Time: 2 ABY, between ANH anf ESB and three days after the events in Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. (For those who haven’t read the novel, it can be summarized: Luke and Leia are on their way to a conference when they crash on a jungle planet. After several major adventures they finally manage to carry on.)
Place: Cicarpous 4, a better quality hotel where the local underground rebellion movement is summoned. The conference has been disguised as a mining traders gathering.
A dream long lost
It was well after midnight before Leia Organa felt she could withdraw with good conscience. The conference had been a success beyond expectation, but the closing had prolonged.
The last princess of Alderaan padded through the corridors of the hotel, shoes in her hands trying to sum up the impressions of the day. It was hard to focus as her mind kept wandering.
Tired, she made a decision it just couldn’t be done. Far too much had happened during the past weeks and she hadn’t digested half of it. The conference was over and done with. She had done her duty, she had done it professionally and now it was time to leave it be. Maybe for the first time in years, Leia’s first concern wasn’t the Alliance. Tonight something else filled her thoughts. Her own feelings.
She reached her room but stopped and stared at the next door. It was Luke’s room.
She wondered if he was sleeping. Probably. The past weeks must have been as overwhelming to him as they had been to her. He was surely exhausted. Or, was he in the same state as herself, with the adrenalin still pumping through his body?
Leia hesitated a moment, but then raised her hand and gave Luke’s door a light knock. If he was asleep he wouldn’t be awaken up by the sound.
It was embarrassing to stand here. Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan, trying to sneak into the room of her male collaborator in the middle of the night. If she was to be seen… She blushed at the thought and was just about to rush into her own room, when the door opened.
Luke stood in the door with drowsy eyes, his hair tousled and dressed only in loose pants. When he saw her he woke up in an instant, though. “Leia!”
“Sorry, did I wake you up?” She almost whispered.
“No! Or, only a little…I was reading but it seems like I finally managed to fall asleep.”
Leia felt somewhat awkward. Why had she knocked at his door in the first place? What would Luke think?
But, apparently he wasn’t thinking. “How was the ending of the conference?”
“Fine. But it went late…”
He suddenly seemed to realize about time and place, because he frowned and looked around in confusion. “Don’t you want to come in?”
Leia nodded and quickly slipped into his room, closing the door behind her.
She stopped in the middle of the floor and they looked at each other.
Luke looked a bit flustered by having visitor. “Er… Sit down.” His face lightened. “Do you want something to drink? There’s a bar in this room with a lot of exciting things in it!”
Leia smiled indulgently. “I know. There’s a bar in my room, too. Actually, it’s quite normal at a hotel of this standard.”
Leia felt a bit bad again. Luke might never have visited a hotel before. How could he have knowledge of things that seemed quite natural to her? “I’d like a Savareen brandy,” she said quickly. After some hesitation, she decided that the chairs in the other end of the room were too far both from her and the door, instead she sat down on the bed corner.
Luke fussed around to serve her drink and took one himself as well. He sat gingerly on the bed beside her, careful not to sit too close.
“Cheers!” Leia smiled and took a sip. She had held back the whole evening so she wasn’t afraid of getting drunk, even though Luke had poured far too much in the glass. Probably another thing you just didn’t learn on Tatooine. “Soo, have you been sampling the bar the whole evening, or what?” She gave him a teasing smile.
“Only a juice,” Luke defended himself. “To be honest I didn’t know how it worked, so I took it easy. I suppose that everything we drink is to be paid when we leave this hotel, isn’t it?”
“I’m afraid so.”
They sipped at their drinks in silence. Leia threw a glance at the man at her side. She had known Luke Skywalker for two years now. By now she felt she knew him rather well, yet she still didn’t know what to make of him.
From the very beginning, when he rushed into her prison cell at the Death Star with his “I’m Luke Skywalker. I’m here to rescue you!”, he had become a very special person to her. She had seen him manage the abrupt shift from moisture farmer to intergalactic hero without loosing either integrity or humbleness. He was a fabulous pilot, but also an officer who showed more and more abilities for every challenge that was put before him. He’d had the trust of Obi-Wan Kenobi and was perhaps the last one to carry on the heritage of the Jedi. But, foremost, he was a person she knew she could trust, someone who would go through fire and water for her, simply because of friendship and devotion. He was also a person she cared for…a lot. Really a lot!
How much she cared was, perhaps, what she had come here tonight to find out?
Luke deserved to be cherised, she mused. Sure, he sometimes would try her patience, and to be honest, he could also been truly reckless at times. Yet, she couldn’t help but be charmed by these traits. They were balanced by his courage, his endurance and almost unbelievable urge to do things as good and right as possible. Yes, he certainly deserved to be cared about! More than some others, one other actually, who, she didn’t wish to think of tonight, even though she did think of him, far too often. Leia blushed a little and then pushed the thought of Han Solo away. She was here with Luke now, and she liked him much more.
She glanced at him again. Luke was looking at the floor. Leia couldn’t see his intense, blue eyes, but she could see the lashes throw shadows on his cheeks in a sweet, almost childish way. He was simply the cutest guy she had ever met. She also knew she wasn’t the only woman in the Alliance who had an eye on Luke. That he still was unattached was a miracle in itself.
He wasn’t just cute, she noted. As he sat here by her side she noticed what a handsome man he was when you just let your eye leave that boyish face. Many young men in the service of the Alliance were in great physical shape, a fact she had noticed of course, princess or not. But, Luke was still something special.
He suddenly looked up and broke the uneasy silence.
“It tastes ok, when you get used to it.” He rocked the glass so the liquor swirled around.
It was a silly thing to say, even for him. He probably felt a bit awkward with the situation.
No wonder. What did she actually want from being in Luke’s room an hour past midnight?
Leia felt a sudden need to account for herself. “Luke, there’s something I have to say to you.” She turned eagerly towards him and took his hand, glass and all.
“I know I haven’t said anything before, and I don’t think I’ve shown it enough either, so it really is about time.” She took a deep breath. “I simply can’t express in words how glad I am, and how grateful, for the way you go into things, Luke!. Into the alliance, into your work, into…everything, really. I’ve seen it for a long the time, but these last weeks have shown it more clearly than ever. And as ….a friend, you are amazing! You are there, all the time! I’ve never met anyone I could trust like I can trust you!”
Luke turned a bright shade of red, looking awkwardly between her and the floor. “Leia, that’s sweet of you, but…”
“I mean it, Luke. And I won’t take it back.” She leaned in and gave him a kiss on the cheek.
That made him withhold his protests, and just smile bashfully at her. His eyes searched for hers now and she bravely held his gaze. She took a swing of her drink. Perhaps that would help her to relax?
“Another one?” he asked smiling when she held her empty glass towards him. He rose and fetched the bottled without waiting for an answer.
“Yes, please. What about you?” Leia tried to sound brisk.
He grinned and emptied his own glass before filling them both up. He moved to return the bottle to the bar, but stopped suddenly.
“Leia…” She looked at him wondering. He was blushing again. What was he embarassed about now?
He braced himself visibly. “Would you like to see something? If it works out, that is. I’ve just figured out how to do it.”
Leia nodded curiously. Whatever it was, it obviously meant a lot to him.
Luke closed his eyes and she could see him concentrate. Then he slowly loosened his grip on the bottle. It remained swaying in the air. Leia let out a little gasp. She had seen him do things like this before, but it still amazed her every time. Luke turned his palm outward, like he was pushing something invisible, and slowly, a bit wavering but steadily, the bottle floated through the air to the bar. It stopped a few centimetres over the table top and hung there for a few seconds. Then it fell down with a clank. Unfortunately it hadn’t hung absolutely straight in the air, so when it touched the table the bottle tipped over. Luke hurried to pick it up before the contents poured out.
“Phew! Luckily the cork was well in place!” He smiled sheepishly.
“Luke, that was fantastic!” Leia clapped her hands. “I didn’t know you were that good at it!?”
“Well, I wasn’t. But the events of late have shown me once again, that I should focus on my training.” His expression had darkened.
Leia took his hand and he sat down beside her, this time a bit closer. “Yet you did really well, Luke! If not for you…” She shivered when she thought of the things that had passed the recent weeks.
Luke shook his head. “I almost didn’t make it. If I had mastered this, things might have gone better. In that case you wouldn’t have gone through… what you did.” He reached for her other hand as well and held it tenderly. “But, the Force was with us, Leia.”
Leia looked into his shining eyes. His affection and concern beamed out of him. She wanted desperately show him how much she cared too… “It was. And with you it always is. I can feel it. I’m sure you will be a great Jedi, Luke.”
Luke’s eyes were big and wondering. He caressed the back of her hands lightly with his thumbs and she remembered suddenly how much she had always liked his touch. It calmed her in some strange way. His mouth had opened a little and was much closer her than it had been. Leia could feel her heart pounding when she leaned closer. Luke’s eyes wandered to her lips and slowly, slowly he closed the last distance between them.
His lips were soft and fresh and only tasted a little of brandy. Tenderly and carefully their lips moved against each other and Leia felt like time had stopped. She slid past his lips and let her nose brush against his cheek. He smiled a little and answered by letting his nose caress her temple. They sat like that for a long while, holding each others hands with their faces brushing lovingly against each other, their lips sometimes coming together in soft kisses.
Finally Luke withdrew. “Leia…” He searched for words, but they failed him and he touched her cheek clumsily.
“That’s me…” She gave him a helpless smile. It felt good here, close to him. Like she was meant to be so close to him. Yet, she was afraid of what next step would bring.
He smiled sheepishly. “We shouldn’t… do this… You’re a princess and I’m a …”
“A Hero and the Hope for the Alliance!” She swallowed hard. “And, someone I care for, terribly much.”
Luke’s eyes widened. “You do?”
Leia nodded. It was such a relief to say it. She had carried these feelings for such a long time and they had filled so much.
But, you don’t use the word “love”, a tiny voice in her head whispered. If that’s what you do, then that’s what you should say. And if you don’t, you shouldn’t be sitting here. Because that’s what he’ll hear.
She became uncertain again. There was a new expression on Luke’s face now, one she’d never seen before. A desire, a purposefullness that shattered the almost-peace that had come over her.
He pulled her into his embrace and she could feel his heart beating heavily. His strong, hard arms were around her body and his infinitely soft skin under her fingers. So hard, so soft. She threw her arms around him and desperately tried to figure out just one of the many vehement and conflicting feelings that were racing inside her. She tried to hold on to what she was sure of: that she wanted to be here. Close to him.
Luke was terribly confused as well. The more part of his dreams had seemed to come true the moment Leia had entered his room, seeking his company, and the rest of his dreams were weaving eagerly at him just ahead. Why was it that he suddenly started to question precisely what those dreams were about. How complicated could it be?!? This was his great opportunity!
He had loved Leia from the first moment he had laid his eyes upon her, and that love had grown for every moment he had spent in her company. Yet he had never, not even in his wildest dreams, imagined them in this situation. Leia had in his mind always been unattainable, no matter how close their friendship had developed.
And now she suddenly was in his arms. What had brought her here? What did she want? What did he want himself? How should they behave to in order be able to look at themselves in the mirror tomorrow?
Leia held him tight and he could feel her body against his. Her hair was silky to his touch. His body reacted to the excitement as any man, unused to female company. He kissed her again and this time he let his tongue open its way into her mouth. He could feel her hesitate, then answer his kiss.
A thousand thoughts and admonitions swirled in his head. Suddenly he could hear her words from before: “I’ve never met anyone I could trust like I can trust you.” Trust! She trusts you!
It was like her words finally helped him to get hold of something inside his swirling mind. Luke pulled away. “Leia, do you want this?”
She held her breath. Had he noticed…? “Do you?” she asked cowardly. She couldn’t pull out now?!? It was too low-down! That kind of a girl she would never be!
Luke swallowed hard. Leia could see he was deeply confused. Then he began tentatively, “Leia, I…I care for you so much! You’re the most wonderful, the bravest and most beautiful girl I’ve ever met. I’d do anything for you and the only thing I don’t want to is to hurt you. And I don’t want to do anything that you’re not absolutely sure that you want too!” As if of a thought he added: “And that you can stand by tomorrow as well.”
Leia’s glance wavered and Luke realized he had hit the mark.
“Luke, I like you. I really do,” Leia finally mumbled. “It feels so good to be close to you. But, if you ask me if this is something we could continue tomorrow…” She hesitated. “Then the answer is that I don’t know. I don’t think we could. I…can’t see through it.”
Luke lifted his hand to caress her hair. “I understand.”
“How can you understand when I hardly do that myself?” she snapped and felt mostly like crying.
He laughed a funny little laugh. “Well, I don’t claim to understand the finer nuances. That would sure be something new… But, Leia, I think I do understand at least something of it. You see, I also think it’s unbelievably lovely to be close to you. I could hold you from now on and until all the stars in the galaxy had gone out.”
Leia smiled, her eyes glossy.
Luke was blinking a bit himself but continued. “Listen Leia, couldn’t we… although I know it’s probably nothing a princess and a farmboy should do either…”
“Never mind that!”
He smiled nervously. “Couldn’t we.. sleep close together anyway? Just lay close. Nothing more.
Leia’s eyes widened. “But wouldn’t it... I mean…”
Luke’s expression was serious when he looked at her. All of the sudden it was so simple and easy. How it had turned that way he didn’t know, but all at once he was certain that this was the way it should be. “Leia, I won’t touch you. I promise.” How easy and sweet it was to say it when the decision had been made.
She’s a princess after all, he thought to himself, and I’m nothing. If she regretted it, I’d never forgive myself. Besides, it’s not even important. She’s important!
Leia nodded slowly. It felt…right. She was baffled. Even from Luke she hadn’t expected anything like this. She felt a great warmth and tenderness fill her. He deserves the best, she thought. The least I can give is to find out what I want myself!
It felt strange to crawl into Luke’s bed and nestle in with him, his arm around her shoulders and her head against his chest. Strange. And right.
She could hear his heart beating. It was comforting and soporific. Safe, somehow, as if she had heard it before. Their bodies were at perfect peace again like had they never been confused. Like had it been their confused brains that had started it all. Was that how it was? She had to think about it at some point. Had to find out what she really felt.
Luke laid still and listened to Leia’s breathing turn regular when she fell asleep in his arms. He had no doubt whatsoever that he had come to the right conclusion. What puzzled him, as sleep slowly sneaked into him, was how he could feel like he had retrieved something. He tried to form some coherent thought about the matter, but they slid out of his grip and the explanations vanished from his sight.
It’s like a long lost dream, he thought. But not the dream I thought I had.
Anyway. It was a good dream, he decided.
With that, he finally fell asleep.
© 2008 Kataja