Leia had once asked her mother why she had to wear white when it was an official occasion. She didn’t want to wear the white, she would rather wear the pretty colours Winter wore, the pretty colours her friends wore, the pretty colours of her normal clothes.
Her mother had sat her down and explained that it was tradition. That all of the heirs to the throne of Alderaan wore white until their coronation when the cloak of their House was placed on their shoulders. That she herself had worn white when she was younger and her mother was queen.
That when Breha stepped down she could wear whatever colours she wished.
When she was younger Leia had longed for that day, had been so bored of the white outfits. Had looked forward to the day her parents would stand there as the cloak of House Organa was placed around her shoulders.
But that was before she stood on the Death Star and saw her home destroyed.
Before she lost almost everything.
She was scheduled for execution when her rescue came.
She wasn’t sure whether she was thankful for the rescue or not.
On Yavin she had little time to grieve, for all her time was put into coordinating the defence, coordinating the retreat.
She was offered a clean outfit by one of Mon Mothma’s aides, but she refused it. It was coloured and this was an official duty.
If this would be the last stand of Alderaan then she would be garbed appropriately.
If she was to meet the same fate as her parents then she would do it with the dignity and duty that they had taught her.
They didn’t all die, the defence was a success. And Leia finally had time to grieve.
She had been shown to the room her father had kept. It was a room she had stayed in before, when she had been sent in his place. But this time was different.
This time he wasn’t safe at home or out on a different mission. This time she wasn’t just borrowing it.
The whole room was filled with the presence of her father, from the small shrine on the window ledge to the cape hung on the back of the door. Even the blues and greys of House Organa were everywhere.
It was comforting.
It was heart-breaking.
She sank to the floor with her head in her hands and felt large sobs wrack her body. The feeling of these rooms truly brought home all she had loss. Brought home the fact she would never see her family, her home, her friends again.
She had never even had a chance to say goodbye.
A knock on her door dragged her to her feet. She answered it, uncaring of the mess of her hair, of the redness of her eyes, of the tear tracks down her cheeks.
It was Mon Mothma, a bundle in her arms.
She stepped into the room and placed the bundle down on the dresser, “We all grieve with you Princess, the loss of Alderaan is a great blow to the galaxy.”
Leia forced herself to speak, “I thank you for your kind words, Alderaan thanks you for your kind words.”
Mon inclined her head in acknowledgment, “There is to be a combined celebration of the victory and remembrance for those we have lost. We ask for you to speak the memorial for Alderaan and your parents, and to honour those who avenged it.”
There was only one answer Leia could give. “I would be honoured.” And then she had a thought, “Would you be able to ask those on base who are Alderanni to gather beforehand, so we might have a memorial before the spirits?”
Once again Mon inclined her head, “Of course. I brought you a dress to wear, we’ll be able to sort you out with proper clothes soon enough but until then,” She trailed off as Leia moved to unfurl the bundle on the dresser.
It was a white gown, full length as was traditional, although the neckline was the Chandrillan Style.
“It’s one of my own, I know enough of the traditions of Alderaan to know that you would prefer to wear white.”
Leia was touched. She hadn’t expected such compassion. She thanked Mon and then sank into thought as the senator left the room. She needed to decide what she would say about her parents, about Alderaan.
She thought it through as she washed and dressed. As she removed her hair from the buns her aunt had always worn and rebraided it into the traditional mourning braids. As she found a necklace of her mothers, its flat metal beads engraved with the sigils of Houses Antilles and Organa.
She thought and planned and refused to let her emotions through, she would be poised and dignified and embody her parents. She would do them proud even as she gave their eulogy.
The gathering of the Alderaani in the base contained more people than she had hoped, maybe Alderaan was not completely lost.
They stared at her in awe as she moved through the room, stared at her gown and hair. Stared at her with hope and with sadness in their eyes.
When Leia reached the front of the room, she felt all their eyes upon her and a hush fell upon them all.
“Everyone here lost someone today, we lost friends and family. We lost our homes and possessions. We lost our pets, our towns, our heirlooms. We lost Alderaan.” She took a breath, “But Alderaan is not gone. It lives on in all of us, in our hearts and our memories and I promise you that when this war is over, when the tyrant that would so callously allow the destruction of a peaceful world is dead, we will build a memorial to all that we have lost. We will inscribe the names of every man, woman and child who was on Alderaan on this day onto that monument and they shall never be forgotten.”
There was a beat of silence and then someone began to sing. A song that was taken up throughout the room. It was a hymn for the dead, a lament for the lost, one sung at funerals meant to guide the dead to their ancestors in the spirit world.
Their singing filled the base as they sung song after song to remember their home.
Later Leia would be told that everyone who had heard the singing felt tears fill their eyes at the sheer beauty and emotion of it.
But for now, she joined in, using her sons as a prayer that her parents were resting, safe with their friends and family who had gone on before.
Before they left Yavin Leia had a request. She went and spoke to High Command and got approval, the galaxy deserved to know what truly happened to Alderaan, the true death count, the true evil of the Empire.
She stood in front of the flag of Alderaan, dressed the same way she had for the celebration.
She stared straight into the camera and spoke, spoke of the destruction. Spoke of Tarkin’s reasoning. Spoke of the death toll. Spoke of the number of children who had been on the planet.
And as she spoke, she felt tears start to slide down her face, but she ignored them. So what if she showed emotion at her planet’s destruction?
Her voice she kept level throughout. Did not let it tremble when talking about their loss. Did not let it tremble when she urged all Alderaani left in the galaxy to help avenge their planet. Did not let it tremble when she promised them that she would find them a new home.
And as she finished her speech she simply stood there, tears slipping down her face as the Alderaani anthem played.
They broadcast it out over every channel. Uploaded it many times to the holonet and tried to ensure that every single person in the galaxy saw it. Saw Alderaan’s version of events and the promise of their princess to find them a new home.
And the holonet ran with it.
Every time a censor took it down two more versions popped up.
Alderaan would not be erased or forgotten.
On Hoth she made sure that her outfits were still white. They may no longer be the long dresses but they would still retain tradition in that way.
She was still in an official position so she would represent her home in all that she could.
It brought hope to the faces of the Alderaani she saw around base, they saw her and hoped that Alderaan would rise again. That the destruction of their home did not mean a destruction of their traditions.
She’d changed her hair again. Put it up in the style of her mother. An attempt to honour her and call on her spirit for guidance.
Sometimes she woke with tears in her eyes, a cry on her lips for her parents.
On those days she worked harder than usual, desperate to keep the work of her parents alive. Desperate to keep what remained of her people safe.
Every so often they would have an influx of recruits to the rebellion and Leia made it her job to go and greet every Alderaani who joined them.
Han didn’t understand it, how could he? Luke didn’t either, but he stood there beside her, his lightsabre at his hip, helping to offer more hope to everyone they could.
She accepted their tears and their thanks, their support and their hope. She promised each of them that she would find them a home.
That Alderaan would rise again.
When the base on Hoth was attacked she refused to leave until she knew that every single one of her citizens had evacuated.
She would have remained until she knew the fate of every one of her citizens who had chosen to fight had Han not dragged her to his ship.
She understood why he did it but she still hated him a little for it.
Bespin was the first chance she’d had to relax for a while and so she felt no shame in changing out of her white and into the tan and brown outfit Lando had gifted her. She even relaxed her hairstyle into that of her Aunt Rouge’s, the aunt who had taught her how to braid in the first place.
She felt so stupid when the betrayal occurred. So stupid for letting her guard down.
Logically she knew there was nothing she could have done, but that didn’t stop her from changing back into her white outfit and her courtly manners.
It allowed her to survive the torture of Han for no apparent reason, allowed her to survive the mockery she received from some of the troopers guarding her.
Her composure only cracked when they were in the freezing chamber, when there was the chance for her to lose Han too. Her declaration of love was made in desperation, in a desperate goodbye that she had always wished to have given to her parents.
When he was revealed to still be alive, she was so desperately, desperately relieved that her perfect posture, drilled in by her aunts, was allowed to sag, just for a moment.
Seeing Luke entering the trap cracked her composure again. She couldn’t lose both of them.
On the medical frigate, as Luke recovered and got used to his new arm, they planned on how to get Han back from the Hutt.
For those meetings she often wore a shirt she had stolen from Han’s closet, it wasn’t white but that didn’t matter. These weren’t official meetings.
Han’s rescue meant nothing really to High Command, or to her people. But it did mean everything to Leia and to Luke. To them he more than deserved to be rescued for all the times he’d rescued them. And that wasn’t even counting that it was the right thing to do.
Sometime in those planning sessions she would feel a gentle warmth as though her parents were there approving of her choice to rescue him.
The outfit she had been placed in by Jabba was a mockery of all she held dear. Its scant covering a direct contradiction to the modest outfits worn on Alderaan. Its colours those of her mother’s House, colours that mocked what she had lost. Its coronet a cheap replica of the Queen’s coronet, lost with the destruction of her home.
It was an outfit designed to highlight her loss; to highlight her position.
It was one of the reasons she took such delight in strangling the Hutt with the chains he wrapped around her neck.
No one mocked Alderaan in front of her.
It was impractical for her to wear white on Endor.
She would have stood out too much and there was the danger that one of the other rebels would mistake her for a stormtrooper at a distance.
Instead she wore the same camouflage print as the others, although she returned her hair to the style that had been her mothers. The help from the Ewoks had been unexpected but not unwelcome.
Her mother had always said that compassion could solve problems that one didn’t even know existed.
She took a perverse joy in seeing her friends carried into the Ewok village like prey they had caught. It was unlikely she would ever let them live down that they had been outsmarted by a group of beings without any technology.
Luke told her that Vader was his father, that they were twins and her brain refused to deal with what that meant. For all that she was happy to accept Luke as her family, would make him a citizen of Alderaan if he asked, she refused to accept that she was in any way related to that murdering piece of scum who had just stood there as her planet was destroyed.
She refused to be related to the child murderer who had haunted her nightmares when she was little. The man who had tortured her for information, who had tortured Han to lure Luke to him, who had chopped off Luke’s hand.
Han’s arrival and comfort nearly made her break down in tears, but she held them back. They would be of no use; nothing had changed and nothing needed to change.
Besides either they would all be dead by the morning or Vader would be.
It turned out that Vader was the one who had died. Apparently he had killed the emperor for attacking Luke and she supposed she felt grateful to him for that at least. She had only just gained a brother; she did not want to lose him so quickly.
The celebration on Endor was good, but it felt hollow, there was still so much to do in the galaxy. So many to still free from the Emperor’s tyranny.
She worked tirelessly for months, her white dress a shield and sword. A reminder of who she was and what she had lost in the fight to free the galaxy.
On Luke’s behalf she made some investigations, she analysed his blood for matches in the galactic registry and found his mother’s identity for him. She didn’t need another mother, Breha would always be the one she called mother, had been the one who had raised her and taught her, but she was curious as to who had been the one to have children with Vader.
She was shocked when she found out the identity of Luke’s mother, shocked that it was a name she recognised, one that had featured in a number of her father’s stories and lessons. Padme Amidala Naberrie, a queen of Naboo and Senator for that same planet in the last days of the Republic.
She had even worked with Amidala’s niece when she was a senator, had worked alongside and knew the woman who was her biological cousin.
When she relayed this information to Luke he was thrilled and insisted on dragging her to Naboo to meet the rest of their relatives, to see their mother’s grave.
Leia accompanied him, it was hard not to do what Luke wanted sometimes, but she didn’t belong there. She didn’t belong among the opulence of Naboo, their bright colours and embellishments seemed almost gaudy to her eyes. She felt guilty for the bitterness that swelled in her at the tomb of Padme Amidala, bitterness that this woman had a tomb where people could come to mourn and pay their respects, whilst the remains of her mother and father floated among the debris of Alderaan.
Not that she would ever say so to Luke of course. She would never say anything that would put a dampener on his spirits like that.
It was almost a relief to return to her work on Coruscant after Naboo. At least there she had a purpose, a connection to her parents.
More of her people trickled to her or to the series of ships they had in place where Alderaan used to be. There were more of them than she had ever dared to dream, those who had been studying or on holiday or working.
Even some of those who had been a part of the military joined them and none were discriminated against. It was not the Alderaani way.
Leia spent her time on Coruscant looking for a planet or moon she could take her people to; one they could call home and build a new Alderaan on. She was met by sympathy by many and yet received little help.
In the end it was a Mandalorian of all people who offered them a moon in their system, he said it was because it was what his aunt would have done. That his aunt had been friends with her father and would have helped Alderaan if she could. Leia graciously accepted, it would need a little terraforming, and they were hoping to be able to transplant some of Alderaan’s wildlife, but it was a very generous offer.
Especially as he allowed them to retain their own sovereignty within the Mandalorian system.
But for that they would need a sovereign.
After the Death Star and Tarkin, she had never thought this day would come. Had never thought she would feel the weight of the cloak of House Organa around her shoulders. Had never thought she would be crowned Queen.
She sat on a repurposed star destroyer instead of in the palace. Her brother was in the crowd instead of her parents. Her biological cousins instead of her adopted aunts.
But the cloak settled around her shoulders, made by her friends over the course of the war. Each stitch of the embroidery had been done by someone who cared for her and their love permeated the fabric.
The blue and silver cloak covered the dress she had worn as Alderaan was destroyed. Her hair was twisted up in the style of her mother. Holding the cloak closed was a pin that had belonged to her father.
The anthem of Alderaan played as Winter approached her, a covered cushion in her hands.
As the music reached its crescendo the cover fell off to reveal a black crown, a replica of the ancient crown of Alderaan but in a different, harsher metal than the original’s gold.
“Do you swear to protect the people of Alderaan, to uphold our customs and govern with compassion?” Winter asked, in a solemn tone that belied her dancing eyes.
“I do swear.”
Winter placed the crown upon Leia’s brow and stepped back. She knelt and all others in the room followed through.
“All hail Queen Leia Organa, defender of Alderaan and protector of her people.” Winter declared as Leia stood, the crown on her brow and the cloak around her shoulder.
“All hail Queen Leia!” The crowd chorused.
Leia looked over them and smiled, she felt a presence at her back and knew her parents were watching.
In a ship among the ruins of Alderaan she had finally made it.
She was Queen and she would do her parents proud.