Title: The Beginning of Everything

Author: kayladie

Rating: PG

Summary: Luke is feeling very down during the winter holidays...until he gets a very special gift.

Warning: A little bit of angst and then a whole lotta mush!

Disclaimer: I do not own these characters and I make no money off this work.

I love her and that is the beginning of everything. F. Scott Fitzgerald

Dusk was just beginning to creep over the edges of Coruscant's horizon as Luke Skywalker settled into a comfortable chair on his balcony to watch the sunset. Although they were nowhere near as magnificent as sunsets on Tatooine with her twin suns, Luke still found himself calmed by the sight of the sun slipping away for the night.

He gave a soft sigh as he wrapped his hands around the warm mug of hot chocolate that he'd made for himself. Shaking his head with a slight smile, Luke tried to shake off the melancholy that always befell him at this time of year, only marginally successfully.

Someone had noted that more suicides on Coruscant happened during the winter holiday season than at any other time of year, and Luke could see how that was true. For some, he supposed that Fete Day was a wonderful time, full of joy and presents and laughter. But for others, all the gaiety seemed to do was point out how alone they really were. Luke wasn't truly alone, of course. There was Leia, and Han, and the kids. All of his friends from Rogue Squadron were still around, and there were the Jedi Academy teachers and students.

As a matter of fact, he'd just left a great many of those people at Han and Leia's apartments, where they'd gathered to celebrate the holiday together. Luke had left a little earlier than usual, depressed at the fact that the one person he'd truly wanted to celebrate with wasn't there, even though he knew she'd been invited.

For as much as he was grateful for his family and his friends, what Luke really wanted was what Han and Leia, and so many of his married friends had. He couldn't help but feel a little selfish and petty that he envied them so, but was it too much to ask after all he'd done for the galaxy? Didn't he deserve some little shred of happiness after all the craziness that was his life?

And thoughts like those only tended to make him feel even more petty and selfish. The galaxy didn't owe him anything, Luke knew that. But lately, he'd been hoping…

He sighed again before taking a careful sip of the hot chocolate. He supposed that he wasn't really surprised that Mara hadn't shown up at the party. Although the two of them had been spending more time together, and there had been that one amazing kiss, well, he knew how she felt about any possibility of a relationship between the Jedi Master and the former Emperor's Hand. She'd told him in no uncertain terms that it wasn't going to happen.

No matter that the attraction between the two of them sparked like electricity, Mara chose to deny it, and once she'd made up her mind, Luke knew it was next-to-impossible to talk her around. But, Force, he couldn't stop thinking about her! And that one kiss, that one moment where she'd surrendered and let her emotions rather than her logic rule her, had been spectacular enough that he was still dreaming about it two weeks later.

Tonight, seeing all the couples paired off, sharing stories of the antics of their children, Luke had felt such an intense longing fill his chest, that he knew he had to leave before he utterly embarrassed himself in front of everyone he knew. He'd told Leia that he wanted to spend some time alone to honor Ben Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker during a time of year when the focus was so much on family and loved ones, and she'd let him go without too much fuss. Leia still had trouble, even after all these years, talking about their father, so Luke tried not to push.

Surprisingly, it was Han who'd given him the knowing look, but thankfully, he didn't say anything. He'd just slapped Luke on the shoulder, and told him they'd see him tomorrow for lunch. Luke had agreed with a weak smile and made his escape while he could.

Now, he settled in for an evening alone with his morose thoughts and wondered if he should be drinking Corellian whisky instead of hot chocolate. At the very least, it would help him sleep without dreaming tonight.

"My goodness, Luke, if your frown gets any deeper, a person could hover-ski through there," a voice interrupted his musings.

Luke turned his head to see his elderly neighbor out on her balcony, and she was grinning at him mischievously.

"Hello, Mrs. Tilson. Sorry, I didn't mean to disturb you," he said with a little smile.

"Oh, you weren't disturbing me, but I can tell something is bothering you. By the sound of those sighs, I would imagine it's that lady friend of yours."

Luke found himself blushing slightly, and protested. "No, I was just thinking about my father and my mentor, really I was."

"Mmhmm," she said doubtfully. "Somehow, I don't believe you. I thought Jedi Masters weren't supposed to lie?"

Luke couldn't help the grin that curved his lips. Mrs. Tilson was quite the character, and never failed to let anyone around her know exactly what she was thinking. "You must be confusing us with holy men, as I've told quite a few whoppers in my time."

She clicked her tongue at him in a scolding manner, and said, "Either way, you look very gloomy for such a happy time of year. Sure it's your mentors and not your girlfriend you're thinking of?"

"She's not my girlfriend…" Luke started, before he realized that he'd given himself away.

"Ah-ha! I knew it! So what's the trouble?" she said gleefully, apparently ready to help him through his crisis.

Luke gave up. Once she'd gotten an idea in her head, there was no stopping Mrs. Tilson. She was rather like every other female in Luke's life in that way.

"That is the trouble. She's not my girlfriend, and well…It'd be really nice if she was, that's all."

"And why is she not your girlfriend?"

"Because she's the most stubborn woman in the entire galaxy, that's why," Luke said in frustration.

He then found himself telling Mrs. Tilson everything: the way he and Mara had met; the many missions they'd gone on together; how he'd known fairly quickly that his feelings for Mara were growing deeper; that blissful kiss that had happened two weeks ago after a lightsaber sparring session; even Mara's harsh announcement that it would be the worst mistake for the two of them to attempt a relationship.

"If you don't mind me saying so, Luke, you're quite the catch. I'm certain there are many other women out there who would be more than willing to date the Savior of the Galaxy," Mrs. Tilson asked with an odd twinkle in her eye.

Luke tried not to grimace at the title he'd never liked, while trying not to blush at the thought of himself as 'quite the catch'. "But none of them are Mara," he said glumly.

"What is it about Mara that attracts you so?"

"I don't even know where to start! She's beautiful, of course, probably the most beautiful woman I've ever known. But that's just the beginning. She's smart, fierce, loyal, an incredible warrior, and the Force is so strong in her. It almost feels like her presence calls to me. I just don't see how she can't feel it."

"Maybe she does and she's just frightened of what it might mean to her. I gather from what I've read about her in the holos that she was practically enslaved to Emperor Palpatine," Mrs. Tilson said sagely.

"Yeah," Luke sighed. "I wish there was some way I could make her understand…" he trailed off, lost in his own thoughts for a moment.

"Make her understand what?" Mrs. Tilson asked.

"How much I love her. That I would never want to hurt her. That I feel like part of me is dying a little more each day that I'm not with her," he said quietly.

"Maybe you should just tell her?" Mrs. Tilson suggested.

"I've tried, so many times, but like I said, she's probably the most stubborn woman in the galaxy."

"Maybe you should try one more time?"

The softly spoken words came from behind him rather than from his left, where Mrs. Tilson's balcony was. Startled, Luke jerked around and saw Mara standing in the doorway to his own balcony. When he glanced back at his neighbor, it was to see her slipping back inside her apartment with a sly grin and a wink. Luke gaped in astonishment for a moment. The sneaky old bird had known Mara was there! The question was…how long had she been there? And why was she here now after having rejected him so strongly just earlier that morning?

With a nervous swallow, Luke turned back to face Mara, and to his amazement, realized that she was uncharacteristically clenching her hands in front of her and biting her lower lip. She was just as nervous as he was. Somehow, the thought gave Luke a little courage.

Getting to his feet, Luke moved slowly to stand in front of the woman he loved.

"Um…hi," he said, his voice only a little shaky.

Mara's brow rose sardonically and she smirked at the inanity of his greeting, but then she softly whispered, "Hi, yourself."

"Uh, how long were you…ah, standing there?"

Her smirk softened to a smile, as she said, "Long enough to know that I'm an idiot."

"You're not an idiot," he said diplomatically.

"I am. I didn't understand just how strong your feelings were. I thought they couldn't possibly match what I felt for you, so I didn't want to chance it, being hurt again," Mara said.

Luke reached out and took her hands in his, lifting them so that he could press a kiss to her soft knuckles. "The last thing I would ever want to do is hurt you, Mara. I'm just a man, though, so I can't say that I never will. But I promise you that my only wish is to make you happy," he whispered.

Mara gave a gentle laugh. "I think you really mean that."

"I do, absolutely I do."

"Then perhaps you should start making me happy by kissing me right now, Skywalker," Mara said with a smile as she tilted her face up towards his.

Luke willingly obliged and just the first touch of her soft lips on his was enough to cause his heart to start racing. The kiss deepened and with a moan, Mara pressed up against him, wrapping her arms around his neck to pull him closer. Luke curved his arms around her waist, one hand sliding up to cradle the back of her head.

After a long moment, Luke pulled away somewhat reluctantly.

"Wow," he gasped, his mouth still close enough to hers that their breath mingled deliciously.

"Yeah," she said with a brilliant smile.

"I have to ask, though. What made you change your mind? Not that I'm complaining in the slightest, you understand."

"Well, strangely enough, I got this comm call from your annoying brother-in-law. He had the nerve to lecture me on not knowing what was best for the both of us and being too stubborn to see when I was letting something amazing pass me by. At first, I cursed him and called him ten kinds of moron for talking to me that way, but then he said something, something that I had to find out for myself if it was true."

"What was it?"

"He said that you loved me," Mara said.

Luke looked at her with a puzzled frown. "I've told you that before, the last time we kissed."

"I know, but some part of me just didn't want to believe it. But then I realized, if Solo can tell how strong your feelings are for me, they must be the real thing, cause Force knows he's not exactly what one would call subtle," Mara said wryly.

Luke couldn't help chuckling, imagining the fireworks that must have erupted on that comm call. His laughter slowly died away as he stared into her eyes, the green never having seemed quite so vivid before.

"I really do, you know," he said.

"What?" she asked.

"Love you. I love you so very much."

Mara's smile brightened even further, and she leaned in to give him a quick peck on the lips.

"I love you, too, Farmboy."

As he gathered the love of his life into a warm embrace, Luke couldn't help but think that Fete Day may become his favorite time of the year after all.