Hod Ma'alatcha @astriferoussprite
Chapter 2

Finn, frankly, was dumbfounded.

Here he was, one moment, ready to politely negotiate with the royal family over dinner; the next, he had the wife of the queen sobbing into his shoulder as she declared him her child. And also, the prince.

Sure, this explained everything—the recognition, the awkward stares—but kriff, being a prince? This had to be a joke; there was no way someone like him could ever be—

“Well, what a surprise,” said the President with hardly any surprise in her voice. “I thought I’d lost the prince forever, I never thought he would have survived.”

“Oh, but he did,” sobbed Queen Tikva—his mother—as she joined the apparent family reunion, “and he found his way back to us, just like I predicted, oh, Moishe!

Finn didn’t know what else to do beside keep hugging the royal couple—his parents. Wow, this was going to take some getting used to. He had parents. He had a family.

He had an entire kingdom waiting for him.

His parents finally let go of him, though Tikva (mom one?) kept holding onto his arms. “And who are these wonderful people who brought you back to us?” she asked softly.

Finn sighed, not ready for another round of introductions. “Poe Dameron and Rose Tico,” he said drily.

She let go of him, turning to look at the two—both wide-eyed at the recent turn of events. “Please, give the Republic our eternal gratitude.”

“…noted,” said Poe, his eyes still darting back and forth between Finn and the royal couple.

Tikva smiled, gently laying a hand on her wife’s shoulder. “If the Republic was able to give my son sanctuary after the First Order had taken him, then Verakhat must owe them our cooperation.”

“Indeed,” said Lyra icily (in the rush of reuniting with his family, Finn had almost forgot she was in the room). “I’m sure our senate has much to benefit from an alliance with the galactic senate.”

“But first,” said Aria, “I’m sure you’re all famished, and it is time for dinner, so please, let’s sit down.”

“Aren’t we missing someone, Your Majesty?” asked Rose, looking across the table at the empty seat.

Aria sighed. “That’s right. I’m sorry, my daughter should be here soon—”

For the second time that day, the door opened.

“—or, right now.”

In shuffled a young woman around Rey’s age in a slightly rumpled blue dress and large, round glasses, with neat braids hanging loosely in front of her face. “Apologies for the delay,” she said in the same regal tone as her mother, “I was simply held up with a few—” She caught sight of Finn. Instantly, she stopped talking, her mouth held open. “Oh, kriff,” she whispered.

Any suspicions that he wasn’t a part of this family had instantly disappeared as soon as his sister entered the room. Princess Naami was almost a mirror image of him, with her rounded face, arched eyebrows, and full lips still silently swearing under her breath.

“Mother?” She turned to Tikva and Aria, though probably referencing the former. “Um, is this guy—”

“Yes,” said Aria (wrong mother?), who was closer to her daughter. “I believe it is time you are introduced to your brother.” She gestured to him. “This is your brother Moishe.”

“Just call me Finn,” he said, face starting to warm up. “I’m sorry, it just feels more natural.”

“Finn, then,” she said with a quick nod. “And Finn, this is your sister Naami.”

For a few seconds, all they could do was blankly stare at each other with varying degrees of confusion.

“Well, er,” said Naami, definitely not in her regal voice as she awkwardly extended her hand, “it’s… it’s nice to meet you… Finn.”

“Nice to meet you too,” he said, taking it. “Is this too formal?”

“Probably,” she said. “I don’t know.” And then she wrapped her arms around him.

Giving her a quick pat on the back (which she reciprocated), they separated. “Shouldn’t you remember me?”

“I’m younger than you by three years, so probably not,” she said. “I mean, I know you exist, but I dunno, you’re kind of more like a myth than a human being.”

“Charmed,” he said. “So, um, dinner?”

“Dinner,” confirmed Aria, sitting back down. “The discussions can wait for tomorrow.”

The meal was an unsurprisingly pleasant one. The first course consisted of creamy hummus and fresh-baked flatbread, which Finn began to spread with hummus before Naami corrected him. “Appreciate the attempts at table manners, brother, but you gotta dip it.” The dishes that followed it were just as exquisite: spicy lamb and potatoes, warm rice with pine nuts, roasted cauliflower in garlic sauce, small fried pockets of ground beef.

“So, I was a myth,” said Finn, taking another sip of wine. “What, like Luke Skywalker?”

“Kind of,” said Naami, popping another piece of lamb into her mouth.

“Funny you say that, I’ve actually met Luke.”

“You’re kidding.

“I’m not, and trust me, he’s more human than you’d expect.” He helped himself to some more rice. “I’m actually close friends with his daughter.”

Rey?” she stammered, nearly choking on her lamb. “Oh Force, you know Rey Skywalker.”

“Don’t get your hopes up, she’s engaged,” said Rose from the other side of the table.

“Wha—excuse me?” Naami’s cheeks darkened. “I’m not—you’re lying, miss, I don’t fancy her or anything—”

“Good,” she said, grinning. “Because it would make the whole engagement thing between us a bit weirder.”

Naami sputtered again.

Children,” said Tikva softly. Poe was busy laughing. Lyra was busy pointedly looking away.

With the last bits of dessert finished (soft rosewater pudding and candied oranges), it was time to head to their hotel. Finn thanked the queens—his mothers—one last time, before making to stand up.

“Wait,” said Tikva, holding up her hand. “We can have rooms arranged here for you.”

“But—”

“It’s alright,” she said, with that warm smile of hers. “I just—I’ve waited so long for you to return, I can hardly wait to be with you again, you understand?”

A lump rose in his throat. “I understand,” he said, desperately trying not to cry in front of the president he just met.

“Nox will lead you to your rooms,” she said, beckoning to the outside of the door where the same porter was probably waiting. “I’m sure you’ve had a long day.”

“Wait.” Rose wrinkled her brows. “Our luggage—”

“We’ll see to it that your belongings are safely moved to the palace,” she said. “I just—I cannot thank you enough for returning our dear son home.”

With a few polite farewells to Lyra and Zora and another (less awkward) hug with Naami, the three of them were escorted out of the dining room, and began to follow Nox again.

“This way,” he said as they followed him out of the room and through the wide hallways of the palace. It was beautiful, even in a simplistic sense, with sand-colored walls, arched windows, and no shortage of plants.

Honestly. They were everywhere—from the elaborate garden of the courtyard, to the potted flowers lining the floors, to the vines lazily climbing over the windows. It was so beautiful, so teeming with life, that he couldn’t help but whisper a soft “oh” as they passed the balcony near the elegant stairwell with all its flowerpots and the tree branches gently peering over the railing.

Oh, he definitely had to take Rey here on vacation sometime.

“Your luggage will be sent directly to your rooms,” said Nox, stopping at an elegant door. “Now, unless you are expecting anyone else, I believe three rooms should suffice?”

“Oh, two rooms should be fine,” said Finn, clapping a hand onto Poe’s shoulder.

Nox blinked. “Very well,” he said. “You and Admiral Dameron can stay in the Prince’s Suite, and Captain Tico will have one of our guest rooms.” He opened the door. “May you enjoy your stay.”

The Red Iris suite in which Rose was to stay was quite lovely, with an ornate lamp hanging from the ceiling and a lavish bed—which she immediately flopped onto with a groan of satisfaction.

“I suppose we should let her rest,” whispered Nox, as the last rays of the evening sun illuminated the room in a warm glow. “Come, Your Highness, let me show you gentlemen your room.”

Thankfully, his room was only a hall away from where Rose would be staying. It was near the back, overlooking a small lake located in the palace’s private garden.

“We’ve kept this room in pristine condition,” said Nox, fiddling with the keycard ring. “Their Majesties held out hope that their son would returned, so it has been renovated to better suit the needs of a man, rather than an infant.” He chuckled as he swiped the right card over the scanner at the entrance, which emitted a soft beep. “Welcome home, Your Highness.”

Finn had to stop himself from muttering “Sweet Force” as the door swung open, revealing what was apparently his room.

Because if the guest room was impressive, the Prince’s suite was simply overwhelming. The L-shaped bedroom was maybe twice the size of the old Resistance control room, with a cluster of round, brass lanterns casting a warm glow upon the walls. The thin curtains in front of the balcony let in the last few beams of sunlight, and the sections of the wall that weren’t hidden by desks, wardrobes, or the immense canopy bed were covered in so many bookshelves.

“Wow,” he whispered, walking onto the soft, patterned carpet. Next to him, Nox winced.

He jerked back. “I’m sorry, did I—”

“It is customary to remove one’s shoes before entering a private room, Your Highness,” he explained, wringing his hands.

Oh. “Apologies,” he said, bending down to pull off his boots. “Poe, are you—”

“Is there a comm suite somewhere in here?” asked Poe, looking around the room. “We should probably let the chancellor know about our slight detour.”

“The suite is on the work desk,” said Nox, quickly unclipping a keycard from his ring and handing it to Finn. Probably the key to this very room.

“Thanks.” Poe ran to the desk (Finn noticed he already had his shoes off) and sat down, frantically pressing every button as he looked for the comm.

“Admiral—” Nox walked over as Poe accidentally opened what looked like a music composer. “Third one from the left below the lamp.”

Finn finally wriggled out of his boots as Nox bid a farewell, leaving the room, and Poe found the right button and opened the comm. A few seconds later, Leia’s face appeared in front of Poe’s with a bemused expression.

“Gentlemen.”

Poe smiled nervously. “Good evening, General—er, Chancellor,” he said, as Finn walked over to stand behind him. “Um, as you can see, we’ve had a… slight change of plans.”

She raised an eyebrow.

“I mean, the Verakhi government is totally willing to cooperate with the Republic, but—”

Leia rubbed her temples. “I’m going to need you to be more specific, Dameron,” she said.

“Well—”

“I’m their long-lost prince,” said Finn, leaning into frame. “We’re staying in the palace now.”

Silence.

Then, Leia shook her head, laughing. “Oh, Commanders. Only you two could get yourself into this kind of mess, huh?”

“Apparently,” said Poe, quickly darting a look at Finn.”

“At least this means you’ve definitely made a good first impression with them.” She kept rubbing her temples. “Finn, I want you to understand that prince or not, our mission has not changed one bit.”

Finn nodded, slightly relieved at how well she took the news. “Understood.”

She smiled. “Keep your head up, boys. I’m sure it will be alright.”

“Force willing.”

“Good luck.” With that, her image fizzled away as she signed off.

Finn sighed, looking to where Leia’s face had previously been. “So, I guess it’s official now.”

“No shit,” said Poe in awe. “You’re a kriffing prince. I mean, no pressure, though.”

He smiled weakly. “No pressure.”

There was a knock. “Your Highness.”

Finn blankly stared at the door until Poe elbowed him in the ribs. “That’s you, buddy.”

“Right.” Clearing his throat, he answered, “Come in!”

Nox opened the door. “Your parents are requesting your presence in the Galia sitting room.”

“I’ll be there,” he said, finding his shoes.

Poe clapped his shoulder. “Give ‘em hell.”

“I’d rather not.”

“Fair enough.”

Finn stood up, kissing Poe on the cheek. “I’ll be back.”

 

“I’m sure you have a few questions,” said Aria as he sat down.

“A few, yes,” said Finn, taking a sip of the coffee poured for them. It was surprisingly sweet, with hints of cinnamon and cardamom. “What exactly happened when I was kidnapped?”

His mother’s face fell.

“Unless you don’t want to—”

“No, it’s fine,” she said. “You deserve to know what happened to you.”

So, she started.

The day he was taken had started out as a day of celebration, she said. It had been the Verakhi New Year, the first day of fall when the harvest was made, and the royal family had been at a public celebration in its honor. Finn—or rather, Moishe—had been two years old, and was a cause of great pride and joy to his parents and his planet.

All too soon, though, the ceremony had been interrupted by unfamiliar shuttles crossing the sky and opening fire. The queen, fearing for the safety of both her son and unborn child, had entrusted him to her young then-bodyguard Lyra, who was unfortunately captured by the Order as they tried to flee. And while Deyarin had returned safely, albeit quite shaken by what she had undergone, there was no sign of the prince since that day.

“It was very hard on all of us,” said Tikva, holding onto her wife’s hand for support. “I felt like a failure for so long—how was I supposed to protect my planet if I couldn’t even protect my son?” She sniffed, gently wiping her eyes. “But we pulled through. Your sister was born—” Here she gently pat Naami’s shoulder “—and we dedicated these past years to protecting Verakhat as best as we could. Our only consolation was that maybe, the First Order didn’t kill you. Maybe you were still alive, somewhere.”

Aria smiled. “How fortunate we were to be so correct.”

Finn reached out to briefly hold his mother’s hand. “I’m glad you were right, too.”

She smiled warmly through her tears.

“But, I just want to make sure that this isn’t changing our original plans, right?” he asked, leaning back. “Just because I’m the prince doesn’t mean we’re not still negotiating an alliance.”

“Of course not,” she said. “It might even help these discussions. If the Republic could save you—or rather, take you in after you escaped—then I have a feeling it is an entity that Verakhat would be delighted to be allied with.”

“We still plan on meeting after breakfast tomorrow,” said Aria, folding her hands around her cup of coffee. “The president will join us for dinner once more, and we will continue these negotiations. All this means that we’ll also find some time to teach you about politics and etiquette and the like.”

“Understood.” He took another sip of sweet coffee. “Also, this might sound silly, but, um, what should I call you two?”

“A question I ask myself every day,” said Naami. “I usually just call Tikva Mother and Aria Ima.”

“Ima?”

“It’s our word in Verakhi for mother,” explained Aria—his ima. “It’s not used as frequently anymore, but it is quite a lovely language.”

“Got it, mom—Ima,” he said, then turned to Naami. “By the way…”

“Hmm?”

“Before I came back, you were the crown princess, right?” She nodded. “So, now that I’m here, what does that mean? Would it be rude if I just, you know, took your position as the heir?”

“Can I be honest with you?” she said. “I never really wanted to be queen.” She leaned back. “Too many expectations when you’re in charge of four billion people, right? So, I don’t really care that you’re taking my job.” She grinned. “It’s kind of a relief, actually.”

“Alright, just wanted to check.” Finn set his empty cup down, closing his eyes. Four billion people. Crown prince. You’re in charge. It all seemed so overwhelming. And yet… he felt prepared, as if he knew his whole life would come to this. Maybe he really was destined to rule, after all.

“Besides, it’s not like I’m completely missing my chance,” she continued. “There’s still the chance that something might happen to you—with, Force willing, will never happen—so Isaac and I still need to be prepared to take over your duties.”

“Isaac?”

“Right.” Naami picked up her cup again. “Unfortunately, I’m not the only sibling you have to put up with.” She took a sip. “Isaac’s about, say, seven years younger than you? He’s off on a trip in Naboo, but he should be back soon.”

“I have a brother.”

“And a large family,” said his mother, “who’s absolutely dying to meet you.”

An entire family. Finn’s heart clenched at that phrase—he had a family beyond the Resistance, one who loved him and missed him and that he’d probably meet very soon.

“In that case,” he said, “I have just a few more questions.”

 

Poe was already getting ready for bed when Finn came back to their room.

“Our stuff’s here,” he said, gesturing to the suitcases neatly piled at the foot of the bed, Poe’s already swung open. “They weren’t kidding about efficiency.”

“Neat.” Peeling off his shoes, Finn walked over to where Poe was standing and wrapped his arms around his waist from behind. “I guess the queen—my mom just wanted to talk to me about my history and a little more about this place.” Poe hummed. “You know a lot of rebel fighters came from Verakhat?”

“Thought they were a neutral planet,” said Poe, shimmying into his arms.

“Didn’t stop the citizens from running off,” he said. “Only the government had to stay neutral.”

“Anyone we’d know?”

“Couple of pathfinders, most of gold squadron… Shara Bey.”

“You’re kidding.” Poe turned around in his arms, eyes wide with wonder. “You’re telling me that…”

Finn nodded, gently stroking his cheek. “She was already a respected pilot when she left to fight for the Rebellion,” he said. “Apparently, she’s remembered as a hero.”

Poe smiled. “It’s just… it’s amazing to know I’ve got a connection to here, too. To you.

Finn leaned their foreheads together. “Poe, you’ll always be dear to me even if you weren’t from here.”

And what a gift—to find himself in such a new situation, a new life, with his love by his side.

He kissed Poe, slowly and achingly sweet. Poe hummed against him, holding him closer and drawing his arm down the front of his shirt, until he remembered— “The blinds,” he whispered against Finn’s mouth. “Shit, we should probably close those.”

Part of Finn was too preoccupied with trying to get them to the bed, but another part realized that it might not have been the greatest idea to make their affection too public. “Point,” he said, watching as Poe close the curtains across the balcony.

“Now, where were we?” With a grin, Poe tackled Finn onto the soft bed. Finn laughed as he peppered kisses along his neck.

Prince or no prince, he was still smitten.

 

Finn woke up to a gentle knocking on the door.

Yawning, he made sure he had pants on before opening it.

It was, of course, Nox. “Breakfast is ready, Your Highness.”

“Alright, thank you,” he said, walking back to the bed and gently shaking Poe’s shoulder. “Hear that?” Let’s go.”

“Don’t wanna,” he muttered, sinking his face into the pillow.

Poe.

“‘s too early, buddy.”

Usually, Finn would have rolled his eyes and pulled back the sheets. However, Poe was probably still naked, and there was still the threat of Nox walking back in, so he just threw a pair of pants in his face. “You’re having breakfast with your future in-laws, make sure you’re decent.”

“Who said they were my in-laws yet?” grumbled Poe. Finn grinned, continuing to get dressed.

By the time they got downstairs to the small dining room, Rose and Naami were deep in conversation about the Force.

“I actually have a lightsaber, you know,” his sister was saying, twirling a braid around her finger. “It’s probably not as nice as your Jedi’s, but I did make one.”

“I didn’t know there were still Jedi on this planet,” said Rose, leaning forward.

“Oh, not Jedi, but Force sensitivity is still a strong tradition of ours, so—Finn! Hi!”

“Good morning,” he said, rubbing his eyes as he sat down at the table, already loaded with fresh pastries and salad.

“And one of light,” she brightly responded. Finn figured this must be a traditional response. “Enjoying this place so far?”

“I suppose,” he said, reaching for a flaky crescent roll filled with chocolate. “So, what’s this you said about Force sensitivity?”

“Oh, the Force is super important over here,” she said, pouring herself some more coffee. “And because we never had the Empire breathing over our necks trying to wipe out any Jedi they saw, it managed to survive.”

“Including with you?”

“That’s right,” she said. “Force sensitivity sort of runs in our family, you know.”

Another fact, linking him closer to this planet. “And you said you have a lightsaber, right?”

“Yep.” She took a bite of pastry. “Made it for my sixteenth birthday—I’d love to show you guys sometime.”

“You guys should totally go up against each other,” said Rose with a grin. “That would be cool.”

Naami snorted.

Finn mock stared her down. “Oh, we’re doing this.”

“Tomorrow afternoon,” she said, smiling wickedly. “The back gardens.”

“It’s on.”

Breakfast had peacefully passed for another few minutes when the door opened again. Everyone turned their heads, probably expecting Nox again.

Whom Finn wasn’t expecting, though, was a young man with an eerie resemblance to him in a fine tunic to walk through the doors. “I’m back,” he said, then paused. “Hold on.”

“Ma and Ima already ate,” said Naami through a bite of salad. “Republic delegates are here, though, and, um…”

“Yeah, I got Mum’s message,” he said, walking up to Finn. “Holy kriffing shit, it is him.”

Finn looked at the kid. Sure, he might have had his mother’s rounder eyes and his ima’s narrower jawline, but it was almost like looking into a distorted mirror, or at some alternate version of himself. No doubt, this was his brother Isaac.

“Hey,” he said, trying his best at a warm smile. “Nice to, um, see you.”

Isaac nodded. “Yeah, hi,” he said, eyes widening. “So, um, you’re Moishe?”

“Finn, actually,” he said. “I sort of… rebranded after being kidnapped, I guess?”

“Yeah, ok. You’re still my brother though, right?”

Finn shrugged. “I certainly hope so—”

“You have a brother,” said Poe, jaw hanging open.

“I… yeah,” said Finn. “Sorry, sort of forgot to mention that last night.”

“Forget brother,” said Naami. “This guy’s got himself four cousins and five second cousins on the royal side alone.”

Excuse me?”

Rose snorted. “Hell of a family you got going on there.”

Isaac nodded again, sitting down next to Finn. “Sorry if I’m not saying much—still a bit ship lagged.”

“No problem,” said Finn, still working through the math in his head. One brother, one sister, nine cousins on only his mother’s side (Force knew how many were on Aria’s side of the equation). Kriffing hell, he really did have a family.

“I don’t know if I’m ready for all these people,” he said.

Poe chuckled, patting him on the back. “You’ll make it, buddy. You always do.”

 

“Guess it’s time for a quick political crash course,” said Naami, sitting down on the couch.

Finn sat across from her and Tikva, while a silvery droid poured them mint tea.

“For starters, the official Head of State is, obviously, the monarch,” she continued, hands neatly folded in her lap as she tried to exude an air of officiality. “That would be our mother, and, eventually, you. You’ve got a pretty basic job—approving or rejecting laws, enacting orders, overseeing the military, negotiating with foreign powers, and basically representing your people as best as you can.”

“Sounds basic enough,” he said, taking a sip of tea.

“Thankfully, you won’t be alone in ruling,” added his mother. “You’ll have the democratic government at your side to help with the little details.”

“And I’m assuming President Lyra is the head of that?”

“Precisely,” she said. “The president oversees the cabinet—”

“—those guys do most of the finnicky work, you know—the Secretaries of State, or Education, or Agriculture, and all that,” added Naami.

“She’s also the first to approve or veto any legislation passed by the Senate—which, of course, you’ll have the power to potentially overrule,” she added, smiling. “Unlike the Monarch, they’re elected for five-year terms, and they have a two-term limit imposed on them.”

Finn took another sip of tea. “And if the president dies, who takes their place?”

Tikva folded her hands. “Usually it’s the vice president—”

“Who doesn’t really have a job outside of waiting for the president to die, honestly—”

“—but in some cases, it might be someone from their cabinet,” she finished, clearly trying not to look too approving of her daughter’s snarky comment.

“The senate’s got two houses, by the way,” said Naami. “An upper and a lower one. Both are proportional to the population of their district—there’s about one for every million people, so that’s about four thousand senators per house, or… eight thousand senators total, I guess.”

Finn whistled. “Seems like it could get kinda wild sometimes.”

“Oh, it definitely does,” she said with a grin. “Probably can’t be any worse than the Galactic Senate, though.”

Finn thought back to the first official meeting right after the end of the war. “Oh, I’m sure it can’t be any worse.”

Naami nodded. “Well, um, that should be the basics, right?”

“Yes,” said their mother, smoothing out her delicate skirt (pale blue and shiny today). “Now, if you’ll excuse us, darling, I believe some political discussions are in order.”

“Which I probably won’t be attending,” said Naami, straightening her glasses. “I mean, kinda got a vested interest in my brother here, but, well, not the heir anymore, so—” She shrugged. “—guess I’ll see you later.”

With a final flourish, she walked out, leaving Tikva and Finn to head to one of the cabinets to discuss the royal couple’s vision for cooperation with the Republic.

Rose and Poe were already waiting for them, having been led to the room by Nox. Aria shortly joined them, and soon, they were all seated around the round table, ready for the first stage of planning.

“So first off, what are your own thoughts on the Republic?” asked Poe, looking at Tikva. “You’ve been more isolationist in the past, after all.”

“Only out of obligation,” she said. “I’ve always felt that some sort of loose alliance could benefit Verakhat, but I couldn’t come forward with that in my early days of ruling.” She sighed. “My father was a wise man, and I did agree with him on certain issues; however, this was not one of them. Verakhat can remain her own entity while still benefiting from the aid of others.”

“All about balance, right?” said Finn.

She smiled. “Precisely.” Poe jotted down a few notes. “My main concern with membership in the Republic would, of course, be a potential loss of identity or power if such an entity would be too centralized.”

“Yeah, the Senate’s still a bit split on that issue,” said Rose, “but the general opinion so far is more power to the planets. At least, that’s what Chancellor Organa’s opinions are.”

“That’s a woman we can cooperate with,” said Aria. “I have no doubts she’s a strong leader.”

“I’ll make sure to pass that on to her, then,” said Poe with a smile, writing down a few more notes. “Alright, so do we have your word on supporting Verakhat’s membership within the Republic?”

“That you do,” said Tikva. “Thank you so much for your time. This meeting is concluded.”

Thanking the queens, Poe and Rose stood up and left the cabinet. Finn started to get up to follow them, but Tikva rested a hand on his shoulder, holding him in place.

“Just a moment, Finn,” she said. “There’s something we need to take care of.”

 

The doctor at the testing site was an old Twi’lek with wrinkles around her eyes and a warm smile.

“You must be Finn,” she said as he sat down. “I’m Mala. Pleasure to meet you.”

Finn cocked his head. Not that he wasn’t used to being referred to by his name, but hearing a local say it…

“I understand,” said Mala, almost as if she read his mind. “See, right now you’re not the prince, you’re just a patient. I’m the one in charge here right now.” She pushed up his sleeve and tied a tourniquet around it. “Could you do me a favor and pump your fist a few times?”

Finn obeyed immediately, squeezing his fist. Blood draws were a routine occurrence back in the Order—he already had all the steps memorized. Thankfully, Mala was a bit kinder than the med droids back on the Finalizer.

“Perfect,” she said, feeling around the crook of his elbow for a vein. “Alright, so all I’m going to do is draw a little bit of blood from you. We already have the prince’s DNA recorded, so all we’re looking for is a match.” Satisfied, she quickly rubbed a disinfectant pad over the site. “Shouldn’t take us too long.”

With that, she inserted the needle, Finn staying steady all the while. Within a few seconds, she had drawn out a vial of blood, and quickly placed a small bacta patch over the area where she had poked him. “There we go. We’ll call you back in once we have the results.”

Pulling his shirt sleeve back up, Finn thanked Mala and walked back into the lobby, sitting down next to Tikva. “We’ll find out soon enough,” he said, gently taking her hand.

“I’m sure it will be what we expected,” she said, giving it a light squeeze. “You already spoke to me through the Force when I first saw you—this is just confirmation.”

He nodded. Still, he couldn’t help but feel tense as the minutes pass. What if Tikva was wrong, and the results didn’t match? How would he feel, believing he had a family, a home, a place to belong, and having it ripped out of his hands at the last minute?

“Finn?” A young nurse stuck her head out of the door. “They’re ready for you.”

Legs shaking, Finn kept holding onto Tikva’s hand as they walked back into the lab, where Mala was poring over a datapad.

Once she looked up, though, there was no doubt what her answer was. There was no need to read what the data was, not when her eyes crinkled with the force of her smile, her hand over her heart.

“Welcome, Your Highness,” she said. “It’s good to see you back.”

Finn turned to his mother, who was smiling.

“I told you,” she said warmly, before embracing him. “Now, shall we go? I believe there’s an entire family waiting to meet you.”

 

True to his mother’s word, there was a veritable sea of people waiting for him in the sitting room when they returned to the palace.

Naturally, he recognized his siblings; Isaac was pored over a plate of food, in the middle of dozing off, while Naami was deep in conversation with a bright-eyed freckled girl about her age. When she caught eye of Finn, she immediately waved him over.

“Dafné, this is my brother,” she said, gesturing to Finn. “Finn, this is our cousin.”

“Pleased to meet you,” he said, reaching out to shake Dafné’s hand. Instead, he found himself enveloped in a tight hug. “Oh.”

“So glad you’re ok,” she said, patting his back. “It’s good to finally see you.”

“Uh huh.”

Dafné eventually released him, eyes still shining. “Come on, my parents are dying to meet you!” Without warning, she grabbed his hand and steered him towards the direction of a couple in deep conversation. “Aba, Ima, look, it’s Finn, it’s the Prince!”

They immediately stopped talking, and turned to him with warm faces. And, once again, Finn was greeted to another hug from the both of them—though this time, they offered it, and he took it.

“So, you’re my uncle?” he asked the man, who did bear a much stronger resemblance to his mother than his paler wife.

“That’s right,” he said fondly. “I’m Aaron, and this is Minerva.”

“Finn, darling!” called someone else from the far side of the room. It was another woman, in a colorful scarf piled high atop her head. “I’m your aunt Dania, so good to meet you.”

From there, he met her wife and kids, who were all young. Karen was a little younger than Isaac, with a strong face and a firm handshake, while her brothers Amit and Bar were both sixteen and clearly more interested in the teacakes and honeyed pastries than their long-lost cousin. And, just as Naami promised, there were the second cousins; Bina was older than him by ten years and already had a young daughter (her brother was a little closer to him in age), Iliana and Madi were young and clung to their mother at every opportunity, and little Yann was only a few months old, with red curls and a sweet laugh. All in all, Finn felt like there were definitely worse people to have as cousins—all of them were at the very least polite, and if he didn’t feel a full familial connection with them, at least they could hold a decent conversation.

Of course, the real guest of honor was not merely his handfuls of cousins, but his grandmother, the Queen Dowager Tamara herself, who arrived fashionably late in a stiff dress of iridescent violet.

“Finn, mami,” she said, in an ancient yet sturdy voice as she hobbled into the room, “let me see you.” Gingerly walking up to him, she gently took his face in her hands. “Force above,” she cried, eyes beginning to swim with tears, “you look just like your grandfather.” Finn bit his lips. “Oh, I never thought I’d live to see this day.”

There were no words he could find—and truly, none that needed expressing. Instead, he merely held her tight, resting his chin on her delicate shoulder, praying she could feel everything.

“Welcome home,” she whispered, holding him closer. “My darling, welcome home.”

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