(Notes (disclaimer?):For the record, I’m not a fan of TFA, and I’m on the fence about what to make of the Aftermath books’ telling of H/L/Ben. But I am cool with thinking that Han and Leia had a son named Ben, that they loved him very much, that Han and Leia were the best parents they knew how to be, that Ben had trouble growing up (because what kid doesn’t?), and that TFA is just a weird visual-media fanfic with actors who look amazingly like our OT heroes, but who aren’t really them at all, because seriously, how could TFA really happen to our heroes? So yeah, Ben Solo is here, but it’s not a TFA Ben. :) )
Leia had never really thought about whether becoming a parent was a good idea – until now. The revelation of the truth of her parentage had been an unwelcome shock, but she knew Luke, she knew him: whatever had happened that resulted in Vader, it wasn’t a given that having such darkness in one’s family tree would necessarily result in future generations embodying that darkness as well. Growing up in the Palace on Alderan, and as part of her duties to her people as Princess, she was frequently around babies and children, so she was certainly familiar with, and fond of, children. Though she had been too focused on her work in the Senate and then the Rebellion to think seriously about having children (or whether she would even be alive to have them), she wasn’t at all opposed to having them. Even when she and Han had learned she was pregnant, they went through the usual emotional zero-g course that expecting parents ride, including denial and acceptance, excitement and dread. And for Force’s sake: Leia had played an active role in leading an intergalactic war. She had been responsible for the lives of numbers of beings. But it was different now. Now…
“…you’re wondering if having Ben was a good idea?”
Leia looked sharply at her friend. Her usually exceptional abilities to control her emotions and maintain her composure, honed from years of being in the public eye, were, quite frankly, no match at all for post-partum hormones and weeks of sleepless nights tending to a hungry, growing, non-verbal baby. It had taken awhile for these two friends, these two war veterans, sitting together and talking quietly about motherhood, to get to this point in conversation. But Shara had finally hit the mark. The tears immediately started to well up. Leia gave up the fight for composure and nodded affirmatively.
Shara smiled knowingly, radiating only pure understanding and support. As her young son Poe played quietly nearby, pulling random pieces from the pile of colored building blocks to assemble creations that vaguely resembled spacecraft, Shara leaned forward and took Leia’s hand in her own.
“Leia, Ben is perfectly normal. Babies cry, sometimes all the time. They’re hungry, sometimes all the time. You get no time to yourself, no sleep. Nothing. And it wears on you.” Leia opened her mouth to interrupt, but Shara continued. “It’s different from the war. Yeah, sure, it was stressful and we never got sleep then. But a baby…” She gazed over at her son, who was engrossed in what seemed to be (if his sound effects were any indication) a battle between spacecraft (very square, multicolord spacecraft). “A baby is different. It’s completely dependent on you. And you know it, in every atom of your being. Nature is against us here: a baby’s cries are literally biologically tuned to get a rise out of you.” Shara glanced pointedly back to Leia, with a distinctly mischievous smile. “Your baby is going to be worse for you than Han ever could be.”
Leia finally laughed—a quick, choked laugh, but still, a laugh. Both women sat back and relaxed.
Shara continued. “And Leia, you’re perfectly normal, too. Sure, some new mothers may not ever question their sanity, which is fine. But it’s also perfectly normal to have serious doubts. And to make it worse, it may still be weeks before Ben gives you his first true smile. Until then, well, he’s just going to be this wiggly, crying blob that is only adorable and clearly worth all the trouble when he’s fast asleep.”
Leia’s shoulders drooped. “Which is rarely.”
Shara shrugged. “Yeah. For now. But that will change.”
The women grew quiet as Poe’s spacecraft battle came to a pause. They watched as he began to assemble what looked like a small droid (or luggage). Leia sighed, not exactly contentedly, but at least somewhat comforted. “Thank you, Shara. It’s good to talk with you. We’re certainly so happy that Ben is in our lives. It’s just… “
Shara smiled knowingly again. “It’s just a lot harder than you expected?”
Poe’s droid (not luggage) found a seat in one of the craft, and the battle resumed. Shara considered her friend. “Well. If it helps at all, half the time I still think Kes and I made a huge mistake, and that I’m not cut out to be a mother.”
Leia’s eyes grew wide. “And the other half of the time?”
“The rest of the time, I think Poe is the most perfect creature to have ever existed in the galaxy, and I honestly can’t think of a better idea than to have welcomed him into our lives.”
Leia smiled. Again, Shara had hit a mark. That feeling was something Leia was familiar with, and she had indeed felt as well… of course, only when tiny Ben was fast asleep. So, rarely.
As if on cue, the sound of Ben’s cries in the sleeping quarters reached the women. After a few moments of fussing, as the women waited to see if the fathers would be able to soothe the crying child, Han strode out carrying tiny Ben in his arms, Kes Dameron following along.
“Sorry to interrupt, Sweetheart,” Han said wearily as the male entourage reached the gathering room, “but I think our little guy wants his mama.”
Kes shook his head. “Nah, buddy, that’s definitely a hungry cry. Poe used to make that sound all the time when he wanted to –“
“What are you talking about?” Shara threw to Kes, cutting him off. “Ben sounds like he needs to be changed! When Poe was –“
Ben let out a loud wail, cutting both friends off momentarily. Leia looked anxiously at Ben, then Han, as Han sat down next to her. “No,” Leia said, “I think Han’s right, he just wants me to hold him.”
Poe watched the crying child with normal childhood curiosity, while Shara and Kes continued their normal parent-friends' duty of offering of various thoughts about how to soothe the baby. But the Damerons slowly faded into the periphery of the Organa-Solo’s awareness as the new mother and father looked with concern to their newborn son.
Han handed Ben to Leia—and they paused. A different look had come over Ben’s face. Without a word, they both knew: Ben was actually seeing his mother. Han and Leia held their breath. For the first time, tiny Ben’s eyes locked with his mother’s, forging a solid connection between human beings. Slowly, his features changed…
Ben looked into his mother ‘s eyes and smiled an honest, true, happy, bubbly baby smile.
And Leia knew without a doubt: Ben was the most amazing creature to have ever existed in the galaxy, and she knew it was the best idea to have welcomed him into their lives.