It is Your Destiny…
Coruscant – Four Years after the Battle of Endor (8 ABY)
She met her brother on the rooftop veranda of his apartment. He often went there to meditate, to sort out the complexities of the galaxy, complexities that she still didn't quite understand. His worries were of a different sort from hers. She concerned herself with the rights of all peoples in the universe. His concerns were more ethereal, more about the universe as a whole, maybe even about its very soul.
When she reached the veranda she took a moment to absorb her surroundings. She liked it up here, could see why her brother spent so much of his time here. They were high enough above the city that the air actually smelled fresh and new and there was always a healthy breeze that seemed to carry in its wake the nebulous promises of tomorrow from somewhere over the sun-soaked horizon. Sometimes it felt as if they were high enough to reach up and touch the stars – she and him - snatch them out of the sky and hold them in the palms of their hands. It was how they felt when they were together - limitless.
He had called her there. Not via comlink, just…through the connection that they shared through the Force. She didn't quite understand that either. In fact, everything about it scared her. As she approached him he kept his back to her, although she was certain that he knew she was there. His mind was flooded with thoughts and emotions and they spilled over her, buffeting her much like the night wind. Her skirt ruffled against her ankles as the cool evening breeze whipped around her. She stopped walking and crossed her arms, her hands rubbing up and down her biceps absently.
He turned to face her. Luke Skywalker. Her rescuer. Her twin. The lines on his face reminding her of how much they had been through since they had first met. Not long into that fateful reunion did it seem as if a lifetime of separation had been inexplicably and thoroughly erased. Somehow he had always been there. In many ways they were the ying and yang of the Skywalker legacy, their physical attributes a distorted mirror of their inner selves. His eyes were cool and blue and he was often seen as the sweet innocent half of the complex whole. Her eyes were warm and brown and many saw her as the calculating one. But Leia Organa only strived to move mountains. Luke's lofty goals made her dreams pale in comparison. Luke sought to manipulate humanity. The changes her brother envisioned had no measurement. The thought gave her a shudder that started at her shoulders and trickled down to her very toes.
The two stood silent for a moment, Luke seeming more than content to let her settle into her thoughts. His voice was the first to speak. "Have you thought about what I said?"
She could tell that he was anxious...nervous. For a moment she found the entire situation amusing. For all his experiences, training and growth, somehow he would always be that young farm boy from Tatooine. No matter the lines on his face or the color of his clothes, his sweet innocence still thrummed inside of his very core. But then she swallowed and reminded herself that nothing about this situation could be defined as humorous or innocent or sweet. "It's all that I can think of," she answered him coolly. "How could I not?"
She had held out hope that he would forget about it. That somehow he would discover that it couldn't be done. That it had been a foolish fantasy. She knew him too well, though. He wouldn't have brought it up if it had been an impossibility. He would've never approached her if he hadn't already had his answer. She closed her eyes briefly. Why did everything seem to fall on her? Even the impossible?
"Well?" He pressed.
In his eyes she could see the determination shimmering there, building and blossoming with a life of its own. As the days wore on, it seemed her opinion mattered less and less to him – although she knew he needed her somehow to make it work. This was another thing she didn't quite understand and he had been reluctant to explain it. "You, of all people, Luke," she replied, an anger rising from deep within her. "You know what you're asking of me."
His eyelids fell, it was the only way he could hide the excitement, the anticipation that lived there in spite of her all too apparent anger. "I know." He at least sounded contrite.
She looked around them, at the buildings in the distance. Was that where life was normal? Easy? Always in another window, on another rooftop, always for someone else? "You told me once that you would do everything in your power so that I wouldn't have to lose any more and now you ask me to do this."
His eyes flickered. "But that's just it, don't you see? This will make it so you don't have to lose everything."
"Except Han." Her words fell like a brick wall between them, an argument that had no other side.
"We've talked about that," he whispered dejectedly.
"We've talked about your theory. The same theory that changes everything else about our lives as we know them except miraculously I'll meet Han somehow and fall in love again."
"There are some things that can never be changed or tampered with. Things that are meant to be. Han is your soul mate, Leia. You have to trust in the Force to guide you to him even if your paths to each other change."
She pointed at him. "You trust the Force, not me. Yet you want me to take all the risks. And if some things will never change then how do we know which is which? How do we know it all won't happen anyway, just differently? And perhaps worse!"
He hesitated as if on the precipice of saying something that he had been holding back. She wasn't a trained Jedi, but she knew enough. He blew out a breath, keeping the information inside of him. He said, "I know. And I know this is worth the risk. Trust me."
She didn't answer him. What could she say? Of course she trusted her brother, more than anyone else, save Han. But she didn't understand the Force. And she didn't know if she was ready to place all of her faith into something she barely recognized as real, much less trust it blindly.
Luke took a step toward her. "Leia. How many times have you put the galaxy ahead of your personal feelings? Of your own personal agenda?"
"Exactly!" She wanted to stomp and scream like a small child. Instead, she hugged herself, enveloping the painful war going on inside of her between her heart and her mind. This was a war she was all too familiar with. A war she had promised herself she would never fight again.
"I can't believe you'll stop doing that now," he whispered.
"You ask too much of me." Her eyes drifted away from him.
"No, I don't." He put his hand on her shoulder and she drew in and released a ragged breath. He continued, "You know what the right thing to do is and…I believe that you'll do it."
She shook her head, defeated. Billions of lives, an entire planet, and the fate of the galaxy hung on her decision. This could undo everything. She turned her head to face him and the haunting look she found there took her breath away. Had it always been there? No, certainly she would've recognized it before now. "What is it?" She asked.
He shook his head, turning away from her and walking towards the railing.
"Luke, what is it? Tell me. I deserve to know." She walked toward him. "If you want me to make this sort of decision, to throw away the only happiness I've known in my entire adult life, then you have to give me a better reason."
His head turned slowly back to face her. His voice was quiet. "I've seen the future. Trust me, Leia. You'll want to change the past."
"Why? What happens? Does something happen to Han?"
"No," he answered quite definitively. "You and Han will marry and remain so."
"Leia, you know how visions are. It's very difficult to put into words."
"Try it," she replied through clenched teeth.
Luke sighed, seemed to resign himself to the inevitable. "For starters…you'll walk away from the New Republic. Repulsed by what it will become."
Leia swallowed, his words a crippling blow. Yet it still was not enough to deter her. Governments came and went and she was not so naïve as to think that she had helped create an infallible system. Besides, that look in her brother's eyes couldn't be over a struggling democracy. She regained her composure and pressed on. "And?"
Luke shook his head. "And…just trust me."
"That's not going to be good enough, Luke. Tell me or never mention this again. I won't do this for the New Republic, you must know that."
"It's your children," he blurted it out and seemed pained by the effort to release the words.
Her hand flew to her mouth. Children? Children she hadn't even considered having yet and Luke had seen something about them. Something bad enough for him to consider something so drastic as this. It took a moment for her to trust her voice before she replied, "What of my children?" Her voice was steely and cool, a mother's instinct she had not even earned the right to have yet coming from somewhere deep within.
"They will know tragedy as well as you have. Most would say worse. And you will live to witness at least one of your children turn against all that you have lived and fought for your entire life. Their lives will be riddled with pain and death and in the end, your family will be a shell of its former self."
Leia hugged herself and swallowed the bile that was rising threateningly in her throat. Her children? Han's children. Children that they hadn't even decided if they were going to have and already their future stood clouded before her. After everything she and Han had fought for and sacrificed, was it possible that their children wouldn't reap the rewards? Was it possible that they would only know death and devastation as much as she? Or worse more? Something in the Force told her that it was so. The realization flooded through her and settled in every limb, in every pore and fiber of her being until if felt as if the gravity on Coruscant had been amped up and she was somehow heavier now having this knowledge. Is this how Luke felt?
"There's more if you want to hear it," Luke offered, seemingly aware that there was nothing hidden between them anymore.
She looked once again into the distance. It was strange, when life changed so dramatically in a single second yet everything still remained the same. The world oblivious and yet, somehow, different. "And this will change that…for them?" She asked, her voice a whisper on the wind. "I thought you said destinies were nearly impossible to alter?"
"For me and you? Yes," Luke replied, his tone earnest now. "For the destinies that the universe has already embraced…it is very difficult for them to stray too far off of their chosen path. But for your unborn children? The future is open. The slate would be wiped clean."
"As in they could not be born at all?"
"That is a risk," Luke admitted carefully. "But a small one. They may be born, but at a different time. They will certainly not be the same children of my visions."
Leia wrenched her hands together, her mind furious with thought. "Just how much of a difference will this make for them?"
"A galaxy of difference. An alternate, much more desirable destiny is all too easy for me to see."
"I still don't understand. How can you say that we won't stray too far but then yet you tell me that we can prevent what happened to Alderaan."
"It was Grand Moff Tarkin's destiny to rise to power and misuse it. How he does that may change. It was not the billions of people of Alderaan's destiny to die that day. That is why Ben Kenobi felt their life force being so tragically ripped from the universe. That is why we can change their fate."
Leia hadn't imagined that anything could be important enough to convince her to walk away from the happiness that she had found with Han. But that rug had been pulled from under her now. How could she not take a chance to better the lives of the children that she and Han would create? But then if she changed the past, perhaps they would never create them at all. There was a great chance they would, though. Leia's head felt dizzy. Luke seemed so certain of all it, though. He was also certain that unless they did this their children would know nothing but tragedy and loss. That was one thing that she was very certain of; she had had enough of tragedy and loss for several lifetimes.
She met with Luke's eyes again. "Can I get married first? I'd like to be married."
His relief spread over him visibly, strong enough that Leia felt it like a wave of heat through the Force. "Sure. Your wedding's in a month. I'll get everything ready for after that." He hesitated a moment and then turned around. His hands wrapped firmly around the curved balcony railing. "Have you told Han anything?" He spoke as if to the horizon.
"What's there to tell?" She answered. "You know that he would only try to stop us. And it would break his heart. I'm afraid he'd actually try to kill you."
"He would not be receptive, that's for sure."
She smiled, it was a weak attempt at best. "And you say that you could never be a diplomat."
He turned around to face her. "I know you hate lying to him."
What she hated didn't matter anymore. Obviously. "It's best if he doesn't know. It's best if our last days together are the happiest. Maybe those memories will play some part in us finding each other again."
"You have to believe that, Leia. I know I do."
Leia looked away, her gaze settling somewhere over the horizon and beyond. Of course she believed it, she told herself. It was all that she had left to believe in.