Disclaimer: I don't own Star Wars. This story was written for fun, not profit.
A/N: Prequel spoilers like whoa.
Pooja remembers her aunt in clear, perfect detail -- the way her hair curled, the cut of her dresses, how her voice sounded. This is not noteworthy or unusual, because Pooja remembers everything with such clarity. It is what lets her pass the grueling public service exams by skimming the study guides and what allows her to fit political puzzles together when the pieces span decades of half-heard conversations.
When she was little, she closed her eyes every time she wanted to remember something important. Pretending to make an effort seemed better than making no effort at all.
She rises through politics quickly, from Princess of the Lake District at eleven to Imperial Senator at nineteen. The Naboo value the idealism of youth, and Pooja has neither the heart nor the desire to disillusion them.
But she has her memory -- sometimes she thinks it is all she has -- and that perfect databank files away everything she hears in the cloying halls of the Senate. The back of her mind threads moments and hunches together on long interconnected strings. She does not know who is wrapped up in what scandal or who silently supports the Imperial Navy's increasingly vicious tactics, but she has her guesses. And for as long as she can remember, guessing and knowing have been one and the same.
She guesses that her aunt was married three years before anyone tells her. When her mother asks her how that's even possible, she smiles and says, "I remember Padmé's Jedi."
There are drawbacks to her memory, and one is that it is very easy to judge past behaviors and correctly guess how harse consequences will be. Pooja thinks that she has no imagination -- but when she listens to the whispered rumors of reprisals and brutality swirling around the senators, she can draw on old holos and news reports to paint vivid pictures in her mind.
She never joins the Rebellion. No one ever tells her they have joined the Rebellion, either -- but she whispers her guesses and hunches to Ryoo, passing on galactic-scale blackmail like little-girl secrets, and somehow the information is always used. She sees senators fall and she is glad for it, taking it as evidence that there is some kind of justice left in the galaxy.
But she never asks Ryoo about her part in it, and Ryoo never tells her. She can't remember what she has never seen or heard.
When the Emperor disbands the Senate at last, she listens to his speech with her eyes shut and thinks hateful, terrible things. She has no memory of Aunt Padmé even raising her voice -- but these are different times, and she is not Aunt Padmé.
Sometimes she thinks only of the Jedi and wonders how a tall, long-limbed young man named Anakin Skywalker met his end.
When she was little she pretended that she had a cousin just like him, a little blond boy to fuss over and tease and be a big sister to. She tried to make up memories of him, but all that came to mind was the funeral and her aunt with flowers in her hair.
Now she doesn't try. The should-have-been cousin is a misty idea, and she cannot remember what has never been.
Pooja is on Naboo when the newest official notices come through. She reads them out of privilege and habit and perhaps to be sure Ryoo is not listed in one of them. And then she sees the boy at the top of the list -- a blurry little holo, not at all like the perfect memories in her head -- and she reads through the name and why someone so young is worth so many Imperial credits dead or alive.
She would know even without the name. He has Aunt Padmé's smile and a Jedi's blond hair, and she would know him in the middle of a crowded Coruscant street.
For the moment she does not care about the whys or hows of it -- just that he exists. And Pooja erases the holo as if that will protect him or her family or everyone at once. Then she closes her eyes.
"You're wrong," Ryoo says when she whispers to her. "It's a coincidence. It's not possible."
Pooja glances at her, just for a moment, and decides what is best -- what won't break their mother's heart.
"I guess I'm imagining things," she says.
But she knows she isn't.