“’Tis the way of things,
This Gathering of the Clan,
With color and sound and sauce
As merry as they can.”
(Old Republic Era)
It was The Gathering Of The Clan.
From far and wide, Clan Solon came to its ancestral keep. Some came via the Traditional Way, in a caravan of horses that stretched out for a long distance. Others came by modern methods like hovercar and light train, but still dressed in the Old Ways. Anyone seeing the pilgrims would understand they were on a Gathering Journey.
Luke watched the colorful caravan from atop a hill. Jan lifted her skirts as she climbed the hill, her feet clad in decorative, laced-up boots. Her gold bracelets jingled musically.
“Watching the show?” she asked.
“Yes.” Luke looked at the spectacle. “Your family knows how to put one on.”
She smiled. “It’s our time for the Gathering, a good cover for the wedding.” She laughed. “Leave it to my brother to try and hide all this.”
“Oh, he just wants to give us time to be a married couple without all the craziness.”
Jan’s long hair blew out behind her in the wind, loose except for two long braids. She was wearing the amulet with the family crest and large, hoop earrings.
“How are things going with you two?”
“Good.” Jan gently elbowed Luke in the ribs. “You probably deserve a medal for lasting this long.”
“Oh, c’mon, that’s not a vote of confidence.”
Her eyes sparkled. “My brother has more confidence than he can use.”
Luke chuckled. “That’s true.” He scratched his head. “Lando says the same thing.”
“I met Lando once.”
“Oh, Han brought him home?”
She shook her head. “I met him on Naboo. I was visiting a friend and he was also staying at the hotel where we dined one evening. He overheard us talking and contributed to the conversation, and that’s when I found out he was a friend of Han’s. He’s a character, all right.”
Luke crossed his arms with a smile. “He fits as Han’s friend.”
She nodded knowingly. “Well, I have to get down to the castle to greet the family.” She hurried down the hill.
Luke watched the pennants snap in the wind as the caravan approached the main gate. He decided to go down, too.
& & & & & &
The caravan came up the long driveway, a riot of color and gaiety. Luke was impressed by the entire operation. He stood in the shadow of the building as he watched the welcome ceremony.
A man resembling Rolf in build and red hair and beard was leading a horse at the head of the caravan. A woman was smiling as she dismounted her horse a few feet behind him. The wagons stretched down the driveway, tiny bells tinkling in the wind.
“Welcome, All!” intoned Rolf, arms outstretched.
“Hail, Brother!” The other redhead held out his arms with a big, toothy smile.
The brothers embraced and after they separated, Lyra said, “Welcome, Brother-In-Law Mikal.”
“Hail, Sister-In-Law Lyra!”
They also embraced, and then hugs were exchanged with the woman, Selena.
“Han!” Mikal roared. “Come here, you cub!”
Han was grinning as he hugged Mikal and Selena. “Good to see you, Uncle. You and Aunt Selena are looking well.”
“As are you, darling.” Selena was a few inches above five feet, stout and solid and wearing a warm smile. Her bracelets jangled as she cupped Han’s face. “You look as handsome as ever.”
Chewbacca came out of the keep and Selena ran to him and threw her arms around him as the Wookiee trilled his joy.
Jan greeted her aunt and uncle next, and then Selena demanded, “Now, where is the young man who is going to marry our favorite nephew?”
Luke emerged from the shadows and was promptly squeezed and hugged by Selena and Mikal. He tried to catch his breath.
“Oh, you look much handsomer than your holovids,” Selena said.
“A real Jedi, eh? Looks like we’re getting up in the world,” said Mikal.
Other relatives were coming forward, and Luke was inundated by Solons and Meadows, Rolf’s side of the family. Faces and names flashed by while he was squeezed, pummeled, and cooed over.
“Let’s set up the tents,” Rolf said.
Han went off with the visitors and while Lyra talked to Selena and two other women, small children shrieked as they chased each other around the front yard. Luke was about to follow Han when he felt a tug on his arm. Jan pulled him around to the side of the keep.
“Has Han spoken to you about the ceremony?”
“Typical.” She shook her head. “Seat-of-his-pants.”
Luke remembered Han’s improvisation on the Death Star years ago and smiled. “Yeah.”
“We’re going to do a rehearsal before you leave.”
Jan put her hands on her hips as her bracelets jangled. “Kah, he really hasn’t told you anything.” She put a hand on Luke’s shoulder. “You and your Betrothed are to go away for three days and nights before the wedding and perform tor-val-kelt.”
“Ask Han.” She squeezed his shoulder and dropped her hand. “Do you have any traditions you want to add to the wedding?”
Luke shook his head, suddenly sad that Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen couldn’t be part of this day.
They both would’ve been so proud.
“You okay, Luke?”
“I…just thinking of departed loved ones.”
Jan regarded him sympathetically. “It’s always difficult.”
Luke stared down at his boots. “I miss them.” He took a deep breath and lifted his head. “I have Leia.”
“She might want to add some customs to the wedding.”
“Of course. Don’t worry, she’ll get the opportunity.”
“Thank you.” He rubbed his arm absently. “Do I have to do anything for tomorrow night’s dinner?”
“Actually, it’s two nights from now. Most of the clan should be here by then.”
“So do I have a role?”
“You mean besides looking pretty?”
Luke laughed. “Yes, besides that.”
Jan patted his stomach. “No worries, I’ll tutor you.”
& & & & & &
The caravan camped out in the field closest to the keep, and another caravan arrived at dusk. The guests started their own cookfires, and Luke and Han sampled wonderful food as they made the rounds. Someone started playing a lute and dancing happened.
Luke remembered the celebrations after the defeat of the Empire, and the wild, joyful dancing warmed his heart. The jewelry and bangles created streams of light as the torches and fires blazed and the Corellians danced.
Han grinned at Luke in the firelight and tugged the blond up and into the circle, swaying his hips and inviting Luke to do the same.
Luke was excited as he matched Han move-for-move. Never much of a dancer, he felt the urge to go all out as Han smiled in delight.
“Go, kid, go!”
Luke danced closer and Han grabbed his hips. Luke grinned and thrust his hips forward, Han’s hazel eyes glittering. The firelight highlighted his chestnut brown hair as Han made some moves of his own, pressing Luke closer.
“Shouldn’t we get a room?” Luke whispered into Han’s ear.
“Good idea,” Han rasped.
The music was building up to a wild crescendo, ancient and throbbing. Luke’s excitement rose as he and Han danced their dance, encouragement shouted their way as the onlookers clapped and whistled.
Luke’s senses were filled with the brilliant lights, the hiss and pop of the fire, and the loud music, as drums and cymbals joined the lute. Luke could smell smoke and the lingering aroma of fire-cooked food. He wanted Han, badly.
The bridal couple made a last flourishing move and headed for the keep. They disappeared inside while the music continued and the Corellians danced.
& & & & & &
“You are one smug Betrothed, kid.”
Luke put his hands behind his head. “I guess Corellian music excites me.”
“Maybe its just Corellians who excite you.”
“Corellians are a jovial bunch.”
“You’d better stick with just one Corellian.”
“Yeah.” Han touched Luke’s thigh. “You’re a one-Corellian man, kid.”
Luke smirked and wriggled his hips, laughing as Han rolled on top of him.
& & & & & &
“Hello, boys.” Mikal appeared at the edge of the garden. “Han, Selena would like to see you.”
Han headed off to the campsite and Mikal took his place. He and Luke worked in comfortable silence for a few minutes, then Mikal said, “You’re good for him, you know.”
Luke looked up. Mikal’s red hair was pulled back into a ponytail, indicating that he was ready for work. He had probably danced into the wee hours but didn’t appear the worse for wear.
“Thank you. He’s good for me, too.”
Mikal pulled up a handful of weeds. “Han needed to find his place in the universe. It wasn’t going to be here, despite Rolf’s wish.”
Luke considered that as he continued to pull weeds.
“There are two kinds of Corellians: those who are strongly attracted to Corel, and those who are drawn to the stars. Sometimes one type can’t understand the other.”
“You’re a very wise man, Mr. Meadows.”
“Uncle Mikal. And it’s Brookside, not Meadows.” His grin was wide. “You forget that the man takes the woman’s name here.”
“Yes, I did forget.” Luke smiled.
“So who is taking whose name with you two?”
“We never really discussed it. I suppose we’ll just keep our own names.”
Mikal straightened up, his hands on his back. “Weeding can be tough.”
Luke chuckled. “I guess that’s why they call it back-breaking.”
“Oh, you’re a funny man.”
Luke grinned and they returned to their task.
& & & & & &
Luke ran forward and hugged his sister as she exited the hovercar. Lando came out from behind the wheel, his face wreathed in a big grin. Han greeted him effusively and the foursome talked all at once. Chewbacca appeared and more greetings were exchanged, Wookiee-style.
“Welcome, Princess,” said Lyra, and the two women exchanged ritualistic greetings.
“I am honored, Madame Solon.”
“And it’s Leia.”
Rolf welcomed her and Han brought Leia and Lando inside after Lando was welcomed.
Lyra smiled at Luke as he remained on the front porch. “Your sister is delightful.”
Luke had sensed an instant rapport between his sister and Lyra. This certainly boded well.
“Leia will love the wedding. She was raised on ceremony.”
The Solons began to disperse and Lyra beckoned Luke to follow her. They ended up in her flower garden, located several yards away from the vegetable garden. The profusion of autumn colors made a beautiful backdrop as Lyra reached into a pocket of her voluminous skirt, withdrawing a blue velvet drawstring pouch.
“Our clan colors are blue and yellow, and we wish to give you a family heirloom.” She opened the bag and drew out a glittering necklace.
“It’s got your family crest,” Luke said as he touched the round amulet set with yellow and blue stones.
“That’s right. Welcome to the family.”
Luke took the necklace and noted its weight. Solid and dependable, like the Solons. He felt butterflies in his stomach.
“Thank you, Lyra.”
She smiled, Luke seeing a flash of Han in her expression. “You are most welcome, Luke.” She pointed to the necklace. “This is for special occasions. You’ll get a full set of Corellian jewelry as one of your wedding gifts, and some of the pieces are for everyday wear. We Corellians love our jewelry.”
Luke grinned. “I noticed that Han wore a ring or bracelet every once in awhile.”
Lyra patted his shoulder. “We’ll make you a Corellian yet.”
& & & & & &
“You look happy,” Leia said.
“I am.” Luke watched Han laugh as Mikal told a joke.
“Boy, you’ve got it bad.”
Leia laughed and joined the men as Luke shook his head fondly.
& & & & & &
“Come in,” Han said.
Luke entered dressed in sleepwear. “Jan said you have to tell me about tor-val-kelt.”
Han sat on his bed in his own sleepwear, his top revealing a lot of chest to Luke’s approval. Music floated in through the window from the distant campsites.
“Yeah, after tomorrow night’s welcome dinner we have to leave the next morning.”
“Where are we going?”
“To a cottage by the Sapphire Sea.”
“That sounds nice.”
“It is. You’re really gonna like it.” Han’s eyes sparkled and he took Luke’s hand and drew him down to sit next to him on the bed. “We’re supposed to talk things out, connect with each other before the wedding.”
“We’re already connected.”
“Oh, for sure.” Han smirked as he patted Luke’s stomach. “But it’s a big deal to air out any doubts, and talk about the future, to make sure the marriage will be solid going forward.”
“Sounds like a good idea.”
“Anyway, it gets us three days and nights of privacy. We sure aren’t gonna get that here.”
“I guess not.” Luke sighed. “Should I return to my chamber?”
“Nah.” Han drew Luke to him for a deep, loving kiss.
& & & & & &
“Yeah?” Han asked eagerly.
“Come on in,” Leia said with a broad smile as she gestured to the front parlor entrance.
“Ah, good morning, sirs.”
“Threepio! Artoo!” Luke cried, delighted. Han rolled his eyes.
“I will be helping the Princess with wedding protocol, Master Luke. Artoo…well, Artoo will be underfoot, I suppose.”
Artoo beeped indignantly.
Luke laughed and patted the little droid on his dome. Han grumbled and pushed past See-Threepio on his way to the kitchen.
& & & & & &
Fresh vegetables were picked and pies were baked, as apples, peaches and strawberries were peeled and hulled. Bread was baked with Alsatian spice and roast meats were prepared.
Leia joined in, chatting with Lyra and Jan while they worked, and the men were set to work as well. Chewbacca kept up a steady supply of fruit, climbing trees with ease.
Other relatives came to help, and the work was joyful and easy with so many hands. Luke liked the convivial atmosphere and knew he was going to enjoy marrying into this family.
“What’s the wine situation, Brother?” asked Mikal cheerfully as he peeled apples.
“We’ve got a wine cellar full.”
“How about some new wine?”
Rolf grinned. “Let’s go.”
The brothers finished their tasks and left the kitchen with arms slung over each other’s shoulders.
“They aren’t going to get drunk?” asked Leia.
“They might. They’ll still have to come to dinner,” Lyra said.
Leia shook her head. “Men.”
“I heard that,” Han said.
& & & & & &
Lyra and Rolf sat at each end of the main table, Han and Luke flanking Lyra. Mikal and Selena flanked Rolf, and there wasn’t an empty seat in the room. The food had been laid out family-style and the speeches by Lyra and Rolf were appreciably short. The feasting began.
Leia sat next to Luke and Lando next to Han. The wine was from the cellar and pronounced excellent. There was a hubbub of conversation that floated up to the high, vaulted ceiling,
Aunt Majel, the oldest of the relatives, cackled as she said to Leia, “Dearie, you are one badass! Leading the Rebellion was sheer genius on your part.”
“To think our Han was a big part of it all. Always knew that boy would amount to something.” Her bracelets clacked as she picked up her crystal goblet.
Leia smiled proudly. “It was a long, hard road, but we have a New Republic now.”
“Ah, the sweet taste of freedom.”
Luke watched the women clink goblets with a smile of his own. As he ate a crisp salad, he pondered if he needed to perform any meditations tonight. He was feeling so happy that he needed no centering.
The meal was a rousing success. As dessert was served, Lyra stood and proposed another toast.
“We are blessed by the Goddess to welcome such a fine young man into our family. “To Luke Skywalker!”
Luke felt his face grow warm but acknowledged the cheers with a lift of his goblet. Han raised his goblet and he smiled his crooked smile. Oh, that smile!
& & & & & &
“You ready for your pre-wedding honeymoon?”
“It’s not a honeymoon.”
“What would you call it?”
Her lips quirked. “The clan getting to you?”
Luke bent over his bag with a smile. “No comment.”
Han and Lando came out onto the porch, Han carrying his bag.
“All set, kid?”
“Cousin Caleb is lending us his car. I’ll drive.”
“Of course,” Luke said, exchanging an amused smile with his sister.
The bridal couple headed for a hovercar parked by the Solon car. Mikal dashed out of the castle with a bottle in his hand.
“Gentlemen, a little gift.” Mikal held the bottle out to Han, who took it with a smirk.
“What’s this, aged 24 hours?”
Mikal checked his timepiece. “More like 12.”
With a snort, Han climbed behind the wheel after tossing his bag in the back seat with a typical flourish. “Thanks, Uncle.”
Luke stowed his bag and got into the car and they were off, waving at their well-wishers and ready for some time alone.