Notes: ygrittebardots asked me for something immediately following Drip and from Shmi's point of view. Like Drip, this ties in with my metafic No.

This one is full of Tatooine folklore. Ekkreth is the trickster of Tatooine folktales. Like a lot of tricksters, they are a shapeshifter and genderfluid, so I've used they/them pronouns. Also, Ekkreth translates as "sky-walker" in Basic. Yes, there is a connection.

Depur means "master" in the secret language of the Tatooine slaves. It's so very far from being a neutral word.

How Ekkreth Escaped Slavery

Anakin's arm is swelling and tight as they trudge back to the slave quarters. Shmi watches him closely. He winces, just a little, with every movement as he walks and the coarse fabric of his shirt rubs against the wound. It's dried now, mostly, and the shirt is a deep, brown-black color where it sticks against his arm and bunches painfully with each step.

It was his best shirt. But the blood will come out. Shmi has enough experience with blood stains.

"Dakkalu, Ani," she murmurs. Strength now. Her hand finds his small shoulders and draws him against her. It feels like a parody of protection. The damage is already done.

"Mattama ek, Amu," he says. "I'm fine." But his voice is very small.

They walk the rest of the way in silence. When they reach their quarters, Shmi pauses first at the door. She takes the small canteen from the pouch at her waist and tips it just so, until a single drop falls into the sand at the threshold.

Anakin was hurt, but he is alive, and that is worth a thank offering.

They whisper the words of the prayer together: We are grateful. We are alive. We are your children. Come, Mother, come with fire and rain. We are your people. Deliver us.

Shmi takes Anakin into the kitchen and, though he's getting too big for it, she hoists him in the air and sets him on the table. "All right, Ani," she says, keeping her voice warm and light. "Let's get you cleaned up."

He says nothing, but he starts trying to roll up his sleeve. Shmi stops him, clicking her tongue.

"Not yet, Ani," she murmurs. "Let me."

She heats water. She's used up the last of their painkillers and bacta, and won't be able to afford more until next week at least. But she has a good stock of tarfa leaves and some ginsu bark that Jira gave her, and that will do. She steeps the leaves and the bark, and wets a towel to press against her son's arm.

"Dakkalu, Ani," she says again, when the cloth of the shirt is wet enough to pull away. She sees him grit his teeth. As gently as possible, she removes the tattered shirt, setting it aside to be washed and mended later. First she must mend her son.

She begins cleaning the wound, and all the time his jaw is set and his hands are clenched in tight fists against the table.

"Would you like me to tell you a story, Ani?" she asks, reaching up to brush his sweat-slicked hair away from his eyes.

Anakin nods stiffly.

Shmi wipes gently over the wound, then begins to bind it with herbs and long strips of cloth. The story begins as all such stories do, and in spite of herself she smiles as she tells it.

"Ekkreth was going along, walking through the canyons and the rocks, going to meet with their children. Then suddenly Depur came upon them, with a group of thirty slavers, all armed to the teeth."

Anakin gasps, and Shmi looks at him sharply. Unshed tears hang in his eyes.

"Ani?" she asks.

"Sorry, Mom," he whispers. "I was just…surprised. By the story."

She lets him have the lie.

"Depur and his slavers captured Ekkreth," she continues, securing the poultice and beginning to check him over for other injuries. "And Depur bound Ekkreth with many chains, and he laughed, and said, 'You are called clever, Ekkreth, but that will not save you this time. I have captured you, and now you will be my slave.' And he made ready to go back to the city, taking Ekkreth with him.

"But Ekkreth said, 'It's true that you have captured me, Depur, and now I must be your slave. But please, I beg you, wait here just ten more minutes! For I was coming to meet with my youngest children, and if you will only wait, you can have them too, and go home with four slaves instead of one.'

"Now Depur was not a fool. He looked long and hard at Ekkreth, and he said to them, 'Why should you wish for me to enslave your children?'

"Then Ekkreth said, 'I don't wish it, oh master, but they are my children and I could not bear to be parted from them, and to have them die alone in the wastes. It is better for them to be slaves than to be dead.'

"And this seemed reasonable to Depur, so he said, 'I will wait.' And in ten minutes' time, just as Ekkreth had said, there came Ekkreth's three youngest children around the bend, and Depur's slavers captured them, too, and bound them all in chains. Then they made ready to go back to the city."

There are several cuts across Anakin's back, shallow but showing harshly red with the beginnings of infection. Shmi squeezes Anakin's good shoulder slightly in warning, and begins bathing the wounds. Anakin holds himself perfectly still as she works.

Shmi hums soothingly under her breath and continues the story. "But Ekkreth said, 'Please, my master, if you will only wait another fifteen minutes, my ten elder children are coming to meet with me here, and you will have fourteen slaves instead of four.'

"But Depur knew that Ekkreth was famous for their tricks, and so he said, 'Why should you wish for me to enslave these children, too?'

"And Ekkreth said, 'I don't wish it, oh master, but these too are my children, and I fear for them if they are left alone without their parent. It is better for them to be slaves than to be dead.'

"And once again this seemed reasonable to Depur, and he said, 'I will wait.' And after fifteen minutes, just as Ekkreth had said, their ten elder children came around the bend, and Depur's slavers captured them, and bound them in chains, and they made ready to return to the city."

Anakin shifts against the sting of the medicine, and Shmi bends to place a soft kiss on his brow. "My brave boy," she whispers.

Anakin shrugs away from her, almost managing to disguise his wince, and gives her a tremulous smile. "Mom," he says with a long, affected whine that brings a startled laugh out of her. "Come on. Finish the story."

"All right," Shmi says, wrapping the last of the bandages about his chest. But instead of lifting him down from the table, she comes and stands before him, taking both of his small hands in hers.

"For a third time Ekkreth said, 'Please, my master, if you will only wait another fifteen minutes, my eldest daughter is coming here to meet me, and she is very beautiful and the most renowned of all my children. If you will only wait you will have her as your slave, too, and then you will possess Ekkreth and all of their family.'

"Now Depur was greedy, and Ekkreth's words appealed to him, and this time he did not question. He waited the fifteen minutes, and all of his slavers stood ready to capture Ekkreth's daughter and bind her in chains.

"And as before, it was just as Ekkreth had said. When the fifteen minutes had passed, Ekkreth's eldest daughter came.

"She came with a terrible roar and a thunder of wings and the blast of storm out of the wild desert. She came with fury and death. The earth shook, and Depur's slavers fell upon the ground in terror, and some turned and ran, and others tried to fight, but their weapons and all their chains were useless.

"For Depur had forgotten what all Ar-Amu's children know: that the eldest daughter of Ekkreth the Trickster is Krayt Dragon, who walks in the wastes and fears nothing, for none can stand against her.

"So Depur was destroyed, and Ekkreth and all their children freed. And that is the tale of how Ekkreth tricked Depur, and freed themself and all their children from slavery."

Shmi squeezes her son's hands and crouches down so their eyes are level. She catches his gaze and holds it. "Always remember, my clever son," she whispers fiercely, "our elder sister is Krayt Dragon. We carry the name of Ekkreth the Sky-walker. No depur can hold us forever."

Anakin looks at her with shining eyes, his injuries forgotten. He squeezes her hands in turn. "I'll remember, Mom," he whispers, and lunges forward suddenly to hug her with desperate strength. "I'll remember."

His son is a blazing supernova, blazing and dying as he writhes under the Emperor's cold fire. Anakin knows that fire only too well. He has been a slave all his life.

Young fool, the voice of his master hisses. Only now, at the end, do you understand.

And he does.

"Father," Luke cries out, desperate and dying and still reaching out, even now, for the father who has never come before. "Father, please."

Anakin looks between his son and his master. His depur.

Remember, says a voice out of the past, a voice he has not thought of in years, speaking an old, old story, older than the Sith, older than the Jedi. Remember.

Anakin remembers.

He looks again at his depur. The Sith Master, the ruler of the galaxy, the man who always knows, who is always watching, who is always ready with retribution for any step out of line. All Palpatine's vast and terrible focus is trained on Luke. He is not aware of Anakin at all.

Depur has made a mistake. He thinks that Anakin has forgotten. And he had, oh he had. But Luke has reminded him.

Depur thinks – Depur knows – that Anakin is his slave.

But Anakin is a dragon.