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Lost and Found

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Lance McClain, or Prince Lance the 3rd, 2nd heir to the throne of Altea and brother to Allura, has been on the run for almost a week now.

Its taken miles and miles on foot, 3 stowaway transporter rides, and a stolen horse, but he made it inside the walls of Vrarollia.

Vrarollia and Altea had been locked in a cold war, of sorts, for years, and Lance knew this would be the last place his father would suspect him to flee to. His plan was to lay low, start a new life, and dodge the many laws of Vrarollia. Lance was in more danger of being found out that he wasn't a citizen of this kingdom, then if the governing officials found out he was prince of their enemy country. Now that he was here, he had no idea what to do.

This had been all hypothetical till now. what he would do if he reached Vrarollia, what he would do if he escaped Altea and his father.

The sun had already begun to set behind the looming shadow of the castle, and Lance desperately needed somewhere to sleep. he looked towards the castle, thinking the massive castle gardens must have a bench, and what were the odds that he would be spotted on the miles and miles of lush greenery.

 

The odds however, were 100%. As Lance came too on the next morning on the small bench he had located on the outskirts of the garden, a girl, not much older than him, looked down at him with amusement. as Lance took in his surroundings, he looked the girl up and down. she was pale, with short black hair and purple eyes that glittered with knowledge.

"I was wondering when you would wake up." was all she said. Lance was at a loss for words,

"I- um-" he stuttered. "whats your name, garden boy?" she asked "L-Lance" he said, and immediately regretted it. He should be using a fake name.

"may I ask, Lance, what you are doing sleeping in the royal garden?" she extended her hand to help him up. He took it graciously. Before Lance could say anything, she said " let me guess, you needed a place to sleep, and thought the gardens were so enormous that no one would notice if you slept in them?" she began to walk down the path, deeper into the garden, It was clear she expected Lance to follow.

"Whats it to you?" lance said, he attempted a biting tone, but was still slightly ridden with sleep, and he came off sounding pitiful. The girl simply laughed at him and kept walking.

"You're not from here, are you, Lance?" she said, her voice lilting and drifting as she continued to walk slowly along the path, running her hand over the flowering bushes.

"what do you mean?" was all Lance could produce.

"Citizens of Vrarollia know the gardens are sacred, and we do not sleep in them" her words were serious, but a smile never left her lips. "so, I'm going to give you a chance to tell me who you are."

"I-I'm a traveler, I heard of the beauty of Vrarollia and wanted to see for myself." Lance lied with as much confidence as he could. The girl suddenly stopped short and spun on her heel, peering into Lance's eyes with her own.

"you're not a very convincing liar, you know." Lance gulped. "but if you're truly a traveler, you'll have no problem with me calling the guards to check your papers, then."

For what seemed like the millionth time this morning, Lance was speechless. he managed to get out something that sounded like "no!" The girl only smiled, slightly menacingly, and looked at Lance.

"Who are you, Lance?" she said. "I-" he started, but two Vrarollian Guards interrupted him, the first one spoke.

"Princess, is this man bothering you?" he said, low and commanding. "No, he is a guest of mine, I am simply showing him around the garden." the girl Lance had been walking with said. "off with you both, we are in the middle of an important discussion." she continued, grabbing Lance's hand and pulling him past the guards

. "Princess?" Lance asked. the girl nodded. "pleasure to make your acquaintance, I sure hope my stature motivates you to tell me your truth."

Lance began to think. He hadn't been to talk about this with anyone, even his sister, and he so desperately needed to get things off his chest. The Princess had already found out he was not a citizen, and she could punish him for that alone, so what was the harm in spilling his secrets to her?

"I'm the prince of Altea." was the first thing Lance said. he expected her not to believe him, or begin to laugh, but she simply nodded, eyes glittering, "go on" she said.

"I'm on the run. I thought Vrarollia would be the last place he would look for me." he continued.

"what are you running from?" she asked, softly, but commanding. "my father, he-" Lance paused and took a deep breath. "he arranged a marriage for me."

"and? You're royalty. arranged marriage is common." she said, it was clear lance was not giving her any reason to be compassionate.

"you don't understand!' Lance said, he was on the verge of desperation. he took a steadying breath and went on. "The man he wants me to marry, I just cant marry him. I cant do it, he is vulgar and horrible and..." with that, Lance melted into tears.

The Princess looked pensive, looking down at Lance, who was attempting to stop the tears that were rapidly flowing from his eyes.

"Coming from Altea, I don't suppose you know, but my father is a compassionate king. I believe he may offer you solace if you tell him your tale." she said lowly.

"and if he doesn't?" Lance said, regaining his composure piece by piece.

"if you don't try, someone will eventually turn you into the guards for trespassing." she said, unwavering. Lance recognized this as a Threat. He straightened his back and steeled his features.

"Ill speak to the king."

Chapter Text

The Princess, Who's name Lance had just learned was Fayath, lead him directly into the throne room from the garden. When Lanced had agreed to speak to the king had not realized Fayath had meant right that minute. He looked nothing like a prince, his clothes were dirty and meant to help him blend in, and he probably smelled rancid. He knew the explanation he had given the princess was not nearly formal enough for the king, and he would need to come up with a better way to tell his tale.

As they reached the door of the throne room, Fayath ordered Lance to stay behind her, and pushed open the door. They walked in, Lance keeping his eyes on the floor, too terrified to meet the king's gaze.

"Father," Fayath started, " I would like to present Prince Lance of Altea."

The guards around the room took a step forward, but the king held up a hand.

"continue." he said simply, his voice deep but soft.

"He is on the run from his kingdom, searching for asylum. I bid you hear him out." Fayath said, and then stepped aside, leaving Lance feeling exposed.

"Speak." The king said, his tone had hardened.

"M-My father had arranged me a marriage I could not follow through with. I ran from my kingdom hoping I could start a new life here." Lance said, feigning as much confidence as he possibly could.

The king, still staring at Lance, spoke. " You, second in line to the throne of my enemy, come into my kingdom illegally, asking for solace, when for all I know you could be a spy for your father. I will allow him to deal with you coming back empty handed as he sees fit." the king said. the guards began to advance again at a wave of the kings hand.

"Wait, please." Lance interjected. the guards stopped, the king did not acknowledge Lances speech, but Lance continued anyway." I have heard of your compassion, and I give my promise I have disgraced my father, if you dismiss me, I will be sent back into an abusive marriage. you may keep me in your dungeon, you may enslave me, but I beg you not to send me home." Lances voice cracked.

The room was silent. "Father, if I may," Fayath stepped forward again. "If the Alteans knew we had their prince, it could be a leg up in this conflict." she said.

"if they knew we kept him prisoner, they would attack. I wont endanger our people for the wishes of an enemy prince, Fayath." The king said. Lance bowed his head in defeat.

"Forgive me father, but what if we did not keep him prisoner, what if we take him as an ally? What if- What if we marry him off to Keith?" Fayath said, not bowing to her fathers power. Upon hearing this, Lance snapped to attention. Another arranged marriage? Fayath continued to speak as a response to her fathers silence.

"If this, our enemies prince, and our prince are married, it could help us expose Alteas' corruption and get the people on our side. Keith is strong enough to keep him in check." Fayath, although strong spoken, was clearly grasping at straws. before she could continue to speak, the King silenced her. Lance knew his plan was ruined. he would be sent home, his father would disgrace him, and the marriage would go as planned. he felt like crying. before he could turn to face his fate, the king raised his voice.

"Prince Lance, I offer you a choice. You will marry my son, Prince Keith, heir to my throne, and become part of our court, working on our side of the war, or you will be sent home to your kingdom."

Lance turned to the king, shocked, voice small as he asked, "With all due respect, your highness, why are you helping me?"

the kings eyes were warm. "I believe you could be an asset to us." the king said, "and I couldn't leave you to an abusive marriage in good conscience, I may be a king, but I am also a father. It is your choice, but you must tell me now."

Lance knew he couldn't go home, he just couldn't, but if he married this prince, he would give up all ties to the Altean throne. he would never see his mother or sister again. he would never be welcome in his own kingdom. it hurt his heart more than he could bear, but he looked this, his new king in the eye, and spoke.

"I would be honored to marry into your family."

~~~~~~~

Keith Kogane, or Prince Keith of Vrarollia, heir to the throne and brother of Fayath, was awoken by a knock at his chamber door.

"come in" he said sitting up and checking his communicator, it was too early for this. His personal guard, Shiro, peeked his head into his room, then stepped in and closed the door behind him.

"you look like you slept well." Shiro remarked jokingly. crossing the room to open the curtains. Keith recoiled at the sunlight.

"What do you want, Shiro." Keith's words were slurred with sleep as he rubbed his eyes.

"Oh, peace, happiness, My husband to return from his diplomatic mission, maybe some breakfast." Shiro drawled as he hung up Keith's cloak hes picked up from its place sprawled across the floor. Keith threw a pillow aimed at Shiro's head, but was too slow for the soldier's reflexes.

"get up. your father wants to see you." Shiro said. Keith groaned. "tell him ill be down in a minute." but wasn't sure Shiro had heard, for when his eyes cleared and he looked around the room, he was alone.

~~~~~~~

Keith had gotten up and dressed in record time after accidentally falling back asleep, not that his father really ever expected him to be on time, but he still bowed slightly lower than usual to his father as consolation.
"my apologies for being late, father. I was told you wanted to see me." His father rose from his desk.

"Keith, my son. I'm not going to keep you waiting. I called you here to tell you that you are to be married come the end of the week." Keith was taken aback. he knew one day his father would marry him off to some frail noblewoman who lacked a personality, keeping his inner gay panic inside, but he didn't think it would happen till he was older, having just turned 20 he thought maybe he had 2 or 3 years. Now he was to be married by the end of the week without meeting the woman? he wondered why the urgency, but before he could contemplate further, his father spoke again. "you will be married to prince Lance of Altea for diplomatic reasons." his father continued. Keith was too shocked to say anything, his mind was screaming at him to protest but his mouth did not move. "He came to me looking for refuge, and I gave it to him in exchange for his aid in the war on our side. You shall meet him tonight come supper. That is all." his father then dismissed him.

Keith walked in silence back to his quarters. once he arrived, his brain that had been paralyzed by shock snapped into overdrive.

"Prince?"

Chapter Text

Lance's mind had gone completely blank since accepting the kings offer. A noblewoman by the name of Mara was ordered to take Lance to a room. He dismissed her once he had made it to the door, but he noticed the two guards who seemed to be stationed outside his temporary chamber. the room was moderately sized, with a bed, a closet, and a bathroom, but only one small window. Lance's thoughts drifted back to his room in Altea, with floor length windows looking out on the golden beaches, his canopy bed where he dreamed of Love. here, the room was decked out in fine silken sheets and a gold gilded fireplace and mantle, but it felt fake.

Lance sat on the bed. He had brought nothing upon leaving Altea, no clothes or possessions, not a single piece of gold. he left out the window without a trace. a ghost. Lance thought the further away he went, the more the memories of Altea would fade, but he still remembered every hallway of the castle, every note of his mothers songs, the food and the clothes and the sea. 

Lance curled himself into the fetal position on the bed, gripping the silk in his fists, and he finally let go.

Lance cried. He cried and cried until his body couldn't produce any more tears. and when he was done, he slept.

~~~~~~~

In the meantime, Keith was pissed. he had sat pensive for approximately a minute and a half before he began throwing things, and when he couldn't throw anything else, he went down to the training rig and began hitting things.

Shiro, who had been looking for the young prince since he heard the news, followed Keith's trail of destruction until he found the boy beating the shit out of a dummy.

"I should've figured you'd come down here to hit things." Shiro said, leaning against the wall.

"helps me think" Keith said between punches.

"what exactly are you thinking about, if I may ask?" Keith's punches didn't let up.

"You know exactly what." Keith said, his tone biting.

"Hey, at least its not a noble woman." Shiro joked, remembering teenage Keith's fits of crying when he first had realized he had no attraction to women.

"I wish it was a fucking noblewoman" Keith half screamed. "I don't want a stupid, fucking, brat, who My asshole father is marring me off too for political reasons"  he punctuated his words with swift attacks on the training dummy until his knuckle split and he cursed in pain.

Shiro crossed the room, taking Keith's hand and beginning to bandage it up. "Keith, you haven't even met the kid. give him a chance." 

"like hell I will. he's from Altea, he's probably stuck up and stupid and believes in true love." Keith said, sing-songing the last part. 

Keith was like a son to Shiro, and the man knew all too well that this wasn't about his spouse-to-be's personality. Shiro knew there had to be somthing else. "Keith, whats this really about?" 

Keith snapped his hand out of Shiro's grip. "Nothing. I just don't want to be married to some Altean fucking flower." Keith turned and walked out of the barracks. Shiro loosed a breath, this boy may be the death of him. 

~~~~~~~

when Lance awoke, it was to a gentle knocking on his door.

"ye-Come in" Lance called. it was the girl from before, Lance seemed to remember her name was Mara. 

"I'm here to help you get ready for dinner, your highness." she said with a wide smile.

"Please, its just Lance. Its Mara, right?" Lance asked. the smiled and nodded. "I've been assigned to be your lady-in-waiting, of sorts."

Mara Helped Lance into the white cloak and dark grey outfit he had been sent "courtesy of your sister-in-law to be" according to the note. With the help of Mara and another noblewoman, Lance was cleaned and combed and made up, and finally proclaimed ready for dinner.

Lance didn't know if he could do this. go make small talk with what was once his enemy, meet the man he had agreed to spend the rest of his life with, discuss what he was doing in exchange for his freedom, he felt after tonight he would really be giving everything up.

"Lance, its time to go." Mara said, opening his door and gesturing for him to walk out. he took a deep breath, straightened up, and walked out. 

Mara followed to his left and slightly behind him, and the two guards from outside his door flanked him on either side. after a few minutes of walking, Lance blinked himself out of the unconscious zombie-like state he had slipped into

"Lance?" Mara said, waving her hand in front of his face, "you spaced out." 

"oh, just nerves I guess." Lance said. waving his hand. Mara pulled him into a hug. "you are gonna be just fine, Prince Keith's bark is worse than his bite." 

Lance was touched, but before he could wrap his hands back around Mara, She pulled away, smiling brightly, and pushed open the door to the Throne room.

~~~~~~~

Keith did not want to go to this fucking dinner. Keith would rather shave his head and jump out a window then go to this dinner, and he loved his hair more than his own father. The first time Shiro knocked on Keith's locked door. Keith ignored it. hoping Shiro would think he was somewhere else in the castle. The second time, he answered with a quiet "go away." the third time, he opened the door, ready to deck Shiro in the gut. 

Shiro caught Keith's fist without blinking. his face was serious and hardened. "Get out of those training clothes now. you were due at dinner fifteen minutes ago. " Keith glared at Shiro, sending every ounce of anger he had into the gaze, but Shiro's eyes were void of emotion, steely and intense, and Keith gave in, turning and walking into his closet grumbling under his breath.

~~~~~~~

Keith, now dressed in formal wear that Shiro deemed appropriate, refused to enter the hall until he was sure his father was already inside. when he opened the door he was greeted by his father's booming laugh. the Altean must have already won him over. Upon noticing Keith's arrival in the hall, he stood, motioning for the boy to his right to stand as well. 

"Prince Lance, I would like to Introduce my son, Keith." the 'Prince' Swept into a low bow, speaking in a voice Keith's mind told him sounded like tinkling bells. "A Pleasure to make your acquaintance."

Keith wanted to turn and run and never leave his room again, but upon a glare from his father, he took the other boys hand In his and pressed his lips to it.

"The pleasure is all mine." Keith said. his eyes raising to meet the boy's in front of him. startled and confused blue pools met the obvious burning hatred of purple, and Keith cursed himself for the obvious attraction he felt to the false prince.

"now." the king said "we have much to speak about."

Chapter Text

Lance was sitting on the beach, clenching and unclenching his fists in the sand. the sunset was painting the sky glorious pinks and blues, and the sea breeze smelled of salt and the Altean flowers of home. he turned, upon hearing the soft falls of someone approaching in the sand.

"I figured you would be out here."  Allura's soft voice wrapping around him like a hug. Lance had been avoiding the castle all day. he couldn't be in there on days like this.

Lance's Mother was sick, she had been sick for years, since Lance was 11 or maybe 12. she had good days, and bad days, but every great once and a while, she would have a day so bad that the entire castle could hear her screams. these days were few and far between, but they terrified Lance so much he often just plugged his ears and cried until he felt sick.

"I thought she was doing better"  Lance said. his voice thick with tears. Allura sat down next to him and pulled Lance to her chest. she could offer no words of reassurance. neither of them could. they knew one day their mother would go with the gods to the afterlife, they knew they would have to say goodbye, but that didn't stop the shock of realization every time she went from being the same happy, caring woman they had always known, to being bedridden and crying out in pain. Allura couldn't do anything to stop the flow of Lances tears, but she held him until the stars rose and the night blanketed the sea.

~~~~~~~~

"Keith?" Shiro said, soft and plaintive. The young prince had not left his room since yesterday, after the painfully long dinner, he had dismissed himself and had been in his chambers ever since.

Shiro did not come looking for Keith bearing good news. The queen had sent him to bid Keith to come have tea with her, which Shiro knew would be like hell for the boy. Keith was not close to either of his parents, if you asked the boy, he would say that Shiro and his husband Adam had done more to raise him than either of the monarchs had.

Shiro took a deep breath and knocked again. "Keith, open up." he said, slightly louder. he heard shuffling, whispers, and the unlocking of the door, it was pulled open to reveal Keith, looking like a tornado had hit him. 

His hair was mussed and sticking up from all angles, he was shirtless, with dark circles under his eyes. he refused to open the door all the way.

"I'm not even gonna ask. your mother wants to see you. She returned this morning." Shiro turned before Keith could continue. he rubbed his temple he couldnt help Keith acting like this now, but he hoped once the wedding was over and done with he would calm down. Shiro loosed a sigh and walked from keith's door and up the grand staircase and into his room, sinking into an armchair. 

"you look like you've had a fun day, and its only 11:30." Adam said sweeping out of the bathroom and drying his hair with a towe. 

"Something is going on with Keith. I don't know if it has to do with this wedding or if it something else or-" Adam cut him off with a soft kiss "you worry too much. since when is Keith not going through it. I love him, but ever since he turned 16 its been brooding on brooding on brooding." he said, sinking into his husbands lap. 

"I think its different. normally he would talk to me about it, but he hasn't said a word to me in almost two days." Shiro said, pouting. "if you're really worried, let me talk to him. Maybe he loves you too much to be honest with you right now." Adam said, searching his husbands eyes. "you were gone too long, my love." Shiro said, wrapping up Adam in his arms.

~~~~~~~~

Lance had been content to sit in his pajamas staring out at his view of the gardens all day. Last night had been tediously slow but moving too quickly all at once, he had almost passed out when the prince had kissed his hand, and had been dizzy for the rest of the night. the wedding had been set for 3 days from now, and Lance had hoped for today and tomorrow he could just sit and wallow in his own emotions, but according to the king, the queen wanted to meet him, he had to have his measurements taken for his wedding attire to be tailored, and of course, he was supposed to spend 'Quality time time with Keith." 

The Prince had been silent and stoic at dinner. It was no lie that he was attractive. he looked similar to Fayath, with black hair and purple eyes, but his hair was longer, and his muscles were more defined. Keith had spoken diplomatically to his father only when prompted, and excused himself from dinner early.

The king had outlined their agreement. He and Keith would be married in front of the kingdom in three days time, they would send a letter back to Altea with the news on their wedding day, telling the royal family that the wedding had already taken place. He and Keith would move into a communal chamber, and he would sit on the court of Vrarollia with the title of Duchess. Keith would keep his rank as Prince, but Lances royal blood was null and void. He would be allowed to write to his family, but every letter would be checked over before it would be mailed. Lance doubted anyone would want to hear from him anyway. Lance would be recognized as the heir to the queens throne, but could not become king upon Keith's death, for that honor would be passed to Fayath.

He had not seen Fayath since his first day here, and was assuming Keith was avoiding him. If Keith didn't want to see him, that was Keith's decision. He could go search out the prince tomorrow.

Lance's mind drifted to the letter they would be sending to his family. He knew what his father's reaction would be, but what would Allura say? What would his mother say? Was his mother alright? he hated to admit how much he missed her and Allura. Lance decided to take a walk down to the gardens to clear his head. he got dressed and threw on a cloak from his closet, he stepped out of his chambers, and was greeted by the guards stationed out side.

"I-I would like to take a walk in the gardens." he said, straightening, the guards nodded, but followed about three paces behind him. 

~~~~~~~~~

The winding gardens of Vrarollia were known across the globe, Lance marveled at flowers he had never seen, Bright purples swirled with blues and yellows, immaculately kept. Lance circled the outside of the castle a few times, following the swirling paths of the garden, acutely aware of the two guards trailing him. 

The sun had began to set, and believing he had seen most of the gardens, Lance turned and began to walk to the nearest castle entrance. as he was walking, he saw it, out of the corner of his eye. a bush in the corner of the garden, tucked away, and on this bush there was a flower.

A white 6-petaled flower with gold in the center.

~~~~~~~~~

"La-ance! you're taking forever!" 

a breeze smelling of salt and flowers.

"I'm almost done, i just have to make one for mom.'

A tan, brunette child turns around holding three crowns made of white and gold flowers.

"so Pretty!" 

he hands one to a silver haired girl, slightly older than him. His sister.

"Do you think mom will like it?"

"lets find out."

Two children run through open halls. they run into a woman with the same complexion and silver hair.

"Mommy we made you a crown!"

"we? Allura didn't help at all it was all me!"\

The woman scoops the boy up into her arms and kneels down to the girls level.

"Its beautiful Lance, Ill wear it forever."

-

"Ow!"

A bedroom filled with windows.

"hold still."

A brunette teenager is braiding gold and white flowers into another teenage boys hair.

"where did you get all these?"

"they grow all over the castle grounds! Its impossible to walk anywhere and not see them"

The boy looks into a mirror on a vanity a few feet away.

"Lance! how did you learn to do this? its gorgeous!"

the teenager breaks out into a wide, freckled smile. there is silence for a moment.

"can I try something?"

the boy asks, ducking his head.

"sure"

the boy places both hands on either side of the other boys face and brings their lips together.

-

"Lance!"

a boy is picking white and gold flowers from the grass absentmindedly.

"Lance, look at me."

A silver haired woman looks at him with concern. tears are spilling down his face.

"Lance, what is it? is it this marriage, because we've known Lotor since we were childr-"

The boy turns like a whip and stares with tear stained eyes.

"You don't know him at all."

the boy blinks tears threatening to fall.

"Is it because he got that servant boy you liked fired? he was only doing his job Lance you ca-"

The boy interrupts her again.

"This has nothing to do with Sam. Lotor is a monster, Allura! what part of that do you not understand!"

the woman is confused and concerned, she reaches out to touch the boy but is shirked off.

"he-he tried to force himself on me 'Lura. he hits me."

when the woman doesn't respond, the boy stands up and walks back towards a large castle. the two wouldn't see each other again for a long time.

 

Chapter Text

"Mother." Keith greeted as he walked into his mother's study that morning, Although it was less of a study and more of a lavish sitting room where the queen entertained her guests.

"Keith!" She said, as if she was surprised to see him. "Come, come, sit, lets talk." Keith took a steadying breath. His mother talked and acted like a bratty teenage girl on a good day, and he didn't want to deal with her antics right now.

Keith pulled out a chair across from his mother and settled as she poured expensive tea into even more expensive cups.

Now, it was no fault of the queen that she was shallow. She had been engaged to Keith's father at 13, and even before this she was a highclass noblewoman. She had wanted for nothing in her life, going from noblewoman to duchess to queen before she broke 20. The only hardships she had endured was in having children. She had miscarried twice before giving birth to Fayath, they thought Keith would kill her, but his grandfather was determined she have a son, and the queen was always eager to please those above her. 

"There is so much we need to catch up on, Keith." she said, her voice bubbly and obviously laced with dual intentions. She probably only had called Keith to her hoping he would tell her everything the king didn't deem her important enough to tell.

"how was your trip, mother?" Keith asked, trying to turn the conversation away from himself. He did not want to talk about his upcoming marriage, although deep down he knew that is where the conversation would eventually lead.

"Never mind that, dear, I hear that your father arranged a marriage for you!" she said, eyes as wide as dinner plates.  Keith answered with a simple "yes."

"Tell me all about it! who is the girl, where is she from, when is the wedding?" the queen said, talking quickly. She really didn't know anything about this wedding, Keith thought it strange.

"Its a Prince from another kingdom, its purely political." Keith said, wanting to be done with this topic. His mother stayed silent for a minute, thinking.

"Your sister must be upset the first handsome prince that comes along goes to you." she said, her words had a vindictive undertone. 

"Fayath will pick her own spouse when the time comes. Its the gift of being 2nd in line." he said. 

"Bold of you to assume that anyone will ever want to marry your sister." the queen said, taking a long sip of her tea.

The queen had been a mother figure for neither of her children, Keith was mostly raised by Shiro and Adam when they were in their early twenties with the help of the occasional nanny, and Fayath had rotated her childhood around her father and the captain of the guard, but Fayath got the short end of a small stick. The queen had tried to dote on Fayath in her early life, having custom tailored gowns made for the princess and attempting to sit her in diplomacy and courtship classes at age 5. When Fayath showed she would much rather be learning in the guard's  barracks then learning to waltz, the queens excitement turned quickly to resentment.

Keith allowed his mother to continue talking about her issues with Fayath, knowing sticking up for his sister would do nothing, and the queen's topic of conversation turned to herself not long after, having Keith tune out till he could think of an apt excuse to leave.

~~~~~~~

Adam waited outside Keith's chamber for a little under an hour before Keith returned. After they got the 'welcome homes' and questions about Adam's journey out of the way, Adam turned on Keith, intent to shake the boy down until he told him exactly what was going on.

"Shiro is worried about you." He said, matter-of-factly. Keith's head snapped up. 
"is that why you're here?" he said with a small laugh. "because Shiro sent you?"

"No, Keith." Adam said. "I just want to know whats going on with you." Adam knew he needed to start soft, see if Keith was willing to open up, and if he wasn't, Adam would find a way to make him.

"Why does everyone think something is going on?" Keith said, it would have been angry, but instead, it was heartbroken, as if Keith was about to cry.

"I've known you your whole life Keith. Something is up."  Adam leaned back against Keith's wall "I'm giving you a chance to tell me before I have to force it out of you using other methods." he said, waggling his fingers.

"Its stupid." Keith said. Adam simply put a hand on the boy's arm. "It's about Pidge and Hunk. I know that this wedding isn't for love, but having the entire kingdom there and not my two best friends, it just makes this whole thing feel worse."

Pidge, being the top scientist in the kingdom, and Hunk, a leading soldier in the guard, were sent off together on a diplomatic mission in the start of the war with Altea. One day, their correspondences just stopped. They had been considered missing for almost a year now, no one knew what had become of the two. Keith had been broken up about it for months.

"Keith, its not stupid." Adam said, collecting Keith into his arms. Keith had never been one for hugs, but now, he relished in the contact of his parental figure. Neither knew what to say, they just sat in silent understanding. After a few minutes, Keith shifted the conversation back to positive topics, feeling lighter than he had in days.

~~~~~~~~

After the exhausting morning, Keith had taken time to relax on his own. the sun had just begun to set, glaring almost directly into Keith's window. He stood to pull the curtains closed, but when he looked out on the gardens, he saw someone flanked by two guards walking through the paths. He recognized it as the false prince, Lance was his name. He watched the boy walk, occasionally pausing to examine certain plants, Keith was entranced, even from this far He saw Lance's graceful way of strolling, the way he stopped to appreciate the variety of plants of the garden. Suddenly, Keith was overcome with a longing to walk out there with him, to see which plants interested him, to see if his eyes lit up with the reflection of the sunset. Keith shook his head. What had come over him? He was sitting at a window, spying on a boy, he felt like he was 14.

By the time Keith looked back out the window, Lance had turned to re-enter the castle. Keith knew it was a stupid idea, but Lance's room was in the same hall as Keith, and he knew if he simply stepped out the door, Lance would see him on his way inside. Keith popped into his bathroom, running his hands through his hair attempting to give himself some semblance of appearing put together. He tried for maybe 15 minutes, realizing this he thought he had probably missed Lance. 

He opened his door, and the hallway was empty, What was he doing? Keith was about to turn and step back into his room when he heard 3 sets of footsteps approaching, he whirled around to see Lance and the two guards approaching him. he had some white and gold flowers somewhat braided in his short hair.

"Your Highness." Lance said, bowing, voice low but firm. He looked almost like he had been crying.

"You don't have to do that when its just me, formality is more my father's territory." Keith said, willing his voice not to shake. "how did you-" he said, gesturing to the flowers. 

Lance's hand flew up to his hair. "Oh, I taught myself how as a child." Lance said, smiling slightly. Lance was confused, Keith had never been nice to him in the 2 interactions they had had, and the fact that Keith had been just here in the hallway when Lance was returning, seemed almost if Keith had sought him out.

"Its- Its pretty. I like it." Keith said. was he nervous?  Lance thought. 

"I could do it to your hair sometime, If you want. It would be easier, Since you have that mullet thing going on." Lance said, his smile bright. Keith didn't know whether to be offended at the comment at his hair, or flattered at Lance's offer. Apparently he stayed silent for too long, for Lance continued on walking. 

"See you around, your highness." Lance said, his voice silky.

"Keith." Keith called, turning around to watch Lance walk away. 

"Keith."  Lance said, as if testing its feel on his tongue. 

the second he heard Lance say his name, Keith knew one thing.

He was Fucked.

Chapter Text

The two days leading up to the wedding were uneventful. Lance didn't see Keith at all, Even in passing, he thought the boy was most likely avoiding him. Lance spent his 'last two days of freedom' being fitted for his wedding attire, taking hot baths, and sleeping off the creeping depression that threatened to engulf him. He also spent hours confiding in Mara about anything in everything. It felt so good to be honest without repercussions.

The night before the wedding, the stress made Lance physically sick. Instead of savoring his last night sleeping in his own bed, he sat retching over the toilet, trying not to cry. He was able to crawl back in bed by midnight, curling into fetal position and awaiting sleep.

~~~~~~~
When Lance was awoken the next morning, he felt like he had been hit by a bag of bricks. Mara, flanked by two other women, jostled him awake at 8 am, 4 hours until the ceremony.

"You are a sight for sore eyes."  Mara said, crossing the room to open the blinds. "we have a lot of work to do." she said, Looking at Lance but speaking to the women who flanked her. 

Lance was changed into a silk robe and sat down in from of his mirror. The women brushed and curled his hair, while Mara delicately applied makeup to his face. 

"So how does this work? the ceremony I mean." Lance said. 

"You mean no one told you?" Mara said, blinking. Lance shook his head. "you should have asked before right now." she said, laughing. "Well, first you and Keith will be joined at the altar out on the green, then the high Councillor will read the customary prayers and give you rings. you will put them on each others hands and then complete the ceremony with a kiss." Lance swallowed. "then, you will share the first dance at the reception, and then the nobles will dance, and then its over. pretty common wedding." Mara finished.

Not to Lance. Weddings on Altea were small, personal affairs. Two people were married in-front of one or maybe two of their closest friends, Joined together by the gods. Nobles would often have a party the night after to celebrate with their friends. Having to kiss in front of a parade of royalty, having to dance while being watched like a hawk by a kingdom who considered Lance the enemy, it scared him.

~~~~~~~

Keith had been through the same pampering ordeal as Lance, his wedding attire was black, instead of the white he knew Lance would be wearing. He had been called down by his father to greet the high royals who had come for the ceremony, as he descended the stairs, he took in the guests, four. Shay, princess of the kingdom of Lainic, Coran, former royal adviser of Altea under the previous rule, Nyma, duchess of Varys, and Sendak, of the prominent Galra family, a family with most ties to Altea, but stayed out of the war for reasons unknown. Shay and Coran were good friends of Keith's family, Shay had been engaged to Hunk, and Coran had been one of Keith's teachers when he was young. Nyma, although having grown up knowing Keith and Fayath, never liked either of them, and was often judgmental. The Vrarollian court had always been suspicious of the Galra family. Sendak was invited as a pleasantry, but also for the King to gauge if he would be dangerous in the Long run.

Keith Greeted them all pleasantly and thanked them graciously for coming, he showed them out to the area of the garden that had been set for the ceremony, spouting nonsense about the garden and the castle's history as he walked. 

"Here we are. If you don't mind, I have to attend to-" Keith started, "Your Highness, if I could bother you to show me to the restrooms." Shay interrupted, a mischievous gleam in her eyes.

"uh, sure." Keith said, and Shay pulled him back into the castle. As soon as the door shut, she engulfed him in a hug.

"How you been, kid?" she said, pulling back to look Keith in the face. 

"Careful! Wedding clothes!" He said, unwinding her arms. "I'm sorry! Sorry, its been so long. Last time I saw you you were piercing your own ears to defy your father and now you are getting married!"

"You make it sound like its been so long, and don't remind me. This wedding is the last thing I want" Keith said, rolling his eyes. "Hey, some of us didn't get a wedding." Shay said, jokingly, but she was spinning Hunk's ring around her finger. 

"I know, but its different, Lance is-" Shay put up a hand. "Stop. Give the boy a chance, Keith." they looked at each other for a minute.

"I wanted him to be here." Keith said, voice laced with sorrow.

"I know, me too." Shay wiped a falling tear from Keith's eye. 

"None of that. You have a groom to go marry." They hugged one more time before Shay left for the Courtyard.

~~~~~~~~

Lance took a deep, shaking breath as he stood behind the door out to the gardens. Keith was already out there. in a minute the doors would open and Lance would walk out and then, then he would be married.

He saw the sunlight crack through the opening doors and squared his shoulders. He stepped out the doors as he was instructed and walked down the path. Lance heard the whispers of the large crowd as they turned to look at him, but he kept his face forward. Every bit as regal as any king.

When Keith saw him, he had to keep his jaw from dropping. the emblemed white wedding garb fit his body so well, there had to be a law against it. His skin looked like silk, he walked with nothing but confidence. if Keith didn't know the boy was terrified out of his mind, he would have thought Lance owned the place.

Lance reached the altar and turned to Keith. Their eyes found eachother like they had the night they met, but instead of confusion and fear meeting hatred. Lances eyes held only sorrow. Keith looked at him like he was the only thing in the world.

Keith's hair had been tied back, he looked gorgeous. If the circumstances had been different, Lance may have had a crush on him.

Lance had been so entranced in seeing Keith that he hadn't realized the Councillor had already started talking.

"-and Prince Keith of Vrarollia." was all Lance caught. He forced himself to tune back in. 

"These rings, made of the blessed Damascus steel of the first king of Vrarollia's crown represent the unbreaking bond of marriage." he continued, handing one ring to Lance and one to Keith.

Lance got lost yet again looking at the ring, the swirling patterns in the steel, the pinks and blues reflected. This little thing was what he had been so scared of. He was yet again brought back to reality by Keith picking up his hand and sliding the ring on his slender finger. Keith's hands were rough and comforting. Lance looked up at the other boy, who simply nodded, queuing Lance to slide the ring onto his finger. 

"I now pronounce you Prince Keith and Duchess Lance of Vrarollia." Keith looked him flat in the eyes. They were supposed to kiss. Lance was frozen. What was he supposed to do? Just, go for it? Before his mind could race any longer, Keith leaned in, placing a soft kiss to his lips. Lance's insides exploded with fireworks. Keith's lips were warm. The kiss wasn't short, but it wasn't long either. Keith pulled away, Lance's lips felt cold. The procession had erupted in applause. As people began to stand up and mill around, Keith had let go of Lances hands to turn and shake hands with his father. Mara stood from her chair and approached Lance. She looked gorgeous, her hair was curled and she was wearing a white and lavender gown. She pulled Lance into a gentle hug. "Not so bad, huh?" she said.

Lance managed a small laugh. "Okay, off with you. dinner and then your dance." she said, basically giving him back to Keith, who said nothing, just took Lance's hand and walked off into the palace.

~~~~~~~~
Lance barely ate anything at dinner. Keith was pleasant to him, he didn't really say anything, but he offered Lance a comforting smile when he looked like a fish out of water. When dinner was over, Keith's father announced the dance, and Keith stood up. Lance, assuming he should follow, stepped out from his chair.

As the music started up, Keith placed his hand on Lance's waist and began to lead him in a waltz. Lance felt strangely safe as they danced. Keith smelled like sandalwood and fresh bread. Lance wanted to drown in the other boy's arms. Lance allowed Keith to lead him across the floor to sweeping music, His cape trailing behind him. The song came to a close and Keith stepped back, bowing to Lance before walking back to the table. In a matter of seconds, the floor filled with guests, leading in dances. Lance, yet again, felt alone.

Keith had almost died dancing with Lance. Lance had trusted him to lead in front of every important person in the kingdom. And, fuck, Lance was gorgeous up close. Keith had focused on the dance, and when it was over, he made a beeline to get away from Lance and his dreamy eyes.

"Your highness. May I have this dance?" Keith turned around to see Fayath. Smiling, She led him out to the floor.

"I never thought i'd see the day you wore a gown." Keith said, looking at Fayath's black and purple, longsleeved dress.

"Well, lets just say you weren't the only one who mother wanted to have tea with. I was planning to wear my guard uniform." Fayath said, allowing Keith to spin her.

"My baby brother is a married man. Way to make me feel old, Keith." she laughed. Keith rolled his eyes. Leading her into the center of the dance, he caught sight of Lance dancing with a noblewoman. He span her, laughing. God, Lance's smile was beautiful.

"Stop drooling. Its taken you less than a week to go from resentment to looking at him like hes the only boy you've ever seen." Fayath said.

"wha-no, I was just-" Keith protested.

"you can't look me in the eyes and say your not falling for him. You don't even know him, Keith, and hes already your world.:" She continued, her smile mischievous. but before Keith could speak again, the song was over.

~~~~~~~~

After Lance danced two consecutive songs with Mara, a hand tapped Mara on the shoulder.

"May I steal your partner?" a Man said. Mara smiled and stepped back. 

"Play nice." She said, pointing at both boys.

The man took the lead in the dance. He was buff, with black hair that had a shock of white in the front.

"do I... Know you?" Lance asked.

"not yet. Takashi Shirogane. But you can call me Shiro. I'm... Keith's personal bodyguard, of sorts." he said, spinning Lance.

"Are you trying to flirt with me?" Lance asked cautiously.

Shiro barked a laugh. "No, no, no." he said, regaining his composure. "I'm married. Happily at that." he smiled.

"My husband is over there being a perfect diplomat." Shiro said, gesturing with his head over to the left. Lance turned to see a brunette laughing with Sendak, a man he knew all to well.

"This may be a strange question, but, has Keith been.. Nice to you?" Shiro asked. "what do you mean?" Lance asked, fear spiked in his heart.

"Keith is, well, young. when he heard about this wedding he was not happy. I half expected this to be a disaster, but he seems to be doing alright. I just want to make sure he isn't being a total bag of dicks."

"No. he's been fine, nice." Lance said. "good. sometimes I think he may kill me with all his adolescent issues." Shiro gave Lance a wide smile.

"Why are you being nice to me?" Lance asked. "well, why wouldn't I be?" Shiro replied.

"I'm Altean, the enemy. Why is everyone here being nice to me?" Lance managed a self deprecating laugh.

"The Vrarollian people only know your father." Shiro said after thinking. "the war has been hard on the people, that's true, but they don't know you. you haven't given them any reason not to be nice to you. if that makes any sense."

"I guess it does." Lance said, they said nothing for the rest of the song.

~~~~~~~

The festivities of the wedding lasted till about 11 that night. Keith danced with Shay, Nyma, and even his mother. He had only seen Lance dance with that noblewoman he didn't know and Shiro, which was strange. His father had closed the ceremony, and he and Lance had left for bed.

They didn't speak at all on the walk through the halls. Keith thought there would be some kind of awkward talk about sharing the bed, but Lance had just gotten undressed and slipped underthe covers. Now, Keith was lying awake in bed, next to Lance who had been asleep before his head hit the pillow. He thought about what his sister had said. he couldn't explain his attraction to Lance. how he simultaneously wanted Lance to disappear and never return, and the other half wanted to kiss him until they couldn't breathe.

he drifted into sleep thinking one thing.

He may be pretty, but I don't know him, and I don't want to.

 

Chapter Text

i’m not dead! Hi, hello, what’s up, i know it’s been a hot minute since i updated but there is a new chapter coming most likely tomorrow, maybe two :)!

Some things to note, 

I am looking for a beta reader/editor so if you are interested please let me know!

even though this fic is not even halfway done i have some other fic ideas so stay tuned!

also i need some good fic recommendations so send me those as well!

thank you all!!

-M

Chapter Text

"I Can't do this anymore!" Lance Bolted up from the table, startling the dishes and knocking over his chair in the process. "It's been three weeks! Three weeks, Mara!"

Mara sighed and set down her tea. She had been waiting for this. "Lance-"

"I don't understand how Keith can avoid me for three weeks! We sleep in the same fucking room and he doesn't say a word to me! and the second I try to speak to him he's gone like a ghost!"

"Maybe he's just busy," Mara said, trying to diffuse Lance's frustration. "Busy?"  Lance turned, eyes wide.

"He hasn't spoken to me in 21 days, he has memorized my routes in the castle halls so he doesn't walk past me, he leaves our room early in the morning so he's not there when I wake up, and you think he's busy?"  Lance was pacing across the room now.

Mara stood up and put her hands on Lance's shoulders, stopping him in his tracks. "Lance. Calm down." Lance collapsed on to the sofa. "I just don't understand, Mara. what did I ever to do him?"

~~~~~~~~~

It took 2 more hours of complaining for Lance to fully chill out. Mara convinced him to take a hot bath mostly for him to relax, but also so Mara could have a break. Mara loved Lance, but there was only so much she could handle right now.

"Hey, you!" Mara Whipped around. "You're the lady in waiting to Lance right?"

"Your highness!" Mara dipped into a low bow, Princess Fayath was notorious for not standing for disrespect. "Yeah, yeah, let's get over the pleasantries. Keith's been avoiding him right?"

Mara rose. "I'm assuming so. Lance is really torn up." Fayath snickered. "I was hoping Lance could be someone Keith would trust. My brother has been through a lot and I thought Lance would be good for him, he's just not open to it." she sighed. Mara nodded "I have a plan, but ill need your help."

~~~~~~~~

Summer was fading fast in Vrarollia, and Fall was bringing early sunsets to the castle gardens. After his bath, Lance had set out to the altean flower bush by the east door to the gardens. The vrarollian climate was too harsh and dry for them, so Lance had been tending to the bush gently since he found it. The white flowers thrived under Lances care, the bush no longer wilted in the corner, but thrived. Lance wished he had taken to his new home as the flowers did. He stroked the soft petals, no longer angry, but somber.

 Vrarollias sun setting over the palace had nothing on Altea's sunset on the sea, but it was still gorgeous. Lance sat meekly on a bench, watching the sun crawl down the blurry sky. he couldn't believe he ever thought he and Keith could have fallen in love, Lances dreams were childish, and he knew that now.

The door to the castle creaked open, Lance didn't turn, he refused to show the intruder his tear-stained face.

"I'm okay Mara, you can go back inside, I know I must be bothering you with all my nonsense." there was no response. Lance ran a hand over his arm and looked up. 

And for the first time in 21 days, 16 hours, and 12 minutes, Lance's eyes met those of his husband.

~~~~~~~~ (A.N. I was gonna let the chapter end here, but I thought you guys should get some extra content because of the wait o.o) ~~~~~

For Keith, the past 21 days had been spent hiding away in the barracks and taking the occasional horseback ride into the wastes. He had been successful in avoiding Lance, but he couldn't get the brunette haired boy out of his mind. Keith knew that if he didn't sleep in his and Lance's bedroom his father would riot, but he got no sleep next to Lance. He could hear the smaller boy breathe, and his face while he slept was so calm. Keith felt disgusting watching Lance sleep, but he couldn't take his eyes off him. Most nights, as soon as the first ray of sunlight broke, Keith would make a break for it. If Keith never saw Lance again he could die a happy man.

Keith spent most of today catching up on lost sleep in a closet in the barracks he had thrown some pillows into. when Fayath finally found him around 6 pm, he was cleaning up a punching bag he had thoroughly destroyed. 

"Christ, Keith, what did you do?" Fayath Laughed. 

"You should see the other guy." Keith cracked a smile. "I have. He's not much to look at." Keith straightened up.

"Did you need something?" Keith said, dumping the punching bag guts into the garbage. 

"I was hoping you would come down to the stables with me and race." Fayath knew he couldn't refuse. "You're on."

Fayath followed Keith out or the barracks, little did he know the noblewoman waiting outside whispered to Fayath "He's in the east gardens."

~~~~~~~~

When the siblings reached the door to the east gardens, Keith finally grew suspicious. "you know the stables is on the other side of the castle, right?" Fayath looked up with a smirk on her face.

"You know I care about you right?" 

"What?" but before Keith could get an answer, Fayath shoved him outside and slammed the door.

As Keiths eyes adjusted to the contrast from the dark castle he realized Fayath had locked the door behind him. confused, Keith turned and saw a skinny figure on a bench, suddenly, everything made sense.

~~~~~~~~

"I'm okay Mara, you can go back inside."

When Lance and Keith's eyes met, the universe didn't re-align and fireworks didn't explode, but both boys felt something unexplainable.

"Keith?"  Lance was speechless, they stared at each other, almost frozen. "what are you-" he couldn't even muster a whole sentence. 

Keith coughed, "um, Fayath, She... She, uh, Locked me out." Lance nodded. 

"I'm just going to go around to another door"- "Are you avoiding me?" They both spoke at the same time.

"What?' Keith said. "are. you. avoiding me." Lance repeated slowly. 

"I don't- Maybe," Keith said, scratching the back of his head.

"why?" Lance asked, trying to keep his voice from breaking.

"I don't know," Keith says voice flat. 

"Because its a really shitty thing to do!"  Lance said, bearing all his feelings in his tone. "What do you mean?" Keith finally brought himself to meet Lance's broken gaze.

"Because I'm In what used to be my enemy country, and I can never go home and see my family again and everyone here looks at me like I killed someone and the one person you would expect to be nice to me, my goddamn husband, won't fucking speak to me!" Lance was crying

Keith stood frozen for a minute. "We were married for political reasons, Lance, you didn't expect romance, did you?" was all he was able to say. Lance looked even more hurt. Keith flinched.

"No." Lance lied. "But was it so wrong for me to expect friendship? Or even just you to be Nice to me?" Lance sat back down on the bench. "We're stuck together, Keith, and I know nothing about you." His voice was soft now. the silence hung heavy in the air. Lance tried to pull himself together, but his tears continued to fall steadily.

Keith eventually broke the silence.

"Red."

"What?" Lance looked up.

"My favorite color. It's red. Now you know something about me. I mean its not the deep stuff but its a start, right?" Keith was rambling.

"Mine's blue," Lance said. Keith sat down next to him awkwardly. 

"So, you miss your family, do you have any siblings?" Keith didn't know what washed over him. He told himself he didn't want to know Lance. He didn't, right?

"I have an older sister, Allura. I always wanted a younger sibling, but my mother couldn't have any more children. I'm very close to my younger cousins, though." Lance sniffled, mustering a smile.

"Are you close to your sister?" Keith asked. "I don't know, we were really close, but when I left I wasn't exactly, happy with her, you know." 

"Why did you leave?" Keith leaned back. "I don't... really want to talk about it." Lance's face went dark. Keith knew he had to change the subject.

"Whats Altea like?" Keith was worried that question would make Lance more upset, but his face immediately brightened.

"Its nothing like here. its ocean on three sides, and the air always smells like salt, there are rolling green hills, and there are these beautiful flowers, and oh- the castle, the windows, and wide arches." 

Lances smile was wide, and his eyes glittered with nostalgia. Keith watched him, listening to Lance talk about what he loved stirred a feeling in the other boy's heart he can't even place.

From the tower window three stories above, two young women smiled, feeling they had succeded in their nefarious plot.

Keith and Lance talked until the sun had fully set, and when Lance woke up the next morning, there was a mop of dark hair on the adjacent pillow, and Lance fell back asleep smiling.