Sunday, October 9, 2016

Upcoming Stories and Story Ideas

This is a list of stories I'm working on, hope to work on soon, and am developing ideas for. Keep in mind that this list can and will change depending on what I'm interested in at any given time and what else is going on in my life.

Currently Working On:

The Resistance Kids and the Haunted House (Alternative Universe 1940's Horror Comedy) -  Rey Rider is a British immigrant now living in the Bowery with her friends, a group of older teens and young adults who call themselves "The Resistance Kids." They have three main concerns in late October 1949 - bringing together Hank Solo, the gruff mechanic who employs four of them, with his estranged wife Leia Waller-Solo, their huge Halloween party at the spooky Skywalker Manor, and how to keep their rivals The First Order Gang from interfering with the first two. When Hank and their friend Poe Dameron disappear, they have to discover the secrets of Skywalker Manor and deal with two sets of interested parties who don't want them there!

Tales of the Gold Wookie (Alternative Universe 1930's Adventure) - It's 1939. Layla and Luke Skylark are fresh out of the University of Arizona and ready to change the world. She's an archaeologist; he's a reporter. While Luke is content to be an intern for world-weary veteran crime reporter Benton Kennally, Layla is far more ambitious. She wants to find lost treasures for her idol, museum owner Marta Mothma. Her current obsession is rescuing the (reportedly magical) lost royal jewels of the Kingdom of Alderaan from nasty General Tarkin and the Empire.

Luke convinces her to hire Harry Solomon, a pilot with a dilapidated plane who runs his own charter service, to take them to where the treasures were last seen. Layla's not happy with the idea at first. Harry is rude, arrogant, and only cares about getting his share of the treasure. Not to mention, some of his former bosses make Tarkin look like a kitten. Tarkin has his own formidable underling, the corrupt industrialist Derek Vader. After Kennally gets into trouble with Vader, Luke insists on bringing along venerable old Asian archaeology professor Takamashi Yoda as their guide.

Coming Up Next:

Star Wars Original Trilogy

Original Snow Queen-Inspired Action/Fantasy - Set in the three years between New Hope and Empire Strikes Back, and my first story set within the regular Star Warsuniverse. Han, Chewie, Leia, and Luke are on a diplomatic mission to buy supplies from a snow planet that's remained neutral in the battle between the Empire and Rebellion. Leia's hoping to sway them to the Alliance's side. Unlike Hoth, this planet is inhabited, mainly by criminals and nasty goblins. It's queen is a shrewd magician with her own ice-based powers. The goblins, determined to make mischief, get slivers of a Force-sensitive crystal in Luke's eyes and heart. It turns him into the opposite of his usual self...making him cold and distant to his two best friends. Leia, Han, and Chewie have to dodge the planet's shadier citizens and a summer witch with her own plans in order to free Luke from the goblins' spell and find out just what the Snow Queen is up to.

Star Wars Sequel Trilogy

Nutcracker-Inspired Story - Clara Marie Stahlbaum (known as "Rey" to her friends) receives an old wooden nutcracker from her mysterious Uncle Luke Drosselmayer on Christmas Eve. Her older brother Benjamin teases her about her fondness for such a homely, old-fashioned gift. Her mother Leia and her father Hans are more understanding. She's upset when Benjamin accidentally breaks it, then claims it's not fit to crack nuts for the rats in the house. Their menacing tutor, Ebeneezer Snoke, agrees. Rey doesn't like Snoke at all, but Benjamin trusts him utterly.

That night, Rey creeps down to the Christmas tree to see her Nutcracker again. The moment she falls asleep with him in her arms, she has a most peculiar dream. Uncle Luke is a magician, banished from the Land of Sweets by the evil Rat King Snoke and his apprentice Kylo Ren. The Nutcracker Prince, the true ruler of the land, has vanished and is presumed dead. Lady Leia, the Sugar Plum Fairy, leads an army of toys, candy, and snowflakes to find the prince and free her beloved Fairy Cavalier Han, who has been kidnapped is being held hostage by Snoke in the Gingerbread Castle. Rey finds herself caught up in the search...and falling for the half-human, half-wooden Nutcracker.

Remember WENN

Once Upon a Time In the Land of WENN (Alternative Universe Fantasy/Fairy Tale) - Even when Elizabeth and the others leave Port Harbor, looking for the Emerald Talisman, trouble follows. Lady Gloria Redmond has no desire to even discuss the magic that caused her so much grief. There's also the evil candy witch Pavla Nemcova, who has both Jeff Singer and Sir Victor Comstock in her grasp, to contend with.

In Development: 

Star Wars Original Trilogy

Dark Medieval Fantasy (Han/Leia based fantasy) - Inspired by this Tumblr post. Leia is in search of her missing brother Luke, who was in training to be a wizard before their parents were killed and he was kidnapped. He's not the only one who has disappeared. The queen is dying. Her greedy, power-hungry adviser Palapatine is taking over the throne. The queen once had a son, Prince Hannel, but he vanished and is presumed dead. It's rumored that Palapatine is really a dark sorcerer who worked some terrible enchantment on the missing prince.

Leia finds a man imprisoned in a dungeon in a remote corner of the kingdom. The bedraggled man with the auburn hair had once worn fine robes, but now has no idea who he is. All Leia knows is he's insufferably stubborn, an excellent shot with a bow and arrow, and is always accompanied by an enormous Wookie wolf. The two are eventually joined by an eccentric old wizard and a mysterious unicorn with sad blue eyes as they try to find out who the silent man is and avenge Leia's family. 

Superhero Story (Alternative Universe 1970's Superhero/Action Fantasy) - Leah O'Malley is an intern in corrupt Coruscant City by day in 1977. By night, she's Force Girl, a superheroine who is a member of the Rebel League, a society of superheroes and vigilantes who fight the regime of the evil Mayor Palapatine and the devious Chief of Police/super villain Derek Veder. Lucas Weston is a geeky college kid and major comics fan who discovers that the owner of a local book store/comics shop was once The Negotiator, a great World War II/Golden Era superhero...and that Lucas is the inheritor of a superheroic dynasty. Lucas seeks help from Harris Arietta, a carpenter and handyman whose dog Chewbacca always rides with him and acts as a Team Pet.

80's Summer Story (Alternative Universe 1980's Comedy/Action) - Leia and Luke Walker are just out of high school and are celebrating their last two months of freedom before she goes to college for political science and he joins the Coast Guard. Uncle Ben, a local beach bum, owns a series of dilapidated cottages on the beach at the edge of town. He'll let them rent a cottage and keep an eye on them, and they'll run chores and help him with the cottages' upkeep. Things go south very quickly when Leia discovers that a nasty corporation wants to buy the cottages, tear them down, force out the permanent residents, and build an elaborate hotel and mall in their place. The Imperial Gang, a motorcycle group, has been threatening the residents and Uncle Ben for months. She and Luke rally the residents, including shady fisherman Hank Solokowski, his British buddy Charlie Bachman, Luke's Coast Guard friend Walter "Wedge" Antilles, and foreign nerds Chip and Arturro, to help fight back.

Remember WENN 

Captain Victor, Man of Power (Alternative Universe Superhero/Action) - Set directly after the first season episode "There But Before Grace." Tired of dealing with (and being run all over by) sponsors and confused about his feelings for Betty and Grace Cavendish, Victor Comstock imagines himself as one of those new superheroes that have become popular with the kids, Jeff as his sidekick, Betty as the new girl reporter on the block, C.J as a scientist, Ceila as the daughter of a missing scientist and Victor's other sidekick, Hilary as a snooty actress-turned-society-reporter, Mackie as their boss, and Grace as a Dragon Lady-type villaness.

The Best Radio Christmas Pageant Ever - A kind of "missing scene" story set during the early first season. Victor wants to present the story of the Nativity on the airwaves, but the kids starring in the show are unruly, Hilary wants a bigger role, the sponsor is turning the show into a commercial, and Ceila will have nothing to do with it. And there's reports of a major snowstorm heading for Pittsburgh...

On the Edge of the Precipice Series

The Fox and the Falcon - Betty finds herself head over heels involved in espionage when the true leader of the spy ring becomes known...and Victor Comstock returns with startling news...

Remember WENN Fairy Tale Series

Hilary's Story: Beauty and the Beast - Wrap-around segments set day after fourth-season episode "You've Met Your Match." Story based around third and fourth season. Angry at Scott and Jeff for their behavior the night before and in the past few months in general, Betty and Hilary concoct the story of two sisters who discover that the beastly owner and manager of a dilapidated theater may not be what they appear on the outside...or even inside...

Mr. Eldridge and Gertie's Story: The Man Who Minded the House - Set after and based around the fourth season episode "Work Shift." Mr. Eldridge recalls the story of how a man and a woman (him and Gertie) learn that the grass isn't always greener in someone else's work area when he takes over her household duties and she works in the fields.

Story Ideas: 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Sequel Trilogy)

The Wizard of Oz (Alternative Universe Fantasy-Wizard of Oz-inspired) - Rachel "Rey" Gale lives with her Aunt Leah and Uncle Harry and their two farmhands on a farm outside of Jakkuson, Kansas in 1939. She feels like her life is as gray as the world around her, especially after the nasty man who runs the First Order Manor near-by threatens to take her beloved Westie Terrier BeeBee to the pound and her grouchy cousin demands his share of the farm. A tornado whisks Rey and BeeBee over the rainbow and into the land of Oz. Oz is under the tyrannical rule of the Warlock of the West and his apprentice. Queen Leia was imprisoned in her own magic bubble and banished to the lands of the South, where she amasses an army to stop him. She once ruled with her husband and her wizard brother, but her husband vanished after he was attacked by her son, and her brother is hiding in the Emerald City. Rey has to go to the Emerald City to find the Wizard Skywalker, with the help of a cowardly lion-soldier, a scarecrow who had once worked for the queen, and the Tin Smuggler, who seems to know a lot more about the queen and the Warlock of the West and his apprentice than he'll let on...

Remember WENN

Maltese Falcon Film Noir Spoof II (Alternative Universe Film Noir/Mystery) - Wrap-around set during the late third or early fourth seasons. Hilary and Scott give two different sides of the tale of a dame who may or may not have gotten a private eye involved with smuggling and murder.

Ceila Short Story - Missing scene set during the first season episode "A Capitol Idea." Ceila says good-bye to the station after she's hired by the guy who wanted her to promote Blondie cartoons.

Fairy Tale Series

Jeff's Story - Aladdin and His Magic Lamp
C.J's Story - Jack and the Beanstalk
Victor's Story - King Arthur
Ceila's Story - Goldielocks and the Three Bears
Mackie's Story
Eugenia and Mr. Foley's Story

Original Children's Short Stories

Stories based after childhood memories, including:

Painting someone else's fence.
Little kids running through other people's yards when Mom and Dad aren't looking.
Beach frolics - walking home from the beach.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Stories We Leave Behind - A Star Wars Short Story

Rating: PG (discussion of death and murder)
Pairings: None
Disclaimer: The franchise belongs to George Lucas and the Walt Disney Company.

I wrote this story to address several complaints about “The Force Awakens” and a lot of the finger-pointing I've seen in the “Star Wars” fandom. I love the Original Trilogy a lot...but I loved “The Force Awakens,” too. I really like Han and Leia and Luke, but I also like Poe and Finn and especially Rey. What I want to see is them all working TOGETHER, generations having adventures and sharing stories and learning from one another, regardless of whether Han survives or not.

Rey had so many questions she wanted to ask Luke. So much had happened since she'd left Jakku. It was decided from the first that, other than picking up a few personal items and articles of clothing, she would not be returning there. Rey knew now that Maz was right. Her life was ahead of her, not behind. If she could become a Jedi, maybe it would be even easier to find her family. And if she couldn't find them...well, she felt as if she'd already found one.

Luke Skywalker wasn't at all what she expected. Most of the holofilm posters showed him as a chesty blond with high, striking cheekbones and broad shoulders. She definitely had no idea he was a diminutive gray-haired, fifty-something man with twinkling blue eyes and a surprisingly mischievous sense of humor for a Jedi knight.

Many things still troubled her, though. She'd heard through the HoloNet that speculation ran rampant in the Resistance, and even the First Order, that she was the lover of either Finn or Poe, or both...or even Kylo Ren. She liked Finn and Poe a lot. Ever since Finn had recovered from his wounds, they'd both visited as often as they could, often bending over backwards to help her out or bring supplies. She enjoyed their friendship, but she wasn't sure if it was whatever love was yet. Perhaps in a few months, or a year, she'd understand better.

Frankly, she would have been happy to never see Kylo Ren's scarred face again as long as she lived. Many girls in the First Order, and even some in the Resistance, found him to be as dashing and brooding as the prince in the old Jakku folk tale about the peasant girl who released a sand beast from an evil wizard's spell. Rey thought they were nice stories, but she she saw nothing romantic at all about a man who killed his father, knocked her out, and practically tried to mind-rape her. If his cohorts in the First Order wanted him (it was rumored General Hux was rather interested in him), they were more than welcome to him.

Han's death especially troubled her. She and Luke had attended his funeral at the new Resistance base at Mey's Wood, a lonely stretch of land by the sea on the planet of Atlantica. It nearly killed her to see Luke and Leia holding each other, Leia's still-beautiful face awash with tears. She'd come to really admire the General. The General was the strongest woman she knew. She'd been such a comfort for her when she first came back from Starkiller and was feeling lost and lonely, with Han and Finn gone and Chewbacca mourning in his own way.

She couldn't concentrate. She and Luke were supposed to spend hours meditating, but her mind kept wandering back to the events on Starkiller Base. Why did Han do that? Didn't he know his son wasn't automatically going to come home? Didn't he know Kylo loved power (and maybe his First Order comrades) and thought his family hated him? Han was better than that. He deserved better. So did Luke. So did Leia, and Finn, and Poe and Jessika and Snap.

Luke frowned from his perch on the mossy stone of the old Jedi temple. “You're still thinking of Han's death.”

Rey nodded. “I can't help it. It shouldn't have happened, Master Luke. I don't care what Kylo said. Han was a good man and a good friend. He never once disappointed ME. I've seen it in your mind, and in the General's. You both loved him. Finn loved being called 'Big Deal.' Han respected him, didn't treat him like garbage because of the color of his skin or because he'd been with the First Order. He shouldn't have died! I shouldn't have let him die! Finn and Chewie and I should have done something!”

Luke put his arm around the girl as the tears began to fall. “I've wondered the same thing myself over the past ten months or so. Han's death was a blow to us all.”

It's not just us, either.” Rey wiped her eyes on the back of her wrists. “Do you know the things they're saying around the Resistance base? Poe and Jess and Finn tell me when they come here. They say none of this should have happened. We should have had the funeral right when we came back, instead of waiting until the Starkiller Base was destroyed. We should have been more respectful. Han and Leia should have been better parents to Kylo, or Ben, or whatever his silly name is. You should have been a better teacher.”

She gave him a shaky smile. “They don't know you, do they? I've loved having you as my teacher. You're tough, but you're fair, and you've given me so much to think about.” Her little smile was so much like Han's lopsided one, Luke's stomach nearly flip-flopped. “And not many Jedi can claim to have been taught by a man who can mimic sixteen different popular holo-toon characters. Not to mention his sister, student, and several close friends.”

Thank you, Rey.” He sighed. “I can't say this in a nicer way. Death is hard. It's hard to digest. It's harder to understand. Especially when it seems as senseless as Han's looked.” His blue eyes gazed into her hazel ones. “I've struggled with the same questions. Could I have done something? Should I have? Could I have come out and saved him? I don't know.”

Why did you lie to Kylo about his grandfather?” She frowned. “I picked that up in his head. He's still really angry about that.”

Luke rolled his eyes. “I didn't want to. That was Leia. The whole deal with Vader is still a very touchy subject with her...and unfortunately, it's backfired on her son and on the entire galaxy.” He looked directly into her eyes. “People make mistakes, Rey. Sometimes, they make big mistakes. I've done many things over the years I regret. Mistakes make us human.” He gave her his sunny smile. “The thing about mistakes is, you can let them take over your life, like I almost did...or you can learn from them.”

Rey looked thoughtful. “I was almost considering it when Han offered me a job. I was hoping...” She bit her lip. “I guess I was hoping I'd found someone who could help me. Someone who was kind to me, and who could teach me more about machines, and maybe even help me find my family. But Kylo...”

She pulled her knees under her. “I can't help it, Master Luke. I hate him! I hate Kylo Ren! I wish I'd been able to tear him to ribbons at Starkiller Base! He shouldn't be trying to imitate Darth Vader. He should imitate you. You forgave your father. You let it go. He wouldn't, or couldn't.”

Luke put a hand on her shoulder. “I'm not going to give you a lecture about 'hate leads to the Dark Side.' We've all been through a lot in the past months. Rey, you have every right to be angry. I have every right to be angry. I lost my school, and we both lost a dear friend. Ben went through a difficult childhood, but it still doesn't excuse what he did. No amount of childhood difficulty excuses cold-blooded murder.”

Some of the members of the Resistance are wondering if he can be redeemed, for Leia's sake.” Rey shrugged. “I don't know if he can, or if he can't. I still don't think that means what he's done is good. He's killed people. That merits some form of punishment. Maybe jail time, or working in the mines of Kessel.” She smirked. “In Jakku, they'd probably string him up by that skinny neck of his to the nearest rafter, if they didn't shoot him outright.”

Luke nodded. “Sounds like Tatoonie. I saw a lot of people strung up for even worse crimes.”

Rey picked at her brown nerf-wool cloak. It was way too big for her, but it was the only cloak they could find in the shops at Mey's Wood that even closely resembled anything a Jedi wore. “I want to honor Han in some way, and not just by continuing to run the Falcon. Everyone I've talked to had some story about him, something he did or said. The stories I've heard from you, and Leia, and Poe, and all the older Resistance staff, they make me feel closer to him.”

That's why we tell stories.” Luke drew his own legs up to his chest. “Han, Leia, and I used to spend hours on the Falcon between battles, talking about Alderaan and Corellia and Leia's family and my aunt and uncle. Han was sort-of raised by an old female Wookie who was the cook for the pirates who shanghaied him as a child, and he had a lot of great stories about her. Talking about the people and places we'd lost made them feel closer, and their loss a little easier to bear.”

Could we tell stories about Han?” Rey looked up at him. “Maybe we could even gather them somewhere, on a holo-port, or on the holo-net somewhere. So no one will ever forget him, or what he meant to people.”

I'd like that.” Luke nodded. “We could talk to Leia, and to the people at the Resistance who knew him.”

I could talk to Poe when he comes,” Rey added excitedly. “He said he knew Han and Leia when he was little. His parents were good friends of theirs. And we could try to get in touch with Maz Kantana again. She seemed to know him really well.”

Luke stood. She got up with him. “Stories help us to heal. They help by relating memories and keeping them alive. I miss Han. I miss him more every day. But I know he's in here,” he touched his chest, where his heart was, “and in there.” He touched Rey's chest. “And as long as he's in our hearts, and in our stories, he's not really gone.”

Rey nodded. “Could we work together? Maybe get Leia and Finn and Poe to help?”

He put an arm around her shoulders. “Now you're thinking the Jedi way. That's why there's the master-padawan relationship. Stories are better when they're shared...and when they're passed on to the next generation.”

He grinned, adding in an uncanny version of a familiar gruff voice, “'Cause I ain't gonna let ya take all the credit an' get all the reward, kid!”

Rey laughed. “You sound just like him! You should do voices on holo-toons.”

Luke chuckled. “Now, that's an idea....” 

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Luke White and Leia Red - A Star Wars Short Story

Rating: PG (mild violence, animal cruelty)
Pairings: Han/Leia, Lando/Luke
Disclaimer: The franchise belongs to George Lucas and the Walt Disney Company. I just got back into this fandom after more than a decade away and decided I wanted to play, too.

This is based after the Grimm Fairy Tale “Snow White & Rose Red.” It's always been one of my very favorite fairy tales. Though I've seen a version at Archive of Our Own that used the “Force Awakens” cast and it was cute, I thought it would do equally well with characters from the Original Trilogy.

Once upon a time, in a cottage in the middle of a great woods in the Kingdom of Alderaan, lived the twins Leia and Luke. Their parents had died many years ago when the evil Kingdom of the Empire raided their land. Their father's dear friend Sir Obi-Wan Kenobi had fled, taking both children into the trees to raise them away from the conflict. Fearing the Empire and its dark magic's return, he taught both children the ways of the knights, how to defend themselves and fight off intruders with swords and bows and arrows.

Luke and Leia were as different as night from the day. Luke was gentle and good-natured, slow to anger and quick to believe the best of others. He was very close to Obi-Wan, and often stayed home to help him with the household and tend to the garden, or read out loud when there was no work to be done. His hair was the color of warm golden sand, his eyes the rich blue of the skies between the tree tops.

Leia's long hair was as dark as Luke's was gold. Her eyes were the deep brown of the grizzly bears who lived in caves on the edge of the woods. Leia preferred to run in the fields and catch butterflies, or hunt rabbits and quail for dinner, or go fishing in the stream. It was she who bartered for the things they needed that they couldn't make themselves, sugar and flour and salt and leather for their shoes. She had a fine, hot temper and was more likely to attack than her calmer brother.

For all their differences, the two were inseparable. “Whither you go, I go,” they'd often say to each other. When they were together, they were usually seen hand-in-hand, and would be mistaken more for sweethearts than siblings. Obi-Wan agreed. “What one gets, the other shares,” he would tell them. Obi-Wan did worry about their frequent wanderings in the woods, gathering berries and nuts. He feared some animal would devour them. The older man's fears eventually proved unfounded. No animal ever harmed them. The rabbits ate out of their hands. The squirrels would run around them, chattering merrily. Birds sang for them in branches overhead; deer grazed by them.

The trio kept that little cottage neat as a pin. The garden, with its lettuces and carrots and beans all in a row, was Luke's pride and joy. Obi-Wan raised herbs, for he had some skills as a healer. Leia would take his poultices into town, where they were much requested. But there were no flowers that the trio loved more than the roses that grew on the bushes outside the cottage's steps. There were two on either side, one white, one red. The twins loved them so much, they called themselves Luke White and Leia Red.

One cold winter's afternoon, Luke and Leia were out gathering the last of the nuts from the walnut trees just a mile or so from their home. Luke, who preferred warmer weather, shivered. The air was dry and crisp, and smelled of wood smoke. “I believe it'll snow tonight, sister,” he said as he dropped a few nuts in his basket.

Leia nodded, taking a deep sniff. Weather of any sort very seldom bothered her. “Yes,” she said, “isn't it bracing? Soon, we'll be able to have snowball fights and melt sugar syrup into cups of snow.”

He pulled some stubborn nuts off a branch. “I'd rather be inside, reading to Uncle Obi-Wan and looking at the seed catalogs from the garden store in town.”

Suddenly, the sound of galloping hooves shook the trees around them “What's that?” Leia frowned. “It's not usual to see anyone in the woods at this time of year.”

Luke nodded. “And most of the animals are hibernating.”

Their eyes widened as a beautiful golden mare rode up to them. The man atop it was the handsomest either of them had ever seen. He had skin the color of the coffee Uncle Obi-Wan enjoyed with breakfast, large, melting dark eyes, curly black hair, a thin mustache, and a warm, knowing smile. He was resplendent in the finest clothes they'd ever seen, a heavy blue and gold suit with thick velvet trim and a dashing gold-lined cape. A small gold crown was nestled in his curls. The mare was trailed by what appeared to be a shaggy brown mountain on four furry feet.

Well, hello there.” He leaned over, kissing both their hands. “I knew a few healers and woodsmen lived in these parts, but I didn't know they were as attractive as you two. What might your names be?”

Luke's blue eyes were wide. “Oh...” He felt as if he'd quite forgotten his own name. Leia nudged him. “I'm Luke, sir.” He bowed quickly.

Leia dropped into an awkward curtsy. “And I'm Leia. We live in a cottage near-by, with our Uncle Obi-Wan.”

Ahhh.” He managed to bow from on top of the horse. “My name is Prince Lando, of the Kingdom of Corellia, the next land over. This,” he patted his horse, “is Lady Luck.” He nodded at the enormous dog beside him. “That's Chewbacca, my brother's best hunting dog.”

His smile fell. “You probably haven't heard the news way out here, but three days ago, our kingdom was attacked by a vicious sorcerer, an evil old crone named Palpatine. He stole our treasury, leaving us penniless.” His eyes became haunted. “My younger brother Han vanished while defending the vaults. The entire kingdom's been searching for him for weeks, but we may have to call it off soon. It'll be too hard to look for him in deep snows.”

Leia could see the genuine sorrow in the man's eyes. The dog next to him whimpered at Han's name. “I'm sorry, but we've seen no one in these parts for weeks besides us, our guardian, and our pets.”

Luke took his hand. “If there's any way we could help...”

Keep an eye out for my wayward brother.” He grinned at Luke, whose sweet face flushed crimson. “If the snow's not too deep by the time you run into him, tell him he needs to come home. Mother's worried sick about him, and ol' Chewie here barely eats or sleeps without his master.” The dog nodded, thumping his tail as if he understood what Lando said.

We will.” Leia couldn't help noticing how Lando held Luke's hand just a few seconds more before he finally rode off into the woods. The dog looked over its shoulder, then followed his master.

Wasn't he beautiful, sister?” Luke sighed. “I've never seen a man like that before!”

I'm more concerned about his brother.” Leia wished Luke would keep his head on the ground for once. He had a tendency to daydream and get off the subject. “Remember what Uncle Obi-Wan told us about evil sorcerers? They can appear to be anyone, anything. They transform princesses into cats and princes in to frogs or lions and shoot lightning from their fingertips. I don't know if we could defend our home against that kind of magic.”

You worry too much.” Luke shivered again as the first spot of white drifted onto his nose. “The only thing I'm worried about now is being snowed in! Let's get home, before Uncle Obi-Wan thinks we've been devoured by some beast.”

They hurried into the door just in time. The snow picked up just minutes after they got in. It continued all through the night. After their small dinner of nut and vegetable stew, Uncle Obi-Wan read from a large book of fairy tales, while the twins listened by the roaring fire. It was Leia's favorite story, the one about the lovely peasant girl who kissed a beast, breaking an evil curse and turning him back into a handsome prince. Leia's canary Threepio chirped from his cage. Luke's white pup Artoo cuddled in his lap.

Uncle Obi-Wan had just gotten to the part where the girl's father encountered the beast for the first time when they heard a thump against the front door. “Leia, please get that.” Obi-Wan pushed his spectacles up his nose. “You're the closest to the door. If it's a weary traveler, invite him in for food and shelter.”

Leia thought she saw a man outside, but when she unbolted the wooden door, a huge shaggy brown bear poked his nose in. Leia jumped away, grabbing a poker from the fireplace. Luke gasped and hesitated before taking the shovel. Obi-Wan quickly put the book aside. The canary fluttered in its cage; the dog barked and showed its little teeth.

Please,” the bear said in a gruff growl, “I've been running for days, and I'm half-frozen. I only want warm myself...” He could barely get another word out before he fainted in the doorway.

The poor thing!” Luke went to him at once, stroking his fur. “He's so cold, Uncle Obi-Wan.” When he lifted his hand, he found a thick, dark red liquid spreading on his palm. “He's bleeding!” He rolled the bear over, revealing the red patch on the wood floor. “Looks really bad.” Artoo nudged the bear's back with his little wet nose.

Obi-Wan nodded. “Luke, gather water from the stream out back. Leia, help me move him.” They did so, trying to be as gentle with the heavy creature as possible. Leia brushed the snow off his fur with a broom. Luke came in with the water and helped Obi-Wan wash the blood off. It was matted in patches around his thick torso and head. The older man then gently rubbed his herbal remedies against the singed places. The twins gently wrapped bandages around him. Artoo rubbed him with his paws.

Luke looked up from tying off one bandage. “Who could have done this to him?”

A poacher, I suppose.” Leia tied off the bandage on his front right leg. “There are poachers and hunters in the woods who go after large game.”

Their elderly guardian shook his head. “Those wounds are singed. That's not gun powder I see on his fur. It's...static. The result of some kind of electrical charge.”

An electrical charge?” Leia ran her hand over one of the damaged places. “Like the shock we get when we walk on the rug too close to the dry fire?”

Something like that, yes.” Obi-Wan went to wash out the bowl with the poultice in the bucket. “Or like lightning.”

But it's winter!” Luke scratched the bear between the ears. “We rarely have lightning storms in winter.”

Leia brushed the remaining snow off of his fur. “And there hasn't been one here for ages.”

Perhaps we should adjourn to our beds.” Obi-Wan patted the bear on the head. “He'll be here in the morning. He's not going anywhere with those wounds.”

But he needs a friend!” Leia gently ran her hand down his silky nose. “Could we sleep with him tonight, Uncle Obi-Wan?”

Luke nodded. “It wouldn't be fair to leave him alone in this condition.”

All right.” Their guardian gathered the fairy tale book in his arms. “Just be careful. He may be unconscious, but he is a wild animal, and he does have claws.”

We'll be careful.” As she rubbed his nose, Leia saw deep indentations where leather straps had dug into his skin. “Uncle Obi-Wan, I think he was muzzled. I recognize this. Do you think he's dangerous?”

Obi-Wan shook his head. “I think he's frightened, sick, and cold.” The older man scratched his goatee. “And there's something...something not quite right about him. I don't think he's what he appears to be.” He sighed. “Oh well, we'll figure it out in the morning. Good night!”

Good night, Uncle Obi-Wan!” the twins chorused, before turning their attention to their visitor.

The bear whimpered, his burned paws moving. Leia gently lay the bear's head on her lap. She rubbed her hands over his nose soothingly, her finger trailing down a scar on his chin. “You're having a nightmare. Go back to sleep.”

A pair of hazel eyes ringed by long brown lashes fluttered open. “Huh?” The furry nose poked into her lap. “Hey, where am I?”

You're at our home.” Luke rubbed his back gently. “You sort of just...fell in.”

The bear managed to turn over onto his back with a loud groan. “I feel terrible.”

I'm not surprised.” Leia rubbed his belly in circles. “You're not in good shape. You have burns and cuts and bruises everywhere.” Luke joined her on his other side. “What happened to you?”

I was attacked.” The bear moaned as they rubbed harder on his belly. “Some old geezer wanted our treasure. He...he took it. Hid it somewhere in the woods before the snow came. Maybe underground. I tried to stop him, but...” His legs twitched. “But I don't remember the rest.”

Leia took a stick of kindling from the basket by the fireplace and began rubbing him with that. “Well, your treasure is safe for now. The ground's too frozen for anyone, even a wizard, to dig for it.”

Yeah, I guess you're right.” The bear sighed sadly. “They probably think I ran out.”

Luke looked up from scratching the bear's belly. “They who?”

My family.” He laughed as they continued scratching. “Hey, that tickles!”

I didn't think bears were ticklish!” Luke grinned. “Are you ticklish...right about here?” He ran his hands across the bear's lower abdomen. The movement elicited a deep guffaw from their ursine friend.

Leia giggled. “Ooh, I think he is!” The bear laughed louder.

Cut that out!” Their new companion tried to turn over, but he was laughing too hard to make it. “You kids...'r crazy...”

Obi-Wan stumbled out to the fireplace, his blue eyes bleary. “Please, I don't mind you playing with the bear, but could you attempt to keep it down? Some of us are trying to get much-needed rest.”

The twins blushed. “Sorry Uncle Obi-Wan,” Leia muttered.

Her brother nodded. “We're just having fun.”

Yeah.” The bear finally managed to roll back onto his stomach. “No harm done.”

Well, try to have quiet fun from now on. It's late.” Their guardian finally settled for a sigh. “Good night, children.”

Good night!” all three chorused, even the bear.

The bear pushed closer to the fireplace. Artoo curled up next to him, falling asleep in an instant. “That feels good. Better n' bein' outside in that storm.”

Bear,” Leia blurted out, “would you like to stay with us for the winter?”

Luke leaned on his scruffy back. “We have plenty of room. You could sleep in front of the fireplace.”

I'd like that.” The bear lay his nose on his paws. “I'd have to hunt my own food, once I'm able to move. I eat more n' all three of you put together! I'd need to stretch m'legs, too. I'd hunt, then come back here. I could save some an' bring all of you game. It's the least I can do for you helpin' me.”

That would be wonderful.” Luke lay his head on his back. “You know, you're really soft, for a bear.”

You're scruffy-looking.” Leia put her head on his upper body. “We'll have to give you more of a brushing tomorrow.”

The bear gave them a offended snort. “Who's scruffy-looking?”

She ran her fingers against the scar on his chin. “How did you get this?”

He frowned. “I don't know. There's so much I can't remember.” The creature closed his eyes, trying to recall how it got there.

You're really comfortable, though.” Luke settled into his back, one ear on the bear's beating heart. “Like a great big pillow.”

Leia sighed. “The biggest pillow ever!”

At least all this fur is good for somethin'.” He was about to talk to them again when he heard their steady breathing. Both twins had fallen deeply asleep, curled into his back. He let out a deep sigh. “Night, kids.” The furry visitor finally lay on his paws and went to sleep himself.


Luke and Leia kept an eye on their big friend. Every morning, they'd come out and dress his wounds. Obi-Wan rubbed him with poultice, and the twins would brush his brown fur until it glowed copper against the fire light. He lay before the fire, eating the dried meat Leia brought them from their stores and listening to the stories Luke read.

It was barely a week before the bear was back on his feet. He would leave during the day and return in the evening, usually with a fresh quail or hare for dinner. Leia and Luke tried following him to see where he went several times, but he always outran them. He played with them, letting them tease him and stroke his fur. Artoo loved to pounce on him. They laughed when the bear would try to pounce back, making the whole house shake. Leia had long conversations with him into the night; Luke showed him his seed catalogs and fairy tale books.

Every night, they would fall asleep by the fireplace, Luke and Leia pillowed on the bear's back, Artoo by his side. Obi-Wan thought it was sweet, how close the twins were to him. For his part, the bear, for all his gruffness, was gentle and kind towards them. Still, there was something about that bear that wasn't quite right. The unfortunate creature had no memory of what had burned him, muzzled him, and left him for dead in the snow. He'd change the subject if asked about it, or if anyone asked about his past or his real name besides “bear.”

All too quickly, the first signs of green were seen on the ground. Luke was delighted when soft pale-green shoots began to appear in his garden. Leia and the bear had less and less difficulty finding game.

At last, the day came when the ground was warm and green. “I have to leave now, kids.” The bear nodded towards the woods. “I have to protect my treasure from the evil magician who lives in these woods. You kids take care, too. He may go after you if you get too close.”

Leia scratched him between the ears. “We'll be all right. We can take care of ourselves.”

Obi-Wan gave him one last handful of berries. “What do you mean by 'your treasure?' I didn't know bears had the need for money.”

Belongs to a very important family.” The bear coughed. “I sorta told them I'd take care of it, I think. All I know is, I have to go back.”

You be careful then.” Luke put his arms around him. “Watch out for poachers and hunters.”

I will.” The twins gave him one last hug before he bounded through the door and out to the woods.

Leia had just started to close the door when she noticed a piece of fur caught on a hinge. As she looked up, she happened to notice a bare patch in the furry beast's backside...a patch that looked distinctly black and white. It was quite different from his regular reddish-brown fur. She tried to call to him, but he had already disappeared into the trees.

She told Luke about what she saw a bit later, when they were in his garden gathering spring greens. She even showed him the bit of fur. “You know,” Luke said, as he fingered the fur, “Uncle Obi-Wan did say there was something strange about that bear.”

Leia dropped her greens in the wicker basket. Artoo frolicked between them, chasing squirrels. “He was so ridiculous about that darn treasure! It's as if money was all he cared about.” She threw her last green in the basket so hard, it nearly bounced out. “If money is all he loves, then that's what he'll receive.”

Uncle Obi-Wan is right.” Luke put his garden trowel aside. “He's a bear. What does he want with treasure?”

What does it matter?” Leia stood with her basket. “We'll probably never see him again.”

Oh, I think we will.” Luke smiled at his sister. “Someday.”

Leia wasn't sure if she agreed. She wanted to see the bear again. She liked him. He was gruff and sometimes cynical, for a bear, but he could be funny and sweet. They argued, but she liked that, too. Luke wasn't much for arguing. The beast just seemed dead-set on defending that treasure, whatever it was. He cared more about his treasure than about them.

A few weeks later, Leia was gathering wood for the fire when she heard a racket near a big fallen log. A small, wizened old man with wavy silver hair had caught his long black and purple cape in a cleft in the log. He was yelling and jumping about, twisting this way and that. His beady, dark eyes turned to Leia. “Well, you stupid, whey-faced girl, what are you standing there for? Make some use of yourself!”

You don't have to be rude!” Leia glared at him, her face turning red. “What are you supposed to be doing, anyway?”

I was chopping wood for my kitchen fireplace when my best cape slid into the crevices and got stuck.” Leia couldn't help starting at his face in surprise. Those little piggy eyes seemed to flash yellow as he screamed. Uncle Obi-Wan said sorcerers who performed dark magic had yellow eyes. “Are you going to continue to stare at me, ignorant peasant brat, or are you going to help me?”
Leia put her hands on her hips. “Keep talking to me like that, and you'll be lucky if I don't walk away and leave you trapped!” She tried her hardest to pull out the end of the cape, but it was stuck fast. She finally pulled out the knife she used to cut kindling and hacked through the fabric.

You nasty little wretch!” He yanked the end of the cape into his arm. “Look at what you've done to it! My best cape!”

She failed to feel any sympathy for the ruined clothing. “You asked me to help! And what are you doing chopping wood in a cape, anyway? I don't see an ax around, or a stack of logs.”

He yanked a burlap bag with glittering gemstones spilling out over his shoulder. “None of your beeswax, young lady. I have go about my business. You'll be good enough to keep to yours. Good day!”

I will!” Leia snapped angrily. “Good day!” She stormed off in the other direction. The nerve of that man! How ungrateful could you be? She was only trying to help him. How was he supposed to get wood without an ax?

She didn't really consider the last part until she was at home that evening and told Luke and Uncle Obi-Wan about her encounter over dinner. “I don't think that man was there to chop wood.” Uncle Obi-Wan sliced himself some more bread. “I think he had a more sinister plan in mind.”
Leia mentioned yellow eyes.” Luke swallowed his rabbit stew. “Do you think he was a dark magician?”

Uncle Obi-Wan nodded. “I have felt a disturbance in the balance of the wood's magic recently. Most dark magicians live in caves, where they stay holed up for the winter. They emerge to steal and gather energy again in the spring.” He spread butter from their only cow on his bread. “We must all be cautious.”

What about the bear?” Leia gulped her stew. “He said he was attacked by something. Wouldn't a dark magician be able to use a spell to burn him?”

But why?” Luke took a few strawberries from a bowl. “What did the bear do to him?”

“He was carrying a bag.” Leia licked the last of her stew from her spoon. “Maybe he stole the bear's treasure.”

We haven't seen the bear in weeks.” Uncle Obi-Wan began to gather the dishes. “I'm sure he's found that magician already.”

Leia sighed. “I hope so.”

Luke didn't think any more of their discussion that night until a week or so later. He was on his way to town to buy seeds for his garden. The naughty chickadees and cardinals ate most of the ones he'd originally tried to plant yesterday. They needed those seeds! They were going to be lettuces and squash later in the season. Artoo pattered ahead, sniffing at trees and chasing butterflies.

As he walked through the woods, he heard a screeching. An eagle was trying to drag a small, stately white-haired man away by the end of his slightly torn but still elegant black cape. The man was screaming at the bird, demanding that it released him. Artoo barked at the bird, which only startled the creature and made it clutch its prize harder.

You there!” The older fellow shoved a bony finger at him as he stared. “Boy, I demand that you make this creature give up my cloak! It's my very best one!”

I will, if I can.” Unlike Leia, Luke had patience for people who were ill-tempered and rarely lost his temper himself. He did try to speak calmly to the bird, patting it on the wings as he coaxed it to release the older man. The bird refused to let him go holding on even tighter. Luke tried to yank the cloth from it's talons, but to no avail.

Artoo growled at the old man. He sensed there was something very wrong with this fellow. He didn't smell right. He sensed cave dust and strange powders and the dry tickle of electricity.

I'm sorry, but there's only one thing I can do.” Luke pulled the scissors he used to clip pictures of seeds he wanted from catalogs out of his basket. He cut through the part the eagle clutched, freeing both. For a moment, Luke swore he saw a sickly yellow in the man's eyes, but then, he turned around.

Idiot!” The old man yanked the cape away from him. “Look at what you've done! You ruined it!”

On the contrary.” Luke smiled. “It looks better. It doesn't have those ragged edges anymore.”

Brainless fool! Shows what you know! It looks terrible!” He stormed off, throwing a bag filled with golden coins over his shoulder. “You peasant children are ill-mannered and useless. Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say! Good day!” Artoo tried to nip at his heels, but Luke grabbed him back.

Luke waved as the man stormed off. “You have a nice day, too!” Uncle Obi-Wan always said they should be kind to people, even when they weren't kind themselves. The poor fellow was just attacked by an eagle.

Artoo, on the other hand, watched the man as he made for the path towards the caves. He didn't like that mean old man. He was unkind to Luke, and he smelled nasty. Luke was his favorite human in the whole wide world. He wouldn't let anything happen to him.

Leia's eyes widened when Luke told her and Uncle Obi-Wan about his encounter later, when they were planting in the garden. “That's the same man I ran into!” She patted the earth around one of the squash seeds. “He was rude to me, too.”

I'm sure he didn't mean to be so awful, Leia.” Luke dug the next hole and dropped a seed in. “He was upset over the eagle attacking him and getting stuck in the log.”

She stabbed her trowel into the ground a lot harder than she meant to. “I don't think so. He's just a nasty, rude old crone.”

Obi-Wan was pushing sticks with drawings of the plants into the ends of the rows. Artoo ran nearby, barking at gophers. “I think we need to watch out for him. You said he had yellow eyes?”

Just for a minute.” Luke gently dropped a seed into his hole. “He turned around before I could get a closer look.”

Leia nodded. “I saw them, too.”

Obi-Wan stood, stretching his cramped old back. “He's certainly a dark magician of some kind. I want you both to be extra careful when you're out in the woods. Don't either of you go anywhere without the other for a while. Take Artoo with you for added protection. He's small, but he's fierce, and quite strong for his size and age.”

We will.” Leia dug fiercely at the ground. “We won't let some sorcerer turn us into frogs!”

Maybe being a frog would be fun.” Luke smiled dreamily. “We'd be great swimmers!”

But we'd be all slimy!” Leia wrinkled her nose. “And frogs can't plant gardens or take care of puppies. If he's going to turn us into anything, I'd rather be something strong, like that eagle you ran into today.”

I'll make some charms for the house, so he can't turn anyone into anything.” Obi-Wan pushed another stake in. “For now, let's concentrate on the garden. We'll need these vegetables for summer meals.”

Luke and Leia stayed together from then on, never once leaving the others' side. Artoo stayed with them. He loved Luke, and Luke loved Leia, and no one would hurt anyone Artoo loved.

A month after the eagle incident, the two were headed to the near-by stream to go fishing. Luke had their rods and the smaller basket filled with worms he'd caught in his garden. Leia had two baskets, one with their lunch, and the other for the fish they caught, and her knife to clean them. Artoo romped beside their feet.

When they arrived, their usual spot was already taken. The same older man who had insulted them the month before was once again screaming at the top of his lungs. A catfish held the end of his cape. He was trying to get it off, but the fish just tugged harder.

Leia rolled her eyes. “Let's not even bother with him. There are other places for us to go fishing.” Artoo growled, agreeing with his mistress.

Leia, he's in trouble! Uncle Obi-Wan says we should always help people in trouble, even if they aren't very nice.” Luke went over to the man. “Hi! You probably remember us. It looks like you're in a bit of trouble again.”

Would you shut up and get my cape out, you little dimwit?” The elderly man tried to hit the fish with a stick. It only made its jaw clench tighter.

Don't call my brother a dimwit!” Leia yanked the cape away from the fish so hard, it tore. “There!” She threw the cape in the man's face. “There's your old cape! I hope it chokes you!”

The old man settled for sticking his nose in the air. Artoo growled at him. “Get out of my way, you little mongrel.” He kicked the dog aside.

Luke let out a horrified cry and took his beloved puppy in his arms. “He didn't hurt you! Why did you do that?” Thankfully, Artoo seemed to be ok, just shaken.

His sister waved the baskets. “Someone should give you a good smack for hitting a poor defenseless dog!”

I'd like to see them try it.” He swung a bag filled with pearls over his shoulder. “I say good day!”

Leia angrily threw the baskets aside. “Let's follow him.” She grabbed her knife from the smaller basket. “I swear I saw his eyes turn yellow again.”

Luke held Artoo close. “Are you sure that's a good idea? Look at what he did to Artoo!”

Do you want him to do that to another poor creature?” She looked down at the catfish, who wanted another nibble. “You're lucky you didn't eat him,” she told it. “He probably would have given you a belly ache!”

The two followed the old man down the stream, hiding in the trees so he wouldn't see them. He skulked in the shadows, making his way to the cliffs on the edge of the woods. He vanished into one of the caves on the cliffs.

I don't know if this is a good idea.” Luke gulped. “I don't want to be turned into a frog!”

What he doesn't know won't hurt us.” His sister pulled him into the cave as the roar of a large animal echoed over the stones. “See? He's already hurting some poor, innocent animal. It might even be a man he turned into one!”

What they two didn't notice was the golden mare that stopped before the cave, and the man in blue and gold who went in after them.

They continued through the cave, hand in hand, Artoo staying close by. The end of the cave opened out onto the cliffside, providing a marvelous view of the sheer drop and the valley bellow. The old man was bent over a natural fissure, pouring the pearls into the gulf. They could see a bright golden glow from the hole in the floor. All three dove behind a boulder as cackling as evil as a witch's crackled through the cave.

Their friend was muzzled, his paws bound tightly with strong rope. His hazel eyes were filled with helpless tears. “You thought you could steal that treasure back, didn't you, you stupid beast?” The old man sneered. “I should have killed you when I had the chance.” He took a knife with a handle crafted from gold and gems out of the pile. “I'll remedy that now. You'll make a handsome bear-skin rug. Certainly more attractive than the meddlesome human you once were.”

NO!” Leia lunged at him unthinkingly, drawing her knife. “You leave him alone!” Her brother untied the bear while she grappled with the elderly man. Artoo bit at the rope on the bear's heels.

Luke rubbed the bear's scarred chin after he got him free. “Are you all right? What happened?”
The bear rose shakily to his paws. “I was hit with more of his lighting when I got here. Knocked me flat. He got the ropes around me and the muzzle on my jaw before I could move.”

The old man flung Leia onto the edge of the cliff. “You've been far too troublesome, girl, ruining my cloak. I should turn you and that useless boy you were with into tiny mice!”

Don't you dare!” An arrow flew over their heads. Lando hurried over, a bow drawn. Chewbacca the dog rushed to the bear's side, sniffing wildly at him. “I won't let you harm these innocent peasants anymore. You're Palpatine, the evil sorcerer who attacked our kingdom.” He looked into the fissure. “And I recognize the loot. That's our treasure, the missing treasure my brother Han was supposed to protect!” He aimed the arrow straight at the man's heart. “Where is he? Where's my brother?” Chewbacca growled menacingly at him.

More cackling filled the warm spring air. “You don't know?” Palpatine sneered. “How amusing. You can't even recognize your own dear brother!”

Leia raised her own knife. “What did you to do Prince Han?”

He's standing right in front of you.” The sorcerer raised his long, bony white fingers. “I think I will turn all of you into mice. The dogs, too. That'll teach you for shooting at me and ruining my fine clothing!” Luke clutched Artoo close to him. He got behind Leia, who got next to Lando. Chewbacca nipped at Palpatine, but he shot blew the dog into the wall.

Palapatine shot purple lightning from his fingers...but before it could hit them, a great brown figure leaped in front of them. The bear reached out and smacked the sorcerer with his strong paw. The blow was enough to send him tumbling over the edge. The jagged rocks below dashed him into a million pieces.

Bear!” Leia rushed to his side. Lando helped Luke to his feet.

Leia?” The bear's hazel eyes gazed into hers. “Leia...I'm all right. I'm better than all right.”

Even as they stood, the bear's fur seemed to slide off his shoulders, as if it were a fur cape. Long, tanned fingers now held her hands. The hazel eyes she gazed into were very human. He had thick reddish-brown hair and wore a fine white and navy suit with a rich black leather vest. A gold circlet nestled around his flyaway locks. He still had the scar on his chin and a very toothy smile.

They both went to Chewbacca's side. Leia rubbed the dog's head. He sniffed her hand and licked it. “I think he's going to be ok.”

The big furry hunting canine jumped into Han's arms, almost knocking him into the ground. “Easy boy.” Han ran his fingers down his fur. “I'm here. I won't ever leave you again.”

Han!” Lando reached for him in a hug. “It's you! No wonder I couldn't find you. I wasn't looking for animals!”

His brother leaned into his arms. “I told you I'd make sure nothing happened to the treasure.”

He knelt before Luke and Leia. “I guess I'd better explain this to you kids. As my brother said, I'm Prince Han, the adopted younger son of the Queen and King of Corellia. It's supposed to be my job to guard the treasury during a raid. Palapatine first turned his lightning magic on me, then turned me into a bear when I still tried to fight him. He dumped me out in the woods, probably figuring I'd die or wander around confused forever. The spell couldn't be broken until someone broke him.”

Lando smiled at Luke, who blushed. “You know, we'd love it if you two would come back with us.”

Han gazed into Leia's velvet brown eyes. “Yeah. Mother would love to meet pair who rescued me. Bring your uncle, too. His healing herbs probably saved my life.”

We'd love to,” Leia just managed to breathe.

We'd be honored,” Luke added. Artoo threw in an agreeing bark.

They were married, the two couples, a few years later. They divided the treasure of the Kingdom of Corellia between them, giving much of it to keeping the woods safe from poachers and foresters. Uncle Obi-Wan lived with them and cared for them in his later years. He planted two gardens, one of white roses, one of red, on either side of the castle. They always bore the most perfect blooms anywhere in the Kingdom.