This story isn't that exciting. It's just some thoughts of Mara's before, during and after a Skywalker family reunion. So don't get all excited.
Thanks very much to Danielle for patiently reading all my fan fic and letting me know what to fix and for co-writing two stories with me and putting up with an EXTREMELY fussy writer (a perfectionist, really). Next, I'd like to thank my fave fan fic authors: Kelly Frieders, Melissa Boberick, Heather Lynn, and Jen Bakht for inspiring me to start writing this stuff in the first place. Last but not least, I'd like to thank my friend Annie for encouraging me to keep writing, even when I hit writers block.
Now, the disclaimer. No money is being made off this. All characters/situations (except mine) are c, tm, r, etc of Lucasfilms, and various other pro-fic authors.
Enough of my rambling. Read and enjoy!
I stood on the ice of a private ice skating rink on a secluded level of the Imperial Palace, watching the youngest of my triplet children, Nyisha Skywalker, skate gracefully across the ice and execute a graceful butterfly jump. She's a beautiful girl. I get this feeling of constant joy out of watching my children have fun (Neesh says it's "purely hormonal". I think not.)
Nyisha is most like me in that she is a skilled athlete. I swear the kid's competed in every sport under Coruscant's sun, but never really made up her mind as to which sport she wanted to try.
That is, until she tried ice-skating. It came easy to her because of her past in gymnastics and turbo skiing. She has the balance and agility and most important of all, she enjoys the sport. I coach her, being a reasonably experienced skater myself, and that way, we can avoid the hassle of a private coach. I'm also an experienced choreographer, so we can also avoid the hassle of finding a choreographer as well.
Nyisha older sister (by ten minutes), Loreina, is every bit as into the Jedi business as her father (and my husband, it just so happens), Luke Skywalker. She's also the most keenly attuned to it out of the triplets. Her advantage over her siblings, in that area, is that she has this incredible calm about her. Sometimes, I wonder if she feels sort of out of place in our family. I mean, Luke and I both have these awful tempers and they were definitely passed down to Neesh and the middle triplet (by 4 and 3 minutes), Nathaniel (Nate, for short). But for some reason, Lora managed to evade her genes that way.
Another characteristic about Lora is her ability to sing. She has a gorgeous voice. She's wanted to be a professional singer for the longest time, so finally I gave in and sweet-talked Lando's wife, Tendra, into giving her voice lessons. Tendra is a great singer, too. Lora sings most of the songs Nyisha uses for her skating competitions, in fact. Another convenience neither Neesha or I are about to pass up.
Nathaniel is sort of the outcast. He has quite a few assorted talents, none of which he's really pursued. He's a good skater, has the potential to be a great Jedi, is good in most sports and is interested in the Rogues. I brought this to Wedge's attention, and he put the kid through a test, which came up showing that Nate is more than ready to begin flying when he's sixteen. But he just isn't sure what he wants to do. Another thing he likes and is good at is Sabaac. Han and Lando taught him how to play and he finds it quite enjoyable. He even gambled his allowance once, and got a good deal of money out of it. He's also somewhat of a ladies man, like Lando (uh oh. I'll have to talk to Lando about just how much he should be encouraging the kid). But he just can't decide. Oh, well, he's only thirteen.
So anyway, I watched Nyisha finish her new routine.
"How was that, Mom?" she asked, skating over to where I waited on the edge of the rink and accepting the towel I offered her. She wiped sweat from her brow.
"The best one I've seen so far," I told her, slinging my arm over her shoulders and slowly leading her in laps around the ice. It's never good for an athlete to stop her activity immediately. Better to slow down the heart rate slowly, then hit the showers. "The only thing, Neesh, is that you need to not slant so much on your axle takeoff. It throws your balance off and makes it harder to land right."
Neesh grimaced. "I know. This time I managed to twist my ankle slightly. Can't I please take it out of the routine? I can't seem to get it." He voice was pleading.
I smiled down at her. "You know you need at least two axles in your routine to qualify for sectionals." I saw her about to object, but I cut her off. "Let's sleep on it, kay?"
Nyisha, the most graceful and refined person I've ever met, gave a very unladylike snort of resignation and nodded. Then she snapped her fingers. "That reminds me. I was gonna ask if it was all right with you if I invited a friend of mine from school to the reunion dinner tonight. Pul-EASE!"
I know I looked skeptical just then. It's not that I would have minded at all, except that I was concerned about her friend's reaction to spending an evening with a lot of really famous people. Most people freak out and I hate dealing with them. Especially if they get all bubbly like, "Oh, you're my idle, I've always looked up to you. How did you become so great, blah, blah, blah." That just bugs the heck out of me.
"She's not like that at all, Mom," Neesha insisted, clearly reading my thought through the Force. "When I finally told everyone who I was--a Skywalker, I mean--she didn't freak like the rest of the girls. She treated me like a normal human being, a regular girl, even though I knew she had a great deal of respect for our family and what we had done. In fact, she's my best friend."
"Ah, so you had a certain person in mind," I said. I thought a minute. I decided I liked the idea. Any normal parent would have said yes, and I didn't want Neesha to feel any different. The one thing I promised myself to do with my children was treat them like they had totally normal and unimportant parents, like any other kids their age. "All right, but one thing I will make very clear to you right now. Dinner tonight is a big occasion. We've been planning it for a long time. You'll be expected to act like a polite hostess, not lock up in your room all night. Clear?"
"Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mom! You won't regret this, I promise!" Nyisha cried, throwing her arms around my neck and nearly knocking me over.
"All right, kiddo, now head up and get ready for tonight," I said, as we stepped out of the rink and headed for the dressing room.
She nodded and dashed off toward the dressing room. I watched her go, a single tear sliding from my eye. Would I have been like that if the Emperor hadn't taken me away from my home? I wondered for the umpteenth time. I felt the sudden compulsion to be a teen again. Hang out with my daughters. I checked my chrono. Ten hundred hours. Good, that left all day, practically.
I headed for the dressing room. Nyisha was almost dressed when I got there.
"Neesh, I don't suppose you have anything--anything formal to wear tonight, do you?"
Nyisha looked surprised, then her sense in the Force colored over into understanding and she shook her head eagerly. "No, I don't really." Once again reading my mind, she added, "Neither does Lora."
"Good," I said. "I'll give her a call, and while she's getting here, let's give your friend a call."
* * * * *
When I was dressed, I called Loreina and got Luke instead.
"How long does it take to--let's see, how did you put it?--`rehearse twice'?" He chided me, smiling broadly.
"Har, har, har," I said. "Actually, Neesha and Lora and I don't have anything to wear for dinner tonight and we need Lora to meet us down in the main comm center in twenty minutes."
Luke raised his eyebrows. "We need to give Neesh's friend--what did you say her name was?" I asked Nyisha.
"I didn't. Her name's Arianna Clac'ala," Nyisha said into the comm.
"Whatever. Just make sure you're back in time for the dinner setup. I have no desire to prepare for twenty something guest all by myself."
I had to grin at that. "We'll see what we can manage, dearest," I said, mock-sweetly, and signed off before he could object.
I turned to Nyisha, who was trying hard to hide a grin from me. "What?" I asked, planting my fists on my hips.
Neesha just giggled and ran off down the hall, me hard on her heals.
* * * * *
By the time I caught up with her, just outside the door of the main comm center, I was panting hard. I may be strong and everything but I'm not that young anymore.
I caught my breath, then followed my still-grinning daughter into the comm center.
It turned out her friend was very much like her.
"Hi, Neesh," Arianna Clac'ala said cheerfully when Nyisha called. "What can I do for you?"
"Actually, I wanted to do something for I you, Aria. You busy tonight?"
Arianna's brow wrinkled in thought. "I don't think so but let me check." She turned and seemed to call something into the back round. She turned back to the comm
"Mom says no. What's up?"
"Well, my families having a big get-together thingy tonight and I wanted to have a friend there. My best friend, in fact."
Arianna's eyes widened and she asked carefully, "Who exactly's gonna be there?"
Neesh looked questioningly up at me. "Tell her hero's, Jedi, and various high-up politicians," I said.
"Hero's, Jedi, and various high-up politicians," Nyisha told Arianna.
Her eyes got even wider. Then her face smoothed back into cool curiosity. "Name a few."
Nyisha rolled her eyes. "Fine. Jaina, Jacen, and Anakin Solo, Wedge Antillies, Kyp Durron, Han and Leia Solo, Chewie, Corran Horn, Booster Terrik, Talon Karrade--"
"All right, I've heard enough," Arianna said. "I'll be there."
Nyisha smile broadly at her friend. "I knew you would. So, what'cha gonna wear?"
Arianna wrinkled her brow again. "I have no idea. I don't have that much in the way of fancy dresses and stuff."
Neesha frowned then smiled excitedly. "Ooh, idea, idea!" she cried. "Hang on a sec, Aria."
Neesh turned to me. I knew what she was thinking. She stuck her lower lip out the way she always did that she knew would get her her way.
"Oh, all right!" I cried, throwing my hands up in defeat.
"Thanks, Mom! You're the best!" Turning back to the screen, she said, "Mom says it would be all right if you came shopping with us today. Then you could come back to the house and help set up. And spend some time with Nate . . ." Mara saw, with amusement, that Arianna smiled excitedly, then blushed a deep red.
Neesha giggled. "I'll take that as a yes!"
Arianna nodded, but added seriously, "If you tell anyone besides your mom, I'll kill you!"
"I won't breath a single word. Where should we pick you up?"
"How about the Grand Corridor. I can get there easily. But Neesh, I don't have very much money--"
"I'll give you some. I have quite a bit. And Lora will probably pitch in some, too."
"I don't want to feel like a charity fund, Neesh."
"Don't think of it as a fund. Think of it as a gift. From me and Lora to you for being a great friend and helping us adjust to a public school as oppose to a private tutor."
Arianna thought another moment, then nodded. "All right, but not too much!"
"Fine, fine," Neesh said with a dismissive wave of her hand. "See ya at say, eleven hundred hours in the Grand Corridor.
"That took long enough," I chided gently, as I saw Loreina walk through the door.
"Hey, she's not the most easy person to give things to, you know," Neesha countered, waving her sister over.
"Something about shopping?" she prompted, when she was within earshot.
I nodded. "I'm taking you two and your friend Arianna shopping for clothes to wear tonight."
"Ooh, ooh, ooh!" Lora cried, jumping up and down.
I rolled my eyes. "Come on, you two. Let's go shop!"
* * * * *
Shopping with my daughter and one of their friends, all of whom are adolescents still, is quite the experience. Running from store to store, trying on more dresses than I can count, finding makeup and so on. By the time we were done, it was about thirty hundred hours in the afternoon and I was exhausted. We must have been to every clothing store in Imperial Palace! And I was exhausted! But the girls seemed as if they could go on forever. But I felt something, something I haven't ever felt before. I felt like a teenager. It was a feeling of "does this look good?" "does this fit right?" "where are we heading next?" I felt . . . enlightened, as if to say, "I can do this over and over. I can come back to this feeling!" But I was done for today.
The girls each had a dress, new shoes, matching makeup, jewelry, and hair clips and bands. Plus, with some of her extra money, Neesha had stopped by a chocolate shop and bought us all chocolate baskets.
Finally, I called a halt. "All right, I'm all shopped out!" I cried. "Does everyone have everything they'll need for tonight?"
Reluctantly, they all nodded, clearly wishing to shop more, but knowing better than to ask.
"All right, then, let's head home! I'm exhausted and you don't want to deal with me when I'm grumpy."
They nodded, then raced off toward the turbovator car. I dragged myself over to the door, and dragged myself the rest of the way home.
* * * * *
When we reached the Skywalker residential suite, I palmed the door opened and crawled in, dumping my bags on the couch and dropped onto the love seat, closing my eyes.
"Shopping for one little outfit sure took you a while, Mar," a voice commented from behind the love seat. I turned my head tiredly. Luke stood in the doorway, grinning widely at Nyisha, Arianna, and I.
"You try shopping with three rambunctious teenage girls for a simple dress," I said, managing a glare through my exhaustion.
"Me? I'm not rambunctionous!" Nyisha said sweetly, batting her eyelashes at me and Luke.
"Rambunctious, sweetheart," Luke admonished his daughter, playfully. He glanced at Arianna, who was watching in surprised silence from beside Nyisha. Clearly, she'd expected the Skywalkers to be polite and emotionless. We'd show her.
"Aren't you going to introduce us?" Luke asked Neesha, gesturing a hand to Arianna.
"Oh, right. Daddy, this is Arianna. She'd like, my best friend. Aria this is my dad, Luke Skywalker. Call'im Luke. We aren't all that formal around here, as you'll soon figure out."
Skywalker offered his hand to Arianna, who shook it, looking somewhat amazed, but cool enough for all that.
"Now why don't you two head up to Neesha's room and start getting ready. The Solo's are coming around 4:30 or so, and I want you to be here to greet them and help set up."
They nodded, then headed upstairs, talking and laughing as they went.
"Looks like someone took on the job of a lifetime," Luke said as I sat up to make room for him on the love seat. He vaulted over the back of it and plopped down next to me, pulling me close. I sighed wearily and snuggled up to his side. It was always good to be home.
I stayed that way for a while, enjoying his company, as always.
I was just starting to consider the possibility of falling asleep, when my comlink beeped from my belt.
"Sith," I muttered, sitting up and fumbling for it. "Jade," I answered.
"Good to talk to you again, Mara," came the voice of my former employer, Talon Karrade.
I was mildly surprised. "I thought you had a run to finish up."
"I cancelled, when I heard you were having a party."
"It's not a party, Karrade, it's a reunion."
"Reunion, then. We haven't seen eachother in a while."
"Whatever. I won't ask you how you found out about the reunion, but you're certainly welcome to come."
"As much as I'd love to . . . yes." Karrade has the most annoying way of convincing you of things without you being aware of it. I smiled slightly at the sight of Luke, looking more than a little horrified.
~As if we don't have enough people coming already, Mar,~ he chided me.
As if reading Luke's mind, Karrade said, "Of course, if you don't have the space . . . " his voice fell expectantly silent.
I knew a challenge when I heard one. "Oh, we have plenty of room, no problem," I assured him. I decided to throw a challenge right back in his face. "It starts in one hour. Be here on time for once, Karrade, I dare you."
"See you shortly, then. Good-bye, Mara, Skywalker."
Even after we disconnected I sat there staring at the comlink, wondering how he'd known Luke was here.
I felt Luke's arm around me, pulling me back down next to him on the couch and I let him.
"I thought you'd given up questioning his info sources a long time ago, sweetheart."
I snorted. "The day I stop wondering about that man . . ."
Luke laughed, and kissed my cheek. "Come on, let's go get ready."
* * * * *
A half-hour later, Luke and I were ready and trying to ride herd on the kids. It was easy with Nate, cause he was eager to visit with Arianna. He was ready and out of his room by the time I went to check on him.
Arianna, Neesha, and Lora were much harder to get moving. The thing about girls their age is that they're always talking. Guys, guys, guys. That's all I ever hear from Neesh and Loreina anymore.
And that's what they were talking about when I came in. Some guy named Kieran, a Twi'lek apparently. Neesha and Arianna were halfway dressed, but Lora wasn't even close.
"Girls, I hate to interupt this sterling conversation, but we've got a party in like, five minutes. So if you start moving now, that would be good."
They all nodded, and became blurs of action. Under my direct supervision, they really made tracks. I don't especially like having that kind of influence, especially over my children, but it can be very useful.
They were ready in five minutes or so. They all looked gorgeous. Nyisha had on a jumper dress with a mini skirt. It's material looked black in one light, bluish in another. The shirt was plain white and the shoes were black heals that rows just above her ankles. Mini boots, really.
Lora had the same jumper style, but it was greenish black material, rather than blue. Her shoes were open-toed black platforms, and she had a cape around her shoulders make of thick fleece.
Arianna's dress was long-sleeved and fit tight enough to be considered form-fitting without being inappropriate for someone her age. It was a lavender color, and her shoes were bluish, and gleamed with an eerie light that was also quite lovely.
They all had their hair in braids of some sort. Neesh's (being as long as it was) was twisted around her head in a crown. Arianna's was a french braid over the top of her head. Lora's was a simple thick luxuriant braid that hung half-way down her back.
I pretended not to notice how nice they looked. "You guys all set?"
Nyisha put on her baby face expression that said, I feel so neglected.
I grinned at her and her sister and her best friend. "And just for the record, you three have to be the prettiest girls on the face of Coruscant right now."
They all laughed then skipped out of the room, chattering excitedly to each other. I followed, a single tear rolling down my cheek. I must be getting soft in my old age.
I reached the bottom of the staircase, just in time to hear Lora and Neesha literally screeching at poor Han and Leia (who, I might add, have been very indulgent of them ever since the girls could talk) and came around the corner of the door from the dinning room in time to see the whole scene Arianna and Nate were putting on for Nyisha (I can't believe she's my daughter) who looked rather mischievous just then. Blushing and all, you know the routine with teenagers.
The first person to greet me was Jaina Solo. She and I have sort of bonded (which Jaina says is a good thing), and I guess I really like having a friend like that, someone besides Leia who isn't just a "business friend".
Anyway, Jaina and her daughter, Illaria broke away from the crowd at the door (which I noticed with mild annoyance, also included Karrade and two associates I identified as Aves and Faughn), and came over to where I was standing, somewhat secluded from the crowd.
"Aunt Mara," Jaina said warmly, releasing her daughter's hand and stretching up to give me a hug. I returned it and felt a little more at ease. Family gathering (the beginnings at least) always make me a tad nervous, though I'm not quite sure why. But once someone accepts me into the group, I feel more comfortable.
It didn't take long for the rest of the group to drift over to me. But not before Illaria was in my arms and chattering away in her squeaky two-year-old voice . I still can't believe Leia and Han are grandparents. I don't think they've quite adjusted to it, either.
The other Solo family member I've bonded with, strangely, is Han. Hard to believe, huh? Well, it's true. We're both rejected smugglers who managed to marry well. We both have three kids. We both work hard to retain our old smuggler roguishness, but have become frighteningly soft in our old age.
Anyway, the next thing I knew, I was in the middle of the Solo's. I went for the first I saw. Han, of course.
"Hey, Skywalker," he said, smiling dashingly at me.
"Hello, Solo," I nodded back, giving him a quick hug, and trying not to smiling too widely.
Soon, when all the preliminaries were over, we all headed for the living area. It was kind of hard to fit all the Solo's (Leia, Han, Jaina, Jacen, Anakin, Zekk, the very pregnant Tenel Ka, Chewie, and Illaria) plus Karrade, Aves, and Faughn into comfortable sitting positions, but we finally managed it.
"So," Luke said, getting right to business. "We have about an hour to get this place ready. We need three or four cleaning groups . . . " And so it went. We split up, decorated, cleaned, etc (even Karrade!) until 01530. Then we reassembled, Han got some jazzy kind of music going, and Luke went to play door boy. I, meanwhile, headed for the wine closet to find some Alderaanian Chardonnay. I'm really getting soft. Only a softy would drink that stuff.
* * * *
The first guests to arrive were Lando, Tendra, and Risha Calrissian. Risha's Neesh, Lora, and Nate's age, and even as she said her hellos, I could tell she was looking out for "hot guys", as Lora would have put it. Watching her wonder into the crowd, Tendra murmured to me, "She's growing so fast, I can't believe it."
I nodded, knowing exactly what she was feeling, except three times as much. I had three thirteen year olds myself. "I feel so old," I told her. "I have three kids, half grown, every one of them. Ugh!"
Tendra sighed dramatically, slinging her arm around my shoulders and leading me to a couch. "Aw, come on, Mara, you're not the only one. Leia, me, Mirax, even Jaina."
"Don't I know it. Oh, well, we can shrivel up and die together, at least."
"That's the spirit," Tendra crowed happily, helping herself to a glass of wine from a trey sitting near her and offering one to me.
"A toast," she offered, "to hags like us."
I laughed and we drank.
We were soon joined by Mirax Horn, Leia, Qwi, and Winter.
A few minutes later, I was called back to hostess duty. And I could barely believe he'd accepted my invitation.
"Captain Pellaeon," I said, trying not to sound surprised. "Thank you for coming."
The former Imperial looked back at me with tired but somewhat hopeful eyes. He had been the least happy about the New Rep/Imperial peace treaty, but had dealt with it the best, I think. He had made appearances at several Senate dances and parties, even at my own wedding. And I knew he really wanted the NR to know how seriously he took the treaty. He didn't want there to be hard feelings. I was sympathetic to his silent pleas, obviously, being a former Imperial myself. SO I had invited him here, as a tolken of my own acceptance, as well as Luke's, Leia's and Han's.
"Captain Jade," he nodded, accepting my offered hand, "it's an honor to be here. Quite a party you have going."
I decided to loosen up a little, to try and encourage him to do the same. I rolled my eyes. "I'm surprised we can fit some of these huge families in here. The Solo's are hard enough," I returned. "Please, come in."
* * * * *
I, as well as Luke, had been a little concerned about how Pellaeon would be accepted into the reunion. But to our surprise, he fit right it, even went so far as to approach Mon Mothma and General Bel Ibles, who were surprised, but not unwilling to converse.
I myself had some nice conversations with several Jedi, war heroes and just plain old people, which was nice for a change.
At sometime that resembled midnight on my chrono, the guests began to depart. Getting their sleeping children to wake up long enough to get out of the suite proved a challenge, but it was managed. Finally, only the Solo's and Calrissians remained. I had already carried the children, including Arianna and Kieran (who Luke had aloud Nate to invite) up to the children's bedrooms, and called their parents to make sure they could spend the night here.
Tenel Ka and Jaina had fallen asleep on the largest couch, and Illaria was asleep in the arms of her father, Zekk. Luke lay drowsing in his favorite arm chair, and I was the only Skywalker left awake.
After waking Tenel Ka and Jaina, I tiredly, but happily led everyone to the door. After getting hugs all around, Zekk smiled slightly, and asked, "So, Mara, you gonna have one of these monthly, or what?"
I gave him a look of mock-horror and rebuked, "Yeah, but you and Jaina can host it. I'll bring the drinks."
* * * * *
Finally, finally, Luke and I crawled into bed and I snuggled up to him, letting him rock me to sleep.
"So, Mar," Luke said, sleepily, "how was it?"
"Great," I murmured, realizing, not for the first time, just how lucky I was. I had a wonderful family, great friends, and best of all, I was home. Spiritually and physically. I had three beautiful children, a wonderful job. . .
Life was great!