The pain was like nothing she had ever felt before.
The woman gasped, struggling not to cry out, as the contractions grew stronger and closer together. She tried to find her center, to release the pain into the Force as she had been taught long ago, but to no avail. The pain came in waves, growing more powerful and closer together, like the waters of a great ocean before a coming storm.
She cursed whoever had decided, in some bygone millennium, that a Jedi should be able to release their pain and anxiety into the Force. Whoever it had been, she decided, had never given birth.
The baby was coming, and soon, according to the medical droids who now attended to her. The tiny life that she had carried inside her for nine standard months would soon be separated from her, not only from her body, but from her life.
Gritting her teeth, she bore down, thinking of the man she had fallen in love with, though a Jedi was forbidden attachment, and her lover, too, had had obligations beyond himself. But that hadn't stopped them from loving, as much as they had at first tried to deny it. And as the months had passed, they had at last given in to their feelings for one another, no longer denying what they both knew.
It had been a year since she had been to the Temple on Coruscant, a year since she had come to this planet to help negotiate the end of a vicious, genocidal civil war. The war had ended, though the bitterness and pain of many had not, and still she had remained, convincing herself and the Council that she was still needed there.
But it had been the planet's Senator who had kept her there, not the suffering people who were slowly beginning to rebuild their lives.
They had met when she had first arrived here. He had greeted her when she had stepped from her transport, worry evident in his face. Unlike many Senators, his sympathies were truly with his people—all of his people—and the violence that had broken out on the outskirts of the planet's largest city and spread pained him. He wanted to put an end to the war, an end to the suffering, as soon as possible.
She had worked with him to negotiate with the two sides of the conflict, addressing the grievances of both and working to end the war. Neither side had come out completely satisfied, and the grief and suffering had applied to both, but the war had ended two months later, and most of the combatants had gone home and the death camps had been emptied.
The Senator had gone to his estate to rest and recuperate after the strain of the war, and she had gone with him, ostensibly to protect him from the small bands of still-angry people who had refused to lay down their weapons. There had been more to it than that, of course, and they had both known it, but neither had acknowledged the feelings that had been there from the start—not to each other, and not even to themselves.
At least not at first. Several weeks had passed before they had allowed those feelings to show, and even then they had kept their growing relationship secret—the consequences of others knowing had been unthinkable for both.
She had known from the start that their love was impossible, that it would never work—they were both dedicated to duties far beyond themselves, and those duties had already dictated the directions their lives would take. But the joy of those stolen moments had been more than either was willing to resist, though both knew that their love would only bring them pain in the end.
If things had been different—if she had not been a Jedi, if he had not been a Senator dedicated to his people—it might have worked. But there was no changing the people they were, or the directions their lives had already taken.
Two months after she had accompanied him to his estate, they parted.
She had considered giving up the life she knew for him, but for them to be together would have required him to also give up his obligations—something that, in the end, he had been unable to do. He was the Senator for millions of people, and in the traditions of those highly born or highly placed on his world, his future had been laid out long before. To abandon that future would have been to abandon his people, to abandon a planet only beginning to recover from a war that had torn people apart.
A week before they parted, the woman to whom he had been betrothed for a year had come to the estate with her family. It was a political marriage, arranged by their families to consolidate their wealth and power, but to put a stop to it would have threatened his position as Senator—and his planet's chance at lasting peace. Reluctantly, he had made his decision, and the secret lovers had parted ways, he returning to his city home for his wedding and she traveling about the planet and seeking to establish peace between still hostile groups.
A month after she had left him, she had realized that something was amiss, and, after being examined by a healer in one of the small villages she had defended, she had risked returning to her lover's city to confront him.
She was pregnant.
He had been shocked at first, and then regretful—he would never have left her if he had known—but it had been too late to change things. He was married, and a divorce was very difficult to get on his world, even if he was wealthy and well-connected. He had offered to find her a home on his planet, to make sure that she and the child were provided for, but she had realized even before confronting him that his path in life was irreversibly set—and so was hers.
Things were changing in the galaxy, conflicts growing more frequent and often more violent, and the need for experienced Jedi Knights such as herself was growing. She didn't know why it was changing, or where it would end, but she knew that she had a duty to the Republic that she could not turn away from.
She wanted the baby, but she knew that she couldn't keep it and continue as a Jedi. Even if she brought the baby to the Temple to be raised as a Jedi and never spoke of their relationship, it was inevitable that sooner or later someone would find out—and it would come down hard on both herself and the baby. The baby might not even have the potential to be a Jedi, and would be sent away once this was discovered. Whatever happened, she would be unable to keep and raise her child.
Instead, she had asked the Senator to take the baby. If it became known that he had an illegitimate child—especially with a woman who was a Jedi Knight—it would bring him down and destroy what he had worked to accomplish for his planet. But no one needed to know that the child was his—the baby could be adopted at birth, the birth records sealed. No one would ever need to know that the infant was his first-born, or that its mother was a Jedi. Nor would the infant be tested for Force-sensitivity—nothing would be done that might jeopardize either mother or child.
He had agreed, realizing that what she had said about the impossibility of her keeping the child was true—and he would no sooner leave his own child to the tender mercies of a world too often divided than he would abandon his people as a whole for a love that he knew to be forbidden. He had spoken to his bride about it, telling her that they would be adopting the child of a woman left widowed by the continuing outbreaks of violence after the war. His wife had agreed—though the marriage was not one of love, she did respect what he was trying to do, and was willing to accept the baby as her own.
Now the Jedi woman lay on the delivery table, straining to give birth. The pain was intense—she was unable to release it into the Force as she had been taught—and she dreaded the moment when the baby would be taken from her, perhaps never to see it again.
Though she dreaded it, the birth was inevitable, and it wasn't long before she felt the child at last slide from her body, heard the first cries of the newborn infant. She pushed herself up, wanting to see the baby—and perhaps hold it—at least once before it was taken away.
"It's a girl," the medical droid who had delivered the baby told her, cutting and tying off the umbilical cord.
She reached out, wanting to hold her baby for a moment before she was taken away. The droid wrapped the newborn in a blanket and placed her in her arms, allowing her a moment to see and hold her daughter before she was taken away to her father, who waited at his city home for the infant.
"Bring me my belongings," she commanded the droid, turning her full attention to her daughter. It was the only time she would ever hold her like this, perhaps the only time she would ever see her, and she wanted to make the most of the few moments she had—and leave a gift for her daughter, though the girl would probably never know who had given it to her.
When the droid returned with her belongings, she reached into a hidden pocket of her robe and withdrew one of the few things she could truly call her own. It was a deep blue stone, mined from deep in the ocean and rock core of her birth planet, Naboo, that had been cut into a heart shape and suspended from a chain of glittering crystals. It had been a family heirloom, one that her parents had insisted go with her when she had been sent to the Temple at six months old to become a Jedi.
Now, she would pass it on to her own daughter. She held the stone in one hand for a moment, feeling the odd power that had always seemed to emanate from it, before tucking it into her daughter's blanket. She knew that the baby's father would make sure that the necklace was held in trust for her until she was of age.
Before surrendering her daughter to the droid who waited patiently beside her, she had one last gift to impart—a name. Though it was the custom of this planet that the father name his children, no one but herself and her lover knew what the baby's true parentage was, and so it was her responsibility to give her daughter a name.
As the droid took the newborn girl from her arms, she turned to it, telling it what her daughter's name was to be.
"Rosé. Her name is Rosé."
"I will tell the adoptive parents of the girl's name," the droid told her, cradling the newborn carefully as it walked away.
She watched it go, listening until the last faint sounds of the droid's footsteps had faded away, before she lay back on the table and closed her eyes, trying desperately to overcome the pain of giving up her only child.