It is not my mother's dress.
As I stare at my white-clad reflection in the full-length mirror, it is the one thought that I cannot banish. The more I dwell on this somber fact, the more the tears come to my eyes, unbidden. To avoid ruining the make-up I have so carefully applied, I dab at them with the small, white lace cloth given to me by my grandmother when I was born. It has remained with me always, tucked in a case with my most precious belongings. It is a cloth I have kept for just such a day - my wedding day.
When my sister married, she rejected our mother's offer to wear her wedding gown. Sola wanted a new dress, a dress of her own. I was secretly happy.
I wanted to wear her gown.
Although Mother was hurt by Sola's decision, she kept it to herself . The three of us scoured the shops of the finest dressmakers on Naboo, searching for Sola's idea of the perfect gown. I would always smile to myself at that idea because I knew my perfect dress was tucked carefully away in my mother's closet.
When I was a young child, I would sneak into her closet and stare for hours at the beautiful garment with its intricate lace and beading. The bodice glittered more beautifully than the evening stars, and the skirt was long and flowing. It was a gown fit, not for a queen or political princess, but for a beautiful, mystical princess like the ones my mother would describe to me in her bedtime tales, and I knew that was exactly how I would feel when I wore it on my own wedding day.
On the day of Sola's wedding, our mother fussed and fretted over the tiniest of details. Despite my sister's exasperated sighs, the dear woman would continuously smooth the long train or straighten her veil. Then, just before my father took Sola's arm to lead her to the ceremony, she grasped my sister's hands in her own and told her how beautiful she looked.
For me, there will be no one to straighten my veil, no one to tell me I am beautiful. I will not look into my father's eyes and see a look of pride as he takes me by the arm and walks with me in the traditional Nubian wedding procession. The circumstances that led me to this day do not allow for those tiny treasures.
It was in the execution arena on Geonosis where I confessed my love for Anakin, and it was on a transport away from that desolate rock where I held his injured, semi-conscious form, praying to the gods not to take him away from me. Afraid our feelings would be discovered, we said little to each other as Anakin recovered from his wounds on Coruscant.
When the healers finally released him, my Jedi protector escorted me home to Naboo. It was on this journey that Anakin asked me to become his bride. I readily accepted, happier than I had ever been in my life.
Now, however, I fear that we have taken the first steps down a path that will only lead to suffering. The reason I am alone today as I prepare for my wedding is that our love is forbidden. No one can know of our union. That is why my father cannot present me to my Anakin.
That is why I cannot wear my mother's gown.
I feel my throat tighten as a panic settles over me. What kind of life can we possibly have together if we must always live this way? Frustrated, I wring the tiny cloth viciously in my hands then toss it carelessly onto the bed behind me.
Then, as suddenly as it began, the panic subsides, and I am laughing uncontrollably at my reflection in the mirror.
I am laughing because of Sola.
Only moments before her own wedding, my dear sister ran through the corridors of Theed Palace as if she were a mad woman, desperate to catch the next transport off the planet. Despite the confinement of my royal garb, I was able to reach her before she found a way out of the massive palace, and ever the peacemaker, I convinced her that she was only suffering from what the older women knowingly referred to as "wedding nerves."
I always thought she would be here with me to ease my own fears.
A long sigh escapes my lips as I turn from the mirror and walk to the balcony doors, overwhelmed with a need to look out upon the lake that has always soothed me. What I see takes my breath away.
He is there. My Anakin.
Dressed in his finest robes, he is pacing nervously as C-3PO and R2-D2 watch him curiously. In that moment, I see so much of that little boy I first met on Tatooine.
Suddenly, he sees me. His pacing stops, and he looks at me. It is the same look that I remember from Coruscant. It is a look that stops my heart.
Please don't look at me like that.
It makes me feel uncomfortable.
I know I must finish preparing, but I cannot bring myself to move from his view. Finally, it is he who breaks the bond as C-3PO steps forward, announcing the arrival of the Holy Man who will perform our marriage rites.
It is only wedding nerves, I reassure myself as I move from the balcony and tenderly lift my veil from the bed. I place it carefully on my head and turn once again to the full-length mirror.
I stand silent for a moment. My fears are gone. I know I am doing the right thing.
I love him, and he loves me.
Taking a deep breath, I smooth my veil and stare at the young woman I see before me.
"You look beautiful," I whisper to the reflection.
I pick up the tiny lace cloth from the bed where I had discarded it earlier, and my breath quickens as I begin to make my way to the courtyard, filled with elation and an excitement for our future.
...but still, it is not my mother's dress.
Original cover by obaona. HTML formatting copyright 2004 TheForce.Net LLC.