Late evening on Coruscant, seven years after ROTJ
Sitting on the edge of the bed, Leia held a small cube and was deeply engrossed in thinking about the past. She jumped slightly when she felt a warm hand touch her shoulder. A deep voice rumbled in her ear. "Hey, it's just me." Han leaned over and frowned at the holo-screen. "What … who are you looking at?"
"Jealous?" she asked, trying not to smile.
"Nah…. I'm much better lookin' than that guy," her husband replied with a shrug.
"If you say so," Leia replied dubiously. "But if I were attracted to handsome men instead of scruffy ones, I'll have you know I'd be a Queen right now."
"Don't remind me," Han said, feigning indignation, then rubbed his hand protectively over her very pregnant abdomen. "So, are you gonna tell me who the he is, or do I have to guess? Some holo-star you had a crush on when you were growing up?"
"You're half-way right," Leia said, sighing. "Little girls usually do have their first crush on their daddy."
Han felt a bit of surprise, and took a harder look at the dark-haired, somewhat exotic looking man. There was no resemblance between the holo-image Leia was staring at, and the holo-image Han had seen a few months back during the trip to Tatooine of a very young, blond, Anakin Skywalker. "Daddy?"
"This is Bail Organa," Leia explained. "Winter found this holo a few weeks ago while going through some old Imperial archives left intact after the Republic dissolved and the Empire replaced it. This holo was taken while he was sitting in the Alderaanian Senate chamber box. According to the date stamp, this was recorded one year before Luke and I were born." She grew pensive and sad as she thought back. "I wish I could have told him how much I loved him…. how much he meant to me. I can't even remember if I told him that I loved him the last time I saw him."
"Oh. Well… I was kidding when I said I was better looking…."
Leia laughed slightly at Han's discomfort. "He was a handsome man, wasn't he?"
"I wouldn't know," Han said, raising his eyebrow. "I don't pay attention to what other guys look like."
"Just what other woman look like?"
Han held up his hands in mock defeat. "Can't win here, can I?"
"Never, dear, and I'm glad you realize that. At this rate, you'll be a fully trained husband by next year." She flicked off the holo and stood up. "Tomorrow's another long day of meetings, and I'm exhausted." Leia rubbed the small of her back. "Being pregnant is hard work."
Han leaned over and kissed her neck. "How about I give you a nice, long massage?"
"That sounds like the best deal I've had all day, Flyboy."
Birds. That was the first thing Leia became aware of when she woke up. Birds? Leia thought, her brain still muddled from sleep. Since when are there song birds on Coruscant, except in zoos and arboretums? She opened her eyes, carefully and reluctantly drawing away from her husband's warm form. Sleeping with Han was like having a toasty bed warmer next to her every night. Of course, Han would complain how cold her toes and fingers were, and sometimes nearly jump out of the bed, yelping, when she pressed up beside him, placing her hands and feet against his bare flesh.
Sitting up, she stared around at the bedroom in the early morning light, muted through the curtains, and felt her heart start hammering in her ears. This was not their bedroom… this was her bedroom, her bedroom on Alderaan, with the pale, pastel blue walls and the cream and blue bedspread. The birds chirping on the window sill were songbirds, native only to Alderaan, and extinct since Tarkin destroyed her planet. This should not be happening. "Han!"
Groggy, Han pushed the covers off, squinting up at his wife. "What's the matter?"
Panicked, Han sat up. "Are you in labor? Should I call the doctor?"
"No…. I'm not in labor. Look around!"
Slowly, Han surveyed the room, then looked back at his wife, a befuddled expression across his face. "Where are we?"
"This is my bedroom on Alderaan," she whispered. "When I was growing up."
"That's not possible. This must be some type of joke."
Tears sprang to Leia's eyes. "Who would be so cruel as to pull a prank like that?"
"I don't know… but when I find out, I'm gonna kill them," Han growled out.
"Han, listen to me… there are Alderaanian song birds outside the window." Leia struggled to her feet, then walked over to the window, jerking the soft, cream colored curtains open. Sunlight flooded the room. She jerked the window open, smelling the cool, misty morning air of her childhood memory. The vast green meadows spread out below, with towering, white capped mountains in the distance. "This is Alderaan."
"It's not possible," Han argued, coming up behind her. "There has to be an explanation."
Spinning around, she faced her husband. "What is the explanation, Han? Tell me!"
"Maybe it's an hallucination?"
"Both of us? Having the same hallucination?"
Han shrugged. "Your brother is always telling us how mysterious the Force is. Maybe that has something to do with it."
"The Force? Han Solo is saying this?"
"Well…. it seems as good an explanation as any…."
Leia hurried over to her closet, pushing the door open and stepping inside. Small, formal white dresses she wore as a child hung on one side, her casual, more colorful clothing on the other. There was nothing in the closet that could remotely fit her anymore, so she settled for the largest bathrobe she could find. Even that didn't close across her belly, and the sleeves were far too short.
"Gained some weight lately, huh?" Han asked, leaning against the door frame.
"I wore these clothes when I was about ten," Leia told him. "They wouldn't fit even if I weren't pregnant." She eyed Han standing in the doorway, wearing only his shorts. "I don't think you should wander around the palace like that."
"What do you suggest I wear?" Han replied, looking around the closet. "And don't tell me to put on one of those white dresses, either."
Leia headed over to the bed, pulling down the thick comforter and pulling the top sheet off the bed. "Here... you can wear this."
"A SHEET? You want me to walk around wearing a sheet?"
The Princess folded the sheet in half, then wrapped it twice around Han's waist before draping it up the front of his chest and over one shoulder, then tucking the tail in the backside. She stepped back, trying not to laugh. "Perfect."
"Perfect? Even Lando wouldn't be caught dead wearing a satin sheet with pink and blue flowers!"
"It's better than just wearing shorts." Not giving Han a chance to argue, she headed for the door.
As they walked down the quiet hall, Leia gazed up at the portraits of the Organa ancestors. She felt a lump form in her throat remembering how, as a child, she would stare up at the paintings, trying to pretend she could see her features in those long-dead people, even though she was fully aware she had been adopted. In truth, they looked nothing like her except for the dark brown hair.
"This is hard for you, isn't it?" Han asked quietly, wrapping his arm around her shoulders.
Leia nodded, then turned her head as laughter filtered down the hall. "That's the dining area." Quickly, she headed that direction, stopping in the doorway. Inside the room sat three ladies, Bail Organa, and two little girls.
"I recognize your father," Han whispered. "Who are the others?"
"My aunts - Celly, Tia and Rouge."
"And the little girls?"
"The one with white hair is Winter. The other one.... is me."
"How is that possible?"
"I don't know," Leia admitted as she moved forward into the room. No one at the table noticed them as they approached. "They can't see us, or hear us."
Han smiled at the little girl that would grow up to become his wife as she flicked a small piece of fruit at her friend, hitting Winter on her cheek. "Leia!" Winter protested.
"Dear," Tia said, shaking her finger in Leia's direction. "Don't throw food. It's very unladylike."
"But I'm just having fun!" little Leia protested, looking toward Bail for support.
"You could hit Winter in the eye, and cause her to become blind," Celly added.
"How can a piece of fruit make someone go blind?" Leia argued back.
"Don't throw food, Leia," Bail said, not looking up from a flimsy he was reading.
"You're not going to be a strict disciplinarian with our kids, are you?" Han said, chuckling at the scene.
Leia watched as the much younger version of herself and Winter got up from the breakfast table, then ran off as they three aunts called after them not to run in the house.
"You really should take more interest in Leia's behavior, Bail," Rouge said reproachfully to her brother. "She's quite the handful, and she never acts very... very regal."
"She's ten," Bail answered, looking up at his sisters as they stood up. "Leia's a wonderful child, with a lot of spirit. I have no intention of damping her joy of life."
"I'm not suggesting you make her miserable," Rouge sniffed. "But we can only do so much to teach her Princess-like behavior. She looks up to her father, and if you tell her what you expect - "
"I expect her to be happy, Rouge. I expect her to be a child right now, because childhood is too short, and with the Emperor busy crushing the very soul out of the galaxy, it will be shorter than it should be."
"Still," Tia continued. "A young Prince will like a refined, lady-like Princess for his wife. Otherwise, who knows what kind of scoundrels will come calling."
"Yes," Leia agreed as she nodded. "Who knows? I could end up married to a scruffy-looking smuggler, Aunt Tia."
"Hey!" Han protested, then gave Leia a wide grin as he spread his arms. "You couldn't have done better than this.... a scruffy looking smuggler wearing a pink and blue satin bed sheet!"
Bail stood up, folding the flimsy he'd been reading. "Don't marry her off yet, Tia. Leia will turn out fine, and she will marry the man she loves. And whoever she marries will be the luckiest man in the galaxy, too."
"See?" Leia said, jabbing Han in his side. "You're very lucky... my father just said so."
"I know," he said softly, winking at her.
The three aunts left the room, leaving Bail shaking his head at his sisters. He reached down and picked up his cup of caf, giving it one last swallow, then headed out of the room.
"Father?" Leia called out.
Bail stopped walking, turning around as though he wasn't certain if he'd heard something or not. "Is someone in here?"
"Father," Leia repeated, tears starting to course down her cheeks. "I love you."
The Prince frowned into the room, then headed out of the door.
Leia sat up in bed, suddenly wide awake. The Coruscant sky was just starting to turn from black to the purple of early dawn.
Han shifted and stirred next to her. "Leia?"
"It's early, Han," Leia said, her voice thick with emotion, her face damp. "Go back to sleep."
"Okay..." he mumbled, reaching over and gently tugging her to lie back down.
She eased back against the pillows as Han wrapped his arms around her. Just as she was drifting back into slumber, the familiar voice of Bail Organa whispered in her ear, I love you too, my daughter.