Allura wasn’t in the garden, nor was she to be found in the kitchen and dining hall. Lotor even checked the storage rooms, spying the cots crowded in among the barrels and crates of various goods. But there was no Allura to be found, and the rooms that doubled as sleeping quarters for the castle denizens were empty of people at this time of day.
It left him frustrated, Lotor going on a room by room search for his mate. When he did encounter people, he received more looks, some awed, some happy, and some apprehensive. No matter the emotion behind it, Lotor felt it was strange, and he began to wonder what if anything these people knew about him. They certainly didn’t know much about Allura’s whereabouts, the best he could learn was that she was last seen going into a room with her cousin.
That room was empty, and his travels took him to the castle’s command center, and even to the second floor, Lotor worried Allura might have gone there for some unfathomable reason. He was almost at his wit’s end when he found her, his mate sitting in the office of one of the castle’s doctors. It was sheer chance that he had come to the medical wing, and walked past the open door of the office.
There was no mistaking that beautiful vision, or the sweet scent of flowers mixed with lazon and spice that identified Allura as his mate. Lotor immediately entered the room, finding Allura waiting alone inside it. He couldn’t keep his worry from showing, Lotor thinking of worse case scenarios as to why Allura was visiting a doctor.
“Allura…!” He cried out, and came to sit besides her. “What’s wrong? Are you sick? Did you catch my illness? Do you have a fever? Chills?” He was putting a hand to her forehead, trying to gauge her body’s temperature. She blinked rapidly, then shook her head no. Lotor dropped his hands to hers, holding them in a gentle grip as he looked her over. “Are you injured?”
“No, I’m fine.” Allura assured him, and he frowned.
“Then why are you here? Are you visiting someone….?”
“No…not exactly.” She turned to peer at the open door, and Lotor got the hint. Letting go of her, he hurried to shut it, then returned to her side, an expectant look in his eyes. “I’m just here for a check up. I had some….concerns after our lovemaking.”
“Concerns?” He repeated, and frowned. “You are not satisfied with what we have done?”
“Oh no!” Allura quickly exclaimed, and raised a hand to touch his face. “I’m more than satisfied. I love when we’re together, each and every moment. But there are things that must be considered…”
“Like what?” His question brought a slight flush to her cheeks, his mate seeming flustered.
“Well….children for one thing.”
“Children?” he echoed, than did a loud exclamation. “You’re pregnant?!”
“What? No!” Allura shook her head, blond curls bouncing. “At least….it’s too soon to tell. But Lotor, we didn’t exactly take precautions against such a thing happening. Which is why I am here. I was hoping for Doctor Gorma to prescribe some pills to prevent conceiving.” She fidgeted at his silence, moving to fill it with her words. “I don’t know how you feel about children…”
“I would love any one you gave me.” Lotor automatically replied, though his head was reeling at the thought. It was true he expected to start a family with Allura someday, but he hadn’t thought it might happen before they were ready to!
She smiled at his response. “I want children too, but not right now. I want to enjoy being a your wife, before I become a mother. And I am still so young…I’m not even of age to take the throne as Queen yet….”
“So we wait a few years.” Lotor said, and she nodded, looking relieved.
“It’s an uncertain time now…” Allura continued. “We’ve just finished fighting one war, and will have to fight at least one more. If we have children, I want to bring them into this galaxy during a time of peace.”
“I do too.” He said. “I’ve spoken to Coran, both about the marriage and about Arus lending support to my campaign. Both subjects went a lot smoother than I dared hope. Thanks in part to you.”
“Yes.” She agreed with a giggle. “I bore the brunt of his shock and dismay.” She sighed then. “I didn’t want to break the news in the way that I did, but really, Nanny left me no choice.”
“Nanny?!” Lotor repeated, wondering what the woman had to do with this.
Allura nodded. “Yes. Ooooh, she was practically insufferable! You see…she saw the love marks on my neck, and she just lost all semblance of sanity.” A grimace appeared on her lovely face, Allura surely recalling Nanny’s reaction. “When I told her I love you, and that we were already married in the eyes of your people…” A shake of her head, as though she did not want to continue. “She just started screaming….eventually we were escorted to Coran’s office, and the situation was revealed to Coran. I’m afraid Nanny is still upset…I don’t know how to calm her down, and right now I don’t want to even see her face!”
“Then you don’t.” Lotor replied. “Avoid her for a few days, until she can properly cool down.”
“I don’t know if she will.” Allura admitted. “She’s so upset, and adamant I am ruining my life and reputation by being with you.” That got Lotor frowning, the prince wondering why the woman had to act in such a manner.
“We’ll prove her wrong.” He said out loud. “When she sees how happy we are together…”
“It might just be like rubbing salt in an open wound as far as Nanny is concerned.” Allura sighed, and he didn’t know how to console her. It was clear Nanny’s thoughts and opinions mattered to Allura, and her negativity was hurting his mate.
A knock sounded on the door, Lotor and Allura glancing away from each other. The door was already opening, the man Lotor assumed was Doctor Gorma entering. He had one hand in his jacket’s pocket, and he nodded his greeting to the couple. He walked over to his desk, and once seated, removed his hand from his pocket. A small bottle of colorful pills was in his hand, and he gestured for Allura to take the bottle from him.
“These are the birth control pills.” He said, Allura looking carefully at the bottle’s label. “You are to take one a day, for every day you do not want to get pregnant. It will take at least a month for your body to build up a storage of this contraceptive in your blood stream. You should also avoid taking these until we know for sure whether or not you are currently pregnant.”
“Ah…doctor…” Lotor had a concern he could not keep to himself. “If she can’t take these just yet…how are we to be….intimate without causing pregnancy?”
Doctor Gorma didn’t so much as bat an eye, opening the topmost drawer in his desk. “You are aware of condoms, are you not?” He asked, pulling out a small box of the aforementioned item. Lotor couldn’t keep the disappointed look on his face, not exactly thrilled with Gorma’s solution. “You are to wear these until she has been on the birth control for at least a month. Unless of course…” his lips quirked into a teasing half smile. “You WANT to have children right away.”
“He’ll wear them!” piped in Allura, and Lotor somehow found himself with the condoms in his pant’s pocket. All too soon the visit with the doctor was over with, Allura giving her thanks, and the two men shaking hands. Allura led Lotor out of the room, and into the hall where other doctors and nurses rushed about. “They are still so busy here…” She murmured.
“Most of the patients have been dismissed. We’ve been fortunate that no one has died. Although there is still a few severe cases being kept here for close observation.” Explained Allura.
“There wasn’t too many injuries among the Drule…” Lotor said, thinking how it had been all or nothing for the Drule. They had either lived through the fighting, or had
been killed on the battlefield. Lotor himself had killed quite a few of them, though the holding cells of the warship was still bloated with prisoners. There needed to be something done about them, and he didn’t want to kill them while they were helpless.
He really needed to get together with Pardust and the others in the command chain, they had to start making decisions and calls. Lotor knew there were some among the prisoners who would make valuable hostages, the ransoms earned in handing them over to their families sure to make a dent in the bills that would accumulate to fight this war with Zarkon.
It wouldn’t be all fun and games on Arus, he would have to spend a lot of his time training his soldiers, and playing diplomat and negotiator with potential supporters on the other worlds. He was thankful he had Allura to brighten the seriousness of his life, Lotor wanting to steal every moment he could to be with her. Indeed if not for the fact that his father posed a danger to Allura and his future happiness, Lotor would find it hard to concentrate on anything but his mate.
Even now, he was loathe to part from her, Lotor holding her hand as they walked through the castle corridors. They passed by more staring people, and now Lotor understood the reason behind their looks. They had surely heard about the scene Nanny had caused, and the news of Lotor and Allura’s impending marriage. The looks hinted that the people in the castle were of mixed opinion about their princess tying herself to the Drule prince and Lotor hoped they’d be easier to sway than Nanny would prove to be.
“Allura…Can we go somewhere private?” Lotor asked, and she nodded.
“Would the garden be fine with you? No one almost never goes there at this time of day.”
“Yes, it’s fine. Just anywhere where I can be alone and talk with you.” Lotor said, and she giggled and gave him a flirtatious look.
“Is talking all you want to do?”
For once he had spoken without seduction on his mind. But at the look she gave him, Lotor felt his pulse quicken. “Perhaps there will be more than talking.”
“Oh?” A curious look from Allura that did not diminish the smile on her face.
“There may be hand holding.” He teased her, and she gasped. “Maybe even hugging.”
“And kissing?” She sounded anxious then. “Will there be kissing?”
“There may be indeed.” He said, enjoying their banter. She grinned, and practically dragged him off to the gardens. Allura didn’t even wait for the garden door to close completely, she actually pushed Lotor against it, and went up on tip toe. He watched amused and turned on, Allura pressing her lips against his. The kiss was sweet, and had the power to almost make him forget the things he wanted to discuss with her.
“Allura!” he moaned against her lips, and it was with some regret that he came up for air. She looked pouty and eager for more, and Lotor wanted nothing but to ravish her in the moment. “You’ll make me forget myself…”
“And that is a bad thing?” She asked.
“It is when I have things to tell you!” Lotor replied, and maneuvered himself away from the door. “Come…” He tucked her arm around his, and began strolling through the garden. The cobblestone pathways were lined with bushes and flowers, and in the distance he could see the gazebo. That enclosed area was his ultimate destination, Lotor leading Allura to sit on one of the benches inside the gazebo.
She continued to smile, and she tugged him down to sit besides her. “It feels like only yesterday that we shared that moment in this garden.” She didn’t mention that it was a moment that had been interrupted by Nanny, Allura wearing a fond look in her eyes.
“It was here that I had the first real glimmer of hope that you might come to love me back.” Lotor reminisced.
“I’m sure we will have many more memories out here in my garden.” Allura smiled, caressing her fingers across his hand.
“Yes, we will. I’ll make sure of it!” Lotor vowed. Allura snuggled up against his side, looking like she wanted to start making memories right this instant. She was a fine temptation, one that could easily distract him from what he wanted to discuss. “Allura…they are some things I must speak with you about.”
She actually pouted then. “What is it?”
“Well….two things. One being about the Drules that are currently without a home.” She was instantly alert, giving his words her full attention. “They have nowhere to go…no home to return to, at least not until I take the throne from my father.”
“As of right now they are staying onboard the warships.” Allura said, and he nodded.
“Yes, but the ships are a far cry from the comfort of a real home.” Lotor sighed. “They need a more permanent solution. As do those ships of the armada.”
“They’re welcome to use one of our moons as the base for those ships.” Allura told him, and Lotor smiled at her, relieved one problem seem so easy to solve. “Most of the Drule armada is currently resting on one of the moon’s surfaces. It wouldn’t be that big a stretch to make it a base of operations.”
“We can send men up there in divisions, soldiers stationed there for a certain amount of time as they train, then rotated out for the next batch of warriors in training.” Suggested Lotor.
“That sounds good.” Agreed Allura. “And in the meantime, the Drules who are not training, can live on Arus.” She grew solemn then. “There’s at least one village that has been…emptied out of all it’s people. Your supporters are welcome to make that village their home.”
He suddenly understood the reason for her seriousness, Lotor remembering the village they had watched be decimated by the enemy Drule’s ground forces. No living thing had been left, neither person or animal, all slaughtered. It was a wonder the village buildings hadn’t been destroyed, but the Drules had been in a hurry to take the castle, so hadn’t paused to loot and set fires.
“Thank you Allura. My people will be most appreciative of your offer.” Lotor answered, and put an arm around her, offering her comfort and support.
“I’m glad.” He thought she might smile, but she sighed instead. “I wish all problems were as easy to solve as the issue of housing proved to be.” He gave her a curious look, wondering what she was referring to. “I saw my cousin today. Romelle…looked much better than last I saw her. But then…I suppose anyone would be doing well after being freed from the room they were trapped in!”
“I spoke with Sabbath before finding you.” Lotor said in response. “He’s a bit…” He hesitated, not sure how to put it. “He’s dealing with things as best he can.” He finally said.
“That sounds as well as Romelle is doing.” Allura retorted with another sigh. “I hope you had better luck with Sabbath and finding out what is going on, because Romelle will not confide with me. Not even at her most upset and panicked.”
“Panicked?” Lotor raised an eyebrow at that, allowing Allura to twist about in his arms to face him. “What does she have to be panicked about?”
“I don’t know!” Allura exclaimed, seeming frustrated. “She wouldn’t tell me…”
“Well, do you know what caused it?” Lotor asked, and she nodded.
“We were talking about you and I, about our union, and the marriage. I remember her getting this look on her face, right before she broke down.” Allura shook her head. “I don’t understand it. She didn’t even have anything nasty to say about you…she just seemed horrified at the news of how permanent a Drule’s mating is…”
“You spoke to her about the permanence of a mating?” Lotor asked, and Allura nodded. “Well, that would do it.” She looked confused, and he didn’t even try to keep her in the dark. “Sabbath told me something…something I take it your cousin didn’t care to share with you.”
“Oh?” Her tone was curious, almost imploring. “What?”
He didn’t spend much time wondering if he should keep Sabbath and Romelle’s affair a secret, it wasn’t as though he wanted to keep things from Allura. Especially when the not knowing left her so worried about her cousin. “Sabbath and Romelle have had relations…” A blinking of Allura’s eyes, and then she gasped.
“You mean sex?! They had sex!” Lotor nodded. “When?!”
“Apparently when they were trapped together.” He explained.
“And she couldn’t tell me that?!” Allura demanded, mouth forming a perfect o of shock.
“Well, obviously!” Allura exclaimed.
“Sabbath and Romelle did not reach a proper understanding before agreeing to joining their bodies together.” Another gasp from Allura, and Lotor gave her a grim smile. “I’m afraid Sabbath wasn’t entirely truthful to Romelle about what it would mean if they made love….nor has he been willing to push the issue. It’s done nothing but make him miserable…”
“And here I came along with my big mouth, talking about there’s no going back one you make love with your mate.” Allura groaned, and Lotor kissed her nose.
“I happen to like your mouth.” He told her, a twinkle in his eyes. “It is a pleasure to kiss, and it says such sweet things for my ears to hear.”
She blushed sweetly at that. “But still….I must have made Romelle feel awful, talking like that…”
“I think she deserves to feel a little awful.” Lotor said bluntly, earning a questioning look from Allura. “Her affair with Sabbath was not without stipulations. She has insisted he hide what they’ve done, and is refusing to acknowledge it. It seems she used him for his body…and is content to throw him away now that she is done.”
Allura looked shocked at what he had just said, and Lotor supposed he couldn’t blame her. “Where does that leave Sabbath?”
“I’m not sure.” Lotor admitted. “He’s suffering and confused. I have tried to advise him as best I can, but I really don’t know what to do in this type of situation.”
“Maybe I should talk to my cousin…” Allura suggested. “Maybe I can get her to see reason……” But she seemed doubtful of what she was saying.
“I suppose anything is possible.” Said Lotor.
“I really wish she would give Sabbath more of a chance…” Allura grumbled. “And not just as an outlet for release. You know Gloria and the others tell me she has
been using him as a glorified errand boy?! And he has been more than happy to come to the snapping of her fingers!” Lotor wisely held back any comment he might have made about that, letting Allura fume. “I just think it’s so unfair…to use Sabbath like that….why can’t she see what a great catch she has on her hands…”
“You think Sabbath is a great catch?” Lotor asked, feeling a twinge of jealousy spike through him. “I didn’t know you knew him that well.”
“I don’t…!” Allura quickly said. “It’s just I know from experience how devoted and loving a Drule mate is. And it’s not just me! Plenty of the girls in the castle have been swooning with envy over wanting a Drule of their own.”
“They have?” Lotor asked, only aware of the singing incident and the followers it had gained Sabbath.
“Yes! We Arusians know a good catch when we see one!” Allura giggled, and Lotor could not resist teasing her.
“Then why did you take so long to recognize the good in me?” Flustered, she turned even redder, and tried to turn away from him. He caught her in his arms, making her look at him. “Well, Allura?” he prodded, and she began to chew on her plump bottom lip.
“I guess I had blinders on.” She said at last. “But also…it’s a lot different seeing a Drule acting that way in the safety of your own home, than in a strange new place. Here they have the comfort of their friends and loved ones…they’re not in an alien environment, surrounded by strangers….That makes all the difference. But…I wouldn’t trade my experiences with you for anything.” Blushing, she touched him, caressing her hands over his chest.
“Good…I’m glad. Some of those experiences may have been painful….to the point I thought I couldn’t bear them, but I am glad to have experienced them. They brought me closer to you.” He leaned in for a kiss, one she gave him eagerly.
“Now….if we could only get my cousin to open her eyes…” Allura managed to sigh.
“We’ll think of something…” Lotor said, though he had his doubts. “In the mean time, we’ll continue to enjoy our time together.”
“It will be a few days until the official ceremony…” Allura sighed. “I have little hope of the castle being repaired in that time.”
“It doesn’t matter…we can stay onboard one of the warships, in one of the cabins.” Lotor told her.
“Well, it would certainly be more private than the situation in the castle.” Allura said. “The sleeping arrangements are so cramped that everyone knows each other’s coming and goings at night. There’d be little chance for visits, especially those of a romantic nature.” To Lotor that was all the more reason Allura should stay with him, rather than remain in the castle.
“We’ll just have to take our pleasure elsewhere then.” Lotor said, thinking of the box of condoms in his pocket. “But we shouldn’t be ashamed of our need of each other. We are mated after all. It is expected.”
“Maybe among the Drule….but Arusians are a bit more…reserved when it comes to expressing affection.”
“So you’ve told me.” Lotor reminded her. “We’ll just have to find a nice middle ground when it comes to our two cultures.” She nodded, and he kissed her again, thinking an afternoon romp in the castle gardens could be the first step towards that middle ground. Unfortunately for Lotor’s plans, a maid stepped out into the gardens, her flustered face turning beet red at the sight of the embracing pair. She just barely managed to stutter out the news that General Pardust had arrived, and was asking for a meeting with the prince.