Grey-pa, a little love story…
For Tracy and Dorothy, and Christina, because you missed him too…
"Do you think he'll really like me, Grey-pa?" Pemberian asked for what was easily the fifth time since first meal, and it was still only early morning. "Really?"
"Of course he will, my little sweet box," Schurke replied mildly, as he closed his eyes and turned his face to the sun, enjoying the warmth. "What's not to like?"
Pem giggled and wrinkled her nose as her grandfather caught it between his fingers.
"You know, I think I'll just keep this," Schurke grinned. "Keep it in a little box of my own for when your Pay-pa sweeps you away from me! I'll keep it right next to your mother's…"
Squealing and grabbing his hands, Pem countered him. "You do not have Ma-mere's nose in a box, Grey-pa!" she said with all the assurance and self righteous indignation of a seven year old. "You can't!"
"She grew another one," Schurke said simply, taking his walking stick in hand once more, not even trying to mask his wry grin as Pemberian's eyes widened in momentary shock before lapsing into a fresh fit of giggles as she realized that he was joking.
"You're silly, Grey-pa!" She cried, tugging at his arm. The weather was warm although the day was early, and the allure of the sea was becoming too much for her. "Come on Grey-pa! I want to run! Do you think he likes the sea too?"
Schurke only shook his head, "Go on then. There will be plenty of time to ask him all kinds of questions…" he said, and then thought to himself, I hope…
Pem froze in mid step. "You hope, Grey-pa?" She asked anxiously. "Do you think he won't like me after all? He won't wanna stay? Even long enough for me to meet him?"
"Pem," Schurke said gently. "What have we told you about peeking?"
"I'm sorry, Grey-pa!" Pem whimpered softly, her large blue eyes suddenly brimming with tears. "But Ma-mere – I can hear her all the time! Ever since we first heard that he was coming, she's been worried about what he will think! If he'll even wanna talk to her or what he's gonna say when he finds out that he gave her a baby –"
"Pem…" Schurke said gently, kneeling down and taking her into his arms. "It's going to be just fine. You have nothing to worry about!"
"But how do you know, Grey-pa!" she sobbed, all of her defenses suddenly down. "Ma-mere doesn't know if she even wants him to know! She's so scared!"
Schurke began to rock her slowly, letting the little girl cry. He and Kampher had expected this, had been waiting for it, thus the day out for them alone. Even now, Kampher would be doing the very same for their own grown up daughter, safely away from the eyes of the other. It needed to happen, and in his heart of hearts, Schurke knew that now was the time.
For all of them.
The storm passed almost as quickly as it had started, and soon the sobs resolved themselves into slight hitches and hiccups, but Pem still held on to her grandfather tightly.
"I'm scared, Grey-pa," she whispered at last. "I've never had a real Pay-pa! What if I don't like it!"
"Your Pay-pa is a wise and gentle man, my little sweet," Schurke said softly. "I think you'll like him."
"But how do you know, Grey-pa?" Pem asked, wide eyed. "Did the Force tell you? Did it tell you he'll like me, too?"
"Kinda…" Schurke grinned. "But you know what your Uncle Kay told you…"
"Yeah!" the little girl's eyes brightened. "He said that Pay-pa was going to give Ma-mere another gift! So even if he doesn't stay around, I'll have another little brother or a sister one day to make up for it!"
A great laugh escaped from him, and Schurke gave his granddaughter a squeeze before sending her off to play on the shore. He refused to answer her outright, but in her excitement Pemberian didn't care. Stiffly, Schurke made his way over to a favorite seat on a large weather washed tree and keeping one part of his awareness on his granddaughter, he let his mind drift.
Little did Pemberian know (or even Aubé, for that matter) that there had been ample opportunity for young Skywalker to become acquainted with his family, and it had been only through careful planning and copious amounts of subterfuge, that Schurke had made sure that their paths had not yet crossed.
He has to find out sometime, Schurke, Kampher had often whispered in his ear during the dark of the night, usually after love. You can't keep them apart forever…
Not forever, Schurke assented, his fingers lightly teasing. We'll know when the time is right… when they're ready…
You mean, when you think their ready… Kam had admonished him gently. And when will that be? When Pem is twenty? When we are gone?
No… but we will… and in the meantime… And of course, that put an end to that.
Schurke told Kam that he never listened to the Force anymore, that the gift had long departed him, but sometimes just sometimes, that even rock itself will feel the compulsion to move. So it had been with this.
His young son was to receive an award – a fairly common occurrence these days as Kay'leb had devoted his entire life to the well being of his fellow Corellians. Corellia itself had started tentative negotiations to rejoin the Republic, and as a gesture of goodwill, the Consulate had asked the New Republic to send a representative, and coincidently enough, the elusive son of the Anakin Skywalker himself had accepted.
Not even Schurke needed a rock dropped on his head this time, even if it had been. For he had been the one that had been asked to extend the invitation, after all.
Yes, it was time.
"Grey-Pa!" Pem cried from the waves. "Look! Come see the sun fish! Do you think Pay-pa will like sun fish? Maybe we can have some for last meal, if Gra-mere gets them from the market? Maybe Pay-pa will even have a last meal with us! Wouldn't that be nice, Grey-pa? A first last meal with Pay-pa, with sun fish and red – fruit! And maybe more!"
"He won't be here until tomorrow, little sweet," Schurke reminded her. "Plenty of time to get some sun fish…"
"And red-fruit too!" Pem called excitedly. "Maybe he'll come early? Should we go home and see if he's there yet?"
"Well, I don't think he'll be this early, Pem," Schurke replied gently. "The ceremony isn't until tomorrow, after all."
"But he might!" Pem said, barely able to contain her excitement. "Maybe we should go home just in case?"
An image arose in Schurke's mind, unbidden. Memories of the young man from across the room while he himself remained safely hidden, and hopefully unseen, yet very aware that the young Jedi had sensed… something, and was carefully scanning the room, and searching in vain. The reply to the invitation that had been specifically address to himself – a written reply as well as the standard holo that protocol dictated. Perhaps you and your family would do me the honor of a meeting before hand…
"Come show me how strong you are, little sweet box!" Schurke smiled. "Surely you can help your old Grey-pa up? We'll also save your Gra-mere a trip to the market, and get some sun fish and other things for last meal on the way home. How does that sound?"
Pem jumped up and down, clapping with delight. "Oh yes, Grey-pa!" she said happily. "I'd really like that! Let's go!"
She took her grandfather's hand, and they slowly began the short walk to the market square, which was already brimming with people. Knowing that the noise of the crowd often made conversation difficult, Pem decided to ask her grandfather one last question.
"Grey-pa," she said quietly. "Do you think he'll like me? Really?"
"No, sweet box," Schurke replied softly, and squeezed her hand. "I think he'll love you…"