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we've got shelter, deep inside

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Light spills through Klara's body violent in its brightness, sharper than any light ever filtered through the canopy of Silverhojd forest that raised her.

Formlessness hurts more than death.

Her body lies buried, wrapped round and round in sheets under the earth, and she is content to leave it there. Cloth won't stop the forest from taking her back, though it might stop the living with less scrupulous hands.

She's numb with loss — of Esmeralda, of connection to the land, of purpose. Hulderfolk were never meant to be ghosts, or she would have seen her sisters before.

So Klara drifts.

 

**

 

The air around her shimmers like so many motes of dust caught in a sunbeam. The press and pull of the Force has been with Leia all her life but never like this. It has been everything but it has never been all, and in the currents of fate and life and love she finds herself reaching out.

There are souls that feel like pain, feel like redemption, feel like pride.

And there is one that feels like a loss familiar and entire, feels like Klara and nothing more, and Leia cannot help but reach out and take her in.

 

**

 

"Do you miss them?"

Her head rests on Leia's shoulder, or as close to it as she can be in this state. Leia is all that feels as real as pain; the desire to see if any touch would slip through her feels like the desire for another death.

"I miss ..." Leia won't meet her eyes. "I miss what we should have had."

Klara had seen a future for Esmeralda once, seen it fall apart. "I don't know what I should have given her. I miss ..."

She misses something too big for words, but Leia doesn't make her say so.

 

**

 

Leia feels her son, somewhere among the clouds. There's a thread that's Ben, or something close enough. He's there to her, she could reach out and pull the energies of this nowhere sea around her and stand in front of him firm and proud, or reach out and be so rocked by his emotions that she bends around Klara like a sapling.

There is no line to Esmeralda; whatever wilderness the Force is cannot reach the forests of Silverhojd or Stockholm.

There is only emptiness where Esmeralda used to grow, and relief has never felt so cruel, or so unwanted.

 

**

 

"We don't have to come back wrong."

It seems to Klara she's taken a very long time to come to this realisation, for all that there isn't time among the will of the Force.

There's something almost like pity in Leia's eyes when she says, "The Force has a hundred other ways to wrong you."

"You pulled me from it, though," Klara says, hands fluttering at her side with unnamed desire. "If we're here, that — something's right."

If not — if she was ripped from Silverhojd for nothing —

But Leia reaches out, and her hands are warm, and they are right.