the pearl


She spends a week clearing out the sand. She knows she could do it instantly, moving each grain of sand and scattering it across the desert, but there's something about doing it by hand, carefully shoveling and brushing, that feels right, feels like something she needs to do.

She hasn't touched the rest of the building yet — just the courtyard — when she gets her second visitor. The old woman occasionally stops by, selling hard-earned water pulled from the air and full jugs of creamy blue bantha milk, but Poe is her first off-world visitor.

They sit in the now-cleared courtyard and she pours him a glass of milk as BB-8 chirps happily at him.

"You gonna stay?" he asks, gesturing at the house and the slow encroachment of sand.

She looks around as well and nods. "It feels right," she says. "Like I was meant to be here."

Poe gestures at the household vaporator, still caked with sand and silent. "You want some help with that?"

She smiles.


Finn shows up a few days later, just as Poe turns on the vaporator and it finally, begrudgingly, spits out its first few drops of fresh water.

"This is what you've been doing?" he says. "You disappear for a few days, and you're just fixing a vaporator?"

Poe holds out the glass to him. "You want a drink?"

Finn gives him a look but takes the glass.


She lights a fire in the courtyard oven when the twin suns go down. Like Jakku, it grows cold in the desert, and she adjusts her wrap around her even as Finn grumbles and reaches for his jacket

"I can't believe you're staying here," he says. "It's even worse than Jakku."

She chuckles and leans into him. "It's a good place," she says.

"It's covered in sand."

She laughs again. "It won't be for long."

Finn sighs and leans against her, resting his head on her shoulder. "So you're definitely staying," he says.

She nods, looking at the fire. "I think..." She pauses for a second. "I think this is where I need to be."

He looks at the fire and doesn't speak for a few minutes. "That's good," he finally says.

"You'll visit, right?"

Poe scoffs as he comes to sit down on the other side of her. "Try and stop us," he says. His head rests on her other shoulder. "Besides, I have to make sure you're treating BB-8 right."


She's cleared out one room when they return. And they aren't alone.

"He's from Canto Bright," Finn says, as the child looks around the courtyard. "He —"

The child gestures and her broom moves into his hand.

Finn points. "Yeah. That."


She goes out that night, walking down past the ridge. She finds a rock and sits, staring up at the stars.

"I'm not a teacher," she finally says.

"I wasn't either," Luke says. "At first."

She sighs and keeps looking up. "Is this what it's going to be like?"

"You'll doubt yourself a lot, but you'll be all right." He pauses for a second. "You have us."

She looks back at him and smiles. "Yeah, that's what I was afraid of."


She sets the child to helping her clean out other rooms, and they soon have the entire homestead rebuilt.

More children arrive, some brought by Finn and Poe when they regularly visit, others brought by other people who were in the Resistance. Rose brings two small girls, who cling to each other despite reassurances, and once they get them settled into a bed, Rose tells Rey about her own sister and cries on her shoulder.

General Calrissian ("Please, my dear, call me Lando") and Janna, the former stormtrooper from Endor, bring more former stormtroopers, scared and lost and trying to understand what's happened. Finn stays for a few months after they arrive, helping them find their own voices, their own names.

Older women and men also come. Some to gawk at something they've been told didn't exist, some with tears in their eyes, telling her about all the times they thought they were going mad, that these things couldn't be happening, they never happened, but it was real, all of it.

She points adults to the children, and children to the adults, and makes certain that each teaches the other.


She makes certain to spend time away from the group, out in the desert alone except for BB-8, alone except for the spirits that surround her.

She listens to their stories, of their regrets and foolish pride. The tall man with the long brown hair speaking of hubris, the old man pointing out the loneliness of the desert, the small wizened creature who occasionally comes with Luke, and bickers in oddly formed sentences even as Luke tries to sound masterful.

She sometimes takes the old books with her, carefully turning pages, talking with the spirits as she reads.


An elderly woman arrives in the middle of training, her sun-weathered face looking out across the children and adults practicing with wooden sabers.

"My father," she says softly, as Rey takes her into the cool of the kitchen, pouring her a glass of water. "My father was a miner in Jedha..." The woman takes a sip of the water and pauses, looking down at it. "He told me that, one day, the Jedi would return, and I would need to find them."

"Find us?" Rey asks.

The woman reaches into her bag and pulls out a cloth-covered parcel, bleached with age. "He said that one day, they would need these." She begins to unwrap the parcel, slowly, gnarled fingers carefully pulling apart knots.

Rey looks down at the khyber crystals, all perfectly carved. "But..."

"He knew what the Empire was using the khyber for," the woman says. "My brother, before... Before he joined the rebellion, he told our father what was happening. Before the Death Star destroyed the city, my family pulled together just enough for me to leave Jedha, carrying these." She takes one and puts it into Rey's hand. "Please," she says.

Rey nods and takes the crystal.


Finn arrives with Poe one scorching day when the vaporator can barely keep up with the demands of her growing school.

His eyes are shining. "Rey," he says, his voice soft, pulling her to one side. "Rey, I..."

He gestures wildly, and Poe puts a hand on his shoulder, calming him. "Show her," he says softly.

Finn takes a breath, nods, takes another breath, and holds out his hand, looking intently at a small pebble in the middle of the courtyard.

It takes a few seconds, a few breaths, and, slowly, with a slight wobble, the pebble lifts from the ground.

Rey gasps. "Finn!" She shouts, wrapping her arms around him tightly. "Finn, I didn't—"

"I didn't either," he says into the warmth of her neck. He pulls away to look at her. "I didn't—"

She interrupts him with a kiss, her hands coming up to hold his face. They separate after a few seconds, looking at each other in surprise, then come back together again.

When they separate for a second time, they look at Poe, who is smiling at them both. Finn smiles back, and pulls him in for a kiss as well.


"Do you love them?" Ben asks as they look out towards the setting suns.

She pauses for a few seconds, then smiles. "I do," she replies. "I do love them."

"I was told the Jedi never felt love," he says.

She looks at him and reaches out with her hand. His passes through hers, unsubstantial, but the faintest feeling of pressure is there. "Your mother loved," she says. "Your grandfather loved."

"And look where it got them," he mutters. He looks back at the homestead. "Do you teach them about love?"

Rey pauses, thinking. "I teach them about hope. And without love, there is no hope."


The gruff older woman, with a tattoo on her bicep and a knowing smirk, says she knew Poe's father back from the Battle of Endor, and that he told her about the place.

She says that the child was found by a Mandalorian, who raised him in the way of his people.

The small child, with the impossibly small beskar helmet, toddles around the courtyard.

"He was smaller when he first found him, but not by much," she says. "And that was over 30 years ago."

The child holds out a three-fingered hand to Rey, and she smiles as she takes it.


The school expands, new buildings put up on the old Lars homestead, more vaporators gleaming in the light of two suns.

They are surrounded by spirits and memories, teaching them what once was, what is now, and what could be.

Teaching the all-encompassing power of the Force, not trapped in laws and prophecies, but flowing through them, with love and hope, with change.

And each night, as the stars gleam above them, Rey sleeps, held in the arms of the two men she loves.

This Star Wars story was written by Kate Bolin. If you liked it, there's plenty more at And you can feedback her at