Disclaimer: Ani and Ami, as well as Beru and the Larses, belong to He Who Is Most Revered, the Creator of Galaxies. George Lucas, of course. I'd like to thank him for making Jar Jar a minor character in Episode Two. (Darth Vader is Canadian! How cool is that?)



Ani's just gone speeding off into the desert. The look on his face when Lars told him his mother was gone… my heart aches for him. You could see something inside him breaking into sharp edges and hardness.

He's known for a long time that something was wrong with Shmi – I've heard him in the dark hours of the night. His dreams turn him back into the little boy I knew, alone and afraid and trying so hard to be brave. He calls out for her in the middle of the night, thrashing and tangling himself up in the sheets in his efforts to stop whatever terrible thing he sees from happening. And then he wakes up, a man again, and can't even face the thought of going back to sleep and seeing it again, so he gets dressed and stands watch outside my door.

He'd have been here long before if not for me. His sense of duty is so strong, and he loves me. He shouldn't, and I wish he didn't, because if he didn't I could pretend to myself that I don't love him back. Neither of us can love. We belong to things, to people greater than individuals – he to the Jedi, I to Naboo. How can the feelings of two individuals outweigh the needs of a galaxy? Love is forbidden to us, hate is forbidden to us. There is only duty, and it's duty that I hate, and him that I love. I've never hated my duty before, but this time it holds me back from the thing I want more than I've ever wanted anything in my life. Duty kept him from his mother, and his love for me. If he didn't love me his duty wouldn't have held him so, and I wouldn't have seen that look of terrible pain and rage in his eyes.

Beru is trying to teach me how to harvest water from the vaporiser, but my mind's not in it. It's with Anakin, so far away I can't see him. The day goes on, the twin suns forcing us back underground with their searing heat, and still he does not come back. They set, and he is left alone in the desert, in the darkness. Beru lends me nightclothes and tells me to sleep, and my dreams are of Anakin.

I can't eat breakfast. It is delicious, but it has no taste. My eyes keep straying to the edge of the pit, trying vainly to see over the rim into the desert, watching for speeder dust. Halfway through the morning it appears, and so does he, riding as if running from something that terrifies him, and there is a bundle cradled against him. Shmi. She is so still, so still, and I remember the quiet strength of the woman who served me water and gave us shelter from the sandstorm. The woman who gave me her son. She's gone now, reduced to a pathetic piece of flesh clutched in his arms like a lifeline, and his face! It is not the face I love, not the little boy I knew and loved like a sister nor the almost-man I know and see in my dreams at night. It is dark and filled with the most unutterable grief and pain. His eyes are pools of cold rage.

I am afraid.