Chapter 1: Like Looking Into the Sun
"Are you sure about this, Luke?" Leia eyed the closed door warily. Behind that one flimsy barrier, her father lay in a deep healing trance, repairing the damage done to him when he destroyed his master to save his son, her brother. She still had trouble accepting that he was her father. This was the man who had stood beside Tarkin while she was tortured, who had destroyed her world. "It isn't like there's a button you can press that turns off the dark side," she continued. "He was Sith for years." She turned to her brother; he was so full of joy, he was practically glowing. It was like looking into the sun.
"I could feel the conflict within him, Leia," he said. "And I felt the darkness leave him." He was standing perfectly still in the middle of the tiny room, but there was an impression of constant motion, almost as if he were dancing with joy.
She blinked and looked away, suddenly uncomfortable. She had never before suffered from claustrophobia, but the room seemed too small to contain Luke's elation, and she felt that she could be swept up and lost in the tempest of his delight. She had never seen him like this before, and she was almost afraid of the power he was radiating. He did seem completely in control of himself, though. She took a deep breath. "I'm sorry, Luke, but I cannot trust him—not yet." She closed her eyes, once again seeing the silent explosion—the hauntingly beautiful, brilliant colours against the black of space—as everything she had known was wiped out forever. Tears stung her eyes, but she held them back; she was not yet ready to weep for those she had lost in that conflagration.
Luke put his gloved hand on her shoulder—the robotic hand that was a constant reminder of what that man had done to him—and squeezed gently. "I know," he said quietly. "I hated him too; I believed he had killed my father."
She met his eyes, and hers were wet with the tears she wouldn't allow herself to shed. Her voice was choked. "I know I shouldn't hate him," she whispered. "But I can't help it."
Luke pulled her close and wrapped his arms around her. She rested her cheek on his black-clothed shoulder and willed that some of his serenity would transfer to her.
Shadows were growing under the trees as night fell over Endor. Leia watched the preparations for tonight's celebration without really seeing them. She felt distant, removed from the hustle and bustle around her, completely alone. Could she, should she celebrate? It felt like a betrayal to all those lives she had represented as Senator, some of whom had been her family and friends. Nothing could ever bring them back; nothing could ever make it right, no matter what Luke thought with his idealistic dreams.
"Leia?" Startled, she turned to find Han approaching. "Am I interrupting some deep thoughts, Princess?" His familiar smile tilted his lips as he came to stand before her, taking her hands in his.
Rising on tiptoe, she gently brushed his lips with hers. "I was just thinking about Luke," she admitted.
Han shook his head and laughed. "Good thing he's your brother, or I might just have to be jealous." He took a closer look at the expression on her face. "Or maybe not. Has the kid done something to make you mad at him?"
She shook her head and sighed. "Not really." She shrugged helplessly. "He didn't tell you who he brought back from the Death Star, did he?"
Han frowned. "He brought someone back? Anyone I know?"
Withdrawing her hands from Han's grasp, Leia turned away and wrapped her arms around herself. Her voice was so quiet when she answered that Han had to lean toward her to hear. "When Luke fought Vader on Bespin, he learned something that Obi Wan had kept from him: Vader is his father."
A gasp escaped Han's throat. "Luke is Vader's son?" he exclaimed. "I'd never have seen that coming, not in a million years." He shook his head in disbelief, staring into the distance for a moment, then his gaze swung sharply back to Leia. "But—that means...you..." His voice trailed off.
She nodded. "Yes. He's my father too." She hugged herself tighter. "I really don't want to think about that right now."
Han blew out his breath in a gusty sigh. "Wow. Well, yeah. I don't blame you." He caught her eye and one corner of his mouth tilted. "For what it's worth, it makes no difference to me. You're still you."
Something hard and cold inside her started to melt, and tears welled up in her eyes. "Thank you," she whispered. Dismayed, he reached for her, but she pulled back, shaking her head. "I'm okay. I have to tell you what Luke did." Forcing her voice to steady, she stared at his boots while she spoke. "Luke went to the Death Star to save Vader. The emperor tried to turn him to the dark side, but he couldn't, so he was torturing and killing Luke with Force lightning." She twisted her hands together, imagining what it would be like to die in such a manner. "Vader watched for a moment, then grabbed the emperor and threw him down a shaft—killed him." She sighed. "The emperor turned his lightning on Vader, and almost killed him." Meeting Han's eyes, she finished, "Luke brought him back here. He's sleeping inside."
For once, Han was speechless. Shock, horror, and fear swept across his face. Then he managed to choke out, "Vader's here?" He scrubbed a hand over his face and then gestured helplessly, at a loss for words.
"Luke says he's changed, come back from the dark side." Leia shivered, and then met Han's eyes. "I trust Luke, but I cannot trust him."
Han reached for her again, and this time she went into his arms, wrapping her own arms around him as well. They stood in silence, comforting each other, lending and giving strength.