She met him on Coruscant. She was only six, and she knew she had to stay very close to her father when she was out in the city. When they were in his apartment, though, he was often busy and she was safe there.
Seeing the man in long robes, all blue energy like a holo comm, was a surprise, but she did not cry out. Something about him was so sad, and she peered at him curiously.
"I am Leia," she said, when he did not immediately notice her.
The words made the man actually focus on her, and then he did smile, though he seemed no less sad.
"I am Qui-Gon, and the Force drew me to you, it seems, young one."
"Because you are strong in the Force, and there are no teachers but those of us that are part of the Force already. At least, that can come to you, young one."
Leia sat down on the floor, and the man she could mostly see through mimicked her. "I have lots of teachers, but none of them talk about the Force."
"Then, Leia, can you keep this a secret? I wouldn't want you to get hurt because you talk about things they don't like."
"Can I tell Sabé?" she asked, thinking the idea of keeping a secret from her governess was bad. The man jerked, as if she had thrown something at him.
"Yes, young one. Tell Sabé that I want to teach you. Tell her Master Jinn has come to help." He faded then, and her father walked in.
"Leia, I thought I heard you."
She jumped up and ran to her father, but she did not mention the man, asking him about his business instead. Sabé would tell her more.
Sabé stared at her. "You cannot have spoken to him. Master Jinn died many years ago, on a distant planet," she said softly, tucking Leia in more firmly in the bed.
"He was blue, and I could see through him, like he was on the holo."
Her governess sighed softly. "Leia… I do not know how it would be possible. I was at the man's funeral."
"Is he a ghost?"
"He would have to be, sweet one," Sabé said with regret. "He was a kind man, tall and dignified, with long hair, and a beard around his jaw."
"Yes! With very sad eyes and long robes that were darker than his shirt!" Leia said, making Sabé stare at her even more. "Should I tell him to go away?" Leia asked, scared the answer would be 'yes'.
"What did he say he wanted?" the governess asked.
"To teach me the Force."
At that, Sabé closed her eyes against threatening tears. "Leia, you will listen to him, and you will do your best to tell me when you see or hear him, yes?"
"Then learn. But tell no one else. The Force is dangerous, for many people. But you… you may need it."
Qui-Gon came as often as he could, growing stronger in his ghostly form. Leia found it did not matter where she was; he always appeared in the room with her, never when another might be near.
"How do you do that?" she asked, one day after he had praised her for moving things by thinking about them very hard, thinking about the Force that wrapped around them. "How do you find me?"
"The Force wills it. You need a teacher, and I have… learned how to be here."
"Will you always be here?"
Qui-Gon's sad face grew even sadder. "I will come until the Force tells me it is time to let you grow on your own, little princess."
"I hope that is never."
From Qui-Gon, Leia learned the forbidden history of the Jedi. She learned to listen to and feel the Force. She learned that she could affect people with it, but that she must always be very careful when she did so. Over the years, she fell into her father's conspiracy of a great Rebellion. Her ability to use the Force kept her safe, as long as she used it mostly to hear and see what others wished to hide.
She listened most strongly to the caution Qui-Gon had impressed on her.
"Never use the Force on Coruscant, or when the Emperor is near you. Never use it if Darth Vader comes near you. These things could destroy you and all you love."
Those words stayed with her as she rose in politics and ran messages for the Rebellion. She did not know why it was so important, or why Qui-Gon had seemed almost guilty at warning her of Darth Vader.
That part of the history, he had not said. She only knew the Jedi had all been killed, in a very short time, except a few special people.
"Will you tell me who the Jedi are that still live?"
"I cannot, my princess," he told her, before fading away so that she could go and be among the other politicians for a state dinner.
"Jedi have lightsabers."
Qui-Gon looked at his student as she declared this, and shook his head. "A lightsaber is a danger to you, Leia. It is not the right time to make one. And I have no way to help you acquire a crystal."
"But I will have one, some day?"
"Yes. Possibly. But… remember that a Jedi's best tool is their mind, and you have a very strong one. With that, and the Force as your ally, you may never need the lightsaber."
On Dantooine, she found the crystal, and Qui-Gon helped her craft the lightsaber in secret. Her hilt was small, and the blade only extended as far as most youngling lightsabers did, he told her, but it was a lightsaber.
"Keep it near, but keep it hidden. It marks you, as the crystal thrums with the Force you attuned it with."
Leia nodded, and made certain it was hidden inside her favorite astromech. For some reason, the small mech made Qui-Gon smile more sadly than usual. The astromech stayed on the ship, but so did she, much of the time now.
"Tell him to find General Kenobi," Qui-Gon urged as the battle engaged. Leia hurried to hide the plans in the astromech, and record a plea. General Kenobi of the Clone Wars was a name she knew.
"Is he a Jedi?" she managed to ask as the ship shuddered.
"He was one of the greatest," Qui-Gon said, before vanishing, swept away as the feeling of Darkness spread through the ship. She knew what that meant now; Darth Vader had come, and her chances were growing slim.
When Luke finally admitted to the voice he had heard, Leia just smiled and hugged him close.
"Listen to him, then, whenever he talks to you," she said, and Luke tipped his head to one side. "The Force is strong in you, and I know that General Kenobi was one of the greatest Jedi ever."
"How?" he asked.
"Because a man once told me so, and I never knew him to be wrong." Where Qui-Gon had gone, since that day she had been captured, she did not know. But with Luke here, she did not think she needed to be afraid of having lost her teacher. The Force had brought a new Jedi to her, and she would try to help him find his way now.