by Catriona Boyle
You're leaning forward, your elbows balanced on the holo-game board with your head resting on your palms, watching with rapt interest as the Corellian cleans his blaster. You're listening hard, a frown creasing your brow as you concentrate on the pilot's story. You're taking it all so seriously, drinking in every word he utters with innocent embrace and I have to turn away to hide my smile. Then he hits you with the punch line and guffaws loudly when your scowl deepens with puzzlement. Understanding soon dawns across your features and you burst with sudden laughter. We glance to one another and you grin and roll your eyes as though you cannot believe your own gullibility.
The laughter is good, cleansing, refreshing. But it cannot last. Ultimately our brief snatch at mirth ebbs as we return to our tasks and to our thoughts.
My attention should be focused forward. I should be considering options, contemplating the possible uses of the data stored within the Artoo unit, praying that the information he carries will yield the Death Star's weakness and allow us to exploit it. But, I am finding it difficult to anchor my concentration to my duties, finding it a strain to keep my thoughts from drifting and I cannot stop the flood of guilt which descends, nor the pain which follows. I believe I should be thinking of Alderaan, of my home, my lost people. But I am not.
I'm thinking of you.
I look your way once more and again I catch your eye. You smile, quite shyly, and glance away as though embarrassed by our contact. I am aware of your attraction to me and am I flattered by your attention. However, although I consider you handsome, it is not your looks which I find alluring. It is what you have triggered within myself which draws me.
By the time you burst into my cell upon the Death Star I had become so tired. So weary of that door sliding aside and admitting my captors to probe and question me, that I was surprised when I found myself stirring to find - not the guards or their master - but a simple stormtrooper. One whose armour did not quite fit his frame and who was a good few inches lacking in height. I will admit that it was upon this poor wretch that I chose to air my tongue, and so I spoke with forced derogatory humour although I knew from past experience he would not answer. You removed the helmet.
"I'm Luke Skywalker. I'm here to rescue you!"
Again I have to hide a smile as your eager, sincere introduction returns to me. A rescue was the last thing I had expected. I remember sliding forward on the bunk trying to grasp what you were telling me, trying to believe what was happening and, curiously, I was struck with a feeling of familiarity, of naturalness. For an instant, I thought I knew you.
If there were others who heard - and there is a strong possibility that the cell was being monitored at all times - then they may have believed I was either merely requesting that you repeat your declaration out of puzzlement, or being glibly sarcastic about your identity. It was neither. Your name meant nothing to me, but you....Your person, your presence was...is...like a fond echo, like the trailing pleasure of a favoured dream. However, I had no time to ponder. You threw more information at me, but all I heard was "Artoo unit" and "Ben Kenobi", and all my hope returned. The spark you had ignited within was forgotten as we were carried along by events. Now, however, with a few hours before we reach Yavin, I find my question returning to pester me, taunt me and, the answer seems to dance just beyond my vision, my grasp.
Who are you, Luke Skywalker?
Are you what you claim to be? The son of a Jedi Knight? The nephew of a murdered farmer? Or are you something more? When I look at you now you seem so unaware, so....unknowing. It is evident that this is all new to you. The sparkle of excitement in your eyes, the enthusiastic questions you put to Captain Solo, the way you hang on his every word instantly speaks of your inexperience. You appear to be a puerile youth, a simple lad, and yet you have such depth concealed behind that callow front and I cannot help but wonder if that is by accident or design. Why have you been hidden so deeply.
Or am I reading too much into you? Has your claim to be the son of a Jedi activated my imagination, called forth the tales of heroic knights I was told in childhood? Does that fact that you carry their sword raise my expectations of you?
I turn to watch you again and find you scratching the tip of your nose. Then you lower your hand and it strays to the hilt of the saber which hangs from your belt. For a moment you appear saddened, as though the feel of the metal grip reminds you of a lost friend, and I know you are thinking of Kenobi. Then a tiny smile curls the corners of your lips. It is a pleased smile. A smile of satisfaction, a smile charged with dreams and aspirations and I am reminded of your words when I questioned you earlier about the lightsaber.
"It was my father's. Now, it's mine."
You sounded proud. Bold and angry. Your jaw fixed with keen determination. And, again, that echo rippled through me. Some how, I knew you.
I recognise you, and yet, I don't. You seem so familiar, yet strange. I cannot understand these frustrating feelings. I cannot understand why I feel so at ease with you. Why I implicitly trusted you on board the Death Star when I cannot say the same for your Corellian friend. What is it that draws me to you? And if I were to ask you, would you know yourself? Who is it that you remind me so strongly of?
You're laughing again and I find myself smiling at the sound. We are at a turning point in this war, a dark an terrible juncture which will quite possibly result in our deaths and the Galaxy's enslavement will continue after our demise, and yet you can find light in such a dark place. You who have lost family and friends, you who have been forced by circumstances to become a killer, can take delight even now. And I am finding your energy attractive and infectious. You have awakened me from the nightmare, banished the chasing spectres, comforted me by your presence and turned my mind to brighter visions.
My question remains. Why?
"Princess? Your Highness?"
My title sounds wrong when spoken by you. I turn and smile once more. "Call me 'Leia'."
You look surprised and delighted, and from next to you the Corellian snorts with derision and replaces his blaster in his holster. I try to ignore him as he mutters something about "royal charm" and "green kids". You colour slightly at his words, but your annoyance is short lived. "Sure...Leia."
I smile more at your pronunciation, as you brush my name with your accent, and I know I have heard my name uttered by a similar voice...
...a female voice...long ago when...I was little and she....
....I feel myself frown as I strain to clasp the transient memory.
"Are you okay?"
I look back to you. You have crossed the compartment and now stand awkwardly before me. You appear so concerned, so worried for my well being. You have no idea of the confusion you have caused within me. I reach forward and take your hand, turn my eyes to yours. "I'm fine, Luke." I hear my own pause, my own hesitation. Then I utter the words which I do not understand for they are words intended for a close friend, a cherished companion. "I'm glad you're here."
And I see my own confusion reflected within your eyes.
A quiet tone breaks the stillness of the moment and you glance away as the Corellian calls you. "Come on, Kid. We've arrived. Lets have a look at this Rebel base of hers."
Excitement replaces perplexity. Your eyes burn with anticipation, pupils wide and wild and you cannot hide your eagerness, your desire to discover. I release your hand and urge you forward. "Go on." Then I watch you follow the pilot from the passenger compartment to the cockpit.
I wish I could feel the same sense of exhilaration as you. I wish I could be so innocent as to believe that this is only the next phase of an incredible adventure. We are of a similar age and yet I feel so much older. Weighed down by war and political duties and, I envy you and pity you. For I know that the losses you have suffered, and the realities of this civil war will inevitably break through your natural defences. I can only pray that you will never become one of its victims.
The ship shudders slightly as we hit some atmospheric turbulence and I am jolted from my thoughts. I have to refocus myself to the hours to come, to the battle which looms before us and I am nowhere near to solving the puzzle you have become - perhaps I never will. I only know now, that somehow with your presence, I feel complete. Despite the loss of my world, my home, I feel as though I have gained something. That knowledge comforts me, eases my grief, and gives me renewed hope.
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