AN: This story plays havoc with the accepted relationships of the Skywalker clan. You have been warned.
Small request: Anyone out there interested in being a beta for me? Pokey, I'm not replacing you, just adding on. E-mail me girl!
Disclaimer: This is for George and all the confusion he caused trying to explain who Uncle Owen is. (Obi-Wan's brother? Anakin's? What?)
They sold him. O, sweet Force, they sold him! My baby, my lightling. The only being in the universe whose happiness matters and they have torn him from me, his mother. The panic comes back to me so vividly even nineteen years later as I stand in a line of slaves being looked over by a potential buyer, holding another golden-haired three-year-old in my arms. The Hutt does not walk the row of sentient property she proposes to purchase; it would be beneath her dignity. Instead the appendages of some unknown species of humanoid poke and prod in her stead. I bravely submit to the groping and rough manipulation, clutching the child to my chest. Like the first, this beacon of light in the darkness of servitude appeared in my arms. I don't know where he came from, whose son he is, and at this moment, I don't care. All I know is that I need to protect this one, as I could not my first.
I wasn't there when they placed my eldest on the transport to serve his new master. I did not see the negotiations, or witness the exchange of credits for that priceless soul. My master tore the still nursing toddler from my breast and disappeared, saying only that my mistress had need of a wet-nurse. But did he have to break the precious bond of this mother and child because his whore had whelped?
I can only assume that I am allowed to hold this azure-eyed angel because there is something appealing about a mother and child pair. In the life of a slave, comfort is a thing allowed at the master's convenience, even for a three-year-old. The Hutt points to me and asks something in that booming abomination they call a language.
"Oh, yes, he's weaned," Saladin assures her. "Weaned, but not trained yet. Perfectly malleable for whatever you wish to make of him."
The panic grips me again. I can't go through this a second time. I may not have any claim to the child in my arms, but they can not tear another from me. I'll go mad.
"What's your name, boy?" The gruff question is punctuated when the overseer steps forward and forces frightened blue eyes away from my chest and into his own.
"Don't have name," my priceless burden whimpers, and panic flares mixed with pity. Brought into this life and not even a name to call his own. Well, if none will claim this most precious one of us all, I can do no less.
"Anakin," I say boldly, pressing him even harder to my bosom. "His name is Anakin Skywalker." Anakin. An appropriate name, after all he is not my kin unless in the way that all slaves become family in order to share the burden of living.
Gardulla the Hutt laughs. "/You claim him as your child/"
I hesitate. If I accept, then some other slave is bereaved, knowing she will never see her son again, but I realize that that is true regardless of my answer. May this bright one's true parents know that I will watch over him, as I could not my own. I square my chin, keeping my eyes to the ground, but standing tall anyway. "Yes," I answer.
Again the deep rumble sounds out. "/Bring them both/" comes the reply.
I relax and almost let tears fall as I carry the son I have claimed towards our fates.
"Where go?" he murmurs sleepily against me.
"I don't know, Anakin," I whisper back, "but I do know one thing. I will always be here for you."
Three years old. The same age as my son when they ripped him from my grasp. Now, nineteen years later, I grasp a child not my own into my arms and resolve to be his mother as if my first son had never left.
Obi-Wan, wherever you are, I pray that you have found your own pair of arms to hold you. As I now hold your brother.