Title: A Mother's Love
Disclaimer: I do not own Star Wars. George Lucas does.
Characters: Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Shmi Skywalker, and many others
Era: One year post TPM and beyond.
Summary: The Council grants Obi-Wan permission to free Anakin's mother from slavery. Can Shmi's bond with her son prevent his fall to the dark side or only accelerate it? Set 1year post TPM and beyond.
Author's Notes: This was an idea that came to me, so I thought I'd write it. The story will explore the bond between Anakin and his mother and what influences she has on his life. This doesn't necessary mean he is safe from the Dark Side... Oh no...
A Mother's Love
Anakin Skywalker had not settled.
His emotional attachment to his mother had made it difficult to train him to let go of his attachment to her. Ever since leaving his mother behind in slavery on Tatooine, the young boy had struggled to forget the one who had brought him up, to move on with his life and focus on the path of a Jedi.
Anakin Skywalker was not a normal Jedi apprentice. He had not been raised in the Temple from birth. He had not been a Youngling. Instead he had been born into slavery on an outer-rim world, and by luck (or the Force), he had been discovered by a Jedi Knight who had been forced to make an emergency landing on the desert world that he had called home for the first nine years of his life.
At nine years old he had been too old to begin his training and had been turned down by the Council. It had only been the re-emergence of the Sith and Anakin's exploits during the battle of Naboo that had prompted the Council to reverse its decision. The apprentice of the Jedi that had discovered Anakin had promised his dying Master to train him, and Obi-Wan Kenobi's insistence to keep that promise had also overturned the original decision.
A year into his training and Anakin Skywalker hadn't settled despite his best efforts to do so and his Master's help in guiding him.
It was exactly a year to the day that Qui-Gon Jinn had been murdered in battle and Obi-Wan Kenobi had become a full Jedi Knight and taken Anakin as his apprentice.
Now the young Knight stood before the Jedi Council, without his Apprentice's knowledge, for he had an idea that might help his young charge if it was granted, though the no attachments rule would prove problematic as Obi-Wan's idea meant that special circumstances would be created for Anakin that were not approved for anyone else.
But Anakin was supposedly the Chosen One, said to bring balance to the Force. He had to be trained, there was no doubt about it, but his inability to settle had hampered his progress, and Obi-Wan was frustrated that his attempts to teach the boy was falling on deaf ears. He considered himself a failure.
He shouldn't have been training Anakin. Technically, as a new Jedi Knight, he should not have taken a Padawan (and the boy wouldn't officially be his Padawan until he was thirteen). The general rule was that he should have settled into his role as a Knight for a few years before considering taking a student but Anakin had been thrust upon him by his promise to his deceased Master. He didn't mind that he had done that, the boy was incredibly gifted but as a new Knight with no experience in the field, how could he be expected to train someone adequately?
Anakin had learnt a lot in his first year, that couldn't be denied but he felt that if other issues were addressed, he would have more success in teaching the young boy, and he hoped that the Council would consider his request and not flat-out deny it because it would be in violation of the Jedi Code that they had all sworn to upon entering the Order (though most Younglings didn't make that oath until they had been selected as a Padawan by a Knight or Master at the age of thirteen). Anakin had taken the oath two days after the Battle of Naboo though the title 'Padawan' wouldn't be granted to him until his thirteenth birthday.
Obi-Wan Kenobi stood in the centre of the Jedi Council, taking a deep breath, composing his words to make the request that he was certain would be denied to him. But he had to try.
"Knight Kenobi, a request you have of us, yes?" Yoda prompted. The small green Jedi was one of the most respected Jedi in the Order, no one could fool him. Obi-Wan had his suspicions that Master Yoda already knew what he wanted to ask.
Obi-Wan bowed to the room at large. "I do, Masters. It concerns my apprentice." He hesitated, unsure of how to proceed; how to best phrase his request. "Anakin has been here for a year. He has… struggled to find his place. He has made a lot of progress in a short space of time but he remains out of touch with his fellow initiates, possibly due to his upbringing and his emotional attachment to his mother. I do not believe that we can simply make him ignore this attachment he has. It's doubly hard for him because he left his mother in slavery. He has told me more than once that when he is a Knight, he will free her."
He could see several members of the Council frown upon that ambition. Jedi did not have ambition.
"I do not blame him for that desire. It sits hard on his shoulders that while he is living a life of freedom, his mother is trapped in a dark world. His studies will always be hampered by his love for his mother and the fact that he misses her. I believe it would be beneficial to Anakin's training – and would greatly help him settle - if the Council freed his mother from slavery. She doesn't have to come here, but she could be a calming influence on Anakin if she was present in his life in some way, he would have one less thing to worry about if she was no longer enslaved. His entry into the Order was unorthodox but because of this, I stand by the idea that freeing Shmi Skywalker would be beneficial to his training. I am asking the Council for permission to allow me to travel to Tatooine and to buy his mother from the Toydarian that owns her."
He fell silent, waiting for a response from the members of the Council. He could feel the Force permeating around him as all the Master's thought through his proposal and the positives and negatives that would come about if they agreed.
"Attachment is forbidden," said Adi Gallia. "If Anakin Skywalker is indeed the Chosen One could his mother's presence hamper his training more so than it already is? If we feed his attachment we run the risk of this happening."
"Or," said the softly-spoken Ki-Adi-Mundi, a Cerean Jedi Master, "it could help his progress. The Order made special circumstances for me because of the low birth rate of males of my species. I have five wives and seven children and it hasn't hampered my ability to be a Jedi."
Mace conceded his point. "But it is rare that we grant something like that."
"If we agreed to this, what would happen with the boy's mother?" Plo Koon asked.
"That I do not have a definite answer for," replied Obi-Wan steadily. "There would be several options open to us however. We could set her up on a Republic world with funds and allow Anakin visits every-so-often, or set her up here on Coruscant and help her get a job and allow Anakin visits, or the more beneficial one that I think could help my apprentice more is employ Shmi Skywalker at the Temple and continue to grant her access to her son on a very regular basis. His attachment to his mother won't ever be broken; he loves her too much for that. It would be bad if we tried to break their bond."
Mace Windu frowned. "Having his mother that close could turn against us."
"I don't believe it will. I think her presence will help soothe him, help him focus more on his studies and she will encourage him. Anakin never had the benefit of a crèche tutelage, he lacks the encouragement given to initiates at that age. Shmi Skywalker could fulfil that role that I am unable to fill in his training's absence from a young age. I'm his teacher but I cannot praise him all the time… his mother could be the focus he needs to make him become the best Jedi he is capable of becoming. I am prepared to take full responsibility and any punishment the Council sees fit if I am proven wrong in my assertions that Shmi Skywalker could prove a positive factor to Anakin's training," he finished, folding his arms across his chest and waited.
"Full responsibility you are prepared to take, yes?" questioned Yoda.
He had already addressed that in his request but Obi-Wan understood that they wanted more than just banal words from him. It had to come from his heart. If Anakin's attachment to his mother led him down a dark path he would have to be prepared to kill him. Any Master knew this and accepted that responsibility when they took a Padawan.
Steeling himself he spoke without hesitation. "Yes, I am." He projected his feelings into the Force, knowing full well that the Jedi Master's seated around him would all be able to sense his commitment and promise to take up the mantle.
His request was unorthodox and could alienate Anakin further from his fellow Jedi, but he had struggled to make friends, and spent most of his free time alone. Though Anakin had told his Master that he no longer cried about his mother, Obi-Wan knew that he did on a regular occurrence. He hadn't mentioned anything to the boy because he hoped that Anakin would come to him if he felt it was becoming too much of a problem.
But then, there was the impression that Obi-Wan had, that his young charge did not feel that he could confide his inner thoughts with him. They had forged a Master-Padawan bond but it wasn't strong or full of trust as a bond should be like.
Obi-Wan, after all, was not the Jedi that Anakin wanted to train him. Qui-Gon should have been the one to train him but his death had halted that desire and Obi-Wan had been willing to take him on as his apprentice. No one else would have done and if not, they'd have sent him back to Tatooine and probably back into enslavement.
The Council members were trading glances as Obi-Wan continued to stand in the centre of the chamber. He could feel curiosity in the Force. There were some Master's on the Council, he could feel, were willing to give Anakin the benefit of the doubt and allow him access to his mother. There were others that felt it would violate the Jedi code.
But in the end the final decision was up to Mace Windu. He and Yoda shared collective responsibility for the Order but Mace was the one who had agreed to Anakin's training in the first place after Qui-Gon's death… he had the authority to make this decision with Obi-Wan's request.
"I do not like this," began Mace, "but you have indicated you would take responsibility for everything. It would be on your own head."
"I wouldn't have agreed if I wasn't prepared to admit any responsibility in Anakin's future actions," answered Obi-Wan truthfully. "I am the one responsible for his training. I cannot wiggle myself out of that."
Mace leaned back in his chair, clasping his hands together in front of him. There was a hard look on his face. "Very well. We will grant your request. You may travel to Tatooine – without your apprentice – and free Shmi Skywalker from slavery. We will give you the necessary funds that should cover her worth to her owner. You will bring her here and we will employ her as Temple staff but she will live in the city, and Skywalker will not be allowed to live with her."
"Yes, Master." Obi-Wan bowed. They had granted his request, albeit grudgingly; it was up to him to prove to them that they were making the right decision.
Mos Espa, Tatooine
Dressed in a simple poncho that was draped over his Jedi garments Obi-Wan walked into Mos Espa. He had parked the small star-ship in a landing bay in the space port.
He was not anticipating that freeing Shmi would be easy. He had ensured that he had the correct currency, having remembered that Qui-Gon had been unable to buy the Hyperdrive part they had required from Watto before with Republic credits. He didn't know whether he had enough to buy her freedom but he had been assured that someone of Shmi's age would not be worth much, but just in case Watto drove a hard bargain, he had bought along enough to compensate for that. The money had come from the Jedi Council's funds, something they had not been too keen on allowing him access to, but they had reluctantly agreed. Since Obi-Wan wasn't paid money in his role of a Jedi, he could not fund Shmi's fee himself.
Watto's shop, Obi-Wan noted, was fairly small compared to a lot of the other businesses scattered around in the main street. It had a pointed roof which resembled that of a Toydarian home on their home world.
Anakin's former master clearly wanted his home comforts…
Obi-Wan walked into shop, his keen eyes searching around him, taking in every detail. For a small shop, there was a lot stacked into it. The Toydarian was nowhere in sight, however there was a middle-aged woman standing behind the counter, her curious brown eyes watching him as he moved towards her. She wore slave's garb and there was a sad loneliness evident in her eyes.
This was Shmi Skywalker, the mother of Anakin, and she missed her son terribly.
"Can I help you?" she asked; her voice was soft.
He gave her a gentle smile. "I need to speak to your master, regarding a matter that only he can deal with. Would it be possible to talk to him now?"
"I will find for you," she answered. "Please wait here." She left the main shop and moved out into the Junk Yard leaving Obi-Wan alone to his thoughts.
This was a woman who terribly missed her son, who was living a life that was not fulfilling for her. He could tell by the aura around her that she was suffering from nightmares, and that she was trying not to worry for her son, which was undoubtedly the crux of her nightmarish dreams. She was desperately lonely with nothing to live for apart from the hope that one day she would see her son again. No one deserved the life of a slave but she had been unfortunate in her life to have been made one, though he didn't know the full details.
He was bought out of his thoughts when Shmi returned a few minutes later, preceded by a blue Toydarian, who immediately flew in front of Obi-Wan.
"Ah, a tourist!" the guttly sound rasped forth from the Toydarian's mouth. "What can I get ya?"
Obi-Wan decided to be blunt. "I want to buy your slave from you." From his pocket he withdrew the local currency and placed an amount on the counter. "10,000 Tatooine credits."
Watto flew back in surprise. "You what?"
Shmi had maintained a calm composure throughout the small exchange but Obi-Wan had sensed her anxiety heighten that if she was taken away from this place then Anakin would never see her again.
"I want to buy your slave from you," he repeated. He put his hand into his pouch once more and withdrew another smaller pouch filled with money. "20,000 Tatooine credits." Shmi wasn't even worth that much due to her age but he understood that the Toydarian dealer would not willingly part with his only slave. "You know how much she is worth, included in what I am prepared to pay for her, are expenses you would miss out on without her help, plus," he pulled out another pouch, "another 10,000 credits on top of that to allow you to hire or – if you must – buy another slave." He hated the idea of suggesting to the slave owner to buy another one but he had to make himself look authentic and not for Watto to suspect that he was a Jedi. If he found out he was a Jedi he could potentially keep Shmi until Obi-Wan paid up a lot more money than he had on him.
"Why woulda tourist want a slave?" demanded Watto.
Obi-Wan smirked. "I'm not a tourist, rather a profiteer in older slaves." Another lie but one he hoped would make Watto release Shmi to Obi-Wan.
"A profit in older slaves?" laughed the Toydarian. "There's no market out there for them!"
"If you believe that then you won't mind selling her to me. 35,000 credits. That is my final offer." What he was offering for Shmi was the price of a slave at full health at the age of sixteen, the primary age to be a slave and worth the most. Surely Watto couldn't turn that down to keep a middle-aged woman?
"You are offering more than I would expect to receive…" started Watto.
"If you want less money for your slave…" Obi-Wan began.
"No!" Watto was quick to backtrack. "35,000 is the fee I will accept. It's your loss… you won't make much money from her. I win."
Obi-Wan merely smiled. If only the slaver knew exactly what fate entailed for Shmi Skywalker.
"I have no use for depressed slaves that are barely able to work in an adequate manner," Watto continued harshly. "She hasn't been the same since that boy of hers was taken by that Jedi a year ago. If you find use for her, I want to know … just to see how much profit you've lost in paying this much for her." The Toydarian flew to some cabinets he had stored at the top of his shop, bringing down a bunch of papers. He laid them out on the counter: the ownership forms for Shmi Skywalker, as well as the deactivator that controlled the chip that Watto had implanted in both Anakin and his mother when he had won them. Watto filled out the transferral form for slave ownership to Obi-Wan before passing the pen over to the Jedi who signed his name, thereby becoming the official owner of Shmi.
"I want you to deactivate her chip."
"It was done a few months ago," admitted Watto. "I thought she'd run away after her boy left. I'd rather not deal with the legal matters that her messy death would have caused if she had gone out of range of the transmitter."
Obi-Wan raised an eyebrow but chose not to comment. He picked up the papers and folded them up, slipping them into a pocket underneath his poncho. "Time to leave," he said. "It was good doing business with you, Watto."
"My pleasure…" The Toydarian was already fingering the stack of coins that Obi-Wan had given him as payment. He was far more interested in the money then his former slave's departure.
Obi-Wan fixed Shmi with a cold, hard stare – just for pretence in case Watto decided to take back his slave. "Come. You have work to do for me." He hated how he had to treat her just for a few moments. "You can pick up your stuff from your quarters on the way back to my ship."
Shmi nodded numbly. They departed from the shop.
There was something strange about the man that had just convinced Watto to sell her. She was certain he wasn't a slave trader either. She couldn't place why but there was something about him that told her he was here for a completely different reason.
He trailed a few steps behind her as they walked through the marketplace of Mos Espa to the slave quarters. Reaching her quarters, Shmi palmed open the door and walked inside, her new owner following behind her.
"You know I'm not who I appear to be…" he said before the door had even closed.
Shmi turned to face him. "Yes, I do, but I can't place you or fathom out why you paid that amount of money for me."
The man smiled at her. He had a nice smile hidden by an auburn beard and his blue-grey eyes sparkled. "Your son is worth it."
"My son?" Shmi was breathless. Did this man know her son? How did he? And then her eyes flickered downward and through a gap at the bottom of his poncho she spied his lightsaber. "You're a Jedi?"
He nodded. "I am Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jedi Knight. I am training your son to be a Jedi."
Her son was going to be a Jedi! She felt elevated by knowing for sure that was what her son was doing. And this man was training him… but then she realised… "What about Qui-Gon Jinn? He said he'd train him."
Obi-Wan bowed his head. "Qui-Gon died shortly after he freed Anakin. He was my Master and I promised that I'd train Anakin as he died."
Shmi's heart nearly broke. Qui-Gon had been so kind. He had tried to free her as well but he'd only succeeded in obtaining freedom for her son: the one who deserved it most. She had stayed behind, her heart falling to pieces at allowing her son to leave. But it had been his destiny. He wasn't destined to remain a slave for the rest of his life. "I'm sorry. He was a good man."
A slight smile tugged at his lips. "He was. He taught me everything that I know." He fell silent, obviously lost in memories.
Shmi bit her lip. What to do now? She was free – well she assumed she was…
"You are," the Jedi answered. "I'm freeing you. I'm taking you back to Coruscant with me. The Jedi Council have agreed to employ you in the Temple. You'll be paid a wage and provided with a home. You and Anakin can remain in touch – his Jedi training is too important for him to live with you, but you'll be allowed to have contact with him, which other young Jedi Initiates do not have with their families. Anakin has unusual circumstances and the Council have agreed to bend the rules a little." He shifted on his feet, obviously feeling a little uncomfortable with what he was about to reveal. "I hope your presence will mean that Anakin can settle down and really focus on his studies. He's doing well but he has a focus to free you and that's not healthy for a Jedi to have. If you are given your freedom but have a presence in his life, you might give him the stability he needs to become the great Jedi he can be and will be."
Shmi hesitated. "I'm not sure I should go… My place is here."
Obi-Wan shook his head. "No, it isn't. You place is where your heart is, and you heart resides with your son."
He was right, she knew that. "Is he really alright? Does he know you've come here?"
"No, he doesn't. All Anakin knows is that I have gone on an errand at the behest of the Council. He's back on Coruscant, hopefully studying hard, when he's not busy sneaking out the Temple at odd hours of the night." He rolled his eyes. Anakin had a habit of leaving the Temple resulting in much frustration for his Master who was a stickler for rules, but he couldn't help smiling all the same.
"Anakin was always a very inquisitive child. I'm not surprised he's exploring at every opportunity," said Shmi, feeling more at ease around this man, as she gradually began to pack up the few belongings she had been allowed to own.
The Jedi laughed. "The amount of times I've had to chase after him… it doesn't make me look like a good Master." He glanced around the hovel that Shmi called home. "I'll make sure you get a nice spacious apartment on Coruscant. You deserve your freedom as much as Anakin. Everyone who is a slave does…" he sighed, "but I can't free all of them. And the Jedi can't just go around paying to free everyone either."
"I was unlucky," began Shmi hesitantly. "Has Anakin ever told you how I came to be a slave?"
Obi-Wan shook his head. "No, he hasn't. He's very tight-lipped about his past which is problematic… A Jedi and his Padawan are meant to be completely open with one another. It's how we learn… I have sensed Anakin holding things back, and I have asked, but I respect him too much to push the issue… to force him to relieve a life that he finds quite sensitive because of its relation to you."
Shmi could understand that. Her son had, had the chance to move away from his life of slavery. Why would he want to relieve it? She couldn't understand why this man would need to know about Anakin's past but she wouldn't press the issue. She was volunteering her own history to him instead. Perhaps that might help him understand why it was such a sensitive topic to Anakin.
"I was very young when my father and mother and my older sister and younger brother left our home. I don't even know what planet it was. I remember dad saying he wanted to travel the stars so he made enough money to purchase a ship and we left. I can't recall where we were en-route to but we got pulled out of hyperspace and attacked by pirates. They separated and sold us to different bidders. I was six years old. I can barely remember my family. I'm forty-one years old now. It's been thirty-four years since I last saw them."
Obi-Wan felt sadness well up. Shmi missed her family despite barely remembering them. A part of him wanted to promise her that he would help her find them, but he was already doing too much of what was permitted of him by freeing her and allowing her to be with her son.
"I have been sold several times in my life. Some Masters have been kind to me, others not so kind. I was nearly freed once but my Master died before she could release me and I was sold on. I didn't have much to live for until Ani came into my life. I still don't know how it happened. I have never asked questions how he came to be but I'm glad he did because he made my life living as a slave bearable." She wiped a tear away from her cheek.
"And now you are free, to see him again," answered Obi-Wan. "I don't know how Anakin came to be. Qui-Gon didn't mention much but he did have a theory. I know there was no father involved. Anakin is very strong in the Force. He is one of our most powerful Padawan learners. That suggests he was conceived by the Will of the Force. This is just a theory and we cannot prove it. There is no denying his potential and the power he has. I sense no deceit in you. To your mind you should not have fallen pregnant… whatever happened chose you to be the bearer of …. a powerful Jedi." He had nearly said 'the Chosen One' but Shmi was not ready to hear that her son had a destiny. In hindsight, they should not have told Anakin that he was the Chosen One. That had put too much pressure upon him to succeed. And that was hampering him. Perhaps Shmi's presence would help him in that way too.
"I won't be long," said Shmi. "I haven't got many belongings."
Obi-Wan nodded and let her gather her things.
"Oh, by the way, is there room for a protocol droid?"
Obi-Wan sat up straight. "A what?"
"A protocol droid. Ani was building him before he left… he works. I'd like to bring him with me if that's possible," said Shmi.
Curiosity overcame him and Obi-Wan walked into the small room that Shmi had just entered. Leaning against a wall was a droid which had no coverings on. It was naked but appeared to be in working order. "Anakin built this?" He mused. "He did mention to me a few times that he had built a droid." He couldn't very well say no that Shmi couldn't bring him. "I'll have to rent out a holder for it. I don't want to damage the droid by having it walk through the sand."
"Is your ship far?"
"At the space port. Unlike last time we were here, we're not hiding anything that meant we had to land outside the city."
"You were hiding something?" Shmi's curiosity rose. She had no idea of the true nature of why Qui-Gon Jinn had come to this planet in the first place.
"By that I mean we were protecting someone of vital importance. I was left behind to protect her which is why you didn't meet me before. I was quite shocked that my Master had brought Anakin with him. It wasn't something I had expected but I'm very glad he did. Without Anakin, we wouldn't have won the Battle of Naboo." He knew instantly that he had something wrong by the expression that crossed Shmi's face.
"A battle? My son was involved in a battle?"
Obi-Wan grimaced, shuffling on his face. "I think it is best if I left that story up to Anakin to tell when you see him. You don't need to worry. He excelled brilliantly at what he did. He saved a planet, you should be proud."
"I am. I am very proud of my son," she answered. "I hope that when I see him again…" She couldn't finish her sentence and Obi-Wan didn't know what to do. Awkwardly he moved forward and pulled her into a hug. This was too much for Shmi Skywalker. The prospect of freedom and seeing her son again was simply too much for her.
"Why don't you go and sit down? I'll get everything ready here," he said kindly.
She didn't bother to try to talk him out of it, so she left the room and took a seat at the table, trying to dry her eyes.
Obi-Wan gathered what he could and made sure that nothing was left behind when he took Shmi away from the slave quarters forever.
To be continued...
Please let me know what you think!
I know it is unlikely that the Council would even agree to free Shmi, let alone give her access to her son, but I figured they let Ki-Adi Mundi have a family because of exceptional circumstances so why not let Anakin have his mother? I thought it was a good idea to explore. Next chapter will be posted soon in which Shmi and Anakin are reunited...