This is my FIRST Fan Fic, so please be kind. Now that I got the nerve to post my story, reviews are welcome. English is not my mother tongue, so also be kind about this. I decided to write in English as a way of practicing and becoming more skilled in this language. My mother tongue is Spanish - Just is case you were wondering. Thank you for reading and enjoy!
I do not own Star Wars. The following characters belong to George Lucas and Timothy Zahn. I'm just borrowing them to write my story. Some characters might be of my own inventive. I'm not making any profit out of this whatsoever. I do this only for the fun of it. I'm a Star Wars fan of many years and I'm only writing what my imagination has wanted to happen to the characters in this amazing universe.
I know the first three movies by heart - Episodes IV, V & VI. Not too fond of the prequels. I haven't read all the literature on Expanded Universe, so please forgive any plot changes.
And here is Chapter 13.
Thanks to gynchy-amanda, Mara look-a-like, lilybee, Jedi-lover, jackkky17, FoxMarie, tasuja, your local dealer, Ttestagr, XavierStar, mochabubble, aznstarwarsgrl, Lea Nikkaya, Anakim, Anariel Brightsword, sithhoney, Jedi Master Evenstar, Shi Feng Huang, Vampkestrel, ahmaira and reforgedGaara, who sent reviews through out the story; for their interest and praising words. Just thinking that you took the time to post is really flattering. And also thank you to all those other people who also read this story, but didn't post. The number of hits tells me that a lot of people out there are taking some of their time to read FID and it makes me very happy.
So many thanks to gynchy-amanda, Mara look-a-like and FoxMarie who were my devoted readers and first reviewers, and posted for almost all chapters. Every time I posted a new chapter I eagerly expected your comments. Thank you girls!
I want to give special thanks to lilybee for coaching my grammar in some of the chapters.
Huge thanks to Shi Feng Huang for proof reading chapter by chapter. Way to go girl! And thank you so much for delivering those beautiful lines that helped me give Han the right approach in chapter 3, and for helping me again with the Solo clan in Chapter 12.
This was and amazing journey for me, a journey where my creativity took a different direction and I dared to try something new. Thank you all for your support!
Hope you enjoy this chapter!
May The Force be with you all! Always. -MM.
THE SOFT WIND PLAYED WITH THE TENDER LEAFS IN THE TREES, whispering a quiet summer chant. The late afternoon sun light touched the high trees and low bushes surrounding the area, highlighting the different shades of greens. It had been a beautiful day.
Councilor Organa-Solo had taken a day off her busy schedule. She spent the day sitting in the back terrace of her own garden, and had enjoyed an outside lunch and time with her family. She now relaxed while watching her children play with Timo -that stray pettin Jacen had found one rainy day on Coruscant's streets and had managed to smug inside the house. The little animal had a story of his own; when they first found him the poor thing had been in very bad condition and in the brink of death. Jacen felt extreme compassion for the frightened animal and -backed up by his uncle, had achieved to convince her to let him keep it. Using his special abilities, the boy had helped the pettin recover his health and become a happy and loyal pet to the three children.
Three Jedi children… hers and Han's huge responsibility. Well, at least she knew she counted on Master Skywalker for advice on this matter.
Today, some special warmth filled the Princess' heart; her brother was coming. It had been a long time since they last had a chance to see each other in person; it seemed like they only lived their lives solving one crisis after the other. And with Luke as head of the Jedi Praexeum for the past several years, he had time for too little distractions.
As Chief of State of the New Republic Government, she was a very busy woman herself. Leia sometimes wondered if this was what she had really wanted when she started supporting the Rebel Alliance cause all those years ago… well, her life had turned out all right after all. She had a job she loved –and stood for a cause she still believed in, she was happily married to the man of her life and had three wonderful children. She could not ask more from life… perhaps just one more thing: seeing her brother happily settled.
Luke's loneliness had always troubled her. Every time she brought up the subject, he always reassured her that everything was all right in his life, that he had everything he wanted; but Leia knew, that deep inside, Luke longed for someone to love. Callista's departure had left him deeply scarred, and although Luke tended to trust everyone, Leia was afraid he would not be able to trust his heart to any other woman ever again.
So the news about her brother's new relationship had given her some relief. Luke seemed incredibly happy, she had noticed a special glow in his features the last couple of times she had had a holo conference with him. All this years he'd been taking care of too many sentient beings and, although he didn't demand it, now it was his turn to have some care provided.
Still, something worried Leia; and it was directly related to his brother's choice. She liked Mara, all right -over the years she had proved to be a skilled and trust worthy ally, but she didn't strike her like the kind of woman who would cuddle her brother's heart the way she thought it needed to be… well, may be what she though Luke needed wasn't exact reality. Would the former Emperor's Hand nourish the Jedi's need for love or would she just ruthlessly break his heart. She better not, or she would personally hunt her down –ex-assassin or not, Mara Jade didn't intimidate her, even less in matters concerning her family.
'Leia, just calm down, would you? You're acting like a complete paranoid moron.' The Princess scolded herself. 'Everything is going to be all right, Luke always makes the right choices…' She winced, '…except when women are involved…' She worried herself once more; she didn't want to see Luke suffering from a broken heart again.'O.K. would you stop?!!!'
Leia had always cared for Luke, way before she even knew he was her brother. He had always felt like a brother to her anyways, so knowing that they were actually biologically related hadn't been that much of a shock. The shock had come with knowing who their progenitor was. She'd had a hard time accepting the truth and then forgiving the Dark Lord of the Sith; Leia doubted that she had forgiven him completely by now, or that she ever would. She simply refused to believe that the same blood ran through her veins.
She had had contact with Vader while attending official events in Palpatine's court, the dark figure always standing aside his Master. That sight had always terrified her. His vileness and treacherous ways to accomplish the Emperor's will were very well known through out the Galaxy; and picturing herself as the daughter of such abomination was completely revolting. The off-spring of that half-man… so much different to whom she considered her real father, the noble and wise Bail Organa.
It was also hard to picture Luke as the son of Darth Vader. She could just not relate one single aspect of Luke's personality to the Sith Lord… perhaps he had been a different man once. She didn't know much about Vader's past, and she didn't care. On the contrary, Luke had always dwelled on knowing the truth about their parents past; a matter she did not find of much importance. She could understand Luke's need though, while growing up she had had a set of loving parents, Luke hadn't. Probably he simply missed that part of his life very much. Still, she could not understand the reaches of his heart, of his forgiveness.
Good old Luke. He was able of forgiving anything to anybody. Since the very day he broke into in her cell on the first Death Star to rescue her, she had started to trust him completely. Leia smiled and chuckled at the memory. That was Luke's nature; he inspired trust and security in other people. And perhaps this was exactly what drew Mara to him.
Mara Jade… the Hand of the Emperor… The Empire had brought a lot of suffering to the Galaxy, and although it was gone now Leia could not help but to think about its connection to the green eyed woman. In a way, this was what scared her about Mara, the ties to her past; her connection to what she had abhorred the most.
A woman whose destiny had been imposed on her and a man who's destiny had been written before time; the woman who had left everything behind and was looking for her place in the new order of the Galaxy, and the man who had to live with his responsibility towards it and with the huge burden of his legacy. Two souls looking for some peace and comfort in their restless lives… Perhaps they were perfect for each other.
She heard the soft beeping of the front door's bell. She knew Threepeo would answer the door almost immediately, but she wanted to be the first to welcome her brother.
Leia called out her children, announcing their uncle's arrival. She then rushed to the entrance door, a tingly excitement washing over her heart.
The residence's door slid open revealing a blond male and a redheaded female. The droid's photoreceptors immediately registered and authenticated the identity of the two humans who had just arrived.
"Oh, Master Luke! What a pleasure is to see you again!" Threepeo greeted in his formal, prissy, protocol droid voice "And welcome to you too Mistress Mara. Please, do come in."
Leia huffed from behind the golden droid, then stepped around him.
"Hey there!" Luke softly greeted his sister, opening his arms to hold her.
"Welcome brother!" Leia hugged Luke with sisterly affection, then turned to the redheaded and nodded "Welcome to our home, Mara." She stepped back to clear the way "The children are dying to see you. They've been asking about your coming like ten times already!"
Three whirlwinds broke into the entrance hall at full speed and crashed against their uncle, almost running him over. All the training in Mara's life would have never prepared her to deal with such rambunctious children.
"Greet Mara, kids. You remember her, right?" Luke urged his nice and nephews. "These are Jacen and Jaina, and the blond little devil hanging on my back is Anakin." He finished while bending over and grabbing the little kid, setting him aside his brother and sister.
Straightening up they all greeted the newcomer with little hi's.
"Hi." A fidgeting and visibly uncomfortable Mara greeted back. Sith, this was so cloying she thought she was gonna have a sugar over dose to her system.
A strange awkward silence enveloped the scene while the kids stared at Mara looking at her up and down, studying her, appraising their uncle's new lady. Luke flipped his eyes first to Mara, then to his sister and then to the children standing in front of them.
"Is she the one who wanted to kill my uncle?" Jacen whispered towards his sister.
Jaina nodded in affirmation and then added. "Bur she's not going to do anything to him anymore, because she loves him now." Jaina whispered towards her brothers.
Both boys nodded with understanding. The adults simply watched the scene, half horrified, half amused.
In a burst of excitement, Anakin grabbed Mara's hand, "Do you want to see my spacecraft collection, aunt Mara?" he told the bewildered red-head, dragging her with him.
The little boy leaded the ex-assassin by the hand towards his bedroom, with the other two children following in wild expectation.
"What exactly did you tell them Leia?" Luke suspiciously asked his sister as he followed her to the kitchen.
"Oh, nothing…" She evaded while picking up some glasses, "…you know how perceptive children can be… specially Force sensitive ones."
"Have they been listening to their Father's conversations lately?" Luke sarcastically inquired.
Speaking of the devil…
"How'ya doing Kid? And where's the lady?" the corellian greeted his friend.
"It seems like Anakin and the twins have just kidnapped her." Luke joked.
"Kidnappin', eh? Runs in the family, I guess."
"Hey, at least, they can't crash any ship right now…" Luke shot back, ducking a swipe from Han.
"Just so you know, we had a very pleasant time on Dathomir." Han smirked, drawing his arm around Leia's waist, wiggling his eyebrows lecherously.
"Before or after you met Getherion?" Luke drawled, while Leia giggled.
"Hey!" Han huffed, annoyed at the Skywalker twins.
"I just hope we have better luck when negotiating the terms of release this time." Luke continued to banter his friend.
Leia couldn't help but to giggle even more. "I'll go and get Mara. Why you don't just go ahead and sit in the den? We'll be right with you." Leia offered while trying to give a little break to her already annoyed husband, just a little.
Both men followed Leia with their eyes until they lost sight of her. A smirk of satisfaction appeared on the General's face, "The negotiation process will be over in no time." Han winked to the younger man, "And guess who's gonna win!"
Luke some times thought that his sister had four children in the house instead of three. But the thing with Han was that he knew when to drop his self-worshipping act and become the resourceful and brave man he knew as his best friend. Leia could not have been in better hands, or better taken care of.
"It's good to see ya again, Kid." Han patted his friend on the back.
"It's good to see you too." Luke smiled back.
Leia and Mara came back shortly after, followed by the charged up children. They all headed to the dining area, where a late supper was already fixed.
Han took the head sit at the table, his wife sitting across form him at the far end. Luke and Mara sat to his left, and the kids sat across from their uncle and their brand new almost-aunt.
See Threepeo brought the first course and the meal began. Leia led the first lines of conversation, just as the good diplomat she was, and started questioning Luke about matters back in the Academy and such, and to Mara about her matters in Talon Karrde's organization.
The children had followed the adults' conversation with little attention; they were more interested on studying the beautiful redheaded sitting across form them. They had seen Mara before, but never this close. There was something about her that had them bewitched. Perhaps it all had to do with her new relation to their uncle.
"I think a like her better than Callie." Anakin told his sister, as he compared Mara to his uncle's last girlfriend.
"And I think she's prettier." Jaina giggled, "I like the color of her hair."
"I think Callista was rather dull." Jacen added to the verdict, using big words as the intellectual of the group that he was.
The adult conversation suddenly stopped. They all turned to look at the three children sitting at the table. Luke kept on recovering from almost choking to death with his drink and Leia had taken control of the almost-dropped-platter she had intended to pass to Mara. A mischievous grin appeared on Mara's lips, she could not hide the pleasure she found in the children's words. Han was simply delighted with the whole scene.
"Children!" Leia warned and stared at her children, meaning serious business. They should quit talking about Callista or there would be trouble… the kids understood their mother's threatening look to perfection. They straightened up in their seats and kept quiet.
"Oh, you don't have to worry about Callista anymore, Mara." Han casually filled into the silence.
"Why would I have to be worried about any body snatcher?" Mara said sipping her water and giving a polite smile to the corellian.
Ouch! That had hurt, Luke winced. He didn't like Mara talking about Callista that way, but he knew how much she disliked the former Jedi of the Old, and how much Callista had disliked the ex-Emperor's Hand. Those two women rose sparks and thunder whenever they were together, he had always felt on the hot spot when these two happened to meet somewhere. Yes, it had been hard to deal with that, especially with Callista's jealousy towards Mara, something Luke had found very hard to understand; now he knew better. That sizzling attraction between him and the beautiful green eyed trader had always been there, even when neither he, nor Mara realized it.
"You're absolutely right. No one can compete against such a successful trader as yourself." Han sarcastically blandished at her, then he continued, "And talking about trade, perhaps you could fill me in with how many posts your organization has settled along the Perlemian Trade Route. I might want to hire some of your services to help with some military supply shortages we're having. And I'm talking legal, of course." He winked.
"I have no authority over that, may be you should talk to Karrde about it." Mara reluctantly explained, "Besides, I'm on vacation right now." She stressed.
"Oh, yes! That's right. Let me tell you something, in the almost twenty years I have known this Kid I never knew of him taking a holiday, unless you forced him into it. So I must deduct that either you put a blaster to his head or you're doing a hell of a good job with him already!" The corellian suggested.
"Well, I'm not a thing that has to be worked on." Luke protested, feeling heavy bombarded while sitting in between Han and Mara, who were actually ignoring his protests.
"A blaster?" Mara said in amusement. "Well, I did that once if I recall correctly and I don't like to repeat my methods too often, it doesn't add up to the surprise factor."
"So what did you use this time, Mara? Feminine persuasion?" Han suggested maliciously, "That always works!"
"I don't think that kind of persuasion works too well on a Jedi Master." Mara dryly answered.
"Well, yeah." Han conceded, now it was his turn to banter his friend a little. "That much righteousness can get boring at times."
"Could we talk about someone else here?" Luke interrupted feeling annoyed already.
"Sure, Kid." Han casually agreed and changing the subject he added, "And tell me Mara, have you seen Lando lately? He's gotten quite a business running here in Coruscant, may be you both should pay him a visit while you're on planet." He slyly smiled at the pestered trader.
Mara glared at the corellian, she wished she could use her lightsaber right there at that very moment. 'Son of a Sith…' She could perfectly read the ill intentions behind his polite façade. 'Anger leads to the dark side Jade, remember?' She reminded herself, and then faked a collected and unconcerned attitude.
Some years ago Lando and she were running an undercover operation for Karrde, and for reasons that suited the negotiations they had pretended to be a loving couple. Han had once caught Mara in one of the gambler's shirts while having a late at night holo conference. Since that day the corellian had gotten the idea that she and Lando had had something to do in the romantic field -Well, at the time that was the point of the whole charade. Of course Lando –as the good old smoothie he was, had came on to her repeatedly, but she had always kept him at bay and made it perfectly clear to him that she was not interested. Lando had to accept it and withdrew from the game. This was a bet he could not win.
During one of their ship runs to some place in the Galaxy, Mara had told Luke about this little story. Of course she hadn't had any special reason to give any sort of explanation to the Jedi -she had always been the sole owner of her private life, but perhaps a tiny part of her had wanted Luke to know that she wasn't interested in any other man. Now it seemed it had been a wise decision; knowing the Farmboy –with all his honorable behavior, he would have never feel at ease with the idea of dating a close friend's former girlfriend.
Coming back to Solo and his out-of-place-comments -and to what he believed had happened between Lando and her, Mara felt annoyed. The real point here wasn't her being worried about Luke getting jealous; the point was that Solo was being a jerk, and she wasn't liking it. Han Solo was walking into dangerous ground, so he better cut it off.
"Well yes, we could do that." Luke filled in, pretending not to have noticed Mara's reaction and trying to let the conversation flow. "If he's on planet I would certainly like to see him."
Sitting across from Han, Leia glared vibroblades at her unconcerned husband. She wished she had the nerf-herder near.
"Mistress Leia, should I bring in the next course?" Threepeo called, snapping Leia out of the act of reminding herself why her children needed a father.
"Ummm… I think I'll do it myself Threepeo."
"But Mistress, I do have to remind you that it is my job to…"
"Thank you, Threepeo." Leia snapped, interrupting and dismissing the outraged droid.
"Oh!... as you wish your highness." The droid walked away, softly squeaking and mumbling something about his services not being properly appreciated.
Leia then turned to Han.
"Han, dear… can you help me with the roast in the kitchen?" Leia stared at him and nodded towards the kitchen's door. That was Leia's we-need-to-talk stare, so he knew better.
"Uh… yes, sure…honey." He sheepishly answered his wife.
When entering the kitchen followed by her husband, Leia turned around and grabbed him by the arm, pushing him against the refrigeration unit.
"What do you think you' were doing in there?" Leia growled.
"Ummm… trying to be friendly to the new comer?" Han innocently answered.
"No! All you're doing is giving yourself a good time by putting Luke and Mara on the spot and this is not the right time to do that!" She accused.
Han dropped his shoulders in mock defeat, "The Kid knows I'm only joking… and Mara is playing along!" he explained wishing his wife would lighten up a little.
"Do you want Mara out of Luke's life just because she cannot cope with her in-laws' indiscretions?"
"Well, no…" he admitted.
"Besides, remember you shouldn't cross an ex-Imperial Assassin." Leia noted.
"That's no good idea, right?" he reconsidered.
"And she can come after me…" Han stated. "After all, she does know how to dispatch a man nice and easy." He added giving it some thought.
Leia nodded while arching her eyebrows. Han didn't need to be Force sensitive to know what his wife meant when giving him that look.
"And if it's not her… you'll be the one coming after me."
The princess gave him one of her charming smiles.
"O.K., I got it!" Han said putting his hands up. "No more wicked remarks."
Han a Leia returned with a beautiful roast that Leia –whit the help from Threepeo of course, had managed to prepare. The meal ended without any further incidents, as Han tried to follow his wife's wise advice.
After dessert, Han and Luke were the first leaving the table, arguing that they had something to go over with in Han's office -Leia knowing all too well that they simply wanted to spend some time alone doing some buddy talk. The three children soon left the table also, busying their minds into matters of their own. The good thing about children was that their interests swapped from one to the other in a matter of minutes.
So it was herself and Mara left in the dining area.
Taking her drink Leia stood up and walked towards Mara. As she approached and took the spot Luke had just left vacant, Leia noticed Mara turning towards her, sitting deep back in her seat and casually crossing her legs and folding her arms on her chest, in a well concealed defensive position. All right… this was going to be tougher than she thought.
"Would you like another drink, Mara?" she offered.
"I'm good." Was Mara's negative.
Both women knew it was time to start doing some small talk, just as they used to do back in court.
Mara gave the first step. "It's a nice place you've got here." She managed to let out.
"Thanks. It's been in my family for generations. My Father used it as his main quarters when he was away from Alderaan doing business here in Coruscant." Leia elaborated, "Of course, it had undergone several remodeling, after the war and all that…"
Mara nodded and smiled tightly. "Coruscant has very nice weather most of the year, so a house like this is always a good choice." She continued.
"It is… it is, indeed." Leia answered.
Both women just looked at each other and smiled politely.
'I suck at this! I'm not a diplomat!' Mara thought, this had to end.
"Lets' cut the bantha crap Organa, I know you don't approve of Luke's relationship with me." She simply put, "I'm sure you had someone different in mind for him."
"Well, yes. You're not exactly what I expected for a sister-in-law." Leia conceded, using her calm diplomat voice,"But despite of what you might think, I'm really happy for my brother. And I'm the last person in the universe with a right to question his choices."
The Princess' answer did surprise the experienced trader. Mara looked at Leia with a wary eye; she would have never expected such words coming out of the Counselor's mouth.
"Of course I'm worried about how you're going to treat my brother's heart, after all he's been through a lot…" Leia confessed "… but I suppose you know that better than me, since you were the one who helped him out of the mud puddle his last girlfriend left him in."
Organa was right on that one. Mara had been the only one able to reason with the stubborn, broken hearted Jedi. Mara remembered how she had found him, completely dejected and consumed by sadness. The very memory of it still made her heart ache. One more thing that added to her dislike of Callista.
The Councilor continued, "About my own personal preferences, it is true that I believe Luke needs someone with a 'softer' manner, something you definitely don't have, since you're a very strong willed woman." Leia added.
Mara's eyes blazed for a millisecond, she never took criticism well. The Princess had to choose her words more carefully or… Tonight it seemed that everyone was up to the task of pinpointing their own personal view of her. Making a huge effort to control herself she remained still.
"On the other hand…" Leia continued, "…I think no other type of woman would be able to deal with my brother's position and responsibilities with the Galaxy." She admitted.
Mara carefully looked at her.
"I cannot say I trust you blindly, but I trust that you'll take good care of him." The Princess finished.
Mara studied the other woman; there was nothing she could detect that would let out a lie in her words. Leia was definitely telling the truth.
"The very first time we met, I openly told you I was going to kill your brother…" Mara told the Princess while remembering the whole scene, "… and since then we haven't set that matter straight between us… although I know that by now, you know that if I had really wanted to get rid of him I would have done so years ago; so I believe you don't keep hurt feelings towards me concerning that matter." The Councilor nodded and she carefully continued, "We haven't been too friendly to each other over the years, but you have witnessed how close your brother and I have become. You mean a lot to Luke, you are a very important part of his life; for this reason I want us to get along." Mara rolled her eyes and added, "I don't know if I'm going to be able to achieve that with Solo, though… but I'll give it my best shot."
"That much you love him?" Leia inquired.
There was silence.
"Yes." Mara finally declared with a defying, proud stance; openly admitting her feelings towards Luke and not feeling embarrassed of their deepness for the first time in her life.
"I know the kind of woman you are, Mara. And I also know that once you offer your loyalty it is for keeps." Leia gave her a warm smile. "My brother took you in his heart. Then you're welcome in my mine too."
Reaching out, Leia gave Mara a warm hug. Mara reflexively stiffened; not knowing exactly what to do, she awkwardly wrapped her fore arms around the other woman's torso in an attempt of a hug.
When Leia let go, they both sat in silence; Mara not knowing what to do with herself. This aspect of a woman to woman relationship was embarrassing and uncomfortable.
"Scary, isn't it?" the Princess said.
"What?" the Trader briskly asked.
"To let people come into your life."
Unable to find something to say, Mara just gave Leia a half smile.
The Princess was right, so many people coming into her life at once was a pretty scary deed. Mara had always dreaded emotional closeness. It was simply the way she had been thought and trained. Emotional closeness got you killed in the battle field, and through out her life this principle had been an ingrained survival mechanism. She'd had such a hard time accepting her feelings towards Luke, and now thinking about how it would be to start getting emotionally involved with other people… It really gave her the creeps!
In the mean time, the two men were having a hell of a time. They were both recovering after a burst of laughter caused by the story Han just told about what had happened to Hobbie and Janson a couple of weeks ago. Those two were always getting themselves into trouble, and always barely managed to avoid suspension.
As their conversation went on, Han felt compelled to pop the question that had been bothering him for a long time now; he knew he had to ask his friend about this matter. Solo had never been known for his subtlety, so he simply opened his mouth and let out the first thing that came to his mind.
"Luke, you haven't spoken to Lando about Mara, haven't you?"
"No." Luke answered his friend, knowing to where this was leading already. "Should I?"
"Well, not really… Is none of his business, anyway." The corellian put matter-of-factly. Assuming that Luke already knew everything about the Mara-Lando subject he continued, "I really never understood why Mara got involved with him. She has always liked you, so why was she wasting her time with that old gambler?"
"Nothing happened between them, Han." The Jedi soothed his friend.
"What do you mean?" Han sharply asked with a confused expression on his face.
"Just that, nothing happened. They were never in a relationship. It all was a screen act for an undercover mission." Luke filled in.
"Why didn't you say so before?" The ex-smuggler complained, feeling upset about being left out on the big secret.
"You never asked."
"I didn't, did I?" Han mumbled.
Luke shook his head in negative.
"Then there's nothing to be worried about! Let's drink to that!" the corellian joyously declared.
They ended up joining the females in the den. The conversation there had taken a lighter tone, Leia and Mara had found a few topics of conversation about things they had in common. After that straight forward talk the tension had decreased considerably. When finding Mara and his sister talking in a more relaxed manner, Luke felt relieved. After a few more laughs and a few too many drinks on Han's part for Leia's taste, the time to wrap up the family reunion came.
Leia and Han walked their guests to the door. Before leaving Luke gave her sister a tight hug, he knew all she was trying to do for him.
"Sorry for the miss happenings." Leia whispered to him.
"It's all right. We were all nervous." He kissed her on the cheek. "I'll call you, and thanks for everything."
Leia stood in the door seeing Luke and Mara leave. Han stood behind her letting his hands rest on his wife's shoulders.
"You know something Princess… I have a good feeling about this."
It was summer on that part of the planet, and it was a warm starry night. Instead of taking a speeder cab back to his apartment, Luke and Mara decided to take a walk along the fancy area that surrounded the Solo's residence and that overlooked the busy part of the city.
"Charming family the one you've got." Mara sarcastically let out.
"Just give them a chance Mara, they mean no wrong." Luke excused his family.
"I had met with them before one or two at a time, but never with the whole Solo clan together!" Mara growled. "And then add See Threepeo to that!"
Luke reprised the whole evening in his mind. His nice and nephews' remarks about Callista, Han's indiscretions, Threepeo's annoying complaints… actually Leia was the only one who had really tried to make things work out…
"I don't think that went too well, did it?" Luke asked Mara, feeling a bit embarrassed.
"What have you told them about me, Skywalker?" Mara inquired.
"Nothing in particular…" Luke winced when noticing the tone he had put in his words. While trying to sound casual and unworried about it, it had come out too unconcerned. He also noted that she was using his last name again. "Well, I mean… nothing bad." He tried to fix his line.
"So, you brought Callista to their place…." She continued with certain harshness in her voice.
Luke shrugged, "You know I did, Mara." He simply answered.
Mara knew everything about Callista, so she shouldn't be surprised about him bringing his former girlfriend to his sister's. He genuinely felt he didn't have anything to explain in that matter. Luke didn't want to fight over it, but he was not going to apologize for that.
Mara abruptly stopped in front of him and glared. Luke braced himself, 'Here it comes.'
She gave him the hard look, holding it for a few moments. The glare soon lost its intensity and turned into a mischievous wink.
"Relax, Farmboy. It's not like I'm going to make a scene here." She mocked him. "Besides, little Anakin likes me better than her." She finished with a joyful sparkle showing in her eyes.
Mara chuckled and walked away, leaving him frozen on the spot. Oh, Force! Just how much she enjoyed throwing him out of balance. The gullible Farmboy turned Jedi.
Luke let out a breath he had been holding. She had gotten him again, as usual. She was just giving him a hard time… as usual! How funny! Luke slowly shook his head and managed a smile. He then continued his walk, following her.
Mara was standing in a look out and he soon joined her. It was a beautiful sight, the lights of the mega sized city shining in all of its glory.
"Anakin strikes me like the kind of boy you must have been when little, he's even got the blue ayes and blond hair." She took up the conversation.
"He does, doesn't he?" Luke smiled while feeling proud of the comparison. "You know, they're pretty good once you get to know them. Although you don't think that way now, you might change your mind later." He encouraged her.
"Well, don't give yourself such a hard time over that. After all, I'm willing to take the whole package." Mara told him, "You, with your family, your Jedi responsibilities, your whole charming farm boy background…" she teased.
"Even with all the fighting?" Luke inquired.
"Are you kidding me? That's what makes it interesting!" Mara answered with her all too well known sarcasm.
"Yeah, right…" Luke wasn't too sure about that one, Mara had always had a slight tendency to win all of her arguments every time they fought, and being on the losing team was not his favorite spot.
"Has it ever occurred to you that all that bickering and quarreling might had something to do with all the steam that lay underneath?" She then wondered.
"Well, I am sure that's what it was." He told her convinced.
Taking her in his arms he kissed her warmly.
Opening her eyes, Mara made a confession. "If someone had ever told me that I would end up falling in love with you, I would have shot them death right on the spot."
"That serious of an offense would it have been?" He asked playfully, still holding her close.
"Yeah." She answered while thinking back and picturing it.
"Well, I'm glad nobody did suggest that." Luke teased.
They gazed at the wonderful view in silence. Luke stood behind Mara, wrapping her with his arms, holding her close to him.
He never wanted to let go of her. His place was right there beside her. He had never felt this way before, this strong connection. Yes, he wanted Mara with him… for as long as he lived.
Luke cleared his throat. Bracing himself for what he was about to do.
"Would I be safe if I told you that I want you… to become my wife?" He whispered in her ear.
Mara blinked. Turning around she looked at Luke right in the eye, measuring his words.
She had never contemplated marriage as a happening in her life… even less a family, children and all the things that were attached to this sort of commitment. She could picture Luke thinking about it, even expecting it to happen in his life, he had had a more normal up bringing than herself. She a wife… of a Jedi Master… that was some thought! Could she carry on such a task? Was it worth it? Looking into his blue eyes she could see all the truth about it, clearing all of her doubts.
Luke Skywalker was worth anything.
He looked into her emerald eyes, seeing all the thoughts and questions that were going through her mind and heart. Luke rephrased his last words, trying to get her out of her shock.
"Mara… will you marry me?"
"Yes." was her answer.
A/N.- Slanted text means dreams
' ' means thought
" " marks dialogue
She was standing still and looking up to the sky, bathed by the sun beams shining down thought the openings on the tree dome; her red-gold hair sparkling where the light touched it. He had been here before, several times; and he kept coming back. He approached the spot where she was standing and stood next to her.
The wind started to blow. Without warning a violent gust burst in and several startled creatures flew away from the trees, crying out a danger call. The light changed, the clouds ran wildly above their heads giving a dance of light and shadow all around. He knew what was coming next.
She stepped back, moving away from him… he felt the earth shaking under their feet… noticed the opening cracks on the ground where he was standing… he saw the ground underneath Mara collapsing, trees and everything around sinking into a large hole -including Mara, leading her to a deep fall.
Throwing himself forward, he reached out for her and grabbed her by the arm. He lay there holding her with all his strength as he felt the ground underneath him starting to collapse and crumble down.
'This is repeating itself all over, but for some strange reason I don't feel scared or anxious. I know this all too well already.'
"Mara, I need your help here, give me your other hand!" He heard himself asking her in a firm confident tone of voice.
Mara looked up and stared at him right in the eye. He looked into her eyes… "You have to let me go Luke. Where I'm going, you cannot follow." She simply said.
Luke tightened his grip. "I am not letting go of you, Mara Jade!" He challenged. "Not even if my life depends on it!" He could feel the weight of his own words. "Whatever comes we'll face it, together! This is my choice and I am not afraid of what it may bring!" He declared.
For a moment Mara blankly stared at him… then a tiny shine appeared in her eyes. She reached up with her other hand and grabbed Luke's. He pulled her up to safety and held her tight in his arms.
Luke opened his eyes. He noticed himself laying on his bed, with Mara peacefully sleeping at his side. It was still night, the moonlight lit the room with a silvery shade.
He stepped out of bed and turned around to set his eyes on Mara and watched her sleep. She had mentioned to him some days ago that she had been sleeping so much lately that she couldn't recognize herself. He smiled to himself, they were both changing… in so many ways… or perhaps they were just awakening parts of themselves that had been dormant… which sounded more like the truth about their relationship. It could be said that they brought out the best in each other.
He stepped outside the terrace and stood there, looking into the night. It was quiet and bright.
The dream had just come back, but it had resolved itself in a different way from the prior times… and some how Luke knew, it was the last time he was going to dream it.
He had meditated on this disturbing and recurrent dream; a dream he now knew had been fueled by his own doubts and fears… and perhaps by Mara's too. He had spent too much time hiding from his own feelings, fighting with himself to suppress them and building up walls of fear inside; a fear he was just too proud to acknowledge. Luke had finally understood that he could not hide anymore. He could not live his life paralyzed by fear, which meant he had to face his fears in every department: family, friends, relationships, galaxy crises, the Jedi, his own increasing power… What kind of a Jedi Master would he be if he were to hide behind preconceived fears and what ifs?
"Always in motion is the future," Master Yoda had said, so Luke couldn't be sure of what the future would bring. After extensive meditation now he knew that he could handle whatever the future had in store for him, and he would deal with it when the time came.
Would he eventually fall to the dark side? Probably not. He'd been tempted by the dark side too many times already and he had prevailed. Of course temptations would become more powerful and seductive as he became stronger in the Force, but he would be ready. Every single Jedi had the latent possibility of being seduced by the dark side along his or her path; it was part of being an instrument of the Force.
He had also thought about his romantic attachments. Concerning Mara, he had just felt overwhelmed by the intensity and deepness of his feelings towards her. Yes, he loved her deeply… and of course it was scary. But he knew from the core of his heart and soul that she was his match. She could understand him in every way, and in return he knew her own struggles and deepest secrets. Who better than her to understand his own struggles and conflicts related to the Force?
Although they had both decided to stay together, they also had their own paths to follow. This was a huge lesson to learn, no matter how much he loved her, he had to let Mara make her own decisions and face her own destiny; he could not interfere. Of course this didn't mean that he would not do everything to protect her and keep her safe and unharmed.
According to the Old Order, Jedi weren't allowed attachments. Of course he understood what attachments could do to sentient beings, attachments could destroy you if you stubbornly held on to them; but attachments also brought good things into one's life. He knew that out of personal experience, his deep bond to friends and family had saved him numerous times, had helped him to keep going without loosing hope and to fight for what he believed to be right; it had kept him sane and true to himself.
Then attachments couldn't be all bad, it was just a matter of learning when to let go. May be the Jedi of old times hadn't realized that, and had taken an all or nothing approach at the subject; but those were the old times, and this was the New Jedi Order. These times were different, then a new Jedi Code seemed the natural course of things. It just felt right in the flow of the Force.
The Force… that magnificent current of living energy… Luke could clearly feel his intense connection with it. He could almost register every single current of life in the Universe. He felt the chill breeze on his skin… the cool tiles under his bare feet… the softness of his sleeping tunics… the air coming in and out of his body with every breath… the heart beats of his heart… he felt so much… alive!
His awareness was completely expanded. He was wholly attuned with the energy around him… He had sensed her stir in bed, wake up to consciousness, felt her taking the few steps to join him, and now felt the pair of feminine warm arms wrapped around his waist. He turned around to find his beloved ex-Imperial Agent, former Emperor's Hand, then Master Trader and new Jedi holding him in her arms. All those facets of her life that had turned her into the extraordinary woman she was.
"I love you, Mara." He said, velvet in his voice.
"And I love you, Jedi." She told him with a softness all too new in her manner. A softness that pleased her somehow, something she never thought she carried inside.
He kissed her passionately, a kiss she returned with the same intensity. She cuddled against him, there wasn't a better place for her than right there in his arms. There wasn't a better thing for him to do than to hold her close to him, the most precious part of his life. And he had chosen to never let her go.
"Are you ready for what is coming?" Luke asked his future wife.
"I am ready." Mara answered with all the conviction and sureness her love for him gave her.
Yes, they were both ready.
Luke knew there was still more to come, numerous challenges to face; but with Mara at his side, he would endure anything. Finally, for the first time in a long, long time he felt at peace with himself, and could also sense the same inner peace irradiating from her.
They had both faced their inner demons… and conquered.
the end -
And thank you for reading. Now let some reviews come, I would like to know what you think of my story now that is completed.
May the Force be with you…