The door to the costume room on the top floor was still open, even though Madam Minnau had gone to another part of the house. The hair piece was still there on Grandmother Padmé’s side. She picked up the white head that held the basket-like hair with both hands. It was lighter than she expected, but off balance with how long it was.
Someone moved down the hallway from the lift. Korora lost her grip on the head, but juggled it back before it hit the floor. She reached out like Daddy had taught her and felt Jedi Kam reaching back for her.
He reached the door and smiled like he was sorry. “Wasn’t trying to startle you. Is this where the costumes are?”
She pointed to the side with all the hanging boxes with her elbow. She didn’t dare let go of the hair now.
Jedi Kam stepped inside the room and looked at the first hanging box in the gap left between the boxes. “Where’s Acharyan Luke?”
“He’s downstairs with Mommy. I forgot this.” She lifted up the hair and its head.
“Thanks for the warning.” Korora frowned because what she said wasn’t a warning. Jedi Kam’s pale face flushed slightly. “He has missed you and your mommy a lot. Have fun putting your costume together.”
“You too.” Korora carefully carried the head out into the hall. She made it safely back to her bedroom without dropping it or meeting anyone else in the lift and hallway.
Her new purple dress was hanging on a garment stand beside the bed with its blank white mask propped on top. She looked at the hair in her hands. Yes! She had seen it before with this dress. But the white face had had a different dress and wasn’t completely white either. It had red on it.
She set the head on a table by the window. The view was of the terraced gardens on the hill the different wings of the house was built on. The upper flower beds and lawns still had sunlight on them, but the house cast a long shadow over the lower. The nursery window had a view of the lake. She hoped Jacen and Jaina left it closed so they didn’t fall in.
The carved box of toys was against the wall next to the window. The toys that she had left here on the last trip were all there, gifts from the Naberries once they found out about Daddy adopting her. Swoop, her stuffed bantha that had traveled to Byss and back and everywhere they had gone with Mommy and Daddy since, was on the bed next to the mound of pillows.
The bedroom door slid open before Vashalh and Khabarakh, her cousin who guarded Jaina and Jacen. So Korora said his name carefully when she said hello and asked Vashalh how her visit went after he left them.
Vashalh opened her mouth showing off almost all her needle-like teeth. It was good to see her smile. “Our maitrakh is pleased with Maitrakh Jade’s reports on my assignment.”
“Did she think you’d do a bad job?” Korora set the paint styluses pack on the table next to the head.
“My maitrakh worried. I am young to have such an important job,” Vashalh said slowly before she stalked to the table. “That was not here earlier. What is it?” She pointed a talon at the head.
“It’s hair. I found it to go with my costume.”
“And how do we put it on your head?”
“It can’t be that hard. There was lots of hair in the storage room. Do want to wear some? We can go get a different style.”
“This is a human celebration. We are welcome to attend, but we don’t have to dress. Chewbacca was most relieved.” Vashalh sounded happy about that, which couldn’t be right. Before Korora could question her happiness, Vashalh looked at her. “We should try on the dress first and make certain it fits you.”
“Good idea.” Korora sat on the floor and pulled off her boots.
The dress, coat, and neck band fit perfectly. And the dress and coat swished around her legs as she twirled. The mask fit and she could see out of the eye-holes, but it needed red marks on it. Vashalh figured out that Korora’s naturally curly hair could stay in its puffy bun behind her head and the basket hair could go around it. Her clever talons unlatched the hair from the white head, but couldn’t make it lock around Korora’s. “Ow!”
Vashalh snorted, lifted the hair from Korora’s head, and peered at the fasteners in the metal band. “We need Maitrakh Jade’s help with this.”
“Can’t.” Korora rubbed her head where the fasteners had poked it. “She’s having kissy time with Daddy.” Vashalh craned her head back to look at the ceiling. “Comm Artoo,” Korora suggested.
“He’s a droid. They don’t have hair either!”
“He’s smart. He knows stuff.”
Vashalh muttered something in her language. Korora needed to remember to ask Threepio what it meant while they were here. But she activated the comm unit on her wrist. “Artoo, Korora needs your assistance in her bedroom.”
It didn’t take long for Artoo to roll inside. He whistled a question as his dome swiveled at Korora. Recognizing that neither girl understood Binary like Daddy, Artoo projected a holoimage instead. Grandmother Padmé smiled and she was wearing the same purple dress and coat Korora had on and the basket hair was on her head.
Korora clapped her hands. “Yes! Only we can’t get the hair on me, Artoo.” She picked the white mask up off the bed and held it up. “And I need you to show me where the red goes.”
Artoo beeped and changed the holoimage to a younger Grandmother Padmé in a red dress and brown hair coiled in a huge roll around her head and fastened with gold headgear. Her face was painted white with red marks on her lips and cheeks.
“That’s right. We better do it now so it can dry.” Korora set the mask on the floor in front of Artoo and went to the stylus pack.
That was what the Noghri called Daddy and Aunt Leia. “Yes and yes.” Korora found red and pulled out that stylus.
“Korora, this is not a good idea. Let’s put different colors on the face and change your hair.”
“No, this is important,” whispered in Korora’s ear. She agreed so she repeated it out loud to Vashalh.
The Noghri shook her head. “The Kher’ary’ush is leaving his mother’s clan for Maitrakh Jade’s clan.”
“Nobody has said anything about clans.”
“Do you want to remind them of all their losses tonight?”
“Grandmother Padmé isn’t lost. Daddy found out about her.” Korora plopped down on the floor in front of the mask.
A sigh whispered in Korora’s ear again. Not from Vashalh, she was across the room. “She’s not the one lost right now. Stubborn girl.”
That didn’t make any sense and it didn’t look like Vashalh had heard it either. “There’s nothing to worry about.” Korora told both Vashalh and the unseen whisperer.
Vashalh crossed her arms in a pose they’d both seen Mommy use. “You have no idea what that means.”
“Yes, I do. Artoo, show me where the red goes.” She tucked the long sleeves under her tummy so they wouldn’t drag across the carpet or the mask while she painted.
Artoo beeped yes and projected a small blue circle on the mask’s left cheek. Korora kept her red marks inside the outline and ignored the unease filling her tummy that she was doing something wrong, something that would make people sad or mad.
The whisper chuckled in her ear. “Stick to it, young one. She needs to see you as Padmé.” The whisper wasn’t reassuring, but Korora continued with her painting.
Artoo’s help made sure the red marks on the cheeks and molded lips were straight and without smears. After the mask was done, Artoo found instructions for the hair for Vashalh. Once it was on Korora’s head, she had to practice walking and swishing the skirts. The extra hair wasn’t too heavy, but it did make her head feel long and she bumped it into stuff behind her.
Vashalh drew the curtains to cover the window. “Are you ready to go down now?”
Korora stopped swishing the skirts and picked up the white and red mask. Hooks on the side went behind her ears and held it on. She checked how she looked in the mirror beside the wardrobe door. She looked like Grandmother Padmé as long as she stood back. But Vashalh’s tone made worry bubble in her tummy again. What if the Noghri was right and nobody liked her costume? Neither Mommy or Daddy let worry or fear stop them from doing something. Korora pulled her shoulders back, turned from the mirror, and marched to the door. “Let’s go.”
They rode the lift down for Artoo. The noise hit as soon as the lift doors slid open, talking and laughing punctuated with high-pitched squeals over softer music. The entrance hall was empty, but the doors to the ballroom were wide open spilling the noise out into the hall. The tall window doors beyond the party guests were open to the south yard. But the crowd of costumed people, so many people, stopped Korora’s progress at the ballroom doors.
Artoo rolled right in instead of hiding behind the wall and checking out the situation like she was doing. Maybe Threepio was right about Artoo’s circuits. Vashalh at least stayed behind her, a solid protection.
The other party to celebrate her birthday didn’t have this many people and they hadn’t come wearing poofy clothes and masks over their faces. Threepio was carrying a drink tray around to different clusters of people, and she recognized Khabarakh standing by one of the window doors. She could pick out others with the Force. Daddy was near a food table wearing the green and white dragon mask and a long green and brown robe and talked to an unmasked Gungan who was taller than Uncle Han.
Aunt Leia was next to Nanna who held baby Anakin in two of her four arms. Aunt Leia wore a red and gold dress with a red mask with gold lips. Four other masked women cooed over baby Anakin.
Jacen and Jaina squealed as they dodged around the dresses and robes chased by two shorter masked people, both wearing animal faces like Daddy. They didn’t have big hair behind their animal masks. The masked adults laughed and swished their clothes out of the twins’ way. The children’s chase headed out the open window doors and onto the south lawn. Chewie stood outside near the large green trees that shaded the lawn. The tall Wookiee raised his long arms over his head and into the leaves as the chase circled him and the tree. He laughed. A taller child in a blue fish face mask threw out their arms veering the chase away from the stone fence at the edge of the lawn.
Korora’s middle seized up. Vashalh was right; she had picked the wrong costume. Mommy’s white didn’t pop out of the rainbow of colors in the ballroom. Daddy didn’t look at the doors. Korora’s tight tummy plummeted to her feet. But they still managed to turn her around and run for the main entrance. The door slid open without having to wait for it. She pounded across the crushed gravel to hide among the slender, white-barked trees whose leaves were all yellow.
“Korora!” Vashalh’s hand gripped her upper arm through the sleeves of the dress and the coat as her low voice broke through Korora’s panic. Korora stopped running. Vashalh let go and rubbed Korora’s arm. “What’s wrong? Why did you not go in?”
“You were right.” She hid her masked face against one of the slender trees. Its trunk wasn’t big enough to hide her whole face, but Vashalh was behind her. Korora could see through the shrubs and vines down to the steps to the lake. “My costume is all wrong.” She wasn’t going to cry but her voice didn’t sound sure of that.
Vashalh moved her hand to Korora’s shoulder. “We can fix it. We can draw more symbols on the mask. No one will know.” Vashalh patted with the palm of her hand.
That was the easiest fix. The whisper who had encouraged her wasn’t saying anything now. It felt like giving up, though she didn’t know what was at stake. She looked down at the lake steps, trying not to decide. A bird flapped as it landed in the tree branches above them. Someone in a white robe moved on the steps to the lake. You could dock a boat there, but Master Minnau didn’t let the boats stay by the steps. He had explained that the boats' hangar bay was by the dock protected by the seawall on the last trip. That’s where the boat they had rode today docked.
The figure didn’t head up the path to the house. It looked like the person sat down on the steps. That wasn’t right; they were supposed to go inside to the party. She had to be hosp-bit-little like at her birthday party. Mommy taught her what to say. She dodged around the tree trunk and went through the flower bed to get to a lower part of the path quickly. Luckily all the flowers were finished blooming so all she had to walk through was leaves. She followed the path to get around the stone fence and then ran down the hillside just growing grass. Then she was at the wide stone steps and open metal gate down to the lake. “Welcome to our home!”
The figure was sitting on the steps and jerked around to look at Korora on the top step. Her hood fell back, and in the safety lights on the stone steps down to the water, the dim lights from the house, Naboo’s moon, and the last of the lingering sunset, Korora saw an orange face framed by a blue and white lekku over her shoulders and outside her robe and montrals that made two points like horns on top of her head. "Fierfek," the Togruta female said. “I suppose it was too much to hope that Varykino would never change hands.”
Mommy had told her to ignore the words Korora wasn’t old enough to say yet and answer everything else said, but that didn’t make much sense. “This is Daddy’s house. Aren’t you here for the party?”
Vashalh leaped and landed on the step between Korora and the strange Togruta female. Her vibroknife slashed through the air, the tip pointed at the Togruta’s face. “She’s trespassing!”
“What does that mean?” Korora said around Vashalh’s arm thrust back at her. Four flimsi boats with orange lights flickering inside them sat on the step next to the visitor. Threepio had said something about lights on the water was part of the festival which meant the party. The Togruta was here for the party.
“It’s all right, guardian. I mean no harm to your charge or anyone else on this island.” The Togruta leaned back from the vibroblade and smiled kindly at Korora. “It means your father didn’t invite me to the party.”
“But why come?”
“You need to return to the house.” Vashalh growled that at Korora with a slight twist of her neck, so Korora knew that was an instruction for her without the Noghri taking her eyes off the Togruta.
Korora ignored the instruction. The strange female didn’t feel scary; Korora remembered how that felt on Byss. “I wanna know. She went to a lot of trouble.” There was a gondola speeder with its nose pressed against the docking pole next to the steps.
“You need to stay safe,” Vashalh said.
The Togruta sighed. “Children, I have been honoring my dead here at Varykino during this festival for years before you both were born. I will finish this, leave you, and give up another tradition.” Her red lips thinned as her bright blue eyes went sad and her shoulders slumped.
“I am not a child!” Vashalh bit out in a low growl.
“Honor your dead?” Korora asked.
The white markings on her orange skin above her eyes furrowed like eyebrows. “Didn’t anyone explain that the Festival of Outcast Spirits honors the dead, especially the dead without funerary rites?”
“Yes.” Threepio had said that. “But I don’t know what fun-ary rites is.”
“Funerary rites are what is done with the body after the person is one with the Force,” the Togruta answered.
“How does that work with being sad happy for who is gone into the Force?” Korora asked because no one had explained that part.
The white markings bunched even tighter. “Sad happy?”
Daddy hadn’t invited the Togruta, so he hadn’t explained that either. “Momma is one with the Force. Slavers made her go away. Daddy says it’s okay to be sad because I miss her, but I have to be happy too because she’s still with me in the Force and bad people like slavers can’t hurt her any more.”
“Your father is very wise.” A bird landed on the open gate next to Korora. It was mostly white in its plump body, but the feathers on top of its head looked green. It blinked round green eyes at the humanoids while it curled its tail around the metal bars. The Togruta laughed softly. “My friend likes you two.”
“Another trespasser,” Vashalh muttered. “Don’t touch,” was said quickly over her shoulder at Korora.
Korora huffed. “I wasn’t going to.”
The Togruta ignored the vibroblade as she twisted to face the lake. She picked up the first of her flimsi-crafted boats. The light inside it danced as it moved. “Let me finish this and I can leave you to go back to your celebration.”
“Vashalh, she’s just sad about her dead.” Really, the Noghri could put away the vibroblade.
“And I have to make certain you do not end up dead.” The vibroblade didn’t move.
Korora had something to say about that but forgot it when the flimsi boat lifted off the Togruta’s hand and spun in the air. “For my master,” the Togruta said softly with an ache in her voice that scraped over Korora’s skin, “lost and found and lost again. May you have more peace in the Force than you did in life. Be outcast no more.” The flimsi boat floated down to the water, bobbing on the gentle waves as it settled next to the gondola speeder.
Korora grabbed Vashalh’s arm that held her away from the Togruta. “The Force!” she whispered fiercely.
“Not all Force users are good.” Vashalh didn’t move.
“She doesn’t feel like Byss. Turn on her lightsaber.” Daddy said those who used the Dark Side always had red lightsabers.
The Togruta was doing an excellent job of ignoring both of them behind her as she picked up the next flimsi boat. “For my grand-master,” the ache in her voice eased slightly. “I still miss you. Be outcast no more.” The boat landed on the water next to the first one.
Her voice didn’t change for the third boat she held in her hand. “For the Council and the entire Order, who never understood.” The light in the boat flickered as she breathed out heavily. “But they didn’t deserve the Purge. Be outcast no more.”
Daddy said almost all of the Jedi stuff was lost in the Purge except for what got rescued from Byss. Korora shook Vashalh’s rigid arm, but the stranger spoke to her last boat before Korora said anything.
Her voice felt heavier with her sadness as she cradled the last boat. “For my friend, the one who had been like a sister to me, who was taken from the galaxy far too early. So much would be different if you hadn’t. Be outcast no more.” The boat touched down on the water, and the four of them together floated away from the gondola and the land as if they had been pushed. The orange glow from the inner lights reflected back on the dark water. They were pretty and the Togruta standing up and dusting herself off is what yanked Korora’s gaze off the water.
Vashalh shifted her vibroblade so it didn’t cut the taller female. Even though they were on the higher steps, she still towered over them. Korora looked at her belt and two lightsabers one at each hip. Her clothes under her robe looked like an outfit Mommy would wear, rather than Daddy. The Togruta had to be a Jedi Daddy didn’t know about.
Her robe closed over her front as she straightened. “I’ll be going now. Thank you for your hospitality.” The Togruta clasped her hands in front of her and bowed with a sideways lean away from the vibroblade. Korora blinked. No one had ever bowed to her before. The Togruta straightened. “Varykino is in good hands if your father lets you dress as Padmé.”
Vashalh twisted her head to blink at Korora.
Korora’s mouth fell open before she asked. “You know I’m dressed like Grandmother Padmé?”
She smiled. “I remember her wearing that dress many times, but your mask is from when she was Queen of Naboo. You’ll want to get one of those dresses if you want to use the mask next year.” Then she blinked. “Wait, grandmother?”
“Korora,” Daddy called out further up the hill by the house.
Vashalh sighed. “And there is the Kher’ary’ush, looking for you. Will you go to him?”
The Togruta looked puzzled. “The what?”
“She has to see Daddy,” Korora insisted. “She knew Grandmother Padmé and the old Jedi. She has to see Daddy.”
“Korora, what are you two doing out here so early?” Daddy’s voice was closer.
“Yousa sure she’s out here?” A strange voice added.
“She’s not bad, Vashalh,” Korora said firmly. She ducked under Vashalh’s arms as she jumped down the steps ending up next to the Togruta. “That’s me, Korora Jade-Skywalker.” She grabbed the taller female’s slack hand. “Don’t worry, Daddy will like you.”
“Skywalker?” The Togruta’s eyes stared down at her with a white ring around her bright blue irises.
“Yes.” Korora tugged on her slack hand. “Oh, I’m supposed to ask your name to introduce you. What’s your name?”
“Ahsoka,” she said faintly.
Vashalh put her vibroknife away with a huff as Korora headed up the steps, but she had to stop at the top because Ahsoka hadn’t moved yet. “Daddy’s nice,” Korora added. “He’s looking for more Jedi.”
“But I’m not—”
“You might as well give in gracefully.” Vashalh hopped down the steps and then gave Ahsoka a slight shove. “She always gets what she wants and she wants you to see the Kher’ary’ush.”
Ahsoka went up two steps before stopping again. Korora didn’t pull on her again, because Daddy and the Gungan came around the last tree that hid the path up to the house. Daddy was still wearing the krayt dragon mask with a green and brown robe that matched it. They stopped when they saw the group on the steps. Korora felt Ahsoka’s arm shake. “Anakin?” Her voice scraped again.
Daddy lifted up the mask to show his face while the Gungan bounced forward. “Ahsoka? Weesa thought yousa has di!” Korora let go of Ahsoka’s hand and moved next to Daddy and the Gungan swept the Togruta into a hug. He was taller than Ahsoka, but not by much.
Ahsoka hugged him back. “No, I didn’t die, Jar Jar.”
Jar Jar made a strange noise, like a crying laugh as he pulled back and waved an arm at Daddy. “Padmé and Ani has kids! Twins, a boy and a girl. Ganna yousa believe it? Dis is Luke.”
Ahsoka inhaled deeply as she turned to Daddy. Daddy smiled at her, which didn’t look funny with him wearing the dragon mask as a hat. “Hello, Ahsoka Tano. I’m Luke Skywalker. I’m so glad to finally meet my father’s padawan.”
“I didn’t think you were real.” Ahsoka’s voice wobbled. “Not that you weren’t a Force user, but I thought the Rebellion gave you Anakin’s name for rallying purposes. The Hero With No Fear reborn.”
Daddy grinned. “Want to see my medical records? I’ve gotten used to showing them. The truth was hidden a little too well.”
Ahsoka’s worried face shifted into a relieved smile. “It wasn’t that hard to hide it from me. It must have happened after I left the Jedi Order. But I can see Anakin in you.”
“I already know he was taller.” Daddy’s hand rested on Korora’s shoulder. “You’ve already met my daughter, Korora, and Vashalh.” He looked at the Noghri who joined them.
Vashalh crossed her arms like Mommy again. “Korora didn’t listen, Kher’ary’ush.”
Ahsoka covered her mouth and giggled. “She’s a Skywalker alright.”
Korora frowned under her mask. She told Ahsoka that she was a Skywalker; why was it a question now? Daddy didn’t explain the adoption though. “Please join us,” he said instead. “Meet my sister and my wife-to-be. Stay for the wedding.”
“Please no disappearin again,” Jar Jar said.
“I’m not going to disappear, Jar Jar, but I have no right to intrude.”
“You have every right, by knowing my parents and by Jedi lineage,” Daddy said firmly.
“I’m not a Jedi.” Ahsoka sighed. “It’s a long story, but I left the Order.”
“Even better. Help us not make the same mistakes with the New Jedi Order.” He held out his hand. “Please, Ahsoka, come be with the family you have now. Help us remember the family lost to us.”
Ahsoka didn’t say anything, but clasped Daddy’s hand. Jar Jar hooted as he circled around the Togruta and held onto her shoulders. Korora saw something way behind them, a man in Jedi robes leaning against the plant-covered wall at the edge of the island that the gate was part of. He had a blue glow around his whole body and a huge grin on his face. She blinked and he was gone.
The grown-ups led the way back up the path to the house. “So the New Jedi Order is going to allow marriage.” Ahsoka sounded like she was laughing.
“Everyone thinks that’s for me,” Daddy said cheerfully. “But really it’s for Leia and Han.”
The party had moved through the front door with glowing flimsi boxes. Mommy slipped out of the crowd. She was wearing a slim white dress under a see-through white and gold poncho that covered her arms and went all the way to the ground. It was dotted with sparkly metal and stones that matched the ones on her mask. She looked like a walking stellar cloud. “You found them,” she said as she reached the group.
Korora darted forward. “We found Ahsoka, Mommy.” She took hold of Mommy’s hand.
“Ahsoka Tano, my wife-to-be Mara Jade,” Daddy said.
Mommy stretched out her other hand and shook Ahsoka’s. “Welcome, and Luke is not allowed to discuss Jedi history until tomorrow.”
“I wasn’t going to start that tonight.” Daddy laughed.
“Just making sure you don’t scare her away.”
“I don’t scare that easy.” Ahsoka grinned as she shook Mommy’s hand.
Mommy grinned back. “Oh, you’re going to fit in just fine.”
Daddy raised his arm and waved at the crowd that was further away. “Leia!” Korora turned and saw Aunt Leia’s red and gold dress heading toward them.
Mommy bent down so she was level with Korora. “Grandmother Jobal is handing out the lanterns. Why don’t you go get yours and then Daddy and I will help you put it in the water.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Korora slipped through the crowd. A table had been moved to a level space where the front door, the stairs beside the house, and the north terrace path all met. Glowing flimsi boxes were set on it. The oldest woman here with gray hair streaked with brown handed one of the boxes to a tall male in a red mask that seemed to be one big mouth full of teeth. He danced away and Grandmother Jobal turned to Korora. She wore a half-mask like Mommy’s but it was painted a dark blue and didn’t have any sparkles on it. So Korora saw her jaw drop when the wave of sadness hit Korora’s chest and made it hurt.
She had forgotten since Ahsoka and Daddy hadn’t cared she was dressed like Grandmother Padmé. Vashalh’s warning was too late now. “I’m sorry I made you sad, Grandmother Jobal. I’m sorry.” Tears filled her eyes making it hard to see.
“Korora, dear heart, no.” Grandmother Jobal knelt on the ground, cushioning her knees with the skirt of her dark blue dress, and pulled Korora into a warm hug. “No blame, dear heart. I’ll always miss Padmé because she should be with us now. But I am glad.” She held onto Korora’s shoulders and looked at her face with a wavering smile. “The Empire is gone now and people are free to remember Padmé and honor her legacy. And you and your father and your aunt are her legacy. So if you want to dress like Padmé every day of the year, you go right ahead and do so. Remind the whole galaxy.”
Korora wrapped her arms around Grandmother Jobal’s neck and hugged her tight as the ache in her chest eased. Grandmother Jobal hugged her back.
“Is everything all right?” Daddy asked. He had pulled his dragon mask back over his face again.
“Everything is fine, Luke.” They stopped hugging and Daddy helped Grandmother Jobal stand back up while Mommy rested her hand on the back of Korora’s neck. “I was just telling Korora what a fine Amidala she makes. Though the merchant you bought the costume from should have done a better job matching the hair piece to Korora’s own hair.” Grandmother Jobal turned to the table.
A jolt went through Daddy so strongly both Korora and Mommy felt it and turned to him. But before anyone said anything, Grandmother Jobal turned around with a glowing box. “Here you go, dear heart, hold it from the bottom.”
Korora took hold of the glowing box. It was light, made of flimsi, and had a flickering light inside it. It wasn’t shaped like the ones Ahsoka put on the water, but it would float. Mommy took one next and Korora headed down the path with the other costumed people with boxes carrying hers.
“The costume didn’t have a wig when I bought it,” Mommy said behind Korora. “Where did it come from, Luke?”
Korora didn’t turn around.
“In both our defense, I didn’t tell her she couldn’t wear it,” Daddy said.
More people were gathered at the top of the steps to the lake now, watching the lights float away from the island. But they parted when Korora approached with her light. Daddy and Mommy reached her then, and they went down the steps together with Korora between them. Daddy crouched down. He set his box in the water and let his fingers stay in it as the glowing box bobbed away from his hands. “For Biggs Darklighter, be outcast no more.”
She wanted to ask who that was, but it was her turn to let her light go and she had a tremor that it wouldn’t be right. Daddy was still crouched down so she turned to him. “Momma is one with the Force, but she didn’t have a fun-ary rite? Is it okay to do it for her?”
Daddy put his dry hand on her back and Mommy’s hand moved close to his. “That’s perfectly all right. I think she’d like that.”
Korora nodded, squatted, and set the box over the water. Both her hands got wet as she let it go. “For Momma, be outcast no more.” She stood and rubbed her hands on her coat.
Mommy’s poncho shifted up her arms leaving them bare as she gracefully crouched. “For my victims, be outcast no more.” Her glowing box bumped into Korora and Daddy’s.
“Beloved,” Daddy said softly.
Korora twisted to Mommy. “Who is that?”
“A story for when you are older.” Mommy hugged her with one arm before standing. Daddy reached for her and Mommy held his hand. “We need to head inside and feed you.”
Korora’s stomach rumbled, but she watched the lights drifting on the water. Their three boxes were slowly joining the larger group of the other boxes, but the four flimsi boats Ahsoka had put in the water circled around the three. “Look!”
“Frivolous use of the Force,” Mommy said.
“Not mine,” Daddy said as he stood. “I think someone is happy with us.” They watched the circling continue until the boxes and the boats reach the rest of the boxes. “Let’s get out of the way.”
Korora took Mommy and Daddy’s hands so she was between them as they headed up the steps, letting the next person with a glowing box go down to the lake.