The princess is crying again, her sobs muffled in her pillow. She thinks no one hears her, but someone always does.
Droushnavoki listens by the door, turning away servants and guarding the silence of the princess's chamber. She used to watch, quietly, from her guard position. She knows now how it goes. She doesn't need to watch any longer.
They are women; they are vulnerable. Droushnakovi has learned to fight with weapons; the princess has learned to survive with words.
When Captain Negri first spoke to her, Drou did not know what to expect. She did not know what the princess was. She did not know what she was. She did not know what they could be together.
They are women; they are chattel. Droushnakovi has no voice; Kareen has no sword.
Prince Serg did not notice Drou for several days. When he finally saw her, he smiled, and she felt cold. "I can see why Negri sent her to you," he said to Kareen. "She is… lovely. Does she keep you warm at night, when I am… elsewhere?" Kareen had not replied; there was no good reply. The next day, the prince had casually offered Drou to one of his friends. Princess Kareen had apologized politely and explained that Captain Negri had insisted Droushnakovi stay by her side at all times.
They are women; they are weak. Droushnakovi has no weapon to wield against the Vor; Kareen has no weapon to wield against her husband.
When Prince Serg comes and whispers of divorce, of disgrace, of his possession of his son, and Kareen sits brave and grave and silent under the force of his affront, it is Drou who goes to her in the darkness and tells her she will be all right. It is Drou who whispers that she will die for the young prince. It is Drou who strokes her hair, Drou who dries her tears, Drou whose loyalty burns away the chill of Kareen's darkness.
They are women; they are soft. Droushnakovi knows the tides of Kareen's spirit; Kareen knows the fires of Droushnakovi's soul.
They come together in the dark, after the tears and the fears and the fights, and their mouths meet in a desperation for touch. Is it love? Neither woman really knows, in those frightened hours, but it is need, and it is trust, and it is a passion that goes beyond the human. They guard each other's honor, in the quiet hours of the night, and they reach for something beyond themselves, for a belief in what they know is not true.
They look for safety. For a few minutes only, they have it.