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the power of a name

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They sit around the Falcon as she rests on the base, Luke sprawled across the floor throwing his old training orb in the air and balancing it with the Force. Leia sits near Han on the bench so that he can knead her swollen feet. They are mostly quiet, each of them suggesting a new name every few moments. Han and Luke's suggestions have deteriorated into names to which Leia will only scoff or snort in response.


A few long beats pass and Leia's mind is empty for the first time in a long time. She closes her eyes and tilts her head back, and in one of her rarer moments, tries to connect to the Force. It is steady, thrumming in the background, surrounding the ship, enveloping Luke, and she breathes through its comforting pulse. She can feel the beats echo in the child inside her, the power that resides within her. It frightens her.


The Force is Luke's. It is a legacy best suited to Luke--to the boy who saved the Galaxy by saving his father, to the man who stared in the face of darkness and rejected everything for which it stood. But the Force is living and breathing, and she can always feel it within her reach. She doesn't want to feel it, to reach for it. This, as is the case with everything Anakin left for her, is a worthless legacy, only a heavy burden she wishes to ignore (that she, the chosen daughter of a Rebel leader, adopted child of a childless queen could be the blood and power and child of the galaxy's terror. That she could be the daughter of a father who destroyed her home.)


She has her mind, her wit, her heart, her brother, her lover (soon her child). She doesn't want the Force. She has the gifts her other father gave and molded in her.


But there is her brother. And in that relationship is a cruel gift. Luke is the lone light in this struggle of identity and reality, and to be known as Luke's sister is a source of pride, because Luke is kindness and gentleness and strength; because Luke saved them all (because Luke was right after all).


That angers her too. Because Luke was right, right about the man who killed her father, destroyed her home, left her for torture, failed to recognize her (and even now Leia cannot understand why she would care). In those very early days it is too much to listen to Luke, too much to know Luke's pain, and to know that he received resolution, to understand that he was right ( tell your sister you were right , their father tells Luke. Tell her that I wasn't all gone, that you brought me back, that you were right about me. She doesn't know why that should matter to her, not then.)


(Later, she thinks about those days and the simple phrase to her, for her from the lips of a dying father she never wanted to recognize, and she clings to them with a faithful desperation unmatched by anything she has ever done. Luke was right, she tells herself when she is alone. Anakin said that Luke was right. Vader said that Luke was right.)


(Luke was right.)


But on that early day, there is only them, this makeshift family, on the ship that rules the Galaxy, resting in a moment of rare peace. On that early day, Han sprawls across the bench and rubs her feet with steady strokes and Luke turns his head every few minutes to look at them, and there is only quiet.


"Jawala," Luke says decisively.


"No," she says as Han snorts.


"Are you really sure?" Luke asks, and she rolls her eyes at him when he tilts his head to grin at her.


"I think I can decide that I hate that," she tells him and rests her head back on the cushion behind her.


They fall back into silence, until Luke pushes himself up onto his elbows and stares down at his lap before looking over to Leia and Han.


"What about Anakin?" he asks.


Leia freezes and her mind races through the possibilities. Anakin, after the father who gave her life and the Force. Anakin, after the father who destroyed everything. Anakin, after the father who saved Luke.


Saved Luke. (Saved her.)


Han's hands have frozen on her feet, and she stares at his face waiting for him to look at her. His chin is tucked to his chest, and he exhales out of his nose (they have talked about this too much already. Too many moments of starts and stops, Leia attempting to explain her confusion (the pain of it all), Han only knowing what Luke tried to explain. He no longer denies the Force, but neither is it the ever-present comfort and threat it is to the twins. But they have talked and Leia has cried in the dark of the night when she finally breaks and Han knows her pain in this more than Luke). And so Han breathes and Leia stares and Luke waits.


Han looks over at her, and she can see that he is waiting for her to speak. His eyes are steady and sad, and Leia doesn't want to have to explain to Luke again. She doesn't know how; doesn't know how to express her sadness and her growing awareness of what Anakin’s sacrifice means for them and her recognition that Anakin did save them, even after he destroyed them; doesn't know how to say that she knows she needs to forgive him.


But a name (that name) is too much now. Too much for her to give to Luke, for her to damn her innocent child with (savior and destroyer, father and killer; it is too much history to give a child).


Her child will be a fresh start for all of them. She thinks that together the three of them can keep him safe.


Leia looks over to Luke, sees the lines carved into his face that had not been there when she had met her brother years before when he was an enthusiastic, unrefined knight in gleaming white armor. Luke who needed saving, who needed guidance and patience so that he might save them all. She stares at her brother with fresh eyes and sees the quiet patience that he now embodies and the gentle question lingering in his eyes, but her answer does not change.


"No," she says slowly but firmly. "Not for my baby."


Luke nods and lies back on the floor. "It was just a suggestion," he says, and Leia breathes through her mouth. Han huffs under his breath, and they exchange a tired look. Han resumes rubbing her feet, and she tries to make herself comfortable.


"You could always make a little mini-you yourself," Han says, his voice lighter again.


Luke laughs harder than the comment deserves and shakes his head adamantly. "I'm leaving you that accidental pleasure," and he turns to wink in their direction.


Han huffs again, and the two begin their typical banter while Leia closes her eyes and tries to drown out the words they are speaking.

 

“How was the training today?” she hears Han ask.

 

Luke rolls on the ground so that he faces the bench and props his elbow on the ground to brace his head. “Steady but slow,” he answers. “I’ve just been doing the exercises I’ve always done.”

 

Leia looks up and over at Luke. “Have you decided what you’re going to do next?” she says quietly.

 

Luke looks down to the ground and slowly traces the rivets on the floor. “I think so,” he says carefully. “I want to find more records of the Order, but most of the records I’ve found don’t provide enough information about the Force and what it could be.” Luke trails off and after a beat rolls onto his back. He pushes his hair back from his eyes and ruffles his hair before continuing, “I don’t feel like I know enough.”

 

“What about Yoda and the ghosts?” Leia asks. “Can’t you just talk to them?”

 

Luke hums under his breath and answers, “I can, and I do, but they can’t provide all the answers I need, and I can’t find them here.”

 

Leia sighs in her head. Luke and his impossible search: he’s been looking and asking for months now, and there’s nothing to be found here. Just records of padawans after padawans and masters after masters, just reports of the “mystical power of the Jedi” and its influence throughout the far reaches of the galaxy, and throughout it all, the heartbreaking tale of traitors to the Order—those who could not accept the peace and self-denial of the Jedi’s and strove to find their own way through injustice and terror and power and hate.

 

It’s too much for Leia. Too mystical, too intangible, too much Vader (she can almost hear Luke’s voice gently correcting “Anakin”). But it’s everything to Luke and so she listens and asks questions as best she can for as long as she can, and she tries to ignore the fact that one day Luke will go off on his own and try to understand this Force which clings too tightly to them both. The day is coming ever nearer. Luke is meditating more, and the Force is burning inside of him in response. He’s full of questions for which he cannot find answers and in pursuit of a purity that has not existed for far longer than either of them imagined. He wants to find the careful balance that exists somewhere, wants to know the legacy that is now his (theirs) and to find a way to embody the best of his mentor and the best of his father.

 

But this is Luke—this wise searcher of knowledge, this calm warrior with power that comes from peaceful assurance. This is Luke’s journey, both chosen for him and chosen by him, and she cannot envy his task or resent his purpose.

 

She knows Luke will go; her assurance increases every time she sees him, every time she feels the Force alight when they come close. She knows his burning desire to know and to cleanse what their father destroyed and then balanced, and she knows that he will strive to do so no matter the cost.

 

She looks down at Luke as he stares up at the ceiling and for a second connects to the Force. She can feel the conflicts of his emotions and see the Force circling him, even still, with a steady presence. She separates herself from the Force again and stares down at the golden hair and scarred face of her brother. He looks old right now, and she remembers that they are both not yet close to thirty. They are young and yet so much older than they have a right to be, and in that second she wants nothing more than to hold her brother and just pretend (pretend that they are young, that they grew up together, that they were normal, that they could always have each other, that they did not each carry impossible burdens and unwieldy grief).

 

As if he can sense her pain (and he probably does), Luke turns his head and meets her eyes. His blue eyes are as steady as they have been for years, but they hold the sadness of knowing and she knows that he understands.

 

(For a second, she thinks back to a cold cell and a too-short stormtrooper and excited blue eyes that sparkled with adventure, and her heart breaks a little more.)

 

But Luke is still looking at her with the calmness he has learned and embraced, and she is comforted.

 

This is where they are now, these twins of the Force, these children of the Hero With No Fear, of the people who have walked the sky. She, the princess of a non-existent land, the daughter of chosen parents who will never leave her, the wife of a General and smuggler, the sister of the last Jedi, and he, the simple farmer, the fearless commander, the son of a Queen and broken Savior, brother of a Rebel leader. This is who they are now, and she suddenly cannot be sad.

 

This has been their journey—this has been their story of slavery and mystical powers and love and devotion and betrayal; a story of friendship and camaraderie and rebellion and forgiveness. They are here because a friend refused to abandon another’s legacy, because love will always win, because Luke was right. They are here because a wearied warrior waited in the sand to protect the last Son, who gave his life to save them both (who perhaps didn’t believe enough, but loved enough anyway), and she looks down at her brother as thoughts begin to swirl in her head.

 

Love, through the darkness and the despair; love, which changes and upholds them all; love, which defines and binds them. Love.

 

Luke’s love, which saved them all; Luke’s devotion, which sustains them even now. (She thinks, no matter what may happen, no matter the discoveries he may find or the failures he may have, that this will always be his greatest legacy.)

 

And Luke, who was protected and inspired by the old desert hermit, by the loyal friend of a undeserving traitor, the imperfect yet faithful Jedi, and suddenly she thinks she knows the answer to their earlier question. A gift to Luke, a reminder to them all of imperfect devotion, of striving for something good, of humility in the face of failure, and of love to and for her brother (this last piece of family she has). Yes, she thinks.

 

“If it’s a boy,” she begins slowly, “what about Ben?”

 

She can hear Luke’s breath still, and she turns her head to look at Han. Han looks over at her, and he stares at her with a quizzical look before settling back in his seat and staring up to the ceiling in contemplation. “Ben,” he repeats. “Ben-ja-min. Benji. Ben. Ol’ Ben.”

 

Luke sits up and turns to stare at Leia. “Ben?” he asks, and she can feel in the Force how much just the suggestion means to him.

 

“Ben,” she says, and she hopes he understands what she means.

 

“I like it,” Han says jovially, and she breaks into a small smile. “Ben Organa-Solo.”

 

Luke’s face slowly breaks into an answering smile, and Leia is glad.

 

“Ben Organa-Solo,” she agrees.