The papers rustled beneath her fingers, Allura shifting aside documents, and holding back a sigh at the amount of paperwork that had piled up in her absence. It wasn’t just work from the last few days, the amount of documents had been building up since before she had been taken aboard the Drule warship that first time. These last few weeks since the Drules had come to Arus, had only exacerbated her workload, Allura finding not only did she have affairs of the state to look over, but homework as well.
In fact much of what she had could be considered a test of her abilities, Allura going over documents that Coran would later check and triple check, the man making sure she had not made any embarrassing mistakes. She quelled at the thought of making the wrong decision, liking that she had Coran as a fall back to catch and stop mishaps from happening due to her own carelessness.
Allura knew it wouldn’t always be like this, once she came of age to take the throne as Queen, much of her decisions would be final. Coran would be forced to give up a lot of the power he had enjoyed, resuming his duties as an advisory position to the throne.
The current papers Allura was looking at had something to do with the opening of a new orphanage in one of the near by cities. She couldn’t help but cringe at the thought that it was sorely needed, now more than ever due to the lives lost during this war with Doom. It was one of the projects Allura was pushing for completion, ignoring the fact that the treasury was stretched thin in regard to the funding needed to repair the castle, and pay all the soldiers who had fought against the Drule invasion.
There was also money to pay to those families who had lost loved ones in the war, especially those widows and orphans. Allura was adamant about establishing a fund that would pay out a yearly income to the families, so that they needn’t starve or go homeless. She was trying to go over the numbers, crunching figures in her head, as her fingers tapped a restless dance across a data pad, it’s computer calculating how much in taxes they would need to gather to be able to afford this scheme of hers.
A knock sounded on her office door, Allura barely looking up. “Enter!” She called, and heard the door sweep open. She continued to stare at the data pad, frowning at the numbers it showed her. Taxes would have to be raised, there seemed no other way around it, not if she didn’t want those families to starve.
She almost didn’t notice that her visitor hadn’t said a word, no until the person was coming around her desk, their shadow falling across her. Allura glanced up in time to see Lotor pulling the data pad out of her hand, the Drule casting a curious look at the information written on it. And then he was setting it down on a top of a large pile of papers, the prince bending down to kiss her in greeting.
She smiled at his kiss, even as she tried to shake away her concerns about the problems waiting on her desk, Allura reaching up to touch the side of Lotor’s face. The kiss wasn’t as long as she would have liked, the prince pulling back from that awkward bent over position of his. “What’s all this?” Lotor asked, gesturing at the paper work piled on her desk.
Allura sighed, blowing out a breath that ruffled her bangs. “Work.” She grumbled in complaint. “Both of the kingdom and of a personal nature.” She watched as Lotor carefully moved over a pile of papers, making enough room for him to perch on the edge of her desk. “I’m afraid I’ve been lax in my duties, especially during these recent weeks.”
“Ah, you mean because the Drule came to Arus.” Lotor said it knowingly, and she nodded.
“A lot of it is from that time.” Allura agreed. “And there’s only more work building up in the wake of the invasion being stopped.” She shook her head, not meaning to complain to him. “It’s busy times…” She finished, and Lotor once more gave her paperwork piles the once over.
“So I see.” He said. “The meeting with General Pardust and his associates went well.”
“Have you been with them all this time?” Allura asked, realizing night had fallen since her arrival to this room.
“Yes, we had much to go over.” Lotor told her. “We’ve been trying to decide which nobles to approach first….and when. It’s a gamble, we can’t know how receptive they will be to my requests. We know that once we start making inquiries, word will reach my father’s ears. Our tentative peace will be shattered.” She shivered at that, and must have worn quite the expression, for Lotor reached out to pat her hand. “Come….don’t look so glum Allura….”
“I’ll try not to be…” She replied, trying to keep her thoughts calm and her expression even. “So when will you make the calls?” She couldn’t help but be curious, even as she knew everything would change, become more hectic and busy, for both Lotor and herself.
“I was thinking to begin making them after our wedding.” His tone was causal, Lotor appearing unconcerned. “That way we can enjoy a few more days peace, and take the time to properly do things according to your people’s customs without fear of my father’s actions hanging over our heads.”
“Can you afford to wait that long?” Allura wondered, thinking Zarkon’s shadow would linger over the proceedings, regardless of what the old King knew and did not know. “I mean…will he not eventually start to get suspicious, even with General Pardust giving him the run around?”
“There’s always that chance.” Agreed Lotor with a bob of his head.
“Then I think you should begin making those calls. Immediately if not sooner.” Allura said, Lotor giving her a considering look. “And it will make me feel better.” She added, turning her hand so that her fingers caught at his. “I need to know that you will gain allies from among the Drule on Doom. That you will have the men and money needed to wage a successful war against your father.”
Lotor stared at her a moment longer, and she wondered what he saw in her expression. At last he nodded, and she let out a breath, relieved. “All right Allura. I will start on my list of contacts first thing tomorrow.”
She relaxed even more at hearing that, though knew part of her would be wound up until she learned just how many of those on the list would lend Lotor their support. “Thank you.” She said out loud, and he smiled at her.
“There’s no need to thank me for this.” He laced his fingers with hers, their hands gripping each other lightly.
“Still it makes me feel relieved…” Allura gave a half hearted chuckle then. “Isn’t that strange? You’re taking steps to thrust yourself and our people into more war, I should be worried not filled with relief!”
A faint smile from him, Lotor raising their joined hands so that he could brush a kiss across her knuckles. “I think it’s because you recognize how necessary this is, in order to maintain a lasting peace. It’s a peace we and many others are willing to fight for….to even die for.” He surely felt the shudder that went through her at his mention of dying for peace, Allura unable to keep from trembling at the thoughts that filled her. “Allura, my love….what is the matter?”
“I’m frightened…” She admitted, and with those words her fears started to come out. “I don’t like the thought of any of our people dying…and I’m terrified of the thought of losing you…I want to be selfish, to insist you stay back from the fighting…” She shook her head, a strangled sound escaping her. “I don’t even know for sure what your plans are for the actual fighting. I know what I want though, and that is for you to remain on Arus where it’s safe.”
“Oh don’t!” Allura exclaimed, rising from her seat, and flinging herself against Lotor. “Don’t tell me you will be leaving, that you will be on one of those ships that will fly to Doom!” She trembled even harder against him, clinging to him with her face buried against his chest. She felt him lift a hand to her hair, her Drule stroking fingers though it in an effort to clam her.
“Allura…” His voice was a low, soft tone forcing her to really listen to make out his words. It was another calming tactic, Allura realizing if she concentrated completely on what he was saying, she didn’t have time to get upset. “I’ve been giving this a great deal of thought. It’s true that mated Drules have no business in war… there’s too many factors that work against us.”
“Against you?” She echoed, risking a look up at his face.
“Yes.” Lotor was grim faced now, the prince petting her in a way that she thought he might be taking comfort from her in addition to giving it to her. “As you well know, mated Drules are focused so entirely on their partners. This is especially true of the males. They would much rather spend their time loving then fighting, and separations are difficult for mated pairs to endure. And yet, the males would not risk bringing the females into a dangerous situation, especially a battle field.”
“So I can’t come with you when you go to Doom?” Allura asked, and Lotor looked horrified at the thought.
“No, Allura, no! I couldn’t bear the thought of you walking into danger!”
“And yet I am supposed to endure the thought of you placing yourself at risk?” She was tart when she asked that, and Allura instantly regretted her tone. “I’m sorry…that was wrong of me…” Lotor brushed his lips against her forehead, showing he forgave her for her outburst. “Tell me more about mated Drules….the drawbacks to their fighting.”
“Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a mated Drule on the battlefield. Doom all but prohibited them from fighting, and there was few if any that insisted on doing their military duty. They didn’t want to leave their mates behind.” Lotor explained, resuming his petting motions in her hair. “I remember the stories….that mated males who tried to fight, were…distracted at best. They were too busy thinking of their females, suffering from the long separation from them. They were all but useless, you see.” Lotor sighed then. “My father used to speak with disgust about the mated males. He had personal experience with their presence in the Doom military. he used to claim the losses Doom received back in those days, were all the fault of the mated males pining away for their females.”
“It’s just one of the reasons my father feels the Drule race is weakened by the mating instincts in our DNA.” Continued Lotor. “His own father abandon his military campaigns once he was mated. It was my father who picked up the reigns of those campaigns, waging war and successfully taking over much of the galaxy.”
“And that is why the Drules are having less chances to find their mates?” Allura piped up with a question and an answer. “Because your people are spread out on too many worlds…?”
“Yes. Our race is growing too far apart from one another, the distance preventing mates from finding one another. It’s a sad, tragic fate my father has succeeded in nurturing for us Drule.” Lotor sighed then, shifting on the desk. “No doubt he feels his disgust for mating vindicated by my own actions.” A funny half smile was on his face now, but Allura could find no humor in his words. “I used to think just like him Allura. I had no use for mated pairs, I thought them weak and pitiful. I dare say I even laughed at times at their inability to function without making their mates their whole world.”
His hand moved to cup her face, Lotor smiling a genuine smile at her. “What a fool I was to ever think that!”
“You just didn’t know.” Allura assured him, and his smile widened.
“But now I do.” He agreed.
“But Lotor….all this talk about mated Drules and their inability to function in war, or without their mates close at hand….it doesn’t exactly soothe my fears about you going into battle!” Allura told him, eyes urgent, lips frowning. “How will you manage if I am not there with you…?”
“I…” For a second uncertainty flashed in his eyes, Lotor hesitating. “I am fighting to protect you.” Came his answer at last. “I know the danger my father presents to you. It is for your sake I will fight, and I will kill him if given the chance.”
Allura was not reassured, nuzzling his hand so that she placed kisses on his palm. She didn’t know the words to get him to remain on Arus, Allura wanting Lotor to delegate this heavy task to someone else. “Are you okay with that?” She asked out loud. “He is your father after all….It can’t be easy to speak of killing him!”
“Allura, he tried to have you tortured and killed.” Lotor stated, and she sensed the growl that was building up in him. “He acknowledged that evil deed, and in his own words disowned me. He doesn’t deserve my love and respect….and he’ll be lucky I don’t tear him apart when I see him!”
She shivered anew, both at his words and the look that flashed into her eyes. Lotor meant what he said, and while she thought it sad, she also found it a bit frightening. This Drule of hers would kill to protect her, would turn against his own father in order to ensure her well being.
“What?” Lotor asked in response to the expression she wore.
“It’s nothing really…..” She shook her head, trying to dissuade him from following this line of conversation. “Lotor….what about Sabbath? Where will he be during all this?”
“I’ll be leaving him behind on Arus of course.” Lotor answered, and snorted. “He hasn’t even succeeded in winning a permanent place in your cousin’s heart. I know from experience that he won’t be able to think of anything but obsess over why your cousin is rejecting him. I know how hard it was for me when you and I had that rough patch in our early days…..it even cost me command of my ship, and all because I couldn’t concentrate on doing what was needed to help my people succeed.”
“But it all worked out.” Allura pointed out. “If you had been focused, Arus would have fallen to Doom’s invasion. I don’t think I could have ever fallen in love with you then…”
“I would have been relentless in my pursuit of you.” Lotor warned, expression serious. “I would have broken down your resistance, or gone mad trying!”
“Perhaps.” Was all she would allow. “But still…..what are we going to do about Romelle and Sabbath?”
“What can we do?” Lotor asked with a shrug of his shoulders.
“I talked to her again today. I flat out told her I knew about what she had done with Sabbath.” Allura sighed. “Romelle didn’t change much of her tune, insisting she can’t have a relationship with him though she gave me no good reason why.”
“She’s just being stubborn.” Grumbled Lotor in complaint.
“That and scared.” Allura told him. “I can understand the fear….I was scared of you too!”
“Yes, but only for the first few days!” protested Lotor. “You think Romelle would be over it by now…”
“I don’t think she’s scared of Sabbath…not in the conventional sense.” Mused Allura, a thoughtful look in her eyes. “I mean, I doubt she would have had sex with someone she was scared of.” She sighed then, brimming with curiosity. “I couldn’t get the exact details, but it sounds like there is an attraction there. And it must be powerful if my cousin gave in to it, to do that with Sabbath. No matter how much she claims otherwise, she feels something for him…”
“If only there was a way to build up on that attraction…” Lotor muttered.
“Yeah…” Allura frowned. “But she’s being difficult and refusing to entertain the notion of spending more time with him.” She huffed out an angry laugh, shaking her head. “Maybe she thinks they’ll jump each other if left alone for a few seconds.”
“Do you really think so?” Lotor sounded as though he couldn’t imagine Romelle doing such a thing.
“Maybe.” Allura shrugged. “It happened once, so why not again?” Lotor said nothing to that, just made a hum of sound that showed he was thinking. “I really want things to work out between them. They both deserve a chance at real love….”
“You say that your cousin reads books about love?” She was surprised at Lotor’s question, Allura blinking rapidly at him.
“Er yes….although…I wouldn’t exactly call those trashy novels books about love.”
“Then what would you call them?” Lotor asked, and she shrugged.
“Well….there’s a lot of sex in them….”
“Sex is good!” exclaimed Lotor with a smarmy grin.
“But it’s all unusual situations, extreme circumstances that force the man and woman to get together in a matter of days.” Allura continued. “It’s hardly believable the kind of plots those books come up with!”
“It doesn’t matter if it’s believable or not…just that they hold your cousin’s interest.” Lotor looked thoughtful now, and Allura prodded him to tell her why. “I’m just thinking.” He said, and grinned once more. “Maybe your cousin reads those books because she secretly longs for the kind of happenings inside them to happen to her. Maybe if Sabbath could act like one of the men in those books, and set up situations similar to them, perhaps Romelle would no longer fight the attraction between them…”
“You mean…you want to use her romance novels as a how to guide for dating her?!” Allura asked, and Lotor nodded. She paused, showing she was thinking about it, then grinned. “I suppose it can’t hurt!” She pulled away from Lotor, and was moving to step around the desk, the prince following her. “Come on!” She cried out impatiently, gesturing for him to step quicker.
“Where are we going Allura?” A bemused Lotor asked.
“Why to the storage rooms!” She exclaimed, unable to stop grinning. “You can bet Romelle had her precious collection of books moved down from the second floor. There’s bound to be a really good one to give Sabbath, one that’s sure to give him ideas on how to proceed with my cousin!”
Lotor laughed then, surely liking the idea. “Very well, let us go then.” He said, offering her his arm. She took it, practically dancing in place as she brimmed with excitement. Her spirits were uplifted, Allura finding the thought of rifling through Romelle’s romance novels the diversion she needed from her worries about Lotor, and his role in the upcoming war. She even felt hopeful in the moment that maybe the romance novels would hold the key to fostering a good relationship between her cousin and Sabbath.