It took some convincing for Leia to move to the beach house. She hadn’t spent any serious time there in over ten years and it mostly stood dark and empty unless one of the kids wanted to use it. But the old house was suffocating her slowly, too filled with memories, and Amilyn had suggested the beach house, how it always reminded Leia of her childhood home with its sunny proximity to nature. “You could use more light in your life,” Amilyn had said.
And so the old house is getting packed up – not sold off, not just yet. Just because the memories were crowding her doesn't mean she wants to let go of them entirely.
“Maybe you can Airbnb the place,” says Poe, standing over a box in the kitchen. He has a spatula in one hand and a mixer stand in the other and Leia wants to tell him there’s an entire box for just kitchen electronics, but then Finn teeters past with an enormous box labeled “blankets” in his arms and nearly crashes into a bunch of vases waiting to get bubble wrapped and packed, and Leia has to hold her arms out to steady him.
“Sorry,” he says a bit sheepishly when she’s righted him and pointed him at the front door, propped open so they can load the moving truck parked at the end of the walk.
“What was that about Airbnb?” Leia asks when she’s certain Finn is safely outside.
“You know, rent the house out to vacationers,” Poe says, still mixing things up in a box clearly labeled “utensils.” Leia removes the plate from his hand – he was going to just stack them in a box without wrapping them in newspaper first – and rotates the box so she can run her finger under the very clear “utensils” label while giving him a pointed look. He throws up his hands in acknowledgment and starts over.
“Why would I want to rent the house out to vacationers?” Leia asks.
“So it’s not just sitting here empty. You can make a little extra money, keep Holdo in the lifestyle to which she’s become accustomed, you know. Live the good life.” Poe is now doing the job correctly, so Leia stops hovering and moves to the other end of the kitchen so she can start on the pots and pans.
“I’m already living the good life,” Leia says, and in her heart she mostly believes it.
There’s a bit of a fuss, trying to get the truck loaded and then get them all over to the beach house, where Amilyn is prepping things for the move-in after she brought her own stuff over the day before. Rey and Poe get into a squabble over how to load the truck, which results in Rey huffing and unloading a dozen boxes herself and then reloading them the way she wants so that they won’t fall over while she drives. Leia knows for a fact that Rey did not come out of her body, and yet sometimes she’s so much Leia’s child that her body seems to recreate its own history to remember growing her and nurturing her and holding her. She never did, though. The first time she held Rey, she was already a teenager, so much of her childhood already gone.
Then Poe wants to drive the truck but Rey beats him to the driver’s side door, so Finn grabs him by the hand and crams them both in the back of Leia’s car, which already holds some of the more delicate things she didn’t want bouncing around in the back of the truck, no matter how slow and safe Rey drives. Finally they pull out into the street and follow Rey in the truck all the way to the beach house, Poe and Finn muttering to each other in the back about how they are actually excellent packers and movers and reassuring each other it’s just that they didn’t know there was a system Rey and Leia had decided on without them.
Amilyn is waiting in front of the house when Rey pulls up, truck brakes squealing a bit. She holds her arms out for Rey, who hops down out of the truck and hugs her enthusiastically. For Finn there is a matching hug, but Poe stands at a distance and nods at her. “Holdo,” he says.
“Well, hurry up Mr. Dameron,” Amilyn says, not without humor as she's accustomed to his polite distance. Though he’s used to her being in Leia’s life by now, he's never really accepted her. He idolized Han in every way, and though Amilyn has never made any pretenses about trying to take his place, she's still there holding Leia's hand, standing by her side, doing the things Han used to do. And Amilyn is so unlike Han, never much one for leap first and apologize later, at least not without Leia pushing her to it. She and Poe haven't discovered much in common, except that they both love Leia.
Rose and Paige wander out of the beach house as well, both of them with their sleeves already rolled up. Amilyn’s favorite students, the pair of them, which is why it had surprised Leia that Paige got on so well with Poe, but she’s not going to complain about a lack of strife under her roof.
“Hi Finn,” Rose says shyly, and Leia catches Poe and Rey grinning at each other behind Rose’s back.
“Hi,” Finn says, as usual befuddled but happy at her attention. Leia has no idea what’s going on there either. First Finn was the boy that Poe dragged home after school because he had no other friends, then she thought he was Poe’s boyfriend, then perhaps Rey’s boyfriend, then perhaps both their boyfriend, which was a very confusing couple of hours of google for her. Then Rose started showing up and neither Rey nor Poe seem to mind that Finn goes a bit calf-eyed over her, so she has no idea what’s going on and is honestly fine keeping it that way. She knows where she stands with Amilyn and that’s all the information she needs.
Paige and Poe immediately start competing to see who can unload the most boxes while Finn and Rose start the unpacking process inside. Rey lugs the heavier items from the truck, which, Leia sighs and adds an extra pizza to her order knowing that Rey will eat an entire one by herself after that kind of effort. There has to be vegan for Amilyn and the Ticos, and gluten free for Poe, and she and Finn are the pragmatists who will make do with a plain cheese.
With so many people helping, unpacking takes a lot less time than the original packing process, and there’s only a few scattered boxes left by the time the pizza arrives. Rey intercepts the delivery guy at the end of the driveway and appears in the door, pizza boxes stacked on one hand, end table dangling from the other. Leia knows it’s not so much a magnanimous gesture as Rey ensuring that she can grab her pizza box first even though she’ll inevitably share it with Finn.
They trickle into the living room, flopping on couches, passing around paper plates and towels that Amilyn had ready on the kitchen island. She also cracks the twelve-pack of beer in the fridge for the kids, plus a cider for Poe, who looks surprised by the consideration. Still, he takes the sweating can and sits up a little straighter instead of putting his feet up on the coffee table the way Leia knows he wants to.
“This place is really nice,” says Rose, glancing around. The place looks a little cluttered with boxes still left and the broken-down empties leaning by the door and things not quite in the right spot just yet. But that’s better than empty and sterile; the place looked like a show interior for a realtor when Amilyn first suggested she move in. The kids might have used the place, but clearly none of them ever felt like making it lived-in. Just a vacation spot to leave cleaner than they found, like a rental instead of a family home. Leia’s fault, really. They all knew why she avoided this place for so long.
“We should have a housewarming party,” Poe says. “You can invite all your brunch ladies. I’ll barbecue outside. Finn can take his shirt off and give them the thrill of their lives. Or Rey, you're never too old for an awakening.”
Finn chokes on his pizza and Rose has to pat him on the back a few times until he recovers. Rey just looks delighted at the prospect of shocking all the ladies.
“A housewarming sounds nice,” Amilyn says, although Leia can only muster a small smile at the thought. Amilyn catches her hesitation from her spot on the end of the couch, cattycorner to Leia in her overstuffed armchair. “What about a family dinner first? Something smaller while we settle in. Rose, Paige, we’d love to have you there as well.”
Rose ducks her head. “Oh, we wouldn’t want to intrude.”
“You wouldn’t be intruding at all,” Amilyn says.
“What should we bring?” Paige asks.
Poe perks up further. “Oh, what’s that seafood thing you make-”
“Just bring yourselves,” Amilyn says firmly.
On Leia’s other side, Rey leans closer to her, shifting the pizza box in her lap. She hadn’t bothered with a plate, eating directly from the box and allowing Finn to grab a slice from time to time from his seat next to her. “Do you want us to stay tonight? We can help clean up. I don’t have to return the truck until tomorrow morning.”
Rey, always the most sensitive of her kids. Leia remembers how she was so attuned to her and Han’s moods in the beginning, though out of fear at first, before she truly accepted that she would be allowed to stay. She covers Rey’s hand where it rests on her forearm and pats it a few times. “Amilyn and I will be fine.”
Still, Rey watches her for a few long seconds, eyes searching, making her own judgments, weighing whether to argue or not. Leia doesn’t know exactly when Rey became such an adult, but then, she was never exactly a child either.
The moment ends when Poe gets a text that his friend Jess is coming by with his dog and Rose and Paige squeal because they love that dog to pieces, and if Leia is being honest, she does too. Rey and Finn clean up dinner, saving a few crusts for the dog, and Leia takes the time to drift outside and sink into one of the Adirondack chairs on the deck. Amilyn follows a minute later, two glasses of white wine in her hands, just as Leia knew she would. She accepts her glass and focuses on the nearby roar of the ocean as Amilyn sits next to her, their crossed legs pointing at each other, feet occasionally bumping midair.
Amilyn only speaks once they’re down to the dregs. “Do you want the kids to stay tonight? I can make up the guest rooms and the couch.”
“They have things to do. Lives. Whatever the hell it is Poe does these days,” Leia says.
“You’re part of their lives,” Amilyn says. She unfolds her long frame from the chair, towering over Leia, but in a way that she finds comforting. Amilyn has always been steadily larger-than-life, full of quirks and hard-to-dig-out nuances that, once deciphered, make Leia feel like she can read a secret map meant just for her. Amilyn plucks Leia’s glass from her hand, bends at the waist to press a kiss to the top of her head, and swans inside, long skirt swishing behind her.
Leia takes a moment longer to be still and listen to the ocean, glittering golden orange under the last of the sunset.
The kids take off a little bit after Jess returns the dog. Poe goes into raptures of delight when Beebee hops out of Jess’ pickup and runs to him, as though they’ve been separated for months and not half a day. Beebee basks in the attention, happily rolling over so Rose and Paige can rub her belly, accepting crusts from Finn and Rey. Beebee eventually trots over to Leia, snuffling at her hand, then nosing under it in a demand for pets. Leia obliges her with some good behind-the-ear scratches, and Beebee’s tail wags as Leia murmurs to her that she is, in fact, a very good dog, perhaps even the most redeeming thing about Poe. It would be mean if Poe didn’t one hundred percent agree with Leia about Beebee, and in any case Poe makes up for his bad packing skills when he volunteers to haul all the dismantled cardboard boxes to the recycling. He has to use Jess’ truck to do it, but he volunteers all the same, and Leia knows he’s secretly worried about her and Amilyn setting up farther away from him, nearly a full hour’s drive instead of the usual fifteen to his apartment.
He hops in Jess’ truck with Beebee despite her protests that she didn’t volunteer to haul any boxes, and Finn takes off with the Ticos, and Rey rattles off in the truck behind them, but only after walking around the house and testing all the windows and locks. Leia gives her a reassuring hug and a kiss on the cheek before she leaves, heading off any attempt to insist that she can stay the night. Leia needs to adjust sometime, and there's no reason to put it off for another night.
Amilyn has fresh sheets on the bed in the master bedroom. Leia thinks about the bed in the old house, the bed where she got used to sleeping alone, forcing herself to move to the center of the mattress instead of staying on her side and leaving Han’s side empty. The bed always felt too big, even on the nights when Rey would stay over and they’d share the bed watching movies until they fell asleep. Amilyn has never slept in that bed, though. She seemed to instinctively understand that Leia couldn’t share it in that way with anyone but Han, and Leia loves that Amilyn respects her need to keep the past where it is. She might have accepted what happened, but that doesn’t mean she needs to constantly prod at the wound.
Leia slips into bed first with her iPad and her reading glasses, not as exhausted as she thought she’d be after moving. The kids did most of the work and now she needs to wind down instead of just dropping off.
Amilyn emerges from the bathroom about ten minutes later, hands still rubbing moisturizer. Leia likes the smell of her moisturizer, how it calms her right away because she associates it with the two of them in bed, about to sleep. She likes that Amilyn has her own suite of smells and sounds and textures for Leia to learn and imprint. She’s not a replacement for anyone, but her own person, with her own relationship to Leia.
Amilyn climbs in on her side, the same side as her old bed. Leia’s complaining about that bed was the spark that led to Amilyn suggesting they move somewhere new together. This is new enough. “Long day,” Amilyn says, and sighs.
“We’ve had longer,” Leia says, scrolling through the news and doing her best not to check her work mail. She very intentionally took a few days off for this move; it was the perfect excuse for a vacation, even though Amilyn had laughed and bet Leia would crack and start working in less than 48 hours.
“True,” Amilyn says. She watches Leia, turned on her side, head flat on her pillow while Leia sits propped up, and stays that way until Leia clicks off her iPad and pulls off her reading glasses so she can set them aside on her night stand and turn off the light. When she’s shifted down, close enough to smell the color-safe shampoo Amilyn uses on her hair (pale lavender at the moment), the question comes, soft and without judgment. “Do you want to go back?”
Leia nestles into her pillow, trying to pick out Amilyn’s face in the sudden dark. While her eyes adjust there’s just the smell and feel of her, her lankier body spread out and Leia’s stouter body all curled up. “A little bit,” she admits. “But if I were there, I’d just want to be here instead.”
“Do you think that feeling will ever stop?” Amilyn asks, genuinely curious. She’s been adjacent to much of Leia’s pain, has held her through some fiendish times and seen her at some of the lowest critical junctures of her life. But in her own life, she’s remained relatively free of personal tragedy, although Leia doesn’t resent her at all for it. Amilyn’s lightness buoys her up, and she would hate for anything to change that.
“I don’t know. It does get better sometimes.”
“Like now?” Amilyn asks, and Leia’s eyes have adjusted enough that she can see the smile on Amilyn’s face, how it crinkles her kind, perceptive eyes.
“Like now,” Leia agrees, and shifts forward to press a light kiss on her mouth before falling asleep.
The kids are all in and out of the house over the next couple of weeks. They seem to have made some kind of pact that Leia is never to go a day without seeing one of them, which Amilyn finds delightful. She never had any children of her own, although she’s certainly taken enough students under her wing over the years, and indeed one or both of the Ticos is often around, usually fixing something or, in Paige’s case, shooing off a bunch of drunk teenagers trying to hold a bonfire beach rave too close to the house through some means that made an impressive boom that Leia is determinedly not asking about.
Leia, on the other hand, likes her independence and the occasional solitude. Nothing like her brother, God rest him, but sometimes it’s nice to put on her baggiest dress, crack open a bag of chips, and not answer questions about how she’s feeling.
Poe is the best about it, dropping by twice a week on his ridiculous road bike, claiming he loves riding all the way out to the beach house to “blast his quads.” He stops in long enough to hug his mom, nod cordially to Amilyn, and then bikes off again in his black lycra one-piece and safety vest - a concession to Leia.
Rey is the worst about it. She frets, lingers, keeps bringing them groceries, fiddles with Leia’s car. On the occasions when it seems to be Finn’s designated day, he asks questions that seem prepared beforehand and sound suspiciously like ones Rey would ask. Rey has always been better than Poe about taking care of herself, but Poe has always been more independent, more willing to cut the apron strings and try to fly on his own. Leia doesn’t know which of the two of them has given her more grey hairs, but she’s willing to bet she’d have even more if she truly knew everything Poe got up to.
The housewarming dinner, Leia decides, will be her signal that she’s fine, the house is fine, and they can all go back to their normal levels of interaction. She and Amilyn will do all the cooking, the kids will bring some drinks, they’ll play some board games, and then everyone can be on their way.
Rey is early – too early. Leia had told them seven would be fine and Rey is over at a quarter to six, asking if they need her to run to the store or if she can be of help peeling or chopping. “I really don’t mind,” she says, hanging at the edge of the kitchen like a guard on sentry duty.
“Why don’t you go for a surf?” Amilyn suggests, and Leia just wants to grab her and lay a big smacking kiss on her cheek.
“If you’re sure…” Rey lingers.
“By the time you’re done and you shower you’ll have the right appetite,” Amilyn says. “Trust me, we’re making a lot.”
Rey, who has always been the most food-motivated of the kids, seems to find this reason enough to push off from the wall and head out to her car to grab her omnipresent board and a wetsuit. Leia and Amilyn had heard her coming about half a block away in her old beater, inherited from Han and lovingly maintained despite carrying probably over 200,000 miles and its fair share of dings and scrapes. If Leia worries sometimes that Poe will get hit by a car while out biking down the PCH, she worries just as much that one day Rey will speed her way into an accident. If Leia sees anything of Han in Rey, it’s in the way she drives, finely controlled yet loose, and far too fast.
As Rey heads upstairs to change, Leia gives in to impulse and lets go of that kiss, leaving a lipstick smudge on Amilyn’s cheek that she wipes off with her thumb. Amilyn drops a kiss of her own on Leia's cheek, no words needed.
Rey clatters down again a few minutes later, grins at them both as she refills her water canteen, and then they both watch her pound over the sand towards the water, board under her arm.
“We always thought she’d end up some kind of pro athlete,” Leia muses as Rey finally disappears into the water, too far for them to track by eye from the kitchen.
“I think she likes being close to home too much,” Amilyn says. They fall silent, neither of them willing to dredge up the reasons why Rey prefers to stay close to Leia these days.
The rest of the kids trickle in closer to seven. First Finn, not technically or legally her son but as good as after years of making sure he had enough to eat, clothes to wear to school, scholarships to go to college. She worries sometimes about his tendency to follow, about someone trying to take advantage of his kind and generous heart, about Rey and Poe always being so fiercely protective of him that he might not stand on his own. But at least he never sent her an email from a hospital in Bolivia after a “minor chute failed to open” incident, like Poe.
Poe is last, after the Ticos pull up and Amilyn asks Rose to please check the leaky faucet in the downstairs bathroom and Finn goes to help her. Paige jumps on Poe as soon as he arrives, Beebee in tow, and Rey comes trudging up, damp and sun-drenched, and suddenly the house is bursting with noise and movement, but in a pleasant way. A happy way.
“I didn’t know you surfed,” Rose says, toolbelt still hanging around her hips.
“I didn’t know you were into fixing stuff,” Rey says, eyeing the wrench at Rose’s waist. Rose watches her in return as she pulls the zip on the top half of her wetsuit from just outside the kitchen door to avoid drips, then strips down all the way so she’s in just her bikini, before she grabs a towel. Rose looks intrigued by this development and Leia nearly rolls her eyes, not up to the task of adding more to her “who is interested in who” chart. Let the kids sort that out amongst themselves.
“She’s a genius,” Paige says in passing, wrestling with Poe over something.
“She just fixed the downstairs sink,” Finn says proudly.
“You ever work on cars?” Rey asks, and Rose perks up.
“I love it. I used to wrench on this old jeep that Paige and I have, but it won’t drive until I save up for some replacement parts.”
“Maybe we could look at it together sometime,” Rey says, before wrapping herself up and slipping upstairs to shower.
“Do you think she’ll let me work on her car?” Rose asks when she finishes craning her neck to watch as Rey disappears onto the second floor.
“No,” Poe and Finn say simultaneously.
“Dinner,” says Amilyn.
Amilyn is a good cook; Leia, a passable one. They kept dinner simple, just roasted cauliflower, scalloped potatoes, a hearty white bean soup, and some big Portobello mushrooms cooked on the grill pan, with plenty of white wine. Poe updates everyone on planning his next adventure, Finn tells them about his cases at child services, Rose and Paige debate Amilyn on the topic of her latest paper, and Rey entertains them with stories of the customers who come through her garage. For Leia, work is work, and she waves off inquiries about the nonprofit. Increasingly it feels like a way to keep busy, even though she still believes in their ultimate goals.
Afterwards, Rey insists on cleaning up, and the rest of them troop into the living room, where Poe rather mischievously breaks open a pack of cards and a stack of poker chips.
“How about this,” Leia says. “If I win, you all stop snooping around so much and let me and Amilyn have some alone time.”
“Oh gross, gross, gross,” Poe says, arms hunching up around his ears as he attempts to continue shuffling. “I don’t need to know about your alone time.” Finn looks vaguely traumatized by the image as well, which Leia stores as ammunition.
“What about if Poe wins?” Paige asks.
Leia and Amilyn look at each other for a moment before bursting into laughter. Poe stops with the cards and sits there looking offended while Leia slumps onto Amilyn’s shoulder, laughing until she feels tears gathering in the corners of her eyes.
“What’s so funny?” Rey asks, joining them while she dries her hands on a dishtowel, Beebee trotting after her, probably still hopeful Rey will drop human food on the floor for her.
Leia waves her hand at Finn to explain, still too breathless to speak. “Leia wants to make a bet over who wins at poker and Paige asked what happens if Poe wins,” he says. His mouth is twitching, but he gamely hangs on to his loyalty to Poe.
Rey immediately barks out a laugh and leaves for the kitchen again, Beebee in tow.
“I could win,” Poe says, his lower lip sticking out. “I could!”
“Yes sweetheart, of course you could,” Leia says, patting the side of his face.
Poe sulks but nevertheless begins to deal. He plays a tighter game than usual, needled by Leia’s laughter, but after a few hands he gets impatient and tries to outspend her on a bluff, and she takes a fat pot. He trickles through a few more rounds, trading a handful of chips with Finn, who she can tell folds on purpose just to give Poe a couple of big blinds’ worth of extra chips, but in the end he’s forced to go all-in to keep up with the betting, but only has a pair of eights to show.
“You lasted a lot longer than usual,” Finn says while Poe sits back in his chair, arms folded.
Paige snickers into her hand, drawing an alarmed look from both Poe and Finn.
“If you wanted us to stop coming around you could have said so,” Poe says when Paige is done turning her laugh into a very fake cough. His finger scratches at the table a few times, eyes stuck on the motion.
Leia drops her cards for a moment, leaving them face down. She’s working on an inside straight and this is probably the round where she knocks out both Paige and Rose. “Poe,” Leia says, letting her hand rest on his, warm and comforting. “I love you and I appreciate how attentive you’ve been. But I’m happy here with Amilyn and you don’t need to check up on us all the time.” She glances around the table, including Rey, who has pulled up a chair between Finn and Rose. “That goes for all of you. You’re all great, but stop worrying so much.”
“It’s just.” Rey can’t quite seem to look at Leia either. “You know. After Han. I know you weren’t really speaking when he…” Rey can’t finish it. Poe idolized Han, but Rey loved him, loved him so deeply and instinctively that the shock of losing him cut at her just as much as it did Leia.
“Rey,” Amilyn says, her gentle voice landing like a raindrop on the still silence at the table. “Would you like to take a walk with me?”
Rey scrubs the back of her hand across her eyes and nods.
Amilyn drifts one hand along Leia’s shoulders as she stands up and moves to the front door. Leia returns the fleeting touch, a silent thank you and good luck. None of them watch as Amilyn and Rey pull on their shoes and slip out the door, trying to give them some semblance of privacy.
“Come on,” Paige says roughly. “I’m sitting on a hot hand and I know what I want if I win.”
Leia can see why Amilyn likes the Ticos so much, but she keeps her smile and her admiration to herself, at least while there's a bet on the line. “What’ve you got in mind, kid?”
“I want the video tape of Poe’s junior high Christmas recital when he had the stomach flu,” Paige says, and the ensuing uproar carries them through the rest of the game.
Rey and Amilyn return after about an hour. It’s dark and the Ticos have gone home, but only after Leia shoved a big Tupperware of leftovers into their arms. She knows it’s been just the two of them against the world for a long time and her instinct, as always, is to take care of them.
Poe and Finn have moved to the loveseat on the deck, Leia in her usual spot in the Adirondack.
“Mom,” Poe says. “Holdo really makes you happy?”
“Yes,” Leia says. “For a long time now.”
Poe looks at his lap.
“That doesn’t mean I don’t miss Han. I never stopped missing Han,” Leia says. “And it’s okay if you miss Han too.”
Poe’s jaw tightens, but he nods, and leans a little closer to Finn, and they watch as Rey and Amilyn materialize out of the moonlight, walking up the beach to the deck.
“Good walk?” Leia asks. Amilyn sinks sideways into her lap, arms going around Leia’s neck, so that Rey can have the other Adirondack.
“Good walk,” Amilyn says.
Leia turns her head to look at Rey, looking pale and washed out, but calm. She smiles at Leia, a little thing but reassuring all the same, and Leia pats her hand where it rests on the chair’s arm. “You know I love you all very much?”
“Good. Get out of here,” Leia says, and Rey laughs, an easy laugh that says she knows she’s still wanted and is confident in her mother’s love despite all the teasing.
Poe and Finn rise together and Poe drapes an arm around Finn’s shoulders, then Rey’s, pulling them along with him in lockstep. “Let’s go to this club I know downtown,” he says, and the last Leia hears from them is Finn and Rey complaining that it’s late and they would rather watch Netflix.
“How’d it go?” Leia asks, craning her neck up at Amilyn, who looks ethereally regal by moonlight with her hair windswept and curling around her face.
“I think sometimes it’s easier to talk to someone who’s not as close to the situation,” Amilyn says. She sags in Leia’s embrace a little, resting her cheek on top of Leia’s head. “She just didn’t feel like she could burden you with how she felt. You know?”
“She’s always been like that,” Leia says, a little sadly, a little proudly. Her sensitive child, never wanting anyone to worry about her, always worrying about everyone else. The daughter she always dreamed of, when she was old enough to dream of such things.
“Takes after her parents,” Amilyn says, earning herself a prodding squeeze from Leia. She squeezes back. “You really think they’ll leave us alone?”
“Probably not,” Leia says. “But maybe we’ll get a few days out of tonight.”
“Better make the most of it,” Amilyn says in that delightful tone she gets, the one Leia remembers from their schoolgirl youth, when they thought the days were endless and sorrow could be put off until adulthood.
She’s far too old to be chasing anyone up the stairs, but the playfulness is there, and Leia can’t remember the last time she truly felt playful. Maybe it was here at this beach house, when she had a husband and a brother and a child who brought her hope instead of grief. She wants to call it another life, but it was all her life. It still is her life, and as she holds Amilyn’s hand all the way through the house and up to their bedroom, she realizes the old memories don’t hurt quite as much. The wall by the stairs – that’s where Han tried to hang a picture and accidentally sent his hammer through the drywall when he missed the nail. It’s also where Finn bonked his head tripping over a tool Rose left out; Leia made him sit at the kitchen table while she patiently cleaned the little cut and stuck an old Disney bandaid over it.
The kitchen island by the sink is where she used to talk to Luke about Han, but it’s also where she gave Amilyn a lovely chef’s knife as a moving-in present.
The scratch on the TV stand is from her firstborn waving around one of Han’s tools, but on the opposite side is another scratch from Poe knocking over Rey’s surfboard and then blundering into the TV trying to catch it. He and Rey squabbled for half an hour over whose fault it was until suddenly they made up in that way of theirs and went out to get burgers, with Leia listening for the sound of Rey’s car to know when they were back with lunch.
“You okay?” Amilyn asks, Leia still firmly attached to her even though they’re at the foot of the bed now and she’s toying with the collar of Leia’s blouse.
"I don't know," Leia says. "I think so. I don't know how to tell you."
“You can," Amilyn says. "I'll show you how."