When Ben Solo was nine, Han had brought the boy with him to Scotland. Supposedly they were on vacation touring the enchanting Edinburgh, vibrant Glasgow and Cultural Stirling( is what han said to leia) but in all actuality, Han Solo was on a job along with his former comrades Lando Calrissian and Chewie. Treasure Hunting.
"listen up kid.."Han had started while depositing little Ben on a boulder near the seaside of St. Andrews Castle.
"daddy's gonna do some dipping with uncle Lando...so i want you to be seated on this rock until i come back.."he stared at the boys eyes seriously. "uncle chewie is there." pointing to the big hairy irishman-- all long hair and beard, setting some things which looked like big monitors and camera at the back of the van.
"don't stray away out of your uncle chewies eyesight, okay?" the black haired boy nodded silently to his father and the older Solo smiled at his son. "that's my good boy" he ruffled his little boys hair earning him a peal of laughter from the tyke. Han dash towards his waiting friend on the sea, looking back at his son for the last time "remember, no straying or the mermaids will kidnap and eat you" he shouted before putting on his diving head gear and giving Ben a thumbs up.
Ben had watched his dad and uncle lando go further into the sea until they went below it,only then did he looked at his surroundings. The ruined castle of St. Andrews was beautiful and somewhat magical just like those royal knight and Fairy stories his mother tells him. Having a very curious mind and spirit of an adventurer young Ben went down the boulder wanting to explore the place. "Uncle Chewie, i wanna look around the castle" he called out.
"your dad said no straying." the hairy man replied in a gruff irish accent while busying himself with the gadgets inside the vehicle.
"I won't be, i'll be near..promise..." little Ben pleaded
"Sorry Kiddo, daddy said no"
"but uncle chewie..."
Chewie took off his headset and look back at the little raven haired boy.
"Merrows lad, this place has them."
"merrows?" Ben questioned
"merrows, muruchs, mermaids..they are spalpeen creatures,.they lure with a song, seduce you with their looks then kidnap you or eat you.." Chewie explained loudly then turned back to the black and white monitor showing the image of what looks like a shipwreck underwater. He was monitoring Han and Lando under the sea.
"You believe those?" Ben shouted incredulously.
"Yes laddie, im irish" Chewie yelled back.
“And what about Dad and uncle Lando?” Ben gestured to the monitor screen. “Won't they be in danger?”
“That's what the harpoons are for,” chewie points to the sharp spears lined on the trucks door “ and they have ear plugs stuck on their ears so they’re fine. They're pros”
"oh fine..." Ben squat on the sand and leaned his back on the boulder, staring at the violent waves of the open sea "killjoy." he huffed crossing his arms, listening to the crashes of water, hearing nothing more but the sound of it.
From out of nowhere or was it only from his imagination. Ben heard singing.
It was a very beautiful and alluring sound and he had never heard such enchanting voice before in his whole young life. The song was somewhat in an echo, like being carried by the wind for him to hear, completely drowning the sound of the crashing waves. his curiosity peak up again or more like he was compelled to follow it. The boy looked at where his uncle Chewie was, who seemed very busy and possibly wouldn't know if he was gone for 10 minutes. He followed the singing.
Although Bens not sure where but his feet seems to know where to go-- following through ruins and fallen debris on the seaside not realizing he had strayed further from the ruined castle.
Up ahead, He saw sharp and rough edged cliffs, his feet seems to carry him there beyond the small arch at the foot of the cliff. When his feet hit water, Ben halted, the singing is still there but there was no more sandbars. He was contemplating if he should continue going beyond the arch. Just a few more steps and he'll cross it.
" what if the water is deep.." the boy had thought alarmingly. As if sensing his hesitation, the song change its tune to something like a sweet,loving caress. The wind seems to touch ben's face, pulling, charming,encouraging the boy towards the arch. Ben's feet seemed to have its own mind again and began to tread the shallow water.
Beyond the arch was a little circular pool connected to the sea and what greeted the almost ten year old was something he had never imagined of seeing in his entire life.
In the pool, sitting like a nymph goddess; just like the one of the paintings his mother had back home was the most beautiful creature Ben had ever seen.
Slender fish tail with scales shining like diamonds, long brown tresses flowing freely in the slender neck and sun kissed shoulders, covering the pert breast a little. the ends of its hair dipped in the cool crystal clear water, the strands dancing under the cerulean liquid. Hazel eyes had widen for a moment then she was looking at the little boy again with akin to realization. Her wet pink lips still singing softly, words in language he cannot understand.
"you...you're a mermaid!." Ben had said in awe not minding the nakedness of the creature in front of him.
The mermaid stopped singing and smiled, showing its little fangs.
"i was suppose to lure a man, instead a little boy came." she sigh-tease a little. "but i guess it's you" he gesture for the boy to come closer but Ben shook his head and crouch at the rocky edge of the pool. "you might eat me if i come closer." Ben stated.
Rey laughed at the little boy. He was such a cute dangly lad with funny looking ears, messy dark wavy hair and curious golden brown eyes. The little pool beyond the archway wash one of her favorite spot and no merfolk or finfolk goes to this place anymore. It was a good place to practice singing her heartsong. A song to be heard and sung only to her future intended. That's why she was surprised when the wind had pull something like a thread being tugged from her chest. ' my Soulmate is at the end of it ' she just knows it, feel it. The older merrows or mermaids had told her so “ Rey, you’ll know it when you find your other half...you will feel the pull..” she felt giddy and scared at the same time( she wasn't sure what creature her soulmate would be, it could be a merfolk,fae or human)
She expected a grown up male...she was shocked to see a boy.
The boy was looking at him with wide curious eyes and an open-mouth expression. "you have a beautiful laugh too er...maam?" Ben blurted honestly, his cheeks reddening a bit.
Rey chuckled ' such a cutie'
"Why thank you..." she tilt her head as If asking for his name.
"Ben." the little boy had said softly and shyly
"Ben.. ." she tried his name on her lips, still looking at him in the eye. Wordlessly,the boy nodded.
She swam closer to him slowly so as not to frighten him. "i won't bite" she said holding out her hand to him. Ben hesitantly put his to her cold, wet hands(which is not pruning and somewhat glistening in the sun, ben had thought in awe), she smiled again"Im Rey. ...."with a hint of mischievousness, he pulled little Ben closer until their face was only inches away-- wide innocent golden brown eyes to otherworldly gold and green ones,"...your future wife."
Ben gaped at the mermaid named Rey, his mouth agape. “Ha...huh.?” was all little Ben could say. Rey began to laugh as she let go of his hand and the boy turned beet red- from his face up to the tip of his ears. “You’re so cute Ben..” she said between giggles.
“Oh..uhm thanks...i guess” he wasn’t sure why the beautiful creature laughed but he was embarrassed; after all he believed he looked like a dork with his big ears and awkward character and appearance, so unlike his parents who were handsome people. Sadly, he never got their good looks, he lamented.
The mermaid was way too pretty and she looks like in her late teens already, he was nine, she looks like eighteen. ‘ She’s teasing me’ Ben drolled.
“Hey…” Rey had whispered softly which brought Ben back from his thoughts. She was smiling again, not the mischievous kind but the good natured kind of smile.
“I wasn’t kidding…” She said. Rey pushed herself up the ledge and pulled Ben to seat closer to her.
The scales of her fishtail Ben had observed closely, were like shiny tiny crystal shells that changes from silver to light cool green, to yellow green , yellow and blue, it was hypnotizing to look at. Even the tips of her chestnut brown hair were also green like seaweed.
The mermaid was not oblivious to the boys scrutiny, she tip his chin up so she could see his gullible eyes. “I am and will be your future wife.” she stated matter-of-fact..
“Im nine…” Ben deadpanned
“Oh fret not, you’ll grow up little man” she ruffled Ben's’ hair playfully before the boy defiantly swatted her hand away. She could not suppress a giggle.
“An...And you? How old…”
“Almost a century. that's still very young”
She answered while touching Ben's face, tracing his blushing cheek,nose and jaw with her fingers. Ben replied a silent “oh” his eyebrows furrowed as if processing something that is impossible.
“I’d still be the same” swishing her hand in air to explain “We age slow and live very very long”. She smiled wide at the boy showing off her pearly white teeth and fangs,the tip of her tail drawing circles in the cool water.
Ben cant help being astonished, and be anxious at the same time. everything felt surreal like in a dream, like in the story of peter pan or Alice. And then there's the issue of having an instant girlfriend, not a silly grade school crush but a girlfriend-- a mature mermaid girlfriend he thinks and he Doesn't know what to do. ‘ Im dreaming all this’ he keeps on saying like a mantra.
Rey splash his face with water to get his attention “you're thinking deep again.” Carefully like a mother to a baby, Rey took his hands, gently opening his palms and place it in her cheeks. “I can feel the conflict in you. I am real...this is real” she whispered softly.
Ben wordlessly nodded, his face hot and reddening more.
Rey liked the boy. He’s still very young but she can wait. The important thing is she found him...or he found her. When the boy had felt more comfortable around her,They began to tell stories. Little Ben told her about the land dwellers, his home in America and of majestic buildings as tall as the cliffs or taller. Of Amusement Parks, human schools, music ( ben told her he plays the piano and saxophone and would play for her someday. Not knowing what music instrument those are but she was looking forward to it), ice cream and cakes (one of his favorite food). Ben was talking animatedly and he was delightful to listen at. Rey was engrossed, listening and looking at Ben in a daze. She realizes the aboveground where Ben came from is fun and full of exciting, wonderful things. She's been to the aboveground,every full moon but she only saw small village cottages and lots of trees “i wish i can see the things you're telling me, they sounded delightful and exhilarating.” Rey said dreamily, she was back in the water, her head lay on her arms.
“Maybe you can come and visit me.” The raven haired boy suggested and the little mermaid gave a thought about it.
“i don't know where this America is, this New York… i haven't been anywhere past the north seas.” Rey frowned.
“I think it's across the atlantic…”
“Thats….thats really far.” She was feeling upset at the information of Ben's home. The Atlantic seas is the second most dangerous water in the world. Sharks and stormy seas aside,Snoke the Sea Demon and his army of ghostly sea creatures called stormies dwell in that waters.
She looked disappointed, Ben had observed. Her eyes downcast, her pink glossy lips pressed tightly together. Maybe suggesting her to visit him was not a good idea. She did say it's very far...which is true and she has to swim the atlantic ocean to get to North America.
“If you can't then i’ll visit you.” Ben blurt out.
Rey straightened her back, her face peak up immediately at the boy.
“Really?” Her eyes of forest and sun rays was smiling wide. Her tight lip mouth was also breaking into a smile.
Ben nodded in affirmation, feeling happy that his mermaid is smiling again.
“You know i can just take you away with me and watch you grow” Rey confessed “but you wouldn't want that” softly she touch his face again looking fondly at the boy.
“I wouldn't want that” he agreed. Boy and merrow looked at each other's eyes, smiling at each other, fascinated at each other.
Whatever force had pass between the two creature it was broken by the sound of a motor engine. Ben whip his gaze away from Rey to look at the bass boat speeding at the sea. Han was on it with binoculars, looking for something...or someone. Ben looked up where the sun stared at the world without pause through the crystal clear sky. It was late in the afternoon. It was still morning when he was at the ruins of St. Andrews.
“Oh no its my dad.” He stood up abruptly and wave his arms up at his father. Han looked at his direction and shook his head. The boat change directions, it was going back.
“He can't see you, this place beyond that arch is invisible to normal humans.” Rey explained.
“I'm so screwed, i have to go back.” Ben muttered worriedly, pulling his hair in a panic .His dad is gonna be so upset and mad at him, he did promised to stay and wait with his uncle Chewie. He look back at Rey and was met with a twinging sadness from the young mermaid.
“I have to go back, they're gonna be worried about me.” He said regretfully.
Rey scrunched her eyes shut and dove down in the water, swimming away. Ben panicked and kneeled down the ledge calling unto her. “Rey….wait…” he reached down below the water. He felt bad, sad...for whatever reason, seeing her swim away without goodbye was heartbreaking for the little boy. His eyes were getting heavy, glassy and red until tears began to fall freely from them. He cried silently.
“Ben…” Rey cooed to the boy who was curved like a ball, his head burrowed on his arms that hugged his knees to his chest. The boy looked at her teary eyed and now furiously wiping them away with his palms and knuckles.
“You left me...” his tone accusing. “I thought... sniff *i won't be able to see you again. sniff*.. .” Ben said his voice hoarse from crying.
“I'm sorry i didn't mean to…” she said apologetically, her eyes paled for a moment from worry and guilt. When Ben had said he has to go, Rey began to fret. Ben was a child and lives far away across the atlantic. Unlike adult humans, most young human soulmates like Ben doesn't come back according to the older merfolks who had met their too young--still a child mates
“ it's either they think it was all a dream like in their fairy tales or he/she has found a human lover he can be with always...or worst dead.”
“and that is why we take them away and let them grow with us and bond with them when the time is right” she recalls the older merrows story.
Rey had been alone for as long as she can remember. Although there are other merfolks but theres just few of them in the area, most of them older than she is. She doesnt want to lose Ben, her future husband that is why in her uneasiness of such possibilities, she left immediately to get something that would make him remember her always and will make him come back to her
She was relieved to have still found him there in the ledge.
“I went to get this.” in her hand was a small shiny blood red pearl. She reached out for his hand and pressed it to his palms.”it was given to me by an old fine clam many years ago, her last pearl...it's the only one of its kind, my treasure.”
Ben looked at the Red Pearl in his palms...it was , shiny, smooth, the size of his pupils. “It's beautiful.” He said in amazement,eyes still red and face blotchy while examining the perfect scarlet orb.
“keep it.” Rey covered Ben's hands with hers, closing his palms around the sea stone. “a gift to remember me by...and No,i insist you have it” hands clasping tightly to the boys’, Rey strongly persisted he keep it when Ben tried to hand it back to her.
“but i have nothing to give to you..nothing as magnificent and beautiful as this” ben's head drooped sadly. He wanted to give something to Rey, something special.
“a kiss would suffice for now” she said.
Ben blink in stupefaction, a beautiful girl--in this case a beautiful mermaid wanted a kiss from him ‘ oh wizards, mom aside, I haven't kiss a girl in my life. How should i do this? Should i just bend and kiss her…” Not wanting to disappoint, ben leaned closer(and maybe too eager) towards her face to kiss her but Rey put her finger on his lips “..and your promise to come back to me.” she added firmly, her eyes serious.
Shyly, Ben nodded “I promise.”his trembling full lips touched her cheek, which sent some sort of an electric shock in his veins. She tasted of sea and surprisingly of honey, Ben licked his lips when his kiss ended. There was something intoxicating about her, his body felt light and hot and he can surely hear his heartbeat but being nine years old such feelings hasn't dawn on him yet. When he look at her, he was rewarded with her most brilliant wide smile that made his innocent young heart flutter wildly.
“are you an angel?” he said in a daze.
“no.. I'm a merrow my dearest lad.” she push herself up to give the boy a quick peck on his jaw.
Rey followed him to the arch as Ben tread the shallow part of the water. He felt light despite the supposedly heavy feeling of sea water beneath his lower leg. There is this fluttering in his cheek, chest and stomach and he doesn't have any idea what it was. Is he sick or something? He felt like flying.
When they reach the archway, he looked at Rey who had elegantly emerged from below the water.
“i’ll be back...”he promised before crossing the arch to go back to St. Andrews Castle.
“and i’ll be right here waiting for you.” Rey promised him back.
Just like what he had anticipated,Han was furious. It was very late in the afternoon and light yellow orange colors started to paint the sky. While tracing back his steps unto the ruined castle Han saw him from the bass boat. The boat docked just ahead and Han ran frantically towards his son.
“you foolish boy! I told you not to stray! “ he gritted his teeth, eyes livid. He was shaking his son in the shoulders just like how his voice was shaking in fear, worry and relief.
“im sorry dad… I… “
“this is not like you Ben. ” his dad had cut in. “i was worried, we were worried... “ han gestured towards Chewie on the boat. “i was so scared that something might have happened to you!” Han wiped the sweat off his face with his hands.
“im really sorry.” the boy said quietly. “i wanted an adventure like you always have”
Ben watch his dad give a long sigh, finger combing his wavy brown hair back to calm himself. His dad squeeze his shoulder but not so hard-- implying he understood his son. Ben understands why his dad is mad at him, he knows he’s at fault but he couldn't care less because meeting Rey was the greatest thing that had happened in his nine years of living on the planet.
They boarded the boat and went back to St. Andrews. His uncle Lando patted him in the back while Chewie and Han packed up the instruments and gadgets into the van.
“you scared the shit out of your dad benny boy” ben was sitting in a boulder his uncle Lando standing beside him.
“i know… i didn't mean to.” Ben’s back was slumped, feeling guilty for worrying his dad and also not regretting of venturing out. “but I'm glad i did some adventuring on my own” he squeeze his pocket feeling a little lump inside it.
“oh, you met someone fine?” his uncle's eyes narrowed at him curious and sparkling.
“yes… she's a sea goddess.” he answered his uncle with a lopsided grin.
A time jump on the next chapter.