a Dormékin short story, written for BetaReject

No one could really understand it. Dormé wasn't able to explain it herself. Many people thought she was either possessed or insane. Clinically, there was never anything wrong with her. Whenever the medical droids examined her, they could only find conditions caused by her own anxiety or fears, but nothing related to what she attempted so many times to explain.

While she posed as Amidala in the senate, Dormé remained the picture of calm clarity. Even when she felt attacks on her skin, feeling as though she had been bruised by an unseen force, she was able to keep it under control. Saché, her mentor, was able to see the slight change in her demeanour and knew something was wrong, but she didn't say a word. However, the rest of the handmaidens soon learnt of her oddity when she awoke screaming one night.

The pain in Dormé's arm was fierce, going from her hand and shooting straight up her arm. When she explained it to the medics, she said, 'It feels like I stuck it in the oven overnight.' But during the testing, the poking and prodding revealed that, temporarily, she lost feeling in her right arm from the elbow down.

Eventually the pain and loss of feeling in her right arm dissolved away as though it had never happened. If Dormé was honest with herself, she would have realised this was not the worst of the fake injuries she suffered. Many times as a child, her swelled fingers would feel blisters of hours' work that she hadn't done in the factories, the thirst and intense heat blistering her skin that wasn't possible for her to suffer in the milder, wetter climate of Naboo.

The other handmaidens were suspicious of what happened. Some believed that she was merely seeking attention, while others suspected that she was part of a secret medical experiment gone wrong. After all, they said, Dormé was from Uriash. Dormé tried not to let their caginess around her bother her, but inevitably, it caused her to withdraw from them for fear of further judgement.

It was around this time that their mistress requested their presence back on Naboo at the Naberrie family lakehouse. Dormé originally wasn't supposed to go because she was maintaining the senator's presence in the senate, but Padmé requested that all of her handmaidens return to Naboo. It sounded urgent.

None of them expected to find that Padmé wasn't there when they first arrived. Sabé got the message that she was on her way, which led to further questions that wouldn't be answered until Padmé arrived, along with her Jedi protector. Sabé was also the first to begin figuring out what was going on with the younger handmaiden.

Padmé was the first of the incoming party to arrive, but instead of her Jedi Protector, clone troopers from the army that she tried in vain to prevent from being created and Master Kenobi accompanied her. She didn't look pleased.

'Anakin—my Jedi Protector—asked me to marry him,' Padmé confessed to her handmaidens. The shocked look on their faces said enough. 'Obviously we can't be married because he's a Jedi, but he says he loves me and is quite insistent about being together. Well…'

Sabé and Saché exchanged concerned looks.

'I agreed to date him and see how things go,' she said with a shrug. 'It's nice to have a distraction and he did save my life after all.' It was something the handmaidens were privy to solely because of their duty to protect their mistress. It would never be public knowledge.

Once Anakin arrived, it was clear to all present that he had a new accessory, or rather that he had gained an artificial hand. The moment Sabé noticed it, she immediately thought of Dormé's injuries, but it was clear that Master Kenobi was also injured and in need of aid, even if he didn't admit it. She immediately went to the Jedi Master's side.

Though the action was immediate and unintentional, Dormé clutched her arm when she saw Anakin's replaced one. She didn't understand the true meaning behind it. Instead, Dormé started a friendship with the Padawan Jedi and it wasn't long before the pair was inseparable.

Unfortunately, in spite of their friendship and unexplainable connection, they were both very naïve when it came to matters of the heart. Anakin never understood why Dormé never committed to a relationship or why it bothered him so much. Dormé never understood why he believed Padmé was an incorruptible, perfect woman, or why this bothered her so much. In spite of these minor misunderstandings, they got on well together and whenever Anakin was home from the war, Dormé cancelled any prior plans so that she could spend time with her friend.

In time, Anakin tired of sneaking around with his girlfriend and Padmé tired of Anakin's immaturity. In the back of her head, Padmé realised that she dealt with it so long because she had felt bad about the death of his mother. Thankfully, they mutually decided that it was time to move on and Padmé was surprised at how well Anakin took it. She had been afraid of hurting his feelings because she was also keenly aware of his temper. However, the senator was not one to be trifled with and refused to put up with or give in to his angry tirades. The war changed them both and in the end, it was best that they parted ways.

Even if he didn't admit it to anyone else, Anakin was upset by the end of their secret affair. He complained about Padmé on more than one occasion, but he also expressed his strong feelings for her. All of this came to Dormé first hand. Though she hadn't been in a proper relationship, she did what she could which was primarily to listen to Anakin as he had no one else to talk to. She also baked him cookies and tea cakes and played—or rather attempted quite badly to play—games with him. Even with his tips, tricks, and secret access codes, she still continued to fail miserably at the art of hologames.

They celebrated each other's accomplishments, such as Dormé attaining a permanent spot in the Naboo court, one that would outlast her duties as Padmé's handmaiden should the time come for a transfer. They also celebrated Anakin's Knighting Ceremony though it ended up being a few months after the fact due to his mission from the Council interfering with any downtime.

Though Dormé began feeling closer to her friend and wishing they didn't ever have to part, she still didn't understand the complexity of her feelings. If the thought crossed her mind, she shut it away because she believed Anakin wouldn't think of her in that way. In all honesty, Dormé didn't believe she was good enough for a Jedi. Anakin was too good, kind, and heroic to be hers. She was content being his friend.

Similarly, Anakin tried his best not to think about kissing his best friend and doing other things that couples do together. It seemed nowadays that when he tried not to think about her in that way, the feelings almost reached a breaking point. He knew what happened the last time he expressed his feelings and how awful things ended up with Padmé that he didn't want to risk it again, especially if it would mean ruining his friendship with Dormé because he valued that above all else. But Anakin also didn't think she would be interested in him in that way anyway because she was still throwing herself at other men. That made him more furious than anything else.

Three years into the war, on the blood-soaked ground of Rendili, Anakin found a short space of time in which he could view his messages. There were the usual messages from the Council or it representatives, one from the chancellor, and one from Dormé. He felt bad for not having been able to reply to the last few messages she sent him. Even though he knew his friend would understand, he didn't like the fact that he couldn't get a solid connection to reply with on the battlefield. He also knew it was a security risk he shouldn't take.

Now that he was back to his ship, he was able to send a brief message, letting Dormé know he was on his way back to Coruscant. Unfortunately, he was not the only one listening in on the message.

Asajj Ventress lurked in the shadows, knowing it was her mission to engage Skywalker in battle. While she preferred squaring off with his former master, the admirable Master Kenobi, Skywalker would have to do. In the meantime, she knew what plot she would use to first. The boy made it incredibly easy.

Upon his return to Coruscant, Ventress knew the boy wouldn't stick around the Jedi Temple for long. Patiently, she waited and then shadowed him as he went to the seedier districts. She felt it was ironic that the Chosen One would feel more at ease out of the watchful eyes of the Council. 'Looking for your plaything, Jedi? Do your masters know about your dalliances with a handmaiden? She's not even that pretty—'

But just after the words fell from her lips, the newly knighted Jedi's lightsaber met with her own. Gnashing his teeth, Anakin snarled as their lightsabers hissed at each contact. There were not enough curse words in the galaxy to spit back at the witch who called herself a Sith.

Ventress struck Anakin over his brow. 'I just wanted you to know I could take your head off any moment I wanted to,' she jeered.

Anakin's rage and talent with a blade were no match for the dark apprentice, but just when Ventress thought she might lose, an opportunity presented itself. She smiled malevolently before making her move.

One afternoon, while her mistress was at a senate meeting, Dormé wandered in the local shops. She had the say to herself and she was eager to spend part of her wages on a gift for her mentor whose birthday was coming up. She also enjoyed the smell of freshly baked goods and the banter the customers engaged in. It was always so full of life here, moreso than the stale and stoic meetings of the senate.

She spotted an ornate pair of earrings and necklace that she snickered to picture Saché wearing, knowing her mentor wouldn't be caught dead in them. Though Saché might not ever wear something so gaudy, Dormé felt the item next to it was more befitting her mentor. This combination was a deep emerald colour without the sharper contrast of red in the other. 'I'll take this,' she said to the shop keeper.

'A very good choice, milady—'

She paid for her purchase and moved onward to the markets to find some fresh produce. She had a small amount of handpicked food in her basket when, suddenly, Dormé grabbed her head as a sharp, searing pain coursed through her brow. She screamed and dropped the items she was carrying. She didn't notice the thief taking off with the gift for her mentor.

Placing her hand over her eye, it felt hot to her. She didn't need to look in the mirror to see that she was not physically injured. Anakin? she thought to herself. 'Something's happened—' she continued aloud, but no one took her seriously or helped her gather her things.

'You still have to pay for that,' one of the harvest proprietors gruffly reminded her.

Dormé stumbled back to the stall and fumbled around for her credits. 'I'm sorry—' she apologised. It appeared someone had taken off with her handbag as well.

Unfortunately for the aspiring Sith Mistress, Ventress's moment of revelation, sensing a girl approaching and believing it to be Anakin's toy, the Jedi took the split second to gain the advantage. At this point, Anakin was drowning in the dark side and unaware of his surroundings.

Upon spotting Anakin and seeing that he was engaged in a vicious lightsaber duel, Dormé slowed down. Though she was afraid of the strange woman with the tattoos and sharp features, she was also afraid for Anakin. He seemed to be doing quite well, but Dormé was not ignorant of the pain she felt earlier. She could see the blood, now dried from the searing heat of the lightsabers. She resisted the urge to call out to him, not wanting to distract him from battle, but her presence did not go ignored.

While Skywalker was lost to the call of the dark side, Ventress keenly leapt at the chance to secure the girl. In a flash, she used her wiles of distraction, disappearing momentarily as though a heavy fog appeared in an instant and then dissipated. With a strong grip around Dormé's arms and duel crimson blades aimed at her throat and side, Ventress cooed, 'Skywalker… Now is your chance to watch the one you love die by my hands. I will enjoy this…'

'Leave her alone!' he shouted. 'I'm the one you want—leave her out of this!'

Wide-eyed, Dormé struggled against her captor, the lightsaber's heat searing the skin on her neck. 'Anakin—' she said in warning as Ventress backed her up toward the edge of the skyscraper as though readying to toss her off.

Then Skywalker leapt at Ventress, who sliced through Dormé's shoulder and side before parrying Skywalker's attack. 'Hit a nerve?' she taunted, though stumbled slightly as she regained her balance before jumping into the air and flying backward.

Skywalker bounded after her, not about to let her get away.

Dormé watched until they were out of sight. The pain in what was left of her shoulder caused her to struggle against passing out. Against her injuries, she fumbled for her comlink which was safely stowed in the folds of her gown. At least the thief hadn't taken off with that as well. 'Help—Saché—Please…'

Their duel continued until Ventress was disarmed. Skywalker had the option of arresting her, but with the dark side coursing through his veins, he would show her no mercy. Half a block was nearly ruins from their intense battle. Anakin used the Force to rip down power cords and strangled Ventress with them as their currents ran through her.

Asajj Ventress didn't dare to scream out in pain. Instead, she hissed curses at him. 'Do it; give in to your hatred! Don't deny what you are—what you truly are—'

He let her fall off the ledge, still wrapped in the cords. He could feel her life force growing dimmer as she fell. Content with this, he returned to Dormé's side.

'Is she—' Dormé struggled to speak.

'You're safe now,' Anakin said, bending down to lift her up into his arms. 'I killed her.'

'I'm sorry,' Dormé replied as she struggled not to show her pain. She still didn't understand who the woman was and why she was in a duel with Anakin.

'Why are you sorry? You didn't do anything wrong.'

'Because I got in the way. I just—you were hurt. I felt it,' she tried to explain. 'The wound on your brow…I felt it when she hurt you. Who was she anyway?'

Anakin furrowed his brow, not wanting to discuss it. He was more concerned about making sure she would be treated for her wounds. Dormé was the one truly injured; he only had a small cut on his brow.

A.N: Coming up -

'What the frak is that?' Saché asked.

'Oh dear,' Sabé gasped as her eyes fell on the holo.

'It's the holodrama about the Jedi in their fight to preserve peace,' Dormé explained. 'I know it's araru, but I can't stop watching it…'

'If that's supposed to be Master Kenobi—'