It was the night of a minor holiday on Coruscant, complete with rooftop parties and a small fireworks show, but Leia had opted for a quiet evening in. Only five months had passed since Kier’s death, and though she’d returned long since to her duties in the Apprentice Legislature, she didn’t feel ready to go out and celebrate. Nor was she in the mood to be entirely alone. Since her father was gone on a fact-finding mission — a real one, this time, accompanied by a group of other senators from the Core Worlds — Leia had decided to invite a friend to stay with her in the Organa family apartments. Someone whose airy conversation and eclectic enthusiasms could distract her from the cold, encroaching shadows that lurked now in the corners of every room. Shadows that might swallow Leia whole if she allowed them space enough to open their mouths.
“Aaaand it’s done. I think.” Amilyn Holdo placed the datapad atop the sheet of flimsiplast laid out in front of her and clapped her hands together. Sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of the sofa where Leia was curled up watching a holovid, she was her usual colorful self: purple leggings, a flame-colored tunic, and hair an ultraviolet shade of blue. She had been laboring for the past several hours on some kind of astrological chart for Leia, using both analog and digital maps of the Alderaan system. With the aid of a Gatalentan instrument that resembled an ancient child’s top connected by leather tongs to a metal frame, Amilyn had been drawing lines on the flimsiplast chart, connecting stars and moons and patterns of solar flares until the entire map was crosshatched. Leia had been glancing over during dull moments in the holovid, watching as Amilyn followed the lines with her fingertip and tapped calculations into her datapad. Now the esoteric work was apparently complete.
“I thought you finished my star chart months ago,” Leia said, switching off the holovid and turning to face Amilyn.
“I did, but this is something different. This is a Gatalentan Chart of Connections.” Amilyn’s eyes lit up with excitement as she gestured at the materials in front of her. The nails of her long fingers were painted with a morphing varnish that cycled colors every few minutes, going from a deep violet to a bright fuchsia and through every shade in between. “It doesn’t work quite like a birth chart, just listing out characteristics and abilities and possible future paths. This builds a narrative — or at least the outline of one — that is connected to you in some way. It may be about you or it may be about someone you know or knew once or haven’t yet met. I believe I’ve interpreted the data correctly to identify the broad parameters of the narrative. Would you like to hear it?”
In truth, Leia wasn’t sure she did. Ever since she’d discovered her parents’ involvement in building the foundation of a rebellion, she’d felt the future pressing down upon her like an unwanted weight, stealing her breath and constricting her movements. Kier’s death — and the circumstances surrounding it — had brought into painful focus the perils the future held: the fragility of life, the tenuousness of any alliances, the ease with which both could be swept away. Leia could no longer think lightly of what might come to pass.
But she also knew it would crush Amilyn, after all her hard work, not to be able to share what she’d discovered. So she packed her misgivings into a mental box, pushed it aside — a technique she was having to practice with alarming frequency these days — and gave Amilyn a warm smile.
“Of course. Tell me everything.”
“Great!” Amilyn paused for an elaborate stretch before reaching for her datapad again. When it was in her hands she took a deep breath, sat very erect, and closed her eyes briefly, as if calling the inspiration of a deity down upon her. When she spoke again, her tone was slow, stately, and deliberate.
“The narrative begins with a girl. An heir to royalty. A princess.” Here Amilyn dropped her storyteller guise long enough to glance slyly up at Leia.
“That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s me,” Leia reasoned with a shrug. “It could be my mother. She was a princess before she was queen, after all.”
Amilyn conceded the point with a nod, then continued. “The girl is intelligent. Witty. Passionate. Sensitive. She tries to hide her emotions but they’re there, right beneath her skin, easily bruised, easily roused. She is sharp-tongued and full of anger. Her temper can be terrible to behold.”
“Okay, maybe it is me,” Leia said. She didn’t think her temper was quite as bad as that, but there was no denying that it did spike from time to time. And though Breha Organa could certainly be described as intelligent, witty, and sensitive, to say she was full of anger was simply incorrect. No matter how keenly she felt the wrongs the Empire inflicted upon the galaxy, the queen remained serene, level-headed, and determined.
“This girl is also possessed of great power. A power she doesn’t fully understand. One she can’t quite control. This power is strange… It’s connected to her, but the chart suggests it’s connected to almost everything else too.” Amilyn’s voice had dropped back to its normal monotone and she looked up at Leia, frowning. “I’ve never seen anything quite like it before. The signs are so obscure. They don’t make much sense to me, I’m afraid.”
“It’s okay. Keep going.” Leia didn’t understand it either; but then, she didn’t understand much of this astrological stuff. She wasn’t sure she wanted to.
“Well, this girl… Her destiny seems to be entwined with a boy.”
Leia felt herself flinch. The image of Kier’s broken body, floating in the zero grav of the cutter, pushed itself into her conscious mind. She hoped Amilyn hadn’t noticed her involuntary response, but her friend’s eyes were fixed upon her.
“Do you want me to stop?”
A warm surge of affection rushed through Leia at this unexpected demonstration of Amilyn’s kindness. “No, of course not. Let’s hear about this mystery boy.”
Amilyn cleared her throat dramatically. “All the signs indicate that he’s from a desert world. He’s almost the opposite of the girl. He’s simple. Humble. Impatient, but compassionate. Intelligent, too, but with less opportunities for utilizing it. I mean to say, he labors with his body, his hands. And he dreams. His life is one of dreaming and waiting. Waiting to act, and to escape.”
Leia chewed at her lip thoughtfully. She certainly couldn’t think of any boys she knew who hailed from desert planets. Much less any that fit the description of humble laborers.
“He also has the same strange power that the girl possesses,” Amilyn continued. “Maybe even more so. But it’s more controlled in him. It teaches him and moves him, and he learns from and uses it. It’s wrapped tightly around the whole thread of his life.”
“How do this boy and girl meet?” Leia asked, curiosity overcoming her hesitance.
Amilyn shook her head. “The chart doesn’t say. But their destinies are definitely joined. In what way exactly, I’m not sure. The lines form shapes, ancient symbols set down by Gatalentan astrologers thousands of years ago. They can be interpreted in many different ways.” Amilyn held the datapad closer to her face, carefully scrutinizing the screen while one fingertip followed patterns on the flimsiplast chart. “I see… danger for them. Pain and loss. Conflict. And triumph. There’s a-- something that looks like a fortress, but in the stars? And a tall, menacing figure. And… lines of fire or light?”
Amilyn glanced up at Leia as if she might have some insights to share, but Leia just shrugged again. “Are you sure about the accuracy of this kind of chart?” she asked. “Except for the royalty part, none of this seems likely to apply to me.”
“I told you, it isn’t necessarily about you yourself. It may be about a friend or relative, or someone you haven’t met yet. But you’re connected to it in some way.” Amilyn gestured again at the chart. “You’ve heard me say it before: everything is written in the stars. And it’s true. There is no time up there, not really. The past, the present, the future: they’re all jumbled up together, and your story — everyone’s story — touches the stories of others in innumerable, unexpected ways.”
Leia mused on this silently for a moment. Given the likelihood of conflict that loomed like a thundercloud over the future, it was highly possible that her life could take some wholly unexpected turns. Maybe one day, sooner than she could imagine, she would find herself fighting for the galaxy’s liberation beside some humble laborer from a distant, desert world.
“Well, whomever they are,” Leia said at last, “it sounds like they have interesting lives ahead of them.”
“I think so too. But the signs are so difficult to read!” Amilyn turned her datapad upside down, studying something on the screen from a different angle. “Some of these shapes are so indistinct, and some of them I’ve never seen the like of before. I should consult a master astrologer the next time I’m on Gatalenta, they might have better interpretations. But — oh! It’s so exciting!” Amilyn clutched the datapad to her chest, her eyes gleaming as brightly as her fingernails. “This destiny they share… No, I’m not entirely sure what the symbols indicate, that’s true, but they’re definitely ancient and definitely meaningful, and they seem to suggest some impact upon the whole of the galaxy… It’s fantastic!”
Leia shook her head, sighing and smiling. Amilyn often inspired such contradictory reactions in her. She wished she could share her friend’s boundless enthusiasm for the unknown, but the events of the last year had robbed her of that. It was true that she had always hoped her life and work would have a positive effect on the galaxy — but a destiny that impacted the whole of its fate? That interlocked with the future of some unknown man with a great, mysterious power?
Not for the first time, Leia decided she had no use for astrology.
“It’s almost time for the fireworks,” she said, unfolding her legs from where they’d been curled beneath her and rising from the sofa. “Let’s get some glow wine and watch them on the terrace.”
As she walked over to a table to pour them both drinks, Amilyn remained on the floor, still peering at her datapad. “I’m sure I got all of the calculations right, though. That part is pretty simple act-- Oh no!”
The anguish in Amilyn’s voice sent so violent a chill down her spine that Leia almost dropped the bottle of glow wine. “What? What is it?”
“Oh Leia!” Amilyn looked up, an expression of horror on her face. “I think I messed it up. I think I got it all switched around! I think… I think maybe the chart is actually talking about a girl from a desert world and a boy who’s a prince!”
Leia’s relief was so great that she started to laugh — but stopped when the strangest feeling came over her. A paralyzing stillness, a complete and eerie calm, in which her mind seemed to open to realities beyond the present moment, and she saw — as if from a great distance — two figures: a slender young woman with sun-painted freckles, and a tall, black-haired man. She had never seen either of them before, yet she knew them — somehow — and, seeing them, she felt a pang of bittersweet affection stab her heart.
Then the vision — if it had been a vision, and not just a fleeting daydream sparked by glow wine and too many hours of lost sleep — was gone, and Leia sighed with relief. Not that she actually believed in Amilyn’s astrological charts… But still, it was good to know that the fate of the galaxy didn’t rest in her hands.
“I still don’t know how it could possibly connect to me,” she said, topping off Amilyn’s glass and putting the cork back in the bottle. “I actually don’t know many princes, and absolutely no girls from desert planets.”
“It’s not an exact science,” Amilyn admitted, rising from the floor in one fluid movement on her stork-like legs. “If you mess up even one line angle or calculation, the whole thing goes sideways. Last month I started a love chart for you--" Leia turned to rebuke her — she had specifically forbade Amilyn from drawing up any kind of romance-related chart — but Amilyn forestalled her with an apologetic gesture, “but I deleted it, because I’d clearly made a miscalculation somewhere. The signs I was getting in relation to your one true love all seemed to point to some kind of… mechanic… space jockey… smuggler type person.”
This time Leia did laugh, and loudly. “That’s okay. I’m in no hurry to find my one true love. And if I ever do find him, I’m perfectly willing to have it come as a surprise.”
Leia opened the terrace doors and together they walked outside. Blooms of multicolored fire were just opening in the sliver of sky visible between the highest buildings of the ecumenopolis, their tails streaming down like shimmering, superheated rain.
“Written in the stars or not, Amilyn,” Leia said, “I think it’s safe to say that you and I are both going to live interesting lives.”
“I’m sure of it.” Amilyn tilted her head to one side as she continued, her tone thoughtful. “But, you know, everyone lives an interesting life if you think about it. Whether they’re a senator or a moff or a starfighter pilot or a nerf-herder… Everyone’s life is interesting in some way. And completely unique. Your life is an unreplicated, one-of-a-kind story, all your own.”
Leia smiled. That was so very Holdo: and so true. “And you know what makes those stories all the better?” she said.
Amilyn’s brow furrowed. “What?”
“Finding good friends to share them with.” Leia held out her glass for a toast. Amilyn beamed, an expression bright enough to rival the fireworks, and clinked her glass against Leia’s.
"I couldn't agree more."