Alderaani dawn had been a slow progression of monotones, the returning light colorless until it reached a certain saturation of the atmosphere, at which point it resolved into its stable bright blue-and-greenness. But on this world dawn came in sweeping finger-brushes of shellsided rose, delicately stroking warm color back into the day. The first morning she'd woken there, Leia had been shocked into breathlessness by it, the sensuality of the morning light almost too much to bear. It still surprised her more often than not, but by now she'd grown to like it.
They'd spent the months following the Emperor's destruction living in a constantly-moving tangle of ships, hanging in the void of space in a perpetual swirl of work, careful diplomacy, and nconstantly-encroaching but always averted disaster. The death of both Palpatine and his second had ignited a million small points of revolution. These struggled and flickered against the weight of infrastructure, tradition, and the sheer size of the leaderless imperium – and the Rebel Alliance had tried to help them all, functioning as the hub for a sprawling many-limbed movement that threatened to disintegrate under the weight of its own momentum and diversity. They'd smuggled messages and goods and persons across hundreds of worlds, counseled and mediated and encouraged and negotiated and, when they had to, fought. True revolution, Leia was learning, was a long slow torturous process, marked at every step by compromise and blood.
But the center would never hold if that center was somewhere in space. They needed a base. And so Leia and other Rebellion leaders had begun bringing new allies to this quiet, sleepy world, far enough from the bright center of the universe to provide cover for their ongoing sedition, repurposing an old base as a new meeting-place. It was populated, but sparsely so, with wide swathes of open shore and dense forest. Early in the planetary summer, the air was pleasantly cool, and the prevailing winds came in from the sea.
Moving there had mainly been a political decision, but Leia would've been lying if she'd said that the razor-edge of exhaustion they'd all been walking hadn't contributed to her backing of it. She'd been talking for the moment she woke to the moment she collapsed. Han had been running smuggling operations again, pushing through terrifyingly narrow pinches, and each time he left she was in agony with not knowing if he'd make it back. And Luke - Luke was turning into a shadow, pale and bruised-looking and stretched too thin, trying to take care of everything at once.
They'd fought a hard war – they deserved a moment of rest. And if she couldn't find absolute peace for them, at least she could leaven their labors with momentary respites. They wouldn't live in this arrangement for long, maybe not even for an entire year, but for now the three of them had a home to return to.
Pulling her robe more closely around her shoulders, she slipped noiselessly out of the broad bed. Luke had returned to them last night after a week's unexplained absence, tumbling shakily out of his battered old x-wing long after dark. She hadn't pressed him when he'd wanted to go, though she wanted to; he had to be free to come and go, however much she wanted to keep him close. Returning, he'd been exhausted, his usual effusive brightness worn down to guttering. Han had had to catch him as he stumbled down the flight ladder – and though he masked it well, she could see Luke clinging tightly to his friend's shoulder, accepting support in a way that he rarely did anymore.
She'd pushed through various swathes of red tape for him, getting him through both debriefing and decontamination in under forty minutes. His pale blank face had worried at her the entire time – she needed to get him away from everyone, to get him to someplace safe. Judging by the echoes of grief, guilt, pain, and hope that she felt in his presence, he'd been exploring shadows. The thought recurred inescapably in her mind that he'd slipped beyond all the patrols and sensor nets and gone to Bast Castle. To their father's stronghold, where the ghosts of his being still lingered. That legacy worried at her twin like an unreachable ache, and every now and again he'd go off chasing it, getting as near as he could to the center of that pain before he had to withdraw. As much as her curiosity was piqued by what Luke might have found there of their father – by what their father might have left there for him – the major part of her didn't want to think about it. In this, at least, she didn't share Luke's needs.
She remained unwilling to acknowledge Darth Vader as her father, both because of the inevitable political scandal and because, unlike Luke, she hadn't grown up dreaming of absent parents. She'd had a father, and she bore his name proudly, and she had loved him, and he was dead. As far as she was concerned, genetics didn't have to matter any more than you wanted them to. She didn't begrudge Luke the fulfillment he'd found in the redemption of their father – and she was deeply grateful for the kinship bond she'd discovered with her twin – but she had no need for it herself. Sometimes, she could even forget.
Looking back toward the bed, she felt a soft smile tugging at her mouth. Luke slept like a child, sometimes, completely committed to rest. He was burrowed down under the blankets, his hair spilling in a shaggy fall over the pillow around his head. It was getting long again. She liked it; it made him look more like the sunny boy who'd come to rescue her on the Death Star, and less like the somber knight that boy had grown into so fast. In sleep his face was pale and quiet, gentle and open and sweet, and a pang twisted through her heart of worry and of sorrow. Whatever he'd found had torn open old wounds. She'd seen it in every strained line of his body the night before, and in the wide shocked hurt that lurked in his eyes, behind the layers of his shields and masks.
Han, still asleep but less deeply so, was wrapped tightly around Luke, his body thrown out across the bed in a way that maximized the apparent strength and power of his form. One of his hands pressed curled against Luke's cheek, looking tan and large against the delicacy of Luke's cheekbones. Leia loved watching them sleep; unconsciousness brought out in both of them the deep tenderness they so often suppressed by the light of day in favor of teasing and boasts and pilots' camaraderie. Han was rarely openly romantic with anyone. And while Luke could be disarmingly sweet and solicitous, he also had surprisingly stupid ideas about his own deservingness of love, and so in shyness could creep back into less exposed modes of interaction. But in sleep they looked like lovers. Her smile widened. They made a remarkably pretty picture – gold and darkness twined close together.
She remembered, briefly, with terrible clarity, what Luke's face had looked like when she'd told him about the carbonite freeze: pale, empty, shattered, with no light behind his wide light eyes. She hadn't wanted to tell him – had very nearly let Lando do it, or Threepio – had wished that they were better at understanding the subtleties of Chewie's language so that she could abdicate the horrible responsibility without entirely abandoning Luke to mechanicals or outsiders. But as soon as she'd seen him, lying clean and white in his medcenter bed, the whole story had poured out of her like water. And while seeing his pain at the loss had wounded her anew, the act of telling her own pain to him had simultaneously healed her wounds over.
But that was over, now. They were together. They'd won.
Now she just had to convince them of it, and in doing so perhaps manage to convince herself.
She had an early session of the Interim Alliance Government to attend, and it was high time she dressed. Hopefully Luke would sleep the day away, and as far as she knew Han had nothing scheduled. He would look after Luke when they woke up, quiet his restlessness until Leia could get back to them and do whatever it was that Luke needed done. As long as her brother didn't go haring off again across the galaxy looking for new sorrows before she'd mended his extent ones, she'd be happy with them both. She had work to do, work that she couldn't put off or postpone, but she wouldn't mind at all if they spent the day in bed. They all three took what rest and joy they could get, whenever and wherever they could get it. Building a new republic was harder work than destroying the old one had been, and everyone was busy to the point of breaking.
She set strong tea to brewing in the delicate white bonechina set Luke had found for her last natal day, the one that was almost like her mother's had been. Only a few chips, and one dish that had been cracked and mended. As it steeped, she pulled off her nightrobe and slid into her underthings. She didn't want to wear white. Maybe that soft chocolate-colored gown Han had chosen for her on Corellia? She loved that gown. Somehow it made her feel warmer, more womanly, than she ever had in her pure warrior's white.
Her breasts were sore and tender in the way they always were in the days immediately before her menses – just as well to avoid white, then – and something about that tangible reminder of biology sent her mind back to probing at problems as she did up her undergown and tied on her smock. They were still hiding nearly everything – that both Luke and Han shared her bed, that Luke was her brother, that she had a part in his terrible genealogy. He'd insisted on his own parentage being made public knowledge, out of duty or masochism or both, and so she couldn't acknowledge him without shouldering her share of their father's scandal. Their father's curse.
The publicly-voiced story was that she and Han were partnered, living together during what amounted to an extended engagement, and that Luke had separate quarters nearby. They were all living in connected warrens of rooms and apartments, just private enough to be tenable but still impermanent, imbued with a knowledge of transience. It was none of their homes. There was nothing strictly untrue about their story, save for the fact that the first day they'd been there Han'd broken open the emergency door between Luke's living space and the room she shared with him. The hack he'd spliced into its code concealed the fact that, far from being locked, it was in fact fastened firmly open, transforming their space into a large communal set of interconnecting rooms.
Luke had wanted to make use of the door but leave it closed, to present a more socially-acceptable face, but she'd worked to reassure him that she didn't mind, that he was worth the risk – and Han had flatly refused to let Luke sleep locked away from them.
But Leia chafed against the restrictions caused by their shared secret threeness. She was desirous of too much. She wanted to kiss Luke and not care who was watching. She wanted to go to parties and events with two escorts, one for each arm. It was probably just as well that she not acknowledge Luke publicly as her brother – that taboo was one more than she felt like tackling – but plenty of lifeforms mated polyamorously, and the backwardness of human sexual mores frustrated her. In the new universe they'd made, where everything was still new and complicated and difficult, loving the two of them had been the only sure and easy thing.
She tried, sometimes, to envision their future. Both Han and Luke would make better parents than she ever would. Han's twisting humor would deliver the heart of any child to him instantly and forever, and Luke – she caught a sudden image, dim and blue, of Luke lying on his back on an unmade bed with a four-months baby prone on his chest, the two of them silently communing via matching sky-blue eyes. A Force-vision? Maybe. Luke assured her she had the gift, but it was tangles and briars for her, where for him the unseen road curved pale and straight. Either way, it struck her like a bolt of longing. It was something she wanted desperately.
Her tea was ready and steaming, but she scarcely wanted it anymore. She suddenly couldn't bear the thought of leaving the room, of not being there to see Luke wake and smile when he realized he was home. She'd pinned up her hair while turning over their various problems; she'd gone through that process of pins so many times since she'd grown old enough to wear her hair long that it no longer required any conscious thought from her, or even the reference of a reflection.
A sound of movement stirred her attention away from contemplation of her teacup. Han was awake, sitting half-up in bed, propped against one elbow. His chest was bare, and the sunbrowned skin looked bronze in the flushed light of dawn.
She met his eyes, and then reflexively looked down to check on Luke, who was still boneless and quiescent with sleep. “Don't worry about him, Highnessness,” Han said softly. “A bantha herd couldn't wake Luke when he gets like this.”
“I didn't think I'd see you this morning,” she said, hoping that he couldn't hear traces of her melancholy.
But then he was untangling himself from Luke, gently settling the little Jedi back into a nest of blankets and pillows. Luke didn't wake, and Han came close and kissed her.
She'd been receiving kisses from him longer than she had from Luke, but while Luke's kisses felt like her home and birthright, Han's were still new and electric and shocking. When his tongue moved against the delicate underside of her lip she felt weak-kneed and faint, her heart pounding against his hands as he held her up. “There,” he said roughly, breaking the kiss. “Thought you looked like you needed saying good morning to. Early session?”
She nodded and picked up her teacup, feeling lighter and brighter and more steady. “Yes, but it shouldn't take long. I'll try to be back by the time he wakes, but if I don't make it, keep him here for me, okay? I'd rather he didn't slip off by himself, and he'll try to.”
“Don't I know it. I know how to manage him, Princess. You don't need to worry about it. We'll both be here when you get back.”
“Thank you,” she said, and kissed him again.
“You should eat something before you go,” he said, dark eyes earnest. She nodded, and dutifully gathered together fruit and grain-bread to eat on her way. She'd gotten into bad habits in the last months of the battle against the Empire, going too far between meals and surviving more on adrenaline than nourishment. Han had been bothering her about it as far back as Endor. She'd mostly ignored him then, but now she was trying to re-balance her intake and output, trying to remember to eat more frequently when she was busy, to give herself everything she needed. Because they needed her now, Han and Luke, and starving herself only upset them both and made her snappish and sharp into the bargain.
She wanted to brush the dark blond hair off Luke's face before she left, wanted the excuse to feel the warm softness of his body beneath her hand, but she didn't. Better that he not wake yet.
It took her longer than expected to win her freedom. She should have known it would. The wheels of politics ground exceedingly slow and small. Half the time, she felt like it must be her they were grinding to powder; half the time she knew better, and didn't resent her duty. But the imbalance of Luke's absence and shadowed eyes made her sensitive, and by late afternoon she was nearly desperate to get back home.
Although she hurried back to their rooms, opening the door with an impatient bang, she needn't have worried. Luke was awake, curled up in the overstuffed armchair Han'd insisted on, totally mismatched with the rest of their décor as it was. He was dressed, but simply and comfortably, wearing one of the pale off-white tunics they'd bought in the fair on Chandrila because they reminded him so vividly of Tatooinian clothes, but much softer, and of finer make. His hair was still sleep-tousled, but his mouth was softly smiling. Han sprawled on the settee at his feet, examining the Sabacc hand he'd drawn. His face was empty and airy; it was not a winning hand.
Leia pushed the coil of hair that had slipped loose in her very brisk walk back behind one ear.
Luke just smiled at her, saying nothing. It took Han a moment to notice the change in Luke's expression, but when he did he looked up and saw her standing in the doorway. “Leia!” he said, surprise exaggerated - her arrival offered him the excuse he'd been looking for to end their game, which was apparently not going well for him. “So, they finally get tired of bloviating?”
“Politicians? Never,” she told him, kicking off her shoes and going to perch on the arm of Luke's chair, close enough that she could smell his clear sunshine scent and feel the warmth of his body beside hers. He reached up a caressing hand to stroke her now-bare ankle, and she sighed and slumped down against the high chair-back. “That feels amazing,” she told him.
“Are you very tired?” he asked her. It was the first time she'd heard him speak all day, and she found herself examining his tone and timbre carefully: worn, a bit sad, but more quiet now than grieving. Safe, in the home where he could relax and express himself without worry. Gratifyingly glad that she was back.
“Not so tired,” she said. “Although I thought for a minute there you were going to have to bail me out of prison, after I murdered one of the delegates – maybe more than one,” she added, on reflection.
“You not-tired enough to get out of here for a while?” Han asked. She looked at him sympathetically – it went against the grain for him to stay in one place for so long. She knew his feet got itchy, and she knew why he'd never leave, and she loved him for it so much she thought her heart might burst.
She nodded silently. Luke began playing with one of her fraying braids, slowly untwining and rebraiding the end of the plait. “Where should we go?” he asked no one in particular.
“The shore, if you're willing,” Han said. “You could still use the practice, kid.”
The best point of their droids – the only good point, from Han's point of view – was their ability to quickly and quietly obtain food. Leia didn't know how Artoo and Threepio did it, but in less than an hour a parcel had materialized containing bread and cheese and starfruit. Han added in a slim flask of Corellian brandy, ostensibly when Leia couldn't see him do it. And then they were off to the coast.
It was a wide cove, curving like a crescent moon around a smooth stone beach. They parked the flitter by the path down with one more hour of strong daylight left, and the waves broke over the high bottom in long cresting curls of white and palebottle green in the slanting golden wind. There must've been a gale blowing the night before; the waves were massive, but worn down, starting to lose their energy to the newly-quieted air and earth.
Han chivvied Luke down to the water, pulled his tunic off over his head as Luke giggled and dodged, and bore him off into the water. Desert-born Luke had never learned to swim, and while he'd gotten past any remaining discomfort with bodies of water in his long months on swampy, rainy Dagobah, he was still pretty useless when faced with oceanic quantities of it. Seaman's-son Han was teaching him, but considering how much the two of them roughoused and played in the water, Leia had her doubts as to how much Luke was actually learning. She said as much to them, and Han raised a challenging eyebrow. “How about it, kid?”
Luke's jaw set stubbornly, and he nodded. Then, graceful in the gathering twilight, he jumped up and dove down, his body describing a clear arc through the rosy water. In the moment he surfaced he looked incandescent, strange – and then he was laughing and pushing the hair out of his eyes, and Han was teasing him, and he was just a boy again.
“Come swim with us,” Luke called, and she shook her head.
“You're not catching me that way, Luke. If I swim now my hair will be wet for the next two days, and too tangled to get a brush through anyway.”
He smiled. “I solemnly swear that if you come in I won't splash you.”
“I'll believe that from you,” she told him, “but it's more than I'm worth to trust Han not to dunk me.”
Han's face creased in mock-dismay. “You impugning my honor, Princessness?” Luke snickered quietly at his face, and Han tackled him down into the water, graceless and flailing and laughing uproariously.
“Always,” she said, and shrugged out of her robe to walk out into the sea.
The temperature cooled as the sun went down, and Leia ended up cuddled against Han's back, clinging to his warmth in the chill water. He'd kept his word – her hair was still mostly dry, only the straggling strands falling down her back tangling in the damp. She couldn't tell if Luke's lips looked purple-blue because of cold, or just because of the changing light. “Look,” he said, pointing back toward the shore. “Flareflies.”
The cove was filled with tiny points of flickering bioluminescence, dancing along the currents of the sea air. “There must be a thousand of them,” Leia breathed, entranced.
Luke stood on the flat cool stone and tugged at her hand. “Come on,” he said, starting to splash back to the shore, “let's go see them up close.”
Whatever the name of the species was, they were slowflying and beautiful and utterly unafraid – sometimes long stranded swarms of them would wrap around Luke's ankles, or circle Leia's head in an illusion of a crown. They ended up sitting curled together half-dressed in a grassy crevasse, warming themselves with their brandy and eating starfruit with their fingers, Han propped against the rock, Luke curled in his lap, Leia lying wrapped around them in a contented semicircle while Luke played with her feet. His fingers were warm against her arches.
“I missed you,” she told him.
“I wasn't gone so long,” he answered softly, half-smiling but solemn-eyed all of a sudden.
She shook her head. “It doesn't matter,” she said. “You were gone; I missed you. That's the way family works.” That earned her a more genuine smile, flashing brightly through the twilight.
Han reached down to tweak her braids. “If you two are going to be all soppy, could you at least not do it on top of me?”
Luke laughed at him, and she rose to her knees to kiss her scoundrel. He kissed her back, hard and driving, and Luke arched up between them to press against her, burying his face in the V of Han's salt-damp shirt. She let her eyelids flutter open, taking in the close blur of Han's face and then beyond, to where a thousand small gold phosphorescences danced through the green evening.
Han's big hands were carding through Luke's damp hair, holding him close. When they roamed lower, pushing Luke's shirt down, Luke squirmed and protested, dislodging Leia back into the grass. “Stop it, Han, it's getting cold.”
Leia laughed at him. “Do you really think he won't warm you up again?” she asked her brother, and watched him blush rosy-pink.
“Keep your shirt on if you want, Junior,” Han said lazily, shifting so that Luke spilled off his lap and back into Leia's arms. He felt warm and strong and vital, and her breath hitched in her throat at the rise of her desire for them both. “But those pants are coming off.”
Luke rose to all fours, wriggling as Han stripped his lower body, shivering as the cool air touched him. Leia reached up a caressing hand to warm his face, his shoulders, and he closed his eyes and leaned into her touch. “Don't worry, baby,” Han murmured against Luke's back. “We're going to keep you warm.” The flareflies around them had grown more numerous, filling the lower atmosphere with shifting radiance.
Han was discarding his own clothes – he ran hot, and didn't appear to feel the cooling air the way Luke did, and Leia certainly wasn't going to complain about having his entire body on display. On his knees behind Luke, Han pulled him against the muscled length of his own torso, bearing down at the same time he was pressing Luke up, so that the body contact between them was breathlessly close. Luke arched up against him with a little inarticulate noise of pleasure and longing, and she slid down to lie curled beneath him, wrapping her arms around his neck and drawing him down to kiss him hungrily. She could feel his eyelashes against her cheek; his mouth tasted of salt and alcohol and the feeling of a strong wind blowing down open spaces.
“You good?” Han said against Luke's back.
Luke left off kissing her, and twisted so that he could see Han's face, smiling brighter than both his native suns. “Yes,” he said. “Yes, Han, please. I feel like I've been waiting for it forever!” He looked at her. “Leia, what about you?”
She took inventory of her desire. “Not for penetration tonight, but I do want you,” she told him. “You were gone too long. Han, can I be selfish and keep his mouth for myself?”
“Sure, Princess,” he said, grinning, open and confident and happy. He leaned away from them momentarily, and she could hear him rummaging through the pockets of his discarded pants for lubricant. He must've found it, because when he draped himself once more over Luke's bent back, he was wearing a cocky smile.
When Luke moaned against her and pressed himself back in new pleasure, and she looked up and met Han's eyes over her sibling's tousled head. He was watching them both with warm dark predatory eyes as he stroked Luke's lower back, his sacrum, his ass, fingers dipping down towards the perineum. His hair was disarrayed, falling forward lazily into his face. “Tell me,” Leia ordered, panting. “Luke, tell me what it feels like when he touches you.”
Han couldn't see Luke's face, but she could, and the soft amazement painting his features was beautiful. “It's like -” he began, and then gasped, “Nnnh, Han, do that again – please – I can feel everything – his fingers are like gold, you're both so force-bright, I -” he broke off with a high wail, arching impossibly against Han's penetrating fingers.
“That's more like it,” Han purred. “I was getting worried, the pair of you being so chatty. Seemed like I wasn't doing my job.”
Luke opened his blue eyes wide, looking down at her so that she could see the wide darkness of his blown pupils. “Han's right,” he said. “I can think of many better uses for my tongue than talking with it. It belongs to you tonight, doesn't it?” And he reached his arms under her, and she could feel the sinews in his arms as he lifted her, pushing her up until his bright head was level with her belly, and she dug her fingers into the yielding earth as he rucked up her shift and trailed delicate fingers around her thighs, lightly caressing her, teasing.
She could feel it when Han's cock entered him, could feel the rushing electricity of Luke's responsive pleasure jolting through her at the points where they touched. She heard Han make a low atavistic ecstatic sound, and then felt, through Luke, him begin to move.
“Luke,” she said. “Luke, Luke, Luke, oh Luke -” making a chant of his name. Stretching luxuriously into his touch, she draped her bare legs around his shoulders, pressing him down.
His hand cupped her briefly, pressing and then releasing, and he propped himself up on his elbows and lowered his bright head to the dark thatch of her pubis, tongue hot and wet against her. Long strokes at first, broad and gentle, turning into tiny flickering swirls of motion at the place where her labia met and hooded, which made her lose all ability to speak in words. From her higher vantage point she could see both of them, Luke's lowered head and bared neck, his loose shirt sliding off one shoulder to expose lightly freckled skin, his spine curving to offer himself to Han, who was bent envelopingly over him, face open and honest and adoring as he moved rhythmically forward and back, almost rocking Luke as he fucked him.
“I love you,” she said, and she didn't know which of them she was saying it to.
Han's response was the one he always gave her: “I know,” a call sign of intimacy and time and complications overcome. Luke just nuzzled her in response, the point of his nose tickling her mons, his tongue dipping briefly in to penetrate her. She'd never needed him to tell her in words. His tongue was a bright point of pure pleasure in her awareness, and when he brought his full soft lips to kiss her clitoris, sucking delicately upward, she could feel herself exploding out and up into the night, rocked back and forth by the sexual rhythm carried from Han's body to her own through the conduit of Luke.
As she fluttering in the grasp of her orgasm, they picked up speed, Luke's focus becoming more erratic as the intensity of their sex took him. Smiling, full with pleasure, she reached down under her brother to stroke his cock with her fingertips, and that finished him – he shuddered and jerked against her, spilling himself on the ground, and the spasm of his climax sent Han spinning over the edge behind him.
Shakily, Luke curled over to lie on his side in the cool grass, his head coming to rest quiescent against her belly. “I love you,” he told her, looking up with luminous eyes. The night had grown dark around them, but the little flareflies still danced by the shore.
Pulling himself up to spoon around the both of them, Han reached a moistened hand down to stroke her sensitized vulva, causing her to sigh with contentment. She felt like the cat who'd got the cream – they lay twined together until she'd had another gentle orgasm, until Luke's breathing grew long and slow and sleepy as he drowsed in the tangle of their lovemaking.
“Was it a good day?” Han asked her, tugging on one of her mussed braids.
“Yes,” she said. And tomorrow would bring a new dawn.