Chapter Ten

Myr woke up to golden light and a light breeze floating in the tall arched window of her guest room at Varykino. She took a moment just to breathe in the scent that wafted through the luxurious but comfortable room. A tinkling sound caught her ear and, spellbound, she crossed to the window to find the source of the unfamiliar sound.

It was such a small sound, but its light, airy and somewhat melancholy noise was magical to Myr. It wasn't melancholy in the sad sense of the word; just more of a wistful, yet peaceful melody. Like a sigh after a long hard day. Myr chided herself for her over-active imagination. It was three or four light notes by some unnamed instrument, not a metaphor for life.

She spotted the source of the tinkling melody in the form of a wind chime hanging from a tree in the garden overlooking the lake and mountains. She drew a deep breath. The air here smelled of flowers and mist. She didn't think she had ever smelled or seen any place more beautiful. It was like something out of dream.

Just the thought of Lord Vader ever stepping foot in some place so…light, much less owning it, was incredible to her. She decided she would take the caretaker, Tendra up on her offer of a history lesson over breakfast in the garden. Today would be the day she would open the last set of documents left in her care by Lord Vader.

"Good morning, Milady. I'm so glad you decided to accept my invitation this morning," Tendra, the caretaker, said as she held out her hand daintily. "It has been so long since we have had visitors."

Myr smiled shyly and took the seat offered by the middle-aged woman. Myr felt instantly at ease with the caretaker, whose warm brown eyes and rich brown hair seemed to be the prevalent physical characteristics of the human population on the planet. "Thank you so much for your kindness," she said as she unfolded the napkin on her lap.

The food smelled delicious and the fragrant spices made Myr's mouth water. She had thought she would be so excited to learn more of her former employer's estate that she wouldn't be hungry, but she was wrong. She was famished and the relaxation of a good night's sleep in a comfortable bed only increased her appetite.

They ate breakfast in relative silence, with bits of polite conversation dotted here and there. Myr found it odd that there seemed to be an air of curiosity surrounding Tendra regarding her purpose at the villa. Myr could only guess what story they had been told. In fact, she wondered if they had been told anything at all in preparation for her arrival. Maybe a code was all one needed to be let into the inner circle of the residence. She looked up to find Tendra studying her curiously. The caretaker quickly averted her eyes.

"I'm sure you're wondering why I'm here," Myr started hesitantly.

"No, actually, we knew you would be coming," Tendra interjected with a smile.

"We received a short encoded transmission from Lord Vader several months ago, alluding to your arrival and directions to make your stay as comfortable and as long as you would like. It was his last transmission before his death," she said.

A pang of sadness flitted across Myr's heart at the mention of Lord Vader's death. She looked down at the table and asked, "Did he come here often?"

"Oh, stars no," Tendra said. "We never actually saw him…in twenty-one years, can you believe that?"

"The former owners, the Naberrie family, were allowed to come and go as they pleased, being loyalists and all," she shrugged. "Of course, I'm sure Lord Vader had no shortage of homes and had no reason to come here. When he did come to Naboo, he was at the Emperor's retreat. We always got the feeling that some glorious gift from the gods kept us from being turned over to the Emperor or one of his governors as a private residence. We were glad that it turned out to be Lord Vader…," her voice trailed off and Myr realized Tendra might have let her guard down in reference to Lord Vader owning the villa. She wondered just how much the caretakers knew of his real identity. He must have visited at least once to have wanted to own the place after Imperial occupation.

"So, the 'Naberrie' family owned this place before Lord Vader?" Myr asked.

"Yes, at one time. Then their daughter, Senator Amidala, was the last true owner before Lord Vader," Tendra said.

Myr noted a tone of hesitancy entering Tendra's answers now, as if she was undecided on how much to say. Myr could only assume that Tendra was trying to figure out as much about her and she was Tendra. She decided to simply ask and be done with it. She had no idea who the Naberries or this Senator Amidala were, but before she could utter the words, Tendra got up from the table and gestured to the doors leading off of the garden.

"Come. Let's show you around, shall we?" Tendra said with a patient smile.

Myr followed into her the parlor. The room was polished marble and wood, but had deep pile rugs and whimsical statuaries littered throughout. It was opulent, yet comfortable and homey. The fireplace had silversteel accoutrements polished to a high shine like a Naboo ship, and flowers were on the table beside the sitting area. Myr looked over to a wall that spanned between two tall arched windows and caught her breath.

The wall unit was lined with holos in various sizes between two larger holos on either side of the section of smaller frames. The holo to Myr's left shimmered in color over a real matte painting done in traditional Naboo realism style. It was a state portrait of Queen Amidala standing in front a backdrop of marble. She wore the splendid red and gold dress that Myr now remembered she had seen in a couple of holo documentaries growing up.

A tassel hung from each side of the arched golden headdress and on her delicate painted face was the solemn expression so often caught of her likeness by the holo journalists of the time. It was all Myr could do to not walk over and run her hands over the piece of fine art. The painting was magnificent and powerful and beautiful and several other words that tumbled to the edge of Myr's lips before being bitten back, so as not to sound the bumpkin from the planet that had only blood and darkness as its pitiful contributions to art.

When she finally pulled herself from the grip of the painting, she looked over to the other large holo of a couple standing in the garden. The holo looked like it had been taken from a crouching standpoint or by someone shorter than the picture's subjects. Her breath stopped in her lungs when she realized that the woman in the light blue dress with loose curls cascading down her back was none other than the same queen in the picture to its right.

This was the woman from her dream. And the tall, erect man in Jedi robes beside her, holding her dainty hand with his own black glove, must be Anakin Skywalker… Darth Vader. Even without the bulky armor, there was no mistaking the way he held his shoulders and stood with his legs squared. Positively piercing blue eyes stared into the holo camera.

"This is a more formal picture of Senator Amidala and her husband," Tendra said as she eyed Myr shrewdly, confirming Myr's suspicion that the caretakers here knew as much or more than she did about her former employer.

"Homes in Naboo are quite often decorated with family portraits, both casual and formal. Most homes of the higher classes have at least one with the Lord and Lady in formal pose," she explained.

"This picture," she gestured toward the picture of the couple, "is the one that has remained on display since the Senator was in residence. It is not, however, the one she displayed when she was here, at her home."

Tendra palmed a small pad next to the window and the holo rotated to show a different picture. This holo showed the same couple reclining on a sofa with the high arched windows behind them and dappled sunlight dancing on the edges of the sofa. Anakin was sleeping; his long lashes curled against his cheek and his golden shoulder-length hair disheveled. He was shirtless and one of his bare feet was propped on the marble table in front of the sofa. Padme lay in the crook of his arm against his chest, her back to him and his other, mechanical arm thrown casually across her middle. Her bare feet rested on his outstretched leg and she looked up to his face, her cheeks split by a grin, while a golden protocol droid and an R2 until looked on. They all seemed to be deciding if they should play some imaginary joke on their poor sleeping victim.

Myr swallowed the knot that had formed in her throat at the sheer comfort and laziness of the whole scene, the sense of peace that seemed to permeate the holo. She knew that Lord Vader had never known that again.

She chastised herself silently for being so daft in not putting the two images of the woman into one: Queen Amidala, Senator Amidala…Padmé Amidala. This was Vader's wife, the child queen that saved her planet so many years before the Empire. Sadness settled itself into Myr's heart. She wondered absently if Tendra knew of Luke.

Myr brought her attention back to the conversation at hand, "Tendra, perhaps you and I should go look over my final set of instructions and documents." She suddenly had the desperate wish to get everything out in the open, as if it were to stay inside her one moment longer, she would burst. She didn't know how much the past, even if it wasn't her own, could weigh on a person. Especially if it was hidden in shadows or mired in sadness. She left Tendra standing in the parlor to quickly gather the items she had guarded with her very life these past few weeks.

Myr returned from her quarters with the case that contained the sealed documents Lord Vader had given her the last day he was in residence at Bast. These were the documents that he had directed her to leave intact until she was at her destination - this place, Varykino. Tucked under one arm, she held the leather case that contained the snow globe. It now felt like years since she had stumbled upon this small possession of Lord Vader's in the study, and for a second, she felt a lump rise in her throat. She quashed her sentimentality and gestured towards the small dining table right outside the parlor. "Perhaps we could spread out here," she said.

"Before we get started, Tendra, I have to ask: why have you stayed here all this time?" Myr queried, settling herself into a seat at the rich brown dining table.

Tendra looked down at the table. She clasped her hands in front her and smiled, "Senator Amidala – Padme, was a very special person. There was something about her that rose above everything…it's hard to explain," she said hesitantly, as she turned to gaze out the window.

"She had her moments. She could be haughty and bossy and she could turn her emotion off at a whim and don what Anakin used to refer to as her 'political face'," Tendra chuckled. "He absolutely hated it when she would put the 'mask' on, as he called it. They didn't talk politics when they were here. We got the feeling that Anakin didn't care for the subject of politics at all."

"But underneath the mask of the political figure, she was the most kind, gentle person one could ever meet. She genuinely cared about people and her duty was her first priority. She saw the best in people and believed in democracy with all of her heart," Tendra smiled, shaking her head.

"Duty. That was always her purpose in life. Well, almost always…," Tendra continued, her face taking on a far away look. "There was one person who could make her forget duty. Her eyes used to get this light in them when she spoke of him or was expecting a holo. She truly became a different person when he was around… I think we here at Varykino are the only people who knew of their marriage, and we were sworn to secrecy. My family has always been the caretakers of this estate and we would go to our grave carrying our secrets for Padmé," Tendra's voice faded off. She was lost in memories and Myr hesitated to speak. She knew exactly how Tendra felt, for she had held the same station in Padmé's husband's life.

Myr opened the case and removed five flimsiplast documents, a data chip, and a data pad. She placed the data chip in the data pad and turned each flimsiplast over as she read it.

"Oh Stars," Myr said as she scanned the last bit of the documentation. "He left him everything."

"Him? Who?" Tendra asked.

"Luke, his son," Myr answered.

"By Padme?" Tendra asked, blinking. "She had no children. Her child was never born."

"That's what someone wanted everyone to believe," Myr said slowly. "These accounts reside on Imp-…Coruscant."

She reached for the datapad and watched as an image of the snow globe appeared on the screen. In a matter of seconds, it disappeared and was replaced by instructions about contacting a bounty hunter who would know her by name. A new document came up with the word "copy – not official" flashing in the left hand corner. She scanned down the document and realized it was a copy of the deed to this very residence.

She read the remaining information. A bounty hunter trusted by Lord Vader had been contacted with instructions to contact Myr upon Lord Vader's death. He was to take the copy of the deed to Luke Skywalker as proof, and she was to retain the original and give it to the Jedi when he arrived. There were a few other items that were in storage, with instructions for the bounty hunter on how to retrieve them from the Capital.

She turned the data pad off with a sigh and put it back in the case, turning back to Tendra. "Well, I guess there is really only one more thing to do," she said wearily.

"What is that?" Tendra raised her brows.

"Go to the snow globe," Myr said. She reached over the case to retrieve the item that Lord Vader had entrusted to her.

She opened the leather case reverently, carefully removing the snow globe and placing it on the richly carved dining room table. She took out the velvet pillowed lining and laid it aside.

There, in the bottom of the case, lay a flimsiplast envelope with her name handwritten on the outside. She took it out and opened it, and found there were three documents inside. The first was the letter from Padmé to Anakin that Myr had stumbled across all those months ago. She swallowed a lump as she thought back to the castle and how her life seemed to have changed as she was drawn more into Darth Vader's personal realm.

The second document was the original deed to Varykino, with the official seal of the Theed magistrate at the left bottom corner. She scanned down to the end of the document, read the simple words, "bequeathed to my son, Luke Skwalker" and the initials "LDV" out to the side almost as an afterthought.

Myr sighed inwardly. Always efficient to the end, she thought sadly. She looked back to the very bottom of the copy, scrawled boldly and floridly in blue was the signature: Lord Darth Vader, Anakin Lucas Skywalker. She wondered how much it had cost him personally to sign the name of his former self. He never used anything but the name she was accustomed to in public, at least, and she felt that was by design. How odd it must have seemed to answer to a name that was not your own.

"So, there will be a new owner?" Tendra asked with a note of concern as she watched Myr fold the deed back into the envelope.

"It appears so. Maybe things will work out," Myr laid a hand on Tendra's arm. She knew the caretaker had devoted her life to the resort and taking care of its owners. "I'm sure it will be fine. After all, I've heard only good things about this Luke Skywalker."

"Yes, but what would he want with a place like this?" Tendra asked.

Myr wanted to comfort her, but had no idea what would happen, so she simply squeezed her arm in comfort and understanding.

Tendra reached over and picked up the snow globe. A wide smile split her face as she tilted the glass orb delicately and watched miniscule flakes of snow fall over the tiny courtyard. "Theed in winter. There is nothing as magical," she said with a smile. "We must take you there when the snow comes."

She carefully placed the snow globe back on the table. "I remember when she purchased this, and the visit that inspired her to do so," Tendra said wistfully. "I'm going to go help with lunch. There's no use worrying about it, we can't change it." She started out the door and stopped, "Oh, and Myr…"

Myr turned from the table to regard the caretaker.

"You are welcome here as long as I am caretaker, no matter who owns the lake house," Tendra said with a smile. She then turned and left Myr to her task.

Myr wearily laid the items back in the leather case and replaced the snow globe, and left the dining room.

After eating dinner and dessert with Tendra and Neckle, Myr retreated to her guestroom for the night. Only one or two things remained and then she would be done. She sat on the window ledge and picked up the last document, a handwritten letter the bore the same flowing handwriting of the signature on the deed, and read:

My son,

If you have received this letter, I am most likely dead and perhaps you have escaped the fate that befell me. I do not know if you will indeed end up serving the Empire, but I know that you will do well in whatever you choose to do if you do not underestimate destiny; it has a way of bringing about the inevitable. Each breath drawn and issued from this mask can attest to this. If I can tell you one thing, it is to never fight the will of the Force. Never forget that, my son. Always listen to the will of the Force. You will find that it will never lead you astray, but it cannot be found in Jedi teachings or Sith holocrons.

I will not waste time in apologizing for the misdeeds done in this long war of peace and democracy, not to anyone but you. I have seen and done horrible things in the name of peace and the end of war, and if I'm honest there is regret, but the time for this has past as of your reading of this letter.

My one regret is that you did not hear of your mother, I owed her your memory and it seems I have failed her again. Your mother did not let the ugliness that surrounded the Old Republic touch her soul as I did. She was perhaps the one good thing in the evil that was the Old Republic. Perhaps I should not have been so certain that I knew your destiny, but whatever the outcome I am certain that you overcame because of the incredible compassion and ability to see good in places others fear to look. This is a trait you inherited from your mother, and it seems to have survived the curse of being my son.

I am leaving you the estate where your mother and I were married. She would have wanted this. We spent our happiest moments here, before the madness, when the war and politics were a galaxy away and we planned for our family.

I find I cannot pass up the opportunity to tell you of the pride I feel that you are my son. May the Force be with you.

Myr carefully folded the letter and looked out the window at the twilight fading to purple and black. Stars were starting to twinkle in the skies above the lake house. She had received a transmission from the bounty hunter Lord Vader had hired and his final plan had been set in motion. All that was left was for Myr to sit back and wait for Luke Skywalker, the galaxy's new hero, to arrive. She closed her eyes as a breeze rustled the branches of flowers outside her windows. She could swear that she heard laughter tinkle with the wind chimes in the garden.

The End