this is a disclaimer.
just try not to worry.
This is the last day of Leia Organa's life:
"Rank jealousy," Leia says.
"Hmm?" Luke looks over at her. It's late at night, and the stars above Endor are very bright. Leia thinks she can trace the outlines of the Death Star's explosion in the sky above their heads.
It's been ten years, but that makes no difference. The sight is imprinted on her eyelids, burned into her mind's eye.
"Rank jealousy," she repeats. "Why I couldn't forgive Father for so long."
Plainly, that's a thought that Luke struggles with.
"Jealousy of who?" he asks at last.
She sighs, shifts on the blanket she insisted on bringing. The trip was Luke's idea, and when he asked her if she might possibly have time to come along, he was as nervous as she's ever seen him since the day they met (again). The clearing is wide, the grass deep and springy and green. Leia had been half afraid it would still be blackened and burned, some kind of terrible sign that Anakin Skywalker was not as forgiven as his son (yes, and daughter) believed.
"Of you, nerfherder," she says.
Luke is incredulous, and she knows why - jealous of what? His childhood on Tatooine? His training with Yoda? His severed hand? The sheer stupid courage it must have taken to walk up to the Imperial troops and surrender himself, knowing all the while that there was a good chance Vader would just kill him for his trouble? The hours he spent on the Death Star with the full weight of the Emperor's malice bearing down on him, heavier than any physical burden?
But he doesn't say anything. He's waiting for her to work through it. (That too makes Leia angry in a distant way - Han said it first, not so long ago, and he wasn't wrong: kid's been a Jedi so long he's forgotten how to ask for something for himself.)
"I'm not used to playing second fiddle," she tries to explain. "You he could save, but I get tortured?"
"What do you call this?" Luke asks tiredly, twitching his right hand. "Leia. Come on. You've never played second fiddle to anyone in your life."
She laughs at him. "Really? You get our name. You go to our family. You have our father's oldest, closest friend watching over your every step."
"You remember our mother."
"I loved my foster parents. But they never had to tell me I was adopted."
Far off in the distance, there are flickering lights in the treetops, and the faint sounds of an Ewok celebration. Luke and Leia sit together in silence in the clearing where their father's armour was burned.
Finally, Luke says, "It's almost pathetic how screwed up we are."
"I want to come back to your Academy with you," Leia says. "I want to..."
"Learn the ways of the Force, and be a Jedi like our father," Luke says distantly. Is that what he said to Obi-Wan?
(She hasn't thought of him as 'General Kenobi' in years.)
"Not now," Leia says. "Not this year. Maybe not even next year. But... soon. I want to do it properly."
Luke nods. "Then we'll do that." Presses a kiss to her head, resting against his shoulder now.
"I love you, you know."
"I love you too, little sister."
... no, that's too late. It was earlier than that. Leia Organa was left behind in the treetops of Endor ten years before –
She finds Luke on the outskirts of the Ewok village. He's perched on the wooden railing, arm wrapped around a corner post and feet swinging in midair like a child.
"Leia," he greets her without looking up.
"Luke," she says, sitting next to him, completely unafraid despite the precariousness of their current position. "You know, it's odd, but your name feels different. Saying it feels different."
He smiles. "Like it means more now that it did before."
The shadow on his profile will likely never lift again, not completely.
"Will you be all right?"
Leia hates the tremulousness of the question, the worry, the vulnerability, the touch of desperation.
She takes his hand in hers, casts about for something to talk about that doesn't involve – him.
There isn't one.
He gives her hand a sudden squeeze, resolve flooding him. "Come on," he says, looking up. "There's something I want to show you."
Luke's lightsabre lights their way on the short walk through the woods. Leia stumbles along with her hand in her brother's and her arm beginning to ache again, but she doesn't say a word: whatever he needs, she'll give to him. The night breeze catches at their clothes and stains their cheeks red with cold.
Finally they come to a halt on a clifftop – no, it's a small gorge, with a swift-coursing river running through it. Leia thinks it's the same stream that winds itself around the main entrance to the Imperial complex that housed the Death Star's shield generators.
"I burned Father's armour in a clearing over there," Luke says, waving his hand off to the right.
Leia can't hide her brief flash of angerfeardon'twanttoknowwon'tevercare from her Force-sensitive twin. She wonders briefly if she could have hidden it if he weren't Force-sensitive, and decides probably not.
Luke sighs and nods. "It took me a while, too," he says.
"It'll take me forever," she says bitterly.
Wisely, he makes no answer.
A few yards to their left, a tree has fallen across the gorge, the trunk creating the perfect bridge... for someone with excellent balance and coordination in the prime of health. Luke and Leia are, currently, none of those things.
Nevertheless, he jumps up onto it and runs lightly out into the middle of the trunk, ignoring her cry of surprise.
"Come on out," he challenges.
Leia gasps. "Are you mad? We'll both fall off!"
Luke shakes his head, smiling. "Come on out," he repeats, more softly now. "Don't think, Leia. Just feel. Just do."
She glares at him. "Is this some kind of Jedi Force training thing?"
Luke stifles a laugh. "Sort of. Not quite. Do come on, Leia!"
Leia crosses her arms over her chest. "No. I'm not quite suicidal yet."
Luke practically skips back towards her. He's turned his sabre off; out of the trees, the moonlight is bright enough that he doesn't need it. His face is ghostly pale against his black tunic.
"Leia," he wheedles, holding out both hands. "Come on. For me?"
She groans. Turns away. Looks back at him and sighs.
Takes his hands.
Luke leads her out over the abyss, smiling, one foot behind the other as she takes her first steps out onto the trunk. It's not that long a way down, not for someone who's lived the better part of their adult life on spaceships, but it's far enough to kill either of them if they fall.
"You won't fall," Luke says confidently. "I won't let you fall."
Leia wrenches her eyes away from the churning water and looks up at him, smiling a little. "I know. I won't let you fall, either."
He grins. "You caught me once already."
The mention of Bespin makes her frown, but they've reached the other side by now, and Luke immediately switches positions with her so that he's once again walking backwards as they make the return journey.
On their fourth crossing, he says softly, "Close your eyes."
This time, Leia doesn't hesitate.
"You know where the trunk is. You know how to keep your balance. You know, in your bones and heart and soul, what you're doing. Listen to your instincts."
Slowly, he draws his hands out of hers.
It's indescribable, this: connectedness to Luke to the tree trunk to the river rushing under her feet and the trees growing all around them. Every step she takes is random and perfect, every move coincidence and calculated.
Easy as breathing, easy as sleeping, easy as hearing her brother calling to her, in pain and terrified, and knowing precisely where to go to save and protect him.
When they reach the other side, Leia spreads her arms and tilts her head back and walks, slowly, one foot behind the other, back across the narrow makeshift bridge.
Her foot slips a little in the middle, but Luke, as promised, is there to catch her, arm around her waist, hand in hers, and puts his foot between hers and actually spins them as if on a dance floor step turn glide and Leia flings her arms around his neck, laughing.
"This is what it feels like to be a Skywalker," he whispers.
"We'll tell Han together."
Or even sooner: turn this ship around!
No, not then either: I'm Luke Skywalker. I'm here to rescue you!
Before that, even:
"You don't think it's weird that my foster father makes speeches in the Senate about how much he hates violence, and here I am training with a blaster?"
Sabé grins a bit. "You need to know how to protect yourself, Highness."
Leia looks pensive. "I'm a really good shot, aren't I."
"An excellent shot."
"Is my father?"
Sabé pauses. Minutely. "I couldn't say."
Leia fixes her with a steady look: unnerving, unflinching.
"You were about to say yes," she says mildly.
Sabé smiles tightly. "You shouldn't do that, Highness. It could get you into trouble."
"Answer my question," Leia orders. There's a current of anger there, plain as day. She hates to be lied to.
Sabé sighs. "Your mother was an excellent shot," she says. "Never missed. Your father... used another weapon. But he was a fighter pilot, so yes, I assume his aim was excellent too."
Leia's thin fingers tighten a little on her blaster. "My parents were excellent shots," she murmurs. Her mother was a quick study, a natural with languages, kind, compassionate, always believing the best of people –
They all say Leia's like her, but they're wrong. She's not kind. She's not endlessly patient and compassionate. She certainly doesn't believe the best of people.
But she is an excellent shot.
It's not much, as being like your dead parents goes.
It's enough for now.