The celebration lasted for several hours, each one of the wedding guests making the most of their time to have fun. There was much laughter and smiling going on, and the champagne flowed freely, everyone but the two princesses and Pidge indulging themselves. Allura had shared a few amused glances with Romelle, the cousins trying not to giggle at the way the men over did their celebrating. From the looks of things most of the Voltron pilots would be hung over in the morning, even stoic Keith had had several glasses of the champagne.
His mood had been affected by the drink, Keith loosening up enough to get over the grudge he had been harboring against her. At least, that is what Allura hoped, the princess having danced with Keith several times during the course of the party. She hadn’t had much chance to speak to him beyond that, she had been in too much demand by the other members of the Voltron Force.
She had been kept busy by them, barely able to catch her breath before one was elbowing the other out of the way, eager to dance with the princess. It left her giggling at their antics, and for a time she forgot about all her worries. She didn’t think about her husband up in their hotel room, and she didn’t think about the trip they would be making in the morning. Thoughts of Arus, and everyone’s reactions melted away, and she most certainly did not worry about the odd feelings she had for the prince.
If the pilots’ intentions had been to keep her distracted, they had succeeded, Allura grateful for the break from her turbulent thoughts. She was able to truly enjoy herself, expressing genuine smiles and happiness for her cousin and her husband. She had roared with laughter along with the Voltron Force, watching as Sven and Romelle smashed cake into each other’s faces. Allura had giggled and ducked when Romelle in a fit of tantrum, threw cake in her direction.
The bits of cake had splattered into Lance’s face, and that had been the start of a small food fight, the desert cart quickly being demolished as everyone went to arm themselves. It left them all sticky, and covered in the crushed remains of pastries. Romelle had wisely dived down behind the table, not wanting to get her wedding dress ruined. The rest abandoned themselves to tom foolery, as though the pent up tension of the last two days was at last being released through their childish actions.
The food fight wasn’t the only highlight of the party, there had been games, traditions from Earth and Pollux to uphold. There was the intriguing tradition of removing the bride’s garter, the cousins delighted and squealing with laughter at the idea. Allura knew Nanny would have never approved of the way Sven crawled under Romelle’s skirt, using his teeth to tug that bit of lace down her stocking clad foot.
Even more humorous was when Lance caught the garter, brandishing it over his head with a flourish as though it was some great prize. Allura soon learned why when they gathered a few of the women who worked at the chapel, a petite redhead having caught Romelle’s bouquet. They had seated the bewildered worker onto a chair, Lance sashaying towards the pretty redhead with a smirk on his face.
The boys had cheered and howled encouragement at Lance, Allura watching in amazement as the pilot dropped to his knees, taking hold of the chapel worker’s right leg. He had actually had the audacity to kiss the top of her foot, smirking all the while as he began sliding the garter up her leg. Higher and higher went his hands, everyone laughing and staring until finally Lance finished on her thigh.
From the way Lance had looked at the redhead, and the way the woman had blushed as he touched and spoke to her, Allura wouldn’t be surprised at all if the two hooked up after the party.
Eventually the festivities wound down, Romelle and Sven sharing one last dance, swaying in time to the beat of a slow, romantic song. Pidge passed out packets of rice, Allura lifting an eyebrow at this. “Another Earth tradition?”
Pidge nodded, smiling. “We’re to shower them in rice as a sign of good luck. I heard it promotes fertility in the couple.”
“I see.” Allura said, shaking the rice out into her hand. Pidge moved on, handing out the last of the rice packets to Keith and Lance. The members of the Voltron Force exchanged sly glances, the boys nodding to each other. Allura followed their examples, sneaking closer to the dancing newlyweds, who at this point were barely moving, too busy staring into each other’s eyes to notice they had been surrounded.
“Congratulations!” Shouted Pidge, leaping up to toss the rice so that it showered down on top of the newlyweds’ heads. Laughing, the others began tossing the rice, Allura watching as it rained down on top the couple, sticking to their hair and clothes. A few errant bits slipped down Romelle’s bodice, the princess looking a bit bewildered by the whole thing.
Sven laughed, and pulled her closer, using his right hand to brush the rice out of her hair. “It’s another left over tradition from Earth.” He explained, looking as though he very much wanted to dive into her bodice after the stray bits of rice. “Normally one reserved for the end of the party when the couple is about to leave.”
“Oh.” Understanding dawned in her eyes, Romelle giggling. “I think that’s our cue that the party is over with.”
“We don’t mean to rush you…” began Allura, Lance hurrying to speak over her.
“But the cake is gone, and they need us to clear out of here by a certain time. Besides…” His world famous grin flashed, Lance’s words suggestive. “I’m sure you’re dying to spend some time alone with your bride without the rest of us around.”
Romelle blushed at his words, looking a little nervous at the thought of being alone with Sven. It made Allura want to pull her cousin aside and give her a few reassuring words, but Sven was holding on to tightly to the princess for her to try.
“Yes, that would be good.” Sven said, expression serious, the light of anticipation in his eyes as he glanced at his bride.
“So go already!” A none too subtle Pidge made everyone laugh, Romelle and Sven nodding. They joined hands, and began heading towards the door, cheers following in their wake.
“It’s really too bad…” Allura sighed once they had left. The boys turned to look at her, their surprise making her hastily explained. “That they can’t have a longer honey moon here on Las Tibayas.”
“Yeah….” Pidge sighed, adjusting his glasses on his face. “If only Lotor hadn’t showed up….”
“Pidge…” Hunk warned, but the bespectacled youth continued.
“Stupid Lotor…we could be staying on the planet a lot longer if not for him. Now we gotta rush home to get there before Zarkon’s forces arrive.” Allura hung her head at Pidge’s words, knowing it was her indiscretion with Lotor that cut their vacation plans short.
“We couldn’t have stayed indefinitely.” Keith spoke, his words a surprise to Allura. She peeked at him through lowered eyelashes, seeing him flash a rueful half smile at her. “Arus can only hold out against Doom for so long without the lions. So it’s not like we’re cutting the trip that much shorter.”
“Aw…” A disappointed Pidge whined out.
“Now, what say we help get this place looking a little cleaner?” asked Keith, and this time everyone let out a groan.
“That’s what the chapel pays it’s workers for!” protested Lance, and even Allura was nodding in agreement.
“Yeah, but they didn’t count on a food fight breaking out.” Pointed out Keith, crossing his arms over his chest, trying to look stern. It was ruined by the smile threatening to come out, Keith’s eyes twinkling with mischief. “I don’t propose we clean the whole room by ourselves, but we can at least pick up the plates.”
“Come on guys…” Hunk was already moving, heading towards one of the plates that held a crush pastry half on it, half on the carpet, a foot print down the center of it’s surface. “It’ll take just as long to argue with the captain as it will to do a little cleaning.”
“Besides Lance, you might score some more points with that redhead if she sees you helping out!” Keith added as enticement to get red lion’s pilot moving.
“The things I do to score a date around here.” Muttered Lance, walking over towards the over turned desert cart, it’s remaining wares having crashed into the floor. Pidge followed him, eager to help, and Allura glanced at Keith.
“You too princess.” He told her, and she nodded, already moving. “Allura?”
“Yes?” She paused to glance over her shoulder at him, seeing Keith struggling with something.
“After we’re done here…would you mind coming to my room for a minute? I…I’d like to talk to you about something.”
“All right Keith.” She agreed, a small smile on her face. Allura was happy he wanted to talk to her, and even if the conversation became more admonishments about Lotor and her foolish actions, she felt hopeful they could come to an understanding. Something where he wouldn’t be hurt and so angry with her.
One might think it strange to smile while cleaning, but that was exactly what Allura did, picking up plate after plate and stacking them on the refreshment table. She didn’t mind getting her hands dirty, and with the five of them they soon had their self appointed tasks completed. They had finished just in time, several of the chapel worker’s poking their head into the room, trash bags in hand as they made ready to clean.
“Okay team, it’s time to clear out of here.” Keith said, the other echoing their agreement to his words. The chapel workers were moving about the room, a man pushing a mop across the floor, trying to wipe up the chocolate frosting that left streaks all over the linoleum.
“I’ll see you later guys…” Lance was absentminded, having spotted the petite redhead amidst the rank of cleaning workers. “I’ve got some…business to wrap up.”
“Looks like Lance is on the prowl.” Chuckled Pidge, as he and the others strode out of the room.
“Just so long as he doesn’t stay out partying all night…” Keith grumbled, his words making the others groan. “We’re leaving first thing in the morning for Arus.”
“Which means we better get in all the fun we can today.” Hunk was checking his pockets, searching for something. “I think I’m gonna head over to one of the casinos…” He pulled out a card, eyeing the info written on it’s back. “I’ve still got some credits left….might be my lucky day today.”
“Ever heard of saving it for a rainy day?” Keith asked, and Hunk grinned.
“Don’t get many of those on Arus. Besides…it’s my money to spend!” He chuckled. “I’ll be sure to no go over my limit though. Don’t want to end up bankrupt!”
“What about you Pidge?” Allura asked, curious about where the young pilot spent his days on Las Tibayas.
“Hitting the arcades of course.” Pidge’s eyes lit up, his voice coming out excited. “They just got in the newest version of Hover Star 4009! It’ll be months before it gets ported onto the home consoles.” He looked gleeful, surely anticipating playing his game.
“Well, have fun.” Allura smiled, wondering if it was another space ship shooter. She often wondered why Pidge played war games considering what life was like on Arus. He had once answered saying it was because of those games that he was such an efficient pilot of green lion.
“I will princess!” Pidge grinned, then glanced at Keith. “What about you? Can’t picture you gambling or gaming.”
“I’ll be heading back to my room. Got to pack, plus I want to map out our return trip.” Keith’s answer had Pidge groaning, the young pilot poking a finger into the captain’s arm.
“But practical” insisted Keith. “You’ll thank me when we avoid an asteroid shower, even if it takes us a few hours longer to get home.”
“Right…” Pidge sighed, shaking his head. “How about you princess? Can’t imagine you’re eager to get back to your room. Not with Lotor in there!”
She hoped her smile didn’t fade, Allura shrugging her shoulders helplessly. “I’m sure I’ll think of something to do that will eat up some of my time.” She just wondered if Lotor would be patient, Allura fearing he’d come looking for her if she stayed away for too long.
“You could always come with me to the arcade….” Pidge started to suggest, but Keith interrupted him.
“Actually Allura and I have plans.” His tone was casual, though Pidge’s reaction was not.
“Plans? Like what?!”
“Don’t get excited, we’re just going to talk over drinks.” Keith told him, and Pidge frowned.
“Are you sure that’s wise?” He shook his head. “I mean….Lotor won’t like you being with the princess.”
“Lotor doesn’t control my time.” Allura snapped, annoyed.
“Didn’t mean to imply that he does…” Pidge quickly stammered out. “Just worried what he’ll do if he finds out about you and Keith spending time together. I mean…Lotor’s known for his strong dislike of our captain.”
“He doesn’t need to know.” Allura said, gliding through the doors that led into the hotel lobby. “I’m not required to report to him every little thing I do.”
“Drop it Pidge.” Hunk had placed his hand on the young pilot’s shoulder, shaking his head at him. “Lotor’s got to learn. Allura has a life outside of him, and that life extends to her friends.”
“Yeah I know…” Pidge nodded. “Sorry for pestering you princess.”
“It’s all right Pidge.” She said, accepting his apology. “Have fun with your game.”
“Will do princess.”
“Catch you guys later.” Added Hunk, and together with Pidge, separated from the party. Allura and Keith watched them go, silence stretching out between them.
“So…” Allura began hesitantly, at the same instant Keith turned to look at her.
“Allura I…” It left them blinking, nervous laughter erupting between them. “Come on.” Keith said, taking hold of her arm. She let him guide her over to the elevators, Allura watching as he pushed the call button for one. She kept glancing at him out the corner of her eye, waiting for him to finish what he had tried to say. But Keith merely stared off at the elevator, watching the buttons as they lit up to signal what floor the car was on.
She glanced down at her lavender skirt, noticing a bit of jelly crusting over on it’s fabric. She’d have to take care of it soon, or the stain would set in, Allura not wanting her dress completely ruined. “Keith?”
“What would you like to talk to me about?” She asked, watching him hesitate.
“I think we should wait until we get behind closed doors for this discussion.”
“That bad, huh?” Allura sighed when he didn’t crack a smile, still wearing that solemn expression. “It’s about my husband, isn’t it?” Still nothing from Keith, the elevator dinging it’s bell, announcing it’s arrival with a swoosh, it’s doors opening. “I want you to know…” Allura began, as Keith ushered her into the car. “What you saw last evening…it..it’s complicated but…”
“I know it’s complicated.” Interrupted Keith, voice low. “It had to be if you….willingly slept with him.”
She sighed then, the sound heavy and loud. “I wasn’t in the right frame of mind, that is for sure. I…I had a little too much to drink at lunch. Enough for my judgment to be impaired. I’m not trying to make excuses, I did sleep with him. But…”
“It’s something you wouldn’t have done sober.” Keith noted, and she nodded. He smiled, relieved. “I knew he had to have taken advantage of you!”
“Lotor is not entirely to blame either!” Allura quickly added, making Keith frown. “He had one too many too…We both over did it…”
“Figures he’d be the type of drunk that gets energetic rather than pass out.” Grumbled Keith under his breath. Allura said nothing to that, realizing it was the kind of comment that didn’t require a response too.
Another ring of the elevator’s bell, the car arriving at their floor. They walked out in silence, heading down the hall towards Keith’s room. She stood back, sending a paranoid glance at the door to the room she shared with Lotor, chewing on her lip anxiously as she waited for Keith to open the door.
“This is nice.” Allura said, glancing around the tidy room with interest. It was slightly smaller than the rooms the royals shared, with two beds placed side by side instead of one large one. “I bet it’ll feel pretty lonely now that you’re not sharing a room with Sven.”
Keith shrugged, shutting the door behind her. “Won’t be that different from having my own room back at the castle.” He walked past her, heading towards the mini bar, his fingers nimble as they worked open the combination to the bar’s lock. “Would you care for something to drink Allura?”
“Just water for me.” She said, watching as Keith pulled out bottles of chilled spring water and some type of hard liquor. She raised an eyebrow at his drink choice, Keith quickly uncapping the bottle, and chugging back a large mouthful. “You don’t normally drink….”
“Don’t normally do a lot of things.” Keith said, using his hip to close the door to the mini bar. He then handed her the spring water, gesturing for her to make herself comfortable on one of the many seats in the room. She did so, smoothing her skirt down around her legs, waiting for him to continue. He made her wait, busying himself with another drink of his bottle.
“Allura….I…” He seemed to be hesitating, opening and closing his mouth as though unsure he should continue. “I know you left last night to go to that….that club with Lotor.”
“Oh.” She blinked, uncorking her water bottle. “Wait….how did you know we went to a club?”
“I…” He look uncomfortably, his words making her eyes widen in shock. “I followed you.”
“You followed me?” She didn’t know if she should be upset or relieved, Allura staring unhappily at him.
“Yeah. I had too!” Keith added defensively. “For all I know, he could have been plotting to whisk you away. Take you back to Doom where I would never see you again!”
“Keith, the war between our two planets is over with. He has no need to kidnap me now.” Allura pointed out, still frowning.
“He’s a tricky devil.” Keith was also frowning, as though he couldn’t understand why she didn’t see the need for his protection. “He’s capable of anything. This could all be a big act. He could betray you at any time!”
“I don’t think he’s interested in doing that though.” Keith snorted at that, Allura shaking her head. “Lotor did not need to make a treaty for Arus. He had everything in the palm of his hands. He could have crushed my planet, let Doom take what he wanted. We’d be unable to do much to stop him.”
“We could have fought. We still can.” Keith insisted. “Voltron would have held back Doom, marriage certificate or not!”
“We’d have no legal ground to do so.” Allura sighed, fiddling with the top of her bottle. Over and again she tightened then loosened it’s cap, Allura staring distracted at her finger’s actions. “Arus would belong to Doom by right of our marriage. Lotor was….is very kind to have not only agreed to a treaty, but agree to the ruse to mislead Zarkon and everyone else for that matter, into thinking we forged it before we said our vows to each other.”
“Kind? The guy’s a sleazeball!” A wild gesture from Keith, some of his liquor spilling onto the floor. “Of course he can afford to be nice. Now that he has you right where he wants you! And think about it Allura! Anything he does, it’s all a calculated move on his part to get you into his bed! You can’t let him…..don’t. Don’t let him touch you or kiss you, or trick you into thinking he’s something that’s he not. Just ask your cousin Romelle if you need the reminder!”
“I haven’t forgotten about the treatment Romelle received while in his care.” Allura said stiffly.
“Good. Because what she went through was horrible. It would have been a million times worse if she hadn’t been related to you!” Keith set his bottle down on the dresser’s top, leaning back against the piece of furniture as he stared at her.
“You think he went easy on her because she is my cousin?” asked Allura, seeing Keith nod.
“I know so. Lotor is evil, plain and simple.”
“I wonder…” Allura murmured, flinching back when she saw Keith’s angry scowl. “He has done some good things….now and in the past…He hasn’t always been unkind…”
“It’s tricks, nothing more.” Keith was firm on this, stubborn assurance of his opinion on Lotor.
“What if it’s not…?” Allura wanted to know. “I mean…what if there’s something…worth saving in him? Worth nurturing?”
“He’s a bad seed Allura, and nothing and no one will ever change that!” Keith exclaimed. “So don’t waste your breath trying.”
“I guess…” Doubt was in her tone, Keith taking a step towards her.
“I know so!”
“All right Keith.” She said to appease him. She was rewarded with a smile, the captain looking relieved. “So…” She began in a casual tone. “You’ve been to the club?” His expression darkened, making Allura worry it had been the wrong thing to ask him.
“Yeah. Interesting place.” He seemed to be fighting a scowl, eyes angry. “I never would have expected you to go to that type of establishment…..let alone…”
“Let alone what?” Allura prodded when he fell silent.
“I asked around after you two left.” Keith’s words stunned her, Allura gaping at him. “It was very….illuminating the things that I learned. Allura, why? What is it about alcohol that makes you run into his arms?”
She didn’t answer, too upset to think someone else knew about her behavior that night. “I wasn’t thinking clearly that night…”
“Well, that much is obvious!” snorted Keith, and she flushed, an angry heat burning her face. “Not only did you throw yourself at Lotor, but you left your poor cousin behind! Anything could have happened to Romelle between then and the time she made it back to the hotel.”
“But it didn’t.” Allura pointed out. “Romelle was unharmed save for one heck of a hangover the next day. I didn’t hurt her with my actions.”
“No, you only hurt yourself and Arus in the process!” Keith’s tone was snide, and she angrily leaped to her feet.
“I’m sorry for that! You know that! I didn’t mean to leave with him, and I certainly didn’t mean to marry Lotor! But…”
“But what?” Keith demanded, Allura shaking her head no as she walked towards the door of his room. “Tell me Allura…”
“I know I’ll be making up for what happened for years to come….maybe I’ll never be able to make amends…but I don’t need you to keep throwing it in my face! I made a mistake Keith. I’m only human!”
“I’m not trying to rub your face in it. I’m only trying to understand.” She glanced back at his sigh, seeing he had followed her to the door. “Alcohol doesn’t make you into a different person, it merely lowers your inhibitions. Something in you responds to Lotor….and I don’t like it!”
“And you think I do?!” Allura demanded, seeing Keith shrug.
“Maybe….I don’t know…” He glanced downwards, sighing. “I just…”
“Just what?” She asked softly, reaching out with her hand to hover it over his arm. He looked up before she could touch him, expression pained.
“I just don’t like the thought of you having positive feelings for him.” Keith said. “Don’t like thinking about you touching him, and responding to his advances. Allura…” He took hold of her hand, pinning it to his chest. “I don’t think I could bare to stick around if you started to warm up to him. It would kill something inside me…”
“Are you sure about that? You like him just fine when you’ve had a little to drink. What’s to stop the next step from occurring?” Keith asked.
“The next step?” She repeated confused.
“Yeah. Liking him when you’re sober.” Keith stepped closer to her, still holding onto her hand.
“Would you really leave if that happened?” Allura asked, listening to the sound of Keith exhaling. “Would it really be that bad?”
“Of course it would Allura! I…” another shake of his head, Keith frowning. “I knew this day would come. I just never expected it to be with Lotor.”
“What?” She was puzzled, not sure he was making any sense.
“I was prepared for you to get married to some prince…I was prepared to see you fall in love….I just wasn’t prepared for it hurting as much as it does…” Her eyes were widening in realization, Allura hurrying to speak.
“But I haven’t fallen in love yet!”
“Allura I….” He bit his lip, and she could feel him shaking, his fingers tightening around her wrist.
“What Keith?” She urged him softly, surprised when he cursed.
“Oh hell…” He muttered, and without warning pulled her to him, her hand still held captive in his grip. Before she could ask him what he thought he was doing, he lowered his face, lips planting firmly on hers. She got a taste of his liquor, it’s taste bitter in her mouth, Allura letting out a muffled sound of protest. Her free hand landed on his chest, Allura trying with all her might to push him off her.
Keith was trying to pry open her lips, force his tongue into her mouth. She shoved harder at him, but he seemed not to get the message, the hand on her back pushing her firmer against his chest. Her mouth was forced open, room enough for his tongue to worm it’s way inside. She felt his clumsy swipes against her tongue, Keith making a sound, a moan of appreciation.
At a loss, she did what she could do, slamming her heel onto his foot. “OW!” Keith cried out, breaking the kiss to stare at her, upset in his eyes. “Allrua, why did you do that?!”
“Why did you kiss me?!” She retorted, a question for a question. He looked sheepish, hesitating a moment longer than she liked. “Answer me!”
“Can’t you tell?” Keith asked, making Allura frown and shake her head no. “Allura….I’m in love with you!”