It’s the last day of the year, and everything is quiet in their quarters – the four of them have permanent rooms close to each other in the buildings the former rebel leadership is temporarily quartered in, now, after the war.
Leia’s lying on her bed, in her room, cold and Spartan and not festive at all, where a single candle burns.
Elsewhere, it’s loud, there are parties going on, mostly involving fireworks - Leia could hear their faint noise, had seen buffet tables being set up in preparation and nearly run into a pyrotechnician on the way to her quarters - something that’s normal in most of the Core planets: ringing in the New Year with noise for luck. Nobody quite remembers where the tradition is from, but it spread early and wide. Corellia was definitely one place it had gained ground, seeing as Han… hadn’t understood why she wouldn’t want to go out and celebrate today.
The tradition had never really gained ground on Alderaan, though: At home, they celebrated – had celebrated – and exchanged gifts wrapped in red paper, burnt candles, yes, but… it had been something you did with your family, where the only people who were there were siblings and parents and grandparents and parents’ and grandparents’ siblings and children (and grandchildren, and so on), and people who might as well have been any of those; if more distant family members were there at all.
It always hit her she’d never celebrate with them again, during that time, and left her… unwilling to go out and make merry with all the other people on base or in the city or wherever she was stuck now. She didn’t want to celebrate: She wanted to light a candle and remember – remember them, remember home, vibrant, full of life, the feeling of “home-made” (sometimes actually by her mother, sometimes by the kitchens) baked goods, things she might never get to taste again because she’d always thought there’d be more time to ask for the recipe, and now there wasn’t any time anymore.
She definitely wasn’t moping, no matter what Han said: Luke wasn’t celebrating, either, so there. They’d mostly spent the holiday season together, these past years, and Luke usually spent the night in his quarters, too – once, they’d both gotten drunk together instead, and Luke had told her they usually celebrated a Tattooine holiday around this time, with something tea-like and amongst family, too; that the time reminded him of his Owen and Beru Lars just as surely as it did her of Bail and Breha Organa.
She was going to lie there, think of home while trying not to think of home, and fall asleep some time after the candle had burned down.
Not the best or most enthusiastic plan, but all she had the energy for.
There was a buzz from the door: somebody wanted to be let in.
She didn’t get up or call out: Her room connected to a shared living room between hers, Luke’s, Han’s and Chewie’s room, and she didn’t have any intention whatsoever of getting up for Luke – Han and Chewie were probably out celebrating, so Luke was kind of the only option.
She activated the intercom system.
“Hey princess, you think you could let me in?”, Han’s voice asked, and Leia sat up.
As much as she cared for him, he knew she wouldn’t want to go out today – they’d fought about it, in fact – and if he was going to bother her about this again… well, he wouldn’t be in a relationship with her much longer, that was for sure.
For a moment, she hesitated, then she pressed the button to unlock the door.
Han opened it, and stepped in, one hand raised to greet her, and the other behind his back; Chewie lingered behind him with one foot holding open the door.
“I, uh, looked up Alderaan holiday traditions and I thought… well, uh…”
He pulled his hand away from behind his back, to show off a cubic package, wrapped in red paper.
Leia stared at it.
The red wasn’t quite right, not quite the same shade they’d always wrapped presents in, but it was close enough, and Leia could feel her throat closing and her eyes burning.
“I got some candles, too, and… and I thought, what with Luke being your brother and all, we could kind of figure out what they did on Tattooine, too, and then just all sort of celebrate together, as… well, I mean.”
Han was adorable when he was flustered and didn’t quite know what to do with himself, Leia registered, but the remainder of her was mainly occupied with Han offering to celebrate quietly, with her, and with Luke, and Chewie, and what Han clearly was stuttering around: that they all were family, of a sort.
She promptly burst into tears.
Han looked at her helplessly, while Chewie stepped into the room, saying something that made obvious his great disapproval from his tone alone, sat down beside her on the bed – it was lucky it was pretty heavily reinforced - and started patting her back softly. A moment later, Han seated himself on her other side, and put his arms around her.
It didn’t take her long to stop crying – she hated crying, really hated the loss of control it implied, but she hadn’t quite been able to stop herself – and answered quietly: “I’d like that.”
“You really miss them, huh?”, Han asked. They’d talked about her parents before.
“It’s not just them, I miss everything, but… yes.”
Feeling a lot more collected and oddly better than just five minutes previous, she rose.
“I’ll go get Luke.” If they were going to celebrate as a family, her brother was going to join in.
She slammed the buzzer for his room several times, and bizarrely ended up in pretty much the same situation as just beforehand, just in the opposite position and with Luke cradling a cup of – whatever it was - instead of staring at a burning candle before he burst into tears.
Leia had the sneaking suspicion future New Years’ were going to involve tears, too.
The ingredients for Luke’s recipe were already in store – it wasn’t a holidays-only drink, after all – and after her brother had gotten himself under control again, he’d started on preparing cups for them, going through the recipe step by step while she prepared the candles.
They weren’t proper New Years’ candles: some were scented, some oddly coloured – but they’d do; twelve candles, all in all, one for each month of the year.
Han, meanwhile, was piling up presents for… her, Luke and Chewie? He’d put labels on them, and Leia wondered when he’d gotten them; they’d only had their fight about her not wanting to celebrate a family holiday with complete strangers today, so there really hadn’t been a lot of time.
At some point, Leia started humming: A New Years song, something about the old year leaving and the new one just beginning, she remembered, the words coming to her easily enough after a while.
Luke was still brewing, but Han was finished and joined into her song – just humming softly along, while Chewie harmonized with them.
The song ended, her eyes close, and it felt nearly like it had at home.
“Careful, it’s hot.” She opened her eyes again, and Luke handed her a cup.
For a while, there was silent, all four of them cradling their cups, and then Luke started: “At home, we – we used to tell stories, around this time. Family stories.”
Leia swallowed, and Luke continued: “It’s… it’s how I learnt about my – our grandmother.”
Grandmother. It was an odd thought, considering that once, Darth Vader had had a wife, and a mother, and that said people were her mother and grandmother in return.
And Luke started telling a story about Shmi Skywalker, who sounded like she’d been brave and hard and loving, all at once, and then Chewie told a story about his parents, and she one about her mother, and Han told one about Chewie: and so they continued, each telling family stories in turn while the candles burned, before she and Luke and Chewie opened Han’s presents.
He’d not gotten any for himself.
The cubic package he’d initially shown her contained a snow globe with Luke and her in it, there was plenty of chocolate for all of them, a brush for Chewie – something Chewie elbowed Han softly for, but seemed nonetheless pleased with – spices for Luke: All things cheap, and easy to get, but nonetheless oddly thoughtful.
Quietly, to herself, Leia determined they were going to do this again next year: Only then, she was actually going to get presents for everybody, too.
She took a bit of the red wrapping paper, and wrapped it around herself, then looked at Han, before giving him a firm hug and kiss.
It wasn’t New Years at home with her parents and her old family, but having it with her new family wasn’t so bad.