Being on Naboo just felt so right. It was funny; before, Athara had never really considered any planet her ‘Homeplanet’, but when asked had always supposed Nubia, simply because her earliest memories were from there. But Naboo was different. It felt different; it felt right.
It felt like home.
Even now, years after her first visit, it still felt that way. Even though it felt like everything else in her life was different, it still felt that way. Okay, not everything was different, but nearly everything.
While the Emperor was gone, the Empire still lingered. So the fight wasn’t quite over yet. The Alliance had grown and was doing its best to fulfill its mandate to restore the Republic while also doing its best to deal with the remnants of Empire. And there were Jedi again, though their numbers were still, understandably, very low. So Athara intended to keep fighting too, as did Luke, Han, Leia, Chewie, Mona, everyone who had joined the Alliance with the goal of defeating the Empire
But then they went to Naboo, and everything melted away. It was the first place Athara wanted to go after Endor, and Luke was perfectly happy to go with her. It was there that she met her family, and learned more about her past. She met her Uncles, properly in the case of Commander Adyé, or Orran as she had come to know him. She had even properly met her Grandfather before he passed on, something she still couldn’t quite believe had happened.
They had found Padmé there.
Never had Athara dreamed that they would find Luke’s mother alive and well on Naboo, waiting in the Guesthouse for Athara to return to hear more about her own mother, though then her name had been Dema. The older woman had recognized Luke the instant he had walked through her door, and everything had come out from there. Athara finally understood why the older woman had seemed so familiar. Leia heavily favoured her mother, both possessing the same strong will and flashing dark eyes. But she could see traces of the Nabooian woman in her son too; there was a quietness to Padmé that Luke had obviously inherited from his mother.
Eventually, after a little bit of work and scheming, she and Luke convinced Han and Leia join them. At first they had only agreed so that Leia could finally meet Padmé, but they had quickly fallen in love with Naboo too. It had since become their family’s oasis; a place for their small but growing family to have some peace and regain some time after all they had lost.
Here particularly, Athara felt more at peace than she ever had. They currently sat in a meadow in Naboo’s Lake Country. Orran had steered her towards the area on her and Luke’s third or fourth visit to Naboo. The instant she had seen the clear, sparkling lakes amid the lush green hills of the Nabooian retreat, Athara had never wanted to leave, and Luke was soon ready to agree. He had even proposed there, so to speak, suggesting that they should get married overlooking the Lakes even as they sat together looking out at the sunset-toned water. And once Han and Leia had agreed to come with them to the Lake Country, they had never wanted to leave either.
Especially Leia. They had all been shocked by the calm and the peace that had come over the princess when she caught her first glimpse of the lake glittering in the sun. Athara couldn’t help but think that, while it wouldn’t replace Alderaan in the princess’s affections, Leia too had found that place that whispered, deep in her heart, home.
It was home now. Just past where Han and Leia sat quietly together, the children played happily. Never, not once, would Athara have pictured this scene in her future, and judging by some of the looks on her husband and sister- and brother-in-law’s faces, there were times that they couldn’t quite believe it either. The Empire had consumed their lives to the point that there didn’t seem to be a future beyond it. And now they had this. The Solo and Skywalker children were the picture of innocence, and their laughter was infectious as they ran through the grass and wildflowers.
They made it all worth it.
Beyond them all, Han and Leia’s daughter had picked a small handful of wildflowers, and was eagerly presenting them to her Grandmother, who sat nearby, looking quietly on as the children played. It was the first time that they had convinced Padmé to come with them to the Lake Country. For years she had resisted, and Athara thought she could guess—and understand—why; the few good memories she had with her husband, with Anakin, were from the Lake Country, and it was painful to return there without him.
It had been Padmé’s idea to come to this meadow for their picnic. She hadn’t explained why, but Athara felt like she knew anyway; she had come here with Anakin, and they had been happy here. She could see shadows of that in her mother-in-law’s face. She was so at peace here, watching her grandchildren play, having her newly rediscovered family around her, safe and happy. But there was such a deep sadness in her too, and a longing that was very much evident in her eyes.
Athara and the other adults watched quietly as the little girl handed her Grandmother her gift with a wide grin. The smile that broke through Padmé’s memory-laden expression when the little girl gave her a quick kiss on the cheek was as bright as the sun that shone overhead. Then the little girl was off again to play with the other children. Across from her and Luke, Athara couldn’t help but notice Leia’s lips quirk up ever so slightly.
The princess still hadn’t quite reconciled that her birth mother hadn’t died as she had been told long ago and still struggled with everything she had learned about her own past. She still hadn’t quite accepted that Anakin was her father by blood, unable to quite see past Vader. And she still had trouble reconciling to herself how Padmé could still love him as fiercely as she did after everything he had done to her, to their family. Bail and Breha Organa had been the only parents Leia had known, and everyone could see how—though she understood and had no wish to diminish Leia’s feelings for her adopted family—the realization pained Padmé. However, Leia had finally come to an understanding with her birth mother shortly after her own youngest had been born, and had only recently truly embraced Padmé as her mother.
It seemed Han noticed her expression too, because he gave his wife a questioning look, tucking her a little closer into his side. The princess tensed for a moment before a wider, contented smile came to her lips. Beside Athara, Luke shot his sister an understanding smile of his own before wrapping an arm around Athara’s waist and pulling her a little closer himself, drawing an exasperated chuckle from her.
It was then that Athara noticed a faint bluish haze out of the corner of her eye. Looking over toward it she caught a glimpse of her Master settling beside Padmé. It had become a common sight to Luke and Athara, and more recently Leia, seeing Anakin close by Padmé’s side. Even though the older woman couldn’t see him as her children could, she always knew he was there. There was no mistaking the connection between them, or the luminous intensity of the love in Anakin’s eyes. Athara suspected that was, in part, what was finally softening Leia to Anakin; seeing how much he cared for his wife and how much peace it brought Padmé when he was near.
Anakin wasn’t alone today, which wasn’t really all that unusual either. But Athara had expected to see her other Master, Qui-gon, standing near Anakin. She quite often sensed them in each other’s company. They had become very close, Qui-gon helping Anakin find a way to forgive himself for all that he had done, and both of them helping her as she continued down the path away from the Dark Side, helping her to find the Jedi in herself. She still had a long way to go. She still struggled with guilt over the things she had done while under the thumb of the Dark Side. So much so that a part of her had even been disappointed when the newly formed Galactic Republic had decided she was not to be punished or even reprimanded for her time as an Imperial Agent because of her defection and subsequent contributions to the Alliance. But then, the former sith apprentice had many dark memories that served as more of a punishment than any prison or torment anyone could have put to her.
But she didn’t see whom she expected. Beside Anakin, engaging in quiet conversation it seemed, was Obi-wan. She almost didn’t recognize him at first. All the care and worry had melted away with the premature years Tatooine’s suns had imprinted on him. Instead of looking decades older than his former pupil, the two Jedi now looked nearly of an age. The two of them were watching the children; Anakin curled toward his wife, both with sad but contented smiles on their faces. But that’s not what startled Athara the most.
Standing beside Obi-wan, tucked under his arm and holding him close just as Athara was with Luke, was a woman Athara would have recognized in an instant, even though she had only ever seen an old holo of her; Neva.
Tears sprang to Athara’s eyes when the ghostly figure turned her dark eyes toward her, a warm pride lighting in her gaze. There was so much love in that look that Athara felt for a moment that she couldn’t breathe.
It was that moment that Athara’s own daughter, little Anna, decided to run up and throw her arms around Athara’s neck. For a long moment the little girl watched her mother’s face, her sharp blue eyes thoughtful as they followed Athara’s gaze; Anna had certainly inherited her father and grandfather’s eyes.
“Why are you crying, Mama? Aren’t you happy to see Nana?” Athara started before pulling her daughter into her arms and holding her tight. She knew the little girl wasn’t referring to Padmé.
“No, sweetheart,” Athara’s eyes turned back to meet her own mother’s gaze, “I am very happy. It’s just that I haven’t seen Nana since—well, in a very long time.”
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