Disclaimer: Not mine. I'm just playing. I'll put'em back when I'm done.

Rating: G

Synopsis: A look back at the childhood of one certain Princess.

The garden was green and lush, the fragrance of a multitude of flowers in the air. The area surrounding the palace Simina on Alderaan was among the largest on the planet. The royal family had spared no expense to either their own estate or those of their subjects. If anything, Alderaan was the perfect example of paradise.

Behind the palace a huge pond gave food and rest to may aquatic birds and supplied some of the wildlife with water. Sitting on a rock at the edge of the water was a little girl. She had spent an hour staring out across the pond, watching the birds. Hugging her knees to her chest, her brown eyes took in everything. A few smaller birds had even settle on the rock beside her to sunbathe.

She sensed more than heard her mother coming across the lawn toward her. Turning her head, a long braid whipped over her shoulder, scaring the birds close to her. The woman walking toward her was tall and beautiful. Her skin was pale, though, and her eyes held a deep sorrow. Watching her mother coming toward her, the little girl wondered silently about her. They talked a lot when they were together and her mother could smile and laugh, but at unguarded moments, her facade dropped and the sadness gushed up in her like stagnant water from an old well.

"Leia," she said, when she finally reached the pond. She settled down on the grass beside her daughter and looked up into the hauntingly beautiful face. For a five-year old, her daughter had charm enough to captivate their host, viceroy Bail Organa.

Leia slipped off her rock and sat down in the grass next to her mother. "The birds came again today, mum. They sat there, right next to me," she said, pointing at the rock she had just left.

Amidala looked lovingly into her daughter's eyes, gently caressing her hair. "Yes. That is because you are so still that they don't fear you, my dear. They think you are a part of the rock," she replied, speaking softly as she always did. Amidala was a gentle woman who had always refused to see the bad in a person until . . . Her thoughts trailed off, her subconscious mind not wanting to go on with that train of thought. "What have you learned today, dear?" she asked instead.

"A lot of things. But, mum, I don't understand why I have to know all these things. I mean, they treat me as if I were a queen myself. Why do they do that, mum?" Leia's question came from the bottom of her heart. She wanted to know what was going on. She could sense bad things coming but was still too young to interpret them correctly.

"Because you are such a little charmer. Besides, it's good to know these things. One day, when you're old enough, you may marry a prince and become his queen when he takes over the throne. Have you ever considered that?" Amidala asked, smiling when her daughter made a face at the idea.

"A prince? Ugh." That also came from the bottom of her heart.

Amidala slipped her arms around her daughter and cradled her to her. As she did that, the eternal sadness that seemed to overshadow her entire being, almost overwhelmed her. She held Leia tight, fighting the tears that rose in her eyes. It was at quiet moments like this that she had trouble withstanding the pain that seemed to make up her life. Although she had her daughter with her and could watch her growing every day, she knew that she soon had to leave. She had to go away and never come back. And somewhere out there, somewhere on some godforsaken world at the rim of the galaxy, Leia's twin-brother was hidden away from prying eyes. The prying eyes of their father. Finally having formed the thought in her mind, Amidala closed her eyes against them, wanting to undo what she had done. Wanting to do what she had not been able to do. To save her husband. To save him from a destiny more cruel and more painful than death. To be able to have the twins together and him by her side. Tilting her head a little she looked up at the ever-blue sky of Alderaan, sending a silent prayer to whatever gods had time to listen. The prayer that someday all this pain would end.

"Leia, listen to me," she finally said, letting go of her daughter and holding her at arms' length. "I'll have to go away soon and I want you to be a brave little girl and accept it, all right?"

Leia looked up into her mother's eyes and shook her head. "No, don't leave me. Please mommy, don't leave me," she whimpered, throwing her arms around her mother's neck. She started to sob uncontrollably.

"But I'll be back, darling," Amidala lied.

"No, no, you won't. I know you won't. You'll go away and leave me here for ever and ever. Please don't leave," the little girl sobbed on.

Amidala thought of a million reasons to stay and could only find one reason to go. A reason that was far better than any of the others. Pushing Leia out at arms' length again, she eyed her crying child. "Don't you like the Organas, sweetheart?" she asked. Leia nodded, sniffing, trying to stop crying. "They'll be nice to you. You'll be in good hands until I come back."

Leia shook her head, not understanding why her mother wanted to leave her. And, of one thing she was certain. If her mother left, she would never come back. How she knew it was unimportant. She just knew. "Don't leave me. Please," she whispered, rubbing at her left eye with the base of her hand.

Looking into those doe eyes, Amidala felt all her good intentions and her strength crumble. How could she even think about leaving this defenseless little being alone? Wasn't it enough that she had lost her husband and her son? Pulling Leia in close, she hugged her, by that hiding her own tears. "All right, dear. I won't leave. I'll stay right here."

Hearing those words did wonders to Leia. She stopped crying instantly, hugging her mother back. "Thank you, mommy," she whispered.


The weeks passed and Amidala stayed. But, she got increasingly restless, knowing that it was only a matter of time before the imperial spies found her and by that also Leia. She had nightmares about what would happen, if Anakin got a hold of their daughter. In his present state he would be able to do anything to her.

Leia, on the other hand, felt her mother's fears and interpreted them in her own way. She knew that something dangerous was coming closer, but she couldn't connect it with her mother's restlessness. She wanted so much to be older, to understand better. She wanted to know what made her mother so afraid. But, whenever she asked, her mother just put on a smile and waved all sorrows away. But, underneath the happiness and the smiles, Leia knew that something was wrong.

Amidala sat down on the sofa in her private chambers and looked up at Bail Organa. Leia was in bed, sleeping, so she wouldn't overhear their conversation. Bail took a seat across from Amidala, leaning forward to take her hands.

"My dear, we have to act. Now. I know how difficult it must be for you, but you must leave now. If you don't leave, he will know where you are and you know what will happen then," he said.

Amidala nodded sadly. "Yes, Bail, I know. You are a dear friend and I know you are right. But, to see that pain in her eyes again, that certain knowledge that I will never come back again . . . I just don't think I can stand it again, Bail. I'd rather die than leave her like that. Death she could understand," she whispered, looking down at their locked hands.

"Yes, and a death we can stage. Two or three days from now, you must leave Alderaan. During that time, we will stage your death for the benefit of your daughter. To make her realize that no matter how she cries, you will not come back. She is a strong little girl and she will soon begin to accept it." Bail eyed Amidala, seeing the pain and hopelessness in her eyes. He felt deeply for her and knew the pain it was causing her, but under the current circumstances, he could not risk the population of an entire planet so that she could be allowed to stay with her daughter. And, it was essential that Leia stayed behind. Alone Amidala might have a chance of getting away from her husband. With the girl, never.

"I know it must be done. I just wish it wouldn't hurt so much," she replied, squeezing his hands.


In her bed in the other room, Leia stirred in her dream, sensing her mother's departure. She had all along known that, one way or another, her mother would leave. She didn't understand why, but she knew it was inevitable. She had just tried to keep her back for as long as she could.

The following morning, her mother did not come in to wake her as usual. She woke up a lot later than she was used to, and was instantly afraid to be alone. She ran into Amidala's bedroom to find her there surrounded by people.

Bail Organa took her by the shoulders and led her back out of her mother's bedroom. Kneeling down in front of her, he took her hands in his. "Leia, listen to me. Your mother is very ill and you can't be with her, because you might get ill, too," he explained.

Leia tried to see past him, wanting to know what was happening in that room. "What about all those other people? Won't they get sick, too?" she wanted to know, already feeling tears stinging her eyes.

"No, dear. They're doctors. You must be brave now, all right?" he replied, noting how close the girl was to crying.

Leia nodded, biting her lower lip, her little hands squeezing his. "I can be brave. Mommy would want me to be, wouldn't she?" she asked and Bail nodded.

"That's right. Your mother would want you to be brave. Always," he told her, smiling softly.

Leia looked into his eyes, feeling that even if her mother did leave her, she still had friends. It would never be the same as her mother, but she would still have friends. Determined to make her mother proud, she nodded, still biting her lip.

"That's my girl," Bail said, hugging her for a moment.


The following day was what Leia considered the worst day ever. She wasn't allowed to see her mother and was even expected to follow class that day. Eventually, the private teacher gave up, unable to capture her attention. She slipped out of her class room and ran back to her mother's quarters. Inside, everything was silent, so she opened the door and stepped into the living room. The curtains were closed and the air inside the always so bright and sweet-scented chambers was stale and stuffy. Looking around and moving cautiously, she entered the chambers as if it was forbidden territory. There were no sounds and she had the awful feeling that something was not the way it was supposed to be. Her mind, young and full of a child's fears, imagined the most horrible things. The worst thing would be that her mother was dead. Creeping up to her mother's bedroom door, Leia put an ear against it, listening hard. There were no sounds coming through the door, so she decided to be bold and open it. She stood up on her toes and planted her small palm on the door opener. The bedroom door instantly hissed open, revealing the beautiful room which in every item represented her mother. But, Leia didn't enter. One look was enough for her to see that her mother wasn't there. She wasn't in her bed any more.

The door to the quarters opened and Leia swirled around, hoping to see her mother, fearing she was trespassing. Bail Organa stood in the open door. He briefly looked around the living room, then looked at Leia.

"Where's my mommy? What's happened to her?" Leia asked. Something in Bail's conduct suggested that it wasn't good. Leia had a sense for things like that. She could sense bad things happening.

Bail went down on one knee, reaching a hand out to her. "Come over here, Leia," he said softly and she did.

Putting her small hand in his, she looked into his eyes and saw something there that she didn't want to see. "What's happened to my mommy?" she whispered with trembling lips.

"Leia, your mother was very sick and sometimes, when people get very sick, they just don't get better. Do you understand?" He tried to explain it as diplomatically as possible, but at the same time he knew that she was nothing but a child and she didn't understand diplomatic talk yet.

The little girl shook her head, almost certain about what would come next. She bit her lower lip so hard it started bleeding.

Bail looked into her eyes, feeling compelled by what he had to say to her. He had to be convincing. He had to tell her. Getting up again, he lifted her up into his arms and sat down on the sofa. For a while, he didn't know how to break her heart best. He had to do it, since Amidala was not going to come back. Better to tell the child what they had planned so she would stop hoping that her mother would one day return to her. As long as there was an Empire, it was impossible. Having put a comforting arm around Leia's shoulders, he took one of her hands and faced her. "There comes a time in every person's life where they have to let go of a loved one. For children it's their parents. For couples it's their partner. When that time comes, the pain and sorrow over losing that special person can seem overwhelming. It can seem as if it will never end. As if the galaxy has collapsed around you," he began, seeing tears rising in her eyes. "Your mother was very sick, Leia, and in great pain. She had to leave you to get better. She had to go away. But, where she is now she's no longer in pain. She's happy now and she'll watch over you." Most of what he said wasn't a lie. Except for the part about Amidala being happy. He knew for certain that she wasn't. She had shed bitter tears over leaving her little girl. She had been devastated to say the least. With a broken heart she had entered the shuttle that took her away from Alderaan perhaps forever.

"She's dead, isn't she?" Leia whispered as tears broke loose from her eyes and rolled down her flushing cheeks. "She got sick and now she's dead," she added.

Bail nodded weakly, not really wanting to say yes. If he said yes, the lie would be complete. But, it was the best for the child. Leia would soon learn to live with the pain and eventually, it would fade. It would probably never really go away, but she was still young. And, he had a lot of plans for her. A lot of things to keep her occupied, to take her mind off her loss. Taking a deep breath, he nodded again. "Yes, Leia. Your mother is dead. She asked me to take care of you and I said I would. If you want me to," he replied.

Crying harder now, Leia nodded and threw her arms around his neck. She wanted that. She was used to Bail. He was very kind and always made her laugh. If she couldn't be with her mother, she at least wanted to stay here.

Holding her close, Bail silently cursed the circumstances that had forced so much pain on these wonderful people. So much pain and suffering, that in his opinion was completely uncalled for. "You'll stay here then. I'll take care of you and you'll take care of me. That way we can both get something out of this union of ours."

Hiding her face against his shoulder, Leia nodded. In her childish, naive mind, she swore that she would do just that. She would not loose Bail, too. He would be her father and she would be his daughter. She would work hard so that he never stopped loving her. She would be a good little girl, because that was what her mother would want her to be. Forever.