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Second Chance

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The General's fingers are careful as they work through Rey's hair. With an injured shoulder, the younger is finding it difficult to properly pin her hair so that it doesn't fall out of place.

Rey does her best to hold still, but she can't remember the last time someone did her hair for her. Leia's so gentle that there isn't any pain. She only pulls enough to keep the braids tight as she works.

Leia's fingers massage Rey's scalp gently when she starts on the next braid. She can tell Rey is enjoying the sensation. It's easy to forget that Rey grew up without anyone to do this for her as a child. No one ever taught her how to do much more than pull her hair in such a way as to keep it off her face.

Rey's eyes close. She forgets to hold her head still when Leia pulls the separated locks. "Sorry," she says quickly, suddenly snapping to attention.

"It's quite alright," Leia reassures with a small smile on her face. She finishes the last braid. "There. Those should hold much better, though you should take it easy with training today. Your shoulder needs time to heal."

Rey smiles a little shyly. "Thank you; I will."

She won't, but Leia expects as much from Rey.

-

After the first incident, Leia looks for reasons to pamper Rey. She finds herself wanting to give Rey the love and affection she had always deserved. Maybe it's selfish on Leia's part. She has, after all, lost her son and her husband. Rey may be a surrogate for all that she has lost, but she feels a genuine connection to the girl.

Rey's shoulder is healed. There isn't a reason for Leia to help Rey with her hair, but she makes an excuse about needing to practice a style prior to an important meeting. A mirror simply won't suffice, and Rey is all too happy to accept the rather poorly formed excuse.

Just like with last time, Leia picks another simple style. The braid is a bit more complicated, with multiple separations, but it didn't look too extravagant. It certainly isn’t anything that Leia needed to practice.

Rey either doesn't catch on or doesn't say anything. She's too busy closing her eyes and sinking back a bit. Only pure determination keeps her from completely sinking into her spot.

"Will you-" Rey cuts herself short. Her cheeks are a little pink, but Leia can only see a little from her angle. "Will you teach me how to do some different styles?"

The embarrassment in Rey's voice makes Leia's heart ache, but she answers immediately, "Of course."

"Thank you," Rey says a little more confidently.

-

Rey's a quick learner. Not just in the way of the Force, but also in other skills. Hair seems to be no different. She picks up on various braids quickly. More complicated styles are a little difficult for her, but she's nothing short of determined. Soon, she will be able to outdo anything Leia could put together.

-

The General is sitting alone, working through a few reports, when there is a knock on her door. "Come in," she calls.

Rey steps through with a small, uncertain smile on her face. "I was wondering if you had any free time."

The answer to that is very rarely a 'yes', but Leia knows her own limits. She offers Rey a smile, "Of course."

Admittedly, she doesn't suspect what Rey is up to. They end up in the girl's quarters where Rey has Leia sit. They've done this before. Rey practices on her own hair, but she has also worked on Leia's in the past. It's usually easier to do someone else's hair.

Rey works for awhile, struggling here and there. Leia is patient. She has done this since she could remember. Her fingers are starting to feel their age more these past few years. Anything particularly intricate causes her some degree of pain. As a General, it isn't all that necessary that she tries for anything complicated anyhow.

"There," Rey finally says with a mixture of pride and victory in her voice. She finds a handheld mirror to show the General. Much to Leia's surprise, the style is beautiful. Not too complex, but certainly elegant.

"Thank you," Leia whispers after a moment. She looks up to see the proud look on Rey's face and feels her own heart swell with pride. It appears she has, indeed, taken Rey in as her own. She remembers a time, long ago, when she felt this way toward Ben's accomplishments.

-

Somewhere along the way, Leia decides that Rey doesn't have nearly enough clothing. She begins to sew things together for the young Jedi. Each item gets dropped off in Rey's quarters when she is absent. In return, Rey leaves small notes of thanks.

None of the things she makes are much to look at, but Rey always wears what she's given with confidence.

-

Injuries come with the territory. Leia isn't new to cleaning up blood or putting in stitches. Both her husband and her brother had had a tendency to take a beating in battle. Rey has apparently inherited the trait.

Leia doesn't bother with lectures. Luke has likely done that himself, regardless of how hypocritical the nature of the lecture may have been. Instead, she cleans away the blood, stitches the worst of the wound, and bandages it carefully.

Rey is quiet the whole time. Leia doesn't realize that she's drifted off until she looks up. Only Luke's child could fall asleep while being stitched up.

Gently, she moves Rey so the girl's head is rested in her lap. She can still read through reports while Rey sleeps. Knowing the young Jedi, moving her too much would only cause her to wake. Leia isn't willing to risk the chance that Rey would refuse to rest any further.

-

Leia steps into her quarters one day to find a present sitting on her bed. She blinks in surprise. The paper covering the small box is brightly colored with hand drawn designs. A little card sits on top. She opens it first. 'Happy Birthday' is written over the front. For a moment, she's genuinely shocked that it is her birthday. The Resistance has been so busy as of late, that she has hardly had the time to consider something like that. Birthdays have long since ceased to matter anyhow. There isn't much joy in them when she has no one to really celebrate with.

Except that she apparently does. She almost feels ashamed for that thought when she reads the note Rey had written inside. She smiles softly.

She considers waiting to open the present for when Rey is around, but knows that Rey wouldn't have snuck it past Leia had she not anticipated the present to be opened without her there. Leia carefully unwraps the paper and opens the small box to find a few hair bands that have been beaded by hand.

Leia sits on the edge of her bed, holding the box in her hand. She has to blink back tears.

She can't undo the past. Nothing she could ever do would bring her husband back. She hasn't ever been enough to save her son, but, somehow, she has been lucky enough to have been given a second chance.