Closed in the Dark
By Izzy

Padmé woke in complete darkness and sensed immediately that Anakin was no longer lying next to her. Frantically she reached out. Her hand came into contact with the form of Luke, still asleep. But where were Anakin and Leia?

Then she heard Leia’s voice ask in the darkness, “But why did he stay in the race then?”

And she heard her husband’s voice answer their daughter, “Pod racers never dropped out of a race until their pods literally wouldn’t fly anymore. If they hadn't waited that long, most of them would never have finished a race.”

“So what happened then?”

“Obviously with his engines smoking he couldn’t keep up with me, and I got way ahead of him, and then it was just me and Sebulba, going for the final lap.” Padmé recognized this story, and knew he was near the end of it too. He’d been telling these stories to Leia at whatever times they’d been together; sometimes Padmé worried about how much they excited her.

“Sebulba tried all his usual tricks with his engines and the cliff edges, but I finally was able to outmaneuver him on all of those. Then he actually tried to throw something into my engines, but that just fell in the valley below and hit a Tusken Raider below and boy was he mad, as I learned much later on.” Padmé didn’t remember there being a Tusken Raider in the story when he’d first told it to her as a ten-year-old. “No matter what he did, I held on and kept flying. We were approaching the last turn, and I couldn’t believe it. Not only was I going to finally finish a race, I was going to win it, because I’d always known that if Sebulba hadn’t stooped to such levels to take me down, I could fly faster than him any day.”

A suitable pause before he added, “I was arrogant. I was overconfident. I’d assumed the outcome already.” Padmé found herself unexpectedly touched; her husband knew how important it was for Leia to learn her lessons as a Jedi, and had turned his old story into a teaching tool.

“It turned out Sebulba had one more trick up his sleeve, one which I wasn’t prepared for. He got right behind me, and I still don’t know just how he did it, but he shot hot pellets out of his engines right into mine!” Padmé heard Leia gasp. “They broke down immediately. I went crashing down into a heap with both the engines smashed beyond repair. I managed to land the pod-more or less. At least I survived it. Sebulba wasn’t happy about that. He was really hoping he’d finished me off for good. The next time we raced; I knocked him out the race, and won, and won my freedom.”

“Oh, tell me about that one now!" Of course she'd heard that story already plenty of times, but it might be years before she got tired of hearing it. "And what about the Tusken Raider? What happened with him?”

Then she heard Anakin’s voice gently shushing her. “Don’t wake your mother and brother up, Leia. And your mother should help me tell you that story; she was there, watching. And you should get some sleep anyway. We’ll arrive on Dagobah tomorrow, and you need to be well-rested for that.”

“But...” she protested, but she was nearly cut off by a yawn.

“No, Leia, you need to sleep. Now come along.”

The very quiet sound of bodies shifting in the dark, and she felt Anakin settle down next to her and his arm curl around her.

He had to know she was awake at this point. She was surprised he hadn’t noticed when he’d been talking to Leia. But he needed to sleep, for the same reason Leia did, so she only squeezed his hand and closed her eyes.