The room was surprisingly still when Han awoke. And almost fully dark. He and Leia had placed the windows on night setting before they had retired for the evening, effectively blocking most light and sound. Only the smallest amount of Coruscant’s ever present glow could shine through.
Han cracked an eye open to look at the chrono next to his side of the bed, wondering if it was almost time to get up. He kept himself from groaning as he realized it was the middle of the night. He shut his eyes with a sigh. Definitely not time to be up.
He dropped his head back on his pillow trying to get comfortable. Hopefully he could settle back down and get some more sleep. He rolled over, thinking about Leia’s warmth and softness and how it always helped lull him back to sleep or at least made things very pleasant. Liking the idea, he reached out towards his fiancée’s side of the bed wanting to pull her closer to him. But found it empty.
He opened his eyes again and ran hand over the space where Leia should be. The sheets and pillow were cold to the touch, letting him know she’d been up for a while. He scrubbed a hand over his face, trying wake up enough to think. Unfortunately this wasn’t a new occurrence. Over the years together, he had come to realize it was a pattern with her. He didn’t like it and knew she suffered a little for it.
Sliding to the edge of the bed, he donned a pair of sleep pants and shirt he kept by his side of the bed. He wanted to be there for her as much as he could.
Pushing to standing, he moved around the bed and shuffled quietly into the living room. The space was partially dark with shadows and patches of low light scattered throughout, creating strange dark shapes. It was still in here as well, the kind of eerie stillness only found in the middle of the night. He kept his footsteps silent as he moved forward on the chance Leia had fallen asleep on the couch. It would certainly be his preference if she had managed to do so. He stopped just short of the couch and grimaced. No Leia.
It wasn’t too surprising. With everything on her shoulders, it was a miracle she slept at all or didn’t break. But she managed, even thrived. Most of the time. At least the nightmares were mainly gone. Han stared at the empty couch thoughts of those moments coming back. He didn’t know how often she had awoken screaming or terrified in the middle of the night, inconsolable over the things that still haunted her. It had taken a lot of care afterwards for her to return to sleep. She had really caught him off guard when it first happened on the way to Bespin and they shared a bunkroom together. She apparently had hid it well until then by pretending to be an earlier riser or barking at him enough he was too distracted to pay attention. He had spent quite a few nights over the years comforting her and consoling her. The nightmares were few and far between now, a fact he was grateful for. At least it wasn’t probably that.
He continued through the living room, making his way to the far opening to their balcony. It was a long space that ran the length of their apartment. Open aired, it was often her other favorite place to relax. He stepped through the door knowing he’d probably find her there. And there she was.
She was sitting on a lounger on the far side, robe closed tightly, her arms wrapped around herself in a contented way. She was looking out at the sky and never ending lights. The balcony had privacy screen for when they didn’t want to be disturbed, but Han could tell with a glance Leia hadn’t bothered to set them and was enjoying the view unobstructed.
He smiled to himself as he stepped forward.
“Hey, sweetheart,” he said quietly causing her to look over. “Want some company?”
Leia smiled back at him. She looked tired, but her eyes lit up at seeing him. She patted the lounge right next to her hip in invitation, and slid over to make space for him.
Relief touched Han’s eyes and his smile grew as he crossed over and made himself comfortable next to her. He pulled her into his arms. Her body was warm and soft against his and it never stopped amazing him how perfectly she seemed to fit against him. He held her close as she snuggled in, loving how she felt. And when she sighed, he knew comfort was achieved. He kissed her tenderly top of the head.
He ran his fingers down her hair, caressing it lightly as he went. He repeated the movement, his hand trailing down her arm.
“You ok?” he asked softly as he continued to run his fingers down her arm. He felt a nod against his chest.
“Yeah. Couldn’t sleep.Too much on my mind.”
Han let out a low grunt and tightened his arm around her. He had figured as much. Leia had way more on her plate than most and probably more than she should. “The usual stuff?”
Her response was to bury her face in his shoulder as if the gesture would help her forget. She let out a long sigh. “Yeah.”
Han grimaced. “Anything I can do?”
She raised her head to look at him. “Tell me a story?”
A lopsided grin came to his face and his brow furrowed. “A story?” He wasn’t sure if he had heard her correctly. “What kind of story?”
Leia thought for a moment and shrugged. “Any kind.”
He took a deep breath thinking about what story he could tell. There wasn’t much she hadn’t already heard. He decided to go with one she knew she’d enjoy.
“How about the day we met,” he began, rubbing her shoulder gently. “You remember that. That day was crazy from the start. I didn’t think much of it when the old man and Luke showed up. Wasn’t much to think about. A fare is a fare right? But kreth, the whole situation was messed from the beginning. We couldn’t even get off Tatooine without any trouble.” He swallowed. “As you know, it just got worse from there. Stuck in an Imperial installation, no way out. And Luke just started going off about how he had to get you. I wasn’t about to get into the middle of that. Well, not without a lot of money involved. Sorry, sweetheart,” he said after she laughed.
“But you know me, I went for it anyhow. You should have heard the stupid conversation I had with another detachment. It really was such a hair-brained plan. I didn’t realize what I had gotten myself into.”
Han paused for a moment curious how long he should continue. He glanced down at the top of her head to see if she gave any indication. “Do you want me to stop?”
She didn’t respond immediately. She just snuggled closer, letting her hand rest on his chest and rubbing her cheek on his shoulder. “No,” she replied quietly, sounding like she was already partially asleep. “I like the sound of your voice.”
Han chuckled. Given her proximity to him, she probably enjoyed the vibrations coming from his chest more than the actual timbre of his voice.
“And then I met you. Gods, you drove me crazy. Things were bad enough and then you were there mouthing off and trying to contribute. Generally just annoying me. But you were just so damned cute. It made it hard to be too mad. Your dress was pretty see-through after the trash compactor and clinging to you in all the right places. That certainly didn’t hurt and didn’t mind the rest of it so much. I don’t think I knew then how beautiful you truly were. The kind of person you were inside. I could tell Luke was interested too. But took me time to get there and understand what I had in front of me. To realize the beauty that had drifted into my life that day.”
Han stopped, listening to the sounds, or lack thereof, around him. Leia’s breathing had slowed considerably, her chest brushing against his in long, deep movements. With a glance down, he saw her eyelids drawn against her cheeks. He smiled and kissed the top of her head again. He was glad she could finally get the sleep she needed.
Draping a leg over the edge of the lounge, he carefully pulled himself to sitting. He held her close to him as he did so as not to disturb her. Sliding an arm under her legs, he stood and slowly drifted back inside. Leia barely stirred as he carried her back to their bed. She merely rested her head on his shoulder and wrapped an arm around his neck. As he strode through the living room, he was grateful for her slight form and how easily he could carry her.
He kept movement to a minimum as he laid her on the bed. He pulled the covers over her before returning to his side of the bed. He quickly stripped his shirt off before sliding under the covers next to her. He moved as close as he could to her, wanting to feel her body next to his again. He laid facing her and put arm over her waist as if to protect her. Leia shifted slightly, mumbling as she got comfortable. Han’s eyes closed assuming things would be ok for the rest of the night.
“Thank you,” she murmured.
Han open his eyes again and smiled, not entirely sure if she was awake. He brushed his hand across her cheek.
“Anytime. That’s what I’m here for,” he replied. And with that he drifted off into dreamless sleep.