IMAGES FROM THE PAST
Jaina Solo sat quietly on the floor in her mother's bedroom, several small boxes surrounding her. The door was partially closed, and the muted sounds of conversation and laughter could be heard coming from another part of the home. Jaina smiled, hearing her youngest child giggling wildly as he played with his cousins. Her smile faded slightly as she pondered how much her little boy looked like his grandfather, Han Solo. The same wavy hair and beautiful eyes. The same half-grin. It pained Jaina greatly that her father had never gotten the chance to see his grandchildren grow up..
It had been one year to the day since Han Solo had succumbed to the strange, lingering illness that had begun troubling him during the final months of the nearly decade-long war against the Vong. Some speculated that the Vong had managed to infect hundreds of thousands of beings with a deadly biochemical virus before a vaccination had been found. Unfortunately for Han, and the many others who came in contact with the virus, the vaccination was not a cure. Han had been strong, and had held on a long time - far longer than most - just short of a full ten years. The Jedi Healers may have been able to slow the virus even more, but Han would have none of that. Jaina smiled, even as a tear welled up in her eye and ran down her cheek. Her father never had much confidence in that 'hokey religion' as he affectionately called it. He died the way he lived - as a fighter. His strength came not from some 'mystical energy field,' but from his own tough character and unyielding spirit. Jaina missed him terribly.
But today, Jaina's family - what was left of her family - gathered to Celebrate Han's life. It was a tradition on Corellia to celebrate the life of a loved one on the anniversary of their passing. Jaina had always thought the idea odd, but she had to admit that the day had been very healing. Her mother was here, as were her brothers and their families. Uncle Luke and Aunt Mara were here. Even her cousin Ben had managed to attend, and had brought along his fiance'. And dozens of Han's friends had dropped by throughout the day to laugh and talk and recount stories of the ex-pirate and smuggler. It had been a good day.
Jaina had broken away from the group a little while earlier, retreating to her mother's bedroom to go through a few boxes of letters and keepsakes her mother had retrieved from the Falcon's storage compartment several months earlier. That old ship was legendary, and after Han's death, it had been purchased by a New Republic Military Museum. Leia had used the proceeds of the sale to benefit several charitable organizations located on many worlds.
Leia had invited Jaina and her brothers to look through the items before, but Jaina had never felt strong enough to do so until today. The first box held letters Han and Leia had exchanged throughout their many years together. Some were quite personal and beautifully written, and Jaina was rewarded with insights into her Father's personality that she had never realized. A second box held trinkets and little items from dozens of worlds - small souvenirs Han had picked up throughout the years. Some of the items were very unusual, and Jaina could not begin to imagine what they were or where they came from. But they were things her father had obviously held dear so she treated them respectfully, wrapping each one in protective paper as she replaced them in the box.
The third box interested her the most, filled with small, handheld holos. There were holos from her parents' wedding, of she and her brothers as children, but most were simply touching family moments that left Jaina smiling with remembrance. At the bottom portion of the box there were a few very old style Holos - dating from the War with the Empire. Jaina smiled as she looked at them, fascinated by how young her mother and father had looked back then. But one particular holo caught her attention entirely. It showed her mother in a beautiful, elegant gown, standing with Uncle Luke, who was also dressed quite fashionably.
Fashionably for the time at least! Jaina thought to herself with amusement. The holo was obviously taken during the war years, and clothing was not a top priority for those involved in the Alliance. But there was something about that holo that struck her as very odd, and she studied it closely, trying to figure out what it was that made it so different from the others. Uncle Luke and her mother were looking at one another, smiling. Uncle Luke's hand was touching her mother's back gently and they looked .....well, they looked very much like any young couple sharing a happy moment.
"I was wondering when you would finally look through those," Leia's voice said softly.
Jaina looked up to see her mother standing in the doorway, a small smile on her face.
"I wanted to wait until I could look without crying," Jaina replied, knowing her mother would understand. Jaina had always been daddy's little girl, and his death - though it was anticipated - was still very hard for her to accept.
Leia moved forward and sat on the bed beside her daughter, fingering some of the letters and holo's with a mixture of emotion showing on her face. She glanced at the holo Jaina still held in her hand, and her eyes became glassy, as though she were about to cry.
"Mom," Jaina said, seeing her mother's reaction to the holo. "When was this one taken?"
Leia took deep breath and gently took the holo out of Jaina's hand and held it in front of her, watching as the three dimensional image flickered and danced. Old memories flooded back to her, and it was a long moment before she found her voice to respond.
"This was taken a year after the battle of Yavin. There was a banquet to celebrate the anniversary of that victory. Your Uncle Luke was a special guest, of course. There was a dance after the dinner - that's when this holo was made."
"So it was before you knew that he was...before you knew about Grandfather?"
Leia nodded silently, her eyes still focused on the holo. Jaina looked at her mothers face - it was aged now, but still beautiful. But there was something else showing in her eyes now - something distant, sad. Jaina started to ask her mother a question, but she was uncertain how to put it into words. She and Leia sat, sharing a comfortable silence for a few minutes.
"Can I ask you something, Mom?"
Leia looked at Jaina knowingly and smiled, but said nothing.
"It's kind of personal," Jaina continued, her face reddening slightly.
"I know," Leia answered simply, reaching out to touch her daughters face.
"Yes, I do. I've wondered when I would have this conversation with one of you kids. I'm glad it's you who asked."
Jaina grinned, and looked away. "I haven't asked anything yet," she said, trying to steel her resolve. She looked her mother in the eye, searching for an answer to her unasked question.
"Were you ever in love with Uncle Luke?"
"Yes," Leia said simply, without hesitation.
Jaina's eyes widened, stunned by her mother's honest admission.
"You were? I mean - did he love you?"
Leia nodded. "Your not a child anymore, Jaina. I want to be as honest with you as possible." She paused, searching for the right words. "I was in love with your Uncle for a very long time." She stopped a moment, looking into Jaina's eyes, insuring that this was something her daughter wanted to hear before continuing. "He saved my life - you know that. He was with me during the most...difficult and painful part of my life. After Alderaan was destroyed, I felt empty and very alone. Luke understood that. His home planet was still intact, but everything he knew and loved had been destroyed. We understood one another. And we respected each other, too. We fought side by side, and he was the most loyal and trustworthy friend I ever had." She refelcted a moment. "He still is."
Jaina was stunned. Jaina shared a very special and powerful bond with her brother, Jacen. Surely her mother held similar feelings for Uncle Luke. Jaina had often wondered how it was that her mother and Uncle Luke had interpreted those feelings before they learned of their blood connection. But to finally have her suspicions confirmed was something of a shock. She looked at her mother once more, then lowered her eyes. There was one more thing she felt she needed to know, but she was almost afraid to hear the answer.
"Did you and Uncle Luke ever...."
Leia stopped her before she finished, turning to face her daughter and placing both hands on hers.
"No. No. It was never like that." Leia shook her head and Jaina released a breath she had been holding while her mother continued. "Maybe it was The Force guiding us. Maybe it was Obi-Wan Kenobi giving us some subtle hints. But one day Luke and I decided that we were meant to be friends. The best of friends." She shrugged. "And then I fell in love with your father."
"And that's it?" Jaina asked, relief evident in her voice.
Leia grinned and hugged her daughter tightly. "That's it."
Both women shared a laugh and wiped a few tears from their eyes as they collected the holos and the letters and placed them carefully back into the boxes. About that time Jaina's son ran into the room, complaining loudly about a childish injustice that had apparently been done to him by one of this cousins. Jaina sighed, and excused herself to take care of the crises. Leia finished packing up the boxes and was just about to put them back in the closet when she hesitated. She opened the top box and once again removed the Holo of she and Luke that had so fascinated Jaina earlier. She switched it on and gazed at the image silently for a long moment before a voice startled her.
"You looked beautiful that night," Luke stated, moving to stand behind his sister. He wrapped his arms around her waist and she leaned back, letting the back of her head fall to his chest.
"So how much of that conversation did you hear?" she asked him, amusement in her voice.
He sighed. "Oh, I don't know. All of it, I guess."
Leia laughed, then turned serious. She paused a moment, standing quietly in Luke's brotherly embrace.
"Do you think I should have told her the truth?" she asked quietly.
"Probably," he answered softly.
"Do you think she could have handled it?"
They stood together a moment longer, then Leia switched off the holo and placed it back in the box. She slid it into the closet along with the others, then she and Luke turned to rejoin the Celebration, closing the door to the room as they departed.
This is a story unlike any I have ever written. I would greatly appreciate reviews on this one. I waited a long time to post this, uncertain if the subject matter would be well received. And yes, I did leave the end intentionally ambiguous. Feel free to interpret it as you wish. *lol* Thanks for reading!