Luke’s hand settled on your shoulder when your mother’s diplomatic transport lifted off, fading thin through the atmosphere, then gone.
I don’t understand, you said stubbornly, shrugging his hand away. Why she has to go.
She has duties. Luke’s answers were never as simple or as satisfying as you wanted them to be. She was a princess, you know. She is a leader still. His brow wrinkled, like he knew that wasn’t enough. And then—
She’ll always love you, Ben.
(You can feel it dogging your steps.)
What does it mean, to be loved, when you have become everything that is cursed?
There is nothing natural about you, anymore. Nothing to be remembered as human. You do not even make men bleed—no, you leave them seared to ash. Choked of breath or cut down by sizzling strokes. These are not natural deaths.
You hurt your hand on the rough edge of a scrap of metal once. Red bloomed bright beneath your fingers, and when your father bandaged it, he called you brave.
Brave, to stumble into pain. You thought he was foolish to call you so.
You were only nine, and you thought him foolish.
(The scar is still on your palm.)
The first time Snoke takes your mind to its ribbons and filaments—a process that scrapes you raw, with all requisite pain—he laughs at what he finds there.
Your mother’s son, still? There’s the Skywalker blood. Filtered weak through a woman.
If you tell him that she was—is—strong, he will only see it as your failure.
I feel her, Snoke croons. I feel her searching for you.
You don’t. You don’t—you don’t feel it. You don’t feel her. You can’t stop the panic from rising, the blame from flooding over you like a wave of retribution. You don’t know what you’ll do if you’re not running from her. If you don’t need to run anymore.
Snoke looks at you with patience, not with pity. We’ll keep this, he says. For another time.
Your father died, trying to bandage a wound.
(You. You were the wound.)
You thought him foolish.
You thought him foolish, and you killed him, and when you watched him fall you knew him to be brave.
As long as your mother lives, Snoke hisses, you have not met your destiny. It as though he can hear the way you feel her signature in the bleak nights—the way she searches. (This, since the girl, has come back to you.)
You chase the Resistance for him. Like a hunter, you are ruthless. Like prey, your heart thunders in your chest.
You know how to fly. (Your father taught you.)
You know how to complete this mission. (You killed your father.)
Your finger hovers above the trigger.
You stumble into pain, and let her go.