“You call out her name in your sleep, you know,” Leia said into the rented darkness of the rented room. It was an apartment on Coruscant and they both hated it, except it was their first home together and there was a sketch of a branch of ladulum hanging over the empty hearth in place of the one an Alderaanian courtier would have placed there if there were Alderaanian courtiers left or ladulum. The bed was wide enough for them both, wider than his bed on the Falcon, but not overly large. They found their way to each other every night, even when Leia faced the open window and he lay with his head pillowed on his own forearm.
“Qi’ra. You call out her name,” Leia said. She didn’t sound angry or even jealous, though the former would have been understandable and the latter flattering. She sounded tired, a little curious, and sad and if she hadn’t been talking about his ex-lover, Han would have rolled over right away and taken her into his arms, nuzzled his way through her loose, silky hair to the nape of her neck.
“M’sorry,” he mumbled. What else could he say to his wife?
“Don’t be. That’s not why I mentioned it—I thought, you miss her, you might want to talk about her while you’re awake,” she said. He’d tried to get her to talk about Alderaan, about Bail and Breha, and at least she hadn’t snapped at him, just shaken her head.
“Was a long time ago,” he said.
“That doesn’t matter. When you love someone that much, the time doesn’t make a difference,” she said. Now he did reach for her but tentatively, a hand stroked down her bare forearm, catching on the scrap of silk she called a night-shift, the silk of her thigh.
“I don’t miss her,” he replied, deciding to tell the truth.
“You love her,” Leia said, with that slightly eerie tone he associated with her accessing the Force. He frankly thought she had greater powers in that department than Luke, who strained and worked at his midichlorian mumbo-jumbo while Leia simply knew things, moved, arranged events, situations, found her way into his dreams. The nightmares—of Corellia, of the carbonite, she evened out so they weren’t torments, something he could never do for her.
“I loved her. Past tense,” he said.
“No, still. I can hear it, the way you say her name. Like you can’t believe she’ll never come back, like you’ll always be hoping,” Leia said.
“I don’t. I’m not hoping for anyone but you, sweetheart,” he said. He had no idea how to let down whatever barriers kept one person from another but she never had much trouble breaching them.
“You know I’ll always come back. That I’ll never leave. That makes the difference,” Leia said. She was sleepy, he could hear it, not in any slurring but in the faint shift in her accent to the Alderaanian dialect she’d learned as a child, the softening of the consonants, the liquidity of the vowels. Lando had spoken in it to her once and Han had not missed the way her eyes had filled with tears, had hardened like jewels.
“I do. I don’t want her, Qi’ra. Only you,” he said.
“It’s all right. I know, you don’t have to convince me. Just yourself,” she said, turning over suddenly and kissing him, a soft, open, dirty kiss he could never have imagined the Princess would give him. She arched up against him and for an instant, she was Qi’ra, her full breasts pressed against his bare chest, her dark unbound hair everywhere the way darkness was everywhere on Corellia. Just an instant, because he heard her voice within his mind then, murmuring Leia, only me, a communion no one else had ever been capable of and everything between them was bright and exquisite and charged, and Qi’ra was lost, gone, beyond hope, beyond the hope of hope. There was only Leia, only the Coruscant night and the shimmer of the Force instead of moonlight, the ghostly glassy scent of ladulum drifting through the open window.