Disclaimer: Everything belongs to George.
Notes: Originally written for a challenge on LJ. Takes place during AOTC, while Padmé is waiting at the Lars farm. Title is from Aeschylus' Agamemnon.

by the awful grace

The first thing that Beru notices, really notices, about Padmé is her hands. They're small and slender, uncalloused, and they look as though they must feel very soft. They are not hands that have ever been touched by wind or sand or dry, parching heat.

She wonders about the world this woman must come from, a world with enough water to produce such smooth hands.

They meet in the kitchen, eyes locking across cookware and uncut vegetables. There's water boiling in a pot. It's as close to neutral ground as anything on Tatooine can be.

Padmé shifts slightly, left foot to right. Beru thinks she seems almost shy.

"Can I help with anything?" Padmé asks, tentative.

They're two women alone, each in her own way, and they both need the distraction. Beru smiles.

"You can help me peel the ansar roots," she says.

Padme takes a stack of the roots and grasps the peeler Beru hands her gingerly. Beru can tell she's never held one before.

"It's like this," she says, and demonstrates the technique: slow and deep, angled away from the body, the peels curling in long, stringy wires on the countertop beside her. Padmé watches intently.

"Anakin said I should try Tatooine cuisine," Padmé says, testing a smile. It falls short, but Beru thinks she deserves credit for trying.

"A lot of off-worlders don't like it," she says. "It can be pretty spicy."

Padmé's smile is more real this time. "I think I'll be all right." Her hands move steadily, the ansar peel curling in elegant strands at the end of the knife. She is a natural.

Beru smiles too. "I think you might," she says.

They don't really talk about Anakin, or Shmi. When the ansar roots are peeled and boiled, Beru shows Padmé how to make the Whitesun family special. Owen joins them for dinner, late, his face drawn with worry and dust. None of them eat much.

Everything that happens after that is a blur of movement, like the dark smudge of sand against the horizon that heralds a storm. Anakin returns, and Shmi is buried, and the silver ship blazes up like a sun and is gone. Beru knows she will never see them again.

But what she remembers—years later, when her son asks about his mother—what she remembers are Padmé's hands. Hands that know water, she tells Luke. Soft hands, too steady, peeling a foreign root.