A/N: So, there was one moment where I just wanted to imagine Rey in a sparkly dress, so I dropped her into a 20s AU for the aesthetic. And then I kept thinking about it. And that AU grew. And now my various ideas about it span from Han and Leia meeting in the 1890s to a crossover with my friend's Call the Midwife AU in 1962. The main plot is still in the 20s, but idk if I'll ever write it, but I wanted to do something because I love this AU, so I wrote this little snippet from 1942. I hope you enjoy!
Over the nine months since Ben had deployed, Rey had become used to sleeping in their bed alone. Discovering she would face an unexpected pregnancy without him had been hard, but gradually, instinctively reaching for him when she woke had turned into rubbing her growing belly, reassuring herself that she still carried a part of him with her even though he was thousands of miles away. And now, resting in their bed after a long day of labor and introducing their three older children to their new brother, she was finally alone with their newest son.
A son Ben may never meet.
Cradling the baby to her chest, she glanced at the telegram sitting on her bedside table. Only minutes before going into labor, she had answered a knock on the door, and only Han being there to catch her had kept her from falling to her knees at the sight of the telegraph boy. Leia had taken it then, reading aloud that he had been critically injured and it was unknown if he would survive, and she was still struggling to process the news when the first contraction came.
This was the first time she had really had a moment of peace to finish processing.
"I've never named a baby without your father here," she told her son, running a fingertip over the black fuzz atop his head. "He was always right outside the door when I had your siblings." She chuckled bittersweetly. "It was almost impossible to make him put them down. I think he loved meeting them more than he loved marrying me. Not that I blame him for that. It's indescribable, the moment you meet your child for the first time."
And he should've been here to meet you too.
She closed her eyes against the familiar wave of bitterness. The draft limit was forty-five. Ben had gotten his letter at forty-three. Three years. Three years was all the difference they would've needed to avoid the stress and angst of Ben serving in a world war. She had lost her father to the first world war – did she really have to lose her husband to the second when their eldest was nearly the same age Rey had been?
"We survived the great depression, you know," she said, reopening her eyes when the baby fidgeted. "And our ties to my… let's say less than stellar grandfather. We thought that would be the worst of it. We thought that surely that would be the worst of it, and if it wasn't, well, we had each other. And then this stupid war came along, and out of all the fit young men in the country, they had to draft your father-"
Rey cut herself off when a tear escaped her, tilting her head up. Don't cry on the baby. Or rant to him. This isn't his fault. He can't change anything.
She took a deep breath. "I suppose there is a light in all of this." She looked down at him, smiling through watery eyes at his pudgy little cheeks. "We said three kids was enough, but when he got drafted… Well, we got a little carried away that last night together. And that's how you came along. Our miraculous little accident."
He let out a little babble of agreement, making her smile. "You're right: That's enough self-pity for one night. You, little man, need a name."
She reached out carefully, letting go of him with one hand just long enough to pick up the list of possibilities she and Ben had picked out. She'd been staring at it for months, ever since Ben made the first suggestion in one of his letters, and still none of them felt right. "It shouldn't be this hard," she sighed. "He always let me make the final decision. He thinks it shouldn't be much different this time. But, you see, the thing he doesn't know is that I always knew it was the right name when he said it. He would get this… this little inflection, I think. I could barely hear it, and I don't think he ever knew he did it, but his voice would soften just so when he said the name for the first time, and that was when I knew it was the right name. So now that he's not here to say the names…"
Rey set the list down, returning to holding her son with both hands. "I'm just going to have to deal with it, aren't I? After all, he won't be back for- for a while."
She couldn't say never. She could think it, she had been thinking it since she saw the telegraph boy, but she couldn't say it.
"All right, time to name you," she said. "We did R&R for the girls, so I think you and your brother should be B&B, hm?"
He babbled another agreement.
"B," she said, mulling over the list. "David doesn't work, then. Or Charles. I don't even know why he suggested Eugene, he knows I hate that name. But… Bobby could work. Same with Billy or Bernard."
He coughed at the last option. "Not Bernard," she said. "Understood."
She leaned her head back with a sigh, desperately wishing the naming of her son didn't feel like such a solemn affair. "I wish you were here, Ben," she murmured.
She lifted her head as the idea struck her, looking down into her son's eyes, so like his father's. They had been closed just a moment ago, just like they had been the whole time, meaning he must have opened them when she said the name. And she had spent the last months hugging her belly, knowing he could be the last piece of himself Ben ever left behind. "Ben," she repeated, lingering over the name. "Ben Junior."
He grabbed her thumb in his tiny fist, looking directly up at her.
And who might you be?
Um, Ben. My name is Ben.
It wasn't exactly the dip in his voice that had named their other children, but it was one of the first things she had ever heard him say. This time, that would have to be enough. "Ben it is."
Ben snuggled into her with a yawn, evidently content with the decision.
She brought his hand to her lips for a gentle kiss, once again struggling to hold back tears. "It feels like giving up, in a way," she said, her voice wavering. "Naming you after him. Like… like he's not coming home. He still could, though. He might- he might lose his leg, but he could still come home. He could still survive."
Ben's next little shuffle felt like a nod.
"For a newborn with no idea what's happening, you sure do feel like you're trying to cheer me up," Rey said, glancing at the clock on the wall to see that Christmas was only two minutes away. "You want to be my Christmas miracle."
Her gaze strayed to the telegram. "I could really use a Christmas miracle. I could really use some hope." She looked at her son. "But I suppose that's what you are, isn't it? Hope. Hope that your father will come home. Hope that our family will keep thriving even if he doesn't. Hope that he'll never really leave us, no matter what."
The tears were back. She sniffled, her voice breaking as she continued. "That's what I'm going to call you: Hope. I know, I know it's not the manliest name in the world, but your mum needs a little hope right now. Ok?"
Ben wriggled in her arms, settling his head right over her heart. "Ben Hope Solo Junior," she whispered, pressing a tearful kiss to his forehead. "Bring you father back to us."
As the clock ticked over to midnight, Rey began her Christmas by bending over her newborn son and crying for her husband.