**I've had this story up before, but I'm reposting a chapter a day so more people get to read it**
So I typed this up about a year ago, just for fun. Then today I noticed that although FF.net wonderfully and finally has characters up in the Star Wars category to help searching for stories, there's nothing about Padmé! :-( So, I brought this baby up on my computer, wiped off the dust from it, made a few modifications, and in my very dorky way of protesting how there's no Padmé on the character search bar…we'll, here ya go! Also I love to write, love to get reviews, and I love these beautiful, sincere characters!
Disclaimer: If you have read the novel edition of EP2, there are lines you may recognize, but all those I put in italics, along with EP2 movie lines. Some words in sentences you may randomly see in italics, but that's because I'm putting emphasis/stress on that particular word. Or you might notice sentences in italics, and those are thoughts. So you see, I'm not infringing upon any copyright laws! I mainly only used them to fill in the blanks here or there, nothing big. :-) I am making no money, I do not take credit for the characters and places or for SW at all. That prestigious title goes to The Great Flannel One, George "Big Man" Lucas. GO GEORGE ALL THE WAY! MAKE US PROUD WITH EPISODE III (which shouldn't be too hard)!!
***THIS IS AN AU! Which means "alternate universe" or a "what if?" story. SO DON'T FLAME ME. Or if you choose to ignore this message, then please direct all flames to my dear pet, Bob the Balrog.***
A Mother Lives- A Shmi Lives Story
Anakin gave the address and off it went, pulling them behind in the floating rickshaw, charging along the streets of Mos Espa, expertly zigging and zagging to avoid the heavy traffic, and blasting forth a shrill sound whenever someone didn't get out of the way.
"Do you think he was involved?" Padmé asked Anakin.
"Yes, that was his name, right? Your former master?"
"If Watto has hurt my mother in any way, I will pluck his wings from his back," he promised, meaning every word. He wasn't sure how he would feel about seeing the slaver, even if Watto had nothing to do with bringing any harm to Shmi. Watto had treated him better than most in Mos Espa treated their slaves, and hadn't beaten him too often, but still, it hung in Anakin's thoughts that Watto had not let Shmi go with him when Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon had bought out his slave debt.
Anakin understood that he was probably just deflecting some of his own guilt about leaving his mother with Watto, who was a businessman, after all.
"Ani," Padmé said, and he turned to look at her. She had a dazed expression on her face. "Just for me, seeing this place again brings back memories. I can't imagine what is going through your mind right now."
Anakin nodded his head. "Yes, but… Mos Espa hasn't changed a bit since I left. Still…" Anakin stared at sights he hadn't seen in years. Buildings, streets, everything brought back memories.
As if she could read his mind, Padmé asked gently, "Not all the memories are good?"
Anakin nodded his head as they passed the place where he had first seen a man killed. The man had been shoplifting the wrong kind of seller, which you just don't do on Tatooine. He'd paid for it with his life, while Anakin had watched from only a few feet away. He closed his eyes and turned his head away from the spot, and felt Padmé's comforting hand upon his. He looked up at her.
She was giving him her warm, magical smile, seeing that he was feeling distress. Her heart went out to him, and his own heart melted.
"Here, Espa," Anakin said to the droid, and the rickshaw glided to a stop in front of a shop all too familiar to Anakin Skywalker. There, sitting on a stool near the door, fiddling with an electronic driver on a broken piece of equipment that looked like a droid component was a rounded, winged Toydarian with a long snout. A black round hat adorned his head, and a small vest was pulled as far as it would go about his girth. Anakin recognized him immediately.
Anakin was helping Padmé out of the rickshaw after he
got down, when they shared a long, almost sad look They had been sharing many
like that since their late night discussion at the Naboo Lake Retreat, holding
eye-contact until it becomes awkward, with heartbreaking, touching stares.
Anakin still couldn't help but notice how beautiful she was, even when she looked at him in same, gloomy look. He knew what she felt, because it was the same as what he felt: yes, I have romantic feelings for you, and you know that; no we can't act on them, so let's just move on like nothing passionate has happened between us… just like nothing passionate will ever happen between us.
Padmé indeed also felt heartbreak whenever she made intimate eye contact with Anakin. The kisses she wanted to share again, the touching she wanted to feel once more, the emotions she wanted to express, and all had to been shunned away into a corner of her heart like it didn't exist. After Anakin had helped her down from the rickshaw he was still holding her hand as she slowly walked away onto Watto's shop, and she was still holding his. Their eyes were still locked onto each other's. Then, of course, they came to one of the awkward moments again, where in a second both their arms would be fully extended, and hands still gripping each other, with eyes focusing on the other. So Padmé slid her hand out of Anakin's light grasp, and he let it go.
Returning to the present situation, Anakin turned to the droid driver. "Wait right there."
"No chuba da wanga, da wanga!" Watto, surrounded by flies, yelled at the broken component, and at a trio of pit droids who were scrambling all about, trying to help.
"Huttese," Anakin explained to Padmé.
"No, not that one—that one!" she replied, and at Anakin's expression of surprise that she knew the strange language, she added, "You think it's easy being the Queen?"
Anakin shook his head and looked back to Watto, then glanced at Padmé once or twice as they neared. She never ceases to amaze me, he thought to himself with a smile. "Chut chut, Watto," he greeted.
"You are Ani!" the Toydarian cried. "It is you!" His wings started beating furiously, lifting him from the stool to hover in the air. "Ya sure sprouted! A Jedi! Waddya know? Hey, maybe you couldda help wit some daedbeats who owe me a lot of money—"
"My mother—" Anakin prompted.
"Oh, yeah. Shmi... she's not mine no more. I sold her."
"Sold her?" Anakin felt Padmé squeeze his forearm.
"Years ago," Watto explained. "Sorry, Ani, but you
know, business is business. Sold her to a moisture farmer named Lars. Least I
think it was Lars. Believe it or not, I heard he freed her and married her. Can
ya beat that?"
Anakin just shook his head, trying to digest it all. "Do you know where they are now?"
"Long way from here... someplace over on the other side
of Mos Eisley, I think..."
"I'd like to know," Anakin said, his tone and expression grim and determined, even threatening. The way Watto's features seemed to tighten showed that he got the hint that Anakin wasn't fooling around.
"Yeah... sure..." he said. "Absolutely. Let's go look in my records."
The three went into the shop, and seeing the place brought memories swirling back to Anakin. How many hours, years, he had toiled in here; fixing everything Watto threw his way. And out back, where he had gradually collected all the spare parts he could find, so that he could build a Podracer. Not all of the memories were bad, he had to admit, but the good ones did not overcome the reality that he had been a slave. Watto's slave.
As Anakin looked around at the counter, and Watto went through his records over the past years, Padmé absent-mindly drifted over to a spot on the other side of the shop. She looked around distantly at the parts and tools scattered around her. She removed her hood, revealing her chocolate, silky hair.
Anakin was watching her out of the corner of his eye, like he always was, and he suddenly did a double take. He realized Padmé and he were standing in the exact same spots that they had been in when they had first met ten years ago. Anakin had been sitting on the counter, though, but it didn't make much difference. His heart melted all over again at the memory.
Even now, standing in the same place as he stared at her, she was still the angel she had always appeared to be. In the dark, gloominess of the room, her brilliant brown eyes shone like crystals, lighting up the space around her.
Watto abruptly left the room, muttering that the papers were someplace else, and ordinarily Anakin would have been on his heels, breathing down his neck. But now he let Watto go. This was too big an opportunity to pass up.
He took a breath, and then asked in the same, mild tone, "Are
you an angel?"
Padmé turned to look at him, but only hesitated for a second. "What?"
"An angel," Anakin repeated, replaying the magical moment of their first encounter in his mind. "I heard the deep space pilots talk about them. They're the most beautiful creatures in the universe. They live on the moons of Iego… I think."
Padmé smiled warmly, catching on. "You're a funny little boy," she said, walking forward towards him, like she had a decade ago. She giggled at the absurdity of that statement. The 'little boy' stood almost a foot taller than her with broad shoulders and a sturdy outline. "How do you know so much?"
Anakin smiled hugely as he leaned back against the counter. "I listen to all the traders and star pilots who come through here. I'm a pilot you know, and someday I'm gonna fly away from this place."
"You're a pilot?"
"Mmm-hmm. All my life."
"How long have you been here?"
Anakin's voiced sobered a little. "Since I was very little…three, I think. My mom and I were sold to Gardula the Hutt, but she lost us betting on the podraces."
winked at him as a friendly warning, since they both knew what line was coming
next. "You're a slave?"
"I'm a person and my name is Anakin!" he said firmly in the same offended tone, though of course he didn't feel offended this time by her.
Padmé smiled at him. She could still hear the small voice, that she had heard attached to the young boy ten years ago, say that exact same thing. Her eyes twinkled. "I'm sorry," she said. "I don't fully understand. This is a strange place to me."
To anyone else, it would seem odd that these two people were repeating a conversation they had had ten years ago almost word for word, but for Anakin it was the easiest thing he had done all day. He must have run his first meeting with Padmé through his head millions of times during the years they had been apart, memorizing every line spoken, every gesture made, every twinkle in her eyes over and over again. And Padmé had always cherished the unique meeting as well, and over the past few days she had come to replay it in her mind too, and right now, it was still fresh. Therefore, it wasn't hard at all for either one of them to recount what they had said a decade ago. They continued their reenactment for a while, both feeling very carefree, until Anakin said, like he had many years before, "You know what?"
Padmé predictably answered, "What?"
"I'm going to marry you someday," he replied bluntly, without thinking.
They locked eyes for a long time, both not daring to breath, and not daring to look away. It was one of those moments.
"Oh, Anakin, I can't… marry you. You're… just a little boy," Padmé managed to croak out after several moments. Ten years ago she had smiled and laughed at this boy's courage, wit, and humor. Now, laughing was the last thing on her mind. Padmé felt her control slip a few notches.
With the same sure tone and unwavering eyes, Anakin answered with the voice that again sent a warm chill down her back, "I won't always be."
"But Ani," she whispered, quoting herself. "Don't you have to fall in love before you get married?" She knew the answer from Anakin would be, It can't be hard to fall in love with an angel.
Anakin's stare burned intensely into her eyes. Without blinking, he murmured slowly, "It's not hard at all to fall in love with an angel." Padmé could practically hear the rest of his statement pounding in her head like a drum. I know from personal experience…
Her emotions boiled over, as the "reenactment" was gone. "Oh, Anakin, I can't—"
"Ani! I found dose papers ya wanted about Shmi. Yeah, I was right abouta Lars being the buyer."
Fortunately for Watto, his records gave a location for the moisture farm of one Cliegg Lars. Anakin and Padmé shared one brief glance at each other, flashbacking to their previous conversation before Watto unexpectedly came in. But now they were back to the situation at hand. Well, almost.
"Stay a while, Ani," the Toydarian offered after sharing
the information on Shmi's new owner—or was it her husband?
Without a word, Anakin turned about and walked away. This was the last time he would look at Watto and the shop, he decided. Unless of course, he found out that Watto was lying to him about Shmi's fate, or that Watto had somehow hurt his mother.
"Back to the lot, Espa," he said to the droid as he and Padmé rushed back into the rickshaw.
"Ya sure I can't get ya something to drink?" Watto called to them from the door of his shop, but they were already rushing away, kicking up dust in their wake.
"Ani du Jedi," Watto remarked, and he waved both his hands dismissively at the departing rickshaw. "Waddya know."
"Stay with the ship, Artoo," Padmé instructed, who beeped in reply.
The first form that came into view as they walked toward the Lars homestead was that of a very thin droid, dull gray in color, with weather-beaten metal coverings. Obviously in need of a good oil bath, he bent stiffly and worked on some sort of fence censor. Then he rose with a jerky motion, seeing their approach. "Oh, hello," he greeted. "How might I be of service? I am See--"
"Threepio?" Anakin asked breathlessly, hardly believing his eyes.
"Oh my!" the droid exclaimed, and he began to shake
violently. "Oh, my maker! Master Anakin! I knew you would return! I knew it!
And Miss Padmé!"
"Hello, Threepio," Padmé replied.
"Oh, bless my circuits! I'm so pleased to see you both!"
"I've come to see my mother," Anakin explained. The droid turned sharply toward him, and then seemed to shrink back.
"Oh, uh, perhaps we better go inside."
Threepio led them into the homestead, and Anakin's emotions became a wild whirlwind. He felt a sweet, timid, and caring female presence inside of the homestead, but he didn't recognize it. Was it actually possible that after ten years, he had forgotten the distinct Force signature of his own mother?!
Owen, may I introduce two most important visitors?"
Anakin strode towards them, Padmé at his side. "I'm Anakin Skywalker."
The petite, youthful man nodded his head respectively and shook Anakin's hand. "Owen Lars... This is my girlfriend, Beru."
Beru nodded. "Hello."
Owen's last comment once again reminded Anakin of the breathtaking
Padmé standing beside him, and he secretly, desperately longed to introduce her
as his own girlfriend. He was so afraid that he might, that he forgot
his manners and didn't introduce her. But Padmé did it herself.
She nodded hear head and stated, "I'm Padm." She had heard how Owen and Beru were boyfriend and girlfriend, and she and Anakin… no, she must stick to the matters at hand. She turned her attention back to Owen.
"I guess I'm your stepbrother. I had a feeling you might show up some day," muttered Owen.
Anakin was through with small chat and got right to the point. He started looking around as he walked to the side impatiently. "Is my mother here?"
A gruff voice from behind replied, "No. She's not."
"She's dead, son. Accept it."
Anakin's response was to shake his head and look off into
the distance. Padmé dropped her eyes. For Padmé, it seemed like she could feel
the apprehension and sorrow wash over her from Anakin in loads. After a tense
moment Anakin said, "I can feel her pain, and I will find her. I know
Anakin turned abruptly, starting to walk away, then stopped. He only turned his head back and looked directly at Padmé, who stared back at him longfully. He looked back at her forlornly and didn't break eye contact as he spoke to his stepbrother.
Anakin said slowly,
but decisively, "I trust you'll watch over her, Owen. She's…. very
special to me, too."
Owen sighed but firmly answered, "Don't worry."
Padmé blinked away tears as Anakin walked away, and knew she
couldn't leave their goodbyes like that. To Owen, Cliegg, and Beru's
only mild astonishment, she quickly stood up, pushing back her chair against
the wall, and ran after him.
Outside and alone, Anakin stood looking across the desert, a million thoughts running through his mind. Then suddenly, Padmé came running out of the homestead. Anakin turned to face her.
Before she could say anything, before she could ask him to let her come or, worse yet, ask him not to go, he said, "You are going to have to stay here. These are good people, Padm. You'll be safe." She had to be safe. He needed to have something, a bright light source, to come back to if… after he found his mother.
Padmé looked at him for a moment. She knew Anakin was a very capable and skilled Jedi Padawan… but Cliegg had said thirty grown men had gone out after Shmi, but only four had actually come back. What if she never saw Anakin again? What if he was killed, and his body never recovered? The thought alone was too much. She felt the tears gathering below her eyes.
Anakin was afraid she was going to plead with him to stay, and with the look on her face now he might, but she only whispered, "Anakin…" ever so beautifully, suddenly, desperately, stepped forward, and hugged him closely. He hugged her back tightly, never wanting to let go. He wanted to smile at her, but he just couldn't. "I won't be long," he said, as he turned then swung onto the swoop bike. He meant it. Suddenly Padmé seemed more important to him than ever before, which was saying a lot, and he wanted to make sure she was safe and protected more than ever. If even by the smallest unit, Padmé's open display of affection planted a little seed of hope in his heart for the two of them. He swore to move even faster in his search for his mother.
He started off across the desert. Padmé sadly watched him go. She was unable to stop a stubborn tear from slowly trickling down her left cheek. Almost immediately, the speeder bike traveled so fast and so far that soon Padmé and the Lars homestead were gone, left behind in his dusty leave.
Mom, I'm on my way. Just please...hold on!
But for a long time, Padmé could do nothing but stand still
in her same place. Her eyes were fixed on the spot where several minutes earlier
the small speck known as Anakin had finally disappeared, to far away to be made
out anymore. It was only until the sun went down that Padmé moved, looked away
from the direction Anakin had left in, and slowly descended the stars that took
her inside. And it was only then that she wiped away the tears that had flown
freely and countless down her face in all that time.
Thank you for reading, and PLEASE review! :-)