Shura woke up the next
morning to the smell of coffee brewing and the sound of birds singing
in the trees outside.
The sun was already up, but judging from the angle it came in through the windows it was still early in the morning. She could hear Rhona working in the kitchen, clattering dishes, and humming to herself.
This, Shura thought, was so much more civilized than the previous morning. She opened her eyes. The sofa-bed she was lying in was clean and comfortable. Her clothes neatly piled on the occasional table next to her. There was an empty glass, which had held water as she remembered, stood next to them. She was even wearing the old ‘Coruscant Crown Jewel of the Republic’ t-shirt – one of Lucas’ more tacky presents – she had been using as her night-gown, something she could not even remember doing the last time.
She hardly felt hung-over, despite the fact that they had been drinking and telling fairy tales till well after midnight.
Only her stomach felt slightly queasy.
Oh, no, she thought, not again.
Perhaps it was just that her stomach wasn’t used to decent food, at least not in the quantities she had consumed last night. But she should head for the bathroom anyway, just in case. Or if she just stayed still, it might pass.
No, the more awake she became, the more her stomach complained.
She jumped up from the bed and briefly wondered where the bathroom was again.
“You’re awake,” Rhona said from the kitchen. “Can I…”
Shura shook her head, but the movement brought on the first spasm of her stomach. Clasping both of her hands in front of her mouth she ran to the toilet, reaching it just in time.
At least it was over quickly. For a moment she remained kneeling on the floor, staring at the bits of yokra still clearly discernable, then she flushed the toilet and got up.
So much for starting the day all pleasantly. Shura rinsed out her mouth. When she looked at herself in the mirror she saw that Rhona was standing in the door behind her.
“I thought I was past that phase,” Shura explained.
Realisation of what she had just said, hit her at the same time as Rhona figured out what it meant. The realisation was clearly visible from her expression changing from worried to shocked in an instant.
“You’re pregnant,” Rhona stated, her voice flat and emotionless.
Shura turned around, suddenly ashamed of herself. Ashamed for not having had the guts to tell Rhona the night before, of drinking again and most of all about leaving Anakin when she found out.
“I’m afraid I am,” she said.
Rhona looked at her for a long moment, her face now as void of emotion as her voice had been. Then she said, with a nod towards the kitchen, “Come on,” and walked ahead.
Shura was too surprised to do anything but follow her cousin. She had expected Rhona to be angry with her, had expected that Rhona would tell her off for her behaviour, how irresponsibly and childishly she had acted.
“Sit down,” Rhona told her when they had reached the kitchen, she even pulled one of the chairs out. “I get something.”
Numbly, Shura sat down on the offered chair. The table was laid for two and there was something simmering in a pot, smelling of eggs and fish. The coffee was already on the table and two cups poured. Neither smell made Shura nauseous again. That was a pleasant thought among too many unpleasant ones.
How could she be so stupid and let her secret slip with one thoughtless sentence. She had wanted to tell Rhona, but not like this.
What was Rhona getting, Shura wondered. Why wasn’t she angry?
Rhona appeared again, holding a large bag in one hand and a smaller one in the other. Without a word, she walked to the sink and filled a glass with water.
“I am sorry,” Shura said into the silence. “I…”
“Shush,” Rhona told her. She turned around, stirring the glass of water, and handed it to Shura. “Drink this.”
Shura followed the order without a second thought, only when she put the glass down, she suddenly realised that Rhona could just as well have given her poison to drink. Nobody knew where she was, and Rhona knew that. Or it might be something that would abort the baby. Perhaps Rhona thought with the way she was carrying on, that’s what she wanted after all.
No, Shura thought, she was just getting paranoid. She’d trust Rhona with her life.
Rhona relieved her off the glass and filled it with water again. Then she handed it back to Shura this time with a small, greenish jelly-pill.
“Vitamins and minerals,” Rhona stated, “and something to calm your stomach.”
“Thanks,” Shura mumbled and swallowed the pill.
Rhona sat down on the chair opposite, pulled the steaming cup of coffee toward her and sipped. She contemplated the coffee for a long time, then she raised her head and looked at Shura. “You’re pregnant,” she stated again.
Rhona sat silent for a long time, long enough for Shura to worry what she was thinking about. Did Rhona wonder whether there was after all any truth in the rumours about her having a relationship with Kenobi or Palpatine? Or whether there was in fact anybody else who might be the father of her children
Gods, Shura thought, if she’s going to ask me whether the child is Anakin’s I will slap her. But she knew that she would not be able to do that. If there were questions about the parentage of her child she only had herself to blame.
“How far along are you?” Rhona wanted to know.
“Not quite three months.”
Rhona nodded, as if somehow the answer was what she had expected. “So it wasn’t exactly planned.”
“No,” Shura shook her head, “no, it wasn’t.”
Rhona sipped more of her coffee, then she said, “Anakin doesn’t know.”
Shura could hear the quivering note that had entered her voice and hated herself for it. If Rhona had not figured out by herself that her pregnancy had something to do with her deserting Anakin, she surely would know now.
And she just did not know and would never now know what Anakin’s reaction would have been if she had told him. But whatever his reaction would have been, it had been wrong not to tell him.
“You want to keep it?” Rhona asked.
“I don’t know,” Shura stated. “I just don’t know.”
Rhona leaned back in her chair, not taking her eyes off Shura.
Shura randomly thought what Rhona would have done if she had found herself pregnant after Lucas’ death, but the answer to that question was all too obvious: Rhona would have kept the baby. But then Rhona had not left Lucas - nor was Anakin dead.
“I think you do know,” Rhona stated. Her tone was so certain that Shura found herself asking, “Do I?” as if this fact just had momentarily slipped her mind.
“I think you do,” Rhona continued, “if you would not want to keep it, you would have got rid of it by now.”
Shura suppressed the automatic reaction to contradict Rhona. The excuse that she simply had not gotten round to having the baby aborted was starting to sound lame even to herself. And she had had plenty of time to think about it.
But I really don’t know what I want to do! Shura wanted to shout.
“Perhaps,” she stated finally, “I …”. She let the sentence trail off.
This was not going to be an easy conversation. But talking may allow her to come to a decision what she really wanted to do.
Shura heaved a big sigh. “It’s just…” she started and stopped again. “I just wished it never happened. I know it’s pointless to do that. I don’t want to be pregnant, but I don’t think I could ever kill the baby. It’s Anakin’s, too. And I guess it’s just something I was told one doesn’t do. So, I try to convince myself to make the best out of it. That, like it or not, I am pregnant and I have to deal with it. But I just cannot imagine myself to be a mother. To look after a child for years and years. I cannot do it.”
Rhona smiled thinly, and sipped more coffee. But when Shura took her own cup into her hand, Rhona’s hand came up in a restraining move. “No, no more coffee for you, my dear.”
She got up and poured some water into a jug and handed it to Shura.
Having sat back down she picked up her own cup again.
“So,” Rhona said, “we have answered the question that you do want the babies, or perhaps not want them, but don’t want to kill them. The question what happens with the kids after they are born, well, you’ll have another six months to think about that one. If you don’t think you can raise them yourself, why don’t you give them away?”
“No!” Shura exclaimed in horror. “I cannot give the baby away. How would I know it’s been treated well. I could not let it grow up not knowing who it is, who his family is.” Shura stopped, surprised by her own feelings. She did not want her child to be raised by strangers. Strangers she imagined as hard-faced, cold-hearted people who would not love her child. Fairy-tale stuff, she knew, but it also happened in real life. “How can you even suggest that?”
Rhona half-smiled at her. “I was not thinking about giving the babies to complete strangers, or that they should not know where they are or not have contact with them. I was thinking more of asking one of your relatives, perhaps your mother…”
“My mother?” Shura shook her head. “Apart from the fact that my mother is going to kill me when she finds out what I’ve been up to, she is also not going to do it. She’s not young anymore, she has already raised seven children and really does not need another one dropped on her, and she’s going to say that it’s my responsibility and I better deal with it. So will the rest of my family. They all know that raising kids ain’t that much fun.”
Rhona sighed. “Your mother is not going to kill you, Shura,” she said. “She’ll be too glad to have you back. – And if your immediate family won’t take in your children, then there are plenty of other relatives.”
“Like you?” Shura asked. Was that it, she wondered. Did Rhona want to raise her baby?
“No,” Rhona replied. “I couldn’t do it. I cannot take care of two children on my own. I have to work.”
Two children? Shura realised that Rhona had been talking about children or babies all the time.
“It won’t be two,” Shura stated firmly. “Why are you keep going on about twins?”
“Shura,” Rhona said, “considering your family’s history, I would be very surprised if you had only one baby. - But we don’t have to argue about that. We don’t have to find foster parents for the kids today either. We should have breakfast, now that we have at least sorted out the more immediate question of whether you want to have the babies - or the baby - or not.”
With a satisfied nod, Rhona got up and went to the pot still simmering on the stove.
Shura glared at her glass of water. So, she was going to have the baby - or babies. Perhaps it was good to have come to a decision about this, but somehow she felt trapped now. Six more months of being pregnant, she did not know whether she could handle it. And with Rhona knowing about it, there would not only be no coffee for breakfast, there would not be any alcohol at all.
But what if the baby had already been affected by her drinking? What if she spend the next six months being pregnant and the baby was an idiot? Or died?
“I don’t know whether I want to have the baby!” Shura exclaimed. “I just don’t know. What if it’s damaged by… by my drinking?”
Rhona raised an eyebrow, putting the rice stew on the table. “After breakfast,” she said, “I will check you and the baby , or babies out. I have a med unit here. Then we know.” She ladled stew on Shura’s plate and her own. “I will also write you a maternity pass, or perhaps two, one with your real name and one with a different one. You must have already be using a, hm, pseudonym, is that the right word? Or we can make up a new one.”
“You would do that?” Shura asked, not a little startled. “Fake an official document?”
Rhona grinned at her. “Of course, I would. I have to admit I don’t really understand why you think you have to keep hiding, but – it’s not my place to judge. And you will need the pass to get proper medical care.” She sat down and started eating. “So, what is the name you have travelled under so far?” she asked between two mouthfuls.
“Martha Clopes,” Shura replied.
Rhona nodded, then she frowned. “Isn’t that…?” she started, “That’s the …”
“The second wife of John Devon, that stupid bint,” Shura said. “He should never have married her.”
“I agree,” Rhona nodded vigorously. “We do have to find you a better name. But did nobody think it odd that you are named like a character from a holo series?”
“I don’t think Devon’s Wars ever made it beyond Tressilia,” Shura replied. “I would like to have a new name. You won’t believe it, but I find myself acting like Martha Clopes on occasion, as if had to live up to the name. The problem is just that my little ship is registered under her name.”
“That’s no problem,” Rhona assured her. “Martha Clopes just has to sell it to your new alter ego. I can handle the documentation.”
“You can?” Shura asked.
“Oh, yes,” Rhona replied, another frown passed swiftly over her face. “Lucas taught me. – But why did you pick the name of that awful woman, Shura? You must have felt pretty miserable at the time.”
It was Shura’s turn to frown. “I did. It was the day after Anakin’s accident. I had think of a name fast and somehow Martha Clopes sprang to mind. She did leave her husband as well, didn’t she?”
“But she had no reason to leave Devon,” Rhona exclaimed.
“Did I?” Shura asked, surprised at Rhona’s remark.
“Yes, you did” Rhona stated. “To some extent, more than stupid Martha Clopes at any rate. And you didn’t know what would happen.”
“Neither did Martha Clopes,” Shura returned.
“Gods, Shura,” Rhona said. “Martha Clopes is a dismal character, a simpering, addle headed, weak, greedy moron. You are none of that. Why don’t you call yourself after Devon’s first wife. What was her name again?”
“Serena Carlos,” Shura answered. “But she died.”
“Well, I never liked that she died,” Rhona explained, “so we can bring her back to life.”
By the end of breakfast, they had decided that Shura should adopt a variation of the name. Serena, as a pretty usual but not too common a name they kept, but changed the last name to Guardia, the place where Devon first met his future wife.
Somehow the discussion of her new name and the invention of an alternate life - with quite a few parallels to the tragic and heroic life of Serena Carlos - was so much fun, that Shura almost forgot to worry about being pregnant or about the health of the baby, even during the examination. When Rhona said that she could always put down James Trevellian, the actor who played John Devon in the holo series, as the father, Shura had to laugh so hard she almost fell off the examination chair.
“Well,” Rhona said, folding the med unit away, “it would explain a lot, you know. You could always say that his agent threatened you if you went public with this. And I have always thought that Trevellian looked a bit like Anakin. Granted he isn’t as tall and his eyebrows aren’t as dark, but still.”
“Do you really think so?” Shura asked. Trying now to remember what James Trevellian looked like, she realised that there was a vague resemblance there.
“Yes,” Rhona replied. She looked at Shura with a serious expression on her face and said, “well, I have some good news and some not so good news, perhaps. First, the babies are in a good shape, developing quite normally, secondly, yes, it’s twins. A boy and a girl.”
For a moment Shura could only stare at Rhona. Somehow, despite her family’s history, she had not expected that she could be pregnant with twins. “O gods,” was all she managed to say. Twins! She would become absolutely gargantuan by the end of her pregnancy. And what on earth was she supposed to do with two babies?
Then a thought struck her. “You know what I am going to call the girl?” she asked her cousin.
“No,” Rhona replied at first, then she started to grin. “You are not going to call her Leia are you?”
“Of course I am,” Shura stated. “What better name than that of Devon and Serena’s brave and adventurous daughter.”
“And the boy?” Rhona wanted to know.
“Lucas, of course,” Shura answered.
“Lucas. I like that,” Rhona said and started to cry.
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