Chapter 1, The Book
Hoth 3 ABY
Chewie’s loud growls finally broke through Han’s dark contemplations, “look,” Han interrupted, “I got something to say you’re not going to like it but you are going to listen,” Han looked straight into his oldest and best friends eyes. Han sighed and drug a hand over his face, “you are not going into Jabba’s with me,” his friend stood immediately loud angry growls reverberating off the walls of the Falcon, “hey, hey,” Han interjected, “I’m the one who got us into this mess.”
The Wookiee deflated suddenly looking at his cub in wonder, “it’s past time I quite skirting around the facts, this situation is wholly my fault, and its gotten way out of hand, Ord Mantell showed me that.” Han gestured to the seat the Wookiee had vacated earlier, waiting until Chewbacca had settled himself before he continued. “We’ll dock in Mos Eisley,” Han spoke with determination, it was obvious that he had thought this through, “I want you to wait with the ship, I’ll take a speeder out to Jabba’s Palace and take care of that.” “Now,” Han spoke to Chewy sternly, “I want you to promise me, on your honor, that you won’t wait more than three days.” Chewbacca’s eyes widened in understanding as Han continued, “If I’m not back in three days you’ll know that your debt to me has been terminated.”
Han was surprised when his friend sat watching him quietly, it wasn’t like Chewie to take these types of things calmly. “Will you promise, give me your word on this,” when Chewbacca agreed Han felt himself relax for the first time in days, “I’ve got a will in the strongbox, it passes the Falcon to you.” Han paused feeling the best he had in days it was the next request that frightened him, what he was about to admit. “Should the worst happen and I don’t come back you will be free to return to your family and have every right to,” Han looked his friend hope brimming in his eyes, “if you are willing I want you to carry out one last task for me,” Han held up his hand forestalling his partner’s agreement, “hear it before you agree.” Chewbacca waited calmly knowing that this was going to be big he tried to remember Han ever being this concerned or thought out about the future. “I want you to come back and look after Leia,” Han found his friend staring intently, “not a life debt or anything like that just get her through this war, you’ve kept me alive this long and I know it will be harder with her but sometimes I don’t think that she expects to make it through this.” Han paused looking down to the package resting on the table, “after the war is over and yall have all settled into good lives I want you to give this to her.” Han slid the brown paper wrapped package across to his friend, “and tell her I’m sorry,” he gulped, “tell her I’m sorry for everything, and I hope she has a good life, she deserves it.” Chewbacca’s acceptance was long heartfelt and left Han’s eyes wet as he choked out his thanks. The Corellian stood abruptly wiping his eyes before pulling on his parka, “Come on the faster we get this girl up and running the quicker we can be done with this.”
They had been interrupted by C3PO not long after getting to work. The attack at Hoth, and the escape to Bespin had followed soon after. Chewbacca had stood by the princess’s side, respecting his cub’s wishes, until they had finally retrieved Han from Jabba. The Corellian had never asked his friend about the package in the five years that followed, but the Wookie knew better than to think that he had forgotten it, so Chewie kept it safe waiting for the time that he would pass it to its proper owner. Chewbacca’s heart felt incredibly heavy as he watched the Happans make their proposal. The princess would be intolerably tested by this. He listened carefully as Mon Mothma expressed her wishes and gave condolences to Han and Chewie had to question the beings that Leia had put her faith in. How could anyone ask Leia who had suffered the loss of so much and bore the burden of that guilt to give up the one small sliver of happiness she had managed to find with Han. He followed Han out of the observation room and straight up to the Rebel Dream where they had left the Millennium Falcon prior to leaving on their last mission, Leia’s ship. He was not surprised when Han immediately started banging away on some recalcitrant part or another. Leia’s visit turned sour quickly and then the prince appeared to insult the Falcon. Chewbacca set about his task the second Han left for this dinner with Leia and the Happan Prince. He found the package where he had buried it in his locker still unopened. The Wookie left soon after Han returned hoping that the Princess would be alone when he arrived. She opened the door still dressed for the formal dinner she’d had earlier. Chewbacca took her disappointment for what it was, when she told him that she’d hoped he was Han the Wookie knew that he was on the right track and invited himself in. They sat in the living area of her suite of rooms Leia was quiet and pensive when Chewbacca removed the package from his bandoleer pouch she looked confused. He slowly and calmly explained when he had come into possession of it, and why. Leia’s eyes shown with unshed tears as he explained what his duties would have been if things had turned out different and when he was expected to pass the bundle to her. He explained that he felt now was the right time. When she asked him what it was he admitted that he didn’t know but that it was important to Han and it belonged to her.
Leia had waited barely a minute after the Wookie excused himself to open the package half expecting silky negligée with some kind of lecherous note. What she found instead was a leather bound book. Opening it the first lines written in Han’s legible but abrupt hand writing shocked her especially noting the date.
To the Love of my life Leia Organa,
The life, times and dreams of Han Solo.
Leia turned the page immediately finding more of Han’s hand written words.
I hope this note finds you well. I’m sure that by now you, Chewie and Luke have defeated the Empire, and settled into a peace you truly deserve. I am both apologetic and unapologetic for saddling you with Chewbacca. I apologize because I know how absolutely determined he can be once he sets his mind to a task. There were times when I am sure that you hated him and railed against his overprotective nature with all of the scorn and anger at your disposal. I am also sure that this had absolutely no effect on him. I am unapologetic because I know since he accepted my last request that you will be kept safe to a fault, from both outside and inside forces which would wish to cause you harm. You will also be kept safe from yourself something he has actually excelled at with me. He has been my one true and steadfast friend throughout my life the only person that I have felt I can truly count on. I suspect that it will be sometime after the war has ended before you were able to convince him to retire his post as your protector that was likely the catalyst that got you this book. He has likely seen you married off to a good man with a couple of kids. I know that you will marry a good man because it is nothing less than you deserve, remember that Leia you do deserve happiness. I am sure by now you are wondering why I left and why this transcript was left for you. The simple answer to both questions is that I love you more than I think I have ever loved anything before. I left because of Ord Mantel you could have been killed because of me and I couldn’t accept that. I also could not risk your life further. I left you this memoire such that it is because I wanted someone to remember me. I know of course that Chewbacca will and so will Luke but this is a story meant only to be told to the woman I love. There is a lot in here that Chewie doesn’t know along with what he does. You have gleaned some of what you will read but not all by a long shot. I have been a mystery to you and it is not in my nature to share but I wanted you to know all about me. I am sharing this with you because you are the only person that I can ever conceive of sharing these things with, and someone out there will know my story, the whole story. If nothing else it will give you some great ammunition for your children’s bedtime stories and maybe I will become something of a legendary space pirate to them.
Leia found herself torn and unsure but she turned the page nonetheless. Her hand went to her mouth feeling shock and pain as he started his story.
My first true memories are of the streets, I have earlier vague memories of a woman I believe to be my mother, and she had a kind smile and dark maybe black hair. She sang lullabies to me with an amazing voice as she held me in the tightest hug. It might be the only time I’ve really felt safe. Her name was Jaina.
Leia read on not the leisurely sort of reading that someone did on a lazy afternoon but with the voracious appetite of an intellect that had just found the source of all knowledge. She continued learning of Han’s life on the streets surprisingly no grisly details seemed to be left out of that or of his life under the imposing thumb of Garris Shrike. Leia paused with the death of Dewlanna, realizing that the female Wookie was the closest thing Han had ever had to a mother. Leia slowly got her emotions under control and continued. She found herself laughing at his description of her when he had seen a picture on Alderaan. Her heart soared as he found his first semblance of happiness with Bria Tharren. She felt his pride at enrollment in Caridia and then graduating at the top of his class. She understood his shame at his dismissal. She both smiled and at times openly laughed through his adventures as a smuggler. She found herself again loathing Bria Tharren when he described the betrayal on Yelsia, although she was already familiar with that tale. Leia cried the entire time as she read his description of their time with the rebellion and his feelings for her, again he left nothing out. She paused tears openly streaming down her face this section of his life was concluded with their argument in the halls of Echo Base on Hoth, followed by another note.
If I’m right and you did love me know that it is that belief that gives me the strength to do what I’m doing now. I know that we fight and argue all of the time but I do believe in you, that’s why I would not join if you must know. I don’t trust governments every time I have put my trust in one I have been burned, but I do believe in you Leia, and that’s why I stuck around all of that time. I also love you Leia and that is why I had to leave, when you got hurt on Ord Mantell all I could think was that you could have died because of me. That you could have died because of my irresponsibility is something I cannot live with so I left to clear the debt. I don’t think I have the ability to give this explanation justice but there it is. I do apologize for everything that may have hurt you I might not have been mature enough to deal with some of the feelings that I found myself having. You probably don’t believe it but I also had dreams and ambitions for the future, you became central to those dreams and ambitions, some I will admit are positively pornographic, but those are too private to write down anywhere. I did want you to know some of my ambitions for us and that is why I share these things here.
He described several scenarios in all of them they were happily married with children but it was the one that he described as his favorite that she decided was hers as well. It was amazing how well he knew her even then.
I often dream of a home by a lake somewhere that has seasons. Kids running through piles of leaves in the fall and snowballs in the winter. Spring would be spent catching light bugs and summer would be spent swimming and sailing. I think you would want a sailboat so you could teach your children the same way your father taught you. The house would have wide porches where you could enjoy the breeze and privacy so we could skinny dip when the children are off visiting Chewie and his family. Nights during the fall and winter would be spend in front of a fireplace snuggled under blankets reading the children stories and talking about our days. In the spring we would sleep with the windows open and run through fields of grass. Summers would be filled with adventure sailing the lake and visiting old friends.
She reread his description of the lake twice her own imagination filling in details he had left out she had stopped crying now feeling hurt that in the years since the war ended he hadn’t shared all of this with her. She turned the last page to find a final note.
I hope you have found your happy ever after Leia if it is anything like what I have described that is all the better live a good life and please remember me fondly if you can.
She looked up from the book glancing at the chrono to find that it was early morning and knowing that she had to see him. Still dressed in the evening gown from the night before she walked past the matching high heeled shoes, discarded on the floor the night before, and went into her bed room. She looked up from pulling on a pair of socks and spacer boots to see the book where she had left it on the vanity. The battered leather bound book sat surrounded by the priceless gifts from the Hapan Cluster and she found that all of that wealth seemed insignificant next to the book. The book had over the course of the night become her most prized possession. Steeled with a new determination she contacted Winter to meet her in the room as soon as possible. She confirmed with the Rebel Dream’s flight control that the Falcon was still docked in the bay and left with that most precious item clutched to her chest.