Leia is convinced she has never been this cold before in her life.
She throws aside the blankets and fumbles in the dark for her boots. Leia had gone to bed fully dressed, sans boots, convinced she wouldn’t been warm enough to sleep if she didn’t.
Leia was so, so right.
Boots on, she stomps out into the hall. Echo Base is never truly dark, the ice carved walls reflecting even the smallest amounts of light. Leia looks inward, trying to orient herself, then heads left.
She taps quietly on Luke’s door: she’s cold and she’s tired, but Luke shouldn’t have to suffer just because she can’t sleep. But Luke opens the door before her hand completely leaves it. He’s fully dressed, too, and looks just as miserable as Leia feels.
“Can’t sleep?” she asks.
Luke shakes his head. “Too cold,” he says.
“I know, me too,” Leia replies, and Luke opens his arms. She steps into his embrace, feeling a little warmer once she’s hugging him.
“So now what?” Luke asks.
Leia thinks for a moment.
“Come with me,” she says, after a glance into Luke’s room. Luke may be a hero and a commander, but his bed is still terribly narrow.
She leads him back to her room. They kick off their boots and curl up under Leia’s blankets, and Leia thinks maybe, she just might get to sleep tonight. There are so many layers between them she can barely feel the press of his body along hers, but the warmth is starting to seep back into her bones.
Luke tucks her face under his chin, and Leia rubs her cold nose along his jaw, making him laugh.
“Do you ever envy Chewbacca?” he asks.
Since Leia had spent the better part of an hour thinking just that, she nods. “All the time, lately. Han says even Chewie’s complaining about the cold, though.”
“I know why we’re here, but I don’t like Hoth,” Luke says. He’s starting to sound sleepy, and Leia is finally getting her shivers under control. They fit together like interlocking gears, and Leia rubs her nose along his jaw again, just to hear him chuckle. “This is nice,” he says.
“Yes,” Leia agrees, and closes her eyes.
She drifts off to the feel of Luke’s slow breaths gently stirring the top of her hair, and wakes up gloriously warm.
There’s a pounding on her door, and Leia groans and rubs her hand over her face. Her nose is cold again. Luke shifts against her and frowns in his sleep.
Leia pushes at his arm until she can slip free, and tries to do so without letting in all of the cold air. Just because she has to get up now doesn’t mean Luke has to. She shoves her feet into her boots and then realizes, yes, Luke does have to get up too.
The banging gets louder.
“Princess?” someone calls. Luke heaves a heavy sigh and stretches as his eyes blink open.
“Leia?” he says.
She shoves his boots at his chest. “You need to stay out of sight, and try not to let anyone see you leave,” she says. Luke looks hurt, and Leia feels an answering clutch of her heart. “Oh, Luke, it’s not that. I just… it’s complicated, all right?”
His eyes are still troubled, but Luke nods and slips out of sight of her door. Leia straightens her clothes as best she can, and opens the door.
“General Rieekan asks that you join him in mission control,” says the nervous looking aide in the corridor. “I’m sorry to have woken you, Princess.”
Leia takes in a deep breath and lets it out slowly.
“It’s all right,” she says, and follows the young woman off. She spares a fleeting thought about Luke and his abilities to be sneaky, and then decides she isn’t going to worry anymore.
She was telling Luke the truth - it is complicated, being a Princess, and a leader, and being so fond of a man technically under her command. But Luke is special, and if people are going to judge her for sharing a bed to stay warm - well.
The door to Mission Control slides open, and Leia puts it out of mind, making a mental note to find him and apologize later.
Later gets somewhat pushed aside with Luke disappearing, Han going out after him, and the rescue, and Leia stands outside Luke’s bacta tank, trying not to frown.
Between the frostbite and the animal that attacked him, Luke looks rough and terribly young. Leia rests her hand on the glass, wishing she could somehow make him get better, faster.
Luke's eyes blink open, and the med droids come to fetch him out. Leia stands out of the way until Luke is dry, clean and dressed again, and then comes to stand at his side.
“I’m sorry,” she says, because she’s wanted to say it for days now. “I shouldn’t have told you you needed to hide.”
Luke touches her hand, his fingers damp and warm. “I understand. You have a reputation to maintain.”
“It’s not that -”
Han bursts in, like a summer storm on Alderaan, and in no time at all Leia is back to being ready to kill the blasted smuggler. Maybe she should have thought it through a little more, but Luke is right there, and Han needs to have that smug look wiped off his face.
So she kisses Luke, hard, not holding anything back. His lips are slack with surprise against hers, but he doesn’t try to pull away.
If she was less annoyed, and Han wasn’t still there, sputtering, while Chewbacca laughs, Leia might have done it again, trying to coax a response out of Luke. Instead she turns on her heel and stalks off.
Later again, she passes Luke on his way to his snowspeeder. He smiles at her, bright and almost too wide, and Leia can’t resist. She stops him with a hand on his chest and pulls him down to kiss again.
This time he’s better prepared, and his soft lips move gently against her own. It’s no less intense than the kiss in the medbay to show up Han, but this is just for them, so it’s better. More real. Leia lets go of Luke’s neck and pulls back, feeling breathless.
Oh, how she longs for more time. If they had another hour, she could drag Luke back to her room again, and make much different use of her wider bed. But the Empire has found them and is on the way now, and Luke needs to go defend the base while she helps coordinate the evacuation.
“We’ll finish this later,” she says, and Luke nods, dipping his head to kiss her one more time, sweet and fast, with just a hint of tongue. Leia clenches her fists to keep from pushing him down on the nearest flat surface. “I’ll see you at the rendezvous.”
One day Leia will learn to stop making plans.
She finds Luke on Endor, during the celebration, staring off into the trees. He’s smiling softly at something she can’t see, and Leia is reminded of his smile on Hoth, just before he ran to his ship.
The fight with Vader and the Emperor has battered her brother anew, and Leia wants nothing more than to find him a quiet place to rest, and watch over him as he sleeps. But things are different now, all because of what Luke told her last night.
Leia never doubted it, not even for an instant. It made so much sense, it was like a switch had flipped within her.
But now she’s left with some lingering longings she knows she’ll never get to fulfill.
She touches Luke’s shoulder, and he turns to her, his smile going wider.
“The party’s over here,” she tells him, smiling because he is, and it’s infectious, and Luke laughs and turns away from the empty forest, walking back to their friends with her.
Another time she might have kissed him, just to celebrate them all being alive.
That was before. Now Leia just stays close, Han’s arm around her shoulder, Luke’s arm around her waist. There’s music and dancing, and the Empire has been badly wounded. She can take this moment to celebrate before the rest of the work begins.