Disclaimer: I don't own Star Wars!
AN: Hello everyone and welcome to the two part Forever Destined Vignette, titled Winter Festival. This takes place about six months after Dinner, Dancing, and Danger. Whether you celebrate something this time of year or not, this story can be enjoyed by anyone. Happy Holidays everyone! Enjoy the story!
Winter Festival: A Forever Destined Vignette
The Lake Country in the winter was as beautiful as it was in the summer, albeit a different kind of beauty. Fresh, powdery snow covered the ground and roof top of Varykino. The lake was frozen solid, thick enough to ice skate upon. The air was crisp and the temperature cold. Being the last month of the year, Winter Festival was fast approaching. Anyone not native to Naboo might be unfamiliar with Winter Festival, for it was a celebrated Nabooan holiday. For one week a year, Winter Festival was celebrated. It was a celebration of the season and thankfulness for family, freedom, and love.
Anakin's whole family had taken to coming with them to celebrate, being that it was such a special holiday for Padme and Sola, as well as Ryoo and Pooja. Anakin was happy to let his children grow up with the tradition as well. Winter Festival was the thing that held fond memories of childhood for Padme and Sola. And fond memories of their childhood were a rare thing. They had always been allowed to spend Winter Festival with their grandma and grandpa Winama in Theed when they were still alive. They were the fondest times the sisters had in their youth, which had been mostly filled with abuse, unhappiness, and unfairness in their father's house. But now, both were grown up with their own families. And Winter Festival was one Nabooan tradition they were glad to continue celebrating and passing down to their children. The sky was gray that morning, as fresh snowflakes began to fall from the sky. Inside the lake home, it was still mostly quiet, for most were still asleep at the early hour. In the Master bedroom, Padme Skywalker slept soundly. Anakin sat on the floor by the fireplace, meditating, as the glow of the fire warmed him. The soothing presence of his wife and five sleeping children made for very peaceful morning meditation. His family was safe and warm. For that, he would be forever grateful, but he was even more aware of their blessings during this festive time of year. He smiled and stood up, padding over to the window to gaze out at the wintery landscape. They had just arrived last night and today would be spent together as a family. He couldn't wait. He turned, as he heard Padme shift and coo, as she stretched her arms over her head. He smiled and leaned down to kiss her lips tenderly.
"Good morning, beautiful," he said. She smiled sleepily.
"Good morning yourself, handsome. It's early, come back to bed," she said, tugging him down. He smirked.
"Don't have to tell me twice," he replied, as he climbed in next to her, thoroughly wrapping her in his strong, protective embrace. Their lips met in several sensual, soft kisses and Padme rested her head against his muscled chest. Anakin smiled, as he heard the door creek open and tiny feet padding inside. Anakin and Padme watched, as a blonde haired head and a brown haired head scurried to the bed and climbed up.
"Daddy, it's snowing!" Leia exclaimed.
"Yeah, do we get to play in the snow today?" Luke asked.
"After we eat breakfast and get cleaned up, we'll be spending the whole day together," Padme promised.
"Yay!" Luke cheered.
"And daddy will even help you guys make snowballs," Anakin said, with a smirk.
"But daddy, what will we do with the snowballs?" Leia asked innocently. Anakin smiled devilishly.
"We'll throw them at Uncle Ben, of course," Anakin replied.
"You are so bad," Padme pretended to scold.
"Like you don't want to throw a couple at Sola," he retorted. The mirth in her eyes betrayed her serious look.
"Maybe," she replied, with a contagious smile.
"You go ahead and get in the shower. I'll get the kids to the kitchen. I'm sure mom and grandma are already starting breakfast," Anakin said. She leaned in and kissed his lips softly.
"Thanks sweetheart," she replied, as she padded to the fresher.
"Okay...you guys hungry?" he asked.
"Uh huh," Leia answered.
"Always," Luke answered.
"Okay, I'm going to get your sisters and brother. Head on down and I'm sure your grandma's are already there," he said. The twins scampered off and Anakin slipped his shirt on. His first stop was Kimberly's room and he found her playing quietly with a toy.
"Morning daddy," she chirped. He picked her up and kissed her hair.
"Morning, tiny angel. Let's go get Jay and Jen and then get something in those tummies," he said, as they headed for the nursery. His one-year-olds were sitting in their crib, blowing raspberries at each other. He shook his head.
"Good morning you two," Anakin said, as he set Kimberly down. He changed both twins and Kimberly trotted beside him, as he carried Jayden and Jenna to the kitchen.
"Good morning sweetheart," Shmi greeted, kissing his cheek.
"Morning mom," Anakin replied, as she helped him put the twins in their high chairs. Anakin lifted Kimberly up and put her in her booster seat.
"Breakfast will be ready soon. You can go ahead and go clean up, Ani," Elana said, as she set a bowl of cloudberries on the table.
"Are you sure?" he asked.
"Go on. We'll get the children fed first," Shmi shooed him away.
"Thanks mom," he replied, as he headed back to their room for a few moments of alone time with his wife. As he entered, he smiled, as he heard the shower running. He stepped into the fresher and undressed, before stepping into the shower with his wife. Padme smiled.
"Did they kick you out of the kitchen again," she asked.
"Yep," he replied, as she wrapped her arms around his neck.
"Remind me to thank them later," she replied sultrily, as their lips met with passionate fervor.
The village Padme and Sola had grown up in was slowly changing into what would one day be a modern village like any other. They had come to visit Sabe and then they would meet up with Anakin's parent's and grandparents later in Theed. As they entered the village, attention was immediately drawn to them, some good and some bad. Anakin and Padme were directly responsible for the changes the village had undergone. They were revered by some and hated by others. As Padme pushed the hover stroller, she caught a few glares from several men and even a few of the women around her mother's age who knew nothing else. It was not easy for some to let go of the village's old cult-like ways. But with the education reforms, in which changed the things both young men and young women were taught, was shaping a bright future for the farming village.
"Sweetheart, while you're visiting Sabe, I believe I'll say hello to a few old friends," Jobal told her youngest daughter.
"Okay. We'll meet you back here soon," Padme said, as they continued for Sabe's house at the top of the hill.
"Hello ladies," Jobal greeted pleasantly. The four turned and regarded her with cold looks.
"Well, look who has returned from her fancy new life," one said coldly. Jobal tried to ignore the iciness in her voice.
"I just wanted to see how you all were doing," Jobal replied.
"Like you would care. It's because of your little tramp of a daughter that mine has run off to Theed. She is studying political science and public service and idolizes your daughter. She is even dating some boy at the University! Her father and I lost a lot of money, you know. Ruwee had promised her to the Jensen boy," the woman said angrily.
"Ruwee was an evil man. I'm just sorry it took me so many years to realize it," Jobal said regrettably.
"I'm glad your daughter is getting a good education and you should be as well. My daughter has done wonderful things for our people. I thought we would be able to put these differences aside, but I guess I was mistaken," Jobal said, as she stalked off.
"It's so good to see you all," Sabe said, as she hugged Padme and Sola.
"Happy Winter Festival, Aunt Sabe!" Leia chirped.
"Happy Winter Festival to you too, sweetheart," she said, hugging her and Luke.
"They're all getting so big," Sola said, as they played off to the side.
"I'll get my coat and we can head out in a minute. But I think there's something I should tell all of you," Sabe said.
"It sounds serious," Padme replied.
"It is," Sabe said, as they walked out of the children's hearing range.
"Sola...Darred has been arrested," Sabe stated. Sola crossed her arms over her chest.
"Then I hope you lock him up and throw away the key," Sola replied, sighing deeply.
"What did he do?" Sola asked.
"His wife, the one Governor Danae forced to marry him after your divorce, reported him for abuse. She was supposed to be protected...but I fear there is a leak in my Officer ranks. She was murdered last night," Sabe said. Sola put a hand over her mouth in horror.
"He murdered her?" Anakin asked. Sabe nodded.
"How was she killed?" Sola asked, even as a few tears slipped down her cheeks. Obi-Wan held her close.
"I don't think you need to know that," Sabe replied.
"Tell me, Sabe. I need to know," Sola insisted. Sabe sighed.
"She was raped and then he beat her horribly, before he pushed her down the stairs. She didn't survive the fall," Sabe replied.
"Oh Gods..." Sola cried, as Obi-Wan gently rocked her.
"Everything will be okay, darling," he whispered to her.
"That could have been me," Sola sobbed.
"He can't hurt you ever again, I promise," Obi-Wan told her.
"That poor girl. Who would have told Darred about her report?" Sola asked.
"We think we know and this man is being arrested as we speak. My chief sergeant is interrogating him as we speak and will contact me when he knows more," Sabe replied, as she placed her hands on Sola's shoulders.
"He's going to prison for the rest of his life, I promise you," Sabe said, as she looked at their solemn faces.
"Come on, let's get to Theed. We shouldn't let this ruin the children's holiday," Sabe suggested. The others nodded, as she went to get her coat. She returned quickly and they bundled the children up again, before starting out.
"Mommy, are you okay?" Ryoo asked. Sola smiled.
"I'm fine sweetheart," Sola fibbed. Obi-Wan squeezed her shoulder. Sola perked up for the sake of her girls.
"Well, let's not dawdle any longer. We have shopping to do and carnivals to go to," Sola said as cheerfully as she could muster. They met Jobal down the path and then boarded a transport going to Theed.
There was a frantic commotion outside the holding prison on the outskirts of Theed. They had been getting ready to send a group of prisoners to the moon prison on Rori. But one was missing from the transport.
"There's no sign of him, sir," the Lieutenant reported.
"Blast it! Find him now! He's a murderer!" the Commander cried.
"Shall we inform the Governor?" the Lt. asked. The higher ranking Officer sighed, knowing that the Governor would probably have his job for this.
"No, I will inform the Governor of Mister Janren's escape. Alert the Royal Guard that there is a dangerous criminal loose in Theed," the Commanded ordered.
"Yes sir," the Lt. saluted, as the Commander sat down at the nearest comm station.
"Grandma! Grandpa!" Luke and Leia called, as did Ryoo and Pooja, as they scrambled to the four people waiting for them. Anakin spied all the bags they had stuffed into a carrying cart.
"You've gone and spoiled them again, haven't you mom," Anakin said playfully.
"Of course we have. It is what grandma's do best," Shmi replied.
"That's right and if you're a good boy too, maybe there's something for you as well," Shmi teased.
"Him? A good boy? Good luck on that. His children are better behaved than he is," Obi-Wan teased.
"Haha...you're one to talk," Anakin retorted.
"Please...I was a model Padawan and Knight," Obi-Wan replied. Dooku and Qui-Gon suddenly each collapsed into a suspicious coughing fit.
"Yeah right. And who was it that went crashing through Padme's window and went sailing around Coruscant attached to a carrier droid?" Anakin asked.
"Who goes flying around Coruscant attached to a bloody suicide board?" Obi-Wan retorted.
"It's a hover board," Anakin corrected. Shmi shook her head.
"You two are worse than the children," she scolded playfully.
"I agree. Now, let's hit the carnival!" Elana said to the kids, who cheered in response.
"Cranky old man," Anakin mumbled to Obi-Wan.
"Cocky little brat," Obi-Wan retorted to Anakin. They smirked, as they continued on to the Winter Carnival in the center of Theed.
"Wow!" Luke exclaimed, as he looked around at all the sights and activities, not to mention the rides.
"Daddy, can we go on the rides?" Luke asked. Anakin smiled.
"Of course," he replied.
"Then can we go ice skating?" Leia asked, pointing at the public ice skating rink, which in warmer times was a large pond.
"Sure princess," Anakin answered.
"Ryoo and I are going in the fun house. Do you want to come Poojy?" Sola asked.
"No, I wanna go on the Ferris Wheel. Can we daddy, please?" she asked.
"Sure little one. We'll meet you at the ice skating rink," Obi-Wan told his wife, as he kissed her quickly, before Pooja tugged him along.
"Well, shall we sweetie?" Sola asked, as she took Ryoo's hand.
"Yeah!" Ryoo cheered, as they entered the fun house. Neither were aware of the pair of eyes watching them.
The fun house was full of tilted floors and funny mirrors, as Ryoo and Sola explored. They entered one empty room and Ryoo stood in front of a mirror.
"Mommy, this one makes my legs look funny," Ryoo said, as she looked at her reflection, in which made her look like she had really long legs.
"It sure does," Sola replied.
"Come on! Let's go to the next room!" Ryoo called, as she sprinted off in a spurt of energy.
"Wait Ryoo!" Sola called. Suddenly, she heard her daughter scream.
"Ryoo!" she called, as she followed her. She found her little girl lying on the floor in another empty, mirrored room, sporting a nasty bump on the head. Sola knelt down and took her in her arms.
"Ryoo...wake up," Sola pleaded. Sola looked up and saw a man standing behind her in the mirror. A man she hoped she'd never see again. Sola began to scream, but his hand muffled her scream. She felt him hit her on the back of the next in exactly the right place. Her vision swam, as she slipped into the blackness. The monster threw Sola over his shoulder and hauled Ryoo up under his arm, before slipping out the back...
As Obi-Wan and Pooja met up with everyone at the skating rink, a terrible feeling of dread overwhelmed Obi-Wan.
"Sola and Ryoo are in danger," he uttered.
"I sense it too," Anakin added. Padme looked at them with a terrified expression.
"What could have happened?" she wondered, a quiver of fear in her voice.
"I don't know, but I'm going to find them," Obi-Wan replied.
"I'll go with you," Qui-Gon added.
"Anakin and I will stay here with everyone else. I don't have a good feeling about this," Dooku said, as they watched Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon sprint away to find a speeder. Sabe returned to them, having just taken an important call. She looked pale as a ghost.
"Sabe, are you all right?" Padme asked.
"That was my Commander. Darred has escaped and he's on the loose," Sabe stated.
"Oh Ani...he has them. He has Ryoo and Sola," Padme cried.
"Don't worry, angel. Obi-Wan will find them. He won't let anything happen to his family," he said, trying to reassure her and himself as well, as they waited to hear from Ben and Qui-Gon.
Sola moaned in pain, as she held the back of her neck and opened her bleary eyes. She looked around and it appeared that they were in some rundown cabin. She spotted her unconscious daughter on the other side of the room and scrambled to her feet.
"Ryoo," she called, as she started toward her. But something pulled her back roughly. And then she remembered, as the man whipped her around to face him.
"Darred," Sola said, in a shaky voice. She yelped, as he yanked her close.
"Did you really believe you could escape me forever, Sola?" he asked menacingly.
"You murdering bastard! I know what you did to that poor girl!" Sola cried.
"That's right. She crossed me and I taught her a lesson. You crossed me too and now I finally get the change to make you play for it as well," he screamed, as he backhanded her, sending her sprawling to the floor. Ryoo woke up at her mother's scream and watched the monster of a man hover above her with a malicious look...
As Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon approached a Royal Guard check in station, an Officer bowed to them.
"Masters. Governor Valerte asked me to report to you that Darred Janren escaped prison this morning during a transfer," the Officer said.
"Darred is on the loose?" Obi-Wan asked.
"Yes sir. We are scouring the city for him," the Officer reported.
"Thank you Officer. We need a speeder," Qui-Gon said.
"Of course, Master Jedi," he replied, motioning to another Officer.
"Can you sense Ryoo through your Master/Padawan bond?" Qui-Gon asked.
"Faintly. She is starting to wake up, but she is very confused. I think we should head away from town," Obi-Wan said. Qui-Gon nodded and began driving...