Disclaimer: All characters depicted below are owned by GL,etc. The title comes from a song by Enya called "Exile."

This Far Distant Shore

It wasn't supposed to be winter. It should have been warm instead of cold. The thin veil of frost that rested upon the ground was not supposed to be there. The waves that lapped upon the shore were the wrong shade in the light of a sunrise that was too dim and too early. Everything in the picture was wrong. Everything surrounding her made her long for home. And that home was gone. Forever.

Shivering even as she clutched her arms close to her body in her rebel-issue
jacket, Leia stood staring at the offending waves that gently crept toward her feet, waves that seemed to sense her resentment, always recoiling back toward the lake without coming within a mere foot of her. She did resent them. She resented the lake that should have been an ocean. She resented the plants that grew in shapes and colors that mocked the indescribably beautiful flora of Alderaan. She resented the existence of this planet, so much like her home that it had evoked shocked gasps from a number of rebel officers upon arrival, yet so pale in comparison. Like a copy that can't help but lack the quality of the original.

Why had they chosen this planet as their new base? She'd have preferred to roam deep space in a crowded transport for months to this torture. The constant reminders when the wound was so fresh, they stabbed at her heart each time she looked outside the base. Each glance toward the shield doors had produced such pangs that once she nearly broke her composure, prompting concerned queries from the officers present. She'd brushed it off then, but she knew she would have to come to terms with this. Even if she hadn't come to terms with the loss of her home a mere six standard months ago.

She'd decided to spend a day outside, face to face with the planet's surface, its striking physical resemblance to her cherished birthplace inescapably surrounding her. The result of her decision had been unknown to her when she'd decided to take this course of action. But Leia Organa was not one to take things sitting down. She had never been one to flinch in the face of adversity, and she was not about to change now. So, not knowing what the outcome would be, she'd stepped out into the sharp winter air alone to walk the surrounding area.
That was how she had encountered the lake.

And that was when she had finally broken.

For six months she'd held the pain and grief of her enormous loss within her. It had been too much to take in at once, and there'd been no time to deal with the intensity of the feelings she refused to let herself feel. But, nevertheless, the feelings were there. Pain, loss, longing, fear, grief, anger, and guilt. Survivor's guilt. Her family, her friends, her world had perished in a single instant, and she had survived. Her father, aunts, cousins, uncles, dearest souls, and childhood companions never even knew that she had been watching them from high above at that moment, the moment when Tarkin had decided to test his new terror in her presence. And why had he done it? To break her will. To demonstrate the power of the Empire upon innocent people. To get her to reveal her secrets, secrets that eventually led to his own destruction, she mused with a grim smile.

But still, they had died. And she was here, alone. Left to carry on, left to bear the burden, left to lead the rebellion to victory, all on her own. Staring at the waves before her, she wished with every fiber of her being that she could stand on the familiar shore near her home, to see the palace once more, to give her father one last kiss. She dropped to her knees in the soft sand, her legs no longer able to bear the weight of her soul-searing despair. Feeling helpless and lost, she allowed the tears she had refused to shed earlier flow down her face, dropping to the sandy ground in perfect circles. They had done the same when she was six and had cried upon the soft sand of an Alderaanian shore because she had felt guilty for telling a lie to her father. In a surge of passionate anger, she slammed her hand into the sand, erasing the perfect little droplet marks in the sand that reminded her so much of home, wanting to erase that moment as well, to take back the lie she wished she'd never told. She didn't know then that he'd be gone so quickly and suddenly from her life.

Old guilty feelings surfaced. The time she carved her initials into a tree, the time she accidentally got her friend Jem in trouble for staying out too late, the time she bickered with her aunts over her hair; she wished she could make them all go away. But she couldn't. She couldn't do anything. All she could do was sit upon the sandy shore, watching her persistent tears drop into the sand without concern for the memories they stirred within her. And they were coming more frequently now, as though something with in her had snapped, releasing a flow she had no hope of stopping. Would it stop? Could it stop? The pain was so raw, so intense, she felt that the tears and the guilt and the deep heartache would never end, like the eternal flow of a river that continued from it's source until it reached the sea. Her tears had reached the sea, but her feelings continuously rushed forth upon rapids.

Was this the end, the final break in her sanity? Would she be able to collect all the pieces and put herself back together after this? By the Force, what did she look like? A tiny huddled figure sobbing uncontrollably in the middle of nowhere on a planet that looked so much like her own that it hurt. Not that it mattered. She didn't care, not anymore. Right now she was overwhelmed by too many other feelings, self-consciousness was left without room to flourish. Riding the wave of her grief, she allowed herself to cry for the first time in months. She allowed herself to feel. She allowed herself to be alone. She allowed herself to express the true pain she felt every day without concern for the worried glances of Luke or the teasing comments of Han. Neither of them understood, or would ever understand. It was just as well. She wouldn't
wish this on anyone. Thus, she cried alone, purging her aching soul of months pent-up anguish, freeing herself from bonds she had constructed herself to hold back that which she did not want others to see. Not knowing that all the while, one had seen. She was not alone.

A lone man stood a several meters away, concealed behind lush green foliage,
mouth agape at the sight before him. The Princess, so high and mighty, unfeeling, cold, and domineering, was now crumpled on the sandy shore, reduced to a tiny, helpless form who sobbed uncontrollably before waves which seemed to absorb her tears with each advance and retreat. Afraid to move, afraid to approach or to be seen withdrawing, he remained silent and still, watching and waiting. For a long space, he stood there, until at length, he watched the shivering Princess collect herself. Knowing he had seen something no other had been able to see, he decided then that he would continue to watch over her for a time without her becoming. He would lessen the teasing for a while until he was sure she would not break, a concern he'd not had until now. Little did he know at that moment, as she drew herself up at long last and dried the last of her tears, that he would be the one to warm her soul. He would be the one to help her find her way, to lead her to a home unlike any she could ever imagine.

For now, they were a smuggler and a princess, both waiting the signs to come.