Leia Organa is the kind of girl whose Officially Sanctioned Parties With Appropriately Noble Alderaanian Children end with split lips and bloody noses, some minor duke’s son sobbing because she pushed him down and rubbed dirt in his hair.
He shouldn’t have insulted—she shouldn’t have said—he was boasting how his father killed—she was saying her mother beats—he can’t do that—it isn’t fair, it isn’t right—
Bail knew Padmé far better than he ever knew Anakin, was party to far more late night conversations about the frustrating minutiae of Republican bureaucracy, the injustice of children dying as clerks filled out permits in triplicate. And his heart aches for it, as he washes the blood from Padmé’s daughter’s face.
Breha is the only one who can handle Leia, after the dust has settled and the apologies are made to the minor duke. (Bail can deal with her, but his methods tend to be making her promise to never do that again as they sit side by side, licking frosty treats. It has not been terribly effective as a disciplinary measure.)
But Breha will take Leia’s hand, and they will go together into Breha’s rooms—not the ones she keeps with Bail, or the personal suite where she receives family, honored guests, but the space that is just hers, alone. Breha will dismiss the servants, and sit Leia down before her vanity.
In the mirror, Leia watches as her mother unpins her complicated braids, brushes them out, in long, sure strokes. (Only Breha can do this. Leia has been brought to tears, trying to unknot the long length of her hair, and every stylist and maid has struggled with some unspeakable tangle, but Breha never has, never does.
Leia’s mother is magic.)
Breha is a Queen, as someday Leia will be, and she says, you cannot beat the galaxy into the shape you want,
Lelila. That is not fair either.
she says, it is not enough to want what is right. You must do what is right, or there can be no righteousness.
she says, you do not have to be gentle, but you must be just. There is more than enough thoughtless cruelty here.
Thirty years later, the faint scent of her perfume—caught in a crowd, in the folds of a dress Leia had forgotten at the bottom of a trunk, an arallute bloom, pressed between the back of a datapad and its casing—can still make Leia’s throat close up, can make her feel small but safe, steadied.
Sometimes, half-asleep she can still feel the calm stroke of the brush through her hair, her mother saying, lelila. lelila.