It had been over a year.

A year since she had pulled the trigger. Literally. Since everything has changed. Since a part of her died with her father. But ever since Veroleem, he'd been stuck in her thoughts.

It would have been his birthday today.

Lily stood on the desolate plain that led up to the farmhouse on Lorrd, chewing her lip. She was fearless on the battlefield, had lost count of the amount of lights she had snuffed out from eyes over the years of service. But she couldn't get herself to move at that very moment on that plain.

She hadn't spoken to them since that night at that ISB blacksite. She couldn't look them in the eye. What would she say to them? Long live the Empire? It wouldn't bring a husband and a father back.

But on this day of all days, she needed to talk to them - make amends. Make it count.

With a deep breath, the Reaper stepped forward.

As she opened the familiar little garden gate, the front door opened and an older woman with grey streaked into her golden hair, stepped onto the porch, disbelief on her face.
"Lilibet?" came the soft call of her name, barely audible.

It was like a knife to the stomach. The last time she had been called that was right before she had to execute her father. It caused her to stop a few paces away from the porch steps.
"Hi mom." came the almost inaudible reply, throat tightening slightly as the emotions tied to that nickname threatened to bubble to the surface.
Before her mother could do anything, however, a wildfire of a younger woman flew out of the door like a bat out of hell.
“Who let the she-wolf out of her cage?!” she barked to her mother while glaring at Lily.

The Reaper’s jaw set as she looked at her sister. She had expected some kind of backlash.
“Good to see you’re still alive, Evelyn.” came the cold reply from the veteran.
“You have some nerve coming back here.” Evelyn said.
Lily instead looked back at her mother, who still had disbelief on her face. “You’re right, I shouldn’t have come here.” Lily said, looking back at her sister before turning to leave.

What did she think was going to happen? Or was it a glimmer of hope that the reception would have been different? Tears stung at her eyes out of nowhere. The last time tears had touched her face was on that hill outside the ISB blacksite.

“Lily, wait!”

Her mother had found her voice. The sharpshooter looked around to see the older woman rushing down the steps toward her while Evelyn remained on the porch.
Lily stopped halfway to the gate, her military posture standing at attention as she waited for her mother.
Cathy Stevens hesitated for only a heartbeat as she looked at her daughter’s face before she enveloped Lily’s stoic form in a wordless embrace.

Very slowly, the dam started to leak before it finally broke and Lily clung to her mother as it all came crashing down.
“Momma I…” she started through the tears but a sob stopped her.
“Shhh. You’re here now, darling.” her mom replied through her own tears. “Leave all that war and death behind. Come home.”

It was with these words that Lily pulled away, wiping her eyes.
"I can't, mom. Not until the Empire is safe." she said hoarsely.
"You sound like your father." Catherine said, taking her daughter's face between her hands and looking her in the eye just as Evelyn approached the duo.
"You're running again, aren't you?" she asked. "Avoiding settling down or running from his ghost? That why you need the sound of gunfire so much?"

She was right, but her words still stung at Lily's heart more than they should have.
"I had no choice, Eve." the Reaper said softly.
"Keep telling yourself that, sis."
Their mother's voice was soft, but still left no room for argument.

They would never understand. Not truly. And neither should they be subject to it. Returning to a normal life on the farm was impossible. Evelyn hit the nail on the head - she was running from not only her father's ghost, but all the others that plagued her nights. But her mother's pleading eyes to have her Lilibet back, had Lily do something that she next to never did.

She lied.

"The war's drawing to a close. I'll come home once it's done."

"We'll hold you to it." Evelyn said softly, that initial venom gone.
Lily's heart kept crumbling, knowing what she told them was a lie. But it was for their own good.

One last hug of her mother and her sister, the Reaper then turned and left the better life once lived, behind. Letting them live in the blissful ignorance they had, was the easiest option. To explain the contrary to them, would shatter their worlds completely.

Lilibet and the original Imperial Dream were both dead.