Hello, readers!

Last chapter! I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! I do hope to write more in this 'verse, and I have a few plot bunnies already hopping around in my head.

Have a great weekend!

Chapter 7

"Ready?" Leia asked.

"Always." Spoken from directly behind her, Han's baritone voice in her loosely braided hair sparked a thrill that reached her toes. She felt his strong hands grasp her hips, pressing his firm body to hers.

"Han!" Her words came out in a whispered giggle.

Han laughed, and her breath caught as he kissed her neck. "Sorry, Sweetheart. We don't have space for anything else."

Leia exhaled and closed her eyes for a moment. "If only…" she began to imagine before reality returned to her awareness. She gave her head a quick shake, set her jaw, and refocused her attention on their mission: exiting the fresher and getting into bed without disturbing the kids. Although they already had donned their sleep clothes, thus increasing their chance of success, she knew they could never be too careful.

Ready for the task at hand, Leia turned and looked up at her husband. His hazel eyes and lopsided grin once again made her heart skip, and she found herself lamenting the existence of his sleep shorts and t-shirt. She blinked, momentarily escaping her distracting thoughts. "Shall we?"

"Alright. Let's do this."

With one hand still on her waist, Han dimmed the fresher lights until the small room was cast in a low glow. Leia palmed the door open, and they peered into the darkness toward the sleeping area. Unable to see anything, she paused for a moment to allow her eyes to adjust, and felt the warmth of Han's hands on her shoulders. She then opened her mind to their children, sensing their peaceful presences.

"Out cold," Leia whispered as she crept into the bedroom with Han following behind her, carrying the extra blankets he'd picked up earlier. She placed her hand on the wall and then the bed as she stepped forward, an old habit rendered unnecessary by her Jedi training, but it was comforting nonetheless.

Han plopped the bedding on their mattress, which in turn made rather non-mattress-like sounds.

"Ow...," a child's voice groaned.

"Wanna cookie," another one mumbled.

A third whined unintelligible syllables.

Then, in the faint light from the fresher, Leia watched with dread as the bed appeared to come to life. Dark, moving lumps reminded her of a campy horror holoflick she'd seen as a university student where a glob of black slime grew as it engulfed sentient after sentient. She'd laughed at the silliness then, but these blanket-covered amorphous masses were real.

Her battle instincts were activated, and she froze. Glancing at Han's silhouette, she saw that he had done the same. They were in a dangerous predicament. Never wake a sleepin' kid was the old Corellian saying, and they were on the cusp of waking three.

There they remained, motionless and barely daring to breathe, for what seemed like forever. Despite her concern, Leia's lips turned upward as an image of Threepio came to mind, complete with his clipped voice reporting their dwindling odds of a restful night in each other's arms.

Finally, the lumps stilled. Leia closed her eyes, again observing the children's mental states through the Force. Anakin's mind felt serene. His consciousness had quieted and turned inward; his breathing and heart rate had slowed. Clearly, he was asleep. She turned her attention to the twins, finding their brains at ease, but still somewhat aware. Leia frowned. She really wanted everyone to be well-rested for the days to follow, and she knew from past experiences that the twins were likely to awaken soon. She considered her ability to manipulate their brains into sleep states. It was something she and Han had joked about, especially during their sleep-deprived early parenting days. But despite the temptation, Leia had never done it, preferring to use her Force abilities to understand and comfort their children rather than to actively control their minds.

She only engaged in the latter if their safety was at risk, which unfortunately was a rather frequent occurrence in the Organa-Solo household. Leia recalled how only last week she'd dashed from the cockpit to check on the kids in the all-too-quiet lounge. She'd had a bad feeling about what she'd find.

"Stop!" Her shout had echoed in her head as well as her ears. A surge of power had flowed from her to her children, familiar and practiced, yet no less emphatic.

All three had frozen over the disassembled dejarik table, its wires dangling in haphazard patterns from the open top.

Jacen had straightened his posture and then spoken. "It's not our fault! It won't work, and Dad's busy!"

"So we're helping," Jaina had added.

Leia smiled at the memory as the soft rustle of careful movement caught her attention. She opened her eyes to see Han's dark figure reaching for the bedding. "Not yet," Leia whispered, and he stopped.

Jaina let out a low moan from her spot on the side of the bed closest to Han.

Here we go, Leia thought, closing her eyes again and taking a deep breath as she readied herself to soothe their daughter's discomfort.

But Jaina's distress evaporated quickly, and Leia's eyes flew open to see Han gently massaging her back. Her frown melted into a smile as her heart filled with tenderness. Despite his difficult youth, Han was a terrific father. More than once he'd told Leia that he wanted to give their kids all the "good stuff" he never had, and she knew that he was referring to love and time rather than toys. Not that Han didn't enjoy the toys. Many evenings upon arriving home, he would join the kids in whatever they were playing, whether it was Jedi Jeopardy, which he usually lost, or sabacc, where they competed for sweets, or some game of pretend in which he might end up dressed as a sparkly krayt dragon with a pink cape.

Leia suppressed the urge to laugh as she remembered Han's latest caper with the kids. While she'd been at a conference one weekend, the four of them had set up a convoluted Pita-feeding contraption stretching from the kitchen counter, through the dining room and living area, and back to the kitchen. Seemingly random items had been employed in creative manners, including the blender, a smashball, a mini-racetrack, copious amounts of spacer tape, extra Falcon parts, and one of Han's boots. When Leia arrived home, she'd immediately spotted their "invention" as well as the pitten food splattered all over the floor. She had rolled her eyes and was about to tell them to clean it up when Jacen greeted her with his excited appraisal: "The best part is that it almost works!"

Another moment of silence passed. Han, still rubbing Jaina's back, mumbled, "I think we're in the clear."

Again, Leia connected with their children's minds, first Jaina's, then Jacen's and Anakin's. Their tranquility washed into her awareness, and she looked toward Han. "Yes. We're good to go, Captain," she whispered.

"I got the magic touch, Sweetheart," Han replied as he slowly pulled his arms back and stood.

"You certainly have a way with them," Leia remarked softly, nodding toward the three sleepers.

Han stepped toward her, and she tipped her face up, unable to see his features in the darkened room. But she felt his tender touch when he placed his large hands on her shoulders. Deft fingers caressed her skin as he moved one hand to her neck, his thumb grazing her collarbone. She felt her body respond to his touch, and tilted her head to the side, inviting further exploration.

Han chuckled, then leaned down and rumbled in her ear. "So what'll it be, Your Highness? The pullout or the floor?"

"Mmm…" Leia began with eyes closed, lost in the sensation of his gentle ministrations. Then he kissed a sensitive spot just behind her earlobe, and her breath hitched as his teasing lips traveled to her neck. "I would say 'neither,'' she continued in a halting whisper, "but our bed... has been invaded. A retreat is necess…"

Speech became impossible as Han descended on her lips. Their kiss deepened, and Leia became vaguely aware that her hand had somehow found refuge in his hair, while his had slipped under her shirt, caressing her lower back.

Han's gentle pressure pushed her backward, as she pulled him with her until the squeak of overused mattress springs caught her attention. Leia opened her eyes and realized she was lying on the pullout bed, her legs dangling off the edge. She yearned to wrap them around her strapping husband, who at present lay partially on top of her, leaning on his elbows, his fingers laced in her hair and thumbs caressing her temples.

The decision was made. Not that it mattered. Leia could sleep with Han anywhere, and had.

Images of the unorthodox sleeping arrangements they had endured during the Rebellion came to mind. They'd certainly slept in some less-than-ideal places, and any surface in this room, even the closet floor or the cold fresher tiles, would surpass every one of those. Tents and sleeping bags had been five star hotels compared to nights spent in a cold, muddy ditch, a large hollow tree, or a cave in a rockface just big enough for the two of them. There'd also been the night they'd spent in the Falcon's smuggling compartment—indoors, but rather uncomfortable.

Despite the challenges of resting in such environments, they all had a singular advantage, which at the time Leia had vehemently denied, yet secretly desired: the necessity of sleeping with Han. Even during their earliest missions together, she had felt safe with Han, and cared for. A happy warmth spread through her body as she remembered curling up next to the man she would eventually marry, his arms around her, his breath in her hair, his lips on her forehead. Those pre-dawn forehead kisses—the ones he bestowed upon her when neither was fully awake—she had relished, often allowing herself to remain in his arms, pretending to doze, simply so the kisses might continue.

As if he had read her thoughts, Han kissed her lightly, his soft lips just grazing hers. Leia lifted her chin for another kiss, but he pulled away. Confused, she shivered, already missing the warmth of his body against hers.

"Han…" she whispered, sliding herself fully onto the small bed.

"Hold your tauntauns, Sweetheart. We're forgettin' something."

Before she could utter a retort, thick soft material covered her body, and Leia felt the warmth of her husband as he crawled under the blanket. In a practiced move, she lifted her head as he extended his arm under her, and she rested her head on his shoulder. He ran a finger along her cheek. "Better?" he asked.

"Much," she whispered, stretching a leg across his and placing her hand on his bare, well-toned chest. She splayed her fingers, enjoying the sensation of his skin and his taut muscles under her fingertips.

Then she realized that something was missing.

"Han, where's your shirt?"

"Under my head. Kids have death-grips on all the pillows an' the hotel didn't have extra." Leia felt his body stiffen and cool air on her skin as he began to move away from her.

"What are you doing?"

Han placed a hand on her cheek, then tucked a loose lock of hair behind her ear. "Gettin' something for your pretty head."

Leia knew that he wouldn't chance waking anybody by prying a desired object from Force-sensitive hands, and lack of a pillow was not her concern anyway.

"Oh, Han… No," she whispered, pulling him back to her and nestling into his arms again. "I just need you."

Han chuckled. "You need me. I've got a good feeling about this."

Leia grinned into Han's chest as she inhaled his musky scent. Good feeling, indeed, she thought. And Han was right. She did need him. In the aftermath of Alderaan's destruction, she hadn't expected to find happiness, and now, even after ten years of marriage, their shared story still amazed her. Fighting side-by-side, albeit reluctantly at first, they had escaped the Death Star, had fallen in love on a Goddess-forsaken iceball in the middle of a war, had survived and won that war, and now were raising their three children. Together, they had accomplished what many would have deemed impossible.

Leia raised her head and drew closer to her husband's handsome face. "I love you," she murmured, her lips centims from his.

"I know." Han paused. "I love you too."


The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.

Moulin Rouge

Never tell me the odds.

Han Solo