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bookworm_2005


The Bookworm's Musings

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EAD – Starwars: Arranged Marriage (PG13)
kitty
bookworm_2005

In honor of Evil Author Day, I’m posting some of my WIPs and not-quite-abandoned drafts. Yes, I know Evil Author Day was actually yesterday, but I missed it. So I’m doing it today instead.

Starwars: Arranged Marriage (PG13)

Han/Luke (pre-slash/lite slash); Owen/Beru

==========

Owen shifted in the bed, trying not to wake Beru. As was often the case, his thoughts were on their son, Luke.

Luke. Loving and bright and craving a life greater than Tatooine could ever offer him. He’d nearly had a heart attack when Beru had shown him the partially completed application to the Imperial Academy.

The Old Gods be thanked that she had found it before Luke had actually submitted it! The thought of his son in the Imperial Navy, right under the very noses of those monsters, still sent a chill down his spine.

But it had driven home a reality that Owen had been avoiding. Luke wasn’t going to be a moisture farmer. He wasn’t going to be content with an ever-present battle against the desert. Just as Obi-Wan had said, Luke’s future was much greater than that. Mind you, Owen didn’t believe in the Destiny that the Jedi kept harping on. The way he figured it, folks created their own Destinies and then made up reasons to excuse their mistakes. Wasn’t that what had led to the downfall of the Jedi and the rise of the Empire in the first place? A belief in some pre-destined path just made it easier for folks to excuse their own lack of action. He’d done his best to pass that belief on to Luke, but only time would tell if he had succeeded.

The harping of Obi-Wan aside, it was time to face facts. Luke was going to find a way to fulfill his dreams of being a space pilot and seeing the galaxy, one way or another. Frankly, he’d prefer that Luke be as safe and protected as possible while doing it.

And, contrary to Obi-Wan’s reassurances, turning his son over to the Jedi for protection and training was not the best way to keep him safe. Obi-Wan wasn’t an evil man, but he was set in his ways and haunted by his own past mistakes. In Luke, he saw a chance to correct those mistakes. He’d fill the boy’s head with Grand Destinies and pre-destined Vengeance, turning Luke into a kin-slayer without truly considering the consequences. The Jedi Order had always thought differently about such things. Well, Owen wasn’t having it. If he had any say at all, Luke would have the chance to enjoy his childhood and grow into a man without ancient feuds getting in the way.

So, he needed a way to get Luke into space while making sure that he had all the support and protection he could and keeping him out of the hands of the Empire. Turning his new plan over in his head, he finally fell asleep.

*****

For the past six months, Owen had been traveling to Mos Eisley as often as possible. He’d become a common fixture in The Cantina and other bars that catered to the constantly changing population of the Space Port. Mostly, he watched the ship captains come and go, and listened to the gossip about them. He’d already eliminated several possibilities from his list.

He’d been hoping to find a woman who fit his requirements, but it had quickly become clear that few humanoid women captained their own ships – or at least that said women didn’t make a habit of frequenting Mos Eisely. So he’d turned his attention to the men. Most had proven to be too crude, too cruel, or involved in trades that were unacceptable. There was no way in hell he was ever going to let a Slaver anywhere near Luke. The same could be said for the various Bounty Hunters. The line between Bounty Hunter and Assassin was a bit too blurred for his tastes. Besides, most of them lived rough and dangerous lives – not what he wanted for Luke.

That left the smugglers. Sadly, the majority of them were far too tangled up with Jabba the Hutt for his purposes. Jabba had made no secret of his interest in Luke. Several times, he’d tried to entice the boy into pod-racing, but so far Luke had listened to Owen’s warnings against it. However, that could change. Luke made a reasonable amount of money racing Landspeeders, but the real money was in pod-racing. If the boy ever thought he needed to raise money in hurry, he’d be wearing Jabba’s brand and tag before he even knew what hit him.

This most recent prospect was looking promising. He was very new to smuggling for Jabba, which meant that it wouldn’t be that difficult for him to cut his ties with the Crime Lord. The gossip about the man held him to be reasonably honorable, not given to dangerous vices, not cruel, and adamantly opposed to slavery. He was said to be good pilot as well. And he owned his own ship, free and clear.

But was he the sort of man who could be entrusted with Luke? It was time to actually meet him and find out.

******

Han was surprised to be approached by a local. Not one of Jabba’s goons or someone who’d been stuck downport for a while, but an-honest-to-goodness local. The differences between the two were pretty obvious when you were used to looking for such things: the clothing, the long-barreled hunting rifle slung across his back instead of the more common blaster pistol, and, most telling of all, the fact that the man opened the conversation in Basic instead of using Huttese, the de-facto trade language of the Outer Rim.

“I wish to offer you the hospitality of a meal, Captain Solo. I have a private matter I’d like to discuss with you.” Not a trick, then. Offering hospitality was a serious matter on this planet. Even so, best to be sure…

“I don’t buy, sell, trade, or transport slaves for any price, so if that’s your business, you’d do better to make the offer to someone else. If you’re looking for drugs, I don’t buy, sell, or trade in them either, sorry.”

“I’m glad to hear it. My business has nothing to with slaves or drugs, I assure you. Will you join me for a meal?”

“Lead the way.”

******

Han couldn’t believe his ears. Dinner had been consumed, and now they were enjoying the privacy of the restaurant to get down to business.

The conversation during dinner had been pleasant, but it had been clear that his host was trying to size him up. Apparently he’d liked what he found.

“The betrothal will last until Luke is eighteen standard years. His dowry is generous, and I’ll offer a quarter of it immediately, to seal the contract. He’ll take your name, under the standard contract. In return, you’ll teach him to pilot and whatever else you think he needs to know and you’ll treat him with respect, as a sworn husband should. You’ll make Tatooine one of your main ports of call, and visit us at least six times a year, preferably more, so you can get to know each other. Once he’s reached the proper age, you’ll uphold the contract and marry him, unless the contract was breached beforehand. If we breach, you’ll keep the forward amount you received as compensation, but nothing more. If you breach, you’ll return the forward amount in full, with interest. Otherwise, you’ll marry under Tatooine laws: community property, support and care, divorce only for just cause, no additional spouses without mutual agreement. And once you’re married, you’ll take him with you as full partner in the business if that’s what he wants. What do you say?”

Han was speechless for a moment. This was so far from what he had expected. Finally, he managed to sputter out a question.

“Why? Why me, why not someone local? And what makes you think I’d be interested?”

“I’ve heard that you owe Jabba some money for an advance you accepted. You do realize that you’ll never be able to pay that off by working for him, don’t you? He’ll always find a way to keep adding to the principal – it’s one of his favorite tactics. As for why you, well, Luke’s greatest dream is to be a pilot and explore the galaxy. He almost applied to the Imperial Academy, and that’s not something I or my wife want for him. At least this way, he can realize his dream without dying for it, and he’ll have someone experienced to look after him while he does it.”

“Yeah, I figured that was Jabba’s game, but I needed the money to keep my ship flying. Beggars can’t be choosers and all that. What makes you think I won’t just take your money and run? Or hurt the boy, maybe sell him into slavery or treat him wrong?”

“I’ve heard good things about you, Captain. Well, as good as can be expected for a smuggler. And you yourself said that you don’t slave. Besides, it’s not like I’m just handing him over to you. We’ll get to know you quite well before the wedding takes place.”

Han thought it over. If he could pay off his debt to Jabba before he ended up transporting spice or slaves for the slimy slug, he’d just as soon do it. Mind you, he’d never been proposed to in quite this way before, but it wasn’t so uncommon on planets like this. Folks married for all sorts of reasons, and arrangements like this were considered to be quite sensible. And if he and the kid didn’t suit, well, he’d just have to raise enough to pay back the forward amount. Speaking of which…

“How old is your son? And how much money are you talking about?”

“Luke is almost 16 Standard years right now.” And then he named a sum that rendered Han speechless once again. “Of course, that’s his full dowry, which represents his share of our moisture farm as well the money we’ve set aside for him over the years. You would only receive a quarter of that amount up front, and the rest when the marriage is finalized. Luke also has his own savings, from his racing. Those funds are his to do with as he pleases once he comes of age, and I’ll insist that that be written into the contract.”

“With a dowry like that, you could marry him to almost anyone you please! To one of your local water Barons, even.”

“Oh, certainly not to one of the Barons. Perhaps to a distant relative of theirs, but they would make sure we understood what a favor they were doing for us, lowering themselves to marry one of us. No, our main concern is that Luke remains happy and safe.” Owen didn’t feel the need to mention that a good chunk of the dowry money was from Obi-Wan’s yearly payments for Luke’s care. As if he needed to be paid to take care of his own son! But the man insisted, so they took the damn money but didn’t spend a single credit of it.

*****

Luke grimly shoveled sand into the grave. He simply didn’t have the time or supplies for a proper funeral pyre, but he couldn’t stand to leave the bodies for the scavengers to pick over. Besides, they were burnt beyond recognition already. Finishing with the sand, he began the back-breaking work of hauling the stones into place. The pile of rocks was the result of several months’ worth of work on his and Uncle Owen’s part. And now, instead of being used in the construction of a new outbuilding, they would be used to cover the grave of the only parents he had ever known.

When he was finally finished, his hands were scraped and bruised, his entire body ached, and his eyes burned from crying until he had no more tears left.

On autopilot, he climbed down into the courtyard and searched the rooms. The Stormtroopers hadn’t burnt the house, only searched it thoroughly, tossing things around. Clothes, personal treasures, tools. He packed it all into his racing speeder. Anything portable that looked as if it would either be useful or valuable. He wasn’t planning to come back here ever again.

He packed his Betrothal Contract, his Aunt and Uncle’s Marriage Contract, and the creditchips for their savings, his dowry, and his own savings accounts into his toolbelt pouch. As an afterthought, he added the handful of datacards that had been in a box at the bottom of the hidden safe, as well as the datacards containing his and Han’s correspondence.

And so he left his childhood home for the last time.

*****

Obi-Wan looked up as he sensed Luke’s Force-signature approaching. He’d have to teach the boy how to hide that, first thing. Picking up the binocs, he was surprised to see the vehicle the boy was driving. That was not the battered old landspeeder he had left in!

The sleek and polished racing speeder came to a stop in front of the pitiful funeral pyre he was building for the dead Jawa. Luke looked at him solemnly for a moment before jumping out. He had changed clothes, Obi-Wan noted absently. He also had what looked like some sort of modified blaster pistol strapped to his thigh. Now that was unexpected – he hadn’t known that Owen had even owned one, never mind a modified one.

“They’re dead. The Imperials murdered them. I buried them. I’m not going back.”

“There was nothing you could have done, Luke. If you’d been there, you would have been killed too.”

“I know.” The Force practically screamed Luke’s grief, pain, and rage – in direct contrast to his relatively calm outward behavior.

Obi-Wan felt his own grief over Owen and Beru’s deaths, but he’d grown rather used to losing friends and acquaintances over the years. There is no Death, there is only the Force. And there was a small part of himself that was shamefully relieved. Without their determined obstruction, he could finally give Luke the training he would need to face his Destiny.

“Will you come to Aldaraan with me, then? Allow me to instruct you in the ways of the Force?”

Luke’s eyes grew unfocused, as if he were trying to peer into the future. Then, “Yes, we will travel with you to Aldaraan.”

Obi-Wan fought the urge to shiver. There had been such finality in the statement, as if the Force had spoken through the boy. And who was this we he spoke of? The droids, perhaps?

Apparently considering the conversation over, Luke silently joined him in sifting through the damaged sandcrawler, searching for the remaining bodies.

As they watched the pyre send a pillar of black smoke into the air, Luke finally spoke again.

“We should head to Mos Eisley. We can get reliable passage off world there, if we catch them before they leave.”

*****

Obi-Wan was beginning to think that he should just stop being surprised. It would save him a great deal of mental effort. He had expected Luke to be hesitant and unsure in Mos Eisley. As far as he knew, Owen had never allowed the boy to visit the place, not that Obi-Wan blamed him. It was no place for the innocent: a wretched hive of scum and villainy.

But as soon as they had gotten past the roadblock, Luke seemed to know exactly where he was going. Once they were parked outside The Cantina, he held a short conversation in Huttese with a cloaked being before returning, apparently satisfied.

“Nobody will touch the speeder while we’re inside. Threepio, Artoo, you’ll have to find somewhere nearby to conceal yourselves – The Cantina doesn’t admit droids. Come on.” Ignoring the protocol droid’s indignant protests, he strode confidently into the bar, leaving Obi-Wan to follow and ponder on the foolishness of making assumptions.

*****

Luke was tired and heartsore. He’d never understood what that meant, before, but now he did. He only hoped that Han hadn’t launched yet. Han’s last visit to the farm had only ended two days ago, but it seemed like so much longer. Listening to Han’s stories, talking about the holobooks he had left behind on his last visit, target practice, speeder racing, piloting lessons, hand-to-hand combat training. Practicing his Shyriiwook with Chewbacca. Even his nervous and excited instigation of a very pleasant make-out session with Han. It all seemed so long ago, now. As if it had happened to another Luke entirely.

He just wanted to…forget for a while. To cling to the only family he had left, and lose himself for a few minutes in Han’s embrace. Nothing could bring his Aunt and Uncle back, but he could lean on Han for just a little bit. Things would look better if Han was there. Han wasn’t just his future husband, or the man he admired, lusted after, and cared about. No, Han was one of the greatest gifts his Aunt and Uncle had ever given him. Han had been their way of saying that they accepted him for who he was, that they understood that he wanted different things than they did and that they loved him anyway. They had seen that he yearned for a life that was different from their own, and instead of ignoring it or hating him for it, they had gone out of their way to help him achieve his dreams even if they didn’t understand them.

With a feeling of relief, he recognized Chewie at the bar. The Millennium Falcon hadn’t left yet. Thank the Old Gods. Leaving Ben to his own devices, he headed straight to Han’s preferred table.

*****

Han had been antsy all day. Something was wrong. He hadn’t figured out what was wrong yet, but something was.

And then he saw Luke heading toward him. And the feeling in the pit of his stomach grew. The kid had absolutely no reason to be here. No reason at all. Yes, he’d brought him here a few times in the past, but Luke knew that he wasn’t supposed to so much as step foot in Mos Eisley alone. Something must have happened. Something bad.

When he got a closer look at Luke’s face, he knew that it was very bad indeed. And then Luke was in his arms, burying his face in his shoulder.

“Luke, what - ?”

“They’re dead. Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen. They’re dead. Stormtroopers killed them. I –“

“Dead?!”


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