Time frame will be pretty clear, but in case it's not, it's immediately post-ESB. Also? I did this a bit on the fly so all mistakes are my own. All belongs to Lucasfilm Ltd. and the Disney Corporation. Of Hollow Words and Hope Leia sits in a small chair at Luke’s bedside in his private room on the medical frigate, watching the Two Onebee attend his wound. “The prosthetic continues to fuse as expected. He will be released very soon,” the droid says. She can't speak from exhaustion, so she only nods. It’s been a rough few days. Left alone, Leia gazes in silence. The pain and brokenness he’s shown is so strong, it’s begun to affect her, too, tangling in her heart like a knot that can't be undone. Her heart weeps for him; for all he’s been through and for all she still doesn’t know. He won’t be the same after this. All his innocence is lost to him now, even more than the day she met him. Her hand slips into his and grips tightly; the other brushes strands of still-damp hair out of his eyes. “I don't know what happened out there, but you're going to get through it, Luke.” Hollow words, but… She sighs. She's barely left his side since the Millennium Falcon returned from Bespin with him, emotionally and physically beaten, on board. Now, his prosthesis operation complete and healing, she’s relieved that it had gone well. Physically, he will improve quickly; as the droid said, it won’t be long before he was back to top health. It’s the emotional injuries he bears that frighten her now. She doesn’t know where he's been all these months, location or mission. He left without telling anyone. It's so uncharacteristic it hurts. But he'd come out of nowhere to save them, only to find himself in need of saving. Now injured himself, would he permit her to help him? Would he come to her about what he'd been through? He hasn’t yet. She loves him. She’s trusted him with her life and her heart from moment one. He’s her best friend, but...he can’t be more, could he? Not after Han... Han. Where was he? Was he still alive? She’s not sure she wants the answer to that. “It’s all my fault,” she says to no one. Her fault. For not leaving Hoth when instructed. For depending on Han so much, for getting so close to both of them that she could be used as bait. Her fault for not running fast enough to catch that bounty hunter, for not immediately chasing down Luke instead. Her fault that – “Le’a stop…” His whispered words cut through her bitter monologue, but no more. He’s stirred, but goes right back to sleep. Restless mumbling, tossing, and turning. A nightmare? A memory? Whatever Vader’s done to him holds his mind in a strong grip. Leia leans desperately over his prone form, wracking her brain for something to ease his pain. She rubs her thumb across the knuckles of his human hand and strokes his hair again. “It’s okay,” she whispers. “It’s okay.” She’s only felt helpless one other time in her life, looking on as her world blew to pieces. The pain of that moment had nearly been enough to break her, but for a boy and his companions who barged through her door. Is his mind now as broken as his body? As his soul? He’s never hesitated to talk to her before. They’re friends. They’re confidantes. She’s run to him as much as he to her; two halves of a whole, they’ve always shared every fear, every problem. But he hasn’t told her about this. Perhaps it’s too soon? She knows she should be more patient. He was, in the aftermath of their fateful meeting and Alderaan. It took her months to let her grief out, and he never pushed or complained. No, he sat and held her hand, just as she did now, and waited until she was strong enough to speak without shaking. Leia closes her eyes. If he could heal by the force of her willpower, she’d make it so. “Please, Luke,” she says. “Don’t you leave me, too. I need you.” What if he doesn’t want to tell her? An uneasy quiver jolts her stomach, flowing through her veins up to her heart. Was there someone else? Has she been replaced as caretaker of his secrets? Her eyes shift back down to him, still prone and shivering. No, that can’t be it. But what if – STOP. His voice rings in her ear as clear as it had in the Bespin skies. He’s stopped shivering, his breathing is even, and he’s made no actual sound. Sleep has finally taken him deeply enough that the pain can’t reach him, and yet…he reached her. Somehow that makes sense in a way she can’t explain. So he hasn’t told her what happened. Fine. She’ll live with that. But maybe he will someday.