A/N: An idea for a one-shot that wouldn't leave me until I finally wrote it out :P
He made it a rule. Neither of them could leave the other without one. Whether it came down to her political trips across the galaxy or his jaunts with old friends, he had a Golden Rule that neither of them could break.
It didn't matter whether it was a chaste peck on the cheek or a knee-buckling, head-tipped-back, sensual wonder (he was very good with his mouth) that left her dazed. Neither were allowed to leave without a goodbye kiss.
It had started off as a secret joke, after their victory against the Empire. Neither of them had forgotten that unforgettable quarrel on Hoth, when he had forced her to confront her feelings for him. She once had to leave on an important conference without him and had hurriedly said "Bye," before stepping out the door. He had calmly grabbed one petite arm and pulled her back, shutting the door, informing her that she wouldn't be allowed to leave until she gave him a kiss.
Naturally, she had been outraged. She was already running on a tight schedule and Naboo's High King would certainly not be pleased if she showed up late. She also made it clear that she didn't appreciate his "arrogant manhandling" to which he had brazenly retorted, "that's not what you said last night."
She had laughed, taking both of them by surprise and had abruptly grabbed hold of his collar and tugged him forward for a short, hard kiss, whispering that she'd love to bear witness to more of his manhandling when she returned.
The next time the incident occurred, it had been he, leaving for a drink with Luke at a local bar. And she had walked down the stairs elegantly, clad in a tiny white robe with nothing underneath, inquiring as to whether he'd leave without giving her a kiss.
Suffice it to say, he'd never made it to the bar that memorable night. And it was good. Pretty good.
She remembered when Ben was three, playing with his toys in the family room, before she was leaving for yet another political party. Han had claimed babysitter and Leia had amusedly agreed, knowing how well he detested the tedious social gatherings.
She had attempted to leave the house, when she found her way blocked by her implacable husband. "Where do you think you're going?" he gave her the slow, crooked grin he knew she loved.
"Off to-" she had begun, wondering how in the world he could've forgotten.
"Without my kiss?"
She had folded her arms, eyeing him warily, "Our son. Is in. The room."
"He. Doesn't. Mind," Han had replied back in precisely the same tone. "Do you, Ben?"
And before she could even react, he had hooked an arm around her waist, tipping her back and kissing her deeply amidst their son's giggles.
She recalled one of their fights. While they both had passionate tempers, this was an argument that had sent him leaving the house for some space. It had been the evening upon which she had attempted to convince him to allow Ben to leave with Luke to be trained as a Jedi knight. Han had kicked up quite a fuss, irrationally, in her opinion. He didn't want him to be away from his family, he hadn't wanted him to lead a less-than-peaceful existence. He wanted to protect him.
And she had told him this was best for Ben, that this was the only way he could hone in his anger and disquiet with the world and that he didn't need to be protected, he was growing up.
He had slammed the door and stalked off, fuming. And then he returned in less than a minute, looking a little sheepish.
"What is it?" she asked wearily. She hated fights like these. And she hated watching him leave.
He sighed, drawing her into his arms and pressing a kiss to the top of head. "I just need to think clearly for a bit, okay?"
She hadn't slept all night, she had been too troubled, had missed him too much. He had returned the next morning, with some reluctance still, but agreed for Ben to be trained under his uncle.
And then when they had heard the news of Ben's betrayal, of his fall to the Dark Side, they had spoken little. Little of their son, little of anything that truly mattered. Until finally, Han had grown tired of being idle, while Leia threw herself into her work and duties. He had told her quietly one day that he was leaving. And she had accepted it without question, knowing their hurt ran too deep for words. Perhaps he blamed her for letting their son go. Perhaps she was reminded of Ben every time she saw her husband's face.
And yet, one thing hadn't changed. He held her tightly in his arms and kissed her before he left. Softly, tenderly, to show her he still loved her and always would.
The last time he left, many years after their son's betrayal, she had asked him to bring him home. And he said nothing, though she knew he would do everything within his power to call Ben back.
And when she had felt the earth-shattering, blinding pain of his death and the extent of their child's evil, she had known intuitively that he had left for good.
Without a goodbye kiss.