insulated party within the grander goings-on. The hushed tones of their conversation, their quiet laughter and their general ease with each other reminded Corran very sharply of the relationship he'd had with his own father. Hal Horn had been friend and confidant as well as parent and work associate. Corran had always thought of family as a place where he could open himself up and get advice without fearing censure or ridicule. Shared blood meant a bottom-line alliance that no disagreement could shatter. He and his father had disagreed on plenty of things, but that which united them was far stronger than anything that could divide them.

Despite the efforts of everyone to include him in what was going on, Corran began to retreat a bit as melancholy over his father's death slowly seeped into his heart. It was all too easy for him to imagine his father at the gathering, again hearing his laughter and watching the others react to the stories Hal used to tell. They would have loved him here. And he would have loved being here, too.

A chill ran down Corran's spine. The openness of the families twisted like a vibroblade into his guts. His father, Hal Horn, had known his own father, the Jedi Master Nejaa Halcyon. Hal had never told Corran anything about Nejaa. / know he did that to protect me, but I know he had to have been proud of his father. When I told my father that I had "hunches" and he told me to go with them, he knew they were manifestations of myourJedi heritage. That was his quiet way of telling me of his pride, but it must have torn him up to have to remain silent. Perhaps he anticipated telling me about that stuff later, after the Rebels had destroyed the Empire, but he never lived that long.

Corran absented himself from the gathering, walking up the steps

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