Little Bail's quiet whimpers over the baby monitor awakened Leia, and she slid out of bed, careful not to wake her slumbering husband. Pulling on an overrobe, she silently groaned as she saw what time it was. "I'm coming," she called softly as she passed through the door into the nursery next door. And stopped short as she saw a slender figure bend over the crib and lift out the fussing infant. "Shhh," Jaina whispered to the baby, rocking him gently. "You'll wake up Mom..." "Too late." Leia padded over to her daughter, and smiled down at her newest son. "He's teething." She was suddenly surprised to realize that she had to look up at her daughter to meet Jaina's eyes. When had she grown up so fast? Jaina looked up and smiled. "Hi, Mom," she said. She tilted her head to the side a little. "Are you okay?" "I guess I just can't believe you'll be eighteen in another month." Bail began to gnaw at Jaina's shirt, continuing to fuss. She smiled, glancing down at Bail. "I guess he wants you." "Yes, I guess he does." Leia scooped the baby up from Jaina's arms and settled down with him in the glider chair by the crib. "Jaina-" She hesitated as if searching for words. "Do you--" she paused again then continued slowly. "I feel like I made so many mistakes over the last eighteen years. I feel like I've abandoned you so much to work for the New Republic." Jaina sat down on the floor near her mother's chair, folding her legs. She frowned slightly. "Mistakes? No...Mom, you've been great. I never...felt abandoned. I felt loved." "I feel rather guilty," Leia confessed, "for having so much fun being home with Bail all the time now. I never got to do that when you were babies. Between dealing with the Grand Admiral and the other threats to the fledgling Republic, and your uncle's insisting that it wasn't safe for you and Jacen to be with us and talked us into hiding you away... Do you remember anything about those first years when you were with Winter and not me?" Jaina shook her head. "Vaguely, but...I never felt like you didn't love me. I never felt like I was alone." She smiled a little. "You don't have to be standing next to a person to be with them. Your spirit has always been with me." Leia pulled a loose strand of her hair out of Bail's grip and smiled, a bit sadly. "Maybe all mothers feel like they should have done better at rearing their children." They sat, saying nothing, for a while before Leia broke the silence again. "Are you nervous about tomorrow?" Jaina shook her head, shrugging slightly. "Not really. It's my Trial. My test as a Jedi. I know something good is going to come from this." "I was about your age the first time I did a mission for the Alliance." Leia grinned ruefully, "I kind of forgot about that when I yelled at your father for giving this one to you. Then he reminded me of how I had demanded the right to serve from my father--I felt so foolish being so blind! And how you have the same choices to make as I did." Jaina smiled a little. "You shouldn't worry." Bail latched off and burped loudly before going back to nursing. Leia patted his back then nodded at Jaina. "I'll try not to... but I think it just comes with the territory." "I'll be here with you. The whole time." Jaina reached up to touch Bail's cheek softly, looking down at him. "You, too." She glanced up. "Mom?" "Yes?" "Will you keep my Jedi robes?" Jaina unfastened the hook around her neck. "I don't think I should take them." Leia nodded. "I'll keep them safe for your return. As your uncle says, trust your feelings. You ARE taking your saber with you though?" Jaina nodded, grinning a bit. "Of course. Dad thinks you'd have to do surgery to get that thing away from me." Bail had snuggled close and was virtually asleep. Leia carefully rose and laid him in the crib before turning to her daughter. Jaina stood up, following her mother. She slipped the robe off of her shoulders and folded it up. "I know I'll see you off in the morning, but--" Leia, normally the picture of emotional control, found tears welling up in her eyes. "--I love you, Jaina. And I'm proud of you." She swallowed hard and accepted the brown robe from the teenager. "May the Force be with you, and bring you back safely." The fabric of the Jedi robe was suddenly crushed as Leia pulled the girl into a tight embrace. Jaina closed her eyes and leaned against her mother. "I love you too, Mom. I promise I'll be careful." Sniffling inelegantly, Leia nodded. "And when you get back, we'll plan your birthday celebration, okay?" Jaina smiled and nodded. "Okay." Leia drew back from the hug and glanced at the wall chrono. "You had better get some rest if you are going to be up in another five hours." She pressed a kiss on her daughter's cheek. "Good night." "Good night, mom." Jaina leaned in to give her another quick hug. "I love you." Leia reluctantly released her and smiled in response to Jaina's backwards glance before the door to the hallway closed between them. She whispered, "Force keep you safe, Jaina. I love you, too."
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