A/N First time readers, welcome to my lovely little AU sandbox! To my loyal readers, I apologize for the massive overhaul that this story has gone through, but I promise it will be worth it!
All chapters that have been removed along with additional "deleted scenes" and vignettes will be published on a separate story that will soon be posted and entitled "Grounded". Thank you for your patience!
"Do we have to do this?'' Anakin wiggled against the tight binding cloths his mother wound around his torso. "Nothing ever happens anyway!"
"We are not having this argument again." Shmi paused in exasperation, adjusting the tape. "Hold still, Ani. Besides, the bandages will help to protect your wings. Especially if Watto's in one of his moods today."
He squirmed, fighting the uncomfortable bands. "Some of the pilots tell stories about ships that can turn invisible. I started building somethi-"
She sighed, "Anakin, I don't like you hanging out by the docks."
"I'm always careful! And there was this one engineer who showed me a picture of how holos work. It had a bunch of words on it, but I remember the drawing real well."
"That's very nice of him, but you must be more careful, Anakin." She secured the strip with a pin, leaving the two small wings bound and hidden from sight. "Now, finish getting dressed. You don't have much time to eat your breakfast."
Anakin ran to his room and reached for a tunic that lay across his work bench. Underneath it was a mess of wires and straps that resembled a harness. His fingers ran along twin filaments that were nearly as long as his workbench. He looked at the contraption longingly, tugging the frayed edge of the coarse cloth his mother was so careful to wrap around him. His bindings and too-large tunic kept curious eyes from noticing anything odd.
"Someday," he whispered to his invention.
Now fully dressed, Anakin bolted for the table, nearly knocking the chair over in his excitement. "Okay, I'm done!"
Shmi placed a slice of spice loaf and a glass of blue milk on the table in front of him. And then she shook her head when he wolfed it down. Finished, he stood, swiped a sleeve across his face, and kissed her on the cheek.
"I love you, Anakin."
"Love you, too, Mom." he glowed momentarily.
"Be careful!" she yelled, as he ran out the door. His response, although barely audible, was heard.
"I will!" he shouted, just as he always did. But, she could feel a change coming, and you can't stop change anymore than you can stop the suns from setting.
Later that morning
"Are you an Angel?" He had never seen anyone with skin that clean and fair, not outside of quarantine. To Anakin's eyes, she was the image of the creatures his mom told him about. The ones that were like him but different, too. Beautiful and clean and with moonshine in their eyes.
"What?" The handmaiden turned, eyes searching for where his voice was coming from.
"An Angel. They're the most beautiful creatures in the universe. They're good and kind. And they come from the moons of Iego, I think."
"I've never heard of Angels." Her face held a quizzical look.
"You must be one. Maybe you just don't know it." After all, he hadn't understood until someone had told him. It wasn't an impossible happenstance.
"You're a funny little boy." She smiled at the figure, half hidden in the shadows. "How do you know so much?"
He stepped a little farther into the light, starting to speak, "I-I listen to the space pilots tell stories about the places they've gone. And someday, I'm going to fly to all those places, and see all those things for myself. I'll have a great adventure." His eyes were lit up with excitement. Those words belonged to no cover story. Those words were his own, and he held them tightly in his young heart, right there beside the dream of getting himself and his mother far away from Tatooine someday.
She smiled at him brighter than the second dawn, a genuine smile that was a rarely seen on a world such as this, "I'll bet you can't wait to get off this planet. How long have you lived here?"
"Three years, now. When Gardulla owned my mother and I, we lived on Nal Hutta. But she lost us in a bet with Watto and we moved here." The girl's jaw went slack at his matter-of-factness.
"You're a slave?" Her voice was only faintly laced with concern and pity, but he picked up on them immediately and scowled.
"I'm a person, just like you." His voice acquired an edge not often found in one so young.
"I'm sorry. I don't understand everything that goes on here. It's a strange world to me."
He softened at her words. Tatooine was not the friendliest of planets and she obviously wasn't from the Outer Rim. No one with that much innocence in their eyes could be from such a terrible place as this, even if it was a safe haven of sorts for him.
"It's alright, I'd probably think your planet was strange, too."
It was at that moment that the tall man came back from speaking to Watto in the back room.
"We're leaving." As he turned to exit, his poncho shifted, and Anakin noticed a small silver cylinder at his hip.
"Alright." She turned back to the boy, wishing she could know him better, though it was unlikely she would ever see him again. "It was nice to have met you..."
"Anakin." He raised his hand slightly in farewell.
"My name is Padme." She smiled before turning away.
"I'm glad I met you, too." He said to no one. Moments later, Watto walked in, muttering curses under his breath.
"Ootmians. Tinka manta jee jee koza pasti de Coruscant, jee jee ne hopo mana"
"They seemed nice to me." He whispered with his head hung low, wishing she hadn't left.
"Bah. Tasa da niaga. Topla da bunky dunko."
"Waka nuto, Master!" He ran out the back door feeling lighter than he had moments ago. Cleaning the racks was an easy job. Mom would be so happy that he would be home before dark. And maybe, if he hurried, he could catch up to the outlanders, and see Padme one last time before she left the planet.
10 years later
In the years of his apprenticeship, Anakin had become incredibly adept at hiding his parentage. His modified robes and focused cloak and hologram unit did wonders, allowing him to never have to bind down his extra appendages.
But it was the little habits he had fallen into over the years that made discovery next to impossible. Just a few small things. Things people don't notice. Like never turning your back to anyone and keeping it to the wall. Not allowing anyone the chance to accidentally come in contact with his feathers. Not leaning into the backs of chairs, keeping his weight forward. Sleeping on his stomach with the blankets pulled down towards his waist. Tying feathers in his hair, in case one came loose from his wings during the day.
Now that he was a knight, it was easier. Even on missions, he had his own private quarters. It proved especially helpful having his own space on the rare occasion when he became injured. Years of practice made it possible to conceal any pain from the healers and doctors, his own men on the battlefield, and even Obi-Wan, until he retired for the evening.
The only concern he had was that someday his cloak would become damaged in the middle of a battle or a mission. What a headline that would make! Staying out of the spotlight meant staying safe. And it wasn't like a Jedi to want glory anyway.
Leave that to his troops. They were the ones who deserved it, deserved glory for all their sacrifice.
They were headed off to Christophsis now though. With any luck, it would be uneventful for everyone.