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Hospitality Under Orange Suns

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The cat twitches. Anakin scratches her ears, and she closes her eyes, bares her chin for him to pet next. They can’t have pets. His mother and he would prefer not to give Watto the impression of an extra burden, though he knows—and she must too—it’s not true. It’s just what will be said. Watto will have something else to hold over them. Still, neither he nor his mom can leave the animal without food or comfort. She doesn’t have to live here. She’s a guest; they provide. Hospitality, his mother says, is something they can all afford.

 

Anakin doesn’t keep animals. No Jedi do. Animals are free to go as they please, one as the Force. He’s not sure that’s what they mean; Jedi tend to prize the power of the mind over the body, even as they say it’s all connected. He can’t tell where animals stand there, as creatures to be preserved, but not necessarily conscious. What he can tell, as he grows up in the temple, is that it’s open to the public, and this includes every member of it. He sees more cats than he could’ve imagined existed, and he feeds them all.

 

Luke has no love for Tatooine. Still, he’d set off from it in vengeance; it’s only fair to return, now vengeance has been renounced and another family found. The farm is as burnt as he’d left it, if stripped of resources. The planet never had much to spare. He doubts that’s changed. He senses unseen life in the building, but lets that wait as he walks to the four graves a short distance away.

His father is here, silhouette shimmering blue beside one marker. Behind them, purrs begin to sound as the cats emerge. Luke reaches down to pet one.