Romelle’s room was almost identical to the one Allura had just left, the walls cream colored and patterned with tiny lilac flowers. The furniture had to have been bought at the same warehouse, being of the same make and design as the items that filled Allura’s hotel room. In fact the only difference Allura could see was that the bed and bathroom was opposite the ones in Allura’s room.
Romelle herself was looking better, having offered a nervous smile to Allura upon discovering the Arusian princess on her doorstep. She had quickly ushered Allura into the room, checking the halls to make sure Lotor had not followed her. As far as Allura knew, the prince was still in the bathtub, enjoying the leisurely soak she had intended for herself alone.
The Polluxian princess was dressed in jade green, with azure accents on her dress that brought the blue of her eyes blazing brightly. Her face was back to it’s normal color, the princess no longer looked ready to vomit. But she was still a little shaky when she walked, Allura watching concerned as Romelle sat down at the corner table. It moved Allura into action, the Arusian princess playing hostess to her cousin, fetching the tea set, and warming the water. Romelle smiled gratefully at Allura, wrapping her hands around her mug of tea.
“So…” She said, watching as Allura sat down across from her. “How are you?” Allura sighed, and in that one instant the sound seemed to convey all she felt, Romelle nodding sympathetically. “It’s that bad….?”
“It’s awful.” Allura replied. “He broke into my bathroom Romelle!” Her cousin’s eyes widened, the princess clutching her mug hard enough to whiten her knuckles. “While I was in there!”
“He…he didn’t try anything did he?” Romelle wanted to know, and Allura fought the blush that wanted to come out on her face.
“Not…not really.” She shrugged, staring at her mug. “If you could call taking off his clothes, and insisting on joining me for a good scrubbing nothing.”
“What did you do?”
“What could I do? I left.” Allura took a sip of her tea, finding it was still too hot. She set the mug down on the table, almost growling out the next sentence. “He can drown for all I care!”
“That would certainly solve one problem.” Agreed Romelle, and Allura sighed.
“I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be mean.”
“If anyone deserves your meanness, it’s Lotor.” A haunted look was on Romelle’s face, Allura wondering if her cousin was remembering something of her time on Doom. The princess of Pollux didn’t often talk about her time there, saying it was unpleasant memories that was best left forgotten. But sometimes she slipped, mentioning things, frightening tidbits of info that left Allura scared witless of the planet and it’s people. Allura knew it had to be rough on Romelle to see Lotor so close at hand, never mind knowing Allura was now tied to the man in marriage.
“I talked to Coran.” Allura said, trying to steer Romelle away from whatever was making her look so tortured. “He knows we are on Las Tibayas…..he knows about you and Sven…”
A look of panic appeared in Romelle’s eyes, the princess anxious as she questioned Allura. “He’s not going to tell anyone is he? He won’t alert Bandor to what I am doing?!”
“No, I don’t think so.” Allura said, though in truth she hadn’t bothered to swear Coran to secrecy. She was hoping he was so stunned over her marriage to Lotor he would forget the tiny tidbit of info she had revealed about Romelle and Sven. “He’s not like Nanny, he won’t spread the story around. But…”
“I suggest you hurry and marry Sven sooner rather than later.” Allura advised her cousin. “Before anyone else gets wind that we are all here.”
“Yes, I’ll do that.” Agreed Romelle, clearly not wanting anything to interfere at her chance of happiness. “The rehearsal is still on for tomorrow. I think we could squeeze in the actual ceremony the day after.” Allura nodded, taking a testing sip of her tea. It had cooled down enough for her to tolerate it’s temperature, Allura taking a longer drink from her mug.
“I’ll understand if you don’t want to come.” Romelle began, Allura gaping at her. “I know you are busy given the circumstances that have occurred.”
“Romelle, honey, no matter the situation, I wouldn’t miss seeing you get married for the world.” Allura’s words had her cousin flashing a relieved smile at her. They fell into silence for a few seconds, just drinking their tear, each thinking their own thoughts. At last Allura set down her cup, opening her mouth to speak. “Romelle….what…what do you remember about last night?”
It was the same exact instant her cousin spoke, words tumbling out to mingle with Allura’s question. “You don’t blame me do you?” They blinked at each other, each one hesitating to repeat themselves. Finally Allura nodded for Romelle to go first, her cousin playing with the handle of her mug. “You don’t blame me do you?”
“Blame you?” Allura’s brow crinkled, the princess confused.
“For the situation that led to your marrying Lotor.” Explained Romelle.
“Is that what you’re worried about?” asked Allura, then gasped. “Do you remember what happened last night? Do you know why we got separated?!” She was disappointed to see Romelle shake her head no, the princess looking sheepish.
“I don’t remember much after we went out for dinner…” Romelle said. “I do know we started drinking heavily….and I vaguely recall us ending up at a local….club.”
“We went dancing?”
“Er…..of a sort…” Romelle looked embarrassed. “It wasn’t the kind of club princesses should go to. It was one where men and women are paid to remove their clothing.”
“You mean….we went to a strip club?” Allura squeaked out, wondering if she should be glad she didn’t remember that part of the evening.
“Yes.” Romelle was not quite blushing, Allura wondering what sort of memory she had of the night. “I’m so sorry Allura.” Her eyes looked wet, Romelle sniffling loudly. “If I hadn’t insisted you have a drink, perhaps none of this would have happened! We would have had a quiet evening, and been back in our rooms, safe once again. Instead, because of me, you ended up married to that monster!”
“Don’t blame yourself cousin!” Allura protested, wondering how long Romelle had tortured herself with this train of thought. “It’s not your fault. And if we encountered Lotor somewhere during our travels, I’m sure he would have kidnapped me, drunk or not!”
“But nothing.” Insisted Allura, reaching across the table to pat her cousin’s hand. “It’s not your fault, and I refuse to hear any more talk like it is!”
Romelle still looked like she wanted to protest, Allura shaking her head no. The princess of Pollux sighed, and touched her mug once more. “I’m relieved. It’s awful of me, but I am so glad you do not blame me!”
“I don’t.” Allura said, brushing back her hair from her face. Romelle was fidgeting in place, fingers playing with her mug. Allura glanced at her, realizing her cousin wanted to ask her something. “Yes?”
“What was it like when you….when you woke up next to Lotor?” Romelle’s question surprised Allura, the princess realizing she hadn’t really gone into much explanation about this morning and the emotions that went through her at discovering Lotor next to her in a strange place.
“I was…startled.” Allura said, thinking that was an understatement of her feelings. “I didn’t know where I was, or what happened to my clothing. It was worse when I realized someone was in bed next to me. Although….”
“I suppose it could have been worse.” Allura mused, expression thoughtful. “What if I had woken up next to a complete stranger?!”
“That might have been better.” Romelle commented, and Allura frowned.
“At least I know who Lotor is. And I know that he thinks he loves me. For all the trouble he has caused, at least he is trying to help make a good deal for Arus now…”
“You’re making excuses.” Romelle looked angry. “You musn’t forget who he is, and what he has done in the past. And know any good he does now, it’s only to worm his way into your good graces. Please…” Romelle’s face took on an urgent look, the princess reaching for Allura’s hands. “Don’t let him.”
“I’ll do my best not to. But Romelle…is it really wise? I mean…” Allura chewed nervously on her bottom lip, trying to think on how to explain. “I’m locked into marriage with him. Is it really worth trying to spend our married life together absolutely miserable?”
Romelle opened her mouth, than sagged, looking as though she rethought whatever she was about to say. “I don’t want you to be unhappy…” She began. “I want you to find happiness, to find love….I just cannot believe it’s with that man.” She let go of Allura’s hands, looking regretful at the dejected look in her cousin’s eyes. “I’m sorry. I know it must be terrible to hear, to think you won’t have love in your life.”
“Yeah.” Allura was sad, wondering if she ever had a chance at finding love. “I guess it’s the expected fate when you’re born a princess.” She tried to smile for her cousin, not wanting Romelle to feel any worse. “But look at you! You’re bucking tradition! You’re marrying the man you love!” A small smile from Romelle, the princess nodding.
“In some way it’s easier for me. I will not ever rule Pollux. It’s Bandor who will one day be King. My marriage will not affect the future of the planet.” Romelle’s eyes widened, and she shook her head. “Forgive me, I must sound like I am rubbing it in your face.”
“Not at all. I’m happy for you Romelle. I think it’s wonderful you can marry for love, even if you have to sneak away to do it!” Allura finished the tea in her mug, setting the cup down on the table.
“Thank you.” Romelle smiled back at her, then sipped some more of her tea. “It’s just too bad…Bandor can’t be here for this.”
“I’m sure he’ll hold a big celebration for you once you get back to Pollux with Sven.” A giggle then, Allura giving a rueful shake of her head. “Once he gets over the shock of course!”
“I hope so. I really don’t mean to alienate him like this…” A knock sounded at the door, both princesses looking up.
“I’ll get it.” Allura offered, rising to stand. She hurried towards the door, and only after she unlocked it did she think to wonder if it was Lotor tracking her down. Much to her relief it was not, revealing instead the blue clad form of Sven.
“Hello Allura.” Sven nodded at her, but was peering past her at Romelle. The Polluxian princess flashed him a delighted smile, already out of her chair. Allura watched wistfully as they approached each other, quick to fall into each other’s embrace. Romelle practically glowed with happiness at Sven’s touch, her fingers absentmindedly caressing his chest.
“It’s nice to see you Sven.” Allura said, and he tore his eyes away from Romelle’s face to smile at Allura.
“How are you Allura?” Sven asked, voicing his concern.
“I’m doing as well as can be expected.” Allura said, forcing a bright smile on her face. “I’ve already told Coran, and he’s sending over treaty suggestions for me to look over.”
“That’s good.” Sven noted. “And how did he handle the news of your marriage?”
“He was pretty calm considering who the groom turned out to be. I dare say I will get an earful once he’s had time to digest the news.” Groaned Allura.
“Yeah.” He didn’t mean to be rude, but Allura could sense Sven was eager for her to leave, the black haired man wanting to spend time with his fiancee. Allura lifted her hand in good bye, and turned to walk out the room, hearing Romelle speak as the door swung shut.
“Sven, what do you think of getting married a few days early?”
Allura didn’t hear Sven’s answer, but she was sure the man would answer in a positive way. She smiled, thinking what a cute couple he and her cousin made, knowing after all those two had been through, they truly deserved happiness. It was something she wished for herself, and felt she had to settle for whatever she could. A weary exhale of breath, Allura walked the few feet to her room.
She saw the door to the room had been fixed while she was visiting with Romelle, Allura hesitating before it. She wondered if it was locked, her hand reaching for the knob. Before she could turn it, the door opened, Lotor standing before her, data pad in hand. It took her a second to notice the pink accents on the mainly black device, but then her eyes narrowed, realizing it was her data pad he held.
“What are you doing with that?” Allura demanded, making a grab for the device. He easily held it out of reach for her, making a tsking sound.
“No hello kiss for your husband?”
She frowned at him, placing her hands on her hips. “You didn’t answer my question.”
“It was beeping incessantly. I sought to shut it up.” He explained.
“I suppose I should be grateful you didn’t break it.” Grumbled Allura, following Lotor into the room. “May I please have it back?”
“Just a minute.” Lotor said, fingers typing something onto the data pad. “I went over the draft Coran sent you. It’s very good, but I made it better.”
Annoyed she stared at him, mouth a deep frown. “You hacked into my messages?!” At his nod, she practically shouted. “Have you no concept of privacy?”
“Not where you are concerned.” Lotor told her, hardly taken back by her shouting.
“My data pad please.” She held out her hand, praying to any and all Gods that would listen that Lotor hadn’t found and hacked into her diary.
“Later.” Lotor said, setting it down on the highest shelf of a bookcase. He immediately touched her back, steering her away from the shelving unit, and guided her over to a table that held a covered tray. “But first, let us have dinner.”
“You ordered me dinner?” She asked, trying not to be pleased by the gesture. It had been hours since she had eaten, her stomach practically growling out at the sight of the tray. He nodded, Lotor pulling out a chair for Allura, and helping her to sit down. With a flourish he pulled off the cover, revealing honey steamed potatoes, a well cooked lamb roast that had sweet sauce dribbled all over it, along with a platter of fruit. It was one of her favorite meals, Allura staring with open appreciation at the food.
Her good mood lasted only for an instant, watching as Lotor sat down next to her. “How did you know what to order?” She narrowed her eyes at him, voice dripping with suspicion. “More work of your spies?”
“Didn’t I tell you? I made a habit out of studying you and your likes and dislikes.” Lotor took a plate for himself, and began cutting into the lamb roast. He put generous portions on both their plates, Allura picking up her utensils as she considered his words.
“That’s kind of creepy Lotor.” She said at last.
“Oh?” He cocked an eyebrow at her, giving her his undivided attention. “How is it creepy? I just want to know everything I can about the woman I love.”
“How can you say you even love me?” Allura asked, cutting into her meat. “You don’t even know me!”
“But I do know you.” Lotor insisted, watching as she ate. “It’s true I was attracted to you because of your beauty, but then I learned about you. I fell in love with you through the reports that came in from Arus, fell in love with your kind nature and sweet personality. Fell more in love with you with each battle we fought, seeing what a spitfire you were when it came to defending your planet.”
“You…you have me at a disadvantage then.” Allura said, scooping up a forkful of potatoes. “I know little about you, save for your reputation as the cruel prince of Doom, and those brief encounters during the fighting these last two years.”
“Well, we can change that now.” Lotor smiled at her, reaching for a piece of fruit. “We have all the time in the world to get to know each other now that we are husband and wife.”
“Yeah.” She quietly agreed. For a few seconds silence reigned, the only sounds of their forks and knives scraping against the porcelain plates. Apparently Lotor could not stand it anymore, for he was soon speaking, eyes curious as he looked at her.
“Is there not anything you are curious about me?”
“Um…” Allura didn’t want to seem too eager, pretending she had to think about it. Where to begin, what to ask him, Allura deciding to start with the mundane. “Well…do you have any hobbies Lotor?”
“Besides studying you?” She was about to frown when she saw the corners of his mouth lift up, hinting that he was teasing. At her nod, he took on a serious look, considering his answer. “I like swords. I have an extensive collection of them, and I make it my business to know how to wield one in battle.”
“Is that why you carry a sword and not a blaster?” She had always wondered about that, Allura finding it strange that Lotor relied on a sword when going into battle.
“Partly why. It takes a lot of skill to effectively wield a sword.” He snorted then, derision in his tone. “Any fool could wield a blaster, it doesn’t take much effort to hit someone if you give them enough laser cartridges.” Allura flushed, knowing it was partly true. She was not the best when it came to shooting people, often needing to waste the whole cartridge worth of lasers before she could take a person down.
“Still, you must like the element of danger.” Allura pointed out, stirring the gravy into her potatoes “I mean…you have to get in close to use your sword. A person with a blaster could shoot you dead before you reach them.”
“I suppose I am a bit of thrill seeker.” Lotor agreed. “Danger does wonders to get the blood pumping.” He leaned forward, eyes intent on her face. “What about you Allura, do you like danger?”
She stared at him, thinking he was the most dangerous man she knew, finding her heart often beat faster during her close encounters with him in the past. “Not at all.” She said at last, quickly putting a piece of lamb into her mouth to busy herself with eating. It wasn’t really a lie, she told herself, knowing how scared she had been in the past dealings with him.
“Oh? Not even a little?”
“You look surprised at that.” Allura noted. “Why?”
“Well, you fly blue lion. That’s about as close to danger as you can get.” Lotor pointed out.
She blinked, thinking it over. “I suppose you’re right. But it’s also the closest I can get to real freedom.” Now he looked confused, and Allura hastened to explain. “Being a princess is so limiting at times. I’m never free to do as I like, I always have to behave properly. I’m surprised they even let me look at a lion, let alone fly one.” She sighed, thinking on all the times Coran and Nanny limited her activities, refusing to let her do simple things like go swimming with her friends, or practice karate.
“I’m sorry.” Lotor said, his hand landing on her knee. He gave it a squeeze, looking sympathetically at her. She let out a sad little laugh, shaking her head.
“I never expected the prince of Doom to feel sorry for me.”
“It’s not pity, not exactly.” Lotor sounded as though he feared she be insulted by his sympathy, hurrying to explain. “I just hate the thought of anyone clipping your wings Allura. As ruler of Arus, you should have had the utmost freedom to do as you please.”
She ignored the latter, choosing to focus on the former. “But isn’t that what you wanted to do? Take away my freedom by capturing me and forcing me to be your bride?”
“It’s true I employed some less than ideal means, but…” He paused, thinking it over. “I was just so desperate to have you.” She blinked, Allura’s eyelids fluttering. It was strangely flattering to be wanted that much, even if it was just Lotor who chased her. “I know I am not your first, or even your second choice for a husband, but Allura….” He grabbed at her hands, the utensils clattering on the table. “This I vow, you will enjoy numerous freedoms with me. Freedoms not experienced before in your life on Arus. I…I will be good to you. I promise.”
She stared at him, not struggling to pull back her hands. “I want to believe…” She began hesitantly.
“Then do!” Lotor said passionately. “Allura, I love you, and will worship you until the day that I die.”
Now she did pull away from him, eyes troubled, mouth sad. “But I don’t love you.”
“It’s all right.” Lotor said, not making a grab for her. “Because I can love enough for the both of us.” He was staring so seriously at her, expression earnest, eyes gleaming with adoration. It was too much to take in, Allura blushing and standing up. He stood when she did, watching her as she backed away from the table.
“I’m sorry. I…I need to be alone right now.”
“All right.” He nodded, and she gave him a half smile.
“Thank you for understanding.” She whispered, and walked towards the bookcase. She rose on tip toe, snagging her data pad, and then turned, seeing Lotor standing where she had left him. He was watching her with open yearning on his face, his hands holding the back of his chair tightly as though that grip was the only thing keeping him from chasing after her.
“I’ll see you later.” Allura said, and walked out of the room. She closed the door, and for a second she just leaned against it, knowing her heart was beating faster from his heartfelt confessions.