Thanks to Jaina Durron for sharing a story for our challenge!
It was just a rock. Gray, hard and rough-surfaced and sparkling with minerals in some places, it was. Yes, it was just a rock. Or so it may have seemed. Or so Leia may have wished. It was just a rock, so she tried to convince herself, but staring at it was like watching a holodrama in slow motion. Memories young and old were revived and played in Leia's head over and over until she thought she could take it no more. It was a rock, that much was true, but there was more to it and Jaina and Jacen had known that.
As special as the rock was to her, just the mere fact that her own children had gotten it for her doubled the value she held it at. Had her twin children asked her if they could venture into such a dangerous asteroid field, she immediately would have started ranting out a list of every reason why they shouldn't- and wouldn’t- and how dangerous it was and, most likely, even borrowed See-Threepio to assure them of all the horrible odds. Then, she would have kissed both on their foreheads and sent them off for bed. But the two had purposefully gone behind her back to find her the greatest gift they thought they could give her. Not to mention that they faced all those dangers Leia probably would have warned them about before. And that was what made this particular rock special to her, that her own kids had gone to so much trouble for a rock they knew meant something to their mother. The twins could have gotten it from Mustafar and Leia would still have had it proudly displayed on the wall of her bedroom.
Her fingertips automatically went to her eyes where she felt salty wetness already dripping from them, down her cheeks. Hurriedly, she wiped them off on her sleeve and took a calming breath, sniffled, attempting to calm herself, but Leia couldn't figure out what it was that she had done to deserve such wonderful children. She closed her eyes, smiling at the holodrama of memories for a long moment until something quickly wrapped itself around her waist and she gasped aloud. "Hey, Princess," his hot breath whispered against her ear, like a light wind gently blowing through her hair.
"Flyboy," she acknowledged her husband and turned in his arms to stand on her toes and kiss him.
"Are you having a good birthday?"
Leia managed a nod, bringing her arms up to wrap around his neck, staring into his hazel eyes. "Yes. Of course. Today’s been wonderful. By the way, if I didn't say so before, I really love the necklace you got me." Leia brought a hand to her chest and played with the necklace's charm, an Alderaanian flower, between her fingers. "It's beautiful."
"Well," Han held the charm in his own palm and looked at the jeweled aralute for a second. His eyes found their way back to hers and he smiled, tickling her neck with kisses until he got to her jawline, at which point he skipped the rest to meet her mouth with his. "I thought I'd get a beautiful jewelry piece for my even more so beautiful wife. I'm glad you like it. I wanted today to be special for you. You know this has to be the first time you've had work off for your birthday."
"I had my birthday off during our second year of being married."
"Yeah," Han chuckled. "Except, you were pregnant and the twins were just about ready to come."
Leia laughed, resting her head on his shoulder and fell into a rhythmic sway, their arms wrapped around each other. "Yeah. Only a couple days later I got the greatest birthday gift of all."
"Speaking of our wonderful children and birthday gifts, what did they get you?"
Leia pushed back from Han so she could look up at Han, smiling euphorically. "You didn't see?"
"No. I missed it while I was ordering dinner. Your favorite."
"Mmm. I can already smell the gorba melts. Now, you have to see what they got me. Han, I don't know what Winter did to them while they were with her, but I think we might have the wrong kids."
Han stopped, planted his fists on his hips and asked, "Did Jacen chase a rock lizard down and give it to you?"
Shaking her head and quirking a brow, Leia picked up the rock from the dresser to show Han. "Our wonderful children got me this."
"Sweetheart," Han eyed the rock with a skeptic eye and hesitantly accepted it when Leia held it out to him. "I love our kids too, but I thought we were over with telling them that their preschool finger paintings were better than Killik Twilight."
"No, Han," she swallowed over a lump in her throat, beaming in pride. "It's from the Alderaan’s graveyard. Jaina and Jacen literally got me a piece of Alderaan." She shook his clasped hands around the rock to emphasize her own words and stared at Han, waiting for his reaction.
"Wow," Han remarked when he had finally found words, unfolding his hands’ tight hold on the piece of Alderaan. "So, we're not punishing them for going without permission?"
Leia was either ignoring the question or oblivious to it being asked as she swept the artifact from Han's hands to look at it again for herself, telling her husband, "It feels weird, actually holding a piece of my home planet in my hands, seeing it up close. It makes me wonder what part exactly this was from. Was this small, little piece once a part of Crevasse City or Aldera? Or was it the tip of one of the mountains I always used to dream of climbing?" A dark shadow crossed her features as her gaze turned to the floor and she quietly muttered another possibility. “Or the only remnant I have left of the palace?” Turning back to Han with more tears pooling in her soft eyes, she continued and Han listened intently. "I miss it all, Han. The palace, the art, my old friends. I love you and the kids and everything I've gained since I met you and Luke, but . . . I miss home."
From his pitiful expression, Leia could tell how awful he felt, how he wished he could sweep away all her torments with a brush of his hand, but, thinking about it from a different angle, he couldn't imagine not meeting her if she'd never left her home either. It was something that Leia was currently trying to wrap her mind around too, but it was one of those moments when she wished more than anything that she could run into Bail Organa's arms and just cry. If only this all could be some kind of nasty dream and she’d wake up in her old room in the palace and Breha would be shaking her awake, asking her why she was crying, assuring her that everything was fine. But, again, Han wasn’t there.
Whether it was the words she'd left unsaid or all the things she shouldn't have told the Organas, Leia couldn't push back the rush of regret washing over her. If it wasn’t her wishes of it all being a long nightmare, it was the feeling of regret that came swiftly to make her wounds bleed afresh. And that was almost worse, in Leia’s mind. But Han stayed, offering her comfort, facing the pain with her as he muttered any words or phrases of comfort that came to mind. "Hey, relax, Princess. Okay, maybe that wasn't the best choice in terms of endearment just then, but-"
"Han," Leia interrupted him, raising a slim finger to Han's lips to silence him. "No. It's okay. When I do start thinking about Alderaan, I can't ever stop running my last days with my family over and over, thinking about all the things I wish I'd told Mama and Papa. I wish I'd told them I loved them more than anything and given them my biggest hugs." Leia gave a short laugh and told him what else she was thinking. "I wish I'd told my aunts I appreciated all the advice they'd ever given me. They made growing up a horrible burden, but I know they only meant to help me. I wish I'd stuffed myself full with as many of Memily's treats as I could manage, said bye to my Fess Ilee, sown Madame Vesta I really did pay attention to all of her lessons, hugged Sabé." She shuddered in his arms and Han instantly buoyed her back up.
"To be honest," Han started, stroking Leia's head in comfort. "I wish I'd gotten to meet them too. Your parents, I mean. Whenever you talk about them, it makes me wish I'd grown up with parents like that."
"No, listen. I would have liked to meet them before we married. I think it would have been nice for the kids to have grandparents."
"Wow. Way to make me feel less depressed," joked Leia as the two sat down together on their bed. "But I get what you mean. For me, I guess it would have been nice to have parents who could have helped me out when I fell in love with you, when we married, had the kids. I think it would have been a memorable first meeting between you and my parents."
Grinning mischievously and pulling her closer to himself, Han asked her, "Do you think your father would have approved of me?"
"I think my father wouldn't have liked you around me, but he eventually would have to admit he liked you for me. My father always knew a good man when he saw one. He would have liked how protective you can get over me, how much you care about me. Breha would have been really thrilled that I found you. SHe would have really liked you, probably had to talk to Bail for some time to show him how great you are. They both would have liked you a lot." She put out a finger, a smirk crossing her lips and started again, "Now, as for my aunts . . ." Just thinking about it, her eyes went wide in alarm and she let loose a long snort.
Han reached out and pulled Leia down onto the bed with him. "I think they could have learned to deal with it."
Laughing, Leia fell into his grasp and pulled him around so his body was leaning over her smaller one. "I'm sorry you miss them so much,” Han apologized. “If I'd grown up that lucky, I would miss it, too. If I ever lost you. Or the twins or Anakin . . . I would miss you guys."
Leia grabbed Han by the collar of his shirt and pulled his mouth to hers, tears once again filling her eyes. "I don't even want to think about it. Han, never leave me. Please. Stay with me, help me. You, Jaina, Jacen, Anakin, Luke. You're all I have left. I don't want to think about losing a second Alderaan. Han, I don't think I could make it through this time."
"Don't worry," Han held Leia's head in his hand, lowering his mouth to meet hers. "I don't plan on it." But before their lips could really meet, Leia suddenly pushed him back, murmuring, "Jaina's coming." Han jumped off the bed just in time to see his only daughter striding towards the doorway. She knocked and approached Leia. The mother took her daughter in for a hug as she asked, "Mom, are you mad at me and Jace? We really wanted to get you something special-”
"It’s okay, Jaina. And it is special. Very." Leia pushed her back to arm's length and told her, "I love it. It might just be one of the greatest gifts I've ever gotten." She planted a soft kiss on Jaina's forehead. "Thank you, sweetie."
"You're welcome. And happy birthday, Mom. I love you."
"I love you too, Jaya. Now, come one. Why don’t you help me set the table for dinner. It shouldn’t be long before someone arrives with our food. Then, we’ll get out the cake and call Uncle Luke.”
Thanks again to Jaina Duron for sharing!
Thanks again to Jaina Duron for sharing!