It's strange, this odd mixture of bliss and sorrow.
I'm holding my children - my children. I gave birth to them mere hours ago, and by all rights I should be sleeping, healing from the agonizing pain that is childbirth. I am lying in my bed in the MedCenter on Coruscant, in my room. It's a very comfortable room, inescapably sterile, but with more of a homey feel than many such rooms have. The ceiling is a light pink, the walls white, and medical equipment - inside the room for safety's sake - is sitting against the far wall.
My neck aching and tired, I look down at my twins. Jacen is already asleep, his face scrunched up tightly, still red and wrinkly. He seems more passive, watching this new world curiously but quietly, and I wonder if that is what he will be like, constantly seeking knowledge with calm perseverance. Jaina has finally calmed down - she's going to be a fighter, I can tell. She certainly kicked like one. Her fine, downy brown hair moves slightly under the force of my breath, and I smile. They are the most beautiful things I have ever seen, and looking at them makes me want to weep for joy.
Han, of course, is with me. He's sitting in a chair, his head pillowed on his arms on the side of my bed, asleep. All I can see of him is his scruffy hair. My rough smuggler; my husband. He had been worried, throughout the childbirth, for both our children and me. It went well, though, or so I'm told. I was in too much agony to do more than worry for my children. He had not wept, as I had, but his eyes had been bright with emotion and wonder when we saw our children for the first time. I had known them in my womb, had felt them in the Force. He had only known their kicks through my skin, seen their movements through the medical equipment.
The lights are dim, as I had ordered. They had hurt my Jaina's eyes at first - I remember frantically calling out something to that effect, and the nurse telling me it was all right; it was normal, and that her eyes would adjust. Indeed they had, but the lights are still dimmer than usual. In any case, I am supposed to be resting.
I can't tear my thoughts away from my children. I keep thinking of what the future can hold for them. Life is so uncertain, especially now. Grand Admiral Thrawn is still a threat - to the Republic, to my children, to Han. Moreover, I don't even know where my brother Luke is.
I wonder again, what kind of galaxy my children will grow into. Will it be peaceful and safe, or wrought with war and dangerous? I sincerely hope for the former. It worries me, bringing new lives into existence during such an uncertain time. But I can't regret having them. I wonder, briefly, if my mother had felt that way - for Luke and I had certainly been born into a time of turmoil.
The most frightening thing is that I can't protect my children - they are outside of me, complete and unique beings on their own. I no longer carry them within my body, knowing they are safe when I am. I have no way of knowing, except through the Force, if they are safe when they are out of my sight.
I would kill anyone who hurt my children.
It is a mother's instinct, to be so fiercely protective of her young, and I am no different. For now, I can try to keep them safe, and do my duty not as a mother, but as Leia Organa Solo, a leader in the New Republic. I hope if I carry out my duties properly, creating a steady government and destroying the remnants of the Empire, my children will be safe along with the rest of galaxy, even when they are out of touch, out of my sight.
But what of the future? My hours-old children will grow up, and seek independence in the way that all young do. They will make their own decisions. They will decide their own futures, their own paths in life, as I have chosen mine. They will choose whether or not to fight and die for what they believe. They can choose to keep to the Light, or to succumb to the Dark.
I will not always be able to make choices for my children, and it is that thought which gives me grief. What if they choose wrongly? What if they make the wrong decision, and fate takes them from me?
What if? What if? What if?
I know that later I will think again of the New Republic and give it my time and energy so that more beings than myself will know freedom.
But for now, all I care is that my children live.
I sigh softly, breathing in the air and watching my children do the same with small and light breaths. I stretch out with the Force - quite likely more clumsily than my ever-patient teacher, my brother would - but I can sense the bright, strong presences of my children, and surely that is enough. I can sense their needs, the peace they feel in sleep. I can feel them reach out for me constantly, instinctively, seeking the warm, comforting presence of their mother.
Finally, the gentle sedative I was given after the exhausting birth overtakes me. My thoughts slow and drift. As I gently fall into sleep, my husband by my side and my children in my arms - a family - I know I can only stay in the moment, in the bliss of my children. I forget the sadness for what has not yet passed but which will no doubt come.
Original cover by Lyra Luminara. HTML formatting copyright 2003 TheForce.Net LLC.