Disclaimer: Not mine. I'm just playing. I'll put'em back when I'm done.

Rating: PG

Synopsis: Leia is busy, Han is feeling a little neglected and temptation is never far away.

It was amazing how such a big area could be so silent, Han mused as he sat on top of the Falcon, staring out over the vast hangar. The night cycle of the frigate had begun several hours ago and it had been his intention to be back in his cabin by now. He had been there, actually, but the plan had been upset and he had eventually returned to the hangar in an attempt to do some work on his ship. With a sigh, he had to admit to himself that this plan had also been upset. He had just been sitting here, staring out over the main hangar, wondering what life would bring him from now on. All that he had once been had been changed and re-arranged. He was no longer the loner, the scoundrel with only thoughts for himself. Somebody had come into his life and upset the balance of things and he found that he rather liked it. Whenever his thoughts turned to that somebody, a crooked little smile crept over his lips. It had taken him a lot of time and a pretty gruesome experience to realize how much he really loved her. How much he wanted to be with her. She was his one and only and all he could think of was her and what she meant to him. A heartfelt sigh escaped him and he shook his head. What were their chances, really? Not too good only a year ago. A year ago she had hated his guts and despite his obnoxious behavior toward her, he had loved her already then. He would have been damned if he would have admitted it then, though.

Shaking his head, he got up and stretched his limbs, trying to loose the stiffness. Battling nightmares many nights was wearing him down and he had considered on occasion to tell her, to ask her advise. But she was so engrossed with her work, her important work, that he didn't want to burden her with it. She had enough to think of without having to consider her lover's occasional nightmares as well.

"Hey!" That voice he knew. He walked over to the edge of the ship and looked down. There she stood, radiant despite the obvious fatigue, looking up at him with those deer eyes of hers. "What are you doing up there?" she demanded, her tone of voice slightly reproving.

Spreading out his arms, he grinned down at her. "Passing time, your Highness. How's the meeting going?" he wanted to know and jumped off the ship, landing only a few feet from where she stood.

A slightly guilty look crossed her pretty face. "Han, I'm so sorry about tonight. I know we had planned to spend at least one evening on our own, but we'll just have to do it some other night," she countered. "The meeting went well, by the way."

Han put his hands on her shoulders and kissed her forehead. "Don't make excuses for something that is out of your hands, Leia. You have a job to do and you're damned good at it," he told her, then wrapped his arm around her shoulders.

"Thank you. Thank you for being so understanding. I couldn't hope for more," she said, leaning against him as they walked back to the living quarters of the frigate. "Oh, I need to sleep. I can barely walk any more," she added, her voice disclosing how tired she really was.

Han smiled to himself, giving her the support she needed. Yes, he wanted to spend more time with her, but he also knew that it was impossible at the moment. She didn't have the time to spare and if he wanted to help her, he would be understanding. And he did want to help her. "You do need to sleep. You can barely speak properly any more, either," he told her and opened the door to her cabin.

Leia slipped into the bathroom while Han walked straight into the bedroom and dropped down on the bed. She joined him a moment later, dressed in a loose night gown, her long hair free from the braids she usually wore it in these days. She sat down on the edge of the bed, her back to him, and started brushing her hair. After a moment, he took the brush away from her and took over the task. He loved touching her hair. Finally, he kissed her neck. "Come on. Let's get some shut-eye. You've got a hard day tomorrow," he said.

After only a few minutes she was asleep, her head resting on his chest. He just lay there, his arm around her and enjoyed the nearness. At least this they had time for. It made up for a lot of things that he could spend his nights with her. It surprised him to no end that this could be so satisfying. Only a few years ago he would have mocked the thought of spending the night with a woman like her for no other purpose than sleeping. With a smile he turned off the lights, closed his eyes and drifted off.


Gasping, he awoke, finding that she had moved away from him and had her back to him. He glanced at the bedside chronometer, noticing that he had only been asleep for an hour. Fighting to get his breath back under control, he slipped out of bed and padded into the livingroom area of her quarters. It would take him some time to calm down as usual, to loose the suffocating fear that always tore him out of the nightmare. The same dream over and over again. Han wasn't a man who let something like nightmares get to him and this was getting ridiculous. The battle at Endor had been two months ago and his escape from his carbonite prison even longer. Yet the nightmare persisted, not letting go. Lately it had even intensified in strength and he wondered if it was trying to tell him something.

Closing his eyes against the memories, he dropped down on the sofa, taking a couple of deep breaths to calm himself. He ran both hands through his hair and sighed deeply when he felt his heartbeat return to normal. After doing a bit of research on how survivors from a carbonite imprisonment reacted once they were released again, he had realized that the research wasn't very extensive. Probably because most people who were subjected to a carbonite freezing didn't survive the process. But there was one thing they had gotten wrong. According to the most common reports on the process, the person in question went into a sort of hibernation, a state very close to being dead. But the thing they had gotten wrong was that it was generally believed that the victim felt nothing. That was definitely wrong. What he had felt during his six months imprisonment in the carbonite could not really be described with words. Time had been of no meaning, but he had been quite aware. He had been caught in an instant in time, trying to draw breath without being able to, trying to move without being able to. The suffocation had been the worst part of it and he had come to the conclusion that he would rather be shot and die of that than he wanted to suffocate to death. A million thoughts had cruised through his mind during that time, but with no sensory input of any kind, he had felt himself going mad. The release had flooded him with so many feelings, so many sounds and smells, that he had been on the verge of going over the edge. But he hadn't. Why, he didn't know. And he didn't much care about that, anyway. He was free and that was all that had matter at the time.

The thing he dreamed about was the freezing process, the panic he had felt when the carbonite had poured over him like molten lava, cutting off his air supply, his sensory input. Time had been frozen at that very second and so had the panic he felt. To be in the same state of mind for six months had put its mark on him. He knew that. He also knew that he needed to find a way to deal with the feelings. The feelings that made him shy away from sleeping because it reminded him too much of the freezing process, the inability to breathe, to move.

Again he sighed and shuddered lightly. The cold sweat that had covered his body when he had gotten up had dried and made him feel even colder. Determined not to wake Leia up, he went back to the bedroom, slipped back under the covers and briefly glanced over at her. Whether he would sleep any more this night was doubtful, but he planned on trying at least. For her sake. She needed him to be there for her and he couldn't do that if he didn't sleep. With slight discomfort, he closed his eyes and tried to concentrate on the nice things in life rather than what had happened to him not so long ago.


Leia was up and about as soon as the day cycle of the frigate began. She sat up in bed and glanced over at Han, knowing that he had once again been up sometime during the night. She needed to find time to talk to him about it, to let him know that she knew. She wanted to help him, but there were so many other things she needed to take care of first. Things that involved millions of living beings. Things that could not wait.

Quietly she slipped out of bed, hoping not to wake him and hurried into the bathroom to get dressed and ready for this day's meetings. She swore that she would take some time off during the next couple of days. Her schedule didn't allow for it, but she needed to be close to him, to spend some time with him.


Han woke up a little over an hour after she had left. He knew she wouldn't be there. She never was. He had at one point complained that she didn't wake him before she left, but she had only said that he should get the rest he could since the future might bring little or no time for such luxuries. He indulged her on that point as on so many others. Mainly because she was right. In two days time, they would arrive at their new stronghold and then the easy life he'd had since they had left Endor would be over. On the frigate, there wasn't much for him to do, so he spent his time lending a hand where it was needed and in general just stood ready for Leia when she needed him. Between meetings they would sit and talk for a while, but apart from that, he could only join the meetings as part of the audience to be close to her when the meeting in question allowed for an audience.


Leia ended the afternoon meeting a little earlier than expected and was happy for the hour of spare time that would give her. She had planned a special evening for Han and wanted a little time to prepare. The moment she stepped out of the meeting room, Mon Mothma came up to her. "Leia, we need to talk," she said.

"Certainly. What's wrong?" she replied, following Mon Mothma to a small conference room where they could talk undisturbed.

"We are going to have a major problem with one of the bigger fractions of the Empire, Leia. We need to find a way around them. I've scheduled a meeting for tonight, after the last session. I believe we have to count on another late night. And tomorrow evening at some point, we should be coming up on Kallandor." Mon Mothma sighed lightly and shook her head. "I wish we had a little more time to deal with the important issues before we meet the leaders on Kallandor."

Leia's spirit sank. "The leaders are going to be on Kallandor when we arrive?" she asked and Mon Mothma nodded. "I thought we had at least a week to prepare." Although she tried, she could not keep the fatigue out of her voice. The leaders of several branches of the Rebel Alliance were going to meet them on Kallandor a whole week sooner than planned.

"I understand how you feel, Leia, but we must fight hard for what we have won now. We must not let it slip away. Although the Emperor and Darth Vader are both gone, we've by far not won this fight yet. And you know that," Mon Mothma countered, sounding just as tried as Leia did.

Leia heaved a deep sigh and nodded. "I know. I had just hoped that things would become a little easier now. But I realize that we must do what we can to maintain whatever footing we've gained here."

Mon Mothma nodded. "Yes, Leia. We must do that. I think we should reschedule the next meeting to being as soon as possible. Maybe we'll be able to get to sleep at a decent time tonight," she said, nodded once and left the conference room again.

Leia sank down on a chair with another sigh. How was she going to explain this to Han? She had more or less promised him this night. Determined to make him understand, she left the room as well and went in search of him before the next meeting would begin.


Han stood on the bridge, watching the teams working with a slight feeling of awe. It always surprised him how so many people could work together so well. The right corner of his mouth twitched into a half-smile as that thought was replaced by another. He was looking forward to this evening. Leia had promised him that they would spend it together.

"Han." He heard her voice and turned to face her. That was all it took for him to understand that this night would not happen either.

"Sweetheart. What's wrong?" he asked, knowing already.

"I won't be able to make it tonight, Han. We've got another meeting coming up and it's doubtful I will get out of there before very late. The leaders are assembling on Kallandor as we speak," she explained, getting tired of having to excuse herself all the time.

"Already? I thought they wouldn't be there for another week or so," Han countered, trying hard not to sound disappointed.

Not too far from where they were standing, a young technician looked up from her work at one of the terminals that kept losing information. She met Han's eyes as he briefly glanced over at her.

"That's what I thought, but something is happening within one of the bigger fractions of the Empire and... well, they've caused some kind of trouble and we have to discuss what to do about it before we arrive. I'm really sorry," Leia said.

"Hey, what is it I keep telling you? It's not your fault, sweetheart. You've got a big responsibility here. We'll just have to wait until the whole thing calms down a bit. We'll have time for each other then. Don't worry," he said, leaned forward and kissed her forehead. "And don't worry about me. I'll just turn in early."

Leia took his hands and looked up into his eyes. "I love you," she said. "I've got to go. The next meeting has been moved up a bit."

"Sure thing, honey. See you later," he said, kissed her again and let her go. As soon as her back was turned, the disappointment showed in his expression. Was he ever going to be able to spend time with her? Shaking his head mentally, he glanced over at the terminal that the technician was still working on. "What's the problem here?" he asked, hoping to make himself useful in some way.

The young woman looked up and smiled. "Oh, it's nothing, really. I think there's a loose connection somewhere. I just have to find it," she replied.

Han squatted down and took a look at the inner workings of the terminal. It didn't take his trained eyes long to spot the fault. "There it is," he said, pointing.

"So it is," the technician said. "Thank you, General Solo."

"You're welcome... uhm," he began, but hesitated. He had no idea what her name was.

"Luandra Star," she introduced herself.

"Ms. Star," he added and rose again.


The following evening the frigate finally reached its goal. Kallandor would be the new stronghold of the Rebel Alliance and from there, the Alliance would attempt its boldest move yet. It would try to go in and take over Coruscant, the former stronghold of the Empire and the center of the galaxy. According to rumors, Coruscant was in uproar and a lot of things were happening there all at once. For one thing, the Imperial troops had been pushed out of power after the news of the Emperor's death had reached the center of the Galaxy and several different political groups were desperately trying to find the leaders of the Rebel Alliance and instate them as the new leaders before any of the Imperial war lords could claim the throne. It was a race against time. One that the Rebel Alliance could not afford to loose. Thus the meetings with the various branches of the Alliance had been pushed forward and that would mean a whole lot more work for those involved.

Han had to settle into the quarters he would share with Leia alone. From the moment they set foot on the planet, she was swept away to meetings that would occupy her for an undeterminable time in the future. He knew that he wouldn't see much of her during the coming weeks and although he was as understanding as he could be, he couldn't help feeling disappointed too. They had just determined their love for each other and now they didn't have time to explore it.

He spent most of the evening going through the extensive chambers they had been assigned and marveled at the beauty of the Kallandorian design. It wasn't for nothing that Kallandor was called the cultural capital of the Galaxy. Colors and furniture were matched beautifully and the artwork was sparse and rare. With a smile he picked up one of the pieces, weighing it in his hand. That was worth a fortune on the black market. It was made of Kallandorian crystal and represented a dancing Kallandorian maid. Beautiful and full of color and life. That was the trade mark of the crystal indigenous to this world. It was warm to the touch, and even when it was held completely still, the reflected colors in it still moved. He put it back in its place and dropped down on the couch which instantly reformed around him to make him feel comfortable. He closed his eyes for a moment, then yawned heartily. Sure, he could be out there helping with the unloading of the frigates. Or he could be somewhere in the hangars, helping with ships that needed repair. He just didn't feel like it and he had the luxury to decline. After sitting there for a while, he decided that he would take a shower and then sleep for a while. At least until Leia turned up. If she indeed did turn up this evening. He doubted it. It was late already.

Hours later he woke up, wrapped only in a towel, lying on his stomach on the bed. Yawning he rolled onto his side and glanced at the chronometer. The bed beside him was empty and he had expected nothing less. He figured he would start to be bothered by it a great deal if it kept up like this. He hardly ever saw Leia these days. Except when she was sleeping. Rolling onto his back, he looked up at the pattern of light and shadow on the ceiling and wondered what had happened to the man he had once been. "He grew up," he told himself quietly and smiled.


Leia leaned back in her chair, once again fighting to suppress a yawn. There was nothing she wanted more right now than go to the apartment and snuggle up close to Han and just sleep. She knew he wanted more and she wanted more, too, but for now she just didn't have the strength to give it to him. She thought he understood. She hoped he did.

One of the leaders was saying something and she nodded almost on reflex. "I understand your concern, Me'Ha. I really do. And we will move as soon as we've established the proper connections. As I understand it, the senators on Coruscant want us there. They're afraid the Imperial war lords will take over," she countered.

Me'Ha nodded his head while the fur on his back rippled in displeasure. "The sooner we strike, Princess, the sooner we can all start feeling more secure."

Mon Mothma glanced at the wall chronometer, noted the time, and rose. "Ladies and Gentlemen. Honored members of the Alliance. I do believe we could all benefit from some rest now. This meeting is adjourned until tomorrow at ten."

Leia glanced up at her, a little surprised. While the other leaders filed out of the meeting room, she merely rose and took a step closer to her elder. "Why so late?" she wanted to know.

"Because, my dear, it's almost four in the morning and I do believe we all need a little more time to rest. As for you, I don't want to see you here before twelve. I will handle them all until then. Now go. I do believe someone is waiting for you." With a smile and no objections, Leia hurried out of the meeting room. Mon Mothma looked after her and sighed. "I wish there was someone waiting for me as well," she said with slight regret in her voice.


Leia entered the apartment and was a little sad that she was way too tired to admire the rooms she crossed through. She looked around, opening a few doors until she found the bedroom. Han was asleep, lying on his back, with a towel covering him partially. Leia stopped in the doorway, staring at him for a moment. Then she sat down beside him. "Hey, sleepyhead. Shouldn't you be under the covers?" she wanted to know.

Han mumbled something, opened his eyes and smiled. "Hi," he said, then noted how close to being naked he was. The smile turned sly as he grabbed her and pulled her down on top of him. "You finally came."

"I'm sorry it took so long. I'm really beat," she countered. She saw the brief disappointment in his eyes, considered that she did have at least seven hours to sleep in and decided that she wanted to utilize the time she had with him. At least some of it.

"It's four in the morning. No surprise," he said, smiling a little sadly.

"You're just about as undressed as I've ever seen you, General," she replied to that and kissed his chin. The look in his eyes changed and she decided to do something about it. But first things first. "Hold that thought. I'll be right back," she said, disengaged herself from him and hurried into the bath room. Moments later, she emerged, dressed in her usual night gown and climbed into bed beside him.

He wrapped his arms around her and kissed her, caressing her back and then realized how tired she really was. She could barely keep her eyes open. Holding her close, he kept caressing her, but made no further moves toward something she wasn't up to finishing. No sense in trying when she was this tired.

Shortly after, she was asleep in his arms and although he had been ready for some action, the fact that she was so worn out had cooled his passion quite quickly. So he contented himself with holding her close, hoping against hope that they would soon have some more time together.


The days went by and became weeks. Han kept being understanding, but somewhere inside he was more than disappointed. He knew that her work was important and that it couldn't wait, but he did think she was wearing herself down and that she needed some rest at one point.

He himself had plenty to do. There were ships that needed repairs and he was only too happy to lend his expertise to the team of technicians. He also worked on the Falcon and helped with various arrangements. The move to Coruscant was imminent and had everybody on their toes. It had taken them a good long while to get this far and everything had to be done right in order for the Alliance to get a good, strong foothold there.

Han had just finished working on one of the many ships he helped out with and stood beside it, watching the commotion in the hangar. This reminded him of the good old days.

"Are you just standing around, doing nothing?" a familiar voice asked from behind him.

Han turned to face Luke. "Hi, kid. How's it hanging?" Han hadn't seen much of Luke lately, either. Luke had once again been off somewhere, doing something Han didn't even pretend to understand.

"Okay. And you? You seem troubled," Luke countered, staring at Han in a way the older man didn't like.

"Aw, I'm just a bit hung up. And I don't get to see Leia as much as I want to. But I'm fine. No problem." He knew from experience that Luke could see right through him. He also knew that Luke would leave it alone when he shrugged it off like that.

Luke padded his shoulder. "Good to hear that. And about Leia. She'll ease up on all this work at one point. She has to." Looking out over the hangar himself, Luke tried to determine what it was that troubled Han the most. It seemed to be the time he missed out on with Leia. But Han was right in his assumption that Luke would leave it alone if he didn't want to talk.

"Yeah, I know," Han said and grinned. "So, have you done anything interesting... or don't I want to know about it?"

Luke smiled. "I don't know if you want to know about it. But it's very boring," the young Jedi countered.

"Well," Han said, raising his hands in a deprecating gesture. "Then please spare me."

That was one thing Luke had always liked about Han. He could make basically anybody laugh. "Okay, sure. I'll spare you. I've got some things to attend to. Maybe we can catch dinner later?"

Han looked a little doubtful at that. "I don't know. I was kinda hoping for Leia to be able to spare an hour," he said.

"I don't think you should count on that. The way I see it, they'll be in there until dusk," Luke said, sorry to spoil his friend's hope.

Han sighed, then shrugged. "In that case, what the heck. Let's grab something to eat later then." Luke headed off, weaving his way through the crowd like a seasoned pilot through an asteroid field and Han once again marveled at how fast the kid had grown up. Tearing himself away from the action, he turned, intent on getting back to the Falcon and do some work on her, but managed to bump into one of the technicians. "Oops. Sorry," he said, squatting to help her pick up her tools.

"Oh, that's all right. Could have happened to anyone," she said, blushing.

Han handed her a hydro spanner while he stared at her. She looked familiar. "Don't I know you?" he wanted to know.

She met his eyes and smiled. "We met on the frigate," she countered.

"Oh, yes. Luandra Star, wasn't it?" he asked and she nodded. They both rose again. "So, how do you like Kallandor, Ms. Star?"

"It's beautiful. Too bad we won't be staying long."

"Yeah, it is, isn't it?" Han replied, grinning at her. "Well, I've got work to do. So do you, probably," he added, saluted her and strode off.

Luandra Star looked after him and sighed. "What a man," she whispered, then carried on with her work.


Leia looked up at a disturbance at the door of the meeting room and raised an eyebrow when the Captain of the frigate Vindicator came in. He briefly spoke to Mon Mothma, who had hurried over to meet him, and then left again. Mon came over to Leia and sat down beside her, the nervous movements of her hands indicating that something was afoot. "Leia, we have to leave. Now," she said quietly, her tone of voice slightly strained.

Leia could not subdue her surprise. "Now? But we're not prepared," she commented, wondering when all this would slow down a bit.

"I know, but Captain Todd has just brought news from Coruscant. It seems that if we want to gain any foothold there at all, we have to do it now. If we leave now, we can be on Coruscant the day after tomorrow. With a bit of luck. So, as you can surely see, time is of the essence here," Mon explained. She folded her hands, the knuckles turning white.

Leia pursed her lips and leaned back on her chair, folding her arms over her chest. "Very well. If that's the way things are right now, I guess it can't be helped. I just have to find Han and let him know," she finally replied.

With a regretful expression, Mon Mothma put a hand on her arm. "I'm afraid we don't have time for that either. Commander Skywalker is waiting outside. He will convey any message you may have to General Solo. We are on our way out." The older woman rose, her hands still folded in front of her, her serene face taunt with the stress of the past. "We must leave. At once," she repeated.

Leia got up, too, smoothing her dress as she walked toward the door in front of Leader Mothma. The fact that she would not be able to tell Han herself or even ask him to come along was bothering her more than she was willing to admit.

Luke stood outside, waiting for her. "Leia," he said, reaching his hands out to her.

She took them in both of hers, stopping briefly. "Luke. Can you find Han and tell him I had to leave? We've got to go to Coruscant at once."

Luke met her eyes, surprised but not showing it. "Of course, Leia. But why so fast?" he wanted to know.

"We've set some wheels in motion, Luke. We need to go with the flow here or we'll loose what we've fought for," Leia said. Mon Mothma put a hand on her shoulder, murmuring something to her. "I have to go. Tell Han I'm sorry I didn't get to tell him myself," she added as Mon urged her to come along more insistently.

Luke nodded, waving briefly at her as she hurried out of the Parliament building toward the waiting transports. "He won't like that," he mumbled to himself and went in search of his friend.


"That would be a very stupid connection to make, buddy. Unless your aim is to blow this thing up." Han was patiently trying to explain to a rather young technician how to do his job. Another communications terminal had broken down and the kid didn't seem to know what he was doing. "You can't connect the power coupling to the monitor wires without causing a complete blow-out."

The young technician was flustered and felt awfully out of place. "I'm sorry, sir. We've been under a lot of stress lately and I'm new to this job..." he started to explain nervously.

Han put a hand on his shoulder. "Hey, we all have to start somewhere. Why don't you go take some downtime and I'll deal with this terminal, okay?"

The boy was full of wonder that the General, who outranked him by a millennium would take over his work for him. "Ahem... I don't... " he began.

"I insist. Now go. You're no good in this condition, buddy." The boy reluctantly left the terminal behind, confused to say the least.

"You shouldn't be doing this kind of work, General," a voice said from behind him.

Han glanced over his shoulder and grinned. "Aw, he's young, Luke. He's completely untrained and I would bet a Bantha against a flitter-gem that he would have blown this terminal up if I hadn't stopped him. He's so tired, he can't even remember his own name."

Luke squatted down beside Han and looked at the complete mess of the internal workings of the station. "Well, looks like you've got your work cut out for you here," he commented dryly, then smiled. "So, dinner's off?"

"Naw, it shouldn't take me too long to get this thing up and running again. Remember. I've done that with the Falcon as well and nobody thinks she's got it in her," Han replied and fiddled a bit with the frayed end of a wire. "This thing is ready for the scrap heap, but I can make it work. I can make anything work."

Luke nodded. "Apparently," he mumbled. "By the way, Leia had to leave. Something's going down on Coruscant and in order to get there as fast as possible, she and Leader Mothma took off about fifteen minutes ago."

Han froze and looked at Luke for a second before responding to that. "Oh," he then said, sounding immensely disappointed. "I see."

"There was absolutely no time for her to tell you herself, Han. She wanted to. I only caught her because I was just outside the door of the meeting room at that time," Luke tried to explain.

"Convenient, huh?" Han replied, starring into the disarray of the terminal. "Well, she's busy. She's got important work to do. I understand."

Luke doubted that he really understood. Well, maybe he did, but he was slowly getting fed up with not being able to see her. At any point. "The rest of us are to follow in two days time. Once we're settled on Coruscant, I bet things are going to slow down," he tried again, wanting desperately to make Han feel better.

"Yeah, maybe. Or maybe things are really going to pick up speed once we're there. She's got things to do, kid. Important things. I knew that when I got involved in this." Han rose and dropped the frayed end of the wire he had been holding. "This can't be saved. They need a new terminal," he then said, turned and slowly walked away.

Luke rose, too, and watched him go. This was a side of Han he had never seen before. The man was really disappointed, but trying to be a good sport at the same time. Those two things really clashed and Luke wondered what would happen if this kept up.


Han wandered around the capital of Kallandor, seeing the beauty of the city without being able to enjoy it. It was all beyond his understanding. Not the city, but this relationship he'd gotten himself into here. Had it been a few years back, he would have picked up and left, wishing her good speed and that would be the end of that. But now he couldn't. Something he couldn't explain bound him to this woman and he loved her more than life. More than his freedom. For a man like him to feel like this was beyond comprehension. He was aware that he had probably looked at himself in the wrong way through the better part of his life, but still. It made no sense. Had it been any other woman, he would have felt annoyed at the fact that she put her career ahead of him. But Leia was something different. Something special. Ever since he'd seen her that first time in the Death Star detention area, he had thought that she was special. She was used to taking action, going after the gold in her life. The gold, which was her belief that all had the right to be free, to be happy. She wanted to create a better universe for them to live in. All of them.

With a sigh, he stopped on a square and starred at the fountain in the middle. Figures of animals indigenous to this world, spraying water into the air. Toward the crystal blue sky. He looked upwards and sighed again. This wasn't him, was it? When had he gotten this soft?


The frigate Vindicator made its way through hyperspace, pushing toward Coruscant and an even more uncertain future than the one Leia had left behind. She stood on one of the stargazer decks and looked out at the stripes visible in hyperspace. She should be resting now, but she couldn't. Her thoughts were tormented by what-if's. What if she had never taken on the responsibility of a leading position within the Alliance? There were both up's and down's to that thought. If she hadn't, Alderaan might still exist. But then she wouldn't have met Han. What if she hadn't met Han? Would that have made a difference in her life? Would she be married to a boring prince? Or would she have broken out of the high society life she had been living for as long as she could remember?

Only a year before her thoughts of Han hadn't been too high. She had considered him a freebooter, a man who had no morals and no feelings of commitment. Nobody had been more surprised than herself to discover that she actually felt more for him that just common resentment. His way had annoyed her. Many times it had struck her that she felt so awfully annoyed at him because he had what she couldn't afford to have. Freedom. The freedom of choice. If he wanted to leave, he could leave and get on with his life. She had been raised for this existence and could not easily drop it all to live a wild life on the wrong side of the law. That thought made her smile. She wouldn't want to. She had wondered about that kind of life. What was it really like to be free of any scruples and just take what you needed? Granted, there was a risk involved. A big one. And Leia had the idea that Han got off on the adrenalin-rush when they were close to being caught.

The smile faded. They had been caught. And the experience had done something to Han. He had been the worst off, of course. The carbon freezing was definitely no picnic from what she knew about it and most subjects didn't survive. She thanked whatever powers were available that she had not only gotten him back, but that he had come out the other end with his sanity still intact. He was more moderate now, more mellow. The cocky pirate who trusted nobody but himself was gone. Leia wondered which of these two sides was really him, but figured that the side of him she saw now was his true self. And that again brought other thoughts. Why had he become that man she had met those few years ago? What had happened to him to make him so ignorant and carefree?

The memory of all the nights he had woken up gasping for breath, when he had left the bedroom and she had stayed behind, lying in the dark, flooded back into her mind. He was suffering. But he didn't want to share it with her. Why, she didn't know. She felt her trust betrayed by that. Why couldn't he confide in her? She could help him. She knew she could.

With a cynical smile, she almost managed to mimic Han's smile. She knew why he didn't confide in her. Because he thought she had enough on her mind as it was. The truth was, she did, but she wanted to be a part of his life and to be that, they had to share things like this. She would talk to him as soon as he came to Coruscant. She had wanted him to come along on this trip, but it had all happened so fast.

There was never enough time, never time for regret. Through all her life, there had never been enough time. When her real mother had died, there hadn't been time to mourn her. When she had joined the Senate there hadn't been time to really get to know the rules before it all blew up in their faces when Palpatine took over and deprived them all of the power they had gained. When she had found out that Luke was her brother, there hadn't been time to enjoy that revelation because they had to run from the attacking forces of the remains of the Empire. Never enough time. She knew that her busy schedule could mean the loss of a lot of things. There was no time for friendships, for socializing. She didn't have time to deal with the important, private issues of her life.

Closing her eyes, she let out a heartfelt sigh, turned and went back to her cabin. The one thing that was foremost on her mind was something she didn't want to think about. Not being able to deal with her private life meant that she might loose Han. And to think of that consequence made her feel so awfully tired. She longed for him, for his embrace and his funny look on life. Hoping that he would continue to be as understanding as he had been these past many months, she slipped into her bed, closed her eyes and slipped into a deep, dreamless sleep.


Han grumbled under his breath, trying to reattach a loose hull plate on the Falcon. Without this, he couldn't fly the ship into space because it would make the ship implode and that would make for a real short trip. With an exasperated sigh and aching shoulders, he once again tried to bend the stubborn material into place so he could rivet and finally weld the breach shut, but again the plate slipped and he cut his hand. "Damn it," he snapped and slammed the heel of his already bleeding hand against the plate, cutting himself again.

"That effectively rules out any more work today," a voice said behind him.

With the worst cut pressed against his lips he turned to see Luandra Star standing there, a smile on her lips, her gleaming blue eyes showing slight mockery. With another sigh he pulled his shoulders up and groaned at the ache in them. "Says who?" he wanted to know, noting that his mood had improved by her mere appearance.

"Says I," she countered, pulled a handkerchief out of her pocket, reached for his wounded hand and wrapped it tightly around it. "There. That should take the worst of the bleeding. Maybe you should have it looked at." Her eyes trailed up to his face again and she noted the trace of blood at the corner of his mouth. Not thinking about what she was doing, she reached up to wipe it away. "Oh... uhm..." she then tried to explain why she had done it, realizing that he might get the wrong idea. "You had... some blood... right there," she added, tapping the right corner of her own mouth.

Han eyed her thoughtfully for a moment, wondering about her. She was the kind of woman who found him immediately attractive. Heaven only knew that he had bumped into her kind before. But none of them had ever made him feel like this. Well, except for Leia, but she wasn't that kind of woman. "Thanks," he then said, nodding to her. "I guess I'd better get this looked at," he then added, raising his bandaged hand.

"Yeah, that's probably a good idea. Why don't you ask Chewbacca to help you with that plate?" she replied, waving at the free-hanging hull plate.

"Oh, I was going to, but I don't know where he is. Besides, I used to be able to do things like that myself." Han started walking, not at all surprised that she came with him. He didn't mind the company.

"Yeah, well, the new material they use for standard hull plates is a bit more stubborn than the old kind. It doesn't bend as easily," Luandra said, reminding Han that she had a technical background.

"You like ships?" he wanted to know.

"Yeah, I do. I love'em. If I could afford one, I'd have one of my own, but..." she replied, leaving the rest to his imagination.

"I know what you mean. The first time I really realized how badly I wanted a ship, I was willing to do almost anything to get it. I ended up playing a game and won," he confessed, smiling at the thought.

Luandra looked up at him, catching the full extent of his smile and knowing that what he had felt about getting a ship she was feeling now about getting him. She would do anything it took to get him. Anything. "What kinda game?" she asked after a moment.

They rounded a corner and walked up to the entrance of the medical section. "Sabacc," Han said and stopped short in front of the doors. "Damn, I hate hospitals," he mumbled to himself.

"Aw, it's not that bad. Come on. I'll go in with you if you want," she countered, smiling a crooked smile.

Han gave her a mild version of his lopsided grin. "Sure. I guess what I've always hated about it is going in alone."


That evening, Han had dinner with Luandra. He enjoyed her company because she was pretty straight forward and not nobility. Sometimes it got very tiering to talk to people who couldn't tell you anything straight out. Leia didn't do that, but she had a tendency to use too many words right after she had spent hour upon hour with the diplomats who apparently ran the galaxy.

"So, Luandra, what brings you into the service of the Rebellion?" Han wanted to know.

She smiled, very much at ease in his presence. "Oh, I've grown up on a world that was under Imperial siege. When I was about fifteen, my parents were... interned. My father had a habit of shooting his mouth off and one day, the Imperials took offence. I never saw them again. My uncle took care of me until I was off age and I promised myself that I would avenge their deaths. Which better way than being a part of the apparatus which brought down the Empire?"

"I'm sorry about your parents. Are you sure they're dead?" Han responded, looking a little concerned.

"Oh yes. My uncle was eventually allowed to bury them both. I participated in the funeral, then left my home world. I've always had a knack for electronics, so when I was offered a job on a freighter out of there, I took it. It turned out that the pilot was a rebel, so I asked if I could join and he said yes. So, here I am."

Han smiled wistfully. "It's always good to get qualified help. Unfortunately we also have a lot of people mulling around here, who don't have the slightest clue about what's going on. And I wouldn't be surprised if there were a few spies as well."

"Yeah. But that's probably an occupational hazard, considering what the business is we work in here." Her statement made him laugh and it made Luandra shiver with delight that she managed to do that. This promised well. "So, what did you do before? Apart from being a pirate?"

Han grinned. "Pirate is so much said, actually. I was in the smuggling business. It pays well, but it's also very dangerous. And... well... I guess I've had my share of adventure in my life."

"So, you're gonna stick around?" Luandra wanted to know, putting her elbows on the table and cradling her chin in her hands.

"Yeah, I plan to. For now, at least." He leaned back and suppressed a yawn. "I guess I'm getting too old for racing around the galaxy with a bunch of Imperials on my tail."

Luandra smiled, hoping that he found her attractive and thinking that he might just do that. He looked her in the eye a lot and she liked the connection that created between them. "You're not old. And you're a hero." Grinning and blushing at the same time, she leaned her head to one side, her dark hair spilling down over her shoulder. "Listen to me. I sound like an awestruck kid."

"Yeah, you do. But I don't mind." He took a sip from his glass, tasting the sweetness of the drink before swallowing it. There was definitely something about this little beauty. For a moment, he felt ten years younger again when he could have his pick and never worry about the next day. "And by the way, I didn't mean that I was old, I just meant that I'm not that young any more," he added and winked at her.

Luandra's smile widened a notch. "I know that. I didn't mean to imply that you were old at all. Just the contrary."


The following morning Han woke up with a hangover. He'd had too much to drink the night before, way too much, and was feeling the impact of it much more strongly than he had in recent years. Moaning, he stretched out on the bed, yawned heartily and thought about staying in bed a while longer. But that might not be a good idea. There was much to do. The following day would bring their departure from this world and he would be on his way back to Leia. Yawning again, he started to feel irritated, because he was certain that he had forgotten something.

Favoring his aching head, he slowly sat up and felt his stomach roll. "Damn, I'm getting too old for this," he grumbled, then glanced right. He was on the left side of the bed and suddenly had the distinct feeling of not being alone. His gut feeling turned out to be true and he realized what he had so blissfully forgotten from the night before. Groaning, he looked at the naked young woman lying in the bed next to him, covered partially by the sheets. "By the great star, what have I done," he mumbled to himself, running both hands over his face. "Oh shit."

"Morning," Luandra mumbled, awakened by his voice. She smiled, knowing that she had gotten a lot further last night than she had thought.

"Luandra, you have to leave. Right now," Han countered, staring at her with regret. "I'm sorry about this, but last night should not have happened. It will not happen again," he added.

Luandra sat up, making no effort to cover herself. "Han, can I ask you a serious question?" Han didn't know what to expect of her and nodded. "Sure."

"Do you call what you have with the Princess a relationship?" she asked, but didn't intend for him to answer. "Because I don't. She's a very busy woman and she doesn't have time for a relationship. Maybe the occasional fling, but not a relationship. Her life is the Rebellion, Han. That's all it will ever be. And don't tell me that you don't know that."

Han was actually appalled to hear this from another source. He knew she was right, though. Leia's life was the Rebellion and he couldn't deny that he had often wondered where he fit in. "Maybe so, but I love her and she loves me."

Luandra leaned her head to one side, smiling a little. "That's a pathetic answer, Han. Yes, you love her and she probably also loves you, but you're not her first love. The Rebellion is. Millions upon millions of other living beings come first. The well-being of others comes before you. That's not what I see as true love. And if you believed in it, I don't think we would have ended up here together, do you?"

Han felt pushed by the truth of her words, the fact that what she said was and could be true. "I don't know, Luandra. I was drunk last night. I've done things I regretted before when I was drunk. This wouldn't be the first time," he tried, knowing how feeble that excuse sounded.

Luandra knew he was slowly caving in. She could tell by the weaving excuses he used. "I know you don't want to admit that you've probably wasted a few years on wooing her, only to find out that you're not even second or third in line when it comes to her true affections. Don't get me wrong. I think what the Princess does is great. She has -- in a way -- avenged my parents for me. She has given me peace of mind through her actions. But she's no good for you. A woman who only has time for you when her schedule permits it isn't right for you. You need somebody who can devote time to you. To be there for you. And I know you need to talk. Your nightmares show that."

Han flinched when she mentioned the nightmares. Apparently, he'd had one this night or she wouldn't know about it. The fact that she approached the subject without blinking or shying away from it made him wonder if she could be right. Was he wasting his time, trying to maintain Leia's attention? She was busy. He knew that, had known it from the start.

"Has the Princess had time to talk to you about your nightmares?" Luandra interrupted his train of thoughts.

"No. She's busy. She has other things on her mind which are more important."

"More important than you," Luandra stated. "But isn't it important what you feel, what you need? I think it is. I think it's important that you talk about whatever is troubling you before it grows too deep to handle."

Han frowned and was painfully reminded of his hangover. Closing his eyes, he pulled his knees up to his chest and rested his chin on them, wrapping both arms around his legs. "I don't know. Maybe I should just talk to a professional about it. I don't want to bother Leia with it. She has enough to see to as it is. Her priorities are different than most women's, granted, but what she does will have long-lasting effects on the Galaxy. And she shouldn't be bothered by petty problems like this."

"I don't think that you should think of this kind of mental distress as a petty problem, Han. It may not seem big now, but it can easily become big, out of control. Do you want that? Do you want to keep on waking up in the middle of the night, afraid to go back to sleep because you dread your dreams?"

Shaking his head, he didn't know how else to answer that. No, of course he didn't. But what was there to do about it? Before he could come up with a suitable reply, Luandra had slipped up behind him and was massaging his shoulders. With a pleased groan, he tried to relax as much as possible, feeling the healing sensation of relaxing muscles ripple through him.

"You need to relax, you need somebody to care about you," she whispered, smiling. Oh, she was going to get what she wanted. The only thing she had to be real careful about was not to offend him by talking down about his precious Princess. What Luandra really thought of Leia wasn't too kind. But she was no fool and she would not destroy her opportunity by letting him know how she really felt about that woman and the way she treated him.

Han briefly let himself enjoy the attention she gave him, but then suddenly shook her hands off. "Don't," he told her and got out of bed. The fact that he was wearing his underwear made him stall. He glanced over his shoulder at her. "I'm going to take a shower now. When I get out again, you're gone. Last night was a mistake. No matter what you think. And it won't happen again. I'm sorry." With that, he vanished into the bathroom, leaving a completely baffled Luandra behind.

Aggravated, the young woman gathered her clothes, annoyed that her little trick hadn't worked. No, they had not slept together. She had helped him to bed and decided to give it a chance. By stripping down and slipping into bed with him, she had hoped to convince him that they had actually been together, but the moment he had gotten out of bed, she had realized that he knew it wasn't the case. "Damn it," she mumbled and hurried out of the quarters.

Han stood in the bathroom, leaning against the door, listening until she was gone. Pursing his lips, he wondered if this was what he would have to put up with in future. Sure, she was only a technician, but what if a diplomat's daughter made a pass on him? Or a wife, for that matter. Things needed to be taken care off. The sooner the better. And he knew just how to do that.


He met up with Chewie in the hangar an hour later and they did some last repairs on the Falcon together. With the hull plate securely attached, Han didn't think there was much more holding him here. "Listen, partner," he said to the wookie, who instantly looked at him with slight concern.

Chewie rumbled at him and Han raised his hands. "Don't start that with me. I'm not hung over and I'm not getting any crazy ideas." He paused, giving the wookie time to swallow that one. Chewie was a good friend, the best, but he sometimes didn't trust Han as much as he would like him to. "There's not much more for us to do here and I don't feel like waiting around for the rest of them to pick up and leave. How do you feel about us going to Coruscant right now?"

Chewie stared at his partner for a moment, the chance of getting out of here not lost on him, and rumbled at question at his partner.

"I've got important business on Coruscant," Han countered, sounding slightly annoyed. "I'm not running after anybody."

The wookie chuckled, having read Han's true motivations with no trouble at all. He growled a reply which made Han wince.

"Don't start that with me. I'm not going soft. I'm just..." he began defending himself, but stopped short when he saw Luke heading toward them.

"Hi there. How's it going?" Luke asked, smiling at his friends.

"Fine. Luke, I think we'll take off now and go ahead to Coruscant. I really wanna be with Leia if she needs me," Han said, giving Chewie a warning glance when the wookie chuckled under his breath.

"That's great. She'll be happy to hear you're coming," Luke countered, a little confused by the signals his friend gave off.

"Well, that's the thing. I don't want her to know I'm coming. Nothing should distract her from her duties until I'm actually there." The Corellian looked pretty smug at his idea.

Luke's smile widened. "Oh, I see. A surprise," he said, lowering his tone of voice conspiratorially. There was something about Han right now that he didn't really get. Something which made him wonder what else was behind Han's sudden need to run after Leia like this. As if he couldn't wait one more day.

"Yeah. A big surprise," Han countered, nodding.

"Right. I'll inform the other's that you're going. Don't worry about that," Luke said.

"I was hoping you would say that," Han said, grinning broadly. "Thanks, kid."


The Millennium Falcon took of half an hour after Luke and Han had talked and Luandra Star stood near the exit, watching him go with a slight feeling of sadness. He did love that princess. Damn him, he did. Annoyed, she returned to her work.

Han guided the Falcon skyward and relished the sight of the blue sky turning to the blackness of space. He heaved a deep breath and held it, then sighed. "This feels like home," he said with a grin.

Chewbacca knew that there was more to this trip than just Han's wish to be with Leia. Han had something planned and something had urged him to leave Kallandor as fast as possible. The wookie thought he knew what, but he wasn't certain. It wasn't like Han seemed to have anything on his conscience. Not the way he was behaving.


Leia had felt the usual stun and slight shock over seeing Coruscant. The planetary city, which had buried the living breathing world below it, was an awesome sight. And a little frightening as well. The convoy of X-Wings and A-Wings which had escorted the frigate Vindicator made Leia feel all regal again. This was the kind of escort befitting her former status.

But now, one day after they had settled into the Imperial Palace, Leia didn't feel very regal any more. She felt worn out and tired. Most of all she felt like somebody had beaten her up and trampled her into the ground. Work was never-ending. The Senators were hopelessly incapable of accepting anything they had to say and kept moaning about the Imperial War Lords, who only waited to take over Coruscant and destroy them all. Both Leia and Leader Mothma had repeatedly tried to soothe them, to let them know that nobody was going to destroy Coruscant and nobody was going to attack them. As soon as they had said it, the Senators wanted to know how they could be so certain, hadn't they seen the signs? Leia had slept three hours and was starting to come apart at the seems. Mon Mothma was no better of.

The air in the meeting room was going stale and sour from all the hours they had spent in there and Leia had a pounding headache at the end of another impossible session. Leader Mothma had called for a longer break, asking all the Senators for a respite so they could come up with a plan and end all their worries. The real reason was naturally for both her and Leia and their accompanying staff to get some rest.

Padding Leia's shoulder with heartfelt sympathy, the older woman rose from her seat. "Go to your quarters, Leia, and get the rest you can. I will call you as soon as this rigmarole starts up again."

"Thank you, Mon. I need to sleep. And so do you," Leia countered with a tried smile, forced herself to her feet and headed toward the door. She knew that if she didn't get at least a decent night's sleep, she would collapse. A constant shiver indicated an oncoming cold and that was really the last thing she needed right now. But her quarters had been cold and she hadn't had time to figure out how to start the heating system in there. The thought of these cold, empty chambers, where nobody had lived for a while, made her shiver even more.

It was with no small amount of delight that she realized that somebody had the good sense to start the air-conditioning in her chambers as she opened the door. The lights were on, it was warm and she suddenly felt like this could be home in more ways than one.

"Good evening," a voice said from behind her after she had stepped into the livingroom.

She swirled around. "Han," she almost breathed and fell into his arms. "Oh, I've missed you. When did you arrive?" she asked and returned his kiss.

"A few hours ago. I wanted to surprise you," he said with a smile, then frowned. "You look awful. You're pale as ghost," he added. "You're going straight to bed, honey. No argument." Not waiting for her reply, he swept her off the floor and carried her into the bedroom which was also heated and much more comfortable than the night before.

The feeling of being in his arms like this, the tender care he displayed toward her, made her never want to leave this room again. Without objection, she let him undress her and put her to bed, where after he tugged the covers around her and sat down on the edge of the bed. Reaching a hand up, she brushed her knuckles over his cheek. "I do love you."

"And I love you, highness. Now, try to get some rest. I'll be here when you wake up," he said, leaned in and kissed her.

It didn't take her long to slip into an almost comatose sleep. Han watched her for a while, feeling that being with her was what he needed. That was the way it was now. No matter what anybody said. On that account, he also knew he had to tell her about Luandra, to let her know what had almost happened and what it had made him feel. He only hoped she would believe him.


Leia was busy and knew that she would be busy for a long while yet. There was no relenting in sight and she could not find the plausible explanation she needed to get off the hook for a few days. When she woke up from her lengthy rest, she felt that this was what she needed. A few days in bed. Almost to complement her on that choice, she sneezed. "Oh no," she mumbled as she sat up. Her head was heavy and she felt feverish.

Han appeared in the door. "You're sick, highness. You're staying in bed," he told her and came around to her side of the bed where he sat down. "No arguments," he added when he saw the look in her eyes. Pressing a cool hand against her brow, he nodded. "You've got a fever. You're not going anywhere."

"But the meetings," she began, but he shushed her to silence and pressed her back down on the bed.

"The meetings can survive without you for a few days. Leader Mothma can handle it," Han said, almost indignantly. "You need to slow down or it'll kill you." The latter he said with grave concern and that made Leia relent.

"All right. But if I'm feeling better tomorrow, I'm back out there," she told him.

"You will not leave this bed until you're well again. If you go out there too early, you'll be right back in bed immediately. Listen to me for once, will ya?" Han replied gruffly, then sighed. "I don't want you get any more sick."

"You're so sweet," she said, brushing her fingers over his cheek. He grabbed her hand and kissed the palm, his expression thoughtful and a little concerned. "What's wrong?" she asked after a moment, well aware that he was troubled by something.

His eyes shifted and he didn't look at her for a while. "Something happened on Kallandor. Something... " he began, but trailed off, not certain he could tell her now. But, on the other hand, waiting until she was feeling better wasn't going to get him anywhere. She'd be angry with him for not telling her before and she might think he was trying to hide it. "Something I was supposed to believe had happened," he finished. "But it didn't. I know that for a fact."

"What are you talking about?" Leia asked, frowning. This didn't sound good. It brought back those thoughts she'd had on the frigate coming out here.

With a sigh, he lowered his head, staring down at her hand in his. It took a lot of courage for him to tell her, but he did. He told her about Luandra and what had happened. It didn't take him long to finish that particular tale and after he was done, he didn't look at her for a long moment. When he finally did, he flinched at the plain expression on her face and almost thought he knew what she would say next.

Leia stared at him, conflicting emotions boiling under the surface. She weighed the pros and cons of what he had said, of the implications and knew that his fear that this would be what it would be like in future were not unfounded. He was a very handsome man and many women in the higher circles believed that men like him were prey. With an effort, she pushed herself up and leaned her back against the head board of the bed. Biting her lower lip, the first real sign of her feelings toward this matter, she thought it over again. "I'm glad you told me," she said after a moment, pleased to see the stunned look on his face. "I know you wouldn't have... you know. That's not the point here. The point is that this technician, this Luandra Star, took advantage of you in a for you vulnerable moment. We should be able to prevent this from happening again..." she went on, then paused, thoughtfully fiddling with the edge of the duvet covering her. "But how?" she mumbled.

Han eyed her thoughtfully after regaining his composure. He had hoped that she would be forgiving, but this was beyond what he had hoped for. She didn't even blame it on him. He held onto her hand and relished the thought that this woman was his. And that brought an idea he'd had before back to the surface. "I know how," he said.

Leia looked up, meeting his eyes. "How?"

"Marry me," he said.

The whole thing was so unceremoniously that Leia at first didn't really grasp the implications of his words. "What?" she asked, stunned.

"Marry me. I want to marry you. And it would make things a lot easier on both of us. If we're married, I'm official off the market. It'll take a lot more courage for those conniving females to make a move toward me."

His words made sense, but Leia was still too stunned to understand completely. Well, she understood all right, but this was not what she had expected. Taking a deep breath, her cold all but forgotten, she took both of his hands in hers. "Don't get me wrong, Han. I do want to get married to you. There's nothing in the galaxy that would please me more. But is this the right reason for doing it?"

Han squeezed her hands and grinned at her. "What'd you expect? That I get down on my knees in a fit of romantic nonsense and propose to you?" he asked, making a joke of it. Then he grew serious again. "This is as serious as it gets, Leia. I love you and I don't want to loose you. Will you marry me?"

Her expression revealed her surprise and for a moment she couldn't respond. Then, slowly, almost a little reluctantly, she smiled. "Yes, I will. If for nothing else than to keep you out of trouble."

Han laughed at that, pulled her to him and held her. "I love you, Highness. This is the biggest day in my life." And it was. He had never thought that he would get married. Let alone to a woman like her. And she had said yes. What more did he need in life?