Cassian didn’t need to listen to Mon Mothma and Admiral Ackbar as they confirmed to the rest of the Rebellion's leadership what he had known for a while: the Death Star was nearly completely rebuilt, many had lost their lives just confirming this information, and the time to strike was now. Rogue One had helped discover it, had traced the whispers and rumours across the galaxy, and he had been the one to brief Command and to help formulate the desperate plan they were about to carry out. From where he stood in the shadows of the room, he noted the mixed reactions of the pilots and soldiers: sadness, shock, anger, grief.
And he watched Jyn where she stood across the room as Ackbar spoke. She wore a scowl and kept her eyes focused on the display of her father’s terrible creation. Many eyes had gone to her, looking for a reaction, and she had given them no satisfaction. He had held her in private when had she cried and screamed as all of her old wounds were ripped open with that final terrible message from their Bothan contacts. His brave, wonderful Jyn radiated rage and fury, masked behind her sweet beauty that couldn’t be marred even by her frown. She caught him staring and met his gaze, her green eyes alight with fire, and the slightest hint of fear in the tremble of her pouting lips. His own stomach was uneasy with nerves too, that pre-battle restlessness that was as familiar and inescapable in his life as his own shadow.
He filtered out the noise of the room and focused his attention on the sight of Jyn as she now stared at the display of the half-built Death Star. He felt he was balanced on a precipice, looking out over a cliff edge, waiting to fall or fly. He had escaped the Death Star twice and he doubted he was lucky enough to escape a third time. Within the hour he would be on his way to Endor, with a squad of soldiers under his command. Death was on his heels. It was Scarif all over again, except somehow worse. The thought of dying made his throat dry and his legs feel like lead. Three years ago it hadn’t mattered to him if he survived, not really, not as long as he died fighting for freedom. Did that mean he cared any less about the cause now? He didn’t think so, but it no longer felt like the mark he wanted to leave on the universe. Since meeting Jyn he had wanted so much more and had even gone as far as imagining a future outside of the war. For the first time he wanted to be remembered for something that meant more to him than even the rebellion. He wanted to be remembered as the man who had loved Jyn Erso. How could he make sure that it was known to anyone who made it back if they didn’t survive?
There was a way, and it was something he had been thinking about for a long time, a dream held close in the quiet moments in the dark when he held her in his arms.
The room exploded with noise and activity as the meeting was dismissed, and he came back to the present. This was it. He knew what he had to do. Mon Mothma squeezed Jyn’s hand before gliding off, leaving her alone. He moved through the sea of people, all scrambling in the opposite direction to go get suited up and ready for battle and for whatever rituals and goodbyes they had time for.
Jyn’s gaze softened as he approached. She stepped in close to him and rested her hands flat on his chest, right over where his heart was beating fast. “We don’t have much time before we have to ship out," she said in a low voice just for him.
“And we might not come back this time,” he said. They were never ones for showing affection in public, but in the corner of the chaos as the room rapidly emptied it felt as if they were in their own little bubble, and he covered her hands with his.
“Don’t say that,” her eyes looked sad, her brow furrowed, and he knew she had been thinking exactly that despite what she said. Her fingers pressed in hard points against his chest, curling into his shirt as if to hold on to him. “Hope, remember?”
Jyn's eyes went wide and she choked out a nervous laugh, but then her lip trembled. “What?”
“Before we leave, let’s get married. We should have done it a long time ago, I should have asked sooner-”
“Can we? Do we have time?”
His heart lifted. “Is that a yes?”
“Yes,” she sighed the word and pulled him close by his lapels, “Yes, Cassian. I want to marry you. But do we have time?”
He looked around the room, thinking on the spot. The logistics had only briefly crossed his mind during his his decision making, but his resourcefulness was the reason he had lived this long. His eyes landed on Leia across the room, in deep discussion with Mon Mothma as Han Solo stood nearby with arms crossed, likely waiting to for Leia so they could have a moment together. "Not for a ceremony, but if Leia can sign off on it we can at least make it official," he shrugged in apology because she deserved much better. "I know, it's not very romantic."
Jyn smiled, and he knew then that she didn't care. "It's all we need."
His heart bursting, he pulled his datapad from his pocket, and Jyn leaned in close to look, her arm wrapped warmly around his back. His hands shook slightly as he logged into his personal record. It was simple to make the change, to link their two names together, and his stomach flipped at the sight of her name joined to his - Spouse: Sergeant Jyn Erso - but the changes wouldn't take effect without the authorisation code of someone higher up.
"Shouldn't you two be hauling ass to the hangar? Especially you, Erso, you're in my crew." Solo called over to them as Leia finished with Mothma and joined them.
"Aren't I the lucky one?" Jyn snarked without heat. "Leia, we need to abuse your rank privileges, it won't take long."
"It's always nice to be needed," Leia smirked as Cassian passed her the datapad. Her grin faltered into something shocked for a brief moment, and then turned into a sad but heartfelt smile. “We don’t have time for much, are you sure this is how you want to do this?"
Cassian remembered memories of family weddings on Fest full of colour and wildflowers and noise. It wasn’t Jyn’s style. She beamed at him as if a simple change of their official status in the Alliance records would make her the happiest woman in the galaxy.
“This all we need,” he responded and wrapped his arm around Jyn's shoulders.
Han, with his rumpled, confused expression, leaned in to see what was happening, towering over Leia as she entered whatever codes and passwords were needed to confirm the change. He whistled. "If we get out of this one," he said, his eyes wide as he realised what was being made official, "you owe us a party."
"No parties," Jyn said, her nose wrinkling. "If big weddings are your thing, Solo, you could have your own."
Solo's cheeks went a fascinating shade of pink and the look he shot Jyn was murderous, and he and Leia - who seemed to be biting the inside of her cheek to keep her face blank - made an effort not to make eye contact. Cassian shared a smile with Jyn, and lost himself in her eyes. With his arm around her he could feel the tension in her body, in her tight shoulders and the way she kept forgetting to breathe. His throat was thick and he couldn't bring himself to say the things he wanted to say, not with Han and Leia there, so he pressed his lips to her forehead and hoped she understood how much this meant to him. With his eyes closed he breathed her into his memory for the dark times to come.
Leia cleared her throat, breaking the moment. "I'm obligated by the laws of the Alliance to ask: are you both entering into this partnership willingly and of sound mind, and do you consent to having the other as your next of kin, and-" she paused, glancing at them briefly before looking back at the datapad, "and do you each consent to the other inheriting any belongings, credits and property you may own in the event of your death?"
"I do," Jyn said, and with a sigh she uncurled her hand from where it had fisted tight in the back of his shirt at the mention of death.
"Me, too." Cassian pulled Jyn a little closer. He had nothing for her to inherit, except some credits hidden in various names and whatever backpay the Alliance owed him. It had been easy to live a life without attachment to possessions knowing that someday they would be swept out of his bunk on his death and redistributed among the other soldiers.
"That's it,” said Leia, “in the eyes of the Alliance to Restore the Republic, you are now lawful partners in life. It's not very romantic, but it's official."
"That's all that matters," Cassian took the datapad from her with hands that shook slightly. "Thank you."
Leia reached out and put her hands on both their forearms, and squeezed. "We'll see you on the other side, wherever that may be. May the Force be with us."
"Congratulations, kids," said Han as they turned to leave. "You've got ten minutes, Erso."
Alone in the war-room, in front of the glimmering hologram of the Death Star that had brought them together three years earlier, they shared their first kiss as husband and wife. Time stopped as they sank into each other, connected now in a way they never had been before. If neither of them came back, there would always be a record of what they had meant to each other. Cassian committed the feel of Jyn’s lips, the warmth of her body, into memory as they kissed.
A siren blared, sending their hearts into their throats. It was a warning for the first wave to be ready in ten minutes, the final call. Cassian’s stomach flipped. It was too soon, the last few minutes hadn't been long enough, the last three years hadn't been long enough. “It’s time,” he said with a tight throat.
"This isn't goodbye," Jyn said, framing his face with her hands. "Come back to me."
He had never promised it before, and couldn't now, so rather than risk a lie to her he pulled her close and kissed her once more, filling it with all the love and hope that he felt.
They left the war-room hand in hand, and then went their separate ways.
He didn't see her in the hangar as he climbed aboard his ship, but he heard her voice among the chaos nearby. He could have turned and looked at her once more, but there wasn't the time. She had his heart, others now needed his focus. His ship closed up, and soon they were on their way to face the Empire.