Actions

Work Header

Promise

Work Text:

Despite being born a slave, Shmi Skywalker knew that, in relative terms, she was fortunate.

The specter of brutality always loomed, of course. She had no illusions about what cruelties might be inflicted. Yet Shmi herself had never been starved or beaten. When she became miraculously pregnant with Anakin, her fellow slaves laughed at her story, believing that she lied to hide some grimmer, more painful truth.

Shmi never lied, for it was not in her nature. Lies, deception – those things were of the darkness, and there was already too much darkness. Shmi preferred to walk in the light.

She could not remember a time that she could not feel it. “It” had no name. It was a ripple across her skin, like the changing winds at dusk and dawn. It was a humming inside her ears, almost music, a subtle melody. Beauty, always beauty. There was beauty in everything, amidst even the worst of slavery’s brutalities, and she kept her heart and mind open to it. She’d made herself open to it. She submitted. This, she sometimes thought, was why she was blessed with Anakin.

But really, who knew? Certainly not Shmi. Not even the Jedi knew for sure.

When the Jedi came, he told her that the “it” she had always felt – the ripple, the hum – was the Force. “All life moves within it,” he said, “and some are able to sense it. A few, a very, privileged few, can actively affect it. These select few need not submit as you have, Shmi, if they do not wish it. They can reshape the universe around them, and they can choose their own destiny.”

The Jedi believed Anakin had this potential and that he might one day attain the power to banish the darkness forever. She didn’t pretend to fully understand what the Jedi told her, but when she reached out with her feelings, she sensed that he was right.

And besides, it was what Anakin wanted. Shmi wanted her son to want for nothing, and if he wanted to seize his destiny with his own two hands, then Shmi wanted that for him, too.

She wanted other things as well. Want blossomed within her, sweet and aching.

The Jedi was handsome and strong, touched by the years but not hobbled by them. So calm, so sure, so intent. Shmi was a slave, fortunate to be invisible. When another being’s eyes focused upon her, they normally represented a terrible threat. But when the Jedi looked upon her, his gaze was compassionate…and filled with promise.

They lay together, Shmi and the Jedi. Late one night, while the rest of Mos Espa slept, Shmi went to him and joined him in his makeshift bed. He was surprised, and she was surprised by the awkwardness of his welcome. She’d assumed he’d be experienced, a man of the galaxy, a Rimwards traveler from the cosmopolitan Core, and that he could teach her. In reality, he had hardly more experience than she.

Enthusiasm made up the difference between them, though, in the end, and the desire was mutual. They taught each other. She did shudder from a small twinge of pain when he pushed into her that first time, for she was a virgin in truth and had never known another, and from her reaction she knew that he knew it. He therefore treated her with unfailing gentleness, never wavering, not even as the humid heat began to crest between them, not even in the final, abandoned throes of their shared passion.

“I will free you and your son,” he said to her afterwards. “This, dear Shmi, I promise you.”

She did not reply. By way of acknowledgement, she cuddled closer into his handsome, strong body. She trusted him and knew he did not lie. Lies were of the darkness, and the Jedi was of the light. He would keep his promise. Somehow, he would. She could feel it.

Alas, Watto was obstinate. He agreed to sell Anakin to the Jedi, but he refused to sell Shmi. Shmi was to remain in bondage.

Her son was grief-stricken and did not wish to leave her; Shmi felt only happiness because Anakin would be forced to submit no longer. Under the wing of the Jedi, he would learn to reshape the universe around him and choose his own destiny. And she happened to know from firsthand experience that the Jedi was a good teacher. She was certain Anakin would have things to teach the Jedi as well in return.

In the meantime, she would walk in the light and live her truth, just the same as she always had. “It” – the Force – was still with her. Even when Anakin was not.

It was through the Force that she discovered what happened to the Jedi after he departed Tatooine.

She felt him first. A change in the ripples across her skin, in the humming inside her ears. Different but familiar. It felt almost…almost…friendly. Loving. Like the barest brush of a ticklish kiss.

Eventually, she saw him, translucent and glowing, standing large as life in the doorway to Watto’s shop.

“Qui-Gon…” she whispered. “So you are here.”

Although he had died, his power continued to persist in the Force. It was another miracle that no one else would believe were she to tell the story.

The Jedi’s apparition did not speak but merely smiled and stepped aside, as if to make room for someone behind him. Shmi craned her neck forward from where she was seated at the counter.

A man entered. Alive, not an apparition. He was middle-aged and hale, his style of dress marking him as a native of Tatooine but probably not local to Mos Espa. “I heard you might have parts to fix a respulsorlift engine. Damned thing gave out on me two-thirds of the way out from Anchorhead, and—”

“We may have the parts, but at present we do not have a mechanic employed, so I’m not sure how much help we can offer,” Shmi said. Might as well let him down gently.

“Oh, that’s not a problem.” The man’s expression was warm when he looked at Shmi, like he was seeing her. Really seeing her. “My son Owen can do the fixing. We just need the parts.”

“Ah well, in that case…”

The Jedi had kept his promise. Shmi was fortunate indeed.