AN: I don't work for Disney, so obviously I don't own Star Wars. Here's one of those "five times something happened" fics, written in honor of Valentine's Day. The second section references my fic "A Hoth Skating Lesson," but you don't need to have read that story in order to understand this one. Enjoy.
"The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing"
The first dance was after the Death Star exploded. There was a celebration, of course, though Leia didn't feel much like celebrating. She spent most of the evening by the snack table, eating things without tasting them, gazing out at the soldiers chatting and drinking and the band of musically-inclined Rebels playing whatever tunes they knew.
There was still that emptiness rooted in her stomach that crept to other parts of her body; there was still that fog in her head. She could still see flashes of buildings and mountains and people who no longer existed, but still tears wouldn't come, not even when she thought of her own mother and father, now dead along with millions of others. It was as if her inner self was refusing to accept that reality and still expected to come home to a thriving planet when this was over.
And who should be sauntering up to her but that Han Solo, a beer in his hand, looking like he was having trouble walking in a straight line.
"Heeeeey, Princess," he slurred. Of course he was drunk. Why wouldn't he be? Why would anyone expect a low-life smuggler to control his alcohol consumption?
"Hoooow's it goin'?" he continued, swaying in her direction. "I'm doin' great . . . yeah . . . greeeeeeaaaat . . ."
Leia wrinkled her nose at the smell of his breath. "You're drunk." It was the only thing she could think of saying, even though she probably should have been lecturing him about how he shouldn't give himself a hangover for tomorrow's ceremony.
Han glanced down at his beer. "Sooo? I've been worse . . ."
"I'm sure," said Leia, waving her hand in front of her face as if that would get the smell of alcohol off his breath.
Han put his beer on the table and offered her his shaky hand. "Wanna dance, Princess?"
"I asked if ya wanna dance . . ." said Han, swaying this way and that. "You loooook like you could use . . . . cheering up . . . "
"And what makes you think dancing with you would cheer me up?"
"Why wouldn't it?"
It was such a simple question, and yet she had no answer. Did he even know about Alderaan's destruction? Or would he even care if he did know? Here he was, thinking of beer and dancing and probably congratulating himself for zipping in at the last minute, not even thinking about the tragedy that had befallen Alderaan. Her fingers curled, suddenly wanting to clench into fists. How dare he even think of dancing after what happened? For that matter how dare anyone celebrate when the billions of Alderaanians were gone?
"Did you know I'm from Alderaaan?" The words came out without thought, without planning, and yet they seemed sober Han up at least a little bit, indicating that he at least knew what had happened. He stared at her, blinking like someone just woken out of sleep.
"From . . . Alderaan," was all he said.
Yes, he knew. He knew, but he had no idea how to handle it - Leia could see that from his face, which was suddenly wide-eyed like a frightened child's. Just what went on in that head of his? He put on such a tough, uncaring exterior, but could that possibly be just a mask concealing actual sensitivity?
He took a deep breath. "Well . . ." he said in a softer voice, ". . . you wanna dance anyway?"
He offered his hand, palm up, fingers spread, a simple invitation. Leia stared down at his hand for a few moments before finally taking it, and then they were dancing, spinning around and around. Occasionally she had to catch the drunk smuggler when he stumbled, but somehow she found herself enjoying it. It felt right somehow, like dancing really could help things get a little bit better.
. . .
The second dance was on the icy planet of Hoth. It was one of the warmer days by the planet's standards, so Leia and Han decided to have some fun today. They took Luke to one of the permenantly-frozen lakes and tried to teach him to ice skate. It took several laps around the rink while gripping onto both his friends, but Luke finally gained the courage to try setting out on his own - and he promptly fell. It took several more tries for him to gain any distance on his own, and once he accomplished that he declared he was cold and returned to the base, leaving the princess and the smuggler alone.
They kept skating for a few more laps, but then Han took her hands. He told her it was nice to have fun once in a while instead of always concentrating on war.
"What are you doing?" she asked.
"It's what we're doin', sweetheart," he replied. "We're dancing."
They continued around the lake, picking up speed until it started to feel out-of-control. Their feet stopped moving - all they did was let the ice carry them along. Leia's logical side was starting to say they should stop, but her feet wouldn't listen. They were gaining momentum by the second, and suddenly Leia felt the urge to try going on one leg, to fly with only Han's grip supporting her. Within a second she lifted her right leg, and then within another second they were down.
"OWW!" Han yelled.
Once Leia got her bearings, she realized she was on top of Han. She didn't know if he had pulled them this way on purpose or if it had just happened this way, but in any case his body had cushioned the impact - but only for her.
"Han!" she gasped. "Han, are you all right?"
"Been worse," said Han, flinching as he pushed himself to a sitting position, giving her a pained grin. "Told ya dancing was exciting."
"I don't think it's usually this kind of exciting," said Leia.
"Well you're right about that," said Han, his grin becoming cheeky. "After all, you only get excited when dancin' with me."
"What?" exclaimed Leia, quickly scrambling to her feet despite her skates' sliding. "What are you talking about?"
"You know exactly what I'm talkin' about, sister," said Han. He started to push himself off the ice, but then he flinched again and stuck his hand up instead. "Help me up?"
"Help yourself up," said Leia.
"Aww, c'mon," said Han, making his eyes big. "You had fun, didn't you? I practically swept you off your feet there."
After a deep breath and grinding her teeth a few times, Leia finally offered her hand to help Han up. Once he took her hand, it felt for a moment like he was yanking on her arm, but the feeling subsided once he was on his feet.
"There, now that wasn't so bad, was it?" said Han.
Leia looked up at the sky, which had clouded over. Hundreds of snowflakes the size of fingertips were dancing around in the wind, landing on her eyelashes, her lips, her forehead.
"We should be getting back," she said. "Knowing this planet, that flurry could turn into a blizzard any second."
"Fine," said Han, grinning again. "Maybe next time we dance you'll blush even harder."
"I did not blush!" Leia declared.
"Oh yeah, Your Worship? Then explain those pink cheeks."
"The cold," Leia said sharply. "You're pink too."
Han shrugged. "Sure, sure, you wanna believe that, fine. C'mon, Princess."
As they skated back to their taun-tauns, Leia told herself that next time she wouldn't let herself get so carried away, lest she give Han more fuel for his idiotic flirting.
. . .
The third dance was in the cramped lounge of the Falcon. Leia, Han, Chewie, and 3PO had been stuck in the ship for weeks, slowly making their way towards Bespin. By now Leia knew the ship's every corridor by heart. She had played endless rounds of holochess with Han, Chewie, and even 3PO - by now she had come up with an almost unbeatable strategy. Han had introduced her to every type of alcoholic beverage he had in storage. The recycled air smelled stale and the food was the same thing every day.
She had heard stories of cabin fever, of course, but not until now had she actually experienced it. By now she felt like she would kick the wall if something didn't happen.
There were Han and Chewie in the lounge, playing holochess of course. Was that the only form of entertainment this crappy ship had to offer? Was that the only way to keep sane - playing holochess for hours and hours?
"Hey, Your Highness," said Han. "You look stressed. Want a game?"
"No," said Leia, her voice almost a growl. "In fact, the last thing I want is yet another game."
Han pursed his lips. "Whoa, Your Highness, what's the matter?"
Leia took a deep breath. "Nothing. Everything's fine. It's the same stuff day in and day out, day in and day out, but it's all fine!"
Han stood up and took her hands. "Hey, hey, sweetheart, calm down."
"Calm down?" Leia exclaimed. "What makes you think I need to calm down? I mean, we've only been trapped in here for I don't know how long, the Rebellion could be oblieterated for all I know, but I'm calm, yes, I'm calm!"
"Sheesh, Princess," said Han. "Relax." He leaned over, gently kissing her hand. "C'mon, let's do something together."
"Well . . . we could dance."
Leia almost wanted to laugh at the suggestion. "Dance? Did the monotony get to your brain?"
"Well why couldn't we dance?"
"For one thing, we have no music. For another, there's hardly any room."
With that one word, he had managed to leave her without an argument for several moments before she stammered something out. "Well . . . it would be silly."
"Silly?" Han raised his eyebrow. "What's so silly about it?"
Leia fumbled for words. "Well . . . dancing should be done to music."
Leia sighed as Han kisssed her hand again. "Look sweetheart," he said, "if you don't wanna do it, that's fine. I just thought it might be fun."
Chewie roared something that sounded like support for the idea as Leia surveyed the room. There probably would be enough room for a dance here if they stayed close to each other. It would be something different, at least. Maybe embarrassing herself was preferable to more boredom.
"All right," she finally said. "Let's try it. It's silly and pointless, but anything's better than another game."
Her right hand clasped Han's and her other hand went on his waist, just inches above his belt. She squeezed him, feeling the build under the soft jacket. Suddenly she felt an urge to run her hand up and down his side, but she suppressed it.
They danced in a small circle. There was no music to guide them and very little space, yet they danced, in small steps, gently circling each other around, gazing into each other's eyes. Han was smiling at her - not one of his cheeky grins, but a genuine smile.
She smiled back.
. . .
The fourth dance was on Endor, underneath fireworks, next to a bonfire that brought warmth to the cool night air. The war was finally over and the Rebels were celebrating, except that Leia and Han were standing rather anxiously next to the bonfire, waiting for their friend to return.
Luke was fine - Leia could sense it, and if she really did have the same powers he had, then she could trust her senses, but she swallowed at the thought. If she had Luke's powers, what was she supposed to do with them? Would she have to become a Jedi as well?
And what about her father . . . no, she couldn't worry about that now. She would think about that later.
She looked over at Han, who was staring into the fire, his hands in his pockets. "He's coming back . . ." he muttered, seemingly more to himself than to Leia.
Leia reached up and put a hand on his shoulder. "Of course he is." After giving him a kiss on the cheek, she took his hands. "Come on, let's dance."
"Wait," said Han, "you're the one wanting to dance now?"
Leia shrugged. "Why not?"
Han gave his familiar grin. "Told ya dancing was fun."
"And you were right," said Leia.
They danced to the pipe and drum music of the Ewoks, spinning, hopping, nearly bumping into people on several occasions, but they kept going, going, going. Many Rebels were clapping in rhythm to the music, almost seeming to be cheering the new couple on.
Then Han's head leaned forward, just enough to whisper into Leia's ear. "Leia . . . will you marry me?"
Leia almost tripped over her own feet, but she managed to keep her momentum, though she had to swallow several times. She breathed in, gazing up at his hazel eyes, before whispering her answer.
But before he could shout it to the world, she quickly added, "But let's wait till Luke gets here to tell everyone."
"Fine," said Han, though he still wrapped his arms around her and kissed her lips. The kiss lasted for several moments . . . for a little while Leia could only think about her husband to be, but then a twitch in her newly-found senses brought her back to the real world.
Luke was back.
. . .
The fifth dance was a year later, in Naboo's grand palace. After a good deal of research, Leia and Luke found out that their mother was from this planet, and soon after the group's first visit, Leia and Han decided they wanted to hold their wedding here.
Once again they swayed to the music, their heads resting on each other. Though the entire galaxy was watching, right now they could only think of each other. This moment belonged to them and no one else.
Leia kissed her new husband's cheek, absorbing the taste of his skin. Whatever their future held, she knew one thing for certain.
There would be many more dances.