“What was she like, ma?” Amlé asked her mother.
“Very warm and gentle,” Ellé answered, “and I think she was an even better pilot than Losté.”
“That’s impossible,” insisted Amlé. “Noone’s a better pilot than Losté, well, except for Wesley Janson.”
Ellé looked at her wife Noirah, who shrugged. “That was a very memorable time in her life. She hasn’t escaped narrowly from death half as many times as we both have.”
Amlé had scrolled on. Beyond Ené’s name were more names that had receded too deeply into Ellé’s memory for her to follow them, and they meant little to Noirah Na. Gently Ellé took her wife’s arm and led her a few feet away, to another memorial where the display screen was dark. Above the screen was written “In memory of those lost in the Battle of Endor.”
Ellé herself would not touch this screen. The dearest person she had lost in this battle she was not allowed to mourn, at least not around Noirah. However much Noirah was supposed to remember that Ellé had believed both her and Amlé to be dead when her reunion with Nick Rostu had happened, however much Noirah’s upbringing in the old Jedi Order was supposed to have prevented her from being possessive in the first place, however clearly Ellé had finally outright chosen Noirah over Nick, there was little denying the haste with which she scrolled past her old rival’s name, to come to that of her brother.
“Hey!” Amlé had noticed their leaving her, and was running over. She pulled to a halt by Noirah, and saw the name she was looking at. “Oh, Uncle Moitros. I remember him.”
“You knew him better than I did, in the end,” replied Noirah. “You both did.”
There were many other names to mourn on that list; thanks to the destruction wrought by the second Death Star the casualties had been in the thousands. But they had found the name they had come for, so when another couple came up to the memorial, all three moved away and on.
They next stood in front of the first of the memorials: the one to all Old Republic Jedi who had been identified as having perished in the Purge. Noirah, Ellé knew, was dreading looking at this one. For the most part she hadn’t tried to find out what had happened to anyone she might have known.
Between one thing and another, it wasn’t without names for Ellé to look for either, but she stood back and waited while Noirah hesitated, and Amlé looked at them both in confusion.
“Ellé,” she suddenly asked, “how much do you believe in a person’s destiny?”
Ellé knew why she might ask her the question. From the day they’d met, nearly a year before Ellé had met Amlé’s father, they’d both felt that spark which just might have been the Force speaking to them. Ellé had once joked to Nick about her being “borderline” Force-sensitive, but that was the first time it had held any significance to her. Noirah had come back and sought Ellé out after a year or so because she had believed that they had genuinely been meant for each other.
“I believe everything happens for a reason,” replied Ellé truthfully. “After all, if our relationship hadn’t happened in the half-fumbled way it did, I never would have had Amlé.”
“But could that have been the only outcome for the two of us? Together, here, with her?”
“Do you believe that?” Ellé asked her, nervous of her answer.
“Of course,” said Noirah without hesitation. “Everything I’ve experienced in my life has reinforced its truth. I can’t imagine my life happening any other way now, can you?”
She looked at Ellé as she said this with such desperate love in her eyes. Love which Ellé returned with equal fervor, and yet, she could not truthfully give the answer Noirah longed for. She could imagine her life happening other ways. Four other ways, to be exact.
If she had served Queen Apailana alongside Meklé, even if it just meant dying young with her. If Motée had returned her feelings, and then if she’d lived. If Nick had stayed or come back to her earlier, and then if he’d lived. If Dave had just plain lived.
“I believe my life turned out the best way it could have,” she first said, because she did. She took her wife into her arms and kissed her hair. “I think it can really be summed up by one famous author, though, who wrote, ‘But the real soul-mate is the one you are actually married to. You really do very little choosing: life and circumstance do most of it.’ I don’t know if the Force made us for each other or whatever, but I don’t think it had to.”
Noirah sighed against her, and her hand curled around Ellé’s for a moment. Then she planted a kiss on the corner of Ellé’s mouth and gently pulled away, and activated the screen on the memorial.
The plaque was the smallest of the new memorials, which was ironic, because aside from the more general memorials and the Alderaan memorial, another one Noirah would spend a long time over, and Ellé with her, it had the most names buried in its databanks. Noirah didn’t even try browsing, but instead typed in the name of her old Master.
There were five Jedi listed with the last name of Simms. According to the records, they were born on five different planets, none of them anywhere near each other.
“Simms isn’t an uncommon name,” Ellé observed, “but it isn’t as widespread as, say, Antilles.”
Noirah only thumbed through each of the names, staring at each for a few moments before landing finally on her Master’s. “So many names,” she said. “So many people we’ve lost.”