Will I ever see you again?
What does your heart tell you?
Ok. Yes. I guess.
Then we will see each other again. Now, be brave and don't look back.
Don't look back.
1, Just Before Dawn
Fingers of sleep unfastened their cloak of unconsciousness from Shmi Skywalker and she allowed herself a few more moments of stillness, just listening. Cliegg's loud snoring boomed reassuringly from her left; the faint, distant cry of desert wildlife echoed through the thin walls. But the sound of bantha cries that had kept her on edge and Cliegg alert with his shooter by his side for most of the night was mercifully absent.
She opened her eyes. The semi-darkness muted the room but she could still trace her husband's comforting bulk beside her, familiar shapes of furniture in the room and the figures of the chrono on the wall. Unsurprisingly, despite the lack of good sleep, she had woken up at her usual time, no sooner and no later.
Softly, Shmi slipped off the bed and fell on her knees beside it, facing the prayer circle on the opposite wall. Her invocations were familiar words for familiar requests and familiar individuals. As she began, a pair of bright blue eyes flashed in her mind; the muscles of her chest clutched protectively around the hole in her heart.
Don't look back.
Shmi got to her feet and found her way in the lessening darkness. She picked up her clothes automatically and dressed as silently as she moved. She returned to the bed and studied the careworn lines of her husband's face, faint with stubble and darkness. Gently, she ran her hand across his brow in benediction. It was something she had done every morning for Owen and, later, for Beru until she had learnt the need to be prudent about surprising either of them in the morning. It was something she had done for her own son.
The booming of Cliegg's snores ceased and he opened his eyes to look up at her.
There was surprise on his face as he took in her clothes. "Up early, today?" he grunted.
"It's the usual time," Shmi murmured. "Go back to sleep."
He glanced at the chrono, confirmed what she said. Then he rolled on his side and his snoring filled the room again.
She placed a hand on his shoulder, absorbed the simple strength and goodness that radiated from this once-stranger, once-owner and thanked the gods yet again for their unexpected, uncustomary blessing. Then she got to her feet and left the room.
The moon was a thin crescent in the horizon and the smooth yellow sand glowed palely in the pre-dawn light. Shmi unlocked the retractable ladder and lowered it until the bottom rungs reached mounting height. Balancing the bag of tools carefully on her shoulder, she climbed nimbly up the side of the vaporator. Almost the entire roof of the machine was dark with weeds. The mushrooms were usually removed the day after each moon with a small table knife; in the season's unusual humidity, they had proliferated and now their roots were embedded so deeply that after a first attempt, Shmi had to resort to using a sharper blade, a scalpel, to dig them out.
She worked steadily, automatically, uprooting each mushroom, throwing it over her shoulder to be gathered for recycling when she landed and then putting blade to root again. She had taken from the garage only the tools that she might need for weeding. She intended to return home in time to prepare breakfast and maybe persuade Beru to visit her home today. Her brow furrowed in confusion as she wondered once again at the strangeness of Owen's girlfriend's family.
The moon sunk beneath the horizon and the faint light dimmed further. Owen's wedding was drawing nearer and Anakin's natal day closer. Shmi shivered with the same joy and agony that filled her whenever her mind dwelled on her son. Every second of every day. Once more, she drew his picture in his mind, modifying it as she was wont to do with the changes of growth. He was a man now. (Ani – a man!) He would be tall maybe and his hair wouldn't be as fair. But his eyes would always be blue and she knew without a doubt that were she to meet him in the middle of Anchorhead ten years from now, she would recognise him at once..
Don't look back.
Shmi accepted the wisdom of his Jedi masters. After that first letter that she had sent and Obi-Wan Kenobi had returned with a kind but firm refusal, she had not tried to reach him again. She held onto the hope that once Anakin's apprenticeship finished, he would come to Tatooine and find her.
We will see each other again.
Her hands glowed against the dark mushrooms and rusted metal vaporators as Tatoo I peeked tentatively over the edge of the world. A clump of weeds fell to the ground in front of a shadow that had materialized suddenly. Shmi started.
"'Morning, Mother Shmi," murmured Owen, squinting up at her. His eyes were still heavy with the sleep.
Her heart stilled. "'Morning, Owen," she smiled with simple fondness. "Will you be quick? I'm almost done here." She was referring to the hand shovel in the toolbag she was carrying, the instrument that Owen must have come for.
He looked at the think clump of weeds on the far side of the vaparator dome. "I'll be back before you're done."
Shmi doubted that. But she balanced carefully against the ladder, reached into the bag and threw the shovel down. Owen caught it with a quick reflex that reminded her immediately of Anakin.
Cliegg's son and her dear friend, but never a replacement for that missing piece of her, smiled up at her and she smiled back. He turned to walk away.
"Don't forget to power up Threepio!" Shmi called after his retreating back.
"I won't!" he called back without turning.
Shmi watched until his dark form disappeared into the farmstead before she turned back to the mushrooms.
What does your heart tell you?
She held onto her faith in Anakin's heart. In the past, she had always trusted his feelings more than her own and they had never let either of them down.
She threw down a mushroom and looked back at the farmstead. There was no one in sight. Tatoo I was rising reluctantly and the farmstead shone warm and welcomingly in the distance. She started on the last mushroom, an unusually large, deeply rooted one that seemed to propagate under her very eyes.
Shmi would see her son again. And then, she would be complete.
From far off in the distance came the first bantha cry.