“We need to talk, Madam.”
Lyra’s hologram remained still as Finn stared at her from across the desk. “I have no idea what concerns you at this time, Your Highness, but go on.”
“It concerns yesterday’s news,” he said, considering resting his hands on the desk, but crossing them instead. The president continued to feign ignorance, so he continued, “the article where you talked about… my past.”
“What about it?”
Finn lowered his brows. “Was that necessary? Did you really think the people had to know all the dark details of their prince’s past?”
Lyra merely stared back.
“Madame President,” he said, desperately trying to stay professional, “did you really think that wise?” She stayed silent. “I need an answer here, come on!”
She hummed. “Absolutely, Your Highness.”
Finn steeled his jaw.
“For twenty-four years, this planet has wondered what happened to you,” she said, tilting her jaw up. “Surely there should be nothing wrong with telling them the truth.”
“Hypothetically,” he said, “but you couldn’t have at least—” He closed his eyes. “Sorry. I mean, wouldn’t it have been wiser to wait until after my arrival was announced? Half the questions I had to answer last night were about being brought up as a Stormtrooper instead of being a Rebel.”
“Eff—” Finn’s gut lurches. “Sorry. Finn,” said Lyra, “there will never be a right time for anything.”
Something was wrong. Something was terribly wrong.
“Is there anything else you wish to reprimand me for?”
“No,” he said weakly, feeling his hands begin to shake. “That’s all, Madam.”
“Very well.” Without so much as a goodbye, she signed off, leaving him staring at the blank stretch of wall where her image once was.
The bathroom door behind him opened. Out stepped Poe, hair still damp from the shower. “Everything went alright?”
Finn paused. “Sure,” he said.
“Not fully convinced here, pal.”
Finn turned around. “It wasn’t that bad, honest,” he said, gently stroking his cheek. “She was a bit off, but nothing concrete.” Finn wasn’t sure why he was so hesitant. Maybe it was just because it would have been so ridiculous to implicate a neutral head of state as taking the wrong side, or maybe he was just afraid of her. “We’ll be fine.”
Poe hummed, leaning into Finn’s touch. The sun set, highlighting his worried face in a warm glow. “If you say so.”
Finn woke up with a start the next morning.
Poe wasn’t slow to notice his excitement. “What’s with the rush, buddy?” he asked, as Finn began to hastily get dressed in the little finery Ruti had given him the day prior.
That got Poe moving right out of bed.
Soon, they were both dressed and out the door, riding in another sleek transport headed to the airport. Finn kept squeezing Poe’s hand in excitement the entire ride, hardly even taking in the city view.
They made it through security, and stood rapt at attention on the sandy tarmac as an all-too familiar ship landed, not especially gracefully.
“That’s her,” he said triumphantly, smiling at one of the confused ground crew members.
The door of the Falcon swung open.
And there she was.
Rey stood frozen on the ramp for a moment, looking around her—and then her eyes caught Finn’s. Instantly, she grinned widely, the corners of her eyes crinkling.
Finn knew it wasn’t princely behavior, but he ran up to her anyway, laughing as they embraced.
“Oh, Force,” she said as they separated, still holding onto his arms with that bright smile of hers. “You’re actually a prince.”
“I still can’t believe it,” he said. “Takes a while to soak in, I guess.”
“It really does,” she said, “but I promise you’ll grow into it in time.”
At that, she caught sight of Poe, and went over to give him a quick hug. “Good to see you’re doing well.”
“Right back at ya,” he said, patting her back. “Sorry Rose couldn’t make it—think she’s still sleeping in—”
The unmistakable thump of footsteps reached their ears.
“Was sleeping in,” he corrected.
As soon as he finished that sentence, Rose came bursting through the sliding doors. “Babe!” she shouted, hastily tucking in her shirt. “So sorry I’m late—just heard the news—”
Rey cut her off with a messy kiss. “Don’t be.”
“Stop being so cute in public.”
“Oh, like you’re one to talk, Your Highness,” said Rey, rolling her eyes. He just laughed and planted a noisy kiss on Poe’s cheek.
Finn turned his head around, looking at the shuttle as two definitively non-Rey people descended down the ramp.
“Sorry,” said Rey, “but Leia was just so excited when she heard, and it just got out of hand…”
“I think it went perfectly smoothly,” said Leia, raising her neatly-braided head. “Good to see you, Your Highness.”
Finn smiled. “Good to see you too, Chancellor.”
“Finn!” Immediately, the other woman ran down the walkway—before slowing to a walk, flustered. “I mean, um, Your Highness?”
“It’s fine,” he said, properly greeting the young rebel with a hug. “Hey, Hava.”
Hava grinned. “Hi,” she said, slightly breathily. “What a coincidence, huh?”
“What do you mean?” he asked, as they finally made their way down the security hallway, Rey and Rose in deep conversation.
“Sorry,” she said, rubbing the back of her head. “I mean, it’s just funny how we came from the same planet.”
He raised his eyebrows. “Wait, seriously?”
“Yeah.” Hava tugged uncomfortably at her heavy, olive-green jacket, probably debating whether it would be worth potentially suffering heatstroke to maintain decorum. “Once the news about you spilled, Leia—I mean, the Chancellor encouraged us all to get tested, see where we came from—and about half of us are Verakhi!”
“That’s amazing!” he said. “I mean, not the kidnappings, but, you know.”
“I know.” Hava softly hummed as they were briefly scanned. “Seems like Verakhat was a very popular destination for First Order raids—I mean, there were your squadrons, and then mine five years later.”
“Makes sense,” he said. “Large population, isolated from galactic politics—it’s almost too perfect.”
Hava stuck her hands in her jacket pockets as they entered the glass foyer again. “Thank the Force no one else will ever be taken from here ever again.”
“So you’re telling me your coronation is tomorrow?”
Finn winced, “Yes, Ma’am,” he said, back straight even while sitting in the sitting room’s comfy couch. “Tomorrow morning.”
“Cut the ma’am, we’re in private here,” said Leia. “So, I’m assuming there will be some sort of ball involved, correct?”
Leia rubbed her temples. “Alright, then. Finn, how confidently would you rank your dancing abilities?”
Finn could feel the heat leaving his face. “Um.”
She gestured to the room. “Any of you?”
No one spoke.
And that was how Leia organized an emergency dance lesson for the five of them.
“This is important information,” she said, hands folded as Naami stood beside her. “Many important political decisions are made at these events, so it’s imperative to know how to properly dance.” She turned to Naami. “Now, are there any specialty dances here that they ought to know of?”
“Well, there’s the basics,” said Naami, trying to look away from Rey. “You know, the old Alderaanian Waltz, the Chandrilan Two-Step—the Igula’s not really a ballroom thing, but it’s real useful anyways.”
“Can’t help you with the last one, but the first two are pretty standard.” Leia cracked her knuckles (so Finn wasn’t the only one to break from royal behavior on a regular basis, thank the Force). “Everyone, find a partner.”
Finn was about to reach for Poe’s hand when she stepped between them. “Think you might need a little more experience for now, Finn. No offense to either of you.”
“None taken,” he said. Poe just shrugged and went to take Rose’s hand instead. “So, the waltz?”
“The waltz,” she said with a nod, as Hava cheerfully put an arm around Isaac’s shoulder and Naami still tried to avoid making eye contact with Rey. “It’s a pretty straightforward dance, as long as you have the basic six steps memorized. Put your hand on my waist.”
Finn blinked. “General—”
“We’re learning by experience here,” she said, face as serious as ever. “We need to be partners. Put your hand on my waist.”
Finn blankly looked around.
“Finn Altion, you will put your hand on my waist right this instant,” she said in that icy-stiff voice.
“Ok, ok.” Taking a deep breath, Finn gently lay his right hand on Leia’s waist as she switched on the music. Soon, the room was full with the sounds of a sweet classical three-step.
“Now, the steps are as follows,” she said, loud enough for the rest of the room to hear. “It’s a three step—so the leads step forward with their left foot, sideways with the right, and back together. Like this.”
At that, she urged her right foot back, beckoning for Finn to demonstrate. Taking a deep breath, he stepped forward. “There we go.”
“And the other three?”
“The same, but backwards,” she said, stepping forward with the left foot. Instantly, Finn found himself mirroring his footwork from earlier. “Now, about turning…”
Thankfully, now that the first few steps were done and over with, he found it easier to learn how to truly move within these steps, stepping sideways with his feet in a delicate chain of footwork. Within seconds, he was leading the Chancellor in a dance around the room, only stepping on her toes a few times.
“See?” said Leia, smiling up at Finn as they waltzed. “Not that hard after all.”
Around them, everyone else was dancing with various levels of success. Poe and Rose were still figuring out who was leading, while Hava and Isaac floated effortlessly around the room and Naami—well, Naami was definitely making this too hard on herself.
“…um, and if you want, there’s, you know, dips,” she was stammering, cheeks dangerously flushed. “So, you know, you, um, you lean back as far as possible—”
“Like this?” Rey said, dipping down.
“Yeah!” Naami’s hands were absolutely shaking as she supported Rey. “Yeah, Force, exactly like that.”
She briefly caught her brother’s eyes. He cocked his head apologetically.
Thankfully, Leia had them switch partners for the two-step. Immediately, Naami separated from Rey, wiping her face, as her previous partner bounced over to Rose, who gleefully took her hand.
And Finn found himself face-first with Poe.
Poe began to lace his arm around Finn’s neck, but Finn stopped him. “You lead.”
“Please,” he said. “I just—can you lead this time?”
Poe looked at him for a few moments, before sighing, his eyes cast downwards. “Alright, then,” he said, shifting his arm to Finn’s ribcage.
The two-step was a faster dance, full of quick foot movements and the occasional leap. Still, Finn found there was time enough to talk.
“You understand, right?” he asked as they made their way across the floor. “I mean, I’m just so used to being on a relatively equal footing—I don’t know if I’m ready to be the guy that always leads.”
“No, I understand,” said Poe. “One of us is gonna have to stay with a higher rank than the other, and you don’t wanna think about that. I get you.”
“It’s fine, Finn.” Poe smiled weakly as he led them through another leap. “If you wanna pretend I’m a prince tonight, I’ll go for it.”
Something about that comment didn’t sit right with Finn. Nevertheless, he tried to return the smile as best as he could and focus on the dance, let himself follow one last time.
“So, when did you say you were born?” asked Naami over tea.
“Sixteen after Yavin,” said Hava, hands sandwiched between her legs. “I’m not sure when I was—well, when I left Verakhat, but it was probably during the first month of 17.”
“Interesting.” Naami quirked a brow. “That’s right around another one of Deyarin’s leaves of absence.”
Finn leaned forward. “Absence?”
“Oh, yeah,” she said, waving her hand. “Mum said that ever since you disappeared, Lyra’s had these periods where she just disappeared for a few months at a time, couple times a year.” She took a sip of tea. “I always remember as a kid, she’d tell me the Senator from Fezma’at was feeling very sick. Hardly bought it when I got older, though.”
Finn’s grip around his mug of tea tightened. “She still have these spells? It would be a bit inconvenient if she disappeared in the middle of the coronation.”
“Nah, not anymore,” she said. “Last one was around five years ago, and ever since, I guess she’s finally recovered from whatever hell the First Order put her through.”
“Five years ago?” said Hava. “Weird.”
Naami cocked her head. “What do you mean?”
“Well, that was the last round of cadets.”
Finn opened his eyes. “Of course,” he whispered. “They stopped taking in troopers after that. Force knows why, but…”
Naami frowned. “You’re saying that means something?”
“I don’t know if it does,” he said. “All I know is that one day, the Order told us they would temporarily stop taking in “recruits,” and that just happened to be the year the President stopped feeling sick.”
“That is a bit odd,” said Hava. “I don’t know if it’s means anything, though.”
“Regardless of if it does, I’ll just keep an eye on Lyra for the time being,” he said. “Can’t hurt to be safe.”
Naami smirked. “Now you’re talking like a leader.”
“Big day tomorrow, huh?”
Finn hummed his agreement as he settled in next to Poe.
“Wild,” said Poe, slinging an arm around his shoulder. “Still can’t believe that in a few hours, it’ll be over. You’ll be a damn prince.”
“Never expected it to happen,” said Finn, leaning into Poe’s touch. “Not just coming home, but being royalty. They’re throwing a parade in my honor, Poe.” He sighed. “This place really missed me.”
Poe hummed. “Of course they did, you’re a good man,” he said simply, as if stating the most obvious fact in the world. “I mean, you’re kind, and generous, and strong, there’s no doubt you deserve to rule.” His voice seemed to waver a tiny bit. “It suits you.”
Finn closed his eyes. Only a few days ago, the whole concept of being a prince would have seemed so foreign, so abstract, so out of his reach; it was amazing how he accepted his fate in such a short amount of time, after meeting his family and speaking to the people—his people. The title felt natural to him, now—nestled right alongside his heart, a comfortable weight of his newfound duty and pride.
Finn turned to face Poe. “I won’t be prince for another twelve hours, though.” Poe tilted his head to the side, so he pulled him in closer. “I’m not saying I don’t want it—but it’s always nice to remember what it was like before.” He pressed a tender kiss to the base of his throat. “Just one last moment where I’m not the center of everyone’s universe,” he whispered.
Later, Finn would stare out the windows, Poe’s arms encircling him as if afraid to let go. The soft winds made the curtains billow gently, flaring up before collapsing once more against the glass.
Just a few more hours, he thought to himself, drifting into sleep. Just a few more hours.