There was a low murmur of continued sound, the gathered people talking to each other, holding whispered conversations as they waited for the ceremony to begin. Lotor stood apart from the seated guests, anxiously watching the large, open doors of the ball room. Each time a shadow crossed it’s threshold, he felt hope that he would see his mate. It was a hope that was dashed time and time again, more people arriving, faces excited as they hurried to find seats.
They had meant it to be a small ceremony, only a handful of guests. That was before word spread, more and more of the castle’s servants arriving, eager to witness the joining of their princess to Lotor. They weren’t turned away at the door, it was Allura’s generous nature to allow any and all who wanted, to attend this festive occasion. The servants had come prepared, wearing their best outfits, the women perfumed, their hair done up in high fashion.
They weren’t the only ones showing off their best clothing, there was Drules mixed in with the humans, soldiers wearing their formal uniforms, numerous medals displayed on their chest. General Pardust sat in the front row on the left side of the seating, a rare smile on his face. He was no different from the other Drules in his apparent curiosity, they all wanted to know just what was involved in the mating customs of the humans.
Lotor knew that few if any of the Drules had ever been to a human wedding, and fewer yet would know what to expect from the proceedings. He himself was only just recently informed by Coran, and Lotor once again felt a twinge of nerves settle uneasily in his stomach. He tried not to show it, keeping his hands in the pocket of his new jacket, the material a light velvet that was dyed a white to match his hair.
There was gold embroidery on the jacket, the thread forming patterns on the sleeve cuffs, and the wide collar. It brought out the gold of his eyes, and a line of gold trimming ran down the seam of his pants, which were also dyed white. His own hair was tied back with a gold ribbon, not a single strand escaped his pony tail. More than once Lotor found himself staring at his reflection on whatever surface caught his attention, the prince allowing a small smile, confidant that he looked good.
The castle seamstresses had done their best in the time constraints, and he couldn’t wait to see what Allura looked like in the dress she had picked out. It wasn’t just the clothing that he was impressed with, Lotor marveled at the transformation of the ball room. He hadn’t expected much, thinking all the available men were busy working on the castle’s repair. Lotor should have known better, Allura’s people were eager to impress and honor their princess on her special day.
Gold and white seemed to be the predominate colors, gauzy cloth looping down, bunches of it stretched between columns. Green garlands of white and yellow flowers covered the pillars that supported the high ceiling, they twirled around the columns, their ends disappearing behind the bunches of balloons that were pinned in place to the marble.
The curtains on the windows were white, with gold trim, and those had been tied back to show off the beautiful weather the kingdom was currently enjoying. The sky had nary a dark cloud in sight, only the fluffiest and whitest wisps were seen. Someone had informed Lotor that the good weather was a positive omen, a blessing by the Gods for this union between prince and princess, and that made him smile.
Off to the sides of the ball room were banquet tables, their gold color clothes trailing down to the floors. Row upon row of covered plates lay spread out on those tables, and even the sharp smell of perfume that filled the room could not disguise the scent of the meal completely.
Arrangement of flowers were spread throughout the room, and gathered on the table between the covered dishes. Lotor even had one perfect white rose pinned to his jacket, it’s petals spread wide open in full bloom. There was flowers behind him, decorating the dais he stood on, and the alter in which the priest would stand behind. The priest was dressed in faded purple and white robes, his hat the tallest Lotor had even seen. The man clutched a long staff, it’s color silver and it’s end looping apart into two sections that criss crossed in the middle.
In front of the dais, row upon row of seating was made available, servants hurrying to bring in more chairs as the crowd began to fill up the benches. It was quickly becoming standing room only, and still that did not deter people from attending.
Between those benches was a long white carpet, the fabric stretching from the doors, to the dais’ steps. Lotor had been told Allura would walk down that carpet, but first the members of her wedding party would precede her. He wasn’t quite sure how large a group that was, Lotor noting that Gloria and the other girls were taking turns entering and leaving the ball room. On occasion one of them would meet his gaze, and flash him an approving smile. Gloria had even given him the thumbs up, hinting that all was well on Allura’s side of things.
He shifted his weight about, trying not to appear obvious with his impatient stare at the doorway. To the right of him was Sabbath, the Drule looking uncomfortable in his borrowed suit. Lotor knew Sabbath would have preferred to wear his soldier’s uniform, but his fate had been sealed as Lotor’s best man. Nanny and several of the seamstresses had descended upon the Drule, tsking about the lack of time to make him a new suit from scratch. Instead they toiled to make adjustments to an existing outfit, leaving Sabbath dressed in snug fitting fabric.
“This is some turn out…” Lotor murmured to Sabbath, his words in Drule. Sabbath nodded his head slowly, gazing out at the crowd. “I can’t begin to imagine what it would be like if there had been time to send out invitations to all of the kingdoms on the planet!” A pause, and then Lotor turned sly, unable to resist teasing his friend. “Course, perhaps we’ll get a taste of a more planned out wedding when you marry Romelle…”
Sabbath flashed him an odd expression, the look not entirely pleased. Lotor could only chuckle lightly under his breath, amused by Sabbath’s reaction. “You don’t agree?” he inquired, and Sabbath shrugged his shoulders. “Come now, she’s bound to insist on going all out for her wedding.”
“Somehow, I don’t think her people, her father and her brothers will be as accepting of her marrying a Drule as everyone was of your union with Allura.” Sabbath sighed, leaving Lotor’s amusement to fade, a concerned look showing on his face in place of it.
“You think there will be a problem?”
“I’ve no doubt of that.” Sabbath grumbled. “Unlike you, I am not a prince….I’m not even a hero…” It was then that Lotor realized Sabbath would not be earning any medals from the recent war, his time imprisoned with Romelle leaving him little chance to do any true heroics.
“It shouldn’t matter.” Lotor said out loud. “If you are in love, that is what should count.”
“But the humans are not like us Drules.” reminded Sabbath. “It’s hard enough to get one to recognized the mating bond, let alone a whole kingdom.”
Lotor frowned at that. “But I’m sure it can be managed. You have to have hope Sabbath, for without it, there’s nothing. And besides…” He added, offering a small smile to the Drule. “I’m sure my mate Allura could pave the way towards an understanding between you and Romelle’s family.
“I think it’s too soon to even think of dealing with her family.” Sabbath said with a sigh. “I still have to persuade Romelle to be with me…”
“How do you intend to do that?” Lotor asked, brimming with interest. He knew Sabbath had yet to see Romelle since being given those books of hers, and Lotor was eager to see just how Sabbath would act towards her now. He kept chuckling as he thought of imagined scenarios, Lotor waiting to see Sabbath display a more aggressive pursuit of the princess.
“I don’t know…” Sabbath sighed, leaving Lotor to blink owlishly at him.
“What do you mean you don’t know?” he demanded with a hiss. “Didn’t you read those books that I gave you?”
“But what?!” Lotor demanded at Sabbath’s hesitation.
“I don’t know if I can act that way. It’s not me.” Sabbath began with a shake of his braided hair. “Some of those things the men did to those women…”
“But the women liked it, yes?” Lotor asked, then added. “Romelle certainly seemed to, judging by how many of those books she has!”
“I don’t know…” Sabbath sighed. “I don’t think I have the finesse to pull off such behavior. I wouldn’t even know where to start…”
“You can start by asking her to dance after the ceremony is over.” Lotor told him. “And you don’t take no for an answer!” He felt more than a little exasperated with the Drule, wondering if Sabbath had learned anything from those books he had given him. “And try not to be so….pandering to her every whim. Don’t let her send you off to fetch things for her, that’s what the servants are for. Act like her equal….no, act like you are the dominant one. You make the decisions for her, exert some control over the relationship!”
“It worked for the men in those books did it not?” Lotor asked, and Sabbath nodded. “Then it will work for you.” Sabbath still looked doubtful, and Lotor held back a sigh. “Do you have the rings?”
“Yes.” Sabbath patted his pocket, signaling where the rings were kept. “I will be ready to present them when the time comes.”
“Good.” Lotor said, then glanced out into the crowd. “But this is taking an awfully long time. How much longer must we wait?”
“Patience your highness, all good things take time.” Advised Sabbath solemnly.
“So they do.” Lotor grumbled in agreement. The crowd at the door had trickled down to almost nothing, save for Marie rushing to take her seat. She ended up in the third row on the right side of the aisle, the bench seeming full of Allura’s female friends. Two rows down, Lotor noted Nanny had appeared, the woman having ditched her pale blue and white maid’s uniform, for a simple green colored dress. It’s jade color off set her auburn hair nicely, and her eyes would have sparkled if not for the fact they were rimmed with red.
Nanny could be seen digging through a hand bag, it’s color a slightly darker green than her dress. She sniffled, and was heard saying how she always cried at weddings. The woman to the right of her looked uncomfortable, offering the woman a handkerchief which she took. She blew her nose loudly in the silk, and continued to sniffle, on the verge of tears. Lotor hoped she wouldn’t cause an even bigger scene, the prince glancing around the room for someone to help control Nanny.
Unfortunately the only one that could was currently gone from the room, Coran off to attend to Allura. It would be several more minutes, perhaps twenty in all before the first notes of a string quartet began to play, the music piped in on overhead speakers. At the sound of the music, a hush fell over the gathered crowed, people turning to crane their necks towards the ball room’s doors.
A child of about eight appeared, the little girl the daughter of one of the older maids. The little girl looked frightened to be the object of attention of so many, her hand surely trembling as she reached into her basket. Lotor watched as she spilled colorful flower petals on the floor, the carpet being covered in a rainbow of colors. She continued to fling out the petals, gaining confidence when no one laughed at her.
When she reached the halfway point, Romelle appeared, her gown composed of several hues of purple. The sweetheart bodice was low cut, it’s shade of purple a medium hue that went down her waist, and flared out into the darkest possible shade of purple. A form fitting half jacket of light purple clung to her back and arms, and Romelle carried a bouquet of flowers that was composed of purples and blues.
She smiled as she walked down the aisle, head held up high. Lotor noted several people taking pictures, but the detail was promptly forgotten as Allura appeared. She was dressed in a white as pure as freshly fallen snow, the dress form fitting, showing off her curves. The top was off the shoulder, and pearls were sewn into the border over her breasts. A pearled choker was at her throat, and her gold color hair was piled up high on top of her head, with several long strands curling downwards to graze her shoulders.
The dress was sleeveless, and in their place she wore elbow length gloves. The lower half of the gown was just as form fitting as the top, clinging to her legs and flowing down to her ankles. A second skirt was attached to the back, and this one flowed out behind her, draped across the floor. Lotor would later learn it was detachable, though for now he wondered how she could walk in such a tight dress.
She carried a bouquets of pink and white flowers, baby’s breath mingled among the petals. Her one arm was entwined with Coran’s, the human male looking proud as he escorted his princess down the aisle. More flashes went off, people wanting to preserve the moment in time. Lotor just barely remembered to breathe, and found himself taking a step forward, his intent to rush towards Allura, and scoop her up in his arms.
Only Sabbath, sensing what he intended to do, stopped Lotor from making such a misstep, his hand stopping the prince from stepping off the dais. Allura wore a veil over her face, the clear material not quite obscuring her features. He could just make out her smile, and the way her blue eyes sparkled with happiness and love for him, a look that was infectious and caused him to beam back at her.
As his mate walked by each row of seats, the people would bow, and several women wept at the sight of her beauty. When Allura passed by the front row of seats, Nanny burst into near hysterical tears, sobbing loudly about her baby, and how proud she was of her. The woman next to her patted Nanny’s shoulder awkwardly, and seemed to stiffen when the older woman turned to cry into her shoulder.
Coran barely managed to keep his expression composed, gesturing for Lotor to come take Allura from him. This time there was no restraining arm to stop him, Lotor practically leaping off the dais to approach the pair. The priest warbled out a question as he drew near, his hand reaching for Allura’s.
“Who gives this woman to be wed?”
“I do.” Coran said, gazing up at the priest. “In lieu of our dearly departed King Alfor, it is I, Coran, who give the princess to be wed.” He was handing Allura off to Lotor, and for an instant Coran hesitated. “Take good care of each other….” He whispered at last, before going to take his seat next to Nanny. The sobbing woman immediately turned to cry in his arms, Coran sighing as he patted her back, and murmured soothing words in her ears.
Lotor knew he was grinning like a fool, helping Allura up onto the dais. At some point Romelle had climbed up the stairs, the girl studiously ignoring Sabbath’s soulful stare in her direction. Even that couldn’t ruin Lotor’s mood, the prince drawing Allura up next to him, so that they stood before the priest and his altar. Allura now clutched at her bouquet with both hands, and Lotor was left unsure of what to do with his.
He settled for keeping them at his side, even though his hands itched to keep touching Allura. He stood staring at her, knowing he wore a love sick expression for all to see. Some part of him was aware the priest was speaking, but he couldn’t really concentrate on all the words. Not when he wanted to ease back Allura’s veil, and gaze directly into her face.
“Dearly beloved…” The priest was saying, peering past Lotor and Allura into the sea of faces in the ball room. “We are gathered here today to recognize the love between this man, and this woman. Love knows no boundaries, no limits, no racial divides. It is pure and giving, and nurtures all of us who are fortunate enough to have it in our lives. It is difficult to find, and even harder to make it last, but once had we know we can never do without.”
The priest began reading several passage from his book, citing examples of famous lovers from Arus’ past. Lotor tried to pay attention, not wanting to make a mistake during the ceremony. And still he fumbled nervously when the priest handed him two long candles made of pale purple, Lotor handing one to Allura. She took it form him, having passed off her bouquet to her cousin, and now the pair turned expectantly to the priest.
The holy man had a larger candle in hand, it’s flame dancing at the end. He nodded to the royal pair, and together they reached out with their candles, wicks catching on fire at the same time. “The flame of love has been lit…!” The priest exclaimed. “Let it never go out!”
The candles were handed off, the pre teen boy who took them from Lotor and Allura being careful as he carried them away. Apparently it would be seen as a bad omen if the flames went out during the ceremony, the boy putting the candles on display behind the priests’ altar.
The priest then read several more passages out of his book, this time talking about the seriousness of marriage, and the duties and responsibilities Lotor and Allura would have to each other. Nanny could be heard letting out the occasional sob, but otherwise the room was quiet, everyone watching the proceedings carefully.
“And now it is time for the saying of the vows.” The priest announced, and gestured for Sabbath to present the couple with the rings. Lotor noted the rings were plain in their simplicity, just round bands of gold. He wondered if that was part of the tradition of the ceremony, or if there hadn’t been time to get anything fancier made. Either way, he found himself slipping the gold ring onto Allura’s finger, repeating the words the priest told him to say.
“I, Lotor, with all my heart, and all my love, do solemnly promise to take you Allura, as my wedded wife. To love you, to honor you, to cherish and live out our days together for as long as we both shall live.”
Allura let out a nervous giggle when it was her turn to speak, her voice holding a quaver of strong emotion to it. “I Allura, with all my heart, and all my love, do solemnly promise to take you Lotor, as my wedded husband. To love you, to honor you, to cherish and live out our days together for as long as we both shall live.”
The priest nodded in approval, and then was speaking once more. “Those who would object to this union, speak now or forever hold your peace.”
Lotor did a double take at those words, no one had warned him about this part of the ceremony! But save for Nanny’s loud weeping, the room was silent, the people holding still and waiting to see what would happen next. Lotor himself could not relax until the priest proclaimed him wed to Allura, and it was with shaking hands that he drew back her veil, holding in the pleased gasp at her beauty.
She was wearing the faintest bit of make up, the powder only enhancing the beauty that was already there. Her lips shone wetly with the lip gloss, and her cheeks were darkened into a permanent blush. Lotor even noted that some tan colored powder had been applied to her collar bone and shoulders, someone’s attempts to hide the kiss marks he had left on her skin.
His study of her took only seconds, Lotor and Allura moving towards each other, still holding hands. Allura rose up on tip toe, and Lotor was already bending down to meet her halfway for a kiss. He knew he was supposed to behave, and yet he couldn’t help himself, deepening it from a chaste start to something brimming with passion. The crowd let out approving cheers, Lotor finding he had let go of Allura’s hands to grip her upper arms, holding her pressed against him.
The gathered Drules were applauding, speaking in their language, displaying amusement and good cheer over the ceremony. He could hear Coran making noise, trying to catch Lotor’s attention, and still Lotor and Allura did not break the kiss. Not until they were both breathless, and badly in need of air.
Allura’s eyes sparkled with mischief, her lips looking pouty over the kiss having ended so soon. Lotor grinned at her, sure his expression was promising her more kisses in her near future. And then the priest was shouting to be heard over the roar of the crowd, gesturing at the dazzled couple.
“I present to you, his and her highness, Prince Lotor and Princess Allura!”
Those words got the crowd to leap to their feet, giving the royal couple the standing ovation. Lotor laughed and swept Allura up into his arms, spinning around dizzily with her. He could hear her giggling, and as he spun he caught sight of Sabbath who was still staring longingly at Romelle. The princess was making a point to look anywhere but at him, and that was almost enough to ruin some of Lotor’s joy.
Almost but not quite, Lotor setting Allura down, and leading her off the dais. People began lining up to approach them, Coran and Nanny being the first to congratulate them on their wedded status. Everywhere Lotor looked he saw happy, hopeful faces, people pleased with what they had witnessed today. It would take some time for them to get through the list of well wishers, and then the celebration would truly start.