Allura had her hair pulled forward over her right shoulder, the long strands draping down past her breasts, the ends brushing against her lap. In her hand was a plain colored brush, supplied to her by one of the Drule servants. She ran that brush through her hair, fussing over one patch in particular that had a gnarled knot to it. Next to her, face propped up on his uninjured hand, lay Lotor. The prince was watching her with a serene expression, and she was conscious of fingers running lazily up and down her covered back.
Occasionally she felt him trying to tug up her shirt, pulling the fabric free of the belt cinched around her waist. “Lotor.” A warning tone was in her voice, and that was enough to get him to let go of her shirt. But not before he played innocent, if he was an angel, his halo would practically shine.
“You know what.” Allura answered levelly, continuing to work the tangle out of her hair. He didn’t protest, Lotor resuming tracing his fingers over the thread patterns on her shirt. She was relieved she could control him enough to keep him from pouncing on her, though Allura wasn’t sure how much longer she could hold him off. And she knew that once he started with her, she wouldn’t want to stop him.
“The doctor is running late.” Lotor grumbled, reminding her of the reason why she was keeping him at bay. She just nodded her head, relieved when the brush moved through the patch that was now tangle free.
“Well…I’m sure he’s a busy man.” Allura said, turning to glance at Lotor. He lay on his stomach, positioned just to the side of her legs, his hair swept over his back. There wasn’t nearly enough hair to hide all the scratches on his skin, Allura well aware of how badly she had scratched up his back in the throes of passion. It was a point of embarrassment to her, Allura wanting to clip her nails to avoid hurting Lotor in the future.
The Drule prince was just as adamant that she keep her nails long and sharp, Lotor insisting the marks were a badge of pride among mated pairs. She wasn’t convinced, and she really wished he’d put on a shirt, rather than flaunt his marred back to the doctor and the servants who occasionally appeared to dote on the royal pair. The most recent intrusion had been this morning, when a female Drule arrived with both breakfast, and a change of clothing for them both. Allura had been surprised to see something from her closet, the girl wondering how the Drules had managed to spirit away the clothing under Nanny’s watchful eyes.
Still she was grateful, Allura knowing it would be mortifying to have to leave the Drule ship dressed in an over sized soldiers’ uniform. The outfit she had original worn to board the warship had been ruined, the culprit behind the damage laying next to her with a frustrated look in his eyes. She knew the reason behind the emotion, and Allura could admit to herself that she too felt it. And all because she was insisting they restrained themselves from expressign affection!
It had been days since Lotor’s fever broke, and even before he had come out of the illness, they had been all over each other. Sometimes Allura wondered if Lotor would have made a quicker recovery if they had behaved when he was supposed to be resting. Other times she thought maybe her Drule had recovered because of what they had done.
Either way, this moment now, was the first time in four days that Lotor and Allura weren’t all over each other. And mainly because Allura had put her foot down, pointing out the many responsibilities they had to attend to. As pleasurable as being in each other’s embrace was proving to be, the duties of Arus and Lotor’s rebellion would have to be dealt with eventually.
Lotor was playing the reluctant prince to perfection, the Drule insisting he wanted to do nothing more than revel in the experience of being with his mate. He was not above using all the wiles in his repertoire, and Allura was rapidly coming to realize that the prince’s pout was something she was extremely weak too. That pout of his could be devastating in the right moment, and she feared the day he learned just how susceptible she was to it.
As it was, she too wondered why Doctor Sutarei was taking so long. It was enough to make a girl give in to her dashingly handsome and overly seductive mate. Only the thought of him walking in on them mid embrace kept her stiff besides Lotor. She continued to brush her hair, and tried to distract herself from the teasing caress on her back.
She took to studying the room, noticing details about it for the first time. She was intimately familiar with the bed, and the pattern on the ceiling, having often been on her back these last few days. Now she looked at the furniture, noting it wasn’t as fine a selection as the items that had been in the prince’s cabin aboard the other warship. It was still a high ranking room, belonging to a lesser in the chain of command. Allura wondered if that man or woman who the room had belonged to, was now gracing the holding cells with his or her presence.
Crowded by the bed was several machines, various medical equipment that she had no idea what most of them did. She was only sure of the machine meant to monitor Lotor’s vitals, and even that had been unplugged once he had set it off ringing one too many times during their amorous play. Fortunately to Allura’s relief, no one had barged into the bed room during those times, the nurse instead calling from the outer chamber, trying to ascertain if the prince was in need of medical assistance.
No one seemed to bat an eye here, that their prince was doing a bedroom romp with his lady, when he should be resting. In fact they seemed to expect it, and the few times she had seen the servants, there had been a knowing look in their eyes, and an approving smile on their faces. Lotor insisted that being with one’s mate was the best medicine they could give a Drule, but it didn’t lessen her embarrassment.
Lotor didn’t understand that emotion in regard to what they were doing, not when he was so proud to have it be known that his mate had finally accepted him into her heart and into her bed. It was simply a cultural clash, Allura knowing that her people did not flaunt their adult relationships, especially where sex was concerned. She was beginning to worry more and more about how the Arusians would handle knowing there princess was involved with the prince, and she especially worried about those closest to her, who might discover just how deep a connection they had had without the exchanging of vows.
She wondered if Nanny’s heart could take the news, and Allura found herself wishing she had been given a shirt with a high collar. She was well aware of the many love bites and kiss bruises on her neck and collar bone. That wasn’t the only part of her body that was marked by Lotor’s lips, but it was the most noticeable in this outfit she had been given.
She sighed, and ran the brush through her hair one last time, and Lotor’s hand stilled. “What’s wrong?” He was instantly alert to her change in mood, and she just shook her head.
“You’ll find it silly.”
“I doubt that very much. If it concerns you, it concerns me as well.” Lotor said, and she smiled slightly.
“I’m just having cold feet.” Allura told him, and he arched an eyebrow at her. “About telling people about our decision to be together.” He started to frown, and she hastily continued speaking. “There will be some…judging going on…and people may try to cast doubts and insecurities on our relationship.”
“What does it matter if they judge? We know what’s right.” Lotor stated, looking perplexed.
“I just…just don’t want to upset anyone.” She said at last. “And I know I can’t make everyone happy…..not all the time, and with all my choices.”
“It’s that woman you’re worried about.” Lotor grumbled. “That Nanny of yours.” She allowed a quick nod, and he sighed. “What else must I do to win her approval?”
“I honestly don’t know.” Allura admitted. “I think she’s always been of the opinion that no man is good enough for me.”
“Maybe no human…” Lotor allowed, and smirked. “But this Drule on the other hand…” She stared at him for a long moment, Lotor radiating smug satisfaction. Allura then shifted, dropping the brush on the bed, and reaching behind her. “What are you looking for?”
“A pillow.” She said, fingers snagging hold of one. “You deserve to be whacked for that smug comment.”
“You wouldn’t hit a sick man!” Lotor protested, and she flashed him a look.
“You haven’t been sick in days!”
“But I’m still recovering.” Lotor pointed out, only to have the pillow land on his head. He growled something under his breath, hands snatching the pillow off his face just as a knock was heard on the door.
“Ah! That must be Doctor Zutarei!” Allura said, hopping to her feet. She was already running to step into the outer chamber, Lotor flinging the pillow in her direction. It missed her by a long shot, Allura stepping out into the outer chamber, and jerking open the door. It was indeed the doctor who stood on the other side of it, expression slightly less serious than the first time she saw him. She had grown used to seeing him always in a somber mood, the Drule simply did not smile without an extreme reason too.
“How is he doing?” The doctor asked, and Allura gestured for him to follow her into the bedroom.
“You can see for yourself doctor…” She paused, and frowned for Lotor was still laying on his stomach. Only now he had his hair swept forward, every scratch showed off under the ceiling’s light. She immediately colored in embarrassment, wondering why Lotor couldn’t cover himself, and what the doctor must think of her. Indeed Zutarei gave her a side long glance, though it lacked a judgmental feel to it. Allura could have sworn his eyes were amused, and she was suddenly looking for the pillow Lotor had thrown, wanting to hit both Drules.
“I have some cream in my bag for those scratches.” The doctor announced, glancing downwards as he opened his medical case.
“Don’t bother.” Lotor said, at last sitting up in an upright position. “They’re a minor irritation at best. They won’t even scar.” The urge to hit Lotor with the pillow grew stronger, as did the burning heat in her cheeks.
The doctor walked over to the bed, and set his bag down next to Lotor. Allura watched as he began to test his pulse, and placed a thermometer under Lotor’s tongue. The doctor nodded to himself, seeming satisfied with Lotor’s pulse rate. Next he applied a blood pressure cuff to Lotor’s arm, and just before he activated it, the thermometer beeped.
“Normal levels.” Zutarei said approvingly. “Your body has cooled down tremendously since that first day.” Lotor just nodded, seeming impatient for this to be over with. The doctor began to listen to his heart, and check his reflexes. Minutes dragged on, the doctor thorough in his examination, to the point Allura began to feel impatient.
“How much longer is this going to take?” Lotor asked, and the doctor answered.
“I want to run a full physical on you. Just to be safe.” The doctor said. He glanced Allura’s way. “Princess….if you would excuse us…” She realized there was things the doctor wanted privacy for, and she nodded.
“Allura wait!” Lotor called out, but she waved at him.
“The sooner you submit to the doctor’s exam, the sooner you can leave this room.” She smiled at him, trying not to smirk. “And I know you are eager to get back on your feet, and see what has been done in your absence.” Allura knew she certainly was, even if all Lotor wanted to do was eat and make love. “Don’t worry.” She softened her expression, and walked over to him. The doctor moved a respectful distance, and Allura brushed a chaste kiss on Lotor’s pouting lips. “You’ll join me soon enough. And then we can begin making preparations for our wedding ceremony.”
That got him to smile, Lotor always cheered at the thought of tying himself to Allura. “All right.” He agreed, and caught her so that he deepened the kiss. “You can find your way off the ship?”
“I’m sure I can manage.” Allura said, thinking she would just ask one of the soldiers if she got loss. Lotor still seemed reluctant to let her leave, his fingers lingering as she pulled away. He looked so forlorn at her exit, making her heart twinge in sympathy. Allura had to force herself to be strong as she walked out of the room, feeling Lotor’s eyes on her back, the Drule prince willing her to return to him with intense looks.
She exited the cabin, and began walking the way she thought Ryder had led her onto the ship. It wasn’t as though she was that familiar with the layout of the war vessel, and soon she was so turned around, that she had to stop one of the stray soldiers walking the halls to lead her off.
It took another ten minutes to traverse the warship, but soon she was stepping down the lowered ramp. The Arusian sun hung high in the sky, Allura lifted a hand to shield her eyes from it’s bright light. For a second she just stood in the shade of the ramp, letting her eyes adjust. She breathed in the fresh air of Arus, noting it was better than the recycled air inside the ship.
Birds seemed to sing an uplifting song, one that matched her good sprits. In the distance she could hear voices, mostly men shouting, but it was an amicable sound. She looked towards the shouts, and saw the eastern side of the castle of lions, a huge scaffolding made of metal framework leaning against the damage side. She began walking the short distance to the castle, noting the many men who were working on the repairs, balancing securely on the scaffolding.
It was a mixture of Drules and humans who worked on her castle home, and all of them were shirtless and covered in the sweat of a hard day’s work. They were currently working to repair the damaged wall of the second floor, and Allura thought she could make out the framework that would be the base upon which the third floor would be rebuilt.
There were large machines on the eastern lawn, including a cement mixer that was currently churning the liquid into a wet mess. Amidst the machinery and scaffolding were servants from the castle, predominately women who were carrying out food and drinks for the working men. She drew closer and spied her cousin Romelle, the girl was leaning against a wall, watching one man in particular.
It was with some amusement that Allura noticed it was Sabbath, his hair back in braids. He was also the only man to be wearing a shirt, and she wondered why. Suddenly she heard squeals, and turned to see Gloria and Tabitha rushing towards her, Marie hastily setting down a tray of sandwiches on a nearby table.
“Princess Allura!” All three cried, and Romelle turned to look in her direction. She smiled in greeting at them, and hurried towards them, and found herself enveloped in a three-way group hug. Romelle approached more slowly, carefully holding her long skirts up so as to avoid tripping on the stray pieces of construction.
“You’re back!” exclaimed Gloria excitedly.
“We’ve been so worried!” added Marie.
“What happened to your neck?!” Tabitha gasped, aghast. Allura blushed, and her hands flew to touch some of the marks on her throat, the girl once again wishing she had a scarf or high collar to hide her neck.
“It’s….it’s…” Allura was stuttering, not sure honesty was the best policy in this situation.
“So…” Romelle had reached them, and Allura noted she wore a high collar with her blue dress. “I take it this means the Drule has made a full recovery.” Her cousin was also eyeing her throat, and her lips were twitching, Allura unsure if it was a frown or a smirk that Romelle was fighting.
“Just about.” Allura said. “Lotor’s with the doctor right now. If he gives his okay, he’ll be allowed to leave the ship.”
“I see.” Romelle looked her over from head to toe, and Allura wondered what her cousin saw. “You know…you better hide those from Nanny. She won’t understand.”
“She won’t understand what?” Gloria asked, looking confused.
“Oh Gloria.” Sighed Tabitha, seeming disappointed that the girl missed the significance behind the marks on Allura’s throat. “Don’t worry your pretty little head about it.”
“Nanny has been on the war path since you went on the Drule ship.” Spoke up Marie. She seemed to shudder, looking frightened. “I wouldn’t want to cross her in the mood she’s been in. She’s been absolutely brutal on the men.”
“I’ll do my best to avoid her then…” Allura said, and Romelle snickered.
“You won’t be able to. She’ll seek you out. It’s a small shock she hasn’t boarded the warship and carried you off to safety from the big bad Drules.” Nervous laughter followed the words Romelle spoke, but Allura felt ill at the thought of Nanny barging her way into Lotor’s cabin. Especially during one of their many intimate moments.
“Are you okay Allura?” questioned Tabitha, concerned.
“I’m fine. Just a little thirsty. Could someone get me something to drink?” Allura asked.
“Got it covered. Sabbath!” Romelle called out, and Allura’s eyes widened. The Drule immediately hurried over, and Romelle faked looking at her nails. “We’re thirsty. Get us something to drink.” Even more astonishing, he nodded and took off to one of the refreshment tables, Allura’s jaw dropping.
“You got him running your errands?” She managed to ask when she recovered, and had fresh orange juice in her hand. Romelle gave an airy nod of her head, and paused to sip at her own berry flavored drink.
“He does come in handy.” She at last allowed, her lips twisted into odd half smile. “Especially for heavy lifting….”
“Your cousin has been spending the last few days sending that Drule running all over the castle on her errands.” Explained Tabitha. “I’ve never seen a man as eager to please as that Drule.”
“I wish I had a Drule…” A tinge of envy colored Gloria’s wistful tone. Allura didn’t know what to say to that, and she just colored as she thought of how eager to please HER Drule was.
“Why are you making him do your handiwork?!” Allura demanded when she regain control of her voice. Some part of her recognized it was a marked improvement over Romelle’s days of avoiding Sabbath completely, or the insulting way she would speak around him. But still she couldn’t believe Romelle was making a servant out of the Drule. “Just what went on between you two when you were trapped.”
“We came to an understanding.” Answered Romelle, looking bored by this topic.
“An understanding?!” squeaked out Allura, and Romelle turned away as though she was done talking. Had the world turned upside down while she was in that cabin with Lotor?!
“Here princess…” Marie had produced a neckerchief from the pocket of her gingham patterned dress. “Wear this until those….marks fade.”
“Thank you.” Allura said, and began to secure the cloth around her neck. It didn’t match her outfit, standing out in stark contrast to the colors she wore. But at least her neck was covered until she could reach the closet where her clothing had been moved too. “Does anyone know where Coran is?”
“Coran?” The girls echoed.
“Yes. I need to talk to him about things….things that will affect both Arus and the Drule’s future.” That was as far as Allura was willing to explain.
“I believe he’s in his office, going over the repair expenses with a fine tooth comb.” Romelle said.
“That sounds like him.” Allura murmured. She nodded her thanks, and moved to walk to one of the castle’s side entrances, one of the door’s that wasn’t obscured by the scaffolding and construction. It was no less quiet inside the castle, and she saw groups of people who all paused to either wish her well, inquire about Lotor’s health, or want to discuss the victory Arus had pulled off.
Such conversation delayed her travels, and she was only halfway to Coran’s first floor office when disaster struck in the form of a round face, heavy set woman with auburn curls. Nanny spotted Allura at the same time the princess spied the head of the household, and there was no helping it, she had to confront her.
“Princess!” Nanny cried, seeming to tear up on the spot. She ran towards Allura, and caught her up in a big bear hug, almost squeezing the breath out of Allura. The princess could only awkwardly pat the woman on the back, and wait for Nanny to let her go. “My baby! I thought I might never get to see you again! Oh let me look at you.” She pulled back, holding Allura at arm’s bay. “Ack…your skin…it’s so pale…and your so thin. Have they even been feeding you?!”
“Yes, Nanny, of course they have.” Allura quickly assured her. Nanny did not relax, looking her over for any injury she could find. Allura noted the woman did not ask after Lotor’s well being, and held bak a sigh. “I’m fine Nanny, really I am.”
“What were you thinking?!” Nanny suddenly shouted, and several castle guards jumped in shock at the volume of the woman’s voice. “Going onboard one of those Drule ships?!”
“Prince Lotor needed me.” Allura began, and Nanny made a scoffing sound. “He did. He was very ill…he could have died.”
“That would have been one less Drule blight upon the galaxy!” retorted Nanny.
Allura gasped. “Nanny!”
The woman’s look became defensive. “He kidnapped you Allura.”
“He let me go…”
“He came to invade our planet…” added Nanny to Lotor’s list of crimes.
“He fought to keep us free.” Retorted Allura, eyes narrowing into a fierce glare.
“He brought war to our planet, and nearly succeeding in bringing down our home on our heads.” Nanny snapped.
Allura was defiant. “He’s a hero that not only helped us fight a war, but without him we wouldn’t have won it. It wouldn’t have just been the second and third floor of the castle that was destroyed if Lotor hadn’t been here to put a stop to Morduck and Zarkon’s antics!”
Nanny seemed at the end of her list of crimes, making sputtering sounds. Allura moved to walk past her, and Nanny suddenly snatched her by the arm. “He puts you in danger every time he comes near you!”
“He makes me live, for the first time in my life!” exclaimed Allura, trying to jerk free of Nanny’s grip.
“He’s corrupting you…making you think and act in funny ways…and what’s with this scarf?!” Nanny was already reaching for it, jerking it off before Allura could do more than gasp.
Silence followed the removal of the neckerchief, Nanny’s eyes locking onto the marks that colored Allura’s neck and collarbone. Then, a long, in drawn hiss of air, Nanny seeming to shake violently. “What is this?!”
Allura brought a hand to her throat, but couldn’t hide all the marks, Lotor having been overzealous in his use of his mouth. “You let that Drule do that to you?!” Nanny was aghast, staring daggers at the offending marks.
Something came over Allura in that moment, the girl knowing there was no good reason for the bruises. Either they were love marks, or marks of abuse, and either way they would condemn Lotor in Nanny’s eyes.
“Yes.” She raised her head proudly, and lowered her hand, exposing the marks all the more fully. “I did.”
Nanny’s face turned red, her eyes seemed to bulge out of head, and the shaking increased in intensity. “Why? How?”
“Because I love him.” Allura answered. “And he loves me, and we’re going to be together.” Nanny made a horrible noise, and she realized it was the woman’s own attempt at a snicker.
“Have you gone out of your mind princess? No! I forbid this kind of behavior!”
“You forbid it?!” Allura gasped out in disbelief.
“That’s right. I won’t allow you to throw your life away on that Drule!” She was shouting again, drawing attention from all the passerby’s and guards in the hall.
“Won’t allow me?!” Allura made her own scoffing sound, shaking her head. “You can’t STOP me!” She was aware of the audience, and couldn’t control herself, even to spare herself some public humiliation. “I love Lotor, and we are going to be wed.”
“Oh no you are not!”
“At this point, a marriage between us would only be a formality.” She felt unnaturally smug, staring at Nanny. “We’re already married by the customs of his people!”
The red, along with any other color in Nanny’s face fled, leaving the woman pale and gasping. “What have you done?”
Seeing her Nanny look so stricken, Allura felt a moment’s doubt about how she had just broken the news. “Nothing that can be reversed. The Drules don’t believe in divorce.”
All around them, people began muttering, and a few women ran off, no doubt to spread the words of the union between prince and princess. Nanny took a step back, and for a second she looked like she might faint. And then she was shouting, all but screaming her head off for Coran.