It's a sunny day on Batuu, the air is fresh and the force thrums with life. They have been staying in a secluded area that people don't tend to find. Sometimes they stay up late under the stars, or Rey goes for a swim in the river while Ben waits for her on the shore with Anni on his lap.
Anni takes her first steps barefoot in a forest. It's not a great distance, but to them is the greatest feat. Rey has to keep herself from crying, Ben doesn't bother to hide his excitement; he picks her up and twirls her on the air, as he sings praises. Anni laughs loudly, and everything about her shines with light. Rey looks at them with a smile on her face. Then Ben turns to look at her, his lips curling upwards. He holds their daughter with one arm as he embraces her with the other, with the enamored look that Rey loves seeing in him.
She laughs loudly against his lips, a thousand words unsaid in a little gesture.
She wishes they could remain like that forever, barefoot and blissful in the forest.
They get spotted by a local fisher a month later, when Anni turns one. There is no chaos or turmoil, but Ben saw the shadow of recognition in the man's eye and was not willing to take any risks. They slip away from the planet in the middle of the night and Rey tries her best to avoid the thought of her own escape from the Resistance.
With time, Anni leaves behind her baby-talk for actual words. If Rey would get a credit for every time her daughter says ''Daddy, Daddy, Daddy'' she could already build an Empire of her own. It's so amusing to see Ben, so terrifying and imposing, to fret around their little girl like a hen mother. What makes it even funnier, is how big he is compared to her.
No one would have guessed that 'Kylo Ren' made a good father, a great father.
Not that Rey fell far behind, she was as wary as him-if not more-about letting Anni out of her sight.
They still couldn't manage the sleeping arrangements. It was nice to have a night or two to themselves, and they used that time for good. But Anni would eventually crawl to their bed. Ben didn't have the heart to deny her and neither had Rey. Although, she suspected that Ben really enjoyed sleeping her, no matter how much their daughter drooled or twisted and turned during the night. Well, she wasn't about to complain, she liked snuggling with them.
In a galaxy plagued by war, not many families had the luxury of remaining together. So Rey was going to appreciate every damn moment, regardless of her daughter and husband stealing all the sheets for themselves.
By the time Anni was four, they had finally settled on a way of living. Once they were done with travelling around the galaxy, they had found some deserted moon that served as a base during the summer and spring. During autumn and winter they'd hop on the Falcon and fly away somewhere else.
They spend more time than Rey would have liked on black markets. They had goods to trade and they needed some source of income, after all. But, it was also because their daughter loved Jogan-fruit. You could only get it on Coruscant or, of course, a black market. And obviously, being the type of parents they were, they would go get it for her.
It was impressive, to see the voracity of their daughter's appetite. They'd sit one the Falcon floor watching her eat.
''She gets that from you.'' Ben had said, dumfounded as he watched her bite her third portion of Jogan fruit cake. Rey hadn't denied it, though she had feigned offense, only to be tackled down by him with kisses.
But Anni Solo didn't only inherit Rey's appetite, no, she had her daddy's stubbornness. She would not sleep alone, she would not eat her veggie-portions, and she would bit her lip and pout if Chu-Chu the Wookie plushie couldn't take a bath with her.
Ben would pointedly avoid her stare during these moments, as she raised an eyebrow with an amused gesture, indulging their daughter.
It had not been in their plans to stop by Maz's castle. Ben had opposed, actually, but Rey had insisted. Stars knew how much the little woman had helped them when they first started their lives as fugitives.
Thinking of those days made her feel nostalgic, so she avoided it.
It amazed her, to think that Anni was just a few months away of being five. Had they really been travelling for that long? It seemed impossible.
Life had been kind to them since they left Maz's castle. A rarity for the Skywalkers. Rey was grateful for every single moment of bliss with her family.
While they had avoided planets with known support for either the Resistance or the First Order, that didn't keep them from visiting others. Rey recalled fondly the first time she had swam in a lagoon, as Ben held Anni close to the border. When they had visited his grandmother's grave at Naboo, or when they had gone to Coruscant to explore the remains of the Jedi Temple.
Rey sighed tiredly, Anni was finally asleep, her cheek on her father's chest. Said man was also sleeping, soundly. Lucky bastard, she thought. Her second child didn't seem to agree with her sleeping hours, keeping her awake through the night by kicking her bladder mercilessly, making her take a rush to the fresher in more than one occasion. Anni hadn't been like that.
She caressed her swollen belly fondly, her baby's lifeform pulsing through the force.
Not everything had been easy.
She still thinks about her friends and the Resistance, the people who might have become a family to her if things had gone differently. But when she sees them like that, so peaceful and free of worry, she knows she has made the right decision. Her happiness may have been a selfish thing, but she does not regret it.
They were still a good few parsecs away from the planet they intended to land on, so Rey figured that she should let them sleep while they could. Maz was eager to meet with Anni Solo now that she could do a bit more than eating and crying. Not much more though.
So once they were done with Endor, they would go back to the Mid Rim to visit her.
Rey kept herself from laughing when she saw that Anni had drooled all over Ben's chest. A little snort escaped her and Ben woke up. Years of living with nightmares had given him a light sleep.
''Are we close?'', he yawned as he shifted lightly, careful not to wake up his daughter. His hand went to rub soothing circles over her middle.
''I think so, but we still have time'', she answered. She wasn't very eager to get out of bed, even if her back was killing her. Finding a comfortable position was becoming an impossible task these days.
She still wouldn't change it for anything.
We are done! Thanks to everyone who commented in this fic 3