Title: A Mother?s Gift Author: VaderLVR64 Characters: Shmi and Anakin Skywalker Timeframe: four years pre-TPM Summary: A mother faces a hard truth and must find a way to help her son accept it. A Mother?s Gift It was the time of the Boonta Eve Festival and even the slaves of Tatooine found some small joy in the season. Though they were just as busy, their hands were occupied by labors that seemed light. Perhaps it was the fact that their usual work had been set aside in favor of preparations for the many festivities, or maybe it was merely because their hearts felt less burdened. No matter the reason, the slaves found that smiles came more readily to their lips. Shmi Skywalker found herself humming a tune from her childhood, a song her mother had sung to soothe her to sleep. Whenever she heard it, she thought of Tagira Skywalker?s soft, warm hands. Her mother?s face had faded in her memory, but she could still feel the touch of her hands. Shmi was startled from her reverie by two big blue eyes staring at her over the edge of the counter. She did not need to see the tears that shimmered there to know her son was upset. Quickly rounding the counter, she embraced her son. Her hands ran swiftly over his small body, checking for injuries. Watto did not usually hit the child, but there had been times? Finding nothing, she kissed his cheek in relief. ?What is it, Ani?? she asked softly, wiping away the single tear that had fallen despite his best efforts to hold it at bay. Anakin seemed unable to speak, but instead threw his body into her embrace once more, his sweaty little arms holding tightly to her neck. At last he gave way to his sobs and soon her tunic was soaked. But she remained where she was, kneeling on the dusty floor, her arms wrapped tightly around her son, who shuddered uncontrollably. Murmuring softly to him in the soothing language of her childhood, she held him close until the storm of tears passed. Finally, she leaned back and then wiped his face clean with the hem of her tunic. When all trace of his tears except for his red and swollen eyes had been erased, she smiled at him. ?There,? she said. ?Now, tell me what is wrong.? Long lashes fell down to shield his bright blue gaze. He worried his bottom lip with his small, white teeth. ?What if Watto sells you?? His voice was quiet and he still did not meet her eyes. For a moment she felt as if her heart had stuttered in her chest, like a man who has taken a hard, unexpected clout to the head and somehow staggered back to his feet. ?What do you mean?? she asked, trying desperately to mask her own fear. Anakin was six years old and extremely intelligent for his age. He was well aware of their status and their lack of power or any right to decide their own fates. ?Lali?s mother was sold today,? he said, his breath hitching. ?Her master sold her to a slaver who took her off planet already!? At last he met her gaze. ?What if Watto sells you and I never see you again?? Shmi stared at her son, unsure of what to say. There were words of reassurance she could offer, but they would be empty promises that would be beyond her to keep. They were slaves and their destinies were not in their own hands. In her son?s question was her worst fear ? that they would be torn apart. Her mind urged her to utter sham pledges, to say anything that would ease his fears. She wanted to let tomorrow?s troubles take care of themselves. Today?s joys were theirs, not to be blighted by futures that might not be. But she had vowed never to lie to her son. She had so little to give him, but the truth was one gift it was in her power to bestow. So her heart told her that no matter how harsh and ugly, she had to give him the truth at least. With a sigh she got to her feet and took his hand, leading him to a chair. She sat down and settled him in her lap. He rested in head on her shoulder, content to simply be with her for the moment. Shmi ran her fingers through his tousled hair, contemplating what she wanted to say.