She stared up at the stars, clutching her stuffed Varactyl tightly to her chest, watching as the stars twinkled in the inky blackness above her bed. Normally, her father did not let her leave the shades open at bedtime, but she had been sad today, so open they had remained. Her brother had acted sullen over the treatment, but their father had informed him his window faced the space port, so it was out of the question. He had been offered anything else as a compromise, but her brother had refused, determined to remain sullen.
The ache that had plagued her all day still weighed heavily on her heart. She missed her mother. And that thought had always confused her, as she had never met her mother. Her mother had died on the day that she and her brother were born. She always wondered how she could miss someone she had never known, her brother always said she just missed the idea of their mother. Their father, however, always said that perhaps their mother was finding her through the veil of death while she slept.
She liked her father’s suggestion more than her brother’s.
A shooting star shot across the night sky. She squeezed her Varactyl even tighter.
“Look, Boga,” she whispered to it, “now I can make a wish!” She squeezed her eyes closed. “Dear shooting star, I wish I could see my mother. No, no!! Meet my mother!!” She bit her lip, her face scrunched up in concentration, as she counted the seven seconds required after wishing upon a shooting star.
When she opened her eyes, her bedroom stood empty. There was no ghostly apparition of her mother. Tears welled in her eyes as she squeezed Boga even harder. She let out a shriek of frustration and rage, flinging Boga across her room where the stuffed lizard slammed into a framed image of her mother, knocking it from the shelf where it sat, the glass shattering against the metal floor.
“NO!” she shrieked again, flying from her bed and across the room, pulling Boga free from the broken glass. “Mama…” she whispered, lifting the frame from the floor.
She could hear her father approaching, his breathing apparatus echoing off the polycarbon plastic walls of the corridor to her room. The whoosh of the door opening punctuated his arrival. She could feel her father’s gaze scanning the room when he did not see her in bed.
“Little one?” came his echoing voice through his voice processor. “Are you alright?” His gaze rested upon her where she sobbed over the broken glass.
Her father moved quickly across the room, kneeling with difficulty beside her, he pulled her into his lap. Her shoulders shook with her sobs as she ran her hand over the smooth, grey durasteel clasps of his gloves.
“What is it, my precious girl?” he asked.
“I just… I just wish I could have met her,” she whispered through her sniffles.
“I wish you could have too, little one,” said her father, knowing whom she meant. “You have no idea how much I have wished that over the years. That… that my actions had been different.”
She wiped her eyes on the sleeve of her nightgown. “What do you mean, Papa?” she asked quietly.
“The day your mother died, I made… very poor decisions,” her father began slowly. His gloved hand closed around hers. “I was seduced by the powers of darkness,” he continued. “I was betrayed by a man I thought was my friend and led down a dark path. This friend, he had extraordinary powers, powers no man should have. He was capable of planting dreams within my mind, dreams he knew would drive me to seek his forbidden teachings. I was consumed by the thoughts of these dreams, the fears they instilled.”
“What were the dreams of, Papa?”
“Your mother. Dying.” Her father was silent for many moments. “After the death of my own mother, I did not think I could survive another, so I became consumed with learning how to prevent her death. How to save her. I was determined to learn how to control death itself.”
She gave a little gasp.
Her father nodded gravely. “Yes,” he said, “the power no man should have, I coveted and craved above all else. I told myself it was just to save your mother, but I also, regrettably, enjoyed the power it brought me. My path into darkness saw me make terrible choices, do terrible things. And I kept telling myself that it was all to keep your mother safe, to prevent the outcome for her that I saw in my dreams.
“My terrible decisions led me to have a fight with your uncle,” he continued, “one I believed must be to the death. That he would try to keep me from your mother, that he was only using me, because marriage was not allowed to people like us. That feelings were not allowed to people like us. I was confident in my abilities and my new powers, and I became arrogant in my fight with your uncle. I knew I could best him, that my new master and our combined abilities would not allow me to fail.
“But my arrogance was my downfall, and your uncle bested me, caused me grave injuries, and left me for dead.” He hushed the threatening outburst from his daughter. “No, little one,” he said, “I deserved it, for the way I treated him, for my lack of trust in him. The way I had treated your mother in our final moments together. And as I lay there, burning alive in anguish, I could not help but wonder as to how it had come to this. But I did not need to wonder, as I knew it was only myself I had to blame.
“Your uncle did not give up on me,” said her father, “he returned for me, bringing my unconscious body onto his ship, where he set about the droids and medical staff to healing and repairing what they could. While in the bacta tank, I assume your uncle felt safest with me there, he told me of the death of your mother. How she had died in the hours following the birth of our children, through no causes that the medical staff could find. Your uncle says that when I heard him say ‘children’, he saw a familiar spark in my eye. It was thus that he told me of you and your brother.
“I decided that my salvation would be found in the two of you.” He booped her nose gently with a gloved finger. “It took me many months to shake the hold the emperor had over me, but your uncle was at my side every step of the way, a true brother. When I finally allowed myself to be near you and your brother, you were nearly a year old.”
Her father laughed. “Your brother cried for hours the first time he saw me. But not you, my brave girl, you crawled to me immediately.”
“So, Uncle Obi Wan is the reason you wear your suit?” she asked quietly.
“Yes,” said her father, “he is. But he is also the reason I am here with you and your brother. The reason we get to be a family. He broke me, so I could rebuild myself, with his help, free from the powers of the Dark Side.”
“Do you ever still feel it’s pull?” she asked.
“Sometimes,” her father admitted. “But I remind myself of all that it cost me. If I had only listened to your mother and talked to Uncle Obi Wan, she might be here with us now.” He leaned forward, pressing the cool metal of his helmet to the forehead of his beloved daughter, his way of kissing his children since he could never remove his helmet in their presence. “I am sorry I took her from you, Leia, that I robbed you of the chance of getting to grow up with her here. I will spend every one of my days remaining earning your forgiveness.”
Leia studied the grey durasteel and plasteel of her father’s helmet and face mask. She patted his hand. “You came back from the Dark Side for us, Papa,” she said, “nothing could mean more than that.”
Her father pulled her to him then and he stroked her hair. Her chin resting on his shoulder, she hugged him back.
“I sense the Force has grown stronger with you, Leia,” he said after a long while of silence. “What if I were to teach you of a way to perhaps communicate with your mother?”
Leia pushed herself up from her father’s shoulder. “I thought you couldn’t bring people back from the dead?”
“I cannot,” said her father, “but the Force can bridge unearthly gaps. Uncle Obi Wan and I have been learning to communicate with our old Jedi Master through the Force. Perhaps it can help you feel connected to your mother.”
“And we would do it together?” she asked eagerly.
“We can practice every day if you like.”
A brilliant smile beamed across Leia’s face. “I would like it very much, Papa,” she said.