Allura hummed as she walked through her garden. It was the time between night and day, her favorite time. It was as if she was in another world, filled with the magic that the garden created in this enchanted hour. The flowers surrounded her with their heavy, but welcoming aroma and she sat down on a stone bench in one quiet corner of the garden.
The garden had been her mother's at first, and had been destroyed during the earlier wars with the Drules and now Doom. After Keith and the boys arrived on Arus, her mother's garden was brought back to life by none other than Keith himself. He had flowers imported from Earth, including roses which had become her favorite. Red ones, though she could not admit to herself why she was particular to red. Keith had taught her how to tend to it and she found that she had a "green thumb", as he put it. Life flourished in it as birds and insects found homes in her plants. It was a relief from the devastation that was still evident outside its walls.
The Princess of Arus rested her royal chin in a slender hand and smiled to herself. She knew it was not the safest time to be waltzing around outside, but after the days' toll on her, she decided that she owed herself a little freedom. Still, she patted the blaster at her side reassuringly. In the castle, the boys were sleeping peacefully, except for whomever had the shift at this ungodly hour. She would guess that it was Keith. She had a suspicion that he was an insomniac, but then who could blame him. If she didn't force herself to close her eyes, she would probably be sitting up late into the wee hours of the night with him.
Not that that was a bad thing.
A leaf floated down onto her lap from the branches above her and she picked it off gingerly. The crickets had ceased their singing and it would be morning soon. Already the blackness of the night was being chased across the sky by the pinks and oranges of the rising Arusian sun. Allura turned her face towards the light and welcomed its warmth. She smiled.
Suddenly, a sneeze interrupted her peaceful thoughts and in a flash, her blaster was in her hand.
She glared at the intruder and replaced her weapon in its holster.
"You just couldn't help yourself, could you?" she groused.
"It's my job," Keith replied, jumping down from his perch. He had been sitting in the thick branches of the oak tree that had spilled its leaf onto Allura's lap. "I know you don't like the intrusion..."
"You're not intruding," she said with a sigh. "I guess I should have expected you to be here. I'm not so good a sneak that I could get past you."
He shrugged and ran a hand through his unruly black hair.
Black as night, Allura thought.
"I've been watching over you ever since Lance told me that you came out here at this time."
"So, Lance has been guarding me too?"
Keith's handsome face flushed slightly. "No...uh..actually, it's just been me. I told him that I talked to you about it and you promised not to go walking anymore."
Despite herself, Allura grinned at him, his blush amusing and delighting her. "Even though I don't like being spied on, that was thoughtful of you."
He rubbed the back of his neck, clearly embarrassed. "It's my job."
She sat back down on the bench and patted the space beside her. He sat down, careful not to brush against her arm. She was already dressed for Lion practice in her pink jumpsuit, as he was in his red uniform. Practice would start in 45 minutes and Keith was glad for the short rest, though his dark eyes darted everywhere to make sure that they wouldn't be attacked.
"The sunrise is beautiful, isn't it?" she said."Yes."
She turned to look at him. "Do you even watch it?"
He smiled. "Sometimes, but you know I watch you."
"I would think so. It is your job," she mocked lightly. "Thank you, Keith."
"It's my..." he paused when she raised an eyebrow. "You're welcome," he said instead, with a soft smile.
They stared at each other for an endless minute. Keith had always thought her beautiful on the outside, but had not been prepared for the beauty that she had inside. Even though he knew his place and how the Coran would disapprove and probably banish him to a Beta class moon, he knew that he had feelings for her. Not just a crush, but something more. So much more.
Allura wanted to reach out and touch his face, now so approachable. She knew that there was something between them, something stronger than the bond she had with the others. It held the two of them together, even though he tried to keep them apart. Slowly, as if it had a mind of its own, her hand cupped his cheek and to her surprise he didn't pull away. He put his own hand over hers. It took all he had in him not to press a kiss into the soft white palm hovering near his lips.
"Allura," he whispered, his voice hoarse.
He moved her hand from his cheek to her lap, but he didn't let go. She blinked, breaking the spell.
"I'm sorry," she said. "I didn't mean..."
He shook his head, squeezing her hand to silence her. She laced her fingers through his, taking advantage of his mood before he turned on his soldier attitude.
A perfect fit, she mused sadly as she savored the feel of his long fingers and callused palm against hers.
They watched the sky until it burst into a cacophony of light as the sun rose over the horizon. A new day was born and the moment seemed so much more meaningful with Keith at her side. Every little thing was when he was with her. She closed her eyes. She felt his finger lightly touch her chin and turn her face towards him. A kiss as light as a breeze brushed across her forehead, so light that she wasn't sure if it was him. Her blue eyes opened slowly to look into his dark ones.
"It's time for practice," he said, releasing her.
She nodded and stood. She followed him into the castle. Before they entered the dining room where everyone was waiting, he turned his head slightly and looked at her, his expression full of meaning. She smiled. Her future was in that one look. Gathering her courage, she slid her hand into his as they walked the last few meters to the dining room. He held on to her hand tightly, a slight smile dancing around his mouth. Like her, he only wanted to prolong the magic for as long as he could...until the next time.