She finds the place the next morning, although she isn’t quite sure how. She just closes her eyes and walks, letting her feet carry her along winding forest paths, over fallen branches and across shallow streams, guided only by a pressing certainty in the back of her mind that tells her she’s going the right way.
The clearing is quiet when she arrives, the hush broken only by her own footfalls. No wind stirs the towering evergreens and even the ever-present Endorian birdsong sounds distant as if the denizens of the forest moon are avoiding this place, though whether out of respect or fear Leia can’t begin to say.
Around her the world seems to glow in the early morning light, all soft pinks and golds marred only by the hideous black swath of ash and soot before her. In the half-light, the charred ground almost looks like a hole, endless and deep, a bottomless gaping abyss that threatens to swallow her whole. Above it, the morning mist hangs like a shroud.
It might be minutes or it might be hours that she stands there, frozen at its edge, wanting to run yet somehow compelled to stay. She tells herself she’s just making sure the bastard’s really dead. Dead and burned and gone forever to where he can’t hurt her ever again. And if there are tears that splash down her cheeks to dampen the ashes beneath her feet, then they’re for her and for Luke. Not for the father she never knew.