So let us melt, and make no noise,
No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move;
'Twere profanation of our joys
To tell the laity our love.
Leia closed her eyes and drew in a lungful of glacial air. After only a few moments outside, her cheeks had started to burn from the cold, and the wind tried to pull her hair out from under her cap.
Looking down, the glacier spread in a carpet of white and blue below her, and below that the excavators were carving yet another hidey hole for the Alliance out of sheer ice. A nice, smooth sloop, too, clean powder on top of ice. Not a leaf of green in sight, not on the whole planet, as far as she'd seen, and the air smelled dead.
Chewbacca grumbled behind her, standing in the Falcon's lee, and Han's rough voice murmured something that the wind took before Leia could make it out.
Luke coughed, and without turning Leia knew that he was still caught between Han under the Falcon and Leia, at the edge of the glacier. She knew he wanted her to come back in where it was warm, but didn't think he could ask.
"I assume they don't have skiing on that dust ball of yours," she said, still looking down. It'd be days yet before the shield generator was operational and more still until they'd carved out enough space to live. Until then, everyone was crowded in ships, the unlucky ones still in orbit, still vulnerable.
"I don't even know what that is," Luke said, raising his voice a little too much.
"If we have time, I'll show you," Leia answered, then practically, "If we stay." She turned and let him take her elbow as they crunched back toward the Falcon.
"Did you..." Luke started, but stopped himself before he could ask the kind of question everyone had been avoiding around Leia since the Death Star. Since the Death Star, was the sort of thing, they'd call it, too.
"My mother used to take me up to the Kalrathian Ice Sheets," she said. "I always liked the wind on my face."
"Well, sweetheart," Han grumbled as he opened the hatch just long enough for them clamber into the Falcon's heated interior, "you've picked a good planet for it."
"If we stay," Leia repeated.
But we by a love so much refined,
That our selves know not what it is,
Inter-assured of the mind,
Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss.
"You're overwatering it," Kes called from the door.
Shara laughed at him and continued to trickle water from the bucket around the sapling as she answered, "Since when are you an arborist?"
"Same time as you, I figure," Kes told her, "But hey, your force-sensitive tree."
"If it dies it's mine," Shara muttered, deliberately loud enough to carry to the house. "If it grows it'll be ours all of a sudden, is where my money is."
Leia raised her head from where lay on the bench under the eves. She'd been watching the way Shara's shoulders strained her damp work shirt as she hauled water, taking deep slow breaths in the humid air.
After the Battle of Yavin, they were calling the years, now, though Leia found herself unable to see Yavin without adding the handful of days that marked the end and the beginnings of her epochs. Yavin itself was just setting, casting the glade full of shadows. The orchids Kes had planted to mark out the path glowed gently, their luminance calling the first few silver honeyeaters.
"As if you have any money," Kes called back easily. He was leaning in the doorway, a jag of ale dangling from two fingers, little Poe's arms wrapped tightly around his leg. Kes' eyes focused on the same place as Leia's. "Wash up, dinner. You too, Princess." He waved the ale at her then ducked back into the warm light of the house, closing the door on the smell of caramelised seva root and the cracklings of some kind of native foul.
In the yard, Shara set down her bucket and wiped her hands on the seat of her pants, leaving a pair of muddy prints on her ass. Leia didn't get up until Shara reached down and pulled her to her feet.
"Now I do need to wash up," Leia said, but smiled with Shara's smile and leaned forward to rest her forehead on Shara's shoulder for a moment. "I don't want to go."
"You don't have to," Shara said, again. "Leia, stay here. Stay with us."
"I'm not finished yet," Leia told her, but she let Shara kiss on her brow, then her cheeks then her lips before they went in for dinner. Later, she let Kes kiss her too.
In the morning, she flew back towards Chandrila and the New Republic.
Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
Like gold to airy thinness beat.
"Okay, so it's not what I'm used to," Han said with that lop-sided maddening grin that Leia had somehow lost her mind and come to love. "But I guess it's a step above living in the Falcon." He didn't sound like he believed that last part.
Leia dropped her duffel on the polished floor of their new quarters and looked around, making sure to neither put her hands on her hips, nor fold her arms, nor bite her cheek. At some point over the last four years, Han had learned to read her too. From the way his smile dimmed then shifted, he could tell what she was thinking already: that this place was too alien for either the princess or the smuggler to live for very long. Trying to take him off guard, she asked, "You think we'll have to call the bellhop back to find the bed?"
"I think we'll manage," Han replied, but he craned his neck to look out the full windows, trying to see stars through seven layers of smog. Leia tapped the controls to turn the view to a feed off the orbital defence platform, all the stars of the Core glowing bright. "Hey!" Han protested, then bent to study the display, as if focusing on a technical detail would make him a better fit for a senator's quarters.
"You don't look like you're managing, Solo." Leia stepped in and he wrapped his arms around her like a charge completing a circuit.
"This is usually the kind of place I rob, is all." He glanced up at the second level. "Good sightlines for blasters."
"I hadn't noticed," Leia lied, and buried her face in his vest. He smelled like the Falcon still, and Leia wondered how long that would last. What would General Han Solo, Senator Organa's husband, do after a month, a year, a decade of moving planet to planet in the wake of the peripatetic government? "Come on," she said. "Let's find that bed."
"Who needs a bed, Princess?" Han asked, and leaned down to kiss her.
If they be two, they are two so
As stiff twin compasses are two;
Thy soul, the fixed foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if the other do.
"This way, Senator," the soldier said, then blushed and looked like he wanted to correct himself, before wisely deciding that that'd only highlight his gaff. It wasn't like Leia was officially anything anymore, but at least he hadn't called her Princess. Leia pretended not to notice and followed him down to the hanger deck. The boy couldn't be even Ben's age, and had the dirt-under-his-nails naivete of someone just in from the Rim, not that that reminded her of anyone, long ago. "The shuttle's just coming in, Ma'am," he said more smoothly, and ushered her through doors she'd been using since before he was born.
Leia stood at the edge of the deck and watched the Mon Calamari transport swoop in and settle on the deck. The flight crew swirled around it, oblivious to her and her escort.
Admiral Gial Ackbar saw here though. "This is impressive," he said, eyes swivelling to take in the ship. Leia knew that he was doing the same as she had when she'd stepped off her own shuttle two days ago: noticing everything that had changed in the last twenty years, and everything that would need to before it was fully operational. "Very impressive," he reiterated, but Leia could tell from the flutter of his whiskers that he was barely suppressing questions.
"We should talk," she said.
"Yes," he agreed, and said nothing more until they had a briefing room to themselves. He leaned back into a crash couch, nostrils flaring as he drew in the warm, damp air. "Home One, my old cruiser," he said then, amazed. "How did you do it?"
Leia shook her head. She hadn't seen Ackbar in almost as long as she hadn't seen this ship; they'd gone into mothballs together. "It needed to be done. Our new group, the Resistance, it has to have something to remind them of what the Republic used to be. The ship that led the Battle of Endor will make a striking symbol." That had been the Falcon, but people remembered what fit the story they wanted to hear. Besides, even Han didn't have the Falcon anymore.
Ackbar wiggled his hands, but couldn't suppress a gulping Mon Calamari laugh. "I thought that's what we were."
"Well," Leia said, "I don't think you're wrong, but you and I will have to be more than that. We've got a real fight on our hands. This ship is just the first step. You're the second, Admiral."
"The third, I think," Akbar said after giving her a long look, both eyes turning to focus on her. Then he named her anew: "General Organa, it would be a pleasure to serve with you again."
"And I with you," Leia replied, and if she had to blink harder, she blamed it on the Mon Calamari atmosphere.
Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
Like th' other foot, obliquely run;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
And makes me end where I begun.
"Lieutenant," Leia said, snapping the girl out of whatever absent mood she'd been in. They've all been half in a daze since Starkiller. "Find Commander Dameron and Rey, and bring them here."
"I imagine you'll find them in medical."
"Yes, General. Right away, General."
The girl scampered off, and Leia took another sip of caf while she waited.
Forty years of fighting, and all the soldiers were still children, only now, they were the children of the original children. Little Poe, who Leia still remembered clinging to Kes' leg was nearly the oldest of them, the youngest was younger than she and Luke had been, so long ago.
He was as tall and beautiful as Kes and Shara ever were now, and Leia's breath caught a little as he came in shoulder to shoulder with the desert girl. Leia felt as though she could blink and see Han and Luke in their places, about a century ago, or maybe just thirty years. Poe'd had that shaky look that Han'd had after Tatooine.
"Can Lieutenant Pava handle ramp up for the move to Thule?" She asked bluntly as soon as Poe had closed the door.
Poe glanced at Rey, another new habit, then shrugged. "Sure, she's lead the squadron before."
"Do you have have a mission for us, General?" Rey asked, and Leia couldn't read her well enough to tell if there was anticipation or trepidation.
"You both deserve a little R&R," Leia said, and watched Poe suppress a flinch. "We can handle the transfer without you."
"If you need fighter support..." Poe started, but faltered on her look. "Yes, General."
"Go home, Poe," Leia told him. "Take Rey. I'll send a message if we need you, of if the... if Finn's condition changes," she added, which made Rey's shoulders settle, and now she was looking at Poe curiously, almost bouncing with all the questions she was going to ask as soon as they were out of Leia's office.
"Sounds like a plan," Poe said, but he was still looking at Leia, not Rey. He had a question in his eyes, one not as easily settled as Rey.
"Poe," Leia said. "I will call you. We're not going anywhere without you." He nodded shortly, then tried on a cocky grin, and for a second Leia saw Ben instead of Han in it, and again her breath caught. "Go home. See your father. It will do you good."
Leia waited until they were both gone before turning back to the pile of reports, and the work of the Resistance, and to the only home she'd ever know.