Happy Valentine's Day! And thanks to all of you for continuing to submit. Remember: there are no deadlines. I don't care if your story is given to us at a time frame more suited to St. Patrick's Day. We never turn them away. The above is part of a comic I believe we already reviewed but I thought it was somewhat appropriate. This submission comes to us from Amara Z. Enjoy!
Leia could hardly believe this day had come. That finally she, and to some degree the galaxy, had found a measure of peace. After all they had been through and all they had lost. She made no assumptions about what this respite might mean or how long it might last. But for now, she could enjoy what she had – this quiet moment with her family and Han. As she looked around the room, an antechamber usually used by Jedi to prepare themselves for meditation, she knew it was possibly the most tranquil spot in the entire galaxy to be.
But Leia was feeling anything but at peace as she turned towards the mirror again, the nervousness rising in her like bubbles to the surface in a tumbler of water. It struck her as odd she seemed just as nervous as the first time she made this decision. To a degree it felt like she was starting a new stage of her life, but she knew that wasn’t the case. This wasn’t a new beginning or the first time for them. Or even a renewal. But a confirmation of what she had always felt.
Leia considered her reflection carefully, turning different directions. Her hands smoothed carefully over the layers of silk surrounding her. The urge to fidget was too great and she wanted to purse her lips, but didn’t dare. She didn’t want to touch up her makeup again. Instead she took a deep breath and tried to let the peace of the situation run through her, to remember the calming thoughts she had learned. She could at least take comfort in the fact that there was one big difference about today. Today belonged to them. No press. No holonet. Just them.
“You look great, mom,” Jaina said as she appeared in the mirror behind Leia.
“You think so?” Leia leaned in to inspect her hair, frowning slightly, before turning towards her daughter. “You don’t think I need another pin here?” she asked as she pointed to the area in question.
Jaina smiled indulgently at her mother. The last hour had been filled with such questions and nervous flitting and it had Jaina wanting to laugh. It was a simple event and here her mom was acting more anxious than she’d seen her before, even more than when she gave a speech. Jaina stepped forward, took her mom’s hand in hers, and sent a gentle push of calmness to her through the Force. “Don’t worry. Dad is going to love it and everything is going to be perfect.”
Leia squeezed Jaina’s hand. “I hope you’re right.”
The door to the room slid open and Jacen walked in. He raised his eyebrows at the women of his family. “You two about ready? I think Dad’s getting a little antsy.”
Leia and Jaina exchanged a knowing look. Han was no doubt starting to run out of patience and they probably didn’t have much time left. “I’ll go check on him. Let him know we’re ready,” Jaina said and gave her mom a brief hug before slipping out of the door.
Leia took a moment to look at her son, filling with amazement and satisfaction over the young man he had become. Stepping up to him, she gazed into his face, taken aback as always by how much he resembled his father, with his twinkling hazel eyes. There were touches of her in there to be sure, but as she ran her hand across his hair and down his cheekbone, she was never more reminded of another face she had fallen in love with all those years ago.
And then he smiled, a crooked grin that was very familiar. “You feel as nervous as Dad.”
Leia let out a sigh. “Not really. Excited. Just seems to be translating into nerves,” she replied with a smile. Her hands came to rest on his shoulders. “I appreciate you being here, Jacen. I know you are ready to get started on your trip.”
“Least I could do. And one more day isn’t going to hurt anything.”
Her hands trailed down, smoothing out the front of his robe as was her habit with one of the kids or Han. It was her ritual and way to enjoy one last contact with them before they went about their business for the day and she went about making sure Jacen was in proper order. Leia’s fingers brushed against something smooth and oddly out of place against the rough, dark fabric of his robe. Pausing to look closely, she found two small, metal stars pinned to the lapel of Jacen’s robe.
Leia didn’t have to guess or use the Force to know what or who they were for. She already intuitively knew – Chewie and Anakin. Fingering them lightly, she swallowed the lump in her throat and tried to will the tears back from her eyes as she glanced up at Jacen. “For those that were lost?”
Jacen nodded solemnly, his stoicism showing. He shrugged. “It seemed the right thing to do. I know they would have wanted to be here in some way.”
He shook his head and his demeanor instantly lightened, another lop sided grin coming to his face and he held his arm out to her. “Come on, Mom. Let’s go make Dad the luckiest man in the galaxy a second time.”
Not far away, in the middle of a garden, Han stood waiting for his wife and doing his best not to fidget. As he looked around the space at the lush plants and trees, he had to admit they couldn’t have picked a nicer spot. The Jedi Temple garden was beautiful and proving to be a perfect backdrop for them to gather. But standing there with nothing to do, he felt as nervous as a new bridegroom. Which hardly made much sense as he knew the odds were good Leia would show up. But he felt uneasy just the same.
He was only glad Leia had not made him dress up formally for the occasion. While he didn’t mind, he much preferred his own gear. He had made an effort though and wore the best spacer’s jacket and pants he owned.
He started to shuffle his feet again, but stopped himself and straightened his jacket instead. It was his only outward sign of nervousness as he kept his face impassively calm like he did in a sabacc game or negotiation. But as he glanced around at those gathered – Jaina, Luke, Mara, and the temple Master Kam – he figured being surrounded by Jedi, they were all quite well aware of what he was feeling anyhow. As if in answer to his thoughts, he felt Jaina lay a hand his shoulder. And if he had the Force he was certain he’d sense a wave of reassurance from his daughter.
A light breeze started up, blew by, and rapidly changed directions, ruffling his hair. His hands moved quickly to smooth it back down. And was that a bird chirping he heard? Indoors?With no animals native to the garden? Han’s gaze immediately shot to Luke. His brother-in-law had one of those sneaky, knowing half-smiles on his face, the kind that frequently irritated Han over the years, and he knew Luke had tried to distract him. He considered commenting on it, but changed his mind when he heard footsteps coming towards them and turned towards the sound.
Suddenly it didn’t seem to matter anymore and everything else fell away as soon as Leia cleared the bend in the garden path and came into view. She had taken his breath away for the past twenty years and still did and he had to remember to take a breath. Hanging on lightly to Jacen’s arm as they walked towards Han, there was only one word to describe her – stunning.
The silk of her dress floated in layers around her, the ice blue color a perfect complement to her skin. Her hair was lightly pinned in places, small gems catching the light here and there, leaving the bulk of her hair to fall loose and wavy like he preferred it. And Han gave silent thanks that this woman was promising to be his once again.
It didn’t take long for them to complete their walk and Han held his hand out to Leia as they drew close. With a quick kiss from Jacen, Leia placed her hand in Han’s and stepped forward to take her place at his side.
Kam nodded and then began the ceremony. The words in Basic were quite familiar, speaking of love and devotion and the importance of joining with another to create something more than ourselves. Words he had heard before. But when Kam effortlessly switched into Corellian, Han was caught by surprise and he looked at Leia questioningly. With their original wedding held at the Alderaanian consulate, they hadn’t had the opportunity for a Corellian service or tradition. And he hadn’t been able to hear the words he heard now. Leia’s only response was a sly smile that told him all he needed to know. She had done it for him and it touched him even more that she would have thought of it. Turning back to Kam, he let the words flow through him, their meaning and history sink into him.
Eventually Kam stopped having reached the point where they were to say vows they had written and they turned to one another. Han had no doubt that what Leia had written would be elegant, but simple. And as she spoke, they were the most beautiful words he’d ever heard.
“You and I have come a long way from those first moments in the detention center. Such a long way.Kids, marriage, more wars than we care to recall. One very long flight to Bespin,” Leia said with a smile. “But one thing has never changed– my love for you and the man you are. I can’t say opening myself to your love was the easiest thing I’ve ever done, but falling in love with you was. And when I look at the life we’ve built and the time we’ve had together, I know it is by far the best thing I have ever done.” She glanced briefly at the small group gathered and knew that without Han most of it wouldn’t have been possible. Her hands tightened on his, squeezing them briefly. “You are my rock, my foundation. That part of the world that anchors me and enables me to be the best I can be in all other areas of my life. I can only hope I provide you with half as much as you have given to me. I am honored to share my life with you and I can’t imagine anything greater than strengthening our bond for the rest of our lives.”
Words could never adequately describe how he felt for this woman in front of him, but he could try. “Leia, you’ve been my friend and lover for more years than I can count. You’ve been so much more to me than I ever expected and certainly more than I ever deserved. You’ve stood strong beside me for the last twenty years and I’ve done my best to do the same for you. And it is my honor to be able to do it for another twenty and more. It is my vow to love and support you for the rest of our days, through all that may come, and all that we may be. I love you, Leia, with all my heart.” He paused and slipped easily into Old Corellian for the last part, reinforcing the bond between him and Leia forever. “And I promise it is you and I as long as we both shall live. In this world and the next.”
Leia squeezed his hand, nodding in agreement. “In this world and the next.”
They should have turned back to Kam as he said the last words that would close the ceremony, but they didn't. Han couldn’t take his eyes off of Leia and kept his gaze locked with hers. There was no way he was ever turning from the woman in front of him ever again.
As Kam pronounced them husband and wife for the second time, Han smiled, gathered Leia to him, and kissed her. He poured all of his emotions into that kiss, trying to express everything he was feeling – awe that this wonderful woman was part of his life, pride at the life they had created together, and gratitude for the love they both still held for one another.
Thank you for the wonderful submission! And remember, the challenge does not end just because Valentine's Day is over. I've got at least one more story to post and new submissions are always welcome.