After the Boonta Eve Classic celebrations are slowly dragged to a close and the scavengers have picked over the last usuable fragments, the moons circle the sky, the suns settle and rise. Shmi rises in the cool of the lightening morning, and prepares for the rest of the days labour with a grainy repast less than half that which she is used to.
The Jedi frees her son.
The desert sleeps and the desert rages. Shmi teases out wire from the shattered remains of droid shells, sorts good parts from scrap in the shade of a dented sidepanel wedged into the sand. Her depur remains in the cool shelter of his shop. Buisness has picked up since Anakin won the Boonta Eve. Shmi waits without anticipation for when they discover Watto no longer owns him. She is not looking forward to it, but she still has a week’s worth of rations, given out three days ago - enough for two. She is of the desert. She is used to scarcity. She will survive.
The Jedi frees her son by winning him as collateral, and taking him away to be a Jedi.
(He wins him by wagering her son against his own death, borne aloft by a pod that is his for all that a slave can own nothing but the words in their hearts.)
Shmi knows that to be Jedi is to have power, and she knows that the only power a slave has is what he can hide.
But she doesn’t think that. She thinks of slave auctions and how rare it was for children to remain with their mothers as long as Anakin to remain with her, and she thinks of the girl who slept beside her in Gardulla’s palace, who was bought by the fabric guild for the dexterous length of her fingers and told she was free even as the explosive remained in her neck.
She thinks jewellery, chains coated in precious metals that are still at their core chains.
The sand settles and cools beneath the moons. Shmi returns home to the slave quarters, greeting the grandmother stationed by the entrance, and sweeps out the sand that has accumulated in her absence.
And then she tells herself no. Her Ani is going to become a Jedi. Her Ani is going to free the slaves. He is a Skywalker, a slave that makes free. She is a Skywalker, a slave who will be free.
She tucks her rough-spun blanket around her, and dreams of flying, through the air and up, into the bright cool embrace of space.
The suns set and the wind grinds sand against the poursand wall, the sound of rain in the desert.