Hanna City, Chandrila, 31 ABY
The rain was pelting Han Solo. Up and down the street, people and squalls were racing for cover from the sudden downpour. Han ducked into the first shop he saw, a jewelry store with an inviting display window.
“Greet the day, sir!” called a friendly voice from the back of the shop.
Without thinking, Han replied in kind, “Though it be cold and rainy.”
Han wiped his feet and shook the rain out of his gray hair as best he could. Looking around, he locked eyes with the shop owner, who had now come out from the backroom and was staring at Solo with an unreadable expression. Surprise? Respect? Wonder? Is business that bad here, Han thought sardonically, that he’s astounded when a customer comes in? “I’d be grateful if I could wait in here until the storm’s over,” Han added.
The elderly jeweler realized he was staring, broke eye contact, and moved gracefully behind the counter. “Of course, of course. You look soaked. May I make you a cup of tea? Chandrila has excellent teas.” Without waiting for an answer, he busied himself with a kettle.
“Yeah, tea would be nice, thank you,” Han murmured. He noticed a small flag hanging on the wall behind the counter. A blue and green flag, with an upside down triangle in the center. “You’re Alderaanian?” Han guessed abruptly.
The man smiled at him calmly. “Did you figure that out by the flag, or by my greeting?”
“The flag,” Han admitted. “But now that I think about it, ‘greet the day’ is Alderaanian too, isn’t it? Haven’t heard that phrase in...well, in a long time.”
Since Leia, Han mused. ‘Greet the day’ was a formal form of greeting on Alderaan; you were supposed to answer with ‘For it be beautiful’ or some other positive adjective, or else say ‘Though it be…’ if something negative came after it. Leia had explained—one day, a lifetime ago—that it was a way of starting a conversation between strangers, using the weather as an impetus. Every culture makes small talk about weather.
She used the phrase on him occasionally. Usually to greet the night….
“Well,” the jeweler said, interrupting Han’s train of thought, “You still remember the correct response.” He poured boiling water over the tea, and offered Han the warm mug.
Han let its warmth creep into his hands. “My wife is from Alderaan.”
The jeweler smirked. “Yes, General, I know that.” He sounded cheeky, almost patronizing. Any more sarcasm, and you’d sound just like that other Alderaanian I know, Han thought.
“I’d like to show you something,” the man continued, beckoning Han through a door from the showroom to the workspace.
The back room had a long counter with lumps of metal, obviously works in progress, as well as metal-cutters and various gemstones. But the room was dominated by a huge rock, several meters long and high.
“Is that an asteroid?” Han asked.
“That’s one word for it,” the jeweler replied. “It’s a piece of my homeworld. Every so often, I pay a smuggler to bring me a boulder like this from the asteroid belt, and I extract various metals from the rock to make jewelry for Alderaanians. For the survivors. It’s comforting for them to have a small fragment of home. The parts I don’t use go back to the asteroid belt.”
Han moved to the counter to examine some of the pieces of jewelry. “What a beautiful idea,” he said quietly. I don’t care how much it costs. I’m doing some shopping here.
The jeweler handed Han a small box containing a pair of earrings, uniquely shaped and heavy. “I’ve just finished these. 75% pure gold, about 25% titanium and iron alloys.” The metalsmith smiled, proud of his design. “The outer layer of gold makes the piece beautiful, but the core is as unbreakable as any steel. Like our Princess.”
Han looked up from the earrings and into the eyes of the older man. “Like our Princess,” he repeated earnestly. “Name your price.”
The Alderaanian’s eyebrows rose in surprise. “Oh, no, General Solo,” he protested. “I’d never sell to you. These are a gift. Please give my warmest regards and my sincerest admiration to Her Highness.”
Ten minutes later, the tea was drunk, the rain had stopped, and Han had a new mission. The earrings were in a delicate green velvet box with a small flimsi card tucked into the ribbon, explaining the jewelry’s origin.
The main spaceport of Hanna City was bustling with activity. It didn’t take Han too long to find what he was looking for: an X-Wing with blue matte markings. A pilot in orange fatigues was readying the ship for take-off.
“Hi, Lieutenant,” Han greeted, noting the bars on her helmet. “Nice T-70. Blue squadron—that’s Poe Dameron’s group, isn’t it?”
The pilot looked Han over, trying to place him. “Yes, it’s Commander Dameron’s squadron,” she answered cautiously. “I’m Jessika Pava, sir. It’s nice to meet you.”
Han shook her proffered hand. “Han Solo. Nice to meet you, too.” Now she recognized him. Her jaw dropped. Han continued quietly, “I’ve got a mission for you, Lieutenant. Are you heading back to Hosnian Prime now?”
Pava hesitated. “Maybe.”
“Or maybe,” Han whispered, leaning in close, “D’Qar?”
She blinked, then nodded. “Yes, sir.”
“Great,” he said, removing the velvet box from his jacket. “I need you to deliver this to General Organa for me. Within the week. Can you do that?”
“Yes, sir,” she answered immediately, before inspecting the box. “A ring?” she guessed.
Solo gave her a crooked grin. “Earrings. Sweetest Day is next week.”
Pava grinned back. “Ah. I’m sure the General will appreciate the gift, sir. I’ll be ready to go in an hour or so; I have to do a pre-flight check and get some lunch before I go.”
“Good. That gives me some time to write a letter.” Han looked around, considering the spaceport’s café offerings. “I’ll be back in an hour.”
I found an Alderaanian jeweler on Chandrila who makes these pieces out of metals he extracts from the Asteroid Belt. He wrote you a card with all the details. But I knew you’d like his stuff, so I’m sending you a piece. Just a token. Before I forget: I’m supposed to pass on the jeweler’s “warmest regards and sincere admiration” to you.
I’m not exactly sure which emotions I should be passing on to you, though. Warmth and admiration sound like a good start. I couldn’t admire anyone more than I do you. The Resistance you’ve created, the Republic before that…hell, your whole life you’ve been giving yourself to the galaxy. That old Alderaanian is proof enough of that; he’s full of respect for you and he doesn’t even know you. Your heart is pure gold, with that unbelievably strong core. Your generosity, your unselfishness, your strength, it’s humbling. I’m in awe of you.
I’m still out here flying around, smuggling or trading. Of course, I’m still looking for our daughter and haven’t given up hope that I’ll be able to bring her back to you someday. One of the smugglers or slavers out here must know something. And I know you won’t be whole until she’s found, just like I still have this Breha-shaped hole in my heart. I wish I could give you back our little boy, too, but…he’ll have to find his own way back to us.
I know I’ve apologized to you, over and over, for how I left. But it still seems insufficient. I feel like there are so many things left unsaid between us. I’m sitting here in a tapcafe, trying to come up with the right words, to un-say all those hateful things I said. In anger, in pain. I didn’t mean any of it. The anger wasn’t meant for you. I know you know that. You’re the only one who’s ever known me at all.
I still wake up every single morning in surprise and confusion that you’re not next to me.
I love you. I miss you, so much sometimes that it paralyzes me. I cherish the memory of every minute we spent together. I’m not coming back to you until I find our baby girl, but when I do, I’ll never leave your side again.
In the meantime, happy Sweetest Day.