Carrie's death has been a hard blow to many of us, especially coming at the end of a year that's taken far too many cool celebrities. But the nice thing about fanfiction is that you can decide what happens. In this story, Leia is gone... but maybe not quite.

To set the opening scene, I imagine her dying in battle.

"General Organa? General?" The officer's voice seemed to come from very far away. Leia tried to move, tried to answer him, but she was too tired, too weak. The pain was too much.

"Why isn't she answering?" another voice asked, panicky and even further away. A medical droid gave some answer, but Leia groaned internally and didn't hear it. She had despised medical droids ever since one kept telling her, "Breathe deeply, please, breathe deeply," when she was in labor with Ben and screaming from pain.

Ben... At the thought of him, Leia felt something inside her break apart. She couldn't be dying. She was the only one left who still loved Ben, who still believed there was good in him, who would've forgiven him anything. How would he find his way back to the light without her?

"No!" a woman's voice cried. Leia thought it was Rey, but she wasn't sure. The voices were growing fainter every second. "She has to be all right! She has to be!"

Then there was an anguished cry from Chewbacca, and hearing that hurt the most. Things hadn't been the same between her and Chewie since Han died, and now, they never would be. "I know he regrets what he did," she'd said to Chewie, sobbing, the first time they saw each other afterwards. "I know it." Chewie had just shook his head sadly and walked away. He had no forgiveness for Ben, and Leia sensed that if Chewie ever had the chance, he would kill Ben himself.

An image popped into her head from long ago – Ben when he was a little boy, playing on Coruscant, before they'd sent him away for Jedi training. He tossed his head and smiled at her, and then, suddenly, the voices around her fell silent.

Her first thought, when she opened her eyes and saw the bright lights ahead, was that she hadn't died, after all. Moving towards a white light was too clichéd to be real. But then she felt strong hands on her shoulders, guiding her forward, and a room swam into view. She was in another medical center on another ship. The lights were blindingly bright – Leia almost had to close her eyes again – and everything was white: the walls, the floor, the dress on the young woman – so much younger than Leia – before her.

Perhaps she had become one with the Force, like Luke had once said happened after death, or perhaps it was just instinct, but Leia understood now where she was. The hands on her shoulders belonged to Obi-Wan, the old Jedi they had named Ben for, the young woman before her was her birth mother, and her first moments after death were just like her first moments after birth. Perhaps dying wasn't so different from being born.

"Leia," Padme said, and she touched Leia's cheek with one hand. Leia had dreamed her whole life about seeing her mother again, and now, here she was. They looked alike – their brown hair, the shape of their eyes – but Leia wouldn't let herself appreciate it.

"I'm sorry," she said, tearing her eyes from her mother's face. She turned, peering beyond Obi-Wan into the darkness. "I can't stay here. I can't... Ben..."

Padme and Obi-Wan exchanged a sad, knowing look. "You can't blame yourself for what he does," her mother murmured. "It took me a long time to understand that."

The darkness behind them suddenly seemed much darker. With both his parents gone, Ben would be completely in Snoke's clutches. Perhaps he would spend years crushing the rebellion and ruling the galaxy with terror, just as Darth Vader had after losing the one person who'd still loved him.

But no... this time, it could be different. She was still Ben's mother, and she could still sense the Force, even though she had never trained as Luke had. Her brown eyes were burning with a new hope as they shifted back to Obi-Wan's face. Luke had told her that he'd seen and spoken with Obi-Wan on Dagobah after his death, just as if he were alive again, and that before him, Obi-Wan had done it with his own master.

"Teach me how to use the Force," she said, and it was clear from her tone that she wouldn't take no for an answer. "Teach me how to speak to my son from this side." Obi-Wan's wrinkled old eyes met hers with a hint of a smile, and Leia saw the dark void behind him brighten a bit.