I feel kinda bad about how long this took me to post. It's not even a matter of writing it either, it was just a matter of posting it. So this is the last chapter and if I can work around the cat currently sleeping in my lap then the next story will be posted shortly. Name revealed at the bottom.
As soon as Luke's feet touched the Hangar floor, he was surrounded by a crowd of people crying out triumphs and congratulating him on firing that shot. He was gracious about it, accepting it while simultaneously searching for his friends and family. A small form jumped against him, throwing their arms around him happily. Luke immediately hugged back, sensing the familiar presence of his sister.
"Luke, you did it!" she shouted, pulling back from the hug with a wide smile on her face.
"I had help," he shrugged sheepishly, but already Han was pushing through the crowd to get to him.
"How's it feel, kid?" Han laughed, hugging him and slapping a hand against his back a few times.
"Feels pretty good that you got that fighter in time," Luke shook his head. Han shrugged, not really one to take pride when he truly deserved it.
"Yeah, whatever," Han brushed off, glancing at Leia, with a sly grin. "I told you I'd come back."
She held her ground for a moment, arms crossed and eyes narrowed before she relented and fell into his arms, burying her face against his chest. Luke smiled and glanced to the side, spotting his mother and father standing off to the side of the ship, just out of the reach of the crowd holding each other so tightly no gravitational field could pull them apart.
Just as he was about to go over to them, a small tap came to his shoulder and he glanced over, spotting nothing. He twisted his head to look the other way and there stood Mara, smirking happily. He rolled his eyes and hugged her tightly before she could even bite out a sarcastic comment. He half expected her to resist but she returned the hug easily enough, holding him just tight enough for it to pass the limited bounds of a friendly hug before pulling back and taking a step away to put space between them. A lot of the crowd that had surrounded them had broken up, taking the celebration elsewhere, leaving Luke enough room to finally feel un-crowded and smothered.
"Mara, I—" he started but was cut off as the techs in charge of the R2 units started unloaded the faithful droid from the back of his ship, the noise of the machine humming just loud enough to make conversation awkwardly uncomfortable. He spotted the droid as soon as it came into view, groaning at the charred sight. "Oh, no, Artoo…"
"Artoo Deetoo!" the high pitched whine of his family's protocol droid cried out. Luke glanced back and saw Threepio hobbling forward, his shiny gold plates reflecting the light oddly as per normal. "Oh, dear…"
"Is he fixable?" Luke asked, leaning in in an attempt to see the extent of the damage.
"I'm sure he is," Anakin announced, having come up behind Luke and clapped a hand on Luke's shoulder. He looked up at the tech with a small grin. "Why don't you have him sent to my quarters, I'll work on patching him up tonight."
"You sure, Sir?" the tech asked. "We have many engineers on the ship with fine capabilities to do this themselves."
"Nah, this droid is too finicky for your men," Anakin waved dismissively. "I'll fix him."
"Master Ani," Threepio stepped in, electronic worry lacing his tone. "If any of my parts or circuits will do, I'll gladly donate them."
"That's alright, Threepio," Anakin assured the droid. "Why don't you make sure Artoo here gets to my quarters alright, though. I wouldn't trust any other droid to do the job."
Threepio's back straightened in surprise and his head twisted a few times between Artoo and his master before he spoke proudly, "Why, of course, Sir! I'd be honored to! Come along, I'll show you to my Master's quarters!"
Anakin shared a grin with the tech before they took Artoo off and away from the ship. Anakin glanced back at Luke and smiled. "You made me proud today, Luke."
"Thanks, Dad," Luke shrugged, a red blush tingeing his cheeks slightly.
"We're both proud of you, honey," Padme assured, taking Luke into her arms and hugging him tightly. She kissed the side of his head before whispering in his ear, "You saved us all, sweetie."
"Nah," Luke shrugged. "Mara and Han helped too." Han rolled his eyes from his spot next to the landing gear of the X-Wing, his arm still loped around Leia's shoulders.
"Oh give it up, Farmboy," Mara teased, punching him lightly in the arm. "You know you're happy, just admit it."
"I'm happy you guys are alright," Luke said, his gaze pointed directly at Mara so heavily she felt the need to look away under the weight.
"Let's go take this celebration, elsewhere," Anakin suggested, reaching around his wife to grab her waist and hold her close. "I do believe the pilots have taken over our lounge and Cafeteria, we might as well make use of the party."
"Thought I might find you here," Leia laughed as she sat down in the copilot's seat of the Falcon.
"Am I that predictable?" Han laughed. He grabbed the bottle of Corellian Whiskey he'd been nursing and offered it to Leia.
"Sometimes," she shrugged, accepting the bottle.
"I'll have to work on that," he smirked, leaning back in the seat and gazing out through the viewport at the empty hangar bay. Leia shook her head and took a sip, smiling to herself at the ease of conversation.
"What are you doing up here, anyway?"
"Thinking," he shrugged.
"About what?" she asked, passing the bottle back to him.
"Everything," he answered, taking it from her hand and sipping it. "You know, just three years ago I was always on the move; just me, Chewie and the ship. I only stopped in spaceports for food and supplies, maybe a quick romp and that was it. It wasn't really a life at all, I suppose. And then I got too deep in with Jabba, and I met your dad, and he helped me out; showed me that I didn't have to be some lifeless mercenary."
"Really?" she asked. She knew the story, but never from Han's point of view.
"Yeah," he nodded, turning his head to look at her. "He really changed my perspective on things. You did too, you know. I think the day I met you was the turning point for me, really."
"You sound like a Jedi," she laughed. "All philosophical."
"Nah, I'm way more handsome than those lot," he joined in laughing. "Besides, who needs to be a Jedi when you can get a princess?"
She blushed under his meaningful look, turning back towards the window shyly. "I'm not a princess, you know."
"Semantics," he said evenly. "Besides, you'd be the best Princess ever. You can take care of yourself, not taking Bantha Fodder from anyone."
"I wish," she sighed. "If I could do that every day in the Senate, then the galaxy would have less casinos and more schools."
"Forget politics, Leia," he urged. She turned to look back at him, smiling lightly. "Just live for yourself. Be selfish for a week, make six hyperjumps when you could do the trip in three. Chop down a tree with a lightsaber because you can."
Leia smiled to herself, her head leaning against the back of the chair, content with just watching Han for a moment.
"What do you say, Your Worship?" Han asked after a long while. "Live a little?"
"I don't know how," she admitted, giving a mild shrug.
"C'mon, everyone knows how to live," he said, leaning forward towards her, bracing his hand against the center control. "Right this moment, what do you want to do?"
"Sleep," she blurted out without thinking. Han raised an eyebrow and she began laughing, the act in itself as freeing as she needed for the moment.
"You live a boring life if that's what you consider fun," Han teased, chuckling lightly.
"No, I just…. It's been a long day," she tried to explain. "Can we just… go to your cabin, and just lie down?"
Han grinned crookedly, the act lighting up his face. "I believe we can arrange that."
"Just sleeping, though," she clarified and Han gave his signature 'who me?' look that made Leia roll her eyes. He ignored her, instead standing up and reaching out a hand to her. She grasped his hand, letting him pull her up out of her seat, and up against his chest. She stood on her tiptoes, kissing him quickly on the lips, before heading back towards the cabin, dragging him behind her. "C'mon, Flyboy, I'm tired."
"Whatever you say, Your Highnessness."
The sun had long since set over the tiny moon of Yavin IV, and the once humid, warm air had grown icy. There was a mild breeze blowing, just enough to make Luke's mildly damp clothes uncomfortable. He sat against the temple wall, the rock behind him hard and damp. There were no clouds out, and the view was magnificent, rivaling that of Tatooine's.
Yavin was on the other side of the moon, and the pitch black sky was uninterrupted for parsecs of space save for the glittering systems. Luke lazily spun a rock in the air with the Force, his fingers barely moving at all to direct it. It was relaxing to him. This inhibited use of the power he was born with seemed sometimes the only thing that really unwound all the tension in his body. Not to mention that outside the temple was the peace and quiet he needed after such a raucous celebration. The various pilots of the New Republic were probably the only people that had ever drawn some of the Jedi out of their shells.
"There you are," a female voice called from the darkness. Luke smiled at Mara's tone, half annoyed and half playful, like she could never decide if she actually wanted to be angry in the present moment.
"Here I am," he laughed, not taking his eyes away from the stars.
"What are you doing out here, anyway?" she asked, sitting next to him and following his gaze to the stars.
"Being by myself, or at least I was," he teased, earning a playful nudge from the redhead. "Just relaxing, I guess."
"The party is pretty much over, you know."
"No, I didn't," he countered, twisting her words. "But out here it's kinda nice, don't you think?"
"Farmboy, are you kidding?" she asked, twisting her body to look at him. He tore his gaze from the sky to look at her, an eyebrow raised in question. "It's easily forty degrees out here."
"It's as cold as Tatooine gets at night," he shrugged. "Besides, I like it."
"You are the oddest person I have ever met."
"Even odder than Janson?"
"Much odder," she grinned. Luke chuckled, relaxing back and resuming his star gazing. Mara followed, and they relaxed in silence, content to just share each other's company for the time being.
Luke wasn't sure how long had really passed when Mara spoke again, startling him at the sudden break in silence.
"Luke, after you got out of your X-Wing, and we were talking, you were going to say something but got interrupted," she said, tilting her gaze towards him again. "What were you going to say?"
Luke smirked to himself, tilting his head to face her. "I was going to say thank you. For always having my back, not just up in the battle today. It's like you're always there for me, even when I think I don't need your help."
She sat there, eyes locked with his, just absorbing the information. It was true, in a way, she supposed. She shadowed Skywalker a lot, just to make sure he never did anything too reckless, pulled a stunt too insane, but at the same time it was just the need to be there for him that compelled her. She didn't know what it really was, or how to put words to it. Some innate part of her just needed to have his back through thick and thin. And of course she knew he was doing the same thing. They kept each other in check, and always made sure they never got too crazy or driven in their actions.
They supported each other, as any friends should.
"I'll always be there for you, Skywalker," she grinned lightly.
"And I for you, Jade," he chuckled. "Wanna go inside? It's kriffin cold out here."
Mara burst out laughing, the serious tension broken and they resumed their old selves once more. Luke stood, reaching out a hand to help her up, which she grabbed, and they walked, hand in hand to the temple, neither uncomfortable with the situation.
It just felt natural.
"A great duty, done for us you have," Master Yoda announced, standing before a kneeling Luke. "Grateful we are. The force is strong in you, young Skywalker. Much like your father, but your own person you have become. An even head I'd say you have, hmm?" The small Jedi master chuckled to himself lightly. "Agree with me you do?"
"Yes, Master," Luke nodded. Yoda smiled and turned to Mara, who sat next to Luke in a similar position. Her red hair was pulled back from her face in a braid save for the thin Padawan's braid that lay behind her right ear.
"And grown much as well, you have too, Young Organa-Jade," Yoda smiled, using Mara's extended name. "Many a Jedi like you, seen not in my nine-hundred years. A shame it is," Yoda said sadly, his ears twitching down. "But you," he said with a smile, his features lifting back up. "Very talented for your years you are. Eighteen next month, correct I am?"
"Yes, Master," she nodded with a small smile.
"Remember that year much, I do not," Yoda chuckled, shaking his head at his youth. "A youngling I still was. Ah, but a youngling you are not. Above your years, both of you are. So much, Knighthood is in order, I say. Hmm?"
Luke's eyes widened slightly, and his mild shock rang out towards Mara across the small bond they shared. Yoda chuckled at the emotions rolling off the Padawan.
"So surprised, are you? Your Master, submitting your name to the council for months he has!" Yoda laughed. "And you, young Jade, your Master longer than that."
Mara glanced over the small Jedi's shoulder to the ring of chairs that lined the room of the Jedi Council, her eyes meeting Obi-Wan's, then her own Torgruta master, who stood just over his shoulder. Her eyes drifted down and met Anakin's eyes, his own proudly watching his son.
The snap hiss of a lightsaber stole her from her thoughts, her eyes hypnotized by the humming green blade in Yoda's hand.
"By the order of the Jedi Council, pronounce Luke Skywalker a Jedi Knight I do," Yoda announced, his voice raising up lightly in announcement. The blade rested near Luke's neck for a moment, and she saw him stiffen slightly at the proximity. With only a slight movement from Yoda, the small Padawan braid that hid behind Luke's right ear for nearly twelve years fell down, Luke catching it easily in his hand.
Mara's heart beat just fractionally faster as Yoda moved forward in front of her, his blade coming to rest nest to her ear. "By the order of the Jedi council, pronounce Mara Organa-Jade a Jedi Knight I do."
She closed her eyes as the blade hummed closer. She held out her hand as the small weight that was so familiar fell from her head and down to her hand. She opened her eyes and glanced down at the thin red braid that lay across her palm.
"Congratulate you both, I do," Yoda nodded. "A Jedi Knight, you now are."
Mara and Luke bowed in tandem, only rising once Yoda had turned his back to walk to his chair.
"As official knights of the Jedi Order, you will be expected more of," Mace Windu announced, his fingers tented in his lap. "May the Force be with you both."
"Thank you, Master Windu," Luke nodded before turning to the entire council. "Thank you all, it is an honor to hold this title."
Mara nodded once more with Luke at the end of that, before the two turned and quietly left the room. As soon as the double doors to the council closed behind them though, they turned to each other with face splitting grins.
"We're knights!" Mara announced, still unable to believe it. She launched herself into Luke's arms, hugging him as tightly as he hugged her. This was their celebration. This was the start of the next chapter of their lives.
"Congratulations, Mara," Luke whispered in her ear.
She smiled and whispered back, "Congratulations to you too, Luke."
And that's it! Next story will be posted under the title "A More Perfect Future: Thrawn's Plan"
As always, Thanks a load for reading, and if you would, review. I love hearing your guys' criticism good or bad. Even if you have bad criticism, let me know. I love improving my writing, so anything helps.
Also, because I can, I'm going to try and send you guys off to read 'Dancing in the Dark' by EmpireBuiltonBlood. I'm beta-ing her story after the first few chapters, and I genuinely love the story. So if you like the looks of it, go ahead and read it. It's worth the time!