“She was very beautiful," Aunt Beru said. "She wore bright blue dresses made of rich material." She caught his tiny left hand in her's, before tracing the developing callouses "and she had soft hands, not a single callous."
"Where was she from?" Luke asked. "To have soft hands."
Beru frowned, "you know." She considered it, "she never said for sure, but she talked about Coruscant once. So she must have been from some rich, core world."
It always blew Luke's young mind, to think that in addition to a spacer father he had a rich, off-worlder mother.
"What else?" Luke asked.
"Well, she looked at your father with lots of love and care. And she very kind to us, even thought it was clear our life was strange to her." Beru told him.
"But mother and father loved each other?" Luke asked, "you're sure."
"Yes." Beru promised. Luke was hard to lie to, sometimes, when he asked direct questions and wanted the real answer, not just what would make him feel good. Beru was glad that in this, she doesn't need to deceive him. She was glad she didn’t know more about his mother in general, so he can know everything she did. Though, she supposed, his mother wasn't a Jedi, and it was a big galaxy. Her history mustn't be a danger to him.
"What was her name?" Luke asked like it was the first time he had heard the story of when Mother and Father came home and Grandma died.
Luke grins, "it's the most beautiful name ever, isn't it."
Luke only made the mistake of saying his mother had been a rich off worlder to his friends once, when he was eight.
Luke knew better than to put on airs. He was as much a child of the desert as any of them. He didn't have airs. He was a Skywalker. An old slave name like the Whitesun and the Darklighter. But in spite of that, perhaps because of it, he was going to defend his mother's (and his and his aunt's) honor when he was told it wasn't true.
Except...even at eight he had to give credence to their words. Why would some pretty core world lady let her son live on Tatooine? She died was
answer, but not answer enough.
"Maybe Aunt Beru made a mistake." Biggs offered diplomatically, as Luke presses a cloth to his bloody lip in the Darklighter's kitchen.
Luke frowned, "What do you mean?"
"Like, on some worlds, they take care of people real well, so you have access to lots of water even without being a Hutt." Biggs explained, "so maybe your mom was from one of them. Like Alderaan, they give fruit and water away for free, I heard. So she did have like water and stuff, she just wasn't rich."
What would a wealthy core worlder have been doing with a freed slave turned spacer anyway. Luke would wonder when he was old enough to understand that things like that mattered, even with true love. Anakin Skywalker was special to Luke, but it wasn't like he had mattered to the Galaxy at large.
At least he had Aunt Beru's assurances that they loved one another very much. Not everyone had that. He knew Grandpa Lars hadn't married Gran until long after Father had been born. He pretended that he didn't look at some of the old slave masters in Anchorhead, trying to parrot out his own features.
He was suppose to be doing his school work, but it was as boring as anything.
He does the Empire’s distance holonet program, because it was cheap and easy to access even all the way in the outer rim and it's the best chance he has of getting into an Imperial Academy and becoming a pilot.
But it was not a particularly engaging curriculum. And even if it was, Luke's a son of the desert, the language of slave masters is in his blood. He knew, when he read about imperial control of planets to ensure stability in his civics class, what it's really saying. There's a reason he completed the (much better) math and science program first.
The season's over. His friends are busy, and he's about run out of things to distract him from reading about how ‘savage’ beings being ‘relocated’ and ‘given jobs’ is a good thing for everyone involved.
So he's very thankful as he stares at the holonet search screen, and thinks of something else to look up instead.
Padme, he types. Because surely, somewhere there must be information on that name.
Then first thousand or so results are all Nabooian.
Naboo. It wasn't a core world. It was mid-rim, not even that far from Tatooine in the grand scheme of thing. But of the holos were anything to go by, it was green and water covered and beautiful.
Padme appeared to be something of a perennial favorite among the Naboo humans. Though it had skyrocketed to popularity in the last 20 years or so, even among the Gungan population.
The source seemed to be a beloved queen and senator named Padme Amidala. He didn’t think he’d read about her in any of his civics lessons, but apparently she had been a big deal, an early hero of the Empire. Her death day still celebrated on Naboo and in the Core, just after Empire Day.
He found a vid of her state funeral procession and was brought unexpectedly to tears. It was absolutely ridiculous, he told himself. He was 14 and desert weathered. He shouldn't cry over anything, let alone the death of a woman 14 years ago.
She had been pregnant at the time, according to the article that accompanied the vid, and had died on Luke's birthday. Maybe that was the reason he felt so sad, the kid would be his age, and instead had died when Luke had been born. The son of a Queen would probably have had a better life than that of a dissatisfied moisture farmer.
The woman looked like a queen, even in death. With dark hair and a lovely face.
Luke wondered if his mother had seen herself in the queen who shared her name. If she had watched the funeral procession with her newborn and realized she'd be as gone as that woman soon.
Or maybe, his mother had been far away from Naboo at that point. After all, Luke didn't live there, and who would send a child away from a planet like that to a place like Tatooine?
"But mother and father loved each other?" Luke had asked as a wide eyed five year old.
"Yes." Beru had promised him. And Luke had hung so much of his identity on that fact. It was a point of pride for the son of a slave, the freedom of his parents love.
And now, he thought of Vader. Black Mask and cold and his missing hand. It was all a horrible horrible lie.
("My mother was from Naboo, I think." Luke had told Leia, in the early weeks of their friendship when they had inexplicably held onto each other as they had tried to find their new place in the Galaxy.
Leia was explaining her history as a war orphan before her adoption. And Luke countered with what he knew of his own family history.
Leia nodded, "Alderaan use to have strong diplomatic ties to Naboo. My father was good friends with Senator Amidala...the Emperor is from there too. So it's...not a great place as far as the rebellion goes.")
Her name probably was Padme. She probably was from Naboo. And she was probably a slave or a courtesan or something. A reward to Vader for services rendered. The Emperor had likely picked out a poor young woman from his own planet and given her to his father as a gift...as a thing.
No wonder she'd been in pretty clothes when his father had dragged her to Tatooine. She'd been like Leia was forced to be for Jabba, a pretty decoration to do with as he pleased. It was worse than anything else Luke could possibly imagine.
He wanted to ask Ben. This man who claimed know his father and called him a good friend. He wanted to ask if he knew anything about his mother.
But he's a Jedi now, he had to put these feelings aside. Yoda spoke of another. That was more important. That was what he had to ask about instead.
After the fight there had been celebrating. Then there had been lots of sleep. Then there had been planning and strategizing and a little more sleep and celebration, just for good measure.
But now Luke had time for something else. Quiet reflection. Artoo was in need of a good cleaning. And honestly, Luke always felt the most relaxed when he was doing something like that. Perhaps a great Jedi would be able to find peace best in quiet, still contemplation. At least there were no longer other Jedi around to judge him.
He felt Leia approach at the far end of the corridor. It was, perhaps, the easiest thing in the world to think of her as his twin.
He felt as though he had known her always, and as they compared notes of strange dreams and imaginary friends, he had started to wonder if, just maybe, they had.
With the awareness of their connection came a strength to it. Leia was still early in her force training but where Luke was concerned (sensing him, reading his emotions, even trading thoughts) she did it as naturally as breathing.
That's likely how she's found him in such a out of the way spot.
"I didn't realize you were in the middle of something." She said as she came in, followed by a lumbering Threepio.
"I'm just meditating and cleaning Artoo." He assured her with a smile. "What did you need?"
"I was going to see if you wanted to fix Threepio's leg and joints before the dinner next week."
Right the first 'state' dinner, where they’d put themselves on display as the New Republic and try to make allies with established governments. Threepio was going to serve as official protocol droid and needed to look the part of they were going to put their best foot forward.
"As soon as I finish this, I'll give it a look." Luke said.
"Thank you Master Luke." Threepio said.
But Leia shook her head and went to inspect Luke's tools. "I think I can do it."
Luke paused, looked up, and watched as Leia selected a multi-tool and a more specialized implement.
"This will be easier if you shut down Threepio." Leia reminded him.
"Yes, of course, Princess." And then his light sensors went out.
She knelt down next to the silver leg, and began prying the plating off with the multi-tool.
"Did Han or Chewie show you how to do that?" Luke asked. Because he knew he hadn't.
"No, no." She said, looking the wiring up and down. "I kind of figured this out as a kid. Some from talking to the maintenance staff and some from talking to flight hands and reading old diagrams, but mostly just taking stuff apart and putting it back together as a kid. I've alway had a head for mechanics. I kind of got out of the habit when I got older, but I still know what I'm doing, normally, and I still enjoy it." She started stripping wires like any old pro, "I actually can't believe I haven't mentioned it before."
Luke took a deep breath and then, "Our...I mean, my father was a mechanic."
Leia stopped, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. "I thought he was a Jedi." She said, "before he was a monster."
"He was," Luke agreed, he'd tracked down a surprising amount of holos and information about Anakin Skywalker when he’d first joined the Alliance , some of it had even been given to him by Leia. Information that Bail Organa, perineal friend to the Jedi, had kept hidden for 20 years. "But before that. He was a mechanic. I alway knew that. That was his trade when he was a slave."
Leia let out a little gasp, "but...slavery was forbidden in the Old Republic."
Luke shrugged, "you know how it is on Tatooine."
And he watched her consider it for a moment. She did know. From horrible personal experience, but also from some place she didn't understand quite yet. Leia was a daughter of the desert. And that meant more then who her parents might have been. She didn’t understand that yet, either.
Leia look at Luke, then at her half striped leg. "My father knew." She finally said. "And he didn't tell me."
"He was trying to protect you, Leia."
"No," she cut him off, "you don't understand." She shook her head, furiously "I explained a little about Alderanni adoption customs to you."
She had, explaining that she didn't have a "real" mother, she had a first mother and her second mother. She had a first family and a second family. Each were connected and equally important. They both informed and shaped her and always would.
"Well, the most important thing is to make sure the child knows everything you know." She explained. "Anything else is considered wrong. Basically stealing the child's history from them. Not telling me about my father would be a horrible breach of trust." She looked directly into Luke’s eyes, "not telling me about you is essentially unforgivable."
"He might not have known, Leia." Luke suggested, but his words rang false, even without the force.
"He knew Anakin Skywalker was my first father." She said, decisively "he hated it when I became interested in mechanics, when I was in love with space and flying, when I developed an obsession with the Jedi and the Clone War heroes Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi. If he had just known about Anakin Skywalker he would have told me. He knew about Vader too." She sighed, "I suppose now I get two disappointments for fathers."
"Leia, I'm sure Bail..." But he wasn't sure about anything.
"I'll get over this." She said, "Bail, at least." Then she looked guilty at Luke, "I'm sorry, I know you had to deal with a lot of this stuff too."
"My Aunt and Uncle told me my father was a navigator on a spice freighter." He said, "and Ben...Obi-Wan, told me he was a good pilot and jedi and friend."
"That's true," Leia said, trying to offer comfort "I really was obsessed with them for years, when I was studying the fall of the republic in secret. He was all of those things."
"He also told me Vader Betrayed and murdered my father." Luke said, “Would you have preferred that lie?”
“No,” Leia answered, and they looked at each other for a long moment. There was an understanding between the two of them that Luke had never felt with anyone. But they couldn’t vocalize it just yet.
Luke returned to scraping Artoo’s nooks clean, and Leia finished with the stripped wire. She turned Threepio back on and asked him for a verbal diagnostic.
“Oh thank the maker, Princess, this is the best I can ever remember my leg feeling.” He prattled, and Luke was struck by the peace of it all, he and his sister and their droids
Artoo beeped out something, even though he’d been rather still and quiet throughout Luke’s work.
“Well, obviously It worked better when I was first made Artoo, but that was some years ago, and I have had my memory wiped since then.” Threepio countered, “I just thank the Maker the Princess is so adept at it.”
“It’s my pleasure, Threepio.”
Luke like how Leia treated droids. He smiled as he began cleaning Artoo’s front port, the one he had been working on four years ago when he had inadvertently played a holo of his twin sister. It had been so long ago, four years and a life time. He’d had an Aunt and an Uncle then. A future as a moisture farmer. At the time he had known that his father was dead, that he had been a navigator on a spice freighter. That his parents had loved each other.
He’d certainly gained more than he’d lost. His sister, the force, his father’s soul. Even the truth about his own history. The truth was better. But the cost had been high.
“My Aunt claimed to have met my mother once.” Luke said, looking at Leia, “She said Father brought a woman home with him when Grandma died. Aunt Beru thought she was from the core, said she was rich and beautiful and kind. That they loved each other very much. I looked into it a bit when I was older. Figured she wasn’t rich, just, less poor than Tatooine Moisture farmers, which isn’t exactly hard. And her name was Nabooian. Naboo was pretty close to Tatooine, just a handful of parsecs. It made sense for a poor woman from Naboo to fall for a Tatooine based Spacer. I just figured they feel in love, life was hard, they died, and I got shipped back home.”
“But then I found out about Vader, and that the Emperor was from Naboo too.”
Luke doesn’t have to connected the dots for Leia. She slumped down and put her head in her hands.
“Oh dear,” Threepio said, apparently they don’t have to connect the dots for him either.
“It's not an uncommon thing, on Tatooine.” Luke added. “Grandma use to insist that her son had no father. And it wasn’t like she was the first slave woman to say that. I use to look a the old overseers in Anchorhead and Mos Eisley, see if I had there nose or something. So. you know, it was important, that my mother and father, they had been in love.”
“She was a concubine,” Leia whispered, “A gift from the Emperor from his home planet. Beautiful and kind and sad and scared and forced to be with him…to bare his children to…”
Artoo started beeping again. A rather insistent noise that sounded like his version of no, but with more ferocity than Luke had ever heard.
“Artoo, what is the meaning of this.” Threepio demand, and the droid responded with a rather complex round of beeps that were instructions Luke couldn’t quite make out.
“Artoo says,” And Threepio sounded more bemused than normal, which was saying something, “that if you were to engage my light sensor subroutines as I engage my total memory capacity. My memory from the wipe will be restored. Artoo, what are you going on about. That makes no sense.”
“You can’t return a wiped droid memory.” Luke said, peering at Artoo strangely.
“No, wait," Leia said, looking at Threepio considerately, “I know I’ve read about that as a backup memory protocol once...like, a spy tactic, let your droid get wiped and then have a hidden memory program. I can’t think of where I read it but...Threepio would have had to have been programed with that backup already. Before the wiping. Artoo, why do you think Threepio would have that programming?”
But Artoo was already beeping excitingly. And then, just as he had for Luke, four years before, he played the holo of a beautiful dark haired woman in white.
Leia had already started removing one of the light receptors, but she gives half her attention back to Luke when he began questioning the the small droid.
"I think this is Padme Amidala." Luke said. He'd looked her up several time in the ten years since he'd first developed his theory about his mother's home planet. It was a connection he liked, so many children of Naboo looked up to her even these many years later. If he was a child of Naboo once removed, he liked to look up to her too.
“That’s definitely her.” Leia agreed as she adjusted something behinds the light receptor sockets after just a quick glance. “My father had all sorts of pictures of her, they were good friends.” She fiddled with a switch and then popped the eye back in, before turning to give the picture another look. “She’s wearing white though, I’ve never seen that before. I’ve engaged the subroutine, engage your memory capacity, lets see if this works.” She instructed Threepio.
“What does the color she’s wearing matter?” Luke asked, inspecting the image, trying to figure out why Artoo has showed it.
“It doesn’t, not really. I just noticed as a child, when I looked at her formal senatorial clothing. Because Alderaanian women in the senate wear...wore white.” Leia explained, “That looks like a formal dress though.”
“The background doesn’t look anywhere senatorial, or like Coruscant.” Luke said
“Oh, no, Master Luke, that was her wedding on Naboo.” Threepio cut in. Both twins whipped around to stare at him.
“She wasn’t married.” Luke said.
“Of course she was. It was only proper, and they were so good about that sort of protocol. See, there’s the holy man now.”
And they looked back, Artoo’s holo had shifted, to three people against a picturesque backdrop. The man in the middle was obviously a holy man of some kind, and the senator and the tall man in a long cloak clasped their hands together as he spoke.
“It was a beautiful wedding, wasn’t it Artoo.” And the smaller droid beeped in agreement.
“Threepio, are you telling me that you and Artoo were both at Senator Padme Amidala’s secret wedding, over 25 years ago?” Leia asked, bemused by the picture before her.
“Of Course Miss Leia, it was right after the terrible battle that started the Clone Wars, and right before I began serving Senator Amidala full time. I was a wedding gift you see, and a rather fine one, I believe. We…” His voice broke abruptly with a mechanical pop. His light sensors flashing repeatedly. Leia was just about to turn him off and try a system reboot when he spoke.
“Artoo Detoo, you let them wipe my memories. Of everything. How could you. Right after the babies were born. That is such a betray...Oh dear, I forgot about the babies, Artoo. How could you let that happen.”
The other droid beeped in response.
“No, I will not calm down, I forgot the Maker. And Senator Amidala.” Artoo beeped again, “You remembered this entire time, and yet you let me lollygag about.” He stopped suddenly and looked at the twins, who were staring at the droid argument.
"The memory back up really works. Glad Threepio had the program in place, but why now Artoo.” Luke asked the droids. But Leia was looking at the holo again, the secret wedding of Padme Amidala. She had the look of someone just beginning to make since of a puzzle and her emotions twisted and swirled and raged like a sandstorm.
It couldn’t have been more than a minute, but somehow it felt like much longer when Leia spoke. “I remember where I saw the backup memory trick.” she whispered, not looking at Luke and Threepio, eyes on the holo.
"My father had a lot of random documents he salvaged from the Clone Wars. A weird grab bag of things. I read all of them as a kid. There was a set of mechanism schematics among them. My love of mechanics and my love of the Clone Wars were about the same time, they were one of my favorites." She sighed, "it was basically a dissertation about the war applications for personal droids. Written by General Anakin Skywalker."
“Leia?” Luke questioned, but all of his sister’s attention was on the holo, on the tall man in the holo.
“Threepio,” She asked, not looking at him, “did Anakin Skywalker give you to Padme Amidala when they got married.”
“Yes, Miss Leia,” Not princess, Luke noted, but something like Master Luke, something he might call the child of an owner. A new protocol.
“It's a boy,” came a voice Luke knew well, Artoo’s holovid had changed. Now it was Ben, looking like the Clone War hero in Leia’s old holo’s and not the sad Tatooine hermit. He held a red faced newborn in his arms, presenting it to the woman lying on the examination table. Padme Amidala, again, though she looked pale and worn and sad.
“Luke,” she said, and he’d never heard his mother’s voice until she breathed out his name for the first time.
They watched as it kept going, as Obi-Wan presented another baby to her mother.
“It’s a girl.”
“Our mother,” Luke whispered reverently. This beautiful senator and queen. This rich off-worlder. Who was married to his father in the beauty of Naboo. Who was given a droid as a wedding gift. Luke’s droid.
“There still good in him.” She insisted to Obi-Wan with her last breath, before Artoo cut the vid, playing the wedding again. A happier memory.
“My father use to say I reminded him of Senator Amidala.” Leia said after a moment. But she was frowning.
“And you are,” Threepio said quickly, “She too was a brilliant politician and…”
“Please be quiet.” She asked the droid.
“You are like her,” Luke agreed, “You look just like her.” though, the more the stared, the more he could almost make out some of his own features in her face, and perhaps, if they could get another clear shot of Anakin, they could see Leia in his. If she wanted to see it.
“I guess, a little,” Leia agreed, “but, you are like her. You...you saw the good in Vader after everything. Just like her.”
Luke tried to fight down the grin the thought inspired in him, but even the most sobering thoughts could not really chase it away. “That was 25 years ago,” he countered any way, “He hadn’t done so many horrible things yet.”
“He’d done enough,” Leia assured him, “Artoo, do you have more holos.”
The tiny droid beeped in response.
Leia took a deep breath, “Artoo, do you and Threepio know what happened?”
What happened. Such a broad, open ended question, and all four of them knew exactly what she meant.
“Miss Leia,” Threepio tries exactly as Artoo let out a long string of beeps in the affirmative, but his next statement was harder to work out.
“Artoo wants to know if you are sure you want to hear the entire thing?” Threepio translated.
Luke was about to assure them they did. but Leia beat him to it. “No.” she said, quickly. Another deep breath, “Not now, not today. Don’t...don’t delete it, we will
to know. But I don’t know if I can right now.” It ended with there mother dead, their father serving as a slave to a monster, and them on opposite ends of the galaxy, it
can't be a happy story.
“Of course Miss Leia, Princess Leia.”
She nodded at the droid but Luke did have another question.
“Were our parents in love?” He asked “Or was the wedding some kind of farce. Set up by the emperor or something.”
“Master Luke, Miss Leia, both I and my counterpart can assure you that your parents were very much in love. There wedding was conducted in secret. I cannot think of a reason why humans would engage in such a ceremony if not for their own benefits. Master Ani gave me to your mother as a token of his affection, and Senator Amidala gave Artoo to Master Ani as a symbol of the same.”
“Some cultures exchange jewelry or locks of hair or flowers .” Leia offered, in a weak joke, “why not droids.”
“Play it again, please. Artoo. The wedding.” Luke asked.
Luke Skywalker was a moisture farmer. He had always known he was the son of a former slave turned spacer and some rich off-worlder. Now, here he stood, watching his parents wedding. He had a princess for a twin sister. He had Jedi knight for a father. He had Queen and Senator for a mother. It was, arguably, the strangest family any moisture farmer has ever managed to scrape together
He watched his father grasp his mother’s hand. It was mechanical, just like his, years before he was Vader.
He was a Jedi Knight, like his father before him. He was a diplomat and an ambassador like his mother on her best days. His Royal sister a politician like their mother, and every bit the warrior their general of a father had been. Maybe this little pocket of family wasn’t so strange after all.
His parent kiss. Maybe it didn’t matter. Spacer, Slave, Senator, Sith. His parents loved each other. They loved he and Leia. Now, he and his sister loved each other. He loved Han and Chewie and his pilots.
Padme Amidala’s love hadn’t saved Anakin Skywalker. But it gave her a son and a daughter who could fight. Fight for each other and the galaxy and even her husband’s soul.
It was a beautiful legacy.
That was enough.