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Like Flames of Gold
by ~*~ Devi ~*~
Author's remarks: "Cheila Day" is supposed to be the GFFA equivalent of Valentine's Day. Originally, I thought of simply calling it "Lovers' Day", but I saw that SJade had called it "Love's Day" in her fic (which I can recommend to anyone who likes good L/M fic, btw), and I didn't want it to look like I was ripping her off, so I invented the fantasy term "Cheila Day" instead. "Cheeris" flowers are my own invention, too, in case you wonder.
Disclaimer: G.L. created Palpatine, Stackpole created Isard. I own no part of the SWU, not even a tiny milla flower, and I make no money out of this, this is just for fun

"From His Excellency the Emperor," Isard's aide told her as he handed her the huge bouquet of flowers he had brought, along with a card.

"Thank you," she said in a polite, but cold voice. "You're dismissed." As her subordinate left, she saw how for a brief moment, he was not fully able to suppress a smirk, and she instantly knew what exactly he was thinking. For it was Cheila Day, the holiday of lovers. There was only one reason why one would send a lady flowers on that day. Ysanne Isard briefly considered punishing her aide for his smirking, and the thoughts that had caused it, but then decided not to. After all, being known as the Emperor's lover was not something she had to be ashamed of. It was a precious privilege. An honor.

As soon as she was alone, Ysanne leaned back into her chair and deeply inhaled the scent of the flowers, then held them a bit further from her face to regard them. The bouquet was assembled from choice red roses - the best from the Emperor's personal botanical garden, milla flowers, and cheeris. Isard smiled. Milla flowers, which were characterized by their rich red and blue coloration and their intoxicating scent, were special to the people of Naboo, while the cheeris - delicate twigs that carried cluster of small, budlike flowers that emanated a surprisingly strong, but very pleasant scent - were a traditional favorite of the Coruscanti nobility. The flowers of Naboo and Coruscant, Palpatine's homeworld and hers, bound together - the symbolism didn't escape Isard's notice.

The cheeris were of the yellow variety - another reason for the smile on Ysanne's face. The white cheeris, which had a sweet, lovely scent, were the ones that very commonly valued higher, and were the traditional choice for Cheila Day bouquets. But Isard preferred the yellow ones, the scent of which, though attractive, was not sweet, but tangy, like fragrant wood or an exotic spice. The cheeris blossoms that had been chosen for the bouquet she now held in her hand were exquisite in fragrance, and in color - a bright, fiery yellow, like flames of gold. Like his eyes.

Intending to devise the best place to put the bouquet, which had come in a crystal vase, Isard let her eyes wander across the room - her personal quarters inside the Lusankya. Her thoughts turned to how much she liked the design of that room, which combined luxury with an elegant simplicity. Its beauty lay mostly in the warm-colored, fine exotic wood that had been used to cover the walls, its natural structure only interrupted by an ebony inlay in the shape of the Imperial crest that graced one wall. Ysanne got up and, after putting the flower vase on the shelf she had chosen, walked up to that wall and traced the shape of the inlay with one finger, smiling again as she remembered that it had been Palpatine himself who had ordered her rooms to be outfitted in this way, knowing that it would give her pleasure. He knows so well what I like. And he's always been so good to me.

She still remembered the day the Emperor had handed the Lusankya over to her. That the Emperor had approved of - even liked - her plan to built a secret facility where Rebels could be imprisoned, interrogated, and reshaped into useful tools had made her feel happy and proud. That he had decided to give her an entire hidden Super Star Destroyer - the twin of Lord Vader's Executor - for that purpose had been even better. But to actually enter the Lusankya for the first time, to see and touch and bond with the ship that was so beautiful and pristine, and that would, from then on, serve as a hell for the Emperor's enemies, and as her palace and her sanctuary, the place from where she would work for the good of the Empire... When she had come back from that first inspection, she had been so happy and awed and excited that she had nearly started to cry like a little girl when the Emperor had asked her, "Does it have everything you need?"

"Everything I need?" she had said in a choked-up voice, struggling to find the words to thank him, to tell him what I meant to her to be given what was everything she needed and more - the Lusankya, and all it stood for - her being the Emperor's favored servant... Not knowing what to say, she had just looked at him; and he had returned her gaze with his eyes that were like bright yellow flames, like cheeris flowers wrought of living fire; and she had known that he knew everything she could not express in words, for his eyes seemed to be able to see and touch her very soul.

"My little ice-tigress," he had said then while his finger had stroked her face in a caress. Then he had dug his hand into her long black hair and kissed her, a kiss that was possessive and passionate, and fiery like his eyes.

He is so powerful, so strong, Ysanne thought as she looked at the ebony Imperial crest on the wall. She had always loved the shape of the Imperial Symbol - sharp and angular, it seemed to radiate strength. That's why I love him - because we are both strong. Kindred spirits, that's what we are. Only that the Emperor would always be the stronger than her, and that pleased her, too. A woman like her would never love a man she could not admire. The Emperor - the great man who had led the galaxy out of the chaos of the crumbling Republic into the light of the New Order - deserved more than mere admiration, he deserved to be revered almost like a god. To serve such a man, to be allowed to help him guard and preserve his Empire, and to please him as a woman, as well - it was such a precious privilege! The Director sat down again to read her Cheila Day card -

Dear Ysanne,

I appreciate your intelligence, your determination, your devotion.
Like the milla flower that shares the colors of your bright eyes, you are a pleasure to have around.
I am happy to have you as the Director of Imperial Intelligence, and as my lover.

Best Cheila Day wishes,

Few, and yet so precious, words... Ysanne Isard sat quietly for a little while, just savoring the moment, before proceeding to compose her own Cheila Day card.

Your Excellency,

on this day, I humbly remember what a gift it is to have even come to the attention of the man that everyone should love and serve. When I try to explain what you mean to me, I don't know where to start, for you are so many things - my master, the man I admire, who is almost like a father to me, more than my own father has ever been, and is yet a lover who sets me on fire mind, body, and soul. What words to say to someone who outshines ordinary men like a bright supernova shines among the tiniest stars? I don't know; I only know that I am yours utterly and completely. You will always be what I live for. My Emperor. My beloved. My master.

Best Cheila Day wishes,

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