Disclaimer: I own nothing, Star Wars belongs to George Lucas
A/N: This is just an idea I had awhile back, inspired by too many Anakin redemption stories and a strange obsession with time. It will be updated sporadically, as this is not my main focus right now. I hope you enjoy it.
Shmi always knew that her son was special. Before she even had a chance to observe him with her own two eyes, she knew how extraordinary he was. Being a slave, many of those around her simply assumed that some drunken guard of Gardulla's had seen fit to have his way with her one night, and that her baby was a result of that. But she knew better. She knew that she had been with no man, and that her baby was a blessing from the Gods, from the Suns, from the Force. Whatever higher power one believed in, that was the one who had given Anakin to Shmi.
Once Anakin was born, the miracle of his birth became the first of many things to make him stand out amongst other children. Anakin was a fast learner; he was good with his hands and quick with his work. It was why Watto liked him so much and eventually grew to be fond of the boy, in his own way. But Anakin was special to Shmi because he was a good person. He was so generous, so loyal, and so kind to others. Even when they did nothing to deserve it, her Ani would take care of them.
And then, there were the ways in which he was special that scared her. Like how he always seemed to know what was going to happen before it did. Shmi wasn't sure if it was a sixth sense or some unexplained wisdom, but oftentimes Anakin would just get that look in his eye, and she was unexplainably comforted, knowing that Anakin was sure of what would happen next. But even more unnerving than Anakin's intuition were his dreams.
As far as Shmi could tell, he'd been having them since he was a baby. She remembered the day he was born, how she brought him into the galaxy as the Twin Suns rose over Tatooine. She had cared for him all day, feeding him, letting him nap in her arms, and he was the perfect baby. But when night fell, and she put Anakin down to sleep – he started to cry. Every night, as soon as the suns set and Anakin fell asleep, he woke up screaming and crying, over and over again. At first she just thought that he was being fussy, but as it continued she worried that he might be sick, that there was something wrong with him. But he was perfectly healthy. She tried everything to get him to stop crying. She would rock him, feed him, sing to him, clean him – except nothing worked. The only time he ever stopped was when the night ended. Every morning, as soon as the sun came up, he calmed down, and within minutes was perfectly happy again.
Eventually, Shmi and Anakin came to be owned by Watto, and they had their own hovel to live in. She immediately tried again to fix Anakin's nightmares, but it didn't work. She would put him to bed with all the lights on, but every night he would wake up screaming, crying to her about his bad dreams. And every night she would ask him to tell her what he had seen, and every night Anakin would say the same thing.
"A man. A big man in a black cloak. He's mean, Mommy. He's really mean. He hurts people. People die because of him. He scares me."
Shmi had no idea what to make of these dreams, and it broke her heart to see her son suffer through these visions every night. When Anakin was four, Shmi taught him how to read and write. She was able to find Anakin an old, empty journal from the storage rooms of Watto's shop. She gave it to her son, telling him to write down his dreams in the journal every night. Maybe then they wouldn't be so scary. Anakin did as his mother asked, and every night after his bad dream, he would record what he had seen in his journal. At first they weren't very detailed, they were all just about the evil man in black. But as Anakin got older and the dreams became clearer, he was able to add more detail to his journal entries. It never stopped the dreams, but it helped him to handle them.
Together, Shmi and Anakin learned to live with the nightmares. They learned how to deal with them, and they began to learn from them. By the time Anakin was eight, he was having different dreams about the man in the black cloak every night. Some nights he was giving orders on a ship. Other nights he was talking to an older man who wore a hood over his face. Anakin told his mother that this man was even meaner than the big man in the cloak. Some nights Anakin was forced to watch the big man kill people. Shmi hated those nights. Anakin had already seen more than his fair share of evils on the streets of Tatooine – must more cruelty haunt his dreams as well?
Anakin and Shmi had a theory about the man in black. They thought that perhaps every night Anakin got to witness one day in the evil man's life. For this man in black, every day was filled with fear, anger, and hatred. And then there were a few days, a few dreams, which stood out. There were three specific dreams that Anakin remembered above all the rest. The first was a dream that Anakin had their first night in their new hovel at Watto's place. Looking back, all Anakin could remember was that there had been a woman with the man in black. She had been a young woman, very beautiful, and dressed all in white. And the man in black had stood by and watched as the people around them destroyed something. Something that made the young woman very sad.
The second dream was even older than the first; Anakin said he was pretty sure it had happened about a year before they had left Gardulla, if not more. In this dream, the black man was fighting a young boy. The young boy was very brave, but very foolish to fight the evil man. Anakin told Shmi that he was very frightened for the boy. As they fought, the man in black injured the young boy, forcing him to move as far away from the mean man as he could. And then the man in black said something to the young boy. Anakin did not know what he had said, but it was so horrible, so terrible, that the young boy cried out in pain over and over again, unable to stop himself from screaming.
The last dream, however, was the most peculiar. Anakin said that the dream was from so long ago; he probably shouldn't even have any memory of it. All Anakin could remember from this dream was a few images, a few feelings. He could see the man in black, of course, as well as his evil, hooded counterpart. The young boy was also in this dream, but he was different this time. When Anakin remembered this dream, he told Shmi that he was full of anger and fear… but strangely enough, he was hopeful. This one dream, the one that he could not fully remember, was the only dream that had ever inspired hope in him.
And so by the time Anakin was nine years old, he had come to accept these dreams as a part of his life. The mystery of the man in black became a strange fascination to him. When he wasn't tinkering with his pod-racer or with his new protocol droid, Anakin was writing in his journal and desperately trying to puzzle out the life of this evil man. He tried so hard to remember everything, but it seemed like all the important pieces he had dreamt of while he was too young to remember. Every night he went to bed hoping to learn something new, but every morning all he had were more visions of death and destruction. He clung to his memories of the young, brave boy and the beautiful girl in white. And he desperately held on to that fleeting feeling of hope.