Leia sat in the pilot seat of the Falcon, her fingers skipping lightly over the hyperdrive controls. Grief throbbed through her like a sonic boom, rendered her numb in its aftershocks. This part was easy. Pure sadness, the scream of the Force, the moment when the rending of life was complete. Detached. Like the first few minutes after you get shot, when it's a simple fact. Before the pain kicks in.
For now, Leia floated, and let everything that had been torn from her drift away.
She felt Rey approach the Falcon before she heard her boots on the ramp. The kid was wild with the Force, a perfect storm of love and righteous anger. Just like Luke.
Leia blinked against the tug of old scars. Rey hovered behind her.
"Would you rather be alone?" Rey said.
"Take a seat." Leia waved to her right. "Just watch for hairs. Chewy tends to moult when he's stressed."
Rey laughed, her hand over her mouth like she was shocked. Or maybe like she thought she shouldn't laugh. She sat down, anyway.
Leia leaned back and looked at the mess of wires above her, thick with dirt and grease. She'd given up wondering how the Falcon flew a long time ago, but this? It was nothing short of a miracle that she'd got them home this time.
"I'm sorry," said Rey.
Leia swallowed impatience. There was going to be a lot of this: people apologising, sympathising, feeling sorry for her, and she'd have to grin and bear it. But then she noticed the tear running down Rey's cheek. Oh. She wasn't sorry for the hurt. She was sorry she hadn't saved him.
"Believe me, if Han was determined to go risk his life for his son, no power in the universe would have stopped him."
"No." The word came out louder than Leia had intended. Rey bit her lower lip, staring out of the Falcon's windows at the cold, dark steel of the hangar walls.
Leia tapped at the hyperdrive lever.
"I know you would have saved him if you could," she said.
"I wish…." Rey stroked the surround of the control panel in front of her, dragging old dust with her fingers. "I wish I'd known him longer. I mean, I know the stories, and he seemed like everything I'd expected, but…. What was he really like?"
Leia barked out a laugh. "That's quite the question."
Memories drifted through Leia's mind: a trash compactor, carbonite, the fireworks on Endor. His ridiculous smirk. Quick temper. Kind eyes. The look of complete wonder on his face when he'd held Ben for the first time.
A kiss, deep in the heart of the Falcon.
"You want to know what Han Solo was really like," said Leia.
Rey looked at her, eyes wide, and nodded.
"He was a scoundrel," Leia said.