Wednesday, June 21, 2017

To "Ben," or not to "Ben".... Guest Post by Erma

Note from Zyra: Hey, guys. It's been far too long since we had a discussion post. The Mother's Day Challenge took a lot longer than I expected it to, but I have finally (for now) run out of submissions, so we can get back to some discussion topics, for any of you who are still with us. This was submitted to me by Erma not long after I posted her story for the challenge, that included a son named Ben, but the note that this boy did NOT grow up to murder his father. Many of us were pretty open about how we have a very hard time reading any story with "Ben" in it, no matter how much we may be told that it's not the same and this kid is good or whatever. We just can't seem to see past it. I think it's a very interesting conversation worthy of discussion, so here are Erma's words:

I'm seeing a real puzzle facing those who want to write about H/L kid(s): How do you involve parts of Disney-canon that might work, or are at least palatable, without involving parts that don't work, or aren't palatable? Despite what the wording here may imply, this isn't about what is "allowed" and what isn't. Rather, it's about what sorts of approaches seem agreeable and workable. And, importantly, this isn't about further lamenting what TFA screwed up. Instead, it's about what to do with the pieces; how, and in what ways, do we move forward?

Examples include....: Would we have a story that involves Poe growing up with Jaina and Jacen? If we have a story with Poe, do we just make up a new name for H/L's kid? How do we handle gender? And of course, if the new kid isn't "Ben," then who is s/he? Do we need to spend a paragraph or two of character development on our new character, Han-and-Leia's-kid-who-is-fine-and-not-Ben Organa-Solo?

Of course, I know this is ultimately up to the individual author... but still, it raises interesting questions about how to then present and share the work with others, as seems to happen a lot in fanfic ;)

Monday, June 19, 2017

Mother's Day Challenge Submission #10 from Statsgrandma

PAST AND FUTURE


Han gazed in admiration as Leia wielded a hydrospanner with amazing grace and capability. There was something very hot about a princess who could also work with tools, and Han was enjoying this aspect of her immensely.

The work was necessary; they were in deep space, awaiting an uncertain welcome on Bespin--assuming they ever got there--and the Falcon had no lightspeed. Any and all work on it had yielded nothing in the way of results. Sadly, the rest of the ship constantly needed attention; it had suffered from both attacks and being clobbered in the asteroid field. Han had to admit that Leia had been a great help to him and Chewie.

And he’d discovered so much more about Leia than her mechanical skills--much, much more. Since their first kiss in the circuitry bay, which had been unceremoniously cut short by Threepio, they had taken their physical attraction all the way. Han felt warm just thinking about it.

Normally, they bantered as they labored, taunting each other, exchanging instructions, assisting when it took multiple hands to accomplish something. They’d laugh and joke, despite knowing they were in grave danger. And when the work was done, there was unadulterated bliss in each other's arms.

Today, however, Leia had been uncharacteristically quiet. Han had attempted to tease her, very gently. She’d shot him a stare that would have withered a forest of japor ivory wood. Han’s heart sank, more than a little, but she remained silent. Not so much sullen as pensive, he’d observed. He let her work quietly, but when they broke for lunch, she looked extraordinarily sad.

“Princess,” he said softly. “What’s going on?” he asked as he prepared a dull lunch of flatbread and nut butter, with some Asteria water for here that he’d purloined on a supply mission for the Alliance. He’d paid for it out of his own credits, not theirs. He knew how much Leia enjoyed it; it was a favored beverage on her now-destroyed homeworld.

“Nothing!” she snapped. Then, realizing that Han had really done nothing to warrant it, she said more quietly, “nothing.”

Han let it go for a few. He knew if he coaxed her, she’d then become truly furious with him. They ate in silence for a few minutes.

Finally, she spoke quietly. “I checked the chrono.”

“We always check the chrono, sweetheart,” he said to her.

Leia looked up at him, her brown eyes riddled with grief. “It’s Mother’s Day, Han.”

Han reached across the dejerik table (what do you call it?) and gently cradled Leia’s tiny hand in his large one. “I’m sorry, sweetheart. I really am. You were close to your mom?”

Leia took a deep breath. “I’m adopted, as you may have heard around the base.”

Han gave her a wry smile. “I pay about as much attention to base gossip as I do to anyone who gives me orders.” Leia actually cracked a smile over that one. “When were you adopted?”

“As a newborn,” Leia answered. “So I have two mothers.”

“But you don’t remember your birth mother,” Han said. “So your adoptive mom is your real mom.”

Leia hesitated. “I know this is going to sound weird,” she said slowly, after considering her words, “but occasionally, I have some feelings about her. I think she was beautiful, kind, and very sad. But as you said, the woman I consider to be my mother is the one who raised me. The one who made me who I am.”

Han smiled softly. “Must’ve been a hell of a woman.”

Leia was trying not to let moisture reach her eyes, but there was such tenderness in Han’s voice and eyes and touch, it was hard to keep them back. She sniffled lightly, rubbing her eyes. Han silently handed her a tattered but clean serviette. He nibbled at his flatbread while Leia composed herself.

“Leia,” he said gently. “You don’t have to play strong with me when you don’t feel like it.”

Leia nodded. “I miss her so much,” she whispered. Han slid over on the banquette, placing his strong arms around her, and she buried her face in his broad chest. He rested his head on top of hers, clasping her close to his heart.

She was so warm, so soft in his embrace. He could feel her tears dampen his shirt, and he minded it not in the least. In fact, there was a stirring in him that had never, not once, happened to him before.

He wanted to be a father.

And he knew who he wanted his children's mother to be.

Of course, he told himself, this wouldn’t exactly be the prime time to bring it up. They’d been bedding each other for ten days--ten of the best days of Han’s life, to his mind. Nothing had ever brought him the sense of devotion and completion that making love with Leia had. He wanted to be a better man.

There was the added complication of the uncertainty of their futures. Han and Leia had no idea what might await them at Bespin. By Han’s own admission, Lando Calrissian was not a trustworthy soul, but their options had been limited. They wondered how long the war would continue--it felt as if it would never end, and they were not winning at this point in time. Nothing was certain in the universe, although there was something that both felt was solid between them, an anchor for their souls, satisfying a longing that went far beyond the physical.

Leia calmed, and Han kissed her tenderly on her forehead. “I’m sorry about your mom,” he said simply.

“Let’s get back to work, Flyboy,” she told him, taking his hand and leading him back to the engine room.

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Leia assisted with repairing the aft stabilizer. She and Han didn’t say much, but she’d been moved by his simple, tender acknowledgment of her grief. She wondered about his parents, and why he never spoke of them. Perhaps he’d tell her someday, but he wasn’t big on discussing his past.

She felt closer to Han Solo than she ever had to another being in her life. There was something about this gruff but intensely genuine man that sparked emotions in her that she’d never encountered before.

As she watched him, covered with engine grease, bickering with Chewie, her thoughts traveled in a direction that both alarmed and delighted her.

Leia had long ago decided that her life would be one spent in pursuit of justice, freedom, the good of all. A personal life was out of the question. But she had begun questioning that as of late. Perhaps she’d been deliberately depriving herself of such possibilities--or that she’d not known that such desires existed until meeting this man.

What if he was the love of her life?

What would it be like to be married to Han Solo? To have children with him? She’d never seen herself as a mother, but there was a glimmer now, an idea of wanting to create something out of love that was intensely personal.

For the first time in her life, Leia began to imagine herself as a mother.

And she was quite certain who she’d like the father to be.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Mother's Day Challenge Submission #9 by Zyra

Usually domestic scenes come to me incredibly easily, but I had a really hard time coming up with something for this. Finally something came out of it, but extreme sappiness alert....



“Uh oh, what’d I miss?”

Leia heard her husband’s voice from behind her just as she finished closing the door to their children’s bedroom. It had been a trying day, to say the least.

Normally having Han return home would instantly ease any stress she was feeling. But on this particular evening, their three kids had decided to become complete terrors. And the effects of dealing with them were going to take more than a strong hug from Han to disappear.

She leaned her forehead on hernarm against the wall and heaved a sigh. “How much do you think we could get for them?”

“Huh?”

Her voice was slightly muffled but she knew he heard what she’d said. She turned to him and continued. “I mean if we sold them, they’re probably pretty valuable, right? I mean, Force-sensitive, strong Corellian genes, rare Alderaanian heritage…”

Han gave her a half-smile. “That bad today, huh?”

She shook her head and took a few long strides before collapsing on the couch in the living room. “Do you remember that time we took them to Mon Calamari? And we made the mistake of trying to take them out to dinner before they had a chance to adjust to the local time?”

Han thought back for a moment and then had to smile in spite of what was far from a pleasant memory. The incident Leia was referring to had taken place about a year-and-a-half prior. Now, their kids were not perfect by any means. But they were generally good kids. Except, of course, when they got especially tired or hungry. And gods help you if you got a strong combination of both. They had wanted to have a nice family dinner, and it turned into shouting matches from everyone, throwing of food, and ultimately having to drag everyone out of the restaurant after causing quite a scene. The twins were five at the time, and Anakin was three. And Han and Leia vowed to never make a similar mistake again.

“No, it wasn’t that bad, was it?” Han said as he moved to sit next to her on the couch.

She looked at him briefly and then down at her hands in her lap. “Well, no. Definitely not quite that bad. But they were at each other’s throats all afternoon. Just shouting and arguing and even some hitting. I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to yell, too.”

He wrapped an arm around her shoulders and pulled her close. “It happens, sweetheart. They probably just need some sleep.”

She leaned her head against his chest and heaved a sigh. “I feel like a terrible mother. I made Anakin cry when I yelled at him.”

Han kissed her forehead. “He’ll be all right, sweetheart. We all have bad days sometimes. I’m sure when it’s time to put them to bed they’ll just want to hear their stories.”

“Maybe,” she replied, unconvinced.

After a few moments of silence, just as Leia was starting to really settle into Han’s embrace, he abruptly released her and got up.

“Where are you going? I wasn’t finished with you.”

“Just wait there a minute, I’ve got something I think you’ll like.”

Leia scowled as he disappeared toward their bedroom. She did not feel as though he would so easily fix her sour mood.

A few moments later Han sauntered back into the room with a small, wrapped box that he held out for her.

“What is it?”

“Maybe you should open it and find out.”

She wasn’t really in the mood for games but she snatched it out of his grip and began to unwrap the paper while Han sat down next to her.

“It’s a holocube,” she said as she held it up in her hand.

“You’ve always been so observant,” Han quipped; his low, gentle voice rumbling in her ear. “Take a look at what’s on it.”

Using her thumb, Leia flicked the switch to activate the images. The first thing she saw was an image of her holding the twins, looking down at them and smiling. It had to have been the day they were born because they were still in the med center.

The image shifted to another one, this time she was holding Jacen in her arms above her head, smiling at him while he smiled back at her.

Next was an image of her walking away from the holorecorder through the grass holding the hands of both of the twins, one on either side of her walking next to her.

The images kept coming, one after another. Swimming with Anakin, giving the twins a bath, lying on the couch under all three of them. Even an image of her asleep on her bed with baby Anakin conked out right next to her.

As the images went by she realized that somehow she had never seen any of them before. They had plenty of family holos from over the years of their family, but none of these seemed familiar. And she also realized that not one of them appeared as though she or the kids had posed for it.

“Where did all of these come from?”

“Well,” Han began, “I’ve been taking these for a few years. I was going to give this to you for your birthday next week, but you seem like you needed it a little sooner. I want you to see how I see you with our kids. And just look at the way they’re looking at you in some of these. Doesn’t look like they think they have a terrible mother.”

Leia felt her eyes welling up, and she turned to face her husband who was looking at her sweetly. “You’re unbelievable,” she said as she leaned in and held him close, his arms wrapping around her tightly.

“I know,” he laughed.

After a few moments of just savoring the feel of Han’s embrace, Leia heard Anakin’s voice from behind her. “Mommy?”

She pulled away from Han and quickly wiped her eyes before she turned around to see her youngest son who had an almost pitiful look on his face. “What is it, honey?”

The boy took a few steps closer until he could almost touch her and hesitated again before answering. “I’m sorry,” he said sweetly, his bright blue eyes looking up at her and asking for forgiveness.

Leia’s heart almost melted and she reached down and pulled her four-year-old son into her lap so she could hug him. “It’s all right, baby,” she said as she held him close. She could tell his little arms were squeezing her with every ounce of strength he had. “I just need you three to behave a little bit better for Mommy, all right?”

She felt him nod against her shoulder and she leaned back to give him a quick kiss. “I love you,” she said.

“I love you, too, Mommy,” he replied with a smile.

“No more giving Mommy any trouble, right?” Han said from next to them.

Anakin shook his head and smiled at his father. “No, Daddy.”

“Good, now c’mere,” Han said as he stretched his arms open and Anakin crawled across Leia’s lap to give his father a hug. “Ok, now go back in with your brother and sister and we’ll be in in a little while, all right?”

Anakin nodded and climbed down from Han’s lap before running back to his bedroom.

“See? They think you’re the greatest. And so do I.”

Leia shook her head at him. “I don’t know how you do it.”

He appeared confused. “Do what?”

“Well, a lot of things. But in this case I was thinking about how you’re always so sure that everything will be fine. Or how you always seem to come up with the most perfect thing at the most perfect time,” she said as she held up the holocube. “I can’t believe you did this. Are you ever going to run out of ways to surprise me?”

He shook his head and smiled. “Nope.”

She leaned in and hugged him again. “I better be careful or you’re going to completely outdo me when it comes to being a wonderful spouse.”

“Not a chance, sweetheart. I think you’re doing a much better job than you think you are.” He paused for a few moments and then asked, “So do you still want to sell the kids to the highest bidder?”

She laughed against his chest and then leaned back to look at him. “No. But maybe we can just rent them out for a week or two?”

“That’s more like it.”

Monday, June 5, 2017

Mother's Day Challenge Submission #8 from dantsolo



Sway
By Dant Solo

Leaning in the doorway of their bedroom, Han quietly observed his wife as she cuddled their newborn child, swaying back and forth in the padded glider. She hadn’t noticed his presence and the awe he felt at the sight of his wife and child was his alone. 
 
Head tilted down, eyes riveted and adoring, she watched the baby as she slept so soundly in her arms. Han had never seen such softness in her gaze, which was saying a lot. If anyone knew the vulnerability and raw emotion that boiled beneath her surface, it was Han. And yet, after all these years, this was a new side of Leia that he was seeing.

She had spent so much time in battle mode and her role as politician and leader that her femininity had suffered. Fortunately for Han, he had somehow managed to remind her that she was, indeed, a hot-blooded woman.

A little too hot-blooded, it seemed. Even with the implant, she had gotten pregnant in the blink of an eye.

He continued to silently watch them, chest swelling with pride. His wife. His child. How had these wonderful beings happened to him? How had he gotten so unbelievably lucky? He felt somewhat unworthy, but planned to spend the rest of his life making sure he was as worthy of them as he could possibly be.

And he would defend them with his life, no question.

A fierce feeling of love blossomed in his chest, even more powerful than he had felt for Leia before. This tiny, helpless human seemed to somehow bond them more closely.

Seeming to sense his strong emotion, his wife’s head abruptly popped up, eyes finding him instantly, a small smile gracing her lips.

“Hi,” Leia whispered. She appeared more content than Han had ever seen her.

“Hey,” he called in return. He felt his small smile grow quickly brilliant at the meeting of their eyes. He couldn’t help it. Such pure happiness flowed through him.

Pushing himself slightly off the doorway, he loped over to the glider and dropped to one knee before wife and child.

Staring down at their baby, he thought he had never seen something so small. “She’s so tiny,” he whispered, able to hear the wonder in his own voice.

“Babies usually are,” she replied, tone dry but laced with affection.

Han grinned, eyes raising to meet hers. “She looks exceptionally tiny. Then again, she probably takes after her tiny mother.”

She feigned a sour look that couldn’t possibly be genuine and Han grinned more broadly before rerturning his gaze to their daughter. Her little finger was curled delicately around Leia’s larger one, as if upon leaving the womb, she couldn’t bear to break the connection.

“She looks like you,” Han said quietly.

Her small smile brightened and she glanced up at Han before her gaze lowered to the beautiful bundle in her arms. “You think so?”

He loved the tender look in her eyes as her gaze caressed the diminutive features. “Of course. Look at that little nose, all that dark hair…she’s a mini Leia.”

She beamed like the sun for just a moment. “She has your mouth.”

“You’re just sayin’ that cause she was screamin’ so loud this morning.” He slanted a wry grin her way.

A light trickle of laughter fell from her lips. “No, look at her lips. Pouty, like her daddy’s.”

Han returned his eyes to the baby’s face, examining her closely. He saw nothing of himself there, only his wife. That seemed how it should be, since she had done all the hard work bringing this new life into the galaxy. Watching her give birth had been nerve-wracking, filling him with awe and a sense that this woman he loved could do absolutely anything.

“I dunno. I think she looks exactly like you,” he finally replied. He reached up to gently brush at the dark, downy hair that fully covered the soft, petite head. “Are all babies born with so much hair?”

“Some. Some are born bald.”

“I know where all this hair came from. See? Told you she looks just like you.”

She was smiling brightly again, eyes flitting to the baby, him then back to their child.

A tiny, magical-sounding sigh burst from their daughter’s itty-bitty lips and Han found himself watching her intently, entranced. Had they really made a human being? The intensity of the sudden pang in his chest took him by surprise, emotion overwhelming him, seeming to spread warmth across his skin. A glance up showed Leia watching him, eyes soft, a broad smile across her cheeks. A bit self-conscious of the burst of emotion, he returned the smile haphazardly and looked back to the baby.

“I can’t believe she’s ours,” Leia said with quiet wonder, echoing his thoughts. “We created her.”

He nodded, at a loss for words, and watched as she leaned down and placed the softest kiss on their daughter’s forehead. That pang returned to his chest, and Han couldn’t help but ponder again at how such a scoundrel had gotten so damned lucky. 

Leia’s brow furrowed ever-so-slightly. “I hope I can be the mother she deserves,” she whispered.

It surprised Han. It was so rare for her to express doubts about herself. She was always so self-assured, so ready for anything. Even during child birth, she had gritted her teeth with barely a complaint, even when he could see her eyes diluting with pain. He placed a hand on her arm.

“Sweetheart.” His voice was heartfelt and reassuring. “You’re amazing at everything you do. Why would being a mother be any different?”

Her grateful smile didn’t cover up her lingering doubts. “Every other role I’ve taken on, I spent years preparing for. Senator, leader for the Rebellion, reinstating a Galactic Republic.” She paused, glancing askance for just a moment. “I’ve had no preparation for being a mother.” Insecurity filled her eyes, slackened her posture, and she bit her lip, averting her gaze.

For a fleeting moment, he just watched her, at a loss for words. He glanced at the newborn, swaddled so protectively in her embrace. Delicate life, so utterly dependent on them for every possible need, defenseless and fragile. She was counting on them, her parents, to provide a stable, nurturing environment for her.

In an instant, Han felt overwhelmed, understood completely how Leia was feeling. How could he possibly be responsible for this innocent life? He swallowed against the sudden fear that seemed to choke him.

With a quick intake of breath, he remembered who Leia was…so strong, independent, so able to rise to any occasion. She, who took care of the entire galaxy, fought for every citizen’s freedom…he had every confidence that his wife could lead him in this, the most important of journeys. Shaping this brand new spirit into who she was meant to be. Alone, he would have been hopeless, undeserving of even attempting it. But, Leia would show him the way.

He smiled tenderly and placed his fingers beneath her chin, guiding her to look at him. “Leia,” he began tentatively, as always, uncertain of the right words. “You take care of the whole galaxy. How hard can one little baby be?”
    
She was looking back at him with quiet disbelief, brow raised as if challenging him to continue.

He attempted to rise to the occasion. “With you as a mother, our little girl will grow up to be the most amazing person, just like her mama. Ready to conquer anything that comes her way, standing up for what’s right, tough, and brilliant, and beautiful. She couldn’t be anything but.”

The corners of her mouth were turning up just a bit, almost against her will, as she tried to fight the threatening smile.

“And with me as a dad,” he added, forcing all the bluster he could manage. “She won’t be allowed to date until she’s thirty. And the whole galaxy knows what a great shot I am, so there won’t be any boys brave enough to come around here.”

Now the smile broke, full-force, quiet laughter brimming from her lips.

Between them, a low, angry-sounding gurgle spewed from their daughter’s bow-shaped lips. They both looked down expectantly as tiny eyes fluttered open and the smallest yawn Han had ever seen elongated the little mouth. It was, quite possibly, the cutest thing he could have imagined.

“See, she does have your mouth,” Leia pointed out. “Look how big it is.”

He tried to aim a mock-glare at her, but he couldn’t even fake annoyance. Instead, he found himself grinning.

A soft cooing noise brought their eyes back to the baby, whose dark-bluish eyes were on her mother’s face. He wondered what they looked like to her.

“Hi, sleepyhead,” Leia softly cooed back in a quiet, high-pitched voice Han had never heard from her until she met their child for the first time.

Her eyes seemed enormous, too wide, as if she were shocked and confused at the world that lie outside her mother’s body. The little lips were open just a bit, adding to her look of amazement.

“I love you, little girl,” Leia murmured. She brought the baby close to her face and nuzzled her cheek with her nose, smiling tenderly. “We’re all going to be just fine.” 

And just like that, Han could see she had moved past her doubts. He liked to think that his words of encouragement had spurred her on, but he knew his wife. She didn’t really need anyone else’s input. She did just fine on her own. 


Their eyes met and they shared a smile of sublime happiness. He was the luckiest man in the galaxy. And their baby was the luckiest as well, to have the most amazing mother who would teach her she can do anything.


END.