C-3PO had just shut down for a recharge and Leia was nodding off, datapad forgotten on her lap and the bliss of sleep tugging at her eyelids, when the buzzer at the door sounded. She hadn’t been expecting visitors today and had thus allowed her protocol droid some downtime, but whomever it was did not seem deterred by Leia’s slowness in answering their summons. By the time she reached the door her visitor had pushed the buzzer at least five times.
“Who in the stars--” Leia muttered as the door slid open and she was confronted with a blaze of violet hair.
“Where is he? Where is the tiny Iegoan angel?”
Leia had barely uttered her friend’s name before the beanpole of a woman breezed inside, gauzy layers of her twilight-colored caftan rippling behind her. Before Leia could ask how she was faring or how long she’d been on Chandrila, Amilyn Holdo spun on her heel and thrust into Leia’s hands a cylindrical object wrapped in shimmering silver tissue.
“For the boy. His star chart.” Amilyn beamed. “I worked it up the moment I got the news that you’d given birth.”
Leia smiled. “That is so thoughtful, Amilyn.” As she freed the scroll from its tissue and unrolled it, Leia once again lamented her old friend’s enduring interest in astrology. She had come to love Amilyn dearly since they’d first met as teenagers, but she’d never been able to share any of the woman’s rather esoteric enthusiasms.
Tucked inside the innermost roll of the scroll was a long instrument made of polished wood, crowned with a hard ball that seemed to be filled with sand or small seeds. The chart itself was hand-painted on a kind of expensive fabric woven of Gatalentan reeds, and - true to something Amilyn would craft - it was decorated in vibrant colors. At the top was Ben’s name, as well as his birth date and planet, all done in intricate script. The rest of it - at least to Leia’s eyes - was akin to ancient Ithorian: a mass of interlaced lines linking diagrams of constellations Leia had never even heard of.
Amilyn’s eyes were sparkling with excitement. “Isn’t it brilliant?” she whispered, clutching one of Leia’s arms and giving it a squeeze.
“I -- oh yes, it’s -- I just --” Leia was at a loss for words, having utterly no idea what she was looking at.
“Oh Leia!” Suddenly Amilyn’s expression grew very sober. “I hesitated to give it to you, because I knew you’d spot the shadow area right away and jump to the wrong conclusions--”
“Here.” The tip of one of Amilyn’s long fingers brushed over the spot on the scroll. It looked no different to Leia than the rest of the chart. “A shadow area denotes conflict, confusion, sometimes pain. One appears almost always on everyone’s chart, at some point or another, and yes – I concede that this one, at first glance, may seem more pronounced than others… But oh! Look at what comes after! Leia – how does it feel to know that you’ve given birth to one of the most powerful, fascinating creatures to ever grace this galaxy?”
Amilyn’s usual monotone was practically vibrating with excitement, but Leia’s heart suddenly felt immensely heavy. Powerful? Fascinating? She would rather have heard adjectives like “kind” or “healthy” or “happy” applied to her son. For a moment she thought she could almost picture his future self, or the future self she hoped for him: a tall, broad-shouldered, black-haired man, handsome though not traditionally so, grinning as he hefted a hydrospanner and opened the engine panel of some old, beat-up freighter, his pilot’s coveralls splattered with grease. There was nothing of power or fascination - or fame or brilliance - about the young man she envisioned. Just simple contentment and goodness.
A part of Leia mourned sharply as the vision faded away.
“And what does this do?” she asked, diverting her thoughts and drawing Amilyn’s attention to the polished wooden instrument that had been wrapped up in the scroll. “Is this something you use to plot the lines on the chart?”
“Actually, that--” The corner of Amilyn’s lips twitched as she pointed to it. “That is a rattle.”
“Oh!” Leia gave it a shake, then began to laugh.
“But it is a Gatalentan rattle,” Amilyn added, joining her friend’s mirth, “and so, of course, there is a tradition that if you shake it six times over the head of a sleeping child, you can banish their nightmares. Or any demons trying to whisper in their ears.”
“Thank you, Amilyn,” Leia said, paying very little attention to her friend’s strange Gatalentan tradition. “I’m sure Ben will love it.”
Just then the front door slid open and Han stepped inside. Seeing Leia’s guest, he immediately blanched and half-turned, helplessly seeking some way to escape.
“Oh look at him! He’s trying to get away! It’s so adorable!” Amilyn laughed loudly and clapped her hands together. “He’s still embarrassed about those skyfaring sex techniques I talked about the last time we all met, isn’t he? I’m not going to presume to take credit for your son’s conception, but… Oh come here, scoundrel, I won’t bite!”
Han looked like he wanted to melt into the carpet, but Leia gave him an encouraging smile and gestured him to come closer. Quickly she rolled up Ben’s star chart and set it aside.
The future could wait.