Title: "Echoes of the Dearly Departed"

(2/4)

Written by: Shawn

 

 

Summary: Is the return of Shmi Skywalker a miracle or a nightmare?

 

 

Category: Drama

Rating: PG-13 for very mild sensuality

Ship: Anakin and Padmé Skywalker forever

 

Timeline/Spoilers: Revenge of the Sith AU from the moment Mace Windu allows Anakin to accompany him when he goes to arrests Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. The fight that ensued ended with Palpatine being killed. Anakin

never turned to the dark side. The official investigation into everything and everyone associated with Palpatine has been ongoing for six months following Revenge of the Sith. Anakin and Padmé are still married in secret,

but Obi-Wan knows about and has accepted it. The Jedi Council, following its near massacre at the hands of Palpatine is reevaluating the Jedi Code. No official decision has been made as of yet.

 

Disclaimer: George Lucas and Lucasfilm own everything.

 

Email: DayShawn1974@hotmail.com

 

Authors Notes 1: Luke and Leia Skywalker were born on Naboo and are six

months old.

 

Authors Notes 2: Padmé confided in Queen Apailana concerning her post as Senator of Naboo. Due to her impeccable service record, intelligence, and the support of other key Senators she has been allowed to remain the Senator for Naboo. Her post is secure if and when it is revealed that she is married to Anakin.

 

Authors Notes 3: I have extended this story to four chapters instead of two.

 

Special Thanks: To my Jedi Master beta readers Anne and Jennifer. You gals

are the very best of the best. *bows*

 

 

~~~~~~

 

 

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the

questions themselves. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will find them

gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

- Rainer Maria Rilke

 

 

~~~~~~

 

 

 

******

 

 

******

 

 

Officially: Senator Padmé Amidala's apartment

The hallway outside the apartment

Located in the Republic Plaza

Galactic City, Coruscant

 

 

 

Life's mysterious poetry was about to add a new verse to life of Shmi Skywalker.

 

She nervously paced the immense curving hallway outside Senator Padmé Amidala's luxurious apartment. For the tenth time since she walked off the turbo lift with Master Kenobi she smoothed her hands down her simple brown dress in an effort to calm her restlessness. Her heart sounded a rapid beat beneath her chest as her eyes darted to the smooth flimsiplast door and then back to the deep-red carpeted floor.

 

Fourteen years of separation from her beloved son was about to come to an end at long last.

 

With no father to compare him to, Shmi had imagined over a thousand times how tall he might have grown, or how handsome he had become. She had only recently learned that the brutal Clone Wars had even taken place, much less had ended in the past year. The one thousand, two hundred and forty-six day conflict saw her son fighting on the front lines from the very beginning.

 

How had the experience changed him? What horrors had he seen? What of the arm he lost? Would she recognize him anywhere, or would he be someone altogether different?

 

Thankfully, Obi-Wan had told her that Anakin was his very best friend and most trusted ally. Fearless, courageous, and loyal were the words often used by the Jedi Master to describe her son. He sounded so genuine each time he used them that she couldn't help but to be proud. Her son's character validated the emotional pain her heart endured when she sent him away to fulfill his destiny.

 

Her sacrifice hadn't been in vain.

 

Anakin Skywalker became a Jedi Knight, and if Obi-Wan's beliefs were true, he would soon attain mastery. And yet the title Jedi Master paled in comparison to husband and father.

 

Enter the esteemed Senator Padmé Naberrie Amidala of Naboo.

 

As often as Shmi could, after Qui-Gonn had left Tattoine with her son, she followed the HoloNet broadcasts. News of his death upset her a great deal, though he died heroically. He would forever remain a part of her life as he led Anakin on his first steps toward his destiny. Whenever the name Obi-Wan Kenobi or Senator Amidala was mentioned over a broadcast her ears perked up. She hung on every word, desperate to keep track of the people who had been with her son when he left her.

 

Having listened to Senator Amidala give several powerful speeches in the Galactic Senate over the HoloNet, Shmi's respect and admiration for the fearless young woman grew by leaps and bounds. Somewhere along to way Anakin had won her heart. They had fallen so deeply in love with each other that Obi-Wan knew with a certainly they were meant to be together. He had sensed their strong bond through the Force, so similar at times he'd tried to Force-perceive which of them would round a corner first so that he could tell them apart.

 

He no longer could.

 

Anakin and Padmé shared a powerful love, the kind Shmi had only experienced at a moderately advanced age, and her son had found relatively young. Then again, wearing a mother's smile, she knew that he was always ahead of his time.

 

And what of Luke and Leia? Would they be ahead of their time? Were they destined to become Knights of the Republic? Do they have their mother's eyes or their father's smile? Did Anakin whisper her name to them when he and his wife put them to sleep at night?

 

Shmi longed to see them. To hold them close to her chest and kiss them and let them know she had loved them before she knew they existed and would until the day she was no more.

 

Her precious grandchildren.

 

"Force be praised," Shmi chanted softly under her breath, again finding solace in Coruscant's vibrant, limitless skyline. She gazed out of the huge transparisteel-lined visor overlooking Galactic City and couldn't help a curiously whimsical appraisal of her face in its reflection. Smiling, she wondered if she looked like a grandmother.

 

She pushed those frivolous thoughts aside and studied the multi-layered clouds and distant blue-white sun. Its beauty astounded her as it illuminated and shadowed the bottomless canyons of durasteel and purmacrete buildings that seemed to stretch on into infinity.

 

Suddenly, Shmi felt small and unimportant on a world like Coruscant. Humble beginnings barely scratched the surface of the life of a slave on Tattoine. The endless cityscape of Galactic City and its never-ending streams of speeder traffic intimidated her to some degree, though none of it mattered because she would soon be reunited with her son. Her arms would know the feel of him again. The little boy she sent away for the good of the galaxy was now the man who saved it. Her reward, despite all that she'd had to endure, was upon her.

 

At a measured pace, Shmi approached the door again, and then turned away. She reminded herself of what Obi-wan had warned her might happen. Anakin had been manipulated, used, and betrayed by Supreme Chancellor Palpatine for many years and news of this kind needed to be broken to him as gently as possible. He'd had trouble coming to grips with what he might have become had Palpatine succeeded in turning him to the Darkside. What little Obi-Wan had explained to her about the Darkside sent chills up and down her spine.

 

Anakin was to become the violent fist of a New Republic, controlled by the Sith Lord. The Jedi were to be massacred, and he was to play a major role in its destruction. He had touched a deadly cold side of himself long ago when he found her tortured, dying body in that Tusken camp. Red rage flared in the pit of Shmi's stomach over the gut-wrenching pain he must have experienced when she died in his arms.

 

For him to have to bury her must have killed a part of him. Obi Wan said he lost control of himself and... she couldn't quite make herself face the possibility that her little boy, with the widest smile in the galaxy, could be capable of...

 

But Palpatine knew. He recognized Anakin's power, his recklessness, and his utter distaste for a Jedi Code he did not grow up with, the preset Jedi rules that denied him what he loved and felt he had earned time and time again. Palpatine fed his anger with lies and fanned the winds of his ambition with greedy opportunity. All done in the guise of a wise confidant. The Supreme Chancellor filled in as the one thing Anakin did not have at that tumultuous time in his life.

 

A true father figure.

 

The more Shmi learned about the Sith Lord and his evil manipulations the more she had to accept that her reunion with her son might not go the way she had always dreamed. He'd been used so many times that her return from the dead was likely to be met with fierce objection.

 

Nonetheless, her optimism hadn't waned. Her little boy would ask his questions and receive his answers. When proof positive was undeniable he will not turn her away. However much he'd changed, eventually his heart would recognize her. His heart grew inside her first. The connection they shared eclipsed the Force itself.

 

"Shmi?"

 

Her lungs inhaled a long, deep breath to prepare herself for what was to come. Shmi favored the Jedi Master with a polite nod. "Yes, Obi-Wan?" He approached her while slowly rubbing his beard. She imagined he did that often when he was unsure of something.

 

"Padmé is speaking with Anakin privately. I have faith she will get through to him."

 

"He truly loves her, doesn't he?"

 

"Padmé is life to your son. If she cannot change his mind there is no hope at all."

 

"I look forward to getting to know her. She must be an amazing woman." Shmi allowed herself a small smile, even while steeling herself for the battle at hand. "What do you want me to do?"

 

"Let's go inside. He will emerge soon enough, I'm sure."

 

"How did he take the news?" Obi-Wan's heavy sigh said it all. She considered that she had better lower her expectations a bit. "He does not believe I am who you say I am, does he?"

 

"Shmi, you must understand, Anakin has never gotten over your death. It has haunted him every step of his life. He has grieved and grieved for you and it hasn't ended. To open himself up to this possibility and then to find out it's a plot against him..." Obi-Wan paused as the weight of his friend's pain bore down on him. "Anakin fears losing control. He is a very powerful man. More than that, he fears loss with every fiber of his being."

 

"Then it makes sense to me that his wound had not healed since I am not dead. However long it takes for him to realize that it is irrelevant. The healing process will begin now. Time will take care of the rest."

 

Shmi's determined expression conveyed an inner toughness that walked hand-in-hand with her kind, gentle nature. No matter the tenor of her voice in any given situation if a mother's child is in pain then the Force itself would fail to shake her resolve to remove that pain. Obi-Wan knew that was there only hope. "Let's go inside."

 

Shmi followed Obi-Wan through the door and was confronted by the most lavish apartment she had ever seen in her entire life. The extensive vaulted ceiling gave off a majestic quality, while the sheer size of the living room alone could encompass two and a half of the living quarters she and Anakin lived in on Tattoine. The exotic furniture must have cost a fortune alone. The broad curving veranda up ahead presented an absolutely amazing view of Coruscant. It was easy to make out the Jedi Temple in the distance.

 

She swallowed deep in the back of her throat and suddenly felt a little underdressed.

 

And then she saw him.

 

Shmi simply could not breathe as her son walked into view. Oh the joyful sight of him again... Anakin looked so strong and powerful. She immediately noted that he towered over everyone in the room. His long, sun-streaked hair framed his strong, handsome face. The burn scar on his high cheek reminded her of the war he had survived. He moved with the confident grace of an accomplished warrior, all the while possessing an aura of immense strength and equal sadness.

 

As her gaze flickered back to her son's face, his jaw locked tight. The expression of brief wonder she had noticed when he first saw her faded away into something menacingly angry. He stalked toward her as if he were about to breathe fire.

 

"Who are you?"

 

Over his shoulder stood the very beautiful Padme Skywalker. Gone was the young girl Shmi somewhat remembered from all those years ago, and in her place stood an obviously accomplished woman, a fit match for

her son. "Despite your reservations I am Shmi Skywalker, your mother."

 

"Liar."

 

Anakin's softly bitter tone only underlined the severe hurt he had suffered in his life. Shmi's heart overflowed with compassion for him. "No, I am not lying. I have never lied to you, and I never will."

 

Anakin drove the warmth of her smile and gentle way she spoke from his heart. "How were you abducted from Tattoine?"

 

The stern sound of his voice gave the impression of an interrogation. Shmi counted herself lucky that he at least was willing to listen. "Early one morning I left out to gather mushrooms that collected on the moisture vaporators. Cliegg and I sold them at the local market on the weekend for extra credits. A band of Tusken Raiders came out of nowhere and blindfolded me. My arms and legs were bound, and then I was taken to their camp in the mountains and left alone in a tent for hours before someone entered and injected me with something that caused me to lose consciousness. I never saw what the person looked like or heard them utter a single word. When I woke up I was on an examination table. Three med-droids took samples of my blood."

 

"Did they hurt you?"

 

His attempt to mask his worry with a scowl gave Shmi some hope. She could read his true emotions even when he tried his best to hide him. Thankfully, that had not changed. "No, they did not hurt me. They left me clean clothes and told me that someone would be in shortly to speak with me. Minutes later a Kaminoan named Fay Lu entered the room and told me I had been specially chosen for a project that might one day heal a number of deadly diseases because of a rare gene in my blood. I told them to keep the samples, as I wanted to go home. They said that had to keep me here because the fate of many, many lives were at stake. They told me I would only be there a couple of weeks. Since I didn't know where I was and had no way to fight them or contact anyone for help the best thing I could think of to do was simply comply."

 

"We're you alone?"

 

"I was told there were other 'patients' as Fay Su called us, but I never saw or spoke to any of them. In fact, in the past four and a half years I spent there I only saw Fay Su, the med droids, and hooded security personal who never said a word."

 

Reaching out with the Force, Anakin couldn't detect a note of treachery or deceit coming from her. He sensed that Obi-Wan, and even Padmé, as much as she could, were also channeling the Force to gauge her trustworthiness. How painfully surreal it felt to be standing here in front of her again and have it all be a lie. Whoever was doing this to him was going to die. "How were you treated?"

 

Shmi had to force herself to speak because the sight of him left her nearly speechless. "I was fed three times daily. My quarters were attended to by a janitorial droid twice a week, and I was constantly provided with clean clothing. I was never forced to do anything against my will except stay there. All access to the HoloNet was forbidden. My captors did not want me to know anything about the goings on in the galaxy. I had access to a large library of books, but nothing recent. I didn't have anyone to talk to or spend time with. I was isolated from the universe against my will, Ani."

 

"DO NOT CALL ME THAT!" A red haze came over Anakin until his wife's small hand touched his forearm. The imposter seemed taken back by his sudden outburst, though she quickly recovered. 

 

"I'm sorry," Shmi offered.

 

Could she be telling the... Anakin took an unsteady step backward, and then began pacing the room. He felt all eyes focused squarely on him. "Did you ever try to escape?"

 

"Several times," Shmi explained. "Each time I was brought back to my quarters. I was never able to steal a blaster nor did I know where to go due to the facility being so big and well guarded. But yes, I did everything in my power to escape."

 

Loneliness swept over Anakin as he drank in the emotion of this woman. She had been used and held against her will for such a long time. Then just as quickly he throttled himself for giving her a moment's trust. "Tell me about Fay Su?"

 

"There is very little I can tell you about her. She never befriended me, as much as told me what to expect and why I was there. She never revealed anything about herself, who she was working for, or even the name of where I was being kept."

 

"Anakin," Obi-Wan called out. "The facility was owned by technologists of the Confederacy of Independent Systems. They were designing and prepping multi-armed space-droids to begin construction on Palpatine's ultimate weapon known as the 'Death Star'. An orbital battle station capable of destroying a planet with a single blast. Mas Amedda told me that Palpatine thought of the base Shmi was held on as his most important asset."

 

Padmé respectfully held her peace as she observed the tense interplay between mother and son. Perhaps in the months since she'd become a mother she'd developed something not only of the Force, but a certain sixth sense. She had, in the few short minutes in Shmi's presence, come to the conclusion that this woman, whomever she is proven to be, believed what she was saying was the truth. Her heart worried over what this was doing to her husband, and what it still might do.

 

While silently staring at the woman claiming to be his mother, Anakin had made as much peace as he ever thought he would be able to over her death. Her story was corroborated by evidence and sworn testimony in the face of execution. Obi-Wan and Yoda believed she was who she said she was. But how could he? She died in his arms, and none of them where there to see her broken body. "What was C3PO supposed to be originally?"

 

Shmi was surprised that he was trying to test her. Of course he would want to know if she knew things only Shmi could know. "You intended for C3P0 to be a sentient hover-barge for assisting me, only when you didn't have all the parts you needed you used the engine from your first speeder. Then you took all those rusted droid components Watto told you to throw out and built 3PO."

 

Anakin's face didn't need to betray the fact that she was telling the truth. "How did I get the power converter for my first speeder?"

 

"You didn't. I talked to a kindly old Catharian and traded him my mother's jeweled bracelet."

 

"What was his name?"

 

"Bartok."

 

"You're lying. You told me you saved up money from doing odd jobs to pay for it."

 

"You were eight years old and had no real knowledge of finance. There were no odd jobs to do for extra credits. We were slaves. Any credits we earned were confiscated by Watto, if not paid directly to him. But I knew you wanted to race speeders, and I wanted you to have your dream. You were denied so much as a child, but I could not deny you that."

 

Anakin's throat constricted painfully as he struggled to hold onto his anger and feelings of doubt. He remembered how much she loved D'mi's bracelet and always talked about it. But she loved him more... How could this be real? He just didn't know.

 

"What did you always tell me before I fell asleep?" he asked rather faintly. When Shmi approached him he did not move away from her.

 

"That you are my precious miracle, and my love for you is without end." Shmi smiled through tears while adding, "And that if you don't fall asleep in the next ten minutes your speeder is going to mysteriously vanish."

 

The memory of finding his mother's bloody, broken body choked the very breath from his lungs even now. Afterward he had mindlessly slaughtered every living thing he came into contact with. How was he to make peace with the loving voice he knew belonged to his mother being spoken in his presence again? How could this women look at him the way Shmi did? And now as she lifted her hand to caress his face with a precious, familiar touch how could he ever lose her again?

 

"No," Anakin swore upon backing away from her outstretched hand. "I... I need some air. I'm..." He glanced apologetically at Padmé, who simply nodded her understanding. "I'll be back."

 

Obi-Wan watched Anakin stalk toward the veranda and his Jedi starfighter no doubt. "I'll go with him."

 

"Please do," Padmé said, and as he left she found herself alone with Shmi. Coming face to face with her, Mrs. Skywalker declared, "If you are lying... if this is some trick or a revenge plot against my husband, I swear I will

kill you myself."

 

Padmé's short stature brilliantly concealed the fearless warrior within. Despite the harshness of her tone, there was no doubt her son had found his champion. Shmi knew that there was no more deadly foe in the entire galaxy

than a woman protecting her family. "I assure you I am not lying nor am I working for anyone to hurt Anakin. I would never betray my son that way. I swear to you I have been held against my will for the past four years."

 

Her husband's gentle, caring eyes were reflected in Shmi's pleading gaze. Nonetheless, Padmé regarded her cautiously. "For your sake I hope you are telling me the truth. Anakin was crushed when he found his

mother dying in that Tusken camp. The horror of that moment still lives with him even to this day, as well as his actions afterward."

 

"The massacre?" Shmi's voice broke as Padmé turned her face away, obviously shaken by the mere mention of what Anakin had done. "How... how could he have..."

 

"You don't know him," Padmé interrupted her, and then wrapped her arms around herself to ward off a sudden chill. Her throat tightened as the painful memory of that dark day on Tattoine swept over her. "Anakin is a very complex man. Self-control is a major source of concern for him. He can be violently provoked by anger and grief. Palpatine recognized that trait. He cultivated and encouraged it until my husband almost lost everything he held dear."

 

"But Anakin conquered his demons?"

 

"Barely," Padmé exhaled long sigh, ever mindful of how close she had been to losing Anakin forever. She felt Shmi approach her from behind. Standing with the only woman her husband loved before her felt surreal in some strangely profound way. "You have to understand why we are so weary of believing you due to the constant danger that surrounds our lives."

 

Shmi didn't need a Force-user's uncanny abilities to see how her presence affected Padmé. "Please help me to understand?"

 

Padmé, her thoughts and feelings a jumble of mixed emotions, slowly walked across the room from Shmi. If she felt this way then what was her Ani going through?

 

"Supreme Chancellor Palpatine was prepared to issue a secret order implanted inside the minds of each and every Republic clone soldier since its conception. That order was to be the immediate murder of every Jedi in the galaxy. He planned to completely wipe out Jedi Order, all the while having the entire military under his total control. Regional governors loyal only to him had already been positioned on every single world with a full regiment of heavily armed troops. His intentions were to turn the democratic Republic into his own personal empire where all freedoms would be abolished except what he dictated."

 

Shmi quietly held her peace while listening to Padmé.

 

"Palpatine could not have prepared for this without the help of some very powerful and influential individuals. He eagerly sought the morally corrupt, people devoid of compassion who lusted for more power at any expense."

 

Padmé came to a halt before Shmi once more. "These individuals were promised more wealth and influence than they had ever dreamed of having before. They would be above any law save Palpatine's. They would answer to no one except their Emperor."

 

"What became of these individuals?"

 

In her darker inner thoughts, Padmé wished death on all of them now that her innocent children were born. She never feared attempts on her own life, and she held her defiant ground fiercely. But those that would harm her children... "When Anakin killed Palpatine his entire political cabinet was arrested immediately on various counts of high treason against the Republic. The Jedi Council began intense formal investigations into everyone associated with them. It's well known that cowards have loose lips, so the first of them who were taken into custody begged for exemption from execution because they knew once the Jedi were done with their investigation they would all qualify for the death penalty. When interim Supreme Chancellor Organa ordered the assets of all those individuals loyal to Palpatine frozen they knew who to blame for their misfortune."

 

Padmé continued, "Those loyal to Palpatine were promised power absolute in his new Empire. Their best-laid plans are now in ruins. They are cut off from their wealth and face execution if they are found guilty. The Jedi are

relentlessly bearing down hard on their organizations and anyone associated with them. For many of them, being backed into a corner means only one thing. They're turning on each other. Others want revenge on Anakin and would strike at my husband in any way that would hurt him the most."

 

Angry, vengeful beings plotted against her son in secret, wishing death upon any joy that he had. "You and the children?" Shmi's voice trembled softly as that dark conclusion fell upon her.

 

Padmé could barely speak as the air hot choked in her lungs. "Yes."

 

The immense living room seemed to close in around them. Shmi's face softened as she gazed at Padmé. She did not envy the esteemed Senator, though her admiration for her grew by the second. "You live with such fear."

 

Something of a sad, bitter laugh escaped Padmé's lips. "Anakin's life story has been spun into some sort of a legendary tale by the HoloNet. It's common knowledge how he was raised by his mother and given to the Jedi for

training. He was discovered to be the Chosen One who would bring balance to the Force. All he ever wanted was to find an inner peace for his troubled soul and freedom for you."

 

Padmé sensed nothing but compassion in Shmi's feelings toward her. The Force softly echoed it. "We hope his enemies don't know about me and the children, but we can never be sure. Our marriage is forbidden by the Jedi Code, with only a very select few people who know the truth about us. What we are sure of is that my husband's enemies do know about you. It's been reported Shmi Skywalker passed away just before the Clone Wars began. Those who blame Anakin for losing everything might seek to hurt him in the worst way possible through you."

 

At a loss for words, Shmi weakly offered, "I'm... I'm so sorry."

 

Padmé lifted a calm, gentle hand to her shoulder. "Trust me when I say that with all my heart I want you to be who you say you are. For my Ani to have his mother again..." The joy her husband would feel left her

breathless. "Anakin has many enemies who would seek vengeance for Palpatine's death. Hidden communications have been intercepted from those seeking to place a bounty on his head."

 

Shivers of fear wracked Shmi's body. "To kill him?"

 

"Yes," Padmé replied. "Two have tried already."

 

"Have they been arrested?"

 

Padmé paused before answering. Shmi's question sparked curiosity within her. If this truly were Shmi Skywalker then all that she would know about her son would be her memories of him as a young boy and her hopes for

the man he would grow into. She seemed undone by the thought of how capable of violence he truly was.

 

"There was nothing left to arrest," Padmé declared in a serious tone as the mood shifted in the room. Shmi didn't blink. She couldn't. "Anakin killed them both."

 

Unshed tears filled Shmi's eyes as her heart pounded a sad rhythm inside her chest. The fears her son's family lived with were overwhelming to her in that she had no reference point for such things. This was all so beyond her

comprehension, and yet she couldn't help but to understand Anakin's predicament. His disbelief stemmed from something far greater than simply not wanting to believe she had returned from the dead. He had his own family

to worry about and the ever-present danger they faced.

 

When Shmi lifted her hand to her face, covering her mouth in a pose of sincerity, Padmé observed her, not only visually, but also with an extension of her senses through the Force. While her perception was far from being as

attuned as Anakin's, she had honed her skills enough to where she trusted them.

 

Padmé was taken aback by the overwhelming compassion that flowed from Shmi, who began to sob in her

hands. That show of true pain left her only one course of action.

 

Shmi was surprised when Padmé tenderly embraced her, offering comfort to a woman who had gone so long without such a luxury. "I'm so sorry for any pain my being here has caused you, Padmé. My intention was to never hurt my son or your family. I only hoped to see him again and find him safe and sound. I wished for nothing more than that."

 

Tears marked a face so similar to her husband's that the sight alone was stunning. "I believe you," Padmé offered at last, holding her arms around Shmi while she wept.

 

"This is all so overwhelming to me. I only found out yesterday that my husband Cliegg passed away two years ago. I haven't had time to grieve for him at all."

 

Everyone had a breaking point, even someone as strong as Shmi. Padmé stayed with Shmi through hers, gently rocking her through painful sobs of grief she only now allowed herself to feel. "I am so sorry for your loss. I did not know of Cleigg's fate."

 

Her beloved Cliegg... As gentle and kind a soul as Shmi had ever encountered. His love was the light at the end of a very bleak tunnel that was her life before him. When a cold voice and a hard hand were all that she

knew he graced her with his kind heart. "I don't know the life he led after I disappeared," she said in a tone barely above a whisper. "I hate the grief I know he had to have experienced over my death. He was such a good man. He

gave me the first taste of true freedom I had ever known."

 

Padmé wished that she could offer Shmi so much more than a shoulder to cry on. "He seemed like a wonderful man from the brief time I spent with him. He was very good to Anakin and me when we came looking for you. He opened his home to us."

 

Needing a moment of distance, Shmi gently pulled away from Padmé. "I longed for the day my son would return to Tattoine and find that I had lived a joyful life that included my freedom. I knew, even as a little boy how he

felt about us being slaves. I dreamed of the day I could tell him that I had a real home and was loved and cared for very well. That I had not suffered at all while he was gone."

 

As if a sheer veil had been lifted from her eyes, Padmé exhaled a deeply-held breath of air. She observed Shmi pick at the hem of her dress in such a simple gesture, and yet one Anakin often did with his Jedi robe when he was troubled by something. The eyes, the face, the voice, they were all so similar to the man she loved.

 

With the Force flowing through Padmé, a revelation was revealed to her. The final piece of the puzzle her husband had not the heart to face before he left the apartment. The one, lasting truth of the Force. That which is

created could not possess a soul. No clone possessed one.

 

Shmi did.

 

Padmé felt a powerful radiance from Shmi, a beautiful aura and an array of light and goodness. Yes, she was Shmi Skywalker. Yes, Anakin's mother was alive.

 

And this was a beautiful, wonderful moment for Padmé. The healing could now begin.

 

"Shmi?" she called out, walking over to her. "Please?" Padmé took her hand and led her into the dining area. "Let me get you something to drink while you have a seat. We have Persberry juice if you'd like. Or something to eat,

perhaps?"

 

Wearing a small thankful smile, Shmi sat down at the clear glass table, her eyes darting towards the twin's high chairs. Her precious grandchildren... "Juice would be fine. Thank you."

 

Padmé made a quick trip to the refrigeration unit. She poured two glasses full of the crimson liquid. She handed one of them to Shmi, and then sat down next to her. "This is truly a miracle."

 

"Yes," Shmi allowed herself a moment to comprehend all that had happened. "It is."

 

Resting her hand over Shmi's in a sincere show of support, Padmé sought to ease her worries as best she

could. "Anakin will come to accept you in time, I promise. Trust me when I say you will bring him joy unimaginable."

 

"As he has brought me ever since the day he was born." Life had certainly taken its incredible twists and turn, Shmi felt. "Its so strange sitting here with you like this. I dare say I can barely remember you from our first meeting. I had only hoped someday that our paths would cross again."

 

"This was destiny, Shmi. I can see no other plausible conclusion to how we arrived here after all this time and all of the things that happened."

 

"Destiny it is, then," she smiled.

 

A bit thirstier than she had realized, Shmi drank from her glass as they sat in silence for a little while. She considered that, with Padmé and Leia, she was now no longer the only female Skywalker in the galaxy, and there was her grandson, Luke. Two became five as her family expanded before her very eyes.

 

Despite all the pain and hardships she had endured in her life, Shmi had never been as thankful before as she was right now.

 

The whirring buzz of Coruscant's endless sky traffic filtered in even through the curving glass hub overlooking the city. Such wonders were a far cry from the dry desert world of Tattoine. Shmi attempted to take it

all in. "I feel so small here."

 

Padmé spared a glance at the massive artificial city she'd called home for much of her adult life. "I still do to this day. You will probably be surprised to hear that even I haven't seen all of Galactic City, and I've

lived here for years."

 

Shmi's gaze fell as the memories of her solitary captivity washed over her, even amidst the wonders of

Coruscant. "For four long years I was not allowed to come and go as I pleased or talk to anyone who actually had something to say. I was used to my freedom after a lifetime of slavery, and when I realized it was gone again, and that I had to eat and sleep when I was told to..." No matter the anger clutched tight to her chest over what was done against her will, she smiled at Padmé, her spirit renewed in the eyes of the woman her son loved. "Now I want to see everything."

 

Such a simple phrase, and yet it perfectly conveyed her positive outlook. "You will," Padmé assured her. "Shmi, you are family. You can stay with us for as long as you like and if you ever want your own place or to relocate to Tattoine I will make sure you have whatever it is you need for the rest of your life."

 

"Padmé, I don't want to be a burden."

 

"You are a blessing, Shmi. Whatever we have is yours as well."

 

"That's..." Shmi struggled to reply as her emotions threatened to overwhelm her. "That is a wonderful offer, but it's to much."

 

"No, Shmi. After all that you've gone through, it isn't. There is nothing I could ever do for you that would compare to you giving me my husband. He is my joy and all of the love that I have ever wanted. I love you as well, and I

want to help you. I want you to get to know your son and your grandchildren. I personally want to have a wonderful relationship with you. I admire and respect you a great, great deal."

 

"The feeling is mutual," Shmi fondly expressed and then sighed, "I hope Anakin is alright."

 

When Padmé slowly shut her eyes, pausing before her in some spiritual way Shmi did not quite understand, there was an acceptance growing within her that her son was never alone even when he wasn't with his beloved. That

personal knowledge empowered her.

 

"He's flying too fast and Obi-Wan is complaining," Padmé smiled upon opening her eyes again.

 

Shmi blinked, "How do you know this?"

 

Explaining to her how strongly she was bonded through the Force to Anakin would be as difficult as it was to her own parents. "I just know," Padmé offered simply enough and was rewarded when Shmi squeezed her hand.

 

"Will you please do me a favor, Padmé?"

 

"Yes. Anything."

 

Shmi chose her words carefully, ever thankful she was saying them to the right person. "Will you please tell me who my son is?" She hoped her inquiry wouldn't be misinterpreted. "When he shouted at me I saw you touch his wrist,

and he seemed to fall back into himself. I could tell how deeply he loved you from that small gesture alone. You would know him best of all."

 

The compliment laced within the question was a pleasant one indeed. Padmé carefully considered Shmi's request as a wide smile began curling her lips. "My husband's capacity to love is without limit. I am overwhelmed by his

adoration. He's lived such a hard life and faced many unfair tests, yet his gentle nature persevered. He fills my heart to overflowing everyday of my life. He is utterly beautiful to me."

 

"I can tell." The way Padmé's eyes seemed to light up the room when she talked about Anakin gave Shmi such peace of mind. "Please tell me more?"

 

"Watching him with Luke and Leia is a joy to behold. He is so patient and cautious. He constantly fears he will drop them," Padmé shared a laugh with Shmi that was sisterly in nature. "I think that is a male thing to some

extent. But he is a wonderful father. When he talks about them or looks at them his whole heart exists for his family alone."

 

"I know the feeling."

 

Padmé felt privileged to be able to tell Shmi about the man her son became. "Anakin is the most loyal person I have ever met. If you have earned his favor he will not let you down."

 

"Obi-Wan mentioned that as well."

 

"Ben is my husband's very best friend," Padmé explained. "Their relationship evolved from a mentor/student to a brotherly bond they rarely acknowledge. It's so funny watching them bicker sometimes. It's often over our droids and is so stupid, yet I laugh and laugh until I can barely breathe."

 

Shmi longed to hear her son's laughter again. "They sound like quite a pair."

 

"They certainly are." After she finished her glass of juice, Padmé continued. "Having been raised as a slave deeply affected Anakin when he entered the Jedi Order, Shmi."

 

"I had a feeling it might. What little I knew of the Jedi Code, other younglings had a much greater head start than he did."

 

"Most are taken immediately after birth if a high midicloran count is discovered. By the time Anakin became a youngling he already had emotional attachments he could not break, as well as a greater knowledge of things

than a youngling is exposed to by his age."

 

"His capacity to love..."

 

"And hate," Padmé carefully amended. "My husband can be dangerous as any being that draws breath in the universe. He understands there's a darkness inside him that he must work at holding in check. He accepts this now as a part of who he is. It is a struggle, but one he has overcome time and time again."

 

"He has character."

 

"He has what you gave to him. An example to rise above your surroundings and the hardships of life." Shmi nodded her appreciation. "Anakin's Force powers are still growing. He's as powerful as a Jedi Master right now and so far

there seems to be no ceiling to his abilities. He has problems with patience when it comes to the Jedi Council realizing and respecting his accomplishments. He still has trust issues with them, though he ultimately

believes what they do is in the best interest of the Republic."

 

"Obi-Wan mentioned that the Jedi Council may soon amend the Jedi Code so that marriage and loving relationships would be permitted for Jedi?"

 

"We hold out every hope that one day we won't have to live in the shadows and can leave the lies behind us."

 

"I believe that day will come," Shmi shared her optimism. "I have renewed hope in so many things now."

 

"As do I," Padmé offered with a smile. She calmly rose from her seat. "Now, I think it is time you met your grandchildren. Don't you?"

 

Shmi felt her heart might burst from love as she stood from her chair. "Yes," she accepted, and then followed Padmé to the nursery. "Padmé, I would love to hear how you and Anakin fell in love?"

 

"Our first kiss was overlooking the lake on Naboo. I lost my heart to Anakin between one heartbeat and the next..."

 

 

 

******

 

 

The end of Chapter 2.