‘A Vision of Missing Moments’ - Chapter 6  (back to chapter one)

By Angela Jade - angela@yavin4.free-online.co.uk - constructive criticism and happy thoughts gratefully received ... please don’t flame me!

Set directly after Chapter 5, just after ‘Vision of the Future’ by Timothy Zahn

Main characters - Mara, Luke and Corran Horn (for those that haven’t read ‘I, Jedi’ or the X-wing novels, Corran is a Force-sensitive, ex-CorSec, Rogue Squadron pilot)

Rated - NC-17 - graphic sex scene coming up. Again. Don’t tell me you don’t like this sort of thing, just don’t read it in the first place!

Disclaimer - all these characters belong to Mr. Lucas, Mr. Zahn, and Mr. Stackpole (I love you guys!). I write about them as a form of flattery - please don’t sue. I’m making no money from this.

Summary - Corran visits Luke and Mara on Yavin

Written January 2000

Chapter 6 - Corran

An insistent beeping was filtering its way through to Mara’s brain. She lifted her head, struggling to focus. Luke lay on his stomach beside her, sound asleep. The beeping was definitely coming from his side of the bed. She blinked a couple of times, before she managed to focus on the little droid keeping a respectful distance from the bed. ‘Go away, Artoo. It’s too early.’

Having finally got a response, the little droid launched into a series of beeps and whistles.

‘Something’s just landed,’ came Luke’s muffled voice from the pillow. ‘X-wing, I think.’

That woke Mara up. ‘It must be Corran.’ She waved Artoo towards the door. ‘Go tell him we’ll be there in a minute.’

As Artoo trundled off, Mara stretched then tried to get out of bed, but Luke had grabbed hold of her leg and didn’t seem to be willing to let go. ‘Corran can find his own way in. Stay here where it’s nice and warm.’

His voice was still husky from sleep and Mara gave a sigh and a resigned smile as she snuggled back under the cover, facing her lover. ‘That’s not fair, Luke. You asked for him to come. One of us should be there to meet him.’

‘He’ll understand,’ replied Luke, as his hand trailed down Mara’s side, following the curve of her waist and hip. ‘He was once newly engaged himself.’

She caught his hand before it could go any further. ‘I can’t believe the great Jedi Master can be so rude! Corran’s a friend, he’ll wonder where we are, or if there’s something wrong, or . . .’

Luke leaned over and kissed her on the lips, pushing her gently over onto her back and claiming back the hand she’d grabbed so he could stroke her breasts. He finally broke the kiss. ‘What was that you were just saying?’

Her emerald eyes sparkled as she ran her fingers through his hair. ‘I have no idea.’ Then she claimed his mouth in another searing kiss.

Some time later, Luke made his way to the dining hall to get some Caf, while Mara headed for the landing grid. When she arrived, she saw Corran leaning against the X-wing while the two droids chatted to each other. Corran’s green and white R2 unit, Whistler, was still in his socket behind the cockpit.

‘Are you planning on getting that poor droid out of there at any point, Horn?’

Corran turned, a huge smile on his face. ‘At last! Someone finally shows up to meet me. How are you, Mara?’ He pulled her in for a tight hug, then held her at arms length, his hands on her shoulders. ‘You look well. Flushed, but well.’

Mara’s red face went a little redder. ‘I’m fine, Corran. Just perfect.’

‘Getting engaged will do that to you,’ said Corran, smiling. ‘I have to admit, when Wedge told me the news, I just couldn’t believe it. What happened?’

‘Let’s go inside and we’ll talk. After you get your droid out.’

Corran winced. ‘You know I’m not very good at telekinesis. Couldn’t you just...’

Mara laughed and shook her head. ‘That is sheer laziness.’ She winked. ‘I’ll do it just this once, but don’t tell the Master.’ Corran took a step back as Mara closed her eyes and extended her arm towards the little droid. Slowly, he rose up out of the snubfighter, beeping quietly. Once he was on the ground, she opened her eyes to see Corran grinning at her.

‘You’re getting really good at that,’ he said.

Mara took his arm and led him towards the temple, the two droids whistling along behind them. ‘You would get better, too, if you practised.’

Corran rolled his eyes. ‘He’s got to you, hasn’t he. You’re starting to sound just like Luke.’

Mara glared at him. ‘I take that as an insult, Horn. Don’t push your luck.’

He squeezed her arm gently. ‘How’s he doing with all that dark-side stuff? I haven’t seen him for a while.’

Mara smiled at him. ‘I think he’s finally cracked it. Mastered it, you could say. He knows he made mistakes in the past, and probably will in the future. But he’s come to terms with who he is and ... well...’

‘He’s got you.’

Mara nodded. ‘We’ve got each other.’ She turned to look at her friend, and he could see the pain behind her eyes. ‘Ten years, Corran. It took us ten years.’

Corran shook his head. ‘It took him ten years. If he’d been paying attention to what was going on around him instead of rushing off to save the galaxy every five minutes, he’d have seen what was right in front of his nose. You two would have been together years ago.’

Mara shrugged. ‘Maybe.’ She saw the frown still on Corran’s face. ‘Go easy on him. Facing up to his own mistakes was hard, but he’s a better person now.’

Corran’s face relaxed into a smile. ‘I may not agree with everything he does, but he’s still a friend. And he’s marrying one of my best friends.’ He squeezed her arm again. ‘You do realise if he hurts you I’ll have to kill him.’

Mara laughed. ‘You’ll have to get in the queue behind me, Karrde, Lando...’

‘I get the idea.’

They had reached the dining hall and met Luke coming out carrying a tray with three steaming mugs on it. He nodded down the corridor. ‘Office. It’s more comfortable.’

Once inside, Luke put the tray on a small table and sank down into small, overstuffed sofa beside Mara, putting his arm around her while sipping from the mug in his other hand. Corran sat opposite them, smiling and shaking his head. ‘You two never cease to amaze me.’

Luke grinned. ‘Welcome back, Corran. Or is it still Kieran?’

‘I think we’ll stick with the alter-ego while I’m here,’ replied Corran. ‘Most people still don’t know I’m Force-sensitive and I’d like to keep it that way.’

‘But won’t the other students recognise your X-wing sitting out there?’ asked Luke.

‘It’s not my X-wing. I borrowed one from the pool.’ He grimaced. ‘It’s not as good as mine. Even Whistler was complaining.’

‘So, how was Bothawui?’ asked Mara.

Corran grimaced. ‘I don’t want to see another Bothan as long as I live. Not that that is likely any time soon. They’re still all over the Council.’ He put his head on one side. ‘And how was wherever-it-was you disappeared off to?’

‘Absolute hell,’ said Mara. ‘I’m still surprised we got off that rock in one piece.’ Luke squeezed her shoulder and she smiled at him. ‘Okay, a lot of good came of it.’

Corran sipped his Caf. ‘That’s obvious.’

‘How long can you stay?’ asked Luke.

‘A couple of days,’ Corran replied. ‘Wedge can call me here if he needs me back any earlier.’ He leaned forward. ‘So, what’s all this about changes at the Academy?’

Mara went to get some breakfast as Luke explained about the changes he wanted to make. When she returned, they were deep in conversation.

‘But you haven’t got enough Masters,’ Corran was saying. ‘What happens to all the senior students who don’t have a teacher.’

‘Right now they’ll have to either return home or stay here and progress no further,’ Luke replied. ‘But that should become less of a problem as we train more Knights.’

‘And that’s what the students are upset about, right?’

Luke nodded. ‘Got it in one. They don’t want to go home without having graduated, and they don’t want to stay here and not learn.’

Corran leaned back in his chair. ‘So, what do you want me to do? I can’t exactly infiltrate the objectors. They’d never trust me.’

Mara set down a tray of pastries. ‘For a start, give us your honest opinion. Do you think we’re doing the right thing?’

Corran thought for a moment before nodding. ‘In principle, yes.’ He looked directly at Luke. ‘You know I didn’t like the way things were run before.’

Luke smiled and inclined his head towards Corran. ‘You made that abundantly clear when you were here.’

Corran grinned as he remembered his last lightsaber duel with Luke. ‘Well, I definitely think you’re heading in the right direction. You’ve got my support, whatever good that does.’

‘Okay,’ said Luke, a frown on his face as he thought. ‘I’m taking the seniors on a run this morning. Why don’t you two join us. See what I’m up against.’

‘Fine by me,’ said Corran. ‘Glad to see you finally realised that a bit of physical exercise was good for them.’ He smiled at Luke’s mock-frown. ‘Do you follow any of my old trails?’

‘Your old trails!?’ Luke turned to Mara. ‘How do you deal with that ego?’

Mara shrugged. ‘I don’t remember you doing much running here, Skywalker.’ She frowned at him over the top of her mug. ‘Is this going to be one of your philosophy lessons at the same time?’

Luke met her gaze. ‘Yes, it is. And you’ll pay lots of attention if you want to take on your own student anytime soon.’

‘Who says I want to, Skywalker. Ignoring the fact that I’m only just Jedi myself, I think it’ll be a few years at least before I know enough to teach.’

Luke crossed his arms. ‘Not under my expert tutelage.’

‘So I’m your first pupil, then?’

Luke smiled at her. ‘You were my first pupil ten years ago, Mara. I do like to finish what I’ve started, even if it takes a while.’

Corran laughed. ‘I am so looking forward to this wedding!’

The run proved to be more fun than Mara expected. Luke was in front, stopping every so often to encourage his students to try various Force jumps and somersaults, all the while talking about the Force and his experiences with it. Mara and Corran were left to bring up the rear, and spent more time talking to each other than listening to the lesson. Mara hadn’t exercised as much as she usually did recently, and she was enjoying being out in the open air, working her muscles. Corran couldn’t always keep up with the gymnastics, but he was more interested in listening to the other students talk amongst themselves. After an hour or so, Luke instructed the students to head back to the academy, then he fell back to run beside Mara and Corran.

‘Well, are they going to mutiny?’ he asked, once the students were out of earshot.

Corran shook his head. ‘I doubt it. I think you’ve just got a few bruised egos. Give them lots of attention while they’re still here and they probably won’t complain so much when they have to go home.’

‘They’re Jedi-in-training,’ said Luke. ‘They’re not supposed to have egos.’

‘Ha!’ exclaimed Mara. ‘Like you never had an ego.’

Luke grimaced. ‘Okay, I’ll concede that one. So, how can I give the seniors more attention?’

‘Easy,’ said Corran. ‘Send home all the juniors that will be returning later. Then make sure the seniors get some one-on-one. And give them exercises to do once they go home.’

Luke shook his head. ‘I don’t want them trying anything without a Master there. That’s the whole point of this reorganisation.’

‘So teach them some of the more innocuous stuff,’ said Mara, ‘like healing and...’ She saw Luke grimace again. ‘Okay, maybe not.’

The three of them continued running in silence.

‘What about teaching them more physical stuff,’ suggested Corran. ‘Encourage them to get really fit for when their training restarts.’

Luke hesitated before answering. ‘Yes. That might work.’ He stopped suddenly, forcing the other two to stumble to avoid barrelling into him. ‘Mara, my dear,’ he said as he faced her.

She frowned at him. ‘I know that look. What do you want this time, Skywalker?’

He smiled and spread his palms wide. ‘Me? Not a lot.’

‘What. Exactly.’

‘How do you fancy teaching a little hand-to-hand combat?’

So it was that Mara and Corran found themselves spending the next day demonstrating unarmed combat and survival techniques in a small clearing near the edge of the jungle. Luke had bowed gracefully out, claiming a mountain of datawork, although Mara was convinced that was only an excuse. The morning class was okay; Luke had sent them eight students who already knew the rudiments of hand-to-hand, students who were eager to learn more. After an hour and a half of one-on-one with the students, they were begging their teachers for a display.

‘Oh, go on, Miss Jade,’ said the Twi’lek, Li’Nattar. ‘You could take him on any day.’

Mara smiled at the young female. ‘Is that a hint of aggression I can sense?’

Lin appeared to consider this. ‘Possibly.’ Her grin was almost predatory. ‘Maybe I just enjoy seeing big, strong men thrown about by women.’

One of her male class-mates snorted derisively. ‘She gets off on it, more like.’

Mara ignored the comment, turning instead towards Corran. ‘Well, Mr. Halcyon? Shall we give these youngsters a demonstration of what they can achieve if they study hard.’

Corran held up his hands defensively. ‘Wasn’t my idea.’

Mara stalked towards him, stopping only a metre short. She planted her feet firmly apart and put her hands on her hips. ‘Come now, Kieran.’ Corran marvelled at how she could make any name sound like an insult. ‘I promise I won’t hurt you too much.’

Corran’s gaze met hers for a moment. ‘No Force?’

‘No Force. Just you and me. And the dirt you’ll be eating.’

He straightened slightly. ‘I don’t think so, Jade.’

Before she could respond, he swung a blow at her midsection; a blow she easily parried before aiming a kick at his side. He absorbed the impact of the kick by falling to the ground, then grabbed her ankles with his feet and twisted, dumping her unceremoniously on her rump. They were both up in an instant, raining punches and kicks towards each other, although most were deflected and very few of them met their target. Three times Mara managed to throw Corran onto his back, eliciting cheers from the female students. The third time was hard enough to wind him, and it took Corran several seconds to get up.

‘Ready to quit yet, Kieran?’ asked Mara. Her body glistened with sweat and some of her hair had escaped its braid, but her voice was steady.

‘No way,’ said Corran, circling slowly. ‘I’ve still got to get you back for that last throw.’

Mara assumed a basic defensive pose. ‘Give it your best shot, Correlian.’

The screech of an animal in the nearby jungle diverted Mara’s attention for only a tiny fraction of a second, but it was enough for Corran. He threw his whole body at her, knocking her flat on her back, quickly pinning her arms to the side of her head and using his legs to pin her thighs. ‘Got you.’

Mara’s was a look of pure fury. ‘You cheated.’

Corran shook his head. ‘Just used every available opportunity.’ He placed a chaste kiss on her forehead, a move guaranteed to rile her further, then waited for the backlash. He was saved from the possibility of an early death by the sound of clapping coming from the edge of the clearing. He winked at Mara before getting to his feet and helping her up. ‘Master Skywalker. Didn’t realise you were in the audience.’

Luke came forward, waving a hand at the students who quickly ran off in the direction of the Academy. ‘You’ll have to teach me that move, Corran. Could come in handy for subduing an angry wife.’

‘Not in a million years, Skywalker,’ replied Mara. ‘He got real lucky, that’s all. I take it you arrived too late to see all the times I had him on the deck.’

Luke winced. ‘Nope, I saw that too.’ He looked the two of them up and down, noting all the plant and earth stains on their skin and clothing. ‘I’m not having lunch with you two unless you shower first.’

Mara looked at Corran and Corran looked at Mara. ‘You thinking what I’m thinking?’

Corran nodded. ‘Exalted Master is too clean.’

They jumped Luke simultaneously, bearing him to the ground. Corran dumped handfuls of earth on Luke’s chest and legs while Mara smeared his face with some of the stains on her arms. After a few minutes they stepped back to admire their handiwork and they each offered him an arm to help him up.

Luke grabbed both arms and hauled himself upright, brushing away the worst of the dirt. ‘I let you do that, you know.’

Mara nodded. ‘Uh-huh. Sure you did.’

‘I did!’ Luke’s voice had gone up slightly. ‘This is me lightening up.’

Corran thumped him on the back. ‘Very good, Luke. Next time you can be the one she throws about.’

‘Um, maybe not. I’ve got this reputation thing with the students. . .’ He slapped his forehead with the palm of his hand. ‘I forgot why I came out to find you.’ He took Mara’s hands in his own and smiled. ‘The poodoo hits the ion-drive in two days. Leia’s called a press conference for that afternoon.’

The three of them met for lunch in Luke’s office, although they found it hard to work up an appetite.

Corran leaned back in his chair, toying with a piece of bread. ‘If you’re expecting trouble from the media, shouldn’t Mara be there to keep the record straight?’

Mara and Luke exchanged a glance. ‘We kind of thought we might go off somewhere until the fuss dies down a bit.’

Corran shook his head. ‘I don’t think Luke should leave the Academy until the students are all gone. Just in case.’

Luke nodded. ‘You’re right, of course. But Mara could stay here; she doesn’t need to face them on Coruscant.’

‘Wouldn’t advise it,’ said Corran. ‘You’d have the media ships buzzing around here all the time. I don’t think that would do the students a lot of good, either. If you split up, then the reporters will get bored quicker.’

‘Besides,’ said Mara, ‘I’ve still got a lot of business to sort out.’ She met Luke’s gaze. ‘Business that I can do better on Coruscant.’

Luke held her gaze for a few moments before smiling tightly. ‘I know. You can’t do your job from a backwater like this. You’ve told me before.’

She smiled back. ‘You sort out the Academy, and I’ll sort out my affairs on Coruscant.’ She frowned slightly. ‘I should really get in contact with Karrde and see if Shada needs anything.’

‘If you want to get back in time for the media conference, you’ll have to leave tomorrow,’ said Luke.

‘I know.’

‘I’ve got to go tomorrow too,’ said Corran. ‘Sorry.’

Luke frowned at him, then back at his fiancee. ‘I’m getting that abandoned feeling again.’

Corran stood up and stretched. ‘Well, how about I take the afternoon combat class and you two disappear for a bit of R and R. Then I won’t feel so guilty about leaving.’

‘Liar,’ smiled Mara. ‘You just don’t want me to show you up again.’

‘Could be.’ Corran winked at her. ‘Do you want to take up my offer or would you rather throw me about in front of a bunch of students.’

Luke quickly put his hand over Mara’s mouth to silence her next quip. ‘We’d love an afternoon off. Thank you.’

Mara stuck her tongue out and Luke yanked his hand away. ‘Yuk!’ he said. ‘Mara!’

Mara glared at him. ‘Next time you do that, I’ll bite.’

They decided a return visit to ‘their’ lake was called for, and were soon touching down in the same clearing they had landed in on their previous visit. The shuttle ramp hissed open and Luke came down carrying a slightly dented metal box in one hand and two large towels in the other. This side of the planet was still in darkness and Luke pulled out a glow rod and let the light play over the nearby jungle. Not so much as a leaf rustled.

Mara followed him down the ramp, then closed and sealed it. She moved up behind him and wrapped her arms around him, resting her cheek on his shoulder. ‘Found anything?’

Luke turned slightly to look at her. ‘Why don’t you tell me? Stretch out with the Force and tell me if there’s anything nearby we should be worried about.’

Mara rolled her eyes. ‘Don’t you ever take any time off, Skywalker?’

‘Nope. And this is a good exercise, with us standing so close together.’

Mara tightened her grip round his chest, closed her eyes and stretched her Force sense towards the surrounding jungle. Luke’s immediate presence was very distracting, but she could still make out the small animals and insects that surrounded her. ‘I can’t sense anything dangerous,’ she finally said.

Luke turned in her arms and pulled her into an embrace. ‘Me neither. So I guess we’re safe to have our little picnic.’

They walked hand-in-hand towards the lake, not talking, only enjoying each others’ presence. As it came into view, they both paused, drinking in the picture. The lake was so still, it almost looked like it was made of transparisteel. The temple at one end shone stark white in the moonlight. The only sound was the rustling of the closed flowers and grasses that surrounded the water.

Mara took in a deep breath and smiled. ‘I used to hate this moon with a vengeance. I quite like it now.’

Luke pulled her in for a hug as they walked towards the temple. ‘I have to admit it improves dramatically when you’re around.’ He kissed her forehead. ‘Why don’t you go for a swim while I get a fire going.’

‘Sure,’ said Mara. ‘Any excuse to get the girl naked, hmmmm?’

‘Not at all. You could always keep your clothes on.’

‘Yeah, right.’ Mara stripped off her clothes and dropped them just inside the temple entrance as Luke started to pile some wood in the centre of the room. He thumbed on his lightsaber and carefully touched the tip to the dry wood until the fire crackled into life. Then he walked back towards the entrance and leaned against the wall, feeling a little voyeuristic as he watched Mara power her way through the water, leaving very little wake. Her long strokes mesmerised him and he had to remind himself to blink when she reached the far bank and turned to swim back towards him.

She stopped a few meters short of the temple when she spotted him watching her. ‘Are you coming in then, farmboy?’

‘I don’t think so. Looks cold.’

‘You are such a coward, Skywalker. It’s not that bad.’

‘I’ll just go fetch you a towel, shall I?’

Mara grinned. ‘I could make you come in.’

‘No way. You can’t make me do anything I don’t...’ His voice trailed off as Mara lay on her back and floated gently, arms and legs spread, her skin glistening in the moonlight. As she wriggled slightly, tiny waves lapped over her body. The urge to leap into the water beside her was almost overwhelming, and it took some time for Luke to force his eyes closed and try a Jedi calming technique. It didn’t work. Neither did the second. The third managed to slow his heartbeat and breathing back to normal, until he opened his eyes and saw her, still floating. Then he was back to square one.

‘Are you coming in yet?’

Luke swallowed and squeezed his eyes shut again. This was a battle of wills, and she’d been winning too many of those recently. Time to even the score. He forced himself to calm down, remembering to keep his eyes closed this time. ‘I’ve got your towel.’ He could feel her annoyance over their Force bond; she was mighty ticked off. He was just wondering if that had been such a wise move, when he realised that she was out of the water and heading for the temple. He opened his eyes just in time to see her walking through the entrance, water still dripping off her, leaving tiny puddles in her wake. The sight of her naked body lit only by the flickering firelight as she prowled towards him sent him back into spasms of longing, and he realised the wall was the only thing keeping him vertical.

Mara stopped just in front of him, not quite touching. She had thought she’d had him; she really thought he was going to leap into the water with her. Maybe he would have been calm enough to take his clothes off first, but she couldn’t believe he would actually be able to resist her like that. She looked a little closer. There was a definite bulge in his trousers, his knuckles were white where they gripped the wall behind him, and his bare arms were covered in a light sheen of sweat. As her gaze travelled upwards, she noticed him swallowing hard, and when her eyes met his, she knew she had him now. However, he also ‘had’ her; she was as turned on as he was, and she longed to just pull him onto the stone floor and take him there and then.

When their eyes met, Luke could contain himself no longer. He pushed himself off the wall and took her in his arms, his mouth ravishing hers. Her body felt ice-cold against the heat of his arms and he pulled her further into his embrace. He was about to scoop her up and find somewhere more comfortable, when she pushed him back against the wall, breaking their kiss so she could pull his t-shirt out of the waistband of his trousers.

‘What is it about this place that just makes me want to jump you, Skywalker.’

Luke stripped off his t-shirt and pulled her in for another kiss. ‘I have no idea. But I like it. We should come here more often.’

‘Maybe it has something to do with the dark side,’ mumbled Mara, breathing heavily as Luke kissed and sucked at her neck. ‘Maybe there’s some dead Sith Lord haunting this place, and this is how he gets his kicks.’

Luke stopped his ministrations and looked into her eyes. ‘You have GOT  to be joking, Jade.’

She leaned into him for a quick open-mouthed kiss. ‘Of course.’ Another kiss. ‘We’d have felt it before now.’ A longer kiss. ‘Got you going though, farmboy.’

//Yes, you’ve definitely got me going// said Luke over their bond, as he divested himself of the rest of his clothing. //Now what are you going to do about it?//

Mara pressed herself up against him, her hands reaching down to squeeze his butt as she kissed and nipped at his neck. //What do you suggest I do, Skywalker?//

Luke lifted her up into his arms and turned to face the wall. Mara realised what he was planning and braced herself for the feeling of cold wall against her back, but it never came. Luke took a couple of steps, then she felt as though there was a pillow behind her, cushioning her from the wall. She turned her head slightly and realised that although her back felt like it was pressed against something solid, she was actually slightly out from the wall. //Isn’t this unnecessary use of the Force, Luke// she asked, closing her eyes and throwing her head back as he took one of her nipples into his mouth.

//I can hold you against the wall, if you like//

//No thanks// She shuddered a little as he entered her, and her legs automatically hooked together behind him. She reopened her eyes to see him watching her carefully. She smiled and leaned in for a kiss as he slowly started to move inside her. //I love you//

He broke the kiss and touched his forehead to hers, their gaze meeting under long lashes. //You’re only saying that because I’m screwing you senseless//

She tightened her inner muscles around him and captured his moan in a kiss. //Could be// She felt herself being gently pinned to the ‘wall’ as he moved faster, and had to control the urge to sink her teeth into his shoulder. He shifted her slightly higher in his arms and suddenly she felt as if she were falling into an abyss of pleasure; she barely heard Luke shout her name as they both climaxed.

He lowered her to the ground, onto slightly shaky legs; Mara’s arms were still round his neck and she leaned in for a long, lazy kiss.

‘What are you thinking?’ she asked.

Luke smiled at her, his eyes drifting all over her face, memorising her every feature. ‘How much I love you. How beautiful you are.’ His stomach growled. ‘And how hungry I am. Can we eat now?’

Later that evening Luke shut down the comm station in his office and stretched out the muscles in his back. He glanced at the chrono on his wrist, then did a double take as he realised how late it was. So much for spending a quiet evening with Mara.

//Luke? Are you finished working yet?//

He smiled at the sound of her voice. //Pretty much// he replied. //Where are you?//

//On the roof. Care to join me?//

//Sure// The sound of her voice and the happiness in his heart gave him an extra little energy boost, and he jumped out of his chair.

//Bring a blanket. It’s getting cold//

He spotted her sitting on the far side of the temple roof, her knees pulled up to her chest, her loose hair blowing about in the breeze. Her chin was resting on her knees and her face was colored red and gold from the distant sunset. He felt a lump form in his throat as he realised how beautiful she was and how much he loved her. How could he have missed her under his nose all these years? He crossed his arms and just stood quietly, drinking her in.

Mara smiled but didn’t look around. ‘Come on, Skywalker. Where’s that blanket? I’m starting to freeze here.’

He walked over and sat down behind her, bracketing her body with his arms and legs, pulling the blanket around them both. She turned slightly to smile up at him and he leaned in for a gentle kiss. ‘What possessed you to come up here?’ he asked. ‘You’re cold.’

She shrugged and turned back to watch the sunset. ‘Feeling a bit stressed out, I guess. And in all the times I’ve been here, I’ve never watched the sun set. It’s beautiful.’

He hugged her closer and nuzzled her neck. ‘Not as beautiful as you.’

‘That is such a corny line, Skywalker.’ She tilted her head to one side, allowing him more access to her neck.

‘It’s true.’ He dutifully kissed it, then pulled the blanket tighter round them and rested his head on her shoulder. ‘I’m going to miss you.’

Mara sighed. ‘And I’ll miss you. Let’s just bury ourselves in work and we’ll be together in no time.’

‘I suppose so.’

She leaned back into his embrace and closed her eyes, heightening her other senses. She could feel every muscle in his arms as they tightened round her, she could smell his distinctive scent, and she could feel his thoughts and emotions over their Force bond. ‘I love you.’

Luke squeezed his eyes shut and buried his face in her hair. ‘You have no idea how happy I feel every time I hear you say that.’

‘Oh, I think I have a pretty good idea.’

They sat in companionable silence for a while as the sun dipped lower on the horizon, turning the sky a deeper red.

‘Leia’s going to have another go at me about the wedding, isn’t she,’ said Mara.

Luke nodded. ‘She did say something about setting a date when I spoke to her this morning.’

‘So what should I tell her.’

‘I already told her I’m working on it.’

Mara turned to look at him. ‘You’re working on it?’

Luke smiled. ‘Okay, Tionne’s working on it. She said something about a Jedi bonding ceremony in the records. She’s trying to get more details, but until we know what ceremony to use, we can’t set a definite date.’

‘I hope this ceremony doesn’t involve half the New Republic being present.’

‘I’m sure it won’t. From what I can gather, the old Jedi kept their ceremonies very private. I can’t see why this one would be any different.’

Mara smiled. ‘We could always “tweak” the histories a little to see it isn’t.’

‘I hope you’re kidding,’ said Luke.

‘Maybe.’ She kissed him. ‘It’s getting dark. Let’s go to bed.’


Onward to chapter seven

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