This ceremony is doomed.
Leia pinches the bridge of her nose, hating the fact that her inner thoughts sound like they’re narrated by C-3PO, but she can’t help it. These two men (plus the Wookie) are not meant to take part in an overt medal ceremony in front of the entire Rebel Alliance.
Gods, she doesn’t know why she agreed to do this.
Except she does, because she’s the only living monarch on Yavin and she’s never known how to shirk her perceived duty. Princess of no planet, but still the most qualified to stand regally and give a couple of war heroes their medals.
Only she doubts they’ll make it through the whole ceremony. Not with a shred of decorum, that’s certain.
Luke…Luke should be perfect for this. Young, and earnest, he’s the definition of a hero, someone everyone looks up to. Except that he grew up on a moisture farm and has actually never even been in a room with this many people, let alone stood in front of them as the center of attention.
Luke had asked to see the medal up close, and she’d handed it to him, only for it to clang loudly on the floor. It turns out his hands were a little sweaty with nerves, which caused Han no end of laughter.
And Han, Han is quite literally her worst nightmare right now. He’s absolutely infuriating, taking nothing seriously. He’s already asked her if he really has to shower, if he can borrow a dress, and if she’ll help him brush his Wookie.
“Okay. I can’t practice this walk anymore, surely you three can be trusted to walk normally tonight?” She looks them all in the eyes, not exactly thrilled with their response. Still, she forges on. “Alright, let’s practice your bows.”
Chewie grumbles, and she looks to Han for translation. “He wants to know why he’s being forced to practice when he’s not even being given his own medal. I told you, Princess, he’s not going to let it go.”
“Chewbacca, I’ve already explained, it’s not customary for a co-pilot to receive a medal, though I’m quite aware you’re the moral compass in that cockpit.”
Chewie growls again, raising his arms in the air. “Okay, okay! You can go!”
Han covers his laugh with a cough as his friend practically runs out of the room, and she wonders if she can claim he died tragically in a blaster accident. At least then she could give Chewie his medal.
“Back to your bows. Han, you’ll go first, so let’s replicate that now.” She arches an eyebrow. “Try not to hurt yourself.”
Han takes a step forward, grabbing her hand gently, and the wires in her brain temporarily short curciut. Did she tell him to do this? She didn’t, did she? Is he - is he kissing her hand?
“Now, my lady, are we following formal Alderaanian customs here? Because that calls for a kiss to the back of the princess’s hand.” She looks to Luke, who’s wearing a similarly shocked expression on his face, she’s sure. “Or should I go by Corellian standards, which only dictate a handshake?”
He’s suddenly much, much closer than he should be, and she can feel his breath on her now upturned palm. “Well, which is it, Princess?”
Leia looks to Luke, rendered utterly speechless. Luke, for his part, simply stands there with his mouth open.
Han smirks, and Leia is tempted to wipe that look off his face for good. Except she kind of likes it. “Kid, any suggestions? Do you know some secret Tatooinan traditions we should use? Some kind of Sand People customary greeting? Or is that just clubbing each other on the head?”
Upon realized Han is massaging Leia’s hand with both of his own, Luke finally finds a response. “We - we’ll do what Leia wants.”
So helpful, farm boy.
Han grins. “Up to you, Your Worship.” Oh, how her life has changed in just a few short days. People used to say her titles without a thousand levels of sarcasm. Luckily, it’s enough to help her gather her wits.
She stands up straighter as she rescues her hand from smuggler clutches, determined not to allow her height to diminish her presence. “Why, Captain Solo, I’m impressed with your knowledge of interplanetary protocol. It seems as though my initial assessment that you must have been raised by Wookies was incorrect.”
Luke snorts with a total lack of grace, and Leia can’t help but share a small victory smirk with his reaction.
Han, the oaf, looks completely unbothered. “No, I was.”
Luke’s head whips around so fast, Leia is sure he’ll need a medical droid’s assistance for whiplash.
Leia, for her part, focuses on her diplomatic lack of reaction, and merely raises an eyebrow.
“That’s a story for another time, sweetheart.” Han grins, and Leia just can’t help but laugh out loud. The two men standing in front of her are truly responsible for her only happiness this week, and she’s going to take her small joys wherever she can get them. She owes the people of Alderaan that much, at least.
“I look forward to it,” she smiles, before reaching to collect one of the medals from the stand next to her. She’s prepared to launch into her usual speech about the symbolism displayed on the medals when Han lets out a loud whistle.
Luke rolls his eyes before leaning closer to Leia’s hands, attempting for a second time to inspect it.
Leia turns her attention back to Han. “They’re made of solid aurodium, in case you were attempting to estimate the value. You could make quite a few credits if you chose to pawn it.”
“You don’t say, Princess.” He reaches over and snatches the second medal from the stand, pretending to test the authenticity by biting down on its surface.
“Alright, nerf herder, I think you’re done here.” She grabs the medal back, refusing to give in to Han’s antics for the sake of the Rebellion. We need good pilots, she reminds herself. “Luke, any questions?”
The younger man declines, and she’s relieved. She hasn’t slept in… she’s not even sure how long, and it’s catching up with her.
“What about me?” Han pretends to pout, his lip jutting out in a ridiculous manner.
Leia ignores him, because no good could possibly come of opening up the floor to questions from Han Solo. She takes her first step down the stairs, and is suddenly met with not one, but two arms offering assistance. Boys.
She slips one arm around Luke’s elbow, before turning and looking up at Han for the briefest of seconds before taking his arm as well. At the very least, they’re her boys. And for today, that’s enough.
As they start to split up in the doorway after the long walk out of the room, she can’t resist one more dig. “I’ll make sure to send C-3PO to the Falcon tonight, to answer any questions you might have, Captain.”
The look on his face is enough to make Leia smile all the way back to her quarters.