The Christmas Gift
By Mara Jade Skywalker

Disclaimer:

Ah yes . . . my fifth story . . . and I'm not getting sick of writing them . . . well, except for that story that I can't even get half-way done because of that blasted writer's block . . .

But anyway, all the characters in this short story were made up by the two of the greatest men in the SWUniverse: George Lucas and Timothy Zahn ((Thanks for your autograph!!)).

I was trying to stay away from fanfics until I could think up of something marginally good to write in and fill up some space in my other story. But that didn't work . . . I was watching a Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas special and I got an idea! Yes! A cute idea! Well, I thought it was cute . . . All right, all right, I know there's no Christmas in the SWUniverse, but hey, none of this actually happened, so it's all right . . .

Please don't steal this or any of my other stories or any part of them without my permission. I'm sure if you ask, I'll let you use them.

Don't send me hate mail, I really don't like that and I'm sure none of you would like it either. It just takes up space in my mailbox. And speaking of mailboxes, here are my email addresses if you wish to send my nicely formed comments about this or any of my other stories:

email: (me, Mara Jade Skywalker) PadawanMJS@marajade.net, OR MaraJade@swfan.net

Please use only one!!!

(put the story name as the subject of the letter or I won't read it)


Mara Jade walked briskly down the snow covered streets of Coruscant's Imperial City and pulled her thick coat a little closer around her. It was cold enough today and it would only get colder in the coming months. Mara didn't hate the Coruscant winter, as long as she was in a heated room, that is. But this afternoon, Mara had had to leave the confines of her warm apartment and come down to the shopping center. Luke had put a package on hold and had asked her if she could go pick it up for him. Luke himself was busy making some last-minute comm calls to Yavin 4 before the holiday set in. Mara rather wished she was on Yavin at the moment. It was so much warmer there.

She shook her head thinking about the upcoming holiday. Christmas. Never had she seen people get so excited over a single day as they had on Christmas. So what? It was just another day. But to the people on Coruscant, is was special. All around her, shops has signs up with Christmas sales or specials. Advertisements of a hard-to-get toy just in stock or a dressed up puppy in a window. Mara had never celebrated a Christmas, and as far as she knew, it didn't bother her. Leia had planned something for the special day and Mara had a hunch that Luke was going to ask her to go. Well, he could go ahead and ask. Girlfriend or no girlfriend, Mara wasn't about to start celebrating something she'd never had any need in 32 years to celebrate. She would kindly and politely refuse the offer. If it was even made. If it wasn't, all the more better. She wouldn't have to sugar talk her way out of it.

Coming up on the particular shop Luke had told her about, Mara gratefully opened the door and walked inside, welcoming the warm puff of air that greeted her.

"Anything I can help you with, miss?" a smiling sales associate asked, approaching Mara.

Mara turned her head to look at the woman.

"I came to pick up a package for someone," Mara told the woman once she was close enough.

"Right this way, please," the woman said with her ever-present smile, walking towards a register.

"And who are you picking it up for?" the woman asked calling up something on the computer behind the counter.

"Luke Skywalker," Mara said.

"Okay," the woman said. "It'll be just a moment."

Mara nodded and turned her attention from looking at the woman and her machine to the surroundings around her. Gazing casually around, Mara stopped and took a second look at her surroundings.

Dresses.

All around her were dresses. All colors and shapes, from absurd to plain to some that actually appealed to Mara's eyes. Hanging on racks or displayed on mannequins were lots and lots of dresses.

"Excuse me," Mara said. "Do you sell anything here besides dresses?"

The saleswoman looked up and smiled. "Of course. We sell accessories for the dresses as well."

Mara nodded. Luke had bought a dress. Either that or some nifty shoes and a purse. But she highly doubted that.

"All right," the saleswoman said, looking up. "You must be Mara Jade?"

Mara nodded.

"Let me go get the package out of the back. I won't be long."

Mara nodded again and patiently waited. A few minutes later, the smiling woman came back holding a semi-large box.

"Let me just ring this in for you."

"Okay," Mara said.

"Will you be paying with credits or an account?"

"I have Luke's account card with me."

The woman smiled, giving Mara a special look that she didn't care for at all.

"You're going to love what your husband chose for you," the woman said, accepting the card and tapping away at the keys.

Mara gave a tight smile. "We're not married."

"No?" the woman asked with a frown. "You two make such a cute couple though. Are you at least together?"

Mara stifled a sigh of annoyance. She had been asked this question so many times in the past months she'd gotten tired of answering it. But reluctantly, she did so anyway. "Yes," Mara said. "We are."

"Oh good," the saleswoman said, her smile returning to her face. "Okay, you're all set. Thank you for shopping at the Dress Boutique."

Mara nodded, favored the woman with a smile and took the package that had been now put in an easy-to-carry bag with handles. She stepped out into the cold and began walking toward her apartment. Oh course, it wasn't just her apartment. It used to be Luke's. And for so long she'd lived there with him. No wonder people thought they were married.

A short while later, Mara arrived in the Imperial Palace, glad to be once again out of the cold. Once inside, the annoyingly cheerful music of Christmas began to play. So the people at the palace were into Christmas, too. Mara thought briefly whether it would be better out in the cold or staying in the palace with the music. But it was only a brief thought, and gritting her teeth, Mara walked to the turbolift trying her best to ignore all the Christmas related things around her.

Finally arriving at the apartment door, Mara keyed it open and went inside.

"Luke?" she called, taking off her jacket and setting the bag on the table.

"I'm in here," a voice almost too muffled to hear said.

"Where are you?" Mara called, frowning.

"In the bedroom," Luke's voice came. "Come in here and help me, please."

Mara took off her gloves and walked to their bedroom, not quite sure what Luke was up to. The carpet of the room was littered with boxes, opened and unopened. Off to the side, the closet door was open with yet even more boxes piled inside. She'd had no idea just how much stuff Luke had acquired.

"Luke?" Mara called.

Luke's head popped out of the closet and he smiled. "Hey, Mara," he said. "Come in here for a minute, will you?"

"What are you doing?" Mara asked, warily looking and stepping around the stacked boxes.

"Oh, well Anakin gave me something a few months ago," Luke said, his voice once again being muffled. "It was a Christmas ornament. I'm trying to find it."

"It's that important to you?" Mara asked, peeping into the closer and catching a quick glimpse of Luke's bottom half before he turned around and stood up.

"Of course," he said, running a hand through his hair. "He made it for me. I wanted to put it up on Leia's tree. Unless you want me to get one for us."

"A tree?" Mara asked.

"Yeah . . . it'll be fun," Luke said, his eyes going bright. "We can decorate it together and put presents under it and open them up together on Christmas morning."

Mara nodded distractedly. "So which ones have you looked through?" she asked, looking at all the boxes.

Luke frowned slightly at her odd change in subject. But, not wanting to press her on it unless she wanted to talk about it, he ignored it. "All the ones that are on that side," he said, pointing to Mara's left. "I'm just trying to get out some more from here."

"All right," Mara said. "What's it look like?" she asked, kneeling down in front of the box closest to her and starting to look inside.

"Ah . . . it's got glitter all over it, and I think it's supposed to be a star. Blue glitter."

Mara nodded and got to searching. Hours later, Luke ended up finding the little star in one of the boxes he'd already looked in.

"I must have not looked hard enough," Luke said looking at the small star and sitting down on a clear spot on the bed.

Mara laughed as she came over and sat on Luke's lap. He put his arm gently around her and smiled.

"At least you found it," she said, taking the star from Luke and giving it her own look. "He made this for you?"

"When he was three," Luke said nodding. "It was a few days before his birthday. He loves Christmas."

Mara nodded her head slightly, her thoughts turning inward.

"What's wrong?" Luke asked quietly.

"Why does everyone make a big deal over Christmas?" Mara asked.

"It's a great holiday," Luke said. "You get to spend time with your family, see old friends . . . get free presents."

Mara stayed quiet a moment longer.

"Don't like Christmas?" Luke joked.

When Mara didn't answer, Luke became serious.

"You really don't like it?" he asked.

"No . . . ," Mara said.

Luke eyed her. "Don't like it, or are you upset that you've never celebrated it?" Luke asked pointedly.

Mara looked Luke in the eye. "I think we've lived together too long," she said, a small smile playing across her lips.

"Think of it this way," Luke said. "Your first Christmas will officially be with me."

"Oh joy," Mara joked. She laughed and pressed her forehead against his.

"While we're all in a marginally good mood," Luke asked casually. "I have two things I want to ask you."

Mara made a face. "Go ahead."

"First," Luke started. "Since you don't seem all that into Christmas, and so we don't have to go out and buy ourselves a tree, Leia invited us to help them decorate her tree later today. You could learn to like it."

"I think I can do that," Mara agreed.

"Good," Luke said, giving her a kiss on the cheek. "Second, is that Leia invited me to go to a Christmas dinner and one guest allowed. Would you be my guest?"

"I don't know," Mara said playfully. "What's in it for me?"

Luke smiled. "You'll make me really happy?" he asked.

Mara laughed. "You can be so pathetic sometimes. Sure I'll go."

"Good. Now go see that package I bought for you."

"That's for me?" Mara asked, getting up.

"What? You think I'll fit in a dress?" Luke asked.

Shaking her head and smiling, Mara went out to the kitchen to get the package she'd left there earlier. Carefully, she opened the package and took out the dress. It was beautiful: dark green velvet, form-fitting, thin shoulder straps, and knee-length.

"Oh, Luke," Mara breathed. "I don't deserve this."

"Of course you do," Luke said, coming up behind her and gently putting his arm around her. "I can spoil you at special occasions, can't I?"

"But it looks so expensive," Mara said, looking for a price tag.

"The cashier didn't tell you the price?" Luke asked.

"No."

"Good," Luke said. "There's some more in there, too," he said, nodding toward the opened box.

Mara peeped inside and found a pair of dark green velvet heels to match the dress: about two-inch think bottoms, about a three-inch front strap and a much thinner one to hold her ankle in place.

Mara smiled and gave Luke a giant hug. "Thank you," she said.

Luke smiled as he hugged her back. "Don't worry about it."

"No, that one goes here," Anakin said, shaking his head and coming up to Mara and pointing to a spot high on the tree.

"Oh, I see," Mara said, adjusting the ornament she had been holding.

Far from the fun, Leia and Luke sat talking together privately in Leia's kitchen. Leia, who had gotten up, closed the door after stealing one last glance out at her family decorating their tree with an unknowing Mara and turned back to Luke.

"So she bought it?" Leia asked, smiling.

Luke nodded. For it wasn't Mara's new dress they were talking about, but Luke's excuse for not getting the dress himself. "I just hope she doesn't actually check to see if I made any real comm calls," Luke said. "I already told Kyp to lie his best if she did."

Leia smiled and shook her head. "Did you get the ring?"

Luke patted his pocket. "Right here. Want to see?"

"You brought it with you?" Leia asked, a little astonished coming up beside him.

"I didn't want her to find it at home."

Leia nodded as she accepted the tiny black box Luke had extracted from his pocket. Inside was a beautiful one band, 14 karat gold diamond solitaire ring with two decorations, one on opposite sides of the tiny gem.

"She'll love it," Leia said smiling, and moving the little box around to let the stone sparkle.

"I hope she says yes," Luke said nervously.

"Why wouldn't she?" Leia asked, handing back the box. "She loves you too much to say no."

Luke smiled nervously. "Could I keep it here until I need it?"

"Sure," Leia said. "When are you planning to ask her?"

"On Christmas," Luke said. "I got her to come to the party you're setting up."

"That'll be so sweet," Leia said, putting an arm around her brother.

"I just hope I can hold it in for two more weeks," he said.

"It'll go by like nothing," Leia assured him.

And indeed, those two weeks went past like nothing. Nothing Luke had ever experienced before, that is. He'd never been more nervous in his entire life. Thinking about how he would ask and what Mara's answer would be rang throughout his head every single day. But finally, Christmas morning had arrived.

Dimly through his excitement and nervousness, Luke had sensed Mara's mood lighten about Christmas. She hadn't expressed her happiness at decorating Leia's tree with Anakin, but Luke knew her far too well and could sense how happy she'd been then. He'd tried to hide his emotions from Mara, determined not to let anything slip out. True, she might now think he was keeping something awful from her, but the less she knew, the better. Luke wanted it to be a complete surprise. He couldn't wait to see her expression when he asked her. But the more he thought about it, the more worried he became. What if she got upset? Then she'd say no . . . He didn't want her to say no. He wanted her to say yes. But what if she wasn't ready?

"What are you thinking about?? Mara asked curiously, coming up from their bedroom to where Luke sat on the couch.

Startled, Luke snapped his head up. "Where'd you come from?" he asked suspiciously.

"From the bedroom," Mara said. "Feeling all right?"

"I'm fine," Luke said with a smile. "Ready to go?"

Mara looked at him strangely. "I'm not dressed up to come out here and watch the holovid."

Luke, not even realizing she had already put on the outfit he'd bought her a couple of weeks earlier, gazed up and down her with his eyes. "Oh, I'm sorry," Luke apologized, getting up. "Let me go get the bag and we can go."

"You seem a bit scatter-brained today," Mara said, looking at Luke curiously. "You sure you're feeling fine?"

"Yeah," Luke said.

He got the bag of presents out from under their cupboard and turned back to Mara.

She was so beautiful with her hair loosely let out around her shoulders and the dress he'd bought for her on. But then again, Luke thought, she looked beautiful in anything.

"I heard that," Mara said softly, smiling slightly.

"It's true," he said, walking up to her and taking her hand. He leaned in and softly kissed her lips. "I love you."

"I love you, too," Mara said. "Come on, we'd better go before everyone starts to wonder where we've gone."

Luke left with Mara out the door and hoped that Leia had remembered to bring Mara's ring.

"No, Jacen, don't get on that," Leia said warned, walking toward her son who was trying to climb on top of the music stand.

"But I want to hear the music, mama!" Jacen wailed as his mother pried him off of the stand.

"You can hear it just fine over by the tree," Leia said, taking her son and setting him on the floor. "Look, Jaina's trying to peek at the presents, go help her."

Jacen smiled, his eyes shining bright with excitement as he ran to his twin.

Leia shook her head and smiled as she watched her son.

"Kids can be so cute," a voice commented from Leia's side.

Leia turned to see Wedge Antilles standing smiling at her side. "Thinking of having some of your own?" she asked.

"Eventually," Wedge said.

"Mama!" Anakin cried as he ran up to his mother and grabbed at her leg.

"What is it?" Leia asked, wondering at her son's sudden actions.

"When's Uncle Luke coming?" he asked.

"Yeah," Wedge said, looking at Leia. "When is he coming?"

"I don't know," Leia said, looking around at the small crowd of family and friends gathered at the spare room in the Imperial Palace.

Leia had invited them all here for a Christmas party and had suggested for them to all save at least one present to put under the giant-sized pine she'd bought and decorated. All of them had agreed, saying what a cute idea it was. Even Luke. He had told her he'd be coming with Mara, but they were no where to be seen. And Leia hadn't gotten any calls saying they'd be late. Besides, they had to come. Leia had Mara's ring.

"I'm sure they'll come," Leia said.

Just then, the door to the decorated room opened up and Luke walked in with a bag in one hand and Mara's hand in the other.

"Told you," Leia said, smiling to her son.

"Lukie!" Anakin cried, momentarily forgetting his mother and running up to his uncle.

"Hey there, little one," Luke said happily, squatting down and giving Anakin giant hug.

"Mara Jade!" Jaina cried, running up to Mara and hugging her.

As of late, Jaina and Mara had been getting closer and closer. Jaina would love to have an aunt, Luke thought.

Everyone greeted one another and eventually, it came time to open all the presents. Kardde had grudgingly agreed to play Santa and pass out the gifts. All the kids loved him and went up to him, tugging at his beard and asking him how much coffee he drank to stay up and send out all the presents on Christmas Eve.

Finally, Luke's moment had arrived. Practically all the gifts were out, except for Mara's. Only hers wasn't under the tree. It was with Leia.

"Leia," Luke said quietly, coming up beside her. "Do you have it with you?"

"I gave it to Han," Leia said looking around for her husband. "He's got pockets, I don't. Look, he's right there."

"Thanks," Luke said, smiling nervously.

"Good luck," Leia said putting a warm hand oh her brother's shoulder.

Luke smiled again and went off to get the ring.

Han was talking to Anakin who was showing off his unopened present. He shook his head and laughed when he saw Luke.

"He said he loved the wrapping," Han said to Luke.

Luke smiled and cleared his throat.

"Leia said you had something for me," Luke reminded Han.

"Oh yeah," Han said, digging into his pockets. "It's here somewhere . . ." His hand froze slightly on a pant pocket and he smiled. "Got it. Here, and good luck."

"Thank you," Luke said. He turned his eyes to where Mara sat talking with Jacen on a couch by the tree.

Perfect.

"You think she'll say yes?" Luke asked nervously, trying to straighten out his suit.

"She'd be crazy not to, kid," Han said.

Luke smiled at his friend's use of his nickname. "Here I go," Luke murmured, more for his own benefit than Han's.

Luke walked up to Mara, his nervousness and excitement now at its peak. He was actually going to go through with this, and he still couldn't believe it. He was finally going to be able to propose to the woman he loved.

Mara looked up as Luke came close, smiling brightly. "Hey," she said, a look of total happiness on her face. She sat on the couch with Jacen, who was petting and showing off his new Christmas lizard.

"Look what Santa brought me!" Jacen exclaimed, holding up his pet.

Luke grinned at his nephew. "If you're good next year, maybe you can get something a little bigger."

Jacen's face lit up and he grinned. "I have to tell Jaina!" he said, running off to tell his sister.

"You enjoying the party?" Luke asked, nervously clutching at the hem of his dress coat.

"I love it," Mara said. "What about you?"

"Oh, it's going great for me, too," Luke said, his eyes flicking briefly to Leia standing a few meters away watching intently. She motioned him forward with her hands and mouthed out ÔGo ahead'. He nodded slightly to her and cleared his throat.

"So, what did you get?" Luke asked, wanting to ask her at just the right moment.

"I got a picture that Jaina drew for me," Mara said smiling. "She's Ômodifying' it as we speak.

Luke smiled. This was it.

"I've got something I want to give to you, too," Luke said, hoping that even though he was sweating like crazy and his mind was a blur of emotion, Mara wouldn't notice.

Mara smiled a look of surprise on her face.

"I thought the dress was your gift to me," she said.

"Doesn't count unless I give it to you on Christmas. I gave that to you weeks ago."

"So what did you really get me?" Mara asked curiously.

Luke gently took Mara's right hand in his left and, more steadily than he thought he could manage at this point, got down on one knee and took a deep breath. He looked up and met Mara's beautiful green eyes and both saw and felt her immediate surprise and shock.

He could hear gasps of surprise ringing throughout the large room and dimly wondered just how many people Leia told. But he didn't let them distract him. He wanted all his concentration on his words and on Mara.

"Mara," Luke began, determined not to faint with nervousness. "You've been a close friend to me for so long and recently you've become more closer to me that I could ever dream of. You're my other half and I couldn't imagine my life without you. I love you with all my heart and soul and would never leave your side."

He paused for a moment, and shakily took the small, black velvety case from his coat pocket. Opening it, he held it at his knee so Mara could see.

Her eyes were welled up and he could tell she was near tears.

"Mara Jade," Luke said. "Would you marry me?"

The short silenced that followed, scared Luke the most. He feared she was thinking of a nice way to turn him down. He continued to look into her eyes, silently letting her know just how much he cared for her. Luke's badly shaking hand was held steadily by Mara's.

Slowly, and an eternity later, Mara's free hand reached up and caressed the side of his face. The thumb of her other hand rubbed the back of his hand softly.

"Yes," she said, her voice almost a whisper. "I will marry you."

Luke let out his breath and smiled. He took the ring out of the box and tried to put it on Mara's hand. Not only was his hand shaking, but hers were shaking, too. She laughed quietly as she watched his attempts to fit the ring on with his trembling hand. But finally, he slipped it on and looked up at her. She smiled again, a tear running slowly down her face.

Luke pulled her into a warm embrace and held her tightly. He buried his face in her hair, wanting to remember this moment forever.

"I love you," she whispered in his ear.

"I love you, too," he whispered back.

All around them, cheers and claps could be heard. The smaller, quieter sounds of Ôawww . . .' could be heard also.

Luke and Mara parted slightly and came together in a kiss.

*I think I'm starting to like Christmas better* Mara thought towards Luke.

He grinned and hugged her again.


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