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Lonely In Your Company

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“We were very close.” Sola says, and Leia smiles her politician's smile in response. It takes her a moment to realize she’s done it. Once, in the Imperial Senate, it had been her default expression, but these days, between Jedi and family and just not caring, Leia has let a lot of her decorum lapse. Her father (both of them, maybe) would be proud that politics of the day allow for it, that Leia can be free. But her trip on Naboo has just started, and she can already see a future of using it with this woman.

Sola returns her smile. Leia doesn’t need the force to tell her that she thinks they are making a real connection. Leia also doesn’t need the force to know its not true.

The Naberrie’s house in Theed is beautiful, though, after some up close and personal experience, she can’t imagine why people thought Naboo and Alderaan were so similar. They might both be world's swept in natural beauty and with a history of art, but Alderaan had a cultural imperative of “look forward, be creative.” Leia can already tell that Naboo’s motto might as well be “tradition, tradition, tradition.”

On this world, a woman is convinced she and her sister were the best of friends. She’s not just being nice, she is sure that she and Padme were close as two sisters could be. And she’s telling the secret daughter, from a secret marriage, all about it.

Leia met her twin brother for the first time since the day of their birth and their mother’s death and their father’s fall, at the age of 19. He’s Luke Skywalker and he’s there to rescue her from the empire, but really he rescues her from what had come to be her life. From the despair of Alderaan. From her own death via action or inaction, whichever she would have found first. From the broken and lonely part of herself that had haunted them both for their entire lives.

So it wasn’t even a question, Three years later, after she’d lost the love of her life and he’d lost a hand,  that she’d gone to him first, and sobbed in his arms her new, secret fear.

I think I’m pregnant, she’d whispered into his chest, and its Han’s and what do I do. And they talked for hours about the rebellion and raising a child and all the hell the Galaxy was going through. And when Leia point blank refused to go to the med center for two weeks, terrified to know the horrible truth, whatever that truth might be, he stayed by her side, and kissed her forehead, and watched the terrible holonet show they both inexplicably loved, and kept her secret. And when she did finally get the negative, he let her cry on his shoulder again, as all the relief and sadness washed over both of them. She would never have wanted to keep that a secret from Luke.

Leia doesn’t know what it's like the grow up with a sibling, but she knows what it's like to be close to one. And she sees Jaina and Jacen whisper to each other in the way only five year olds think is discreet. She sees them take Anakin into their circle, and tell him how Uncle Lando gives the best presents but Uncle Chewie gives the best hugs but Uncle Luke is just the best. She sees them trade tricks they’ve learned in the force. She sees them whisper their hopes and dreams, even if those dreams are mostly ‘fly an X-Wing’ and ‘become a Jedi’ and ‘eat ice cream for dinner every night.’ That, she thinks, is close.

Luke has kept exactly one secret from her. One terrible, horrible secret. And he kept for a year. And he kept it because it was a burden he didn’t want to force on anyone else. He didn’t know that he had a sister to share that burden with. And when he found out, he told her less than a week later. Even in the midst of a war. Especially in the midst of a war.

Padme Amidala had been in the midst of  a war for three years. Secretly married the entire time to a frontline soldier, secretly pregnant those last, long months. And her family had never had any idea.

Leia knows her mother had returned to Naboo, even as politics made Coruscant the place to be. Ahsoka has shared several stories. The Blue Shadow Virus outbreak, the Festival of Lights. Sola seems to have completely missed so much.

How? Leia can’t keep Luke out of her day to day affairs. Information, particularly emotions of great joy and great pain, flow freely through their bond. But they also say a mental hello at least once a day, trade general rundowns, and also just make sure the other is there. The days they don't actually comm. each other are rare, and if they are on the same planet at the same time, they always meet face to face. Leia understand being a public figure and being at war better than most. She doesn't understand losing contact with your loved ones when you don't have to. (When you aren't ripped away from your brother, when you don't see your lover frozen and carted off before your eyes. When your entire planet isn't destroyed.)

Sola knows neither the joys or the hardships of Padme Amidala. And why be close to someone if you don’t share those.

In Theed, she sleeps in her mother's old room, an eerie shrine to the late woman. She died at 27, but it looks more like a girlhood bedroom. Like someone had moved out at 14, to live in a palace, and had never really come back. But her family hadn't noticed. There are children’s toys that look expensive and unused. There are no personal trinkets that had littered Leia's room until it's distraction. All the cloths in the closet are larger in size and preserved, likely sent to the family after her death. Nothing left over, nothing to allow for return visits of a supposedly beloved daughter. A hotel room preserved as though it was personal.

The only personal touch are the holos. But there are no girls laughing together, no sisterly hugs or parental kisses like lined the halls of the Alderaan palace. Like fill the walls of their apartment, of Luke's apartment, of Lando and Chewie's, and of the falcon. It's all a little girl doing aid work.

They tour the city and Sola offers a trip to the lake country. Leia declines with all of the moves of a consummate politician. Sola doesn't recognize the tricks Leia would expect anyone who has spent more than 10 minutes around someone who has let down their mask to notice. It's disconcerting as they wander through the streets and comments are made about the architecture. Sola's father was a builder, apparently, so Sola knows lots of useless facts. She talks about how her daughter is a builder as well, and seems disappointed that neither Luke nor Leia nor any of the kids show any interest.  Sola tries, but Naboo just isn’t home. Not like Coruscant, which starts to feel like home because it's not anyone’s home really. Not like Tatooine, with its harsh sun, and its ghosts hanging around Leia as she see’s the ruined palace of Jabba the Hutt, a short walk from the Mos Espa slave quarters where her Grandmother and father once toiled. Its not like Corellia, which evokes a sullenness in Han only his homeworld can, but which causes all of the children’s eyes to light up, when they see the great, fast ships being built there. Nothing will ever be Alderaan, but other places offer comfort and family and home. Naboo isn’t one of those places.

On the last night of Leia's three day trip, Sola's mother and daughters finally arrive from the lake country. They are just as Sola had been, pleasant and genuine and absolutely clueless.

They all have dark hair and dark eyes. Like Padme had had, like Leia and Jaina have. But while Leia has seen herself and her daughter in the senator's face, she cannot find it in the Naberrie's. It had not been so hard to look into the face of a freed slave, on the two old but carefully preserved holos Luke had, and see her family in Shmi Skywalker.

"It is tradition," the old woman who keeps insisting on being called grandmother says as they retire to the sitting room with drinks, "for the children to have their mother's surname. You should really be Leia Naberrie." She Pauses " and Luke Naberrie, and of course Jacen and Jana Naberrie."

"Jaina." Leia corrects, because it is politer than what she wants to say. She knows Naboo is Matrilineal just like Alderaan. But they don't have the concept of adoption that the Alderanni do, don't have the notions of building your family were and out of what you can that exists on Tatooine. Don't know why a freed slave would want his son to carry his name, why a woman who was adopted might wear her second last name with pride and reverence and love. They don't understand why a man with no family past, not even a stolen and broken one, might want his children to bare his name into the world, and why the last of a fallen house, with legendary names (Organa, Amidala, Skywalker) all vying for attention, might want her kids to have something common they can make great. Naboo believes in tradition (teenage queens and separate societies and one narrow definition of family)

Silence grows long, and Leia can feel it in the force, her hosts are confused by her lack of easy acquiescence to change her and all of her family's names.

"You are" Sola tries, "all Naberries."

Leia's children are Solo's, certainly. They fight like it and they yell like it. But they also take to the air like Skywalkers and take to the Ocean like any native of Alderaan would. Leia is an Organa from how she holds her head to how she pronounces words, but she rages like the daughter of a fallen Jedi, and she drinks like a Solo. Luke is a diplomats and a negotiator for all that he's a Jedi, and Leia thinks he's just as much of an Amidala at heart as she might be naturally under the years of political schooling. And of course, the force flows through them all like they are descended from a midichlorian itself. Her family is many things.  

"No" she smiles sadly at the woman who will never be her grandmother, the woman who will never be her Aunt, the women who will never be her cousins. "We really aren't."

Surely Padme Amidala had to have some large part in this passive estrangement from her family. But her family didn't even notice. And given what she's seen, Leia can't really blame her mother.

Leia's mother died the day she was born. She never knew her. But Sola Naberrie had 27 years with her sister.

She goes back to Coruscant. She has tea with Mon Mothma and asks about Padme Amidala's part in the waning days of the old republic, when the alliance was just a gathering of concerned senators. She spars with Ahsoka and asks about them fighting side by side in the clone wars. She curls up with Luke and asks for the story he only knows second hand, filled, surely, with lies and holes. About a rich off worlder who came to Tatooine on day with a spacer (Jedi). Who was kind and soft and beautiful and How they looked at each purely but with a cloud of something sad.

She reads some old senate archives and wonders if she's at the point where she can ask Anakin about her mother.

Maybe.

But regardless, it's tragic that her mother was a bright spark of a person, and the Naberries never knew her.