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Song for a fifth child

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Her daily life doesn’t change when Han dies.

He’d been gone for years, and she was used to that. He was there on a Comm link once a week, sometimes, and other times she wouldn’t hear from him for months, but she knew he was out there.

She feels the difference anyway. Like losing a tooth, or a bone in the ear - something from deep inside. It didn’t show, but you knew it was gone.

Her quarters catch the morning light. She rises in leaf-filtered sunshine, alone. Drinks tea to the sound of birdsong before joining her officers for breakfast. A general might order meals served in private if she wished, but after that half hour of calm, Leia enjoys the company. And anyway, the Resistance doesn’t need solitary leaders granting themselves privileges. People need to see her, know she is in it with them.

Everyone here has lost someone. Some have lost everybody and everything they ever knew. She can’t hide in her quarters to lick her wounds.

 


 

 

When Ben was small, back in the days of the Republic, he would climb into bed between them, dig sharp elbows and knees into their ribs until one of them groaned and dragged themselves up. Han was the first to complain about the pre dawn awakenings, but also the first to wrap an arm around their small wriggling son, kiss the top of his head.

“C’mere, kiddo,” he would mumble into Ben’s dark curls. “Your mama will court martial you if you wake her up.”

Leia would roll over and smile into her pillow, the child’s feet warm against her hip.

He’s the age of her pilots now, wherever he is. When he was a child she could have found him in a crowd, pinpoint him in the largest city of the old Empire, some thread of the Force connecting them.

Children are meant to leave, and that link was gone long before he did - what he did. He needed his privacy and so did she.

She remembers what it felt like, though, to have his presence bubbling at the corner of her mind. She remembers being able to recognise his cry in a room full of children, the one little voice calling for her.

That wasn’t the Force, though. Han could do it too.

 


 

 

Her pilots bring back news of Ben, none of it good. (Perhaps she shouldn’t, but she does think of them as her pilots. They seem happy enough with it: when she asks a returning squadron leader, “How are my pilots?” she hears a chorus of young voices whoop and holler over the Comm link.)

Her pilots always meet her eyes when they report anything about Ben, as if to prove they don’t hold her responsible.

She and Han fought about that, before and after he left. Who was responsible, who wasn’t, how they hadn’t seen it coming and the clues they had ignored. She has never spoken to anyone as cruelly as she did to Han Solo during those fights.

 

 

Once they called her to the command room in the middle of the night to take a transmission from him. Xi’a tapping at her door until she stumbled awake, expecting an emergency.

The young woman twisted her hands together and said, “General Solo is on the line for you, sir. We told him it was 3am here but he insists on speaking with you…”

She’s so relieved that it isn’t disaster, she almost doesn’t mind being disturbed.

“You did the right thing to wake me,” Leia reassures her, throwing an outer robe over her pyjamas. The Resistance doesn’t stand on ceremony.

The command room at night has a skeleton team and a warm smell of the mingled stimulants that each species favours. Heads turn when she came in, a few hands are raised in greeting. No leaping to attention here – the other side has that covered. They’re all here because they chose to be.

Sercan at the Comms station flicks a switch and says, “General Solo? I’m handing you over to General Organa now.”

 

“Leia?” Han says. There’s no visual, just his voice.

“Yes, I’m here. Where are you?”

“Oh you know, around. Listen, I got talking to a guy I know from the Bandorian colonies – you remember Tranto?”

“Yeah, I remember Tranto,” Leia takes the seat Sercan offered her and doesn’t notice where he goes.

“Wanted to say hi.”

“That’s why you called the Resistance command centre and insisted that Xi’a get me out of bed at - ” she looks up to read the 03:17 glowing green on the screen - “3am? Because that sleazebag wanted to say hi to me?”

The door opens and closes behind her as someone leaves the room.

“Hey princess, he was good enough to say hi to you when his ship was doing supply runs through the Dorelian system when we needed ‘em.”

He’s only calling her princess to provoke her, that she’s sure of. What’s less clear is why. Or maybe it’s the same reason it always is.

Leia takes a deep breath. “Well, give him my regards and tell him to drop in for tea next time he’s in the quadrant, alright?”

“Oh I’m sorry, if my friends aren’t classy enough for you to associate with - ”

On Leia’s right, someone clears their throat and gets up with a vague explanatory gesture of being called away that she ignores.

“Hey flyboy, you called me in the the middle of the night! I’ve got no problem with your friends, but I do have work to do tomorrow - because unlike you, I’m not on a galactic pleasure cruise,” Leia retorts. She doesn’t much like the prissy note in her voice, but then neither does Han and that’s sort of the point. It’s actually a relief to stop sounding like a general and just let rip at him. “So if there was something relevant that you wanted to tell me, why don’t you get to the point?”

 

The door hisses open. From the corner of her eye she sees Sercan slink out, and the door hiss shut behind him.

 

“Right, because the Resistance can’t get out of bed in the morning without the great Leia Organa there to lead it,” Han drawls.

That’s when she decides she doesn’t care why he’s trying to provoke her. Maybe he has news, maybe he’s heard something about - oh no, about Ben - maybe he’s just drunk. Leia doesn’t care. Fighting with Han is the most intimate she had been with anybody in months.

 

By the time she’s finished yelling, the room is empty.

 

Only for a few seconds: then the door hisses open again, and Poe Dameron steps into their long-distance quarrel.

 

He’s still in his flight suit and she can’t tell if he’s so wired on lack of sleep that he volunteered to come in here and break it up or whether the others took advantage of him. Either way, she has to acknowledge he was a good choice: he’s been gone a week without a word, and in her relief to see him back in one piece, she can’t be angry at the interruption. Not to mention that he’s always been one of her favourites. He knows it too, but nobody seems to hold it against him. Maybe because he’s charming, maybe because he really is the best they have. Or maybe being the favourite of the ageing leader of a rag-tag Resistance isn’t quite the accolade she likes to think it is.

“Commander Dameron,” she says, unnecessarily formal to alert Han that they aren’t alone any more. Not that Han ever minded carrying on a fight in a crowded room, but Leia has an image to maintain, dammit.

“Hey kid,” Han greets him – no rank for Han. “You made it back fast.” What does Han know about how long it took?

“Yes sir, got a tow from Gyan.”

“Well, you get to tell the story then,” Han tells him. “I was still on small talk here.”

“Uh, ok, I - ”

Leia almost laughs at his confusion. He knows he’s walked into something, and he’s still trying to catch up. He isn’t her favourite just for his good looks or because she knew his mother: usually he knows exactly what’s what before he opens his mouth.

When he sways on his feet she forgets all about laughing.

“Poe, sit down before you fall down,” she says, voice gentler than her words, as she pulls a chair out for him.

“I’m fine, I’m not going to fall down,” he protests, but the way he sinks into the chair makes it a pretty unconvincing defence.

“You ok, Dameron?” Han asks as Leia takes the helmet he’s been clutching.

“Honestly, I’m fine. Just haven’t slept in a while and the last leg got bumpy - ” Leia steps right into his space to check him over, and he looks up at her trustingly with big brown eyes, lets her angle his head to check he’s not bleeding.

“I’m fine, I promise, sir,” he says as she pushes his hair back from his forehead. “There was no shooting, no blows to the head, just like you told me, sir.” There’s a smile in his voice at that. Poe Dameron has never done “just what you told me, sir” in his life, not unless it was something he was going to do anyway. It’s precisely why she wants him in the Resistance.

Leia steps back to a respectable distance again and leans against the console.

“Alright then, Dameron, let’s have your report,” Leia orders.

 

She may have spent half her life in the military being woken up to manage a crisis, but even so she almost says out loud, what’s so important you had to interrupt your father and I in the middle of a fight?

Leia Organa, watch it! she tells herself. Don’t get too fond of them, they aren’t yours.

 

“Lemme know if he falls asleep, I’ll fill in the gaps,” Han says over the Comm, and the moment passes.

 


 

 

Leia led treaty negotiations with the Inarii when Ben was 4 years old.

They lived for a while near the Republican senate, Leia and Han and Ben, in a suite of rooms in one of the old palaces. The place was all high ceilings and tall windows and echoing footsteps, and even with half of the Rebellion leaders and their families living there there it always felt empty.

Perhaps the Inarii felt it too: the chamber where she received their delegation was cold and too big, and they kept glancing behind them as if they feared attack. They would not take any refreshment, and Leia began to wonder why they had come at all. Clearly they did not trust the Republic, or her, or the most basic terms of the treaty of alliance.

Each amendment was met with stony silence and rising frustration.

She felt Ben coming well before he reached the soundproof door, but the thing was going so badly she did nothing to stop him. If he wanted to be in here with her, well, he was practically the only one in the palace who did.

 

Everybody turned as he pushed at the huge door and flung himself towards Leia in the middle of the floor.

“Mama, mamaaaaaa,” he was howling, red faced and snotty and totally oblivious to the diplomats in the face of his distress.

Six people in the room could have intercepted him, swept him up into a hug and wiped his tears, but Leia caught Han’s eye at the back and with the tiniest jerk of his head their friends stepped back to let the little boy run to his mother. Out of the corner of her eye Leia noticed the Inarii look on approvingly: fond smiles were exchanged as Leia knelt to dry his eyes and listen to Ben’s choking explanation of the terrible injustice he had suffered at the hands of an older child.

At first he could barely speak for crying so hard, but that magic she still couldn’t quite believe she possessed held up. She had special powers over Ben which had nothing to do with the Force and everything to do with being his mother, and soon he raised his damp face from her shoulder and looked around him.

The Inarii were beaming at him, and he managed a puzzled, watery smile in return. He had no idea what he’d just achieved.

The atmosphere in the chamber was quite different now. It seemed that in the eyes of the Inarii Leia was no longer Commander Organa, leader of a violent rebellion playing at stateswoman. She was Leia Organa, honest negotiator who had a family, a child. The lead negotiators patted her son’s head, murmured words of consolation as he was carried out in Lauri’s arms, Han mouthing “I’ll be there in 15, give him cookies – hey Ben, those chocolate ones you like, Lauri’s got them, ok pal?”

Leia smiled at them as the door closes, and didn’t pick up her datapad with the treaty notes. All eyes were back on her.

“I’m sorry for the interruption. You have children?” Leia asked D’quon, and the other woman smiled back, bowing. When she straightened, the datapad she held out didn’t have treaty notes on it either: it had holographs. She had six children, it turned out, and by the time they signed the treaty Leia knew all their names.

Han sketched an admiring salute at her from the back of the room as he slipped out to check on Ben.

 


 

 

The squadron don’t ask her to talk to Poe, exactly. The Resistance may be informal but she’s still a general, and she can tell they’re a little in awe of her. Maybe not Poe: he’s known her since he was a little boy, but the others trip over their words when she asks questions during their reports or stops by to talk to them in the mess. Sometimes she does it on purpose - even a general needs perks of the job.

But in the queasy calm after starkiller is destroyed, they make jokes about how he doesn’t need to sleep when she’s around to hear them.

When Leia crosses the airstrip, Jess yells, “So you already slept like, what? half an hour this morning, you're good - who’s gonna get lucky with you tonight, Dameron?”

Leia can only see his feet as he checks something under the X wing, and if he answers she doesn’t hear.

“You know there’s a pool, right? A good friend would tell me who’s gonna get the honour of fucking him tonight so I can win it. Just say the name and I’ll take you out for dinner with the money!”

There isn’t anywhere to go out for dinner on Resistance base except the mess, but it doesn’t look like Poe is giving anything away anyway. He makes an obscene gesture in Jess’s direction without even turning around, carries on his post-flight checks.

“Hey, was that a come-on? Am I the chosen one for the Dameron Experience tonight?”

Poe’s smile, when it comes, is just a little bit forced.

“Jess, you know I love you, but you already get the Dameron experience in the air – it wouldn’t be fair on the others,” Poe tells her, still half inside the X wing.

“What, you afraid I’d be disappointed?”

“I don’t leave anybody disappointed,” he calls back. “And the walls aren’t that thick, you oughta know, neighbour.”

 

Leia would almost think it was just the usual pilot talk, almost. But she can feel Jess look over to her as if making sure she’s listening, feel a hum of concern coming off the girl. And when Poe steps out from behind his ship, there’s something off about the set of his shoulders.

Leia knows a troubled young man when she sees one: what she’s less sure of is when to intervene and when to leave well enough alone. She’s got it catastrophically wrong once, after all.

As a rule Leia doesn’t speak to her pilots about their private lives unless she really has to, and Poe has never given her any reason to have to. If it doesn’t end in fistfights or unintended pregnancy, the General maintains an official stance of knowing nothing about it. Of course she has a fair idea who sleeps alone in their own bed and who doesn’t, and Poe Dameron most certainly does not. There are a lot of new recruits so she can’t say he’s slept with half the base, but it’s a respectable proportion. He is limited to the humanoids, but appears open to male and female and anything in between. He’s hardly the only one – the place is a hormonal soup when the squadrons are all on the ground.

It’s a lot like the Rebellion, actually. Knowing everybody might be dead tomorrow has that effect on young people.

 


 

 

Leia and Han were apart a lot as the New Republic struggled to its feet.

The outer worlds wanted to see the Rebellion leaders with their own eyes – touch them with their own hands, occasionally. Sometimes whole crowds formed; banquets were held; parties thrown; toasts proposed. And much more intimate sorts of proposals too: Lando Calrissian claimed to have slept with at least three people on every planet they visited, and one time all those three at the same time, which Leia wasn’t sure she believed but certainly didn’t want to hear any more details about. Whatever the truth of that particular anecdote, a person who liked that sort of thing could certainly have had a lot of fun with a free and grateful populace.

Leia didn’t, personally, but she had to admit the attention was flattering.

While she was at one end of the galaxy Han would be at the other, and communication was erratic at best. Official despatches were the only way she even knew what system he was in, and official despatches were very light on feeling.

It felt like she hadn’t seen him for months when they both landed back in the capital on the same sunny afternoon.

He and Chewie were loitering in the landing bay as she came down the shuttle ramp. She knew what Han Solo looked like when he was acting casual, and this was one of his better efforts. He had seen her, she knew he had, she’d felt an answer to her own pulse of joy as she caught sight of him.

But now he was playing it cool, leaning against a small fighter and not looking over as if he didn’t know who was disembarking and hadn’t been waiting there expressly for her.

She didn’t care.

“Han!” she called, and ran the last few steps down the ramp and across the landing bay towards him.

It surprised him enough that he dropped the act, pushing up off the wing and crossing the gleaming space between them in three huge strides to sweep her off her feet into a rib-crushing hug.

Leia Organa wouldn’t have let anybody else in the world do that, but she wrapped her arms around his neck and felt the hard lines of his body against hers as he spun her around.

They both ignored Chewie as he made sarcastic kissing noises behind them. With Han grinning at her as he set her down, and with his arms round her waist, she couldn’t pay attention to anything else in the world.

“Am I glad to see you,” he said, and then he was leaning down and she was leaning up and they were kissing, right there in front of everyone in landing bay 1, all thoughts of being Serious New Republican Leaders forgotten.

“Are you saying you missed me, Captain Solo? Don’t you have a girl in every port?”

He just shook his head.

“Really? But I’m sure you found a grateful leader of a liberated colony wanting to show their appreciation. They’re pretty hard to avoid these days, for a good looking Rebellion leader like you...”

She had been joking when she started, but as they stepped out and found themselves alone in the endless corridor she realised she half sounded like she was asking a serious question.

The look on Han’s face when he realised it too was priceless.

“What? No! Definitely not – Leia - ” he began.

He stopped dead, mouth open, an almost comical portrait of shock. This was almost certainly a conversation they ought to have had months ago, but between overthrowing an empire and founding a republic, somehow there hadn’t been time.

He reached out to her again but then froze, hands in midair between them.

“Oh,” he said, frowning. “Ok, I get it, you know, that’s fine if you did, I mean – I don’t mind, it’s no big deal for me if you want to…” His hands dropped back to his sides.

“No!” she said in turn, tipping her head back so she could look him right in the eye. “No, I didn’t, and I don’t want to. Not with anybody else. Absolutely not.”

“Ok, princess,” he said. Han Solo was very solemn, gazing into her eyes in that corridor.

They got married three days later.

 


 

 

Even with starkiller destroyed, there are still a thousand things to do. Seven planets are gone, and without those thousand things Leia might make the mistake of really thinking about that. And if she thinks about that, about what has been lost -

So she prepares an expedition to send off after her brother. Receives new recruits, writes messages of condolence to families left behind, holds endless strategy sessions with her officers and surviving pilots and scouts. Poe Dameron is at all of them. Once he falls asleep; once he gets up and leaves the command centre without a word, and their remarkable defector Finn goes after him. Neither of them explain when they come back, and she looks hard at Poe and decides not to ask.

But it’s in the back of her mind for weeks that she needs to speak to him, until very early one morning with rain falling hard outside she literally bumps into him.

His shirt is buttoned wrong and she doesn’t know whose room he’s coming out of with a glance over his shoulder, but she knows that it isn’t his own. He’s unshaven and still half asleep, but stops just short of actually colliding with her.

Still, he reaches out to steady her and the second his cold hands touch her she feels a terrible flash of pain from him like black grease inside him. She starts back, an image of Ben in a black mask echoing in the front of her mind.

 

They stare at each other for a moment in mutual horror.

“Poe, why didn’t you tell me?” Leia manages.

He bites his lip and shakes his head mutely: how can he tell her something like this? She’s Ben’s mother.

“Alright. It’s alright. Will you - ” she holds a hand out to him and he takes it, unquestioning. “Will you come and talk to me, please? In private?”

He holds her gaze for a second, then straightens like a soldier and says, “Of course, sir. Could I just go back to my quarters first and - ” he gestures at himself, in last night’s clothes, “take a quick shower?”

He’s probably afraid he smells like he was ridden hard and put away wet, because quite frankly that’s how he looks, but she has a feeling that if she lets him out of her sight it will take a direct order to get him back again.

“No,” she says. “You’re as respectable as you need to be. Come on, I’ll buy you breakfast.”

 

He lets her escort him back to her quarters – or is he escorting her? She takes his arm, anyway, as if they were going for a stroll, and he smiles down at her with an expression that just for a second doesn’t look like he’s going to his doom.

 

The door closes behind them, and he sits obediently on the low window seat she indicates.

Thumbing the Comm button, Leia tells 3PO, “I need breakfast in my quarters today, 3PO. For two, please.”

When she turns back to Poe he’s rubbing his eyes.

Leia sits down beside him. She squeezes his hand, and he looks at her and blinks very fast.

“Poe,” she says softly, “I’m sorry to have to do this, but I need to know what he did. I need to know what he’s capable of.” And oh, forget anything she ever said to Han Solo about their child: these are the cruellest words that have ever come out of her mouth. I need to know what he’s capable of. They are the cruellest words in the universe, and she can never say them to Han now because everybody knows what Ben did to him.

Poe nods and doesn’t answer.

“I heard your tactical report of the encounter, and it was invaluable,” Leia presses. “But you’re my right hand man, Poe. I need you to be here, not lost in this. You need to tell me what happened to you now.”

“Yeah,” he says. His other hand is clenched in a fist so tight his knuckles are white.

 

She doesn’t rush him.

 

He’s staring blindly up at the ceiling and a muscle clenches in his jaw. Outside the rain is still falling, a tropical downpour she can hear even through the viewport.

Finally he tells the corner of the room, “I thought I was going to die, and uh, it - it hurt. It hurt a lot, and he -” he clears his throat, uncomfortable. “He was inside my head.”

Leia squeezes his hand again and he squeezes back. She waits.

“He can – touch things. Inside. He was touching things, and changing things, and he can take things out, information - ” he takes a shuddering breath. “He hated me, and he hated that you had sent me.” He doesn’t say, he hates you, because even in his distress Poe Dameron is kind and trying to shield her. That doesn’t stop it being true.

They listen to the rain, hand in hand.

Poe says, “You know, I always took it for granted that I like people, and that they like me, and now -” he stops, looks at her. “Now I don’t seem to feel it any more, there’s something in the way and I can’t shake it off. Like he left a stain. Maybe I’m overcompensating with the - ” his free hand curves in the air at his wrongly buttoned shirt, down to indicate his whole body. “With all of this, to get past it, but - ”

“If it helps…” she begins.

“Not really,” he says, and his face crumples all at once, like all of his strength and bravery could get him this far and not a step further.

 

Leia turns, reaches to embrace him, the animal instinct to offer comfort with touch, but he’s already sliding to his knees to bury his face in her lap, one arm bent awkwardly between them. Even so, she can feel his breath hot against her as he shakes and doesn’t quite cry.

All she can do is lean forward to put her arms round him, stroke his hair, fierce with the wish that the magic that worked on Ben when he was a child would come back to her and let her make everything alright again, for everybody.

She wishes the Force was that magic, that it could dry tears, that her words could undo harm done, and more than anything she wishes that Han Solo was there to give her a half mocking salute when she managed it.

But he isn’t.

 

So Leia holds Poe Dameron without any magic at all, and offers the only Force training she’s got.

“Poe,” she murmurs, curled over him and barely whispering. “I can’t take away what he did to you, but I can share it with you, if you’ll let me.”

He doesn’t answer, but after a moment she feels his nod against her stomach.

Closing her eyes, Leia lets herself drift into Poe’s memory in search of the harm her son has done. It isn’t hard to find.

Just like he said: a dark stain of Ben covering the love and joy and enthusiasm that she thinks of as Poe’s own baseline. It takes her breath away.

It has been years since Ben let her sense his feelings, and now here he is in echo, an event horizon of rage and sorrow that she doesn’t recognise, but it’s him, it’s the child she grew in her own body, who she held in her arms, who slept in her bed and dried his tears on her clothes. Kylo Ren is her son, and she makes herself look at what he has done.

Poe gives a choked off sound of pain, and Leia does the only thing she can to make amends. There may be no blood tie between them but his mother fought and flew beside her, and now he’s here, risking his life every day at her orders. Leia passes through all the places Ben has touched, and everywhere she goes she pulls the Force around her and tells Poe, I love you.

After a moment she feels him relax, almost go limp against her, as all the tension drains out of him.

 

C-3PO interrupts them with breakfast.

“Commander Dameron! What are you doing here?” he asks, in that scandalised tone he applies to everything even slightly unexpected.

“Crying on the General, apparently,” Poe says, sitting back and rubbing his sleeve across his eyes.

The smell of fresh bread and coffee fills her quarters. 3PO puts the tray down and backs out of the room murmuring, “I just don’t understand human behaviour sometimes…” and Leia realises how it must look, to a protocol droid whose programming is weak on nuance.

Breakfast for two, her best-looking pilot on his knees in front of her, wearing last night’s clothes? Well. It’s nice to know a droid doesn’t think she’s past it.

Poe’s eyes are red but he’s half smiling at her: he obviously knows how it looks too. She doubts 3PO will tell anybody who was having breakfast in the general’s quarters, but if he does it’ll be all over the base by lunchtime.

“Whose reputation stands to gain the most from what CPO says now?” she asks, with an amused quirk of her brow.

“Mine, sir,” he says at once.

“Poe, you are one hell of a pilot, but I sincerely hope you get the chance to graduate from flying to diplomacy,” Leia tells him. “The resistance needs you.”

He sits back on his heels and flashes her that cocky grin.

“It’s an honour to serve, sir,” he says.

Oh, what the hell, Leia thinks, and impulsively she leans down to press a close mouthed kiss to his lips. There is never going to be anything here to genuinely shock 3PO, but he’s very beautiful and she isn’t his mother.

He stares up at her in surprise.

“A lot of people here love you, Poe,” she says. “Not just for that – although also for that, yes. And I love you too, which you already know.” No harm in stating the obvious, she thinks.

His smile widens, and she adds, “But if you ever mention it to anybody, I’ll have you reassigned to patrolling the Outer Rim before you know what hit you.”

His laugh catches him by surprise and he ends up coughing and spluttering, one hand held up to say something he can’t get out.

“Now, pour us some coffee,” she says as he finally catches his breath.

“Yes sir,” he says, getting to his feet and scrubbing his sleeve over his eyes one more time.

“Who’s the new boy I hear so much about?” she asks as he brings her a cup.

There are nearly 50 new recruits this month, but one of them clearly means more him than the others.

“Finn?” he offers, with what on paler skin might almost be a blush.

“Yes. Finn. The one who wears your jacket. I hear you’re very fond of him – go and spend some time with him, later.”

He shakes his head. “I don’t want to drag him down…”

But Leia has met Finn. Some people are untaintable.

“You won’t,” she promises.

 


 

 

She goes to speak to Finn that evening. She's started interfering, so she may as well see it through.

Of course she could ask him to come and see her – order him, really, even though she usually phrases things like this as a request. If he doesn’t want to talk to her about his friend, then he doesn’t have to.

 

Finn has quarters near the pilots, in a wing close to the landing bay that looks out onto forest. She gets a couple of surprised half-salutes from Red Squadron on the way that she waves away without stopping.

“Just a social call,” she tells them.

“Uh, have a good evening, sir!” they call after her, puzzled.

Finn’s door is ajar and she can hear him talking as she knocks softly. When he comes to the door he says, “General Organa!” like he’s pleased to see her, and over his shoulder she sees Poe Dameron sprawled on his bed.

He’s fully dressed, but there’s something about Poe’s sprawls that implies he might not stay that way if you just ask right.

Finn probably hasn’t asked at all. Not yet.

 

He looks back at Poe and holds the door open in welcome, though where in his previous life he ever invited a general into his quarters she can’t imagine.

“I actually came to speak to you about Poe,” she says. He’ll guess anyway - she may as well be open about it. “But I see you’re ahead of me.”

“That sounds pretty unlikely,” Poe says, getting to his feet. Which are bare, she notices now. “But we’ll take it.”

Finn’s looking between Leia and Poe: she can almost see him trying to work out if he should ask her to join them, if it’s the done thing, if Poe will object. Poe saves him with a look and a nod.

“Would you like to join us, sir? I’m trying Ilesian rice wine, Poe brought it,” Finn explains. “He says it’s a famous delicacy, but I think he’s making fun of me…”

Leia takes the chair he offers her, makes a show of looking at the bottle as Poe settles back onto Finn’s bed and Finn surreptitiously wipes his own glass out for her.

“Well, that depends on your palate, but it’s certainly famous,” Leia says. “Do you like it?”

“Yeah! It’s – it’s interesting,” Finn tells her with all the weight that word can bear for a man who has seized a new life and is probably invited to try new things every 10 minutes. He’s another diplomat in the making: the stuff is disgusting.

Leia accepts a glass anyway.

 

 

Leia is a little drunk when she returns to her quarters, leaving Poe Dameron asleep face down on Finn’s bed. Finn had shrugged, smiled, said it was no problem: it would have been indiscreet to ask where he was going to sleep, so she didn’t.

She doesn’t turn on the lights; instead she looks out into the dark forest and thinks of the last time she saw Han.

He had looked at her as he boarded the Falcon, and she had felt the weight of their whole shared lifetime like something grounding her. She remembers thinking, then, in a moment of hubris, that whatever their son had become, it was not enough to keep the two of them apart.

She sits down on her bed where she will now always sleep alone, and then she lies down and curls into the wall, and weeps, and weeps and weeps.