It had been six months since Captain Ben Solo received the letter at his posting with the news of his elder brother, Anakin’s untimely death. The letter was from his uncle who urged him to return to his family estate and take on the family duty.
But Ben Solo was not born to take on the Family title, he was afterall the youngest son of the family. His grandfather Bail Organa passed his peerage to his grandson and declare him his heir. Grandfather Anakin Skywalker had done the same; his son Luke - who was knighted after his first battle - took a vow of celibacy. It all passed down to Anakin. The eldest son who was born with all the Organa-Solo-Skywalker charms, but none of the health and vitality.
The younger Solo was the polar opposite of his brother. While Anakin was frail and sickly, Ben was healthy and strong. Anakin was the life of the party, quick to smile and charm everyone around him. While Ben was quiet, reserved and quick to anger. He didn't have the temperament to take on Anakin’s responsibilities. But now he had to. So he sat down to write a letter to his superiors. Stating his situation and asking to be relieved of his duty.
It had been six months since Ben had lost his one and only best friend and everything in his life has changed.
“Ben! Slow down, brother.” Anakin called after him. But Ben didn’t have the patience to indulge him right now.
“Leave me be, Ani, I need to be alone.” Ben said over his shoulder, without slowing his pace.
“Ben you know I can’t walk as fast as you.” Anakin sounded out of breath, and that made Ben slow down a little. He finally stopped and slowly turned around to face his brother.
“Thank you!” Anakin huffed doubling over, bracing his hands on his knees as he caught his breath.
Ben reached out and rubbed his back, “Are you alright, Ani?”
His brother straightened up. “I will be fine. Let us sit?”
They sat on the log by the path, and looked out at the field. Ben stared out at the distance, he could see the manor, and if he listened closely we could hear the bustling even from this far.
“They are just worried, you must know that.” Anakin implored.
“This is my work brother. What do they expect me to do? Not take this promotion? Give up on my ambitions? And do what? Stay here? I don’t have a future here Anakin. This is your house, your future, I have no part in this.”
Anakin sighed. “I am not going to stop you from chasing your dreams. I know you are a soldier, it’s in your blood. It is a noble act to serve one’s country. And I couldn’t be more proud of you little brother. But just promise me one thing?”
“And what would that be?” Ben asked, amused by his words.
“That you will return home to us, your nieces and nephews will need their uncle to give them horseback rides, and also to teach them how to ride a horse. I am hopeless in those aspects.” Anakin said with feigned disdain in his voice.
Ben laughed and bumped his shoulder, “Is there something you are not telling me brother? Is there a little Solo on its way?”
Anakin managed to look bashful rubbing the back of his neck. “No, not yet, but someday soon.”
Ben got to his feet and held a hand out for his brother. Anakin took it and Ben hefted him up.
“I am very happy for you and Katherine.” Ben said as they started walking back to the manor.
“Thank you, and I am happy for your promotion. But just promise me you'll come back home.”
Ben nodded, it was foolish to make such a promise, but he would indulge him. He loved his brother and he would lie, if only to appease him.
Ben Solo reached the manor as the sun was setting in the sky. He was the Captain of a regiment overseas, so it took him a while to sort out his responsibilities. But during that time tragedy hit the household once again. His sister-in-law, Katherine took to her bed immediately after her husband’s death. She was pregnant, but her will to live all but left her and she died during childbirth.
When he stepped down from the carriage he could feel the manor wasn't the same as he had left behind. There seemed to be a dark cloud over it. And it unsettled Ben to no limits. Anakin was the life of Organa Manor, Ben always made everything worse. How would he even attempt to restore what was once before.
He strode down to the main entrance and was met by his mother, she too didn’t look her regal self, wearing the customary black gown for mourning. She reached her arms towards him and Ben had to duck down to embrace her. He didn’t hold back like he once did. His mother needed him now more than ever, and he would oblige her this much.
“Oh I have missed you, Ben.” Leia Organa-Solo pulled back, her eyes swimming. “You must be tired from the long journey. Come I’ve asked them to serve us tea in the parlor.”
Ben was sitting by the fire by the time they were served with tea and refreshments. He had been quiet, looking at the fire burning on the hearth.
“How is the child faring?” Ben asked finally.
“She is doing well. She is so beautiful. She has Ani’s eyes.” His mother gave him a watery smile.
“Jen, could you please ask Lady Rey to bring baby Padme to meet her uncle?” Leia asked the maid who was serving the tea.
“Yes, milady.” the maid curtsied and left.
“Lady Rey?” Ben asked, his brows furrowing.
Leia sighed. She somehow managed to look even paler than before.
“Ben Kenobi, died last month.”
Ben swallowed hard, he wasn’t even aware that his namesake had expired.
“His granddaughter, Rey, poor girl, old Ben tried to make sure she inherited the estate, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Her husband died in the war and she miscarried her baby.” Leia paused, wiping her eyes, “The next of kin is a distant cousin who didn’t want to keep a young widow in the house, so young Rey was left with nowhere to go.”
Ben took in the information. He never had the opportunity to meet this young woman, but he had heard of her.
“I had to take her in, she is so young, besides I am her Godmother and I made a promise to old Ben before he died.”
Just then the doors of the parlor opened and Ben turned. He felt his heart stop for a second, his eyes were met with the most beautiful woman he’d ever behold in his life. He was on his feet in an instance.
“Aw there she is, the stars of my sky.” Leia cooed, as Lady Rey brought the baby close to her.
Ben couldn’t stop looking at the young woman, and had to physically shake himself out of his trance to focus on the scene that was unfolding in front of him.
Baby Padme was swaddled in white linen wrappings and placed on a lace quilt over Rey’s arms. She was slowly waking up hearing all the commotion going around her.
Ben was still rooted to the spot when his mother gestured him to come closer.
Lady Rey was looking down at the baby, her face had a serene glow, full of love and affection towards the baby she was holding in her arms. She hadn’t taken her eyes off her even once since she walked into the room.
Ben came closer to look at the object of her attention. Peering down he saw a turf of dark Blonde hair and rosy cheeks. Then she opened her eyes, and his brother’s eyes were staring back at him. Ben felt overwhelmed with emotions. He never thought he’d see those eyes ever again. But there they were, looking back at him.
He was surprised when he saw a tear dropping on Padme’s nose, the baby squirmed, and Ben realized it fell from his eyes.
“Ben, are you crying dear?” Leia said, placing her hand on his arm.
Ben rubbed at his cheek and his hand came back wet. He was indeed crying. When he pulled his eyes up, they were met with Ms. Rey’s. She was looking straight at him. Their eyes met and Ben felt a spark run through his body, he instantly felt a connection. And even though he had no way of knowing, he had a feeling she felt it too.
He cleared his throat and dragged his eyes away from the beautiful woman in front of him, and looked at his mother.
“She is the mirror image of Ani. May i hold her?” He said, looking back at young woman.
“Of course.” She delicately handed the baby to him. She was so cautious, like she didn’t quite feel confident to hand him the precious bundle.
Padme looked so small in his arms. She was probably the smallest human being he ever saw and she was indeed the most precious one.
That was the moment Ben Solo’s life truly changed. His world had shifted and he knew he wasn’t going anywhere. He was tied to the manor; to his family, and to this small child. The last remnant of his brother, and he didn’t know if he had any fight left in him to oppose this.
He held the baby for a little while, lost in his thoughts as the ladies talked in hushed voices. Then he heard her address him, and was brought back to the moment.
“Your Grace, it’s time for her feed, and she looks a little tired.” Lady Rey said, looking at the baby with a softness that pulled at his heart.
He carefully handed the baby to her, Ms. Rey bid them both goodnight and walked out of the room with Padme in her arms.
“I brought her here before Padme was born. She is a special one. I do not know how would I have survived all this if she wasn’t here. She was like a blessing to us.”
His mother continued the story. Informing him how Rey Kenobi instantly became friends with Katherine; how she manage to lift her mood so much that Leia almost hoped Kathy would survive the childbirth. Then after Padme was born she took over the child’s care, and how Padme probably thinks Rey is her mother. She even took charge of the household while Leia was overcome with grief after losing Katherine so soon after Anakin. How she still helped around the house as well as taking care of the child.
The more he listened the more Ben became enamored by the young woman. She was well-educated, born and raised in upper-class society, but she never showed interest in marriage, and her grandfather indulged her. She had the best tutors, teaching her arts, history, language and literature. She even traveled to Europe with her grandfather. Her mother died when she was very young, so she took charge of the household at a very early age and had been the mistress of Kenobi Manor for some time.
Old Ben all but planned to leave everything to her, including training her to run the estate, but the man underestimated his own mortality. And marrying her to a commoner, who she called friend, had been a foolish mistake. But who was Leia to judge? She was sure she would have treated her own daughter much the same way, and wouldn’t have forced her into marrying some pompous peer either.
Ben could only laugh at his mother’s brashness. Leia did marry for love to a commoner. But the difference in her situation was that her parents were alive, and Anakin was born within the first year of their marriage, and his grandfather was more than happy to name him his heir. Unfortunately, Rey Kenobi hadn’t been so lucky.