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I'd Rather Be The Dragon

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Lena sat by the window reading her father’s favorite book for the fourth time. Or at least she had assumed it was his favorite. Everything had been guesswork with Lionel Luthor. Everything he had been as a king he had also been as a father. Aloof, manipulative, amoral, hard to please, and all around difficult. Lena thought perhaps this was his favorite book, because it was always sitting on his desk in the study, a place marked between the pages.

 

So the morning of her father’s funeral, she snuck into his study and swiped the book from his desk. It had been left exactly where she knew it’d be, a place marked near the end. Good thing she thought to grab it then. Because as soon as the funeral had ended, and her father’s body had been taken away to be lain in the crypt beside his father and his father before him, Lillian had ordered Lena to her room and hadn’t let her out since.

 

That was six days ago.

 

She was well cared for still. Her handmaid was still at her beck and call. They brought her a delicious meal three times a day. Drew a bath for her every night.

 

But the door to her chambers were locked, and two guards posted outside it. Lena had yelled and screamed and cried when she’d realized she was now a prisoner in her own home.  She had cried for days, cursed her mother’s name, called out to her brother for help. Only to be met with silence. She soon grew too tired for it.

 

And so Lena read. She read her father’s favorite book cover to cover, to pass the time. Trying to figure out why he had loved it. If he had loved it. Lena wasn’t really certain he had ever loved anything.

 

At last, in the early evening of the sixth day, the door to her chambers was unbolted and her handmaid hurried in. Lena barely looked up from her place by the window, expecting dinner, though it was a bit early.

 

Jess stood so long without saying anything, Lena finally had to look up and acknowledge her.

 

“Yes, Jess, what is it?”

 

Lena was surprised to see Jess didn’t have any food. She closed the book and set it aside.

 

“I’m sorry, Princess, but your mother has requested your presence at dinner tonight. She sent me to dress you.”

 

Lena scrambled to her feet, eyes wide in surprise, and daring to hope.

 

“I can go out? She’s letting me out?”

 

Jess was staring at the floor, but she lifts her eyes slightly.

 

“Yes, Your Highness, down to dinner with your brother.”

 

Lena reaches forward, grabbing Jess by the arms, starling the poor girl.

 

“Lex is here? You saw him?” Lena’s excitement is quickly overcome by her confusion. “Why hasn’t he...come to let me out? Why hasn’t he asked for me?”

 

Jess refuses to look at her, eyes firmly on the floor. Her voice is so small when she speaks.

 

“The prince- I mean, His Majesty, has been here. He...He never left, Princess.”

 

Lena’s face falls as realization finally dawns on her.

 

No. No. No. No. No!

 

Lena had assumed that Lex had gone away after the funeral to grieve. She had assumed that’s when Lillian had taken control and locked Lena up. She had assumed that’s why Lex hadn’t come to her when she’d cried out for him. Why he hadn’t had her released. She has assumed her brother wouldn’t stand for this. Wouldn’t let Lillian treat her like this. But now...she realized how wrong she’d been. Lex knew. He knew and he didn’t care.

 

I am completely alone. Lena realized.

 

Jess must have seen the anguish on Lena’s face. She pulled gently from Lena’s grip and wrapped her arm around the princess, rubbing her back.

 

“I’m sorry, Your Highness, but...we need to get you dressed.”

 

Lena nodded, thankful for Jess’s arm practically holding her up as she tried not to cry.

 

She allowed herself to be led over to the wardrobe where Jess helped her get ready for dinner.

 

----------

 

Walking through the halls of this castle felt terribly strange now. Had it always been so empty, so quiet and gray? Had the guards always felt like bullies at her back? Lena had grown up here. Had lived her whole life here. And the castle had never been particularly warm, but it had been her home. She and Lex ran through these halls, memorizing every nook and cranny. But now as she followed the guards down the hall towards the dining hall, the place felt strangely unfamiliar, twisted. A nightmare realm.

 

She entered the dining room and there they were. Her family, or what little was left of it, already seated. Lex was at the head of the table, where their father use to sit. Lillian sat to his right. They were both expressionless as they looked up at her.

 

The guards followed in after her, closing the doors firmly behind them. Lena just stood there, staring at her brother and mother. This was her chance. Her moment to scream and shout while they could actually hear her. She had planned to. Planned to ask them what the fuck they thought they were doing. What the fuck was going on? Why she was being treated like a prisoner in her own house?

 

But standing there now, watching as Lex looks right through her, and Lillian’s mouth twitches with the faint hint of a cruel smile. Lena can’t bring herself to say a word. Because it’s clear to her now that something is happening that’s out of her control. It’s clear that her father’s death has made way for something terrible and that screaming and shouting and begging will do absolutely nothing to change it. This is her mother’s doing, and Lena fears what Lillian might do to her if provoked.

 

Finally, Lillian stands up calmly and speaks.

 

“Come, Lena. Sit with us, we have much to discuss."

 

Lillian’s voice sounds completely normal. Like it’s any other day. Lena can’t move. She’s suddenly petrified of her own family.

 

Lena must stand still for too long, one of the guards behind her, nudges her forward gently. It’s enough to get her moving. Lena tries to steel her expression, tries to straighten her back, and look composed. Because that’s what her father would do. Even if he were beaten, he wouldn't let it show.

 

She wordlessly takes the seat that’s been set up for her on Lex’s left, staring down at the empty place in front of her. She can feel Lillian’s eyes on her, and she refuses to squirm, refuses to give Lillian the satisfaction of seeing how scared she is.

 

“Excellent.” Lillian says, gesturing to one of the servant to bring out the food.

 

Lena spares a glance at Lex who refuses to look at her.

 

What’s wrong with you? She wants to ask him. Why are you acting this way?

 

Though Lena had certainly admired her father and craved his attention and approval, she’s not sure she had ever loved him. He was far too distant for that. Her brother was a different story. Lena loved her brother. In fact, Lex was the only person she had ever really felt close to. The only one she thought might understand her. And he loved her back...didn’t he? She had certainly thought so. Until now. Because now her brother’s face was blank, heavy bruises under his eyes from lack of sleep, and just a frightening emptiness to his expression.

 

Was he even alive in there?

 

The servants brought out their meal; Lena’s favorite, lamb and vegetables. But Lena couldn’t bare the thought of eating. It seemed an impossible task. Lena simply pushed the food around her plate. Lillian and Lex ate as if nothing was wrong, as if everything wasn’t wrong right now.

 

Nearly halfway through dinner, Lena couldn’t take it anymore. This was silence was torture. She took a deep breath, steadied herself, and spoke as calmly and clearly as she could.

 

“Would either of you care to explain why I’ve been locked away since father’s funeral?”

 

Lex goes absolutely still, ceasing all movement mid-chew, and glances in Lillian’s direction. Lillian arches her eyebrow as if she’s surprised at the question. She puts down her fork and wiped her mouth, glancing from Lex to Lena before speaking.

 

“Well, darling, that’s what we brought you down to talk about.”

 

Lex resumes chewing slowly, looking back down at his plate. Lena glances between them both, struggling to rein in her anger and fear.

 

“Let’s talk about it then.” She demands.

 

Lillian leans back in her chair, resting her hands in her lap and looking steadily at Lena.

 

“Lena, you are aware of the situation your father left us in, aren’t you?”

 

Lena’s brow furrows in confusion, so Lillian continues.

 

“Your father’s wars have left the kingdom reeling, darling. We’re out of money, out of soldiers, and the people are out of patience. They are all looking to Lex to lead them out of this darkness and into a new age.”

 

“Alright…” Lena probes cautiously.

 

Lex has stopped eating, pushing his plate away and leaning back in his chair, hands in fists.

 

“In order to do that, Lena, in order to right your father’s wrongs and put this kingdom back in order, your brother needs money. Money to pay your father’s debts and rebuild. A lot of money.”

 

“What does this have to do with me, Lex?” Lena asks finally addressing her brother directly. She leans forward to take his hand. “Why are you acting like this?” He jerks away from her touch violently. He stands so abruptly that his chair topples over behind him. He turns his back to the table and clasps his hands behind his back.

 

“Go ahead, Lex.” Lillian says with a strange smile “Tell your sister what has to be done.”

 

Lena looks from Lillian’s smile to Lex’s back. He doesn’t turn around when he speaks.

 

“In order to get the funds I need to take care of our people, I...I had to sell some things.”

 

Lena’s heart begins to beat faster.

 

“I sold off some of the border lands. I sold off some of the heirlooms. And...after being offered more than I asked for...I sold you, Lena.”

 

Lena stops breathing. Her heart, her lungs, her brain stops working. And for a moment she’s sure her ears stopped working properly too. Because her brother wouldn’t sell her. That couldn’t have been what he said. Couldn’t have been what he meant. Because no matter how fucking insane this entire week of her life had been Lena was still certain that this must all be a big misunderstanding brought on by her father’s death and her mother’s manipulation. Because Lex, the only person in the entire world she was certain gave a shit about her, would not sell her off like some whore.

 

Lillian clears her throat, bringing Lena back into the horror of this moment. Her heart starts beating again, too quickly actually, and her breaths are too fast, too shallow.

 

“Lex, darling, don’t be so dramatic. Sold is such an ugly word.” Lillian is saying. “She’s your sister, not a pack mule.” Lex sighs and his shoulders sag, but he doesn’t say anymore.

 

Lillian leans forward reaching across the table as if to offer comfort, but Lena flinches away from her touch, fixing her mother with a truly withering glare. Lillian sighs, looking disappointed in Lena’s rejection.

 

“Lena, what your brother means to say is...We’ve arranged for you to be married. Which is customary for a girl your age. In fact, I’m not really sure why your father didn’t do this years ago.”

 

Lena clears her throat, which has grown rough from all the tears she’s holding back.

 

“Marriage?”

 

Lillian nods, watching Lena closely.

 

“Yes. After your father’s death I advised your brother to put an offer out there and someone has accepted.”

 

Lena nods, feeling herself grow colder, fading out of herself.

 

This isn’t happening.

 

“Who?”

 

Lena knew that her kingdom and especially her family weren’t well regarded among the surrounding kingdoms. In fact, her father’s reign was filled with betrayals and misdeeds. Lots of wars and feuds. The Luthor name had many enemies. Lena shuddered to think who would want to marry her and why.

 

“Kal-El of Krypton.”

 

That gets Lena's attention, her eyes snap up to scrutinize Lillian.

 

“What?” She studies her mother’s smug expression. “You’re joking.”

 

Krypton was known for its self-righteous progressiveness. They were a very proud, and very scholarly people. Lena’s father had hated them because they have refused to do business for generation. Lionel had always assured Lena that Kryptonians thought they were better than everyone else, especially the Luthors. A war had never been fought between the two kingdoms, simply because Krypton’s military had always been superior and they refused to engage. Of all the surrounding kingdoms, why would they want a Luthor princess marrying their son?

 

Lillian shook her head.

 

“We were just as surprised as you are. But they offered your brother a very generous bride price in exchange for your hand in marriage.”

 

Lena had heard enough. She stands up slamming her fists on the table in frustration. Lex flinches at the sound, but doesn’t turn to face her.

 

“Have you not stopped to wonder why they would do that? It makes no sense! They hate us! Lex, brother, please don’t do this. Stop this now. Father wouldn’t want this.” Tears begin to flow as she begs to her brother’s back. Her shoulders shake with rage and her nails cut into her palms.

 

God, why won’t he just look at me?

 

“Lex, please, don’t let her do this to me! Don’t let her tear us apart.”

Lillian stands up and smooths her hand over her dress. Speaking over Lena, she beckons to the guards to take her away.

 

“Don’t do this, brother! Please!” The guards seize her by the arms just as Lex finally turns around to face her. His expression is no longer void. He looks pained and ragged, but not at all torn. Tears brim in his eyes, but his voice is steady when he speaks.

 

“It’s already done, Lena. I’m sorry.”

 

Lena is speechless as the guards usher her away and back to her room.

 

That’s where Lena really falls apart.

 

She cries and she screams. She rips the curtains from the windows, tosses the tables over, yanks the pictures off the wall. Lena rages until she’s exhausted. Rages until she falls asleep.

 

She is woken in the middle of the night by someone softly running fingers through her hair.

 

It’s Lillian. Lena doesn’t have the energy to be surprised. It hurts her throat to speak, so she softly whispers.

 

“What are you doing here?”

 

Lillian is quiet for a long moment, just continues playing with Lena’s long raven hair.

 

“I came to check on you.”

 

Lena closes her eyes, a fresh wave of tears threatening to rise up.

 

“Why?” she croaks. “You hate me, don’t you? That’s why you’ve arranged all this, right? Because you hate me? You’ve always hated me?”

 

Lillian wasn’t really Lena’s mother. Everyone knew that. Lena was Lionel’s mistake. His transgression. His beautiful bastard daughter. Lena’s real mother had left her on his doorstep and fled. Lillian had been gracious enough to allow her husband’s bastard to stay and live in her house, play with her son, call her mother. But the truth of Lena’s blood had always been there flowing between them like a raging river. Lillian had been hard on Lena since she was a little girl. Lena was never good enough. Never pretty enough. Never smart or proper enough. Always an embarrassment. Always a disappointment. Always a burden. Lillian may have allowed Lena the name, but she never ever let her forget she wasn’t a true born Luthor.

 

Lillian’s face doesn’t change at all.

 

“Yes. I suppose, I have.” she says almost sadly, sighing deeply. “But believe it or not, I’m not doing this to hurt you, Lena. I’m doing this for your brother. For our kingdom, our people. We all have to make sacrifices, you know. Lex has to sacrifice you. And you have to sacrifice your life here with us. For the greater good, darling.”

 

Lena glares at her.

 

“And what about you, Mother ?” Lena spits the word at her. “What are you sacrificing?”

 

Lillian smiles a little, stroking Lena’s face.

 

“Always such a clever girl.” she gets up from the bed and starts to leave. “Your new husband will be arriving tomorrow to retrieve you. You should pack whatever you’d like to take first thing in the morning.”

 

Just as Lillian is about to go, Lena sits up.

 

“Wait!” Lillian halts with her hand on the door and turns back to Lena. Lena hesitates to ask the question. “Do you think they want to kill me? The Kryptonians, I mean.”

 

Lillian thinks it over for a moment, then shrugs in the darkness.

 

“I honestly don’t know. But if so, that seems like a terrible waste of money.”

 

In a strange way, Lena actually does find this comforting.

 

“Night, Mother.” Lena says, her voice turning to ice.

 

Lillian smiles.

 

“Goodnight, Lena.”

Chapter Text

The next morning Lena wakes and discovers none of it was a dream.

 

Her father is dead.

Her brother is a coward.

And her  so-called mother is a manipulative cunt.

 

Everything is wrong.

 

Lena had spent the majority of the night drifting out of nightmares and into the despair of her thoughts. She considered trying to escape. Contemplated suicide briefly. Went through many theories as to what the Kryptonians would do with her.

 

A small part of her wondered if perhaps she was being dramatic.

 

After all the Kryptonians weren’t known to be a cruel people. Unlike their neighboring Daxam they had outlawed slavery long ago. Which confused Lena considering they had agreed to buy her.

 

None of this made any sense. And while she spent the morning packing she tried to comfort herself with theories and explanations. Tried to find solace in logic. But none of that mattered, because by the end of the day, she would be at the mercy of strangers, headed to a strange land. She would probably never see her brother again.

 

Jess helped her pack and dress for the journey. Then they just sat together staring out the window waiting for horses to appear at the gate. Lena looked over once and saw that Jess was crying quietly to herself. The sight surprised her. Jess had been working here in the castle for years, first in the kitchen, then as Lena’s handmaid. But they had never been particularly close. Certainly friendly, but not quite friends. Lillian always discouraged being too fond of the servants. Lena did suppose though, that after seeing someone everyday for years at a time, taking care of them, sitting quietly with them, a certain attachment was unavoidable.

 

Lena reaches over and carefully places her hand over Jess’s, she squeezes gently, and offers the smallest of smiles. The other girl seems embarrassed. She quickly wipes the tears from her face.

 

“I’m sorry, Princess. I just…” Jess shakes her head “I’m just so sorry this is happening to you.”

 

“Shhhh.” Lena scoots closer, wrapping her arm around the other girl as she continues to cry quietly. Lena is all out of tears for now, but this is nice. Knowing that someone cares.

 

At just past midday, they spot riders coming over the hill. Jess pulls away composing herself.

 

Sniffling a bit, Jess says “I do hope they’ll be good to you, Your Highness.”

 

Before Lena can muster a response, there is a firm knock at the door. A guard sent to escort her downstairs.

 

The guard and Jess, carry Lena's two crates of luggage. It’s not much really. One case for her clothes another for her books. She leaves everything else behind.

 

Lex and Lillian are waiting for her and their guests in the courtyard.

Lena takes her place beside Lillian, composing her face into something unreadable.

 

Lillian studies her anyway, as if trying to find one last thing to criticize about her hair or her outfit. She must find nothing out of place, because finally she faces forward again and says

 

“I’m told Kal-El is quite handsome. Be grateful you’re getting a young attractive husband.”

 

Lena scoffs, her fingernails digging into her palms as she struggles not to lash out.

 

Lillian shakes her head in disapproval of Lena’s unladylike noise.

 

“Honestly, Lena, I know men aren’t your... preference, ” Lillian’s face twists in disgust, and Lena rolls her eyes “But at least he won’t be some past his prime pig twice your age.”

 

“Am I meant to say thank you, Mother?” Lena sneers, “Oh, yay, a handsome captor is all I’ve ever wanted.”

 

“Enough! Both of you.” Lex barks, sighing deeply. “Let’s just get through this.”

 

Lena shakes her head. “I can’t get through this, Lex. This is my life now.”

 

He meets her eyes briefly, his jaw tense and his gaze hard, before shaking his head and turning away.

 

Seven riders enter the courtyard, followed by a carriage. Lena is surprised to see that the lead rider is a woman, finely dressed in armor and trousers.

 

The young woman rides with confidence, her long blonde waves falling heavily over her shoulders. Her cloak is embroidered with the crest of the House of El. A sword on her hip. Lena is immediately transfixed.

 

The riding party pulls right up to the front steps and halts. The blonde woman dismounts first, swinging gracefully down from her horse, and the rest of the riders follow after her. Stable boys rush forward to take their horses.

 

Lena’s eyes turn to the carriage expecting the prince to emerge at any moment, but no one steps forward to open the door and no one steps out.

 

Instead, the beautiful blonde woman bounds up the steps two at a time, until she standing before what remains of the Luthor household. Her wonderfully blue eyes land on Lena and look her over not too subtly, before turning to Lex and bowing slightly.

 

Lena can’t take her eyes off the blonde, but she can definitely imagine the offended look on her brother’s face.

 

“Your Majesties.” The woman says, nodding at Lex and Lillian. Her eyes dart back to Lena. “Your Highness.” She bows to Lena specifically this time, more fully, her hair slipping forward to shield her face.

 

The rest of the riders come to stand behind her, all bowing briefly.

 

“And who might you be?” Lillian asks, barely disguising her distaste, as her eyes rove over the Kryptonians.

 

The blonde stands out of her bow, dragging her eyes up Lena as she does. After a lingering look in Lena’s eyes, she turns her gaze to Lillian and Lex, clasping her hands behind her back.

 

“Forgive me. I am Princess Kara Zor-El of Krypton. I’ve come to retrieve Princess Lena and escort her back home to Argo.”

 

Lex looks even less pleased than Lillian as the woman speaks.

 

“You’re a princess of Krypton?” Lex doesn’t even try to disguise his outrage.

 

Lena watches Kara control her expression even as her hands curl into fists.

 

“Where is your prince?” Lillian asks “We were told to expect Kal-El.”

 

The Kryptonian princess forces a smile.

 

“My cousin sends his deepest apologies, but he is occupied at Court at the moment. He hoped to lessen the insult by sending someone of equal caliber to meet with you.”

 

“Equal caliber?” Lex mumbles skeptically.

 

Lillian ignores him.

 

“Very well, this is my daughter...” Lillian gestures to Lena rather unceremoniously. “Princess Lena Luthor. We do hope she’s to your cousin’s liking.”

 

Lena shoots a glare in her mother direction, before being distracted by Kara stepping directly in front of her.

 

“Hello, Princess.” Kara says softly. Lena quickly remembers her manners, and gives the woman her best curtsy. The Kryptonian’s dark blue eyes bore into Lena’s as she does.

 

“Your Highness.” Lena almost whispers.

 

Lillian must not like the way they’re staring at each other, because she does her best to draw attention away from Lena.

 

“You and your men must be tired after such a long journey. We’ve had our kitchen prepare a meal.”

 

The mention of food finally draws the blonde’s focus from Lena. She gives Lillian and Lex a genuine smile this time.

 

“That is very kind. Thank you.”

 

Lillian nods, no doubt proud of herself for seeming kind.

 

“And of course, if you’d like to stay a night or two and rest, we have plenty of accommodations.”

 

Lex looks at Lillian sharply, as if this wasn’t something they’d discussed, but he doesn’t have to worry long.

 

“Thank you, Your Majesty, but we need to be heading back to Krypton today.” Kara glances at Lena, a strange expression on her face. “My cousin is eager to meet his new bride.” 

 

Lena's fascination with the blonde is quickly overtaken by disgust at her words. Lena's skin crawls.

 

“Of course.” Lillian nods graciously, beckoning the Kryptonians forward. “In that case, we’ll get you all fed and send you on your way.”

 

They escort the Kryptonians into the grand dining room and Lillian has lunch served. No one seems eager to speak.

 

Kara’s royal guards are seated at a separate table. Kara, a large Knight she introduced as Ser James, and a short young man called Lord Schott all sit among the Luthors.

 

They all eat in uncomfortable silence for most of the meal. The Kryptonians eat ravenously, though not messily. Lex and Lillian pick at their food, and Lena doesn’t bother to eat at all. Kara seems to notice this, finally breaking the silence.

 

“Not hungry, Princess?” Kara asks gently. She gestures to Lena's untouched food. “I’m sorry to say the food we’ll be eating on our journey back to Argo will not be as enjoyable as this.” She offers Lena a small smile, that twists Lena’s empty stomach in a not entirely unpleasant way. Lena tries to ignore whatever that feeling is, pointedly pushing her plate away.

 

“I haven’t had much appetite lately.”

 

That earns her a sharp look from Lillian. Kara’s smile falters, something like pity flashing in her blue eyes. Lillian seems to notice and quickly tries to reassure the Kryptonian.

 

“Just nerves, I’m sure. Right, Lena, dear? So many big changes lately.”

 

Lena says nothing. Kara is still staring at her with concern, basically ignoring Lillian. Lex speaks for the first time since they sat down, finally forcing Kara’s attention from Lena.

 

“Tell me more about your kingdom, Kara Zor-El.” Lex prompts curiously. “Our peoples have been estranged for so long, Krypton is something of a mystery to me.” This peaks Lena’s interest as well.

 

“Yes, Princess.” Lena says “It’s like you’re from another world.”

 

Kara’s blue eyes glance between the Luthor siblings as she takes a drink of her wine.

 

“Of course, what would you like to know?”

 

Lex folds his hands on the table and leans forward with interest.

 

“You have more than one sitting monarch at a time?”

 

Kara nods, before explaining further.

 

“Yes, for the last few hundred years, Krypton has been ruled by three royal families at a time.”

 

“Seems like overkill.” Lillian chuckles, taking a sip of her wine.

 

“Yes.” Lex brow furrows “Does that not cause unnecessary conflict? How do you ever get anything done if you have to constantly convince two other parties?”

 

“Well, I suppose, we’ve found that the conflict is necessary in order to make the best decision.”

 

Lex laughs at the prospect. It’s the first time Lena’s heard him laugh since their father died. She thinks it doesn’t sound the same.

 

“How do you mean?” He asks Kara. Kara leans forward, her eyes glance between all the Luthors.

 

“It’s all about balance, Your Majesty.” She says with conviction. “No one person or family is allowed too much power in Krypton. It’s a safeguard against tyranny.”

 

Lex doesn’t look at all convinced, sitting back in his chair.

 

“And this works?” Lena finds herself asking. Kara’s eyes turn sharply to her, and Lena can’t seem to look away. “This pleases the people?” Kara nods slowly.

 

“So far? Yes, it seems to. We’ve had no civil wars since the system was implemented. It’s been hundreds of years of peace.” Kara tells her proudly.

 

“Fascinating.” Lena replies, finally breaking their eye contact and sipping from her wine.

 

“Very.” Lillian says curtly from behind her wine glass.

 

Lex sits up again, studying Kara closely.

 

“And, Princess, I’m curious, do all women in Krypton dress up like men? Or are you granted royal privilege?”

 

Lillian almost chokes on her wine, shocked at Lex’s rudeness.

 

“Lex!” she scolds him, angrily.

 

The blonde visibly tenses at Lex’s question, but doesn’t look very offended.

 

“It’s alright, Your Majesty, not a completely unjustified question.” Kara clears her throat. “All women in Krypton are welcome to dress however they like. The men too, for that matter.”

 

None of the Luthors can hide their surprise, looking nervously at one another. Kara chuckles.

 

“In Krypton’s cities you’ll find that most women wear trousers like me. In more remote areas near our borders, especially closer to Daxam, many still chose to wear dresses. It’s all personal choice.”

 

Lex shakes his head. Lena can’t tell if it’s just in disbelief or also in disapproval.

 

“And you carry a sword as well? Despite the fact, you have a bodyguard?” Lex gestures to Ser James. Ser James and Lord Schott have remained quiet during the entire meal, and they don’t look to keen to join the conversation now.

 

Ser James looks up from his nearly empty plate, and straightens in his chair now that he’s under scrutiny.

 

“Oh, Your Majesty, I’m not her bodyguard.” he says with an amused smile “I’m here as her friend.”

 

Lex’s face twists in confusion and also something close to alarm.

 

“Trust me.” Ser James continues “Kara is more than capable of taking care of herself.”

 

Kara smiles and tries not to laugh at the look on Lex’s face. Lena finds herself fighting a smile as well.

 

“Combat training is a very common practice for Kryptonian women.” Lord Schott asserts, drawing Lex and Lillian’s gaze.  The young man seems to regret speaking as soon as he finds all the Luthors’ eyes on him. He stutters. “They also help make up our armies.”

 

Lex’s eyes go comically wide.

 

“You’re joking!” Lex can’t contain his shock. Lillian rests a hand on his forearm to calm him.

 

“It’s true.” Kara says, firmly, clearly growing tired of Lex’s close-mindedness.

 

“That’s why your armies are so large.” Lena concludes. Lex glares at her, annoyed she’d point out Krypton’s superior military.

 

Kara, however, seems pleased. She smiles at Lena and nods.

 

“Precisely.”

 

Lena quickly glances away, but continues to smile at her brother’s clear discomfort.

 

The table falls into tense silence and soon Kara pushes her chair back and stands.

 

“Thank you so much for your hospitality, Your Majesties. It is greatly appreciated, but I think we’ve already taken up too much of your time. We really should be on our way.”

 

Back in the front courtyard, Kara has two of her guards unload a rather large chest from the back of the carriage. The Kryptonians hand it off to two of the Luthor guards. Kara gestures to the chest.

 

“And here is the agreed upon…” She hesitates, glancing at Lena “payment. You’re welcome to count it.”

 

Lena doesn’t return the Kryptonian princess’s gaze. For all of the blonde’s charm and the interesting customs of her kingdom, the chest full of treasure is a stark reminded of exactly what this is. Of exactly what Lena is to these people. Property to be bought and sold.

 

Staring at the chest, makes Lena want to crawl inside it. Makes her want to become just as valuable to her family as what’s in there now.

 

How is this more important? She wonders. How is this more important than the lifetime she and Lex spent consoling each other in the shadow of manipulative cold parents?

 

Lena doesn’t understand. Doesn’t think she’ll ever really understand this.

 

The urge to cry rises up in her sudden and sharp.

 

God, is this really happening?

 

Lena slows her breathing and tries not to blink, staving off this fresh wave of panic and sorrow. She wishes the Kryptonian girl weren’t watching her so closely, concern clear in her expression. Lena’s not sure she can remain composed under such scrutiny.

 

“That won’t be necessary.” Lillian says, in response to Kara’s previous statement. She gestures for the guards to take the chest away. Lex has returned to looking rigid and uncomfortable. Hands behind his back, chin held high, eyes forward. He looked like a king now, though a reluctant one.

 

“Well then…” Kara says, rocking awkwardly on her heels. “I’ll give you a moment to say your goodbyes.” She steps away respectfully. She goes over and checks to make sure her horse is saddled correctly as the rest of the Kryptonians mount up.

 

Lena turns to her mother, expecting nothing.

 

Lillian smiles tightly at her, her eyes searching Lena’s face for something.

 

“I think, we’ve said all we need to, don’t you, dear?” Lillian says, pleasantly. Lena can only glare at her. She gives Lillian all of her anger and none of her sorrow.

 

She steps over to face Lex, who to his credit does look sad to see her go.

 

“Brother?” Lena says, unable to keep a pleading note from her voice.

 

This is your chance, Lex. She thinks. This is your chance to be a hero.

 

He squares his shoulders and meets her eyes. Lena sees something settle in the green of his eyes. She knows it’s over before he speaks.

 

“Goodbye, Lena.” he says calmly.

 

Lena nods slowly, turning away just as a single tear escapes her.

 

Get it together, Lena! You’re on your own now.

 

She quickly makes her way down the steps to the carriage without looking back. Kara is there waiting to help her with a infuriatingly sympathetic expression. Lena ignores the pity on the blonde’s face and the helping hand she offers. Lena climbs into the carriage defiantly. Kara closes the door behind her.

 

Lena watches from the window as Kara bows to the remaining Luthors and mounts up.

 

The carriage jerks into motion and they're off.

 

It’s not until she hears the castle gates close behind them, well away from Lillian and Lex, that Lena curls in on herself, lays down in the seat and cries her eyes out.

 

She can hear Kara’s strong voice outside the carriage saying

 

“Come on, boys. Let’s get her home.”

Chapter Text

Lena must have cried herself to sleep, because next thing she knows the carriage is still and it’s dark outside. She sits up and stretches, her sides and chest noticeably sore from sobbing. Outside she can see the glow of a fire and hear laughter and conversation. Lena wipes at her eyes and tries to smooth out her dress. She knows she must look terrible after the crying and the sleeping and the traveling. She finds herself briefly wishing she had a mirror before remembering that she shouldn’t give a damn what these people think of her.

 

Lena opens the door to the carriage and places one foot on the ground. She doesn’t anticipate how soft the earth is, so her shoe sinks down into the dirt causing her to tumble out of the carriage and right into strong Kryptonian arms.

 

“Easy there, Princess! I’ve got you.” Kara says cradling Lena against her chest and pulling her the rest of the way out of the carriage.

 

Lena is momentarily distracted by the taut muscles of Kara’s shoulders and the woodsy smell of her blonde hair. So distracted, in fact, that she allows Kara to hold her for entirely too long before squirming against the Kryptonian’s embrace.

 

“Put me down!” Lena demands, pushing Kara away angrily.

 

Kara puts her down carefully on her feet, but keeps one hand on Lena’s arm to steady her. Lena shakes her off, putting some distance between them.

 

“Don’t touch me.” Lena hears herself say, holding a hand out to ward Kara off. Something close to hurt crosses Kara’s face. She lifts her hands palms out and takes a single step back.

 

“Alright, I’m sorry.”  Kara’s voice is gentle. Lena’s heartbeat slows and she lowers her hand, realizing she may have overreacted a bit.

 

“No, I...I’m sorry. I just…You frightened me.” Lena apologizes, feeling silly. Kara shakes her head.

 

“It’s alright. I understand.”

 

Lena narrows her eyes at the blonde.

 

How could you possibly understand? She doesn’t say.

 

Instead, Lena glances around, taking in their surroundings. Looks like they’ve made camp just off the main road. Several tents have been set up in a circle around a rather large fire. The rest of the Kryptonians are behind Kara sitting around the fire eating from a cauldron. They’ve all stopped and turned to stare at her and Kara.

 

Lena wraps her arms around herself. She can’t help the fear that creeps up the back of her neck. She’s never been surrounded by so many strange men before. Not without her father or her brother or at least some Luthor guardsmen.

 

Kara seems to sense Lena’s discomfort.

 

“We set up a tent for you.” she says tilting her head. “Let me show you.” Kara offers her hand, making Lena unconsciously flinch. Kara winces and frowns. “Sorry.” She says withdrawing her hand. “This way.” Kara gestures Lena forward instead.

 

Lena follows Kara to the largest of the tents and slips inside when Kara holds open the flap for her. Lena hadn’t realized she was cold until she feels the warmth of the tent. She uncrosses her arms, wringing her hands instead.

 

It’s nothing fancy. Just her two luggage crates and a bed with a small table beside it. A large torch by the entrance and a single candle by the bed give off soft fire light. Lena quickly moves over to stand by the bed as far away from Kara as possible.

 

“I hope this will be alright for a few nights.” Kara is saying, standing awkwardly, rubbing at the back of her neck.

 

Lena says nothing, walking over to the crate with all her clothes.

 

Kara clears her throat. “You can get changed and...settled.”

 

Lena just watches as Kara bows slightly, before exiting the tent. Lena can’t help but smile to herself a little.

 

What a strange girl.

 

Lena quickly changes into a sleep gown, just barely getting it on before Kara is back. The Kryptonian freezes in the entryway, halfway in the tent and turns bright red as Lena quickly pulls the gown into place.

 

“I’m-I’m so-sorry.” she stammers, looking pointedly away from Lena. “I should have knocked or shouted or something. I should have done something.”

 

Lena feels her own face heat up, as she smooths the gown out nervously and goes to sit on the makeshift bed.

 

Kara steps the rest of the way into the tent, slowly walking over to Lena and offering her a bowl of stew.

 

“I thought you might be hungry. You didn’t eat before we left.”

 

Lena eyes the food halfheartedly. It doesn’t smell bad and Lena can feel hunger gnawing at her stomach, but the idea of eating is still pretty unappealing.

 

“Thank you, Your Highness.” Lena says taking the bowl and holding it in her lap. Kara immediately takes two steps back, for which Lena is grateful.

 

“You don’t have to...call me that.” Kara says awkwardly.

 

“What?” Lena looks up at her curiously. Kara is rocking on her heels again, hands clasped in front of her.

 

“Your Highness or princess or any of that. You can just call me Kara.”

 

Lena studies her closely. Kara is a tall girl at least while wearing her riding boots. She carries herself confidently in her trousers and armor, her hand rests easily on the hilt of the sword on her side. Her blonde waves shift and sway over her shoulders and across her face as she rocks restlessly. Her blue eyes glance around the tent as if she’s trying not to stare at Lena.

 

“You don’t have to be afraid.” Kara says after a moment, jolting Lena from her inquiry.

 

“I don’t?” Lena asks skeptically, meeting her eyes. Kara frowns and steps forward. She kneels just in front of Lena so they’re on the same level.

 

“I’m not going to let anyone hurt you. I promise.”

 

A crinkle forms between the girl’s eyebrows and her head tilts along with her frown. Lena is surprised by her sincerity, by the seriousness of her tone. Lena doesn’t know what to say. Doesn’t know whether to believe her.

 

Kara doesn’t press her. She just stands up with a sigh.

 

“I’m in the tent to your right. A guard will be by the fire all night. If you need anything, don’t hesitate to ask.” She walks over and pulls the flap back before adding “Try to sleep, Your Highness. I’ll see you in the morning.” Then she ducks out, leaving Lena alone.

 

“Goodnight, Kara.” Lena whispers to the empty tent.

 

------------

 

Lena doesn’t remember falling asleep.

After Kara left her tent, she reluctantly tasted the stew and quickly discovered she was ravenous, finishing the bowl. Then she had laid down and listened to the sounds of the soldiers talking outside. She couldn’t quite make out their conversations, but the murmur of the voices mingled with the sounds of the countryside. Every once in awhile they would erupt in laughter and Lena would startle, before catching the distinct feminine laugh among the uproar; Princess Kara.

 

What sort of princess sat around the fire joking with guardsmen? Lena had wondered. What sort of princess wore armor and a sword and didn’t care to be called Princess?

 

Eventually, the conversation outside had died down as the Kryptonians drifted off to bed. Lena guessed, in the quiet darkness of her tent, exhaustion finally caught up to her.

 

Now as she is prodded awake by the sounds of activity outside, she glances around in sleepy confusion. For a moment she is alarmed because she doesn’t immediately recognize her surroundings, before the memories of yesterday rush back to her.

 

Oh, yes. I’m a prisoner. How could I have forgotten?

 

Lena gets out of bed and quickly changes out of her sleep gown.  She takes the time to brush out her hair and hurriedly wrestle it into a side braid. It didn’t look nearly as neat as when Jess did it for her, but it would have to do. Lena assumes she’d only be tucked away inside the carriage all day anyway.

Lena paces the length of her tent anxiously, wondering if the Kryptonian princess would come retrieve her soon or if perhaps she was expected to venture outside herself or if she were even allowed outside by herself. So far she had been treated well, like an honored guest rather than a captive. But Lena remained reluctant to think the best of the situation. She couldn’t help but think of the chest full of wealth her family had received in exchange for her and the way Kara had spoken about Kal-El's eagerness to meet her. It still made Lena blood boil and her skin crawl. The idea of this foreign man she’d never met, sending for her the way Lena would send Jess to the kitchen to fetch food.

 

At last, Lena couldn’t stand to wait anymore. Despite having eaten all of the stew last night, her stomach cramped with hunger. And the longer she was left alone with her thoughts the darker they became.

 

Lena cautiously poked her head out of the tent, glancing around. She was surprised to find that there wasn’t a guard stationed right outside. Stepping out of the tent entirely Lena was startled to see that the majority of the camp had been torn down already. Hers was the only tent left standing. The Kryptonians hurried about packing and loading preparing to continue their journey, even though it was just now dawn. The morning sun was just peeking halfway over the horizon.

 

“Good morning, Your Highness!” Lord Schott approached her slowly, a friendly smile on the young man’s face. Lena eyes him warily.

 

“Hello, Lord Schott.”

 

The young lord couldn’t have been much older than Lena herself, and he didn’t carry himself like a lord. In fact, he seemed a bit self-conscious, gesturing with his hands nervously as he spoke. It reminded Lena of the way Kara had behaved in the tent last night, nervous and awkward. Perhaps it was a Kryptonian thing. Though unlike the princess, Lord Schott didn’t carry a sword and he didn’t wear any armor. He was a small fellow, not really built for fighting.

 

What sort of kingdom was she entering? Where princesses were warriors and lords were weaklings? A rather interesting one she supposed.

 

“I hope you slept well, Princess. I don’t imagine you’re use to camping much.” Lord Schott was saying. When Lena said nothing he held out a bowl toward her that she hadn’t even noticed he was holding. “I saved you some breakfast.”

 

Lena carefully took the bowl from him, which was filled with bread and some yellowy brown mush that may have been eggs.

 

“You have to be quick about food around this lot.” he tells her gesturing around at the guardsmen, with a smile.

 

Lena does her best to return his smile, dipping her head in gratitude for the food.

 

“Thank you, My Lord. It was very kind of you.”

 

Lena glances around awkwardly looking for somewhere to sit and eat. What little camp there was last night has been packed up. She briefly considers going back into her tent to eat, just before she watches two of the guardsmen go in to begin packing and dismantling it now that Lena is awake.

 

Lord Schott gestures over to several logs that have been set up around the fire, which has since been put out.

 

“Come. Sit.” He says kindly. Lena does has he suggests and situates herself on a tree stump uncomfortably. He sits down across from her, giving her plenty of space, for which she is grateful. Lena starts in on the food. It doesn’t taste as bad as it looks.

 

“Lord Schott,” Lena says after a few bites “where is Princess Kara?” Lena has found herself looking around for the blonde Kryptonian in vain.

 

“Please, Princess, you can call me Winn. Lord Schott was my father.”

 

Lena’s brows furrows in confusion, but she doesn’t question it.

 

“Kara and James rode into a village not far from here early this morning to get some supplies.”

 

Lena eyes widen in alarm. The princess had promised to protect her then instantly ridden off and left her alone with all these soldiers.

 

Winn must read the distress on her face. He leans forward as if to touch her before thinking better of it. He offers a reassuring smile instead.

 

“She asked me to look after you, when you woke up. But don’t worry, she’ll be back soon.”

 

He looks genuine enough, relaxing Lena enough to resume her meal. She can feel him eyeing her sadly.

 

“I imagine this is difficult for you to believe, but no one here would hurt you, Princess. These are all good men. And besides, Kara wouldn’t let them.”

 

Lena scoffs skeptically, startling Winn.

 

“Why? So I’m in pristine condition for her cousin? That’s lovely.”

 

A pained expression settled on Winn’s face, and he presses his mouth into a thin line.

 

“Besides, she can’t control what happens when she’s not around, Lord Schott.” Lena concludes coldly.

 

Winn bites his lip choosing his next words carefully.

 

“I can understand your anger, Princess. But I promise, soon you’ll find your circumstances aren’t quite as dreary as they appear right now.”

 

Lena sets aside her empty bowl and leans forward preparing to ask what he means, before their attention is drawn to the sound of horses approaching.

 

Lena turns to see Kara, Ser James, and another guard riding towards them, their horses weighed down with supplies.

 

Winn stands and steps away from her before Lena can question him further.

 

Several guards step forward as Kara dismounts, they take her horse and the supplies as Kara strides over to Lena and Winn.

 

Lena tries to ignore how golden and brilliant Kara’s hair looks in the morning sunlight, and the way her stomach flutters when the girl greets her with a bright smile.

 

“Good morning, Princess.” Kara nods to Lena rather than bowing, so Lena simply nods in return. “Have you eaten?” Kara asks when greeted with Lena’s silence.

 

“Yes.” Lena says quietly, avoiding Kara’s gaze, and shifting uncomfortably. “Lord Schott has been keeping me company.”

 

.“Yes, I didn’t want you to be alone while I was away.” Kara turns her gaze to Winn, who smiles shyly and nods. “Thank you, Winn.”

 

“Anytime.” Winn replies brightly, bowing slightly to Lena.

 

“Well then, Princess, if you’re ready, I'm eager to get back on the road.” Kara says with a sigh.

 

Lena only nods her agreement.

 

Kara claps her hands to get the whole camps attention, raising her voice into a strong command.

 

“Let’s move out!”

 

All the guardsmen that were milling about finish up their tasks and prepare to mount up. Kara turns back to Lena. Instead of offering her arm or reaching for her this time, Kara simply gestures grandly towards the carriage, never entering Lena’s personal space.

 

Lena feels herself relax. The princess at least seemed to be making an effort to make Lena feel comfortable and safe. Lena knew Kara’s kindness meant very little given what she may face in Krypton, but still in this moment Lena found herself very grateful that the blonde was respecting her boundaries.

 

-----------

 

They traveled all day and on into dusk. Finally breaching the borders of Lena’s new home: Krypton.  Once inside the safety of her own land Kara decides they can settle for the night.

 

This time Lena allows Kara to help her out of the carriage. Lena briefly clasps Kara’s hand in hers, and immediately drops it once both her feet are firmly on the ground. Kara doesn’t comment, but a sympathetic look crosses her face.

 

It’ll take some time for the Kryptonians to set up camp and prepare a meal. So Lena walks around the campsite several times, happy to stretch her legs after being cooped up in the carriage all day.

 

Lena isn’t kept under strict guard. In fact, no one seems to be particularly assigned to watch her. All the men bow slightly as she passes them, keeping a respectful distance. She isn’t being treated like a prisoner which she was both grateful for and perplexed by.

 

Were the Kryptonians so self-righteous that they couldn’t bare to treat Lena like exactly what she was? Their prince’s whore? Lena wondered bitterly.

Though perhaps Winn had been right when he’d spoken to her that morning. Maybe their was more to the situation that she understood.

 

One of the guards came to politely inform her that her tent was set up. But Lena jumps at the sound of his voice, taking a few frighten steps away from him.

 

Kara bounds up, having noticed Lena’s alarm, and pats the guard's shoulder to dismiss him. He bows slightly, glancing apologetically at Lena before leaving.

 

“Would you like to eat by the fire tonight?” Kara asks gently.

 

Lena looks over Kara’s shoulder where the men have begun distributing bowls of food from the cauldron. They laugh and shove at one another good-naturedly. Kara must sense Lena’s hesitation.

 

“It’s colder out tonight and we’re further north.” Kara says as Lena wraps her arms around herself “Come eat by the fire. That and the stew will warm you up before bed.”

 

Lena rolls her eyes, relenting.

 

They’ve been nothing but kind so far. She reminds herself.

 

“Very well.” she says, gesturing for Kara to lead the way. The blonde’s face lights up with a toothy smile, and Lena finds herself smiling back.

 

Are all Kryptonians this easy to please?

 

Kara leads her over and all the men part to make way for them. Kara hands Lena a gloriously warm bowl of stew that smells delicious and has Lena sit down next to Winn. He smiles and scoots to allow Lena plenty of room on the log they’ll be sharing.

 

“Nice of you join us, Your Highness.” He says eating a big spoonful.

 

“Thank you, Lord Schott.”

 

“You seem to enjoy the formalities.” He points out.

 

Lena nods. “Yes, they help keep things...professional.” Lena tells him taking a bit of her stew.

 

Lena suppresses a moan at how warm and hearty it is. Nothing like what she usually ate back at home, but still very good for roadside food. She squeaks in surprise as Kara drapes something over her shoulders. It’s Kara’s cloak, red and thick, embroidered with the sigil of the House of El. Lena pulls it closer around herself, grateful for the warm.

 

“You look cold.” Kara explains, taking a seat next to Lena and digging into her food. Lena can smell Kara on the cloak, the same woodsy earthy smell as her hair. She blushes as she catches herself watching the blonde. Kara eats hungrily and without posh, adorably stuffing her face.

 

“You’re a strange sort of princess.” Lena says not unkindly. Kara turns looking Lena up and down with a shrug.

 

“No stranger than you are to me.” She sounds amused. Lena rolls her eyes.

 

“How far are we from your home? Argo, right? Krypton’s capital?” Kara nods.

 

“Yes. That’s where the royal families live. We’ll be there by the end of the day tomorrow.”

 

Lena takes another dainty spoonful of stew, and Kara smiles at her.

 

“Don’t worry, Princess, you won’t have to dine like this much longer.”

 

Lena shrugs and wipes at her mouth.

 

“I don’t mind it. The stew is very good, actually.”

 

Winn laughs beside her, startling Lena a bit.

 

“It should be.” He says “It’s stag tonight instead of squirrel.” Lena can’t help that her nose crinkles up in disgust.

 

“Squirrel?” She asks, clutching her bowl protectively, as if someone might sneak up and try to put squirrel in her food.

 

“That’s what was in the stew last night.” Kara says, stifling a laugh. Lena’s eyes go wide in horror as she glances from Kara to Winn in disbelief.

 

“You’re messing with me.” She says hopefully. Kara does laugh then, shaking her head. It's a beautiful contagious sound.

 

“I’m afraid not, Highness.”

 

The appalled  look on Lena’s face makes Winn cackle.

 

“Did you like it?” Winn asks her.

 

Lena stutters, “I-I was really hungry.”

 

Winn and Kara both laugh harder, even a few of the surrounding guardsmen, who have grown quiet in Lena’s presence, snicker and smile.

 

“I suppose maybe squirrel isn’t so bad.” Lena concludes, going back to eating her stew.

 

“You may find that true about alot of things that seem unpleasant, Princess.” Ser James speaks directly to Lena for the first time from his place on Kara’s other side. Everyone goes quiet waiting for Lena's reaction to his weighted words. Lena tenses and stops chewing for a moment before composing herself. Kara shoots Ser James a warning look.

 

After a moment of painfully awkward silence, Lena manages to respond.

 

“I certainly hope you’re right, Ser.” Lena says calmly. Ser James avoids her gaze, seeming to regret his comment. Lena sets aside her empty bowl and stands. “I think, I’ll retire for the night.”

 

“Goodnight, Your Highness.” All the guards mumble awkwardly around their food. Kara stands as well.

 

“I’ll escort you.”

 

Of course, Lena doesn’t need an escort, her tent is only ten steps away, but she doesn’t protest as Kara follows after her.

 

Just like the night before, Kara holds open the tent flap for Lena and follows her inside.

 

“I’m sorry about James.” She blurts immediately. “He didn’t mean any harm really.”

 

Lena sits down on the makeshift bed and begins removing her boots.

 

“Tell me about him.” Lena asks quietly.

 

“About James?” Kara takes a few steps closer, wringing her hands nervously.

 

“No, about your cousin. Tell me about Kal-El.”

 

Kara straightens up. “Oh.”

 

Lena looks up at her expectantly, finding a strange look on Kara’s face. The blonde has her bottom lip caught between her teeth.

 

“Lena…” she sighs

 

“My mother said he was handsome.” Lena tells her angrily “As if that were meant to make everything better.”

 

Kara slowly, slow enough for Lena to stop her, comes to sit on the end of the bed. She sighs again sadly.

 

“He is handsome, I think. I mean, he’s my little cousin so I think he looks kind of dopey most of the time.” Kara chuckles a bit to herself “But...I’m told by basically everyone else that he’s handsome.”

 

Lena says nothing, playing absentmindedly with the fabric of her dress. So Kara continues.

 

“He’s very kind. And a bit bumbling when he’s not in public. But he’s also brave and smart.”

 

“Dopey. Kind. Bumbling. Brave. Smart. Well, he sounds like quite a man, your prince.” Lena voice is mocking, but her face shows no hint of humor. “I must be a lucky girl.”

 

She won’t look at Kara, but she can tell the girl wants to reach out and touch her, wants to offer some kind of comfort. Kara resists though. Lena feels tears begin to sting her eyes so she stands and turns away as if to undress.

 

“You can leave me now, Princess.” She dismisses Kara quickly, determined not to show anymore weakness than she already has. Kara hesitates, lingering for a moment longer on the bed before getting up.

 

“I promise that...things will be different once we’re home.”

 

Kara leaves and Lena is left there thinking.

 

I don’t really have a home.

 

--------------

 

Later that night, as Lena lays awake in the darkness unable to sleep, she hears bickering outside.  It’s hard for her to understand at first, the voices are hushed and too far away for awhile, before drawing closer to her tent.

 

“You didn’t tell her? Why not?” one voice says, scolding.

 

“Because! It was-She was...I don’t know, okay!” That was clearly Kara. “She was upset and I just didn’t...I just didn’t know what to say.” The Kryptonian princess sounds sad and frustrated. Lena sits up in bed, listening more closely once she realizes they’re talking about her.

 

The other person sighs heavily. Lena thinks it may be Ser James.

 

“Don’t you think that once she knows, maybe she’ll feel better, safer. I don’t know. It just seems cruel to let her go on thinking…”

 

“I’m not trying to be cruel.” Kara snaps. It’s the first time Lena’s heard the blonde speak harshly. “What makes you think that to her, the truth will be any better than what she thinks now? What’s the difference really?”

 

“There’s a difference, Kara. You’re beating yourself up about this now, but...I think-”

 

“It doesn’t matter.” Kara cuts him off, sounding too tired to fight anymore “It doesn’t matter what you or I thinks, James. To her...to her this is all still a nightmare.”

 

They fall silent for a long moment.

 

“We’ll explain everything once we’re home. My parents will know what to say. Tomorrow is soon enough.”

 

Lena finds it impossible to sleep after that.

Chapter Text

Kara woke them bright and early the next morning, clearly eager to return home to Argo. They were on the road before the sun broke away from the horizon.

 

Lena had lay awake half the night worrying and wondering after what she had overheard the night before.

 

Ser James seemed to think that whatever the truth was would please Lena, or at the very least ease her anxiety. And yet Kara was reluctant to be honest with her.

 

Lena didn’t know Kara very well, obviously, but she certainly trusted the Kryptonian princess more than she trusted her knight friend. Afterall, Kara had been nothing but kind to Lena, and had promised to keep her safe. Of course, that all could have been lies. A ruse meant to placate her while they traveled. It was true that a prisoner you treated with kindness was less likely to cause trouble than one you treated with cruelty.

 

Even so, what could be the big secret? In Lena’s mind the worse was already upon her. She had been sold like chattel to a stranger to do with what he saw fit. What deeper truth awaited her in Argo? Lena had shuttered to think.

 

In the morning, when Kara woke her, Lena had briefly considered confronting her. Demanding to know what was in store for her. But the sight of Kara's kind eyes and bright smile had kept Lena silent. Perhaps, Kara was right, and Lena would rather not know. Not yet anyway.

 

Now, she sat looking out the window of the carriage as it rocked this way and that, taking in the Kryptonian countryside. Lena was surprised by how different Krypton was from her home, even just the landscape was like another world. Her home kingdom of Manor was a rather drab land. Full of towering brown forests, steep cliff mountains, and dusty mining country. Everything seemed so gray there. Like it were covered in a layer of dust. But Krypton...Krypton was beautiful. Most of what she had seen so far was sprawling moorland, shallow hills and valleys full of wild flowers or tall green grass. There wasn’t a tree in sight. Lena hated to admit that she kind of loved it.

 

In the afternoon, Kara called for a halt near a small stream so they could water the horses. Lena, who normally prefered to stay safely stashed away in the carriage, decided to venture out and stretch her legs. She managed to get out of the carriage on her own this time. And just as before the Kryptonians were polite and granted Lena her space, no one bothered her.

She finds Kara  down by the water, cooing to her white filly as the horse drank from the stream.

 

“Hello, Princess.” Kara greets her with a soft smile, obviously surprised and pleased to see Lena out of the carriage.

 

“Hello.” Lena says, averting her eyes from the blonde and studying the horse instead.

 

She is a strong young horse, white with a silver mane and tail, she has one gray sock on her left front leg. She drinks greedily from the stream, and seemed to take great pleasure in pawing at the water.

 

“She’s beautiful.” Lena mutters, reaching out to run her hand over the horse’s neck. She can feel Kara’s eyes on her.

 

“Yes, she is.”

 

Lena smiles despite herself and hopes the horse standing between them will hide the blush that rises in her face.

 

“Her name is Raza.” Kara goes on to say, patting the filly’s neck appreciatively.

 

Lena can’t keep the surprise from her voice. “She has a name?” Her brows furrow in confusion, as she finally looks over to meet Kara’s eyes. Kara’s expression mimics her own.

 

“Of course, she has a name!” Kara laughs “I named her myself. Right after she stood for the first time.” She adds proudly.

 

Lena shakes her head.

 

“We never named horses in my house.” Lena tells her. “Father would have found that sentimental.”

 

Kara plays absentmindedly with a braid in Raza’s mane.

 

“Perhaps it is, but...I don’t know. I can’t help but care.”

 

Lena hates that she’s made Kara’s smile retreat.

 

“That’s not a bad thing, Princess. I wish he had cared a bit more.”

 

Kara looks up at her then. “I never offered my condolences...for your father, I mean.”

 

Lena shrugs and looks away. “Why would you? You hated him, didn’t you?”

 

She refuses to look at Kara’s face, but she hears such sympathy in her voice.

 

“How could I? I didn’t know him. And...no matter what… he was your father. And you lost him. I can be sorry for that.”

 

Lena nods sharply, desperate to change the subject.

 

“I may never have named my horses, but I do love riding.” Lena says cheerfully. “It’s one of the few unladylike things mother allowed me to do.”

 

Kara’s face brightens.

 

“I wish I had known! We would have brought you a horse! Or...oh no, did you have a horse at home? One you were fond of? We could have brought it for you.”

 

Lena shrugs.

 

“No, no, it’s alright. I had many horses in the Luthor stables, but like I said...We never really got attached.”

 

“Well,” Kara says firmly “You can ride with Raza and I then.” she pats Raza’s back as if to demonstrate how sturdy she is. “If you’d like?” Kara asks, sounding less sure of herself.

 

Lena smiles. “Yes, that might be nice.”

 

Raza paws at the water as if in agreement, splashing both Lena and Kara who shriek in surprise. Both girls dissolve into laughter, grinning at each other over Raza’s back.

 

When it’s time to mount up again, Kara effortlessly swings up into the saddle, steadying Raza, before reaching down for Lena’s hand. Lena bites her lip nervously, before grasping Kara’s hand and swinging herself up. Raza dances in place for a moment and Lena wraps her arms around Kara in an effort to stay on. Her front pressed firmly into Kara’s back. Her face against the red fabric of Kara’s cloak, just above the symbol for the House of El.

 

Kara laughs and it’s a full, musical sound.

 

“Hold on tight, Princess.” Kara places her hand over Lena’s which are clasped tightly just below the Kryptonian's breasts. “I’ve got you.” She whispers over her shoulder.

 

Lena’s heart is pounding and not because she’s up on the horse. She nods against Kara’s back, not trusting herself to say anything at the moment.

 

They move out, resuming their journey and Kara swears they’ll reach Argo before dinner.

 

Kara and Lena travel in comfortable silence. They ride ahead of everyone else, and Lena can hear the scraps of conversation from the riders behind them, but Kara seems perfectly content to just admire the land.

Every once in awhile, Kara will reach up and touch Lena’s hands as if to check she still there. Though Lena knows perfectly well the princess can feel her breathing, can feel her arms tighten around her middle when they climb a hill, can feel Lena turning her head against her back.

 

Kara urges Raza forward at a gallop, Lena clinging to her as they crest a particularly big hill. Kara halts Raza at the top of the hill, taking in the view. A massive valley opens up ahead of them. The landscape flattens out into farmland, miles and miles of crops, dotted with farm houses and a few tiny villages. And there on the far side of the valley, perched just beneath the horizon, a city rises up. It’s towers shining and sharp jutting up towards the sky. Lena has never seen anything like it.

 

“That is Argo.” Kara sighs in relief. “That’s your new home, Lena.”

Chapter Text

Argo is magnificent. It’s a beautiful sparkling city like something out of Lena’s fairytale books. It’s almost as bright and brilliant as it’s princess. Lena can’t help but think.

 

News of the Kryptonian princess’s return must spread like wildfire. Citizens slip quickly out of their homes and businesses to gather in the streets and greet Kara with nothing short of adoration. The guardsmen form a line on each side of Raza in order to hold the doting masses at bay as they travel through the outer rings of the city. Kara seems to wholeheartedly return the people’s affection. She waves and smiles, looking benevolent and humble. Almost embarrassed by the attention, though certainly not unaccustom to it. No one seems to pay any mind to Lena shyly clinging to the Kryptonian’s back, face buried in Kara’s cloak. It makes Lena wonder how often Kara rides into town in the company of foreign women.

 

The royal palace is a large compound at the city’s center, consisting of towers and villas and gardens and fountains. It’s nothing like the castle Lena grew up in. It’s bright and open, full of warmth and people.

 

Kara pulls Raza to halt just inside the front gate, in front of the main house. Kara dismounts as a dozen servants and their children wander over to greet Kara, Winn, and James, who return their interest warmly.

At last, Kara turns back to Lena and helps her slip down from Raza’s back. They are entirely too close when Lena’s feet hit the ground. Lena’s hands gripping Kara’s shoulders, Kara’s hands on Lena’s hips. Lena is quick to pull away, maybe too quick, as a blush colors her face.

 

Kara doesn’t introduce her to the people milling about eyeing them curiously, instead she just gestures for Lena to climb the steps.

 

“Let’s get you inside, Princess. We’ll be expected for dinner soon.”

 

Lena nods wordlessly, taking Kara’s direction.

 

Kara waves goodbye to everyone, apologetically.

 

“James, Winn, we’ll see you at dinner?”

 

James and Winn exchange an awkward look.

 

“Perhaps, tonight is more of a family affair.” James says, pointedly looking at Lena.

 

Kara frowns, but nods “Perhaps.”

 

Lena watches as James and Winn both force a smile and bow slightly.

 

Kara inclines her head to them, then offers Lena her hand. Lena stares at it for a moment, like she’s never seen a hand before, then takes it with a reluctant smile and allows Kara to lead her into the palace.

 

Kara leads Lena hurriedly through the palace halls, clearly knowing the place like the back of her hand. But Lena loses track of the turns they take rather quickly. This place seems endless.

 

“I thought your family would have been there to greet us.” Lena says curiously, as she shuffles along behind Kara’s long strides. “And Kal-El...I thought he’d be here.”

 

“They’re here.” Kara tells her. “They just...I didn’t want you to feel overwhelmed when you’ve just arrived.”

 

Is she just being thoughtful or is she stalling? Lena couldn’t be sure. She is about to ask Kara that very question, when Kara stops her short.

 

“Here. This is it.” Kara says, opening the door and showing Lena inside.

 

“This is what?” Lena enter cautiously.

 

It’s a bedchamber. A very lavish bedchamber. A canopy bed covered in more pillows than Lena can count and a bathtub big enough for five people right by the balcony which overlooks a blooming garden. Rows and rows of empty bookshelves line the walls. And Lena’s two crates from home already sit inside, waiting to be unpacked.

 

“This is your room.” Kara tells her, brightly “Well, for now anyway…” What Kara doesn’t say hangs between them. Soon she’ll marry Kal-El and then she’d be expected to spend a certain amount of time in his bed. At least until an heir was produced. The thought chases the smile from Lena’s face. Kara frowns as well.

 

“It’s beautiful, Kara. Thank you.” Lena says quietly, venturing further into the room, running her hand over the empty shelves and smooth surface of the tub. “It’s lovely.”

 

Kara nods, pleased that Lena approves.

 

Two servant girls appear at Kara’s back, falling quickly into curtsies when Lena and Kara turn toward them.

 

“Your Highnesses.” They say in unison.

 

Both girls stare openly at Lena as they enter the room at Kara’s behest.

 

“This is Siobhan,” Kara points to the taller of the two “and Alana.” She points to the shorter girl. “Your handmaids.”

 

“Oh.” Lena can’t help thinking of Jess, all the years they spent together, the closest thing she had to a friend. These girls reminded her of Jess. Both had dark brown hair, brown eyes, dressed plainly for work.

 

“This is Princess Lena.” Kara tells them, unnecessarily.

 

“Two of them?” Lena smiles “You must think I’m high maintenance.” She teases Kara, who sputters for a moment.

 

“They’re here for whatever you need.” Kara says finally. She turns to the girls. “Run her a bath, please.” The girls spring into action at Kara’s command.

 

Lena considers protesting. A part of her is eager to get everything over with. Eager to meet her fiance, her new kings and queens. Eager to know what Kara is keeping from her. But another part, a bigger part, is tired and grimy from traveling, and incredibly nervous about meeting her prince.

 

Kara gives her a soft smile. “Try to get some rest, Princess. We’ll be having dinner soon, so…” Kara rocks on her heels again. Her nervous tick, Lena supposes. “So just try to relax.”

 

Kara goes and Lena misses her instantly, which makes her angry.

 

Relax? Unlikely. Lena wonders if she’ll ever be able to relax again in her life.

 

-----------

 

Lena watches the sun sink into the city from the comfort of her bath and for a little while she’s able to stomp out the dread that’s  tightening in her chest. Then Siobhan and Alana come to dress her for dinner, and the anxiety springs back up like weeds.

Lena picks out her favorite gown, a dark green fabric with silver seams. Even her mother had to admit it compliments her eyes like nothing else. The girls braid her hair intricately and produce a silver tiara to match the dress. It always seemed a little much to Lena, the whole crowns and tiaras thing, but she was technically a princess, perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to look the part.

 

Lena’s not sure why, but she wants to look good for this. For whatever happens next. Maybe because this is her life now, whether she likes it or not, so she might as well look put together even if she’s going to fall apart. Maybe because displeasing or disrespecting her new husband is not advisable given how powerless she is here.

 

Or maybe it’s because Kara will be there.

 

Though she hates to think of the implications of her desire to look nice for Kara. Nothing good can come of it.

 

Kara comes to retrieve her just as the sky turns fully dark. Lena trembles with nerves as Siobhan answers Kara’s knock at the chamber door. The sight of Kara standing in the doorway does nothing to calm Lena.

 

The blonde looks incredible, but even more so than usual. She is dressed very formally, in a dark blue tunic with silver buttons down the middle,  white trousers, and black boots. Her signature cloak was missing Lena notices, but the House of El sigil does mark the front of her left shoulder in silver. Her hair is down, golden waves tumbling around her shoulders, but a small braid wraps around her head like a crown.

 

Lena stares. Not staring was not an option. Her mouth may have even fallen open, momentarily.

 

Kara bows grandly, a smirk on her pretty face, like she knows how good she looks.

 

“You look wonderful, Princess.” Kara tells her, since Lena seems to have lost the ability to speak.

 

“Th-Thank you.” Lena stutters, hastily curtsying for Kara, which earns her another smirk. “Y-you clean up nicely.” Lena says finally regaining her composure.

 

Kara turns and offers Lena her arm. “Well, if I’m going to be standing next to you…” Lena grins and blushes, linking her arm with Kara’s. “Are you ready?” Kara asks softly, placing her other hand on Lena’s arm.

 

Lena looks straight ahead, steeling herself.

 

“Does it matter?”

 

Kara sighs, but doesn’t respond. She quietly escorts Lena through the palace, across courtyards, and finally to what seems to be the center of the compound.

 

“This building contains the formal dining room and the throne room where we hold court.” Kara tells her as they enter.

 

As they walk through the foyer, Lena finds herself clutching onto Kara’s arm, her nails digging into the fabric of the tunic, her heart pounding. Kara notices of course, she stops them in front of two guardsmen who are waiting to open the dining hall doors for them.

 

Kara turns Lena to face her and takes both her hands, squeezing gently.

 

“Hey, hey, it’s alright, Princess. It’s alright.” She coos softly, as Lena avoids her eyes. She stares instead at their joined hands.

 

“I’m afraid.” Lena hisses. She angry and ashamed of herself. She’s meant to have more control of herself than this. Lena may have lived her entire life at Lionel’s mercy, dependant on his generosity and willingness to claim a bastard. She may live the rest of her life at the mercy of the House of El, reliant on their civility to keep her unharmed. She may have absolutely no control over her circumstances, but dammit the only thing Lena always had control of was herself.

 

So why couldn’t she pull it together now? Why was she wavering?

 

Kara is there, her face close to Lena’s, their foreheads almost touching. She’s rubbing soothing circles on the back of Lena’s hands with her thumbs.

 

“I know. I know, you are. And I’m so sorry, for all of this. For all you’ve been through. It’s alright to be afraid, Princess.”

 

Lena takes a deep breaths trying to slow the rapid beating of her heart.

 

“And remember,” Kara says “I promised, not to let anyone hurt you. Remember that?”

 

Lena barks out a bitter choked laugh. “How? How are you going to protect me from this?”

 

A pained expression settles on Kara’s face and she won’t meet Lena’s eyes for a moment.

 

“I need you to trust me.”

 

Lena laughs again, harshly.

 

“I’m asking you to trust me, Lena.” Kara is pleading with her, and she calls her by her name. And Lena wants to. She wants so badly to trust in someone. But that had never been her life.

 

Lena takes a few moments and calms her breathing, her face falling into a neutral expression. She pulls her hands from Kara’s and links their arms again, turning towards the door.

 

“I guess, I don’t have much of a choice.”

 

Kara studies Lena with concern for a moment longer, before sighing heavily and nodding to the guardsmen, who have stood impassively throughout their exchange.

 

Both guardsmen reach forward and pull open the double doors.

 

Lena is struck by the sound of music pouring from the dining room, her eyes immediately drawn to the small band tucked on the corner stage of the expansive room. In the middle of the room, a long marble table that could easily seat twenty people is being filled with food by busy servants. And in their midst are the ten members of Krypton’s royal families.

 

They were all caught up in their own conversations. Talking casually, laughing, nibbling at the appetizers. But ten heads turn abruptly as Kara and Lena enter. All conversation ceases as the band plays on. Lena is sure they must all hear the thundering of her heart beating out of her chest.

 

For one terrible moment nothing happens at all. Every eye in the room just openly stares at Lena and no one speaks and Lena thinks she’d rather die than stand there for one more moment. Then mercifully, an older woman with long dark hair and a sharp nose stands up from her place at the table. She smiles brightly and opens her arms, beckoning Kara forward.

 

Kara gives Lena’s arm a reassuring squeeze, before gentle extracting herself from Lena’s side and rushing forward to embrace the other woman.

 

“Mother!”

 

The woman hugs Kara close. She pulls away only to look Kara over carefully, as if for injury, smoothing the hair from Kara’s face and tucking it behind her ears.

 

“Welcome home, my daughter.” She says, patting Kara’s cheek fondly.

 

The other royals stand as well, as the servants slip away. Next Kara hugs a tall older man, his hair peppered with grey, who kisses her forehead. Next a tall young woman rushes forward, nearly toppling Kara over. The woman’s hair is dark with a hint of auburn and Kara laughs warmly as she returns her embrace. Lena feels a strange spark of jealousy as she watches Kara linger in this other woman’s arms. It is quickly shoved aside however when Kara pulls away and turns back to Lena, and everyone else’s eyes follow hers.

 

Lena struggles not to fidget. She clasps her hands together in front of her, and lifts her chin proudly. She would not let them make her feel small.

 

The older brunette, Kara’s mother,  takes a tentative step forward, a welcoming smile on her face.

 

“Hello there.” She says inclining her head slightly.

 

Kara rushes back to Lena’s side, smiling reassuringly. She takes Lena’s hand and presents her to the room.

 

“Everyone, may I present, Princess Lena of House Luthor.”

 

Lena curtsies, clutching onto Kara’s hand.

 

“Princess,” Kara continues “this is my mother and father, Queen Alura and King Zor-El of Krypton.” She gestures to the older man she hugged, who steps forward to join his wife. He has kind blue eyes that remind Lena of Kara’s, and he inclines his head to her in greeting.

 

“Welcome, Princess.” he says warmly, his voice low and smooth. Lena feels her shoulders relax at the sound.

 

“Thank you.” She manages to say, clearing her throat.

 

Next, the young brunette steps forward, trailing behind her is another young woman, significantly shorter, with brown hair and a dimpled smile. They are both older than Lena and Kara, but only by a few years. Lena watches as the taller girl reaches blindly backwards, searching for the shorter one’s hand. They hold hands, their fingers intertwined, and Lena can’t help but openly stare.

 

Are they...together?

 

“This is Princess Alex Danvers,” Kara grasps the taller girl’s shoulder fondly “and her wife Princess Maggie.”

 

Lena’s eyes go wide.

 

Wife. She said wife. They’re married. Lena mind struggles to believe what she’s being told. She knew Krypton was progressive, but she had no idea...she could not have hoped or imagined for such open acceptance for people like...well like her.

 

“Oh.” Lena cannot restrain the sound of pure surprise and awe.

 

Alex and Maggie exchange smiles at Lena’s reaction, before curtsying slightly.

 

“Welcome, Princess.” They say together, taking a step back.

 

Lena is still unabashedly staring at the couple, when Kara pulls her away, introducing her to an older couple.

 

“This is my aunt and uncle, King Jor-El and Queen Lara.”

 

Lena remembers her manners and turns her attention towards the king and queen. The king is shorter than his brother, but obviously older. His hair is completely silver, but his face is still handsome, if a bit unreadable. He inclines his head to her politely. His queen is much the same, polite but straight-faced. Her hair dark brown and curly, but her eyes a dark blue. She was beautiful.

 

These are my in-laws? Lena wonders.

 

An older blonde approaches Lena with a enthusiastic smile. She takes the hand Kara isn’t holding and cradles it comfortingly in both of hers.

 

“I’m Queen Eliza Danvers.” She introduces herself, squeezing Lena’s hands. She is bright like Kara, dark blonde waves around her shoulders, and a soft expression. “And this is my husband, King Jeremiah. We’re Alex’s parents.” Her husband lays a hand on Queen Eliza’s shoulder, drawing her back gently with a fond smile.

 

“Careful, Eliza, you’ll overwhelm the poor girl.”

 

Eliza nods and releases Lena’s hands, taking a polite step back.

 

“It’s just lovely to meet you, dear.” Eliza says. King Jeremiah inclines his head to Lena with a warm smile.

 

“Yes, Princess, welcome to our home.”

 

And last, Kara almost reluctantly turns Lena the last of her family.

A young man, dressed just as finely as Kara in red and silver. His blue eyes just a shade darker than the blonde’s and his hair all but black. The rumors were true: he was very handsome. It annoys Lena that her mother had been correct. The prince flashes Lena a toothy smile, before stepping forward and taking Lena’s hand. He bows and brings the back of her hand up to barely brush his soft pink lips.

 

“Hello, Princess, I am Prince Kal-El, Kara's cousin.”

 

Lena can feel Kara tense up at her side. She wants to look at her, to understand what has her suddenly nervous. But Lena’s eyes are drawn to a woman that stands at Kal-El’s side.

 

She is young and beautiful. A mane of dark brown hair falls down her shoulders and a friendly smile. Lena’s eyes travel down the woman’s body to settle on her swollen round belly, which the woman caresses absently with both hands.  

 

Oh my…

 

“And this…” Kal-El continues, taking the pregnant woman’s hand and looking at her fondly “is my wife. Princess Lois.”

 

Lena’s eyes go wide as she looks from Kal-El to Lois to Lois’s belly.

 

Lois waddles forward, inclining her head to Lena, but not even attempting to curtsy in her condition.

 

“It’s nice to meet you, Princess.”

 

Lena thinks she might faint. That is the only rational response to what’s happening right now.

 

What the fuck is happening right now? 

Chapter Text

Kara made a mistake.

That much was clear to her now. She realized this at the exact same moment Lena’s eyes fell down Lois’s body to land with nothing short of shock on Lois’s baby belly. The look on Lena’s face was some twisted mix of confusion and horror. It made Kara’s stomach clench painfully and her face heat in shame.

Oh shit.

 

“I...I-I don’t understand.” Lena takes a slow step backward away from Lois and Kal-El. Her eyes dart between the couple and back down to Lois’s stomach. “What’s going on?”

 

Every brow in the room furrowed in confusion except Kara’s. Everyone turned to look at her sharply except for Lena who was still staring at Lois in disbelief. Kara felt herself wince at all the attention, panic rising quickly in her chest.

 

“Kara?” The look of pure outrage on her mother’s face prompts Kara to quickly avert her eyes. “You haven’t told her?” The accusation in her mother’s voice must catch Lena’s attention.

 

The brunette turns slowly to look at Kara, her surprise morphing into anger. Kara recognizes the same fierceness in Lena’s green eyes that had been directed at James a few nights before as they sat around the campfire, and a cold spike of dread crawls up the back of her neck. She had hoped to never see that green gaze aimed at her in such a way.

 

“Lena, I…”

 

“Haven’t told me what?” Lena demands, her voice growing low and cold.

 

Kara opens her mouth to offer an explanation before realizing none of her explanations are very good.

 

“Kara, how could you not tell her?” Alura sounds exasperated, her tone scolding.

 

“I wasn’t sure how.” Kara growls at her mother, frustrated and ashamed. “I didn’t know what to say! And the longer I didn’t say anything the harder it became, alright. I’m sorry! I should have told her!”

 

“Tell me what?” Lena all but shouts, pulling Kara and Alura’s attention. Kara takes a step towards her, reaching for her hand. Oh, how she wished they were alone. Having everyone here, staring, witnessing the pain her omissions had caused was unbearable.

 

More than anything she wished she had been braver days ago. She wished she hadn’t been such a fucking coward while they were on the road. James was right. Kara had only made Lena’s situation worse by lying.

 

“Lena, I’m sorry-”

 

“Don’t touch me!” Lena wrenches away from Kara’s touch, stumbling several feet back away from everyone. Kara flinches at the memory of their first night on the road when Lena had said the same thing outside the carriage.

Lena had been terrified then. Terrified someone would beat her or violate her. Terrified of Kara. They had come so far since then, in just a few days time. But now Lena’s voice trembled with anger rather than fear and she looked at Kara like she was a traitor or a trickster. Like she had meant to be so cruel.

“Why am I here?” Lena demands “What are you going to do with me now?” Her voice is steely and harsh, as she looks at each one of them with her chin high and her gaze steady. As if accusing them all. As if they were all to blame.

Eventually, her shining green eyes land back on Kara. “Will you pass me around to all your lords? Let them have their way? Or perhaps you’ll have a great hunt? Turn a Luthor loose in the forest and see how far she can get before the hounds descend. That wouldn’t be very civilized though, would it? And Kryptonians are nothing if not civil.” Lena’s words drip venom, and Kara could cry to think of what Lena must think them capable of. What she must think Kara capable of.

 

Kara shakes her head and tries to step toward her again “Lena, no, no…”

 

But her mother’s hand clamps firmly down on her shoulder, holding Kara back.

 

“Princess,” Her mother says, slowly, evenly, like she’s talking down a frightened horse “I can assure you, we mean you no harm. No one here will hurt you.”

 

Lena barks out a harsh bitter laugh, nodding skeptically.

 

“Right! Of course not! That’s what your princess has been promising me since the moment we met. But all she has done is lie. This entire arrangement has been a lie!”

 

Kara’s hands ball into fists, with the effort it takes her to stay still, to stay silent under her mother’s hand.

 

“You’re right, Your Highness.” Alura tells Lena carefully. “Kara withheld some very vital information from you. And that was wrong of her.” Alura glances briefly at Kara, who shrinks guiltily away from her mother’s touch. “But not everything was a lie.”

 

Lena glances from Kara to Alura, and Kara can see her mind turning. Lena straightens her back and crosses her arms over her chest, thrusting her chin up defiantly.

 

“Why am I here?” She asks again, deliberately. “The truth.”

 

Kara fixes her gaze on the floor as her mother steps forward to explain. This is the moment she’s been dreading.

 

“The truth is we don’t usually participate in arranged marriages in Krypton. And we haven’t for several generations now, even among the royals.”

 

Kara has to resist the urge to look up and gauge Lena’s reaction, instead she keeps her eyes on the floor and let’s her mother say everything she should have said days ago.

 

“However, when word spread of your brother’s offer my daughter became very…” Kara can feel her mother’s eyes on her again, choosing her words carefully “...Kara became concerned with your situation. We, of course, had heard of your father’s recent death. And before that rumors abound of the way he conducted his business and politics.”

 

Kara does glance up then, knowing Lena’s father was something of a sore subject. Lena’s lips were pressed into a thin line, perhaps with the effort it took her not to interrupt or disagree on her father’s behalf. But Lena remained still and silent as Alura continued.

 

“Your father had many enemies, Princess. Kara knew this. We were all concerned about the sort of people that might come forward to claim you. So Kara proposed that...well the only way we could think to control the outcome, the only real way to intervene would be to...purchase you ourselves.”

 

Alura lets that sink in, the room deathly silent as Lena absorbs the confession.

 

“You didn’t buy me for Kal-El…” Lena states more than questions, her eyes darting back to Kal-El and Lois where they stand hand in hand, looking more than a little uncomfortable.

 

“No.” Alura confirms. “We knew your kingdom was still very...close-minded. So we decided it would be simpler if your family thought you were being betrothed to a man, instead of…” It’s rare for Kara’s mother to hesitate. Even rarer for her to bite the inside of her cheek as if reluctant to say what needs to be said.

 

“Instead of…?” Lena seems genuinely confused for a moment. Kara is staring at her carefully from up under her eyelashes, desperate for a look of understanding to cross Lena’s expression. And then it does. Lena’s eyes widen slightly, her anger momentarily forgotten in place of her surprise. The brunette’s cheeks flush and her eyes turn slowly to Kara as realization spreads across her face.

 

Kara feels her own skin heat up from her chest to the tips of her ears. She holds Lena’s gaze and finally can’t help but crack a small apologetic smile.

Chapter Text

“Your Majesty, may I be excused?”

 

Overwhelmed is the only way to describe how Lena is feeling now. She had to admit, the moment she realized she was betrothed to Kara Zor-El she had felt an instant wave of relief wash over her.

 

She wasn’t to marry some mysterious, entitled prince who intended to do God knows what to her. No, instead, the universe had at last shown a shred of decency and allowed her to be promised to a woman. And not just any woman. A woman who had been nothing but kind and accommodating since the moment they met. A woman whose blue eyes made Lena feel safe and wobbly all at the same time. A woman who didn’t seem to possess any of the usual prejudice and haughtiness of royalty.

 

I’m betrothed to Kara Zor-El. I’m going to marry Kara Zor-El. Oh God.

 

Lena’s entire body had visibly relaxed after her initial shock had passed. But her relief was only pure for a moment, before her anger flowed back in.

 

The Kryptonian princess had lied to Lena from the moment they met. And continued the ruse despite Lena’s obvious misgivings about marrying a strange man. Kara had continued to withhold the truth even when she knew how scared and uncomfortable Lena was. She had allowed Lena to go on thinking the worse of her engagement. Why? Surely, not to be cruel. But certainly to gain Lena’s trust under false pretenses.

 

The moments after Lena’s revelation were filled with such emotional whiplash, that Lena just decided to focus on one. Anger. She was rather familiar with that and knew the proper way to express it. Her unexpected elation at the prospect of marrying Kara, on the other hand, was completely out of the realm of her experience, so Lena opted to ignore it for now until she could fully understand it.

 

And so Lena had fixed her eyes firmly on the floor, curled her hands into fists, and in a tight calm voice asked to be excused.

 

A look of dismay flashes across Queen Alura’s face as she watches Lena demeanor change again. And for a moment, Lena thinks the Queen will deny her request and force her to endure dinner. The Queen gestures briefly at the dinner table where the food has been growing cold.

 

“We haven’t even eaten yet. You must be hungry for something substantial after your journey?”

 

Lena shakes her head curtly. No, she had most definitely lost her appetite.  

 

“No, thank you. It’s been…” Lena’s eyes dart to Kara briefly, who is staring at her intently “a terribly exhausting few days. And I would really just like to be alone.”

 

Queen Alura sighs, obviously left with no excuse to deny Lena, and nods her head.

 

“Yes, of course, Your Highness.”

 

Kara steps forward her eyes wide with alarm.

 

“I’ll escort you back to your room?” Kara asks a bit desperately.  Lena avoids looking in her pleading blue eyes, because surely she couldn’t withstand that.

 

“No.” Lena says a bit more sharply than she intends. Kara’s face falls, her shoulders slump. And for a moment it looks as if Kara might insist. Then Princess Alex approaches her, resting a reassuring hand on Kara’s shoulder and effectively quieting further protest from the other girl.

 

“Ask one of the guards to escort you, Princess.” Queen Alura tells her.

 

Lena manages a small curtsy to the room, before swiftly taking her leave.

 

Back in her chambers, Lena is left alone with nothing but her thoughts, which are still sort of spiraling. She decides unpacking her books would be a good way to distract herself.

 

A couple of hours pass and Lena’s anger slowly gives way to exhaustion. She didn’t know what to feel anymore. Her grief over her father’s death and her family’s betrayal was still fresh in her mind. A dull ache in her chest like she was hollow. Then there was her anger both towards her mother, her brother, and now Kara as well. Though her anger towards the blonde was strange thing. She was both angry and hurt by Kara’s breach of trust.

Kara was the first and only person who had made Lena feel even a minuscule amount of safety since her father died and it had all been a manipulation. Or at least, it felt that way, whether that had been the Kryptonian’s intention of not, Lena felt mislead. So whatever slight thrill she may have felt about their betrothal was overshadowed by Lena’s apprehension about the blonde’s trustworthiness.

 

Just as Lena is about to call Alana in to help her dress for bed, her handmaid enters hesitantly, holding a rather large plate of food.

 

“What’s this?” Lena asks, taking the plate and gratefully inhaling the smell of food.

 

Not long after excusing herself from dinner Lena had realized she was ravenous, but had been too stubborn to request food.

 

Alana stares shyly at the floor. “Princess Kara is outside. She’d like to speak to you.”

 

Lena’s eyes widen in alarm.

 

“Should I um...tell her you’re indisposed?” Alana asks, giving Lena an easy out.

 

Lena hesitates, contemplating the pros and cons of speaking to Kara right now.

 

Cons, she still didn’t know what she was feeling. She was feeling too much really, something that was severely frowned upon in the Luthor household. She didn’t know what to say to this woman now. This woman who she was meant to marry. This woman she maybe kinda wanted to marry now that she knew it was in the realm of possibility. What if she said something that alluded to her attraction to Kara and embarrassed herself? What if Kara didn’t return her affection and was simply doing her duty? Lena could hardly bear the thought of being shackled to someone who didn’t really want her.

 

Pros, she knew that Kara possessed the ability to set her mind at ease. The Kryptonian princess had done it before and could probably do it again now if Lena only allowed her. Something about the blonde’s presence was a comfort to Lena, and she was in desperate need of some comfort right now. Besides, Kara was obviously here to explain herself. Perhaps Lena might gain some insight and understanding from whatever Kara had to say for herself. And what if, Lena dared to wonder, what if Kara wanted her too?

 

“You can leave us for now.” Lena told Alana, setting her food on the table and stepping cautiously towards the chamber doors.

 

She finds Kara sitting just outside her door, knees drawn up to her chest. Kara is still dressed in her lovely blue tunic from dinner, but it has been unbuttoned revealing a white undershirt beneath which has been untucked from her trousers. The blonde looks rather disheveled.

 

Kara startles at the sight of Lena in the doorway and nearly jumps to her feet before Lena stops her.

 

“No, just...stay there. Please.” Lena says, stepping out and closing the door behind her. Kara gives her a curious look as Lena steps across the hall and slides to the floor, mirroring Kara’s position. Lena avoids Kara’s eyes, drawing her own knees up and hugging them closely.

 

“Hi.”

 

“Hi.”

 

They sit in awkward silence for a moment. Lena leans forward resting her chin on her knees.

 

“I’m not allowed inside?” Kara asks, with a timid smile.

 

Lena toys with the fabric of her dress to avoid looking at Kara, who is most definitely staring.

 

“I wasn’t sure if I wanted to talk to you just yet.” Lena says simply. She sees Kara nod out of the corner of her eye.

 

“And you wanted to be able to leave if you don’t like what I have to say?” Kara muses.

 

“What do you have to say?” Lena asks, boldly.

 

Kara sighs and fidgets, her hands wringing in her lap.

 

“I’m sorry. Truely. I imagine you must feel...mislead. And I just...I can’t tell you how much I regret how I’ve handled things.”

 

Lena reminds quiet. So Kara continues.

 

“I realize now, of course, that keeping the truth from you was unnecessary and unfair. But I promise, Princess, I never meant to be cruel.”

 

“Why did you?” Lena asks, suddenly looking up into Kara’s sad blue eyes. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

 

Kara opens her mouth to explain, but struggles to find the words with Lena’s gaze on her. She looks up, resting her head back against the wall with a sigh.

 

“I originally planned to tell you the truth once we were away from your family, at camp that first night. But when we arrived and my suspicions about your situation were all but confirmed, I knew what you must think of me.”

 

Lena’s brow furrows. “Your suspicions about my situation?”

 

Kara nods, her eye still on the ceiling.

 

“You didn’t agree to any of this. Right? The offer your brother sent out was vague, but I was pretty sure whatever arrangement resulted from it was against your will. They sold you, didn’t they?”

 

Sold is such an ugly word. Lillian’s voice sneers inside Lena’s head.

 

“That’s why I did all this in the first place.” Kara says her voice getting low and angry as she speaks “Because it seemed obvious to me that you were in danger, and I just couldn’t stand the thought that this was all happening to you and you didn’t even have a say in it.” Kara sighs in frustration, not with Lena but with the way Lena had been treated. It’s the first time Lena has seen the princess look angry.

 

Lena feels hot tears brim in her eyes, instead of looking at Kara she stares at the floor just in front of Kara. Too afraid to blink and let the tears shed.

 

“Anyway,” Kara says, her voice softer now “I saw how angry you were, how afraid. And later I heard the way you spoke about Kal. How much you loathed the idea of him and I...I couldn’t stand the thought of you feeling that way about me.”

 

Lena remembers that second night on the road, when Kara had escorted her to her tent and tried to tell her something. Tried to tell her the truth. But Lena had distracted her by asking about her cousin, not even bothering to hide the scorn in her voice. At the time, she had hated the idea of Kal-El. Her prince. Her betrothed. But that was when all she knew about her engagement was that it was against her will. That was when all she knew of her betrothed was the fact that he was willing to buy her like a slave. She’s honestly not sure how she would have felt, if Kara had come right out with the truth that first night.

 

Kara finally brings her eyes back down to fix Lena with the most intense sincere gaze.

 

“The longer I didn't tell you the more difficult it became. I didn't know what to say and I made a mistake. It was selfish and cowardly, Princess. And I am truly sorry.”

 

Lena believes her. And God does Lena need to believe her. Lena laughs harshly to keep from crying. She shakes her head and hastily wipes tears from her eyes before they can fall.

 

“I can’t believe this is my life now.” Lena confesses. “I just...I still can’t believe my brother did this.” Lena shakes her head. “I thought he loved me.”

 

Kara looks on her with pity and Lena has to resist the urge to resent her for it.

 

Kara allows Lena a few moments of quiet, to rein in her emotions. Lena can tell the whole time the blonde is itching to come closer to her, to offer some physical comfort. But thankfully, Kara resists, respecting the boundary Lena has set between them. Lena wouldn’t know how to handle being close to her right now.

 

“I have more to tell you, Princess.” Kara says carefully, once Lena has calmed down.

 

Lena laughs harshly. “More? I don’t know that I can handle anymore. After all this.”

 

Kara gives her a small smile. “It’s good news this time.” She assures her.

 

Learning that they were to be married rather than she and Kal-El wasn’t exactly bad news. Lena thinks.

 

“What my mother said before is true.” Kara starts, choosing her words carefully. “We haven’t participated in arrangements like this for a long time. Most Kryptonians choose their own partners, whether it be for money or status or...love.”

 

Kara says the word love like it’s silly. Like she’s silly for thinking it.

 

“Getting you here, away from your family, required us to agree to a marriage. I volunteered, of course, because well I’m not married, so…”

 

Lena’s brow furrowed and she leans forward listening intently.

 

“But the truth is, Princess, I have absolutely no intention of marrying you against your will.”

 

Lena’s eyes widen and she sits up, completely taken aback. Kara forges on, avoiding Lena’s eyes.

 

“I promised you I wouldn’t let anyone hurt you, and that was not a lie.”

 

Lena stammers, her eyes searching Kara's sweet face for any sign that this is a lie or a trick or a joke.

 

What does this mean?

 

“I-I don’t understand…” Lena doesn’t dare to hope. In fact, at this point she doesn’t even know what to hope for. Lena has been so concerned with what she didn’t want to happen, that she honestly hadn’t given any thought to what she did want to happen.

 

Kara takes a deep breath, before explaining further.

 

“You can stay here with...us in Argo for as long as you like. My honored guest. Or...if you’d prefer to live outside the palace, an apartment in town perhaps, or a house in the country, I’d be happy to arrange that for you.”

 

Lena can’t believe what she’s hearing. Kara continues, oblivious to Lena’s shock.

 

“Or if you’d prefer to...go somewhere else, I’d take you there. Anywhere you’d like.”

 

Kara is sincere. She is offering Lena absolute freedom as if it were nothing. She was offering Lena the world, and Lena could cry from the joy of it.

 

“But…” Kara hesitates and Lena’s heart sinks. She knew this was all too good to be true.

 

There’s a catch. There is always a catch.

 

“Sorry, I’m no good at this.” Kara says nervously, running a hand through her hair. “Honestly, Princess, even though we haven’t known each other very long I…”

 

Kara’s cheeks flush pink, and she won’t look Lena in the eye.

 

“I just mean that...if you’d like, if you think it’s something that could make you happy…”

 

Spit it out!

 

Kara huffs a big sigh and smiles shyly, finally meeting Lena’s eyes. “I would still very much like to marry you.”

 

And the hits just keep on coming…

 

Lena just sits there, her mouth open, speechless, staring into Kara’s beautiful blue eyes. Eyes that speak to the genuineness of her declaration. Kara is so shy and vulnerable in that moment and Lena is so...confused.

 

Why would Kara want to marry her if she didn't have to? If she had a choice why would she choose Lena? 

 

“I...Kara, I don’t know what to say.”

 

Kara looks away, trying and failing to hide the disappointment that flashes across her expression. She nods and offers Lena a small reassuring smile.

 

“That’s okay.” Kara says quietly. She stands up rather abruptly, busying herself with patting off her wrinkled clothing. Lena stands too, shaking her head, trying to wipe the shocked expression from her face.

 

“Today has been...this as all been…” Lena tries to find the words to express how she’s feeling.

 

“You’re overwhelmed, I’m sure.” Kara says, sympathetically. Kara takes a step closer to Lena, and slowly takes one of Lena’s hands in both of hers. “Listen, you don’t have to...decide anything now. I just want you to know. You aren’t trapped, Lena. You have options now. You’re safe now. And...I want you to take some time and decide for yourself what you want to do. How you want to spend your life.”

 

If I'd want to spend my life with you?

 

Lena squeezes the Kryptonian’s hands in hers. Kara's words touching her in a way she was completely unprepared for.

 

Here was someone, a stranger, who had come to rescue her without even having known her. Someone who was offering her sanctuary and solace. Someone that was offering her the world and asking nothing in return. The fact that Kara was giving her more choices than her own flesh and blood ever had was unbelievable.

 

Lena was suddenly overcome with exhaustion.

 

“I need...I just need some time.” Lena mutters.

 

Kara nods, pulling away. “Take all the time you need, Princess. Goodnight.” She bows slightly to Lena, and smiles before turning away.

 

“Kara?”

 

“Yes?” Kara turns back looking at Lena with concern.

 

“I'm...I'm still angry with you. For lying. But...thank you.” Lena whispers “Thank you for everything.”

 

Kara smiles sadly. “You don’t have to thank me, Princess. Not for giving you the choices you should have had in the first place.”

 

Lena doesn’t have anything to say to that. She watches Kara disappear down the hallway and around the corner.

Lena returns to her own room and quickly eats the food Kara brought her. Alana helps her quickly dress for bed, and Lena melts into the soft mattress. She curls up and let’s tears roll down her cheeks.

 

She’s never slept so well in her entire life.

Chapter Text

Lena sleeps through the morning and on into the early afternoon. She sleeps like the dead. Succumbing to the physical and emotional exhaustion of everything she’d been through since her father died nearly two weeks ago.

 

When Lena finally wakes, it’s to the warmth of the sun streaming in through the windows and the sounds of her handmaids gossiping in the next room.

 

Lena extracts herself from the rather large, pillowed bed and wanders into the adjoining room. There she finds Alana and Siobhan unpacking and folding the clothes she brought with her from home.

 

The girls immediately stifle their giggles when they notice Lena and fall quickly into curtsies.

 

“Your Highness! We didn’t mean to wake you.” Alana says, her eyes on the floor.

 

Lena wanders over towards the balcony doors, looking out into the garden.

 

“You didn’t disturb me. I think, I slept far too long.” Lena assures them.

 

“You’ve been on a long journey, Princess. You needed to rest.” Siobhan tells her, continuing her work with the clothes.

 

“Perhaps.” Lena says absentmindedly. Now that she’s awake thoughts of the day before are beginning to seize her. Kara’s offer of freedom. Kara’s proposal. Kara, in general.

 

“Did I miss anything important?” Lena tries to sound casual, moving away from the balcony doors. What she really means to ask is if Kara called on her while she slept, but that would be admitting that she wanted Kara to call on her, and that would be too much.

Her handmaids exchange a look.

 

“No, Your Highness.” Alana says.

 

Lena swallows her disappointment.

 

“Though, Princess Kara, did instruct us to introduce you to the royal tailor. If it pleases you.” Alana continues.

 

“Royal tailor?” Lena walks over and examines some of her clothes. Was there something wrong with her wardrobe?

 

“She lives here in the palace and caters exclusively to the royal families.”

 

Siobhan elbows Alana in the ribs, startling the other girl whose eyes go wide. “And their guests!” Alana quickly asserts, glaring at Siobhan. “She dresses many members of court.”

 

Lena watches the display with a hint of amusement. “I see.” She says. “And Kara would like her to dress me?” Lena asks, trying to stifle a spark of irritation.

 

“The princess only meant it as a courtesy.” Siobhan tells Lena, gently, sensing her annoyance.

 

This soothes Lena a bit. She’s probably being too sensitive, looking for reasons to stay angry with Kara.

 

“Very well.” Lena nods her assent.

 

After eating a quick breakfast of cheese and fruit Alana fetched from the kitchen for her, Lena is escorted by the handmaids across the palace grounds to the tailor’s quarters. Lena is once again struck by the sheer size of the Royal Palace.

 

The compound was big enough to house not only all three royal families, but also any number of court members and servants. And the atmosphere is constantly buzzing with activity. Gardeners and groundskeepers tending to the landscape and fountains. Men and women dressed in ropes similar and varied to Lord Schott’s pass by deep in conversation, some with their noses buried in books. They bow slightly as they watch Lena pass. Servants performing various duties bow deeply as Lena passes. And children of unknown origin run amuck, playing with toy weapons, shrieking with laughter. They completely ignore Lena, oblivious to their manners while caught up in their games.

 

Lena finds it hard to imagine living in a place brimming with so much activity, so full of life. It makes her smile.

 

The royal tailor is pettie blonde woman with no title, introduced to Lena only as Tessmacher. She is rather young, not much older than Lena and Kara, but very confident in her examination on Lena.

 

The young woman eyes Lena up and down in a way Lena might consider lude if not for her profession. Lena struggles not to squirm under the scrutiny.

 

Lena was rather confident about her body. Lillian had always discouraged Lena from drawing attention to herself. Always having the Luthor’s own royal tailor ( a elderly woman who barely spoke and had been dressing Lena as long as she could remember) dress Lena in modest attire. Never wanting Lena’s decency questioned.

 

Even so it was no secret to Lena that she was beautiful and endowed in such a way that most people found her attractive. There had been no shortage of noblemen and their sons in Manor who were quick to tell her so as soon as her father was out of earshot. Not one of them could seem to resist leering at Lena from the young age of twelve or thirteen. Of course, they were just as likely to hiss words like “bastard” while staring at her chest.

 

Lex had always been quick to jump to Lena’s defense. He had always treated her with a respect few bastards were afforded and demanded that others do the same while in his presence.

 

It was difficult for Lena to reconcile her memories of a young Lex starting brawls to defend her honor on the dance floor, with the same cold king she’d left behind a few days prior. Lena can’t quite pinpoint the moment she’d lost her brother’s love or what she’d done to earn his indifference, but the memories of how they once were tormented her.

 

Tessmacher finally speaks once she’s circled Lena appraisingly.

 

“Princess Kara wanted to offer my services to you while you’re here in Argo. She mentioned your kingdom’s fashion was a bit...stifling when it came to gendered clothing. Is there anything in particular you’d like me to make for you?”

 

“Oh.” Lena doesn’t hide her surprise, glancing around at all the fabric and clothing in various states of completion, looking for ideas. She had expected Kara to have something in mind for her, not for Lena to choose herself. Once again Kara was offering Lena a bit of freedom she was unaccustom to.

 

“Um, well…” Tessmacher is eyeing her expectantly. “Green compliments me.” Lena blurts, nervously. Her cheeks instantly heat up, embarrassed by her own vanity. “Or so I’ve been told.
Lena adds quickly.

 

Tessmacher smiles slyly. “I imagine most things compliment you, Your Highness.” This does nothing to ease the flush in her cheeks, but Lena relaxes slightly and smiles at the flattery.

 

“I like green.” Lena tells her with more conviction. “And reds too. Not together though.”

 

“Alright,” Tessmacher says, “Greens and reds, that’s a good start. Are you interested in some trousers and tunics or would you prefer to stick to dresses?”

 

Lena remembers Kara’s discussion with her Lillian and Lex about many women wearing trousers in Krypton. And she couldn’t possibly forget Kara’s stunning outfit from the night before. She can’t imagine looking nearly as at ease as Kara in such an outfit.

 

“Um, mostly dresses, I think. I’ve never really worn...men’s clothing.” Lena explains, as Tessmacher walks around the room gather materials and tools.

 

“It’s not men’s clothing here, Princess. Especially not among the royals.”

 

Lena recalls briefly meeting Kara’s family last night. All the women except for Queen Eliza and Princess Lois had worn similar outfits to Kara.

 

“Perhaps, we could try trousers. Something more casual for riding?”

 

Tessmacher smiles, pleased with Lena’s willingness to experiment.  “If you’d like.”

 

Lena spends a couple of hours with Tessmacher, being measured and examining different fabrics and designs. Tessmacher was very excited about Lena’s Kryptonian wardrobe. By the time she left they’d planned several different outfits. Tessmacher assured Lena she’d get to work immediately and have some things ready for her in a matter of days.

 

“I think, Princess Kara, will be pleased.” Tessmacher had whispered with a grin.

 

Lena wasn’t sure what to make of that. Did she want to please Kara? Was the point of her visit to look good for this woman she was meant to marry?

 

As Alana and Siobhan are escorting Lena back to her quarters, the prattle on about the styles and fabrics and colors Lena had chosen, falling over themselves to compliment and encourage her. But Lena was barely listening, caught up in her own thoughts of the future.

 ------------

As they are walking back towards her quarters, Lena catches the sound of laughter and oddly enough swords clashing. The sounds are distant, muffled by her handmaids’ conversation and the hum of fountains.

 

“What that?” Lena asks, drawing the girls to a halt.  Alana and Siobhan stop and listen.

 

“Oh some of the royals must be in the practice arena sparring.” Alana explains, pointing vaguely in the direction of the ruckus.

 

Lena hesitates. “Would...would Kara be there?” She tries to ignore the grins and knowing looks her handmaids share.

 

“Probably, Your Highness.”

 

Lena hesitates again. Everything about the day before had been so intense and overwhelming. The sincerity and seriousness of her last conversation with the Kryptonian princess weighed heavily on Lena. She had all but rejected Kara’s generous proposal of marriage. Kara had been so sweet and vulnerable, and Lena had been dumbstruck.The thought of facing Kara now in the stark light of day was daunting. And Lena still didn’t have an answer for her. It was clear anyone would be lucky to marry Kara Zor-El, but here Lena was saying she needed time. Time for what? What better offer would she get? What more could she want in a spouse?

 

“Could we go over?” Lena asks, pushing aside her thoughts. “Would I be intruding?”

 

“I’m sure you wouldn’t, Princess. This way.” Siobhan leads them onwards.

 

The sounds of laughter and the clanging of swords grows louder as they approach. The arena is a grassy courtyard thats walls slant down into bleachers for an audience. The stands remind Lena of the tournaments she’d been to with her family back in Manor. Except at those events the seats had been wooden and portable. These seats were stone and built as an extension of the arena walls themselves. Scattered throughout the field were racks with various weapons (swords, spears, hatchets, shields, bows and arrows) and obstacles.

 

A small group of people are gathered low in the stands, huddle closely together. This is the source of the cackling. And just below them, Lena spots Kara. She is confidently twirling a sword, squaring up against the girl she introduced as Princess Alex.

 

The Kryptonian is beautiful. As usual. Her long golden hair down and swinging this way and that as she moves. She is smiling brilliantly, amusement clear in her expression. She is dressed down in a white sleeveless shirt, trousers, and riding boots.

 

Princess Alex is dressed similarly, she also holds a sword, grinning at Kara challengingly.

 

The princesses lunge at each other, their swords colliding between them. They both spring apart as quickly as they came together. Kara counters, quickly moving back into Alex’s space, the sunlight glinting off her blade. Alex dodges her attack rather easily, but can’t seem to launch one of her own.

Kara is all strength and conviction, whereas Alex is speedy and cautious. Watching them fight is like watching a well worn dance. They clearly know each other well, perhaps too well. Just when one seems to get the advantage, the other swiftly steals it away, leaving them even once again. They jest and banter as they move around each other, laughing all the while. Their small audience in the stands clap and cheer, spurring them on and picking sides.

 

At last, Kara charges forward during a lull, managing to catch Alex off guard. She disarms the brunette and holds the sword to her throat with a smug grin. Alex yields, unhappily.

 

The Kryptonians had yet to notice her when Lena begins to slowly clap, still standing just inside the archway of the arena’s entrance. Every head swivels in her direction.

 

Lena steps further into the arena still clapping. The other people in the stands join her, until Kara smiles, bowing grandly at the applause. Lena sees Alex roll her eyes, nudging Kara’s shoulder playfully.

 

Kara swats back at the brunette, before bounding over to Lena.

 

“Afternoon, Princess.” Kara says, cheerfully. She leans on her sword, bowing her head to Lena.

 

The blonde is all sweaty, chest heaving. Her shirt is unbuttoned at the top, revealing an expanse of glistening bare chest, her blonde locks stick to her neck and face.

 

“It’s nice to see you out and about.” Kara tells her, drawing Lena’s eyes up from where they were blatantly staring at Kara’s collarbone.

 

Lena stammers. “Hi, yes, I um…” She’s usually so composed, and now in the presence of this woman she can barely form a complete sentence.

 

Kara smirks, standing up straight, like perhaps she knows exactly what she’s doing to Lena.

 

“I’m glad you found us.” Kara says, having mercy on a flustered Lena. “There are some people I’d like you to meet.”

 

Lena glances over the blonde’s shoulder. The audience as since climbed down onto the arena floor. They mill around pretending to talk and look at anything but Lena and Kara.

 

Kara must sense Lena hesitance. “Only if you’re up for it.” She reassures her, looking at Lena softly.

 

Lena offers a shy smile and nods. Kara bounces and grins excitedly. She thrusts her hand towards Lena, holding her sword over her shoulder with the other.

 

Lena finds herself taking Kara’s hand, squeezing gently and being led over to the mingling Kryptonians. She immediately recognizes Sir James, Princess Alex, Prince Kal-El, and Princess Maggie. But there are several people she hasn’t met yet.

 

Kara clears her throat dramatically, gesturing Lena forward slightly. “May I introduce, Princess Lena of House Luthor.”

 

Lena steps forward into a curtsy, never letting go of Kara’s hand as she stands back up. “Hello.” Lena greets the entire group.

 

A small brunette with short curly waves steps forward, bowing to Lena with a sly smile. She is dressed in the same outfit as Kara and Alex except her shirt is black and embroidered with a family crest Lena doesn’t recognize.

 

“I’m Lucy Lane.” the woman proclaims proudly. Lena glances at Kara, confused by the woman’s informality.

 

“Dame Lucy of House Lane.” Kara clarifies “Lena enjoys formalities.”

 

“Dame?” Lena asks confused.

 

“I’m a Knight like James.” Lucy tells her, stepping back and looping her arm with James. “Only superior in every way.” Lucy teases. James smiles and rolls his eyes, nudging the woman’s shoulder.

 

“She is also notorious for exaggeration, Princess. Don’t believe anything she says.” Lucy shrugs her shoulders, unconcerned.

 

Next Kara gestures for a younger boy, no older than thirteen, to step forward.

 

“This is Lord Carter of House Grant.” The shy boy looks at Kara like she makes the sun shine and Lena can’t really blame him. He nervously brushes his dusty brown hair from his forehead, and bows deeply to Lena, who offers him a smile and curtsy in return.

 

“It’s an honor to meet you, Princess. I’ve never met any nobility from Manor.”

 

“I don’t imagine so.” Lena laughs “We don’t really get out much.” The little Lord nods and steps aside.

 

Behind him an older boy, perhaps a year or two younger than Lena, approaches rather begrudgingly. There is a clear resemblance between this boy and Carter, but this boy’s hair is neat and bronze in the sunlight. He is dressed more finely than everyone else, his brown tunic unbuttoned as if he’d rather not be wearing it.

 

“This is Carter’s elder brother, Lord Adam of House Grant.” Kara says somewhat stiffly, squeezing Lena’s hand in hears.

 

Lord Adam’s eyes glance up and down Lena, unimpressed, before darting to Kara. The two share a tense look that Lena can’t decipher. Lord Adam bows slightly to Lena but doesn’t smile.

 

“It’s an honor, Princess.” He says flatly.

 

“Likewise.” Lena replies politely.

 

Kara turns Lena away from Lord Carter and Adam, seemingly eager to move on.

 

“You already met Alex and Kal-El.” She says, gesturing to her cousin and the other Kryptonian princess.

 

“Yes, briefly.” Lena says a bit awkwardly.

 

“Hello again.” Kal-El says with a good-natured smile. “I hope you’re feeling better.”

 

Lena’s blushes slightly.

 

Despite the fact that Lena’s obliviousness the night before was no fault of her own, she still found herself embarrassed that she had been caught so off-guard in the throne room when first meeting the Kryptonian royals.

 

Kal-El’s comment only serves to remind Lena that Kara is entirely to blame. She find herself dropping the blonde’s hand as her anger flares again.

 

“Yes, much better. Thank you.” Lena response stiffly to the prince.

 

She can feel Kara’s eyes on her, probably hurt at the distance Lena has suddenly put between them, much manages to resist returning the princess’s gaze.

 

“I’m very sorry for the misunderstanding.” Kal-el is saying, a sympathetic expression on his already kind face.

 

Lena nods off his apology “Think nothing of it.” She assures him, sincerely “It’s all worked out for the best.”

 

Kal-el nods, but his brow remains furrowed.

 

“Congratulations on your wife’s pregnancy.” Lena says eager to change the subject. “You must be thrilled.” She manages a genuine smile. Kal-El’s face brightens immediately, and he straightens up proudly.

 

“Thank you, Princess. We are very pleased, and more than a little nervous, I must admit.”

 

Princess Alex loops her arm through Kal-El’s and nudges him affectionately.

 

“You are going to make an excellent father, Kal. No need to worry.” The brunette assures him. The prince pats her arm and gives her a gratefully look.

 

“Easier said than done.”

 

“I imagine this is an amazing place to raise a child.” Lena says, gesturing around them. “Did you all grow up here?” She asks glancing at Kara, who nods eagerly.

 

“Most of us did. Lois and Lucy grew up with their father at Fort Rozz. He’s one of our most respected military generals. And Maggie…”

 

Alex perks up at the sound of her wife’s name. “I found Maggie on a beach in the east. She thought it wise to challenge me to a horse race on the shore.” She explains fondly. Maggie stands up wrapping her arms around Alex’s waist.

 

“I won that race, if you do recall.”

 

Alex rolls her eyes. “I let you win.” Alex insists.

 

Kara groans and whispers to Lena “We’ll never know the truth.”

 

She and Lena share a smile and then can’t seem to stop grinning at each other as the conversation continues around them.

 

-------------

 

Kara excuses them from the arena not long after that. Her friends shout a chorus of goodbyes.

 

They walk quietly for a few minutes, aimless, Siobhan and Alana trailing a respectful distance behind them.

 

“Your friends seem lovely, Kara. You all seem very close.”

 

Kara smiles and kicks a stone along the path absentmindedly.

 

“It’s difficult not to be. We’ve all known each other for most of our lives. Alex is like a sister to me.”

 

“I wish I’d been close to other members of the Manor court. But the truth is we rarely gathered together. My father was prone to paranoia and didn’t relish the company of his lords.”

 

She chances a glance at Kara and glimpses the crinkle that forms between the other woman’s eyes.

 

“You didn’t consort with any of the other lords and ladies our age?”

 

Lena hesitates to answer her. Not only was Lena’s lack of friendships something of a sore subject for her, but much of it was due to her bastard status. It just now occurred to Lena that perhaps Lex had neglected to inform the Kryptonians that they would be purchasing damaged goods. Would Kara rescind her offer of marriage if she knew Lena was a bastard?

 

“I...Suffice it to say the other court members weren’t very fond of my company. I spent most of my time alone.” Lena admits quietly.

 

Kara frowns, but doesn’t comment further.

 

“May I show you something?” Kara finally asks, a timid smile on her face.

 

Somewhere in the back of her mind Lena remembers that she’s meant to be cross with her. Her father’s voice whispers his paranoid philosophies and Lillian urges her to always be guarded. But Lena nods her head anyway, finds herself taking the hand Kara offers, and walking arm in arm with the Kryptonian princess.

 

Kara leads them to a large rounded tower on the far side of the compound. She holds the door open as Lena steps inside and gasps.

 

A library. Books everywhere. Lena turns in a circle, amazed to find books on every wall. She looks up only to find that the shelves and shelves of books climb up into the rafters of the tower. The first floor is full of tables and desks, chairs and benches for studying. And a spiraling staircase curls along the walls up into the higher levels. A massive fireplace sits opposite the front entrance, filling the tower with the pops and hisses of the flames.

 

Lena loves it. She turns in circles again and again, her head tossed back looking up into the rafters high above.

 

“Kara…”

 

“I thought you might appreciate this place.” Kara says, quietly.

 

Several of the men and women in robes that Lena had noticed before watch them curiously from where they crouch over their books or scrolls. Lena realizes now that they are scholars not priests.

 

“Your Highnesses.”

 

Lena turns to see Lord Schott approach them, a welcoming smile on his face. He must have been reading at a table nearby.

 

“Nice to see you again, Princess Lena.”

 

Lena finds that she is genuinely glad to see him too and tells him as much with an uncontrollable grin.

 

“It’s rare that we see Kara in here anymore. She much prefers to read outside in the sun. Though I’ve told her over and over it’s not good for the parchment.” 

 

Kara rolls her eyes at him. “A little fresh air never hurt anyone, Winn. You should try it sometime.”

 

Winn scoff and waves her off.

 

“I noticed your crate full of books and thought you might find some new material here.” Kara tells Lena shyly. “If you’d like that is.”

 

Lena nods eagerly.

 

“We have a wide collection here, Your Highness. You can pick your poison. We have fiction, poetry, plenty of history, and philosophy. I’d be happy to show you around.”

 

Lena beams at him. This place put her father's little library office to shame. She was enamored with the idea of all the histories and knowledge contained in these walls. She could finally learn about the world outside her father’s kingdom.

 

Winn seemed pleased with Lena obvious excitement. He offers her his arm.

 

“Shall we?”

Chapter Text

Lena quickly fell into a routine over the next several days.

 

Despite the comfort of her bed, Lena instructed her handmaids to wake her just before sunrise every morning so she could have breakfast on her balcony and watch the sky change colors. Then Lena would go straight to the library, where she would spend most of her day exploring the shelves with Lord Schott and the other scholars.

 

Lena had already read plenty of poetry and fiction in her life. The majority of her father’s collection at been made up of tall tales and romanticism, believe it or not. Lena supposed she and Lionel had both required a means of escape. Now, Lena found herself more enthralled with the historical texts.

 

One of Lionel’s (and his father’s before him) biggest failings as a ruler had been the isolation and ignorance he forced on his people. Very little of Lena’s education had included historical and political lessons on their region. Over several unfortunate generations, the Luthors had managed to alienate or antagonize most of their neighboring kingdoms. This had caused something of a communication and informational drought. And so to Lena the library was like standing under a waterfall. It not only allowed her access to Kryptonian and Manorial histories, but detailed historical accounts and cultural studies of other lands, like neighboring Daxam and the island nation of Themyscira.

 

Lena found herself spending and enormous amount of time with Lord Schott (who had finally convinced her to call him Winn). Not only did they read and study together for most of the day, but they also competed in fierce games of chess. Lena usually won these with ease.

 

Chess had been one of the few ways she and Lillian could ever tolerate each other’s company. It was also the only time Lillian ever seemed to have any fun at all. Therefore, Lena was proficient, because as much as she hated to admit it now, she use to love the look of pride Lillian would give her when Lena bested her. Chess was the one thing at which Lena didn’t disappoint.

 

Luckily, Winn was a very good sport. In fact, the young lord seemed to find losing to be far more thrilling than winning.

 

“Every lose tells me how best to improve!” He had explained, eyeing the board carefully as he replayed the last few moves that had led to his defeat. “Every game is like an experiment, Luthor.”

 

“Well, I’d be happy to beat you as many times as you like.  You know...for science.” Lena tells him, grinning. He rolls his eyes at her.

 

“You are a very cocky princess.” He grumbles.

 

“Are you talking about me?”

 

Lena and Winn both turn at the sound of Kara’s voice. The Kryptonian princess is scrutinizing them with mock suspicion, having caught the tail end of Winn's mumbling.

 

“Well, now that you’ve mentioned it…” Winn teases her, while also inclining his head respectfully.

 

Kara was here to escort Lena to lunch. Another part of her new routine.

 

Lena and Kara would eat lunch together everyday in the gardens outside Lena’s room.  

 

The first day had been more than a little awkward. Lena had slightly resented being pulled from the library after having just discovered it, but her manners compelled her to accept Kara’s invitation. Kara was a Crown Princess after all, and Lena was here as her guest. Though Kara made it rather easy to forget about her status.

 

The girl was so relaxed here in her palace. Apparently, the fine tunics and riding outfits Kara had donned during their travels and their first night in Argo were a rarity for the blonde. She much prefered to strut about in loose shirts. Some unbearably sleeveless, showing off the Kryptonian’s toned arms, and all of them with the first few buttons left open, exposing her collarbone and the top of her sternum. It took all Lena’s composure to control her wandering gaze. And it was not always a battle she won. In addition to her casual clothing, Kara didn’t seem to keep any attendants of her own. At least none that Lena had seen. Alana or Siobhan would bring them lunch from the kitchen and then more often than not Kara would clear their plates herself, taking the lunch tray with her when she left.

 

Lena had quickly grown comfortable with Kara, and now she found that she looked forward to the reprieve of their alone time. For as much as she enjoyed the library, it was entirely too stuffy and (aside from Winn) most of the other scholars were older, grumpier people. Obviously irked by her and Winn’s often exuberant love for learning.

 

Kara had somehow found a way to draw Lena out of her passive conversational habits. Normally, back in Manor, Lena had tried her best to go unnoticed during family and formal meals alike. Because whatever attention she garner was usually negative and exhausting. But with Kara she found herself engaging wholeheartedly. They would laugh and shamelessly flirt across the table, hiding smirks behind wine goblets and blaming blushes on the afternoon heat.

 

Today, Kara had allowed Lena to stumble into a rant about her kingdom’s lackluster historical education, smiling as Lena gushed about the texts and maps Winn had showed her that morning.

 

“...and Themyscira! What an incredible civilization! Winn showed me some sketches from Captain Trevor’s journals., and the sheer beauty of the architecture is difficult for me to imagine. I thought Argo was magnificent when we first arrived, but compared to those depictions…” Lena trails off shaking her head and taking another bite of bread and cheese.

 

“Yes, it’s a very lovely place. The structures you saw in Trevor’s journals have stood there for thousands of years. Weathering storms and sieges alike.” Kara tells her.

 

“You’ve been there?”

 

Kara lips pull into a sly smile as she nods, pleased with Lena’s excitement.

 

“Alex and I spent a summer there a few years ago. Our mothers are good friends with the Amazonian Queen.”

 

“Amazing.” Lena breathes, her food completely forgotten. “I read that their relations with Krypton had, for the most part, always been amiable. I have to admit the reality of a matriarchal society is fascinating to me.” She leans forward, her elbows on the table, chin in her hands. “What was it like there?”

 

“Well, they are a very small nation. The island really only has one true city, the one Trevor drew. The rest is made up of small farming and mountain villages. The island itself is...it’s beautiful, Princess. A true paradise.”

 

Lena hums as she tried to picture the place Kara describes. But as someone who had never even seen the ocean it was a difficult image for her to conjure.

 

“And the people? What are they like?”

 

“Fierce.” Kara says firmly “It is strange...they are both some of the most peaceful people I’ve ever encountered and some of the greatest warriors. And because the nation is so small, they are a very close community. It seemed as if everyone knew everyone. They were all strong and confident and so so beautiful .”

 

Lena raises an eyebrow at that. “So so beautiful ...huh?” She mimics Kara playfully “It sounds like you certainly enjoyed your time there.”

 

Kara blushes and ducks her head in embarrassment, but doesn't deny Lena's insinuation. Rubbing the back of her neck nervously she says “Perhaps, I’ll take you there someday. You could see for yourself.”

 

Lena’s eyes go wide and she sits back. On the one hand, she’s thrilled by the prospect of traveling, especially to a place as beautiful and foreign to her as the home of the Amazons. But on the other hand, Kara had used the word someday. Something of a trigger word for them lately. Someday suggested the future, and mention of the future always seemed to remind them both that Lena had yet to respond to Kara's proposal. She had yet to say yes to this stunning woman who seemed to want nothing more than to give Lena the world.

 

And why is that again? Lena asks herself, during the awkward silence that follows. Because she lied to you that one time? Because she gave you the choice? Because you resent her for whisking you away from your emotionally vacant family and culturally oppressive kingdom? Or because you both now had the ability to choose and you were too busy trying to figure out why she had chosen you?

 

Kara also seems to have noticed her slip up. The blonde avoids Lena’s eyes and shifts uncomfortable in her seat.

 

“Kara, I…”

 

Kara clears her throat roughly, cutting Lena off, and forcing a dismissive smile.

 

“Anyway, I um...Everyone is gathering in the arena soon. More sparing and shenanigans. Would you like to join us?”

 

It seems the younger members of court spent a great deal of their time “training” together in the arena. That’s where Kara went most days after their lunch and sometimes Lena would join her. She found she greatly enjoyed sitting in the stands as everyone watched the sparing and jested with one another. It was an atmosphere she was completely unfamiliar with, but recognized the beauty of. This is what friendship and camaraderie were suppose to look like she had quickly realized.

 

Though everyone had been friendly and polite to her (with the exception of Lord Adam Grant who still seemed somehow perturbed with her presence), she still found it difficult to insert herself into Kara circle of friends. Instead, she liked to sit apart, higher up in the stands than everyone else, usual with a book she pretended to read instead of staring at Kara.

 

“Certainly.” Lena says now with a tense smile as she rises from her seat.

 

They walk quietly, arm in arm, through the palace ground. The tension caused by Kara’s musings of someday slowly dissipate as they slipped into a more comfortable silence.

 

And reluctantly Lena wonders, Could I get use to this?

 

Chapter Text

They hear the sounds of the arena long before they walk through it’s archway. Alex and Maggie seemed to have teamed up against Kal-El, which even Lena has to admit looks pretty unfair.

 

Kal-El fends off the two princesses with a sword and shield, while Maggie wields a staff and Alex her sword.

 

Kara quickly detangles her arm from Lena’s and bounds over to the weapons rack. She grabs her favorite sword and jumps to Kal-El’s defense. Lena chuckles to herself at the blonde’s eagerness as she climbs into the stands.

 

“Princess! Princess Lena!” Lena is surprise to look up and find Princess Lois waving at her. Lois is sitting apart from the rest of the group, higher in the stands in the shade of the arena wall. She offers a smile and waves Lena over. Lena hesitates, glancing at the larger group sitting near the bottom of the stands.  James, Lucy, Winn, Adam, Carter, and Marcus (James’ nephew) are all engrossed in the mock battle below, cheering and jeering. With a polite smile, Lena makes her way over to Lois and sits next to her in the shade.

 

“Hello, Your Highness.” Lena greets her politely, inclining her head.

 

Lena had not really spoken to the pregnant princess beyond a simple greeting several days earlier when Kara had reintroduced them. Lena was willing to admit that perhaps she had been avoiding Kal-El’s wife due to the awkward circumstances surrounding their first encounter. But now, Lois scoffs at Lena’s formality, seeming completely at ease.

 

“There’s really no need for all that is there? You can call me Lois.” Lois is leaned back on her elbows in what looks to Lena like an uncomfortable position, and she rubs absentmindedly at her swollen belly.

 

“Very well.” Lena clears her throat “You may call me Lena.”

 

“Excellent!” Lois says with an approving nod.

 

“Are you alright?” Lena asks tentatively “You don’t look very comfortable.”

 

Lois shifts back and forth a bit, wincing, but ultimately settles back into the same position.

 

“I’m not, not at all.” Lois complains “I can’t remember the last time I was comfortable honestly. Months ago, I’m sure.”

 

Lena gives her a sympathetic expression, trying not to stare at Lois’s stomach. She had never been around very many pregnant women. In Manor, pregnant nobles rarely left their estates, choosing instead to remain in a safe familiar environment in the company of family and servants until the baby was born. Lena had seen common folk and castle servants who had been with child, but never up close. Lois’s enormous belly was a strange, mysterious, and magical thing to Lena.

 

She had been in someone’s belly once. Someone she had never met. Someone who had fallen into a king’s bed and found themselves burdened with a child no one would want. She had been with her mother in the most intimate way for at least the duration of her pregnancy, and yet she knew absolutely nothing about the woman who gave her life. And she probably never would.

 

And one day, Lena would have someone growing inside her belly too. The thought sparked a small panic in Lena, she unconsciously caressed her own stomach, glad to find it wasn’t harboring a new life.

 

Lois was watching Lena closely, her face scrutinizing yet amused.

 

“Tell me, Lena, what’s it like not to feel like a complete cow? I can hardly remember.”

This seems to snap Lena out of her thoughts, she blinks a few times and drops her hand from her stomach. She smiles at Lois softly.

 

“You look radiant, Lois. Truly, motherhood suits you, already.” It’s an automatic response, something Lena knows she’s suppose to say, but as she says it Lena find it to be true. Despite, Lois's discomfort she does look beautiful. Beautiful but annoyed.

 

“That’s very kind horseshit, Lena. Thank you.” Lois says laughing and rolling her eyes.

 

Lena find herself grinning at Lois’s profanity. “It’s true! I’ve always heard people say such things about women who are with child, but I never really understood what they meant, until now.”

 

Lois is looking fondly at her own belly, rubbing broad circles.

 

“Hmm…” She hums, still skeptical. “Nevertheless, I’ll be quite glad when this little one is out here in the world with the rest of us. I’ll be glad to leave behind the glow of pregnancy.”

 

“And when will that be?”

 

Lois shrugs “These things are hard to be sure of. The physician thinks several more weeks. Perhaps, my child will arrive with the heat of summer.”

 

They are both silent as they gaze down at Lois’s belly expectantly, like perhaps, the child will spring forth any moment.

 

Suddenly, Princess Maggie is there, sweaty and out of breath she plops down on the other side of Lois.

 

“Why are you two all the way up here? It’s so many steps.” Maggie grumbles.

 

“The sun is harsh today.”

 

“The sun is glorious today.” Maggie disagrees.

 

Lois scoffs and rolls her eyes. “We can’t all be sun-kissed like you, Maggie.”

 

“Poor lily white princesses.” Maggie pouts in mock sympathy. “Hello, Princess!” She says to Lena “Nice to see you socializing today.”

 

Lena flushes and ducks her head. “You can call me Lena, if you’d like.”

 

“Oooh,” Maggie says sitting up and bumping shoulders with Lois “finally loosing up are we?”

 

Lois nudges Maggie back. “Don’t tease her, Maggie, you’ll scare her off.”

 

Maggie shrugs and raises her palms in surrender. Lena laughs nervously.

 

“I haven’t meant to be so...distant. I just...this is all very strange to me. Having so many people around.”

 

“That’s okay, Lena.” Lois assures her “I know, this group can be a bit much.”

 

“Speak for yourself, I am exactly the right amount.” Maggie claims with a grin, prompting another eye roll from Lois.

 

“Ignore her.”

 

“I’m just teasing, Little Luthor.” Maggie says good naturedly. Lena’s eyes widen at the nickname, but she doesn’t object to it.

 

“How are you doing, Lena?” Lois asks, gently. “The truth now.”

 

Lena looks down, fidgeting with her hands.

 

“I’m doing well.”

 

Lois and Maggie share a skeptical look.

 

“No, honestly, these last several days have been...quite nice. Winn has been helping me navigate the library which I find endlessly fascinating. And everyone I’ve met has been very kind and welcoming. My handmaids are attentive. My bed is to die for. I love the view from my window. I...I feel safe for the first time in a long time.”

 

Lois smiles sympathetically, placing a comforting hand on Lena’s arm. “I’m very glad to hear that, Lena.”

 

“And what do you think of Kara, then?” Maggie asks, curiously. Lena’s eyes grow wide again and her cheeks turn pink.

 

Lois swiftly elbows Maggie and shoots her a glare. “Maggie!”

 

“Ow, what? Was that rude? Shit, that was rude wasn’t it?”

 

“No, it um, it wasn’t.” Lena stutters.

 

“Yes, it was.” Lois growls at Maggie.

 

“I’m sorry, Princess.” Maggie says sincerely. “I didn’t grow up like the rest of you. All this excessive politeness is a bit new to me.”

 

“It’s quite alright, Maggie.” Lena assures her, finally composing herself. “I just um...I’ve been trying to answer that question for myself since I arrived here.” She says being more honest than she planned.

 

Maggie and Lois both nod.

 

“Well, Kara is quite taken with you - oof!” Maggie is interrupted by another elbow from Lois. “Ow!”

 

Lena blushes again and laughs.

 

“Are we just not allowed to say true things?” Maggie asks, rubbing at her shoulder.

 

“You’re embarrassing her.” Lois scolds her.

 

“Sorry.” Maggie mumbles, half heartedly.

 

“It’s fine, really.” Lena tells her.

 

Lois shifts up into a proper sitting position, before bracing herself on Maggie and Lena’s shoulders in order to push herself to her feet.

 

“Come, Lena, walk me back to my room will you? The baby needs to rest.”

 

“Certainly!” Lena says, jumping to her feet and taking Lois’s arm to steady her.

 

“The baby doesn’t need rest.” Maggie insists “All it does is rest in there. It’s probably bored out of it’s skull.”

 

“Well, I need to rest then, for it sure takes a lot out of me for the little one to sit in there doing nothing.”

 

They all laugh, as Lena helps Lois down the steps.

 

When Kal-El notices them leaving he pauses his duel with Kara and James.

 

“Lois, are you alright?” his face is full of concern as he makes to approach them.

 

Lois waves him off with a smile. “I’m just fine, my love. Just heading inside.”

 

“Would you like me to join you?” her husband asks, all too ready to set aside his sword.

 

“No, Kal, Princess Lena is going to walk with me. You stay. I’ll see you for dinner.”

 

Kal-El looks from his wife to Lena, then nods, his concern slipping away.

 

“Very well. Thank you, Princess Lena.”

 

Lena nods to him and offers a small smile. “Of course.”

 

Kal-El turn around heading back toward the fight. Kara is smiling brightly at Lena. The blonde lifts her hand in a small wave which Lena returns, finding a silly smile on her own face. This does not go unnoticed by Lois who smiles knowingly at Lena.

 

They travel slowly and silently through the palace grounds, Lois waddling along, her arm looped with Lena’s for support. Lena still doesn’t really know her way around the palace yet. Usually, she had one of her handmaids, Winn, or Kara to guide her. So she simply follows Lois's lead.

 

Finally, Lois breaches their agreeable silence.

 

“I know, I scolded Maggie before, mostly because I enjoy scolding Maggie, mind you. But do tell, Princess, what do you think about Kara? Have you forgiven her for her omissions?”

 

Lena sighs “I’m honestly not sure, Lois. For the most part, yes I have forgiven her. Lying was wrong, but she’s didn’t do it to hurt me.”

 

“No, of course, not.”

 

“And it’s hard not to feel a certain amount of...gratitude towards her. She essentially rescued me from what could have been a very unpleasant fate, out of nothing but the goodness of her heart.”

 

“She did at that. Very romantic.” Lois teases.

 

Lena blushes despite herself, but forges on. “And she has been nothing but kind and respectful to me since we met. She’s charming and generous and smart and fierce! The freedom she has offered me is an incredible gift I’m not even sure she understands the value of.”

 

“So...why do you hesitate to accept her proposal?”

 

Lena bites her lip, because isn’t that the same question she keeps asking herself?

 

“Is it...because she’s a woman? I know, Manor doesn’t approve of such-”

 

“No! Definitely not. Not at all.” Lena is quick to assure her. “I’ve always liked women.” Lena admits, quietly. “Much to my mother’s disgust.”

 

Lois frowns, and pats the top of Lena’s hand to encourage her to continue.

 

“What is it then?”

 

Lena shakes her head.

 

“I don’t know, really...It’s just Kara comes to me and tells me I can go wherever I want to go and do whatever I want to do and be with whoever I’d like to be with and...to respond to that newfound freedom by immediately tying myself to someone I barely know, no matter how beautiful and kind, feels sort of wrong.”

 

Lois nods as she brings them to halt presumable outside her bedroom door.

 

“I can certainly understand that.”

 

Lena searches her face and finds nothing my genuine understanding. “You do?”

 

“Of course. Your hesitance makes complete sense, Lena, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. This is not a decision to be made lightly. This is your life, and Kara’s too. Kara knows this.”

 

Lena sighs, grateful for Lois’s reassurance.

 

“I just don’t want to...insult her or seem ungrateful.”

 

Lois shakes her head firmly and takes Lena’s hand.

 

“Kara doesn’t want your gratitude, Princess.”

 

“Then what does she want from me? Surely, she has more appropriate suitors lined down the streets who would love to marry her.”

 

Lois tries to stifle a laugh for reasons that are unclear to Lena. “What’s so funny?”

 

“Nothing. Sorry.” Lois shakes her head and wipes the smile from her face, as Lena eyes her suspiciously. Before Lena can question her further, Lois grows serious again and squeezes Lena’s hand.

 

“Unfortunately, Kara is not one to gossip. Like you, she prefers to be rather private. So if you’d like to know what she’s thinking, I’m afraid you’ll just have to ask her.”

 

“I feared you’d say that.”

Chapter Text

Lena sits in her room reading a historical text detailing Krypton and Daxam’s political and military relations. It’s not thrilling, but quite insightful. According to this, Krypton and Daxam were once one kingdom, before a rebellion nearly 300 years ago resulted in a split. Since then tensions have had been high between the neighboring kingdoms. There had not been an all out war for nearly a century, but to this day border skirmishes were common and the two kingdoms maintained a fragile peace. According to the newest lineage record, the current Royal family of Daxam were disgraced descendants of the House of El.

 

Of course, Lena found all this endlessly riveting. To think that Kara was the heir to a house whose lineage could be traced back not hundreds but thousands of years in history. And that she thought Lena worthy of joining such a family. The Luthor name was nothing to scoff at. Luthors had been ruling in Manor for the last four generations and nobility for a hundred years before that. But their bloodline and prestige was miniscule compared to that of the House of El.

 

Lena had become engrossed in the text after her breakfast at sunrise and was surprised to look up and find that hours had pasted as she studied.

 

Alana and Siobhan had just entered, each with an arm full of clothing.

 

“Sorry to disturb your reading, Princess.” Alana says, hanging the garments in Lena’s wardrobe.

 

Lena closes the manuscript. “It’s no problem. What do you have there?”

 

Both handmaids smile excitedly.

 

“Tessmacher finished some of her designs and had us bring them over right away!” Siobhan squeals.

 

Lena smiles at the girl’s excitement, getting up and inspecting the clothing herself.

 

“Exciting.” Lena says in a teasing tone.

 

“And…” Alana says with a sly smile.

 

“And?” Lena raises her eyebrow at the girl, intrigued.

 

“Princess Kara has requested your presence at the stables in an hour!” Alana tells her, trying to stifle a smile.

 

Lena can’t help the smile that pulls across her face, she does however manage not to blush which is progress.

 

“Really?”

 

“Yes, she said she has a surprise for you.” Siobhan waggles her eyebrows at Lena, earning and elbow in the ribs from Alana.

 

“Well, we shouldn’t keep her waiting.” Lena says rolling her eyes. She was still dressed in her sleep gown.

 

“At least, now you have the perfect outfit to wear.” Alana says, holding up the outfit in question.

 

Lena gasps “That is actually kind of perfect.”

 

Alana and Siobhan share a smile. “Princess Kara will certainly think so.”

 

----------

 

Lena is dressed in trousers for the first time in her life and she has to say it feels a bit strange. The brown breeches hug her hips and thighs, clinging to her in a way the people of Manor would find highly inappropriate. As she walks through the palace grounds accompanied by her very proud handmaids, she has an irrational fear of her mother turning the corner at any moment and scolding her harshly for being so lewd.

The breeches are accompanied by a matching jerkin, which she wears over a gorgeous emerald green blouse. Tessmacher had insisted that it was the exact same color of Lena’s eyes in the right light. And so, Lena could only hope she remained in the right light for the rest of her life.

 

Alana and Siobhan certainly thought she looked nice. They wouldn’t shut up about it in fact. Making Lena wonder if the girls were simply that excitable or to some degree major suck-ups. Either way their compliments and encouragement had finally convinced Lena that this indeed was the outfit to wear to meet Kara at the stables.

 

When they reach the stables, Kara is already there waiting. Standing next to Raza speaking to Alex and Maggie. The blonde is dressed in a more casual riding attire than Lena. A worn bright blue jerkin over a white undershirt, with black breeches. But the Kryptonian princess made everything look good, Lena had come to discover. And blue was most definitely Kara’s color.

 

Kara’s eyes go wide and her mouth falls open when Maggie directs her attention to Lena. Both their cheeks flush pink, as Lena timidly approaches. Alex’s eyeroll and Maggie’s pleased grin do not go unnoticed by Lena, even as she watches Kara’s reaction.

 

Apparently, her handmaids were right. Lena made a mental note to never doubt them again.

 

“Hello.” Lena finally says, into Kara’s flustered silence. She can not contain her smile as her insecurities about the outfit slip away.

 

“Princess…” Kara says, breathless “You look...that’s um, wow.”

 

“You look amazing, Lena. Tessmacher has not disappointed.” Maggie interjects on Kara’s stuttering.

 

“Thank you. Both of you.” Lena plucks nervously at the low neckline of her shirt. “I have to admit this isn’t what I’m use to…”

 

Kara has finally regained some of her composure, even as her gaze flutters down to Lena’s exposed collarbone. “I’m glad you decided to broaden your horizons.”

 

“Me too.”

 

They stand there just smiling shyly at each other for entirely too long.

 

“Yes, yes, she looks lovely, Can we go now?” Alex interrupts them, looking much less pleased with Lena’s presence then everyone else.

 

Lena had gotten the feeling more than once that Alex didn’t like her very much. It was nothing the princess had done or said precisely, just the tilt of Alex’s chin when Lena walked into a room or the weight of her gaze when she thought Lena wasn’t looking. They hadn’t said more than two words to each other directly, so Lena couldn’t imagine what she had done to cause such offense.

 

Kara looked annoyed at Alex for half a second before seeming to remember something that excited her.

 

“Hold on, Alex! Honestly, have you forgotten about Lena’s gift?”

 

The question was directed at Alex, but Kara’s teasing gaze was on Lena.

 

“How could I?” Alex grumbles as she swings herself into the stable of her own horse. “It’s all you’ve been talking about.”

 

Ignoring  Alex, Lena smoothly lifts an eyebrow at the Kara. “A gift?”

 

“Um, hmm.” Kara hums, gesturing to the stable boy, who immediately disappears into the barn.

 

Kara is bouncing excitedly on the balls of her feet as they wait for the stable boy to return. She comes to stand next to Lena.

 

At last the stable boy emerges, leading a beautiful dark horse. The colt was a shimmering black in the sunlight, his coat just as dark as Lena’s own hair. The horse whinnied and danced as he was led out into the sun. He flung his head back, his long dark mane swinging freely.

 

“Oh.” Lena breathed.

 

Kara was not so patiently waiting for Lena’s reaction, her hand brought up to cover her own giddy smile.

 

Lena took a few steps closer to the dancing colt, gingerly allowing him to smell her hand.

 

“Is...He’s for me?”

 

“Yes!” Kara squeals, startling the horse a bit. “Sorry.” Kara mutters, rocking on the heels of her feet. Then more shyly “Do you...like him?”

 

Lena laughs and runs her hand over the horse’s neck, feeling his coiled muscles, all that strength and speed just waiting to be unleashed.

 

“He’s gorgeous.” She comments absentmindedly. The colt seems to calm a bit under Lena’s touch, he bumps her shoulder with his snout, eliciting a surprised giggle from Lena.

 

“He’s only three years old, but the breeder assured me he’s been well trained. I was told he can be a bit...spirited, which I hoped you might appreciate.”

 

Lena glances at a smirking Kara from over the horse’s back.

 

“I certainly do.” Lena says patting the horse appreciatively.

 

“And the best part,” Kara continues “they had yet to give him a proper name. That honor falls to you, Princess.” Her smile turns soft, and Lena can feel herself melt a little.

 

Kara had really put a great deal of thought into this. A horse of her very own, to name and tame.

 

Lena feels the ridiculous urge to cry. She shakes it off quickly, laughing instead.

 

“Kara, I don’t know what to say. This is...He’s...Thank you. Truly. I love him.” Lena says trying to cover up how emotional this simple gift has made her.

 

“I’m pleased to hear it.” Kara says, bowing slightly, her blonde hair falling forward off her shoulder.

 

Maggie approaches, patting the horse’s neck.

 

“Let’s get him saddled and see what he can do, shall we?”

 

-------------

 

The four princesses ride quickly out of the city and into the surrounding moorland. Spring is in full bloom and the hills are peppered with poppies and heather. The girls seem to ride with no particular destination in mind. The Kryptonians banter with each other has Lena remains quiet, admiring the landscape.

 

Her new horse is indeed spirited. He is young and eager to run, pulling against the reins and dancing in place when Lena held him back. Lena didn’t mind though, she is more than capable of handling his energy. He was easily soothed by the sound of her voice or a scratch behind his ear.  

 

As they rode further from the city, Lena contemplated on what to name him. It seemed like such a massive responsibility, naming something. Lena had thought the first thing she’d ever name would be a child, when the time came. She supposed it was much safer to practice on a horse.

 

“Gertrude?” Lena asked, eyeing Alex’s horse. It was a lean chestnut mare, not particularly beautiful, but not quite worthy of the name Gertrude either.

 

“After my great grandmother.” Alex said, defensively.

 

Maggie leans close to Lena from her position beside her. “I voted against it, for the record.”

 

“It’s a fine name.” Kara assured Alex.

 

“Yeah, for a great grandmother!” Maggie teases, moving forward to swat playfully at her wife. “Think Gertrude is fast enough to keep up with Morpheus here?” She asked patting her own stallion’s neck.

 

Alex laughed wholeheartedly “Oh, please, I could out ride you on any horse, my love. No need for Gertrude to prove anything.”

 

Maggie feigns insult “So cocky there, Danvers!”

 

“Rightfully, so, as you well know, Sawyer.”

 

Maggie leans over dangerously, balancing herself with a hand on Gertrude’s rump to kiss Alex briefly. Lena quickly glances away from the display of affection, blushing when she catches Kara’s eye.

 

“Not anymore. It’s Danvers now. Or have you forgotten?” Maggie teases, pulling away and settling back into her saddle.

 

“Oh, yes!” Kara chimed in “That’s all the world needs is another Danvers causing trouble.”

 

Kara urges Raza ahead, throwing a bright teasing smile over her shoulder.

 

“What’d you say, Zor-El? Get back here!” Maggie says galloping to catch up with her.

 

As Maggie speeds by Raza, she slaps the filly firmly on the rump, startling her into a gallop. Before Lena knows what’s happened Kara and Maggie have raced far ahead, laughing as they go, leaving her alone with an amused Alex.

 

“Are they always like that?” Lena asks. Alex is still smiling as she watches them, her eyes dart to Lena and widen in surprise as if she had forgotten she was there.

 

“Yes. Much worse usually. I think, Maggie is being on her best behavior for you.”

 

“That’s a frightening thought.”

 

Alex chuckles fondly “You have no idea.”

 

“I like your wife.” Lena admits “Her...unbridled way of speaking has a strange way of setting things at ease.”

 

“Sometimes.” Alex nods “It was a bit difficult for her here at first. She had to learn when to speak more cautiously.”

 

“How long have you been married?”

 

“Nearly two years now.” Alex says happily.

 

Lena hesitates to ask her next question, but her curiosity gets the better of her.

 

“And you married her for love? Not politics or…”

 

“Yes.” Alex answers sharply. “For love.” Her face hardens again, just slightly as she studies Lena. “What do you think of that?”

 

“I think, that’s wonderful. Strange and new to me, but...wonderful.”

 

Alex is quiet for a moment, and Lena can feel her hard gaze on her.

 

“Have you ever been in love, Lena?”

 

Lena’s eyes widen in surprise. “I-I...well, no, I can’t say I have been.”

 

“Ever been close?”

 

Lena shakes her head furiously, growing wary of this line of questioning.

 

“No, I’ve never really...been close with anyone, ever. Never felt anything like that.”

 

Alex hums, curiously.

 

“Think you would know the feeling if it slapped you in the face?”

 

Lena’s pulls her horse to a halt in her surprise at the harshness of Ale'x tone, but Alex keeps moving, urging Gertrude into a canter.

 

“Come on, Luthor, let’s catch up to them.”

 

Lena doesn’t move for a moment as Alex pulls away and her colt dances underneath her.

 

At last pushing Alex’s question aside, she urged Mercer forward. That’s what she’s decide to name him. A little more mercy would do the world some good.

Chapter Text

The rainy day had ruined the princesses regularly scheduled afternoon ride. Ever since Kara had gifted Lena her own horse -Mercer, she had named him- the girls had been going out riding most afternoons before dinner. Sometimes Maggie and Alex or Kal-El and James accompanied them, other times Kara and Lena went alone, racing and laughing, just enjoying the landscape together.

 

But today, due to the rain, Lena had opted to hunker down in the library with Winn, while Kara was curled up in her chambers with Alex and Eliza enjoying the laziness of the day.

 

Kara sat sketching while Eliza played with her hair. The gentle strokes and tugs at her scalp combined with the pattering of the rain outside, lulling Kara into a sleepy daze. Alex sat at a small table by the window, aggressively cleaning her knives. She was sulking because Maggie and Lucy had ridden to Fort Rozz the day before to visit Lucy’s father and Maggie’s brothers and were unable to return today because of the weather.

 

Kara could feel Eliza peeking over her shoulder at the drawing Kara was working on. It was of Lena. Because of course it was. Kara could think of little else.

 

In the sketch, Lena sat astride Mercer, wearing a timid smile, her hair pulled away into a side bun, revealing her sharp jawline. She wore a variation of one of the fine riding outfits Tessmacher had made for her. The neckline dipping dangerously low. The picture was drawn in the black of Kara’s charcoals on the tan rough parchment she used for sketching, but in Kara’s mind’s eye Lena was wearing green. The same shade as the woman’s eyes.

 

“How is she doing?” Eliza asks not too subtly, as she studies the picture in Kara’s lap.

 

Kara struggles to suppress both the blush that colors her cheeks and the smile that tugs at her lips at the thought of Lena.

 

“She is well, I think. Still adjusting which is understandable.” Kara tries to sound casual, even as she uses her fingers to carefully smudge the charcoal, shading Lena’s hair.

 

“Of course.” Eliza says, still arranging Kara’s hair. “But you two are getting along well?”

 

Kara sighs, she had hoped to avoid such a conversation. “I think so. I certainly enjoy her company. Though, I think, I’m something of a distraction from her recent studies.”

 

“Yes,” Eliza hums thoughtfully “I’m told she’s found a home for herself in the library.”

 

“Don’t badger her, Mother.” Alex scolds her without looking up from her work with the knives.

 

Eliza makes a small noise of offense. “I’m just concerned that’s all.”

 

Kara smiles softly. Eliza had always been like a second mother to Kara, and certainly the kinder of the two. Kara knew that she was asking because she cared.

 

“What is it that concerns you?”

 

Eliza takes a deep exasperated breath and Kara can sense the woman shaking her head.

 

“I just worry for you, Kara. You are still so young and...I suppose I’d hoped you’d wait and marry for love.”

 

Kara sighs, having grown tired of this conversation long before her original betrothal to Lena.

 

“There is no one I care for that way, Eliza, you know this. Lena is...I’m certain she is a good match for me. If she accepts my proposal, I hope that one day we can come to care deeply for one another as...partners and companions. There is no need for me to wait around for something that may never come.”

 

Eliza shakes her head sadly. “Alex felt similarly before she met Maggie…”

 

“Hey,” Alex grunts from across the room “don’t bring me into this.”

 

“Alex and Maggie are special.” Kara reasons, thinking back to the day they’d met Maggie. She had been a wild laughing thing on the beach, immediately snagging Alex’s attention in a way Kara had never seen.

 

Kara had watched them fall in love, and known it wasn’t something that happen to everyone.

 

“Kal-El and Lois…” Eliza starts to say.

 

“Have loved each other since they were children, Eliza! They...it’s different for them. Destiny or some such inevitability.” Kara can feel herself growing exasperated with this conversation.

 

“And you’ve felt nothing for any of your past suitors?” Eliza asks, her tone growing frustrated as well. “Ser James has always adored you…”

 

“James is my friend, nothing more.”

 

"Lucy has always had your attention..."

 

Kara simply laughs, unable to imagine Lucy settling down for anyone.

 

Eliza rolls her eyes but persists, “Well, what about that Willis girl? Lady Leslie?”

 

Alex snorts loudly from her place at the table, stifling a laugh. Kara glares at her.

 

“Leslie and I were not at all serious.”

 

“I’ll say!” Alex laughs, “That girl is deranged. You’re lucky to have survived your time with her.”

 

Kara blames the flaming blush on her cheeks on anger at Alex rather than her thoughts of her nights with Leslie.

 

Eliza huffs, brushing more harshly at Kara’s hair. “And then of course, there’s Lord Adam. I can’t at all understand why you refuse him…”

 

“He’s too young for her.” Alex interject with a disgusted grimace.

 

Eliza looks sharply at Alex “I thought, you wanted to be left out of the conversation.”

 

“I would loved to be left out of it.” Kara sighs.

 

“Lord Adam is…”

 

“Entitled!” Kara almost shouts “He is young and arrogant and feels entitled to my hand.”

 

“He’s just frustrated…” Eliza starts again, but Kara swiftly interrupts her.

 

“Enough! Please, Eliza, you say you think I should wait for love, and yet you tick down this list of suitors that I’m telling you I do not love!” Eliza’s hands still in Kara’s hair for a few moments as the room falls tensely quiet.

 

It was unlike Kara to raise her voice, especially at Eliza. But at last Eliza resumes her ministrations, twisting Kara’s hair into a braid. Kara deflates a bit, feeling guilty and suddenly tired rather than sleepy. More quietly she says “I am not in love. Nor do I wish to wait for it any longer. I...care for Lena and wish to marry her, because I believe we will live well together. Can we just leave it at that?”

 

Eliza takes a few moments too long to respond and Kara can feel that the queen wants to say more even as she concedes.

 

“Of course, sweetheart. I’m sorry for nagging. You’ve obviously put a lot of thought into your decision.”

 

Kara nods and sighs in relief. “Thank you. I have. I promise, I do not take her as my wife, lightly.”

 

Just then, there is a knock on the chamber door.

 

“Enter!” Kara shouts, glad to be done with the conversation.

 

A palace guard opens the door and ushers in Alura, before swiftly closing the door behind her.

 

Alura doesn’t look surprised to see Eliza and Alex there, but she takes in the room awkwardly as if she had hoped to catch Kara alone.

 

“Alura!” Eliza exclaims excitedly “Come, join us. Look what I’ve done with your daughter’s golden mane.”

 

Alura steps forward and Kara feels her mother’s hands run tentatively over the braid Eliza has made. “You’ve tamed it, I see.” Her mother says with approval. “It’s lovely, Eliza.”

 

“Alex, won’t let me play with hers anymore. Far too grown up for that, apparently.”

 

Alex sighs across the room without looking up. “I like it down, Mother.”

 

“Um hmm.” Eliza hums skeptically.

 

“Eliza, Alex, would you two mind terribly if I spoke to Kara alone?”

 

Kara immediately tenses, setting aside her drawing of Lena.

 

“Of course.” Eliza says politely, already heading for the door.

 

Alex remains unmoved for a few moments too long, reluctant to leave Kara alone with what is sure to be another unpleasant conversation.

 

“Come along, Alex.” Eliza beckons her.

 

Alex catches Kara’s eye as if asking for permission. Kara nods slightly.

 

“It’s fine, Alex. I’ll see you at dinner.”

 

The other princess gives Kara a sympathetic look, before nodding and gathering her things hurriedly. “See you at dinner.” Alex mumbles before she and Eliza exit, closing the door firmly behind them.

 

Alura comes around and takes the armchair opposite Kara. Kara stares intently into the empty fireplace as if something important might happen there, but she can feel her mother’s eyes on her.

 

“What is it you’d like to talk about, Mother?”

 

Alura sighs, she reaches over and picks up the drawing of Lena, Kara had tried to cover with other papers. Kara winces as her mother pulls it out and studies it closely.

 

“It’s been nearly a month, Kara.” Alura says simply, still looking at the drawing. “Has she still not offered you a response?”

 

Everyone wants to know about Lena. What was it they all discussed before the Luthor princess arrived? Kara wonders.

 

“Not yet.” Kara says quietly.

 

Alura sighs again, more exaggerated this time, and sets the sketch aside. She finally meets Kara’s eyes, studying her daughter closely. Kara resists the urge to fidget under her gaze.

 

“Speak plainly, Mother.” Kara says, her lips pressed into a thin line.

 

“Very well.” Alura says slowly “You know, we expected the two of you to be wed by now. We had already announced your engagement before you returned from Manor.”

 

“Yes, I know.”

 

Her mother leans forward, resting a hand on Kara’s knee.

 

“Daughter, do you think she plans to refuse you?”

 

Kara shakes her head, using the action has an excuse to look anywhere but at her mother.

 

“I do not know. She has given no indication either way.”

 

Alura pulls back, settling back into the chair with a thoughtful expression of her face.

 

“It’s a lovely thing, you’ve done for her, Kara. Noble and good. Your father and I am very proud.”

 

Kara can’t sit still anymore, she bolts up and strides across the room. She pour herself a generous goblet of wine and drinks gratefully. Alura remains by the fireplace, and continues to speak.

 

“However…”

 

“There is is.” Kara mumbles to herself.

 

“When we gave you our blessing and agree to pay her bride price we expected you to marry her upon your return. Not…”

 

“Not what?” Kara snaps, whirling around to fix her mother with a daring stare. “Not give her a choice in the matter? Just as the Luthors intended? Tell me, Mother, what is it exactly you want me to do?”

 

Alura is quiet, her lips pressed into a thin line as she looks through Kara, trying to rein in her own anger.

 

“Would you have me marry her against her will? Throw all our beliefs and traditions about marriage out the window and give into barbarism? Or is the desire for a willing bride mine alone?”

 

“Of course not!” Alura says, raising her voice for the first time. “That’s not at all what…”

 

“Then what do you want from me right now?” Kara interrupts her queen earning a sharp look.

 

Alura grits her teeth, and stands slowly. Kara watches as her mother composes herself. Something she’s seen the woman do countless times in her duties as queen. Her mother moves closer to her, clasping her hand in front of her as if to keep them from forming fists.

 

“I understand this is all very difficult, Kara. But I am inclined to point out that you knew it would be when you insisted on claiming this girl.”

 

Kara feels herself deflate slightly, she leans heavily against her bedpost as Alura continues.

 

“Now, the unfortunate reality of the situation is that everyone knows you were betrothed. Not just the lords and ladies of Krypton, but our allies in Themyscira, Gotham, and...Daxam as well. They are expecting a wedding. And this delay is...unbecoming. If, Rao forbids, this Luthor girl ultimately refuses your offer it will reflect very poorly not just on you, but on all of us.”

 

“It is not my intention to embarrass you, Mother.” Kara says, sadly.

 

She is at a loss. She had promised Lena time and sanctuary while she made up her mind, but it seems as though those weren’t Kara’s gifts to give. She doesn’t want to push or pressure Lena, for she still desperately wants Lena to make that choice for herself.

 

Kara meant what she said to Eliza. Though she has grown to feel great fondness and affection for Lena in their short time together, more than anything Kara truly believes they make a good match outside of her mere attraction. She had hoped Lena would soon come to the same conclusion.

 

Alura’s face softens and she approaches Kara timidly, before wrapping her daughter up in her arms. It is rare for them to hug. There relationship was not always this tense, but Alura was not a particularly affectionate person. Unlike Kara who was constantly showering those around her with warmth. After her initial surprise, Kara melts into her mother’s arms, returning the embrace. She reminds herself to enjoy this rare moment when Alura is her mother rather than her queen.

 

“We are proud of you, Kara. Your father and I.” Alura assures her as Kara buries her face in her mother’s hair. “It takes maturity and sacrifice to marry for something other than love.”

 

“You and Father give me hope for such a union.” Kara mumbles without really thinking. She feels her mother tense at her words and begin to pull back. Alura caresses Kara’s face, confused as she studies Kara’s guilty expression.

 

“What do you mean by that, Kara?”

 

Kara avoids her mother’s eyes and rubs nervously at the back of her neck.

 

“I just meant...You and father are a good match. The way you support each other inspires me. But...I know, you did not marry him for love. Though you were free to do so.”

 

Alura sighs sadly. “Who told you that?”

 

“Aunt Astra.” Kara admits sheepishly. “Before you sent her away.”

 

A flash of anger crosses her mother’s face as she pulls away from Kara, pouring herself a goblet of wine now.

 

“Your aunt speaks of things she does not understand, Kara.”

 

Kara sits down on the edge of her bed, completely regretting bringing up her aunt.

 

“It’s not a big deal, Mother. I actually found comfort in the truth.”

 

“And I didn’t send her away .” Alura says with more than a little frustration. “Your aunt is handling our affairs in Kandor.”

 

Kara nods, knowing there is no arguing with her mother on this matter. Alura and Astra had always had a strained relationship. And before she left Astra had told Kara is was because they could hardly stand to be in the same place at the same time after all that quality time in their mother’s belly together. It had made Kara laugh through her tears at the time, though it did little to ease the ache of missing her aunt in the months since. Sure, Alura had sent Astra and her husband Non to handle their political and military affairs in Kandor, halfway across the kingdom. But Kara couldn’t help but wonder if her aunt and uncle were allowed to ever come back.

 

Alura comes to sit by Kara on the bed, setting aside the goblet of wine without taking a sip. Her mother takes her hands, her expression thoughtful.

 

“I love your father very much.” She says.

 

“Mother, you don’t have to-”

 

“He is one of the best things that could have happened to me and...Just because our affection was born in marriage doesn’t make it any less potent. Do you understand?”

 

Kara gives her mother a small smile and nods.

 

“I understand, Mother.”

 

Alura nods firmly, and smooths her face back into the regal mask Kara is accustom to.

 

“Good. Because that’s what I wish for you, my daughter. I hope you can find that with Princess Lena.”

 

“I have to convince her to marry me first.”

Chapter Text

Lena arrives at the stables before everyone else, which has become her habit. She enjoys saddling Mercer herself, rather than having the stable hands do it.

 

Lena has become very attached to the young colt since Kara gifted him to her. He is excitable and mischievous at times, always happy to see her. Though surely that has nothing to do with the little treats and affections she bestows on him.

 

Mercer whinnies and stomps excitedly when he sees Lena approaching. She greets him with a big smile and several carrots. He gobbles them up from her flattened palm greedily, as she rubs his nose. “Hello, you.” Lena coos.

 

“I’m glad you’re so fond of him.”

 

Lena startles at the sound of Alex’s voice behind her.

 

“I- Alex, you frightened me.” Lena says with a nervous laugh. She had become rather wary of Kara’s so called sister since their conversation the day she received Mercer. Lena had done her best not to be left alone with Alex again.

 

“Kara spent those first few weeks you were here agonizing over it.” Alex continues speaking as if Lena hadn’t said anything. She walks over and leans against Mercer’s stall door, looking him over. “She would sneak off in the mornings while you were in the library. She must have gone to eight different breeders...Seen twenty different horses, before finding him.” Alex goes on thoughtfully. Lena’s throat is suddenly dry, and the frown on Alex’s face makes her stomach knot up. “She wanted him to be perfect for you.” Alex finally meets Lena’s gaze, and there is a fierceness in her eyes that frightens Lena.

 

“Alex, I-”

 

“What’s your problem, Luthor?” Alex bites out. “Why isn’t she good enough for you?”

 

Lena takes a step back, shaking her head furiously. “That’s not- I’m not-”

 

“Is this still because she lied to you?” Alex says, straightening up and folding her arms over her chest. “Because if so you’re just being childish. She made a mistake. How long are you going to keep punishing her for it?”

 

“I’m not punishing her!” Lena snaps, a spark of anger rising up in her.

 

“Oh really?” Alex counters, tilting her head slightly “Then why do you refuse to respond to her offer? Why are you stringing her along this way?”

 

“I-”

 

Alex doesn’t give her a chance to respond. She steps forward into Lena’s space, maneuvering Lena back against a stack of hay. Mercer paws at his stall door and huffs unhappily at their arguing.

 

“She adores you, you know.” Alex says, her voice dangerously low, her face way too close to Lena’s. Lena is paralyzed by the princess’s quiet fury.

 

“I know that.” Lena admits through gritted teeth.

 

“She has been nothing but kind to you. She rescued you when you were nothing but a stranger. And this is how you repay her? By humiliating her with your stalling? With your denial?”

 

Lena flinches at Alex’s words. Humiliating? What is she talking about?

 

“That’s not my intention.” Lena says, now more confused than angry. Alex, however, still seems to have anger to spare.

 

“What is your intention exactly?” Alex snarls. “Are you waiting around for someone better to come along?”

 

“Of course not!” Lena says, finally pushing herself from her trapped position between Alex and the hay. She turns her back on the furious princess and runs a shaky hand through her hair.

 

“There is no one better, Lena!” Alex shouts to her back, and then more quietly “She’s the only one that really wants you.”

 

Lena whips around to look at Alex, feeling as though she’s been slapped. A look of guilt flutters briefly across the Kryptonian’s face, as if she hadn’t meant to say that last part out loud.

 

“Hey!” Maggie is there, looking pissed as she approaches from behind Alex and lays a firm hand on her wife’s shoulder. “That’s enough, Alex!” Maggie’s voice is a hard mix of anger and disappointment in her wife’s behavior. Alex looks significantly chastened by her wife’s tone. Her shoulders slump and the fire goes out of her eyes as she looks down and away from Lena.

 

“Maggie, I just…”

 

“No.” Maggie snaps “Go take a walk.” Alex opens her mouth as if to protest, before running a hand roughly through her hair and turning on her heels. She stomps away and out of the stables.

 

Lena hugs herself, digging her fingers harshly into the fabric of her shirt. Maggie turns to her, a look of pure concern on her face. But the shorter woman’s lips are press into a thin line as if she doesn’t know what to say. She touches Lena’s elbow.

 

“Hey, I’m sorry about that, Princess.”

 

Lena shakes her head, trying to sort out her own thoughts. “She just cares about Kara.”

 

Maggie nods “Yes, but still, that was…”

 

“I’m fine.” Lena says too quickly, taking a step away from Maggie. Maggie looks skeptical.

 

“It’s okay, if you’re not, Lena.”

 

Lena bites her lip to quell the sudden urge to cry. She can not cry right now. No way. Pull it together, Luthor.

 

“What’s going on?”

 

They both turn to see Kara stride into the barn, her thumb pointed over her shoulder and a confused look on her face.

 

“I just passed Alex and she looked…” Kara gets close enough to see whatever expression is currently on Lena’s face. Lena quickly looks down and away, busying herself with Mercer’s bridle. “Lena, what? What did she do?” Kara manages to sound both angry and concerned at the same time.

 

When Lena doesn’t answer and refuses to look at her Maggie steps in.

 

“Alex is just…”

 

“What happened, Maggie?” Kara demands, whirling on Maggie.

 

“Nothing!” Lena lies, without turning around “It was nothing. I’m fine.”

 

That does nothing to soothe Kara. “Lena, if she said something-”

 

Maggie interrupts her “Alex has just been a little...hostile lately.” She says weakly.

 

“Hostile?” Kara asks indignantly.

 

Maggie sighs, both hands raised in surrender. “Look, honestly, I think she might be pregnant.”

 

That finally draws Lena’s attention. Her head snaps up from her work with Mercer’s tact, and her eyes go wide. She can tell that Kara shares in her surprise.

 

“What?” Kara says, her anger quickly dissipating.

 

Maggie looks slightly guilty. “I know, that’s no excuse, Little Luthor. And the doctor isn’t sure yet, but her mood swings have been giving me whiplash. So that...could be part of it.”

 

Lena glances at Kara finally meeting the blonde’s eyes. “Kara, can we just drop this please? I’m fine. It’s fine.” The lie comes more easily this time. And while Kara doesn’t seem to completely believe it, Lena can see her body relax a bit, the fight going out of her.

 

“I think, it’ll just be the two of you today.” Maggie says gesturing to the horses. “I’m gonna go check on, Alex.”

 

Maggie starts to leave, before turning back abruptly. “Oh, and don’t tell her I said anything about the…” Maggie makes an arching motion with her hand over her stomach, and then the brunette is gone, leaving Lena alone with a still displeased Kara.

 

Lena slips into Mercer’s stall and begins saddling him to put some space between them, but Kara comes over and leans against the stall door.

 

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Kara asks, gently, that now familiar crinkle between her eyebrows.

 

“Of course.” Lena says tightly.

 

“Lena...if she said anything to upset you-”

 

“Look,” Lena says, leaving the saddle and coming over to grasp Kara’s hands. Kara’s blue eyes go wide at the contact,  and she seems to perk up at Lena’s proximity. “Can we just go riding?” Lena pleas. “Mercer is restless…” I’m restless. “Can you just…” She squeezes Kara’s hands, and can’t help a small smile at the way Kara clings to her. “Can you just take me somewhere beautiful?”

 

It’s clear Kara isn’t completely ready to let it go, but the blonde nods anyway. A slow smile pulls at her lips as she kisses Lena’s knuckles.

 

“Whatever you want, Princess.”

 

-----------

 

They ride swiftly through the city and out onto the moors. Kara tries several times to bring up the incident back at the stables, but Lena persistently intercepts her by asking questions about the shops or the flowers or the countryside. It’s an obvious diversion, and Kara finally takes the hint.

 

Kara leads them to a stream Lena recognizes from their previous rides. Usually, they’d just stop and water the horses awhile before setting off again. This time Kara smiles mischievously as they follow the water Northward.

 

This is the farthest from Argo Lena has been since arriving all those weeks ago. They are on the North side of the valley, territory Kara has never shown her before. The stream soon grows into a river. They follow it upstream and into a small woodland.

 

This was nothing like the forests of Manor, with their towering fir trees and ankle deep pine needles. No this was something less stifling. The trees were broad and short, the branches long, reaching out and tangling with one another.

 

Kara seemed amused by Lena’s fascination with the landscape.

 

“Come along. It’s not much further now.” Kara urges her with a smile.

 

At last, the river leads to a lake nestled at the base of a cliff. They had reached the Northern edge of the valley.

 

Lena had asked for someplace beautiful and Kara did not disappointed. The riverbed and lakeshore were surrounded with wild flowers. The blue sky opened up above the lake and allowed sunlight to stream through, glinting off the astonishingly clear water.

 

The hideaway leaves Lena speechless.

 

“What do you think?” Kara asks, dismounting with a knowing smile on her face. She seemed to know exactly what Lena thought.

 

“It’s beautiful.” Lena sighs, still looking around in amazement. Kara chuckles, coming around to help Lena off of Mercer, even though Lena is quite capable of getting down herself.

 

“Let’s have a closer look.” Kara beckons her. Lena gently slides from Mercer’s back, bracing herself on Kara’s shoulders as Kara holds her at her waist. At first Lena had thought this need to help her dismount was due to Kara thinking her helpless, but more recently she’d come to believe it was just an excuse for Kara to be close to her. And at this point, Lena wasn’t going to deny either of them that.

 

“Thank you.” She whispers into Kara’s shirt.

 

“Of course.” Kara says, reluctantly removing her hands from Lena’s waist.

 

Kara offers Lena her hand instead. “Shall we?”

 

After only a moment’s hesitation, Lena takes her hand, entwining their fingers.

 

They leave the horses under the shade of the trees, close to the river’s mouth so they can rest and drink. Kara leads her along the shore and out onto some large flat rocks at the base of the cliff. They sit down and remove their riding boots, slipping their feet into the cool water.

 

“Why haven’t you brought me to this place before?” Lena asks, leaning back and enjoying the way the sun feels on her face.

 

Kara shrugs, leaning back on her elbows. “It’s a long ride out here, and it’s not quite summer yet. If we had come with the others they would have wanted to swim.”

 

Kara’s brows furrows and Lena can tell she’s thinking again of Alex. Lena sits up quickly, hoping to distract Kara from all of that.

 

“Swim?” Lena asks, rising an eyebrow. This draws a smile from Kara.

 

“Yes. Do you...Do you want to swim?”

 

Lena bites her lip and glances around making sure they’re alone.

 

“Like...naked?”

 

Kara barks out a laugh and stands up abruptly. Lena’s eyes widen in alarm as Kara unceremoniously removes her jerkin and drops it next to her riding boots.

 

“I won’t peek if you won’t.” Kara says teasingly, turning her back to Lena. Lena feels her face heat up.

 

“I um…”

 

Lena’s mouth goes dry and she forgets how to speak when Kara pulls her shirt over her head. Lena gets a nice long look at the Kryptonian’s bare back. So much deliciously tan skin and Kara is so...fit. Her skin pulls tight over muscles that ripple and twitch as she moves.

 

“We um we're doing this then, are we?” Lena asks, finally standing up without taking her eyes off Kara. I am doing so much more than peeking. She thinks. Kara’s blonde locks cascade back over her strong shoulders and back as she wrestles the shirt over her head. Once free of the garment, Kara looks at Lena over her shoulder, catching her staring. The resulting smirk nearly knocks Lena over.

 

“I certainly am.” Kara says giggling. When Kara begins to remove her breeches, Lena finally regains some self control, swiftly turning her back to Kara.

 

Before she can talk herself out of it, Lena begins undressing as well, casting looks over her shoulder to see if Kara is peeking. If she is, the Kryptonian is much more subtle about it than Lena was.

 

Once Lena has removed all her clothes, Kara calls out from behind her. “Ready?”

 

Not at all. Lena thinks her heart racing. “Are you sure about-?”

 

Before Lena can even finish her sentence, Kara as quickly turned and thrown herself into the lake dragging an unsuspecting Lena in after her.

 

The water is cold. Colder than she would have thought by just sticking her feet in. But it’s also surprisingly clean and it really wakes Lena up. Breaking the surface, Lena sputters, spitting water out of her mouth and shoving wet hair out of her face. The water isn’t very deep here, Lena can touch the bottom if she stands on her toes. Lena glances around and finds Kara several feet away treading water with a shy smile on her face.

 

“I can’t believe you just did that.” Lena tells her.

 

Kara shrugs, biting her bottom lip. “You were stalling.”

 

There’s that word again. Stalling. Do people not take a moment to think about something in Krypton before jumping right in? Lena wonders.

 

Her spark of annoyance is there and gone again in a second. She gets distracted when she remembers just how entirely naked they both are.

 

Lena lowers herself a bit more into the water so only her head and arms are above the surface as she wades out to where Kara is.

 

Kara’s wet hair is slicked back from her face, and only her neck and shoulders are visible, but still Lena has seen too much now and yet not enough. They gravitate towards each other silently. Kara’s blue eyes seem even brighter than usual as they bore into Lena’s, her playfulness slipping away and replaced by something else. Something that makes Lena’s heart flutter in her chest.  Finally they are face to face, treading water and staring at each other, their feet touch fleetingly as they kick to stay afloat.

 

“Lena?”

 

Lena doesn’t realize she’s staring at Kara’s mouth until Kara’s lips move to form her name.

 

“Hmm?” Lena asks, her gaze darting from Kara’s intensely blue eyes back down to her lips.

 

“I’d like to...May I kiss you now?” The sudden shyness of Kara’s voice jolts Lena from her trance. She didn’t realize just how close they had gotten, they’re almost touching. Kara is looking at her with such a sweet and vulnerable expression.

 

Lena has no idea what she’s doing. No idea how she ended up here in this pond, naked, with this adorable brilliant Kryptonian.

 

“Yes.” Lena whispers, just barely loud enough for Kara to hear. One corner of Kara’s mouth tugs up into a smile. She stretches forward, bringing her hand up to caress Lena’s face and finally presses their lips together. That’s their only points of contact. Kara’s hand to Lena’s cheek, and Kara’s lips slowly brushing over Lena’s, curious and patient.

 

The kiss is so languid and careful, Lena is afraid to move anything other than her mouth against Kara’s.

 

Why had she been stalling? Why hadn’t she been kissing her for weeks? Why wouldn’t she want to kiss her this way for the rest of her life?

 

Kara pulls back reluctantly, Lena chasing after her for a moment. Kara presses her forehead to Lena’s, their eyes closed and their breathing heavy.

 

“Was that okay?” Kara whispers.

 

Lena nods finally opening her eyes. She reaches up to press her palm to Kara’s cheek, prompting the Kryptonian to open her eyes.

 

“That was more than okay.”

 

-------

 

They quietly climb out of the lake and back into their clothes, before plopping down in in the grass. The afternoon sun shines through the canopy just enough to begin drying their skin and hair and clothes.

 

Kara lays on her back with her hands under her head and her eyes closed. There is about a foot of space between them. Lena lays on her back as well, her hands resting on her stomach. But her head is turned to the side, unabashedly staring at Kara.

As hurtful as it was to hear, Alex had been right earlier. Lena had been stalling. Lena had been stringing Kara along. Reluctant to marry, for fear that somehow some better opportunity might present itself, not to her but to Kara. Kara had been nothing but kind and good to her. She had been patient and charming and so incredibly thoughtful. Of course, Lena found all of that endearing, but also intimidating. Who was this woman? Who was she and why did she want Lena? Where did one acquire such a big heart and bright smile? And at what point would Kara realize that she could probably have anyone she wanted? Who wouldn’t love her? Lena wondered. And of course, Lena couldn't help but wonder (not for the first time) if that's what this was. This fluttering fond feeling in her chest at the thought of Kara. Is this what love is?

 

Laying there in the warm grass by the river staring at Kara’s beautiful face as she soaked up the sun, Lena finally comes to the conclusion that none of that mattered.

 

For whatever reason, Kara had come for her. Right now at this moment, Kara wanted her. And perhaps Lena had been a fool to question her good fortune, rather than enjoying it for however long it lasted.

 

Besides, if what Alex had suggested was true, and Lena’s reluctance really was doing harm to Kara’s reputation, that was certainly no way to repay the Kryptonian’s kindness.

 

So Lena makes up her mind to put them both out of their misery.

 

She pushes aside all of the nerves, and nostalgia, and nonsense that's been keeping her from moving forward.

 

She whispers Kara's name softly.

 

Kara startles a bit, her eyes opening sleepily as if she had been dozing. She blinks up at the sky, before turning her head slightly to look at Lena. Kara smiles like she’s glad to see her, like she had forgotten she was there.

 

“Yes.” Lena says plainly. Kara brows furrows in confusion, but her smile doesn’t waver.

 

“What? Yes, what?”

 

Lena laughs at her own inability to just fucking say it. She reaches out and places her palm on Kara’s cheek, running her thumb over those lips that she can’t wait to be kissing again.

 

“Yes, Kara Zor-El, I would very much like to marry you.”

Chapter Text

The world seems to spin a little faster after that.

 

Everyone is seemingly thrilled with the news that their engagement is official. Well, almost everyone.

Alex’s reaction is a bit more sated than Lena was hoping for. The Kryptonian smiles and congratulates Kara enthusiastically enough. She indulges in the almost painful looking hug Kara envelopes her in, but when her eyes land on Lena, they still pinch into something of a glare.  Alex gives Lena a firm nod of approval, much to Lena’s chagrin. If the Kryptonian princess thinks for one second that her ill-mannered intimidation was the only reason Lena decided to accept Kara’s proposal, then she was gravely mistaken. Lena longs to tell her as much, but Kara is bouncing on the toes of her feet, hugging everyone in sight, smiling proudly back at Lena. So Lena decides now is not the time to start something with Alex. Lena’s not sure there will ever be a good time for that, but she holds off nonetheless.

 

Maggie, Lois, Kal, and Winn are all genuinely happy with the news. They even hug Lena in turn, which is strange but not unwelcomed. Lena wonders if perhaps this is what it’s like to have friends.

 

Kara’s mother and father are clearly more relieved than anything else. Offering their congratulations and swiftly commanding that wedding preparation begin immediately. Lena didn’t realize there was such an urgency regarding their marriage. In fact, she’s still confused by the rush. She had read during her studies that Kryptonian engagements were rather short. Kryptonians saw no need to wait once one found a partner, a sentiment that Lena shared. But, even so, when Queen Alura suggests they marry in a matter of weeks, Lena’s stomach flips.

 

She’ll be married to Kara by the time summer begins.

 

Oddly enough, the engagement isn’t even the most exciting development of the week.

 

Lois goes into labor, four days after Lena accepts Kara’s proposal, and gives birth to a beautiful baby boy.

This terrifies Lena.

The child is the image of his father. Thick black hair and the blue eyes that their family is apparently prone to. They name him Kon-El in the tradition of the House of El. This makes Lena muse about if she and Kara will one day give their own son (or sons) some strange Kryptonian name. She quickly chases off the thought, choosing not to work herself up over the idea of producing heirs, before they’ve even said their vows.

 

Kara is of course overjoyed. She vows to be the “best cousin ever” with such glee that Lena can’t imagine it’s untrue. Lena chooses to keep her distance from the child. Sneaking peaks every now and then, as he sleeps in his bassinet or someone else’s arms.She’s never been around a baby before. She can’t even recall ever holding a baby. She wouldn’t even know how. Each time Lois beckons her closer and makes to place the baby in her arms, Lena feels herself get overwhelmed with the fragility of him. He’s so new and perfect. The world hasn’t gotten to him yet. He hasn’t been abandoned or looked down on. No one has misjudged or misled him. No one has told him of his responsibilities yet. He doesn’t know what the world will expect from him as a Prince of Krypton. His malleability astonishes her.

 

Kara and Maggie are convinced she dislikes the baby. They enjoy teasing her about it, mistaking her caution for aversion. But Lois seems to know better without Lena having to explain it, for which Lena is grateful.

 

As summer swiftly approaches, the wedding plans come together with very little effort on Lena’s part. Kara suggested something small and simple, and Lena happily agreed. It’s not like she had an abundance of people to invite. So it would just be the members of the royal families and Kara’s close friends in attendance.

 

On top of the wedding, the palace is alight with activity in preparation for the upcoming solstice. The Summer Solstice Festival was a week long celebration in Krypton. The Royal Palace would play host to any and all of Kryptonian nobility as well as the aristocracy of their close allies. The rulers of Krypton had used this mutual celebration of the season as a political opportunity to address issues, end conflicts, form treaties, and maintain peace in the kingdom and abroad for centuries. It was the single most important time of the year for Krypton’s royals. And by the time of the festival, Lena would be one of them.

 

Because of the fast approaching peace summit, Lena had seen very little of Kara since their day at the lake. Even their daily lunches were often cut short as the blonde was called away to fulfill her duties. The kings, queens, and heirs spent the weeks before the festival meeting with advisors and council members to form a course of action for the coming peace talks. They also held open court to the public in order to gage the Kryptonian peoples’ needs and concerns.

 

-----------

 

That’s where Kara was now, sitting in a stuffy room somewhere, learning to rule a kingdom and maintain peace. Lena imagined she looked regal and concerned and brilliant as always.

 

Lena on the other hand is now a frequent fixture on Tessmacher’s pedestal.

 

She had been standing up there for at least an hour at Tessmacher’s insistence, allowing the woman to measure and poke and prod her some more.

 

“I’m just planning out the finishing touches now.” Tessmacher mumbles, tugging at the hem of Lena’s wedding dress, causing Lena to sway slightly.

 

“You’ve been ‘planning the finishing touches’ for a week now, might I remind you.” Lena grumbles, holding her arms out to steady herself. “Is there something wrong with the dress that I’m oblivious to?”

 

Lois laughs from her chair by the wall. Kon-El is swaddled against her chest, breast feeding. “There’s nothing wrong with the dress, Lena. It’s lovely. Tessmacher is just being thorough.”

 

Lois had often been keeping Lena company here through the dress making process. Normally, she’d be permitted to join Kal in the the council meetings or open court. But Lois prefered to care for Kon-El herself rather than leaving him with a nurse for hours on end. Lena was grateful for the other woman’s company and opinions. She even found herself pleased with the baby’s presence. His soft fussing and coos, pull at some strange feeling in the middle of Lena’s chest, bringing a quiet smile to her face even as Tessmacher has her turn for the hundredth time.

 

“It is a royal wedding after all.” Tessmacher is saying “Her Royal Highness took her sweet time choosing her perfect bride, the least I can do is give her bride the perfect dress.”

 

Lena’s brow furrows and she’s asking a question that’s been on her mind for weeks before she even realizes it. “What’s the urgency exactly? Everyone seems rather eager for Kara to marry.”

 

“There is no urgency.” Lois insists “We’re just excited. Happy for you and Kara.”

 

Lena turns her head to look skeptically at Lois over her shoulder “Honestly?”

 

Lois avoids her eyes and pretends to busy herself with readjusting Kon-El in her arms. “Kara has been...somewhat reluctant in the past. Everyone is more than a little relieved.”

 

“Reluctant?” Lena asks, turning a little to the left as Tessmacher instructs.

 

“To marry, I mean. When she was younger she would brush off talks of it. It’s only in the last few years, since Alex and Maggie got married, that she’s even entertained the idea.”

 

This comes as some surprise to Lena. Kara had always seemed very comfortable with the idea of marriage. Lena can still recall the earnestness in the blonde’s voice... I’d still very much like to marry you.

 

“She’s had other suitors though hasn’t she?” Lena finds herself asking. Tessmacher busts out laughing, startling Lena, whose expression morphs into one of pure confusion, and earning a stern glare from Lois.

 

“Tessmacher!” Lois scolds her sharply. Lena looks back and forth between the two women, as Tessmacher struggles to stifle her amusement.

 

“I’m sorry.” The woman says, trying to bite back her smile, not looking at all sorry. “It’s just the princess has not been lacking in interested parties. Has she, Lois?”

 

Lois looks severely uncomfortable, her expression pained. “We shouldn’t gossip.”

 

Tessmacher scoffs, waving off Lois’s evasion. “I can’t tell her, because that would be gossip. But Princess Kara is your family. It’s not gossip if it’s about your own family.”

 

Lois rolls her eyes “That doesn’t sound true.”

 

Tessmacher raises her hands in surrender, before setting back to work at the fabric at Lena’s waistline.

 

“Lois?” Lena prompts, unable to deny her own curiosity. She had assumed Kara had other offers. She was a beautiful, charming princess. Heiress to a powerful and wealthy kingdom. And unlike Lena, she wasn’t the bastard daughter of a despised king.

 

Lois sighs and shakes her head even as she begins to speak. “Kara hasn’t had a lack of lovers, Lena. Surely, you know this.”

 

Lena’s eyes widen and her mouth falls open. Did she know that? She and Kara had never discussed such things.

 

“Oh um-well…” Lena’s cheeks flush red, but she can’t seem to form words to change the subject. Lois continues on, oblivious to Lena’s embarrassment.

 

“My understanding is her past romances were quite heated but...How should I put this? Heated, but only skin deep. Do you know what I mean?”

 

Lena nods frantically “Yes, I understand! Thank you. Um but should you really be telling me this?”

 

Lois shrugs “I just think it’s important that you know, you’re special.”

 

Tessmacher had begun to tinker with the sleeves of the dress, prompting Lena to hold her arms up and turn away from Lois. Lena frowns and worried at her bottom lip.

 

“I’m not sure that’s true.” She says quietly. “Our situation is different, that doesn’t make me special.”

 

“Well, Tessmacher says around several pins she’s holding between her teeth “look at it this way. Princess Kara has been chased after for most of her life. Several suitors have offered and she’s turned them all down. Now here you are, and suddenly our princess is doing the chasing.”

 

“How many proposals has Kara declined?”

 

Tessmacher shrugs, but it’s Lois that speaks from her place behind Lena.

 

“Several, from different Lords and Ladies of Krypton. You know, how put off Lord Adam Grant is by you?”

 

Lena nods even though Lois can’t really see her.

 

“Well, Kara and he...may have had a brief tryst, that resulted in Lord Adam’s proposal. Apparently, he thought their time together meant a great deal more than it did. Kara politely declined, and he didn’t take it well.”

 

“The boy’s been bitter ever since.” Tessmacher adds.

 

Well, that certainly explained Lord Adam’s behavior towards Lena since she had arrived. She was in exactly the position he longed for, and until recently she had been taking it for granted.

 

“And one offer came from the Prince of Daxam.” Lois says with a grimace. “That buffoon actually suggested Kara give up her throne to be his wife. Alura was livid!”

 

“Then there’s the tension with Dame Lane…” Tessmacher mumbles.

 

Lena’s eyes go wide and she whips around to face Lois, earning an annoyed huff from Tessmacher as she walks around to resume her work.

 

“Dame Lane? Your sister Lucy?”

 

Lois winces at the mention of her sister and shakes her head. “I don’t know anything about that.” Lois says firmly. “My sister doesn’t tell me anything.”

 

“Just because she doesn’t tell you doesn’t mean you don’t know.” Tessmacher teases.

 

Lois rolls her eyes “Lucy is fickle, Lena. There was a time she was involved with Alex, before Maggie came along. And then there may or may not have been a few dalliances with Kara. I can’t say for sure.”

 

“Oh?” Lena’s voice cracks on the syllable.

 

“There was never any talk of marriage though, I can assure you.”

 

Lena takes a moment to absorb all of this new information. She had no idea Kara was so...experienced. She was more than a little intimidated by this revelation of Kara’s past. But a part of her couldn’t help, but feel something close to pride.

 

Part of her reluctance to wed Kara had come from a belief that Kara would be sacrificing other better options to be with her. But little had Lena known that Kara had already turned down other offers.

 

For whatever reason, Kara saw something in Lena that changed her mind. Lena cheeks pinkened at the thought.

 

Lois noticed Lena’s blush this time, and quickly went about reassuring her.

 

“I’m sorry, Lena. We really shouldn’t be telling you all of this. It’s all just gossip and rumors, pay it no mind. Whatever her past, Kara has chosen you.” Something about the look on Lena’s face must concern Lois. “Please tell me we haven’t upset you?”

 

Lena shakes herself from her thoughts and gives Lois a reassuring smile.

 

“ No, not at all. I was just...thinking.”

 

Lois looks like she’s about to say more, when there is a knock at the door. “Enter!” Tessmacher yells.

 

The door cracks open and Winn pokes his head inside, one hand covering his eyes.

 

Lena and Lois chuckle at his chivalry. “It’s alright, Winn. The princess is decent. You can come in.” Lois tells him.

 

Winn steps further inside the room and cautiously lowers his hand from over his eyes. His eyes go wide as he takes in Lena and her dress.

 

“Wow! You...You look incredible, Princess.”

 

“Don’t sound so surprised.” Lena smirks.

 

Winn stutters “No, I mean, of course you look...but honestly wow.” Lena blushes again at his praise. No one else had seen her wedding dress aside from Lois.

 

“Thank you, Winn.” She says, sheepishly.

 

“What did you need, Winn?” Lois says, drawing his gaze from Lena. Winn walks over and stoops to take a closer look at the sleeping baby in Lois’s arms. He smiles fondly at Kon-El as he speaks.

 

“Kara and Kal wanted you both to know, you’ll all be having dinner with the kings and queens tonight. I volunteered to tell you since I was passing this way.”

 

“Dinner?” Lena squeaks “With...everyone?”. She hadn’t been in the same room as all the royals since her first night in Argo, and she still wasn’t thrilled with the first impression she must have made.

 

Lois chuckles at Lena’s obvious anxiety. “Don’t worry, Lena. It probably won’t be as bad as last time. Maybe you’ll even make it to the table.” She jokes.

 

Lena could only hope.

 

--------

 

Lena does in fact make it to the table this time.

 

This time is different. They are in a less formal dining room than the one Lena was originally received in her first night in Argo. The table is round and just big enough for all the royal families and Lena to occupy comfortably. Though the meal that’s been prepared is just as grand.

 

Lena tries to push down her disappointment that the first time she’s gotten to spend with Kara lately is also in the company of nearly everyone else. They’d hardly any time to talk, and almost no time alone since the lake. No more kisses had been exchanged, much to Lena’s displeasure.

 

She could tell Kara had been missing her too. Not only because the Kryptonian princess told her as much, but from the way Kara was holding her hand under the table, and constantly stealing glances at her from the corner of her eye.

 

Kara is discreetly playing with Lena’s hand under the table, her fingertips tracing circles on Lena’s palm, or her thumb rubbing gently over the back of her hand, or intertwining their fingers and squeezing lightly to make Lena look at her. It was maddening. It made it impossible for Lena to concentrate on anything that was being said.

 

She could discern that she wasn’t missing much. Mostly just political discussion about the council meetings they had all been attending and the open court that had been held that day.

 

When there was finally a lull in the conversation, Alex loudly cleared her throat to gain everyone’s attention. Lena watched as Alex’s gaze darted around nervously to everyone present, before it finally settled on Maggie who gave her an encouraging nod. Alex gave her wife a small smile and took her hand.

 

“Maggie and I have an announcement.”

 

Kara and Lena shared a knowing glance, and Kara briefly squeezed Lena’s hand.

 

“Today, the court physician confirmed what we’ve suspected.” Alex says slowly, clearly trying to contain her excitement. “I’m with child.” she finally gushes, her face breaking into a smile.

 

The entire table applauds, and offers their enthusiastic congratulations. Everyone had suspected Alex’s condition over the last few weeks, but the doctor had yet to confirm.

 

Maggie wears a proud grin that just won’t seem to quit. Her dimples on full display, as she clutches her wife’s hand and stares at her lovingly.

 

Queen Eliza is seated next to Alex, she pulls her daughter into a tight embrace and strokes the girl’s hair with tears in her eyes.

 

“I’m so happy for you, sweetheart.” Eliza tells her. Alex nods frantically, obviously trying to fight off tears of her own.

 

“We all are, Alexandra.” King Jeremiah assures over his wife’s shoulder.

 

Eliza kisses Alex’s forehead when a tear escapes and slips down Alex’s cheek. “You are going to be amazing! Both of you.” She says, placing a hand on Maggie’s shoulder.

 

Kara reaches for her wine goblet. “A toast! To Baby Danvers!” Everyone follows suit, lifting their cups to Alex and Maggie, who look overjoyed, but also a little embarrassed by the attention.

 

“To Baby Danvers!” They all bellow before taking a drink.

 

“How far along are you?” Kara’s father asks.

 

“The doctor thinks a little over two months.” Alex tells him “The baby should be born around the winter solstice.”

 

Zor-El smiles at his brother “We’ll be blessed with a child of winter and a child of summer, Brother. Just like Kara and Kal.”

 

“It bodes well.” Jor-El turns to Lois and Kal “How is my grandson? It saddens me he chose such a busy time of the year to finally join us.”

 

Lois smiles “He is well, Jor-El. Always hungry and sleepy as a child should be.” Lois and Kal left Kon-El with his nurse for dinner, and Lena can tell Lois is anxious to get back to him, by the way she fidgets in her seat.

 

“He grows bigger everyday, Father.” Kal-El says proudly “Sometimes I think he grows just in the few hours I spend in open court.”

 

The whole table chuckles at that.

 

“Well, don’t worry yourself.” Kal-El’s mother rests a hand on his cheek from her place beside him. “The Summer Solstice will come and go, then you will have plenty of time to get to know him.”

 

“It’s going to be so lovely to have little ones in the families again.” Eliza says, brushing a strand of Alex’s hair from her face.

 

“Yes, hopefully, these are just the first of many heirs to come.” Jor-El looks not too subtly at Lena and Kara from across the table.

 

Lena instantly tenses up under his gaze, and she can see Kara’s cheeks turn pink as her eyes go wide.

 

“Jor-El!” His wife, Lara, scolds him, swatting his shoulder.

 

He chuckles and shrugs “What? What’s wrong with that?”

 

“You’re embarrassing them!” she hisses, giving Lena and Kara a sympathetic look.

 

Lena looks down from all the eyes that are suddenly on her, and pulls her hand from Kara’s to wipe her palms on her dress.

 

“What is there to be embarrassed about?” Jor-El asks, with a smile. “They’ll be wed soon. It’s perfectly natural…”

 

Alura interrupts him with a teasing smile “Let’s get them through the wedding, before we start badgering them for little ones, shall we?”

 

Zor-El laughs taking his wife’s hand “Excuse my brother.” He says to Lena directly, making her blush “He’s just eager to see the House of El thrive again.”

 

Kara finally seems to find her tongue, she smiles at her father and uncle “Are we not thriving? Kal-El and I are not impressive enough?”

 

Jor-El shakes his head growing more serious “You two are the absolute best our house has to offer. We couldn’t be more pleased.”

 

Kara nods, satisfied with the praise.

 

“However,” her uncle continues “our house has grown small. Our kinsmen few. If we are to continue to bring honor and progress to Krypton as we have for centuries, it is important that we all do our part.”

 

Lena can’t be certain, but she suspects he’s talking to her when he says this. As if the fate of the entire House of El fell on her womb. Lena takes a long drink from her goblet.

 

The conversation moves on thankfully, but Lena’s mind lingers on thoughts of weddings and babies and sex with Kara and legacies to uphold.

 

Kara reaches for her hand again under the table, but Lena pulls away, keeping her hands occupied on top of the table for the rest of the meal.

Chapter Text

Lena had been completely restless all day.

 

She had breakfast with Lois and Kon-El this morning and did her best to listen as Lois told her about the upcoming Summer Solstice festival. Lena had asked after all. She wanted to know everything, so she’d know what to expect.

 

In Manor, they had holidays and festivals. Her family threw parties and held tournaments. But there had always been an undercurrent of hostility to the events. Like no one really wanted to be there. Lena had spent most of them avoiding handsy lords and enduring the sneers from her fellow noblewomen. The event Lois was describing sounded nothing like that.

 

At the Solstice festival Kryptonian nobles and representatives of allied kingdoms gathered together in the palace to party at night and reform policy during the day. While the Kryptonian people celebrated in the streets of the city. Food and music and entertainers parading late into the night. Lena longed to see that.

 

After breakfast, Lena hunkered down in the library, reading about Gotham and their ancient religious worship of bats.

 

But even as the books recounted gods and goddess, Lena’s thoughts remained preoccupied with what would happen tomorrow.

 

Tomorrow, just before sunset, she would marry Kara Zor-El.

 

Unable to focus on her studies, Lena left the library and headed for the stables. She was in one of her more casual dresses today, rather than a riding outfit, but she didn’t feel like going back to her chambers to change. Instead, she saddles Mercer who is all too eager for the exercise.

 

They hadn’t gone riding outside the city in nearly two weeks and Lena could feel the colt’s restlessness mirroring her own.

 

When she gets to the palace gate, one of the guards asks if she would like him to accompany her. Lena isn’t certain, but she thinks he may be one of the men who accompanied Kara to fetch her from Manor. Lena had never been outside the palace walls by herself before. Kara or Maggie or Winn were always with her.

 

“No. I’m quite alright. Thank you.” Lena lifts her chin, confidently, daring the guard to deny her request. Time to see if I really am free here.

 

The man hesitates for a moment, glancing nervously at his partner, who shrugs unhelpfully.

 

Finally the guard looks back to Lena and offers her a polite smile and a nod.

 

“Very well, Your Highness.” He moves out of Mercer’s way as his partner opens the gate for them.

 

Lena lets out a breath she didn’t realize she was holding and urges Mercer out into the evening.

 

She rides through the city and out onto the moors. Giving Mercer his head, she allows the colt to gallop over the hills at his own pace for awhile. Lena is grateful for the shape of the valley, allowing her to ride out while still keeping Argo in sight, without fear of getting lost.

 

Finally, she dismounts and settles down on a hill, looking to the South.

 

Mercer has finally calmed and grazes peacefully beside her.

 

Somewhere out there in the Southern distance is Manor. Her home, her brother, her old life. It all feels so incredibly far away now.

 

These last few weeks had been difficult. Kara being so taken up with her meetings and duties, that Lena had barely seen her since their engagement became official. On some days, Lena had come to think maybe that was a good thing.

 

Her feelings had only become more puddled since that day at the lake. The nagging memory of their kiss, and the way Kara looked in the afternoon sunlight was at odds with the anxiety Lena still felt at the thought of their future together.

 

Kara was a princess. Not just any princess, she was a Crown Royal. Heiress to a beautiful kingdom that was counting on her. And as her wife, Lena would be expected to rule beside her, a queen in her own right. Something Lena had never in her life considered a possibility for herself.

 

She was expected to help rule a people she did not know in a land that was not her own. She was expected to produce heirs. Children with strange names and blues eyes like their Kryptonian mother.

 

All her life, the reality of her situation had been in the back of Lena’s mind. As the daughter of a king, as a Luthor (even a bastard one), it was always assumed that she would one day marry and have children and run a household, but this...what was happening now was all too real and all too soon. And despite the fact that Lena was enchanted by Kara and this beautiful place, she couldn’t help but worry that she couldn’t handle it. Something in her wasn’t made for this life.

 

Kara would make a good wife. She kept telling herself. Kara will make a good mother, and a good Queen. But will I?

 

That’s how Princess Alex finds her.

 

Just as the sun is beginning to set, Lena hears the sound of a horse approaching at a gallop and a spike of fear shoots up her spine before she turns to see Alex on Gertrude. Lena’s fear quickly turns to annoyance. She remains where she is and allows Alex to come to her, not bothering to greet the Kryptonian.

 

Alex must think her crazy, out on the moors all alone, sitting on the ground, no doubt ruining her dress, knees drawn up to her chest, lost in her own fears.

 

“Is this your great escape, Luthor? It needs some work.”

 

“Am I a prisoner?” Lena sneers.

 

Lena can feel that Alex rolls her eyes. “That’s not what I meant.”

 

Alex dismounts and walks over to sit by Lena. They sit in silence for a few moments, both staring in the same direction, until Lena finally can’t stand the quiet.

 

“Why did Kara send you to fetch me?” Lena asks, sounding more angry than she intends. When did she get so angry?

 

Alex shakes her head, still not looking at Lena. “Kara didn’t send me.” she says quietly “She doesn’t know we’re here. She’s stuck in some meeting with her parents.”

 

Lena turns to look at her more closely. Alex is wearing one of those causal sleeveless shirt she and Kara are so fond of, a short sword is strapped to her hip. And for the first time, Alex doesn’t look completely displeased with Lena’s presence. Her face is neutral, kind of tired.

 

“Then why are you here?” Lena doesn’t bother to hide her suspicion.

 

Alex shrugs, pulling absently at the grass.

 

“I saw you leave and...You shouldn’t be out here alone, you know. You don’t have a weapon or know how to fight. It’s dangerous.”

 

Lena’s brow furrows slightly. Was Alex actually pretending to be concerned for her right now?

 

“Is it?” She asks dryly “A lot of outlaws and raiders, here just outside the palace are there?”

 

Alex scoffs and rolls her eyes. “No, not exactly. I just mean...You’re a princess. A Luthor. Our people aren’t exactly the biggest fans of Manor or your family. You would be a valuable captive...in certain circles.”

 

Lena laughs bitterly and nods. “Yes. That’s been made abundantly clear. I’m too valuable to be left in peace.”

 

Alex looks up at her finally, just as Lena looks away. Lena rests her chin on her knees. She can feel Alex’s gaze on her, thoughtful.

 

“I’m sorry about what happened...in the stable.”

 

Lena doesn’t react for a moment. “That’s all you have to say?”

 

Alex huffs and runs a hand through her hair. “I’m no good at this, okay.”

 

Lena smiles a little, remembering Kara saying something similar when she proposed.

 

“Clearly.”

 

Alex glares at her half heartedly, before sighing and starting again.

 

“What I mean is...I…”

 

“You are terrible at this.” Lena says, impatiently.

 

“My sister cares about you.” Alex blurts “That much was clear to me since you arrived. I don’t know what you’ve done to bewitch her, but she does. Kara has never...never looked at someone the way she looks at you. And she is just so torn up about...everything. All of this stuff that’s completely out of her control, like all the weight is on her shoulders. And I saw that, and there was nothing I could do, no way for me to help her, or protect her from you-”

 

“From me?” Lena snaps, growing frustrated “What could I possibly do to her? I’m the powerless one here.”

 

Alex’s mouth snaps shut and she presses her lips into a thin line, looking guilty and unsure what to say next.

 

Lena’s hands are shaking and suddenly she is fighting off angry tears. She runs a hand through her hair to steady herself.

 

“Maybe you don’t believe me, but I care about Kara too. She’s…” Lena shakes her head looking for the right words. “Kara is incredible, and I never wanted to hurt or embarrass her.”

 

Alex remains silent, sensing Lena has more to say.

 

“But everyone loves Kara, right?” Lena goes on “She’s your golden girl. She’s like the fucking sun. Everyone is in awe of her. Everyone wants what’s best for her and everyone wants her to be safe and happy and that’s great, Alex, I want that too. But who is there to want those things for me?”

 

And that’s the root of her problem here, isn’t it? Even in a new kingdom, with a new wife and family and people, Lena feared she’d still find herself alone.

 

“I am the only one looking out for me, Alex. And I honestly, never thought I’d have to make these kind of decisions on my own. And I’m not certain what I want in life, or what I can handle, or what it means to love someone. So excuse me if I took longer than you would have liked to give up my heart and my body and my name.” Lena is breathing hard now, from talking so much, so quickly and with so much honesty. She takes a moment to collect herself, before laughing sadly. “I know, it’s not a very good name, but...it’s still mine. And I guess it’s a little harder than I thought it would be to leave it behind.”

 

Alex is looking at the ground, her brow furrowed, deep in thought. They sit that way for a few minutes, before Alex turns fully towards Lena and rests a firm hand on her shoulder, prompting Lena to look her in the eye.

 

“Do you want to marry Kara?”

 

All the intensity had left Alex’s voice and her face shows genuine concern for the first time.

 

“I’m going to marry her.” Lena declares, more sure now than she was just a few minutes ago. “ I need a family, Alex. We all do in this world. I need somewhere to belong.”

 

Alex frowns, not looking relieved like Lena expected.

 

“I thought, this is what you wanted.” Lena huffs, annoyed.

 

“Oh, it is.” Alex tells her “I’m just a little confused…”

 

“Welcome to my world.” Lena says dryly.  

 

“Why do you hesitate?” The sincerity of Alex’s tone startles Lena into telling the truth.

 

“Despite everything Kara says... I didn’t feel like I had a choice.”

 

A guilty look settles on Alex’s face. “You do, Lena. You do- Kara would halt everything right now, if you only asked her to. And...I really am sorry, Lena. That I tried to make you feel like you didn’t.”

 

Lena shakes her head thoughtfully.

 

The time for hesitancy was over. Despite everyone else’s hounding, Kara had given Lena a choice. And Lena had made her decision. It was time to live with it.

 

-------------

 

They rode back to the palace in silence.

 

Lena was still unsure what to make of Alex. She was a precarious mixture of severe and soft, caring and cruel, fierce yet controlled. Her intensity scared Lena a little. But the way the woman seemed to love...Maggie, Kara, her parents, her kingdom. Lena could only hope to love something like that one day.

 

They parted ways at the stables. Standing awkwardly a moment, before Alex carefully asks,

 

“I’ll see you at the ceremony, then?”

 

Lena nods, firmly. “Yes.”

 

Alex gives a little bow, then turns and takes her leave. Lena wanders slowly back to her chambers. Not lost, for she was finally beginning to know her way around this place, but reluctant to return to her room where she knew sleep would come slowly.

 

At last, she turns the corner to her hallway, only to find Kara waiting for her. The princess sits just as she did their first night here, back against the wall, elbows on her knees.

 

“Kara?”

 

Her blue eyes snap to Lena and a tired smile finds her face. Kara stands as Lena approaches.

 

“I was wondering where you were.” Her voice is light but something in her face suggests something similar to what Alex had said earlier. A great escape.

 

“Sorry to have worried you.” Lena says, toying with the fabric of her dress. “I was out with Alex.”

 

Kara’s eyebrows jump in surprise. “Alex? Did she...I’m sorry if she said anything-”

 

Lena watches as worry and anger both twist into the blonde’s expression. She reaches out and takes Kara’s hand.

 

“No, she didn’t...It was fine. She didn’t upset me, I promise.” Lena is looking down at Kara’s hand in hers, her fingers briefly brushing Kara’s wrist where tomorrow she will tie a band that will link them together for the rest of their lives.

 

“Lena?” Kara’s voice is so soft. She places two fingers under Lena’s chin, prompting Lena to look up at her.

 

“I’m nervous about tomorrow.” Lena admits plainly, searching Kara’s face. Kara’s eyebrows are drawn together, a crinkle forming between them.

 

“I am too.” Kara swallows hard, avoids Lena’s eyes.

 

“Really?”

 

Kara nods and laughs a little at herself. “I always knew this day was coming.” She says “It was alway there in the back of my mind. A fact of life. An inevitability. But I could never quite picture it, you know? The reality of it.”

 

Lena nods slowly, she places a hand on Kara’s cheek. “I never could have imagined you.”

 

This makes Kara smile, blue eyes darting down to Lena’s lips then back up to meet her eyes. Lena could kiss her now, she wants to, but she’s too slow. Kara pulls away, flustered. She clears her throat.

 

“Well, Princess, I suppose we both need our rest.” She brings Lena’s hand to her lips and presses briefly, like the day they met. “I’ll see you tomorrow?”

 

The question is weighted. Kara’s eyes are on Lena’s, asking silently just once more.

 

“Yes.” Lena tells her. She gives Kara’s hand a reassuring squeeze, then releases it and takes a step back towards her chamber door. Then with a smile “I’ll be the one in the fancy dress.”

 

“Goodnight, Lena.”

 

“Goodnight, Kara.”

 

-------------

 

The day before the ceremony is entirely too long. Lena hardly sleeps at all the night before and when she wakes it’s to Alana and Siobhan’s excited and incessant chatter.

 

They tell Lena everything that she’ll soon find out for herself anyway. They tell her of the great hall and how brilliantly it’s been decorated with flowers and ribbons. They tell her of the feast currently being prepared in the kitchen. They tell her of the arrival of Kara’s aunt and uncle, who have apparently been absent from court for ages. Siobhan says that she believes Queen Alura had Astra banished because she didn’t trust her. Alana counters with speculation that Queen Alura was always jealous of Astra and Kara’s closeness. While Siobhan insists the tension is the result of something far more sinister. They also tease about Kara’s appearance for the ceremony. Apparently, the Kryptonian princess had never looked so beautiful. And Alana assured Lena that it was the finest outfit Tessmacher had ever made for Kara.

 

As if summoned by the mention of her name, Tessmacher appears not long after with Lena’s wedding dress in hand. She joins in on the gushing and the gossiping.

 

Lena tunes them out. She finds herself strangely calm as she goes about her day. She goes through the motions with relative ease. Eating and bathing and talking when prompted. But she can’t muster the giddiness the others feel for her. She isn’t angry or sad or even scared today. She’s determined. That’s what she feels as she’s dressed and groomed and lead to the great hall. Determined that this is the right decision. Determined that she can be happy. That she can handle everything that’s to come.

 

She is going to cast aside her name and make a new life for herself here. A new home. A new family. A better one. She promises herself.

 

The doors to the great hall opens and Lena crashes out of her thoughts and back into reality.

 

Just like the handmaids had told her the great hall had been adorned into an incredible, colorful wonderland. There are flowers, of every color, everywhere Lena looks. The aisle Lena is to walk down is lined with blue and violet heather. Lena looks down to find herself wearing the dress Tessmacher had slaved over for weeks.

 

A sleeveless Queen Anne in a sea green that darkened as the dress fell down her body.

 

Lena had seen it before of course. She watched it be threaded into existence, but this is the first time she’s really allowed herself to see it. To really see it.

 

Tessmacher had outdone herself, even Lena had to admit. And Lena had been correct in her vanity, according to the looks on everyone’s face, green did in fact compliment her.

 

Despite, the grand decor and the massive feast Lena had smelt as she passed the dining room where the reception will be held, the ceremony itself was small. Lining the aisles, were Kara’s friends and families.  Closest to her was the Grant lords, Adam and Carter, accompanied by an older blonde woman Lena didn’t know. Their mother, Cat, she assumed. Then James and his nephew Lord Marcus, across from them were Lucy and Winn. The royals were paired off, Alex and Maggie, Jeremiah and Eliza on one side of the aisle and Kal-El and Lois, Jor-El and Lara on the other.  And then at the end, a woman who looked nearly identical to Kara’s mother, with the exception of a silver streak in her hair. Kara’s Aunt Astra. Alura’s sister. She was flanked by a man Lena could only assume was her husband, Non. He managed to looked equal parts displeased and disinterested.

 

They were all looking at her. Staring, actually. She knew they were meant to be looking at her. She was the bride after all. Well, one of the brides. But the weight of their gazes on her made this feel all the more real. That moment seemed to go on forever as she looked around and took in everyone’s expressions.

 

Adam Grant’s distinct frown. The older woman’s appraising look.The encouraging smiles from the few people she had come to think of as friends. Jeremiah and Eliza looked welcoming as always. A stark contrast to Jor-El and Lara’s neutral expressions.

 

And finally Lena’s eyes looked straight ahead towards the alter.

 

Kara stood waiting for her. Looking every bit as astonishing as Alana and Siobhan had described in a blue and white doublet set and trousers. The great red cloak, embroidered with the House of El emblem draped across her shoulders. A thin silver crown rests on Kara’s head. It’s the first time Lena has seen her wear one. She looks like something out of a fairytale.

 

Behind Kara, Alura and Zor-El waited. They would officiate the ceremony.

 

Kara smiled brightly and Lena feels herself returning the smile and stepping forward at last.

 

She walks carefully down the aisle, her eyes never leaving Kara. She could do this if she just kept looking at Kara.

 

When Lena gets close enough, Kara reaches out, offering her hand. Lena takes it gladly, squeezing Kara’s hand hard, grounding herself. Kara’s hand steadies her as she steps up onto the altar.

 

Kara gently takes her other hand, lacing their fingers together, never pulling her gaze from Lena’s.

 

“We are gathered here today, to witness the union of these two individuals.” Alura’s voice booms, filling the hall with practiced ease. “My daughter,” she rests a hand on Kara’s shoulder “Kara Zor-El, Crown Princess of Krypton. And Princess Lena of House Luthor of Manor.” Alura’s hand on her shoulder, distracts Lena from the way Kara is beaming at her. She gets nervous for the first time that day.

 

Kara must see it on her face, she gives her hands a reassuring squeeze, holding Lena’s gaze.

 

“These two have chosen one another” Alura continues “to be partners in whatever may lie ahead.”

 

Zor-El steps forward. In his hands are the bracelets Lena and Kara had made for one another. They would exchange them in the Kryptonian tradition as they say their vows.

 

Lena takes the bracelet she made for Kara, a simple blue and golden swirl with a single thread of silver woven between.

 

She expects her voice to shake, but she starts with Kara’s name and everything comes easily after that.

 

“Kara Zor-El, I take you as my lawfully wedded wife. My partner in everything that is to come. I vow to honor and protect you. To treat your needs as my own. To respect and support you. To be your equal and your confidant for as long as we both shall live. I renounce my status as a member of House Luthor and as a royal of Manor, and take my place beside you as a member of the House of El and a princess of Krypton. “

 

She recited the vows perfectly, strongly. Like she meant it. Lois had helped her memorize the words, but Lena hadn’t been sure if she would mean them.

 

She winds the bracelet around Kara’s left wrist and ties it carefully.

 

Kara takes her bracelet from her father, an intricate green and silver weave.

 

“Lena, I take you as my lawfully wedded wife. My partner in everything that is to come. I vow to honor and protect you. To treat your needs as my own. To respect and support you. To be your equal and your confidant for as long as we both shall live.” Kara ties the bracelet snuggly around Lena’s left wrist as she speaks. Then she reaches up for the clasp of her cloak.  “I accept you into my house and my kingdom.” She takes the cloak from her own shoulders and drapes it around Lena. Zor-El produces a silver crown identical to Kara’s own and hands it to his daughter. “From this day forward, you are Lena Zor-El, Princess of Krypton.” Kara carefully sets the crown on Lena’s head, nestling it among the intricate braids.

 

Lena struggles not to become overwhelmed by the finality of they’re declarations. By the weight of the crown, the cloak, and the bracelet.

 

Kara takes her hands again, smiling, her eyes incredibly blue.

 

“In the presence of these witnesses, you may seal your union with a kiss.” Alura says taking a step back.

 

They hadn’t kissed since that day at the lake. That day they had never been more alone, never had so much privacy. They had both been naked and vulnerable, and closer to love than Lena had ever been.

 

This was different. This was formal and public. Everyone watching. Their vows still echoing in her mind.

 

Their first kiss had been something like a question. Could this work? Did they want it to?

 

But now Kara reaches up and sweetly cups Lena’s face in both her hands, gently leaning down and pressing their lips together firmly. Lena grasps at Kara’s forearm with one hand and holds the House of El cloak around her with the other. This kiss isn’t as deep, but it is more sure. Not a question, but a promise. This can work. It will.

 

They pull apart to the applause of their small audience. Some clapping more enthusiastically than others.

 

Kara and Lena turn towards the room together, hand in hand, and offer everyone smiles, before glancing again at each other.

 

Nothing is ever going to be the same.

 

---------------------

 

They’re reception is held in the dining hall where Lena was first received. A dinner is served as everyone steps forward to offer the couple congratulations and best wishes.

 

The evening passes in a blur of food and wine and music.

 

Kara and Lena share their first dance. At first they sweep across the dance floor in grand formal strides, Kara attempting to lead before relenting to Lena’s superior grace.

 

As other couples join them on the dance floor and the music slows, Kara tugs Lena closer. Her hand on the small of Lena’s back toying with the fabric there. Lena rests her head on Kara’s chest. Dizzy from dancing and wine and her life now. She allows the steady thumping of Kara’s heart to soothe her.

So many toasts are made in their honor that Lena loses track. It’s like a conspiracy to get them drunk, which Lena isn’t at all opposed to.

 

At last, as the hour has grown late and the guests tipsy, Queen Alura announces it is time for Kara and Lena to retired.

 

Kara stands and offers Lena her hand, seeming much steadier than Lena. Perhaps, because she wasn’t nearly as nervous about their wedding night. Lena drains her goblet one last time, before taking Kara’s hand and bidding the room a goodnight.

 

Lena’s mind begins to clear as they walk in the cool night air. The heat of summer had become somewhat stifling during the day, but at night the air cooled a bit and a summer breeze tickles Lena’s skin. Lena regrets not having drank more wine, because that fuzzy dazed feeling is quickly chased away once she’s alone with Kara. Lena becomes all too aware of everywhere their bodies are touching as they walk.

 

They’re holding hands again, fingers intertwined. Lena is tucked against Kara’s side, leaning into her slightly. And Lena finds her other hand is clutching at Kara’s bicep as if for balance, though Lena no longer feels like she’s going to fall down.

 

Oddly enough Lena had never visited Kara’s chambers before. They had always had lunch in Lena’s garden, or Kara had come to receive her in her own chambers. Now Kara intertwines their fingers and leads Lena to the same part of the palace grounds Kal-El and Lois lived in.

 

Apparently the heirs and their spouses all lived in the same building, a courtyard separating their spaces.

 

Kara opens the chamber doors and ushers Lena in with a shy smile.

 

Several candles are already burning. No doubt lit by Alana or Siobhan or whatever hidden attendants Kara may or may not have. The room is washed in the soft yellow glow of the flames as Lena steps in and looks around.

 

The room is only slightly larger than Lena’s own. The bed and bathtub just as grand. An easel was set up in the corner by the window, several discarded canvas leaned against the wall.By the currently dormant fireplace is a table, littered with papers and books.

 

As Kara follows in after her and quietly closes the door behind them, Lena covers up her nervousness by exploring Kara’s room.

 

Lena takes a look at the contents of the table, running her fingers over what Kara’s been reading. Astronomy books about pictures in the stars and myths of other worlds. Lineage records for Krypton, Daxam, and Gotham. Probably study materials for the upcoming political maze of the festival. And then off to the side Lena glimpses something different.

 

She tugs gently at a piece of paper tucked under a book. It’s a sketch. Scribbled out in charcoal is a picture of her. In fact, there are several drawings of a dark haired girl that is clearly Lena, but she is so beautiful, so much more than how Lena imagines herself.

 

Lena feels Kara comes up behind her, slow, cautious, like she’s approaching something wild.

 

“Oh, I uh...I just drew those from memory. They aren’t very good.” Kara says shyly, over Lena’s shoulder.

 

On the contrary, Lena thinks they are amazing. They make her seem like some mysterious ethereal creature. A shape made of shadows, just out of reach. Is this how Kara sees her? As a mirage?

 

Kara’s hands come to rest on Lena’s shoulders and Lena tenses, going completely still and she begins to tremble.

 

“Can I take this?” Kara asks quietly, her fingers scratching at the thick fabric of the House of El cloak still draped around Lena’s shoulders.

 

Lena swallows harshly, her throat suddenly too dry, and considers speaking, but she finds it easier to simply nod.

 

Kara takes the cloak and turns away from Lena. She walks over to the wardrobe and neatly folds the cloak. She is taking her time, her back to Lena, giving the brunette much needed time and space.

 

Lena leaves the drawings, and makes her way over to the bed. It’s big and comfy looking, stacked with even more pillows than Lena’s own.

 

I bet it smells like her. Lena thinks, her heart beginning to race. You can do this. You’re lucky you’re here with her instead of anyone else. She reminds herself.

 

Lena brings her trembling hands up and begins to untie the strings of her dress. She hadn’t been paying much attention when they dressed her, and the design is rather intricate. She struggles to work the bodice loose. Should she just let Kara do this part? Maybe Kara would like that. And it’d save Lena the trouble.

 

Apparently, Lena’s struggle had not gone unnoticed by Kara, who comes over and gently stills Lena’s frantic hands with her own.

 

“Lena?”

 

Lena won’t meet her eyes, she looks anywhere else. Anywhere else but those eyes that will look caring and concerned and confused all at once. Because Lena doesn’t want to explain it. Doesn’t know how. And she shouldn’t have to.

 

Kara is removing Lena’s hands from the dress and bringing them up to her lips, pressing kisses into Lena’s knuckles. “Are you okay?” She whispers so sweet, like she wants the truth. So Lena tells her with a shaky laugh.

 

“I’m nervous.”

 

Kara caresses her cheek, trying to get Lena to look at her. “Oh, Lena…”

 

“I’ve never done this before.” Lena confesses sharply, her voice growing hard, frustrated with her own inexperience.  “I’ve never...I’ve been with a few people. Stolen kisses in dark corners. Wandering hands under the dinner table. But never this.”

 

“Look at me, Princess.” Kara’s voice is soft but firm.

 

Lena hesitates, afraid she’ll melt and give in immediately at Kara’s gaze.

 

Slowly, bravely, she raises her eyes to meet the blue of Kara’s. Her eyes show nothing but understanding.

 

“You are my wife.” Kara tells her surely. “I am here to honor and protect you. To treat your needs as my own. To respect and support you. As my partner. My equal.” Kara cups Lena’s face in both hands and presses a kiss to her forehead. “We don’t have to do this tonight.”

 

Lena startles, pulls back from Kara’s embrace. “What? We...we have to consummate it or-”

 

“Or nothing.” Kara says, moving her hands down to rub up and down Lena’s arms, soothing her. “You are my wife.” Kara declares again. “And I have already asked...everything of you, Lena. Maybe more than I should have, but not this.”

 

Lena’s mind is spinning. This was unprecedented.

 

“This can wait.” Kara is saying, as she begins to pull the pins and bands out of Lena intricate hair style. Lena thinks to argue. Her brain begins to produce all the reasons that’s not true, the laws and the need for heirs and the obvious desire they feel for one another. But now Kara is running gentle fingers through her tangled hair and helping her out of the dress.

 

“Alana should have moved some of your clothes in here.” Kara says, gesturing to the wardrobe. “Can we share the bed?”

 

Lena eyes go wide, she glances from Kara, who has started to undress herself, to the bed and back again. Completely astonished at the notion that they wouldn’t even share a marriage bed.

 

“Of course.” Lena says too quickly.

 

Kara’s bareback is to Lena where she still stands in her under garments at the foot of the bed.

 

“You’re certain?” Kara asks over her shoulder.

 

Lena can only nod, still processing that they aren’t going to have sex.

 

Once, Kara is done dressing for bed, she moves away from the wardrobe and allows Lena to do the same. She busies herself blowing out the candles giving Lena privacy, then she climbs into the bed.

 

Lena swiftly follows, blowing out the final candle and climbing under the thick blankets. She settles down, adjusting to the new bed that does in fact smell like Kara. Woodsy and warm like the summer nights.

 

They both turn at the same time to lay on their sides, facing each other, and laugh at their synchronicity. Their laughter seems to break the tension in the room and the white flash of Kara’s toothy smile sets Lena at ease. She was in bed with her wife. What a strange thing.

 

Lena reaches out and plays with a strand of Kara’s hair, twisting it around her fingers in the darkness. She presses that same hand to Kara’s cheek, runs her thumb over Kara’s lips. Kara turns her head and kisses the palm of Lena’s hand, then her wrist and her knuckles.

 

“Are you sure this is okay?” Lena asks, suddenly, her whisper really loud in the quiet of Kara’s room. Their room. She reminds herself.

 

“Does this feel okay to you?” Kara asks. And Lena wishes she could see her face clearly, wishes she could read her expression.

 

“I just worry…” About everything. She doesn’t say. About every damn thing .

 

“Are you happy? Right here, right now, in this exact moment?”

 

With Kara’s warmth and smell and promises surrounding her? Lena nods. “Yes.”

 

“Then this is more than okay.” Kara assures her, taking the hand from her face and intertwining their fingers again. “This is all I want.”

 

Kara’s voice has grown sleepy. The long emotional day they’ve had paired with the wine from their reception was pulling both of them towards sleep.

 

“We’re going to take care of each other?” Lena mumbles.

 

Kara’s smile is the last thing she sees before she closes her eyes.

 

“We’re stronger together.”

Chapter Text

It took Lena several groggy moments to realize where she was.

 

This bed beneath her was incredibly soft and smelled of those moments right before rain. But light was shining in from the wrong direction and there was a warm presence at her back.

 

Lena tries to blink the sleep from her eyes as she turns over. Yawning, she startles when she rolls into blonde waves. She sputters, having gotten some of the hair in her mouth.

 

Kara. Kara is in my bed. No, I’m in her bed! Our bed. I’m in our bed, because we’re married. I’m married to Kara.

 

Lena rubs at her eyes and sits up on her elbow. Kara liesbeside her still asleep. She was on her stomach, hugging her pillow, her face turned away from Lena. That blonde hair was spilling out onto the pillow and sheets, tickling where it touched Lena’s skin. Lena stares down at her wife, watching closely as the Kryptonian’s back rises and falls with her breathing.

 

Lena had never slept with anyone before. Never shared a bed and woken up to someone else’s warmth, someone else’s smell surrounding her. It was strange, this room, this bed everything just screamed Kara Kara Kara. And there she was sleeping peacefully, while Lena thoughts began to tumble and twirl around the events of the day before and the days to come.

 

They were bound together now. For life. They were meant to sleep like this every night, wake together every morning.  They were meant to be intimate and have babies.  They were meant to comfort and strengthen one another; consult and advise.

 

This was really just the first morning of many to come where she’d wake up to the beautiful sight of Kara Zor-El snoozing beside her.

 

It was one thing to talk about forever, but another entirely to see it stretch out in front of you.

 

Just start with today. Lena tells herself, settling back down carefully onto the pillows so as not to disturb her wife. Her wife!

 

Kara shifts, nonetheless, turning her head in Lena’s direction and groaning softly when the sunlight hits her eyelids. Kara moves her legs, inadvertently, brushing against Lena under the blankets. Lena goes completely still, eyes glued to Kara’s face as the blonde starts to wake.

 

“Lena?” Kara mumbles, just before her eyes crack open, revealing a ridiculous baby blue.

 

Lena can’t help but smile a little at the way Kara’s face scrunches up against the morning light. “I’m here.” she whispers.

 

Kara smiles with her eyes closed at the sound of Lena’s voice. She stretches, her muscular arms reaching out to touch the headboard while her long legs pull away from Lena’s and her toes peek out and wiggle at the bottom of the blankets.

 

Lena watches this, wide eyed.

 

Fuck, she’s beautiful.

 

Kara sighs and her body relaxes, her legs curling back up, one of her feet tickling Lena’s calf.

 

Lena doesn’t move, suddenly remembering that they are only in their sleep gowns. Remembering, Kara that day at the lake, bare and golden and taut. Remembering, how they didn’t consummate their marriage the night before.

 

Kara reaches out and takes Lena’s hand. She intertwines their fingers, squeezing gently.

 

“What are you thinking about?” Kara’s voice is still thick with sleep, it tugs at something in Lena, causing her to shift just a little closer.

 

Nothing. She wants to say. That’s what she would say normally. But there is nothing normal about this. Nothing normal about the feel of Kara’s hand in hers, and the way Kara’s foot is brushing against Lena’s leg, and the way Kara is looking at her with those eyes first thing in the morning asking what Lena’s thinking.

 

“Everything.” Lena says, her eyes darting down to their joined hands and then to the bracelet around Kara’s wrist. Every damn thing.

 

Kara chuckles turning up onto her side “That includes some good things, I hope.”

 

You. Lena thinks. You. You. You. And your babies and your family and your past and our future and your hands on me. Definitely your hands on me.

 

“A few.” Lena says coyly.

 

Kara hums, brushing Lena’s hair from her face. “You slept okay? I didn’t crowd you?”

 

Lena shakes her head. “No, nothing like that.”

 

“I’ve been told I snore in the winter, so you’ve been spared that for a while at least.” Kara jokes.

 

Told by who? Lena can’t help but wonder. And she recalls the gossip Lois recited for her, about Adam and Lucy. She remembers her own quip about Kara’s time with the women of Themyscira. How many others had been right here in this bed? How many others had Kara enchanted this way?

 

Lena brow furrows as she pushes those thoughts away. The past didn’t matter. This was different. Lena was different, because she wore this band on her wrist. Because they’d only slept last night. Because Kara asked her, chose her, and Lena despite everything had chosen her right back.

 

The thought of Kara with other people, heats Lena’s skin, her hand clenches around Kara’s fingers, and she finds herself leaning closer.

 

“Kara?” The blonde had closed her eyes again, while Lena was lost in thought, but her eyes blink open again at the sound of her name.

 

“Hmm?” She hums.

 

Lena brings her hand up to caress Kara’s cheek, and Kara visibly becomes more awake. Her blue eyes growing wide in anticipation, they dart from Lena’s eyes to her lips and back again.

 

Lena smiles a little, before closing the distance and kissing her wife.

 

This is the first time Lena has initiated a kiss, and she can feel Kara’s surprise. The way the blonde wants to touch her, pull her in closer, but resists. Lena’s mouth moves firmly, but slow against Kara’s, exploring.

 

Lena pulls away briefly to readjust, bring herself closer, almost on top of Kara, who chases her lips.

 

Lena smirks at that, moving back in, both hands on Kara’s face now as she continues to dictate their pace.

 

Kara’s hands cautiously began to rove. They start by resting on Lena’s waist, but shift steadily upward, slipping around Lena’s ribs and over her back. Lena moans a little and maneuvers herself on top of Kara, straddling the Kryptonian’s waist. Kara’s hands move up into Lena’s hair urging her back down for another kiss. Lena’s head is spinning, her breathing growing ragged. She kisses Kara with a kind of sloppy hunger she’s never experienced before.

 

A knock at the door startles them apart, just seconds before the door bursts open and Lena’s handmaids stroll in.

 

Lena scrambles off of Kara, none too gracefully, nearly kneeing Kara in the ribs in her haste. Kara groans, either in frustration at the interruption or in pain, Lena can’t be sure.

 

“Good morning, Your Highnesses!” Siobhan greets them. She and Alana each carry a large tray of food, and move across the room to set them on the table.

 

Lena is flushed and suddenly sheepish about her fervency a moment before. She glances at her wife only to find the blonde glaring at the handmaids.

 

“It was.” Kara mumbles, turning to look at Lena over her shoulder with a smirk. Lena can’t help but grin back at her, even as her face turns red.

 

“We’ve brought you breakfast!” Alana says unnecessarily as she and Siobhan work to clear away Kara’s books and drawings.

 

“We tried to let you sleep in,” Siobhan goes on to say “supposing you needed your rest after last night.” her voice is unpleasantly suggestive, prompting Lena to look nervously at Kara.

 

Kara seems completely unconcerned with their negligence.

 

“Thank you, Alana, Siobhan. It’s much appreciated.” Kara nods politely to the girls as they continue setting up the massive breakfast.

 

Once they’re finished the handmaids turn nervously back towards the bed, grinning and glancing between Kara and Lena expectantly. Lena is unsure what they are waiting for. Do they expect Kara to jump her while they’re still in the room?

 

“That’ll be all.” Kara finally says, pointedly. Her voice isn’t harsh but firm, snapping the girls from their giddiness.

 

“Of course, Your Highness.”  They nod and exited quickly, pulling the door closed behind them.

 

Lena breathes a sigh of relief and slumps back into the pillows. She feels the bed dip as Kara moves closer to her. Kara hovers over Lena, her hair falling over her shoulders and tickling at Lena’s neck and chest. Lena opens her eyes to find Kara’s face just inches from hers, studying her closely. Lena swallows thickly, her bravery from just a few minutes ago nowhere to be found.

 

Kara slowly lowers her mouth to place a kiss on Lena’s collarbone, then the hollow of her throat, then her jawline. Lena remains absolutely still except for the rapid rise and fall of her chest. Kara has to notice. Finally, Kara’s lips meet hers in a soft brief kiss. Just long enough for Lena to melt a little underneath Kara. Just enough for her to relax into it, before Kara is pulling back.

 

Kara cups Lena’s cheek, runs her thumb over Lena’s parted lips. “Are you hungry?” she asks.

 

Lena eyes search her face for a moment, looking for any hint of impatience or frustration.  She finds none. Just soft sweet Kara, looking at her fondly.

 

“Yes.” Lena whispers, the sweet smell of food registering clearly in her brain after nothing but Kara Kara Kara all morning long. “I could eat.”

 

Kara smiles and nods. She places a quick kiss to Lena’s forehead, then rolls away from her and off the bed.

 

Lena had been too nervous to allow herself to admire the sight of Kara Zor-El in a short sleeveless sleep gown the night before, but she happily drinks in the view now as Kara makes her way over to the table and begins picking at the food.

 

Kara sits and glances back at Lena, catching her staring. With a knowing smile she teases “Are you going to join me or watch from a distance?”

 

Lena rolls her eyes and detangles herself from the covers. She can feel Kara’s eyes on her as she walks over, but finds herself rather enjoying the blonde’s attention.

 

Their breakfast consists of quite a spread. Sugary cakes and fresh cut fruits along with cheese and bread still warm from the oven.

 

They eat in comfortable silence for a few minutes. Lena distracts herself by studying Kara's room in the light of day, admiring the beautiful garden view just outside Kara’s window.

 

“What would you like to do today?” Kara asks, at last drawing Lena’s gaze back to her. Lena blinks, confused.

 

“Don’t you have...council meetings or open court to attend?”

 

The Solstice Festival was now less than a week away, and Lena knew how important it was for Kara to be prepared. Though now she supposed it was equally as important that Lena herself be prepared as well. She would now be seen as a member of the royal family, and as such expected to conduct herself accordingly at the festival, right by Kara’s side.

 

Kara is shaking her head, stuffing a honey cake into her mouth “Not today.” She says around the pastry “Today, I’m all yours.” Kara smiles, her cheeks stuffed with food like a squirrel's as she chews.

 

And Lena is overwhelmed by how quickly this gorgeous creature can go from the sexy and sure woman in bed just a little while ago to this adorable bottomless pit of a girl with her cheeks full of sugary treats.

 

------------

 

After breakfast, they dress and decide a nice day out in the garden is suitable to both their tastes. They each take an armful of books, some for pleasure and some for study as they venture out into the day.

 

The garden outside Kara’s chambers - their chambers - is a proper flower garden Lena discovers. Flowers of all kinds bloom all around them in various stages of growth.

 

Lena sets down her books and sets about studying them. Kara following closely behind her, just watching Lena.

 

Bellis perennis...Lavandula...Viola...Hyacinthus…” Lena recited the names of the flowers under her breath, mostly to herself, but Kara overhears.

 

“You know the names of all the flowers.” Kara observes, clearly impressed.

 

Lena nods, reaching down to run her fingertips over the petals of a daisy. She smirks at Kara.

 

“And their meanings.”

 

Kara raises an eyebrow curiously “Their meanings? Flowers have to mean something?”

 

Lena shrugs and continues along admiring the different species.

 

“They don’t have to, I suppose. But I use to have this book back in Manor. It had drawings and descriptions of hundreds of flowers and trees and plants. And for each flower recorded, the author gave a meaning. A message each flower sends to those who receive it.”

 

Kara still looks skeptically at her, so Lena goes over and takes her wife’s hand.

 

“Like this one here, for instance.” Lena says, pointing to the white daisy she touched before. “The Bellis Perennis, it stands for innocence and new beginnings. It mean hope.”

 

Next she points to a patch of lavender, she picks a bud and holds it up for Kara to smell “This one signifies devotion.”

 

Kara sniffs it happily, twirling the stem in her fingers, before reaching out and tucking the flower behind Lena’s ear. Lena hides her blush by moving on tugging Kara behind her.

 

“This yellow Hyacinthus means jealousy.” Lena says next. Kara’s brow crinkles.

 

“Does color matter?”

 

“Of course.” Lena says matter-of-factly. “Color can be the difference between jealousy and sorrow, playfulness and forgiveness.”

 

Kara wanders ahead “What about this one?” She points to the Lathyrus odoratus, the sweet pea.

 

“It means goodbye.” Lena says simply, but Kara frowns down at the flower and quickly moves on.

 

“And this one?”

 

Lena stands on her tiptoes to peek over Kara’s shoulder.  The flower is a soft orange like the end of a sunset, speckled with black, its six petals spreading out in all directions.

 

“That’s a tiger lily.” Lena says carefully.

 

“What does it mean?” Kara asks again, toying gently with the petals.

 

Lena sighs and steps away. “I dare you to love me.”

 

Kara’s head whips around to look at her and her hand drops from the lily. “Oh.”

 

Lena smiles almost apologetically. “It’s a very forward flower.” She mumbles.

 

A slow smile spreads across Kara’s face as she glances back at the flower. And with a small chuckle she says “Yes, I suppose so.”

 

Kara links their arms together and continues walking them around the garden.

 

“So who gets to decide what the flowers mean?” Kara asks, suddenly, like the question had been nagging her.

 

“Oh, well, I don’t really know.” Lena laughs “The book was old. No author listed.”

 

Kara huffs, dissatisfied with that. “That must be something. To wake up one morning and discover, you know what the flowers want to say.”

 

They both chuckle at the audacity of such a thought.

 

“Back home...Back in Manor,” Lena corrects herself “Lillian use to grow one specific flower, in the castle gardens. It seemed to be the only one she deemed worthy of her time. You don’t seem to have any here.”

 

“What sort of flower?” Kara asks quietly, stepping closer to Lena.

 

“It was um...beautiful. Grew in all different colors, but Lillian’s favorite were the red.The book called them Rosa, but she just called them roses.”

 

Kara runs a hand down Lena’s arm all the way to her wrist, toying thoughtfully with the wedding bracelet there.

 

“What do roses say?”

 

Lena’s heart starts beating faster at Kara’s proximity and the touch of her fingertips sends tingles up and down her arm.

 

“Um, well they convey...longing.”

 

Kara hums in acknowledgement taking Lena’s hand in hers.

 

“And um...desire.” Lena whispers. Kara’s teeth flash in a smile, and Lena rushes on “And love. Roses say...I love you.”

 

“That’s a lot for one flower to say.” Kara tells her quietly.

 

Lena nods absently “Yes, well, they could be a bit tricky.”

 

“Tricky?” Kara’s breathe tickles Lena’s ear when she speaks.

 

“They have these thorns, on their vines. To protect themselves.”

 

Kara pulls back, catching Lena’s eyes.

 

“So if you want it, you have to risk getting hurt?”

 

Lena nods slowly. “Yes, I guess you do.”

Chapter Text

They linger in the garden all day. Talking about nothing and anything at all. They talk about flowers and horses and all the places Kara has been, all the places she’d like to take Lena. They talk about the upcoming festival and all the people she’ll meet. They talk about the bat gods of Gotham and sun god of Krypton.

 

“So your people worship the sun?”

 

Kara chuckles and shakes her head. “Not the sun, exactly. Rao created the sun. It’s Rao’s Light.”

 

“How generous of him.” Lena quips.

 

“We don’t really worship Rao, anymore. Or anyone really. Many Kryptonians’ religious beliefs were pushed aside in favor of progress.” Kara explains “Aunt Astra tells me my great grandfather still spoke of Rao, and Cythonna, and Nightwing. He use to tell their stories, but the religious rites haven’t been practiced in ages.”

 

Lena stews in this for a moment, and Kara watches her absorb the new information like a sponge. Kara is playing with Lena’s hand again. Turning it over in hers, studying it like a treasure.

 

“Your aunt, she was at the wedding yesterday?” Lena asks, watching her.

 

“Yes, I’m sure you met her briefly at the reception, but everything was a blur.”

 

Lena hums, intertwining her fingers with Kara’s and squeezing to get her attention. Kara’s soft blue eyes move from their hands to Lena’s face.

 

“You’re close with her?”

 

Kara eyes shift back to their hands, she drags a thumb over Lena’s wedding bracelet.

 

“Yes, I’d say so. Astra and Non never had any children of their own. So I’ve been lucky enough to receive her affections.” Kara explains.

 

“I’m glad she could be here, then, for our wedding. I’m sure that meant a lot to you.”

 

“It did. I am glad to have her home again, and dread her leaving when the festival ends.” Kara sits back in her chair with a sigh, still absentmindedly twiddling with Lena’s fingers. Her light touches almost tickle Lena, drawing a near permanent smile on the brunette’s face.

 

“I’m sure she has important things to attend to back in Kandor.” Lena assures her suddenly glum wife.

 

Kara huffs and tips her head back to look up at the sky. “That’s what I’m told.”

 

Lena leans forward with interest. “What does that mean?”

 

Kara shakes her head, still looking up at the evening sky, and for a moment Lena thinks she won’t answer.

 

“Astra and my mother, they...For as long as I can remember they’ve done little more than tolerate one another. They argue constantly, but in this frustratingly polite way, that allows them to deny their anger. It’s...intense.”

 

“Sounds all too familiar to me.” Lena says softly, thinking of long dinners sat across the table from her parents who could say so much by saying nothing at all to one another.

 

Lena must zone out for a moment, because next thing she knows Kara is much closer to her, taking both of Lena’s hands in hers.

 

“Do you miss them at all?” Kara asks quietly.

 

Lena thinks of the numbing grief she’d felt for her father, the way she hadn’t been mourning him exactly, but mourning who he’d never been, and who he would never be. She thought off walking past his the door to his study and knowing it was empty. Knowing that he wouldn’t be there, hunched over his desk. She had missed him in that moment. Missed him the way you miss a dream you can’t quite remember.

 

She thinks of days spent in Lillian’s rose garden playing chess. Being berated and coached on every loss, every miscalculation. But she also remembers the quiet pride that would sneak onto Lillian’s face everytime Lena did something right. The satisfied little nod she’d get if she won.

 

Then of course there was Lex. So many genuinely fond memories to choose from there. The earliest ones consist of Lex reading to her in the armchair in his room. Lena snuggled up under his arm, nearly falling asleep against the steady rise and fall of his breathing. Then later, chasing after him everywhere he went, trying to be just like him. Racing on horseback, much to Lillian’s displeasure. The wide-eyed look of confusion and awe on Lex’s face when Lena would best him at something; chess, riding, a dance move.They were constantly vying for even a miniscule amount of their father’s attention, but they never let that turn them against each other. No, in fact, the only source of animosity came due to Lillian’s favoritism. Lena couldn’t help but be jealous of of the affections Lillian bestowed upon her only son. With Lionel at least they were both ignored in nearly equal measure, but with Lillian...it was a battle Lena learned at a young age couldn’t be won. There was no way to keep up with or beat Lex in this respect. He was Lillian’s child, and Lena wasn’t. There was nothing she could do to make up for that.

 

Kara waits patiently as Lena navigates all the thoughts and memories she’d been struggling to ward off since leaving Manor. She waits stroking softly at Lena’s hair, and holding her hand, until at last Lena whispers.

 

“I’m glad to be here with you.”

 

Lena realizes how true it is just as she says it. For every good memory of the Luthor household there are ten bad ones.

 

No matter the circumstances that brought her here, into the arms of her caring Kryptonian wife, Lena couldn’t deny that she was better off. She could actually be happy here, if she let herself.

 

Lena opens her mouth to tell Kara this, when she is interrupted by the approach of an attendant she doesn’t recognize.

 

“I’m sorry, to disturb you, Your Highnessess.”

 

Kara straightens in her chair, but her concerned gaze doesn’t leave Lena even as she addresses the servant.

 

“That’s quite alright. What is it, Kalex?”

 

“Queen Alura has requested yours and Princess Lena’s presence at dinner tonight.”

 

Kara’s brow crinkles “Tonight? I’ve just been married, Kalex, tell my mother we’ll receive dinner in our chambers.”

 

An awkward moment passes as the servant remains there unmoving.

 

Kara sighs, dragging her attention from Lena. “Is there more?”

 

“Your mother knew you’d say as much, and instructed me to remind you that your aunt and uncle are at court. She told me to implore you to postpone your newlywed...bonding until after dinner.”

 

Lena instantly blushes at the insinuation. She pulls her hand from Kara’s and is quick to reply. “Of course, we’ll join them for dinner.” Lena says too eagerly “Kara was just telling me how much she has missed her aunt.”

 

Kalex looks beyond pleased, “Excellent, You Highness. I’ll inform the queen, immediately.” And before Kara can formulate a response, he is gone.

 

When Kara turns back to her, Lena knows she must be a deep shade of red.

 

“Lena…”

 

“I’m sorry, but it seemed rude to…”

 

“So afraid to be alone in chambers with me?” Kara asks her with a teasing smile. Lena’s eyes go wide and she flounders for another excuse. Kara must sense her panic, because she caresses Lena’s cheek. “I’m only teasing, Lena.”

 

Lena takes a deep breathe, and laughs nervously at her own behavior. “I’m sorry.” She mumbles, avoiding Kara’s eyes.

 

Kara strokes her thumb, gently across Lena’s cheek. “Nothing to apologize for, Princess. I meant...what I said last night.”

 

What she said last night...about waiting? But for how long?

 

Lena is working up the courage to ask just that, when Kara rises from her chair and begins gathering their books from the table.

 

“We should probably get ready. I don’t know about you, but I could use a quick bath.”

 

And just like that the moment has past, the tension has ebbed, and Lena can’t bring herself to bring it back up.

 

“I could join you?”

 

A slow smirk plays on Kara’s lips even as her cheeks pinken. The blush sets Lena at ease, knowing she can affect Kara this way.

 

Kara offers her hand, the one not full of books. “If you’d like.”

 

------------------

 

It’s strange being Kara’s wife. They’ve barely been married a day, and already she’s being treated differently. All the servants bow a little deeper and offer their congratulations as they pass in the halls. Lena returns from the showers to discover new items in her wardrobe embroidered with the crest of the House of El.

 

That would definitely take some getting use to.

 

All her life Lena had seen being a Luthor as a harrowing mix of trying to live up to a name that wasn’t truly hers and trying to live it down. Being a bastard, she was never quite Luthor enough for Lillian and her aristocratic peers, yet to everyone else she was just enough Luthor to be untrustworthy.

 

Lena wouldn’t fool herself into thinking this marriage negated her upbringing in everyone's minds, but she had to admit, walking around wearing the crest of a different house, a proud house known for it’s innovation and compassion, was something of a relief.

 

That evening they joined Kara’s parents, aunt, and uncle for dinner in a small dining room in the King and Queen’s residence.

 

Kara seemed both nervous and excited for dinner. Based on what little Kara had told her about her Aunt Astra, Lena could only assume Kara was thrilled to see her aunt but apprehensive about the tension that would cause with her mother.

 

Growing up in the Luthor household meant Lena was no stranger to family drama and awkward meals. But that was her own family, she understood all the baggage and animosity there. Having a front row seat to someone else’s family madness would surely be a very different experience.

 

The newlyweds walk across the palace grounds arm in arm, in nervous silence. Kara was obviously preoccupied with worry, and Lena wanted desperately to offer comfort, but she didn’t know how. Comforting wasn’t high on the priority list for Luthors. Lena just pulls Kara closer against her side as they enter the house, and nuzzles her face into Kara’s shoulder, while giving her arm a comforting squeeze.

 

This seems to do the trick. Kara shakes out of her stupor momentarily, turning to place a quick kiss on Lena’s forehead, and sighing heavily. As they are lead toward the dining room, by one of her parent’s attendants, Kara leans close and whispers.

 

“I apologize in advance for whatever happens next.”

 

Lena offers a sympathetic smile “Duly noted.”

 

They are lead into the dining room and find everyone already waiting for them.

 

Astra and Zor-El are engaged in cordial conversation as their spouses stand awkwardly by their sides clearly uncomfortable.

 

“Ah, finally!” Kara’s father exclaims a little too excitedly as they enter the room. He strides over to embrace his daughter.

 

“Are we late?” Kara asks, returning his affection.

 

“No,” Zor-El says stepping back “But your aunt has been eager to see you.” He and Kara exchange a look that Lena interprets to mean Astra has already been causing trouble and dinner hasn’t even started yet.

 

Astra approaches them, with a wide smile, pulling Kara into a crushing hug. “Yes, well, you are a poor substitute for your daughter’s company, Zor-El.” She says teasingly to her brother-in-law.

 

Zor-El nods and shrugs “I can’t argue with that.” he admits.

 

Astra pulls away from their hug to take a long evaluating look at Kara. She brushes the blonde’s hair behind her ears and beams. “You look very well, Little One, as always.”

 

Kara ducks her head, smiling “Thank you, Aunt Astra.”

 

Astra looks to Lena seeming to notice her standing there for the first time, and her smile flickers for a moment before she manages to steady her expression.

 

“And this is your chosen? I think, we met briefly last night, but reintroduce us, won’t you?”

 

Kara turns to Lena, remembering her manners.

 

“Lena, I’d like you to meet my Aunt Astra, General and esteemed advisor of Krypton. Aunt Astra, this is my wife Princess Lena Zor-El.”

 

Astra inclines her head slightly, with a tight but polite smile.

 

“Lovely to meet you, Princess. I’m told my niece is quite taken with you.”

 

Astra’s husband Non has stepped up beside his wife. He is a handsome, but severe looking man. His face seems to be stuck in a permanently haughty expression.

 

“I should hope so.” Non says, dryly “What with the life long commitment and everything.”

 

Astra rolls her eyes, and loops her arm through his. “This is my husband, Lieutenant Non.”

 

“I”m glad to meet you both.” Lena says, politely “I know, how important you are to Kara, and I’m pleased you were able to make it to the wedding.”

 

Kara looks pleased with the exchange, she takes Lena’s hand and squeezes gently in thanks.

 

“Yes, well, Astra insisted we be here.” Non says, with just the smallest hint of irritation.

 

Astra ignores her husband “I wouldn’t have missed my favorite niece’s wedding!” she tells them, looking fondly between them “And with the Solstice so close at hand, we needed to be here anyway.”

 

"I am your only niece.” Kara reminds her with a smile.

 

Just then, several attendants enter with trays of food, ready to serve dinner. Alura speaks up for the first time.

 

“Let’s all sit, shall we?” She takes her seat as the rest of them make their way to the table. This one is round, just like the one the royals had family dinner at. Alura seems tired and eager to get the dinner underway. If the Queen is trying to hide her discontent, she is not doing a very good job of it. Though Lena suspects she isn’t trying very hard.

 

Lena sits to Kara right with Zor-El and Alura to her left, while Astra and Non settle on the other side of Kara.  Kara and Astra quickly fall into conversation as the food is served and everyone else is content to listen to them catch up, commenting every once in awhile. They talk about Astra and Non’s journey from Kandor. They had stopped at Fort Rozz on the way to assess the military assets there.

 

“General Lane is quite capable of maintaining Fort Rozz, sister.” Alura says, tersely, when Astra alludes to the man’s incompetence.

 

Astra shrugs taking another bite of her food “Capable perhaps, but is he proficient?” Her tone makes it clear that she thinks not.

 

Zor-El chimes in, clearly seeing the beginnings of an argument brewing “We have faith in his abilities as a military man, even if we don’t agree with all his ideologies.”

 

“I have to say, I admire the man’s resolve, but I fear he too often lets his pride and arrogance cloud his judgement.” Non says with disdain.

 

“Mother, thinks that perhaps one day Lucy will be a suitable candidate to take over her father’s position.” Kara offers, obviously hoping to steer the conversation to something everyone can agree on.

 

The whole table nods at this. Lena struggles not to think about Kara and Lucy together.

 

“Yes,” Astra says reverently “I’ve had the pleasure of working with Dame Lane on several occasions. She has the makings of a wonderful general.”

 

The tension eases and conversation shifts to the Solstice Festival and matters of state. It is several minutes before they drift into dangerous territory again.

 

“I wish, you would heed my warnings, sister.” Astra says, clearly frustrated “This friendly facade you maintain with the Daxamites is ill-advised at best and dangerous at worst.”

 

“It is not a facade, Astra. We are mending fences, rebuilding trust. These things take time.”

 

Astra sighs in exasperation and shakes her head “I can promises you they have no interest in mending fences. They resent us, Alura. They think we owe them something.”

 

Zor-El places a hand over Alura’s on top of the table, silencing whatever response his wife was about to give. Lena watches in fascination as Zor-El’s touch instantly calms his wife and they share a meaningful look.

 

“We can handle Daxam, Astra.” Zor-El says confidently “In many ways, that is the purpose of the festival is it not? To keep our friends close and our enemies closer? We are not oblivious to their underhanded nature, but in order to maintain peace we have to engage with them.”

 

Non snorts indignantly. “You call what we have now peace with the Daxamites? They undermine our agreements at every opportunity and keep the border riddled with conflict.”

 

“You may think you can handle the Daxamites, after all their king is something of a pushover and their prince a fool, but Rhea is not to be underestimated.” Astra says vehemently.

 

Alura presses her mouth into a hard line and takes a few calming breaths. Lena is impressed with her ability to reign in her obvious fury.

 

“As always, your concerns are noted and taken under advisement. But until you give me good reason to exclude the Daxamites, we have no intention of disinviting them and truly invoking Rhea’s wrath.” Alura tells her sister calmly.

 

Astra lets a beat pass, hesitating. “And if I told you I suspect Rhea is seeking an alliance with Manor?”

 

The whole table goes still.

Kara and Lena had been quietly listening to the elders' bickering, holding hands under the table and eating their food. Now Lena stiffens, the food goes tasteless in her mouth and becomes hard to swallow, and her skin heats up at the mention of her homeland. Both their heads snap up to look at Astra. Kara squeezes her hand gently and begins to rub soothing circles with her thumb over the back of Lena’s hand.

 

Zor-El is the first to speak “Why would you suspect that?” His tone is skeptical, but underneath is a twinge of interest.

 

Again Astra hesitates, she looks to her husband who leans back in his chair, seeming to settle in for the conversation.

 

“I’ve been told that Rhea has been corresponding extensively with Lillian Luthor since the death of King Lionel. The nature of their communication is yet to be determined, but I think their intentions are clear.”

 

“Where are you getting this information? Your spies?” Alura scolds her sister, pushing away the plate she’s barely touched.

 

“That’s of no consequence-” Astra says with a roll of her eyes.

 

“It is actually.” Zor-El sounds angry for the first time “You are so eager to be correct about the Daxamites harboring ill will that you give them a reason to. Espionage would certainly garner a scandal. Imagine if Rhea discovered your spies.”

 

“You are missing the point!” Non hisses at his brother in law. “Individually, the Daxamites and the Luthors are in no position to oppose us, but if they are conspiring together-”

 

“My brother wouldn’t do that.” Lena finds herself saying. All eyes turn to her, and the movement of Kara’s thumb over her skin stills. Lena’s voiced sounded a great deal more controlled than she feels. That Luthor training kicking in, she manages to look completely composed and sure of herself on the outside, while her heart beats erratically inside her chest.

 

“Excuse me?” Non says, looking almost as surprised to hear her speak as Lena herself.

 

Lena takes a steadying breath and catches Kara’s eye, finding nothing but encouragement staring back at her.

 

“The only thing my father despised more than Krypton was Daxam. Lex and I grew up being taught that Daxamites inherited all of the arrogance and superiority of Krypton, with none of the class. My brother thinks them to be overindulgent degenerates. I find it hard to believe he would ally himself with them.”

 

Non leans forward, genuinely interested. “Your brother thinks so poorly of us, and yet he sent you here, didn’t he? Sold you to our niece.”

 

Lena presses her mouth into a hard line and makes herself hold Non’s calculating gaze.

 

Astra places a calming hand on her husband’s shoulder and addresses Lena gently.

 

“Desperate times can call for desperate measures, Princess. Your brother is the young proud king of a struggling people. The pressure to change Manor’s political and economic circumstances may be driving him to set aside his prejudices in favor of allies. Wouldn’t you agree?”

 

There was a time not so long ago when Lena would have said she knew Lex better than anyone. But so much had changed since then. She didn’t know her brother as a king, as a desperate or cruel man. And yet he had done desperate things. Allowed himself to be manipulated by his mother. He had been so cruel and cold to Lena. How could she be sure of what he was and wasn’t willing to do?

 

“I suppose, anything is possible.”

 

---------------

 

Dinner ends shortly after that. Alura and Astra retire to no doubt discuss Astra’s concerns in greater detail. Kara and Lena retire to their own chambers in tense silence, both clearly drained by the night’s hostility.

 

Kara was fairly quiet for most of the evening, and Lena couldn’t quite decipher the blonde’s silence. Was she angry? At her aunt and uncle, probably. Possibly even at her mother. But at Lena? Would all of this political uncertainty with Manor affect the way Kara felt about her?

 

The unexpected turmoil Lena felt at the night’s revelations worried Lena as well. She worried for the people of Manor. Those that had suffered because of her father’s and her grandfather’s selfishness and greed. She struggled with what to expect from her mother and brother. Despite having shed the Luthor name and taken the crown of another kingdom, Lena found that she couldn’t shake the responsibility she felt towards Manor and it’s people.

 

For so long, Lena had wanted to help her kingdom, to work to change the circumstances they found themselves in. And yet, the moment she’d been sent to Krypton and actually placed in a position to make a difference the thought hadn’t even occurred to her. Not until now.

 

Krypton was the main political power in the realm. Participating in international trade was nearly impossible without their support, because of their deep seated ties to both Themyscira and Gotham. Krypton had placed something of a unofficial embargo on business with Manor and the Luthors decades ago during her grandfather’s reign, it had crippled Manor. Could Lena, as Kara’s wife, as a princess of Krypton, do something about that? That’s what marriages of this nature were always meant to do after all, build bridges.

 

They dress for bed, but any concerns Lena may have had about Kara being angry with her melt away when the blonde scoots close to her under the blankets. Their legs brush together briefly, and the heat of Kara so close to her draws Lena out of her troubling thoughts. Lena can tell Kara is resisting the urge to touch her, so Lena turns on her side to face Kara, and rests her hand on the blonde’s cheek. Kara seems to relax. She reaches out and rests her hand on Lena’s hip, pulling her closer until their legs are tangled, and their faces are just inches apart.

 

There’s nothing explicitly sexual about their proximity. Lena thinks Kara just wants to feel closer to her, to be certain she’s really there. And Lena has no objections to the way Kara’s body feels next to hers.

 

Kara’s eyes are thoughtful as she stares into Lena’s, preparing to speak. She  hesitates, dropping her gaze, she toys with the fabric of Lena night dress over her hip.

 

“It’s alright.” Kara tells her, gently. “To miss them, I mean. Even after everything, even though you’re...with me now. It’s alright to miss them.”

 

The statement surprise Lena. She hadn’t allowed herself to miss Lillian and Lex since arriving here. Her anger at their callousness got in the way of that. And to miss her dead father was to miss a man who was never really there. But to think of dancing with Lex at banquets or playing chess with Lillian in the rose garden or reading quietly as her father worked in his study…

 

Lena nods and offers Kara a small smile, grateful for her wife’s compassion, her understanding.

 

“I know. I just...I don’t really know how to miss them now, after everything.”

 

Kara nods and they fall into a thoughtful comfortable silence for awhile.

 

Lena can feel herself starting to fall asleep, when Kara speaks again.

 

“Lena?”

 

“Hmm.” Lena blinks sleepily, finding a shy look on Kara’s face.

 

“Could I...Would it be alright if I held you?”

 

Lena can’t think of anything better.

Chapter Text

For the first time in her life, Lena had fallen asleep in someone else’s arms. She had curled up into Kara’s side, her head on Kara’s chest, listening to the strong steady rhythm of her wife’s heartbeat as they drifted off to sleep.

 

What a thing, to be held like that. It wasn’t a prelude to anything, it wasn’t an excuse for Kara’s hands to wander. It was just this need to feel close, a reminder that neither of them were alone any longer.

 

They must have repositioned during the night. When Lena lazily wakes at dawn, she finds herself on her right side, curled in on herself, half hugging her pillow. And behind her, Kara is pressed against her. The Kryptonian’s arm wrapped possessively around Lena’s middle, her chest pressed against Lena’s back, and a leg slotted between Lena’s own. Lena can feel Kara’s still sleeping breaths on the back of her neck and the faint beating of Kara’s heart against her spine.

 

This is bliss, she thinks sleepily. What could possibly be better than this moment. Completely safe and warm and wanted. Lena can’t remember ever feeling this way before. This contentment seemed far beyond anything Lena could have ever expected for herself.

 

Kara shifts slightly in her sleep, nuzzling Lena’s neck and pressing their bodies more firmly together. This makes Lena acutely aware of Kara’s leg between hers, situated precariously between her thighs and brushing Lena intimately when Kara moves even the slightest bit.

 

Lena bites her lip to contain a moan when Kara moves again. The blonde’s lips grazing the skin of Lena’s shoulder. And Lena becomes all too aware of everywhere their skin is touching. Kara's lips on her shoulder. Their mostly bare legs tangled together and the random twitch of Kara’s foot against Lena’s calf.

 

Lena remains absolutely still. Not trusting her own body at this particular instant. 

 

She wants Kara. That much was made painfully clear, by the dampness she could feel between her own thighs. But Lena already knew that. Had known her body’s rampant desire for the blonde since the moment she’d set eyes on her outside the Luthor Castle. A lack of desire wasn’t the problem. Part of her apprehension had to do with her own inexperience and nervousness, but it was more than that.

Everything Lena knew about sex told her that it wasn’t really about desire or love or even procreation too much of the time. Based on everything she’d learned from her peers, from her parents, from the books she’d read, and from her own very limited dalliances Lena had come to the inevitable conclusion that sex was about power. The giving and taking of something. The vulnerable act of submitting her body to someone else’s inclination. Despite her desire to be closer to Kara, to be her wife in every way, Lena couldn’t bring herself to relinquish this one last thing.

 

At this point, Lena did trust Kara, to a certain extend, but to trust the blonde with that...With Lena’s desire and pleasure and comfort. To be vulnerable like that with anyone at all, even Kara, frightened Lena to no end. It seemed an impossible task. When Lena had thought about it in the past, before coming to Krypton, she had imagined she wouldn’t have much choice in the matter and would simply endure it to the best of her ability. But now there was Kara. Sweet patient Kara, who seemed to be waiting for Lena to initiate something Lena wasn’t even sure she wanted.

 

As Lena contemplated all this, fighting back the unbridled will of her body, Kara seemed to be slowly waking.

 

Kara groaned in protest to consciousness, slowly stretching her legs out. This offered Lena a small amount of reprieve as Kara’s leg stopped nudging insistently between her thighs. Kara placed a sleepy kiss to Lena’s shoulder, and Lena sighed in relief at the tenderness of her touch.

 

Kara wasn’t awake enough to notice that Lena’s thoughts had been in the gutter.

 

Lena turns over to lay on her other side so she and Kara are face to face. Kara’s eyes are still closed, and Lena finds herself eagerly awaiting the sight of that beautiful blue.

 

She brings her hand up to caress Kara’s face, brushing her thumb over her wife’s cheekbone, hoping Kara will open her eyes.

 

The Kryptonian just sighs contently and settles back into her pillow, ready to drift back to sleep.

 

Lena isn’t having that. She surges forward and places her lips on Kara’s who starts in surprise. Lena kisses her smiling into it, letting her tongue brush Kara’s bottom lip. Kara moans and opens her mouth, deepening the kiss.

 

Lena loves this. Loves the surprised little noises Kara makes each time Lena touches her. Like she didn’t anticipate Lena wanting her. Could that be possible? Could Kara not realize the affect she had on Lena by simply existing?

 

They kiss slowly, but deeply for several minutes, Kara allowing Lena to dictate the pace.

Was this to be their morning routine? Would Lena wake each morning feeling braver than the night before?

Despite being nowhere near satisfied, Lena pulls back, placing one last chaste kiss to the corner of Kara’s mouth. Kara chases Lena’s lips for a moment, before blinking dazedly. And there, that’s what Lena wanted to see. Kara’s eyes dark and beautiful.

 

“Good morning.” Kara says, her voice still rough with sleep. She clears her throat and her eyes dart down to Lena’s lips. “That was nice.”

 

Lena hums and smiles “Yes, it was.”

 

The fire Lena felt upon waking has been temporarily sated, but Lena can’t help but wonder how long she can keep her own desires at bay. Or if she even really wants to anymore.

 

It’s not long before Alana and Siobhan arrive with their breakfast.

 

As they sit eating, Kara takes Lena by surprise by asking her to join her in open court today.

 

“Oh, back to work so soon?” Lena asks, a little disappointed they’ll be forced to rejoin the world.

 

Kara nods and Lena can tell the blonde feels similarly. “I know, it's unfortunate, but with the festival just days away, people are lining up outside the gates requesting an audience. Everyone has to take a turn and the people deserve to be heard.”

 

Lena smiles, loving how passionate Kara can be about her people. “And you’d like me to join you? Won’t that be…?” Odd, confusing, uncomfortable? Surely the citizens of Krypton didn’t travel all this way to tell their problems to a Luthor.

 

But you aren’t a Luthor. Not anymore. Lena has to remind herself, though she’s not so sure the Kryptonians will see it that way.

 

Kara must sense Lena’s insecurity. She reaches across the table, taking Lena’s hand.

 

“You are my wife, Lena. The people will respect that. They need to see you. For one day you’ll be their queen.”

 

Kara sounds so certain, Lena wills herself to believe it too.

 

“Besides,” Kara says leaning back and popping another piece of bread into her mouth. “I value your opinion immensely and look forward to having your input when problem solving.”

 

Lena’s brow furrows and she scoffs self-deprecatingly “My opinion? Kara, I know, little of politics other than what I’ve read in records and stories. I wasn’t trained in matters of state like you.”

 

Kara shakes her head. “You sell yourself short. All that reading and historical context is more useful than you may imagine. It helps you avoid repeating mistakes of the past.”

 

Lena continues to look at her wife skeptically, chewing a grape thoughtfully.

 

“Besides,” Kara continues “open court isn’t even about politics really. I mean, it can be, depending on the problem. But more often we are dealing with much smaller scale issues. The everyday needs of the people.” Kara leans forward again, earnest “Come with me. Please?”

 

This is the first time Lena has been subjected to the infamous pout. Maggie and Lois had warned her against it on more than one occasion. Describing it as a form of sorcery Kara used to get what she wanted. Kara had yet to use it against Lena, but Lena knew it as soon as she saw it, and sure enough she falls victim to the adorable expression on her wife’s face. Sorcery, indeed.

 

“Very well. If it pleases you.” Lena says, feigning reluctance, to spite Kara for the use of her pout.

 

“It does!” Kara says, with a chuckle “It pleases me immensely.”

 

Lena rolls her eyes, and promises herself she’ll be more prepared for the pout next time.

 

-------------

 

Open court is not held in the Throne Room as Lena expected, but rather in a smaller receiving room close to the front gates.

 

Kara and Lena are seated at a long table on the far side of the room, facing the grand entry way with several chairs set up facing them.

 

Lena is surprised when they are joined by Winn who takes a seat beside Lena.

 

“Good morning, Your Highnesses.” He says with an incline of his head. Lena gives him a warm smile. She hadn’t spent anytime with Winn since before the wedding and hadn’t realized how much she’d missed him.

 

“Good morning, Lord Schott.” Lena says feigning formality.

 

“Marriage suits you, Princess.” Winn says teasingly “You look lovely.”

 

Lena rolls her eyes at him, but can’t suppress her smile.

 

Just then the doors open and Lord Adam Grant walks in, trailing behind the blonde woman Lena saw him with at the wedding.

 

Kara stands and Lena follows her lead.

 

“Cat, I didn’t know you’d be joining us today.” Kara says, sounding genuinely happy to see the older woman.

 

“Don’t fuss, Kara. Do sit down.” Cat says with a dismissive wave of her hand. “Your mother insists we have all hands on deck so close to the Solstice. Though she knows I have other important things to see to.”

 

“The peoples' needs are important, Cat.” Kara says disapprovingly. Cat waves her off again.

 

“Yes, yes, of course, but I’m confident you would have had this session well in hand, without me.” Cat gaze seems to land on Lena for the first time, her eyebrow quirks up. “Especially with the assistance of your new bride.”

 

Cat inclines her head deeply while managing to hold Lena’s gaze. “I don’t believe we’ve been properly introduced, Your Highness. I’m Lady Cat Grant.”

 

Lena nods politely “It’s an honor, Lady Grant.”

 

“Please, just call me Cat. And I believe you already know my eldest son Adam.”

 

Cat gestures to Lord Adam who has been standing rigidly beside her during the entire exchange.

 

“Yes, of course.” Lena says cordially. Lord Adam inclines his head slightly to both she and Kara.

 

“Your Highnesses.”

 

Cat eyes him strangely for a moment, seeming to assess his behavior, before rolling her eyes and addressing Kara again.

 

“I also thought it best I be here to make sure he’s on his best behavior. Honestly, Kara I don’t know when the brooding will end.”

 

Lena sees Lord Adam roll his eyes as he and Cat take their seats beside Kara. Kara looks a little pained at the mention of Adam’s attitude, but quickly composes herself when a guard comes in and asks if they’d like to begin.

 

Citizens are brought in one person or family at a time and sat before them to present their case.

The first man’s problem is to do with a land dispute between him and his neighbor. The man insists his farmland is being encroached on by his neighbors livestock. He’s spoken to his neighbor about the issue several times and is met with nothing but disinterest and hostility.

 

After having the man present the property documents to them and examining the borders closely, Kara writes the man a letter signed with the royal insignia of Krypton and the crest of the House of El. The letter instructs the man’s neighbor to better control his herds and/or to assist in the construction of a fence along the property borders. If he does not comply with one or both of these in two months time, legal action will be taken against him with the full authority of the crown.

 

It goes on like that. Territory disputes, trading discourse, village leadership petitions, criminal reports, and things of that nature. Lena sits quietly, simply observing the flow and procedure of the exchanges. Kara is the only one that really speaks. Winn, Cat, and Adam just seem to be present as a show of support and strength. Kara asks questions and really takes the time to engage with each person and understand each problem. She drafts letters, suggests solutions, and hands down judgement or calls to action as needed.

 

The twenty fifth or so person they see is a middle aged sheep farmer having a consistent problem with wolves.

 

“The packs seem to have been migrating out of the mountains of Gotham these last several months, Your Highness.” the woman says to Kara “These last several weeks I lose two or three sheep a week to their appetites. At first, I just thought they might be passing through, but it seems they’ve settled into the moors near my farm.”

 

The woman was at a loss as to what to do. Her herds were beginning to be significantly impacted as were those of some of her neighbors. She presented Kara with a petition from several other sheep farmers in the area citing losses.

 

“We don’t have anything against the creatures, truly. But it’s our livelihood. Things can’t go on like this. We hoped you might organize a hunt.”

 

Kara looks down frowning at the petition. Lena watches her wife’s brow crinkle as she thinks.

 

“A hunt?” Kara says slowly.

 

“Yes, Your Highness, with your permission the farmers in the area would like to organize. Perhaps, even a few of your Royal Huntsman could assist us.”

 

Kara’s frown deepens as she sets aside the petition.

 

“I wonder if there might be an alternative solution, as opposed to wiping out the pack entirely.”

 

The farmer shakes her head sadly, obviously at a loss. “I wish there were, Highness. We’ve tried all we can think of. Building fences, standing watch, but nothing as worked and we’re growing desperate.”

 

“Have you tried dogs?”

 

Lena has leaned forward and opened her mouth without even realizing it, and suddenly every eye in the room is on her. She glances in Kara’s direction to find a pleased smile spreading across her wife’s face.

 

“My I present my wife, Princess Lena Zor-El.” Kara says giving her an encouraging nod, indicating she should continue.

 

Lena clears her throat and lifts her chin “I’ve noticed that the Royal Huntsman use hounds to hunt stag and boar, don’t they? Those large shaggy dogs? In Manor, we use hounds for hunting, herding, and guarding livestock. A small pack of five or six seemed effective in discouraging predators.”

 

Lord Adam scoffs from his chair at the opposite end of the table, all eyes shift to him.

 

“You’re suggesting five or six mutts are going to fight off wolves?”

 

Lena watches Kara’s hands curl into fists. Lena reaches out and pats the blonde’s arm to silence what is sure to be a biting response to Adam.

 

“I certainly am.” Lena says, confidently. Then she turns her attention back to the farmer who looks slightly alarmed by the obvious animosity at the table.

 

“The wolves prey on your sheep, because they are the easiest target. Slower than stags, less dangerous than moose. All they need is a bit of discouragement. After a scrap or two with the hounds, the wolves will move on to easier pickings. And the hounds’ scent on your property and around your herds should prevent them from returning.”

 

Lena falls silent, sitting back in her chair. Everyone looks to Kara who is smiling again. Kara nods and addresses the farmer.

 

“My wife seems confident hounds may be the solution to your troubles. And I am inclined to agree. I implore you to give her plan a try before we think of hunting the wolves. After all, they have just as much right to live and eat as the rest of us, do they not?”

 

The farmer is nodding along adamantly as Kara speaks “Of course, Your Highness.”

 

“Very well.” Kara says, waving over a guard. “Escort this woman to the Hound Master and arrange for her to receive ten of our best dogs.”

 

The guard bows “Yes, Highness.”

 

Kara stands and gestures for the farmer to approach. “And take this.” Kara says, offering the woman a bag of coin. “For your losses and your travel. I’m sorry, I can’t offer you more dogs at this time, but hopefully this will be enough to sustain you for now until more can be bred.”

 

The farmer has a look of awe and gratitude on her face as she tentatively reaches forward and takes the coin pouch from Kara. She clutches the bag close to her chest and bends into a deep curtsy.

 

“Thank you, Your Highness! This is beyond generous!” The farmer straightens and shyly turns her attention to Lena, curtsying again. “And thank you, Princess Lena, truly.”

 

Surprised by being addressed so directly, Lena inclines her head and give the woman a smile.

 

“You are very welcome. Best of luck.”

 

Kara sits back down and takes Lena’s hand as the woman is escorted away by the palace guards. Kara leans over whispering to Lena.

 

“You are incredible.”

 

Lena squeezes her wife’s hand and can’t contain the smile on her face. “I only hope my plan succeeds.”

 

Kara is looking at Lena strangely. It takes Lena a moment to realize it’s fondness she sees on the blonde’s face.

 

“It will.” Kara assures her “You’re brilliant.”

 

With the way Kara says it, Lena can’t help but believe it.

 

-----------

 

After open court Kara was feeling rather restless. Understandable so, given she’s been sitting in that chair for half the day and cpoped up in the garden the day before. So she was quick to take up an invitation from her aunt to spar with Alex and Maggie and Lucy.

 

Lena, however, was tired and not one for sword fighting. Though Maggie had insisted she needed to learn. Also, Lena was obsessing over one of the problems brought before them today. Two villages were fighting over the same water supply and one of the villages was suffering drought. Kara had no immediate solution, but had promised to bring the issue to the Kings and Queens’ attention. Lena hoped to brainstorm a solution in the quiet of their chambers.

 

This was the first time Kara had been parted from Lena since they were wed. Granted, that was only a day and a half ago, and yet Kara found herself missing Lena immediately. Kara couldn’t shake the feeling that if she let Lena out of her sight the woman might disappear like a mirage. Kara knew this was silly. Lena had married her, had said herself that she was glad to be here with Kara, but Kara still worried that Lena harbored doubts about them even now, even as her wife.

 

Kara tried her best to set aside all her troubled thoughts as she, Alex, and Maggie teamed up against Lucy and Astra. Her aunt was a fierce thing to behold in battle mode. Razor focused and intimidating. Lucy on the other hand was extremely fun-loving in love and war, Kara knew. She jeered and smiled and was quick to laugh even as Alex and Maggie swung at her at the same time.

 

Lucy dodges them just barely, but gracefully. She ducks Alex’s high swing while bending forward slightly to keep Maggie’s sword from swiping her abdomen.

 

“Ha!” She shouts jumping backward out of the couples’ reach “Gotta do better than that, Danvers!”

 

Meanwhile, Kara somehow finds herself dealing with Astra on her own all the sudden. Her aunt smiles a little wickedly and beckons Kara towards her.

 

“Come on, Little One.” Astra teases. Kara snorts, knowing better than to charge her aunt head on.

 

Seeing Kara’s defensive stance, Astra lunges and they parry off one another, Kara immediately steps back and swipes at her aunt’s abdomen, which Astra easily avoids. Astra doesn’t let up, coming for Kara again, herding her backwards.

 

“Um, Alex! A little help please!”

 

Alex and Maggie seemed to have gained a slight upper hand against Lucy, who is being beaten down by their insistence. Maggie disarms Lucy, who collapses onto the grass in dramatic defeat. Alex immediately turns to assist Kara, and together they force Astra to yield.

 

All five women are out of breath and sweating, Maggie and Lucy poking fun at each other in the grass as Alex and Kara walk aside to get some water.

 

Kara and Alex slump onto the arena bleachers, gulping water greedily.

 

“So…” Alex says, not too subtly now that they are away from the others.

 

Kara glances at her “Sooo?”

 

Alex raises her eyebrows suggestively. “How’s Lena?”

 

“Alex.” Kara says with a sigh.

 

“What?” Alex lifts her hands in surrender “I can’t ask how you’re wife is?”

 

“She’s fine.” Kara says shortly.

 

Alex leans closer to Kara, more serious.

 

“Honestly, I haven’t seen you since the wedding. Talk to me. Tell me about her.”

 

Kara smiles a little “We’re doing well, I think. She’s warming up to me and I...I just adore her, Alex.” Kara breathes it out like a confession, blushing slightly.

 

“Yeah, I know you do.” Alex says, patting Kara’s shoulder.

 

“We spent all day yesterday in the garden just talking and reading together and it was lovely. She’s lovely. And she is passionate about the strangest of things.” Kara can feel herself begin to ramble but is in no position to stop it “Like flowers! She knows the meanings of flowers, Alex. Like what even is that? And history. She’s read so many of our records already. She may very well know more about our political past than I do at this point. She’s brilliant, Alex. Just absolutely amazing. You should have seen her in open court this morning! At first she was a bit shy, but then I saw her become more confident and then after that she was solving problems left and right with that mind of hers. And I swear, the people were just as enchanted as I am-”

 

“How was the wedding night, though?”

 

In her excitement, Kara had failed to notice Maggie and Lucy approach and catch the tail end of her ode. It was Maggie who interrupted her.

 

“Maggie!” Alex is quick to scold her wife, but the damage has been done. Kara turns scarlet, her eyes darting to Lucy in alarm before looking to the ground.

 

“I...um I-”

 

“It’s okay, Kara.” Alex says, rubbing Kara’s back while glaring at Maggie “You don’t have to tell us anything.”

 

“Ooor you could tell us everything.” Maggie says, taking a seat beside Kara.

 

“There’s nothing to tell.” Kara says quietly, as she fidgets with the hilt of her sword.

 

“Knowing you, I highly doubt that.” Lucy says with a teasing smile and a wink in Kara’s direction.

 

“Lucy, stop flirting with my sister.” Alex says, sternly.

 

“Yeah, Lucy! Kara’s taken now, you missed your shot.” Maggie says, bumping shoulders with Lucy as the other brunette sits beside her.

 

“Can we talk about something else, please?” Kara begs with a groan.

 

Just then Astra approaches them “I think there should be less talk, more swordplay.”

 

All of the girls groan in unison.

 

-----------------

 

When Astra finally decides they’ve had enough abuse for the day, the girls disperse. Maggie and Lucy head straight for the bathhouses, but Alex joins Kara for a walk, obviously wanting some private time.

 

“It sounds like you are enjoying married life so far. Based on all that gushing you did earlier.”

 

Kara nods, smiling despite Alex’s teasing. “I suppose, I am. It’s only been two days though, so there is still plenty of time for everything to go wrong.”

 

Alex frowns and furrows her brow “That’s the spirit.” she says mockingly. “Where is your usual optimism? Is something wrong?”

 

Kara wrings her hands, her eyes planted firmly on her shoes as they walk.

 

“Nothing’s wrong, exactly. I’m just...treading lightly with Lena.”

 

“Treading lightly? What does that mean?”

 

Kara reminds stubbornly silent for too long. Alex halts her, and puts her hands on Kara’s shoulders so they are facing each other.

 

“Kara, speak your mind.”

 

Sighing heavily and with her eyes still on the floor, Kara recounts her wedding night to Alex who listens impartially until the end.

 

“Sooo…”

 

“So.”

 

“You didn’t consummate it?” Alex glances around anxiously, making sure they are in fact alone.

 

“I told her we could wait.” Kara says, shyly.

 

“Wait? Wait until when?”

 

Kara shrugs her shoulders and resumes walking. “Wait until she’s more comfortable with me. I don’t...want to, I don’t know. I don’t want her to feel like she has to sleep with me.”

 

“But Kara…” Alex says carefully “She kinda does have to sleep with you.”

 

“I know, I know that, Alex. I just mean...I don’t know what I mean.” Kara runs her hands through her hair in frustration. She glances at Alex who wears a pensive expression.

 

“You believe that right now she doesn’t want to sleep with you?” Alex sounds confused, and Kara doesn’t blame her. She’s not explaining this right, because she barely understands it herself.

 

“I...I think, she wants me the way I want her. There’s obvious...attraction.”

 

“But…” Alex prompts her

 

Kara shakes her head “But there is also hesitation. Fear almost.”

 

“So set her at ease.”

 

“I’m trying!” Kara snaps “I think she just needs time. I won’t force her, Alex. More than anything, I just want her to be happy. To enjoy being with me.”

 

Alex nods “Yes, of course, but I’m concerned about...Well, lack of consummation can be grounds for annulment, Kara. If your mother found out...Or Lena’s family…”

 

“I know, that’s what worries me. I’m willing to wait as long as Lena would like, but we have to keep it to ourselves.” Kara can feel the crinkle on her forehead, but is powerless to quiet her fears.

 

“The festival should provide an adequate distraction.” Alex says with a smile, trying to cheer Kara up “Hopefully, everyone will be too busy trying not to kill each other to worry about your marriage bed.”

 

Kara smiles, grateful for Alex’s levity.

 

“We can only hope.”

 

-----------------

 

Lena was grateful for the time alone in chambers. She was dead set on solving this irrigation problem between these two villages and she needed to focus. Kara was a beautiful distraction. Lena could hardly sit in the same room as her without stealing glances constantly. Perhaps, her infatuation with the blonde would dissipate over time into something more manageable, but for now Lena was glad Kara went out to spar so she could get some work done.

 

Lena made a note of the affected villages during open court and immediately started brainstorming when she got back to chambers. Winn helped her fetch the appropriate maps of the region from the library archives before excusing himself and leaving her to her work.

 

Lena has just come up with what she believes to be a workable solution, when she hears a knock at the door.

 

“Enter!” She shouts over her shoulder. She automatically assumes it’s Kara finally back from sparring, though it doesn’t occur to her that Kara wouldn’t really need to knock on their shared chamber door. Of course, knowing Kara, she would probably knock out of respect for Lena’s privacy.

 

Nevertheless, Lena begins to talk excitedly as she hears the door open and someone enter behind her.

 

“I think, I’ve figured out how to allow this river to supply water to both villages. Perhaps, if they had stopped squabbling about it for a moment, they might have thought to share.” Lena makes her disapproval clear, as she was not fond of the way the two village representatives had bickered in the courtroom. “ Anyway, if my calculations are correct, building up a dam just...here” Lena marks the very specific spot on her map and jots down the coordinates on a separate piece of paper. “The river should split rather nicely, diverting the water to both the villages in significant amounts.” Lena can’t help the hint of pride in her tone. Kara was right, she was rather brilliant.

 

“Well done.” Lena startles and whips around at the sound of Queen Alura’s voice. Kara’s mother is standing just inside the door, her hands behind her back, waiting patiently for Lena to notice her.

 

“Oh! Your Majesty, I’m so sorry! I thought you were Kara.” Lena immediately stands and curtseys.

 

“That’s quite alright. Please, Lena, stand up. There is no need for such formality in private.” Alura says politely. Lena straightens out of her curtsey, and fidgets nervously with her skirt.

 

She can’t help but be aware of just how private this all is. She’s never been alone with the Kryptonian queen before, and now here she is dressed down in one of her more casual outfits, standing in the room she shares with the woman’s only daughter, blabbering on about fixing problem for a kingdom that’s just barely hers.

 

“I’m afraid, Kara isn’t here, Your Majesty. She went out sparing. Though I am expecting her back shortly.”

 

“That’s alright.” Alura says looking around the room curiously “I actually came to speak with you.”

 

Lena’s eyes widen in alarm and her heart begins to beat faster. She knows logically there is probably nothing to fear from Kara’s mother. The queen has been nothing but polite and obliging since first meeting Lena. And yet, Lena’s track record with mothers (abandonment, abuse, and betrayal) leans her towards caution.

 

“What about, Your Majesty?”

 

Alura gestures towards the table Lena was just sitting at. “May we sit?”

 

Lena scrambles “Yes! Of course, please.” The table is covered in all manner of papers and books. The maps and plans Lena was just working with, Kara’s books and sketches, Lena’s own books and notes. “I’m sorry for the mess.” Lena hurries to clean up as the queen takes a seat.

 

Placing a calming hand on Lena’s arm and gesturing for her to sit as well, Alura says “Don’t fuss, dear. There’s no need.”

 

Lena sits and tries not to wring her hands. Just then, Alana knocks on the door and brings in a tray of tea, Alura must have requested before entering. Alana pours the tea for them and leaves. That’s when the queen finally speaks.

 

“I’m sorry to interrupt your afternoon. It seems you’re doing good work already for us.”

 

Lena shakes her head, and takes small sip of her tea, letting it’s warmth soothe her nerves.

 

“It’s no problem at all. As I said, I just completed the plans for this.”

 

Alura nods, glancing at the design Lena drew for the dam.

 

“Lady Grant told me of your morning in open court. She was quite impressed with you. And Cat is not easily impressed.”

 

“I’m glad to be of helpful.” Lena tells her simply. Alura eyes her closely over her tea cup, before setting it aside and clearing her throat.

 

“Lena, I came to ask your opinion on something or perhaps even...your permission, really.”

 

Lena doesn’t stifle her surprise “My permission?”

 

Alura nods and continues. “I’m sorry you had to endure dinner with my sister and her husband yesterday. I imagine you found some of their claims upsetting.”

 

Lena nods and sets her tea cup aside. “Dinner was quite fine, Your Majesty. Though I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find their accusations about my family unsettling. Not out of insult, mind you, but rather...worry over what my brother might be up to in my absence.”

 

Alura gives Lena a small smile “Then we are in agreement. I too am concerned about your brother. Though I am not sure what level of seriousness with which to treat my sister’s intel.”

 

“I meant what I said.” Lena says carefully “I find it hard to believe my brother would work with Daxamites against Krypton. But my mother...I fear, my mother is a very different story, Your Majesty. One I’ve never completely understood. And I wouldn’t put it past her to manipulate Lex or perhaps even to work behind his back.”

 

It’s obvious Alura wasn’t expecting Lena to be so forthcoming and her eyebrows rise slowly as Lena speaks.

 

“Lena, may I speak plainly.”

 

“Please do.”

 

Alura leans forward, her hands folded neatly across her lap.

 

“I believe, the grudge we, as a kingdom, have held against your kingdom is misguided and cruel. We have made the common mistake of punishing the many for the grievances of the few. I would like to work to correct this mistake. And I'd like you to help me.”

 

Lena couldn’t deny her relief at Alura’s words. For wasn’t that just what she had been thinking? Hoping for a way to use her newfound influence in Krypton to assist the people of Manor. The elation she felt at the possibility of that becoming reality was accompanied by apprehension at Alura’s intentions. Lena scolded herself for being so suspicious, but again, in her experience, if something seemed to good or too easy to be true it probably was.

“What can I do for you, Your Majesty?”

 

Alura takes a moment to pick her tea backup and take a few sips, seeming to gather herself.

 

“Your family has been excluded from the Solstice Festival for the last three generations. I’d like to rectify that.” Alura is watching Lena’s reaction closely, so Lena does her best to disguise the cold shiver that creeps up her spine and the ache that explodes in her chest.

 

“You want to invite my family to the festival?” Lena clarifies, though she is already very certain that’s what the queen intends.

 

“What better time to make amends and build new bridges than a peace summit?” Alura sounds pleased with her own idea.

 

“But won’t that...They may still not know of my marriage to Kara, wouldn’t that cause trouble?”

 

Alura shrugs, setting her cup aside again.

 

“That is an unfortunate reality for all of us. But if we are to make real peace with your homeland, they will have to find out eventually. That is if they don’t know already. It is of little consequence. Now that you and Kara are bound, they wouldn’t dare contest the union. It would be in their best interest to overlook the deception and move forward.”

 

Yes, except the marriage hasn’t been consummated yet. Lena thinks, internally panicking.

 

Before Lena’s mind can really latch onto that and start to spiral, Alura is speaking again.

 

“So what do you say Lena? Ready for a family reunion?”

 

Fuck.

Chapter Text

“Mother?”

 

Kara’s tone sounds almost like a warning as she glances anxiously between Alura and Lena.

 

It was unclear who was more surprised to find them together, Kara or Lena. Bright blue eyes rove over Lena as if searching her for physical injury as Kara steps fully into the room.

 

Lena offers her wife a small reassuring smile, but she’s not sure how well it comes off, considering Alura just told her she’d be confronted with her mother and brother in a matter of days.

 

The blonde certainly doesn’t look relieved. Concern is clear in Kara’s expression, mingling with something else Lena can’t quite identify, when Kara looks at Alura. Anger? Protectiveness?

 

“What are you doing here?” Kara asks tightly.

 

Alura’s eyes narrow at Kara’s tone, as she watches her daughter come to stand behind Lena’s chair. She can't help the twinge of sadness she feels at Kara’s apprehension. When had her daughter stop trusting her? Alura pushes these insecurities aside and smiles politely.

 

“Lena and I were just discussing the festival.”

 

The queen watches as Lena reaches up and takes Kara’s hand, and her daughter instantly softens.

 

“Yes, your mother was keeping me company since you were gone so long.” Lena teases, obviously trying to soothe Kara’s mood.

 

Alura watches them for a moment, and tries to recall if she’d ever seen Kara this smitten before. Of course, she knew her daughter had lovers, for she was not immune to the gossip of The Court. Alura had seen Kara want someone and be wanted by someone, but what she was witnessing now between her daughter and the Luthor girl seemed somehow unprecedented. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it.

 

“Well,” Alura thinks it best to take her leave before Kara can question her intentions further “you’re in fine company now, Lena. I won’t linger any longer.”

 

She stands and makes her way towards the door “Best of luck with your irrigation plan. It seems to be just what the people need.”

 

A more genuine smile breaks through Lena’s features as she nods eagerly “Thank you, Your Majesty.”

 

“I’ll see you in the morning, Kara?”

 

Kara looks much more at ease now as she takes the seat beside Lena, both her wife’s hands in hers. “Of course, Mother.” She smiles shyly as if embarrassed at her earlier behavior.

 

Alura nods and takes her leave, closing the door firmly behind her.

 

Once her mother is gone Kara immediately turns to Lena, searching her face, concerned.

 

“Are you alright? She didn’t...say anything to upset you, did she?”

 

Lena caresses her face, trying to calm her worries once again. She can’t understand exactly what it is that concerns Kara about the queen. From what she knew, they had always been very close. Their main point of contention was a result of Alura and Astra’s disagreements, and Astra’s resulting assignment to Kandor.

 

“I’m fine, darling.” The endearment slips out without Lena’s permission, but she can’t bring herself to regret it when Kara’s crinkle clears and a smile plays on her lips. “You didn’t have to scare her off.”

 

Thoughtfully looking down at their hands intertwined, Kara traces circles with her thumb over Lena’s skin. “I know, I’m sorry. I just...What did you two talk about?”

 

Lena sighs, seeing no point in hiding from Kara what she would soon discover at the festival.

 

“She wants to invite my family to the festival.”

 

Kara’s eyes go wide and the crinkle reappears. “Wh-What?”

 

Lena nods, not bothering to mask her own unease at the new development.

 

“But the Luthors haven’t attended in...ever. Not since I’ve been alive.” This is obviously the first Kara has heard about her mother’s plans.

 

“I know, otherwise we may have met sooner.” Lena says thinking briefly of how different her life and the lives of many other Manorians could have been if the Luthors had not isolate themselves from Krypton. “Your mother says she’d like to make amends and work towards a better relationship with Manor.”

 

Kara nods slowly “Yes, I mean, of course, for years she’s pushed for us to reach out, but it just...It’s never actually happened before. Always seemed like too much had happened, too much time had past for anything to change.”

 

“She thinks my being here is an opportunity.” Lena tells her, not hiding her doubt.

 

“What do you think?” Kara asks playing with a loose strand of Lena’s hair. “How will it be for you, seeing them again?”

 

Lena shakes her head. Normally, to anyone else, she would lie right now. That’s what she was raised to do. She was suppose to paint the perfect picture of their family and never let on that anything was amiss. The truth of course was that they were so far from perfect. Lillian and Lionel seemed to merely understand each other at best and loathe each other at worst. Whereas Lionel held little concern or consideration for either of his children. Lillian put so much pressure on both her children. Holding Lex to such impossible standards, Lena is surprised her brother didn’t crack under the pressure. And Lena she treated with little more than contempt.

 

The Luthors were as far from perfect as you could get, Lena knew. And how would it be to see them again? Lena didn’t really want to find out.

 

“I don’t know what to expect from them.” Lena finally says, deciding to set aside the charade for Kara and be honest. “After all this that’s happened...By now they could know they’ve been deceived, or they will find out when they arrive, and they won’t approve, Kara. Lex will feel we’ve made a fool of him, and Lillian will find our union...unsavory to say the least.” Lena stands up and begins to pace, ignoring the pity on Kara’s face. “They are not in a position to turn down your mother’s invitation or to make a spectacle of themselves in public.” Lena was sure of this, the Luthors would be on their best behavior for the festival. “But to me, to you, there is no telling what they might do when no one is looking.”

 

Lena can feel herself growing short of breath, panic tightening in her chest.

 

“They’ll blame me for all of this.” She says “I know, they will. Even though this was all their doing.” She feels herself grow angry and hysterical, but can’t seem to stop the words from leaving her mouth “Even though they sold me to you, like a whore!”

 

As soon as the words are out there, Lena sobers. Her hand comes up to cover her mouth and her eyes go wide as she turns to see the pained expression on her wife’s face. Kara looks as if she’d been slapped.

 

“Kara, I…”

 

The blonde stands running a hand through her hair and trying to shake off some of the hurt Lena’s words inflicted.

 

She knew she had little right to be upset. Lena was right. That’s exactly what had happened.

 

Kara had been trying too hard to convince herself and Lena too that their relationship could be the beautiful loving thing between two equals, but the truth of its genesis would always be there, wouldn’t it. How could Kara ever really know if Lena wanted to be with her? How could Lena ever know if she were really free?

 

“Kara, darling, I didn’t mean-”

 

Kara does her best to push aside her troubling thoughts. The time for worrying about such things was past. Lena was her wife now. And whatever doubts and misgivings Lena may still harbor, Kara was determined to prove to her that Kara had never seen her as a whore or a slave. Had never meant to treat Lena as such. If Kara had to spend the rest of her life earning Lena’s trust than that’s what she would do.

 

“No, it’s” Kara sighs heavily “It’s okay, Lena. I-I know what you meant.”

 

Lena still looks miserable, wringing her hands into her dress. Kara goes to her, eagerly taking Lena in her arms, and Lena melts into her. Lena nuzzles her face into Kara’s shoulder and clings to her almost desperately.

 

Kara tells herself she can’t possibly be imagining the way Lena clutches at her. The way this woman clearly feels about her.

 

She takes a deep breathe, her nose in Lena’s hair, just letting the smell of Lena soothe her anxiety.

 

“We’ll get through this.” She tells Lena “We’ll handle the Luthors together, okay?”

 

She pulls back only slightly to look in Lena’s eyes. Her green eyes are bright with unshed tears.

 

“You’re not alone anymore.”

 

----------------

 

The first day of the Solstice Festival finds Lena more anxious than excited. Which proceeds to make her angry because this is suppose to be fun. It is a celebration after all. Her first as a Kryptonian princess, her first with Kara. It’s suppose to be a happy day.

 

Lena wakes up in Kara’s arms. The Kryptonian’s body is wrapped haphazardly around Lena’s, her blonde hair tickling Lena’s neck. And Lena knows that when Kara wakes her blue eyes will be shining with excitement. Kara is thrilled that the festival is finally here. Apparently, it’s her favorite part of the year. She gets to see old friends from other lands, gets to eat her fill of special cakes and treats, gets to dance and sing in the streets. More than anything Kara wants to share all this with Lena.

 

The blonde has spoken of nothing else over the last couple of days. Doing her best to cheer Lena up and assure her that even with the addition of her family they are sure to have a great time.

 

This does excite Lena to some extent. Kara’s mood is infectious, like her smile. When Kara tells her everything is going to be okay, Lena nearly believes her.

 

However, Lena’s anxiety is only heightened by the fact that Lex and Lillian have yet to respond to Alura’s invitation. Granted, it had only been two day, just barely enough time for them to have received and reply to the invite. Lena is impatient, regardless. She can just imagine how insulted Lillian will be by the fact that the invite is such short notice, rather than pleased that it was sent at all.

 

Lena knows that logically her family has little choice but to accept and attend. And of course, Lena wants that for the sake of the people of Manor if nothing else. But a selfish part of her keeps hoping they will decline the offer. Hoping they won’t show up and she’ll never have to see the looks of horror or disgust or disdain on their faces when they see her with Kara.Try as she might, Lena can’t seem to imagine what their reactions might be. Would they cause a scene? Scream and shout obscenities and threats? Would they be calm and polite, acting as if they hadn’t been blatantly misled in order to maintain appearances? Or would they simply whisper hateful disappointment into Lena’s ear when no one else could hear? Saving all their spite for her and her alone? Lena suspects the latter is most likely.

 

When Kara does finally wake it is as Lena predicted. The blonde is even more exuberant than usual. Practically bounding out of bed and dragging Lena with her. They bathe and dress quickly, before venturing out into the chaos of the Palace.

 

Over the past two days, guests had begun to arrive and fill the Palace and the city of Argo with all manner of royalty, ambassadors, dignitaries, lords and ladies, and even common folk who traveled to attend the festival. Many of the guests would be staying on the Palace grounds, while other were being boarded in hotels and apartments in the city or even larger estates outside the city.

 

The Palace was bustling with activity. If Lena believed the place to be full of life when she first arrived that was nothing compared to the state of things now. There were people everywhere. Children and servants and members of court in every garden, down every hallway, packed into every sitting room.

 

It filled Lena with a familiar nervous excitement. She was eager to experience the festival in its entirety.

 

She and Kara would be required to attend the political meetings everyday, which Lena was surprised to find herself looking forward to. It turns out she was a rather good negotiator and had a natural inclination for political dealings. Or so Alura and Lady Grant had assured her as she continued to impress during open court and the preparation meetings they’d attended over the past several days.

 

Lena was also looking forward to meeting many of the foreigners Kara had spoken of. The royal family of Gotham were good friends of Kara’s. She spoke very highly of King Bruce and is entirely adopted brood. Lena found it fascinating that the King had chosen to never marry and instead entrusted his legacy to heirs of his own choosing. Most of all Lena was anxious to meet the Amazons of Themyscira. Though she and Kara had spoken at length about them, Lena was still the slightest bit skeptical that they even existed. For they sounded like creatures of fairytale. Kara had assured her that not only were they very real, they were also incredibly down to earth and good-natured. Especially, the Amazonian Princess, Diana, whom Kara considered a good friend. Lena tried not to dwell to much on the way Kara blushed when she said “good friend”.

 

Underlying all this excitement was Lena constant worry about what these people might think of her. The Luthors had been isolated for so long, Lena wondered what the rest of the world must think of them, if they thought of them at all. And beyond that what might Kara’s friends think of her decision to marry someone like Lena. A girl from a notoriously underhanded, close-minded family.

 

Lena tried to set aside her apprehension, so as not to worry Kara, whom she knew would frown upon Lena’s self-deprecation.

 

The Palace had been grandly decorated with elaborate flowers and lanterns and ribbons. The already beautiful grounds had been transformed into an even more enchanting wonderland.

 

The first day of the festival wouldn’t involve any political meetings. Rather it was more of a welcome feast for all of the guests many of whom had traveled very far to be here, and needed to rest after their long journeys.

 

Kara and Lena spent most of the day out in the heat, at the front gate, serving as the welcoming party for all the guests that were still arriving or arriving at the Palace from their lodgings in the city. Kara didn’t really get to properly introduce Lena to anyone as they bowed and were escorted inside, so the day pasted in a blur of smiling faces and gracious waving.

 

At last as the sun began to set, Kara and Lena returned to their chambers to prepare for the main event.

Chapter Text

“Now presenting, Kara and Lena Zor-El, Crown Princesses of Krypton.” The harold’s voice booms across the ballroom like a crashing wave. Conversations cease and heads swivel as all eyes turn towards the couple.

 

Kara and Lena stand arm in arm, smiling brightly at the crowd and not looking the least bit uncomfortable with the attention.

 

They both wear brand new attire, designed especially by Tessmacher for their grand debut. Kara is in a lovely white tunic and trousers with dark blue accents across the shoulders, chest, and wrists. Her blonde waves pouring around her shoulders, her bangs braided back around her head like a crown. Lena watched her wife get dress, and still she nearly swoons at the sight of her. So regal and striking.

Lena had also opted to wear a tunic and trouser set. Unable to resist the look of distaste that would sure cross her mother’s face if she did indeed show up. Lena’s colors were almost the reverse of Kara’s. Where Kara’s suit is mostly white, Lena’s is mostly dark blue to complement. And her accents are black smooth lines over the seams on her shoulders and sides. Alana has pinned Lena’s raven mane half up and out of her face, allowing the lower half to curl slightly as it falls down her back. Lena has grown rather confident in trousers during her time in Krypton and carries herself with self-assured grace.

 

The couple is a vision as they step further into the room, allowing everyone a good look. Lena’s hand is nestled in the crook of Kara’s elbow, her nails digging slightly into the fabric, holding on for dear life.

 

No one can tell how nervous the princess is. To all the onlookers, she is a mysterious new element. Fascinating and beautiful, but possibly dangerous.

 

They lean in close and whisper to each other. Recounting the last time they’d seen a Manorian or a Luthor. Speculating on the death of Lionel Luthor and his son succession to the throne. Gossiping about just how Kara and Lena’s engagement came to be.

 

Lena sees them whispering, sees the way their eyes rove over her equal parts mystified and suspicious. But she doesn’t allow her smile to falter. Only grips Kara’s arm tighter, which the blonde meets with a gentle hand on Lena’s and a reassuring smile. Lena has faced much worse whispers than these. At least here she isn’t known as a bastard. At least here, she knew, no one would dare to jeer or belittle her. Here, she was with Kara. Here she was a princess of Krypton, and she had every reason to smile.

 

The pride that swells in Kara’s chest as she enters the room with Lena on her arm, and hears the herald call out Lena’s name with hers, is unprecedented. Never before has she been so glad to call someone hers and to belong to someone else in this way. She can sense Lena’s nervous energy and wishes desperately to ease her anxiety.

 

As scary as the party was for Lena with the threat of her family’s arrival looming, Kara also has reason to be worried. Looking around the room at the scrutinizing faces, Kara is reminded of just who Lena would be meeting tonight.

 

Most of the people in the room, were older delegates whom Kara knew only in passing or through political circles. But a significant number, were young royals and nobles of Krypton and Gotham and Themyscira. People Kara considers friends, and others who had briefly been her lovers.

 

Kara isn’t ashamed of her past. She is comfortable and confident in her sexuality and had been for many years. But she worries about what Lena might think of her past encounters. It isn’t something they have explicitly discussed, but Kara knows Lena must have at least heard rumors.  She can only hope that her considerable experience doesn’t make Lena anymore uncomfortable than she already is.

 

After a few too many minutes of openly gawking at the couple the room settles once more. More people enter behind Lena and Kara and are announced and greeted. People at least pretend to return to their previous conversations.

 

Lena breathes a sigh of relief when they spot friendly faces approaching. Maggie and Alex look gorgeous. Alex has actually talked Maggie into wearing a dress and they match.

 

Maggie beams at Lena, not having seen her friend outside meetings since the wedding. She takes Lena’s hands and gives her a once over, whistling appreciatively.

 

“Little Luthor, you look amazing! Marriage looks good on you.”

 

The complement and the dimpled smile make Lena blush even as she waves Maggie off.

 

“You seem even shorter than usual without your boots.” She teases. Maggie just scoffs and rolls her eyes.

 

“I just seem short because I’m standing next to Alex.” she pulls her wife into her side, her hand instinctively coming to rest on Alex’s barely there baby bump.

 

Alex has been very self-conscious about the outfit because she is starting to show. Though Maggie and Tessmacher have assured her she looks radiant. Which she absolutely does. Maggie has recently discovered that knowing Alex was carrying their child, only made her want her wife more. She didn’t even know that was possibly, but after seeing Alex all dressed up, it took all of Maggie’s self control not to skip the party and stay in tonight.

 

“I for one am a fan of the height difference.” Alex says, taking Maggie’s face in her hands and leaning down for a quick kiss.

 

Kara rolls her eyes at them, even as her face breaks out in a smile.

 

“Easy there, Alex, you’re already pregnant.” She groans, feigning disgust.

 

Maggie chuckles and pulls back “That seems to only make it worse, believe it or not.” She says waggling her eyebrows at Kara and Lena. “So you two have that to look forward to.”

 

Alex can see Lena tense up beside Kara, both their eyes going wide. Kara makes panicked eye contact with Alex, and Alex has some mercy on both of them.

 

“Come on, Mags, let’s get you more wine. You have to drink for the both of us.” Alex drags her wife off, even as Maggie’s brow furrows in confusion. Alex wants so badly to confide in her about Kara and Lena’s abstinence. Kara has sworn her to secrecy due to the delicacy of the situation. But without a good reason Maggie would continue to be a suggestive wise-ass, and there was little Alex could do about it.

 

Kara is grateful for Alex and Maggie’s quick exit. She immediately feels Lena relax against her. Determined to distract her further, Kara leads them forward.

 

“There are some people I’d love for you to meet. Think you’re up for it?”

 

Lena takes a deep breath and gives Kara her best smile.

 

“Anything for you.”

 

------------------

 

Lena watches in muted astonishment as the most beautiful woman she has ever seen throws her arms around Kara’s neck and pulls the blonde into a fierce hug.

 

It’s much more enthused and familiar a greeting then the others Kara has received tonight, but she doesn’t seem the least bit surprised.

 

Perhaps, Lena would flame the spark of jealousy that simmers in the back of her mind if she weren’t so busy studying the woman before her.

 

She is very tall. Taller than Alex or Kara, and practically towering over Lena. And toned, her sleeveless backless ball gown puts all the woman’s taut tan skin on display, and her muscles ripple and tense every time she moves.  Her long brown hair is a smooth curtain over her back and shoulders. And that smile, teeth white and gleaming, would be almost predatory if her eyes weren’t so kind. Her open and genuine excitement as she pulls away from Kara to look at Lena is endearing, and leaves Lena feeling a little dazed as she too is pulled into a strong hug. The side of her face is momentarily pressed into the woman chest and her hands graze over her strong back. Lena blushes from head to toe.

 

“It is so lovely to meet you, Lena.” The woman is saying as she pulls away, still beaming. The woman’s speaks with a strange musical accent Lena is unfamiliar with.

 

Kara can’t help the amused smile on her face as she watches Lena recover from the hug. Diana tends to have a dazzling effect on people.

 

“Lena,” Kara says, pulling Lena into her side and wrapping an arms around her waist “This is Diana, Princess of Themyscira. Daughter of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons.”

 

Lena’s eyes go wide and she sputters around a smile.

 

“You-Oh, wow, of course! I-It’s lovely to meet you as well! You have no idea! Kara speaks of you constantly.”

 

Diana cocks an eyebrow at Kara, and with an unbearably flirtatious lilt says “She does? Is this true, Kara Zor-El?”

 

Kara tries to remain composed even as blood rushes to her cheeks.

 

“Well, yes, of course!” She tries to deflect “Lena is absolutely fascinated by your people.”

 

Diana’s eyebrow stays up “Hmm, of course. Well, you must come visit us then, both of you. We all greatly enjoyed your last visit, Kara. The more the merrier!”

 

Diana's teasing goes right over Lena's head, and she can’t seem to form words she is so star-struck.

 

Diana watches as Kara holds Lena against her side and chuckles, placing a brief kiss to Lena’s forehead. She has known Kara a very long time, since they were both young girls, and has always known Kara to be an affectionate person. She has also watched Kara grow and experience things with the women of Themyscira that Diana would describe as loving. What she has never seen is the gleam in Kara’s eye as she looks down at the raven-haired woman. The way Kara reaches for her, toying with the side of Lena’s tunic distractedly. Like she couldn’t bare to be apart from her. Diana finds it curious, but beautiful. Beautiful that her friend may have finally found something different with this girl.

 

“You know you are always welcome with the Amazons, Kara Zor-El.”

 

The three talk adamantly as they make their way to the buffet. Lena rediscovers how to speak and pours out all the questions she has pondered during her studies of the Amazons. She ridiculously wishes she had thought to bring her journal, where she writes such inquiries down. Diana answers her questions earnestly, always eager to talk about her home. Kara retells stories Lena’s heard before, with Diana jumping in to confirm or refute certain details. Diana refrains from any mentions of sex, for which Kara is very grateful.

 

Unfortunately, they lose Diana’s attention, when Lois and Kal-El bring Kon-El out to show off a little. Diana’s face lights up and she clasps her hands together “A baby!” she exclaims, before excusing herself and heading in Kon-El’s direction.

 

“She loves children.” Kara says, smiling around a lemon cake she shoved in her mouth whole.

 

“Does she have any of her own?” Lena inquires, watching as the Amazonian princess takes Kon-El in her arms and makes silly faces at him.

 

Kara shakes her head “Not yet. The Amazons tend to have a difficult time conceiving. No one knows why.”

 

Lena frowns, seeing the obvious joy on Diana’s face. “That’s a shame.”

 

Kara takes Lena’s hand. “Come on, there are more people to meet.”

 

“Okay, but she’s already my favorite.” Lena says with a smile, following after her.

Chapter Text

“She blames me completely.” Grayson says, finishing off his glass of wine and setting the cup aside.  

 

Kal-El’s brow furrows for a moment “Well, it sounds like it was your fault.”

 

Grayson scoffs at the Kryptonian prince and glances at Adam for support. “That’s not at all the point!” he says, waving off Kal-El’s assessment.

 

“What is the point?” Adam asks, sipping from his cup to hide a smile.

 

“The point is…” Grayson starts “actually I’m not sure I have one.” He flashes his signature grin and shrugs his shoulders as Kal-El and Adam roll their eyes.

 

“The point is Barbara is always right.” Kal-El concludes bumping shoulders with Grayson.

 

Adam shakes his head and stuffs a tiny sandwich all the way into his mouth. “Or the point is that Grayson is always wrong.” He says around his mouthful.

 

“Both are valid perspectives.” Grayson concedes graciously “This conversation has gotten away from me.”

 

“They usually do.” Kal-El mumbles with a grin.

 

Grayson had been to his fair share of parties.

The parties Bruce threw at home in Wayne Manor were somewhat drap. Filled to the brim with the same old Gotham elite and their grudges and their drama. He much prefered his visits to Daxam or Krypton, where the occasions were much more fanciful and the wine always flowed more freely.

 

Daxam parties had a certain glamorous reckless abandon about them. You never knew how they would end, maybe an orgy, maybe a fist fight. Always in chaos. But in Krypton, everything was in order. Or at least, that’s what the Kryptonians would like everyone to think. Kal-El was an excellent example.

 

It wasn’t that Kal-El wasn’t fun. He was, in fact. So much fun that Grayson did consider the prince to be one of his greatest friends. However, Kal-El was only fun to a certain extent. Never too much fun. Never fun that got out of hand. Kryptonian parties, their Solstice Festival, mirrored their prince in this way. You could have a good time, but only so long as it was good, clean, pre-approved fun.

 

So here, he is on his fourth cup of wine, swapping stories with Kal-El and Lord Adam as the party happens around them. Couples dance appropriately and people pick at the buffet. Conversations drift through polite topics such as old war stories, well worn jokes, and the latest gossip.

 

Grayson is doing his very best to avoid being bored to tears, when from across the room he catches a glimpse of Kara Zor-El’s gorgeous blonde hair. He smiles to himself, and tilts his head just so to get a better look.

 

Kara turns to speak with someone, a polite smile on her face. And on her arm, practically attached at the hip is a beautiful woman he doesn’t recognize. He knows this must be the newest member of the House of El. The Manorian princess.

 

“Tell me about Kara’s new bride.” Grayson says to Kal-El, his gaze still on Kara and her wife. “The Luthor girl. I have yet to be introduced.”

 

Kal-El turns slightly to follow Grayson gaze, but it is Adam who responds to his question in a rather dry tone.

 

“There’s not much to tell. She’s underwhelming.”

 

This has Grayson turning his attention to the young Lord, a teasing smile already on his lips.

 

“Is that right? Because she didn’t look at all underwhelming when she walked in. And Kara,” he points over in the blonde’s direction, looking just in time to see Kara glance at her wife with fondness “seemed quite um whelmed by her, didn’t she, Kal? Is that a word? Whelmed?”

 

Kal-El shakes his head in amusement, clearly reluctant to participate in gossip about his cousin.

 

“Trust me, she’s nothing special.” Adam reiterates. Grayson can see that Adam is trying to sound casual, but the way his hand curls into a fist at his side, gives away his true frustration.

 

“I’m inclined to disagree.” Kal-El finally speaks up “My understanding is that she’s rather extraordinary.”

 

“Extraordinary!” Grayson eyes go wide as he looks between Adam and Kal-El unable to resist teasing.

 

“Kara’s word not mine.” Kal-El says with a shrug “Lois has grown quite fond of her, and she seems like a nice girl.”

 

Grayson claps a hand on Kal-El’s shoulder and leans into him a bit.

 

“Kal thinks she’s nice, Adam. What say you?”

 

Adam knows he’s being baited, but he just can’t help himself “I think, it’s all been a bit too hasty.”

 

“Hmm, who am I to believe?” Grayson taps his chin and pretends to deeply contemplate their opposing opinions “The notoriously straightforward cousin?” he squeezes Kal-El shoulder “Or the obviously lovesick and disgruntled ex-lover with the furrowed brow?” he points at Adam and breaks into a smile.

 

“Hilarious, Grayson.” Adam huffs, downing the last of his wine.

 

Grayson lifts his hands in surrender and in a much more neutral tone asks “Honestly, though, what’s your objection? Other than the obvious.”

 

Adam shrugs and ducks his head, staring down into his empty cup. He suddenly looks much more like a boy than a man.

 

“I don’t know. I just think it’s strange. She comes from a family that we’ve shunned for nearly a century due to their underhanded nature, and yet we just waltz her in here and practically hand her a throne.”

 

Kal-El responds with a gentle tone “You can’t hold her accountable for the actions of her family.”

 

Adam shakes his head, growing angry again “It’s not a matter of accountability, it’s a matter of trust. How are we meant to trust someone who grew up in a House like that?”

 

The conversation has descended into a weighted seriousness Grayson was hoping to avoid.

 

“I didn’t mean to start anything.” He tells them, apologetically.

 

Adam shrugs, snagging another cup of wine from a passing tray.

 

“You didn’t. I’m sorry. I just...honestly, all our history aside. I’m worried for Kara. That’s all.”

 

The softness of Adam’s face, leads Grayson to believe him. And when Grayson looks at Kal-El, he finds a similar understanding in his expression. They all cared about Kara.

 

Grayson clears his throat and pats Adam’s arm. “I think, I’ll see this girl for myself. If you’ll excuse me.”

 

Grayson maneuvers into the crowd, making his way towards the last place he saw Kara. He has to stop and exchange pleasantries a couple of times, shaking hands, kissing cheeks.

 

He finally finds the couple. Kara’s back is to him, but he’d recognize the blonde anywhere. She and Lena are engaged in conversation with some Kryptonian lord Grayson can’t remember the name of.

 

“There’s my favorite Kryptonian princess!”

 

Kara spins around and her face breaks into a smile when she sees him. She excuses herself and Lena from their conversation and turns to Grayson.

 

“I thought Alex was your favorite.” She teases, pulling him into a hug. Grayson squeezes her tight, grateful that both he and Kara are huggers.

 

“I admit, I do have a thing for redheads.” He says pulling back and giving her a once over “But you, Kara Zor-El, have been my favorite since that time you punched Mon-El in the face.”

 

Kara’s eyes go wide and guilt flashes through her features. Lena who has been standing quietly beside her, can’t hide her surprise.

 

“Who did you punch?” The brunette asks, astonished but amused.

 

“I-No, that-that was an accident!” Kara sputters, reassuring Lena, who looks wholly amused. “We were sparring.” Kara explains, sending Grayson a scolding look.

 

“They were fighting.” Grayson says to Lena with conviction “And she knocked him right out! It was glorious, truly.”

 

Kara is shaking her head, but can’t hide the small smile on her lips.

 

“It was years ago.” She says, taking Lena’s hand.

 

Grayson spends a moment studying them. The way Lena looks down at her own hand entwined with Kara’s as if surprised to find it there. And how Kara’s eyes rove over Lena not too subtly.

 

Grayson tries to hide his smirk, as he clears his throat and addresses Lena.

 

“I’m sorry, where are my manners? I’m Richard Grayson.” He bows a bit, and gives Lena his best smile.

 

Lena looks him over and curtseys “Lena. Lena Zor-El, now.”

 

“Grayson is the Crown Prince of Gotham.” Kara explains.

 

“Yes, I know, I’ve read about you.” Lena says shyly.

 

Grayson’s smile only widens at her admission “Have you? All good things, I hope.”

 

He knew for a fact that whatever she had read would have recounted the death of his parents and his subsequent adoption by Bruce. It would have told her all the tragedies of his life and none of the joys. That was the thing about history books, they usually only told you the bad things.

 

“Well, certainly.” Lena says, not hinting that the opposite was true.

 

“I have heard alot about you as well.” Grayson tells her, giving Kara a teasing look “I couldn’t get Lord Grant over there to shut up about you actually.”

 

Kara’s gaze briefly finds Adam across the room, and something like anger flashes in her gaze. It only lasts for a moment, before Grayson sees Lena lean into the blonde’s side, drawing the Kryptonian’s attention back and soothing her.

 

“You shouldn’t listen to him.” Kara says shyly, the fire instantly gone from her gaze.

 

Grayson feels someone graze his side and turns to find Barbara joining them, a cup of wine in each hand.

 

“Shouldn’t listen to who?” Barbara asks, taking a sip from her cup while handing the other one to Grayson.

 

“Ah, finally! My long awaited drink!” Grayson takes the cup and takes a big gulp of wine.

 

“Sorry, I got caught up talking to Winn and then you weren’t where I left you.” Barbara scolds him “He never is.” She says to Kara and Lena.

 

“Why doesn’t that surprise me?” Kara asks with a smile.

 

Grayson rolls his eyes and points to Lena.

 

“Barbara, have you met Kara’s new paramour?”

 

Lena inclines her head, not sure what to make of all this banter.

 

“She’s her wife, Grayson. Not her paramour.” Barbara chides him, inclining her head to Lena.

 

“Yes, of course!” Grayson is quick to correct himself “I meant no offense. I’m sure it’s all very legitimate. I’m just so use to Kara- Oof!”

 

Barbara’s elbow in his ribs, cuts him off and causes him to spill a bit of his wine. He glares at her wiping the wine off on his trousers. She only smirks.

 

“What Grayson means is, congratulations on your marriage.”

 

“Yes, yes, of course!” Grayson says, with a smile “Best wishes and all that.”

 

Kara beams and wraps her arms around Lena’s waist, pulling the other girl closer.

 

Lena blushes slightly, running her hand over Kara’s arm.

 

“Thank you both. Trust me, we are still getting use to the idea ourselves.” Lena assures them, toying with the marriage bracelet on Kara’s wrist.

 

Grayson finishes his wine quickly and discards his empty cup on a passing tray. He runs a hand through his hair theatrically and steps forward to offer his hand to Lena with a dramatic bow.

 

“Could I have us dance, Princess?”

 

Lena quirks an eyebrow and Grayson swears it’s one of the most attractive things he’s ever seen.

 

---------------

 

Most of the cakes on the table look identical. Kara couldn’t quite tell the difference between the lemon one and the banana one. Even if she could tell them apart, she wasn’t sure which Lena would prefer. So she just piles one of each onto her plate.

Continuing to peruse the dessert buffet to ensure she tries everything, Kara becomes so preoccupied with the selection she doesn’t notice someone approaches her.

 

Kara startles slightly when she feels a hand on her hip, but quickly relaxes assuming it’s Lena.

 

“I was on my way back, I swear-” Kara starts to say, before the hand on her hip slips teasingly around the small of her back, and she turns to see Lady Leslie standing entirely too close to her.

 

Kara takes a hurried step back out of Leslie’s reach as her skin heats up in embarrassment.

 

“Leslie! I um- Lady Willis, I didn’t realize that was you.” Kara stammers, glancing nervously about.

 

Leslie chuckles, her mouth curled up in a devilish smile. “Lady Willis? Really, Princess? We’re way past that, don’t you think?”

 

Leslie’s tone is dripping with implications, and the glimpse of teeth Kara can see behind her smile let Kara knows she’s in trouble here.

 

Kara clears her throat and tries her best not to let her eyes appraise Leslie. The woman is wearing a bright blue strapless dress, the top of which barely contains Leslie’s breasts.

 

“Yes, of course, I...How have you been, Leslie?” Kara shoots for casual, but fails miserably as she rocks back and forth on her heels.

 

Leslie hums with disinterest, plucking a grape from the table and popping it into her mouth.

 

“I haven’t seen you much these last few months, Princess. I’ve missed you.”

 

“I’ve um been a bit busy. As you well know.” Kara says, quietly.

 

The last time she’d been with Leslie was about two weeks before she’d traveled to Argo to retrieve Lena. Since then, they’d seen each other in passing around court, but had yet to speak to each other.

 

Leslie steps closer, into Kara’s personal space, tracing the House of El symbol on Kara’s shoulder with her finger. “Have you missed me, Blondie? Or is it all about the Luthor girl now?”

 

Kara gentle removes Leslie’s hand from her tunic.

 

“Leslie, you’re being inappropriate.” She says gently, knowing how easily provoked Leslie can be.

 

The other woman chuckles, using her other hand to play with a strand of Kara’s hair.

 

“You usually like that about me.” Leslie whispers, leaning into Kara.

 

Kara groans in frustration, having hoped to avoid Leslie all together for this very reason. Kara glances around wondering where Lena is. She catches the slightest glimpse of her wife through the crowd, right where she left her, talking adamantly with Winn and Barbara Gordon.

 

Taking both of Leslie’s hands in hers, Kara carefully distances herself from her ex-lover.

 

“Leslie, please. I...I don’t mean to be rude. But I’m married now. You know that. I know you do. So this-” Kara gestures between them “has to stop now. Alright?”

 

Leslie just continues to smile, like this is all a game to her, which Kara is certain it is. She nods dramatically.

 

“You’re the boss, Princess.” she says, suggestively. “Does that mean you won’t have a dance with me? Afraid your wife will see the sparks between us?”

 

Kara is about to open her mouth to refuse, when she feels a hand on the small of her back. She tenses immediately when Lena appears by her side.

 

“Kara, you’ve been gone awhile. Winn sent me to make sure you were saving desserts for the rest of us.”

 

Kara forces a smile and tries to act natural “I got a little distracted.”

 

“She’s very easily distracted.” Leslie says, popping another grape in her mouth and shamelessly ogling Kara.

 

Lena’s eyes turn to Leslie, narrowing, as if noticing her for the first time. The smile remains on Lena’s face, but twitches slightly.

 

“Hello,” Lena says, giving Leslie a cool once over “I’m Princess Lena Zor-El. And who might you be?”

 

Kara has quickly discovered she loves hearing Lena introduce herself by the name Zor-El and something like pride swells in her chest. The feeling passes quickly when she sees the mischievous glint in Leslie’s gaze.

 

“Lady Leslie Willis.” She says appraising Lena slowly.

 

“Leslie and I have known each other since we were children. Her father spends a lot of time here at court.” Kara tells Lena, quietly.

 

She desperately wants to get Lena away from Leslie, but abruptly dragging her from the conversation would look not only rude, but also very suspicious.

 

“I’ve been monopolizing your princess.” Leslie says slowly “We haven’t spent any quality time together as of late.”

 

Lena slips her arm around Kara’s waist and pulls her into her side, resting one hand possessively on her hip and the other over Kara’s abdomen, scratching gently.

 

“Yes, well we’ve been spending most of our time in chambers getting to know each other better.” Lena tells Leslie, in a hushed tone. Kara knows that what Lena is saying is technically true, but her implication is not lost on any of them. Kara swallows thickly, and chuckles nervously, patting the hand Lena has over her abs.

 

Leslie arches an eyebrow and narrows her eyes, clearly bothered.

 

“Oh really? So you’ve discovered how insatiable she can be?” Leslie says with a cruel smile. “I swear, sometimes, I can hardly walk after she visits.”

 

Kara blushes to the tips of her ears, more so in anger than embarrassment.

 

“Leslie, that’s enough.” She hisses, done playing Leslie’s game.

 

Leslie completely ignores her, holding Lena’s gaze. “Tell me, Lena, have you found that spot behind her ear yet? The one that makes her-”

 

“She said that’s enough.” Lena says, her voice is dangerously low and sharp. There is a heat in her gaze Kara’s never seen before.

 

Lena disentangles herself from Kara and clasps her hand, stepping slightly forward into Leslie’s space.

 

“I can see that you think this is fun, Lady Willis.” Lena says cooly “But I can assure you, this is a very dangerous game you’re playing. And if I catch you speaking crudely about my wife again, you’ll find out just how very good I am at playing it.”

 

Lena stands eye to eye with Leslie whose face is frozen in shock. She glances nervously from Lena to Kara, before lowering her gaze and taking a step back.

 

“Forgive me, Your Highnesses. I didn’t mean to offend.” Leslie says, trying to regain a sense of composure.

 

“That’s exactly what you meant to do.” Lena scolds her.

 

Leslie swallows thickly, and bites the inside of her cheek. “Enjoy the rest of the party.”

 

“We plan to.” Lena tells her, still staring her down, even as Leslie quickly shuffles away into the crowd.

 

Lena deflates a bit as Leslie disappears. Kara hadn’t realized she was holding her breath until Lena turns to face her, and Kara sighs shakily.

 

“Lena, that was…”

 

“Exhausting.” Lena grumbles.

 

“I'm so sorry." Kara says, grasping Lena's hands "I should have warned you about her, or...I shouldn't have let her say those things."

 

"It's alright, Kara. The girl is severely lacking tact."

 

“I can't believe how you just...handled her.” Kara tells her, tugging her closer by their still clasped hands. “You were incredible!”

 

Lena blushes and scoffs, slightly embarrassed by her possessive behavior. “I merely helped make it clear that…”

 

“That what?” Kara prompts softly.

 

“That you’re unavailable to her now. In that way at least. Right?”

 

The question in her voice breaks Kara’s heart. She feels terrible that she ever even put Lena in a position where she felt she had to stake a claim on Kara, had to doubt her fidelity.

 

“Of course, Princess. Of course, I am.” Kara pulls Lena to her chest, and hugs her tightly.

 

“Now, I believe you promised me cake, quite some time ago.” Lena teases, pulling away.

 

Kara smiles broadly, glad to see Lena looking reassured.

 

“And cake you shall have, Princess.”

Chapter Text

Lena tries to just enjoy the feeling of Kara’s arms around her as they sway and spin on the dance floor. Lena had been leading them in the more formal dances, but now as they sway lazily Lena rests her head against Kara’s chest, and allows the Kryptonian to guide their movements.

She can’t shake the feeling though. Throughout the evening she’s found herself glancing at the door, her chest tightening slightly, and her hands curling into fists. The possibility of her mother and brother walking through the door seems unreal. Lena struggles to reconcile the idea of her life now with Kara colliding with her past, with her family. She dreads it, and the anticipation has left her slightly distracted as the evening has worn on.

 

Kara notices when Lena lifts her head to glance over at the door again.

 

“So anxious, Princess. What’s wrong?”

 

Lena shakes her head, feeling guilty for being unable to just relax.

 

Kara gently lifts Lena’s chin, meeting her eyes “Is this about your family?”

 

Lena nods shyly “Do you...They would have arrived by now, don’t you think? If they were going to accept your mother’s invitation.”

 

Kara offers a sympathetic smile and shrugs her shoulders. “Not necessarily.”

 

“I just want to know one way or the other so I can prepare myself.”

 

“The Daxamites have yet to arrive as well.” Kara reminds her.

 

Lena nods and an edge slips into her tone “Do you think that’s indicative of something? The fact that neither of them are here.”

 

“No.” Kara says firmly with a shake of her head “Queen Rhea enjoys being fashionably late. They show up a day late every year and make quite the entrance.”

 

This soothe Lena a bit. She desperately wants to believe that her family isn’t conspiring with Krypton’s enemies.

 

“I suppose, it is a long journey from Manor.”

 

“And the invite was last minute, unfortunately.” Kara says “Give them time. We may not see them until tomorrow.”

 

“Part of me would rather not see them at all.” Lena admits.

 

Kara frowns but doesn’t comment further, simply pulls Lena closer and strokes at her hair as they continue to dance.

 

When the song ends, Kara pulls away with an newly excited grin.

“Will you come somewhere with me? There’s something I’d like to show you.”

 

The truth is Lena would go just about anywhere with Kara Zor-El, but she glances around anyway seeing that the party is far from over.

 

“Won’t our absence be noticed?”

 

Kara shakes her head and whispers “They won’t miss us.”

 

The blonde’s grin is contagious and Lena finds herself being led from the dance floor with a goofy smile on her face.

 

“Wait right here.” Kara says depositing Lena close to the door “I need to tell Alex we’re slipping away.”

 

“Alright.” Lena watches Kara disappear into the throngs of people in search of her sister.

 

“Bored of us already?”

 

Lena turns to find Lucy Lane suddenly beside her.

 

“Dame Lane, hello.” Lena says politely, having never found herself alone with the youngest Lane. “I’m actually enjoying myself immensely. It’s not often I get to meet so many new people.”

 

Lucy sips lazily from her drink, looking out at the ongoing party. “But Kara is stealing you away?”

 

Lena blushes slightly at Lucy sultry tone. “Apparently, there is some surprise she has planned.”

 

“She’s taking you outside, into the city.” Lucy says simply, pointing vaguely in the direction of the city.

 

“Oh?”

 

“This whole thing…” Lucy gestures at the crowded ballroom “means something different to the people out there. The people of Krypton have their own reasons to celebrate.”

 

Lena studies her carefully, it’s obvious to her now that Lucy is drunk on wine, her eyes unfocused and her words coming slowly.

 

“The people mean a lot to Kara.” Lucy continues “She wants you to feel it too.”

 

Lena doesn’t really understand what that means, and she’s about to tell Lucy as much when Kara reappears.

 

“Alright, ready to go?” Kara takes Lena’s hand, but notices Lucy for the first time. “Luc, is that wall all that’s holding you up?” Kara chuckles.

 

Lucy shakes her head and gives Kara a smile “I was just keeping your girl warm for you.”

 

Ser James appears then out of the crowd just in time to catch Lucy as she stumbles.

 

“Don’t worry, Kara, I’ve got her.”

 

“You two have fun!” Lucy shouts as James leads her away “Tell the colors hello for me!”

 

Lena brow furrows “The colors?”

 

Kara chuckles and shakes her head “I’ll explain later.”

 

----------------

 

The night is slightly clingy as they quickly make their way back to their chambers to change clothes. Kara insists that what they are wearing is far too formal for where they are going. She has Lena put on her plainest dress, and dresses down into one of her sparing outfits. Neither of them are wearing house sigils and they should blend rather easily in a crowd.

 

Kara excitement quickly infects Lena as they cross the palace grounds hand in hand, giggling at nothing in particular. The guards wordlessly bow and open the gates for them, seemingly unconcerned with two princesses slipping out into the city alone at night.

 

The city of Argo is aglow in the night. When usually the streets would have cleared and the windows would have darkened by this time. Instead, the city is awake and alive in a way Lena has never seen. The sound of strange music reaches Lena’s ears just as she begins to smell a feast.

 

The streets are packed with people, more so than Lena has even seen out during the busy hours of the day. Children that should have been in bed hours before run amuck playing games of fantasy and dancing along to the music. Merchants have booths set up on every corner, selling all variety of food, sweet smelling meats and cakes baked in spices. People, young and old are dancing in the streets, but it isn’t any sort of dancing Lena has seen. They’re dancing in large chaotic groups, there doesn’t seem to be any structure or pattern as they move wildly amongst each other. And the music, the music is uproarious. Lena is not even sure where it’s coming from. A rhythmic pounding beat, accompanied by an unknown number of other instruments. It is odd to her. At first, Lena doesn’t know what to make of it. But as Kara leads her through the joyous masses, their hands clasped tightly, Lena finds that the pounding of the drums is thrilling.

 

“Stay close.” Kara says, close to Lena’s ear. Lena squeezes her wife’s hand, momentarily terrified of getting lost in the unruly festival.

 

Kara drags her to a merchant and buys them two very large mugs of drink. Lena watches has Kara lifts the mug to her lips by the handle and takes several large swallows. Lena sniffs at the liquid wondering if it’s wine, and is nearly knocked over by the potency of the smell. Definitely not wine.

 

“What is it?” Lena nearly shouts so Kara can hear her over the music and crowd.

 

“They call it mead.” Kara tells her “It doesn’t taste nearly as fine as our palace wine, but it is much stronger.”

 

“Yes, I noticed.” Lena takes a tentative sip, and coughs a bit, before holding her breath and taking two generous gulps.

 

“Wow.”

 

Kara chuckles “You get use to it.”

 

They explore the booths and try several different kinds of food Lena has never heard of. Kara tells her how foreign vendors travel to Argo every year to share their recipes with the people of Krypton. And they aren’t the only ones.

 

Musicians and entertainers of all sorts perform in the streets of Argo. Acrobats, fire breathers, dancers, and sorcerers capture the interests of the party goers. The night is filled with the astonished cheers and applause of audiences as they watch such oddities while getting drunk on mead. None of them knowing two princesses are among them.

 

Kara shows Lena all of this, never letting go of her wife’s hand as they drink and eat and weave through the masses.

 

They rest on a stone bench slightly off  to the side once Kara is convinced they’ve seen all the performers. Kara continues to eat and drink happily beside her, but Lena has long gotten full. They watch as the crowd in front of them dances, twisting and twirling and leaping amongst each other. Lena watches in fascination, having never seen such behavior.

 

A loud sudden pop startles the crowd. And all eyes turn upward as something shoots into the sky and explodes in a flash of colored lights. The crowd takes in a collective gasp.

 

Lena looks on in alarm, until Kara places a calming hand on her shoulder, smiling widely.

 

“Don’t worry, Princess. It’s safe.”

 

Another pop , another flying object, and another rain of color.

 

“It’s like fire in the sky.” Lena says in awe.

 

“They call them fireworks.” Kara tells her.

 

The pop s grow more frequent as the fireworks are set off quickly one after the other. They fill the night with even more smoke and noise, turning the sky into a painting of patterns and color. It’s like the stars are exploding right above their heads.  Lena has never seen anything so beautiful.

 

Lena is so busy looking to the sky, she fails to notice when Kara has finished eating and stood up.

 

Kara takes her hands and drags Lena’s attention from the fiery sky.

 

“Dance with me?”

 

The Kryptonian looks like a dream. Her blonde hair is a wavy mess around her shoulders and her smile a shy delight, Her blue eyes flash as another firework explodes in the sky behind her.

 

The mead affects Lena’s balance as she bounces to her feet and stumbles into Kara’s arms. They both laugh as they tumble into the writhing crowd of dancers.

 

Lena doesn’t know how to dance to this sort of music, and she tells Kara so.

 

“You don’t need to know how.” Kara assures her “There is no right way.”

 

The dancers all move on their own, but they are packed so closely together they all become one pulsing creature. It takes Lena a few moments, but she begins to move with Kara and the person to her right and the person to her left and the person behind her. They all brush and bump against each other, but no one seems to mind. Kara’s hands are on her waist, keeping them close together and they are moving against each other in a way that is entirely primal.

 

Lena has never moved like this, didn’t even know she knew how to move like this. Her heart is pounding and everything is a blur of feeling. The thrill in her veins is scary at first, but Kara is there, holding on to her, so Lena lets the thrill take her.

 

The music changes without warning. Someone somewhere beats so frantically at a drum that Lena wonders if they’ll tire out. The people around her begin to bounce in unison. Kara intertwines their fingers and snakes their arms into the air as they begin to bounce too, in time with the beating of the drums. Lena laughs at the ridiculousness, but it’s lost in the music.

 

The intensity of this sensation is dizzying. She is dancing alone, but also with Kara, and also with the crowd, and also with the sky. They leap as high as they can over and over, trying to touch the sky. Lena has never felt this wild. Never felt this free.

 

They dance until Lena’s legs ache. Until Kara wordlessly drags them from the horde. They lean heavily on each other as they stumble through the city and back to the palace.

 

They crash into their chambers in a fit of feverish kisses, and collapse on the bed in exhaustion. Lena continues to lazily kiss along Kara’s jaw and down her neck, even as the blonde tries to tuck her into bed. Kara crawls under the covers and pulls Lena close, kissing her soundly with a contented sigh.

 

Lena’s thoughts move sluggishly and her limbs feel heavy, and she feels like she can’t stay awake a moment longer.

 

She wants to tell Kara how amazing she feels. Wants to tell her what a great time she had and how much she loves that Kara took her out into the city. She wants to tell Kara she likes her friends. Diana and Grayson and Barbara were lovely. Wants to tell her she likes mead and fireworks and trying to touch the sky.

 

Lena wants to tell Kara to finally touch her now. She’s sorry she waited so long.

 

Lena tries to tell her some or all of this. She mumbles against Kara’s slow kiss, but makes very little sense.

 

Kara just snuggles further into her embrace and moves her lips to Lena’s forehead.

 

“Mmm, goodnight, Princess.”

 

Lena falls asleep with her lips on Kara’s neck, trying to tell the blonde to never let her go.

Chapter Text

The sleeping princesses were not easily roused from their slumber. Lena wakes to the sensation of Alana shyly shaking her and calling her name.

She and Kara are still tangled together in a mess of limbs. Despite the heat of the summer night they had remained curled together, kicking the blankets off instead of moving away from each other.

 

Lena tries to blink the sleep from her eyes as she rolls away from a still sleeping Kara, but her eyelids feel heavy and reluctant. Her head pounds and her stomach rolls in protest of every movement. Apparently, mead was not to be taken lightly.

 

“I tried to let you sleep.” Alana is saying apologetically “But you’ll be expected at the first meeting soon.”

 

Lena nods, mostly just to get the girl to shut up, but regrets the way it makes her head spin as she sits up.

 

Alana moves to the other side of the bed to wake Kara, who groans and rolls away from her. She blindly reaches out for Lena and whines a bit when she doesn’t find her.

 

“Kara, darling” Lena mumbles brushing the hair from her wife's face “We have to get up.”

 

“Leeena.” Kara whines rubbing at her eyes.

 

“Alana, can you bring us some breakfast, please? Bread and juice. I think, I might be sick.” Lena takes slow deep breaths to fight off the nauseous as her empty stomach churns.

 

Alana does a poor job of hiding her amusement “Of course, Princess.” She says with a smile “If I leave you won’t lay back down?”

 

The idea is very tempting, Lena must admit. But she can’t risk making a bad impression today. Her political debut of sorts. And she can’t imagine how Kara’s parents’ might react to their tardiness if they linger in bed.

 

“No. No, of course not. I’m going to wake Kara.” Lena says turning towards her wife to do just that as Alana leaves the room.

 

It takes a significant amount of coaxing from Lena to get Kara to open her eyes for even a moment. And once she does, she immediately slams them closed again, claiming the room is too bright.

 

It’s only when Alana and Siobhan return with food that Kara even sits up.

 

They eat breakfast in relative silence as the handmaids make them presentable. Kara eagerly scarfs down her food, whereas Lena has to force herself to take small bites. The food does seem to help with the nauseous and the juice alleviates her headache, but still this isn’t the way she’d hoped to attend her first peace summit.

 

“Perhaps, I should have reserved the mead for another night.” Kara gives her a sympathetic smile as she leads them towards the meeting hall.

 

Lena shakes her head and leans into Kara’s side. “Not at all. Last night was…”

 

“Not what you’re use to?” Kara’s question holds a hint of insecurity, like she fears last night wasn’t one of the absolute best nights of Lena’s life.

 

The mead as left the night a bit blurry in Lena’s memory. It all comes in flashes of sensations. The feel of Kara’s hand in hers, the smell of smoke and food and sweat, the brightness of fire in the sky. She can vividly recall her fingers interlocked with Kara’s above their heads, as they leapt and leapt and leapt towards the stars to a drum beat. She remembers slipping into sleep wishing Kara would touch her.

 

Her cheeks burn pink as she remembers that. “Last night was amazing.” She whispers to Kara as they enter the meeting hall.

 

Alura looks on them with slight disapproval as they take their seats next to her and Zor-El, but doesn’t comment on their near tardiness. Further down the row, Lena sees Alex and Maggie snicker. She and Kara both glare at them.

 

Jor-El stands and calls the meeting to order, welcoming all the guests, and stating the purpose of this gathering.

 

“...to bring us all together in a celebration of life and peace and cooperation. To air our grievances, state our needs, and together come up with compromises and solutions that will ultimately bring us all closer together.”

 

With that he opens up the floor and the meeting begins. Leaders stand and state their topic of discussion. They bring forth evidence or complains or ideas, and others jump in with explanations, apologies, or calls to action.

 

Kara and Lena just listen. In fact, the delegates of Krypton seem more like mediators to this particular meeting than anything else. Peacekeepers. Their nation is something of a lynch-pin. They bring everyone together and then do their best to keep them together.

 

Kara seems incapable of keeping her hands to herself. Not in a lewd or demanding sort of way. But she is in constant physical contact with Lena even as they just sit there listening to Bruce Wayne talk about Gotham’s crime rates.

Kara’s hand is on Lena’s knee under the table. Her thumb slowly stroking the outside of her thigh through her dress. Or her fingers absentmindedly draw circles in the palm of Lena’s hand, tracing the lines there.

Could Kara possibly know the effect these innocent affections are having? Making Lena uncomfortably warm and wanting after her revelation the night before.

 

She has wasted so much time being apprehensive about becoming intimate with the Kryptonian that now she finds herself childishly impatient. She doesn’t want to waste another moment. She doesn’t want to give herself a chance to change her mind. Or risk something else (like the arrival of her mother and brother) delaying their happiness or coming between them. She doesn’t want to risk anything ruining what she was feeling for her wife now. She isn’t quite ready to call it love. That thing of fairy tales. But it was certainly lust and trust and a tempting contentment she is scared to let herself feel.

 

With all of these thoughts rushing through her mind, Lena finds herself fidgety from anticipation as the meeting wears on into the afternoon. By the time Jor-El finally adjourns them for the evening, Lena is practically buzzing with nervous energy.

 

This does not go unnoticed by Kara who misinterpreted Lena’s restlessness for anxiety.

 

“How about a nice bath? I don’t know about you, but I still feel grimy from last night.” Kara says trying to soothe Lena. “Then maybe a nap before the party tonight? You must still be tired.”

 

“You mean, you’re still tired, Sleeping Beauty. I could barely get you up this morning.” Lena teases, trying to cover her nerves. She doesn’t know how to ask Kara for what she wants. Doesn’t know an appropriate way to voice those desires. Her entire life she had been told in no uncertain terms that she wasn’t even supposed to have these feelings, let alone act on them.

 

They take a bath together in their private chambers, which has become routine. Kara remains respectful, averting her gaze as Lena undresses and slip beneath the water. They wash each others hair and soak until the water turns cool. Then Kara calls Alana and Siobhan in to dry and brush their hair.

 

They sit in companionable silence as the handmaids work. Kara is reading one of the proposals from today and Lena is pretending to read a book while actually watching Kara with interest.

 

She studies the way Kara’s brow crinkles in concentration as her blue eyes scan the page. Kara’s chin resting on her hand, her head bobbing slightly as Alana runs a comb through her mostly dry waves.

 

She doesn’t seem to suspect what Lena intends.

 

Lena reaches up and halts Siobhan’s brushing of her own raven mane. “Siobhan, Alana, would you leave us now.”

 

She sees the handmaids exchange a curious look, but they both stop their brushing and give a brief curtsey.

 

“Of course, Your Highness.” They say in unison, before taking their leave and pulling the door closed behind them.

 

It’s only at the sound of the door closing that Kara seems to notice anything has changed. She looks up from her reading in confusion, realizing they are suddenly alone.

 

Lea responds to her questioning look by standing and gently taking Kara’s pages from her, setting them aside. She takes Kara’s hands and urges the blonde to her feet, so they are standing together in nothing more than their bathrobes.

 

Lena may not know exactly what to say, but perhaps it would be better if she simply showed Kara what she wants.

 

Lena kisses her. Tentatively at first. One brush of their lips, then another, then another. Kara response in kind to Lena’s mouth as she deepens the kiss.

 

Gripping the belt of Kara’s robe, Lena moves slowly backwards, guiding them towards the bed as she distracts Kara by licking into her mouth. Kara moans and Lena feels the vibrations flow through her own body. Kara’s hands on Lena’s hips flex, fingers curling into the fabric of her robe.

 

“Lena…” Kara voice is low and breathless, a warning as well as a question “Are you...Is this what you want?”

 

Lena’s eyes flutter open and she’s met with the most earnest expression on her wife’s face. Kara’s blue eyes are darker than normal, but still searching, even in her evident desire, for some sign that Lena doesn’t actually want her this way.

 

Lena can only nod at first, overwhelmed by how much she wants this. “Yes.” she says almost begging “Yes, Kara, I want this. I want to be with you.”

 

Kara’s eyes widen slightly almost in surprise, then they dart down to look at Lena’s lips as the blonde nods. “Alright.”

 

She kisses Lena this time. Still softly, so softly, but with purpose now. She pushes forward slightly, guiding Lena down onto their bed. Lena lowers herself carefully back onto the mattress, pulling herself further up the bed without breaking their kiss. Kara follows closely, on her hands and knees hovering over Lena as they kiss.

 

Running her hands up Kara’s arms, Lena lets her hands slip into Kara’s still slightly damp hair, kissing her more fiercely as she pulls Kara to her. The Kryptonian presses closer, allowing Lena to feel some of her weight.

 

Lena hands move out of Kara’s hair, over her shoulders, and down her back. She can feel the tense muscles there, rippling and rolling as Kara moves on top of her. She thinks back to that day at the lake, her brief glimpse of Kara Zor-El bare in the sunlight. She wants to see that again.

“Kara,” Her wife’s mouth continues kissing over her jaw, down into the crook of her neck “take this off.” Lena pleads, tugging uselessly at Kara’s robe.

 

Kara immediately pulls back to sit on her knees, towering over Lena. A goofy smile plays on her lips as she holds Lena’s gaze and let’s the robe slip from her shoulders. Lena tries to hold Kara’s eyes, she really does, but the Kryptonian is finally naked before her, unabashed. She only manages to resist for a few seconds, before raking her eyes over Kara’s body.

 

Kara is all lean muscle. From the defined hills along her arms to the firm planes of her stomach. Lena stares, then she reaches out and runs a hand down Kara’s torso. Revealing in the way Kara’s skin twitches at her touch.

 

The blonde moves back down, capturing Lena’s lips again, her kiss hungry and persistent.

 

Kara’s hands move up and down Lena’s sides, toying with her robe, tickling her ribcage, and Kara’s thumbs just barely skate past her breasts.

 

“Lena, can I...Can I see you?” Kara whispers against her lips. Lena nods and sits up slightly as Kara slips her hands beneath the robe, pushing it off Lena’s shoulders.

 

Thankfully, Kara shows some restraint and doesn’t stare the way Lena did. Lena’s not sure if she could have breathed through that. Instead, Kara immediately takes advantage of all the skin in front of her. Leaving Lena’s mouth gasping, as Kara’s lips move down her body, kissing along her collarbone before impatiently dipping down to mouth at Lena’s breasts.

 

Squirming under the attention, Lena’s heart starts beating between her legs. She rubs her thighs together, trying to relief some of her arousal, but she ends up just grinding against Kara’s hip. She groans when Kara’s tongue swipes across her nipple. Kara looks up smiling, clearly proud of herself. She repeats the actions several times first on one breast then switching to the other, drawing involuntary noises from Lena.

 

Lena loves this so much it’s embarrassing. She's so worked up and needy under Kara. She paws desperately at her wife’s back, trying to get closer, trying to feel more.

 

“Can we...,Kara, can you…?” She’s new to this, not sure if she should ask for things.

 

Kara removing her mouth from Lena’s breast, pulling a whine from Lena’s throat. Kara’s lips twitch into a smile as she kisses Lena, brushing a wayward hair from the brunette’s face. “What is it, Princess? Tell me what you need?”

 

The roughness of Kara’s voice sends heat down Lena’s spine. She swallows thickly, stuttering a bit. “Can we roll over? I-I want to be uh…”

 

“You want to be on top.” Kara says, nodding. She flips onto her back, effortlessly pulling Lena on top of her.

 

Lena finds herself straddling Kara’s abdomen, she can’t help the moan that sneak from her at the feeling of Kara’s muscles against the heat between her legs.

 

No longer shy about her nakedness, Lena automatically begins to grind against Kara’s stomach.

 

Kara’s hands are on her hips, encouraging Lena’s movements. Blue eyes travel down Lena’s body, astonished, until finally settling where their bodies meet. Lena is incredibly wet at this point and she leaves arousal shining on Kara’s abs. Kara bites her lips at the sight, her fingers on Lena’s hips twitch.

 

She sits up abruptly, forcing Lena to slide back onto her thighs instead. She wraps her arms around Lena, pressing their chests together. Lena whimpers at the lost of contact, but is soon placated by Kara’s hard kiss. Kara moves her right hand down along Lena’s thigh, stroking the skin there.

 

“Lena, I’m going to touch you now, okay?” She kisses down Lena neck, dragging her lips across her shoulder. “Tell me if you want me to stop.”

 

Stop. The word sends a jolt of panic through Lena. That is the last thing she wants. She might cry if Kara stops. She wants to tell Kara this, but she’s too excited to speak. She kisses Kara instead, hoping Kara takes that as permission enough.

 

Kara’s hand moves down between Lena’s thighs and Lena cries out at the contact. Kara groans as she explores, finding Lena wet and warm. She gently slides up around Lena's clit, circling. Lena’s body responds without her permission, grinding into Kara’s touch and writhing on top of her. Lena’s head rolls back, and Kara kisses her exposed neck, nipping at her pulse point.

 

After a few minutes of working Lena’s clit, Kara moves her fingers down pressing carefully at Lena’s entrance. “Inside?”

 

Lena whimpers and bites her lip, but nods when Kara looks up at her. Slowly pushing into Lena, Kara watches her wife’s face closely for any sign of discomfort.

 

Lena’s mouth falls open slightly, a soft “Oh.” falling from her lips. Kara begins to move her fingers, placing kisses to Lena’s jaw. The hilt of her hand rubs at Lena’s clit perfectly with each thrust, and Lena loses all sense of time and control as Kara increases her pace. Lena’s hips begin to roll forward to meet Kara’s hand, eagerly riding her.

 

Lena throws her head back and rakes her nails down Kara’s back, but ultimately comes quietly. Kara has one arm wrapped around her back holding her up, while the other hand continues to thrust, pace slowing as Lena comes down.

 

“Kara, I...fuck.” Lena pants resting her head on Kara’s shoulder.

 

There is only a moment of respite, Kara’s fingers still working softly inside her, before her body seems ready for more. She thought such a release would have worn her out, turned her to mush, but her hips chase Kara’s fingers each time the blonde pulls out, and her walls clench, demanding more.

 

Without warning, Kara flips them over, cutting off Lena’s yelp of surprise with a kiss. She slots herself between the brunette’s spread legs and her fingers begin to move with more purpose. She finds a rough spot inside Lena and massages it, dragging across it with each gentle thrust. Lena moans into her mouth.

 

“Fuck, Kara!”

 

“Does that feel okay? Am I hurting you?” Kara asks, though she seems to already know the answers as her mouth travels down Lena’s neck, kissing sloppily at the place between her breasts.

 

“No, that feels...it feels...Don’t stop.” Lena pants, nearly incoherent as she tangles her hands in Kara’s hair, scratches lightly at her scalp.

 

Kara is still kissing down her body, hand lazily working between Lena’s legs all the while.

 

“Lena, do you want my mouth?”

 

Lena has to force her eyes open, she makes herself look down at Kara, who is now laying between her thighs. Kara’s hair is an absolute beautiful mess, falling across her face and shoulders, tickling Lena’s inner thighs. Kara’s eyes are bright with excitement looking up from under her lashes as she places kisses on Lena’s hipbone.

 

Her mouth. Lena isn’t even certain of what that entails, but she finds herself nodding, biting down on her lip to suppress a moan as Kara immediately responds with a firm stroke of her tongue.

 

“Oh! Mmmmm, Kara…” Lena moans turn to whimpers as Kara continues to lick at her. The Kryptonian’s tongue exploring and massaging, finding the places Lena likes best. The fingers still insides her move faster, curling slightly, hitting perfectly over and over. And Kara’s tongue flicks at her clit, sucking intermittently, until Lena is crying out.

She is not quiet this time, though she tries to be. She grips Kara’s hair and thrusts her hips up against her wife’s mouth, trying to prolong the waves of pleasure that crash over her again and again.

When at last Lena’s body stops spasming, she slowly sinks into a breathless, boneless, thoughtless state. Kara continued to thrust and lick Lena through her high, and now she slowly stops, pulling her fingers out and crawling up to kiss Lena slow and thorough.

 

It takes Lena’s mind a few minutes to start working again, takes her a few minutes to feel Kara’s wet heat against her hip.

 

She kisses Kara lazily, still completely spent, but she wants to touch Kara too. Wants to know what it’ll feel like to make her feel this good.

 

“Kara, I want...you to come too. Let me…”

 

Kara seems surprised by the request, searching Lena’s face momentarily.  “Are you sure?”

 

Lena nods, the idea renewing her energy a bit as she sits up. “What can I do?”

 

Kara answers with a kiss, rolling onto her back and tugging Lena on top of her.

 

She arranges their legs so one of Lena’s thighs is slotted between her own, pressing firmly against the slickness between her thighs. Kara groans, obviously close after pleasuring Lena so thoroughly.

 

“Is this okay?” Kara asks, her hands on Lena’s hips urging her to grind into her  “Can you move for me?” Lena nods and begins to move more surely against Kara, drawing beautiful sounds from the blonde.  “Oh Rao...Lena...yes.”

 

Urged on by Kara’s words, Lena increases her pace, moving against Kara with vigor. She has no idea where this new energy has come from, but she suddenly feels as if she could do this all day as long as Kara kept chanting her name like that.

 

“Kiss me.” Kara demands when her legs begins to shake. Lena does, hard and sloppy as she continues to move. Kara’s whole body goes taut beneath her, and Kara whimpers against Lena’s mouth, before going slack. Lena collapses on top of her, exhaustion overcoming her the moment Kara comes. Kara chuckles, panting heavily, and wraps her arms around Lena.

 

Lena’s head rests on her chest and Kara gently strokes at her hair as they both relax and their breathing slows.

 

“You...are very very good at that.” Lena huffs, placing a kiss to Kara’s sternum as she shifts to the side so all her weight is no longer on Kara.

 

Kara chuckles again, and Lena feels the vibrations beneath her hand as it rest on Kara’s chest.

 

“Lots of practice.”

 

Lena rolls her eyes at that.

 

“I love being with you, Lena.” Kara says quietly, like she wants to say something else.

 

Lena sits up slightly, so she can looks Kara in the eye.

 

“I can’t imagine being here with anyone else.” Lena tells her. She places her palm to Kara’s cheek and runs her thumb over Kara’s lips before pressing a kiss there. “I’m so glad you found me.”

 

---------------

 

A few hours later Lena is jolted from sleep by the sound of knocking at the door.

 

She isn’t aware enough to tell Alana not to come in. So when the handmaid strolls through the door she finds the princesses curled together, completely naked above the covers.

 

“Oh! Oh.” Alana swiftly turns her back but doesn’t make to leave. Lena sits up quickly pulling a blanket over her and a waking Kara as her eyes adjust to the darkened room.

 

“Alana! What is it? Get out!” Lena says, blushing hard, despite the fact that she is doing absolutely nothing wrong. Kara’s arm tightens around Lena.

 

“What’s wrong?” The blonde asks sleepily.

 

“I apologize, Princesses, truly.” Alana’s back is still turned to them, but Lena hears an urgent edge to her voice.

 

“What’s wrong?”

 

Alana hesitates for a moment, turning her head slightly towards Lena.

 

“It’s your mother, Princess. She’s just arrived here in Argo, and she’s asking for you.”

Chapter Text

“Lena? Are you alright?”

 

She’s not sure how long Kara has been trying to get her attention, but she is startled by Kara’s gentle touch on her arm.

 

“What?”

 

They’re standing in their chambers, dressing for the party. Alana and Siobhan are behind them fixing their hair. “I’m sorry.” Lena says dazedly “I was lost in thought.”

 

Kara gives her arm a comforting squeeze, and Lena can just imagine the frown on her wife’s face. She keeps looking straight ahead though, as Alana neatly arranges her hair.

 

“How are you feeling?” Kara asks again, lowering her voice “About...everything.”

 

Everything. What does that include? Lena wonders. The sex they’d had that afternoon, surely. The gentle, sweet, visceral experience of Kara making love to her for what she hoped was only the first time. But almost certainly Kara’s definition of everything included the arrival of Lena’s family. Or more alarmingly, just her mother.

 

Alana had provided a frustratingly small amount of information. All she knew was that Lillian Luthor had arrived for the festival, she was in the palace at this very moment, and was apparently eager to reunited with her daughter.

 

So how was Lena? Kara wanted to know. How was she feeling?

 

Something like being torn in two.

 

On the one hand she felt that she was finally where she was always meant to be. Had finally found a place and a people and even a purpose here in Krypton. She’s finally really begun to accept Kara as a partner, a friend, a wife.

 

But now here her mother was, her brother mysteriously and unfortunately absent. And Lena was more than a little panicked at the prospect of facing her.

 

Lillian had always had a way of bringing out the absolute worst in Lena. Making her feel like the worthless bastard Lillian believed her to be. During her time in Krypton, with Kara, Lena had worked to let down the walls she’d built inside herself to protect her against her family’s venomous nature. But now Lena felt them rising again, unbidden. A defense mechanism so ingrained Lena knew she’d probably never truly be rid of it.

 

Lena withdraws from Kara’s touch, won’t meet her eyes. “I’m fine, Kara.”

 

Kara had felt it the moment Alana informed them of Queen Lillian’s arrival. Lena’s face had gone cold, her body rigid as they rose from bed and began to dress.

 

She will barely look at Kara.

 

Kara knows it must just be Lillian’s arrival that’s shaken Lena, but her chest clenches at the possibility that it’s something she’s done to upset her wife. Something she did or didn’t do while they were intimate. Perhaps she had been too rough or too demanding. Or her even deeper fear is that Lena hadn’t really wanted it at all, but had only given into a feeling of obligation to their marriage.

 

Kara desperately wants to reach out for Lena again. To send the handmaids away and ask if that’s the case.

 

She resists. They’d slept too late already, and now with Lillian waiting they were meant to receive her before attending tonight’s festivities. There just wasn’t time now.

 

Once they are presentable, Alana and Siobhan lead them across the palace grounds to the building where Kara’s parents were entertaining Lillian.

 

Before entering, Kara shoos the handmaids and turns to Lena. Taking her face in her hands, Kara forces Lena to look at her. The usual green of her gaze seems lighter now as she gazes back at Kara. Her eyes focused and hard, not a visible trace of the apprehension in her veins.

 

Kara doesn’t really know what to say. Doesn’t know what will help. She doesn’t want to tell a lie and assure Lena everything will be fine. She has no way of knowing that. So she tells Lena the only truth she’s sure of.

 

“You are not alone.” She says firmly “Not anymore. Not ever again.” She presses Lena’s hand to her chest, just above her heart. The tips of Lena’s fingers brush the House of El crest on the shoulder of her tunic. “I am right here with you. And no matter what happens, we are stronger together. Do you hear me?”

 

Something thaws in Lena. Just slightly. Her eyes crinkle a bit at the edges, her bottom lip trembles, and she clutches Kara’s shirt. Lena moves forward kissing Kara hard for several moments, before releasing her.

 

With a nod, she takes Kara’s hand and turns towards the doors, whispering “Stronger together.”

Chapter Text

Only her arm linked with Kara’s keeps Lena moving forward as they enter the sitting room and Lena’s eyes land on her mother.

 

Alura and Lillian sit next to an empty fireplace chatting politely, their conversation abruptly cutting off when Kara and Lena enter.

 

Lillian’s head swivels and her storm gray eyes find Lena. Her brow pinches slightly and a familiar scrupulous expression settles on her face.

 

All the usual insecurity rises up in Lena. She feels herself clutching tighter to Kara’s hand in hers. That is the only outward sign of her anxiety though. Luckily, Lena has played this game with Lillian for a long time. She looks completely unruffled. Her chin held high, her posture impeccable, and her face a blank mask of near indifference.

 

Alura clears her throat and stands to greet them with a well placed fake smile. “Here they are, at last.”

 

Lillian stands more slowly, her eyes finally dropping from Lena face to her hand held tightly in Kara’s. Her right eyebrow arches slightly as she looks at their clasped hands. It’s such a small expression of interest that Kara and Alura don’t even notice it. But Lena, Lena is just as hyper aware of her mother as Lillian seems to be of her, and she notices the twitch. Lena takes the smallest bit of satisfaction from it.

 

What did her mother expect? Did she think Lena relationship with Kara would be as rigid and void of affection as Lillian and Lionel's had always been? Had she hoped that Lena would end up as miserable in her marriage? Well, jokes on her, then.

 

“Lena, lovely of you to join us.” Lillian tight smile does nothing to soothe her scolding tone.

 

Lena meets her eyes without hesitation and says nothing, leaving Kara to stutter out an apology for them both a moment too late.

 

“Forgive us, Majesties, we were...indisposed when we received news of your arrival.”

 

Alura’s eyes widen slightly in surprise at Kara’s implication, and Lena can’t fight the faint blush that settles in her cheeks.

 

Both of Lillian’s eyebrows go up this time as she glances between them.

 

Kara seems to realize her mistake and Lena feels her wife preparing what she’s sure would be a cringeworthy ramble, but thankfully Alura intervenes before Kara can make matters worse.

 

“That’s quite alright, dear. We all had a long morning. And Lena, your mother has had quite a long journey, as you well know.”

 

Lena can tell this is her cue to ask about Lillian’s well-being, like any doting daughter would. Instead, Lena takes the opportunity to ask the question on everyone’s mind.

 

“Where is Lex, Mother? Will he be following you shortly?” Lena tries not to let hope seep into her voice, but a sliver of it get out.

 

“No,” Lillian says turning away from Lena slightly, so she can’t read her expression. “I was just telling Alura, that your brother sends his deepest regrets for his absence, but on such short notice he couldn’t find the time to be here himself.”

 

Lena opens her mouth to ask what could possibly be more important than this, but Alura smoothly intercepts what was sure to turn into a argument.

 

“And of course, we understand that. It was a complete lack of etiquette on our part, for which I will again apologize.”

 

Lillian offers the Kryptonian queen only a polite smile.

 

“Lena, darling, your brother also sends his congratulations, of course, to you and Kara, on your union. Though I must admit, we were quite...startled by the news.”

 

Lena feels Kara tense beside her. Her wife had probably been dreading this exact moment.

 

How were they meant to apologize for such blatant deception?

 

Again, Alura seems to have planned for this and quickly jumps in.

 

“An unfortunate misunderstanding, that I hope we can all agree worked out in everyone’s favor.”

 

Lillian scoffs, giving Alura an incredulous look. “A misunderstanding?” She turns her attention to Kara, taking several steps towards them as she looks the blonde up and down. “Your daughter lied about her intentions towards Lena.”

 

Lillian meets Kara’s eyes and to Kara’s credit she holds her stare, unapologetically.

 

“She marched into our kingdom, came into our home, excepted our hospitality, and shamelessly deceived us, before riding away with my only daughter.”

 

No one breathes or moves for a very long moment as Kara and Lillian stare each other down, then Lillian’s mouth curls into a small smile, and she fold her arms across her chest.

 

“She must mean a great deal to you, Kara. For you to do a thing like that. It was tactless, but brave.”

 

It is one of the very rare instances Lena has seen her mother look impressed, but there is something sinister behind her words, Lena is sure. She just can’t fathom what it is.

 

“She does.” Kara confirms, with a firm nod. “Mean a great deal to me, I mean.” She squeezes Lena’s hand “She’s everything I could hope for in a match.”

 

Lillian quirks her eyebrow again, almost amused. “And do you feel, similarly, Lena? You look as though this marriage suits you.” Lillian’s gaze turns to her slowly, like a dare. Lena is briefly reminded how Lillian always found a way to ruin everything Lena ever cared for, and a cold bit of fear runs up her spine. But not now. She tells herself. Not here. Not this. Lillian couldn’t take Kara from her. It was too late for that. She was finally out of Lillian’s reach.

 

So Lena smiles for the first time since hearing of her mother’s arrival, and leans further into Kara’s side.

 

“Absolutely.” She tells her mother with a bit of glee.

 

Lillian’s eyes narrow slightly.

 

“Then I hope we can put all the rest behind us.” Alura says, stepping forward. “Your presence here is all about a new beginning for our kingdoms after all. With our daughters as the bridge, I’m sure we’ll do wonderful things together, Lillian.”

 

“I look forward to it.” Lillian says. Some of the tension dissipates, though Lena fears it may only be the eye of the storm.

 

“Which reminds me, we all have a party to attend.” Alura tells them. “Lillian, I’ll have someone show you to your chambers so you can prepare.”

 

With a nod of her head, Lillian follows Alura towards the door wear Kalex waits to show her to her guest chambers.

 

“Oh, and Lena,” she says just before leaving “I do, hope we can talk more later. Just the two of us.”

 

It is not a request.

 

With a forced smile and a nod of her head Lena replies “Of course, Mother. Maybe breakfast tomorrow?”

 

Lillian gives a curt nod “I look forward to it.”

 

----------------

 

“Sounds like it could have been worse.” Maggie says with a shrug of her shoulders as she stuffs a whole crab cake into her mouth.

 

“It definitely could have been worse." Lena concedes “She didn’t use the words ‘unnatural’ or ‘abomination’ at all. And she didn’t threaten to drag me away kicking and screaming.” And she didn’t call me a bastard , Lena thinks.

 

Maggie swipes two more glasses of wine off a passing tray and passes one to Lena “Fuck, Lena, are you serious?”

 

Lena looks down thoughtfully into her wine glasses and gives a half-hearted shrug.  “I wish I wasn’t.”

 

The festivities are in full swing. Music and food and a ballroom full of guests.

 

Kara is out on the dance floor with Kal-El. Lena watches them struggle as Kara tries to let Kal lead. The Kryptonians shuffle awkwardly, and Lena sees Kara throw her head back laughing heartily. Her cousin grinning broadly as he looks down at their feet to sort out the problem.

 

Lena smiles around the rim of her glass, thinking of Lex.

 

Unlike Kara, when learning to dance Lena was taught to follow her partner’s push and pull. Lex was an excellent dancer from a young age, and an even better teacher. He and Lena would make it a point to dance together at every opportunity. It was usually a very welcomed reprieve from the dull pleasantries of parties or the harassment of peers. Lex was quick to cut in when he noticed Lena getting uncomfortable, and he’d easily sweep her across the dance floor. They’d whisper and laugh idle gossip at their peers expense as they moved, and by the time the dance was through Lena would always feel just refresh enough to endure the rest of the event.

 

A familiar ache flares in her chest as she thinks of her brother, made worse by the fact that she had hoped to see him here in Krypton today.

 

“What are you thinking about, Little Luthor? I lost you there for a second.” Maggie’s gentle touch at her elbow, draws Lena back out of her thoughts.

 

Kara and Kal have managed to find a rhythm and are now moving smoothly with the rest of the dancers.

 

“Just my brother.” Lena tells Maggie quietly, earning a sympathetic smile from the shorter woman “I wish he were here.”

 

The confession eases some of her anxiety. It’s so true that she genuinely misses the brother she used to know. But it’s more than that now too, he should be here. This invitation, this summit is so important for Manor. Lena couldn’t fathom what was so crucial back home to warrant his absence.

 

“Did your mother give a reason?” Maggie asks, taking a sip of her wine.

 

Lena shakes her head, her eyebrows drawn together. “Done at all. It’s concerning to say the least.”

 

Maggie opens her mouth to ask another question, but is interrupted by the softening of the music and the hearld’s booming voice.

 

“Now presenting!” every eye in the room is drawn to the doors as they are pulled open “Lillian of House Luthor, Queen Regent of Manor.”

 

Lillian enters looking regal and elegant as ever in a full length muted green dress. Her hair pulled back into an elaborate bun, revealing the slivers of silver at her temples with pride.

 

Lena has seen this a million times before. How Lillian manages to look elegant and wise, calm rather than cold, above you but rightfully so. She rolls her eyes, but deep down Lena had to admit; Lillian was made to be a queen.

 

“And her companions…” The harold continues, as two more figures join Lillian in the entryway “Lady Veronica Sinclair and Lord Jack Spheer, both of Manor.”

 

Lena nearly chokes on her wine.

 

Lady Veronica Sinclair and Lord Jack Spheer were far from strangers to her. Though Lena hadn’t thought about either of them in months. She hadn’t expected to see either of them again after leaving Manor.

 

Veronica was the daughter of a very wealthy lord that Lionel did a lot of business with. Lord Sinclair was one of the few Court members Lionel didn’t completely loathe, and since Lena and Veronica were nearly the same age they had known each other most of their lives and spent a significant amount of time together. Not all of it cordial.

 

Whereas Lena knew how to quell her more rebellious nature for the sake of appearances, Veronica had always lacked her restraint, becoming something of a bad influence on Lena. The two got into more trouble together than not. And it’s true that has they grew older they both became aware of a certain spark between them.

 

Veronica had been Lena’s first kiss. It had been her hands that wander under the dinner table as their families chatted about crops and timber. It had been Veronica that caught Lena in dark corridors and corners at parties to sneak a quick kiss, thrilling Lena with the possibility of being discovered. They had never been allowed the time or privacy for anything more than heated kisses really, but Veronica is the closest thing Lena had to a lover before marrying Kara.  

 

Now here she is wrapped in an elaborate red dress that manages to show off skin in the strangest of ways.

 

And Jack...Jack was...no one really. The undervalued second son of a lord her father had never cared for. To Lena, he was just the memory of lips pressed softly against the back of her hand, of a tentative grip on her waist on a dance floor, the flash of a white smile against dark skin. Jack was often left behind in favor of his brother for Court events, but on the rare occasions he did appear Lena was always happy to see him. He was just a tad bit shy, especially for a lord, and she can vividly recall the faint pink on his dark cheeks the first time he’d asked her to dance. They couldn’t have been older than thirteen. His nervousness was unwarranted, because he was almost as skilled a dancer as Lex at that age. And for once, Lena hadn’t been counting down the seconds til it was over.

 

As they grew older, they became more familiar with each other, making small talk near the dessert table or laughing at the antics of drunken guests. Eventually they discovered a mutual love for books and science. Like her, Jack shared an interest in invention and industry, one neither of them were allowed to properly explore. Though Jack confided in her that he secretly studied under a blacksmith that worked for his family’s estate.

 

Lena hadn’t seen him in maybe two years, given how strained her father’s relationship became with his Court towards the end of his life. Jack had aged very well, the boy turning gracefully into a man. He had grown a rather impressive beard that had certainly not been there the last time Lena saw him, and his thick dark hair was slicked cleanly back. He wore a dark blue tunic embroidered with the crest of his house, a swirling flock of birds.

 

“Friends of yours?” Once again, Maggie’s voice draws Lena out of her thoughts. Lena blinks several times, feeling completely blindsided. Which she imagines was exactly her mother’s intention.

 

Lena opens her mouth to answer Maggie, though she has no Idea what to say, when she is startled by a hand on her waist.

 

It’s Kara looking apologetic and more than a little concerned. “Hey, are you okay?”

 

Kara slides her hand into Lena’s and gives her a reassuring squeeze, leaning into her side a bit.

 

Taking a deep breath and giving Kara a shaky nod, Lena tries to hide how thrown she is by this new development.

 

Alex and Lois also appear out of the crowd forming a closed circle around Lena and Maggie. Lena can still see her mother, Veronica, and Jack over their shoulders. She can’t take her eyes off the trio as they venture further into the party.

 

They are quickly greeted by Alura and Zor-El who begin to introduce them to different groups, like dutiful hosts.

 

Lena downs the rest of her wine, and clutches onto Kara as she tries to gather her thoughts.

 

“Does your mother always travel with an entourage?” Lois asks, kindly offering Lena her half full glass of wine.

 

Lena takes it gratefully and takes a sip as she shakes her head. “Not usually, no. She tends to be rather...withdrawn.”

 

“Like mother, like daughter.” Maggie teases, nudging Lena in the side. Lena glares at her, but doesn’t dignify it with a response.

 

“Do you know them?” Kara asks gently.

 

Lena had once told Kara that she’d never really had any friends and that hadn’t exactly been a lie. She and Veronica had quarreled much more than they’d kissed and Jack...Jack was a fleeting feeling. He’d be there and gone again so quickly and so infrequently that Lena had never given much thought to what he might mean to her under different circumstances.

 

Lena didn’t want to lie, but she was too unsure of the truth to tell Kara any of it now.

 

“Yes, we’ve met.”

 

Their group is unabashedly staring at the new arrivals, much to Lena discomfort.

 

“That dress is a bit much,” Lois comments of Veronica red monstrosity “but I have to admit she’s gorgeous.”

 

“I love it.” Maggie says with just a little too much enthusiasm. Alex glares at her wife and elbows her in the ribs.

 

Maggie sputters on her wine “What? She’s gorgeous! Lois just said so!”

 

“Maybe so, but you can shut up about it.”

 

Maggie wraps her arms around Alex’s waist, letting her hand come to rest over the slight bump that was starting to show at the bottom of Alex’s belly. “Yes, dear.”

 

“We should go say hello.” Kara says, regretfully.

 

Lena’s eyes go wide in panic as Kara pulls her from the circle and towards the trio. She hands Lois her wine glass back though it's practically empty now.

 

“Good luck.” The group says in unison, as she and Kara move away.

 

Panic settles urgent and sharp under Lena’s skin as she pulls Kara to a stop still some ways away from Lillian and the others.

 

“Kara, wait. Hold on a second.”

 

Turning towards her with a look of worry, Kara takes both Lena’s hands in hers and hunches over to be heard over the party.

 

“Lena? What is it?”

 

Avoiding her wife’s eyes, Lena looks at the floor and runs a nervous hand through her hair.

 

“Look, I...It’s a lot to explain, I guess. Can- Can we go somewhere quieter? I don't want to do this now.”

 

Kara’s brow crinkles in confusion and she’s about to say something when the music softens again, and the herald speaks, and the doors swing open.

 

“Now presenting! Rhea Gand, Queen of Daxam! And her son, Mon-El, Crown Prince of Daxam!”

 

Perfect fucking timing.

Chapter Text

Kara takes in the sight of the Daxam royals with a severely furrowed brow, and feels herself shifting slightly closer to Lena on instinct.

 

The Daxamite queen always manages to look smug somehow, leaving everyone around her to wonder exactly what she’s smug about. It’s a very unsettling feeling Kara has associated with the foreign queen for as long as Kara can remember knowing her.

 

Queen Rhea Gand of Daxam only seemed to grow more beautiful and poised as she aged. Maintaining an air of confidence and control, Kara felt only rivaled her own mother. Even so, it’s obvious by the way the queen enters the room that her confidence is precarious. It depends entirely on the perception of others. She thrives off the way the entire room turns towards her with interest.

 

As usual, the Queen is accompanied by her son, Mon-El. Their arms linked together as he dutifully escorts her into the ballroom.

 

Kara’s always thought it strange Rhea choose to travel so frequently with her son rather than her husband. Though Rhea claimed it was so there was always a strong royal presence left behind in Daxam, Kara suspected it had more to do with Mon-El’s easy obedience. He was no doubt easier to control than his father, and therefore wouldn’t interfere with whatever trouble Rhea planned to stir up.

 

And there would be trouble. There always was whenever Daxamites and Kryptonians met.

 

The animosity between their people was an entirely different beast than the near indifference they held towards Manor. It was potent and personal.

 

Afterall, Daxam was the grotesque result of a coup within the Kryptonian government a few hundred years before. When Kara’s great great grandfather, Erok-El, had been the sole ruler of Krypton. He had mounted a long-awaited campaign to outlaw slavery in Krypton and its allied kingdoms.

In the stories, her Aunt Astra told, this was partially inspired by an affair Erok-El had with an Amazonian, who convinced the king to follow in the footsteps of her civilization. Erok-El’s younger brother Wab-El used abolition as an excuse to seize power. With the help of a number of Krypton’s lords, Wab-El betrayed his brother and lead Krypton into a devastating civil war, that waged for decades. The conflict ultimately resulted in a fragile truce that left a significant portion of Krypton under Wab-El’s control. This lead to those who wished to keep to the old ways fleeing to Wab-El’s territory which he then named Daxam. Erok-El and his ancestors were never able to regain the territory lost to his brother, and eventually the kingdoms fell into a hostile sort of interdependence.

 

Though the slaves of Daxam were eventually granted freedom nearly two hundred years too late,  a sort of indentured servitude remained in its place for much of the Daxamite population. There was an alarming class gap in Daxam, maintained by a series of tyrannical rulers who kept the people pliant through misinformation and propaganda. All this leading up to Mon-El. A distant descendant of Wab-El himself, supposedly.

 

Kara couldn’t help but be irked by the sigil of the House of El embroidered into the prince’s tunic, or the way he clumsily carried her family’s name.

 

Swallowing her spike of anger and turning back to Lena, Kara gives her wife a pained look as if to apologize in advance for whatever interaction they may have with Daxamites.

 

From out of the crowd, Alex and Maggie appear with Kal-El and Lois in their wake.

 

“Late as always.” Alex grumbles, unabashedly glaring at the Daxamites, who are being warmly greeted by her parents.

 

“Fashionable so, the queen likes to think.” Lois says, with disdain.

 

Maggie leans into Lena’s side “They always show up on the second night of the festival, feigning apologies. Like we’re supposed to be surprised and grateful that they even found the time.”

 

Lena still looks entirely distracted and Kara resolves to get her alone.

 

“We should go greet them.” Her cousin says with a sigh, swiftly taking Lois’s hand as if he thinks his wife might run off.

 

“You’re far too polite, Kal.”

 

Kal-El kisses her temple and pulls her away, whispering “One of us has to be.”

 

“Come on, Mags” Alex say with a huff “We can’t let Kal-El make us look bad.”

 

They start to follow after Kal-El and Lois when they notice Lena and Kara haven’t moved.

 

“Aren’t you coming?”

 

Kara shakes her head and wraps her arm around Lena’s waist. “We'll follow shortly.”

 

Alex frowns and shrugs “Your mother won’t be pleased.” before continuing toward the growing group of people gathering around the Daxamites.

 

Before they can be distracted further, Kara leans close and whispers “Follow me.” into Lena’s ear. Kara takes her wife’s hand and weaves through the crowd, giving the brunette little choice.

 

Kara slips them out of the ballroom an into a servants’ corridor, startling the few servers who are lounging in the hallway. They hop to attention when the princesses enter, quickly straightening up and bowing their heads in greeting.

 

“Your Highness,” one woman begins to apologize to Kara, though it’s unclear what she’d be apologizing for, until Kara cuts her off.

 

“Leave us, please.”

 

The woman looks briefly confused, and then relieved as she and the others scurry out of the hallway, leaving the princesses alone.

 

Lena immediately steps away from Kara and begins to pace anxiously. Kara watches this for a few moments, trying to pinpoint the source of her wife’s vexation.

 

So much had happened today. Nothing was the same as it was when they’d woken that morning, and yet nothing about today had been entirely unexpected.

 

They’d known there was a chance Lena’s mother would arrive. In fact, Kara had thought they’d been hoping for it to some extent for the sake of diplomacy. Though King Lex’s absence was unfortunate, the fact that Manor was willing to attend at all after Kara’s deception was a win. The toil Queen Lillian’s presence took on Lena was evident, though Kara didn’t fully understand the reason for their hostility. Kara and Alura had their fair share of tension and disagreements, but nothing like the intense unsettling air of resentment Kara felt between Lena and her mother. She knew there must be something Lena wasn’t telling her, but now wasn’t the time to push the issue.

 

Then there was the arrival of the Daxamites which was unpleasant to say the least but not at all unexpected. And of course Lena had yet to even meet them and grow wary of their particular brand of charm, so what reason could there be for Lena to agonize over them.

 

Lastly, Kara thinks back to their time together that afternoon. The belated consummation of their marriage had come as very pleasant surprise to Kara. Finally, hearing her wife almost desperately uttering her assent had made Kara dizzy with gratitude. To have earned Lena’s trust this way. For Lena, who Kara knew had been betrayed and manipulated too many times before, to give herself over like that, had been more rewarding than Kara could have imagined. The memory of Lena’s hands on her pulling her ever closer, like she just couldn’t get enough. Panting and stuttering out requests and pleas and Kara’s name like prayers. It was unlike anything Kara had experienced before. She had been with lovers, this is true, but this had been something more than sex. This had been a commitment, a promise of sorts. That they could be vulnerable together. That they could trust each other with the most delicate and precious parts of themselves.

 

At least, that’s what it meant to Kara. Kara, who in her post-coital haze was certain Lena had enjoyed it as well.

 

But now Kara had a nagging fear that this was the cause of Lena’s distress.

 

“Lena, I know you must be overwhelmed.”

 

The brunette stops her pacing and slumps against the wall with a heavy sigh.

 

“I...I’m sorry if I did anything or...contributed to that in any way.” Kara says rubbing nervously at the back of her neck.

 

“What do you mean?”

 

Kara can feel Lena’s eyes on her now, but Kara is looking at the floor.

 

“I just mean I hope our...being together earlier hasn’t upset you. That’s the last thing I wanted to do.”

 

Looking sheepishly up, Kara is met with a gentle expression on Lena’s face. Her wife beacons Kara closer, pulling Kara firmly against her.

 

“I can assure you, I greatly enjoyed myself earlier.” Lena says with a shy smile and a hint of pink on her cheeks. “Being with you, that way, is the only good thing to come from today.” Lena caresses Kara’s cheek, causing Kara to lean slightly into her touch. “You made me feel so safe.”

 

Relaxing finally against Lena’s body, Kara smiles and kisses her softly. “You are safe with me.”

 

Lena kisses her back, seeming grateful for the momentary distraction. Kara is half tempted to push it further, the heat between them builds quickly and is eager to burn if only they’d let it.

 

But Kara pulls back, unable to forget the responsibilities they are currently neglecting by hiding in the corridor.

 

“What’s upsetting you?” She asks, brushing a strand of Lena’s hair behind her ear.

 

Lena looks momentarily pained, avoiding Kara’s gaze again. “I don’t trust my mother, Kara. I have...this stone of dread in my stomach about all this.”

 

“What do you suspect?”

 

Shaking her head in frustration Lena shrugs “I don’t know. I just...I can’t understand why my brother wouldn’t be here. Or why she would bring Jack and Veronica. And now the Queen of Daxam shows up the very same day…”

 

“That’s nothing unusual.” Kara assures her “The Daxamites always arrive a day late. Their way of showing everyone that they don’t have to adhere to Krypton’s schedule, I suppose. It’s just a coincidence.”

 

Lena still looks uncertain.

 

“Who are your mother’s companions anyway?” Kara wonders allowed “Do you know them well?”

 

Pulling away from the wall and away from Kara, Lena resumes her pacing. Kara longs to reach out for her again, but resists. She’s beginning to learn that Lena requires a fair amount of space to sort out her thoughts and feelings.

 

“I’ve known them both a long time.” Lena finally admits “We grew up together, but we were never close. I don’t know why she’s brought them. Mother always loathed Veronica, and as far as I know was always completely indifferent to Jack.”

Kara feels like Lena is holding something back, she debates on the best way to draw it out of her before speaking.

 

“Your brother is a new king. Perhaps, he’s made some changes since you left.”

 

“I can only hope.” Lena mutters thoughtfully. She finally turns back to look at Kara, nervously biting her bottom lip in a way Kara finds very distracting.

 

“Kara, I think perhaps you should know…” Lena hesitates, but Kara seizes the opportunity, moving closer and resting her hand on Lena's waist.

 

“Speak your mind.” She tilts Lena’s chin up, making eye contact. “Please?’ she whispers.

 

“Veronica and I…” Lena starts slowly “We- She...we’ve been involved.”

 

Kara’s brow crinkles. She really wasn’t expecting that. “Involved?” She asks carefully, then to clarify. “You were lovers?”

 

Lena blushes fiercely and breaks away from Kara, beginning to pace again.

 

“No, not- We never- Ugh. We never shared a bed, if that’s what you mean.”

 

“Oh.”

 

Kara felt a sort of heated feeling rise up the back of her neck, her hands curled into fists, and a frown pulled at her lips at the suggestion.

 

Though Lena had just plainly stated that they had not been lovers, Kara found she still didn’t like the idea that they could have been. The thought of Lena with someone else, anyone else churned unpleasantly in her mind for a moment and Kara discovered she didn’t like it. She didn’t like it one bit.

 

Was this jealousy? She wondered briefly, never having been prone to possessiveness in her other relationships.

 

She doesn’t have much time to dwell on the unwelcomed feeling before Lena is speaking to her again.

 

“It was nothing serious, obviously. And truth be told, we fought more often than not. It was a childish thing really. But I wanted you to know, in case Veronica said anything. Because that’s how she is, complete disregard for tact. I wanted you to be prepared, and not caught off guard by any sudden...feelings.”

It is the first time Kara had witness Lena ramble. Normally, Lena was much too composed for that, opting to say nothing at all rather than to let her innermost thought flow outward so freely. Kara wonders if she might be rubbing off on the other woman.

 

Pushing whatever, obviously unwarranted feelings of jealousy aside, Kara steps forward and takes Lena’s face in her hands. She kisses her again, slow and deliberate, until she feels Lena relax in her hands, some of the tension lifted.

 

“Thank you for telling me.”

 

Lena nods a bit dazedly. “I don’t want there to be anymore secrets.”

 

Kara nods too and leads them back toward the ballroom door. They had hidden for long enough.

 

“Come on, Princess, the party is just getting started.”

Chapter Text

Alura’s face has a smile plastered on it, but her eyes catch sight of Kara’s and glare. This is a look Kara is very familiar with. One she’s endured during countless social gatherings throughout her life. It means Kara had stopped being the absolutely perfect Kryptonian princess for five or ten seconds, and during this small reprieve she’d somehow managed to disappoint and embarrass her mother irreparably.

 

“There you are!” Her mother says, fake pleasantness to go with her fake smile. “I feared you two snuck off outside the gates again. I was about to send a search party.”

 

Kara and Lena join her parents in the circle they’ve formed with the Daxamites and the Danvers. The rest of the House of El was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps having retired early after serving their term as host to the Daxamites. Now it was Kara’s turn.

 

“Unnecessary, Mother. We’re right here.” Kara tries her best not to sound annoyed. She really does. But it’s not made easy by Lena’s arm linked with hers and the way Mon-El looks the couple up and down with a grin. All Kara wants is to go. To go back to their room and be alone with Lena, and forget all about all of these people. Especially, these people.

 

Reluctantly, Kara forces a smile and wonders for a moment if she looks anything like her mother.

 

“Your Majesty.” She greets Rhea with a small bow. Lena manages to curtsy in time with it, without letting go of Kara. “Prince Mon-El.” Kara nods to the young Daxamite, whose smile only grows wider at her attention, as it always has.

 

Kara hates that she thinks he’s handsome. But he most certainly is. She has eyes after all. The worst part is he knows he’s handsome, and he uses those good looks like a weapon. Flashing white smiles, tilting his head, and batting his eyelashes like a puppy. Just dumb and cute enough to get away with almost anything, with almost anyone.

 

At the tender age of twelve, Kara had made the mistake of telling Mon-El she thought he was handsome. She hadn’t meant anything by it. He had called her beautiful, and she’d returned the compliment, because that was the polite thing to do. And he was in fact handsome, so what was the point in lying? Unfortunately, Mon-El had taken the inch she gave him and made it a mile, stealing a kiss from a very unprepared young Kara. It was Kara’s first kiss. It was the pair’s only kiss. Thank Rao. But Kara always got the feeling, everytime the Daxamite smiled at her for seemingly no reason, that he was thinking of it. Like the memory was a trophy on his wall.

 

“Hello, Princess, it’s always a pleasure.”

 

Kara wished she could say the same.

 

Ignoring her son’s clear affections, Rhea gives Kara a cool appraisal, not bothering to mask her disdain.

 

“Princess, you look lovely as always.” The queen’s tone is too dry to be sincere. Rhea has never bothered to hide the fact that she disapproved of her son’s fondness for Kara. Though rather than taking this out on Mon-El, the queen has always aimed her annoyance at Kara, even when they were children. As if Kara had purposefully done something to enrapture the prince.

 

Luckily, Rhea doesn’t like to dwell on her disapproval of Kara, her gaze quickly moves to Kara’s right. Her dark brown eyes land on Lena, and study her with great interest.

 

“And this must be your bride? The long awaited Lena Luthor?”

 

Kara has to resist the urge to shield Lena from Rhea and Mon-El, now that she has all of their attention.

 

“It’s Zor-El, now.” Both Kara and Alura say at the same time, though Kara practically growls it. Their eyes meet briefly, Kara giving her mother a grateful smile.

 

Rhea seems completely unfazed “Yes, of course.”

 

Though Mon-El’s smile falters.

 

“It’s nice to finally meet you.” Lena curtsys again “I’m long awaited?”

 

Rhea’s smile widens, and Kara sees a clear resemblance to Mon-El, though the queen’s smile holds something more predatory to her son’s.

 

If Mon-El is a puppy, then Rhea is a wolf. And Kara hates the way she’s looking at Lena.

 

“Well certainly!” The queen says sweetly “No significant news from Manor in what must be decades now, then one day I’m handed a letter describing the most incredible creature.”

 

Lena stiffens beside Kara, her fingers curling into Kara’s sleeve.

 

“A princess of ancient Manorian blood, unrivaled beauty and poise, quick-witted, and with a mind for problem solving, it said.”

 

“Sounded too good to be true.” Mon-El mumbles. His mother nods in agreement, but gestures at Lena.

 

“And yet, here you are...and not the only Manorian in the room. You’ve brought changes with you, Lena. And that’s…impressive.”

 

The group is very quiet for a few moments, before Lena clears her throat and replies.

 

“Yes, well, all for the better, I hope.” She leans into Kara, briefly resting her head on Kara’s shoulder “I’m pleased with my bit of the bargain.” She means to lighten the mood, but Mon-El scowls and Rhea’s smile slowly turns back into a look of contempt as if she’s just remembered Kara’s role in all of this.

 

The Kings and Queens of Krypton all laugh, but it feels hollow. Too little, too late.

 

“Speaking of Manorians,” Alura rests a hand on Kara’s shoulder, and pushes gently “Lena’s mother was looking for you both.

 

“Yes, of course.” Kara takes the hint from her mother and extracts herself and Lena from the circle “If you’ll excuse us.”

 

Kara and Lena both visibly relax once away from the Daxamites.

 

“That was sort of odd.” Lena retrieves new drinks for them both from a passing tray and hands one to Kara. Taking several eager gulps, Kara nods around her glass, and sighs.

 

“There’s a lot of history there.”

 

Lena nods in agreement. “Yes, so I’ve read.”

 

“No,” Kara shakes her head “I don’t mean, between the kingdoms, though of course there is that. I mean, there is history between us as people. Things have been...like that since I was a child.”

 

“Oh.”

 

Kara sighs again and glances back over at the Daxamites, who are once again caught up talking with her parents and some other delegates.

 

Mon-El seems to sense her, he looks up and meets her eyes, giving her a bright smile and a wink. Kara quickly looks away with a huff.

 

The exchange does not go unnoticed by Lena, who desperately wants to glare back at the prince, but resists.

 

“You should tell be about it, sometime.” She says to Kara, resting her chin on Kara’s shoulder. “When we’re alone, I mean.” Lena lowers her voice, and Kara can feel her breath against her ear.

 

This gets a smile from the Kryptonian, who turns to face her wife and leans in to whisper.

 

“I’d rather not talk about them when we’re alone.”

 

Lena blushes and smiles into Kara’s shoulder. Kara loves making her blush.

 

“Come on, we should find your mother.”

 

Lena groans and frowns “Must we?”

 

“I’m afraid so. Besides, I want to meet your…” Kara hesitates, tugging her back into the crowd “friends.”

 

Lena rolls her eyes “That’s a strong word.”

 

-----------------

 

Though Kara said they were going to look for Lillian, neither princess seems in much of a hurry to find her. They wade back into the party chatting with people as they go. Grayson pulls them in for another round of verbal sparring. Accompanied by Barbara and Winn, who Lena discovers are very good friends, bonded through their love of knowledge and invention. Kara has to practically drag Lena away from their conversation to meet other guests.

 

Kara becomes engaged in deep conversation with Lord Barry Allen and his wife Iris. When Barry whisks Kara away to dance, Iris and Lena make their way to the buffet, politely chatting about the pros and cons of their bubbly spouses.

 

It’s not long before Iris is pulled away into another conversation, and Lena finds herself pleasantly alone, picking at some food and sipping her wine.

 

“You’re a difficult woman to get alone these days, Highness.”

 

Recognizing his voice before she even turns to see him, Lena takes a deep breath to steady herself.

 

“Jack, you startled me.”

 

“Since when are you so jumpy, Princess?”

 

Lena is startled in more ways than one. Not only to find him suddenly there, speaking with her, his smile timid and sweet, but also once again by how much he’s grown since she last saw him. He is every bit a man now. And a rather handsome one at that. The gangly youth of her memories is no more. Now Jack is all neat facial hair and height, and dark brown eyes meeting Lena’s eagerly.

 

“My life has become a lot less predictable since we last spoke, Jack.” Lena says quietly, stepping closer to him.

 

“It’s Lord Spheer now, Princess.” He reminds her with a teasing smile “Or hadn’t you noticed?”

 

Lena has noticed actually. There must be quite a story there. Last time Lena checked Jack’s father had been Lord of Starling, relatively young and in good health. And Jack had an older brother, who his father adored and would have pasted his land and title to after his death. But Lena doesn’t ask about that now. Jack will tell her when he’s ready.

 

“You can still call me Lena, you know.”

 

Jack’s smile gets a little wider.

 

“Are you certain?”

 

“Quite.” Lena offers him a reassuring smile.

 

“How might your brother feel about that, if he were here? Or your wife for that matter?”

 

Lena’s smile falters, thinking of Kara for the first time since Jack approached her. She scans the crowd, subtly, having lost track of her wife.

 

“I’m only teasing, Lena.” Jack’s tone is much softer as he leans towards her a bit. And Lena takes note of how amazing he smells, has always smelled somehow, like fresh cut wood.

 

“Yes, you’ve always been very good at that.” Lena blushes and sips her wine.

 

“Well, I learned from the best.”

 

Lena laughs, a genuine sound that bubbles up out of her chest.

 

“You were always so terribly shy! I had to get you to relax.”

 

Jack scoffs, rubbing a hand over his beard.

 

“You weren’t exactly a social butterfly, Lena. Always in a corner, with a scowl, wishing to be anywhere but there.”

 

Lena calms her laughter and shrugs her shoulders “Yes, well in that respect, you can see nothing’s changed.”

 

He looks at her very intently for a few moments, before saying more soberly “I think, perhaps everything has changed.”

 

Lena frowns at the undisguised sadness in his tone. They hold each other’s eyes quietly for perhaps too long. And Lena has to admit to herself...though she hadn’t thought of him in so long, she’d missed him terribly.

 

Opening her mouth to say something, though she’s not certain what, Lena takes a step towards him, just as Jack lowers his eyes and takes a step back. Lena’s brow furrows in confusion just a second before she feels Kara’s arm wrap around her waist.

 

“I’m sorry for abandoning you for so long.” Kara sounds a bit winded, but oblivious to what she’s just interrupted. “Barry, kept me dancing that whole time. The man is insatiable.”

 

Lena gives Kara a little smile and rubs her hand along the arm around her waist.

 

“That’s quite alright, darling. I was just catching up with...Lord Spheer.”

 

Kara doesn’t seem to notice Lena’s stumble, but Lena watches a flash of hurt cross Jack’s features at the formality. It only lasts a moment, though. Then he’s giving Kara a polite smile, and a bow in greeting.

 

“Your Highness.”

 

“Ah, Lord Spheer, welcome, welcome.” Kara gives Jack a bright smile “Thank you for joining us. I know, it means a great deal to Lena.”

 

“Of course, Your Highness. Thank you for the invitation. It means a great deal to all of Manor, I assure you.”

 

Kara wraps both arms around Lena “You have this one to thank for that.” She gives him a sympathetic smile “I only regret, it wasn’t extended sooner.” Kara’s tone is so earnest, Lena pulls herself tighter to the Kryptonian and kisses her cheek.

 

Lena sees Jack avert is gaze a bit, but his smile remains firm.

 

“Yes, well it would seem your union would benefit us all. You’re lucky to have found each other.”

 

Lena swallows thickly “Kara found me. I’m afraid it took very little effort on my part.”

 

A guilty look ghosts over Kara’s features. Jack must catch it, because he clears his throat awkwardly. “Yes, of course.”

 

They are quiet for a moment.

 

“Well, I suppose, I should venture back in.” Jack sounds very reluctant as he looks around at the ongoing festivities “Your mother insists we charm as many people as possible.”

 

Lena quirks an eyebrow playfully “You have charm now?”

 

Jack scoffs and smiles “It comes with the title, apparently.”

 

“Ah.”

 

“I do hope we’ll talk more.” Jack glances nervously at Kara as he says this, but he trains his eyes on Lena.

 

“Of course, it seems we still have much to tell each other.”

 

“Indeed.” He nods first to her then to Kara.

 

“Lovely to meet you, Your Highness.”

 

“Likewise, Lord Spheer.”

 

Then Jack is gone again, and Lena is wondering what they’ve left unsaid.

 

--------------

 

Eventually, they do find Lillian. A unsettling tightness forms in Lena’s chest when they find her mother adamantly engaged in conversation with Queen Rhea and Princess Diana.

 

“Our navy has always been sorely lacking. We simply don’t have the resources to build proper ships.”

 

“Well, being landlocked as we are, I can’t claim to know much about ship building, but I’m certain we could arrange to get you the timber you need.”

 

Lena sees her wife’s brow furrow just a moment before Kara interrupts their conversation.

 

“And what’s this sudden need for ships, Your Majesty?”

 

Both Queens look startled to find Kara and Lena standing there. Lillian’s mouth settles into a more muted smile, while Rhea doesn’t bother to conceal a frown. Princess Diana on the other hand looks delighted to see Kara, quickly looping her arm with Kara’s and pulling both princesses more securely into the circle.

 

“Every kingdom needs ships, Princess. Surely, you know that.”

 

Lena watched Kara’s jaw tense at Rhea’s condescending tone.

 

“Daxam has trade ships. You lack warships.” Kara says through gritted teeth “What need do you have for warships during a time of peace?”

 

Rhea lowers her gaze completely caught, but denies nothing. She looks intently into her wine, swirling her glass around.

 

“Perhaps when you are queen, you’ll learn the importance of preparedness. My father use to say ‘war is always just around the corner, so one must be careful of each turn’.”

 

“I think, our fathers might have gotten along.” Lena offers, in lieu of whatever response Kara was preparing which would have surely only added to the tension.

 

Rhea seems to appreciate this, inclining her head to Lena. Lillian looks slightly ruffled by the mention of Lionel, but swallows it with her wine and moves on.

 

“I was just telling Queen Rhea, that perhaps we can come to an agreement during the summit. Arrange for Daxam to receive the timber they need for a proper navy.”

 

“That is the point of all this, isn’t it?” Rhea gestures around at the ongoing party “Communication and cooperation?”

 

She and Lillian clink their glasses together “To making new friends.”

 

“Indeed.”

 

Princess Diana clears her throat and seeks a lighter topic.

 

“The ships of Themyscira are primarily used for trade and exploration, not war making. Our ship-builders are some of the best in the world.”

 

“Lena has spent hours huddle over Themysciran designs. Studying, she calls it.” Kara finally seems to have calmed, and looks at Lena fondly as she says this.

 

“I’m sure, I’ve confessed already, Diana, that the ingenuity of your people completely fascinates me.”

 

“So you have, Princess.” Diana gives her a bright smile, and Lena melts a little.

 

“It seems rumors of your intelligence, haven’t been exaggerated, Lena.” Straightening up a bit at Rhea’s compliment, Lena glances briefly at her mother. Lillian quirks an eyebrow and looks at Lena expectantly, but says nothing.

 

“Thank you, Your Majesty. I’ve always had a proclivity towards learning. I’d like to understand more about how the world works.”

 

“That is the only way we can improve upon it.” Diana agrees.

 

“Exactly.”

 

“She must get this from you, Lillian.” Rhea says with approval “Surely, your late husband didn’t possess this same kind of...ambition.”

 

Lena feels her hold on Kara tighten, as she looks up to find Lillian looking closely at her. They may not be blood as everyone here assumes, but Lena knows she has inherited some traits from Lillian. Such as her patience, a good sense of timing.

 

Lillian smiles a bit strangely at Lena. A smile that makes Lena’s gut twist and her mouth feel dry. It is a threat and a promise and everything Lena had feared about her mother’s arrival.

 

“No, Rhea, I’m afraid not. I’d say most of Lena’s brilliance was influenced by her brother Lex. He shares a similar worldview. A desire to better, to change. I believe, she has him to thank for her scientific curiosity.”

 

Lena lets out a breath she didn’t realize she’d been holding. Lillian was biding her time. The truth of Lena’s parentage was a weapon Lillian was choosing to conceal for now.

 

Now that she was married to Kara and the union had been consummated, they were bound for life. But even still, Lena didn’t want to find out how the Kryptonians might react to her having concealed that information.

 

As fond as she had become of Kara during their time together, Lena still found herself fearful of  Kara’s reaction to being married to a bastard. She knew the Kryptonians no longer regulated marriage in a way that would forbid such a union. Like Maggie and Alex, for instance. Maggie came from nothing. The middle daughter of a poor fisherman on the Northern coast of Krypton. So why should Lena’s bastard status be any different? The House of El was ancient compared to the House of Danvers. And their House was known for taking great pride in prestige and bloodlines, in the past. Lena knew that Kara didn’t care about such things. Yet still a small venomous voice whispered...but what if she does? What if this is the last secret Lena should allow herself?

 

----------------

 

The rest of the evening passes quickly. More dancing and drinking and political maneuvering with people who had been doing it for much much longer then Kara or Lena. It left Lena exhausted.

 

When they finally returned to their chambers, once the evening was at a close, Lena desperately hoped Kara would be ready to sleep. She read and heard many accounts that once a couple became intimate, sex would become expected. Especially among royals, newlyweds might expect to engage at least once a day for the first month or so, to improve the chances of pregnancy as soon as possible.

 

But they’d just been together for the first time earlier that day, though that felt like forever ago. And though Lena remembers it vividly and fondly, it all happened so fast she fears she might still be just as nervous and unsure the second time around.

 

She didn’t want to deal with that right now. So much had happen today and so much still would happen tomorrow, she just wanted to sleep.

 

Thankfully, Kara appears similarly weary, and doesn’t try to initiate anything.

 

They wordlessly undress and put on their sleep gowns, before crawling into bed.

 

Lena presses her back to Kara’s front and pulls the blonde’s arm around her waist, holding that hand in her own.

 

Kara places a sweet kiss into her shoulder, before nuzzling into Lena with a sigh.

 

“Are you alright?”

 

Lena can hear in her voice that Kara is already drifting off to sleep. She nods and kisses Kara’s knuckles  “Yes. I am now.”

 

“Sleep well, Princess.” Kara mumbles “We still have miles to go tomorrow.”

 

Lena settles at that and heeds her wife’s advice, falling swiftly and deeply into sleep.

Chapter Text

The next morning Kara is awoken by Kalex just before dawn. She blinks up at him groggily.

 

“What is it?”

 

“Forgive me, Your Highness. Your mother requests your presence at breakfast.”

 

Rolling away from him and curling herself back around Lena, Kara nuzzles her face into her wife’s dark hair and resolves to fall back asleep.

 

“Breakfast? The sun isn’t up. Go away.”

 

She feels Lena shift in her arms, but the brunette doesn’t wake at the sound of her voice. Kara is glad to see her sleeping so soundly after yesterday’s events. She knows Lena must have been exhausted.

 

“The Queen is insistent.” Kalex practically growls “Perhaps, my choice of words was poor, Princess. What I meant to say was, your mother requires your presence at breakfast. And I am not to return to her without you in tow.”

 

At his tone, Kara realizes there is no getting out of it. She reluctantly rolls out of bed glaring at Kalex scathingly, though she knows it isn’t really his fault.

 

“Why would my mother want to eat so early in the morning?” Kara grumbles as Kalex helps her quickly dress.

 

“It was not my place to inquire, Highness. I was simply told to retrieve you.”

 

“Yes, like a peasant in the field.”

 

Kalex ignores her grumpiness, simply hurrying her along.

 

Before exiting their chambers, Kara crouches beside her still sleeping spouse. She places a soft kiss to Lena’s temple and tucks her more snuggly into the blankets.

 

“Kalex, see to it that Alana wakes Lena in time for her breakfast with Queen Lillian.”

 

“Of, course, Your Highness.”

 

They leave Lena to enjoy her last few hours of rest.

 

Kalex leads Kara to one of her parent’s formal sitting rooms, where they find her mother and aunt waiting for her in an uncomfortable silence.

 

Alura and Astra are such starkly different people, that to anyone who knows them both well, like Kara does, it is easy to forget that they are twins. That is until you see them sitting side by side like they are now, both looking displeased. If it were not for their outfits, their mannerisms,  and the silver streak in her aunt's hair, it would be as though Alura were sitting next to a mirror. And Kara finds their physical similarity unsettling.

 

“You summoned me?” Kara asks in lieu of a hello.

 

Ignoring her daughter's obvious annoyance, Alura thanks Kalex and dismisses him as Kara takes a seat at her side.

 

“Good morning, Little One.” Astra greets her. Kara offers her aunt a small smile, knowing that this early hour wasn’t her doing.

 

Kara tries not to sound too whiny as she looks to her mother “Why must we eat before Rao has risen?”

 

“It wasn’t my idea, Kara.” Alura is clearly exasperated, pinching the bridge of her nose.

 

Kara frowns and feels a crinkle form on her brow “Then who-?”

 

Just then her question is answered as the doors open and Kalex escorts Queen Rhea and Prince Mon-El into the room.

 

Mon-El looks just as displeased with the hour as Kara. He was no doubt up late enjoying the intimate company of some beautiful lady or another, though you wouldn’t know it from the pout on his face.

 

The queen, on the other hand, looks as pristine as ever. A pleased and pleasant smile on her face as she takes her seat across the table with a “Good Morning.” and a plea for tea at once.

 

Shooting a wide-eyed look at her mother as if to say “Seriously? Them at this hour?” Kara stifles a groan as Mon-El takes the only seat left which is right beside her.

Thankfully, the prince looks far too tired and much too unhappy to be a bother to Kara. In fact, the two share an annoyed glance that unites them briefly in their desire to just go back to sleep.

 

“Thank you for agreeing to join us so early, Alura. I just can’t stand to see the potential of the day wasted away with sleeping in.”

 

As Kalex and other servants begin to serve them breakfast Alura goes about assuring Rhea that the early hour is no bother at all, and how grateful they all are for this opportunity to reconnect.

 

Kara can hardly contain her eyeroll as she gingerly sips at her tea.

 

There is nothing she would rather be doing than sleeping in a bit longer and cuddling with her wife. Perhaps Lena would even have let Kara touch her again to start off the day right. Kara’s mind begins to wander at the thought, which is completely inappropriate given her current company.

 

“Princess,” Kara startles out of her thoughts when she realizes Rhea’s attention has turned to her “I believe I neglected to offer you my congratulations yesterday.”

 

Kara blinks dumbly at the Daxamite queen, her mind moving slowly with disinterest and fatigue.

 

“On your marriage, I mean.” Rhea clarifies, looking down into her tea cup as she stirs in milk.

 

Glancing nervously to her mother, Kara forces a polite smile. “Thank you, Your Majesty.”

 

“I must say, I’m impressed. And I have to wonder whose idea it was…”

 

A hint of a smile twitches at the corner of Alura’s mouth even as Kara’s insides twist into knots. Kara barely manages to keep her voice even as she replies.

 

“I’m afraid, I don’t know what you mean.”

 

She keeps her eyes on her plate and can see Mon-El’s hands curl into fists out of the corner of her eye. She has always been such a terrible liar.

 

Rhea smiles as if amused by Kara’s modesty, and continues stirring her tea though Kara thinks it must surely be mixed by now. The sight is unnerving.

 

“No, of course not. It’s just the luck of your House to have come across such a prize as the Luthor heiress.”

 

Kara’s jaw clenches and she grinds her teeth with the effort it takes to hold her tongue at the mention of Lena.

 

Rhea lowers her voice, almost growling as she glances at her son.

 

“And lucky too, that you offered such a generous bride price for her. Negating any competing bids.”

 

Alura clears her throat to interrupt Rhea’s next insinuation.

 

“Rhea, you seem to think my daughter’s intentions towards Princess Lena were in some way meant to spite you.”

 

Rhea smiles sweetly at Alura and finally sets aside her tea spoon and takes a sip. Alura exchanges a charged glance with Kara, before continuing.

 

“I assure you, Kara was merely compelled to intervene on the girl’s behalf in the only way she was capable. Better the poor thing come here, then end up with-” Her eyes dart to Mon-El “...whatever ruffian could russle up her initial bride price.”

 

Rhea does actually laugh then, nearly choking on her tea.

 

“Oh, yes, how very noble of her, your princess, to ride in so selflessly!” Sarcasm drips from Rhea’s mouth and burns Kara’s cheeks with guilt.

 

“And, Alura, I’m certain you gave no thought to how this would benefit you politically.”

 

Kara looks to her mother, already knowing and yet resenting the answer all the same. Alura refuses to look at her. She fixes a steely gaze on Rhea and calmy states,

 

“I am always thinking of my kingdom. As you are yours.”

 

Rhea nods as though she’d somehow gotten what she wanted out of the conversation.

 

“And now?” She asks, with a quirked brow “Now, that you have the Luthor girl in your daughter’s bed and a new start with Manor, what do you plan to do? Who will you shut out next?”

 

“You’re paranoid.” Astra growls from where she’s sat completely silent beside her sister up until now.

 

Rhea’s eyebrow seems to rise further. “Am I, General? So I’ve imagined it all then?”

 

Before Astra can unleash what Kara is certain would be nothing short of a hellish retort, Alura places a hand on her arm to silence her. Kara watches her aunt bite the inside of her cheek to contain herself.

 

Alura meets Rhea’s challenging stare and speaks with absolute calm authority.

 

“The Luthor girl was offered to everyone and her bride price fair. We got there first. You were not robbed, only outpaced. This indignant display has not only been inane, but also futile. What’s done is done. Now the Manorians are here and for the first time in either of our memories willing to work with us. Both of us. I suggest, instead of dwelling on what you have lost, you focus on what you still have to gain. Wouldn’t you agree?”

 

Rhea looks absolutely furious, smoke practically billowing out of her nose as her nostrils flare. Mon-El places a comforting hand on her arm, his dark eyes pleading with her to concede.

 

“Mother…”

 

She shakes him off, setting down her tea and regaining her composure.

 

“You’re right.” Rhea says after a moment with a tight smile. “You out played me, but it’s time to move on to what’s next.”

 

Kara can’t help but resent that she thinks of all their lives and the fates of their kingdoms as a game.

 

“But know this,” Rhea goes on to say, making eye contact with Alura “You can’t control everything forever.”

 

With that Rhea abruptly stands and exits in a huff. Mon-El stands looking embarrassed at her behavior but glad to be going. He has the good form to bow briefly before following after her, leaving Kara to take her first breath in what feels like hours.

 

She sits in silence with her aunt and mother for a long time, running the conversation over and over in her mind. She comes to conclusions that she hadn’t allowed herself to entertain before.

 

Astra finally says something.

 

“Well, that might have gone better.”

 

When she and Lena married, Kara had chosen to think of it as a door of communication opening up between not only their two kingdoms, but between Manor and the rest of the world as well. She knew Lena felt the same way, and she had thought that was her mother’s reasoning when inviting Lena’s family to the festival. However, the more she thought over Rhea’s words, it occurred to her honestly for the first time, that in marrying Lena she had robbed other kingdoms, such as Daxam, of the chance to form an alliance with Manor outside of Krypton’s influence. Now with Lena by her side, any alliances with Manor would flow through Krypton instead of against it. Rhea viewed Lena as a gate to which now Kara held the only key. And apparently, this thought had not only occured to Kara’s mother, but Alura seemed to feel the same way.

 

Kara feels anger rise up in her now that some of the shock at Rhea’s verbal assault has worn off. Her hands curl into fists as she stands and faces her mother.

 

“Is it true?” Kara hisses.

 

Alura won’t look up at her. “What?”

 

“What she implied, is she right?” Kara raises her voice.

 

“Kara, please…” Her mother’s tone tells Kara all she needs to know.

 

“You used me then? Planned this somehow?”

 

Her mother fixes her with a calm stare, as if she is a child again, throwing a passing fit.

 

“Lena was your idea, Kara. I knew nothing of it.”

 

Kara glances to her aunt and sees a reflection of her mother’s mouth pressed into a thin line. She looks back to her mother, her voice a quiet fury.

 

“No, of course not. And yet somehow, you’ve ended up with everything you wanted.”

 

Alura stands and smooths out her dress, her voice cold as she responds “As have you, Kara. Perhaps, it’s best to just leave it at that.”

 

------------

 

Lena wakes up and instantly reaches for Kara. Apparently her body is growing accustomed to the feeling of Kara next to her in bed, because a wave of disappointment rushes over her when she finds that Kara is already up and gone.

 

Her disappointment is quickly overcome by a familiar sense of dread as she remembers that she has to have breakfast with her mother this morning. Lena groans and rolls over in bed, snuggling into Kara’s pillow and inhaling the blonde’s scent.

 

Perhaps Lillian had forgotten about their breakfast plans after her busy evening of social maneuvering. Maybe Lena could just close her eyes and drift back to sleep until Kara came back, and then maybe they could-

 

Just as Lena’s thoughts begin to take an erotic turn Alana enters the room.

 

“Ah, Your Highness, I was just about to wake you. Princess Kara asked me to remind you of your plans with your mother this morning. I’ve already laid out an appropriate outfit for you.”

 

Lena only responds with an angry groan into Kara’s pillow.

 

“What was that, Your Highness?” Alana asks, completely oblivious to Lena’s reluctance.

 

Lena sighs and rolls onto her back, staring up at the ceiling. “I said, thank you. That was very thoughtful.”

 

Alana smiles and continues to fiddle with things about the room, straightening and cleaning.

 

“Of course, Your Highness. You really ought to get up now. Your mother will be expecting you soon.”

 

“Where is Kara?” Lena sits up, resisting the urge to pout.

 

“Princess Kara was also called to breakfast with her mother and General Astra. You’ll see her at the summit meeting later.”

 

Lena huffs, trying to swallow her disappointment. It was one thing to spend time with Lillian, but to endure her alone was an entirely different matter. Lillian was truly gifted at hiding her malice when with anyone outside the family. Though Kara was technically family, Lena suspected Lillian didn’t see it that way, and would still strive to be on her best behavior. Perhaps it was for the best that they have a chance to speak alone. Lena had questions for Lillian. About Lex, and Manor, and their past, and the future. Questions she didn’t necessarily want Kara to know the answers to. And no matter how deeply her mother’s words might wound her, Lena knew Lillian had no real power over her here in Krypton. She was finally safe from Lillian’s wrath. Or she choses to tell herself that at least, as she finally gets up and allowed Alana to help her dress.

 

Lena is escorted to the guest wing, where she discovers that Lillian has been given Lena's old room for the duration of her stay in Krypton. Lena enters and is alarmed to find Lillian and Veronica Sinclair seated together at the breakfast table. They are in the middle of a leisurely discussion about the accommodations.

 

They both look up as she enters and the conversation halts.

 

“Lena, I was wondering if you planned to ignore my invitation.”

 

Lillian’s tone is dry, much sharper than a moment ago when she was speaking with Veronica.

 

Lena forces a pleasant smile and tries not to fidget. “Of course not, Mother.”

 

Veronica stands up and Lena is reminded just how graceful the other woman is. She moves with such slow grace, seeming to somehow glide from place to place effortlessly. And fuck, she’s still so strikingly beautiful. Not in the same radiant way that Kara is, with her bright smile and mane of golden waves. Veronica is beautiful in the sharpness of her jawline, the narrowing of her eyes, how entirely comfortable she is in her own skin. Like a viper, she is brightly colored and tempting, but there is a hint of danger to her beauty.

 

“Lena, lovely, it’s nice to finally see you.” Veronica stalks towards her, her lips spread into a sly smile. “You weren’t avoiding me were you?”

 

Lena figures its best to be direct. Playing along with Veronica’s games will only encourage her.

 

“I was actually. My apologies.”

 

Veronica smiles even wider, clearly amused.

 

“You wound me, Lena. I’ve been looking forward to meeting your wife. I owe you congratulations. She is...quite the specimen.”  

 

Lena’s jaw tenses at the thought of Veronica appraising Kara.

 

“I suppose it’s futile to ask you to stay away from Kara?” She says cooly, trying  not to let Veronica know just how bothered she is.

 

Veronica laughs, coming to stand far too close to Lena.

 

“Why on earth would I do that?” Veronica places a hand on Lena shoulder and leans in close practically whispering in Lena’s ear. “We must have so much to discuss.”

 

Lena nearly snaps “Why are you even here?”

 

“That’s enough.” Lillian says from across the room, having grown bored with Veronica’s teasing. “Leave us now.”

 

Veronica looks the slightest bit disappointed as she pulls away, but her smirk stays firmly in place.

 

“I’ll see you later, Lena. Save me a dance, won’t you?”

 

She slips out of the room, leaving Lena at last alone with Lillian.

 

“Come, Lena, sit.”

 

Lena obeys without a word, because they were meant to be having breakfast and though she felt too sick to eat, she couldn't very well stand through it. She watches at Lillian delicately spreads jam over a piece of bread and takes a bite, seeming to be in no hurry to start a conversation. Lena can’t stand the silence.

 

“What is it you wanted to see me for, Mother?”

 

Lillian’s brow furrows and she quirks an eyebrow at Lena.

 

“You’ve been away for months, darling. Was I not suppose to have missed you?”

 

Lena scoffs, rolling her eyes “You can drop the act, Mother. It’s only us now.”

 

Lillian only smiles and takes another bite of toast.

 

“How is Lex?”

 

Her brother has always been a safe topic with Lillian, she was always happy to gush about her beautiful perfect boy. It was the only motherly thing about her.

 

“Your brother is very well.” Lillian sets her toast aside and sips her tea. “He’s just gotten engaged.”

 

Lena can’t contain her look of surprise. “You’re joking!”

 

“A king needs a queen, Lena, don’t look so shocked.”

 

“I am though. I am shocked. I didn’t think…”

 

“Think what?” Lillian smiles strangely “That I would allow him to get married.”

 

It’s true. Lena assumed Lillian would keep Lex as isolated as possible in order to maintain her influence on him. Allowing another woman into his life, one with the potential to steer his love and attention away from Lillian, would inevitable lessen her hold on him. It had occurred to Lena that this was part of the reason Lillian had her sent away. She wanted to be the only person Lex confided in. A marriage would almost certainly change that.

 

But Lillian looks completely unbothered. If anything she looks amused by Lena’s surprise.

 

“I don’t allow your brother to do anything, Lena. No one does. He is a king now. And as much as you would prefer not to believe it, I can’t force him to do anything.”

 

Her implication is clear. She didn’t force Lex to sell Lena off. She didn’t force him to be cold to her when she left and she didn’t keep him from coming to visit her now. Lex had done it all on his own. They may have been Lillian’s suggestions, and they may have worked out in Lillian’s favor, but her brother was no puppet.

 

Lena tries to mask the pain this revelation causes her. The sting of Lex’s betrayal had dulled since she left Manor, and since she’d grown closer to Kara. But it was also true that Lena had better been able to bare it thinking that Lex had been manipulated or coerced into hurting her. Now the truth brought with it a fresh ache in her chest. Maybe she had never really known him at all.

 

“Who is it then?” Lena’s voice is steady and calm even as her eyes prickle with the urge to cry. “Who is he to marry?”

 

Lillian is watching her closely from across the table. Her eyes narrowed and her hands folded over her knees. It’s the only thing keeping Lena from giving into her new grief. She won’t give Lillian the satisfaction.

 

“Do you remember Helen? Lord Bryce’s eldest daughter?”

 

Lena searches her memory and comes away with images of a pretty dark headed girl with perfect manners and always a smile for Lex.

 

“Yes. She always fancied him, didn’t she?”

 

Lillian nods slowly “It seems the feeling is mutual. Lex remained in Manor in preparation for the wedding, among other things. They’ll be wed upon my return.”

 

“And Manor will have a new queen.”

 

Lillian frowns only slightly at that, but it’s enough to give Lena the smallest bit of satisfaction.

 

“Why did you bring Veronica and Jack here, Mother?”

 

Lillian sips at her tea.

 

“Was it just to manipulate me? Because if so, it’s a bit much, even for you.”

 

Lillian scoffs, one of the only undignified noises her mother allows herself.

 

“Honestly, Lena, you are so egotistical. Not everything is about you.” She shakes her head in exasperation. "You get that from your father, I’m sure.”

 

Lena ignores the insult.

 

“Then why? Last time I checked, you despised Veronica and were entirely oblivious to Jack’s existence.”

 

“Your brother has made many changes in the short time he’s been king. The Sinclair girl, while...a bit flashy, has a head for business and negotiation. She’s a natural politician.”

 

Lena could certainly see her point. Veronica was sneaky and cunning and scarily charming when she wanted to be.

 

“Why Jack?” Lena’s voice has become low and dangerous, she’s practically growling. She knows she shouldn’t expose herself this way. Allowing Lillian to see just how shaken she is by Jack’s presence here. But she is just so angry, she realizes. Angry that this one good pure thing about her home is being tainted with Lillian’s manipulation. Jack had been only a very small part of her life in Manor, but he had been a nice part. And now his presence here and whatever agenda Lillian had in mind for him would surely ruin it.

 

Lillian gives no sign that she notices Lena’s agitation.

 

“His father and brother died recently. It was somewhat tragic. But when your Lord Spheer came to accept his father’s title, Lex took an interest in him. They’ve become close. I don’t quite understand it, but your brother trusts him. And when the time came to come to Krypton...Jack volunteered.”

 

Lena sits quietly trying to absorb all of this new information. She wants to ask more about the death of Jack’s father and older brother. Their deaths were highly suspect. Not only had the previous Lord Spheer been a rather young man for his status, but the odds of him and his heir dying at the same time? Unlikely. Then there was the idea of Jack volunteering to come to Krypton. There was always the possibility that her mother was lying, but...was it really so hard to believe that Jack had simply wanted to see her again? Or was that egotistical as her mother suggested? Perhaps Jack just seized the first opportunity to explore the world outside Manor. That had been something the two always bonded over, their shared desire to explore and understand.

 

Lena doesn’t know how to feel or what to say, so she remains quiet, aware of Lillian still studying her closely.

 

After several minutes of silence, Lillian speaks again, changing the subject.

 

“You seem to be doing quite well here.”

 

Lena narrows her eyes, unsure how to take the statement.

 

“And to think of the fit you threw about coming here!” Lillian continues “You must feel silly about it now.”

 

Lena’s face flushes with anger and her hands curl into fists.

 

“You can not be serious.” She speaks slowly, through gritted teeth.

 

Lillian looks at her the way she did when she was a child, like her very existence, her every thought and feeling was ridiculous and unfounded.

 

“I suppose it was foolish of me to expect a thank you from you this morning. But honestly, after seeing the way you hung off that Kryptonian’s arm yesterday, what else was I to expect?”

 

Lena is seething, momentarily speechless in her fury.

 

She couldn’t quite tell if Lillian truly believed her own horseshit or if she were purposefully trying to get a rise out of Lena. Though she supposed, Lillian was perfectly capable of doing both.

 

“You sold me.” Lena says quietly.

 

Lillian rolls her eyes.

 

“Always so dramatic. Look at you. Look at you now, Lena. You seem very pleased with your current situation. The way you look at her.” There is the faintest bit of disgust in Lillian’s voice.

 

Lena can’t even believe what she’s hearing. The whole conversation feels so unreal and far away.

 

“Stop it.” Lena’s voice is too quiet, her words too clipped. Lillian soldiers on, seeming to grow angry herself suddenly, even as she remains oblivious to Lena’s rage.

 

“Tell me, did you even bother to wait until your wedding night? Did you even make it all the way to Argo before spreading your legs for her? Just like your whore of a mother.”

 

Lena feels as though she’s been slapped. Her face burns with a terrible mixture of anger and shame.

 

There is the briefest moment when Lena considers leaping across the table and strangling the woman that raised her. She imagines the horrific surprise on Lillian’s face and just how tightly she might be able to press until the older woman stopped breathing. It would feel so good. Lena can imagine the relief, the satisfaction of finally being free. Breathing might feel entirely different without Lillian sucking all the oxygen out of her world.

 

Lena resists, but just barely.

 

Lillian has given herself away, shown her own lurking frustration.

 

“It kills you, doesn’t it?” Lena asks, as calmly as she can manage.

 

“What?” Lillian snaps, refusing to meet her eyes.

 

“After all the trouble you went to...hating me, belittling me, making sure I never forgot I was a bastard. Then finally sending me away, giving me to the highest bidder. And somehow I ended up here, with Kara, and I might actually get to be happy. That must twist you up inside.”

 

Lillian just stares at her, for once having no retort.

 

That’s how Lena knows she’s right.

 

Lena stands calmly and smooths out her dress, refusing to show how rattled this has left her.

 

“I’ll see you at today’s meeting, Mother. Thank you for breakfast.”

 

She leaves without another word, and without having eaten a damn thing.

Chapter Text

It seems that Kara’s breakfast with her own mother went about as well as Lena’s. They don’t have much time to talk before the long string of summit meetings they are meant to attend, but it’s obvious that something is bothering the blonde.

 

She greets Lena with a soft kiss to the cheek as she runs her hands down Lena’s arms.

 

“How was your morning?”

 

Kara is fiddling with the wedding bracelet around Lena's wrist and has yet to look in Lena’s eyes.

 

“Not the best, to be honest.” Lena grumbles “I would have much rather spent it with you.” She steps a bit closer to Kara, placing her hand on her wife’s hip.

 

Kara offers a small smile, but is still obviously preoccupied.

 

“Me too.”

 

Lena is about to lean in closer and ask her what’s wrong, when an attendant interrupts them to inform them that the meeting is about to start.

 

The first meeting of the day is of all the major players present for the summit. Kings, queens, princes and princesses, and ambassadors attend. This is really just another preliminary meeting to inform everyone of the schedules and agendas for the rest of the day and the rest of the summit. At last things can start to really get down to business.

 

To her own surprise, Lena has become hyperaware of Kara’s mood and Kara’s body sitting next to hers. She can sense the tension in her wife and is able to deduce where it is being directed.

 

Kara sits right next to Alura, on the queen’s left side, like always. But the two women make a very pointed effort not to look at each other. Each time one of them shifts in their seat and accidently brushes the other’s arm or leg, they both stiffen and immediately pull away from the contact. And while normally, mother and daughter would be listening intently and whispering in each others’ ears, Lena notes that they don’t speak to each other at all throughout the meeting.

 

Perhaps, Kara’s morning really had been as troubled as Lena’s. While she had seen Kara and Alura disagree a time or two and had always sensed a small undercurrent of tension, she had never seen them so outwardly uncomfortable with one another.

 

Knowing how important family is to Kara, Lena grows very unsettled with worry at the thought of the pain this must be causing her wife. Lena was used to coldness from or fighting with her mother, but Kara was not. Not like this anyway.

 

The meeting is adjourned and Lena discovers that she was paying far too much attention to her wife and mother-in-law and not nearly enough attention to her schedule for the day. Luckily Kara was paying attention for the both of them.

 

Apparently, the summit would be splitting up into several different rotating groups to hurry the process along. There would be a meeting on trade and industry featuring ambassadors from each of the relevant kingdoms, a meeting on war (or hopefully lack thereof) with military leaders, and a meeting on innovation and information sharing attended by some of the most brilliant minds in the realm.

 

“Now, I have to go sit in with the generals. My aunt was insistent. You can join me if you like, but I thought you might have more fun with Winn.”

 

Just then Winn appears at their side, an excited smile on his boyish face. He is wearing his formal scholarly ropes and other then the dopey smile he looks much more like Lord Winslow Schott then he does Winn today.

 

“And where is Winn going?” Lena asks, not liking the idea of being away from Kara again, when they obviously had things to talk about.

 

Winn scoffs in mock offense “Your Highness, you wound me! I wouldn’t be caught dead anywhere but among scholars!” He deepens his voice and holds a hand to his chest dramatically, making Kara and Lena giggle at his theatrics.

 

“He’ll be in innovation and sharing. Of course.” Kara says with a nod in his direction.

 

“Oh,” Lena hesitates “that does sound terribly fun.” She doesn’t want to leave Kara, but she most definitely would prefer Winn and the other bookworms to a room full of war generals.

 

Kara laughs at what must be a truly torn expression on Lena’s face. It’s the first really Kara-like sound she's made all day. It makes Lena smile.

 

“Go, Princess!” Kara urges her “Perhaps you can join me in trade tomorrow.”

 

“Very well.” Lena doesn’t really require much convincing. She gives Kara a kiss on the cheek and wishes her luck.

 

Winn offers her his arm and leads them down the hall, where Princess Barbara Gordon and Lord Cisco Ramon are waiting for them.

 

“Welcome to the fun part of the festival, Your Highness.” Cisco grins.

 

Lena smiles “Happy to be here.”

 

-----------------

 

The day’s meetings drag on far longer than they had the previous two days of the summit and by the time they are released Lena and Kara have time for little more than a short bath before they are getting ready for the night’s festivities.

 

Lena is thrilled when Kara informs her that they are skipping the party tonight and sneaking outside again, this time in good company.

 

They are greeted at the front gate by Alex, Maggie, Lucy, James, Winn, Grayson, Barbara, Diana, Barry, Iris, and Cisco. All dressed down at Kara’s instructions.

 

With such a large crowd of nobility it would be impossible for them to go unnoticed like last time, but at least their attire should help assure the people of Argo that they were here to celebrate with them, not rain on their parade.

 

Even so, the people stare and bow as they pass, some children running up and begging for coin that the group happily offers. Their presence can’t stop the party for long though. Eventually, someone calls for the music to restart and Lena recognizes the hypnotizing pounding of the foreign drums.

 

They are offered free ale and food, but Kara insists upon paying. The vendors and performers swarm their group eager to impress the royals. The excitement of their arrival eventually wears down and they are allowed to enjoy the festival as she and Kara did a few days prior.

 

Lena doesn’t have to ask what prompted this outing from Kara. Surely the fun everyone is having is reason enough. But Lena is certain it has to do with whatever happened with Queen Alura early that morning. They still haven’t really talked about it, but Lena understands.

 

She had spent all day avoiding Lillian, and had dreaded having to see her at the party tonight. Luckily, Lillian had been in the trade meeting all day, far away from Lena. She imagined coming out into the city with all of her friends was Kara’s way of avoiding her own mother, while still doing her duty as a diplomat. She has a gift for bringing people together.

 

The group dances and eats and drinks far too much ale, except of course for Alex who seems content to just enjoy the view.

 

At one point on the dance floor, with the beat thundering in her chest and ale running through her veins, Lena finds herself pressed between Kara and Princess Diana. The two must have planned it somehow, because they smirk at each other over Lena’s head as Kara grinds closer against Lena’s rear, and Diana sways against Lena’s front. Diana takes both her hands and runs them through Lena’s hair, over her cheekbones and down her neck. For a moment, Lena is sure the Amazon is going to kiss her, and she swears she is absolutely powerless to stop it. But at the last moment, their lips only a breath apart, Diana pulls away with a teasing smile. She takes Kara’s hands from Lena’s waist and entwines their fingers, lifting them high above their heads as they both continue to move against Lena.

 

It’s all dizzying. Absolutely euphoric. Lena laughs, realizing they’re teasing her on purpose. Kara kisses the side of Lena’s neck, and Lena can feel her smile, the faint press of her teeth. She hasn’t even had that much ale this time, but she feels incredibly drunk on this feeling. And the night is suddenly very warm.

 

She turns in Kara and Diana’s arms and whispers in Kara’s ear. “Let’s go.”

 

Kara grins and nods. She whispers something to Diana before passing the Amazon princess over to Grayson, whom she looms over with a smile.

 

Lena takes Kara’s hand and practically drags her wife from the writhing crowd.

 

---------------

 

Lena thought she’d still be nervous about sex with Kara the second time around. Whether it be the alcohol in her system or the speed with which Kara rids her of her dress and drops to her knees at the foot of the bed, Lena feels nothing but exhilaration and desire and-

 

“Fuck!” she hisses when Kara licks roughly at her clit.

 

“Are you alright?”

 

Lena nods, biting her lower lip trying to resist the urge to push Kara’s head back down where she desperately wants it.

 

Kara chuckles at her eagerness and resumes her fervent ministrations.

 

Lena tangles both her hands in Kara’s hair, tugging and petting and scratching at her scalp.

 

The Kryptonian’s tongue is tireless and incredible and Lena comes twice under it, remarkably fast.

 

Kara doesn’t seem to mind. She slows to kiss gently at Lena until the brunette’s body completely relaxes. Climbing back up to hover over a breathless Lena, Kara kisses her slowly.

 

The blonde is still mostly dressed, her shirt partially unbuttoned and untucked from her trousers. Once Lena remembers how to use her arms, she tugs at Kara’s clothing.

 

“Can I- Do you want me to...?” Lena isn’t sure what she means to say. She hadn’t really touched Kara their first time, and she’s not certain she knows how. But she is confident enough to offer and perhaps she can imitate a bit of what Kara has done to her and what she has done to herself.

 

Kara pulls away from her completely, up and off the bed, pulling her own clothes off. Lena watches her, becoming distracted by Kara’s bare skin.

 

Kara clumsily collapses back on top of her, shaking the whole bed. They both laugh as Lena pushes the hair from Kara’s face.

 

They kiss again and get caught up in it.

 

“Can we try something?” Kara asks with a mischievous grin.

 

Lena loves the way Kara looks like this. Completely disheveled and sweaty and smirking. She can’t be sure that it’s her favorite version of Kara, but it is certainly the most arousing.

 

She has no idea what Kara might have in mind, but she nods vigorously anyway. Everything Kara has done to her so far has been an absolute pleasure.

 

Kara sits up and kneels between Lena’s spread legs. She gently rearranges Lena’s legs and her own, before slowly lowering herself down onto Lena.

 

Their clits touch and Lena nearly arches off the bed. It’s all wet and hot and slippery and so much sensation. And Kara is making some sort of beautiful sound, that’s halfway between a moan and a whimper as she slowly starts to grind against Lena. Carefully, at first, to let them both get use to just how fucking amazing this feels. Lena shows much less restraint. She is moaning and writhing wildly under Kara, unable to get her body under control.

 

Though Lena is moving around alot, Kara is doing most of the work. The position she holds herself in can’t be particularly comfortable, but she displays remarkable endurance. Speeding up her movements until she and Lena both cry out at once, coming together and against one another.

 

Kara instantly collapses on top of Lena, again. Her head rests on Lena’s chest, kissing clumsily at Lena’s sternum. They lay there, breathing heavily in complete bliss for a very long time.

 

Eventually it becomes clear that Kara has drifted to sleep, her body still halfway on top of Lena’s. She doesn’t mind. The solid warm weight of the Kryptonian grounds Lena, bringing her out of her alcohol and sex induced daze.

 

She laughs and sighs into the darkness of their bed chambers, unable to believe this is her life.

 

Settling down from her giddiness, Lena wraps her arms tightly around Kara, kissing the top of her head.

 

“Goodnight, darling.” she whispers. 

Chapter Text

Lena woke up to find that Kara was still naked and draped around her. And Lena immediately found herself wanting her again. Kara was sound asleep, but it hadn’t taken Lena long to rouse her with lingering kisses along her neck and whispered seductions.

 

Now Lena sighs with a strange relief as Kara’s fingers slip inside her. Her hands grip Kara’s muscular shoulders, her nails digging in. Lena is on top of Kara, balanced over her wife’s hips rocking slightly as Kara begins to thrust. Lena has found she likes to start this way, on top, while she gets use to the feeling of Kara fucking her.

 

Kara is flat on her back, looking up at Lena in something like awe. Her mouth slightly open, panting and half whispering Lena’s name. Those blue eyes rake over Lena again and again as if unable to fully take her in, before darting up to meet Lena’s. Lena can’t stand how beautiful Kara’s eyes are. She bends down and kisses Kara hard, moaning a little into her mouth.

“Lena- Can I- Can I roll us over?” Kara huffs between kisses. Lena smirks and nods. She’s beginning to think Kara really enjoys being on top of her, and Lena can’t say she really minds one bit.

 

It’s unclear to Lena where Kara gets the strength or the leverage to flip them with her hand still working diligently between Lena’s legs, but somehow Kara makes it seem effortless.

 

Kara kisses at Lena’s neck, nipping playfully.

 

“Is this okay?”

 

Lena nods, but is too busy enjoying the new angle of Kara’s fingers to use her words. She closes her eyes and arches her back, burying one hand in Kara’s hair to encourage her.

 

“Lena?”

 

Her wife seems to like verbal confirmation that Lena is enjoying everything they’re doing, which Lena finds very sweet, but at times difficult. Like now for example.

 

“Yes! Kara, it’s- ah...yes lovely...please.”

 

Kara’s free hand nudges at Lena’s right knee, urging her to part her legs further “Spread your legs for me, Lena.” Kara requests against her ear. Lena’s body reacts automatically, her legs falling further apart so Kara’s hips can slip between her thighs.

 

Using the thrusts of her hips to lend power and better direct the movement of her hand, Kara somehow manages to go deeper and harder into Lena. It feels incredible. So incredible and overwhelming that it takes a moment for Lena’s brain to catch up.

 

Kara’s words softly echo in her head, growing louder with each harsh thrust of Kara’s hips.

 

Spread your legs for me, Lena. Spread your legs for me. Spread your legs.

 

And all too suddenly it’s not Kara’s voice in her head anymore it’s Lillian’s. Her mother’s disgusted deride.

 

Did you even make it all the way to Argo before spreading your legs for her? Just like your whore of a mother.

 

Kara’s weight against her, pressing her into the mattress begins to feel stifling. Her fingers inside Lena start to feel more intrusive than they had only a moment ago. Lena’s pleasure quickly recedes and her body grows stiff in a matter of seconds. Her throat tightens and she abruptly feels the urge to cry.

Like your whore mother.

 

Sweet, beautiful, attentive, tireless Kara has continued moving above and inside her, completely oblivious to Lena’s swift shift in mood. Her face is buried in Lena’s neck, placing kisses against Lena’s racing pulse.

 

Lena bites her lip, stifling the urge to cry, as she reaches up to clutch at Kara’s arm to get her attention.

 

“Ka-Kara?” She whispers. It’s only because Kara’s ear is so close to her mouth that Kara even hears her.

 

Kara pulls back slightly, still moving steadily against her, but alarmed by the tremble in Lena’s voice.

 

“Princess?” Kara’s eyebrows draws together as she takes in the look on Lena’s face, and she tilts her head slightly in question.

 

Lena’s eyes dart rapidly from Kara’s to the ceiling. She is embarrassed and scared and confused all at once, and her voice breaks.

 

“I...Can we stop? ...Please?”

 

Kara instantly stills. Her face contorts in confusion and worry. And a few terribly quiet moments pass, filled with only the sound of both their panting, before Kara moves again.

 

“Of course!” Kara gently, but swiftly pulls out and shifts her body weight off of Lena.

 

The loss is jarring and Lena sighs in both relief and frustration.

 

“Lena? Did I? Was I hurting you? Or…” Kara reaches up with her clean hand and strokes gently at Lena’s cheek, trying to meet her eyes. But Lena stares firmly at the ceiling, blinking rapidly as the prickle of tears finally starts to let up.

 

“No!” Lena sobs “No, I’m sorry. I just...I-”

 

Kara shakes her head furiously, her expression pained “It’s alright. It’s alright, Lena. You never have to be sorry. We can always stop, anytime. It’s alright. You’re alright.”

 

Kara’s hands move sort of frantically around Lena, desperate to offer comfort, but unsure if Lena wants to be touched.

 

They sit quietly for a few moments, as theie breathing calms and Lena’s panic recedes, leaving only embarrassment and gratitude in its wake.

 

Carefully, Kara asks “Did I do something wrong?”

 

Shaking her head slowly, and still avoiding Kara’s eyes “No, darling. I promise, it was just...I…”

 

She doesn’t know how to express how Lillian can make her feel ashamed of feeling good. Can’t explain how her real mother was a whore and that Lillian made her believe that was somehow the worst thing a person could be. Can’t say that when Kara first retrieved her that’s exactly what she felt like. Like a whore by another name.

 

Kara cups Lena’s face in both hands. “Look at me, Lena. Please, look at me.”

 

Slowly, Lena does, her heart speeding up all over again.

 

“You don’t have to explain.” Kara says, her expression nothing but sympathetic and concerned. “You don’t ever need a reason, alright. We can stop at anytime, for any reason, or no reason at all.”

 

Lena sighs and sobs at once. She curls into Kara’s arms, lays her head against Kara’s chest and just allows herself to feel safe for awhile.

 

It may be the most loved she’s ever felt.

 

------------------

 

Eventually, Lena pulls back. Feeling better, if not still a bit embarrassed, though Kara’s made it clear there’s no need.

 

They lay side by side, facing each other, still naked.

 

“Can we just talk for awhile?”

 

Kara smiles softly and brushes a stray strand of raven hair behind Lena’s ear.

 

“What would you like to talk about?”

 

Everything. Nothing. I don’t know.

 

“Did you and your mother have a fight yesterday? At breakfast?”

 

Kara’s expression holds a flash of surprise and then something pained.

 

“Is it that obvious?”

 

Lena gives her a sympathetic smile and shrugs “It is to me.”

 

Busying herself playing with a strand of Lena’s hair, Kara sighs “We had breakfast with Queen Rhea and Prince Mon-El. Rhea...said some things. She’s just trying to cause friction, as usual, but…”

 

Lena strokes Kara’s face, runs her thumb over the crinkle in Kara’s brow.

 

“I think, my mother has been manipulating me. More than usual. More than I ever expected.” Kara finally admits.

 

Lena frowns, wants to ask for specifics. But she senses that it's best just to let Kara talk. She needs an ear to listen right now, not a problem solver.

 

“I understand, that she has to put the good of the kingdom, the people, above everything else. I’ve known that for a very long time now, but...it still hurts, you know? It hurts to think that one day, when I’m queen, I’ll have to do the same. I’ll have to put the needs of Krypton above the needs of our children.”

 

Kara says it so casually. Our children . As if those words don’t make Lena’s stomach flip and clench all at once. She seems oblivious to the blush that warms Lena’s cheeks.

 

“I don’t know if I can do that.” Kara whispers.

 

“I can’t pretend to know what it’s like to be a queen. But...I believe I’m truly getting to know you, Kara. And if I know anything about you, it’s that you’ll always try to do the kind thing. I have faith in your ability to do what’s right.”

 

Kara blinks at her, surprised and flattered. She smiles a little.

 

“And I’ll have you there with me.” She scoots closer to Lena, nudging their noses together “The brains of the operation.”

 

Lena laughs and steals a kiss “Yes, I suppose that’s true.”

 

“I don’t know that I could do it, Lena. Rule with anyone else. Anyone but you. I don’t think I could. I wouldn’t want to.”

 

Lena sighs, her mind clouded by thoughts of the future.

 

“And you won’t have to. I’m right here. I’m not going anywhere.”

 

They are quiet again, both lost in their thoughts. But they move closer together. Their bodies pressing together and tangled under the blankets. Absentmindedly, playing with each other’s hair or caressing the other’s bare skin.

 

“You fought too.” Kara finally says “You and Lillian, didn’t you?”

 

Lena’s brow pinches together and she nods “We always do.”

 

“What was it about?”

 

Lena shakes her head, shrugs her shoulders. “I’m never really sure.”

 

Who I am. Who she’s not. How by simply existing we manage to hurt each other.

 

“I think, she’s angry that I’m happy with you.” Lena tells Kara, thoughtfully. “That wasn’t part of her plan.”

 

Kara looks appropriately troubled by this. “Why is she so terribly to you?”

 

The truth is on the tip of Lena’s tongue. All she would have to do is open her mouth and let it tumble out into the space between them.

 

I’m not who you think I am.

 

But Lena has come to hate the space between them. She wants to press forward until it disappears. So she lies...or at least, she tells a less frightening truth.

 

“I’ve spent far too much of my life pondering that exact question. No more. Not now.”

 

She gives Kara a small smile, and Kara offers one back.

 

“Lena?”

 

“Hmm?”

 

“You’re happy with me?” Kara asks like she’s scared of the answer.

 

Lena meets her eyes, leaning into the complicated truth, she nods.

 

“Happier maybe then I’ve ever been.”

 

This draws a big genuine smile from Kara. Lena thinks it’s beautiful.

 

They kiss and kiss and kiss in a comfortably innocent way, all smiles and caresses.

 

This is how Alura finds them when she barges into the room unannounced.

 

The princesses spring apart, blushing furiously, and covering themselves with the mess of sheets and blankets.

 

“Mother!” Kara shrieks, somewhere between angry and shocked “What are you doing?”

 

Alura looks rather furious herself, her usual diplomatic mask failing her.

 

“Did you enjoy your evening out?” Alura demands with barely restrained anger. “It seems you did.” Her eyes dart to Lena who is doing her best to hide behind Kara and the blankets. “Perhaps you are even still enjoying it.”

 

“Get out!” Kara growls, her shoulders trembling under Lena’s hand.

 

Just then Zor-El enters the room, chasing after his wife, he takes in the scene. His cheeks flushing slightly as he averts his gaze from the bed. Lena can’t help but notice he looks a great deal like Kara in that moment.

 

“Father! Get out!” Kara shouts in exasperation.

 

Zor-El ignores her, reaching for his wife “Alura, my love, please. Surely this can wait a moment. Let’s step out into the hall.”

 

Alura shrugs off his touch, her gaze glued on Kara.

 

“It is one thing for you and Lena to sling off towards the end of the night, but another thing entirely for you to drag the other young delegates away with you! For the entire evening!”

 

“Alura-” Zor-El tries again.

 

“No.” She snaps at her husband, “She needs to hear me.”

 

“The whole of court can hear you, Mother.” Kara huffs, standing up from the bed and taking one of the blankets with her.

 

Lena’s eyes dart from Kara to Alura as they stare angrily at one another.

 

The queen seems to rein herself in, slipping into a more reserved place of vexation. She clasps her hands behind her back, and when she next speaks it is with a calm detachment.

 

“You embarrassed us, Kara. You are upset with me and you did this to get my attention. And I understand.”

 

Kara’s expression doesn’t change and Alura doesn’t allow her a chance to respond.

 

“It was childish and I suppose for now you are still allowed that luxury. You are not yet a queen. So I allow you, your indignation and your resentment of me and your ingratitude for what I’ve arranged for you. But one day, Kara, one day I fear you may come to understand me in return. You’ll have to make difficult decisions. You may have to hurt the ones you care for. You may have to wonder who the hero really is.”

 

Her words linger there, heavy in the air between them all. Kara finally begins to look sufficiently scolded. Her eyes drop from her mother’s and stare firmly at the floor.

 

Alura clears her throat, swallowing down some of her harsh emotion.

 

“Until that day, you’ll just have to trust that we do-” she glances now at her husband, who has listened silently with a tense jaw “only what we believe is best for all of Krypton. Including you.”

 

Zor-El steps closer to his wife now, he rests a comforting hand on each of her shoulders and squeezes. This time Alura visibly relaxes under his touch. Reaching up to give one of his hands a gentle squeeze.

 

“Kara?”

 

His daughter slowly, stubbornly looks up, meeting his eyes.

 

“You and Lena will be present for your meetings. We’ve permanently assigned her to the information sharing with Lord Schott. He says she’s of great use there.” Zor-El meets Lena’s eyes briefly, offering what she thinks is meant to be a reassuring smile. “You’ll be in trade today with me.” He tells Kara. “You will both attend the feast tonight, and you will remain for the duration of the evening.”

 

“This is true for the remainder of the summit.” Alura says sharply “You will be on your best behavior from now on. There is too much at stake, right now. Once the festival is over, if you still have...grievances we can discuss them. And you can be as angry with me as you like. But for now...with all these foreigners here, 'stronger together' must hold true.”

 

“Are we understood?” Zor-El asks softly.

 

Kara is quiet for too long, just staring at her parents almost sadly.

 

Lena leans toward her slightly, resting a hand on her shoulder “Kara…” She pleads quietly.

 

“I understand.” Kara says to the king and queen. “I’m sorry.”

 

Zor-El nods, seemingly satisfied, but Alura studies Kara for a few moments longer, a hint of sadness in her own expression. Zor-El urges them towards the door, much to everyone’s relief.

 

“Please forgive our intrusion.” He says, looking very genuinely sorry for walking in on them this way, before closing the door.

 

Lena sighs heavily, realizing she’d been scarcely breathing during the entire ordeal. She looks to Kara, expecting the same relief, but finds her wife just as rigid as she had been. Kara is just staring thoughtfully into an empty corner of the room, and Lena fears the frown on her beautiful face may become permanent.

 

She runs her hand down from Kara’s shoulder to her hand, pulling Kara to sit on the bed and moving closer to her.

 

“Kara? Darling, are you alright?”

 

“I’m…” Kara seems to search for the right words and grow frustrated “I’m sorry.” she sighs.

 

Lena isn’t sure what to say. She’s still uncertain what this argument had really been about and she can tell now isn’t the time to ask. Besides, if Kara had wanted to tell her she would have earlier while they were laying in bed.

 

“We should get up now.” Kara says suddenly. She stands up again, pulling out of Lena’s reach “The meetings will be starting soon, and we obviously can’t be late.”

 

Lena frowns, she was usually the one pulling away and avoiding the subject, not Kara.

 

“Of course.” She says, watching as Kara calls in the handmaids to dress them.

 

--------------------

 

Kara is quiet as they bathe and dress and walk across the palace grounds to the meeting halls.

 

She offers Lena only a kiss on the cheek as she passes her off to Winn and goes to join her father in the trade meeting.

 

Luckily, Lena has the scholars to distract her for the next couple of hours. She loses herself and her worries for awhile in the pursuit of new knowledge and understanding.

 

When they adjourn for lunch Lena declines an invitation to dine with Winn and Barbara and Cisco.

 

Instead she wanders into one of the many gardens and settles down in the quiet, grateful to have some time alone.

 

It’s strange to her how little time to herself she has here. Her whole life in Manor, the majority of her time was spent in solitude. Now, she is always accompanied by someone. Usually Kara. Sometimes, Winn or Maggie or Lois. She doesn’t realize how much she’s missed her solitude until she’s sits down in the garden and is starkly alone.

 

Lena is only just beginning to get lost in her thoughts when she hears footsteps approaching and turns towards the noise. She is shocked to find Jack, standing there near the garden’s entrance. He looks pleased yet hesitant to see her.

 

“Jack?”

 

He smiles, the white of his teeth beaming through his dark facial hair.

 

“I saw you sneak off.” He says by way of explanation.

 

Lena quirks an eyebrow and smirks at him “And you followed me?”

 

Jack shrugs his shoulders “Not very well. This place is a maze.”

 

“Yes, it takes some getting use to.”

 

“And have you?” His voice grows softer, more serious “Gotten use to it, I mean.”

 

Lena looks away from him, down at her fidgeting hands.

 

“Why are you here, Jack?”

 

She doesn’t ask it harshly, in fact, it’s almost a whisper. Just loud enough for him to hear. And it’s a loaded question. Why did he follow her to this garden? Why did he follow her to the kingdom? What good could come of it?

 

“I’d like to speak with you. If I may?”

 

He hasn’t come any closer to her, not a single step forward since she noticed him.

 

Lena doesn’t really know if it’s appropriate. Can’t bring herself to care. What if this is their last chance to have a meaningful conversation? What if she never sees him again?

 

She waves him over, making plenty of room on the bench for them to both sit comfortably, but with maximum space between them.

 

They sit in tense silence for awhile, though he had said he wanted to talk. Perhaps they are both too afraid of what he has to say.

 

“What happened?” Lena asks carefully “What happened to your father and brother?”

 

Jack stares at the ground, fiddling with his cufflinks.

 

“Nearly...two weeks after your father died, they went on a hunting trip. As they often did. I stayed behind, as I usually do. I’ve never been very good at killing.” He takes a deep breath and nods to himself as if assuring himself that his next words are true. “They were ambushed. By bandits on their second night away. My father. My brother. And six of our guardsmen were killed.”

 

He looks up at Lena then, his eyes almost tearful. “I woke up the next morning to discover, I was the Lord of Sterling. And the new King of Manor wanted to see me.”

 

Lena runs this information through her mind. Something curls up in her stomach and settles with dread. She clears her throat and presses her lips together hard to keep from saying what she desperately doesn’t want to be true.

 

Lex killed them. She realizes, but refuses to say. He arranged for Jack to inherit his House, sooner rather than later.

 

Her face must tell Jack that she’s come to this horrific conclusion, because he nods more firmly.

 

“Yes.” is all he says as the understanding passes between them.

 

“I don’t...I don’t quite understand.” Lena says carefully, her brow furrowed. “Why- Why you?”

 

Jack suddenly makes a sound that is half bitter laughter and half sob. He shakes his head and runs a frustrated hand through his hair.

 

“I’ve been asking myself that question, since they died. I don’t know, Lena. I don’t know.”

 

Lena wants to reach out to him, offer even the faintest shred of comfort. But she restrains herself. She’s not even sure if she should be alone here with him. What would it look like if they were discovered crouched and crying together?

 

“I didn’t...I never loved them.” Jack admits “And they only tolerated me. But...I never wanted- I never would have asked for-”

 

Lena can’t help herself. She reaches out and places a hand on his knee, squeezing hard. Trying to let him know she’s there.

 

She knows Jack had a strained at best relationship with this family. They never appreciate him. Never bothered to understand his talents and what he could have offered their house, the kingdom. They were mean and disrespectful to him, because we was the scholarly second son. But Lena also understood that Jack never hated them for it. His heart was too kind for that. To him, they were the only family he ever had, and he never would have wished for their violent deaths so that he could gain their inheritance.

 

“Shhh.” Lena coos to him, as he tries to get his emotions under control. “I’m sorry.” She whispers and means it “I’m so so sorry.”

 

It must have been so painful for him, over these last months. Grieving for his family while suspecting their deaths were no accident. And all the while being brought into the fold of the very man he suspected of arranging it all. He must have had no one to confide in with Lena gone.

 

Jack gains some composure, clearing his throat and wiping his eyes, though his sobs had been tearless. He lays his hand over Lena’s on his knee, and squeezes gratefully. His hand is big and calloused and strong from years of blacksmith training. Building things instead of killing things.

 

“I don’t know why he’d do this.” Lena whispers, shaking her head.

 

Lex had never shown any particular interest in Jack or the House of Sterling, beyond simple politeness and the occasional teasing of Lena’s fondness for him.

 

“I can only suppose, that someone finally found some value in me.” Jack says, sadly. “I could have lived without it.”

 

Lena shakes her head, suddenly a bit angry at her brother. Finally Jack gets the recognition he deserves, the opportunity to be of use to Manor, but at what cost? Now his talents will always be tainted in his own mind.

 

“Lena, there’s more.”

 

Lena draws back out of her heated thoughts, surprised by Jack’s voice so near to her. She isn’t sure she wants to hear anymore, but she nods to him anyway.

 

“My House received your brother’s offer of you. Just as every House in the kingdom did, I suspect.”

 

Lena tenses, a small ache in her chest everytime someone mentions Lex’s offer.

 

“My brother was disinterested, because...well, you know.” Because you’re a bastard. He doesn’t say. “But I...Lena, surely, you must know, I…” He can’t find the words, and Lena thinks perhaps that’s for the best. She does know. She does.

 

Lena nods and bites her lip, struggling against the urge to speak or cry or both.

 

“I went to my father, already knowing what his answer would be, but I asked anyway, because it was you.”

 

Lena squeezes his knee harder, too hard, enough to hurt, because she can’t hear this. She doesn’t want to know this. It doesn’t matter now.

 

Jack continues regardless, the words pouring out of him.

 

“He said it was too much to spend on a wife for a second son. Which of course it was, but...I resented him for it. I was so angry with him. For the first time in my life, I asked something of him. Just this one thing in a lifetime, and he refused me.”

 

Jack’s free hand is clinched in a fist.

 

“I can’t presume to know how you feel, Lena. Or how you may have felt before. And I know none of it matters now anyway. But I thought perhaps you could have loved me, and I know, I’m certain that I could have loved you, if I didn’t already. If I don’t still.”

 

“Jack, stop.” Lena pleads, a single angry tear slips from her eye and she quickly wipes it away.

 

She is so angry that nothing has ever been just. That their lives might have been so very different right from the start. And that perhaps in another existence, they both might have been happy.

 

She doesn’t know if the fondness and connection she once held for him could be called love. Or if given time and permission as his wife she would have come to love him, the way people do in her stories. But what she does know is that something tangible has bloomed between she and Kara in her time here. Something frightening and slow, but undeniable. The word love will sometimes flitter across her mind when Kara touches or looks at her or says that they’re stronger together or assures her that she is not alone. Lena thinks how it doesn’t really matter now what might have been between her and Jack, because she has Kara. She has her, and now that’s all that matters.

 

Jack must somehow read all of this in Lena’s expression, because he pulls back.  Gently taking her hand off his knee and placing a quick kiss on her knuckles before giving it back to her.

 

“I know, it’s not my place to say these things, and I’m sorry to have upset you.” Jack says, more formal all of the sudden, a flip switched. “I just...I know, none of it makes any difference now. And I can see that you are...maybe happy here. With her. But I needed you to know, Lena. I needed you to know that I tried. And if I had been Lord of Sterling before your marriage I would have given...anything, everything to be with you.”

 

“Jack…” Her voice cracks over his name.

 

He slides off the bench and kneels in front of her.

 

“Don’t be sad, Princess. I didn’t want to make you sad. I...I just know how unwanted you felt all those years, and I understand why. But now you know that at least one person want you, Lena.”

 

She doesn’t know what to say. Doesn’t know what there is left to say. He said it all, and he said it so well. And before Lena knows what’s happening he’s standing, giving her a sad smile, and taking his leave.

 

Lena just sits there, alone, wondering if she should have told him she had wanted him too.

Chapter Text

“I’m not telling you this to upset you.”

 

Kara maintains a rather blank expression, so as not to convey any wayward emotions that might sneak up on her.

 

Lena had found her resting in their chambers after the meetings had concluded and proceeded to recount her entire conversation with Jack. The words had poured from Lena as unstoppable as the shake in her voice and the tears that threatened to spill from her eyes.

 

Kara was unprepared for such an emotional display from her wife, but had promptly taken Lena into her arms, practically pulling her into her lap. She listened and soothed Lena even as she struggled to process the information.

 

Lord Jack Spheer loved Lena.

 

He probably always had and still did to this day.

 

He came here to confess his feelings.

 

And these facts upset Lena.

 

Kara tried to absorb the information as calmly as possible, staving off the inevitable question... Was Lena upset because she returned the lord’s feelings? Focusing on soothing Lena, helped delay any panic or hurt Kara might have felt at the thought.

 

Now as Lena says “I’m not telling you this to upset you.” and they settle into a moment of quiet reflection, Kara expects to feel that toxic swell of jealousy from a few days before. A heated, almost angry feeling that Kara had little experience with. But it never comes. As the situation unfolds in her mind and she takes into account the sincerity of Lena’s distress and the difficulty of her position, Kara can summon nothing but pity and distress of her own.

 

This isn’t about her. And how she may or may not feel about Jack’s confession. This is about Lena. This is about something Lena seemed to be grieving. A loss that Kara couldn’t fully understand. Kara wouldn’t make this about any of her own insecurities or some twisted sense of possession over Lena. Her wife was a person. A whole person. She had a whole life before Kara barged into it. That’s what this was about. That life that was still very much a part of her. That life that she was still trying to leave behind.

 

She runs her fingers through Lena’s hair and places a kiss on her forehead, her heart aching to see Lena in such pain. She pulls back to look Lena in the face. The brunette’s eyes slightly red from holding back tears and her cheeks flush, her eyes full of anxiety as she awaits Kara’s reaction.

 

Kara caresses her cheek and with the gentlest expression tries to comfort her.

 

“I’m not upset, Lena.”

 

Lena searches her expression skeptically, looking for any signs of anger.

 

“I mean, it hurts me to see you hurting. And...I’d be lying if I claimed to be unbothered to hear it, but...I’m glad you told me. I’m glad that you felt...you could trust me with this.”

 

Lena nods a little, giving Kara a sad smile. “I do trust you, Kara. I-Well I didn’t mean to rush in here and dump all this on you. I just...he took me so by surprise, and I don’t know how to feel.”

 

She takes Kara’s hands in hers and squeezes, grounding herself in Kara’s grasp.

 

“I’ve never...even when things were well with Lex, had someone to...confide it. Someone I could count on to be on my side. But now...I think, that person is you, Kara. I want it to be you. I want to have that.”

 

This brings tears to Kara’s eyes, she fights them off and smiles instead.

 

“I think, I can do that. I will always be on your side.”

 

This seems to relax them both for a moment. They sit, hands clasped, until Kara has to ask.

 

“Do you...Do you think you might have been happy with him?”

 

She holds her breath and almost immediately regrets asking. Lena’s brow furrows in thought and she shrugs her shoulders.

 

“I can’t say how I might have felt in another life. Under different circumstances. In a world, where I never met you. All I know is that I’ve never been happier than I am here, with you.”

 

Kara nods, and though she can't be sure, she chooses to believe that is enough.

 

---------------------

 

That night in the ballroom, Jack purposefully seems to keep his distance and Lena resolves to do the same. Perhaps he really did come here to say his piece and leave it at that. Lena can only hope that’s the case. She doesn’t know what’s left to say between them. At this point they can only bring each other pain. She and Kara don’t need the distraction. Not with Lillian and Rhea potentially plotting. Not with Kara’s parents supervising them so closely.

 

It’s obvious to Lena that Kara is trying to cheer her up. Though ideally that would involve venturing out into the people’s wild celebrations, Kara has resolved to help Lena have as much fun as possible right there in the ballroom amongst the dignitaries and delegates.

 

Kara is never so full of energy and light as she is when surrounded by her friends. Laughing and dancing and beaming at Lena like she makes Rao shine.

 

It’s contagious just as Lena imagines Kara means for it to be. Lena finds herself laughing as well. Being passed around the dancefloor from Kara to Kal to Maggie then back to Kara again.

 

She dances a few songs with Winn and he let’s her lead. It takes a few moments, and a couple of tender toes, for Lena to get use to pushing and pulling instead of being pushed and pulled. But once she gives into it, her natural grace takes over and they are moving easily.

 

“Is there anything you aren’t good at, Highness?”

 

Lena flashes a wicked grin “I’ve been meaning to try my hand at swordplay, but Kara is concerned I’ll best her.”

 

“Oh, I would love to see that!”

 

They’re laughing as the song changes and a hand claps on Winn shoulder.

 

“May I cut in?”

 

The laughter immediately dies in their throats.

 

Prince Mon-El is standing there looking expectantly at Lena even as his hand tightens slightly on Winn’s right shoulder.

 

Winn reluctantly steps back, lowering his eyes and nodding slightly to the prince. His eyes dart to Lena’s briefly in apology, though Lena can hardly blame him. As a Lord of Krypton, Winn has no right to refuse a prince. Even one baring his teeth in a smile that makes Lena’s stomach churn.

 

“Of course, Your Highness.” Winn says through a tight smile. He bows slightly to Lena “Thank you for the dance, Princess.”

 

Lena can’t manage to force a smile of her own, but she nods to Winn and allows Mon-El to step into the place he previously occupied.

 

One of the prince’s hands settles heavily on Lena’s hip, while the other grasps her firmly. There is no question about who will lead as he steps into her and Lena’s years of dance lessons kick in.

 

“We’ve hardly spoken at all and the festival is halfway through. How did that happen?”

 

His breath is hot against her ear.

 

Lena searches the room for Kara each time they spin, but her wife seems to have disappeared for the moment.

 

“So many people, so little time.” She says shortly, just on the edge of rude.

 

Mon-El breaths out a huff of laughter, seemingly oblivious to her discomfort.

 

“That much is true.” He’s saying “I’ve been coming to this party since I was five years old and there’s always someone knew to meet. Though few as anticipated as you.”

 

Lena’s eyes narrow and the wheels in her mind turn.

 

The Daxamites have seemed to be even more interested in Lena than everyone else, since their arrival. Always implying that Lena has been talked up to them in some way. But by who? For what purpose. This may be Lena’s best chance to find out. And she felt far more capable of handling the prince then she did his mother.

 

“How do you mean?” Lena asks, meeting Mon-El’s eyes.

 

The prince tilts his head as if he means to be coy, but if Lena knows anything about princes, it’s that they love to hear themselves talk. He can't resist for long.

 

“Perhaps, it’s not polite to mention. But considering the circumstances, I’ve been eager to meet you.” He actually looks sincere for a moment, even as his words confuse Lena. Then his gaze slowly ventures from her face all the way down her body and back again, appraising. “And I must admit, seeing what I’ve been deprived of has added more than a little insult to injury.”

 

The heat of his gaze brings back unpleasant memories for Lena. Suddenly this feels far too much like a Manorial gathering where Lena was little more than a pretty spectacle. But Lena is far to interested in his meaning to dwell on the prince’s crudeness.

 

As much as the sentence pains her, Lena manages to say “I don’t quite get your meaning.”

 

Mon-El gives her a strange look, as if she should know what he’s talking about.

 

“Come now, Princess. I don’t hold you responsible, of course. You had little say in the matter.” He laughs a little and it only frustrates Lena more. “But being here with you, it’s hard not to imagine how close you came to being mine.”

 

Lena can just barely contain her surprise. A sinking feeling settles in her stomach and she's suddenly not so sure she wants to know what he’s talking about. But she’s got the prince going now, and her curiosity compels her to let him keep talking.

 

“I can’t help but regret showing Kara that letter.”

 

“Letter?” Lena hears herself say.

 

“Yes. We were both at the border seeing to some minor skirmishes when I received your brother’s offer. Along with a letter from my mother informing me that she’d accepted you on my behalf.” Mon-El rolls his eyes and his jaw tenses “I was angry she hadn’t at least consulted me first. I barely even read the description of you.” His eyes trace the line of her jaw, down her neck, across her collarbone. It burns Lena’s skin, but she remains silent. “I was so disgruntled I got slobbering drunk that same night. And foolishly, showed the offer and letter to Kara. She knew nothing about it. Hadn’t received one of her own apparently.”

Lena’s head begins to spin with this new information. She feels a new unpleasant revelation begins to build in the corner of her mind as he talks. “I don’t remember much about that night.” Mon-El laughs self-deprecatingly “But I’m almost certain I asked Kara to marry me again. Told her I’d rather have her than some Luthor. She refused me, of course. Again.” He growls. He shakes his head “Imagine my surprise, when I wake the next morning to find her gone, without a word. And by the time I returned home, mother was furious. Blamed me completely, of course.”

“Why?” Lena whispers, already being pretty sure of the answer.

 

“Kara had run off and outbid her.” Mon-El laughs bitterly “We hadn’t even known it was an auction.”

 

The picture becomes clear in Lena’s mind and her heart aches. Kara had lied to her, again. And it was so obvious. She had been silly to disregard all the politics at play from the beginning. Too caught up in the fairytale.

 

She barely even hears what Mon-El says next.

 

“I wasn’t particularly devastated, but now…” He looks at her suggestively again, his fingers digging into her hip as he pulls their bodies closer. “I’m sorry to have missed out on you. I can’t help but wonder if Kara wouldn’t mind sharing for a night or two.”

 

Anger, embarrassment, and disgust is only beginning to rise up in Lena when the Daxamite prince is being ripped from her arms.

 

------------

 

Kara wasn’t sure how long Lena had been in Mon-El's grasp before she noticed.  She had lost track of Lena and become invested in a debate about desserts with Barry and Diana, when Winn found her and pointed out that Lena was dancing with Mon-El.

 

Kara had immediately excused herself from the conversation and weaved her way through the crowd towards Lena, who looked entirely uncomfortable in the Daxamite's embrace.

 

She had come up behind Mon-El, unnoticed by him or Lena, just in time to hear his unabashed proposition.

 

“...I can’t help but wonder if Kara wouldn’t mind sharing…”

 

She certainly fucking would.

 

Now without even thinking about it, Kara grabs the prince and rips him away from Lena. She turns him around and grasps him by the front of his tunic, slamming him into the nearest wall.

 

The prince yelps and the crowd parts around them in alarmed gasps as the music stops playing.

 

Kara holds him against the wall and fixes him with a deadly stare.

 

She doesn’t consider herself to be an angry or violent person. And despite all her extensive combat training, Kara only ever fights in defense of others or herself, or for harmless sparing fun with her friends. But now as she looks into Mon-El's sniveling outraged expression all she wants to do is hurt him.

 

Kara’s fingers cramp with the force of her grip and her shoulders shake with the effort of her control. Her pulse is pounding in her ears and every single disrespectful or entitled thing the prince as ever said echos in her ears. Beginning and ending with the thought of his body pressing into Lena’s on the dancefloor.

 

“Let go of me!” He laughs at her nervously, trying to push her away. Like this is all a joke. But Kara just readjusts her hold on him and slams his back into the wall again.

 

“What’s wrong with you?” She growls.

 

“Kara!”

 

She turns her head to see her mother and father and Queen Rhea pushing their way through the crowd. Each one of them looking irate.

 

She glimpses Lena there too, staring at the scene with a strange expression. She watches as Jack Spheer approaches her, touching Lena’s elbow and asking “Are you alright, Princess?”

 

Lena seems to snap out of a stupor. Shaking her head, and shaking off Jack’s touch before turning without a word and disappearing into the crowd.

 

Kara looks back to Mon-El, still trying to decide through her rage what to do with him now.

 

“Kara, enough!” She hears her mother command, with cold fury.

 

But it’s the gentle touch of Alex’s hand on her shoulder, that ultimately calms Kara.

 

She meets Mon-El’s eyes and speaks slowly, so he’s sure to understand her.

 

“Touch my wife again...and no amount of diplomacy will restrain me.”

 

He nods almost imperceivably, his face red with embarrassment.

 

Kara shoves off him and steps away. Alex places both hands on her shoulders and steers her quickly away from both the Daxamites and her parents, who don’t make to follow. Kara glares at Jack as they pass him.

 

“Where’s Lena?”

 

“She ran outside.” Alex tells her “I think, Maggie and Lois followed after her.”

 

“Did you hear what he said to her?” Kara growls, her hands curling back into fists.

 

Alex shakes her head and puts her arm around Kara. “No, but I didn’t have to. He’s always been insufferable.”

 

“I have to talk to Lena. I think...I think he must have said something to upset her. Something...else.”

 

“This way.” Alex takes her hand and leads them to the nearest balcony exit.

 

There they find Maggie and Lois huddled around a clearly distressed Lena.

 

All three stop murmuring and turn to look when Kara and Alex emerge out onto the terrace.

 

Lena has obviously been crying, but the furrow of her brow and the heat in her gaze tell Kara that they are angry tears. It takes Kara a few moments of awkward silence to realize that Lena is angry with her.

 

“Lena and I need a moment alone.” Kara says to her sisters.

 

To her surprise, Maggie and Lois both look to Lena for something close to permission. Lena nods to them, before turning her eyes down and turning away to gather herself.

 

Maggie and Lois each give Kara a sympathetic smile as they pass, before leaving with Alex the way they’d come.

 

Kara approaches Lena cautiously, giving her wife space, while trying to understand exactly what it is Lena is upset about.  Though she has an idea.

 

“Lena?”

 

Lena is turned away from her, leaning against the balcony railing staring out into the night.

 

In the distance, past the palace grounds, they can see the glow of the city below. The celebration in full swing. They can almost hear the music, catch the smell of street food on the night breeze.  Soon there will be fireworks.

 

Kara makes her way to the balcony and rest against the railing too, facing Lena, but keeping a few feet of space between them.

 

“Lena?” she says again.

 

“Why did you decide to marry me, Kara?”

 

Her voice is calmer than Kara expects, but also sad, and it holds the clear hint of accusation.

 

Hadn’t they been through this?

 

“I…” Kara struggles with the question now. There were so many factors, so many moving parts it was hard to articulate or even fathom what the answer was. “Lena, what is it you want to know, exactly?”

 

Lena smiles and looks down at her hands where they’re clasped in front of her. But it’s not a good smile. It’s sour and strained. It makes Kara’s stomach twist.

 

“That’s the thing about lying. You have to be able to tell the same story over and over again, until it feels like the truth. No inconsistencies.”

 

“I haven’t lied to you, Lena. Not since the beginning. What is this about?”

 

“You said, you came for me because you felt I was in danger. Because you couldn’t stand the injustice of my situation. It didn’t sit right with your values.” Lena states, her voice almost mocking.

 

Kara nods and despite herself takes a step closer, just barely resisting the urge to touch Lena. She just wants Lena to look at her. Needs it, really. Anything but this cold distance.

 

“That’s all the truth. What did Mon-El say to you?” Kara pleads.

 

“He told me what you and my mother failed to divulge. The Daxamites were the first to claim me. Weren’t they? I was going to marry Mon-El.”

 

Kara is struck by the anger in Lena’s voice as she says this, and mumbles out a confused “Yes. That’s-That’s true. What of it?”

 

Lena looks at her then for the first time, her face twisted in anger.

 

“And it wasn’t until hearing of this that you decide to run off and marry me yourself, is that right?”

 

Kara shakes her head, struggling to follow Lena’s train of thought.

 

Lena mistakes this for a denial, another lie. “No? So you didn’t think to yourself in that moment, that it wouldn’t do to let the Daxamites form a marital alliance with Manor? That the two kingdoms united would pose a threat to Kryptonian dominance in the region? Wouldn’t it be easier to just claim me for Krypton yourself and prevent such an alliance from happening?”

 

“Lena, that’s not why I-”

 

“How can you expect me to believe that?” Lena shouts, her anger fading in that moment to reveal her hurt. Kara can see it written all over her face.

 

In Lena’s mind Kara had reduced her to a bargaining chip. A valuable piece in the region’s great game of chess. Just as everyone else had done. Just like Lex and Lillian when they started all this.

 

Kara should have known these sorts of thoughts would occur to Lena eventually. Just as they had to Kara during breakfast with her mother and Rhea, the day before.

 

The thought of Daxam’s political gain had honestly never occurred to Kara, originally when Mon-El had drunkenly complained about being betrothed to Lena, all those months ago. All Kara could think about was the poor girl who would have to marry Mon-El, likely against her will. Kara had felt such a great swell of pity and indignation, she couldn’t let it stand. She’d read over the description of Lena that Mon-El had showed her and knew Mon-El wouldn’t appreciate a woman who was intelligent and opinionated. She knew Rhea would trample all over the girl with a vengeance and crush any semblance of spirit or freedom the Luthor girl might have.

 

So yes, Kara had concocted a plan to save her. To at least give this woman a chance to determine her own destiny. She'd stolen away in the middle of the night, ridden back to Argo, and told her mother everything. And to Kara’s surprise, Alura had been supportive and had sent her off at once to fetch Lena, before the Daxamites could counter offer.

 

Kara felt like something of a fool now, for not realizing her mother’s political motivations. It all made sense. And her mother’s concerns had been valid. That’s why Alura had pushed Kara so hard to get Lena to agree to marriage. It’s why she’d rushed the wedding. It’s why Rhea was more disgruntled than usual. And it’s why Lena is currently looking at her like she’d thrown her against the wall rather than Mon-El.

 

But none of this changed the fact that Kara’s intentions had been pure. And she couldn’t bring herself to regret her actions for a moment, because they had led her to Lena.

 

How to explain all that to Lena though? How to make her believe when even to Kara her own innocence seemed unlikely?

 

“I love you.” Kara blurts out, frustrated. Lena just stares at her, shaking her head like she can barely stand to hear it. “I love you, Lena. That’s the truth. That’s what real. I can’t account for all the moving pieces and inner workings of our worlds or for the actions of others. All I can tell you is my truth. As I understand it, as I choose to believe it. And you have to choose too. That’s what trust really is, Lena. And love too, I think.” Kara steps quickly forward taking Lena’s hands in hers before she can move away. She catches Lena’s gaze and tries her best to tell her everything with a look.

“We have to choose it every day, Lena. We can’t know anything for certain. We have to choose to trust and love and do what’s best for each other every single day.”

 

Lena is shaking her head, a tear tracking down her cheek, but Kara is getting to her. She can see the walls coming down.

 

“I’ll tell you everything. The whole story as I remember it, if you like. But you can never know for sure. You just have to believe me. Believe in me. In us.”

 

Lena closes her eyes and sighs, clearly exhausted. She rests her forehead against Kara’s.

 

“I choose you, Kara.” She finally whispers “I love you too.”

 

Kara smiles and kisses her gently.

 

---------------

 

This isn’t over. Lena is still hurt and confused. But this is just a fight, she realizes. Possibly just a misunderstanding. Just another bump in what has already been a rough path. They each have more to say and they will, later. For now Lena chooses to believe in Kara. Chooses to be held and comforted. Chooses to believe that however it came about, meeting Kara Zor-El is the best thing to ever happen to her.

Chapter Text

After the party had ended, Kara knew her parents would be waiting to speak with her. She offered to escort Lena back to their chambers before seeking out what was sure to be another scolding. But Lena insisted on accompanying her.

 

Together they made their way to her parents’ study. Kara, knocking softly at the door, couldn’t help but hope that perhaps they’d gone straight to bed. No such luck.

 

The muffled voice of Zor-El tells them to enter. And so taking Lena’s hand reassuringly in hers, Kara opens the door and they slip inside, only to find the room full to the brim already.

 

All three royal pairs were apparently awaiting them, along with Astra, Kal, Lois, Alex, and Maggie.

 

The room was really far too small for such a meeting. Limited to two wooden desks at each end of the room, and twin couches set to face each other in front of the fireplace.

 

Her parents were situated behind her mother’s desk on the left side of the room. Alura sat at the desk, her head bowed and cradled in her hands. Zor-El stood behind her, his hands massaging gently at her shoulders and his form bent over her to whisper at her ear. They both look up at her and Lena as they enter, their eyes equally tired, though Zor-El’s much softer than his wife’s. The smallest stab of guilt strikes Kara then. She hadn’t meant to cause her parents any undue stress, during what was already a high stress time. She hated to think that they themselves might have just suffered some sort of berating on her behalf from their co-rulers.

 

Jor-El and Lara are both standing by the window next to Alura’s desk. It seems as though they had been gazing out of it side by side as they waited. No doubt they could still see the city’s celebration from here, going strong far longer than the formal feast. They too turn as the girls enter, but of all the sitting kings and queens, Kara has always found her aunt and uncle the most inscrutable. Their faces practiced masks that seemed moved only by emotions brought on by their son or grandchild.

 

Jeremiah and Eliza Danvers sit nestled together on one of the couches. Their hands clasped together in Eliza lap, as though Jeremiah had been playing absentmindedly with his wife’s fingers. They both seem relieved to see Kara and Lena. Their faces each filled with a sort of reassuring sympathy, that Kara both recognized and appreciated. The Danvers were perhaps the most kind and naturally caring people she had ever known and it showed even just in the small smile Eliza offers her in greeting.

 

Alex and Maggie are seated beside them, looking entirely displeased to be there. Alex looks more grumpy than anything. Kara imagines half of this is due to her being called into a family meeting, which she always hates, and half of it being anger on Kara’s behalf. Maggie looked uncomfortable and a bit out of place, as she almost always did on such occasions.

 

Though she and Alex had been married for over two years now, Kara knew that Maggie was still adjusting to their way of life. She still never felt quite relevant in the room full of royals. Though she always did her best to lend comfort to Alex, as she does now. One of her hands snaked behind Alex’s neck rubbing gently at the tension there, and her other resting on top of Alex’s baby bump protectively.

 

Opposite them, on the other couch stts Lois. Kal-El standing behind her, his hands on her shoulders, almost mirroring Kara’s parents’ position. Much like Jeremiah and Eliza, both Lois and Kal offer sympathetic expression. Kal to Kara and Lois to Lena. Each clearly concerned.

 

Lastly, her Aunt Astra sits at Zor-El’s desk. She is leaned back, a hand rubbing at her temple. Her thoughtful expression doesn’t change as they enter. Her eyes simply darting up to meet Kara’s briefly and communicate something Kara doesn’t quite understand.  

 

Kara takes in the room and gives Lena’s hand a squeeze, certain this must be even more overwhelming and uncomfortable for Lena then it is even for her.

 

When the room remains quiet, looking at Kara expectantly, she decides they are waiting for her to speak. She clears her throat and brushed her hair behind her ears.

 

“I didn’t realize we’d kept so many people waiting. Apologies.”

 

To Kara’s great surprise and relief, Eliza is the first to speak.

 

“That’s alright, dears, we were all just talking.” she offers with a slightly strained smile.

 

“Can you imagine what about?” Zor-El says, straightening from his hunched position. One of Alura’s hands covers his where it rests on her shoulder, and she stands from her desk.

 

Here we go. Kara thinks, bracing herself.

 

“Kara, what were you thinking? For Rao’s sake, you’ve known the boy since you were small. And today? Today is the day you simply can’t tolerate him anymore?”

 

“Yes, I suppose it was.” Kara mutters, to which her mother responds with a scoff.

 

“You know how fragile things are right now.” Her father says, exasperated. He pinches the bridge of his nose. Kara knows it means he has a headache. “We ask you to be civil, for one week and-”

 

“You ask me to be civil all the time.” Kara interrupts, stepping forward. “Tell me what I was suppose to have done?” she dares them, looking at each king and queen in the room then finally at her aunt whom she suspects understands. She takes a deep breathe to rein in any anger she feels swell up, and looks back to her parents. “You ask me to be civil and yet you don’t demand the same of the Daxamites in our own home.”

 

Her father actually flinches at her quiet accusation, looking slightly confused.

 

“It’s true.” Kara continues “He disrespected Lena tonight. He disrespected me as he has done countless times. As he has disrespected Alex and Lois and Lucy and probably every other woman whose had the misfortune to encounter him-” Kara says this last bit with a bitter laugh.

 

Her father and uncle both shake their heads slightly, looking for a way to object, but Kal-El intercepts them.

 

“What she says is true.” All eyes turn to him, even as he speaks directly to Kara and Lena. “I wasn’t close by tonight, Lena. I didn’t see or hear what he did to you. But I didn’t have to. I know Mon-El. Have known him, as you said Aunt Alura, since we were small. And I have to say, Kara I am impressed by your restraint.” Kara’s heart swells at the anger she hears in her cousin’s voice on her behalf. “If he had been foolish enough to disrespect Lois in front of me, I might have done more than toss him into a wall.”

 

Kara nods, giving her cousin a grateful smile.

 

“Kara,” mother says, calmly, splaying her hands out as if to ground the situation. “There are always going to be reasons for violence…”

 

“She’s not talking about violence.” Astra says, speaking up for the first time.

 

“Please don’t make me regret allowing you here.”

 

“So you admit you’ve been keeping her away!” Kara rounds on her mother, accusation clear in her voice.

 

Alura sighs “Kara, now is not the time for-”

 

Astra interrupts her, earning a seething glare from her sister “Kara isn’t talking about violence! She’s talking about dignity.”

 

“She’s talking about pride.” Jor-El pipes up from his place by the window, unimpressed.

 

“It’s not prideful to demand respect.” Alex growls, standing up from her place on the couch. “The Daxamites come here every year, to do and say whatever they like in front of the entire world. Now they’ve come into our house, and harassed a member of this family.”

 

Kara cannot possibly express the love she feels towards Alex then in that moment. Standing up for Kara, as she always has, and this time Lena too. Kara wasn’t sure she’d ever see the day Alex would accept Lena as one of their own. A Kryptonian. A sister.

 

“Alexandra is correct.” Astra stands up and places her hands flat against the desk, addressing the room with the authority of a general. “The Daxamites behave brazenly, because they do not fear us.”

 

“Is that really how we want to rule the realm? Through fear?” Jeremiah asks, clearly disapproving. “That’s not what Krypton stands for.”

 

“Perhaps, but it needs to be willing to stand for something.”

 

“We control their economic and international stability.” Alura tells her sister, as if talking to a child. “That’s what keeps them in line. It’s what has kept them in line for generations.”

 

“Yes.” Astra concedes dryly “A threat we have lorded over them for generations and never acted on. You’re unwillingness to act has made us look weak.”

 

“What would you have us do then, sister? Tell me, start a war over an offense on the dancefloor?”

 

“This is about us being willing to protect ourselves.” Kara says having heard enough.

 

She is desperate to make her parents understand. This is about more than she and Lena and just another annoying moment with Mon-El. This is about the very thing that worried them most...the security of Krypton and it’s place in the world.

 

“This is about us being willing to protect one another.” She says glancing to Lena, then Kal, then Alex, and finally back to her mother. “You and father use to tell me so many stories. Stories about what made Krypton great. About what made us worthy of the throne and the people’s trust. They were stories about heroes who were willing to stand up for what was right, for what they believed in. About how it is the duty of the powerful to protect the powerless. The very same ideals that freed those in chains, that’s fed the hungry, and welcomed the homeless. The ideals that our people believe in. And the ideals those in Daxam may dream of, even now as we debate this.”

 

Kara turns to her Aunt Astra whose giving her a proud smile.

 

“I am not inciting war.” She turns back to her parents “But you must come to realize that what we have now isn’t peace. It’s paralysis. Doing nothing has consequences too.”

 

The room is quiet as they all absorb this. Kara isn’t quite sure what she’s suggesting. She came in here to explain her defense of Lena, but somehow this conversation had turn into much more than that.

 

For a moment, it amuses her to think that Mon-El’s biggest mistake might turn out to be putting his hands on her wife.

 

“Mother?”

 

Alura’s face has gone very thoughtful, her frustrated features smoothing out into something Kara recognizes as resolve. Then her mother sighs, and does something Kara knows she loathes. She asks her sister’s advice.

 

“General? What are your thoughts?”

 

Astra smirks first at Kara and then at Alura who looks slightly annoyed.

 

“I think, we’ve dedicated an awful lot of time and energy into not giving the Daxamites a good excuse to start a war. But we’ve failed to realize one small thing…”

 

“And what is that?”

 

“They don’t need one.”

Chapter Text

Kalex has worked in the Royal Palace of Argo for over twenty years. Ever since Queen Alura and King Zor-El ascended the throne. Before him, his mother and father both loyally served the House of Ze, Queen Alura and General Astra’s birth House. Kalex inherited that same loyalty, and honored it throughout his life. There had been opportunities over the years to advance or retire, but he’d bypassed them all. Kalex in some strange way, regarded the Royal Family as his. His to care for, to organize, to keep going in times of crisis.

It’s true, he was merely a steward. But he was Head Steward to Queen Alura. Someone she trusted implicitly and completely. He kept her secrets and did her bidding and watched out for her interests. He played a small but crucial role in the grand scheme of the kingdom’s maintenance and took great pride in his part.

Some days are more difficult than others.

He use to have to keep a close eye on Princess Kara, who went through a rather nerve racking phase when she believed she could fly. Her parents, Kalex, nannies, and tutors would often find the young princess scaling some great height prepared to throw herself off to prove her ability. They all lived in a state of heighten anxiety until it passed. It had been Kalex who’d pointed out to the princess that if she really could fly, she wouldn’t need to climb up in the first place. This seemed to both convince and disappoint Kara Zor-El immensely. And Kalex believes that to have been the exact moment the princess decided she didn’t like him. From that moment on she had seemed to look upon him as the bearer of punishing news. That had been a difficult day. But it was nothing compared to Day 6 of the Summer Solstice Festival the year Kara Zor-El married Lena Luthor.

 

The Festival was always a nightmare for the Palace staff, not just for Kalex of course but for the entire staff. Kalex would wager it was as gruelling for the servants as they prepared and executed such a large scale event as it was for the Royals as they hashed out life changing deals.

 

During his twenty years at the Palace, working during the great festival, Kalex had seen his share of tension among the Nobles and kingdoms in attendance. He’d seen fist fights and duals, affairs and scandals, declarations of war and peace talks. But never in his career, had Kalex felt such a sense of uneasiness fall over the entire event. The entire Palace seemed to be holding its breath, under the impression that any moment the world around them would surely change. Nothing was happening on Day 6, but there was a collective understanding that this was only the quiet before the storm.

Kalex knocks on the chamber door to the king and queen as he does every morning, his apprentice standing behind him with a breakfast tray fresh from the kitchen.

 

King Zor-El shouts for them to enter.

 

Kalex enters with his apprentice who silently pushes in the breakfast cart.

 

Zor-El is sitting on the edge of the bed in his robe, looking as though he didn’t get a wink of sleep. He gives Kalex an appreciative nod, but says nothing to him, as it seems he and Alura are in the middle of what Kalex deduces to be a disagreement.

 

“Why bother asking her advice if you’re only going to scoff at it?” The king asks, pinching the bridge of his nose.

 

His wife is hidden behind a dressing screen near their wardrobe. Her silhouette can be seen through it as she carefully dresses for the day. Kalex averts his gaze.

 

“I’m not scoffing at it, Zor-El. You call tossing and turning and debating it with you half the night scoffing?”

 

Kalex wordlessly hands the king a cup of tea, knowing this is the best way to soothe the king’s headaches.

 

“Can we still call it debating when you refuse to be open-minded?” King Zor-El sighs.

 

Queen Alura peeks around the screen and fixes her husband with an unamused look.

 

“You are taking Astra’s side because Kara is on her side, and you never want to be the villain in her eyes.”

 

She ducks back behind the screen.

 

King Zor-El looks highly offended. He sets his tea down and stands up after only one sip and Kalex eyes him disapprovingly.

 

“Of course not! Why would I?” the king demands “And I’m not taking anyone’s side. Least of all your sister’s. I’m just as torn by this as you are.”

 

The queen finally emerges from behind the screen, fully dressed, but for the tie on the back of her gown.

 

“I am not torn, Zor-El, I’m simply considering it all carefully. We can’t all go around throwing people into walls, making impassioned speeches, and starting wars for the fun of it.”

 

She looks to Kalex for the first time, where he stands silently by the breakfast cart. “Kalex, would you please tie up my dress?”

 

“Of course, Your Majesty.” He immediately comes to her aid, carefully lacing the ribbons.

 

“Don’t belittle Kara’s actions.” The king is saying fiercely “She’s handled herself rather well, I think. Considering what she’s been through these last several months.”

 

“What she’s been through?” The queen scoffs “Being married to a beautiful girl whom she seems to adore at her own request hardly seems like such a burden.”

 

“Looking back, I think, it was wrong of us to put the pressure of such an alliance on her shoulders.”

 

Once Kalex has finished with her dress, Queen Alura moves away from him towards her husband. She takes the king’s hands in hers and presses one to her cheek. Kalex looks swiftly away from the tender moment, taking up his post next to the breakfast tray again.

 

“Our daughter is stronger than you give her credit.” The queen tells her husband softly “She is not just a piece in this game, Zor-El, she is a player now. It was her decision to marry Lena. Whatever resentment Kara may hold for us over the benefits of that marriage is worth her finally taking some initiative. I may not be ready to act on all the things she’s saying, but I am glad she’s saying something.”

 

King Zor-El kisses her palm and sighs deeply.

 

“She saw someone in trouble and she wanted to help. Lena tells her of the suffering of the Manorian people and she wants to help. She sees the suffering and the shackles of the Daxamite people and she wants to help. That’s who our daughter is, Alura. It’s who we should be too.”

 

They stand like that for several moments, their heads bowed together, hands clutched. Finally Alura pulls away with a sigh.

 

She looks to Kalex with a small smile, one he is very familiar with, as if she is so very glad to have his assistance.

 

“Kalex, arrange a meeting with the other kings and queens, as well as General Lane and his daughter Lucy, Lady Grant, Lord and Lady Allen, and my sister. We have much to discuss.”

 

“Of course, Your Grace.” Kalex bows, nodding to his apprentice to get the door. They start to leave, but the queen speaks again.

 

“Discretely, Kalex.” She says firmly “There are many foreign eyes and ears on us right now. It’s an important time.”

 

Kalex bows again “Of course, My Queen.”

 

Queen Alura smiles softly at him, she is clearly tired, but she is not one to appear weary. “Thank you, Kalex.”

 

“My pleasure, Majesty.”

 

-----------

 

Lena hardly slept at all.

 

She’d lain beside a fitfully sleeping Kara half the night worrying over what the next day might bring.

 

And now morning is here, Kara is stirring, and Lena wants desperately to just sleep through the day.

 

“Lena?”

 

She turns at the husky sleep-riddled sound of her name. Kara’s blue eyes are blinking groggily, her brow furrowed in worry. She lays on her side facing Lena, one arm draped over Lena’s torso, holding her close.

 

Lean shifts to lay on her side too, so they’re face to face. Kara scotches closer, pressing their bodies together and heaving a relieved sigh. She caresses Lena’s face, running her thumb over Lena’s cheekbone.

 

“Are you still angry with me?”

 

Lena’s so tired. So worried. She doesn’t have the energy to be angry at anyone about anything, least of all Kara. Sweet, noble Kara with her eyes like a clear sky and sincerity by the bucket load.

 

She isn’t sure if the nature of Kara’s proposal has any effect on the nature of their relationship. On the love, she’s let take root.

 

There was nothing to be done about the insecurity Lena still felt about how she ended up here, about Kara’s reasons for rescuing her, or if it was even a rescue at all. But Lena has come to realize that Kara harbored her own set of doubts. The Kryptonian feared and would perhaps always have to wonder if Lena loved her for her or for what Kara had done for her. She would always have to wonder if Lena would have rather been somewhere else with someone else.

 

Kara didn’t deserve that. And Lena would spend the rest of her life trying to show her the truth. She would choose to love her every time. Starting now.

 

“No, darling. I...It doesn’t matter anymore.”

 

Kara spends a moment searching Lena’s features, but for what Lena isn’t sure.

 

“Did I start a war yesterday?” Kara whispers, trembling with all the fear and weight of her responsibilities.

 

Lena shakes her head, and reaches up to cup Kara’s face, placing a frantic reassuring kiss to her cheek.

 

“That depends on what we do today.” Lena tells her, holding her closely.

 

Kara nods, sniffling, before pulling away and sitting up. She runs a hand through her blonde waves and her mouth presses into a thin line.

 

“Your aunt will be preparing for war.”

 

Kara shakes her head, “We’re preparing for the worst. Astra has suspected that something’s been building up with the Daxamites for awhile.”

 

Lena considers holding her tongue. She’d been told for so long that her opinion didn’t matter, she was still growing use to speaking up. But Kara looks at her now, expectantly. They’re partners now, Lena realizes. They need to talk to one another.

 

“I think, your aunt is looking for a fight.” She says carefully, knowing how much Kara admires General Astra. “And maybe in the wrong direction.”

 

Kara is staring down at the blanket, listening thoughtfully. A crinkle forms between her eyes.

 

“What do you mean?”

 

Lena sighs, shakes her head. She wonders if it’s worth worrying Kara further over simple intuition. Maybe she’s being paranoid. Or maybe she’s being spiteful. But she couldn’t live with herself if Krypton were blindsided because she chose to say nothing.

 

“I don’t know, Kara. I...I’ve had a sinking feeling. Ever since my father died. I worry we’re playing into some sort of game.”

 

Kara’s eyes widen slightly in alarm and she turns towards Lena, taking her hands.

 

“You think, your mother is planning something? With Daxam?”

 

Lena desperately wishes she had something concrete to offer Kara on the subject, but all she has is feelings and suspicions and a lifetime worth of experiences being used and abused by Luthors.

 

“I don’t know. I’m sorry. I just...I don’t trust her, Kara. I don’t trust Lillian, and Lex...I don’t know who he is anymore.”

 

Kara nods as she absorbs this, as if Lena is making any sense.

 

“Aunt Astra has said before she suspects they’ve been communicating. Perhaps, even prior to your father’s death. Do you think that’s possible?”

 

Taken aback by the possibility, Lena sits up straighter and searches her memory.

 

The days leading up to her father’s death are vague and normal in her mind. Everything was fine. As fine as anything had ever been at least. There was no talk of Daxam or Kryptonians or marrying Lena off to a foreign stranger. Lex had been tired and quiet due to a recent argument with Lionel. Lillian had been unpleasant and overbearing as always. And Lionel...her father had been distant, like he always was. Far out of her reach. Who knows what any of them might have been thinking?

 

“I suppose, anything is possible.” Lena says sadly.

 

Kara huffs in frustration and finally get out of bed. She roughly runs her hands through her hair again and paces.

 

“Why even come here then? To a peace summit, if they’re planning on starting a war?”

 

“To buy them time. To gather information. To set Krypton at ease. I don’t know.” Lena pinches the bridge of her nose and bows her head, really wishing she’d gotten some sleep.

 

The bed dips as Kara sits back down and Lena leans against her. Kara wraps a strong arm around Lena’s shoulders and squeezes. She kisses the top of Lena’s head.

 

“Maybe we’re looking for the worst in them.” Kara says, sadly “Because of our histories. How your family treated you. And my House’s issues with Daxam.”

 

Lena looks up at Kara with fondness, for her goodness, her optimisim.

 

“Perhaps, but I’d prefer to be cautious.” Lena finally says.

 

“You should talk to her.” Kara practically sighs, standing up again.

 

“My mother?” Lena squeaks “Nothing good ever comes of that.”

 

“You might be able to...get a sense of what she’s thinking.”

 

Lena huffs and almost laughs “I’m not a mind-reader, Kara.”

 

“But you know her, don’t you?” Kara asks gently, both hands on her hips. “Maybe better than anyone else. Maybe enough to see if she’s a threat to us.”

 

Lena struggles with her fear and reluctance for a few moments too long, and her expression must betray her. Before she can respond, Kara backs off saying

 

“Lena, I’m sorry. You don’t have to-”

 

“I’ll do it.” Lena blurts with a sigh. She bites her lower lip to avoid taking it back. “You’re right. I should at least see where we stand. And besides, this could be the last time I see her.”

 

Kara looks at her, skeptical, but nods anyway.

 

“I’m going to express your, our,  concerns to Aunt Astra. See if she’s still worried about Manor.” Kara sighs and walks towards the wardrobe. There she grumbles “Then I have to shake alot of hands and smile until my face hurts.”

 

Lena smiles and laughs, for the first time all morning.

 

“You’re very good at that, darling.”

 

-------------------

 

For the first time in his life, Mon-El was not at all enjoying the Summer Solstice Festival.

 

Normally, it was one of his favorite times of year. It’s far from the best party he’s ever been to, but it’s an increasingly rare opportunity for him to socialize with nobles his own age. Many of the nobles of Daxam were somewhat older than him and the few that weren’t were often brown-nosing bores. He had friends in the Daxam Royal Court and no shortage of lovers, but none of them had ever compared in his mind to Kara Zor-El.

 

They had never been lovers. Not for lack of trying on Mon-El’s part. He always suspected that Kara’s apparent disinterest in him was somehow politically motivated. Kara’s parents had apparently made it very clear how they felt about a potential marriage between Kara and Mon-El when they were still small children. And had never seemed to change their minds. Mon-El blamed Kara’s persistent rejections on her family’s influence.

 

He was certain she felt something for him. They had been quite friendly as children and it was only in recent years, since Mon-El started to pursue her, that she’d become distant from him.

 

And now all his hopes of bridging that distance had been swiftly and entirely ruined by his mother and her scheming.  Kara was surely lost to him now.

 

“Mon-El? Mon-El, are you even listening to me?”

 

His mother slams her palm against the wooden table and startles Mon-El out of his still sleepy thoughts of what might have been.

 

They were having breakfast in his mother’s chambers in the Kryptonian Palace of Argo, on the sixth day of the festival, and for once Mon-El couldn’t wait for it to be done with.

 

His mother summoned him to an early breakfast in order to berate him about his behavior the night before and he must have stopped listening at some point.

 

Now she's staring at him with a deep frown and an arched eyebrow, which let’s him know he’s expected to give some sort of explanation. Unfortunately he hadn’t heard the exact question and they both knew whatever it was, he wouldn’t have a satisfactory excuse anyway.

 

“I’m listening.” He lies, picking up a piece of bread and tearing it apart with his fingers.

 

Rhea sits back, eyeing him closely as he avoids her gaze.

 

“I told you to stay away from those girls. You can’t follow a simple instruction?”

 

Mon-El shrugs and sighs, his eyes firmly fixed on his plate.

 

“I was drunk.” He tells her, because it’s the truth. Of course, he hadn’t planned to upset Kara this way. And he had no real interest in talking to the Luthor girl, she was just...there and he’d thought he saw an opportunity. It was foolish, he knew, but at times...when it came to Kara he found he just couldn’t help himself.

 

“You were jealous.” Rhea spits at him, quietly. She brings her teacup to her lips and blows softly, before adding “And foolish, as usual. No thought for the consequences of your actions.”

 

“I said I was sorry. I didn’t mean to embarrass you.”

 

Rhea laughs bitterly “What did you expect to happen? To whoo Lena Luthor so thoroughly with your charm, that she’d invite you into her wife’s bed?”

 

Mon-El clenches his teeth and his face burns with a blush.

 

“I didn’t have a plan.” He grits out.

 

His mother arches her eyebrow again and smiles cruelly. “No, darling. You never do. But you may have put mine in jeopardy.”

 

Mon-El shakes his head and sits up a bit straighter. He’s certain she’s overreacting.

 

“Kara was just upset. Nothing will come of it. Her parents wouldn’t risk-”

 

“Never underestimate the pride of the Kryptonians.” his mother snaps, her face momentarily twisting into a familiar sneer of contempt. Mon-El knows this look well. A expression his mother only reserves for her hatred of Krypton and the House of El.

 

“That Kryptonian girl has always had you wrapped around her pretty little finger.” Rhea says almost to herself, tapping her finger methodically against the table. “I’ll never understand why you let her make you so weak.”

 

Mon-El’s face burns red again. His feelings for Kara and her many rejections of him were no secret, here in Krypton or home in Daxam. Mon-El had once thought all the humiliation and ridicule he’d suffered for her would one day be worth it, when she gave into him. But now...it was far too late for that.

 

“Maybe, I could talk to her. Apologize. Set your mind at ease.” Mon-El offers, only partially because he had yet to speak to Kara alone since he’d been here.   

 

Rhea shakes her head firmly. “No. You’ll only make it worse. It seems the time for diplomacy may be nearing its end.” Dread crawls up Mon-El’s spine, itching at the back of his neck. “Even if the Kryptonians respond with hostillity to what happen last night, it makes no difference. Our plan remains unchanged.”

 

Mon-El swallowed thickly, and goes against every instinct to remain quiet on the subject.

 

“Mother?” Rhea’s eyes shift to him. He’s been told he has her eyes, though he can’t imagine his are capable of such fearsome scrutiny.  He hesitates under her gaze. “I...Are you certain we’re doing the right thing? The best thing for Daxam? ...Maybe we could just-”

 

His mother reaches forward and gently places her hand on his arm. She squeezes a little, almost in reassurance. “Stop.” She tells him softly. Her tone is gentle when she next speaks, like he’s a child again and she has to explain something difficult to him. “Despite my best efforts, darling, you will not make a great king.” Mon-El’s mouth presses into a thin line and his hands curl into fists. Rhea shakes her head, sadly “I’m sorry, but it’s true. I blame your father, honestly. You’re soft like him, but also frivolous and lacking the proper ambitious.”

 

Mon-El opens his mouth to argue, though he’s unsure what argument to use. But she quickly shushes him, rubbing his arm soothingly.  

 

“Don’t worry.” She tells him in a sickly sweet voice. She reaches up and brushes some hair from his forehead. “You will be king. But first, I need to make it easy for you. I need to do this, because you won’t have what it takes to do it down the line. If all goes well, your reign will be a simple one.”

 

Mon-El grinds his teeth in frustration, but remains silent. In many ways, she’s right. He doesn’t have what it takes to accomplish what happens next. He never would.

 

Rhea watches him closely for a long time, until finally pulling away and getting back to her meal.

 

“You’ll thank me one day.”

 

-----------

 

Kara should have been paying more attention.

 

That was sort of her general problem lately.

 

If she had only paid more attention to Lena the night before instead of leaving her alone and vulnerable on the dancefloor.

 

If she had only paid more attention when she first told her mother about Lena all those months ago, she might have seen the political gears in Alura’s head turning. Then she and Lena both might have been spared some pain from the blindside.

 

And even now, as she rounds the corner, completely lost in her worried thoughts of war and love, she should have been paying more attention. Because she turns the corner and runs right into Mon-El.

 

They collide roughly and nearly headbutt each other. He grabs her arm to keep her from tumbling over, and his hand remains there clasped around her bicep even once she’s regained her balance.

 

It takes Kara a moment to overcome her disorientation and level a hard glare at the Prince of Daxam.

 

Mon-El seems surprised to see her, his eyes slightly wide and his mouth hanging open as he searches for words.

 

Finally, Kara shrugs off his arm and side steps him without a word.  

 

“Kara, wait!” He grabs her arms again and she whips around, debating on whether or not to break his nose.

 

“Release me!”

 

He quickly realizes his mistake, raising his hands in surrender and lowering his gaze.

 

“I’m sorry! I-I just want to talk. I was looking for you.”

 

Kara’s expression remains hard as she looks him up and down. “I have nothing to say to you, Mon-El.” She tries not to sound angry, though she still is.

 

“But I have much to say to you.” He lowers his hands and gives her a pleading look.

 

“I don’t want to hear it.” Kara hisses, shaking her head. She watches a familiar hurt expression flutter across his face. Similar to when she runs out of treats for the hunting dogs. She softens slightly, against her better judgement.

 

She feels pity for him. She always had. She remembers him very clearly as the happy, silly, borderline charming little boy of their youth, cowering at the scornful voice of his own mother. Somewhere along the way he’d fallen in love with her, or at least thought he had, and she hadn’t felt the same. After that, she seemed to grow up, while he only grew older. Whatever charm he’d once possessed had turned sour and stifling to her. But the pity remain, even now.

 

“We’re not friends.” She says simply, no bite in her tone. “We haven’t been for a long time.”

 

“I understand.” Mon-El says, with a nod.

 

Kara narrows her eyes at him “What do you want from me?”

 

Mon-El flounders, at a loss for words. He rests his hands on his hips and looks down at his shoes, choosing his next words carefully.

 

“For as long as I can remember...I just wanted you.”

 

Kara rolls her eyes and it about to tell him, not for the first time, the impossibility of that. But he holds up his hand, anticipating her rejection.

 

“I know.” He says, calmly “I know, that’s never going to happen now, but...It’s true.” He shrugs his shoulders a bit and Kara is thrown off by his sincerity. She keeps listening, so he continues.

 

“I wanted you. And I wanted us. And I want us to find a way to bring our kingdoms together again. After all this time, all this war, all the bad blood. I thought I could have you and we could do that, and maybe that would make me good enough for you.”

 

Kara says nothing, just gives him a pitying look.

 

“But now, I think…” He shakes his head, obviously reluctant “I see now that, you and I, our people too. Maybe we’re just not meant to be together.”

 

He trails off, so Kara takes a few steps towards him. She glances around, ensuring they are alone in the corridor. Then she places a gentle hand on his arm.

 

“Mon-El, look at me.”

 

He slowly raises his eyes, and she searches them for a ruse. All she finds is frustration and longing and sadness.

 

“All I want,” She tells him softly “ is peace between our people. And for all Daxamites to enjoy the same freedoms as the people of Krypton.”

 

Mon-El only nods.

 

Kara releases his arm and takes a step back.

 

“I’m not your friend anymore, Mon-El. But I don’t want to be your enemy, either.”

 

He nods again, looking down at his feet.

 

“Kara, I just want you to know...I can’t control what happens next. None of this is my choice.”

 

Kara’s breathing hitches as he meets her gaze, and she too slowly comes to understand what he means.

 

She moves towards him again, a million questions on her tongue, but he backs away this time, warding her off.

 

“I can’t.” He says shaking his head frantically, “I shouldn’t have- I can’t say anymore. I’m sorry.”

 

“You’re sorry?” Kara breathes, in disbelief. “That’s all you ever have to say! And it’s not good enough, Mon-El! Not anymore! Not now.”

 

She reaches out and grabs his arm again, forcing him to look at her.

 

“Don’t be sorry anymore, Mon-El! Just for once, be better!” she pleads, half angry and half desperate.

 

He just shakes his head, can’t even look her in the eye now.

 

“I didn’t want this. Just remember that, Kara. Maybe one day, when it’s you and I on the thrones...Maybe things can be different.”

 

He breaks away from her, and walks swiftly away, back the way he came.

 

Kara almost chases after him, but figures that’s maybe what he wants. And besides, he’s right.

 

Whatever Rhea has in mind, Mon-El would be all but powerless to stop it, even if he wanted to.

 

Kara is going to have to do it herself.

 

-------------------------------

 

The walk across the grounds to the guest chambers isn’t long enough for Lena. She drags her feet and takes every opportunity she can to stop and talk to someone else or take in a view. She even takes a detour down to the stables.

 

She’d been missing Mercer terribly and it seems the feeling was mutual. The colt stomps his feet and dances in his stall at the sight of her, making her feel guilty for being away so long. There had been no time for their regular riding schedule during the festival.

 

The stables were filled to the brim with the horses of all their guests. Several stable-hands work frantically around her, running this way and that. Lena is reluctant to interrupt them to ask how Mercer had been doing.

 

Mercer greedily gobbles up the treats she brings him, sniffing her insistently once she runs out.

 

Lingering there to talk quietly to him and absentmindedly braid a lock of his mane, Lena finds that this does more to calm her nerves than all her previous wandering about.

 

Eventually, as the stable-hands slowly disappear to lunch, Lena resolves that it’s time for her to leave as well.

 

As she pulls away, Mercer protests. He paws at the stall door and whinnies after her. She shushes him softly, and promises to be back soon.

 

At Lillian’s door, Lena pauses to steel herself. Her earlier anxiety was relieved by her visit to Mercer, but it grows quickly again in her chest. An ache she can’t soothe.

 

Before Lena can work up the courage to knock, the door swings open unprompted and a servant rushes out, nearly bumping into Lena.

 

“Oh, Your Highness! I’m so sorry, please excuse me.” It is Alana.

 

Lena isn’t particularly surprised to see her here. With so many guests in the Palace, the staff surely had their hands full. Alana hadn’t been tending to Lena and Kara much this week and now Lena knew why. The poor girl had been assigned to Lena’s mother.

 

“That’s alright.” Lena assures her, she lowers her voice a bit, since the door is still open “Are you okay?”

 

Alana forces a smile and averts her gaze “Of course, Your Highness. I shouldn’t have been in a hurry.”

 

Lena gives the girl a sympathetic smile “I don’t know. I always found fleeing from her to be an appropriate response.”

 

It takes a moment, but Alana cracks a small smile, stifling a laugh at Lena’s words.

 

“Lena? Is that you?” Lillian’s voice calls from inside the room.

 

With a sigh, Lena whispers to Alana “My turn at the whipping post.”

 

“Good luck, Princess.” Alana whispers back, before hurrying away.

 

Lena enters the room and pulls the door closed behind her, with all the enthusiasm of someone entering a cage-match with a bear.

 

She finds Lillian having lunch among a small mountain of luggage. It seems she is eager to get out of Krypton now that the Summit is coming to a close.

 

“Leaving so soon? What a pity.” Lena feigns a pleasant tone, but it comes out sarcastic.

 

Lillian huffs out a laugh and motions for Lena to sit with her.

 

“You can drop the act, Lena. It’s only us now.” Lillian mocks her.

 

Resisting the urge to fidget, Lena takes the seat across from her step-mother.

 

“I’m pleased you came to see me, Lena.” Lillian says, eyeing her closely.

 

Dryly, “I thought we were dropping the act.” Lena replies.

 

Lillian smiles, showing all her teeth “No really, we have...some things to discuss.”

 

Lena controls the urge to curl her hands into fist and she tries her best to ignore the voice in her head telling her that something is very very wrong.

 

“How can that be?” Lena says calmly “By the end of the day tomorrow, we won’t be apart of each other’s lives anymore.”

 

Looking down as she slowly stirs her tea, Lillian shrugs a shoulder.

 

“We’re family, Lena. That’s not how it works.”

 

Lena leans forward in her chair and in a dangerous tone declares “I’m not a Luthor anymore. And according to you, I never was.”

 

With narrow eyes, Lillian studies her, contemplative.

 

“Your brother feels differently.”

 

Lena’s brow furrows and she sits back, coiled like a spring. She can feel Lillian sucking her into something, but she doesn’t know what, doesn’t know how to stay grounded.

 

“He has an odd way of showing it.” Lena says cautiously.

 

Lillian is still looking at her, scrutinizing, like she always would when they played chess.

 

Slowly, almost reluctantly, Lillian begins to speak.

 

“Your brother has plans, Lena. Big, brilliant plans that he and I have put a lot of work into, made sacrifices for, carefully arranged. We’re going to change our world and...I’m afraid we need you to do it.”

 

The tips of Lena’s fingers and toes begin to tingle unpleasantly and her palms begin to sweat. Some small part of her gets the manical urge to laugh, but she stays silent, her mouth suddenly dry.

 

“I strongly advised him against it, you see, because I don’t trust you.” Lillian continues conversationally “But he insists. He...believes in you, Lena. He loves you. And he trusts that at the end of all this, you’ll still be one of us. A Luthor.”

 

Lena struggles to swallow around the lump in her throat.

 

“What-What are you talking about? What’s Lex-What does he want with me?”

 

“He thought this was the best way. Keeping you in the dark.” Lillian is stirring her tea again staring down into the cup as she explains “He thought they might be suspicious otherwise. Like it might be too easy. You know, how he likes to do things the hard way.”

 

“What are you talking about?” Lena growls, her fear only rivaled by her anger.

 

Lillian continues as if Lena hadn’t spoken.

 

“I doubted him in the beginning, but it seems he was right. She’s in love with you, don’t you think?”

 

Lena lunges forward, slapping the teacup out of Lillian’s hands. It goes flying off the table shattering against the wall and settling into a puddle on the floor.

 

“Stop playing games!” Lena hisses “I’ve had more than enough of them to last a lifetime!”

 

Lillian seems mostly unaffected. She just calmly lowers her hands into her lap and finally meets Lena’s eyes.

 

“This isn’t a game, Lena. This is about the future of our kingdom. Of our family.”

 

Lena shakes her head in disbelief. Our kingdom , Lillian says, Our family . As if she had ever really seen Lena as a part of either.

 

Lillian leans forward and takes Lena’s clenched fist in both her hands. She rubs a soothing thumb over Lena’s skin. It's motherly, meant to be comforting, but it just makes Lena’s skin crawl.

 

“All those years you spent trying to prove to everyone you were a Luthor.” Lillian coos “Enduring all my spite and ridicule. Now is your chance, Lena. This is what it takes.”

 

Lena doesn’t understand, and she’s scared of the part of herself that wants to.

 

Without meaning to she whispers “What? What does it take?”

 

Lillian smiles just a little, proud and hopeful. Then she tells Lena everything.

Chapter Text

Lena’s not sure how she’s suppose to feel when Lillian tells her that she and Lex killed her father.

 

Perhaps, Lillian pursumed Lena would see this as some sort of heroic act or sacrifice.

 

Like Lena might have sighed with relief and thanked her for ridding her of the only father she’d ever know.

 

The sharing of this secret might have been intended to draw Lena in deeper. Make her feel included. Assure her that Lex and Lillian had been in control of everything since this all began. That they were still in control now.

 

However, she was meant to take the news of her late father’s assassination at the hands of his own family, the reality is that Lena goes absolutely numb.

 

“I must admit,” Lillian says, just now hitting her stride in her monologuing “this all hasn’t gone exactly according to plan. We didn’t plan for Kara Zor-El and her very noble offer to take you right into their midst. Lex and I couldn’t have dreamed we’d have such luck, as that Daxamite prince running his mouth. But as Luthors, we adapt. We made the appropriate adjustments to our plan. And now, with your help, Lena, this might go even more smoothly than we’d hoped.”

 

Lillian’s eyes have drifted just over Lena’s shoulder now. She stares off into space with a manic smile, as if she can already see their plan unfolding seamlessly. As if they’d already won.

 

Lena’s own voice sounds miles away when she next speaks, as if waking herself from a horrid dream.

 

“I don’t...I don’t understand.”

 

The dreamy look retreats slightly from Lillian’s features and her grey eyes focus back on Lena. She leans forward eagerly, excitement visible in her eyes.

 

“Of course not, dear. How could you? So much has happened. There’s so much Lex felt you couldn’t know. It all had to fall into place so perfectly, dear, so carefully.”

 

Leaning, forward and clutching her mother’s hand, Lena tries to mimic some of her enthusiasm. She didn’t know enough yet. Not nearly enough to stop whatever her family had set in motion. She needed to keep Lillian talking. She needed to know everything.

 

“Tell me.” Lena pleads, pretending as though she were simply asking Lillian to explain a winning chess strategy, rather than a nefarious plot to overthrow the kingdom Lena had come to call home.

 

Lillian grins, obviously proud and eager to brag. It was a rare expression for the Luthor matriarch, unnerving and misplaced.

 

“You’re father refused to work with the Daxamites. You know how he felt about them. He loathed them even more than Kryptonians, but his hatred was misplaced, Lena. Misguided. He couldn’t see that only through allying with Daxam against Krypton could we stand a chance.”

 

Lena knew the truth of this. Her father may have hated Krypton, but at least he respected them. He held no such respect for Daxam. He thought them foolish degenerates, and would have rather died than work with them. And it seems, that’s exactly what he’d done.

 

“He was so stubborn, Lena, your father. But you know that already.” Lillian says almost offhandedly, as if they weren’t discussing murder and treason and war all at once.

 

“Anyway,” Lillian continues “even before your father’s death, we’d been working with the Daxamite queen in secret. For years, Lena. Lex and I carefully, diverted resources to building a fleet. Not big enough to rival the Kryptonians, but enough to get Manorian and Daxamite soldiers on the water.” Lillian leans in closer, lowering her voice though there is no one around to hear “Enough to keep the Amazons from interfering, if they’re so inclined.”

 

Lena’s head spins. For years , Lillian had said. For years, she and Lex betrayed her father, betrayed their king. For years, they’d plotted against Krypton and it seems at last they believe their moment has come.

 

Doing her best to hide her genuine reaction of surprised horror and panic, Lena is nearly too terrified to ask her next question.

 

“How am I involved in this, Mother? What am I to do?”

 

Lillian sits back in her chair and heaves a heavy sigh. She folds her hands neatly over her lap and manages to look a little sad for a moment.

 

“We didn’t intend for this to be so difficult for you, Lena. Truly. You’re role was going to be minimal. You were suppose to marry Mon-El to solidify our alliance with Daxam. But Kara...she came out of nowhere and changed everything.”

 

Pausing to study Lena thoughtfully, Lillian narrows her eyes and searches Lena’s face.

 

Lena does her best not to squirm under the attention, instead focusing on looking as interested as possible. Which isn’t too difficult considering she desperately wants to know everything now. But something on Lena’s face must betray her fear regardless, because Lillian leans forward again, taking Lena’s hands.

 

“I told Lex you couldn’t handle it, dear. I told him we shouldn’t, couldn’t trust you with this, but...he insisted.”

 

Lena is unsure what is safe to say to this, so she chooses to stay silent, while Lillian makes up her mind.

 

Finally, Lillian leans back again and takes a deep breath.

 

“Originally, we were going to gather our combined military resources. One army on the Kryptonian border with Manor to the north, another on the Daxamite border in the east, and our brand new fleet of ships on the coast. We were to offer Krypton an ultimatum. Release the economic stranglehold they have on us or face all out war.”

 

The wheels in Lena’s head are turning rapidly and she can’t help but interrupt.

 

“I don’t understand. Even with Daxam, Manor’s military has been so heavily depleted that the combination of the two would still be nowhere near enough to face Krypton and its allies. Even with the element of surprise-”

 

“We never planned to face Krypton and its allies.” Lillian interjects, “You’re right, that would have been too much for us. But Krypton hasn’t been involved in all out war in nearly a hundred years. Your brother is certain...Lex wagered that for all the camaraderie between Krypton and Themyscira and Krypton and Gotham. The Amazons and the people of Gotham may prove to be little more than fair weather friends."

 

Eyebrows rising in surprise, Lena can’t help her skeptical expression. Everything she knew about the Amazons and Princess Diana lead her to believe that if Krypton called, Themyscira would answer. And though she knew less about Gotham and it’s people, she had witnessed the bond Grayson and Barbara shared with Kara and Kal-El and Alex. Their friendship ran deep. Too deep for Gotham to simply ignore them during a time of crisis.

 

“Why do you think that?” Lena asks carefully, wondering what Lex might have learned from the comfort of the Luthor Castle that Lena hadn’t been able to while in the room with these people.

 

“It’s a calculated risk,” Lillian admits “but warriors or not the Amazonian population is a small one. And from what Rhea has told us, the population shrinks by the day due to unexplained issues of reproduction.”

 

Lena remembers Kara mentioning something similar the night Lena had met Princess Diana. She hadn’t thought much of it at the time, but it seems Lex had.

 

“The reality of their situation would reveal itself quickly if they were asked to fight and die in a war for Krypton. They simply can’t afford to lose the lives. They will be reluctant to stand idly by, but ultimately we believe they’ll have little choice.”

 

The cold certainty in Lillian’s tone sends something dreadful through Lena.

 

“And Gotham?”

 

Lillian shrugs, her lips pursing together slightly. “Their alliance with Krypton is not so idyllic as that of the Amazons’. It may seem like ancient history now, but Rhea tells of a time when Gotham and Krypton didn’t get along so well. And even now they have their differences, however slight. But most importantly, Gotham is riddled with corruption and crime. Their military forces, which are already quite small compared to those of Krypton and Daxam, use most of their energy trying and failing to keep the peace within their own borders. They have neither the time or the manpower to devote to a foreign war. If push comes to shove, which it always does, Bruce Wayne will choose his own people over his friendship with the House of El everytime. As he well should.”

 

Lena begins to see it. The same picture Lex must have held in his mind when he concocted all this. This is no harebrained scheme. No rash show of misguided force. Her brother is a genius. He looked at what appeared to be an invincible world order with Krypton at it’s untouchable center and he saw a leaning tower. A carefully held balance of power and promises just waiting for someone to topple it. And Lex would. He would reach out with a strategically placed hand and give it a push until the Kryptonians' world came crumbling down.

 

Swallowing thickly and trying to disguise her horror, Lena nods carefully.

 

She had to tell Kara. She had to stop this.

 

Lillian seems to mistake Lena’s horror for awe. Maybe Lena was a bit in awe of her brother. Her brilliant brother.

 

“Don’t worry, Lena. It’s all been very carefully thought through. You’re brother has everything in hand. All there’s left to do is wait.”

 

“Wait? Wait for what?”

 

It sounded as though Lex had everything figured out. As though it were already too late for Lena or this revelatory conversation to do any good at all.

 

“Well, that had been our plan originally, Lena. We’d make our demands and they would give into us or face a war. It was crude, but at the time it seemed the only way.”

 

“What changed?”

 

Lillian looks incredible annoyed for a moment, rolling her eyes “Kara Zor-El rode in with a crate full of gold and chivalry. She wanted so desperately to rescue you, which we could not have anticipated. Little did she know, that she’d just given us the perfect opportunity to more swiftly and smoothly rid ourselves of her kingdom’s tyranny.”

 

Lena’s brow furrows “How so?”

 

With a laugh and a shrug of her shoulder, Lillian smiles, genuine and conniving.

 

“She gave us a hostage. A bargaining chip. All we need to do is have a bit more patience. And with time, Krypton won’t be able to refuse us. We may avoid war entirely.”

 

Lena tried to calm the sudden racing of her heart as a fresh wave of panic rises up.

 

“Me? Am...Am I the hostage?”

 

Lillian laughs again, a cold throaty chuckle.

 

“Lena, you really do imagine yourself as one of the damsels from your stories, don’t you?” Lillian asks with a mocking sneer. “And what? Is she your shining knight?”

 

Lena’s spine straightens and she steels herself. This version of Lillian is much more familiar to her than the manic talkative woman she been a moment before. Her words cut Lena, shallow but stinging.

 

“What does that make me?” Lillian muses “The wicked stepmother? Ha! Life would be so much simpler if that were the case.” Lillian stands and looks down at Lena “But this is the real world, dear. Believe it or not, you get to choose your place in this story.”

 

Lillian makes her way over to the dressing mirror in the corner of the room and begins preening herself thoughtfully, preparing to leave.

 

She makes eye contact with Lena in the mirror. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my life, it’s that you must never allow yourself to be the victim, Lena. The moment you think of yourself that way, its exactly what you become. You lose all control.”

 

Lena stands up, holding on to the dining chair to steady herself.

 

“You think, I have any control here?” Lena growls, gesturing around.

 

Lillian scoffs, and smiles slyly into the mirror.

 

“I believe you could. If you would only properly...apply yourself.”

 

She turns and comes back to Lena. She rests her hands on either side of Lena’s arms and caresses her, speaking in an almost motherly way.

 

“Your princess adores you, Lena. I’ve seen it in her eyes, the way she looks at you.”

 

Despite, Lena's rigid posture Lillian gentle pulls her into a hug, running her hands soothingly over Lena’s hair.

 

She tilts her head, whispering into Lena’s ear “And once you’re pregnant with her child, an heir to the great House of El, she’ll adore you more still.”

 

Lena’s blood runs cold.

 

Lillian pulls back, smiling at her, adjusting Lena’s hair over her shoulders.

 

“That’s when we’ll have everything we need, dear. That will be how you prove yourself to me, to Lex. You’re a Luthor, Lena, and when the time is right...you’ll finally come home.”