This is Yavin. It’s twelve parsecs past Wasteland and just shy of Immediate Hypothermia. Poe’s village. In a word, robust. It's been here for seven generations. They have hunting, fishing, and a charming view of the binary sunsets. The only problems are the pests. Most places have jakrabs or vesps. Yavin has... other things to worry about. Things that Poe would rather not worry about right now.
Poe’s head is in the clouds in more ways than one. In his dreams, he flies over the jagged cliffs, taking in an aerial view of the porg nests and the crashing waves below. He soars above Yavin, where the mist gives way to clouds and exhilaration. The dream was especially vivid last night, and a welcome reprieve from the expectations of his life on the island.
Salty wind tousles Poe’s curls as he watches for the first sun peek over the choppy waters below the cliff’s edge. His hair is almost as dark as the iron he works with, and reminds everyone of his late mother. Even in his looks, he can’t escape his family’s legacy. Knowing Rey will arrive soon, he runs a hand through in a futile attempt to tame them.
His attention returns to the sketchbook in his lap. The tea-colored pages are crammed with scribbles, diagrams of wheeled and winged inventions, and sketches of evil-looking creatures above captions like:
The Nightmare Known to light itself ablaze
The Night Fury Never seen, never been caught. Never misses its target.
When he’s not dreaming of flight, Poe’s dreaming of Rey. He tightens the fur cloak around his shoulders in anticipation of their meeting, trying not to stare at the tree line where she’ll soon appear. His eyes fall on his leather-bound sketchbook once more, but his attention is where the wooded trail meets a small clearing before the land abruptly gives way to the frigid waters. This is Poe’s favorite spot on Yavin, and she picked it as their dawn rendezvous point. He felt even closer to Rey in that moment, though he could only hopefully speculate the reason she asked to see him in private like this.
Stealing a glance at the satchel by his feet, Poe starts to second-guess the gift he’s brought her. Everyone tells him to trust the Force, to trust tradition and the voice of his ancestors, but truth be told: Poe Dameron is second-guessing a lot of things lately.
For countless generations, the craggy heap of land jutting out of the sea had been his family’s homeland. What Yavin lacks in size, it more than makes up in tenacity. His Viking ancestors found a way to make this inhospitable rock a home and have led the village ever since. Soon, it will be Poe’s turn to lead, provide for, and protect the people of the island. Being the son of Kes the Fearless imparts far more pressure than privilege, but Poe has a spark in him, even if he sometimes has his doubts.
Just before sunrise, Rey makes her way up the steep trail, pointing her blackthorn staff in front of her. Low branches bend as she follows a path through the dense woods. She can smell the salt in the air through the conifers, hear the dull churning of the water before she can see it. Eager to meet Poe there, Rey hurries, trudging uphill in oversized, secondhand boots, and a woolen cloak she had sewn herself from scraps.
Mildly winded, she calls, “Poe!”
“Over here!” he answers, and she quickly finds him sitting atop a moss-covered outcropping of stone that pierces the grass. The book on his lap snaps shut and he stows it in his back pocket. The dark fur cloak he wears suits him. “I’m starving.”
Pausing, she stabs the end of her knotted staff into the lush ground. “If that’s how you thank me, maybe I shouldn’t bring you breakfast.”
“If I recall, it was you who offered it…” Poe teased. “But maybe I shouldn’t tell you what’s in the bag.”
Curiosity piqued, Rey can’t help but ask, “What’s in the bag?” She tilted her head so he could see her brunette locks wound up in triple-braided buns. She wants to find a soft bit of grass to sit on, but it’s still coated in morning dew.
“What’s for breakfast?”
Laying her staff to the ground, she decides to sit on the smoothest surface of rock close to him, and then reaches into a knapsack to pull out a coarse loaf of bread. “Fresh from the oven.” Rey rips it in two.
“Mmmm.” Poe accepts the offered half and smears it with a dollop of green-tinted butter from Maz’s banthas. Part of her herd was recently carried away, so butter has been scarce. The crust is still warm against Poe’s hand, and crackles when he bites into it. Rey is a damn good baker; she excels at about everything, in fact. “Thank you.”
“Don’t mention it,” Rey dismisses through a mouth full of bread. Manners may be the one area in which Rey doesn’t excel, but she’s authentic and he finds it endearing.
They watch the sky’s subtle journey through the color spectrum as the first sun creeps over the water. Uncertain though he is about the gift, Poe enjoys Rey’s presence as they eat breakfast side by side, stealing the occasional glance at one another.
“You know, this is my favorite place,” he announces, closing eyes. It blurs the line between the sky and the sea and the land. “My mom used to bring me here.”
“Oh, I didn’t know.” She’s always been drawn to the solitude of it. Although she’s familiar with the soft ache in Poe’s voice, none of her memories bring comfort. “I love it here.”
“It’s the highest point in Yavin. Look,” Poe says, standing to climb atop the small plateau on the tallest rock. He reaches out a hand and assists Rey up the lichen-scattered granite. In the distance, their quaint village is just beginning the day. It’s the first time he’s looked toward their home since arriving here before the suns and before Rey. Poe always prefers to look toward the horizon.
Rey’s seen this view many times, but it feels different as she stands next to Poe. Perhaps that’s because one day, he’s meant to rule it.
The sea breeze whips the tendrils of hair around her face, and Poe steadies her when her worn leather boot slips against the rock. She can sense something amiss. “Are you nervous about the tournament?”
“No, not really. We’ve been training long enough, don’t you think?”
Rey shrugs. She hasn’t been training as long as the rest of Poe’s friends, but she’s just as fierce.
They climb down from the rock formation at the top of the cliff, back to the grassy clearing. The crisp air feels invigorating against her face, and Poe’s eyes crinkle when he smiles at her. This was the first break she’d gotten since the moon rose to its highest point the night before, but work calls. Soon enough, the second sun will rise and the bakery will open to the villagers. Rey ground wheat with a mortar and pestle each afternoon and lifted great pans of dough into a burning oven each night. Her lean arms are as strong as her will to survive. It’s tough to steal some time for herself, between the many duties under her uncle’s ever-critical, ever-watchful eye, but she gladly will risk it for Poe.
Rey has been working at her uncle Plutt’s bakery ever since her parents were carried away by a demon made of teeth and scales. The same kind that took Poe’s mother. Yes. Life is difficult on Yavin, but death lurks just outside the land’s edge, where there is said to be a great nest of the wretched creatures. That is why they train- to protect their homeland from dragons.
“You said you had a question for me when you asked to meet here,” Poe mentions as casually as his racing heart will allow. He rubs the moisture from his palms against his thighs, wondering if it was ocean spray or dew against the rocks, or simply perspiration. “And I guess it’s rude to ask like that but I’ve been dying to know. Was it about the tournament?”
The dusting of freckles across her nose are particularly charming when Rey scrunches up in silent concentration.
Did he completely read this wrong?
“Yes!” she nearly sputters, “Well, I’ve been saving up and I wanted to see if I could purchase a sword. Something... affordable? Maybe we could work out a deal where I can give you and your father bread—”
Poe internally deflates. Rey wanted to barter and was bringing him her product when it was freshest. It was foolish to get his hopes up that it was about anything more. But why did she ask to do a sunrise, cliff-side meeting instead of asking him to stop by the shop if it was strictly business?
His mouth curves back into a smile when he realizes his gift will be appreciated. “I’m gonna stop you right there.” Poe raises his hands, and then points to the leather satchel. “Open it. An early birthday gift.”
She pulls out fabric wrapped parcel, and unwinds the rough cloth to reveal a silver hilt. Rey’s hazel eyes widen. “No! Poe, it’s too much.”
Poe was disappointed that the meeting wasn’t about their friendship becoming more, but that’s temporarily erased by the look on Rey’s lovely face as she examines her gift. “No it’s not. Go ahead, give it a try!”
The hilt was ornate, with knotted designs framing an ice-blue crystal mounted in the center. Feeling a mixture of awe and uncertainty, she’s drawn to the weapon like she’s drawn to Poe. It’s a powerful attraction. She steps into the clearing and gives it a few experimental swings. Almost effortless to wield, it’s ideally proportioned for her size. “Did you make this?”
“I wish I’d made something so beautiful,” Poe admits as Rey twirls the blade through the air with precision. “Apparently, it’s been in the workshop forever. It was in an old chest I found. No one seems to know where it came from, not even my father.”
“What’s stranger is my father actually admitting he doesn’t know everything,” Poe replies as he licks some errant butter from his thumb. Kes was kind and fair, but the role of chief imparted an additional layer of authority that alienated his rebellious son.
The silver metal cuts through the air with a satisfying “fwooo” and Rey looks like a legendary goddess swinging it against the verdant a backdrop.
She finally rips her gaze from the sword her hands feel destined for. Part of her is almost frightened by that, so she asks, “Why don’t you use it?”
Because it felt like yours, he wants to say, but he can’t explain how. So he doesn’t.
“I’ll be using my dad’s. All the Dameron men have used it to slay their first dragon, and you know how he is about tradition.” Poe steps closer, an earnest smile on his lips. “Please accept it. I want you to have it. As soon as I saw it, I thought of you.”
There’s a lump in Rey’s throat as she nods. It’s the most generous gift she’s ever received. She lowers the blade to her side, and leans into Poe for a quick, one-armed hug so he can’t see her blink a bit of mist from her eyes. “Thank you.”
Poe squeezes back awkwardly with one arm, savoring the warmth of the surprise embrace. When he inhales, she smells like the comforting nourishment of the bakery. They separate like two magnets held at the wrong poles suddenly released, repelling off each other.
Poe stares at the scattering of stones that break up the grass, as if they are a set of runes about to tell him what to do next, and clasps his hands behind his back. Rey’s ears light up crimson in embarrassment. She brings the sword point-down in front of her and presses her lips together in a tense line.
The charged moment stretches on, entirely too long, until it’s interrupted by the shrill screech of a hungry porg in the distance. Once. Twice. Each squawk deepens the suddenly uncomfortable chasm between them.
She breaks the silence first, a little unusual with Rey being the quiet one of the pair. “At least let me pay you for—”
“Not happening. Besides, it’s practical. The tournament is coming up and I can’t have my best friend trying to fight dragons with a blackthorn twig, now can I?”
“I could best you and your finest sword with this so-called twig,” Rey challenges with a quirked brow. “But I have to go open the bakery.”
Poe’s delighted by her competitive spirit. “I’ll count that as a blessing from the Force, then. Will I see you at the training with Snap and the rest of us?”
“Of course! I have to practice using my new gift.”
Lessons have been brutal as of late. Poe is quick on his feet and handles a blade well, but he doesn’t relish the idea like everyone else seems to. Dread washes over him when he thinks about the upcoming tournament. He understands the need to defend the village, but it doesn’t sit well. Maybe it’s the spectacle of killing a captive beast in front of an audience. Maybe it’s the rite of passage, the fact that it places him one milestone closer to being chief one day. Either way, Poe is thankful for Rey’s company through it.
His opportunity is passing like a cloud overhead as Rey slings the bag over her shoulder. It’s ridiculous: he carries the blood of noble warriors, yet he’s afraid to confess his feelings for a girl. Mustering his courage, Poe blurts, “I don’t want your credits, but I will accept another breakfast, when there’s time to properly enjoy it together.”
Rey flushes. “I’d like that,” she says before standing and moving towards the trees, her staff in one hand and the fabric-wrapped sword close to her side. “Thank you, Poe. I’ll see you at the next training.”