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A Blossoming Tundra

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Tumultuous winds whisked through the hangar, freezing the nape of Leia’s neck. She held herself stiffly, engrossed in the flight logs on her datapad. “You’re certain of these data findings?” she asked the pilot before her. At the lack of an answer, she glanced up, inquiry written across her tense countenance.

The silver-haired pilot hitched her helmet further under her arm. “It’s all there, ma’am. Not much to see in the southern pole but snow. The tracking beacon didn’t pick up anything on the radar but a lone bantha calling for a mate.”

Leia regarded a similar statement written in the logs. “I see. Good work, lieutenant. You’re dismissed.”

She heard moreso than saw the pilot leave, tapping on select text and noting details to discuss in the command center and present for further analysis. The isolation Hoth provided the Rebellion with its harsh climate brought additional mystery, as the extreme temperature limited reconnaissance and the willingness of volunteers to hunt down hard to find intelligence. But no signs of the Empire on Hoth did not mean they were not here.

“Hey there, Princess.”

Her gaze traveled to the disruption. Han leaned against the stack of cargo, twirling a flower.

She crooked her jaw, and for once she actively forced herself into stoicism. “Where’d you get that?”

“Why? Do you want one?” He brought it close to his nose, presumably smelling it. “The Millennium Falcon and I scoped out Hoth and neighboring areas for signs of our Imperial friends.”

She looked at the flight log, gathering her senses. “And am I supposed to just believe that heap of glued together scrap metal is capable of sustaining life?”

“No, it—” He glared. “Listen, sweetheart—”

“Sweetheart?”

“—Chewie and I, we got bored of the snow. It’s cold and everywhere. Chewie saw a green planet and hijacked the cockpit. I tried to fly us back, but have you ever been with a Wookie who’s sick of the cold? It ain’t pretty. So we got some sunshine, I saw this flower, and it reminded me of you. You want it or not, princess?”

“Well, Han,” said Leia, striding up to him and snatching the flower, were it even a flower. She doubted he could tell a rose from weed. “I’m flattered.”

“Are you?”

“Deeply.”

“Well, then.” He plucked it from her, and touched her crown of braids, tucking it in the strands. His hand fell to cup the back of her head, light scratches sending a shudder down her spine that she blocked by gritting her teeth. Han scowled. “Don’t look so pleased with yourself.”

“I’m not.”

“Well—good.”

She stared into his hazel eyes for a second longer than necessary, yet he wasn’t looking away from her, and she wasn’t about to succumb to the pressure. Nor did she entirely want to stop looking at him, his handsome features possessing an addictive quality.

Then Chewie roared, and Han’s fingers curled into her hair before she shook him off. She strode around him, nodding to the wookie. “I hope you had a pleasant trip, Chewie.”

He roared, waving his arms around.

As she walked off, Han muttered, “I wouldn’t care if it was the engine on fire.”