This is sort of dumb, but Leia finds out she’s pregnant from the Force. Honestly, though, she’s got more going on than any self-respecting twenty-five-year-old should and she only signs stuff from medical that’s approving her pilots to go back on duty. The last time she got a head cold was like five or six years ago and she’d spent most of it in a safehouse on Grizmallt, blowing her nose into Han’s spare shirts vindictively and melting protein rations into soup over a plasma torch. Doctors are a waste of time.
“Clearly not,” Luke says. “Aren’t you worried about somebody intercepting this transmission?”
“Who, those dickheads from Ren?” Leia says. “Please, if they could intercept one percent of our transmissions I’d have actual work to do and I wouldn’t be wasting my time calling you.”
At the other end of the connection, Luke is frowning from underneath his overdramatic hood. He’s growing a beard, she thinks--the connection is fuzzy--but it’s coming in patchily and makes him look like the kind of drunk you find dead face-down in a puddle. Han’s people, if you will.
“I don’t know why you need my help,” Luke is saying. The beard is distracting, Leia keeps wanting to laugh. “You tell Han you’re having a baby, he cries, you have the baby. What part of this do you need my help with?”
Leia says, “I don’t need your help, I’m asking if the Force is working properly.”
“That sounds like you need my help,” Luke tells her. Leia isn’t sure which of them is older--it’s definitely her--but Luke sounds right now like he’s jockeying for the position.
Through her teeth, Leia says, “I’m asking you to humor me; there’s a difference. Should it feel like happy indigestion? That’s what it feels like.”
Leia’s office has been equipped with a comm system the entire time she’s been stationed here, but she’s never used it before; the one in the main briefing room is bigger and Leia’s rarely needed privacy to yell at somebody over a transmission. It’s weird how intimate it feels when Luke’s face is so tiny, projected right in front of hers. Even the stupidity of his beard isn’t enough to shake off the sensation of closeness. Maybe it’s making her even fonder of him, like some kind of psychological torture.
Luke’s face twists. “I honestly have never been in a position to know if pregnancy feels like happy indigestion.”
Leia is going to burn that stupid beard right off of his stupid face. “You’re an idiot,” she tells him flatly. If she puts her hand over her stomach--over her uterus, really--she can feel something there. Not with her hand, but with a kind of extension of her hand, an extraneous nerve ending she can’t see. Something is roiling just out of focus.
Luke rolls his eyes so hard that part of his face goes out of frame.
“Congratulations,” Leia says, “you’re going to be an uncle,” and then she signs off.
Luke shows up on a supply transport one twelve-day week later, stepping dramatically off of the freighter and flipping his hood down in the middle of the crowded flight deck. Leia’s nearby because Han is under the impression that he’s going to man the next supply freighter to Gan Moradir, even though there are warrants for his arrest out in seventeen planets in that system.
“What are you going to do when you end up in jail?” Leia is yelling at him. “Because I’m not going to waste valuable resources sending a lawyer to bail you out!”
“I didn’t ask for a lawyer!” Han is yelling back. The supply freighter lands behind him; a passel of deck monkeys run out to deal with it. “I didn’t ask your opinion at all, in fact!”
“Yeah, and that’s just one of your many problems,” Leia says. “Including delusions, apparently. There’s plenty of actual work you could be doing that would be useful, instead of galavanting off to play the charming smuggler--”
“Galavanting?” Han hisses. This is when the landing deck yawns open and the freighter’s crew jumps out to meet the deck monkeys. There’s a lot of back-slapping and yelling, which is difficult to make out over Han putting a hand to his chest like he’s Leia’s Great-Aunt Silara and saying, “Playing?”
“You can smuggle on your own time,” Leia says. “You get a dozen vacation days a year just like everybody else. But on my time, on Alliance time, you do what I tell you.”
“First of all,” Han says, “you don’t technically outrank me anymore, General Organa. Second of all, in what universe have I ever gotten a dozen vacation days from this measly--”
Luke steps off of the freighter, pauses, and throws back his hood. The sunlight glints on his hair and his now slightly less patchy beard, making him look regal to anybody within eyesight who’s too dumb to know that her brother is actually an idiot. There’s a sort of gasp as everybody sucks in air--except for Han, still complaining about the vacation days that he would know about if he’d ever bothered to read his employment contract--and then it erupts into hysterical shrieking. It comes out as a kind of mass MASTER LUKE.
“Maker fucking save me,” Leia mutters under her breath.
Han half-turns and, seeing Luke, says, “What disaster’s brought him home?”
It’s probably not the Force that makes Leia’s stomach feel like it swoops down into her knees.
“Hey, kid,” Han continues as Luke pushes through his crowd of well-wishers to come say hello. There’s a sort of respectful circle forming around Luke, like people are too afraid to actually hug the only known living Jedi Knight etcetera etcetera etcetera, which is hilarious on multiple levels. “I almost didn’t recognize your face under that dead vole.” He pulls Luke in for a rough hug; this makes the people talk even more loudly. There’s a kind of festive feel to the moment. How long has it been since Luke’s come to see them? Clearly too long.
Leia doesn’t realize she’s crossed her arms over her chest until she has to uncross them to hug him. “Hello, Luke,” she says. Even her broad irritation with Han and her minute irritation with Luke isn’t enough to keep her from clasping him tightly. Her arms get swallowed up in all of his robe’s accoutrements. She thinks, I’m happy to see you, but doesn’t say it because it probably won’t be true as soon as she confirms why he’s here.
“Hey, sis,” Luke says cheerfully. “Did you get shorter while I was gone, or?”
Leia punches him in the kidney.
“Of course I came because you’re pregnant,” Luke says. He has his who, me? I’m just an innocent moisture farmer from Tatooine eyeballs wide open and blinking dewily. “My only sister! Pregnant!”
“I am going to suffocate you with your own cloak,” Leia threatens.
Apparently the Force tells Luke that this is not a viable threat; he folds his hands into the sleeves of his cloak and smiles at her. “Have you told Han yet?” he asks her. He’s made the mistake of agreeing to meet Leia in her office, which is a tactical loss on his end. Leia occupies herself with shuffling a pile of datapads and transmission read-outs.
“No,” she says when she’s good and ready, which is about thirty seconds later. Luke hasn’t said anything in this interim, but Leia can feel his eyes boring into the top of her skull. “It hasn’t come up yet.”
“It’s not just going to come up,” Luke says. “Unless you’re referring to vomit.”
Leia makes a face at Luke for this. Clearly, traveling around the universe and kidnapping Force-sensitive toddlers from their parents has not done anything to improve his peasant humor.
“You’re accusing me of having peasant humor, aren’t you?” Luke asks. His eyes have narrowed now and they make him look like a very unattractive greeper. Leia is Force-sensitive, just like Luke’s kidnapping victims, so she can feel the edges of his mind sort of prodding hers. It’s a weird feeling that Leia 100% doesn’t like; it reminds her too much of being fourteen and having to yell for her parents not to come into her room when they knocked.
“No,” Leia says. She can’t even begin to think of all the ways she doesn’t want to think about her parents. “I’m accusing you of being ugly.”
Luke stops looking narrow-eyed. “It’s your gene pool too,” he says. “Maybe your baby is going to look like me.” He stops short of actually fluffing his hair but Leia can read his telegraphed intent like he’s on the other side of a sparring mat. Of all the stupid stuff General Kenobi did in his life, introducing Luke to Han was definitely up there amongst the stupidest. “Wouldn’t that be lucky?”
In lieu of a verbal response, Leia huffs, “Hm!” pointedly and looks at Luke’s muddy boots, which are propped on the edge of her desk.
Ignoring this, Luke returns to his original point. “I don’t understand why you can’t just tell him. It’s not like space scurvy, he’s definitely going to notice a baby running around in eight--eight?” He looks at Leia’s stomach, frowns, says, “Eight and a half months.”
“Babies don’t run, idiot,” Leia says. She pointedly flicks another look at Luke’s boots. If any of that mud gets on her transmission print-outs, she’s going to make him copy them out by hand. “Toddlers run. Babies have to be carried around like drums of protein rations.”
Sounding repressive and annoyed, Luke says, “Don’t you sound excited to be a mother.”
Even the word makes Leia cringe. “I don’t have to be excited,” she tells him. She can hear how tight her voice gets, choked in the middle of her throat like a gloved hand. “I don’t know why you even bothered coming. Don’t you have children to kidnap from their parents somewhere off in the galaxy? Who’s even watching them with you here?”
“The kids are fine,” Luke says. He’s gone from annoyed to concerned, eyebrows tightly together in the middle of his forehead. “Mara’s watching them. It’s fine, they always listen better to her anyway. Look, Leia, if this is about Vader--”
Leia says, “Get your boots off of my desk.”
Luke puts his feet on the floor.
That night, Leia dreams about a long, cold corridor. All sides of it are made of molded plastic, white and hard, and Leia is riding R2D2 like a tauntaun down it, holding onto his antenna for balance. She’s very concerned about her stability but she knows that she shouldn’t put her feet on the floor. Somebody’s chasing her; steady, measured steps that make her shiver. Her grip on R2D2’s antenna is slippery, her palm clammy from sweat.
“Hey,” Han says. Leia jerks awake to find him staring down at her, most of his hair standing upright with the front all mashed down. He looks ridiculous. “You okay?”
“What?” Leia says groggily. Han normally sleeps up against her back, both arms curled around her neck to get a better stranglehold, princess, but he’s propped up and blinking down at her. He comes awake so fast; Leia has to struggle out of sleep like she’s peeling her way out of a vat of molten transparisteel.
Han says, “You were saying ‘faster, R2, faster.’ Really distinctly.”
“Just a dream,” Leia tells him. “S’fine. Back to sleep.”
“You go back to sleep,” Han says, turning in half a second from concerned to surly. It’s incredible that he’s awake enough to even muster real emotions. Instead of replying with words, which would take too much energy, Leia puts her hand over Han’s face and pushes him away.
“Your nose s’cold,” Leia says.
“Mph!” Han replies pointedly, muffled by Leia’s hand over his face. Leia is already asleep by this point; she misses the rest of whatever Han says, fingers curling against his mouth.
Leia has hacked enough med droids in her time that she should know better, but she’s also not a backwater idiot who thinks that “The Force told me” is an actual test for conception. The Force had told her when Luke had nearly died in an asteroid belt off of Golm, and she’d been indescribably disturbed by one of the quartermaster staff who’d turned out to be a plant from those Ren dickheads, but that doesn’t make it a magical baby sensor.
“Con-Grat-U-Lations,” the med droid says, staunchly attempting enthusiasm. “You have tested 98% positive for pregnancy. I will amend your medical records accordingly.”
“That’s not necessary,” Leia tries.
“Per executive order RA-198 from the office of General Leia Organa, all medical files are to be immediately amended at time of consultation.” The med droid wheezes and then says, “Do you wish to terminate your pregnancy?”
“Ugh,” Leia says.
“I’m sorry,” the med droid replies. “I cannot parse your meaning. Can you please repeat your response?”
“No,” Leia finally says, with great reluctance, “not at this time.”
“Your files have been amended, General Organa,” the med droid says. “Should you wish to terminate your pregnancy, assistance will be provided by myself or another med droid.” With another wheeze, the med droid issues a ticker tape prescription out of the front of its chestplate. “Please follow these medical advisaries.”
The med droid hands Leia the thin sheet of plastic and wheels out of the room, off to perform diagnostic tests elsewhere. Leia’s important enough that she’d been able to call the med droid to her office and now she’s sort of regretting it. Maybe the starkness of the medbay would’ve helped her make a concrete decision. Rebel Alliance or not, Order of Ren nonsense or not, plenty of people in Leia’s position have begun to have babies. The colony on Yavin 4 is infested with them--every time Leia stops by to have tea with retired friends, there’s a passel of indistinguishable toddlers climbing over everything in reach. It’s not like the worst of the war, when children were a terrible idea sure to result in stress and death. The war would have been an easy excuse.
Leia tries to conceptualize herself with a baby, her abdomen distended in front of her as an incubator and nuisance. It’s easy to imagine but it’s happening in her head like a scene from one of her aunts’ favorite torrid holo dramas--her big belly, soft music in the background, Han wearing some kind of open-necked tunic and standing behind her in front of a window.
“What a bunch of bantha shit,” Leia mutters to herself. She shoves the prescription up the sleeve of her jacket and goes to scare up some hot water for tea.
Originally, she’d figured that she would have to sneak out to a pharmaceutical droid during the supper hour--Han is a sucker for regimented meal times--but she walks out of her office straight into a petty officer who snaps her a salute and says, “Ma’am, the Millennium Falcon’s just taken off. General Solo wanted me to tell you that he’s joined security for the supply freighter to Gan Moradir.”
Petty Officer Brihil has not been here long enough to know that she’s been selected as the fresh meat that’s easily disposable and therefore prime to bear bad news. Because of this, Leia doesn’t lose her temper at Petty Officer Brihil so much as the empty corridor over her right shoulder.
“That fucking piece of shit,” Leia hisses. She clenches her fists and hears the plastic prescription in her sleeve crunch.
“Um,” Petty Officer Brihil says, clearly realizing now that she’s been played.
“You’re excused,” Leia tells her. Is she actually seeing red or is it just the sun setting? Biology is amazing. “Also, Petty Officer--the next time somebody who doesn’t outrank you tells you to bring me news about General Solo, tell them to go fuck themselves.”
“Right,” Petty Officer Brihil says faintly. “Of--course, ma’am.”
Leia’s mother had had numerous miscarriages. You were a great blessing, she had said when Leia was a young child who wanted siblings; this was before they’d adopted Winter and Neena. In the background, Leia could remember her father saying, And our greatest curse, because Leia had spent the previous month refusing to comb her hair and one of her mother’s handmaidens had had to be recruited to brush out the snarls.
Once Winter and Neena had come, they’d needed five adults to run herd--Leia remembers this very clearly. When they were properly supervised with a ratio of more than one adult per child, it hadn’t been so bad; Neena had always been the worst of them, mischievous and amoral, and Leia and Winter had been perfectly behaved so that they would look good in contrast and get extra servings of dessert. Neena always threw the tantrums.
But unsupervised, their childhood had been a series of disasters. Leia had never brushed her hair and often ran away from home, Winter liked painting the cats bright colors, and Neena had been a screaming hellion who had set the summer pavilion on fire on four separate occasions, all of which she claimed to be accidents precipitated by faulty droids.
Leia tries to imagine a small child with Neena’s propensity for trouble loose on the Falcon, and it honestly makes her want to throw up.
The Gan Moradir supply run always takes a week but Leia figures it’ll take them a month because Han will surely be captured by one of his slimy underworld contacts and taken hostage and need rescuing. Luke is still lurking around, lounging in dark shadows and saying mysterious things to the youngest recruits, and Leia is ignoring him. She’s taking the prenatal supplements.
Six days after Han’s departure, Leia is aggressively ignoring Luke as he lounges in the back of her office, supposedly fixing some kind of short in C-3PO’s left leg but in reality talking to himself loudly and annoyingly. His mechanic shit is everywhere, spanners in piles on chairs and screws rolling around the floor.
“Don’t you have somewhere better to do this?” Leia asks him pointedly. “Like your quarters?”
“My sister isn’t in my quarters,” Luke says, not looking up from the inside of C-3PO’s leg. “I’m visiting to see my sister. Hey, 3PO, are you still getting the weird feeling?”
“I am afraid so, Master Luke,” C-3PO says fretfully. “I can’t imagine what it could be!”
“That’s why I’m here, bud,” Luke says. He pulls his head out of C-3PO’s leg and looks at Leia. “Weren’t you not talking to me?”
“I felt like I should register a complaint more formally,” Leia says, slamming her datapad down on her desk and sending a pile of shiny junk to the floor. “What is that?” she asks him, pointing at it. “Why is this here? I run half of a Rebel Alliance out of this office and you’re just piling your junk on any flat surface.”
Frowning, Luke says, “It’s not junk, it’s 3PO’s peripheral nervous system.”
Leia rolls her eyes so hard that she almost gives herself a headache. She’s opening her mouth to tell Luke where he can take C-3PO and his peripheral nervous system when the door to her office swishes open and Han is in the doorway, face red and hair standing on end.
“I’m honestly impressed I didn’t have to send a lawyer,” Leia tells him. “Did you shoot anybody important I should know about?”
Instead of addressing this legitimate concern, Han raises a finger and points it at her. His finger is shaking. “You!” he roars.
“Me,” Leia says back flatly. “What is it now?” If anybody in this office has a reason to be angry, it’s Leia, who had issued an express order to a subordinate that was subsequently ignored. Han’s lucky she doesn’t feel like court martialing him.
“You and me are getting married, princess,” Han continues, loudly, still standing mostly in the hallway. Probably half of the base is listening to this crap.
“Ha!” Leia barks.
“Oh no,” Han says, slowly and lethally. “I mean it. You’re knocked up? Fine. But we’re getting married.”
That rat bastard. “Did you tell him?” Leia says, accusative, to Luke. He’s staring down C-3PO’s leg and avoiding eye contact.
“He didn’t have to tell me, I have a flag on your medical records,” Han tells her. “What’s more interesting here is that you didn’t tell me, your worshipfulness.” He’s not quite so loud now, but Leia is too proud to pull him into her office to have this conversation in private. If he wants to have this fight in front of every petty officer between here and the Outer Rim, fine.
“How dare you!” Leia says.
“How dare you!” Han replies instantaneously. “I mean it. Jedi Knights can perform wedding ceremonies, can’t they?” He says this to Luke like Leia’s not in the room, being coerced into getting married to a man who literally can’t stay planet-side for more than half a second before his attention span slingshots him into some kind of criminal disaster.
“Fuck you,” Leia says. “Who said anything about getting married? Did Luke say anything about getting married?”
“Luke is not involved,” Luke says, not looking up.
“Hey, Luke is not involved,” Han says, pointing at her. She’s going to bite his finger off, then they’ll see how much pointing he can do with it. “This is about you and me, princess.”
“There’s not going to be a you and me,” Leia says. “I’m going to have this baby with C-3PO.”
C-3PO says, “Madam,” tremulous.
Han’s hands go to his hips. “Nice try,” he says, “but we’re doing this the right way. I don’t know how they do it on Alderaan, princess, but on Corellia, you get married before the kid.”
By this point, Leia has become literally inarticulate with rage. “What?” she sputters. “Are you saying we’re getting married because--you--you--think it’s--right?! Manners?!”
“Yes!” Han bellows.
“No!” Leia tells him. “I can’t believe this. Get out of my office, all of you! I have a job to do that doesn’t involve fucking around with you nerfherders.”
“This isn’t over,” Han threatens. He points his finger at her again as he disappears around the corner. One day, Leia is going to cut that thing off in his sleep. There’s a series of loud clattering noises in the hallway as Han stomps off, probably eavesdroppers rushing to find something less incriminating to be doing with their time.
Luke finally puts down C-3PO’s dismembered leg. “Leia,” he says slowly. There’s a lot in Luke’s voice, his expressive eyebrows. For years, it had been Leia and her sisters; it still strikes her at the most improbable of times that this is her twin, that long before Leia had emotionally badgered her parents into adopting siblings for her to boss around, she had shared a uterus with this uniquely irritating human being.
“That goes for you and your junk, too,” she tells him.
“Yeah,” he says levelly, picking through the pile of C-3PO’s nervous system parts on the floor. “I got that.” Leia waits but he’s quiet as he picks up a tiny screwdriver and an even tinier screw. In the end, she huffs out an angry sigh and goes back to work; it’s not like this base is going to run itself.
Leia has a series of meetings during and after supper and she stays in her office another hour beyond that, late enough that the lights in the corridors have switched to after-hours half-power. Her aide is going to be ecstatic in the morning; in order to legitimately use the time, Leia had caught up on all of last quarter’s financials.
She’s equal parts dreading Han not being in their quarters and hoping that he’s sleeping in the Falcon; her head hurts at the temples and she wants to sit in the shower without having to worry about being ambushed with Corellian wedding customs.
“Oh, great,” she says when she opens the door and Han’s brushing his teeth in the attached bath, shirtless and framed by the stark light above the sink.
“Mhmhph,” Han says through a mouthful of toothpaste. He looks less red in the face but still surly. His clothes have been flung across the bed, because he’s the kind of heathen who comes from a place that requires that people get married before procreating.
“What was that,” Leia asks tiredly, “more demands?” She kicks off her boots and begins to unlace the front of her jacket.
Han spits into the sink. “You look tired,” he enunciates.
“I wonder whose fault that is,” Leia says. “Maybe the idiot who ambushed me in my office and told half the base that I was pregnant? Maybe they’re responsible for the subsequent five hours I spent having my hand shaken by every rear admiral, captain, and commander that I came across? The petty officers just saluted.” At first it had been funny.
Han sticks his mouth under the faucet, gargles, and spits. Leia can’t even get up the energy to wish that he would drown himself. “Maybe if I hadn’t found out from a tap on a med droid, I’d’ve been a little more friendly,” he says sourly.
“I can’t believe you hacked my medical records,” Leia tells him. “It’s such an incredible waste of time; I’m never sick.”
“Well, it paid off, didn’t it?” Han holds his hand over the light switch. “You need anything in here?”
“No,” she says crabbily, peeling off her pants and then crawling across the bed. She takes care to kick all of Han’s clothes onto the floor before she shimmies under the covers. “If you’d taken half a second to think it through before barging into my office, maybe you would have realized that you running off deliberately against my orders didn’t exactly fill me with enthusiasm to raise helpless and dependent offspring with you.”
Han, who had been stooping down to pick up stray shirts and pants, stops in the middle of the floor between the bed and the bathroom, arms full of clothes. “Helpless and dependent? Against orders?”
After a half-second of flopping around, Leia has to sit up to punch her pillow into the right shape. “I told you not to go with the supply freighter. It was a stupid move and you know it. How close did you get to being arrested?”
“I didn’t even have time to land on Gan Moradir before I got the transmission from my tap,” Han says. He’s shoving their clothes into the laundry shoot in the wall as he adds, firmly but not in a combative way, “But that’s not the point. I’m not here to listen to your orders, princess.”
“Everybody is here to listen to my orders,” Leia says. “That’s the point of being a goddamn general.”
“Nice try,” Han says. He flicks off the lights as he comes to bed, but the safety lights embedded in the ceiling mean that Leia can see him still, face turned blue in the low light. “You don’t outrank me.”
Flopping onto her side, Leia says, “Technically--”
“--technically we’re the same rank,” Han interrupts, sliding into the bed behind her. “Maybe I don’t have the blue blood, but on this base, we’re the same rank. You do me the courtesy of not barking orders, I’ll do you the courtesy of maybe listening.”
“You’re such an asshole,” Leia says.
“Deal?” Han asks. He shoves his hand and then arm under her neck, curving his body along her back. “Do you want to take your hair down?”
“It’s fine for now,” Leia says. Her head hurts too much to face the thought of brushing her hair out. “And no deal. How about you do me the courtesy of not flagrantly breaking laws for an adrenaline rush and I’ll stop telling the flight deck to ground the Falcon.”
“That’s not a compromise,” Han says into her hair. Her hand comes up to hold both of his, between her breasts and warm under the covers. The Force-feeling of riotous indigestion feels better than it has in a few days; probably it’s because the bed is so warm with Han there. “And the marriage discussion hasn’t been tabled, sweetheart.”
“Call me sweetheart in that tone of voice one more time,” Leia threatens sleepily.
It takes another week for the rest of the supply freighter to make it back from Gan Moradir bearing prescription medications, drums of protein rations, and fourteen crates of QUARTERMASTER MISC. that disappears into the depths of the base before the chief deck monkey has more than half a minute to catalog their existence; Leia gets an irritated message about that that she deletes immediately.
“Are you even paying attention?” Luke demands. Leia looks up from her datapad to see that he’s standing in front of her desk, hands on his hips. After spending a few weeks on the base he’s stopped with the dramatic Jedi Knight costume and is wearing a jumpsuit with patches on the elbows and inside thighs that looks like it’s been repurposed from one of Leia’s squadrons.
“What?” Leia says belatedly.
Luke’s face twitches; he’s probably raising an eyebrow but Leia can’t see it underneath his overgrown fringe. “This mission will have me off-world for fifteen days,” he over-enunciates prissily. “Do you promise not to lose your temper at Han while I’m gone?”
“What is this, primary school?” Leia says. “No, I do not promise. Take him with you if you’re that worried.” She uses her thumb to flick to the next page in the chief deck monkey’s summary of recent transportation activity.
Luke says, “I can’t, because he’s refusing to leave.”
“More repairs on the Falcon?” Leia says distractedly, reading through the paragraph on squadron activity. The chief monkey hates her birds, that much has always been obvious, but he never fails to be scrupulously exact in his reports.
“No,” Luke says, exaggerated patience in his voice that’s straight out of the Bail Organa Data Archive on Parenting, “he’s refusing to leave.”
“I heard you,” Leia says right back, equally exaggerated. “I’m pregnant, not deaf.”
“Current evidence would suggest otherwise,” Luke replies, flouncing out of Leia’s office like getting the last word in this non-conversation has made him the premiere debutante of Alderaan City. Leia, deprived of any chance of a witty comeback, makes a face at his back.
Luke’s been claiming on and off for years that he can see ghosts in the Force--General Kenobi and his old teacher Yoda, mostly, and once he’d gotten very drunk and told her that he’d spoken with a young Anakin Skywalker but he’d almost immediately started vomiting into a nearby potted miser-plant so Leia had written it off as a hallucination induced by alcohol poisoning--but Leia, who is ostensibly Force-sensitive enough to use it as a fetus-sensor, has never seen them.
It’s not like she’d want to, really, especially not the slimy rat who donated a portion of her genetic code before swanning off to murder her entire home planet, except--well.
“Her name was Padmé Naberrie,” General Kenobi says. He’s staring out across the back lawn of the queen’s palace in the mountains; they’re sitting on the front steps of the summer pavilion. In the distance, Leia can hear her sisters splashing in the shallows of the lake. They’re not allowed to swim out past the tree line but she knows they will as soon as any witnesses have vanished.
Leia says, “Who?” and then, “Winter! Not past the trees!”
From very far away, Winter shrieks, “You’re not Mom.”
“You’re gonna wish Mom was here after Nanny Phillotrix is done with you,” Leia yells back.
“Your mother,” General Kenobi says.
“What about her?” Leia replies. She’s distracted; it’s going to be just her luck that her sisters will drown on her watch. If it were any other summer day she would be down there swimming with them, but it’s nearly time for the Imperial Senate’s third quarter to start and she’s just had her hair treated before her trip off-planet. It has to dry for a few days before she can get it wet and it’s still oily, heavy against her scalp.
It feels oppressive in the summer heat; Leia pulls her hair over her shoulder and starts to plait it, fingers slipping easily down its length. She’s much better about taking care of her hair now than she was as a child.
To her left, General Kenobi says, “I was there when she gave birth to you. She named you before she died, and I honored her wishes when I brought you to the prince and his wife.” Leia’s fingers freeze, tangled in her hair. The smell of the protective mask is so strong that she nearly thinks she’s hallucinating. “Her name was Padmé Naberrie.”
Leia’s known that she was adopted for years--you were a great blessing: not as ambiguous as it might have seemed--but she’s never heard anyone speak of her biological parents before. “Really?” she asks raptly. “How did you know her?”
“She was a senator,” General Kenobi says. He has pale eyes, so blue in the sunlight that they’re nearly translucent. Leia has known him peripherally for her entire life, a face on the other end of surreptitious transmissions. A great and powerful ally, her father had called him. Too powerful to be called upon except in the most dire of circumstances. “Like yourself, I gather.”
“It’s my probationary session,” Leia tells him drily. “It’s a little premature to be calling me a senator just yet.”
General Kenobi does a funny little half-bow, aborted because he’s sitting down. “I don’t think so,” he says, cryptically. It’s the kind of thing older people often say to make themselves sound more clever; it strikes Leia now as funny because General Kenobi doesn’t look any older than Nanny Phillotrix, who at thirty-five is the House of Organa’s youngest governess in nearly a hundred years.
“Well, let’s hope everybody else feels that way,” Leia says. She doesn’t want to talk about the approaching Imperial Senate session; she wants to be swimming with her sisters, trying to sneak beyond the tree line. Speaking of which--“You better not have snuck out beyond the trees!” she yells towards the lake. There’s a suspiciously long pause before Neena and Winter shout back that they haven’t.
Leia ties off her braid and flicks it back over her shoulder. “Was she really a senator?” she asks General Kenobi, who is probably not lying but it’s worth the second query.
“Yes,” General Kenobi says quietly. “She believed very strongly in the personal responsibility of galactic representatives. She was a skilled legislator and well-respected for her diplomatic abilities.” After a brief pause he adds, awkwardly, “She had--hair. Like yours. She had been queen of Naboo for two terms and she knew how to use costuming to her advantage.”
“She had hair,” Leia says flatly, and then, “Naboo? Wow. I’ve seen pictures, of course, but I’ve never visited--it’s supposed to be really beautiful. Idyllic, I think Dad said.” General Kenobi stops looking at Leia and squints at the mountains around them, wagging his head back and forth slowly. He’s probably making some kind of subtle point about Alderaan and the queen’s palace, but Leia ignores this. “How did she die?”
After a short pause, General Kenobi says, “Complications.”
“With the pregnancy?” Leia presses.
“With her husband,” General Kenobi says. He’s still looking towards the mountains but it seems less ironic and more evasive now.
“Oh,” Leia says. It comes out as a kind of whisper.
“She was, in many ways, similar to your father,” General Kenobi says. “She and Bail were extremely dedicated to the ideals upon which the Republic’s Senate was originally constructed. When it became clear that these ideals had been poisoned by the Supreme Chancellor, they were instrumental in establishing a resistance.” He looks as though he is aging in front of Leia’s eyes; there are streaks of grey running through his beard, now, the skin around his blue eyes wrinkling in the corners. “I imagine she would have loved you very much,” he says. “She certainly did before you were born.”
This time, Leia’s oh is inaudible; she can barely breathe. The musky scent of her hair oil feels like it’s choking the air before she can inhale.
“Why are you telling me this?” she finally manages. “I have parents. They love me and have taken care of me all of my life.”
“I would hope that they have,” General Kenobi says. “It was my choice to bring you here, after all.” He pauses, maybe because he can tell that Leia is feeling alarmingly light-headed. “It would mean a great deal to your mother that you are happy. As the person who took you from her arms and brought you here, I feel similarly responsible for your happiness.”
Leia croaks, “General Kenobi--”
“Please,” he says, “I would like it if you were to call me Ben, Leia.”
The heat of the summer sun becomes suddenly, incredibly unbearable and Leia has to squeeze her eyes shut. She jerks them open with an extremely unpleasant lurch to find Han holding her by both of her shoulders. “Hey,” he says. “What the hell was that?” It takes Leia an embarrassingly long time to realize that she’s crying, which is why Han looks like he’s been ambushed by betrayed trading partners. “Leia? Shit, hey, come on.”
The blue safety lights have turned Han’s face a nauseating color. Leia rolls over and buries her head in his shoulder so she doesn’t have to look at it, the tears leaking out of her like a broken faucet. She’s making some kind of hideous droning noise.
“Hey,” Han is saying repeatedly, irritatingly. “Leia, it’s okay. Okay? It’s okay.”
It’s easy enough to assign one of the more information technology-inclined petty officers some search parameters and see what comes of it; Leia goes to her office, points at one of them, and says, “Get me everything you can on Padmé Naberrie.”
“Ma’am,” says the petty officer, snapping her a salute, and she promptly vanishes.
At 3600, as Leia is wrapping up for the day, the petty officer reappears with a memory stick and the hollow eyes of somebody who’s spent the day staring into an archive console. “Everything on Padmé Naberrie available from our records and the holonet archives, ma’am.”
“Good,” Leia says, immediately plugging the memory stick into the side of her datapad. “You’re dismissed. Go get some supper.”
The first file--they’re organized alphabetically--is AaberVictoire_Thesis, a dissertation on political pageantry that focuses extensively on the two-term court of Queen Amidala. There are figures at the end of the document: meticulous drawings and reference captures. Everything is labeled exhaustively. Figure 65B is a capture of the Queen and her handmaidens, all dressed in orange and silver. The caption notes that the Queen is actually the second handmaiden on the left; the woman dressed in the Queen’s costume is a bodyguard and double.
Leia looks at the quiet, serious face of the handmaiden Padmé. She has small features and dark hair that’s looped over her ears. There are captures of Leia from her time in the Imperial Senate and she never looked quite this serious and reserved; Leia has always talked too much, too loudly, to be truly elegant. Winter had been better at those lessons, with her long, delicate neck and pale hair.
At first glance it’s not that difficult to imagine this woman dying in childbirth. Leia should know better than to judge somebody by their height, but she finds herself doing it automatically. The longer she stares, though, the more she can see a strength of will in Padmé’s bearing that belies the frailty of her frame. Those ceremonial robes have to weigh an Imperial fuckton.
“Ma’am?” somebody says; Leia looks up to see Admiral Olivares leaning through the doorway to her office. “We’ve got a situation.”
Leia says, “I’ll be right there,” and rips the memory stick out of her datapad, already stepping around her desk in a half-sprint. “Brief me as we go, admiral.”
Leia, who has known Han for many years and been sexually exclusive with him for almost as long, had been until this baby mess under the impression that the best way to distract Han from his fascination with a topic was to make it as legally binding as possible. Of course it would be marriage that would prove to be the exception.
“My parents had an arranged marriage,” Leia says flatly when Han says something along the lines of not all of us had crowns growing up, princess in the middle of some kind of execrable story about his parents and his childhood. “This fairy tale stuff you’re dribbling about sounds nice or whatever but it’s nonsensical.”
“Nonsensical,” Han yelps, “what’s that supposed to mean?”
“Full of nonsense,” Leia informs him. She’s kind of enjoying how purple Han’s face is turning. For a guy who likes to talk about how privileged Leia’s childhood must have been compared to his, he’s very protective of his halcyon childhood memories. Leia has halcyon childhood memories, of course, but a lot of hers involve attempting to escape from court duties with Neena and being chased by Nanny Phillotrix across the palace grounds. “Look, I don’t understand why you want to get married at all. People get married because it helps with taxes, and we’re technically criminals. I haven’t filed a tax return since Vader destroyed my home planet.”
Han says, “Taxes?” incredulously. “Who gets married for taxes?”
“Everybody!” Leia says.
Han, who is sitting on a swivel chair in front of Leia’s desk that just appeared in her office two mornings ago—apparently in preparation for this exact conversation—swivels around and says to Luke, “Why did your parents get married?”
“My grandfather married my grandmother to free her from slavery,” Luke says. He’s dragged a bunch of new mechanical stuff into Leia’s office so that he can keep doing droid repairs. It’s cute how he thinks Leia won’t notice that his bottles of WD-40 appear to be reproducing.
“Okay,” Han says, swiveling back rapidly, “that sounds better than taxes, I guess.”
Leia asks, “Are these the grandparents we share?”
Without looking up from the big pile of garbage he’s sorting into smaller piles, Luke says, “We share all of our grandparents, Leia, that’s how being co-zygotes work.”
Leia briefly considers telling Luke any one of her myriad stories about growing up inside of the House of Organa—maybe he’d like to hear about Leia’s diction and comportment lessons as a child, because she’d had to be fluent in the four official spoken and two sign languages of Alderaan—but instead she says, “We weren’t the same zygote, idiot.”
“I said co-zygotes,” Luke replies irritably.
“He did,” Han says. “Even moisture farmers on a junkyard asteroid belter like Tatooine get married for better reasons that taxes, princess.”
Luke says, “Junkyard?” as Leia says, “Taxes are a perfectly legitimate reason for marriage and—I would like to add—not the reason my parents were married. Although I fail to see why my parents have anything to do with us, since they’re dead and we’re not getting married.”
With a dramatic full-body sigh, Han flops back into his swivel chair. It’s a convenient prop, Leia has to give him that. She’s never had any chairs in her office besides her own because standing encourages people to say their piece and not waste Leia’s time. It figures that Han would come up with a way to circumnavigate that.
“Look,” he says to the ceiling of Leia’s office. “We’re having this baby? Okay. We’re having this baby. But the baby is coming into a family.”
Leia stares at him blankly. We’re having this baby? Okay? Maker fucking wept.
“Yes,” Leia says. She points at her chest and then jabs at Luke. “Family,” she enunciates crisply; Aunt Celly would be so proud. She then points at Han. “Family,” she repeats. “What’s the problem here? If you want more people, I hate to break it to you, but the entire rest of my family was evaporated into space and half of yours are in jail. So it’s the three of us, fine. Why do we need a marriage certificate? There’s not a House of Organa anymore so the point of inheritance is moot.” When Han doesn’t say anything she asks, “Is there a House of Solo inheritance I should worry about?”
Han makes a face. “It’s not half of my family that’s in jail,” he says crabbily.
“Fine,” Leia says, “forty-five percent, whatever, the point still stands. You’ve yet to make a compelling case, General Solo, and you’re wasting my valuable time.”
Looking back at the ceiling, Han says, wearily, “Is it not enough that I want to get married?”
“Not if you won’t tell me why,” Leia says. “And don’t throw around more of that ‘it’s the right thing to do’ malarkey. I’m going to believe you’re selling me on the right thing to do the day that those Ren dickheads muster an attack force more destructive than a flock of can-cells.”
Han says, “How come it’s a noble sentiment if you say it and malarkey coming from me?”
Leia replies, “Because I’m not an itinerant moon jockey with more charge in my blaster than sense in my brain.”
Although Han’s mouth is always opening around some kind of quick comment, he looks at Leia for five or six seconds before he answers this. “Okay,” he says. “Itinerant moon jockey, no sense, can’t keep planet-side for more than a month--is this sounding right?”
“For the first time, yes,” Leia says.
“You like that I go off-planet and get out of your hair,” he points out.
“I’m not going to like that if there’s a baby here that needs taking care of,” Leia says. “And the issue is when you ignore a direct order to go off and pursue your own criminal agenda.”
“You literally just said that we’re all criminals,” Han says, aggrieved, and then he swats at the air by the side of his face. “Never mind that. Princess, I think the problem here isn’t that you don’t see the point of marriage, it’s that you don’t trust me.” Kicking his boots up onto the side of her desk, Han interlaces his fingers and rests them on his stomach. “What, are you too good for a Corellian scoundrel?”
Leia is opening her mouth to say frankly, yes when Luke pipes up from the corner, “I think it’s more complicated than that.”
Not taking his eyes off of Leia, Han says, “Shut up, Luke.” His tone is almost pleasant. “You’ve been running your own little rebel dictatorship for a while here, princess, and I think you’ve gotten used to getting what you want. You can talk big game about diplomacy but you’re shit at it. You’re real good at telling people what to do and expecting them to listen. But guess what? You can’t tell me what to do.”
“I could court martial you,” Leia suggests.
“Go ahead,” Han says. “You’re shitty at diplomacy because you don’t know how to compromise, princess.”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” Leia snaps, “not this again.”
“No, no, I’ve been thinking about this and I’m pretty sure this is true,” Han says. Why is he staring at her? It’s discomfiting. Normally Han stares at her because he’s about to tackle her into bed or a nearby janitorial supply closet or an empty medbay cubicle. “I’ve made all of the compromises--I joined your stupid rebellion, I let myself be stuck in carbonite--”
“You let yourself?” Leia hisses; Han ignores her.
“--and I’ve jumped from shit planet to shit planet for the last six years to help train your air force. I’m not seeing a lot of compromising from your end, your worshipfulness.” Now he looks smug, Maker knows why.
“I haven’t throttled you yet,” Leia says.
“I really think that it’s time that you made some compromises here, too,” Han continues. “If you actually objected to having this kid, you’d’ve had a med droid terminate it and this wouldn’t be up for discussion. But you want the kid. Do you want me around?”
Leia stares at him moodily. “Do I get a choice?” she says.
“Don’t play that,” Han says. “Either you think I’ll stick around or you don’t.”
“Han, every day with you brings new and unpleasant surprises,” Leia tells him.
“I’m going to stick around,” Han says like Leia hasn’t spoken at all. “At this point, princess, it wouldn’t be worth the effort to leave. I love you, I want to get married, I want this kid. Okay?”
Okay? It’s unbelieveable that Leia is in love with this idiot.
“Wow,” Leia says flatly. “I’m overwhelmed by the strength of your feelings. Well, if it wouldn’t be worth the effort to leave, why don’t we just get married tomorrow?”
Still staring at her, beadily now, Han says, “Stop nitpicking what I say and actually listen, will you.”
Behind Han, Luke is determinedly tinkering with his nest of wires and chrome pieces. His expression is blank, his hair flopping down over his eyes and his terrible, ratty beard obscuring his mouth. This is Leia’s twin, her co-zygote and occasional unwelcome guest. Normally, Leia is irritated by things she doesn’t understand; something like the Force interfering in her life would pick and pick and pick at her until she couldn’t see for her frustration. But she trusts the threads of the Force that connect her to her brother, even though she doesn’t know why. It’s the closest Leia has ever come to a leap of faith; she’s too practical for much else.
“Ugh,” Leia says. Han immediately leaps out of his no doubt pilfered swivel chair and punches the air. “Fine,” she continues, over his ecstatic whooping. “We’ll get married.”
Han comes around her desk and picks Leia out of her chair, swinging her around and knocking important things off of her desk. Before Leia can see much of anything--too much whiplash--Han’s stopped spinning and is kissing her, hard, his hand pressed to the side of her face. The other one is looped around her waist, holding her against him. She can feel his blaster pressing into her pelvic bone and it’s uncomfortable but she can’t muster the strength of will to wrest herself free.
By the time she opens her eyes, Han looks smug and red-faced, his hair sticking up because Leia can’t keep her hands to herself. He looks so stupid; it hurts Leia’s chest, constricting her breathing, to look at him for very long. “I knew it,” he says. He’s oozing self-satisfaction. “I knew you’d marry me.”
Leia tries to punch him in the kidney but he wriggles out of the way like a Rishi eel and kisses her again, distractingly and with his whole mouth--lips, tongue, teeth, sucking the air straight out of her brain.
“You’re an idiot,” Leia tells him. She means I love you, probably.
“I know,” Han says.