sith Lord was clever and difficult to defeat. The Knight killed him, but not before the Sith Lord had injured the Queen. The Knight did everything he could to save the Queen's life, but she died.

"The Knight was very sad. He had lived for his beautiful Queen, and now she was dead. What did he have left to live for? He wanted to die.

"Then his children came to him. Father, they said, we love you and we need you. Help us. And the Knight realized that he had his children, even if he no longer had his Queen. And he loved his children, and helped them, and they loved him, and helped him. And they lived happily ever after."

"But Daddy," said Leia, dark eyes wide as she stared at Anakin. "It isn't happily ever after. If it was happily ever after, there wouldn't be soldiers walking around in the streets." She had her lips pulled into a pout, as serious as any adult.

"Yeah," Luke agreed. He was always quieter than Leia and prone to following her lead.

Anakin smiled sadly at Luke and Leia, nestled safe in their beds. The story of the Knight and the Queen was their favorite bed-time story, though it reminded him of the loss of his beloved Padmé. If it hadn't been for Luke and Leia, he would have killed himself. They were his life now.

"We're happy, and that's what matters. The war isn't our fight. Besides," Anakin said, wrapping Leia in her blankets, "nothing is ever going to hurt us ever again. I promise."

"But what if the Separatists come to Naboo?" Leia was every bit as stubborn as her mother, if not more so. The eerie similarity of their appearance made Anakin's heart ache. "They're in the Mid Rim, Daddy! I saw it on the HoloNet! General Kenobi was talking about it!"

"General Kenobi will stop them," Anakin said, harsher than he intended. "There's nothing to fear."

"Why don't you help them, Daddy?" asked Luke, his voice quiet, but there was something in it that drew both Anakin's and Leia's attention. He was sitting up in his bed, scratching at his belly. "You killed the Chancellor when he killed Mommy." There was no particular sadness in his voice – he couldn't remember Padmé very well, unlike Leia, who had an uncanny memory.

"Palpatine was trying to hurt us," Anakin explained. "The Separatists haven't done anything to us. Besides, I'm not a Jedi any more."

Luke lay back down, nodding at Anakin, his blue eyes sparkling in the rotating nursery light. Padmé had always said Luke looked like Anakin, but he didn't see it. Luke was too beautiful to look like him.

"General Kenobi's better, anyway," said Leia. She frowned at Anakin. "He's a real hero. He'll save the galaxy."

With that, she rolled over on her small bed, pulling her pink blankets around herself. Anakin spent a moment trying to breathe, trying not to let his daughter's words sting. Let Obi-Wan save the galaxy. It wasn't Anakin's problem.

Anakin leaned down and placed a kiss on Leia's cheek. He spent considerably more time tucking Luke in before leaving the room.

When he glanced back, Anakin saw Leia staring at him reproachfully. It was the same way Obi-Wan had looked when he'd seen Anakin and Padmé holding hands on the way home from Geonosis. It hurt to think about that, so Anakin let the door slide shut behind him, desperately wishing Padmé was there to tell him everything would be all right.

Anakin headed down the hall to his quiet bedroom, hoping the sleeping pill would let him sleep that night. After he settled in bed, he let the holoviewer play the holos he'd made of Padmé and the twins before she'd died.

 

 

 

 

 

The nursery was a large, brightly painted room. Interesting shapes and legendary Naboo animals were everywhere. Two walls had huge windows, with beautiful white lace curtains that Luke hated, but Leia thought were quite beautiful. Though her mother had died when she was only two, Leia thought the nursery reminded her of Padmé Skywalker -- beautiful, but sad.

The beauty in the room was obvious, but the sadness was in every curve of the colorful shapes on the walls, in the sag of the stuffed toys lining the wooden shelves. The sadness was in the flutter of curtains in the warm, summer breeze, and the glimpse of cloudless blue skies through the open windows. It was in Luke, playing with his models of spaceships that he'd built himself. It was in Leia, when she played with her dolls, pretending one of them was her mother. Most of all, it was in Daddy, who walked around looking as if someone had turned off his feelings, like some sort of machine.

The holoplayer was set only to the children's channels, but Luke had broken the restrictions, and it played the news. Leia liked to hear about what was happening out in the galaxy. She knew the sadness was out there, too, where all the planets were being overrun by Separatists. Reports of the devious General Grievous and the wicked Count Dooku rolled in every day, showing smoking cities and charred bodies left behind by their battle droid armies. She'd be utterly terrified if it weren't for the reports of the Jedi Order's heroics, particularly General Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Leia liked his face, straight and clean, even though he had a beard. She liked his blue-gray-green eyes, so clear and intense. She liked his voice; it sounded like a singer's voice. She liked the way he spoke, the way he didn't give up, not even when the Republic lost another planet. She even liked his hair, that when he stood in different lights, it took on a different color. Daddy said she was too young to understand about war, but he was wrong. She understood war all too well. She could feel it.

General Kenobi was not on today. Instead, they were talking about the planet Hydaria's withdrawal from the Republic, another Mid Rim planet willingly joining the Confederacy of Separatists. Leia sighed, glancing away from the holoscreen.

Luke was playing with his model ships, acting out one of the space battles between the Separatists and the Republic. A Jedi fighter was closing on a droid ship, complete with narration and sound effects.

"I'm gonna get you, you nasty 'droid! Fwoosh!"

Leia went to sit beside Luke. She picked up one of their tutorial datapads, full of children's stories. Luke had grown bored with it weeks ago, and broke through all those restrictions, too. He'd accessed all sorts of files on the HoloNet, even Daddy's private files. She idly flipped through the screens, finding Daddy's numerous collections of pictures of Mommy boring -- she'd seen all these before.

"Aren't you tired of pretending you're a Jedi yet, Luke?" she asked when Luke started tossing his droid ships around as the Jedi starfighter barreled through them.

"Not pretending," Luke said. "I'm gonna be the best Jedi ever when I grow up." His starfighter began to attack the Separatist flagship.

"But we can't be Jedi." Leia said we, because a future without her brother was unthinkable. Daddy had once tried to give them each their own bedrooms, but both had cried until he'd expanded the nursery for them. Luke was her twin. They'd always be together. "Daddy won't let us, and we're already too old."

Luke frowned. "Can too! We're not too old. We're only little kids. Jedi are grown-ups."

"Jedi only take younglings under the age of three, stupid. See, look." Leia quickly scrolled through Daddy's files. He had lots of Jedi files, since he'd been one. She found one talking about the Code, about the rules of becoming a Jedi, and thrust it under Luke's nose. Their tutor droid had made sure they'd been able to read last year. "Look, see? Right there! You have to be under three. And we're six." She read further, where it spoke of an exception, and paused. "Unless you're the Chosen One. He was nine. What's a Chosen One?"

"I dunno," Luke said, looking miffed. "But maybe they'll let us in if we ask real nice. It works on Grandma."

Leia started to do a search on Daddy's files, curious about this 'Chosen One'. He sounded special. "I don't think Jedi are like Grandma. Haven't you seen General Windu? I'll bet he eats the bad younglings. For breakfast."

Luke shuddered. "He's scary. But General Ti is nice. And Master Yoda is tiny like us. I bet he doesn't eat younglings for breakfast."

"General Kenobi is the best Jedi. I'd bet he'd like us. We could move in with him, and he'd teach us how to use lightsabers! He'd be more fun than Daddy."

"Daddy's lots of fun!" Luke protested. "He promised to teach me how to fly the speeder for our birthday. You probably want something girly, like a dress."

The search completed, finding an ancient file in Daddy's storage folders. It seemed like some sort of report or journal entry by someone named Qui-Gon Jinn, a Jedi Master.

"I have lots of dresses," said Leia vaguely, staring at the journal entry in fascination. "Asides, I'm gonna be a Senator like Mommy."

Leia didn't understand all of what Qui-Gon Jinn said, but was able to make out most of it.

The prophecy of the Chosen One is as ancient as any, perhaps more so. It was written in an elder tongue, forgotten to all but a few Jedi Masters like myself. To describe it in Basic does it an injustice. Basic cannot convey the unparalleled beauty of this tongue, but the story must be told.

It tells of a time when darkness will threaten the galaxy. A Vergence in the Force would appear, centered around a human being. This Vergence would only be distinguishable from the rest of humanity by his strength in the Force. He would be the Chosen One, who would save the galaxy and bring balance to the Force. The prophecy does not explain what this means, but since it was written shortly after the first war between Sith and Jedi, it can be inferred that it means the Chosen One would destroy the Sith, once and for all.

What is disturbing about this prophecy isn't the vagueness of description or the open-ended interpretation. The disturbing part is that it says this Chosen One will be tested, and he will fail. It does not say how or why, but his failure will cost many innocent lives. What hope lies in this prophecy is in the end. It says the Chosen One will again be given a choice, and that he will make a decision. And that decision, whatever it may be, is the galaxy's only hope of redemption from the darkness he plunged it into...

After that, the report became sketchy, as if written in code or perhaps a language Leia didn't understand. She slapped the side of rectangular datapad, trying to make it work, but the rest of the entry remain corrupted, only snatches of information.

I believe I've found a Vergence in the Force....

... at nine years of age, he is both too old and too young...

... has no father. His mother gave permission...

... but the Council will not listen. They are refusing to train him....

... even my own apprentice doubts my faith in this matter, but faith has never been his strength....

... to be returned to his mother, a slave on Tatooine....

... He is the Chosen One. Why can't they believe that?

"Leia?" Luke asked. "What's wrong?"

Leia looked up at him, her mind whirling with possibilities. "Oh, Luke. They turned him away. They turned the Chosen One away." She grabbed him by the shoulders, filled with energy and excitement, her stomach doing flip-flops. "We could find him, Luke. We could find him and take him off Tatooine and bring him to General Kenobi, so he can save the galaxy!"

"How would we get to Tatooine? And why would General Kenobi listen to us?"

"We could take a ship! At the starport in Theed. We could take Daddy's speeder, and then get one of the ships. I know where Daddy keeps all his credits, and you can fly. You're a great pilot!" Leia was not above using flattery to convince her twin to do what she wanted. "And... and... General Kenobi will listen when we bring him the Chosen One! He's a smart Jedi. He's the Negotiator. He could show the Chosen One what to do, and then he'd save the galaxy, and we'll have fixed everything!"

"I dunno," Luke said, sounding nervous. "Won't Daddy be mad if we leave without saying goodbye?"

"We'll leave him a note. We'll come back, and he'll be so happy and proud. And he won't even have to leave, so he can stay here and stare at Mommy's holopictures like he always does."

"He does other things!" Luke said. "He plays with us. But I guess if we left, he could have more time to build us toys."

"Right. And we won't go alone. We'll bring Artoo and Threepio with us! But you'll need to alter their control settings so they let us leave again. Like when we went to the lake to go swimming. Daddy didn't get mad at us then, remember? He even gave us extra dessert for dinner and hugged us for a long time. Think about how many extra chocolate snapcakes you could get when we come back home, Luke!"

"Okay," Luke said. "You go get Artoo and Threepio, and I'll write Daddy a note so he won't be scared." Luke went to get his coloring rods and some flimsiplast.

"All right!" beamed Leia. She knew she was doing something good for others, as Daddy had always taught her she should. She skipped off to go pack the important things, like clothes, candy, and some of her dolls, for her first adventure.

The sadness didn't seem so sad anymore.

 

To be continued...