She was standing before a mirror, fidgeting in place as Allura scrutinized her appearance. Her fingers played with the silk fabric of her dress, tugging and pulling at the pink material as though the girl could not help but fuss. Her actions accomplished little save to wrinkle the silk, Allura worriedly smoothing her hands down the bodice of her dress. It was loose fitting around the waist, though tight across her chest, the dress maker not having taken into account Allura’s increased size in bust.
At least the dress kept her belly from being noticeable, the pounds she had gained in that area being enough to cause her stomach to expand. It was mostly noticeable only when she was naked, Allura choosing dresses that hid the baby bump from sight. She knew her lack of weight gain worried Lotor, the prince feeling as a mother carrying twins, her stomach should be twice the size it currently was.
She thought perhaps he was right, but the truth of the matter was she was not gaining the weight quick enough to accommodate the amounts she ate. And Allura tended to be starving all the time, at least when something wasn’t happening to make her lose her appetite completely. Too often did that happen, such as these past few weeks of the war, where she had been too nervous and tense to even think of eating. It was hard to appreciate food when people wanting to kill you were on your doorstep.
Sometimes Allura still found it hard to believe that the war was over, that there wasn’t danger lurking around every corner. She understood that Merla was still out there, and as long as the Queen was alive, there would be the threat of assassins. But it was hard to think of that now that the danger of the war had passed. Even Lotor was more relaxed, smiling more often even as he complained about having to work extra hard to restore Doom to it’s previous glory.
The reconstruction work often kept Lotor busy long into the evening, leaving Allura alone and suffering from boredom. Her days were usually occupied with Haggar, the witch having recovered enough to be let out of the hospital. She still couldn’t muster up the strength to do magic, but she could teach Allura. And teach her she did, helping Allura to practice her barrier, and working with her to develop more skills that called upon the energy within Allura.
They also worked on potions, a kind of magic that did not rely on one’s inner power but the strength of the ingredients one mixed together. Haggar was strict about keeping Allura limited to healing magics, using only spells that required herbs and spices. Allura was grateful that none of the black magic touched her, the girl leery of ingredients that called upon the body parts and internal organs of once living creatures.
As things stood, Allura was currently the only able bodied practitioner of magic in the castle. Most of the witches were decommissioned, off on extended leave, awaiting their powers to be recharged. It seemed that Doom’s most powerful witches had all been employed by the castle, leaving a kind of magic drought across planet Doom. Only inexperienced witches remained, women who were incapable of mastering the kind of magic Zarkon would demand of them.
Allura knew Lotor had to get things ready if he was going to overthrow the demon. He had to do it before the king could find a replacement for Cortana. It was one of the reasons she did not begrudge Lotor for not spending as much time as he could with her. She wanted Lotor to succeed, Allura not liking the way Zarkon now eyed her, and spoke on the usefulness of the babies she carried.
Shivering at the thought, Allura stepped away from the mirror, casting about for the white wrap that went along with her sleeveless dress. The outfit was a bit fancier than what she normally wore, but Lotor had urged her to dress up. She had asked why, but the prince had remained tightlipped, merely smiling at her with his eyes twinkling. Allura was quick to realize he had a surprise in store for her, and she found herself looking forward to the unveiling.
Pulling the wrap around her, Allura walked out of the bedroom, and found Lotor lounging on the couch. He had been staring off in the distance, but he smiled upon her entrance, the prince rising to his feet. He had a wine goblet in his right hand, and even from across the room she could smell the heady scent of the liquid he drank. She hid her frown, Allura not liking when Lotor indulge himself in alcohol. It made him prone to aggressive behavior, the prince turning grabby and insistent that Allura sleep with him.
Not that he wasn’t much better sober. Allura had already lost count of the number of times Lotor had pressed her to have a sexual relationship with him, the prince using all in his arsenal of moves to persuade her into his bed. She still blushed just thinking about it, wondering how much longer she could put him off before he lost patience and took the choice from her.
“What are you thinking about?” Lotor’s voice startled Allura from her thoughts, the girl blinking slowly as she looked at him. His expression was serious, studying her as he moved towards her.
“I’m thinking….about what you have planned for tonight.” It was a half truth, Allura knowing that Lotor would most likely push her for sex before the night was through.
“Tonight?” A slow smile on his face, the prince stopped before her. “And what’s so special about tonight?” He leaned in to kiss her cheek, Allura allowing the gesture.
“I do not know, but I can tell you’re up to something.”
“Up to something?” His smiled widened, Lotor trying for an innocent look. She stared at him, wondering if innocence had ever had a place on his face.
“You’re entirely too pleased with yourself, my prince.” Allura told him. “That hints that you have something more in store for me than just dinner.”
“You’re a difficult woman to fool.” Lotor took a long sip of his drink, keeping his eyes trained on her.
“Yes, I am.” agreed a solemn Allura. “So please. Enough with this suspense, and just tell me what it is!”
“I find it too good a secret to reveal just yet.” Lotor’s lips were stained with the wine, the prince’s tongue licking up the remaining drops.
He laughed at her impatience, taking her by the arm. “Come Allura, our meal is getting cold.” She pouted as he led her over to the table, Allura spying the many covered plates spread across the wooden surface. It left the table top overcrowded, with barely enough room for their plates.
“Is this another attempt of yours to fatten me up?” Allura asked, Lotor pulling out her seat for her.
“You have to eat more Allura.” Lotor said, taking his seat besides her. “You’re no longer just nourishing yourself, but our children as well. And healthy babies require their mother to put on the weight needed for them to come out big and strong.” He began uncovering the plates, revealing dish after dish that had her sighing to inhale their delicious aroma.
Her eyes widened, shocked by the amount of food there was. It had been a long time since they had been able to afford to eat such a grand meal, the war a drain on the castle’s resources, food limited to even the royals. Lotor noticed her expression, continuing to grin at her. “I stint on nothing where you are concerned.”
“I can see that.” Allura said, eyes looking at each plate of food, and not knowing where to begin. “This meal alone must have cost a small fortune!”
Lotor made a noncommittal noise, reaching over to fork out a generous amount of salad onto her plate. She stared down at the many colored leaves of lettuce, seeing the shredded remains of carrots, and hard boiled egg halves, along with radishes, tomatoes and cucumbers. Lotor began cranking out the dressing, a rich creamy orange color that he drizzled all over her salad.
“Eat up.” He told her, and she nodded, digging her fork into the heart of the salad. Lotor took some for himself, although the amount was smaller than what he had given her. Allura knew he did not favor salads, preferring more meatier courses of meals. He ate enough only to last as an appetizer, Allura knowing he was eager to start in on the huge rack of lamb, or perhaps the charbroiled steak like meats.
Allura savored the taste of her salad, casting side glances at Lotor. He lazily eased his fork around the leaves, pausing occasionally to sip at his drink. He paid no mind to her looks, and Allura had to bite back a feeling of impatience, the girl dying to know what the surprise was.
“Is it in this room?” She asked, licking at the dressing on her lips.
Lotor paused to swallow his food, then shook his head, a slight smirk on his lips. “It’s too big to fit in here.”
“Too big to fit?” That gave Allura something to mull over, the girl wondering just what sort of surprise it could be. She couldn’t even begin to fathom what it was, knowing that the room was large enough to house almost anything. A sudden suspicion came over her, Allura setting down her fork. “It’s not another robeast slaying is it? I didn’t much like the last one you did.”
“No, Allura…I can promise you that no creature has to die for your surprise.” Lotor leaned forward to slice apart the lamb, piling heaps of the meat onto both their plates. She savored the taste of the meat, finding it had been cooked to perfection, practically melting off the bones. She didn’t think anything could top the lamb, but Lotor quickly proved her wrong, dish after dish proving more exquisite to her taste buds than the last.
“This is nice.” She was able to admit, tasting a cream brulee that had her sighing in bliss.
“Yes, my chefs went all out for us.”
“No…I don’t mean just the food. I mean us.” Allura said, allowing a small smile to cross her face.
“Us?” Lotor was confused, lifting his brow in surprise.
“Yes…this is the first time in a long time where we haven’t discussed the war. We haven’t talked about upsetting things. It’s almost as if things are back to normal.” She explained, and Lotor nodded in understanding.
“I intend to keep tonight as normal as can be. I promise you Allura, nothing will ruin this evening for us.” He placed his hand on her knee, giving her a slight squeeze. That touch made Allura nervous, the girl fighting not to shy away from his hand. Lotor pretended not to notice her reaction, concentrating on their meal.
Soon they had sampled almost every dish there was, Allura easing back in her seat to let out a contented sound. “Do not relax just yet Allura.” Lotor said, standing so he could reach the plate at the far end of the table. “There’s still desert to be had.”
“I couldn’t possibly eat another bite!” Allura protested, placing her hand on her stomach. “The twins are in agreement about this.”
“Ah but…you haven’t seen what has been prepared for you.” Lotor grinned, and with a flourish removed the cover of the plate. Allura’s eyes widened, the girl could swear her mouth watered a little at the sight of the desert laying on the plate. It was a cake, and not just any kind, layer after layer of rich, dark chocolate piled on top of one another. It had a vanilla frosting, melted so that it drizzled down the sides and onto the plate. And on the very top, smothered in vanilla was pecans and pralines, making an already delectable looking cake irresistible to Allura.
“That’s it.” She announced, even as Lotor began cutting the cake into thick halves. “You’re going to have to roll me out to that surprise of yours.”
Lotor actually laughed at that, placing the largest piece of cake she had even seen before her. “It’s all right Allura. I’ll carry you if need be.”
“If you can even lift me that is!” She protested with a giggle. “I’m positively fat after all this food.”
“Not fat enough for my liking.” Lotor said, glancing at her as he sat down. “You need to eat like this more often.”
“Keep presenting me meals like this and I will!” She exclaimed, digging her fork into the cake. Allura was sure to get a piece that had a lot of frosting on it, pecans sticking out of the top. At the first taste of the cake, her eyes nearly rolled back in their sockets, Allura letting out a loud hmmm of pleasure. Lotor seemed to choke at her sound, Allura biting out a hasty excuse. “It’s so good!”
“That it is.” He agreed, tasting his slice. He was more subdued than her, not moaning in delight, though he quickly scooped up another bite of chocolate. Allura ate happily, trying to hold back her pleased sounds with every bite she took. She wasn’t used to such a decadent treat, growing almost greedy for the cake even as she worried at the calories such a desert must contain.
She stopped him when Lotor tried to put a second slice on her plate, Allura shaking her head no. Lotor seemed disappointed, the man on a quest to fatten her up, seemingly with this one meal. “I will positively explode if I eat anymore.”
“All right.” He set the slice back on it’s plate, and reached for the cover. “We’ll save it for later.”
She nodded, and looked at him expectantly. “Is it time for my surprise now?”
Lotor let out a chuckle, and helped her to stand. “Yes, Allura. I’ve kept you waiting long enough.” He took her arm, and began guiding her across the room, Allura practically bouncing with each step. She couldn’t wait to find out what this surprise was, and it was all Allura could do not to continue the interrogation.
They stepped out into the hall, the guards patrolling the corridor pausing to give stiff bows to their prince. Allura smiled at them, but she was distracted, looking around for any sign of her surprise. “Is it far?”
“No not that far.” Lotor said, and led her through the corridors of the castle. She noticed there were more guards than usual in this part of the castle, Allura wondering why security was so tight. But before she could voice her question, Lotor was leading her into a room, it’s lights shut off so that the only illumination came from the many candles spread throughout the room.
She glanced around, surprised, wondering just what sort of room this was. Her answer came in the form of a table, long and wide, and pushed up against one of the side walls. There was as many chairs as it was long, each one overturned and stacked up on top of the table’s surface. Allura turned to look at Lotor, and he responded to her unspoken question.
“This is one of the banquet rooms of the castle. It’s been years since it’s been used.”
“Ah.” Allura continued her study, noting the colorful paintings on the walls, each one portraying landscapes that were not native to Doom. Lotor explained to her that they were pictures of worlds Doom had conquered, their land such a harsh contrast to the desolation that made up Doom’s surface.
The candles were perched on shelves built into the marble walls, leaving the room cast in a dim light. She was glad for Lotor’s hand on hers, the prince moving confidently through that shadowy darkness. He led her over to the West corner, and there she noticed oversized cushions laying on the floor. Colored blue and purple, each one had a gold fringe, and was quite large in size. Large enough to easily support one person, their padding look thick and comfortable.
Besides the cushions was two bottles sitting in an ice bucket, glasses perched on the floor. She realized it was more wine for Lotor, and some kind of fruit cider for her. She didn’t like that he planned to drink more, but Allura kept her reservations to herself, ready to endure almost anything to learn what the surprise was.
With Lotor’s help, she descended down onto a cushion, Allura tucking her legs underneath herself as she smoothed down her skirt. The prince chose the cushion next to hers, the Drule pausing to unbuckle his sword belt. He lay it down besides his cushion, then dropped down to take a seat, the padding making a sound of protest at his weight.
Allura turned away from Lotor to continue studying the room, and as her eyes grew adjusted to the dim lighting, she noticed the velvet curtain all the way at the far end of the room. It seemed to rustle in place, and she could hear sounds of people talking behind it. Eyes wide, she let out a heated whisper, unsure of the emotion in her words. “Don’t tell me my surprise is alive?!”
“Would it shock you if it was?” He was opening the two bottles, a loud popping sound accompanying the uncorking. She watched as Lotor poured them each a drink, Allura accepting the cider from him gratefully.
“I still have no idea what it could be!” she admitted, and took a sip, noting it tasted like apples.
“It’ll make the unveiling all the sweeter.” Lotor didn’t drink from his cup, instead clapping his hands, three times in all. The noise from behind the curtain quieted, and then a man came out from beneath it. Suddenly a light flooded the area before the curtain, a spotlight centering on the man so that Allura could make out his features. He was a handsome Drule, dressed in a black and white suit that was reminiscent of the tuxedo’s of Earth’s culture.
He did not speak, instead clapping his hands together impatiently. More rustles from the curtain, several Drules creeping out from beneath it, carrying equipment of some kind. They set up near the right side of the curtain, and as one Drule fiddled with the buttons, music began playing. It was subtle at first, the starting notes of a string quartet the led into the waiting Drule’s speech.
“The Arexal and son company is proud to present this very special performance of….Romeus and Junipa.” He bowed, and hurried off to the side of the curtain, taking a seat on a stool.
“Is this what I think it is?!” Allura gasped, her eyes showing her disbelief as she looked at Lotor.
He nodded, grinning from ear to ear at her. “It’s a bit crowded in here, and you’ll have to do without the back drops and the actual orchestra but…”
“It’s more than enough!” exclaimed Allura, watching as a man and a woman came out from under the curtains. The man had long black hair that was tied back in a braid, tiny beads wound into the two thick strands that framed the sides of his face. His powder blue skin and all too human features hinted that the man was a halfing like Lotor.
The woman was beautiful, her blue skin several shades darker than her male companion. She had scales on her arms and the sides of her neck, and they glinted purple as they reflected the light focused on her. She stood with her back to the man, neither one seeing the other. The man in the suit began talking, taking on the role of narrator.
“Once upon a time, in fair Yevona, there lived a man named Romeus.” The black haired Drule started to turn, catching sight of the pretty Drule woman. “He was hopelessly in love with the Lady Junipa.” Romeus fixed a look of utter longing towards Junipa, who continued to ignore him. She was playing with her black hair, looking as though she had not a care in the world.
“But their familles were sworn enemies…” Allura was leaning forward in her seat, her eyes all for the stage and it’s performers. But she couldn’t resist speaking to Lotor, her voice an excited whisper.
“It’s the play from the city…I recognize the girl from the poster!”
“Yes.” Lotor confirmed, the man enjoying her reactions. “It’s a private performance for just you and I.”
“This must have cost a fortune!”
“It’s worth the expense to see you smile.” Lotor told her, and she blushed.
“There’s no way I can possibly pay you back for this!”
“It’s a gift Alllura.” He reminded her, reaching over to pat her knee. “Nothing is expected in return.” Lotor sounded as though he meant it, which left her uncertain, the girl fidgeting in place as she thought over his words.
“Thank you.” Allura said at last, glancing at him, eyes shining with tears. Lotor looked uncomfortable at the sight of them, withdrawing his hand as he lifted the goblet to his lips.
“It’s meant to make you happy not sad.”
“I am happy!” She quickly assured him. “You don’t know what this means to me!”
“I think I have a clue…” He smiled as he drank, Allura dabbing at her eyes with the ends of her wrap. She forced herself to stop being so emotional, wanting to enjoy the play with clear eyes.
The introductions to the lovers was over with, a crowd was now on the stage. The narrator explained that it was the families of Romeus and Junipa, two quarreling groups that had hated each other for more than a century. The people were fighting, each insult making them more hostile to each other until things became physical. As the fight became more brutal, the women screamed and hurried off the stage, leaving the men to fight each other with tin foil swords.
Allura was on the edge of her seat, the girl not knowing who to root for. She winced every time a man was stabbed, watching as the injured stumbled off the stage, to either die or recover from their wounds. The fighting was intense, the punches looking real, the actors over eager in their attempts at a brawl. Suddenly Romeus took center stage, separated from the group and searching for Junipa. She was off to the side, cowering in fear as one of Romeus’ clansmen menaced her. Allura became frightened for Junipa, her hands to her mouth as the man made obscene gestures and advanced on the actress.
She was forgetting that it was just a play, fearing for Junipa’s life and virtue as the man attempted to unbuckle his trousers. Junipa screamed just as Romeus arrived, the Drule throwing a right fist into his clansmen’s face. Junipa stared at him, backed against the wall, unable to believe her own eyes. Romeus gave her a smile, and it had an effect, not just on the actress, but on Allura herself. Together with Junipa she swooned, noting how devastatingly sexy an expression Romeus wore. Allura came to her senses at Lotor’s jealous growl, the girl blushing at having been caught reacting like that.
Romeus held out his hand to Junipa, the woman hesitating just an instant before she took it. They made a show of running past the feuding families, the narrator speaking, talking about how Romeus and Junipa ran for what seemed like hours, fleeing Yevona. The actors in the midst of the fight left the stage, leaving Romeus and Junipa alone, the two having slowed down to walk hand in hand.
They were talking and laughing, enjoying each other’s companies. Junipa learned that not all of Romeus’ family were the monsters she had been led to believe, and as they got to know each other, their actions turned flirtatious. Coy looks were cast towards each other, Junipa constantly touching Romeus, first his arm then his chest, the woman leaning against him to point something out in the distance.
Romeus responded in kind, eyes full of longing as he gazed at Junipa. Allura sighed when he gathered up his courage, the man risking a touch of Junipa’s long hair.
The music went from playful to sultry, a wanton tune that had Allura lifting her brows in surprise. Her eyes widened when Romeus and Junipa embraced each other, a blush coloring her cheeks at the passionate lip lock they shared.
It was more than just a kiss, they began pawing at each other’s clothing, voicing their eagerness for one another. She kept waiting for the scene to end, but it didn’t, Romeus tearing open Junipa’s bodice, spilling her breasts into his waiting hands. Junipa tossed back her head and moaned loudly, the sound carrying throughout the room. Lotor shifted in place, eyeing the actress’ breasts, seeing her stage partner bury his face against them.
“What are they doing?!” Allura hissed, unable to tear her eyes away from the stage.
“Isn’t it obvious?” Lotor chuckled, seeming to enjoy Allura’s shocked reactions. “They are enacting the world famous love scene of Romeus and Junipa.”
“But…aren’t they going too far?” Allura started to ask, shocked when Junipa dropped to her knees, reaching for Romeus’ belt. “This is….this is obscene…!”
“Obscene? No. This is just proof of their love.” Lotor told her, watching with lazy interest as the actress kissed and licked at the glistening head of Romeus’ cock. Allura was unable to look away, shifting uncomfortably on her cushion. “I’d often forgotten….” Lotor began, still sounding so amused. “How off worlders react to our plays.” He poured himself another drink, then continued, sounding proud. “You’ll learn that we Drules do nothing halfheartedly, not even for our entertainment.”
She was flabbergasted, watching as Romeus lay Junipa down on the ground. Their clothes lay rumpled on the make shift stage, discarded for the moment as the two lovers gave in to their passion. Allura didn’t know where to look, conscious of Lotor’s gaze not on the stage, but on her.
The love scene seemed to go on forever, Allura playing with her skirt, and tensing up with every moan of Junipa’s. Eventually it ended, the spotlight dimming on the two lovers until it was almost impossible to see. Romeus and Junipa got up and left the stage, other performers hurrying to be in position. The lights came back on, and the narrator spoke, explaining how Romeus’ father had killed Junipa’s dad. The music turned tragic, Allura wondering how Junipa would ever get over such heartbreak.
The scene became one of the families in mourning, gathering up their fallen members. They still hurled insults at one another, but it was a half hearted attempt, the people weakened by their loss. Allura couldn’t understand everything that was being said, especially when it came to the insults, her Drule vocabulary limited when it came to swear words.
Footsteps approached them, Allura reluctantly looking away from the stage to see one of the palace guards gesturing for Lotor. The prince set down his goblet, and with a touch of her hair, excused himself. Allura didn’t mean to spy on Lotor, but her curiosity kept her from watching the play, the girl instead fixing eyes on Lotor and the guard. They held a hurried conversation, voices whispering too low to carry to Allura. She saw Lotor become excited, gesturing animatedly to the guard. The Drule nodded his head several times, and Lotor grinned, slapping a hand on his back.
One last sentence or two, and then the guard was leaving, Lotor hurrying back to his seat. He was nonchalant as he sat down, reaching for his wine glass. Allura couldn’t take the suspense, leaning towards him to whisper out her questions.
“What happened? What did he tell you?”
He took his time answering, Lotor pausing to drink from his glass. But she saw the smirk that crossed his lips, Lotor unable to hide the immense pleasure that he felt. “It’s nothing.”
“It didn’t seem like nothing.” Allura said, and Lotor chuckled.
“Just a bit of news I had been waiting for. It’s nothing that will ruin tonight.” Lotor nodded at her, holding up his glass like a toast. She dutifully clinked her cup against his, waiting to hear what they were toasting for. “Just continue watching the play Allura. I want nothing to interfere with your enjoyment of it.”
She held back her sighs, Allura feeling as though she would die of curiosity. She wondered how she’d be able to enjoy the rest of the play so long as Lotor kept secrets from her, but then Romeus and Junipa arrived in town. Their families noticed them walking hand in hand, and chaos broke out, the two in agreement for once that the lovers must be kept apart.
The suspense of what would happened between the two Drules had Allura swept up in the play once more, the girl briefly forgetting about the mystery of Lotor’s news.