“Many felicitations,” says the tribe elder, once the Galra fleet lay in tatters strewn over the mountain range, and they descend their respective Lions. “It is as our ancestors have foretold – in a time of great need, Great Lion Warriors will descend from the heavens to lend us their aid.”
Allura only smiled in answer, moving forwards to do what Keith still cannot, but he has made his peace with it.
He cast his gaze towards the Castle of Lions, descending slowly through the air.
“We’ve been invited to stay for the feast tonight,” Allura tells them, coming to stand beside him.
Keith nods, because that’s the usual welcome they’ve come to expect.
The feast reminds him of a Viking feast he’d once seen in a library book, huge hunks of meat bigger than Pidge that’s got stars shining in Hunk’s eyes, and free-flowing tankards of a sweet drink that has Lance spinning in circles, and Shiro coming over to drape an arm over Keith’s shoulders, looking flushed and pleased.
Keith leans in a little, savouring the rare public display of affection, the way Shiro’s eyes brighten, the way he squeezes Keith’s nape like he’s telling Keith a secret.
“Great lion warriors.” A young woman comes up to them, bearing a clay jug of that wine in her hands. “It will be this one’s honour to serve the Black Paladin, leader of the almighty Voltron.”
She’s looking at Shiro, and Keith can’t blame her – he knows their armour colours are confusing.
“Mm, nope.” Shiro’s smile doesn’t even fade. “Keith’s the pilot of the Black Lion, not me.”
The young woman blinks, looking fairly taken aback. Her gaze is startled and unsure as it lands on Keith, but her smile doesn’t even quiver. “Black Paladin Keith,” she says, like an ill-fitting epitaph. “Will you allow this one the honour?”
Keith hasn’t planned on drinking at all, but he knows better – Allura has taught him better – than to refuse a gift from their hosts.
“Okay,” he says, with every intention of handing it off to Shiro the moment she’s not looking.
She clasped her hands in front of her. “Thank you, Great Warrior, for your acceptance. May this one know, when would the Great Warriors be leaving, so that we may prepare our wedding in all due haste?”
Shiro sat up straight, all traces of drowsiness gone.
“I’m not sure I understand,” Allura says, in that regal tone that really means you have five ticks to explain yourselves.
“It is as the ancestors has declared. Now that the prophecy has come to pass, we must fulfil it to its totality, or the lands will become barren. Warrior Keith has accepted the crown princess’ suit; therefore, they shall be wed on the morrow, to stave off the Great Famine.”
Shiro has his arms folded over his chest, lips pressed into a thin line. “I wouldn’t call it ‘accept’,” he says, when Allura glances over at them. “We had no idea an offer of wine was a marriage proposal, or we would not have accepted it.”
“It matters not,” says the tribe elder, while said princess hovers in the background. When Keith glances over, her knuckles are white. “By our customs, an offer of mead from an unwed individual to another unwed must be a proposal of marriage, to be accepted when the acceptor takes their first sip.”
“We had no idea she was unwed,” Shiro continued, sounding as reasonable as he can under the circumstances, “nor the existence of such customs.”
Keith glances down at the still-full cup in his hands. Shiro’s still talking, arguing over semantics and cultural differences, but they aren’t getting anywhere.
“That prophecy,” he says, “can you tell us what it says?”
“So, if I got this right,” Keith summarises, swirling the mead in his hands. It’s a sparkling gold, like honeyed prosecco, fracturing the light into a thousand rainbows. “It says the Great Lion Warrior needs to get married on your lands in order for them to be fertile once more?”
“This is correct,” agrees the tribe elder.
Keith glances up at him, but he doesn’t have to. “Nowhere in there does it say the Lion Warrior has to marry your princess,” Shiro says, slowly.
The tribe elder blinks, eyes large and startled. The historians next to him chitter away in their own language, poring over the yellowed piece of parchment again.
“Good,” Keith says, feeling exhausted by the whole endeavour, moreso than the actual fight with the Galra. “Because it really wouldn’t have worked out, seeing that I’m gay.”
There’s an awkward pause.
“What is – gay?” ventures Allura.
“It means I only like dick,” Keith explains bluntly. He’s so tired. “Something I don’t think your princess has, no offence.”
“And on that note...” He shoves the mug he’s still holding into Shiro’s hands. “Drink...?” he demands, and prays no one can hear the tremble in his voice.
There’s a moment of stillness, like the very air’s holding its breath, when Shiro just stares at the mug he’s now holding and Keith just wants the ground to swallow him whole.
Oh god. He’s never going to be allowed in Shiro’s vicinity again.
Oh god. He hopes someone needs Voltron soon – maybe Coran’ll call, and they’ll have to leave, and Keith can never look Shiro in the eye again.
Oh god. Maybe he can move in with the Blades. Kolivan’s extended an invitation a while back, it ought to still hold –
Oh god –
Shiro tips his head back and drains the entire mug in one go.