Leia struggles to navigate her grief over Han’s death. Set between “Stolen Time” and “Almost Alderaan.” Inspired by “Beautiful People” by Mark Pritchard.
She smiles carefully.
Leia doesn’t know what’s worse: eye contact or the well-meant platitudes.
She doesn’t blame them. No one knows what to say under the best of circumstances. That her relationship with her husband was fraught with difficulty of late, making things ambiguous, is not their fault. She can see it in their eyes. They’re not sure if they should tell her they’re sorry for her loss. They’re not certain she’s even lost anything.
She knows she has. She can’t go back. She wants to, but there’s no undoing it now. She tells him every day, because she swears he’s there. Luke probably told her once that all things become one with the Force again, but she doesn’t remember. She isn’t sure of anything. She just knows he’s there. He has to be. She feels it.
Or it’s the wishful thinking of a widow.
She looks back at where it all went wrong, but she wouldn’t have taken all of it back if she had it to do again, and that troubles her. She did her best at the time, and she wonders if he knew that. But some of it she would change, and that’s what she really wants him to know. She would have found him again sooner. She wouldn’t have let him leave without knowing he still had a home and a wife to come back to. She would have traded her posturing for a few more moments of beard stubble against her cheek and the aroma of coolant and leather and his favorite soap.
She almost breaks when she realizes it’s only a matter of time before his scent fades from her pillow. She turns her head away from anyone who might catch her crumbling. Her eyes sting with tears she cannot shed.
She spots Rey, and Leia wonders if it was worth it. The mother in her says yes, but the wife in her wants to say no, and she debates – not for the first time – if that makes her a bad person. She’s afraid the answer is yes, despite all that was gained in the exchange. Children need their father, and he’s left her alone to do what needs to be done.
And the only one she could ever share such thoughts with is gone. She’s missed having a confidant. She thinks about all the other things she can’t say to him any more, but she’ll tell him any way, because he’s there. He used to be able to make her believe everything would be all right, no matter what. She wonders what happened to that, and then she remembers the real trouble started when he couldn’t convince her any more.
He will be remembered as a hero again, and not for the life he returned to. At least there’s that. It’s no real comfort, though. It’s not enough. If Luke is to be believed, she and Han will reunite when the time comes. Despite a survival instinct to be surpassed by no other, she finds a piece of herself wishing that the time would come sooner rather than later.
She’s tired. And she’s tired of loss and grief.
She looks around and sees the urgent flutter of activity. She sees them trying to not get caught staring. She doesn’t avoid the eye contact even though it’s bleeding her dry. She has to let them know it’s okay, she understands, she appreciates their intentions. She has an evacuation to coordinate. She has a resistance to run. She can’t let them see the chaos of her thoughts – the shroud of grief and profound emptiness that suffocates her. She can’t compromise morale. They can’t afford it.
So for now, she smiles carefully.