Padme awoke with a start, disoriented by the hard pallet beneath her and the closeness of the walls. Then she remembered where she was.
There was a small shape standing by the bed. "Where's my Mom?"
Padme sat up. "Ani? What are you doing out of bed?"
"Where's my Mom?" he asked again.
Padme got up and padded out to the central room, with Anakin close behind her. Jar Jar had, at some point, abandoned the chair, and was now curled up against one wall, breathing loudly. Except for him, and the powered down little astromech, the room was empty.
"She's outside, talking with Master Qui-Gon." Padme had a vague memory of hearing them walk outside, as she was falling asleep. She hadn't really known how tired she was until her head had touched the pillow.
Anakin shifted uneasily beside her.
"Would you like a drink of water", she asked.
Padme tilted the large water jug in the cookspace, testing how much was left. They had filled it to the brim, when they brought the feast, but with so many mouths, a third already was gone. Not sure how soon it would be replenished, she carefully poured the boy half of a small cup, from the little spigot at the jug's base.
"Here you go."
He drank a portion, then offered, "You can have some, too."
Deeply moved, Padme knelt to receive the cup. They finished the slightly bitter water together. As she had seen Shmi do, Padme wiped the lip of the cup and fitted it upside-down into the mouth of the jug, so that the last drops would not be lost.
Anakin still fidgeted uneasily.
"What's wrong, Ani?"
Who's the clumsy fibber, now?
Padme knelt again, and took his hands in hers. They were boneless, still, and smaller than hers. They were also cold. "Talk to me, Ani."
He was silent for a moment, then reached with one hand to touch her cheek, as though she were some strange creature, the like of which he had never seen before. "You're so beautiful."
Padme spoke around the lump in her throat. "So are you, Ani."
"Yes. There is a beautiful light inside of you. Shining forth in glory."
She took his hands, and placed them, one on top of the other, over his heart, supporting his back with her other hand. "Close your eyes," she said, "and see."
He did, and after a moment, his face relaxed. Padme thought she almost could see a light, elusive between the molecules of air. The chill had left his hands.
"When you can see this light in yourself, Ani, then you will be able to see it in others."
Anakin opened his eyes. "Does everyone have it?" he asked.
"I bet the Hutt don't." Or the Trade Federation.
"They do, Ani, but they've forgotten where they put it. So they suffer. And they spread that suffering to others." Many others.
"So what can we do?"
"Don't give in to hurting. See your light, and show it forth. See the light in others, help them to see it, and show it forth."
"I don't understand."
"The way that you and your mother are helping us, Ani, that's showing forth your light."
He was quiet again, and she sensed that, still, all was not well. She wondered if he was afraid of the dark, or of being alone.
"Would you like me to stay with you until your Mother comes back?"
"You would do that for me?"
An arrow entered Padme's heart. "Of course I would."
Even in the dark, she could feel the smile breaking over his face. "C'mon" He pulled her to her feet, and headed toward the nook that housed his half-built droid.
"What?!" Padme caught him by the shoulders and stood in his way. "You know that's not what I meant", she said, bringing her face close to his, and putting one finger sternly on the tip of his nose. "Your Mother expects you to be asleep in bed at this hour. You've got a big day tomorrow."
He hung his head. "I know." A yawn snuck up on him, and he looked even more sheepish.
"Come on." She took his hand, and he went willingly with her, back to his cot.
The coverlet that she drew up to his chin was so thin. But they had left the ship that day in the bright of morning, the air already hotly baking, and she had worn no jacket or cloak to give.
"I'm going to be right here, Anakin. Right here."
"Thank you, Padme."
Padme bent to touch her forehead to his. "Sleep well, now, Ani." For a moment, their breaths mingled, gracing the air between their faces.
He mumbled something, and turned on his side, eking warmth from the thin cover.
Padme slid off the bed, and sat beside it, leaning her back against the frame. Tomorrow. Tomorrow, this strange, gifted boy would ride a fire-breathing Dragon, to win for them the Wish-Fulfilling Jewel that would speed them to Coruscant. Once there, she must gird herself to do battle in the Senate … against ignorance, and indifference… and the necessities of ten thousand other worlds.
… … …
The stars shone very brightly, as Shmi and Qui-gon walked back to the house. As at the start, the calloused warmth of his hand enclosing hers filled Shmi's entire consciousness. Together, they looked in at Anakin's room, and were surprised to see the young girl curled up asleep on the packed sand floor beside his narrow bunk.
"Don't disturb them", Qui-gon said. He shed his poncho, and laid it over the girl.
Guard well his sleep, young Queen, he thought. Guard well his sleep,