When Leia Organa is five years old, she steals her mother’s hand-mirror to read her soulmate’s name.
(Borrows, she insists later. Her mother smiles and tells her she’s their little politician already. Just like your mother, her father adds, and he isn’t smiling.)
With the help of a chair, she clambers onto Breha’s dressing-table and sits with her back to the big mirror. While one hand holds her hair out of the way, she twists the smaller mirror back and forth until she can see the back of her neck in it. And there it is, just about visible beneath the soft hairs at her nape. Her soulmark. Reflected in two mirrors, it comes back the right way around so she can read it.
She sounds the letters out carefully, one at a time. “L-U-K-E S-K-Y-W-A-L-K-E-R. Luke Skywalker.” The writing looks like a child’s, not dissimilar to her own: the shapes of the Aurebesh are clumsy and unpracticed, wavering up and down like blocks that have been set next to each other rather than forming the smooth continuous line of an adult writing in their first language.
If the handwriting is unexpected, the name is more so. Neither “Luke” nor “Skywalker” is familiar to Leia as an Alderaani name, the sounds strange and almost exotic to her ears. Her soulmate must be an offworlder! Perhaps he’ll be a pilot on one of the ships that land at the spaceport near Aldera City, or a trader. Or perhaps Leia will meet him on Coruscant when she follows her father into the Senate.
Maybe, even, she could go in search of him now.
Leia’s mother is on the balcony when she goes looking, sitting in the light of the fading sun and looking out at the palace gardens.
Leia tugs at her mother’s thick overskirt to get her attention. “Mommy,” she asks, “who’s Luke Skywalker?”
Breha, who has been dreading this question or something like it ever since she first saw the name written on her daughter’s skin, feels a ringing in her ears. All the careful non-answers she and Bail have rehearsed slip out of her head like she’s trying to hold water in her hands.
She thought they would have more time than this, more time for Leia to be their perfect little girl before they had to face the reality of who and what she really is. And while she knew they would eventually have to tell Leia something about her real parentage, the same part of her that spent pregnancy after failed pregnancy desperately hoping for a child screams for her daughter to remain hers, flinching away from the thought of telling her otherwise.
“Ask your father,” she manages to choke out through a throat gone thick with emotion.
Leia runs off. By the time Breha thinks to ask where she heard that name, she’s through the door and gone.
Bail is reading in his study when he’s interrupted by the familiar sight of his daughter on a mission, bursting through the door before it’s fully open with her usual impatience.
“Daddy, who’s Luke Skywalker?”
He blinks, putting down the datapad so he can properly consider the question. “Why do you ask, darling?”
“Because...” Leia bounces with excitement. “He’s my soulmate, Daddy. See?” Spinning around, she shows Bail the back of her head.
“Yes, Leia, I see,” he says gravely. “...why don’t you come here, sweetheart?” When he has her comfortably situated on his lap, he goes on, picking out the parts of the story he’s willing to tell. “I haven’t met anyone called Luke Skywalker, but I did know a Skywalker when I was younger. His name was Anakin Skywalker, and he was a Jedi Knight, one of the bravest I ever knew.”
Leia’s tiny face is scrunched up in a frown of concentration as she takes in this information. “Do you think Anakin Skywalker was related to my soulmate?” she asks when he pauses.
“It’s certainly possible,” Bail tells her. “I never met anyone else with that name, but it might be a common surname on his home planet.”
“Oh.” Leia thinks about this. “Like how there’s lots of Ismarens?”
“Just like that,” Bail agrees. Ismaren is a common Alderaanian surname, and he personally knows more than half a dozen unrelated Alderaanians with the name, including several of Leia’s classmates. For all he knows, Skywalker might really be the equivalent of Ismaren on whatever planet Anakin originally hailed from, and Leia’s soulmate might have nothing at all to do with the Jedi who was the hero of the Clone Wars. But experience tells Bail that he’s not going to be that lucky.
Leia accepts this answer, for now, visibly backing down from the idea of searching for her soulmate among an unknown number of Skywalkers. “Will you tell me more about Anakin Skywalker?” she asks instead. “Just in case.”
Bail sighs, already thinking ahead to which tales of his youthful exploits can be most easily edited for the tender ears of a five-year-old. “Anything for you, my little jewel,” he says, smiling down at her.
Force, he hopes this isn’t a mistake.
Later that night, once their little firecracker is safely tucked up in bed, Bail and Breha sit together and talk, for the first time in five years, about Padmé. The woman who was a friend to both of them, a hero to the people of the Galaxy, and Leia’s biological mother.
They talk about Leia, and whether she is old enough to keep certain secrets if told the full truth. They agree, without too much deliberation, that the answer is “no”. They have been safe for five years, and no Imperial troops have come knocking at the door to take away their baby girl, but that is no reason to let their guard down, not while the Emperor still sits on the throne and Darth Vader is still his loyal attack dog. No, the answer is obvious. The fact that Leia knows her soulmate’s name changes nothing: she is vanishingly unlikely to meet him in the next decade, and by the time she does, there will have been ample opportunity to reconsider the situation and re-evaluate whether, and how much, they should tell her.
Right now, no-one, not even Leia herself, can know the truth of her parentage—or of her true relationship to Luke Skywalker. Not now, and perhaps not ever.
“It’s to keep her safe,” Breha whispers to Bail. All to keep their little girl safe. For as long as they can manage it.