Disclaimer: I do not own Star Wars or any of its associated characters; they all belong to their respective owners. I only own any characters or plotlines that you do not recognize.
Foreword: This story was previously under the name 'Another Skywalker'; the previous owner of this story (TheNewBrokenEEB) has very kindly allowed me to adopt and continue this story. Thank you, again!
1. Amidst the Storm
If there was something that Tatooine had an abundance of, it was sunlight and sand. Natives to the desert planet often griped about sand getting everywhere, from filling their shoes to the light dusting of it scattered across the floors of their homes. There was no way to escape it, just as there was no way to escape the double suns that crept their way through Tatooine's skies. The onslaught of sunlight often burned skin and made the days unbearably hot, leaving the nights almost chillingly cold in the evenings. Between the two, Elara Skywalker would take the double suns over the sand any day. The pesky sediment always got in her eyes and often wormed its way into the cuts that she, on occasion, found herself troubled with. It coated her sweaty body whenever she worked outside in the junkyard her slave master, Watto, owned. It was grueling work, especially for prolonged periods of time, but Elara had no choice but to do the work given to her; such was a slave's lot.
A hissed curse passed through her lips as a piece of hot, sharp metal sliced through the skin of her palm. Elara cradled her hand to her stomach in attempts to protect it from exposure to sand. The last thing she needed was to risk infection and leave all the work to her little brother, Anakin. She ripped the thin scarf off her head and clamped the hem of it between her teeth. Yanking her head backwards and her uninjured hand downwards, Elara successfully ripped a strip of cloth from the already ragged scarf. The fabric wasn't terribly clean, as it was damp with sweat, and it certainly wasn't meant to be used as bandaging; but it would have to do for the time being. It was likely Watto wouldn't allow Elara time to sit aside and properly take care of it, which meant Elara would have to wait till she and Anakin returned home for the day. She hastily wrapped the off-white fabric around her palm, tying it off with her the aid of her teeth and calloused fingers. She smoothed a hand over her hair, which was drawn back in a plait, and the flyaway strands stayed put thanks to the moisture her sweat provided. The now fraying scarf was looped around her neck loosely, protecting her skin from the barrage of sun beams.
After doing a final sweep of the junk piles for parts that needed cleaning, Elara hoisted the bag of parts onto her shoulder. She made her way back into Watto's dismal little shop, where the two Skywalker siblings worked day-in and day-out. The protection from the sun was welcome, as was the slight shift in temperature. She fell into the seat beside Anakin, who was taking a damp cloth to a rubbish bin in order to rid it of sand and dust. The bag of parts was dropped none-too-gently between her feet, which were clad in worn shoes that had seen years of abuse. Elara wrenched the scarf from around her neck and swept it over her face, collecting the sweat that glistened on her forehead, nose, and chin.
"What happened to your hand?" Anakin asked, looking up from the bin he'd been cleaning. Elara cast her scarf aside, glanced at her hand, and shrugged indifferently.
"Sliced it open on some scrap. It'll be okay," she assured him. She reached out and ruffled his head of blond hair fondly, grinning when he swatted her hand away; he was smiling nonetheless. Elara extracted a microvalve and snatched a stiff bristled brush off the table behind her. She harshly began to scrub at the dried oil caked onto the metal, face pinching in concentration as she worked. "How have things in here been? Any customers stop by?"
"No. Why? You usually love it when there aren't any customers. It means we go home sooner," he pointed out. Elara shrugged and picked at some of the caked on oil with her thumb nail.
"Just had a feeling today would be different," she casually mentioned. Their days typically followed the same schedule. They awoke early, worked for Watto all day, and returned home just before the suns started to set. However, when Elara had gotten to the shop that day, a strange feeling washed over her. A deep tug somewhere in her gut that gave her pause. That pause allowed her to simply think 'something will be different today.' But, as far as she had seen, everything was going as it usually did. No customers had stopped in, she and Anakin were busy cleaning parts, and Watto could be heard bumbling somewhere not too far off.
The two cleaned parts in amiable silence, sometimes stopping to guess what sort of ship the objects hailed from. They were fascinated by flight. It seemed like it would be so freeing to fly through the galaxy, going wherever it was they wanted to go. Elara had heard tales of planets that were covered in greenery, and the mental image that appeared in her head was gorgeous. Tatooine was set in shades of tan and brown and provided monotonous scenery that she'd become far too used to. But to think that there were places, such as Naboo, where the landscape varied greatly, made Elara feel starry-eyed. What she wouldn't give to see a waterfall, or a forest, or even the smallest patch of lush green grass. There was so much she had never seen before. So much that she longed to see. Just as Elara was getting the lost in her imagination, she felt something stir in the atmosphere. She felt the pull in her gut again, just as she had that morning. Elara's brows pinched together and she raised her head, no longer interested in the dirty fan switch in her hand.
"Boy! Girl! Get in here now!" called Watto's harsh voice. Knowing better than to keep the Toydarian waiting, the siblings rose from their seats and set their work aside. Elara ushered Anakin out in front of her, scrubbing oil off her hands with a rag. When they entered the shop front, Watto turned to them and dropped to hover at Elara's sight-line. "What took you two so long?" He had spoken gruffly in Huttese. It wasn't a graceful language; in fact, it was quite throaty and, sometimes, guttural, but it was common to hear on Tatooine.
"We were cleaning the bin––and the parts––like you asked," Anakin answered, hopping up onto the curving stone work bench. Watto seemed to suppress a sneer; he started to make a displeased sound in the back of his throat, clearly not pleased with Anakin's excuse. The boy raised both eyebrows challengingly and his sister suppressed the urge to sigh. Anakin had a tendency to push boundaries, question rules, and, as a result got in trouble on occasion. Elara, ever the big sister, always did her best to soothe the situation if she was able to. Hence was why Elara stepped forward and drew the Toydarian's attention to herself.
"We set everything aside properly so the goods weren't damaged," she placated quickly. It was always useful to tack on the state of his goods, as he usually bit their heads off if the parts were so much as a little too scratched. Watto made a sound that could have been considered begrudgingly contented. He waved a hand at them and brushed their excuses aside nonetheless. He wasn't a pleasant creature, and he never had been. Elara suspected he never would be. But he was significantly better than the Skywalker family's previous slave master, Gardulla the Hutt, who'd had Elara work in a cantina for absurdly long hours.
"Watch the store; I've got selling to do!" His expression became much more pleasant when he turned to the his customers, whom Elara fully took in for the first time.
There was a pretty girl, dressed simply––yet elegantly––in a blue and grey tunic, dark billowing trousers, and shoes that were not meant for traveling across sand. Most intriguing was her hair, which was pulled back with a number of elaborate braids, the likes of which Elara had never seen before. The girl was accompanied by a man, who seemed far better dressed for Tatooine––simple but light weight trousers, a roughspun poncho, and knee-high boots that would certainly prevent sand from easily slipping into them. His face was kind and calm, and framed by greying brown locks of hair that were partially drawn back into a small ponytail at the back of his head. A gangly Gungan had started to peruse the shop, taking in everything in sight with wide eyes and a tilt of the head. Then there was an astromech droid, white and blue in color, that sat behind its two human companions. If there was one thing that was painfully obvious, it was that they were strangers to Tatooine; if they had meant to blend in, they had done a terrible job of it.
"So… let me take you out back, huh? Ni you'll find you what you need!" Watto encouraged, gliding towards the entrance to the junkyard. The man started to follow, eyes briefly flickering towards the Skywalker siblings. Elara's head cocked to the side a fraction, her eyes curiously sticking with the man as he moved through the shop. He paused beside the Gungan, who stood just by the door, and pulled something out of his hand.
"Don't touch anything," the man ordered firmly, setting the part aside. The Gungan held up his hands and waggled his tongue through the air mockingly whilst the poncho wearing man disappeared with Watto. Elara smirked and folded up the dirty rag that had been clenched in her fist, placing it atop the counter to collect later. Anakin was intently staring at the girl who had been left behind, his eyes scanning her over from head to toe.
"Are you an angel?" he suddenly asked. Elara gaped at her younger brother and reached out to take him by the shoulder.
"Ani!" she admonished quietly. He ignored her, however, and shifted his shoulder so her hand slipped away. Elara shook her head and sent an apologetic look towards the girl, who was staring at Anakin with a smile on her face.
"An angel! We've heard the deep space pilots talk about them. They're the most beautiful creatures in the universe; they live in the moons of Iego, I think," Anakin explained, taking to cleaning a spare part that had been sitting on the counter. The girl's brows rose and a small little laugh passed between her lips.
"You're a funny little boy," the girl commented, taking a couple steps closer. "How do you know so much?"
"We get plenty of star pilots and traders who stop by for parts," Elara informed, hefting a heavy box of clean parts off the floor. The thing had been a tripping hazard for the last two days and Watto hadn't had the good graces to move it. Leaning back to keep her balance, she started to move across the room, talking over her shoulder as she went. "They're particularly good story tellers, and we're sometimes the first people outside of their squadron or crew they talk to. We get all of the uncensored bits, told in excited ramblings." Elara brushed past the Gungan, who leapt back with a 'mesa so sorry!' and allowed her to place the box on a cluttered looking shelf. She shook out her fingers, and briefly noticed that a spot of red had started to form on her bandage. She'd begun to bleed.
"I'm a pilot, you know. So is my sister; and one day, we're gonna fly away from this place." Anakin sounded proud, a confidence in his tone often found in men much older than he was. The girl arched both brows, taking in the information with surprise.
"You're a pilot?" she asked.
"All my life!" Anakin confirmed, looking up from his lap.
"And you?" The girl had turned to Elara, who shrugged and considered the question. Truth be told she'd initially become a pilot out of necessity––speeders were the easiest way to get around the planet, and with the errands she was often sent on, she had needed to know basic flight skills. Basic skills had developed when she'd learned her love of flight; or, rather, developed as much as she could teach herself.
"Can't say I've done it my whole life, but I've been doing it for a respectable amount of time," Elara laughed. "Although, he's better than I am, and I'm ten years his senior." The girl cocked her head to the side curiously, eyes dancing between the siblings in consideration.
"How long have you been here?"
"We've been in Mos Espa almost six years, I think. He was three and I must have just turned thirteen; we were sold, along with our mother, to Gardulla the Hutt. It was to our fortune that she lost us when she bet wrong on a podrace; and here we are." Elara had begun to gently prod her bandaged hand, recalling memories of years long since gone. The wound had started to sting, but it wasn't anything she couldn't ignore. The girl's face had gone slack and the color had drained from her cheeks. The look read as completely appalled.
"You're slaves?" she asked incredulously. Anakin's young features crumpled at the lowly title and his hands curled around the ship part in his hand.
"We're people and my name is Anakin!" he shot back hotly. Elara gave her brother a look from across the shop; he'd always had a temper that was quick to flare and hard to suppress.
"Ani, she didn't mean any harm, she's just… surprised," Elara reasoned in a calm tone. Anakin sighed heavily and looked down at his feet, which dangled in the air. Turning to the girl, Elara offered a kind smile and bobbed her head once in a nod. "I'm Elara, by the way."
"I'm sorry I don't fully understand. This is a strange place to me," the girl attempted to placate, looking between the two Skywalkers again. Before anyone could say something else, there was a series of crashes, and the Gungan let out an exclamation of surprise. Elara watched as a droid, which had accidentally been activated, stumbled out of its alcove and into the main shop, running into everything as the Gungan attempted to wrangle it. She stuttered a step forward, hands outstretched in the need to assist.
"No––no, that won't work!" she called to the Gungan, who had grabbed the droid by its skinny neck. He made a questioning sound and gave it a little shake. "Well, that certainly isn't going to turn it off." The droid was given a harsher shake, which only caused it to lash out and swipe at its captor.
"Hit the nose!" Anakin prompted, as though it was obvious. The droid was dropped and then promptly punched square in the face, which caused it to freeze up and collapse in on itself. Elara swooped in and picked up the compact droid and went about fixing the Gungan's mess, well aware that Watto would sooner blame the slaves for the mess, rather than his customers. She hauled an old protocol droid back into its rightful standing position and began to work on brushing off its shiny exterior. There were a couple of scuff marks that would need tending to, but that was a task for a later time. She removed one of its eye pieces, rubbed it against her sleeve and fitted it back into place with a little pop. As she worked, Elara thought to the man that was touring the junkyard for parts. There was something peculiar about him; something that made him stand out against his other companions. It wasn't anything to do with the way he dressed or the way he held himself, it was something about his… presence, Elara wanted to say. Something about the way the atmosphere felt around him.
There was a loud clatter as something tipped over and crashed to the floor. Elara flinched and decided that it was probably best not to turn around. Instead, she focused her gaze on the unlit eyes of the protocol droid and sighed heavily through her nose. She pinched the edge of her tunic sleeve between her fingers and raised her arm to buff a spot on the droid's head.
"We'll get you as good as new again, I promise…" she murmured as she began picking at some sand that had found its way into one of the seams in the metal. Her nose twitched at another scuffling in the room just behind her.
"We're leaving," said the pleasantly gruff voice of the long haired man. Looking over her shoulder, Elara saw him sweeping towards the shop door with the astromech droid in tow. "Jar-Jar." The Gungan, presumably named Jar-Jar, squealed and hurtled away from the mess he'd made, clearly happy to be leaving the cluttered shop. The girl, whom had been idly chatting with Anakin, smiled at the young blonde boy and started backing towards the door.
"It was nice to meet you, Anakin. And you as well, Elara," she said sweetly before exiting the shop with the rest of her companions. Anakin craned his head upwards and sideways, trying to catch one last glimpse of her, if Elara could guess right.
"I was glad to meet you, too!" he called after her. Elara smiled to herself and leant herself against the archway to the small alcove. Watto drifted in through the back door, a sneer on his sagging lips.
"Outlanders," he groaned in Huttese, "they think we know nothing."
"They seemed nice to us," Anakin answered.
"Clean the racks––then you can go home."
With an exclamation of excitement, Anakin leapt off the counter and immediately went about starting his work. Elara smiled, but was slow to follow. She paused at the back door and looked over her shoulder to the shop's entrance. The arrival of the mysterious travelers weighed on her mind. It wasn't particularly heavy or foreboding, but it was weight nonetheless. Yes, she had expected the day to be different… And if the pull in her gut told her anything, it was that the day was only going to continue following that pattern.
"Where do you think they're from?" Anakin asked as they wove their way through Mos Espa's streets. Elara hummed and adjusted her scarf, which was loosely draped over her head and looped around her neck. The subject of conversation had been the would-be customers that had stopped by the shop earlier. Anakin had lingered on questions pertaining to the pretty young girl whom they'd held conversation with; Elara had a strange feeling that he had taken a severe––and very adorable––liking to her.
"I can't say. Though, I imagine wherever they're from, it's far better than here…" Elara trailed off. She pictured them coming from some planet far from the Outer Rim, a place where it was common to wear clothing in rich colors that didn't remind one of sand and dirt. Aside from the Gungan, they'd seemed like a well put-together bunch, operating politely and calmly, which was a breath of fresh air. A lot of clients Watto got were heavily associated with the Hutts, and the higher powers knew how awful they could be.
"Hey, isn't that the Gungan from before?" Anakin asked, pointing down the street. Elara narrowed her eyes to better see through the sunlight and pursed her lips at the sight she was welcomed with. It was, in fact, Jar-Jar. He was sprawled out across the sandy street with a Dug by the name of Sebulba looming over him, a hand curled around Jar-Jar's throat.
"Oh, no…" Elara murmured. She started to walk faster, fingers curling into loose fists. Sebulba was nasty in every meaning of the word; if someone got on his bad side, they would remain there for as long as they had the misfortune to live. He held grudges the way a stingy salesmen clung to money. Inhaling sharply, Elara opened her mouth and shouted. "Hey!" The Dug looked up sharply, eyes narrowing at one of his Podracing rivals. He sneered and spat a particularly unsavory insult under his breath. Placing both hands on her hips, Elara glared down at the Dug and the fallen Gungan. "Let him go, Sebulba. I'm sure that whatever he did wasn't enough to warrant a beating from the meanest Dug on Tatooine."
"Who are you to say what he does and doesn't deserve?" Sebulba spat, tightening his grip on Jar-Jar's throat. "You're just a slave, girl, you have no authority to tell me what to do." Elara bit the insides of her cheeks and pursed her lips. There were times it was hard not to feel insulted by the title of 'slave.' It made her feel powerless, and, unfortunately, she often was.
"Maybe not. But I do have the common decency to look after a friend," Elara said, gesturing to Jar-Jar. Sebulba scoffed at the word 'friend' and then raised a fist to bring down on the frightened Gungan.
"Besides, he's a big-time Outlander," Anakin threw in, having marched forward to stand right beside his sister. The Dug glared at the two siblings, whom he'd raced against a number of times before. Watto had a habit of placing Elara and Anakin in the Podraces, even when he knew their chances of winning were slim; he always bet on Sebulba, anyway. Sebulba stalked closer to them, and Elara grabbed hold of Anakin's shoulder protectively. Anakin didn't shrug her off like he had earlier, but instead fixed the dug with a sarcastically challenging expression. Sharp eyes flickered between the two Skywalkers, the sneer on his face strengthening in annoyance.
"I'd hate to see either of you diced before we race again! The next time any of us race against each other… It will be the end of you. If neither of you were slaves, I'd squash you both now!" Sebulba spat before skulking away.
"Yeah, it'd be a pity if you had to pay for us," Anakin tossed as a final retort. Elara squeezed her brother's shoulder and drew his attention up to her. The final remark had been meant to sound sarcastic and biting, but she had detected an undertone of sadness in her brother's voice. She rubbed his tunic clad shoulder and then turned her gaze forward. The man, girl, and astromech droid from the shop were headed their way.
"Hi," Anakin said easily as the man eyed them curiously.
"Hi there," he replied. Elara aided him in pulling Jar-Jar to his feet, her scarf slipping off the crown of her head as she leaned backwards.
"Your buddy here was about to be turned into orange goo. He picked a fight with a Dug. An especially dangerous Dug called Sebulba."
"Mesa haten crunchen. Das da las ting mesa want!" Jar-Jar informed, brushing himself off. Elara crossed her arms and glanced in the direction Sebulba had slipped off in, a grimace pulling at her lips. He was seated at a table not too far off, practically snarling at the small group that had assembled. Her lips pursed as she turned her attention back to her acquaintances.
"It doesn't matter if you want it or don't want it. If you so much as look at Sebulba wrong you'll get punished for it. You're very lucky he took the chance to talk to you before threatening a beating; he isn't usually that kind," Elara mentioned, recalling many a time Sebulba had lost his temper at some unsuspecting passerby.
"Nevertheless, the boy and the girl are right. You were heading into trouble," the man wisely informed Jar-Jar. He returned his gaze to the two siblings and nodded at them with solemn gratefulness. "Thanks, my young friends." Elara's lips twitched slightly in annoyance at the use of the word 'young.' She hadn't felt particularly young for a very long time; the life of a slave tended to take that joy away. When the group that had entered the shop earlier started to move off in an decided, but clearly aimless, direction, the Skywalkers started to follow.
Elara jogged forward in order to keep pace with the intriguing man in the poncho. She looked him over from head-to-toe, brows slightly pinched. Again, she felt that slight change in the air around him, as though the world's natural energy flowed around him differently.
"Do you know where you're going?" she inquired. "Forgive me saying, but, I take it you aren't from around here and, as demonstrated by your friend, running into the wrong person––or place––can get you in trouble." The man looked down at her with a soft gaze that, once again, held that curious gleam she had seen before. The startings of a smile appeared at the corners of his mouth.
"Your concern is most admirable," he complimented as they walked. Elara smiled softly and raised her shoulders in what was supposed to be a shrug. The dismissive gesture was not enough to mask the true concern that laced her voice when she responded.
"I know what it's like to be caught in a bad situation. So, again, I ask: do you know where you're going?"
"We're just sight-seeing while we attempt to figure out how to acquire parts for our ship."
A laugh bubbled out of Elara's throat and she stopped in the middle of the street, hands falling to rest on her hips. The man looked at her mildly surprised, brows rising as she smirked at him and the rest of his companions. "Sight-seeing in Mos Espa? On Tatooine? If you flew here than you've already seen what the whole planet looks like––lots of sand and smatterings of settlements here and there. The better option would be to stop into a cantina, get out of the sun, and drink while you contemplate your next move. That's what everyone here does."
"I'm afraid we don't have the luxury; we need to get off planet as soon as possible," the man told her, a hidden urgency in his tone. Elara snorted and nodded, looking up and down the dusty street the stood in; everyone was lounging under awnings to protect themselves from the sun, drinking out of flasks that were hidden away in layers of lightweight fabric. The people of Tatooine were generally very kind, even in the territories owned by the Hutts. There were, of course, people such as Sebulba and Watto, but the general public was typically quite pleasant. The planet somehow always managed to feel desolate, despite its population. There was only so much that a native to Tatooine could do, especially if their lot in life was already decided. It was likely Elara and Anakin and their mother, Shmi, would remain slaves for the rest of their lives. It was that feeling of hopelessness that drove Elara to want to leave; she wanted to take control of her own life, not leave it in the hands of some grimy Toydarian.
"You and us all," Elara murmured under her breath.
The man looked towards the sky, eyes narrowing as a breeze whooshed down the street. Elara clutched her scarf to her neck, brows furrowing at the strength of the wind; sand bit at her face and she squinted her eyes against the barrage of sediment. From the corner of her eye, she saw Anakin extend a hand towards the man; in his small palm was a pallie, a sort of fruit grown in Tatooine's underground farms.
"Here, you'll like these pallies," Anakin told him. When the man didn't immediately respond, the young boy gently tapped his stomach. "Here." The man's brows rose and he nodded thankfully, taking the small fruit.
"Thank you." He lifted the bottom of his poncho in order to stash the fruit away inside a pouch around his waist. When the roughspun fabric rose, Elara caught sight of something incredibly peculiar. Hanging from his belt was a cylindrical hilt made of shining metal, black hand-grips, and a single button. Elara's mouth fell open a fraction, recognizing exactly what it was: a lightsaber hilt. Her eyes immediately flew to Anakin's, which were wide with amazement. They had heard stories of the Jedi, amazing and wondrous adventures that took the renowned Knights all across the galaxy. Tales that had documented how they had kept the peace and maintained the balance of the Force; horrifying stories of Jedi that turned to the Dark Side and became Sith. They had grown up on such stories, and had, in turn, dreamed of becoming one themselves.
"Oh, my bones are aching. Storm's coming up, Ani, Elara. You better get home quick!" Jira, the kind old woman who ran the fruit stand, urged. Elara immediately tugged her scarf over her head again, looking towards the sky as though she would be able to see the oncoming sandstorm. A thought suddenly struck her and she faced her new acquaintance with wide eyes.
"Do you have shelter?" Elara asked. The man began to walk away from the stand calmly, seemingly unperturbed by the oncoming storm.
"We'll head back to our ship," he told them. Anakin fell into step with his sister and cocked his head to the side.
"Is it far?"Anakin asked, the wind steadily beginning to pick up. The girl in the blue tunic vaguely gestured in a general direction.
"It's on the outskirts," she informed. Elara shook her head with a regretful expression painted across her face.
"You won't reach the outskirts before the storm hits. Sandstorms are extremely dangerous, and you don't want to be caught in one unprepared and unprotected. You can take shelter with us at home, it isn't too far off." Elara strode forward and took the lead, her stride determined and her eyes narrowed into the gathering wind.
Elara and Anakin led the group through Mos Espa as the storm kicked up. Elara had pulled her scarf around the bottom half of her face, keeping one hand held up to shield her eyes from the sand that flew through the air. It hit exposed skin with pin-prick pains, stinging constantly as they trudged through the gale-force winds. The Skywalker household was located in a number of slave dwellings, all of which looked almost exactly the same. Once inside, with the door firmly shut, Anakin began to call out for his mother, informing her of their return. Elara peeled the scarf from around her head and shook out the sand that had stuck itself into the folds of fabric. A sweet faced older woman appeared from one of the rooms, wiping her hands off on a dish rag. Her eyes widened in surprise, taking in the amount of people in her small home.
"These are our friends, mom," Anakin told her, smiling over at the girl, whom had revealed her name was Padmé.
"I'm Qui-Gon Jinn," the man introduced, giving a small but respective bow to Shmi. Anakin excitedly grabbed hold of Padmé's hand, informing her of the fact he was building a droid. He dragged her across the room so he could show her, with R2-D2 following. "Your children were kind enough to offer us shelter."
Shmi looked to her daughter, who was leaned to the side slightly, unbraiding her hair. It had still managed to get sandy despite her head covering, much to her annoyance. Elara, realizing that both Qui-Gon and Shmi were watching her, smiled. She piled all of her dark blonde hair over one shoulder and looked genuinely proud that she'd gotten the group to safety. Her mother slowly began to smile, clasping her hands together.
"That sounds like my children. So kind hearted," she commended. Returning her gaze to Qui-Gon, she smiled a fraction wider. "You're welcome to rest here till the storm is over." Qui-Gon again inclined his head to her in thanks, that ever-calm smile resting easily on his lips. Shmi was about to turn away when her gaze slid down to Elara's hands. She froze when she saw the bandaging, eyes going wide. "Elara––"
"It's only a cut!" Elara quickly placated, curling her fingers inward to hide the blood stain that had bloomed across her palm. Shmi looked the perfect picture of motherly concern, lips pulled into a frown, eyes shining with worry. Elara smiled at her mother brightly and squeezed her mother's shoulder with her uninjured hand. "Really, I'm fine. It was just a piece of scrap at the shop."
"Perhaps you would allow me to assist you with cleaning it––if only as a small repayment for allowing us to take shelter here," Qui-Gon offered, taking a gallant step forward. Elara held her bandaged hand to her stomach for a moment before nodding her agreement.
The two sat across from each other at the table, with Elara's arm stretched out across it. Qui-Gon was dutifully cleaning sand out of the cut, gently dabbing at it with an antiseptic dampened cloth. Her hand was gently cradled in his larger palm, her fingers flexed and pressed together. They had been sitting in silence, listening to Jar-Jar and Shmi in the kitchen, and Anakin and Padmé in the adjoining room with R2-D2 and C3PO, the protocol droid he had been working on building.
"I once again must thank you for everything you've done," Qui-Gon told her. Elara again tried for a dismissive shrug, but the smile on her face betrayed her well of pride. "It was very brave of you to stand up for someone you hardly know; and to offer a group of strangers your home for shelter. That is a rare kind of selflessness that I appreciate very much."
"Someone has to be kind. If no-one was, the galaxy would be a far colder place," Elara murmured thoughtfully. A smile crossed the man's face as he gently dragged the cloth along the length of the cut. His eyes twinkled kindly when he smiled, Elara noticed; she also realized that, despite the fact she didn't know the man in any regard, she felt remarkably at ease with him.
"It's because of people like you, and your brother, that the galaxy is less cold." Qui-Gon saw that Elara had smirked wryly, her lips pulling to one side in a manner that reminded him remarkably of a certain blond Padawan. "Even the smallest of deeds can change the universe, Elara."
Elara was about to respond when her attention was acutely drawn to his left hand. It swept to the side in order to set aside the cloth, his attention directed elsewhere. Her eyes widened a fraction, well aware that Qui-Gon was about to knock over a bottle from the first aid kit. Elara's right hand shot out and, half a second later, a bottle fell straight into her palm, the liquid sloshing around inside. The two at the table remained still and silent for a moment, and Qui-Gon stared at her hand and the bottle, brows having knit together.
"That's quite a set of reflexes you have," he mentioned slowly, thoughtfully. Elara weighed the bottle in her hand for a second before righting it and setting it back atop the table; a faint smile appeared on her face. It was a frequent occurrence for either of the Skywalker children to catch something just before it hit the ground, or leap out of the way as a large piece of scrap fell off one of the piles in the junkyard.
"I'm thankful for them. They've saved my hide more than once; you need good reflexes in Podracing, it's the only way you make it out alive," she explained.
Qui-Gon slowly began to bind her hand with fresh bandages, thoughtfully staring at her hand as he did so. Elara began to tell him about the time a greater krayt dragon had almost taken her and her speeder out of commission. The story showcased her quick reflexes and fast thinking, despite the panic she had undoubtedly. Qui-Gon mulled over his thoughts, adjusting the bandages as he wound them around her palm. Elara's reflexes were so quick and assured that it was almost as if she had known what was going to happen just moments before it did. That was foresight; a potential sign that one was Force sensitive. He'd had his suspicions the moment he had stepped into the shop, having felt a strange elevation in the Force. Now there was evidence to support his suspicions.
"Thank you, Qui-Gon," Elara thanked, once he had tied off the bandage. It was far better wrapped than it had been earlier in the day, and for that, she was very thankful. She began to put all of the medical supplies back into its small woven basket and went about storing it away. The Jedi Master watched at she left, raising a hand to stroke his beard. Perhaps their emergency stop to Tatooine was fated; because if there was one thing he could sense, it was that the Force was strong with the Skywalkers.
Afterword: Next chapter things get more exciting, I promise! Regardless, I hope you all enjoyed reading the chapter; I have had a blast writing this thus far and hope to see you all next chapter! Thank you for taking the time to read!