Deep in the midst of hyperspace, a flat, saucer shaped ship soared through the temporary tunnel through the stars. Of the four living beings on board the Millennium Falcon, only one was awake; the ship was on its night cycle and the others were getting some well-needed rest.
Han Solo wasn't in the cockpit, though, or even down in the maintenance bays tinkering with another part of his malfunctioning ship. Instead he lay in his bunk, staring up at the ceiling with a content smile on his face.
The main reason for this was the small woman curled up against his side, breathing softly as she slept. Leia's head rested on his forearm, rendering it numb during the night, and Han's arm encircled her waist in a gentle embrace. Gazing up at the inky darkness, Han momentarily wondered how this perfect, albeit brief, moment of peace had come to existence.
If someone had told him even a year ago that he'd be on his way to the Rebel Alliance's rendezvous point at Sullust, after being thawed from carbonite in Jabba's palace, with the most beautiful woman he'd ever met lying by his side, he'd have told them to go and admit themselves to a mental hospital.
Now the moment just widened his amused grin.
Han found it hard to think of anywhere else he'd rather be, or anything that could be better at that moment- well, aside from the after-effects of the carbon freezing. There was his eyesight, of course, which even after four of five days of being unfrozen hadn't been fully restored, and more recently his limbs had been developing sudden, disabling cramps. Leia, Lando and Chewie had spoken to the doctors before leaving to Tatooine, and they'd assured him that this was expected, as his body had been suspended for so long. These cramps were one of the reasons Han had woken up, actually, and even as he thought his right leg muscles began to stiffen.
Trying not to disturb Leia, Han grunted quietly and moved this leg so he could stretch it. His efforts were wasted, however, when Leia stirred next to him- she'd always been a light sleeper.
"Hello," he kissed the top of her head as she rolled over to face him.
Even with her voice weary and slightly slurred from sleep, Han thought that Leia sounded just as, if not more, beautiful than he remembered. He told her as much.
She just laughed; Han imagined her blushing in the darkness. "What's up, then?"
"You're acting uncomfortable. What's wrong?"
Han was about the ask how she knew, but then remembered that Leia had spent the majority of her life training in politics and watching body language- of course she knew.
"I've got cramp in my leg again."
All hopes of getting Leia to sleep quickly soon vanished as she propped herself up on her elbows and offered him a comforting smile. In the dark all Han could make out was the outline of her body and the light reflecting off her eyes, making them sparkle in the dim room. "I'll go get you some meds, okay?" she kissed the hollow of his neck, making hot shivers run down Han's spine, then got up from the bunk.
The captain's quarters had a 'fresher built in, where Han kept a small kit of medical supplies like painkillers and bandages. Bone knitters and splints were kept up front, in the cockpit. Leia made her way through to the adjoining room and Han heard her unclipping the kit. Then she laughed. "Some light?"
Han reached behind his head and flicked on the room's light. The sudden brightness made his eyes water- he covered them, wincing. When he heard Leia's soft footsteps returning, he cautiously uncovered his eyes. And was so shocked by what he saw that he began to blink in disbelief.
"What?" Leia asked.
He swiped a hand over his face, an amazed expression beginning to form. Then he turned to her, voice full of emotion. "I can see you."
Her face lit up with the same radiance that Han had always loved, and in an instant she was by his side, her arms around his neck, medical supplies forgotten. They both disguised their tears with laughter, holding tightly onto one another to cover their relief. While the doctors had been fairly sure that Han's eyesight would recover enough for him to avoid blindness, they weren't sure how well it would improve beyond blurry colours and shapes.
Nothing had ever sounded so sweet and beautiful before that moment than Leia's laughter, Han decided firmly, breaking away from their hug to place a tender kiss on her forehead. "You look so pretty," he touched her cheek and gently turned her face up to look at him. For a moment he just looked into her eyes and took her all in. This was Leia, his Leia, and he was never leaving her again.
"Your hair's grown," he said finally, running his hand through the chestnut waves that ran down to her waist.
"How can you tell?" she asked.
"It's longer," he smirked.
She hit him playfully. "No! How can you remember? You know… before?"
Han fell suddenly silent, his face instantly darkening.
Leia hurried to backtrack. "It's okay, I understand, there's some stuff you just don't want to talk about."
"Thanks. I…" he struggled for words. "I will be able to talk about it, someday. Just not now- I need to work it out for myself first."
This was the closest he'd ever come to admitting weakness in front of her, but she didn't mention it. Maybe to her, all those little moments of caring and affection had been enough. Instead she picked up the painkillers and sat down next to him. "Come on, let's get back to sleep."
He grinned. "I'm not tired anymore."
"I'm not, either."
"So what do you want to do?" He was pushing it, he knew, and when Leia bit her lip, he touched her hand. "Sorry. Forget I said anything."
"I want to," Leia said quietly. "But I want it to be special."
"Me too," he bent over to touch his lips to hers. "And I don't want to force you into anything." He knew how long it had taken her to just be comfortable in bed with him, and wanted to make sure she was just as relaxed when it came to the next stage. "You're right, maybe we should try to sleep."
Getting off the bed so he could slip back under the covers, Leia looked at him in surprise. "So your cramps are all better now, huh?"
"Good enough," his eyes followed her across the room to the fresher. "You joining me?"
Han rolled his eyes. "I wish you would stop playing hard to get, Princess."
"Turns out I'm not a push over, Flyboy."
Leia replaced the kit but kept the painkillers by Han's bunk. He pulled back the blanket and she switched off the light before snuggling up to his side.
Han almost missed the vivid shapes and colours.
They lay in friendly, reassuring silence for a while, the only sounds their breathing and the vibration of the Falcon's hyperdrive through the bulkheads. It was then that Han realised what had been constantly wearing on his mind since he'd been unfrozen- that she'd said it, twice, and he hadn't. Not in the same way.
No stopping now. "I love you." There. Three words. Who knew three little words could carry that much weight?
"I know. I love you too, Han."
Han Solo didn't know exactly when he fell asleep again that night, but he knew that when he did, the woman that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with was in his arms.