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0 BBY, Alderaan Royal Palace.
Alderaan is nothing like Naboo, but it is certainly just as beautiful. Padmé Amidala watches the snow gently fall from the overcast sky from her bedroom window. Bail is still asleep, but she has been awake for a few minutes now. As leaders of the Rebel Alliance, they have a great deal of work to do today.
But for now, Padmé stands with her arms folded across her chest, contemplating as she stares blankly out the tall window that looks into the courtyard. She is dressed in an elegant, silken lavender nightgown that pools down to the floor, and her dark hair falls in loose ringlets down her back. For more nights than she can count, she has shared a bed with Bail Organa, who was once her good friend, but now her lover. Other than Anakin, he was the only man she had ever felt safe and comfortable with. And if it were any other day but today, Padmé would have woken up feeling elated, but instead, her spirit feels crushed, just like it does every time this specific anniversary comes around: the day she and Anakin were married. It would have been their twenty-second.
Instead, he is dead, and Padmé is with Bail. Not that she resents her relationship with the King of Alderaan, and it is not that she doesn’t love Bail. In her mind, she knows that she would be wasting her life away if she spent the rest of it alone and mourning him. But in her heart, Padmé knows that Anakin was her soulmate. It didn’t matter how much she loved Bail; nothing would ever change that. So rather, she will spend her life with Bail and mourn him.
She would have cried if she were alone, but she doesn’t want to wake Bail. If she did, she would have to explain, and… she didn’t want him to think that he wasn’t enough for her. So instead, she swallows her tears, and plays with the japor snippet that hangs around her neck, the one Anakin gave her when he was a boy.
The pain of losing him is still intense for her. To Padmé, only seven standard years have passed since the last time she saw Anakin alive, even though in reality, it has been nineteen long years. In order to save her from dying in childbirth, she was frozen in carbonite for twelve years. Slowly, she was rejuvenated enough to be awakened, and when she finally did rise from her slumber, she was thrown into a world without the love of her life. It was Bail Organa and Obi-Wan Kenobi who greeted her in her hospital room and explained that Anakin had been killed by a fellow Sith Lord named Darth Vader, another one of Palpatine’s apprentices.
Seven years have passed since Padmé’s awakening; biologically, and mentally, she is only thirty-four years old, since she did not age a single day while in her carbonite chamber. She should be forty-six, or dead at twenty-seven. (Padmé is just glad that it wasn’t the latter.) And although Padmé has been awake for a long time now, the galaxy is still strange to her. Seeing Bail so much older, forty-eight years old now, seeing his hair slowly gray while hers stays the same chestnut brown. The same goes for everyone that Padmé knew before the Empire's insurrection. Time has gone by too quickly; losing twelve years can take a toll on a person. Part of her doesn't believe that nineteen years have gone by; she would like to believe that it would take less time to overthrow the Empire.
Her greatest regret is that she was not able to raise her children. When she met Leia, she was already twelve years old, and had an established mother figure, Breha Organa, Bail’s former wife and the Queen of Alderaan. However, by the time Padmé awakened, Breha was dead, killed by Imperials when Leia was eight. If anything, Padmé was not a true mother figure to Leia, but a replacement for Breha. But at least she was accepted by Leia into her life; that was the most important thing to Padmé.
Luke, on the other hand, she was never allowed to see. The only reason Padmé could see Leia was because she chose to join the Rebel Alliance. Obi-Wan convinced her that she must keep her distance from Luke; it was already dangerous enough that she would be a part of Leia’s life.
“If Darth Vader ever found you, or your children, he would hunt you, Luke, and Leia to the ends of galaxy.”
“Why?” Padmé had asked.
“He would sense the power within your children,” Obi-Wan explained. “And if he knew that you were their mother, I’m sure he would use you to draw Luke and Leia into a trap.”
Darth Vader was the reason that Padmé lost her husband once and for all. It was bad enough that Anakin turned to the Dark Side before he died, but it was even worse that his betrayal is what got him killed. Vader was Palpatine’s other apprentice, and now, his only one. She had no doubt that Obi-Wan was telling the truth; from what she knows, Darth Vader is a ruthless man with no regard for any life other than his own whatsoever.
She had no doubt that Owen and Beru Lars were taking good care of Luke, and that Obi-Wan was protecting him, but still, she has always wanted to meet her son. She can imagine him now, blue-eyed like Anakin, light hair kissed by the sun, staring out into the Tatooine sunset like his father had once done…
The soft caress of Bail’s hands on Padmé’s hips shatters her thoughts and pulls her back into reality. He presses into her, embracing her from behind. Padmé returns the gesture and smiles as Bail plants a kiss on her cheek.
“Good morning,” he says, his voice low and scratchy from his drowsiness. “How long have you been awake?”
“Not for very long,” Padmé replies. “I was just admiring the Alderaanian mountains.” She looks out into the window, where the mountain range, covered with snow and tinted blue by the clouds, can be seen in the distance.
“Someday,” Bail says softly, “Alderaan will be yours, just as it is mine.” He implies marriage with what he says—an idea Padmé wouldn’t normally be opposed to, but today, on her twenty-second wedding anniversary with Anakin, it is difficult to think about marrying another man.
“And when will that be?” she inquires.
“When we defeat the Empire,” he replies. “When it’s finally safe for you to show yourself to the public.”
“If the Emperor and his lackey knew I was alive…” Padmé trails off, her mind distant.
“But they never will,” Bail finishes her sentence for her. “They’ll be gone by the time we’re married, and you’re the Queen of Alderaan.”
It was a nice thought—married to Bail, the Empire gone from the galaxy. The memory of Anakin still tugs at her mind, but Padmé entertains Bail’s ideas nevertheless. “And we’d be politicians again. Politicians of the Galactic Republic.”
“Leia would still be Senator of Alderaan, and you’d be the Chancellor,” Bail muses. “I would work with Leia, but spend most of my time ruling Alderaan.”
“The Chancellor?” Padmé laughs softly. “Like Palpatine?”
“You’d be an amazing Chancellor. I can’t imagine anyone better to fill the position.”
“You’re too sweet,” she says with a warm smile. Padmé turns around and kisses Bail gently on the lips. It is nothing like kissing Anakin. Bail is soft and gentle, while Anakin was much more passionate and intense, and sometimes rather rough and demanding.
He is still embracing her when he pulls his lips away. “While I would love to stay like this, I believe we should head down to the meeting room.”
“You’re right,” Padmé sighs. She isn’t sure if she is relieved or disappointed that they have to leave. “We wouldn’t want to keep Leia waiting for too long.”
Bail steps away from her and smiles. “Yes, she can be quite impatient sometimes.”
She reminds me of Anakin, Padmé thinks, but she doesn’t say it aloud. Though Bail knows Leia is Anakin and Padmé’s daughter, neither of them voice that very often. Not only is it an explosive secret, but also, there is no need to discuss it. Anakin has been dead for nineteen years, while Bail has been Leia’s father figure all this time.
0 BBY, Alderaan Royal Palace.
Padmé and Bail are now dressed and walking down the corridor to the meeting room. Bail wears his usual clothing, a gray-blue suit with a silver belt and a dark navy cape. He always wears simple, but regal clothes, and keeps his dark hair very neat and carefully brushed. Padmé’s clothing is much more extravagant; she wears a long sapphire-blue dress with elegant gold designs along the sides of the skirt and covering the sleeves to her wrists. The japor snippet still hangs around her neck, as it always does; and her hair is still long and flowing in loose ringlets down her back. She didn’t have time to have her hair done as she normally would for an event, but this is just a simple meeting with her daughter and a few other distinguished rebels.
The doors to the meeting room slide open, revealing Leia, Mon Mothma, and Admiral Ackbar. Leia looks so much like Padmé, but she has her father’s spirit. She has her mother’s eyes and her mother’s hair, but she has his fire and his raw power in the Force. However, like her mother, Leia is already a skilled politician and excels in diplomacy.
She has grown so beautiful and strong; it fills Padmé with pride to see her meeting with rebel leaders as not just a member, but a leader herself. She is more than a beautiful princess; she is a warrior, a soldier, and a general.
Her hair is done up in her signature buns on either side of her head, and her lips are stained rose with lipstick. Leia’s dress is long and white, with a silver belt to accentuate her waist. She smiles at Padmé and Bail when she sees them and stands from her seat on one of the white sofas. Mon Mothma and Ackbar mirror her.
“Welcome,” says Mon. Once Padmé and Bail take their seats across from them, the three of the other rebel leaders sit down, too.
“So,” Bail begins, turning his gaze to Leia. “Are you going to explain why you called this meeting?”
Leia nods confidently. “Yes,” she replies. “I wanted to discuss if it was possible for me to lead the mission to Tatooine.”
Padmé raises her eyebrows. Immediately, her motherly instincts kick in. “It would be… very dangerous,” she says. “I know you’re capable, but I worry.”
Her daughter smiles at her warmly. It doesn’t comfort Padmé like it normally would; to think of her daughter being so close to harm’s way made her more anxious than she could describe in words. If Leia was discovered… she doesn’t even want to think about it. The thought of her falling into Darth Vader’s hands twists knots into Padmé’s stomach, knowing what would happen to her if she found herself in an Imperial prison.
“I believe General Leia has proven herself to be very proficient in leading missions,” Admiral Ackbar chimes in. “I have no doubt in her abilities; she’s never let us down before.”
Leia smiles at him. “Thank you, Admiral Ackbar.”
“I agree,” Mon Mothma says. “Leia can be trusted to lead the mission to retrieve Master Kenobi.”
“I’m hesitant to allow my daughter to go on such a dangerous mission… with the tensions with the Empire running this high, there is a chance they will intercept her,” Bail considers. “If Padmé agrees, then I approve.”
Leia looks at her mother expectantly, and Padmé knows that she cannot deny Leia the opportunity to lead such an important mission. But then she weighs in something else, something that would make her feel much more secure in sending Leia to the Outer Rim.
“I will sign off on it, if—” Padmé begins. She glances at Leia to see that anxiety has flickered over her face at Padmé’s words. “If I may accompany her. Kenobi is an old friend of mine, and I know the area he lives in fairly well.”
And maybe, she thinks to herself, just maybe, I could see Luke just once. She hasn't laid eyes on her son since he was born, and it kills her. It hurts her down to her core and twists her heart into a mangled mess.
Everyone nods in agreement, except for Bail. He casts a worried look at Padmé, fearing the worst for both his daughter and for the woman he loves.
“I have no doubt that you can handle yourself,” he tells her. “But please be careful, Leia, Padmé.” Bail looks from his daughter to Padmé and then back again. “And come back in one piece, both of you—that’s an order.” He smiles weakly; Padmé can see that he doesn’t truly approve of putting not just one, but both of the most important people in his life in danger. But this is what they signed up for when they became rebels, and Bail knows this as well as Padmé does.
“So, it’s settled, then?” Leia asks hopefully.
Bail nods. “Yes. I agree. Padmé and Leia will embark on the mission to Tatooine together.”
0 BBY, the Tantive IV, Outer Rim Space.
In a few weeks’ time, Padmé and Leia find themselves on the Tantive IV. It is a small corvette ship that is attached to a larger cruiser. They are accompanied by several other ships, ordered by Bail to ensure their safety. There could not be a more perilous time to venture so far out into space, and especially to a planet controlled by no faction. The Empire was dead set on closing in on the Rebel Alliance, and Padmé just hopes that the entire fleet will be able to make it to Tatooine. The best-case scenario would be that Padmé would see her son and return safely home to Alderaan with Obi-Wan. And the worst-case scenario…
Well, she didn’t really want to consider that.
Padmé and Leia are standing on the bridge of the Tantive IV, staring out into space. Leia is wearing her white dress with the silver belt again, and her hair is in those double buns. Padmé also wears simple clothing; a form-fitting white bodysuit with beige boots and a beige belt and cape to match, similar to the outfit she wore on Geonosis many years ago. She often draws inspiration from her older outfits, from a different era of the galaxy. Her outfit from Geonosis, and her hair from Mustafar—she wears it in the same long braid with the two thick braided buns at the base of her head. Padmé’s makeup is minimal, since there’s a chance she might have to be in combat today, but she does wear lip gloss, mascara, and neutral brown eyeshadow colors on her lids.
“Do you think—” Leia begins, but then several Imperial Star Destroyers jump out of light space right beside the fleet of rebels.
“Mother of moons,” says Padmé under her breath. She turns to Leia, her eyes wide and frantic.
“Padmé…” Suddenly, Leia becomes very tense. Her hands clench into fists at her side, and her brows furrow. Padmé isn’t sure if it’s anger or fear on her face, or both. “That’s Vader’s Star Destroyer. The Devastator.”
“Oh,” replies Padmé. She draws in a deep breath, trying to calm herself, but the panic has already set in. She doesn’t let if show, but if she was less composed and less brave, perhaps she would be running off to an escape pod by now. Padmé would never leave the rest of the crew on the ship behind, and there is still hope to reach Tatooine. They weren’t very far off now, and if the Empire was just a few hours later, they would have made it.
Her heart is beating a million miles an hour, but her voice remains calm although the rest of her is not. “We have to detach from the cruiser,” she says. “The rest of the fleet could distract the Star Destroyers while we slip away to Tatooine.”
“Fuck,” Leia curses. “I hate it,” she continues. “But I know you’re right.”
If they weren’t in such a dangerous situation, Padmé might have said, “You don’t hate anything, Leia.” But it isn’t the time for her motherly worries. It is the time for action.
Padmé looks out the windshield of the ship again, to see that the Star Destroyers have released a swarm of tide-fighters into space. They fire on the cruiser that the Tantive IV is attached to, and the ship trembles slightly beneath their feet.
“Tell the captain to flee,” Padmé instructs a nearby commander. “Now!” He follows her orders, running towards the captain’s station.
“Padmé,” Leia turns to her mother, urgency in her eyes. “If we’re captured…”
“Don’t talk like that,” she almost snaps in response. “We’re not going to be captured. We can’t—we—”
“But you know it’s possible,” says Leia.
“I know,” Padmé replies with a nod. Her voice is full of certainty, but fear creeps into her voice and sends a tremor through her words. She is more afraid for Leia than for herself; she wouldn’t know what to do if her daughter fell into the hands of the Empire.
A soldier rushes up to Leia and Padmé, breaking into their conversation. “General Organa, General Amidala,” he says, heaving from running. “The cruiser has been boarded by Imperials. Darth… Darth Vader is with them.” His face pales at the Sith Lord’s name, and Padmé hopes that this poor man won’t end up among the dead.
“Vader personally boarded the ship?” Padmé says in disbelief. “I thought that was normally just left up to his lackeys.”
“Not this time, General Amidala,” the soldier says. “He seems very adamant about ensuring that our mission fails.”
Just as the soldier finishes his sentence, the Tantive IV detaches from the large cruiser and blasts into space. Once the ship maneuvers away from the onslaught of tie-fighters, it jumps into lightspeed, leaving the Imperial forces behind.
For several minutes, it is calm, and the Tantive IV continues as normal to Tatooine. Padmé is displeased about leaving their fellow rebels behind, but she knows that it was for the best. Their mission must succeed. She can’t imagine how they would defeat two Sith without a Jedi Master on their side, at this dire point in the war.
It isn’t long before another messenger approaches Leia and Padmé with a card in his hand, which appears to be an information chip. “One of the men from the cruiser passed this along,” he tells them.
Leia takes it in her hand and gasps. She looks up at Padmé, excitement in her eyes—something she didn’t think she would see after their run in with the Empire.
“What did they send us?” Padmé asks.
“Hope,” Leia replies. “It’s the Death Star plans. I can’t believe they did it—they really got them.” Her lips curl into a smile as her fingers close protectively around the chip.
“I thought retrieving the plans was an impossible mission,” says Padmé.
“Apparently not… this is remarkable. The team that acquired it must have given their lives to obtain this,” Leia tells her mother. “These plans, combined with Kenobi… Padmé, we might really be able to win this war.” She’s beaming now, first at the data chip and now at Padmé. Her eyes are lit up with joy and Padmé can’t help but notice how her smile looks so much like her father’s.
She wants to smile, wants to revel in Leia’s enthusiasm with her, but Padmé believes it is too late to celebrate. First, they have to get away from the Empire; there is still a chance they could be caught up to.
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Padmé advises.
“I know, I know,” agrees Leia. Her smile vanishes, but it still touches her eyes. She tucks the chip into the pocket of her dress, and she and Padmé begin to review their plan to bring Obi-Wan to Alderaan.
But hours later, once they can see Tatooine from the windshield of the Tantive IV, trouble arises. Padmé, admittedly, was starting to get too hopeful; she should have put those thoughts away, because it’s even more crushing than it normally would be when she sees the three Star Destroyers appear out of light space.
And this time, they have no backup. The only shot they may have is that the Tantive IV is considerably faster than the Star Destroyers, but they would be easily slowed down by their firepower.
“Leia,” Padmé says, urgency clear in her voice.
“I know,” she replies. “The plans.”
“We’re not going to make it,” Padmé tells her daughter seriously. “We could try to get to the escape pods, but…”
“I have a better idea,” her daughter says. “Follow me.”
As tie-fighters and Star Destroyers rain down fire on the fleeing Tantive IV, Padmé and Leia quickly walk from the bridge into the main corridor that goes down the rest of the ship. They would have darted, but people are already panicking, and if they saw their generals running and hiding, it would absolutely crush their mens’ morale. As Leia passes by rebel soldiers, she instructs them to position themselves in the corridor and prepare for a boarding party. Padmé and Leia can both feel the ship shaking under the fire of the Imperial forces, and they know they won’t last long.
After a few minutes of walking, Padmé and Leia arrive in a small room that the main hallway leads to. R2-D2 is standing there, and he greets the two women with a few cheerful beeping noises. Just then, the ship
“Hello, Artoo,” Padmé says. The ship trembles again and Padmé’s stomach twists nervously, but she doesn’t let her fear show through.
“Artoo, we need a favor,” Leia tells the droid, but it is more of an order than a request. She explains the situation to the droid, and asks it to find 3-PO and launch the two droids in an escape pod with the Death Star plans to Tatooine. R2 agrees, and then Leia gives the droid further instructions to find Ben Kenobi and play a message for him.
Padmé stands aside for her to record her message. R2 begins recording, and Leia explains that the Tantive IV has fallen under attack. She mentions that the mission has failed—a truth that Padmé loathes, but a truth that is undeniable at this point. Leia asks Obi-Wan to come to Alderaan and deliver the plans to Bail Organa, and Padmé wonders if she will ever see him again. It is unlikely, considering she will probably become an Imperial prisoner in a few moments.
Leia ends the message with, “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.” Those words twist a knife into Padmé’s chest—her only hope. She prays to whatever is out there, whether it be the Force or some kind of deity, that if not her, then Leia, will come out of this alive. She prays that the Rebellion will not falter, even with their mission failure.
After Leia inserts the plans into R2, the recording ends. “Go, Artoo,” Leia commands the droid. “Find Threepio and the nearest escape pod.”
The droid beeps several times in response, but it is not an aggressive sound as it normally is. It is soft, sympathetic almost.
“I know, Artoo,” says Leia. “We’ll be alright. Just focus on getting the plans to Kenobi.”
Once Artoo glides away, Padmé turns to Leia. “Come on,” she tells her. “Let’s find a better hiding place.”
“Just get your blaster ready,” says Leia, resting her hand on the black blaster strapped to her belt. As her daughter speaks, the ship rumbles, but much more severely this time.
“They’re here,” Padmé comments, more to herself than to Leia.
Another violent rumble indicates that the boarding party must be even closer now; Darth Vader must be on his way. The alarms on the Tantive IV blare, and red lights begin to flash.
Padmé glances at the elegant Nubian blaster on her holster, the same one she used for years. If her blaster failed her, luckily, she kept lockpicks in a hidden pocket inside of her boot. That trick had saved her before when her life was on the line as a senator, and if she is captured, perhaps it would save her again.
Without saying anything more to one another, both Leia and Padmé break into a run down the back hallway. She glances into the main corridor to see that several rebel soldiers are in position, blasters raised and poised to fight. They are all going to die, and Padmé knows it. She and Leia might, too. But that is the sacrifice they all agreed to when they joined the Rebel Alliance; they all knew it could come to this.
Padmé looks again, but immediately regrets it. She can see the door to the ship from a distance, and the sparks flying all around its outline. The boarding party is coming through, and she knows that with a sinking feeling, Darth Vader is with them. She has heard countless horror stories about the Dark Lord of the Sith, how he broke necks with one raise of his hand and severed heads with one sweep of his lightsaber. There is a brutality in him that is beyond words, a darkness that is beyond comprehension.
A loud explosion makes Padmé flinch; the door must have been blown open, allowing the boarding party to come through. This is it, she thinks. This is really it.
She and Leia find a storage room in back hallways and crouch behind its opening. There is no door to the room, but Padmé doesn’t think a simple sliding door would stop the Empire anyway. They look at one another as the sound of blasters can be heard from the main hall. Men begin to yell, and Padmé just hopes that the men dying are the Stormtroopers and not the rebels.
The noises continue for several minutes, and then it goes mostly quiet, except for some remaining blaster sounds, but they have become more distant, meaning that the rebels must be retreating.
Leia reaches out and holds Padmé’s hand for comfort. Her breathing has become slightly heavier; she is likely trying to control her fear. “It’s okay, Leia,” her mother tries to comfort her, but even she is not completely calm. Her heartbeat has accelerated and her hand has become sweaty around her blaster; her nerves are slowly getting to her. It is difficult to be fearless when your life is hanging on such a fragile thread.
They hear footsteps coming near them, and both the women go utterly silent. Padmé and Leia exchange a glance, knowing they will have to fight. They nod at one another and rise from their crouched positions. Leia pokes her head out slightly to see the Stormtroopers searching the back hall, and Padmé follows.
They are quickly spotted by one of the troopers. “There’s two! Set for stun!” he commands.
Set for stun—Darth Vader must want them alive to be interrogated. Padmé isn’t sure if she’d rather die a mostly painless death right here, right now, or endure the agony Imperial interrogation with a slim chance to escape. A very, very slim chance indeed.
Her daughter raises her weapon and fires; Padmé does the same. Together, they take down two troopers, but more four still remain. The two of them begin to run, but one of the Stormtroopers fire at Leia, and she falls to the floor. Padmé stops dead in her tracks and grabs her daughter with one arm and fires at the trooper who shot her with the other. He goes down, but then so does Padmé—another one is able to stun her, and she finds herself on the floor like Leia. Still awake, but unable to move. It is the most powerless feeling in the world, knowing that her daughter is stunned on the ground and there is nothing she can do prevent them Stormtroopers from picking them up and dragging them out of the back hallway.
“Inform Lord Vader we have prisoners,” says one of the Stormtroopers to one of his comrades. “And bring us more men. I have a feeling these two might be difficult to handle.”
They place handcuffs around their wrists, rendering them even more powerless than they already were. We’re really in for it, now, Padmé thinks to herself. If she could, she would run her thumb over her japor snippet; it is a nervous habit of hers, and the memory of her late husband is always comforting. But the Empire doesn’t allow comfort—something Padmé will have to get used to.
Slowly, as the Stormtrooper guides Padmé into the main hall, her senses begin to return. More Stormtroopers join them, and soon enough, Leia and Padmé are being marched down the corridor. Now that they are able to move, Leia and Padmé exchange a nervous glance. Padmé is absolutely stricken with terror down to her very core, but she refuses to allow that emotion to cross her face. Especially not in front of Darth Vader, the man who killed her husband.
“Where are you taking us?” Padmé asks the Stormtroopers.
One of them replies, “To Lord Vader.”