Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Mother's Day Challenge Submission #7 from KnightedRogue


A tradition Han had never, ever anticipated: watching his wife be formally introduced into a grand ballroom. On the holonet. While he sat at home with their three children.

The galaxy was a strange place, he admitted. It’d been years since he’d last scorned the idea of fate or the Force. It was a hard thing to fight when he had seen with his own eyes the work of invisible power in his family. Fate was still a tricky idea for him sometimes; he didn’t like the idea of not having complete control over his own destiny. But if fate led him here, to this bizarre ritual, he couldn’t complain.

Jaina was shoved up under his arm, her legs swinging over the edge of the conform couch in their entertainment suite. Every few minutes, she’d look up at him and ask if it was time yet. Han would roll his eyes playfully at her, tug on her braid and remind her that she had never been the fancy balls type of girl.

And she would say something like you don’t know what type of girl I am, Daddy. And if that wasn’t an eight-year-old version of her mother, he didn’t know what was.

His heart squeezed, he cracked a grin, and they settled down again to wait.

The boys were far more interested in their mother’s security detail than the dinner itself—something that didn’t surprise Han in the least. Bodyguards had blasters and the legal right to use them, and nothing said Han Solo’s sons more than their big eyes whenever a blaster crossed the holoscreen.

Jacen had begun to feed off his sister’s newly-hatched nonchalance in all things mom, but Anakin…. Oh, Anakin was Leia’s baby and hadn’t yet realized that it was considered a bad thing by his siblings.

And so Jacen was off in the corner of the room, pretending to read a holonovel. Anakin was perched on Han’s lap, leaning toward the holoscreen in front of them as Han fiddled with the controls to find the live feed.

A momentary blackness and then a scene winked into existence on the holoscreen in front of the four Solos. A large banquet hall took up nearly the entire frame, the likes of which Han was very familiar after fifteen years of close personal contact with an honest-to-god princess. Swaths of fabric hung from the ceiling in ridiculous purple frippery. A series of long tables topped with gold-hued flatware ran along one side. Han spotted an open bar near the corner and had to laugh: if he’d accompanied Leia to this dinner, he would have found himself hanging out over there.

But foremost on the holoscreen was the timelessly beautiful face of his wife. The scene behind her seemed woefully inadequate by comparison.

“Mommy!” Anakin cried the minute her face appeared. “Mommy!”

“Hi, sweetheart,” Leia smiled.

Han wrapped an arm around their youngest. The kid seemed near ready to topple off Han’s lap if he wasn’t careful. I know the feeling, kid, Han thought, looking at Leia’s intricately-styled hair, her dark eyes, the top-most edge of a blue dress Han hadn’t seen her wear before.

“Can you see me okay?”

“We can see you,” Han said. “You have the whole gang tonight.”

She smiled, a wide, happy smile Han had really only seen her wear since the birth of the twins. “Quite the audience, then. Are you guys ready for bed?”

Han glanced down at Anakin’s full-hilt Rogue Squadron flight suit, Jaina’s red dress and miniature combat boots and Jacen’s too-large Jedi cowl. “Yup,” he said. “Pajamas, pillows, the whole shebang.”

“Liar,” she said with confidence. “Jaina, do you at least have your hair back?”

He spread his hands wide, though she couldn’t see them, while his daughter shifted onto her knees beside him. “Yeah. Uncle Chewie helped me with it because you know how bad Dad is with hair.”

“I really do,” Leia laughed. “How about you, Jacen?”

“I’m in the middle of a chapter, Mom,” he said, though he stood up, set the novel down and came to a soft landing near Han’s feet. “The Gortises are about to fight the Trumizes.”

Han had no idea what that meant and he suspected Leia didn’t either. It was hard keeping up with Jacen’s novel-of-the-week. Leia pursed her lips. “What’s this one called?”

The Red Scourge of the Applines,” his oldest son supplied. “It’s the third in the series and it just came out last week.”

“I can’t wait to hear all about it,” Leia said, and Han shook his head. Leia and he had spent a lot of time trying to figure out the appeal of these novels. Han despaired of ever figuring it out; Leia still tried, but, honestly, the kid went through them faster than Anakin went through shoes. And Anakin went through a hell of a lot of shoes.

“You look pretty, Mommy,” Anakin said.

“Sure do,” Han added. “I like the dress.”

“Thank you,” she said, shaking her head. The movement made her earrings swing side to side and Han realized they were the ones he’d bought her last year for their anniversary. “I’m a little tired of playing dress up, though. I’d much rather be hanging out at home with you guys.”

Leia was on a diplomatic tour of the Mid-Rim systems. Minister-of-State Organa Solo had done a lot of solid politicking in the past on tours like these and Mon Mothma, tied down to the senate as she was, used Leia as her de facto presence to these systems. Leia didn’t like the tours and Han frankly hated them. But they went quick: Leia could hit several key systems in succession. It was a bang for their buck and it usually meant both she and he could be together, with their kids, here on Coruscant for months without either one of them needing to fly out.

Thus the tradition. Leia smuggled a small visual transmitter into the reception halls and spent a quick minute chatting with them in her full princess finery every night as she was introduced. He liked that there was distance between this part of her life and her family—he hated attending formal events, they drove him crazy—but the kids still got to see their mother in all her glory.

He thought it was important for them to see her doing her work. Leia’s kids should know how amazing their mother was.

Leia leaned in as a soft chime sounded from behind her. “Okay, guys. That’s my cue.”

“Knock ‘em dead, Princess,” he said as the kids gave their own well-wishes, and then the personal line went black.

Han reached back for the holo controls, gave a series of quick commands, and thanks to Leia’s security detail, entered a code that let him tap into the local security cams in the ballroom where Leia was about to be announced.

Setting the control back down on the couch arm beside him, he looked at the kids, all wide-eyed and engaged. Even Jacen looked a little excited, though when he caught Han watching him he rearranged his features to look bored. Jaina’s head leaned against Han’s side, Jacen lounged against his legs, and Anakin was still perched on his knees.

“What do you think, guys?” Han asked as the line of diplomats began to be introduced into the wider ballroom. One by one, names were called and the ambassadors walked past the Devonarian announcer. The line trudged on. Han had done enough of these events to feel sympathy for the ambassadors’ poor escorts.  “Pretty impressive, right?”

Jacen shrugged. “She’s just doing her job. It’s no big deal.”

Han could spot her in the sea of people, edging closer to the doors, electric blue dress striking against the marble pillars of the hall. He hadn’t seen the skirt of the dress in her earlier transmission, and she looked like she was floating a foot above the floor. “Yeah,” he said. “Still. Look at her. Making people act like grown-ups everywhere she goes.”

Jaina yawned into his shirt. “She looks nice,” she said.

He chuckled. “Won’t argue with you there.”

Anakin leaned forward again, as if he wanted to be closer to her through the holoscreen. The Solos watched quietly as Leia moved toward the announcer. Then, with a loud bark and the scattered applause of the partygoers, the Devonarian swept his hand to the room and announced Minister of State of the New Republic, Her Highness Leia Organa Solo of Alderaan!

His youngest son threw his arms up and cheered, as if this wasn’t the third time this week they’d performed the exact same ritual. Jacen shrugged, and Jaina perked up enough to smile at the image of their princess on the screen as she walked through the throng of people assembled around her.

Han had long ago become accustomed to the way Leia took command of a room. But he enjoyed watching her through the lens of their children, through eyes that were unsurprised by the grace of their mother. As far as Jacen, Jaina and Anakin were concerned, saving the galaxy was Leia’s secondary job, what she did when she wasn’t here with them, warning them about their hair and asking about their holonovels.

As if every kid in the galaxy had a mother who could negotiate a cease-fire to a decade-long civil war on a far-away planet. As if that was a totally normal way of seeing the incredible woman in blue on the screen.

That killed him.

Someday they’d understand. For now, he would continue this tradition, continue to make their children confront the reality of how lucky they were to have her for their mother. That determined, brilliant woman in blue, fighting for galactic peace like it was going out of style, who then came home to them and acted like family dinner was the most important part of her day.

And maybe to Leia it was.  

He switched off the holoscreen, told his kids (over loud protests) that it was time for bed: pajamas, pillows, the whole shebang, as he’d told Leia. The twins retreated first, and Han helped Anakin with the zipper of the flight suit before getting him settled down and in bed.

After nearly half an hour of entreaties and bargains, Han was able to close their doors and wander back to the couch. He thought about going to bed himself, though it was still early and he hated sleeping alone. Then he thought about calling up Chewie to come over and beat back some of this damn quiet, but dismissed the idea almost immediately. The Wookiee would wake the kids faster than the opening notes of their favorite holofilms: loud growling and heavy footsteps did not make him a good visitor at this hour.

And, really, the person Han wanted here was Leia.

He sprawled out on the couch, long legs propped up on the table in front of him, and reached into the comm clip on his belt. Knowing she wouldn’t have her personal comm on her—that dress had absolutely no room for any extra items—he flipped the comm to message mode.

You damn well better call me the minute you get back to your suite, he sent her. That dress belongs on our bedroom floor.

Then he turned on the holoscreen, watched a smashball game, and waited for Leia to call him back.     

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Mother's Day Challenge Submission #6 from knitzkampf


“Whaddya say, Sweetheart,” Han broke into her thoughts as he barged noisily into the Falcon's lounge. “It's on the way the home.”

She'd left him to do the flying himself. Retreated from his side in the cockpit, saying she was tired and wanted to lie down. It was a good excuse, one he couldn't argue against. “On the way?” she said skeptically, though she did note Han's use of the word 'home'. “It's not anywhere to stop, Han.”

“Sure it is,” he argued.

“How can someplace that no longer exists be somewhere to stop,” she wondered acidly.

“It's the Graveyard,” Han said evenly. “It's the planet that doesn't exist, but the Graveyard is a bona fide place. On star charts and everything.”

“That's because the star charts have to acknowledge that Alderaan used to be there,” she said.

Han nodded thoughtfully. “Just so pilots know the change is not a misprint.” He noted her darkening expression, and waved a hand nonchalantly. “Sure, history, too. Cartography and exploration. You been back at all?”

She shook her head. “No.”

“Me either. We should go pay a visit. Let 'em know what's been going on.”

Leia's eyes narrowed in disbelief. “Pay who a visit. Tell who?”

Han's voice took on a narrative tone, “You know, on Corellia, there's a tradition. Started before the large nectar farms, when people lived dirtside and had their own nectar hives.”


“Nectar bugs were valuable and important. And no one wanted a hive to just pick up and leave.”

“What would make a hive leave?”

Han shrugged. “People thought they'd leave if something changed in the house. Like if the master died.”

Leia found herself unwillingly interested. She knew why Han wanted to bring her to the Graveyard, but she said, “That sounds like typical Corellian superstition. I'm sure it was a scientific factor that caused a hive to leave.” All of a sudden, however,  something connected. She remembered touring a nectar farm with her father, long ago, and marveling at the colorful ribbons wrapped around the hives that seemed to serve no purpose. She'd just assumed it was Corellian self-expression. “Is that why the hives are decorated?”

Han nodded, pleased. “Yeah. If there was a party or a holiday, you dressed them up, too.” He frowned down at her, picking up the flimsi she had not been reading at all. “'The Essence of Being',” he read, and tossed it back down. “How do you read this crap?” and before she could open her mouth to answer was back on the nectar hives. “You're supposed to keep the nectar bugs informed. Treat them with respect, like a member of the family.”

He reached out a hand, pulling her in for a squeezing hug once she was standing. Since her face was pressed against his chest and she wouldn't have to see his eyes, she muttered, “I know why you want to bring me there. I know you so well.”

“Then you oughta know yourself by now,” he rejoined, the teeniest of reprimands in his voice, and keeping one arm wrapped around her shoulder, led her to the cockpit.

I should, she thought. I do. And yet-

They were already here. He'd brought them out of hyperspace, left the space lanes, and set them adrift in the Graveyard. Leia glanced at the console and saw Han was cautious against getting hit by the fast-moving rocks, and had raised the shields. She sent him an accusing look; ''whaddya think, Sweetheart', my ass, and found he was smirking at her. He'd never intended to negotiate with her. Stubborn man.

With a stubborn wife. Who'd been quietly panicking now for two months, barely able to admit the time they talked about was here and she couldn't say it out loud.

“Here's your essence of being,” Han said, sounding awed.

She had never been to the Core like this. She'd traveled directly to one planet or bypassed it completely in hyperspace. It was clustered with numerous features, colored twinkles of distant stars, the steady brightness of light passing through planets made of gas or rock. She'd never just seemed to float within it, a guest of a star system. Her sun, the one she looked up at from Alderaan as a girl, was blazing near by, and the Graveyard swirled in constant movement..

“It's beautiful,” she breathed in wonder.

The Graveyard was remnants of the planet Alderaan, little bits of rock. They were the planet's core, Leia reflected, or maybe the mountains. Could there be a piece of brick or stone from a building? Ash even, or bone. Something to indicate the great variety of plant and animal life, of the billion humans.

The little bits of rock floated in silence, and soon all of them would be pulled into gravity and leave the area of space where they came from, and that would be the end of the Graveyard.

“Existence,” Leia pondered aloud to Han, “is out here, don't you think? Life and Death. Creation and Destruction.”

He rubbed her back. “You're just- scared, I think.”

She made no answer but watched the movement of the rocks. They moved fast, directionless, but it was oddly peaceful. “The Graveyard was created,” she said. “A marriage, of the Death Star and Alderaan. Existence is Void and Birth.”

Han stood behind her and leaned her back against him, his arms crossing her front. “It's more than that,” he said patiently.

She craned her neck back to see him, found only neck and throat. “Are you sure?”

“First there was just me, and just you, and then there was me and you, and something had to come from that, as a result, you know?”

She smiled slightly. “That's a nice way to see it.” She envied him, hoped she hadn't hurt him.

Her sun still shone on the remnants of her planet, and every once in a while a rock glittered in the light. “Do you think the Graveyard is beautiful?” she asked. They were all different shapes and sizes, and maybe composition, too, she thought. That's why some reflected light and others didn't.

She thought it might be beautiful. Somehow. It was awful, what it was, what it meant; but it was also its own thing, and it existed where other things didn't, and maybe that made it beautiful.

Han lifted his shoulders a little and his warm hands over her abdomen moved the slightest. “Space is beautiful.”

Yes, her lips moved to answer but her voice didn't come out. She nodded once because she knew he couldn't see her lips. Han, consummate pilot, loved space. Not what there was on a star chart, where systems were organized by suns and each planet and moon had a name. Not by the space lanes that told him where to fly. The part that didn't belong to the beings of the universe. The unnamed, the infinity, the promise and the damnation. The godness of it all. And Han Solo was not a religious man.

“You know,” Leia began, beginning to offer an explanation, “I'm new at this existence thing. I'm pretty experienced with the Death part. Really good at ending existence.”

“Doesn't really end, though.” It seemed his voice issued from his heart, where her head rested against his chest. “Just changes.”

“Mm,” she sighed with a quiet nod. He was right. Alderaan had died, and she would never have thought that something could rise from its ashes, have its own beauty, its own purpose. “It's a horrible name, Graveyard.”

“What would you call it?”

“I don't know. I'm going to have to think about that.” She put her hands over Han's forearms.  “I just- Han. I worry I'll go into the void. I don't control anything anymore.”

“Leia. Look out there. Are your parents out in the void?”

She wanted to say, well, technically yes. Bail and Breha were dead. They didn't exist anymore. They died on Alderaan, which gave birth to the Graveyard. “Well, te-” but the words died on her lips. For she felt them, in her, a part of her, just as Han's story of the nectar hives was ingrained in him.

There was a timelessness out here. Nothing was afraid. It merely was, and it waited, when it might become something else. Beings of Essence.

All the things that loomed large and terrifying dwindled to insignificance. Han was right. She was scared. And that wasn't the end of the world.

She was Leia, one of innumerable human women who graced the galaxy with their lives. Many came before her, and others would follow, some carrying stories of nectar hives and memories of Alderaan's sun. Right now all that mattered was Leia and Han, that cursedly virile husband of hers – she smiled. “What?” but she shook her head. There was just him, and her, and the essence of their union. Which would have a being.

Han bent his head to kiss her neck. She tilted it to the side, and gooseflesh rose all over her neck and arms. “I love you,” she told him and he nodded into his kisses.

Would he think to take it farther? Would she let him? Sex in front of the Graveyard…

His lips were on her neck, warm and soft. "My mother would disapprove," she told him and felt him smile.

"She can watch," he murmured.

His tasteless sense of humor no longer shocked her but she whacked him lightly. "She would not want to watch," Leia insisted.

"She's not doing anything else," Han's mouth was at her ear, his breath warm and wet.

Which rock are you, Mother? Leia wondered."I never got to introduce you to my parents," she told Han wistfully.

He lifted a wrist that was down by her belly button. "Hi, I'm Han," he waved at the Graveyard, and a laugh escaped Leia before disapproval took over.

"You're so terrible," she said huskily.

"I am," he agreed dreamily and she roamed her hands again up his forearms, feeling strength and firmness.

Rocks floated all around them and she greeted them with her eyes. "It's not like a nectar farm, you know,” she pointed out to Han.“It's not like they can leave."

"But they'll be unhappy with you." Han pulled the neck of her shirt down and added kisses, speaking nonsense. "Put a curse on your house."

"The house of Organa," Leia murmured. "It stood for centuries."

"You're an Organa." Now his hands were under her shirt, roaming freely, warm and solid. "Still stands."

The Graveyard was for remembrance, Leia thought. Life and death.

"Will keep standing," Han added.

And it stood for renewal. Han circled around her and got to his knees, lifted Leia's shirt and spanned her whole middle with his two hands. "Tell 'em."

Leia nodded, reading so much in Han's fingertips. There was need, his and hers, and a bond, and – a lump rose in her throat, realizing how unfair she'd been to him – delight.

She put her hand on the top of his head. "Mother," she said, and stopped. The words were so new. "You're going to be a grandmother."

Han smiled against her belly. He kissed it and moved his hands all over, from her ankles to her breasts.

She grabbed onto his hair, feeling her center begin to pulse, life hammering away, even here, in the Graveyard.

"Tell your father we're married and all, so it's legit," Han said, reaching under her skirt and pulling down her panties.

She lifted his chin, smiling. "Would you be worried about that? At the same time you're pulling down my underwear?"

"Hell, yes," he declared.

"He'd come around," she told him gently.

"Like you," Han said. He returned his attention back to her body.

She nodded. "I'm sorry."

He looked up. "Don't be. I'm scared as shit, too. But it's happening to us together, so you know," he shrugged.

His head barely grazed her breasts, and she enjoyed the view of him below her, his brow, his eyelashes, his boyish appeal. Things she rarely got to see. Like the view from the Core, and the Graveyard.

They made love in the cockpit, tender and deep. For Han sex was like speaking a language, Leia thought, or telling a story. He could be playful, making her shriek with their acrobatics, or solemn, or desperate and clinging. He treated her body now as if it were brand new, recognizing the life within, confirming to it their love and connection. Her climax built slowly, and she thought in its own way it was like a birth, even the birth of the Graveyard, released when all the pieces were finally in place.

Sex with Han was confirmation of all things real. Fear was for something you couldn't know, didn't have, and he had a way of centering her, shrugging away the unknown.

They recovered in the over-sized copilot seat while the Graveyard surrounded them. The place knew life and death, but there was no fear here. The Graveyard knew it all.

"That wasn't so bad, was it?" Han said, out of breath, and Leia laughed, suddenly free.

"Which; the sex, the Graveyard or meeting my parents?"

He smiled. "The announcement." His eyes were happy. "Coming to acceptance."

"Father," Leia raised Han's limp wrist. "This is Han. We're going to have a baby."

"Hi" Han said exhaustedly. He kissed Leia's cheek.

"Bring me back," she told him. "After the baby's born."

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Mother's Day Challenge Submission #5 from JainaDurron7

To Understand

Leia had stored herself away in the shed along with mounds of relics that had once resided on the Falcon. She and Han had finished sorting most of it weeks ago, making more or less organized stacks around the shed outside their new home on Corellia. She’d been surprised by some of what they’d found. Half of it was junk; broken hyperdrive parts, rusty motivators, old spare parts that Han refused to get rid of. But buried under the junk, they’d found mementos of their lives back from the days when Han had just been a mercenary and Leia merely a princess without a planet. Poor Luke- who had volunteered to help clean out- had been less than amused by some of these mementos such as a few left behind from long nights late into a certain trip to Bespin  . . .
Leia and Han had finished sorting the garbage from the treasures, and had packed it all away again, save for a few crates Leia almost wished she hadn’t found. She had just about forgotten them when Han had recovered them from the depths of the Falcon’s smuggling compartments (half of which had unfortunately turned into storage bins during mad dashes for room). When she saw them again, Leia had recognized and immediately known that she did not want to open those crates anytime soon. Or did she?
  She’d felt decidedly conflicted at the sight of the simple gray crates- the labels on the sides being the only markings to distinguish them from any other set of crates. They were smaller than the standard size but big enough to pack something small. Like holos. And Leia knew the crates to be packed full of holos. Sitting on the floor of the shed, her legs spread out before her, Leia tore her gaze from the holo sitting before her to the opened crate beside her. She glanced over the labels, reading every few as her eyes quickly skimmed across the gray tabs. She’d forgotten that there were so many and yet she couldn’t bring herself to watch a single one. She blew a sigh out her nose, removing her arm from the crate with a flop as she turned back to the one that sat in front of her. Flipping it over, she reread its label only to lose her composure. Leia threw her head back, sniffling as she wiped her face with the front of her hand, then back. Of all the junk sitting around, there couldn’t be any handkerchiefs! She wiped her hand off on the leg of her pants, hardly caring anymore.
“There you are.” Startled, Leia looked up to see her daughter approaching. Jaina didn’t smile at her but frowned with worry. “I shouldn’t have been able to sneak up on you like that.” Leia pursed her lips, shrugging. She waved a hand to motion for Jaina to sit with her and the younger woman complied, settling down to squish herself against her mother’s side so they could sit together in the middle of Leia’s mess. “I’m sorry; I’m tired today.”

“Sure you are,” Jaina smirked. But her amusement was short-lived and she sighed shortly, her gaze moving around to take in the mess her mother had surrounded herself with. “I know how you feel. This year doesn’t feel right without Jacen.” She paused. “When we were younger, he’d always wake up early, rush into my room and remind me what day it was. . . . It felt so wrong this morning, even thinking about my Life Day without him.”
Leia didn’t respond. She was torturing her lower lip between both her teeth, biding her time in the vain hope that Jaina would make some effort to change the conversation’s direction. Long ago, that would have been Jaina’s go-to reaction. Now, Leia knew she was much too mature to skid around a subject, but face it, deal with it, and get it out of the way. She leaned back to look at her daughter; it never ceased to amaze her how fast she’d grown up, changed.

Jaina caught her inspecting gaze and gave her a soft, artificial smile in return. She reached for the silent holo, took it into her own hands and studied it. “What are you watching?”
Subtly, she shook her head, such a small move Jaina almost missed it. “Actually, I’m not watching anything right now,” she quipped, indicating the unmoving holo.
Jaina’s smile returned, but this time it was genuine and comically sour.
“Smart mouth. Who’s the mature one here?”
Leia managed to return a smile back, some sign of life returning to her eyes. She watched Jaina as she briefly studied the holo in her hand. At once, Jaina’s features twisted with sorrow, her brows drawing together and her mouth opening in surprise. It took her a second to recover before the corners of her mouth turned up in a gentle smile and she glanced sideways at Leia. “‘Jaya and Jasa come home’”, she read aloud. “Don’t tell me you’ve been agonizing yourself with these home holovids all day.”

Leia shrugged shortly. “Just for the past- few hours.”

“Blast, Mom!” Jaina rolled her eyes. She snuggled closer into her mom’s side. “Unless you’re going to smile, I think you should put these away.”

“Jaina, I . . . Just leave them, okay? I just want to-” She broke off.

“Dad is worried about you.”

“He told you that?”

Jaina shook her head. “Didn’t need to. He wanted my help assessing the situation and I think I’ve already come to a conclusion about what I think you should happen here.”

“Jaina, leave them! Please.”

“I don’t think you should be watching any more of these unless you’re going to watch them with happier thoughts.”

Leia sighed, letting her head fall to rest on her daughter’s shoulder. “We’ll see. Now, that can’t be the only reason you’re here. Talk to me. Have you come up with any ideas as to what you want for your Life Day?”

“Why do you always ask me that?” Jaina chortled. “You’re going to buy me something different anyway.”

“Maybe. I just need ideas.”

“You don’t need a single hint. You always ask and you always get me something completely different. But it’s always better than whatever I asked for anyway.”

“Then, just answer me and we can get this part of the process done with.”

She huffed. “Fine. But I’ve really been thinking about it this year and I think I came up with something good.”

Leia sealed her lips, raising her gaze. “Mmm. I’m listening.”

Jaina nudged her. “I’m serious! I think I came up with the un-toppable idea this time.”


“I want the one thing you never got to give me.”

Leia didn’t have to ask; somehow, she just knew. Her veins filled with fresh, freezing cold guilt. She glanced sideways at her daughter, perturbed, to say the least. She thought she’d had a response ready, but she must have seen it unfit because she opened her mouth and no words came.

From the corner of her eye,  she noticed Jaina watching her, watching her expression subtly change as she weighed her words. Jaina inhaled slowly, tossing her hands into her lap. “I miss you and Dad.”

“Then, maybe you shouldn’t be moving to Csilla.”

Jaina nudged her mother with her shoulder, but when Leia looked back to her, she didn’t look upset or even disappointed. She merely shrugged, her smile becoming bitter. “You’re probably right. It’s not just that I miss you guys, though. When I was packing, I realized that I really miss the memories we didn’t get together.”

“You just figured that out?”

She shook her head. “I just figured out how much it truly bothers me. I’ve always missed it.”

“Then what’s the difference now?”

Jaina just looked at her for a moment. “I want to it to change.”

Leia’s laugh was short, more bitter than Jaina’s smile. Her gaze dropped to her lap and she began to pick at “I’m sorry. That opportunity flew away the moment I let Winter take you three.” She bit down on her lip- hard- but the thought still evoked a fresh round round of tears that Leia needed to cry out.

“Or, maybe it hasn’t.” Jaina jumped to her feet, then reached down a hand to help her mother up. “I’m willing to bet we still have time.”

All her words seemed to be failing her today, so Leia didn’t respond. She let Jaina pull her around, played along with her dialogue.

Pulling her mother away from her mess of holos, Jaina quirked her lips, all the bitterness leaving her demeanor. “I have come to believe that there is still time left in our lives for the two of us to become friends.

The mother frowned. “Is this what our relationship has come to?”

Jaina ignored her. “Mom, for my Life Day, I want to make a deal with you.”

Leia waited for more. “What?”


“Well, with my Life Day coming up-” She paused to flash Leia an amused smile as she added, “and Mother’s Day- I’ve been thinking a lot about this. It’s been bothering me lately, so I thought I’d mention it to you that I’m willing to make the effort to fix things.”

“You say that like we’re broken.

“I don’t think we’re broken. Though, I do think things could be better. Listen. Remember after Anakin died, when Mara and Uncle Luke sent Ben to the Maw? Then, we had that whole conversation about- how I finally understood-”

Leia stopped her, quickly nodding her head. She’d let Jaina believe what she had wanted. At that time, she’d been so relieved to see that her daughter had finally reached some level of understanding as to why Leia had done what she did and that it hadn’t been easy, but she knew Jaina still couldn’t truly understand it like Leia always had. “Yes, Jaina, I remember.”

“So, we understand each other. Now, I want to actually have a relationship with you, Mom. I don’t just want to be your daughter.”

Leia saw Jaina’s head still working, words still sitting on the edge of her tongue, waiting to fly off, so Leia went with it and asked, “What do you mean?”

“I mean … I told Jag that I can’t leave Corellia.”


“Yeah, he wasn’t the happiest about it, but I told him that this matters to me. You, Dad, and Allana are all that I have left. And you and Dad … I still need you guys. And, Mom, you’ve always been my mother. Of course! But I don’t want a mother.” Se rolled her lips between her teeth briefly before she finished her statement, her eyes turning glassy with coming tears. “I want a mom. I want a friend.”

Leia didn’t know what to say, how to respond. She knew exactly what Jaina meant, what she was trying to get at; but it frightened her in an odd way just because her daughter was right and they’d never had a relationship like that. Things between the two of them had always been a fine layer of ice and Leia had gotten used to slowly, cautiously tiptoeing her way around the rink. As hard as she’d ever tried, the two of them had never been close like that. Whenever she’d dared to take an actual step, things always turned back to Winter and New Alderaan and Leia didn’t want to lose her daughter over that again.


Jaina glanced around the mess of holos on the floor, her look sad but her mouth smiling. “Hey, maybe you still need me too.”


Though she knew for sure what was happening, she needed to hear it. “Just say it, Jaina.”


Jaina giggled to herself, amused by whatever she was thinking. “Sometimes, I think it would be fun to be one of those weird mother and daughter duos that do everything together. You know, they’re always going out to lunch and going shopping together.”

Leia raised a brow. “Go shopping? You?”

Jaina shrugged, turning away from Leia. She looked back at her mother over her shoulder, a mischievous twinkle in her eye. “Maybe the day is approaching.”

“Fine, if you want to go shopping. Just let me comm Doctor Cilghal first, alright?”

She laughed, pacing around.

“Jaina, I don’t think we’re that kind of mother and daughter pair.”

“I don’t think so, either,” she agreed, planting her hands against her hips. “I just mean to say that I want to be closer to you like that. I’m finally learning how much I appreciate you and everything you’ve done for me. And for Anakin and Jacen. I understand now like I never have before.” Her smile suddenly melted away, replaced by a genuine expression of deep empathy and an almost happy kind of sadness. What Leia read through that look was something she understood all too well. It irked her to see Jaina wear it so genuinely …

“Before, I didn’t understand. Not really. I was a teenager and an idiot. Not that there’s much difference between the two, but . . .”


Jaina stopped just as she had turned so that she was once again facing Leia. She bit down on her lip. “For the longest time, I took you and everything you sacrificed for me for granted. I’m not going to do that ever again. I get it now. I really do. You did everything you had to. I didn’t understand that even when we were talking about it, but I get it now. You- you didn’t have anyone to help you, no mother to ask for advice. It was just you and Dad and the two of you did whatever you had to do. And it’s amazing how you did that. I can’t imagine trying to grow up and figure out life without you because- even if you weren’t always right there by us, you were always there for us.”

Perhaps it wasn’t Jaina’s words so much as how she said them, how the Force rang with the sweet truth as it flowed around her, through her. Leia did not miss it. She felt it. She recognized it. And it all slowly sunk in.

“Mom. I get it now. I get it like you do. You have no idea how thankful I am that I still have you because I’m going to need you now more than I ever have.”

Leia finally found the confirmation she’d been looking for in the Force and she couldn’t help the gigantic smile she got when her gaze found her daughter again. Jaina smiled joyously, nodding.

Jaina!” Leia gasped, taking one long step forward and flinging her arms out to embrace her child. Jaina was shaking with her bubbling laughter, but she squeezed her back, nestling her head on her mother’s shoulder. “I’m just glad that I have you here to help me out,” she told her.

“Oh, Jaina! Of course!” Jaina laughed again.

“Now, how’s that for an early Mother’s Day gift?”

Leia raised a brow. “You couldn’t wait a week?”

“Jag insisted that we wait until dinner on my Life Day, but I couldn’t help myself.”

Leia chuckled shortly. “You’ve never been very patient.”

“Are you complaining? Jacen and I came on time to make you a mother on Mother’s Day.”

“That’s right. And you made the greatest gift. And, Jaina?”


“You know that I’m always here. We’ve still got time.”