Though exhausted, Leia Solo was already feeling better than she had in days. She was only a few minutes from returning home after nearly a week away from her family, overseeing the signing of a trade agreement with several members of the New Republic that was for reasons she still did not understand, held on the coldest one of those planets, in the middle of their winter. She shivered again just thinking about it. The trip had gone smoothly, but she had of course missed her children and her husband.
Jacen and Jaina were eight years old and while they certainly had their moments that drove Leia crazy, she loved how intelligent they had become, and just watching them learn and grow had given her so much pride. Any trouble they caused was usually offset by their generally warm and loving nature, and still a smile and a laugh and a hug from either was usually enough to make her forget why she'd been upset with them. And Anakin was six and hadn't just yet developed the mischievous streak of his older siblings. The boy was often very sweet and affectionate, and Leia missed having her youngest cuddling up next to her on their couch and telling her all the things he had done that day.
And of course she'd missed her husband. More often than not, she simply felt better when they were together. He had a way of making her feel at ease, which was somewhat ironic since for years he had the complete opposite effect on her. But now, she felt as though she could relax in his presence and be herself in a way she couldn't with almost anyone else. She didn't have to put on the face of the professional or the diplomat. She was free to laugh and joke and show some vulnerability and just be... Leia. Not to mention the fact that she loved her husband with every fiber of her being, and there was nothing quite like being with him and knowing he felt the same.
One thing Leia did not love was returning home in the middle of the night. But considering the fact that originally she thought she wouldn't be able to return until the following afternoon, she felt this was the better alternative and had opted not to tell Han, instead just planning to surprise him and the kids.
As the door opened to the Solo home, she found it as dark and peaceful as she expected given the hour. Han and Leia had recently been discussing that the children were at such fun ages, and it had helped that they had also become fairly self sufficient. And it was because of this that she didn't feel as bad leaving Han home alone with them for nearly a week. Not that he couldn't handle it, as he had always been a very hands-on father, but she felt less guilty leaving them now that Han wouldn't have to keep the kids in sight at every moment and they could easily bathe and dress themselves. They were far less exhausting now that they could do so much more to take care of themselves.
She dropped her bag at the door and went to make her way through the living room and wanted to go just peek in on her children before she went to her own bedroom. Even if she had no intention of waking them up she at least wanted to see them for a moment before she went to sleep.
But when she arrived in the dark living room, the soft, dim light coming in through the window showed what initially simply looked like a huge mess. There were blankets and pillows covering every inch of the floor. And it took her a moment to realize that the four lumps she saw among them were the four other members of her family, all sound asleep.
She smiled at the sight, and it took only a moment before she saw Han stir and notice her. "You're home," he said quietly.
She simply nodded and then held up her hand as he started to move to greet her. "No, stay there." All she wanted to do was lie down and join them and she slipped her shoes off before walking over and dropping down on what she discovered were the cushions from the couch. Han held the blanket up and she curled up around him as he draped it over her. His face was barely visible in the dim light, but she could still make out his smile as she brought her hand up to his cheek to find it warm and a little scratchy with a day or two of stubble. She leaned in and they shared a few quick kisses. Yes, she thought, coming home early was worth it.
"You're early," Han said in a whisper.
"Is that ok with you?" she said in an equally quiet voice.
She could see him smile even in the dark. "More than ok," he said.
"So what's this all about?" she asked him.
"We decided to have a little campout for our last night without you."
"That sounds like fun."
He nodded. "Honestly, I was sick of sleeping alone, and this seemed more fun than forcing them to sleep in the bed with me."
She brought her hand up to run through his hair and then rested it behind his head. "Lucky for you, you don't have to sleep alone anymore," she said before leaning in kissing him gently. "I like this idea," she whispered and then turned in his arms so her back was to him and he could pull her in close.
In the darkness she could just make out the small bodies of their children nestled under their blankets and sound asleep. Anakin was closest to her, with his arms up over his head and his face turned toward her, serene in a peaceful sleep. She could just make out Jaina's face behind him, pressed into her pillow as she lay on her side. She could only barely make out the top of Jacen's head behind her. They each looked completely content, and she was already looking forward to them waking up in the morning. She couldn't help but smile. "Gods, they're so cute."
His arms squeezed her a little tighter. "All because of me," he said and they both laughed and attempted to keep it as quiet as they could so as not to wake anyone up. "They're going to be so excited to see you when they wake up."
"You think they missed me?"
"I know they missed you. They must've asked me five times a day, 'When's Mom coming home?'"
"I always knew I was their favorite," she joked. "What about you? Did you miss me?"
"More than I want to admit," he said before gently kissing the spot behind her ear. "They really wore me out. I'm exhausted."
"So am I," she said as she felt herself getting closer to sleep. "Did they at least behave themselves?"
"Mostly," he replied, his warm breath tickling the back of her neck.
"Thanks for taking such good care of them."
"Just doing my job, sweetheart."
She pulled his arms more tightly around her, and that along with the feel of his strong body against her back made her feel warmer than she had since she'd been gone. She did know he was just doing his job, but she wasn't sure if she could ever adequately express how much it meant to her to have him take such good care of all of them. He was everything she could've hoped for in a husband and the father of her children, and it still amazed her sometimes how much she loved him. "I love you," she whispered.
"I love you, too," he said, his voice sounding half asleep. She didn't need to hear him say it, she could actually feel it from him.
One of the things she had been most looking forward to aside from seeing Han and the kids was sleeping in her own bed. But as she shut her eyes while wrapped in Han's arms and lying on the living room floor, she decided this might be even better.