Disclaimer: George Lucas owns all the characters mentioned in this story; no profit is being made by the publication of this piece
Summary: On the night that ends Return of the Jedi, our three heroes begin to heal their wounds.
All He Left Behind
By K. Kofsuske
And I don't want the world to see me
'Cause I don't think that they'd understand
When everything's made to be broken,
I just want you to know who I am.
--"Iris", Goo Goo Dolls
Luke watched as the last of the embers went from red to orange and finally turned black. The rain had held off until then, allowing the remains of the man who had been Anakin Skywalker to burn out slowly, naturally. Luke had wanted to stay and watch them each wink out into balls of coal, but too many memories accompanied the sights and smells of burning flesh.
He had gone to where the others were celebrating in hopes of forgetting, for a little while, just how much he had lost over the past three years. It was an impressive list of tragic deaths and no one would have expected him to remain sane. But what he had gained in those years, while not necessarily canceling out the destruction, had helped to heal the gaping wounds.
Leia was the first to greet him when he had left the still-burning pyre, wrapping her arms around him tightly. Luke knew, in that instant, that they had missed each other all their lives. Nothing felt more natural than to think of her as a sister, a connection to the past.
Han came up more slowly, waiting for the siblings to part before patting Luke on the shoulder, grinning the lopsided grin Luke sometimes wished he could imitate. He smiled back, not knowing how to thank his friend for everything the smuggler had never meant to do.
A stirring inside had caused Luke to turn his head towards a clearing in the leaves. Perhaps he should have jumped, or screamed, but seeing Yoda, Ben and his father, luminous beings in the Force, he felt content. All had been forgiven when the Emperor's body had found its way down the exhaust shaft.
Now nothing remained of his father's body but hardening embers. The rain produced small puffs of steam, but as the water fell harder, the hot pieces of plastic, wood and bone could not keep up. Luke had kept only one piece of nostalgia—the lightsabre his father had used in both their battles, the lightsabre that had sent Luke's right hand into the abyss of Bespin.
He would keep it, because someday there would be more children, heirs to the Skywalker legacy, and these unnamed babies had a right to know of the weapon that had changed so many lives. Luke often pined for the lightsabre that he had clutched in his right hand for two long years; that weapon was a piece of Anakin Skywalker. It too had floated down toward Bespin's core and was now merely pieces, fragments, atoms. Just like Anakin Skywalker.
She was concerned, but cautious of invading such a private moment. This is your father too, he wanted to say, come grieve with me over a man we never knew. But Leia had known a father, and did not want to think about what her true parentage meant. Still, she was curious about what Luke knew, and curious about Luke.
She placed her head on his shoulder, draping his right side in damp brown hair. He wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her in close. He wondered if their mother had smelled like this.
"I don't know why I'm here," she said, blinking away the drops of rain that caught on her eyelashes. "I thought it would feel darker, angrier."
Luke shook his head, sending a few droplets of water onto his sister. "There's only peace here, Leia, and a great deal of regret."
She nodded and the two lapsed into silence once again. There was so much to say about what had happened to them that neither could find the words. Slowly, Luke reached out with the Force and touched Leia's mind. He didn't try to invade her, or even read what she was thinking; instead, he allowed his emotions to go to her in their most basic stage. He would not lessen the experiences of the past twelve hours with words when he could just show her what had happened.
She allowed it at first, letting the encounter on the bridge and the journey up to the Emperor's throne room happen to her. Luke was surprised; she even followed him through parts of the swordplay. When the lightning started coming, and the pain became overwhelming, she closed off her mind, tightening the grip on his arm.
"I could never do that," she whispered after another moment. The rain seemed to be slowing down.
Luke pulled her more tightly against him. "You can if you want to, Leia; the power is there for you to use."
She shook her head. "I don't want it, Luke. Thousands…millions of people died because a man and a machine abused the Force." She looked up at him, brown eyes wide and honest. "Who's to say I won't make that same mistake?"
"We don't know what happened to make Anakin Skywalker turn into Darth Vader." He spoke his words softly, consciously omitting any familial bonds. "But you can't live your life fearing what might happen. You could use the Force for so many good things…"
She shook her head again, this time pulling away from him. "No, Luke, I want no part of it. I have never seen the Force do anything good."
Luke smiled sadly. "It helped you save me."
Leia Organa walked across the bridges, wishing away all her emotions. Elation at their victory played no part in the sadness she felt for all the lost lives. Contentment with her newfound brother did not change who their father was. And the love she felt for Han could not be reconciled with the needs of the Rebellion.
They had opted for separate huts in the Ewok village; no one could afford the luxury of sleeping only two to a hut and the thought of sharing their space with Chewbacca and Luke was unsettling. Still, he had said he would wait up for her outside the hut she was sharing with some of the female soldiers until she returned from her brother.
He was there, as promised. Leaning up against the tree trunk with his arms across his chest, he looked to be sleeping. Once Leia left the bridge and began to walk on the 'porch', however, his eyes opened and he smiled. She smiled back, feeling the fire moths flitting about her stomach, the same fire moths that had visited her on the day of her big rescue.
"How'd it go?" he asked when she was standing in front of him. Hand extended, he gestured towards one of the less-lighted paths. Clearly, he had staked out a good spot.
"Everything changed so quickly," she said after they had reached a particularly dark spot. "He seemed…withdrawn from everything, but willing to talk about it."
Han wrapped his arms around her waist and she rested her head against his chest. "But what about you?" he asked, kissing the top of her head.
She sighed. "I don't know what to feel, or what to think, Han…I'm not ready for what it all means. Everything I've known, all the stability…it's all gone."
He kissed her head again. "Let's make some stability, Leia…let's get married."
She remained perfectly still, hardly daring to breathe. The part of her that contained the fire moths raged up, hardly believing the words. But the other part of her, the Senator and Rebel, feared what this would mean for her life in that arena.
He pushed her back a bit, his lips drawn thinly as though he was containing a frown. "I thought you'd like the idea, Princess…"
"I do, Han!" Wrapping her arms around his neck, she dragged him down into a kiss. "I just…I didn't think you'd ever want to…I don't know if now is when we should…"
He pushed her back again, his face serious. "This is the best time to do it, Leia. Tomorrow, we have to fly half way across the galaxy to start rebuilding something that needed to be torn down. You're going to get lost in the business of government, and who knows what'll happen to Chewie and me. But if we do this now, then we'll always have something to come home to. There will always be a place for us."
He had not meant for it to happen, of course, but she could see the tears forming in his eyes. Han, the smuggler that he was, ignored them, even when they slipped down his cheeks.
"Yes, Han, of course," she whispered and kissed him again.