this is a disclaimer.
AN: Almost certainly AU for the EU.
if love can move a mountain
By the time Luke reached Tatooine, the suns had set and an icy wind was sweeping through the ruins of the Lars homestead. The chill that ran down his back as he climbed out of his niece's fighter had nothing to do with the temperature; rather a sudden conviction had overtaken him that they were still there, lying before the door to their home with hands outstretched in their last desperate moments, charred skin and blackened cloth clinging to their bones –
Beru and Owen Lars had long been given a proper funeral. The homestead had remained untouched for almost as long. There was nothing here but the wind, and the sand, and Luke himself...
And his sister.
Leia was hiding in the garage, the same place her brother had once taken their parent's droids to clean them up and fix them with restraining bolts – the same place in which he'd seen her face for the first time since the day of their birth.
Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi...
"You stole my X-Wing," Luke said, stopping at her feet. She had her knees drawn up to her chest and her arms wrapped around them the way Ben would sit crouched in the middle of his bed after a bad dream.
"I couldn't fly the Falcon alone," Leia said.
"I'm amazed you came here."
She gave a dry, hoarse laugh. "So am I."
"Pooja got back to us, demanded we come straight to Theed. She sounded overjoyed."
"Why aren't you there?"
"I don't want to go without you."
Leia hid her face in her arms, shoulders shaking. If it had been anyone else Luke would have thought she was crying, but Leia never cried. She told him once she thought she'd forgotten how.
He knew how she felt.
When she looked up, her eyes were dry and bright, and there was a sardonic smile twisting her face. "I don't think I can face them."
"Why not?" Luke asked gently, and then winced inwardly. 'Gently' was perhaps the wrong way to go.
He was right. Leia jumped to her feet, furious.
"Why not? Why not? Why the hell should I have to? She abandoned us, Luke. Abandoned us as completely as he did, left us to be separated and hidden away and hunted for most of our adult lives by our own father!"
Her ringing shout echoed in the walls.
"It's not that simple," Luke said evenly.
Leia's eyes widened. "Not that simple?" she hissed. "You saw that recording. She lost the will to live and died of a broken heart? What the hell kind of cause of death is that? She ran away, Luke. Our mother let everything that was important to her go and ran away from her damn problems –"
"I got the distinct impression that everything that was important to her consisted mostly of our father," Luke said harshly.
"Don't even get me started on that one!"
"I thought you'd forgiven him?" bitterly.
"And obviously that makes it all better!"
Luke didn't know how much more of this he could take. Father's voice, Mother's face, Obi-Wan's grief and horror at her death, the awful knowledge of what (and who) had driven Father to Palpatine's side, pieced together from shaky recordings in Artoo's damaged memory drives, and almost worse than anything else, the grief Mara had felt on his behalf, the need to protect him and Leia stronger than ever before. A need Luke had felt echoed in all his gathered family.
It was all too much.
Leia could sense that, of course, and her next words were quieter, if no less angry. "I would never do that to the twins and Anakin. Mara would never do that to Ben. All her – her vaunted ideals and her belief in the goodness of the universe – in Father's goodness! – and she just threw it away and let herself die."
"That's not fair," Luke said angrily, "that's just – you know now what happened, we both do, Palpatine manipulated Father and she –"
"Stop defending them!" Leia shouted. "You always defend them, Luke! It was Palpatine, it was the Jedi Order ("Stop it," Luke said fiercely but she barely noticed) ... You never allow for personal responsibility, Luke! Father chose to turn, and Mother chose to leave us alone –"
"Stop it, damn you!"
Suddenly Luke realised he was clenching his fists. His whole body was shaking, and there was a rabid Nexu tearing at his insides and there was something wrong with his eyes, he could barely even see her face anymore.
Leia looked horrified. "Oh, Luke," she whispered, instantly contrite. "Luke, no, I'm sorry –"
When they hit the ground neither of them noticed, staggering to the side and slumping against the old unit still standing by the wall. Luke hid his face in his sister's shoulder and sobbed, all the old despair welling up inside him in this place that had ever been the cause of it: but why did she die didn't she want me what about my daddy tell me Uncle Owen if I'm good will daddy come back?, and Leia rocked him in her arms as if he were Jaina or Jacen or Anakin or Ben and her own tears were hot and wet on the side of his neck. She was sitting practically in his lap. Never had an uncomfortable weight on his legs felt so comforting.
When Leia spoke again, it was a long time later. Her voice was still choked with tears.
"They were kids, weren't they? Just a pair of kids. Father –"
"PTSD," Luke murmured. "The killing fields of Jabiim. A childhood spent in slavery and lovelessness..."
"And Mother. The ruler of a planet at fourteen!" Leia choked a laugh. "By the time she had us she probably had the emotional maturity of a sixteen year old. She would have been so naive, so sheltered..."
Luke sniffed, conscious as he did so that he sounded like a child, but unable to stop himself. "Are we going to Theed?"
Leia considered it. "I don't know. D'you think we should?"
He sighed. "I don't know. It's too – too soon. Too complicated."
She kissed his temple. "Do you forgive her?"
"I don't know."
"It's different to Father, isn't it."
"No," Luke said on reflex. But then, more thoughtfully, "yes. Maybe. I've been – I know what Father must have gone through. I've felt the power of the Dark Side. But I could no more abandon Ben..."
"Than cut out your own heart. Yes. I know, little brother."
They slept in the dust of Luke's old bedroom, pressed close together like children, and watched the suns come up, side by side in the spot where Luke had used to stand and dream of bigger, better things, of a Mother who loved him and a Father who'd teach him how to fly, and sometimes, sometimes, of a dark-haired shadow, a slip of a child, who'd pull his too-long hair and laugh at his jokes and share his love of Kyrithian sweetmeats.
Not long after that, the familiar shape of the Falcon appeared on the distant horizon, moving rapidly towards them.