It’s the smallest ripple in the Force.
It happens every day. Significant on the individual level, but a hopeless mass of noise from a distance. Luke only notices this time because it’s Leia.
Something is there that never was before.
No awareness yet. It’s the potential for life, not a promise.
He wonders if she knows.
The flash of irritation is instantaneous, even though his sister is half a galaxy away and probably busy with some painfully boring (and important) politics. Leia is untrained in the Force, but he still hears her voice echo in his mind, loud and clear.
Don’t be an idiot.
“Don’t tell Han.” They’re the first words out of her mouth when he sees her again. Six months since they’ve been in the same room together, and she’s already growling at him.
Luke loves his sister. He raises his eyebrows at her. “You haven’t told him?”
“Of course I’ve told him. He wants to tell you. He hasn’t shut up about it for weeks.”
“You’re a real romantic, Leia.”
“Someone’s gotta keep their head around here, and it certainly isn’t him.” But there’s already a smile breaking across her face, and she pulls him in for a hug at the same time he steps in for one.
They touch, and he feels it. Buried in her heart, under the joy and exasperation, is a tendril of worry. A memory, of a mask and and a droid and unimaginable pain.
Of the Force, and all the ways it can be used for evil.
He kisses her forehead. “Don’t worry. The Force isn’t like - brown eyes, or dark hair. The Dark Side doesn’t filter down through generations.”
Her tone turns dry, grateful at the same time. “Right. So if something goes wrong, it’s all my fault.”
“Nothing’s going to go wrong,” he assures her. A beat. “Besides. Let’s be real here, if something did happen, it’d probably be Han’s fault.”
She laughs. But deep within her chest, that tendril takes root.
“You already know!” The betrayal in Han’s voice is the second best thing Luke’s heard all day.
The first best was his stumbling attempt to inform Luke that he was going to be an uncle. When it comes to feelings, Luke has noticed, Han kind of sucks.
He forces his lips to stay still. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Han jabs his finger at Leia. “You told him.”
She shoves at it. “Put that thing away before I do it for you.”
“I’m onto you, General Princess.”
“If you were any further off base, you’d be floating. Luke didn’t need me to tell him.”
Han opens his mouth.
Leia Looks at him.
Han shuts his mouth.
“Do you two need a moment?” Luke bites back his grin. Leia’s unease lingers in his chest, but there’s a buoyancy there that overwhelms it, a bubbling sense ofsomething so powerful, it takes him a moment to recognise it as hope. “Because I can give you a moment.”
“Moment’s been ruined, kid,” Han grumbles, but there’s a smile flirting at his edges too. He pulls Leia’s tiny body into him, draping his free arm around Luke’s shoulders. “But I guess I can let you congratulate me.”
“You?” Leia scoffs. “Your part’s long done. It wasn’t even especially difficult.”
Han winks at her. “Yeah, but it was good, right?”
Luke hastily wiggles out from under his arm. “You know what, I’m definitely going to give you two that moment.”
A wicked gleam enters Leia’s eye. “Don’t you know where babies come from, farmboy?”
He beats a hasty retreat.
Luke doesn’t mean to buy so many toys.
He just can’t seem to help himself
“You’re going to spoil my son, Luke,” Leia sighs, and that’s how Luke finds out he’s going to have a nephew.
He buys a stuffed tauntaun to celebrate.
“What do I know about being a father?” Han announces one day. Or night. It’s late evening, and they’re not entirely sober. They’d meant to go out to dinner, a family thing, but Leia had been held up with Republic work. Luke takes Han to a cantina instead.
That may have been a mistake.
“I mean,” Han continues. Is he slurring? Luke thinks he might be slurring. “I’m drunk.”
“You aren’t always drunk.”
Luke nudges his friend, and then has to make a grab for him as he starts to slide and doesn’t stop. “If I’m helpful, are you going to remember it in the morning?”
“That’s not very helpful either.”
Luke thinks about pointing out that he’s about ten years younger than Han. He thinks about pointing out that for most of his life, he didn’t exactly have a father, and when he did have one - well. They all saw how that turned out. If there is anyone less qualified to give fatherly advice in the galaxy, Luke hasn’t met them.
He grips his friend by the shoulders anyway. “Do you love Leia?”
“Yeah, who’s idea was that?” Han mumbles, but there’s a goofy grin on his face that speaks volumes. Luke ducks his head to hid his own smile.
“Right. Are you going to love this kid?”
“The hell kind of question is that?”
“I’m taking that as a yes.” He thumps Han on the arm. “You’re gonna do fine. Just the fact that you’re worried you won’t is a good sign, in my opinion.”
“Your expert opinion.”
“Hey, you’re the one who wanted me to be helpful.”
A hand drops onto his shoulder the next day. Han is bleary-eyed and pale, but he looks Luke straight in the face.
“Don’t mention it.
“You better not have told him.”
“I didn’t tell him the first time.”
“I’m not talking about the first time, I’m talking about this time.”
“Take that finger out of my face.”
“I can come back,” Luke offers, and makes no move to leave.
Leia and Han both tear their eyes away from each other, like they’ve only just remembered he’s there. Luke’s used to that.
“We decided,” Han starts, and pauses to shoot a glare at Leia, like he thinks she’s about to interrupt.
Her eyes roll so hard, the galaxy itself quails. “Get on with it.”
“Did you wanna do this, your Highgeneralness?”
Another pause, where something like genuine distress crosses his face. “Really?” And then he catches her smirk. Leia, in turn, catches his hand before he can point again. “You’re lucky I like you.”
“Seriously,” Luke offers again. “I can go. Come back later.”
“We’re calling him Ben.” Han says it to Leia’s face, and belated realises he’s not supposed to be telling her. He curses under his breath, turning back to Luke, who has abruptly forgotten how air works. “That’s surprise, right? You’re surprised. We’re calling him Ben.”
Leia pats him on the back. Something about her touch jerks him back to reality, and he starts to breath again properly, in and out around the biggest smile the galaxy’s ever seen.
“Yeah,” he rasps. “Yeah, this is surprise.”
He doesn’t make it to the birth.
The depth of his grief at that surprises even him. But - this is his sister. His best friend. His nephew. He spent his childhood all but alone in the world, unsure of his place, or if he even had one. It feels too much like an omen to not be able to step into his new role now.
But the First Order doesn’t care that, somewhere in a New Republic hospital, a child is being born. They won’t stop to mark this moment, won’t spare a thought of consideration or compassion for this, or anything else. They keep working, and so must Luke.
He sits in his X-wing en route, feels the echoes of his sister’s joy and pain, swamped by relief and love after eleven hours. The vision is a powerful one. Leia, sweaty and dishevelled, holding a screaming bundle as Han hovers anxiously nearby.
She looks at him. He’s not there, but she looks at him anyway, and smiles. Holds the bundle out towards him until it’s revealed to be a howling, red-faced baby.
Luke can’t hold him. But he reaches out through the Force, the gentlest, most loving touch he can muster.
Welcome, Ben. Welcome, my nephew. I hope you’ll like it here.