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Second Chances

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Luke Amidala had looked forward to summer camp every year for as long as he’d been going. The first year had been when he was nine. His friend Han Solo had spent the entire school year telling him about the camp he’d been to the previous summer, and Luke had bugged his mother about it so much that Padmé had finally given in and signed him up when the time came. She was reluctant to send her son off to the woods by himself for six whole weeks; Padmé wasn’t very outdoorsy and simply could not see why Luke would want to go, not to mention she’d never been apart from him for six whole weeks before.

But on the other hand, it would allow her to spend some time in DC without having to drag Luke away from his friends yet again. As a U.S. senator, Padmé’s time was split pretty evenly between the nation’s capital and the state she was representing, Massachusetts in her case. Technically, though, the brownstone in Boston was her and Luke’s primary residence, and Luke always complained when she made him come with her to DC. During the school year, Padmé tried to let him stay home in the care of her good friend Obi-Wan Kenobi whenever possible, but she always brought Luke with her in the summer, and he never failed to mope the whole time. So, really, loath as she was to send him off to camp, it was a bit of a blessing in disguise. A win-win situation for both of them.

The summer after Luke turned twelve was no different than other years in that he was counting the days until camp began. He loved meeting up with his friends from previous summers, making new friends, and, of course, spending the entire six weeks getting into trouble with Han, or more accurately, letting Han singlehandedly get them both into trouble.

“Ready to beat everyone in fencing again this year?” Han asked as he and Luke got settled in the cabin they were sharing with half a dozen other campers.

“You bet,” said Luke, grinning. He was something of a fencing prodigy, which he’d discovered his first year at camp. He remembered excitedly telling Padmé all about it when he’d gotten home, and she’d gotten a weird look on her face and muttered something about Luke’s father. Luke had never met his father—he and Padmé had separated when Luke was just a baby—but judging by what little he’d managed to get out of Obi-Wan after Padmé had refused to talk, Anakin Skywalker had been quite a talented fencer himself. Luke was thrilled at the thought that he had something in common with his father, whom he knew almost nothing about other than his name, seeing as Padmé always clammed up whenever he was mentioned. Even Obi-Wan didn’t talk about him much, though Luke personally believed that was more to respect Padmé’s wishes than anything.

But when fencing day came around one week into camp, Luke was shocked to discover that there was a newcomer who was also a very skilled fencer. Not as good as Luke, obviously, but it was a close thing. When it finally came time for them to face each other, all the onlookers watched with bated breath, seeing as both were undefeated so far.

“En garde. Fence!”

They took off. Luke’s opponent was highly adept at blocking his strikes, not to mention aggressive on the offense, and Luke quickly grew frustrated. But then, at last, his opponent left a tiny spot open, and Luke dove forward and landed a hit.

“And we have a winner!” the counselor announced.

Luke beamed in pride and worked on taking the heavy mask off while the other campers cheered. But then he heard an angry voice exclaim, “But he cheated!”

Luke turned around in indignation and saw that it was his opponent who had spoken. Now that the mask was off, he saw that she was a girl who looked about his own age, with long brown hair and dark eyes currently narrowed in annoyance. She seemed oddly familiar, though Luke had never seen her before in his life.

“I didn’t cheat!” he protested.

“Yes, you did,” she replied. “Your foot crossed over the line when you hit me.”

“No, it didn’t!”

“Yes, it did!”

“I didn’t see anything,” the counselor intervened. “I’m sorry, Leia, but I’m going to let Luke have this one.”

“But I saw it!” Leia said shrilly. She seemed to realize she’d lost the argument, though, so she shot Luke a nasty glare before stalking off.

Luke shrugged, then moved away from the piste so the next match could begin and started taking off his gear. “What’s her problem?” Han said, coming to stand beside him.

“I don’t know. Sore loser, I guess.”

“Unless you really did cheat.”

“Hey!” Luke exclaimed, but then he saw that Han was laughing.

“Kidding. Luke Amidala, a cheater? Never.”

Luke was, generally speaking, a highly non-confrontational person, so he was dismayed to realize that Leia seemed to have made him into her sworn enemy following the fencing incident. She always had a hurtful comment ready whenever they were forced to interact, and Luke was convinced that she’d pushed him into the lake on purpose, though she swore it was an accident.

Things came to a head during capture the flag one Friday two weeks later. The pair was on opposite teams, and Luke was guarding his team’s flag—or at least, he was supposed to be, until he suddenly realized in horror that it was gone. He whipped his head around and saw that Leia was sprinting in the other direction with the flag clutched in her hands. How had she managed to sneak past him?

Luke barreled after her and caught up just before they reached the line dividing the two teams’ territory. He dove towards her and tackled her, shouting, “You’re out!”

“Get off me!” Leia yelled, flailing her arms and accidentally hitting Luke in the face.

“Ow! You just hit me!”

“No, I didn’t!”

“Yeah, you did!”

“Get off me!”

“Ow! Stop it!”

Several counselors rushed over to break up the scuffle. “What is going on here?” one of them demanded.

“She hit me!” Luke said, pointing an accusing finger at Leia.

“It was an accident! He shoved me!”

“I was just tagging you, ’cause this is capture the flag!”

“You two have been at odds for weeks,” the counselor interrupted. “I think it’s time you make peace with each other. I’m taking you back to your cabins, and then I’m going to wait outside while you sort this out yourselves.”

Their protests fell on deaf ears, and the counselor started leading them away. Luke looked glumly over his shoulder as the game proceeded without them. Stupid Leia. This was all her fault.

They ended up in Leia’s cabin, and true to her word, the counselor went back outside and shut the door firmly behind her, leaving them alone. Luke and Leia stood in angry silence for a solid five minutes before Luke sighed and said, “I’m sorry.” Privately, he didn’t think he had anything to apologize for, but he wanted to get the ball rolling so they could go back outside, and he doubted Leia was going to apologize first.

There was a brief pause, and then Leia muttered, “Sorry.”

Delighted, Luke poked his head outside. “Can we go back now?”

“Did you really work everything out in five minutes?” the counselor said skeptically.

“Well, I said sorry and she said sorry.”

“Not good enough. You need to actually talk to each other so we can put an end to this disagreement once and for all. I don’t want it resurfacing again tomorrow.”

Luke whined and complained a bit, but the counselor held firm, so at last he slammed the door shut again and turned back to Leia. “Why do you hate me so much?” he asked bluntly. “I’m sorry for what happened when we were fencing. If I did step over the line, I swear it wasn’t on purpose.”

“I don’t hate you,” Leia said after a moment.

“Then why are you being so mean to me?”

She shrugged and didn’t answer. Just as Luke was starting to wonder if they’d spend the rest of the summer in that cabin, Leia admitted, “I don’t like it here.”

Luke stared at her, astonished. “Why not? This is the best place ever!”

“Not to me. I don’t like the outdoors much, but my dad made me come. He said he loved this sort of thing when he was my age and swore I’d like it, but I don’t. I—I’m kinda homesick,” she mumbled. “And I miss my dad.”

No wonder she’d been lashing out, then. Luke, empathetic and forgiving as always, immediately felt his heart soften, and he strode over to give Leia a hug. She stiffened in surprise, but tentatively hugged him back after a minute. “Where do you live?” Luke asked, stepping away.

“California. You?”

“Boston.”

Leia regarded him in surprise. “Boston? That’s even farther away than California.” The camp was in Colorado. “You’re really not homesick?”

“Nah. I’ve been coming here since I was nine, and every year I’ve had Han, my friend from home, here with me. Plus, my mom’s a senator, so we’re going back and forth between Boston and DC all the time. I’m used to being away from home.”

Leia looked impressed. “Your mom’s a senator? Like, in Congress?”

“Uh-huh,” Luke said proudly.

“Wow! That’s so cool!” A moment later, Leia added, “I want to be a senator someday.”

“Really?” Luke made a face. “It seems pretty boring.”

Leia laughed. “You sound like my dad. He doesn’t want me to go into politics. He hates politicians. But I think that’s just because my mom was one.”

“Your mom?”

“Yeah. I’ve never met her, they split up when I was a baby. Dad never talks about her, either.”

“My parents split up when I was a baby, too,” Luke confided. “Except my dad was the one who left, so it’s just me and my mom now.”

“Have you ever met him?”

“Nope. And Mom doesn’t talk about him, same as with you.”

“Huh.” Leia looked thoughtful. “I’ve always wondered what she’s like. My mom, I mean, not yours. I know she looked like me, though.”

“She did?”

“Yeah. I have a picture of her. Want to see?”

“Sure.”

Leia pulled out a backpack and started rummaging around. Something fell out and fluttered to the ground, so Luke picked it up to hand back to her. “You dropped th—wait a second.” It was a photograph, and Luke had just caught sight of the people in it.

Leia twisted around to look at him. “What?”

“Leia,” said Luke slowly, “why do you have a picture of you and my dad?”

“Huh?”

He held it out for her to see. The picture looked fairly recent, judging by Leia’s age. She was standing in front of what looked like a small airplane, and beside her was a tall man with disheveled dirty blond hair and light eyes, one of which had a thin, vertical scar right next to it. He was older than he was in the picture Luke had, but Luke was positive that it was Anakin Skywalker.

“What are you talking about?” Leia asked, looking confused. “That’s my dad. He’s a pilot, you know. Well, his real job is a teacher, but before that he was in the Air Force, which is where he learned to fly, except he got honorably discharged after he lost his arm in a car accident, and—”

“What’s his name?” Luke interrupted.

“Anakin Skywalker.”

Luke gaped at her, heart racing. “That’s impossible,” he said at last.

Leia frowned. “What do you mean, it’s impossible? That’s his name.”

“But—but—”

“But what?”

“But my dad’s name is Anakin Skywalker.”

Leia stared at him in disbelief. “I thought you said you didn’t know anything about him.”

“Yeah, but I know his name, and I have a picture of him, and I’m telling you, that’s him.” He jabbed his finger at the photograph for emphasis.

“Okay.” Leia took a deep breath; her brain was clearly working overtime to make sense of the situation. “So maybe—so maybe we have the same dad and we’re half-siblings or something. Or maybe your mom lied to you and he’s not really your dad.”

“Why would my mom lie about that? Sure, she hates talking about him, but she wouldn’t tell me the wrong name and give me the wrong picture.”

Leia opened her mouth, then closed it again and narrowed her eyes. “Your mom’s a politician.”

“What’s that got to do with anything?” asked Luke.

“My mom’s a politician, too, according to my dad.”

Luke’s eyes widened. “Wait a minute. You don’t think—?”

“What’s your mom’s name?”

“Padmé Amidala.”

The color drained from Leia’s face, and she turned back to her backpack and started digging through it with renewed intensity. An agonizingly long minute later, she pulled out what looked like a ripped half of a photograph and shoved it in Luke’s face. “This is my mom.”

Luke gasped. The woman in the picture, though ten or so years younger, was clearly Padmé Amidala.

“That’s her,” he said. “That’s my mom.”

And now he realized why Leia had seemed familiar: because she looked like Padmé. Same eyes, same hair color, same small stature. Without another word, Luke burst back outside, startling the counselor who was still sitting there. “Is everything all settled?” she asked.

“Yes,” said Luke breathlessly. “Can Leia and I go to my cabin now? I want to show her the—the, um, really cool rock I found yesterday.”

The counselor smiled fondly as Leia stepped outside, as well. “Sure. It’s free time now, anyway. Just make sure not to miss dinner in an hour. Great job resolving everything, you two.”

Luke and Leia tore off towards Luke’s cabin. Han was inside when they burst in. “Hey, Luke. Where’d you go during capture the flag?” Then he saw Leia. “And what’s she doing here?”

“Not now, Han,” Luke said impatiently, and he dumped the contents of his own backpack on his bed and hunted through it until he pulled out a photograph. Well, half a photograph. Torn right down the middle, just like Leia’s.

With a shaking hand, he held it up to Leia’s half, and sure enough, they fit together perfectly to form one whole photograph of Padmé Amidala and Anakin Skywalker standing in front of the Washington Monument, beaming and with their arms around each other.

“No,” Leia breathed. “That’s—how can—?”

Something suddenly occurred to Luke. “Leia, when’s your birthday?”

“May twenty-sixth.”

“That’s—” Luke swallowed. “That’s my birthday, too. You just turned twelve?”

“Yeah.” Her eyes looked like they were about to fall out of her head. “So you’re saying we’re…siblings?”

“Not just siblings. We’re twins.

The shocked silence that followed was soon broken by Han. “What are you guys talking about?”


“I don’t understand why they didn’t tell us about each other,” Luke said for the thousandth time a week later. “I mean, my mom always refused to tell me anything about my dad, but at least I knew he existed.”

“I know,” Leia agreed. “It’s pretty messed up. Actually, it’s really messed up. They had no right to keep us from each other!”

“Yeah!” Luke found himself getting angry. Clearly, Leia—his twin sister—was already having a bad influence on him.

“My dad had better have a really good explanation for all this when I get home.”

“Same with my—” Luke broke off, an idea suddenly striking him.

“What?” asked Leia.

“You don’t know anything about Mom.”

“Right.”

“So you’ve always wanted to meet her.”

“Yeah.”

“And I don’t know anything about Dad, so I’ve always wanted to meet him.”

“Where are you going with this?” Leia said suspiciously.

“What if we switched places and went back to each other’s houses after camp?” Luke suggested excitedly.

Leia raised her eyebrows. “What, like, pretend to be each other? That obviously won’t work. Even if I could pass for a boy and you for a girl, we look nothing alike.”

“No, that’s not what I meant. I mean, neither of our parents are picking us up here, we’re both flying home and they’re meeting us at the airport. So, you take my flight and I take your flight, and then you’ll get to meet Mom and I’ll get to meet Dad.”

“Won’t they just send us right back on the next plane home?” Leia said, looking skeptical.

“Doubt it. They’ll be way too shocked to think of that. I’d say we’ll each get at least a day with them.” Luke gasped and added, “And then they’ll have to switch us back eventually, right? So they’ll have to talk to each other about it, and they’ll probably even have to see each other face-to-face.”

“Okay,” said Leia slowly. “Say this works. First of all, we’ll get in huge trouble—”

“Who cares? It’ll be worth it.”

“—second of all, making Dad and Mom see each other again probably isn’t a good idea, anyway.”

“Why not?”

“Well, they split up and have refused to even talk about each other for the past twelve years, let alone to each other,” Leia pointed out. “They probably hate each other.”

“I don’t see how they could. Mom’s awesome.”

Leia bristled at the implication. “So is Dad,” she said defensively.

“So then how could they hate each other?”

“Just because we love them doesn’t mean they love each other.”

“Maybe they only hate talking about each other because it’s too painful because they do still love each other.”

“Hopeless romantic.”

“Pessimist.”

“I’m being realistic.”

“Well, it’s no fun. I don’t see the harm in making them see each other just once,” Luke wheedled.

“You’re really serious about this.”

“Yeah. Come on, you want to meet Mom. You know you do.”

Leia bit her lip, considering it. “Fine,” she said at last, and Luke grinned in triumph. “But when they ask, it was one hundred percent your idea.”