AN: After a brief hiatus from writing after publishing Empire Gang, I am back with some fluffy and fun HanxLeia! Thanks eversomuch to the one and only Lajulie24 for helping me out on this project!
The Great Alderaan Fire
Leia felt Han take a step closer and mentally began calculating the swift, easy motion she'd make to have her own blaster drawn in an instant.
They kept walking forward, trying to give no outward signal that they knew the person was trying to get Leia's attention.
"Princess Leia!" the man was almost upon them now, and she sensed Han preparing to draw his blaster.
Another mission that had been going so well, doomed to end in blaster fire and a quick exit.
His hand caught her shoulder and she turned, ready to throw a punch or a well-aimed kick.
Han's blaster appeared at her side and lined up with the man's rib cage.
"Woah!" The man stepped back a few inches and his hands flew up beside his head. "I'm not trying to hurt anybody."
"Then maybe you shouldn't touch people you don't know on the street," Han suggested in a gruff voice, not lowering his weapon.
"No, no, please. I seek my princess."
"We're all lookin' for a princess, buddy," Han quipped. "Try a castle next time." Leia shot him a look-she was supposed to be his spouse on this mission, and such a remark would surely irk any man's wife.
"Please, I meant no disrespect. I'm looking for Princess Leia of Alderaan, and I've found her at last," he said ethereally, looking at Leia.
"I'm not who you think I am," Leia responded, using all of her linguistic training to kill every last trace of an Alderaanian accent. "I am merely visiting this planet with my husband," she lied, looking to Han. He tucked his arm around her. It was something he did with surprising regularity-undercover when they were posing as lovers, on missions when things went wrong and his sense of danger pinged just before hers did, on base when she missed that same little dip in the duracrete at the end of the Falcon's ramp...
"You must understand," the man whispered, leading them into the shadow. "I am a member of one of the noble houses of Alderaan, the youngest son of the House Cortess." Leia recognized him instantly. "I was attending university on Coruscant when…it happened. My entire family, my whole life was lost in that instant."
"Rough break. Let's go," Han said quickly, turning to make a hasty departure.
"She leads a resistance," he called. "She will overthrow this hatred and tyranny!"
"He is going to get himself killed," Leia murmured quietly.
"Better him than us," was Han's quiet reply.
"You can't deny your true calling!" yelled the man.
Nar-Verna Cortess sat at the small table in the café, thinking about the woman's face. Had it been so long since he'd seen her that he'd mistaken a stranger for his beloved leader? He'd met the princess in person several times, though not recently. He laid a credit on the table to pay for his meal and started down the street, knowing he had only a few minutes to get home before night fell and the real dangers set in.
She'd seemed so real, so regal, even wrapped in the head scarf and flowing garment that protected her from the heat. It was her eyes. The Organa fire burned within them.
It had been dangerous, what he'd done in the street. For some reason, he'd sprung out of the hard shell he'd formed since Alderaan, back into his wide-eyed college days. Ready to change the galaxy, believing the power was in him to do so.
It had been dangerous, so so dangerous, running out and grabbing her like that. The man with her, her husband, had looked one moment away from punching him and two moments away from shooting him. Whether it was her or not, he'd put the woman and her compatriot in jeopardy, and more importantly, he'd put himself in jeopardy. That meant another move and another identity change.
Suddenly, a pair of arms darted out from the shadows, one grabbing him forcefully by the arm and the other covering his mouth. Kicking and fighting with all his might did nothing, and soon another pair of hands, these ones much smaller but just as powerful, reached out to help still him.
"Is that how you greet the princess you've been searching for for three years?"
He recognized the voice as hers.
"Stay quiet and follow her. And if you make so much as one wrong move, you won't live to apologize for it," warned the stern male voice that belonged to her companion. The business end of a blaster pushed up against his spine. "Got it?"
The kid followed Leia without hesitation. Han could see the questions brimming over in his head even in the darkness. When they reached the Falcon, Leia keyed the ramp. Chewie was already waiting in the cockpit, and as soon as everyone was strapped in, they lifted off. Han could practically hear the kid quivering behind him. The jump to hyperspace was easy and smooth. Unsnapping his crash webbing, Han swiveled his chair to face Leia, taking on his relaxed but cocky persona.
"And you said we'd never have a mission that didn't end in us getting chased or someone getting shot," Han bragged.
"Oh, right, because kidnapping someone in a dark alley is so much better," she dug back.
"Hey, he's on our side, remember?" Han pushed. "We don't have to tie him up in the smuggling compartments or shove him in the airlock." The kid's eyes grew wide.
"Shove me out-"
"We're not shoving you out the airlock," Leia promised. "Come with me to the lounge. We've got lots to talk about."
Han watched them go, seeing in the kid's face the same awestruck puppy-love that he saw in Luke's face when he looked at Leia.
"Great. Now there's two of them," he mumbled.
[Two of what?] Chewie asked. [Worried about the competition?] Han's head snapped around to fix his copilot with a glare.
"They can have her, for all I care," he brushed off, making to leave the cockpit. "I ain't about to get in on that game.
[Where are you going?]
"I'm goin' to make sure her worship's alright with that kid," Han called back.
[That's where I figured you were going,] Chewie mumbled, shaking his head. Han would figure it out eventually.
When they touched down at the base, Cortess was taken immediately to a briefing room while high command went through every bit of information they could find on him, making absolutely sure that he wasn't a spy.
There was one high-security interrogation room on the base, and Leia was watching Carlist and Dodonna shake the poor young man down from the other side of the two way mirror. Besides herself, Carlist was the best one to authenticate the man's story. After watching nearly 4 hours of testimony, Leia was sure he was who he said he was, and her mind began to wander.
She'd denied Alderaan. On some planets, the rulers could be dethroned for denying their planet. When her mother had told her that, Leia had puzzled for long hours about what would make someone turn away from their own planet like that, especially a planet as wonderful as Alderaan. Now, the thought was back to haunt her like the spectres of her lost people.
And the ones that were left...would they have all been so desperate to see their long lost princess? He'd run out through crowded streets on a planet full of imperial sympathizers, acting like he'd just found his guardian angel. Were the rest of her fragmented people looking for a leader, a helper, just someone to reach out to?
She thought she'd done the most important thing-going after the Empire, the people that had taken away their home. But should she have done something different? Gathered the broken hearted Alderaanians, looked for a way forward? Been their fearless leader in the time when they had none? Had she failed them?
Han pushed open the door and came to lean against the window near her, passing her a cup of kaf. Her mind flip-flopped yet again.
After they were safely into hyperspace, Han had sent Nar-Verna to the crew quarters to sleep, and had offered his cabin to Leia. She was exhausted and knew there would be no time for sleep once they arrived on base, so she took him up on his offer. His bed was bigger and more comfortable than the crew bunks, and, if she were being honest, the bunk that awaited her back in her quarters.
The memory of waking up in Han's bed was scrambling all the tumbling thoughts in her brain.
"Am I doing a shitty job?" she asked. Han blinked, caught off guard by her sudden question.
"At...what? On the whole? I would say you are doing the absolute opposite of shitty," Han offered.
"At being a princess. Am I letting my people down?"
"That's an awfully heavy question," he said, buying time to formulate his answer. "How have the other kings and princess and stuff handled it when this happens?"
Leia looked at him blankly. "This is the first time in recorded history that something of this nature has ever taken place."
"Well, there you go. The fact that you ain't hidin' in some beat up castle in the middle of nowhere, pretendin' everything is fine, definitely is a step in the right direction."
"But...should I be gathering my people, taking care of them? I'm not just...abandoning them by giving all my time and resources to the rebellion?" Leia suddenly felt guilt for all of the Alderaanian accounts she had signed over to the rebellion, never giving a thought to how the money could help now-homeless Alderaanians that were still left in the galaxy.
"Leia, you are gathering your people. This kid risked everything because he thought he found you. Think of all the other Alderaanians who've joined up. Just because they ain't huddlin' in a circle cryin' their eyes out don't mean they're not here. And actually, that proves that you are helping them. You've brought 'em here and taken care of them so much that they can fight alongside of you. Sweetheart, these people don't need some nursemaid with a hanky to dry their cheeks. They need a warrior who's ready to lead them into battle. If you haven't looked in the mirror recently, Princess, that's you."
Leia mentally went over the personnel rosters. There were more than a dozen on every base, and still more who worked in the Underground, some she was sure she'd never know about. They hadn't come to the Alliance for a comfortable bed and a plate full of food. They'd come following their princess, following her. Han was right. They didn't need someone to console or coddle them. Fire burned within them the same way it burned in her, and they were waiting to shoot flaming arrows the moment she commanded it.
"You ain't doin' a shitty job, Leia. You're doin' a damn great job," Han complimented.
They were silent for a moment, and Leia finally felt peace in her mind for the first time since they'd touched down.
Movement from the other side of the glass caught her attention. She faintly heard Riekkan and Dodonna welcoming the young man into the rebellion over the monitor.
"Looks like you've got another one," Han said with a knowing grin. "I'll make a recommendation, though, about where his training ought to begin," he added, crossing his arms over his chest.
"And that is…"
"Stealth. We can't have our operatives tackling anybody else in the streets."
AN: Thanks for reading! Do me a favor and give me a review?