She can sense his presence long before the Millennium Falcon lands.
It's a sensation she's never felt in the company of anyone else, not even Han. Han, the person she doesn't want to think about right now, the lost husband and love she's far too busy to think about right now and Leia's spine straightens automatically when her aide comes to inform her about the landing she already knows all about.
Generals don't cry, she reminds herself with a vicious pinch to her own thumb. She's still too numb to feel any pain but the muscle memory is there and she forces herself into a semblance of calm even if she's well aware that Luke won't be fooled. He's already sending waves of love and warmth over their bond, humble requests to make amends and Leia's mouth twists in irritation.
"Stop that," she hisses to the air and then chuckles wryly when all the messaging immediately ceases. "Oh Luke," she sighs and goes to wait with the rest of the troops, the majority of them wide-eyed with anticipation. To most of them, Luke Skywalker has gone far beyond legend straight into myth and to see a myth come to life ...
Chewbacca descends the ramp first and strides up to Leia purposefully, checking her up and down, making sure she's all right. She squeezes his arm and nods as he growls his acknowledgement and there's something very comforting in the knowledge that Chewie would toss Luke right back into the ship and take him away if Leia was too upset to deal with her brother, Jedi Master or not.
The opportunity to be Chewbacca's friend was one of Han's greatest gifts to Leia, one she'll always be thankful for.
Rey comes next and Leia flinches to see she's already wearing the padawan braid, the same braid Ben wore on his single visit back home before ... it ... happened. She regains herself with a diplomat's ease and hugs the child tightly, relieved at feeling nothing but light and certainty radiate from the girl.
Like a ghost from the mist, Luke is standing before her, his weathered face sorrowful and all of Leia's tremendous composure leaves her in a painful rush. She falls into her brother's arms and cries -- great ugly sobs and choking gasps and she couldn't care less what her soldiers see, except that most of them have politely averted their own overbright eyes.
Quickly, Luke half-carries her away to a more private area of the compound and sits with her for what seems like hours, rocking her in his tight embrace, his bearded chin resting on the top of her head. Eventually the tears run out leaving Leia drained but Luke runs his fingers over her temple with a whisper and suddenly, her head no longer feels so muddled and thick.
"We've missed you," she finally says. "You've been gone too long this time."
"I know," Luke replies, his voice still young. "But I'm here now."
She glances up at him shyly. For all he's been through, he's still handsome and his eyes are just as blue. "I'm glad. Will you stay a little while at least?"
"I'm yours to command, Your Highness," he replies with a grin and she knows he's not telling the truth but it's all right.
If he only stays tonight, that will be good enough.
Leia rises and holds out her hand to him. "Come and have dinner with me. The rest can wait until tomorrow."
Luke looks at her hand, tracing his thumb along the veins curving over delicate bones. He turns it over and bends his head to kiss her palm, the sensation making her shiver. "As you wish."
That night, the dinner is set up in her private quarters. They don't eat, but retire immediately to her pallet, not willing to wait to make the awful longing and pain disappear. Her brother's hands are skillful and familiar and Leia wants nothing more than to melt into him, skin to skin.
There is no shame between them, the universe is too cruel to force themselves to deny this small comfort granted and Leia feels nothing but light when Luke enters her, sweetly whispering her name, as he used to when they didn't know about the true nature of their relationship. They'd stopped when she and Han ...
But she doesn't want to think about Han right now.
Later, Luke curls himself around Leia and plays with her hair, which is now gray and not quite as luxurious as it once was. He quietly tells her about Rey and she nods, knowing already, but happy to hear his voice nonetheless. They don't speak for another long spell after that and Leia finds the weight that's been pressed upon her chest for the past few weeks finally lift a little, as if moved by the Force.
Perhaps it has been, she thinks sleepily, before drifting off, safe in the arms of her brother.