She strode softly through the grass, one bare foot in front of the other. The ground was still covered in the morning dew, but the cold didn't bother her. It woke her up, more than anything, even though she wasn't sure that, in this odd dream-like state, that she wanted to be awake.
The soles of his boots left imprints in the ground as he walked. It was late, almost too late to be making this excursion. But he knew he had to make this stop before leaving. It was unthinkable to do otherwise.
Arriving at the gate, she gently opened it and tentatively made her way into the cemetery. She knew exactly where she was headed- the third stone in the second row.
He stepped reverently into the graveyard, pausing for a moment of respect before walking over to the tombstone in the middle of the first row. Looking down, he smiled and said, "Hello, father."
"Gramps?" she smiled slightly, and tried to keep her eyes from misting over. "It's me, Leiraya." She looked around, and decided to sit. "I'm leaving the system for a while, can you believe it? Me, the one who was going to stay on Corellia forever and run the farm." She shook her head ruefully. "Well, I'll probably still run the farm after I come back, but I never thought I'd leave before I did it."
"I thought I'd come and say goodbye before I left. I'm leaving to fight the Mandalorians. The Jedi are stretched far too thin as it is, and I can't stand the thought of the Mandalorians making it this far." He ran his fingers through his hair, and exhaled heavily. "I know I've left the system before, but… it wasn't like this. Not by a long shot. And I wish I could assure everyone that I will be coming back."
"He left, you know." She drew her knees up tight. "Kylan, my friend you always teased me about. The one I always argued with. Left with a note, a holocube, and this ridiculous ring, as if it would make it all better. But I still wear the ring, don't I?" she could only laugh self-deprecatingly. "I'm not sure what kind of a pathetic sap that makes me, but I miss him."
"I told everyone I could bear to- I've one person left to tell, but I… I can't make myself do it. I don't know why." He paced restlessly before his father's grave. "She deserves to know, and she deserves to hear it from me. So why can't I tell her? Why can't I just admit that I'm leaving tomorrow?"
"You know, everyone seemed convinced the two of us would get married or something. Aside from the fact that we'd kill each other, I don't know what I thought about that. I used to blow it off while he was still here, but then he left, and I felt like there was a void in my existence. Yeah, we disagreed about almost everything and made fun of each other mercilessly… but he was my best friend."
Kylan looked helplessly up at the sky. If he had fears, it would be best to have them out here, now. "Why am I so afraid of telling her?" Almost pleadingly, he gazed down at his father's tomb. "You always gave such good advice in your life… can you spare one insight for me, even though you're gone?"
"I can't believe I'm leaving. I can't believe it's because I'm searching for my best friend." Shaking her head, she brushed stray hairs out of her eyes. "I remember the stories you told, Gramps. Of the time that your little brother went off to fight in the war against Exar Kun, and you searched the galaxy high and low for him. I want to find Kylan, but what if my story ends like yours… what if I never manage to find him?"
He sat, and he listened. Nothing came. Squeezing his eyes shut, he whispered, "Why did you have to leave me like this?" The wind responded, whispering gently in his ear. It is because you must learn to live your life for yourself, not for what others want you to be. He blinked, wondering if he had heard correctly.
Her question hung in the air for several moments. She wasn't sure if she actually expected to hear anything back. "You never were the talkative one, after all." The leaves rustled in the wind, and she could almost hear his bell-like laughter on the breeze. If you do not find him, child, you will still live, love, and be quite happy. She tried to smile, but she wasn't convinced. "Easy for you to say. You're dead and beyond caring."
"Did you ever have this much trouble telling someone anything? I've talked about everything I can think of with that girl, including a few subjects that are so unlikely that I never imagined I'd talk with anyone about them. And now I can't even give her a simple 'I'm leaving' message. Why?" The voice in the wind answered him once more: You fear her rejection.
Leiraya sat for a long time before her grandfather's grave, thinking about everything from the prospect of leaving at all to the possibility of losing her best friend. "He's a shoikler, you know that?" Pause. "I wish I could just leave it at that."
The instant he heard the voice, he knew it was right. The last thing he wanted was for her to think badly of him, especially since there was a strong possibility they'd never meet again. He could deal with her being upset if he were still in the area to make things right… but he feared she would never forgive him for this, and that thought was more than unpleasant.
"I wish it could have been different."
"I wish I could tell her."
"If only he'd told me before he left…"
"She'd never forgive me."
"How did things turn out this badly?"
"If only there were another way, I would take it."
"I couldn't approve of the war."
"I can't let all those people die."
"But now he's gone."
"So I'll never see her again."
"And I'm going to find him." Her jaw clenched, and she looked more determined than she had in perhaps her entire life. "And when I find him, I'm going to give him the biggest lecture he's had in a long time, and I'm going to enjoy every minute of it." She closed her eyes briefly, smiled, then stood. "Wish me luck, Gramps. I'm going to need it where I'm going."
"I'll leave her a message, at least." He shook his head disgustedly. It wasn't nearly enough, but it was all he could manage in his present state of mind. "So I'd best get working on that- I've said my goodbyes to everyone else, so I'll have to drop it off at the waterfront before she arrives in the morning." He straightened and tried to look dignified. "I'll make you proud, father. I'll make a difference. And if I don't survive, well… I hope to be buried here, with the family. Goodbye, father."
She walked away along the very same path that Kylan had taken from his father's grave a year before. She wasn't sure if she felt better or worse for the visit, but she was glad she had come.
May the Force be with me… I'm going to need it.