they say that life is full of second chances
The twins are born, one after the other, barely minutes between them, and this time around there is no need to tear them apart. Their parents name them Clementine and Marcus Potter, and they are loved.
The memories come back to Marcus first, but they come back to Clementine, too – and one day Marcus looks at his sister and tentatively asks, “Leia?”
“Luke,” Clementine says, glad beyond words at the realisation that her current brother is her brother-from-before.
From then on, they call one another Luke and Leia as much as they do Marcus and Clementine.
The first time Ginny hears them do it, she drops a vase. It shatters, and the twins look at their white-faced mother with wide eyes.
“Leia?” Ginny whispers. “Luke?”
The twins look at each other, confused, and Ginny calls out “Harry!” in such a desperate voice that Harry bursts in holding the Sword of Gryffindor, which he hasn’t touched since the end of the war.
Both twins’ eyes widen at the sight of it.
“Ginny?” Harry asks, just as confused as the twins, and worried by the look on his wife’s face.
“Harry. The twins. They were calling each other Leia and Luke.”
Harry slowly turns to face his children, joy mixed with apprehension in his face.
“Luke?” he asks; then, with hesitation in his voice: “Leia?”
Luke catches on first.
“Father?” he asks, his eyes alight – not Dad, but Father.
Leia catches on a moment later, as she comprehends the distinction and what it means.
“No,” she says, because the kind, brave man she calls Dad can’t be the monster who tortured her on the Death Star.
But Harry’s eyes fill with remorse and anguish, and he says, “I’m so sorry, Leia.”
“No!” Leia yells, as the inescapable truth filters through. “You can’t be Darth Vader! You’re Harry Potter! You’re a hero – not a monster!”
Harry just looks at her, and Ginny puts a hand on his shoulder.
“No,” Harry says finally. “But I was, once.”
“But that was in another life,” says Ginny firmly, although her gaze is sympathetic. “Your father left that version of himself behind a long time ago.”
“You know? He told you?” exclaims Leia.
Ginny shakes her head.
“He didn’t need to,” she says. “Leia – I was Anakin’s wife. I’m your mother. Twice over.”
Luke’s breath catches, and he stares at Ginny, like he doesn’t know how to react to this knowledge.
Leia stares, too – but she stares at her Mum like she’s never seen her before, recalling... not even quite a memory, but an impression, of someone who had felt absolutely heartbroken.
There’s an echo of that emotion in Ginny, but mostly, there’s barely a trace of the absolute heartbreak that Leia remembers.
“What happened to you?”
It’s Luke who asks, because no one’s ever spoken to him of his mother – not Aunt Beru or Uncle Owen, not Obi-Wan – no one except Leia, who could only share the little she remembered.
Ginny’s mouth twists.
“I died,” she says simply, and does not elaborate.
“And with her, died any hope I had of returning to the light,” says Harry. “Until Luke came along.”
The look he gives Luke is full of warm affection, but there’s more than that in Harry’s gaze: there’s a kind of awestruck wonder there, as though even now, Harry can’t believe that his son found him worth saving.
Luke looks back at him, eyes full of the same wonder, and Leia is done with both of them.
“Luke, I can’t believe you,” she snaps, and Luke turns to look at her with cautious alarm. “Have you forgotten what he’s done?”
Luke might have, but Leia hasn’t; it has haunted her nightmares for years, in her last life, and in this one, ever since the memories came back.
“Of course I haven’t,” says Luke, his eyes soft with understanding, and Leia wants to hit him for it – for understanding her pain, and still forgiving Darth Vader. “But Leia–”
“No,” Leia cuts him off, her voice sharp. She looks directly at Harry, and it’s disorienting to look at the man she’s always seen as a loving father, and know him to be Darth Vader.
“What you’ve done, I can never forgive,” she tells him, and storms upstairs.
Luke glances at his father, his gaze sympathetic.
“She’ll come around,” he assures his father.
Harry’s fist clenches.
“Will she?” he asks quietly. “I did some very bad things, Marcus. And... your sister takes after me, in some ways.”
Luke understands what his father means. He knows that Harry is not quick to forgive; he has a tendency to hold grudges. So does Leia.
“You’re not just the man who used to be Darth Vader, you’re our Dad,” says Luke. “That’s just as important.”
Harry looks down at the floor.
“I hope so,” he says.
Ginny slips past them both, and goes up the stairs.
Leia is lying on her bed, crying furious and heartbroken tears when her Mum walks in and sits next to her on the bed. Ginny smooths Leia’s hair, and Leia just cries for a while. She’s ten years old, and her world has just come crashing down. She’s allowed to cry.
“How could you forgive him?” she finally says, flinging the words at her mother. Ginny looks back.
“You think I forgave him?” Ginny asks. “Baby, I could never forgive anyone for hurting you, not even Anakin.”
“Anakin Skywalker is dead,” says Ginny, and there is finality in her voice. “So is Darth Vader. Your father is not either of them.”
“How can you say that?” Leia demands. “You know it’s not true!”
Ginny sighs, and looks her daughter in the eyes.
“Clementine,” she says, not Leia. “Are you Leia Organa?”
Leia is about to say yes, but hesitates. It’s true that Luke calls her that, and the name is familiar and well-worn, like an old coat she still wears even though it’s become a little too small for her, but...
“Yes, and no,” she says slowly. “But Mum, it’s not the same–”
“It’s exactly the same,” says Ginny, her voice soft. “Harry may share a soul with Anakin Skywalker, but he is not him. He has lived a completely different life, with completely different experiences. He knows better than to make Anakin’s mistakes, and I would trust him with my life. I would trust him even with yours.”
It’s hard for Leia to be angry at her mother, when she looks like this: soft and sad and completely earnest.
“In the end,” Ginny continues, “We don’t even know that these memories are real. There is no evidence in our world of another galaxy, inhabited by myriad intelligent lifeforms. We know that humanity evolved on this planet, and that we have never lived anywhere else. If those memories are real, then the things we remember exist in an entirely different reality to this one.”
Leia wipes her face on her sleeve.
“I can’t just forget, Mum,” she says. “He tortured me!”
Ginny’s voice is full of pain as she says, “I know. And for that I can never forgive Anakin.”
That thread of heartbreak is stronger now, closer to the surface, and Leia senses it easily. She sits up, and allows her mother to pull her into a hug.
“I don’t understand,” Leia says. “How can you look at Dad and not see the same person?”
“I couldn’t,” says Ginny. “Not at first. It took me an entire year to see that Harry and Anakin weren’t exactly the same.”
Ginny smiles, sadly.
“Your Aunt Luna was kidnapped, and I needed Harry’s help to find her. I’d been ignoring him all year – and believe me, you’ve never seen anyone look so sad to be ignored – but the moment I asked for his help, he said, ‘Anything.’ Just like that. As though there hadn’t been a rift between us all year.”
“What happened?” Leia asks, concerned for her Aunt Luna.
“Harry slew a sixty-foot-long basilisk, while I destroyed a diary that had contained a memory of a teenage Voldemort which had been possessing Luna. All three of us could have died because of that diary, but Harry distracted Voldemort and the basilisk so that I could destroy it. Luna was fine, although somewhat traumatised. Your dad talked her through what had happened, telling her that Voldemort had pretended to be her friend, and it wasn’t her fault that she had believed him.”
Leia can easily imagine her Dad doing such a thing. He’s the kindest, most noble-minded man she knows; the only person who can beat him out in that respect is Leia’s Mum.
She can’t imagine Darth Vader helping a possession victim come to terms with what had happened to them. It just. Does not compute.
“That was when I began to see that he was more than the man I’d known,” says Ginny. “Anakin never would have known what to say to Luna, and from what I saw of him Vader wouldn’t have cared. Harry is much more than either of them was.”
Leia is silent, considering that.
“So I gave him a chance,” Ginny adds. “We became friends, but I was determined never to end up in a relationship with him again. But then, during the War, when he was dead–”
“When he was what?”
“Your Dad was dead for a little while,” she says calmly, as though this is either rational or okay. “Voldemort killed him, but because of ancient magic your Dad was able to come back. He chose to return to the world of the living so that he could defeat Voldemort for good, and achieve all the other great things he’s done since then. As I was saying: when he was dead, I realised that I couldn’t live without him. It didn’t matter who he’d once been. I loved him with all my heart, and I needed him like I needed no one else. I was finally able to let go of the last of my misgivings, after all those years, and accept that the man I could never forgive was gone.”
“I don’t know if I can do that.”
“If you can’t, that’s perfectly understandable,” says Ginny, her expression solemn. “Vader did terrible things. All I’m asking is that you try and separate Vader and your Dad into two different people.”
“Like you did?”
“Like I did.”
Leia is quiet.
“What if I can’t separate them?” she finally asks. “What if I can’t forgive him?”
“Believe it or not, Harry will understand,” says Ginny. “I don’t think he’s ever forgiven himself.”
Leia closes her eyes, feels tears slide from beneath the closed lids. She wants to forgive her Dad, but the rage against what was done to her burns deep, and always has. She can’t forgive; not yet.
Maybe not ever.
Ginny smooths Leia’s hair again, and rises from the bed.
“Just think about it,” she says, and leaves Leia alone in her bedroom.
The next week is tense, the atmosphere heavy with what goes unsaid. It’s easier for Luke than it is for Leia… but then, Luke had always seen the good in Darth Vader, had even been able to forgive him, in the end. But Leia… this is her Dad, the man who taught her how to ride a broomstick, who reads her bedtime stories and makes Leia and Luke a cake every year for their birthday… and somehow, the fact that it is her Dad only makes things harder, not easier.
Because Leia feels betrayed, to discover who he used to be. She thought that he was safe, that he could do no wrong; but now she’s not so sure, and it hurts.
Luke follows their Dad around asking him all kinds of questions, which Harry answers, even when they’re painful. Luke wants to know about the past.
Leia doesn’t. She wants to be able to forget it.
A week after discovering the truth, the twins reach their eleventh birthday. Luke is delighted to receive one of the miniature mechani-golem construction kits which Harry makes and sells through Fred and George’s shop. Leia receives a book with instructions on dozens of different ways to do her hair, and a hair-clip artfully encrusted with semi-precious stones.
“Thanks!” Luke says, beaming, and then everyone turns their heads and looks at Leia.
“Thank you for my present, Mum,” Leia says, her voice composed and dignified. “And Dad,” she adds reluctantly, because it’s polite to thank someone for a gift, even if you wish they’d die in a fire. Which Leia doesn’t. Well, not most of the time.
“You’re welcome,” says Ginny briskly, and Harry tries to smile, but his eyes are sad. “What do you two want to do today?”
“Can I visit Aunt Luna? Alone?” Leia asks.
Luke looks at her in consternation.
“But – we always spend our birthdays together!” he exclaims.
“Well, maybe I don’t feel like it, this year,” Leia says coolly, and can’t resist the barb that slips out. “Why don’t you build your mechani-golem kit with Dad?”
Luke looks winded, but says, “Well, if that’s what you want.”
“It is.” Leia looks away from him. “Mum, may I visit Aunt Luna?”
“Of course,” says Ginny. She’s the only one, besides Leia herself, who seems composed. “I’ll just fire-call her to make sure it’s not inconvenient first, but if it’s fine, you can just Floo through.”
“Come on, Luke,” says Harry lightly, even though his gaze is troubled. “Let’s get started on putting together your present.”
“Sure,” says Luke, casting one last worried look in his twin’s direction before he follows Harry out of the room.
Ginny fire-calls Luna, who is happy to have Leia over.
Before Leia can step into the fireplace, Ginny stops her, and looks into her eyes.
“Just remember, your feelings are always valid, and no matter how angry you are with either of us, your Dad and I will always be there for you. Always.”
“I’ll bear that in mind,” Leia says, after a short silence. Ginny kisses her forehead, and offers her the jar of Floo powder. Leia takes a pinch, and Floos through to Luna’s house.
Leia and Luna exchange the usual pleasantries – at least, what’s usual for Luna – before Luna says in her airy voice, “You seem a little troubled, Clementine.”
“Only a little?” says Leia, and sighs. “Did you know my Dad has a past life?”
It’s not something she’d ever consider telling anyone else, but Luna is famously open-minded.
“You mean the one in which he was a Dark Lord? Oh, yes. Ginny told me, in our first year at Hogwarts.”
There’s silence. Leia can hear the blood pounding in her ears.
“You know?” she manages. “And you’re still his friend?”
“Well, it was a long time ago,” Luna explains vaguely. “And if Harry and Ginny have both let it go, why shouldn’t I?”
“Because he was a monster!” Leia shouts, hating the way her voice shakes.
Luna looks at her for a long time. Then:
“He hurt you.” It’s not a question.
“Yes,” says Leia, her voice still shaking. “I was part of the rebellion against him and the Emperor in my last life. He tortured me for information about what the rebellion knew.”
Luna is silent for a long moment.
“You know, I had a friend, once,” she says finally. “My most trusted confidant, actually. Everyone else thought of me as ‘loony’ Lovegood, but he was always sympathetic and kind.”
“Let me guess, it was my father?” Leia’s voice is acerbic.
“Oh, no. His name was Tom, and he was actually possessing me and slowly draining me of my life-force,” says Luna, as easily as if they’re discussing the weather.
Leia chokes a bit, but Luna goes on as though she hasn’t noticed.
“It was very upsetting at the time. It was bad enough that I had been possessed and used, but his betrayal was the worst part. Because I’d trusted him, and then I found out he wasn’t what I’d thought he was. That was the worst thing, I think.”
Leia says nothing.
“But eventually, I had to make a choice,” adds Luna. “To remain forever bitter and angry, or to move on. And I could see that the anger was a cage, one I might never escape from if I didn’t let go of what had happened. So I let go.”
“It’s not that simple.”
“Of course not. If it were easy, everyone would do it, and the world would be a much happier place. But the first step in moving on is to want to do so.”
Leia clenches her fists.
“I have every right to be angry,” she says, and Luna nods.
“You do. And there is nothing wrong with anger in itself. Anger can be productive. It can drive revolutions and bring much-needed change. In the right circumstances, it can create hope. It was anger, after all, which led your father to defeat Voldemort – an anger which arose from the love he felt for all of us. But there is another kind of anger, one which turns inwards and festers, and which does no one any good at all. And that, Clementine, is the anger which leads to suffering.”
Leia is silent again. She’d like to refute Luna’s words, but there’s no denying the truth in them.
“I’m not saying you can’t be angry,” adds Luna. “Only that you must make sure you aren’t consumed by your anger.”
Leia takes a deep breath, and lets it out.
“Now, how do you feel about some scones?” Luna asks brightly. “I made a batch earlier, they should be cool by now.”
“Yes, please,” says Leia, grateful for the change in topic. She has a lot to think about.
When Leia returns home, Luke immediately accosts her.
“Our Hogwarts letters came!” he says, and his voice is cheerful, even if the expression he slants her way is somewhat wary.
Leia feels a little bad about being so angry with her brother on their birthday, so she summons up a smile. It’s not entirely feigned; she’s genuinely excited at the idea of going off to school with a group of other witches and wizards her age for the first time in her life.
Leia and Luke have been going to the nearest muggle school for years, because both Ginny and Harry wanted them to receive a well-rounded education in the modern arts and sciences as well as in the basics such as English and mathematics. Luke and Leia have always been reasonably well-liked by the other children, but they’ve never quite managed to make real friends. It’s difficult to do so when you’re hiding a huge part of your life, and can never invite anyone over to play in case they see something that they shouldn’t.
So Leia is genuinely pleased to know that she’ll be going off to Hogwarts, to learn magic and hopefully make some friends besides Luke for the first time in her life.
“That’s brilliant,” Leia tells Luke.
“Here’s yours,” Luke says, pulling an envelope out of his pocket and handing it to her. Leia takes it, and rips the envelope open.
Inside is her Hogwarts letter, along with the list of school supplies every first year student needs.
“Mum’s already replied by owl to let the school know we’ll be accepting our places at Hogwarts,” Luke adds, as Leia skims the school supplies list.
“Where is she?” Leia asks.
“Your Mum had to go deal with an emergency at the Ministry,” says Harry’s voice, and Leia turns to see him standing in the doorway. His expression is inscrutable. “But she said that she should be back by dinner.”
There’s a long, tense moment.
“Now that Leia’s back, can we eat some of our birthday cake?” Luke pipes up, deliberately artless. It has the desired effect: Harry grins, and Leia rolls her eyes at her brother.
“Luke’s been asking me about that cake all afternoon,” Harry says. “I told him that he couldn’t have any until you got back.”
“You could act like you’re an adult,” Leia tells Luke severely, because her brother might be eleven, but he has the memories of an adult and should be able to comport himself more or less like one, if he chooses.
“But I’m not,” says Luke, grinning. “And I’m going to enjoy every minute of it.” He sobers a little. “Our adulthood wasn’t exactly fun.”
Leia can’t help but agree, remembering her teen years as a spy for the Rebel Alliance, the years she spent fighting the Empire, and finally the decades it took to finally restore peace and stability to the galaxy in the form of the New Republic.
Not that she’s going to tell Luke that she agrees with him. He’ll take it as an excuse to pig out on cake.
“Luke’s right,” says Harry. “Speaking as someone who was a child soldier in both lifetimes, you should enjoy your childhood while you can.”
The words ‘child soldier’ sends a thrill of shock through Leia.
“Child soldier?” she can’t help repeating.
“In my first life I was a slave until I was nine years old, when the Jedi found me, and brought me into the Order. I was going on missions with Obi-Wan by the time I was fourteen, and it only got worse as the Clone Wars went on. As for this life… well, I first had to face Voldemort at age eleven, so…” He shrugs.
“You were a slave?” Leia repeats, appalled, and sees that Luke doesn’t look surprised. “You knew?” she asks her brother.
“There aren’t exactly many Skywalkers in the galaxy, especially on Tatooine,” Luke says, and it’s his turn to shrug. “Anakin Skywalker was famous on Tatooine for winning the Boonta Eve Classic Podrace at nine years old. People there didn’t know him as a Jedi knight, but as the slave child who won the race that was supposed to be impossible for a human to win. I always knew I was the freeborn son of a former slave, even when I didn’t know much else about my father.”
“It’s why I helped form the House Elf Protection League,” Harry says, looking wry. “I couldn’t believe it when I discovered that slavery existed in the wizarding world, and that no one saw anything wrong with it.”
Leia remembers her time as a slave in Jabba’s palace. She wasn’t there for very long, and she was able to free herself and turn the tables on her oppressor, but she has never forgotten the feeling of helplessness, the burn of humiliation she felt. She wonders what it would feel like to be born into that life, with the knowledge that there was no escape, and unwillingly feels the stirrings of compassion for her Dad.
Luke sees the look on her face, and understands. He doesn’t say a word.
“If you were a child soldier, what was Mum?” Leia asks.
Harry smiles, soft and fond.
“Your mother’s name was Padme Amidala, and when we first met she was the fourteen year old elected Queen of Naboo.” He laughs. “Not that I knew that at the time. She was using a decoy, and was going around disguised as one of the Queen’s handmaidens. They all looked pretty alike, and when one of the handmaidens was wearing Padme’s fancy make-up, most people couldn’t tell the difference. It was a shock when I found out who she really was.” Harry sounds amused.
“Mum was Padme Amidala?” Leia echoes in surprise, because she knows that name. She had studied Padme Amidala under her tutors while growing up on Alderaan, as part of her political studies.
“She was,” says Harry. “All the practice at ruling came in handy when she decided she wanted to become Minister.”
Leia is sure it did. After ruling an entire planet and experiencing the galaxy-wide war that tore the Old Republic apart, repairing the wizarding world in a small country in the aftermath of a much smaller war must have been easier for Leia’s Mum than most people thought.
Leia knows that it was her Dad who put the government back together in the early days after the war, appointing officials and reinstating a fair and just judicial process, but it was her Mum who brought through all the social and political reforms that have occurred in the last fifteen years or so. Ginny isn’t Minister anymore, but she’s still holds a senior position in the British wizarding government, and spends most weekdays working, only making it in time for dinner.
It’s Harry who has raised Luke and Leia while Ginny was busy working, Harry who stayed at home, changing nappies and looking after his kids. Leia desires to emulate her mother, but it’s her father she’s always been closest to.
Maybe if it wasn’t, she could hate her Dad more easily for what he’s done. But she can’t. However angry she is, however much she hated Darth Vader, she still can’t hate her Dad.
“I’m going upstairs,” Leia says abruptly, and she does, leaving Luke and Harry staring after her, one perplexed, one sad.
For Leia, it’s a long month until Hogwarts.
For one thing, there’s so many supplies to buy: robes, books, cauldrons, and who knows what else.
For another, there’s Luke.
“I know you’re angry, Leia,” he says, “and you have every right to be. But Dad’s not the same person he was.”
“It’s funny how you start out saying that I have every right to be angry and end by saying that I should forgive him,” Leia retorts, her voice acidic, because if Luke really believed she had the right to be angry, he wouldn’t be so damn persistent about this.
Luke holds back a frustrated sigh.
“He’s been good to us, Leia. Is it really fair to hold over his head things that happened another lifetime ago? Besides, anger is the key to the Dark Side.”
Leia throws a cushion at him.
“Clementine, don’t throw things at your brother,” Ginny says as she walks by. “Marcus, stop badgering her to forgive your father.”
Luke sends them both a wounded look, and slinks away.
Leia is glad that her Mum, at least, is on her side. Luke would be unbearable otherwise.
Leia’s Dad, meanwhile, is behaving exactly as he usually does, but for the look of deep sorrow in his eyes. Leia isn’t sure what to make of this. On the one hand, she’s grateful he’s not nagging her for her forgiveness. But on the other – isn’t an apology the least she deserves?
Then, one afternoon, when Luke is over at the Weasley’s house playing Quidditch with their cousins (Leia has never been very interested) Harry takes Leia aside, and Leia immediately knows what’s coming.
“Leia,” her Dad begins, “I know that an apology doesn’t even begin to make up for what I’ve done, to you and to so many other people. But all the same, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I did what I did on the Death Star –”
“Tortured me, you mean?” Leia snaps, because she’s not about to let him get away with not saying it.
But Harry nods, expression pained.
“Yes,” he says. “I’m sorry for torturing you, and I’m even more sorry for standing by and doing nothing when Tarkin destroyed Alderaan.”
Leia tries to speak, but her throat won’t let her.
In a quieter voice, Harry says, “I felt it, you know. As though millions of voices cried out in pain and terror, and were suddenly silenced. That’s what it felt like, in the Force. I have never forgotten.”
It makes Leia suddenly angry that out of everyone in this reality, the only ones who mourn Alderaan are herself, and the man who stood by and let it happen.
“I know exactly what it felt like,” she says, so brimming with fury she can barely breathe with it. Her voice comes out husky and soaked with rage. “Obi-Wan and Yoda never trained me how to use the Force, but what does that matter? I’m as Force-sensitive as Luke, remember. He wasn’t there to feel the destruction of Alderaan, but I was.”
Leia can still remember it – the horror, the frantic worry; the feeling of terror that had risen up to engulf her, as though in that moment she was connected with every living person on the planet – only to feel them suddenly silenced, leaving her feeling empty but for the terrible grief that was left behind in their absence.
“So don’t you dare speak to me of feeling sorry,” says Leia, and she’s so full of rage that she’s shaking. “I am the last princess of Alderaan, and I will never forget.”
Harry just looks at her.
“You’re not,” he says quietly. “The last princess of Alderaan, I mean. You’re Clementine Potter. Don’t be too willing to pick up Leia’s burdens, Clementine. You may find them harder to put down again than you imagine.”
He’s clearly speaking with the voice of experience. It only makes Leia even angrier.
She turns and walks away before she can do something she won’t regret. Harry doesn’t try to stop her.
By the time Leia reaches the night before she’s due to attend Hogwarts, Leia has achieved a little clarity.
She loves her Dad. That much is true. But she also can’t forgive him. The memories of what happened in her other life burn bright, and she can’t turn her back on them. They have shaped who she is: in her last life, and in this one.
Maybe, with time, she can achieve a little emotional distance. Maybe, with time, she can overcome her feelings of anger and betrayal. But that time is not now.
All the same, the next day, when Harry and Ginny escort the twins onto the Hogwarts Express, Leia turns to face Harry.
“I can’t forgive you, but I still love you,” she says.
Harry smiles, soft and sad.
“I will always love you, no matter what,” he promises, and helps Leia get her luggage onto the train.
Luke and Leia find the first available compartment, and stick their things in the luggage rack. Luke is watching Leia. She ignores him with great dignity, out of long practice.
They’re sitting alone in the compartment when an older boy opens the door and says, “Clear out, firsties, this is my compartment.”
“Excuse me?” Leia says, every inch affronted dignity.
“You heard me,” the boy says. “So go on. Scat.”
“I most certainly shall not,” Leia says, bristling. For some reason Luke has gone quiet, and is staring at the boy with a frown.
“Listen, kid, I’m a third year,” the boy says, glaring impatiently at Leia. “The older students get to pick their compartments, and the firsties get whatever compartments are left. That’s the way it works. And this is a good compartment, it’s the first one the snack trolley lady stops by, so I’m not about to give it up to a pair of first-years just because they got here first.”
“That’s not very fair,” says Luke, still frowning.
“It’s the way it works, kid. Now come on, scram.”
“Leia, maybe we should –”
“Luke, I am not going anywhere,” Leia declares, and Luke sighs. Leia glares at him, because she can practically hear him thinking about how she’s too stubborn for her own good. “We were here first.”
She turns back to glare at the third-year boy some more, only to find him staring at her like he’s seen a ghost.
“Leia?” he croaks. “Luke?”
“Well, technically it’s Clementine and Marcus, but we do sometimes call ourselves Leia and Luke,” says Luke cautiously.
The third-year boy reaches up to steady himself on the doorframe.
“I must be dreaming,” he mutters, and says more loudly, “Princess, please tell me it’s you.”
Leia goes stiff at the word ‘princess.’
“I don’t know who you are, but –”
“It’s me,” the boy interrupts. “It’s Han.”
And the world stops.
“Han?” Leia repeats faintly, while Luke breaks into a grin and says, “I thought you seemed familiar.”
But Han is looking at Leia, his expression one of fragile hope.
“Leia?” he says again, and Leia leaps to her feet and throws her arms around him with eleven-year-old abandon.
“Han,” she says into his chest, because Han is a good foot taller than her, and she doesn’t quite reach his shoulder.
Han’s arms immediately come around her, and hold her tight.
“Good to see you too, Princess,” he says, his voice soft and full of affection. “You too, Luke,” he adds, a little more briskly.
Han and Leia hold onto each other for several minutes, before reluctantly parting. Leia returns to her seat next to Luke, and Han sits down on the seat opposite them both, levitating his trunk into the luggage rack.
“So, I guess we’re all kids again,” Luke says, stating the obvious.
“Yeah,” Han says, with a slight laugh. “I thought that was weird enough, but then when I was eleven all this magic mumbo-jumbo was dumped on me. I figure these days that the world is a lot stranger than I thought.”
“You’re muggle-born?” Leia asks, and Han nods.
“It came as a shock, especially to Mum and Dad, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Well, except maybe having Chewie back. But I guess there’s not much chance of ever seeing a Wookie on this planet.” His voice is sad, but resigned.
Leia reaches out to squeeze his hand. Han squeezes back.
“So what about you two?” he asks.
“Oh, we’re from a wizarding family,” Luke says, at the same time as Leia says, “Our Dad is Harry Potter.”
“Wait – the Harry Potter?” Han lets out a whistle. “I guess you got born into royalty twice over, Princess.”
Leia gives him a look, but Luke says, “I guess being a Potter is about as close as you can get, in the wizarding world.”
Leia transfers the look from Han to Luke, who only smiles, completely unabashed.
“So,” Han says, “is it just you two, or has anyone else ended up in this life with us?”
“Well, who?” Han asks. “And what do you mean, ‘unfortunately?’”
“Our father used to be Anakin Skywalker,” Luke says, when Leia doesn’t answer.
It only Han a moment to understand, and his eyes widen.
“Harry Potter?” he blurts out. “He used to be Darth Vader?”
Leia and Luke nod.
“Huh. I guess he took advantage of the second chance,” says Han, after a moment’s silence, and Leia snaps, “Don’t you start.”
“What? What’s that supposed to mean?” Han demands.
“Luke thinks I should forgive him for being Vader.”
Han looks to Luke.
“Kid, are you nuts?”
“He’s a different person now,” Luke argues, and Leia groans at the familiar argument.
“Luke, give it a rest.”
“Look, Luke,” says Han, “if your sister decides to forgive him, well, that’s her call. But if she doesn’t want to, as far as I’m concerned she has every damned right.”
“I know, I know,” Luke says, not quite a whine, but only because he’s sighing as he says it. “It’s just – I hate seeing our family like this.”
“It’s not Leia’s fault,” Han points out, bristling on her behalf, and Leia finds his defence of her secretly adorable.
“I never said that,” Luke says.
“Can we just – change the subject?” Leia asks irritably. There’s an uneasy silence.
“What did you say your names were?” Han asks, after a moment.
“Clementine and Marcus Potter,” Luke responds, a little shortly.
“Huh,” Han says, and surprisingly, doesn’t comment. Leia narrows her eyes at him.
“Han,” she says slowly, what’s your name?”
Han goes all shifty.
“Everyone just calls me Han,” he says, but Leia isn’t about to let him off the hook.
“It’s not important,” Han insists.
“Come on, it can’t be that bad,” says Luke, in a moment of unexpected perceptiveness.
“Yeah, well you try living with a name like Englebert Davidson,” Han grumbles, and there’s a silence.
“Englebert,” Luke repeats, his voice quivering.
“I think it’s very distinguished,” says Leia, doing her best to keep a straight face. Both of them shoot her looks of absolute incredulity, and Leia lets her smile slip free.
“Oh, laugh it up,” Han growls, as Leia and Luke descend into laughter. “My grandmother named me, okay? Englebert Humperdinck was her favourite singer, she has all his records. I can’t help what name someone else gives me.”
“Sure, Englebert,” says Luke, grinning.
“Kid, I am not above hexing a first-year–” Han threatens, and Leia tries to swallow her laughter.
“Han, he’s just teasing.”
“Well, I don’t appreciate it,” says Han, glowering, but he settles down.
Leia can’t help smiling. All of a sudden, she’s convinced that her first year at Hogwarts is going to be a great one.