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Where They Belong

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Jyn takes a shuddering breath and holds it, tiny heart beating so loud she fears the dark-armoured monsters will hear and find her. The grass that hides her scratches at her face, the too-green blades damp from the fog that feels as heavy as her own fear.

She watches as her father talks to that horrible man—Krennic, the man whose name always made her mother’s eyes darken. Their words are caught by the wind, she can’t hear anything except the soft, familiar timbre of her father’s voice. She knows she shouldn’t be here, that she should be long hidden, tucked away where the Empire—where Krennic—can never find her. But as she stood at the valley's entrance only minutes ago, she found she couldn’t leave her family behind; some part of her screamed that turning her back on her parents would only lead to regret.

Now she lies hidden among the tall grass, petrified by her helplessness.

Movement catches her eye, and the eyes of her father and Krennic—her mother, robed in red and brown, running towards the group as if she was ignorant to Krennic's arrival until now. Jyn clutches dirt and grass in her little fists, pleading desperately in her head for her parents to walk out of this alive, knowing in her heart that her mother will not let Krennic take them while she still draws breath.

Jyn gulps back a cry as Lyra pulls a blaster from her robes, her mother's face set with a defiance Jyn knows too well. Every inch of her tenses, as if she can do something, anything to stop Krennic from hurting her family.  As if she can will her mother to lower the blaster and stay alive. But she is only a child, and the Force cannot save every suffering soul.

The laser blast cuts through her mother with a sound Jyn knows will haunt her sleep for the rest of her life. She doesn’t realise she’s screaming until her father’s head whips around, his eyes searching for her with wide, fearful heartbreak. Krennic’s face contorts with that awful smirk.

She pushes herself from the ground, turning to run, but the troopers are already upon her, their death-rattle words monstrous and unintelligible to her ears. Howling, she kicks and punches wildly, but her fists do nothing to the terrible creatures. Her hands ache; the troopers barely seem to notice her flailing. Over her screams, she hears her father pleading with Krennic, his voice cracking with desperation.

A trooper throws her down beside her father, and she scrambles into his arms with her eyes on her mother’s empty face. She waits for her mother to awaken, to open her warm eyes and smile softly as if stirring from a nap. Jyn's entire mind is a wailing, roiling storm of fear, anger, loss. She barely hears her father speak;

“Let her go, please,” he begs, his hand stroking her damp hair.

“Let her go?” Krennic asks, feigning concern. “You’d rather leave the child here all alone to die?”

“Better that than have her become a slave to your Empire.”

Krennic tuts, and Jyn hears the crunch of windswept grass as the man approaches them both. Her father holds her tighter, she clutches at his wrapped shirt.

“Galen, Galen, I’m disappointed. Neither of you will be slaves. You’ll be safe with me." 

"Safe," Galen murmurs bitterly.

Jyn hears the resignation in her father’s next exhale, and although she’s too young to understand exactly what’s about to happen next, she trembles nonetheless.

“Papa,” she whimpers, as if her father has the power to save them both from their future. Parents are supposed to be all-powerful; this is where her childhood begins to fade. Galen cups her head in his hand and whispers into her ear.

“I am so sorry, my Stardust.”

The troopers haul Galen to his feet, and he carries Jyn close to his chest as he stumbles to Krennic’s shuttle, which cuts a void-black silhouette against the milky fog. Over Galen’s shoulder, she catches one last glimpse of what had come to be her home, a place of warmth, laughter, love. She tries to grasp that feeling one last time, to freeze those memories and hold them in her heart so she will never forget what her parents tried to build for her.

As the ship leaps into hyperspace, her eyes meet Krennic’s, and even through her tears his smug expression is as clear as the kyber crystal hidden against her chest. She can almost hear his voice in her head: You belong to me, now.

She takes a breath, trying on her mother’s defiant gaze, and Krennic chuckles.