Note: Many thanks to Rilla and Buttercup for their beta help! This fic was written as a response to the Livejournal swhetgenathon community's challenge – character prompt 'Bail Organa', story prompt 'Lost Love'.

The Stone Lilies of Alderaan
WendyNat
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For him, the flowers of Alderaan are dead.

Not all of them, of course. He sees many flowers, but not the ones that matter. Not the type that she loved the most. Stone lilies - rare and beautiful, they hide on rocky hillsides, their large yellow-tipped petals swaying heavily on the stem. He remembers how her eyes would light up whenever they came across one of the blooms peeking out from beneath a tumbled stone on one of their walks. When he had time alone, he would go into the hills and search for them, and bring them back to her, and be warmed by her smile.

He has not gone into the hills in many years.

---

Bail Organa, Senator of the Republic and adoptive father to Leia Organa, stands on the path to their country home. He watches the wind blow leaves against the stone walls, and follows them with his gaze as they swirl and scatter. After many weeks away, fulfilling his duties at the Senate as well as his responsibilities with the strengthening Rebel Alliance, he has finally returned home.

The country home is beautiful, and well-placed. It lies nestled in the hills not far from the capital, and the side facing away from the rocky hillside overlooks a rolling field of grass and wild plants. It is smaller than the palace, and that suits Bail well. After long trips to the Imperial Center, he needs the relaxation of this place, and the solitude. The simple presence of family without others around. His sister, and his daughter. When he is away, his sister Benira stays with Leia and minds the home and the grounds. It hasn't always been so, but there is no other choice, now.

As he approaches the front door, he wonders if Benira has given up her fight against the stubborn weeds that grow along the rocky path leading to the hillside. It is a futile battle; Leia loves the wildflowers, and thwarts Benira's attempts to quell their growth. Smiling, he opens the door and steps over the threshold.

His smile quickly fades when he reaches the sitting room. Immediately upon entering, the sight of his daughter strikes him, tears swimming in her normally calm brown eyes. Benira sits beside her, looking lost, and Bail doesn't blame her - Leia is not a girl known for fits of misery. He can count on one hand the number of times she has cried in the last five years.

"You're home, Bail!" Benira smiles when she notices him in the doorway, her relief evident. "A little earlier than we expected, even." Leia also smiles, though it is unsteady, and her eyes do not lose the brimming tears.

"Hello, Father." Leia's voice is composed, the tone that of one trying to hold their emotions in a tight fist. It is an odd tone for an eleven year old, but Leia has always been more mature than her age implied.

Benira shakes her head and, with a final sympathetic look at her niece, leaves Leia's side and joins him near the doorway. Her voice is low when she speaks. "She's been like this since she came home from classes, and she won't tell me what's wrong. Maybe you can get it out of her."

"Perhaps. Thank you, Benira."

Benira sighs, looking at her niece. In an even lower voice, she says, "I wish her mother was-"

"So do I, Benira. So do I." With another sympathetic look, this time in Bail's direction, she leaves them alone.

He puts his bag down and approaches Leia, studying her face. She tries to appear calm, but her fingers are tight as they grip the arm of the couch, and her body is tense and still. Patience, a voice whispers in his mind, let her speak first. It is wise advice.

"When did you know, Father? When did you know that you loved Mother?"

The blow is unexpected. He blinks, and slowly sits down beside his daughter. Why is she asking now? They do not avoid the subject of Breha, precisely, but it does not often arise. Memory long suppressed returns to him, and he wishes to wallow in its bittersweet comfort, but Leia is staring at him expectantly. With a sigh, he says, "The very first time I saw her."

He knew when they first met that she would be his, and he would be hers. It didn't matter that she was to be Queen when her father stepped down, nor did it matter that his family lived far from the capital of Alderaan. It would happen.

He was eleven when he first saw her. She sat beside her father, the King of Alderaan, and smiled and waved at everyone as a crowd gathered around the hovercraft. He had been in the hills that morning, against his mother's wishes, and had found a peculiar yellow and white blossom. Planning to show his mother the unusual petals, he'd grabbed it and headed home only to run into the King's caravan on the road leading to his house.

She was near his age, and she was pretty, and she smiled at him. Without thought, he reached into his coat and pulled out the blossom, handing it to her with an extravagant gesture that only a young man fancying himself a romantic can perform. Though the memory made him wince more than once, she claimed it had won her twelve-year-old heart immediately – the gesture, and the stone lily.

Once the caravan moved on, he ran home and raced up the steps, pounding into the kitchen where he knew he would find his mother. She often spent her restday baking – it was calming, she claimed, after a week of arguing in the capital, fighting political battles that often had no victor.

"Hello, Bail. I was wondering where you had gotten t-"

"I saw her, Mother!"

"Who?"

"The girl I'm going to marry."

She raised her eyebrows. "Oh, indeed? And does this young girl know that?"

"She will." Bail puffed his chest out with pride. "I gave her a flower, and she smiled at me!"

"I see." She waved her hand in front of the heating element and when it began to glow a brilliant green, she turned back to him. "Well, are you going to tell your old mother more about her? Since she's going to be my daughter-in-law some day."

"She's perfect. She's got really dark hair-"

"Most Alderaanians do," his mother reminded him, and he frowned at the interruption. "Sorry, dear."

"She's got a nice smile. And the prettiest eyes I've ever seen on a girl - they're this great color, like a muddy green, and-"

His mother's laughter cut him off and he looked at her in confusion. She shook her head, and said, "Love, most women – and young girls – would prefer a nicer description than 'muddy green'."

"But that's what they are!"

"That may be, but it's not the sweetest description. That eye color is actually called hazel."

He gave his mother a dubious look, and she reached out and tousled his hair before he could duck. "Words matter, Bail. How you say something can be more important than what you're saying. And do trust me, any girl would prefer 'hazel' to 'muddy green'."

"How do you know?"

"I did used to be a girl, you know."

He gave her an even more dubious look at that, and she laughed once again.

"Yes, I knew the very first time I first saw her, that I would marry her one day." He smiles at Leia and brushes a lock of hair from her forehead. "Why do you ask, darling?" Bail's smile fades when she begins to cry, and his arms automatically surround her and pull her close. Bewildered, he pats her back, but her sobs simply deepen. This is entirely outside of his experience – Leia is usually so even-tempered, so controlled. Even when emotions do take her, she's more likely to get angry than sad, more likely to become determined than discouraged.

"Leia, what's wrong?"

In between shuddering sobs, he is able to piece together the story. She has apparently set her affections on a young man in her class, and learned that very day that he doesn't return her feelings. Bail continues to pat her back as she speaks, at a loss as to what he should do – Breha had warned him, long ago, that Leia would become more emotional about things as she approached womanhood, but he hadn't entirely believed her. Closing his eyes, he holds his daughter tightly, and remembers his wife's words.

"It will happen, Bail. Trust me." Breha sat up on her bed, the first time in many days that she had been able to remain upright. He knew better than to hope, however. The end was inevitable, and sometimes hope was simply an obstacle to peace.

Standing, he walked to the window beside Breha's bed. Leia played outside, wearing a dress that was already stained by grass and other unknown substances. Her aunt had forced her into it, despite Leia's strong objections, but the four year old refused to let her clothing keep her from enjoying the natural treasures of Alderaan to their fullest. Apart from her efforts to feminize Leia's wardrobe, Benira had been a great help these last weeks, as Breha's health declined.

"I don't doubt you, love," he assured his wife. He did, though - certainly their cheerful, determined daughter wouldn't fall victim to such foolishness! Turning to Breha, he saw the perceptive smile, and knew she had seen through his lie.

"Of course you doubt me. But even I shed some tears over a certain young man at one point in my life." She reached out a hand and touched the vase beside the bed - it was filled with stone lilies that he and Leia had gathered for her over the past days. Leia loved the flowers almost as much as Breha did, and he always let her keep one for herself whenever they went in search of the blossoms. "There's an awkward time, between girl and woman, when it's hard to control your emotions. Even the most stoic of us go through it."

Sighing, he looked outside, and watched their young daughter run in the field. She stopped and bent down, and when she stood once again, he saw a white stone lily in her hand.

She closed her eyes, and breathed in deep, and then flung it into the air and took off running once more. Bail watched the white, yellow-tipped blossom float in the breeze, flipping end over end as Leia's passage stirred the air. She was the hope of the galaxy - she and her brother - and he would have to raise her alone. The thought made him hollow inside. "Are you sure, Breha?"

"More sure of that than I am of anything."

"Then I'll be ready."

But when Leia's tears soak through his shirt, leaving a spot over his heart, he realizes he isn't ready. Surely she is too young for this? He pulls back, and looks down at her, and thinks that she has grown too much, too fast. What would Breha do?

"Leia, it will be all right." She sniffs, wiping her eyes and nose with the soft handkerchief he hands her. "And…"

"And w-what?"

Bail smiles gently as he smoothes her hair. "You may be wrong. Did he say that he doesn't-"

"He won't even talk to me. When I look over at him, he just looks away. But I'm not wrong." Her lip quivers again, and he lifts her chin so he can catch her gaze.

"So sure, are you?" He smiles at her, and hopes that he is doing the right thing. "And just what would Princess Leia say if she knew that one Princess Breha had - at the tender age of sixteen - completely ignored her future husband, and even refused to look at him?"

"But you said you fell in love when you first met."

"I said that's when I knew I loved her." Bail smiles. "She later admitted that she felt the same, but it took some time. For years, she avoided me, would look away whenever I looked at her, made sure there were people between us whenever we were at an event."

"But why?" Leia's tears begin to die away, and he knows he's made the right decision. It might be difficult to relive the memories, but the bittersweet pain is no match against her happiness.

"She told me later that she was too intimidated, too unsure. She thought I might be fooling with her, teasing her, and so she retreated behind her princess mask."

"But you weren't teasing her!"

"Of course I wasn't – but she didn't know that at the time."

Leia's forehead creases as she digests his words, and he smiles when the expression reminds him of Breha. There is no blood connection, but family is more than just blood, and he often sees his wife in Leia's mannerisms.

"When did she figure it out?"

"She finally realized the truth when I was invited to the palace after winning a competition on state government design. I was seated across from her, and she couldn't avoid my gaze forever…"

At seventeen, Bail was following in his mother's footsteps, living and breathing politics and government. He had a special flair for the entire business, or so others told him, and he was often in the capital on special projects or volunteering in his mother's office.

Rather than local politics, however, Bail set his sights on a larger platform, where he could perform service for a broader range of beings - the Galactic Republic. His work on designing a sample government that could be adapted to various population sizes and makeups had won him recognition in the solar-system-wide government competition, and that had won him a dinner at the royal palace of Alderaan.

Excited at the honor, and at the prospect of being close to Princess Breha again - even if she did avoid his gaze whenever she caught him staring her way - he took special care with his attire. Though they ran into each other rather often, being in the same city and involved in many of the same events, there was usually a buffer of people separating them. He had great hopes that he would be able to speak to her that night, since it was to be a small, intimate affair with only himself and the other finalists in attendance.

He had attended other dinners at the palace with his mother, serving as her escort after the death of his father, but this was the first one with such a limited guest list. The dining room he was led to was elegant and comfortable, and not nearly so formal as the main hall. Fires burned in grates around the room, lending the entire area a relaxed feel.

Not everyone had the advantage of a mother that served with the government, and he took pity on some of the more obviously nervous attendees, engaging them in conversation while they waited for the entrance of the king and his daughter. When they were finally announced, he rose along with the others and watched them enter the room, the king leading his daughter proudly. Princess Breha looked more beautiful every time he saw her, and for the first time, he felt a thread of nervousness twist through him. But he showed none of it.

He stood straight and tall as the king and his daughter greeted the competition winners, shaking hands and speaking with each in turn. Just a quick word, an exchange of names and congratulations, but still a more personal welcome than he was accustomed to at royal dinners.

"Bail Organa - I believe I know your mother." The king's handshake was firm and confident, and he met Bail's eyes steadily.

"Yes, your highness, she serves here in the capital."

"And she serves very well indeed. The Minister of Communication considers her quite invaluable." He nodded in acknowledgement, and the king gave him a measuring look. "That was brilliant work you did on representative state design. I'd like to speak with you about it in depth on another occasion, if you're willing?"

Elated, he gave a small bow, struggling to keep his expression even. If I'm willing! "I'd be honored, your highness."

Another friendly nod, and the king moved on to the next student, a young woman from Bail's home province. That's when she stepped in front of him. And that's when he forgot everything else.

"Congratulations, Bail Organa."

"It is an honor to represent Alderaan in any way I can." She couldn't avoid his gaze now, not completely, and when he shook her hand he dared to linger just a little longer than was traditional. Her hand tensed in his, though her face showed nothing, and after a moment he bowed and released her. She stayed a moment more in front of him, a quizzical look coming to her face, and then she gave him a shy smile and moved on.

They were seated across from each other during the meal, and as they continued to speak, the shy smile transformed into an altogether different smile, one that warmed him far more than the hot soup and crackling fires laid around the hall. They discussed political theory and educational theory, and he was impressed by her vehemence concerning the latter. She seemed pleased when he disagreed with her on some issues, and she smiled brilliantly when, after some debate, they both conceded certain points. That was when he began to understand, just a little, her reticence during earlier events - others, no doubt, agreed with whatever she said, too blinded by her title and position to see the woman underneath. They spoke long into the meal, on many subjects, and though he knew it was impolite to the other attendees to monopolize her company, he couldn't bring himself to care. She, too, seemed to dismiss the issue, and as their conversation deepened he forgot the others completely.

When the final dishes had been cleared, the king leaned over to speak to his daughter. She nodded and smiled, then glanced at Bail with a note of regret. "We must go…"

He let out a breath, and nodded, an echoing regret entering his voice when he spoke. "I've enjoyed our conversation, Breha."

"So have I." Breha glanced at her father, who was watching them closely – Bail in particular – and then turned back to him. "I would enjoy continuing it some time, if you'd like-"

"Absolutely!" He felt the king's stare center on him, and he cleared his throat. "That is, I'd be honored, your highness."

The king nodded slowly, still studying him, and said, "I believe we can arrange a time for you to return, Bail Organa. You and I also need to speak, concerning your project…" He looked at his daughter then, and his lips twitched. "Though perhaps we should schedule separate visits, or I may not get your attention long enough to speak three words on the design."

Bail swallowed hard, and he hoped the lighting in the hall would hide the flush that he could feel forming on his face. "I- that would be ideal, your highness."

"It is settled, then. We will contact you tomorrow and arrange the times." With that, the king and his daughter bade farewell to their guests and left the dining hall.

The flight back to their apartment in the capital was quick, and certainly not long enough for the elated smile to fade from his face. It was still present when he opened the front door and met his mother, who had waited up for him, and she gave him an odd look before smiling and saying, "I'm so proud of you, Bail! How was the dinner?"

"Perfect."

"And was the food good?" she asked teasingly - it was an old joke of theirs.

He blinked, and looked down at his mother, and said, "I didn't even notice." Then he smiled and kissed her on the cheek, and went to his room, his mother's confused gaze following him the entire way.

"You started dating after that?"

"If you can call it that," he says, sitting back and regarding his daughter silently. "We were allowed to go off on our own, but normally we just remained on the palace grounds. You know how it is, for a member of the royal family."

"Too many people gathering around when you're in public." Leia nods. "That would be…"

"Inconvenient."

She nods again and leans forward, and he recognizes the curiosity that fills her. It is the same need to know, the same burning, that he feels. It hits him fully, then, the similarities between them. Not only the curiosity, the burning need to know, but more than that; she is strong, and determined, and can shoot a blaster with more accuracy than any of the boys in her class, but that does not preclude dreams of romance and love. "When did you finally ask her?"

"We were both of age-" He gives Leia a stern look, and she simply giggles "-and I talked her into leaving the palace grounds…"

They walked along the hillside, the moon's light breaking over the stones and filling the path with its glow. The palace wasn't far, but it felt as if they had entered another world, the silence and vastness that surrounded them a stark contrast to the busier palace grounds. She smiled when he took her hand to help her over a fallen rock, and did not reclaim it even after the obstacle was crossed. When he looked down at their joined hands, he saw a patch of yellow and white beside the rock they'd just climbed over, and he knelt to pluck the stone lily from its hideaway.

With a smile, he handed it to her, remaining on one knee. "Do you remember when we first met?"

"Clearly." She brought the flower to her face. "I couldn't figure out how you knew that stone lilies were my favorite. I still have that first one you gave me, you know. One of Father's advisors showed me how to press it in the pages of a book."

He smiled, but kept his mind firmly on the goal. "That day, I raced back to my house and told my mother that I had met my future wife."

"Really?"

"Really." He swallowed. "If you would agree." He daren't breathe.

A mischievous glint entered her eyes, and he wondered what she was thinking. "Well, that might be a little difficult, since you haven't asked me yet."

Her eyes shone in the moonlight and, staring into their depths, he gently lifted her hand and pressed the back of it to his forehead. "Will you be my partner…." Bringing her hand down, he touched the back of it to his chest. "And my heart, and my life, Breha, Princess of Alderaan?" As he said the final words, he turned her hand around and pressed her palm flat against his chest, covering it with his own. He wondered if she could feel the hammering of his heart as strongly as he could, through his cloak and tunic.

"I will be your partner and your heart and your life, if you will be mine in return, Bail Organa, son of Alderaan."

He stood, keeping her hand against his chest, a joy both gentle and fierce rushing through him. They stared at each other, the moonlight washing over them, her hand warm on his chest. Their lips met, and when he reached down to take her other hand his fingers brushed the petals of the stone lily, and he knew that they had been destined from the moment he saw her.

"You were young when you married her."

"Very young," he says, and then sends Leia a sharp glance. "Too young."

"But you and Mother worked out so well…" Leia says, a mischievous smile on her face, and he knows she is teasing him.

"We were lucky."

"Maybe I'd be lucky, too."

"Leia," he says, taking her hands and looking at her seriously. "I would have waited for your mother another decade. There's no rush, if it's meant to be."

Leia's smile fades, and she looks down at their hands, and at their matching signet rings. "I wish she was still here."

"I wish she was, too."

Breha's death wasn't a surprise. She was ill for some time, and Leia had been told as soon as it was known, though she was young for such knowledge. The young girl sat with Bail many days, watching over her mother, and was beside him when Breha let out her final breath. Though expected, it was unbearable when it happened; he thought he'd been prepared. He was wrong.

He clenched his fist, and closed his eyes tightly for a moment. Breha. They had been together a long time, decades, but not long enough. Never long enough. He lifted her still hand and pressed it to his forehead, and then to his heart.

Leia climbed off the chair and walked to the bedside table, pulling one heavy blossom out of the flower vase. As she placed the stone lily on her mother's chest, Bail closed his eyes, not wishing her to see his tears.

He knew that, for him, no flowers would bloom on Alderaan again.

He doesn't realize that he is weeping until his daughter's hand comes to his cheek, wiping a tear away. "You miss Mother a lot."

"Very much."

"I do, too."

"I know you do." He pulls her into his arms, pressing his cheek against her smooth brown hair. "And she misses you."

"I can remember her. Beautiful, and kind… but sad." Bail closed his eyes. Those words suited both the mother she never knew, and the mother she knew for too short a time.

"She didn't want to leave us," he whispers.

"But she had to."

"Yes."

He holds Leia close, and remembers how Padmé's voice sounded when she gave Leia her name, and how Breha's eyes looked when she held Leia the first time. He knew immediately that it had been the right decision, to adopt this child; it was love at first sight, just as his love for Breha had been, and she claimed that no man had ever brought a woman such joy before.

Leia shifts her head to his shoulder, and settles closer to him. A warm, loving weight, and one that he has missed. His daughter; their daughter. Breha's final words to him were about her: "Take care of her, love. Protect her."

And he will.

--

Weeks later, he sits beside Leia in the royal hovercraft, traveling along the road through a neighboring village. A crowd gathers around them, and he nods and smiles at the people, Leia following his lead. Pride fills him - she is regal and beautiful, and her smile is noble and contained. Genuine delight fills her eyes as she looks at the people around them, and at that moment she reminds him very much of the woman that gave her life.

Her smile falters slightly when a young man approaches. Bail watches, in silence, as the boy reaches into his coat and pulls out a flower, its heavy white petals tipped in yellow. Leia takes it from the boy, and her smile is no longer one of contained nobility, but of overwhelming joy as she lifts the stone lily to her face.

The boy backs away, still staring at Leia, as the hovercraft continues on its way. Bail looks at his daughter, sees her shining eyes, and he smiles.

The flowers on Alderaan live once more.

End