Saturday, January 16, 2016

2016 Valentine's Challenge: Submission #1 From Zyra

All right it was time to dust off my writing brain and attempt my own challenge. This is just an example of how you can really do almost anything with this particular challenge. I will say up front that it is written in the "Legends" universe, as I have always and probably will continue to write. Though my version of events basically only includes the fact that they had those three kids, not what ultimately happened to them. Anyway, here is my contribution:

Leia had tried for hours to console her baby, to no avail. Jaina had been sick; a low-grade fever that she had been assured was no need for alarm but it had left her baby girl agitated, uncomfortable and in pain. She was only eright months old, unable to express herself verbally, and even though Leia could offer her words of motherly sympathy, the baby was too young to really understand her. 

Medicine had not worked. Rocking her had not worked. Bouncing her up and down in her arms had not worked, though that was her current tactic as she paced back and forth in her bedroom. It didn't help that Leia herself was also exhausted, having spent the entire night so far awake and trying to ease the pain of her child. She had at least managed to remove the noise from Jacen, who thanks to some unknown deity had been spared, at least temporarily, from the illness and was left sleeping soundly in his crib.

Leia looked again at her daughter's face, eyes red from so much crying, wet streaks running down her cheeks as she looked pleadingly at her mother, and Leia felt completely helpless. There was nobody at that moment who could make anything better. Han was out of communication, traveling in hyperspace somewhere but hopefully on his way home. Luke was away. She didn't have close enough friends to call on during that moment. With a sudden pang she had the overwhelming urge for a mother of her own. Someone she could call and ask questions about raising babies. How tired should one expect to be? Is it normal for them to poop that much? How much sleep is too much? How do you know they're eating enough? And how in the world do you get them to stop crying when they aren't feeling well?

She felt robbed all over again, unable to ever have that for herself. No sweet grandmother to come and give her a brief reprieve during her moments of exhaustion, nobody to offer words of encouragement, to remind her that nobody really knows what they're doing and she was sure they'd turn out fine. Nobody to compare stories about going through the same things when Leia was a baby, and how this was her payback for all she had put her own mother through. Nobody to mother her when she needed it. She had lived without a mother for far more years than she'd lived with one, but she hadn't wished to have her back like this in quite some time. 

She hugged Jaina close then, pressing her tiny head against her shoulder, and her own tears began to fall. Leia had always prided herself on not being prone to emotional displays, but under the circumstances she was no longer given an option. She cried for the mother she never knew and the adopted mother that she lost. She cried for the grandmothers that Jaina and Jacen would only ever know about through stories they heard about them. She cried for being left alone without the loving guidance only a mother could provide in this situation. 

In her own sobbing, it took her a few minutes to realize that Jaina had finally fallen asleep against her shoulder, and only her own sadness filled the room as she hugged her daughter closer, feeling her warm little body and strong heart beating against her. 

"Hey," she heard from the doorway as she looked up to the tall, lean form of her husband in the darkened room. She could see the smile he had on his face, no doubt because he had been excited to surprise her at his unexpectedly early return, morph quickly into great concern as he took three long steps to her. "What's wrong?"

She looked at Han, her sweet, wonderful husband and his worry so evident on his face. He had proven himself once again after their children had been born, shown what it was to be a great father and supportive husband. He loved those babies more than anything in the universe, had taken to being a father like the most natural thing in the world. And he had loved and supported her during their challenging transition into being parents, through the learning and frustrations and unmeasurable joys. But he could not replace having her own mother, someone who had been through it all and could reassure her of the light at the end of the tunnel. 

She couldn't even bring herself to speak, so broken up as the tears flowed. She finally looked at him and gave him a helpless smile and shrugged her shoulders. It actually wasn't entirely unusual for Leia to suffer an emotional moment over the months since the twins had been born. Whether it was hormones or exhaustion, dealing with the extreme challenges of parenting twins or some combination of all of them, she had had a few emotional breakdowns. Han had as well, though his usually manifested in anger rather than tears. 

Han gave her a sympathetic smile and then reached to gently take the sleeping baby from her arms. He had at least been informed earlier that Jaina was sick, so he knew things wouldn't be perfect upon his return. He cradled her against his chest and then leaned over to kiss Leia's forehead. "Lie down, sweetheart," Han said in little more than a whisper. "I'll be right back." 

Leia choked back a few sobs as she let them go, struggling to compose herself, finally able to take a few slow, deep, calming breaths before sitting back down on the bed. 

Sleep. That was all she needed at this point, lots of sleep. Before she even had a chance to lie back Han returned, walking over and sitting on the bed next to her, his face leaning down to look at her. "Are you all right?" he asked as his warm hands cupped her face and he brushed a few tears away from her face with his thumbs.

It took her a few moments before she could fully articulate an answer, but finally she swallowed down a sob, sniffed and answered, "It's just been a rough night." She gave him a half-hearted smile. They had both known that raising twins was going to be challenging and exhausting. She really would be all right eventually, but she couldn't deny that it had been a taxing evening. 

"I know, sweetheart," he said as he pulled her into his embrace, circling her with his arms and pressing her cheek against his warm chest. She felt her breathing even out even more, her heart rate slowing, her husband's comfort flowing through her. "You want to lie down?"

She nodded against him and then he pulled her down beside him and she curled her body over his while he stroked the hair on top of her head. "I'm sorry she got sick while I was gone. I wanted to come back early so I could help out. I know you must be exhausted."

"Thank you. I missed you," she replied, then paused briefly before adding, "And not just because I missed having help with the twins. I really did miss you."

"I missed you, too. And I missed my babies."

"You'd have missed them less if you knew what I'd been dealing with the last couple of days," she said and couldn't help but laugh against him, and he laughed back.

She squeezed him gently, inhaling his scent and starting to doze off. Nothing was going to change the fact that she did not have a mother to help her in her own journey through the experience. Somehow though she and Han had managed to figure a lot of it out. They weren't perfect by any means, and they had certainly made their share of mistakes, but they still had each other. And there was nobody she would rather be figuring it out with. 

"I'm so glad you're here," Leia said quietly, and Han's only response was to kiss her forehead. She knew he didn't realize that she didn't just mean she was glad he was there now, but that he was there at all. Always by her side, always there for her. She may have lost a lot in her life, but she had gained more than she ever would've dared to ask for. Maybe she could never have a mother or a father, but she and Han could be there for their own children. And someday they could be the grandparents Jacen and Jaina had never had. She liked that idea.

Han's presence once again had completely soothed her. She figured by the slow, rhythmic rise and fall of his chest that he was already asleep and smiled a little to herself knowing that she was about to join him. At least if Jacen got sick the following night she knew she would have some help. 


  1. This is lovely, Zyra. This little story hits very close to home. I have been in Leia's shoes before. What I can appreciate most about the story is the idea that they are going to get through those trials and tribulations of the early years (or any years for that matter) together, as a team of loving parents. I can also appreciate that Leia is dealing with this very raw aspect of motherhood as opposed to someone else doing it for her (they had Winter and 3PO assist with most of the child rearing in the EU, right?). I also especially love how tender Han is towards Leia. Great job, as usual.

  2. Ah, so sweet. There is nothing more comforting and reassuring then knowing someone is going to be there for you, no matter what. I loved how your story showed this in Han's and Leia's relationship. I also enjoyed how supportive Han was with Leia and how appreciative Leia is to have Han in her life. Thank you for the touching snapshot of my favorite couple in "everyday" life in a galaxy, far, far away.

  3. I've always wondered if such a thought ever came to Leia when she was a new mother, if it ever made her miss Breha even more. This was really wonderful and I enjoyed it a lot!

  4. Great start to the challenge, Zyra. I agree that she would miss her adoptive parents as she grappled with being a parent herself. This was a nice little moment you shared with us. Thanks!

  5. Not having other mothers to help you through early parenthood is rough. I'd have been lost without my mother in law and wonderful husband. You've illustrated the difficulties of having a sick baby and the depth of a loving relationship with one's husband. I loved the story.

  6. Thanks, guys. It's nice sometimes to have evidence that Leia has real feelings, and doesn't always feel like she has everything together, and sometimes just breaks down. I'm not a parent but if I lose one night of sleep I'm a mess, so I can only imagine what they would've gone through raising twins, especially as babies. And of course Leia would be affected by those she has lost along the way and still be sad about it sometimes, no matter how wonderful her life with Han is.

  7. Thank you Zyra. This is our canon.

  8. Very cute and sweet! It's nice to see Leia, who is always portrayed as completely cool and collected, never caving under pressure, always in control as totally losing it when her kids get the best of her. I could see moments like that being when she really misses that she doesn't have a family like other normal people. Always nice to see Han as the devoted daddy too.

  9. omg that was so unbelievably cute! Exactly what I needed on this cold dreary Monday!

  10. I loved this Zyra- great job! I've had a few of those breakdown moments myself over the years *clearing throat* ;) with our twins(plus the other 4 to boot) being sick with the stomach flu...crying is allowed, lol