The Prince's Fool - A Voltron Royalty AU - Haibunnyy (2024)

Boredom is a form of torture and no one can convince Keith otherwise.

“The autumn harvests are down 8% compared to last year. We saw a significant increase in defective seeds and-”

Keith attempts to drown out the nonsensical talk of dirt and plants with his thoughts. Running drills in his head of all the ways he could take out the guards posted on either side of the lilac-colored carpet leading from midway across the room, up the short flight of steps that led to the platform which Keith has the misery of finding himself upon. How easy would it be to jump from his throne and steal the blade of the guard closest to him? A full-blooded Galra who, despite their best attempts, appears to be nodding off from the tiresome explanations of the minister of agriculture. Amongst the easy targets is the man currently talking his ear off. The Minister of Agriculture is a noble through and through, he would pose no threat to Keith. In fact, Keith would bet an entire sack of gold that the man would fall to his knees and cry before Keith even attempted to disarm him. Most of the guards would be no match for the Prince of Mamora. That was evident the moment he was assigned a bodyguard and refused to be guarded by a knight who couldn’t best him in combat. The only real challenge would be the Captain of the Royal Guard standing to his right.

Keith keeps his chin rested in his gloved hand as he peaks between his bangs to the captain standing at attention. Takashi Shirogane, the only knight in this castle Keith cannot beat. Therefore the only knight Keith can bring himself to respect. Thankfully the man has too many responsibilities to bother with roles such as serving as the Prince’s guard. However, that does not stop him from correcting Keith’s every action and word. Including now, when their eyes meet Shiro gives Keith one glare, and Keith huffs as he sits up straight to turn his attention to the minister once again.

“-will not be enough to last us through the winter. Our meteorologists warn it will be a long one this year.”

Perhaps a prince should pay more attention to the concerns of his kingdom and not fantasize about all the ways to leave a room unconscious. A better prince would ask about possible ways to make ends meet through the predicted food storage. A kinder prince might even thank the man before him for sharing such vital information. And yet all Keith can manage is a blank stare. It is not as if he does not care about the well-being of the thousands of people who call the Kingdom of Mamora home. Despite the jaded expression on his purpled features or the rumors that the prince was born without a heart, he does care.

“Perhaps we could reach out to a neighboring municipality, and make a trade?” Keith asks, earning himself a prideful nod from Shiro.

“And who do you suggest we ask?” Keith’s attention is drawn away from the minister who seemed pleased with his suggestion, to his mother, Queen Krolia of Mamora. She turns to her son, scowling. “Who can we turn to who would not ask us to send soldiers for some pointless war?”

Keith rolls his eyes, “We have plenty of manpower to assist any of our neighbors.”

The queen steps in front of Keith, the flows of a lavender royal gown pooling the floor before him, “And risk our alliance with Daibaizaal? Need I remind you the only reason we have been blessed with an era of peace is because of our arrangement with Emperor Zarkon?”

“Are you referring to how you promised me to his niece? How could I forget?” Keith growls, letting whatever professional demeanor he willed for Shiro drop as he throws himself back into his seat.

“Prince Keith, that is no way to speak of your fiance.” The queen corrects, quickly shifting from a politician and ruler to his overbearing, nitpicking mother. The one who cares how he talks, walks, and acts while seemingly not giving a damn when she wedded him the niece of the Emperor of Daibaizaal.

“Who I became engaged to when I was 14.” Keith points out with a sarcastic tone that does little to hide his growing frustrations, “You know most child marriages are frowned upon these days.” From the corner of his eye, Shiro moves to step in between. Before he can settle the prince, Keith propels out of his seat and jumps to his feet, “Maybe we should ask Zarkon to feed our people? I’m sure he could pick up some wheat between pillaging villages and conquering cities!”

The queen steps back rubbing her wrinkled forehead with two fingers, “Keith I have already explained to you countless times why I had to-”

“Pardon the interruption.” A stewart rushes in front of the minister who has been standing watching the two royals argue without a word. The man drops to his knees as he bows his head, “ Princess Allura of Altea has arrived and she requests an audience.”

All thoughts and smart words leave as Keith’s curiosity peaks. While he has had his fill with the regal and high-class members of Mamoran society he has never met an Altean royal before. At least not one he wasn’t related to.

Queen Krolia straightens her dress as she returns to her throne, an impressive structure made of metal and glasswork. Keith sits to her right as the stewart leaves with the minister. It seems Keith is not the only one curious about the appearance of an Altean princess. Guards and servants alike watch with wide eyes as two Altean centries enter the room before finding a post by the door. Even Shiro seems intrigued as he watches the Princess enter behind the lifeless machinery. She keeps her chin up and gazes ahead as she makes her way down the carpet leading to the set of three thrones in the back of the room. She is escorted by two other Alteans, an older gentleman and a young woman both dressed in silks rather than armor. The two hold back as the Princess presents herself. She bows her head to the royal mother and son before lifting her gaze to them.

“Well hello Princess Allura, it has been ages. It is so good to see you!” The Queen offers a warm smile to the Princess who gives a short-lived one in return.

“Likewise Your Majesty.” Allura’s features harden as she takes a small step forward, “Unfortunately I did not come unannounced for reunions. I will not waste your time Queen Krolia, I have come to you in need.”

Keith watches as his mother’s pleasantries disappear, “And what is it that the esteemed Kingdom of Altea could possibly need from a small state such as Mamora?”

Allura looks back to who Keith can only assume are advisors of some sort. The woman gives her a nod before the princess turns back to the queen, “We humbly ask for your aid. As I am sure you are aware, Altea has been at war with Daibazaal for nearly two decades. We have lost not only territory and vital resources but countless lives in the war. My own mother was taken from me due to this senseless violence.”

The queen nods along, “I am more than aware of the situation that plagues your nation, my husband was lost trying to defend his home country from such violence,” As she speaks, Krolia runs a hand over the armrest of the empty throne to her left. Keith lowers his gaze at the mention of his father, the reason his skin is a light shade of lilac rather than the deep purples of his mother. The person responsible for his features being a mix of Altean and Galran quirks such as furry bat-like ears on either side of his hair yet eyes that remain a dull white around purple irises. Why his hair sit silky and voluminous over his shoulders rather than stiff or furry like a Galra. And why he appears so much smaller compared to the Galra guard around the room. Not that height matters when a swift bow from a dagger could cut anyone down to Keith’s level. Despite being half Altean, the appearance of a royal one is as new and intriguing as the conversation before him

The Queen snaps her attention to the princess, “If it is aid you seek we can provide you humanitarian support.”

The Princess’s lips purse as she clears her throat, “Thank you for your offer, however, that is not what I ask. Coran?” The Altean man behind Allura moves to her side presenting a tablet that he clicks awake. A projection of a map fills the air, showing the peninsula that Keith calls home. Keith immediately recognizes the desert separating the Kingdom of Mamora designated in a pinkish hue from the collection of cities and nations beyond the sandy dunes shown in green. At the southmost point of the peninsula, along the coast, is the Kingdom of Altea, highlighted in blue with various dots representing islands in the waters. Above that, in purple and filling nearly 70% of the map is the Daibazaan Empire.

Keith turns to Shiro and then to his mother, it has been months since he has last seen an updated map of the peninsula. While Daibazaal had always been the largest of the nations, shown on the Altean map, it has nearly doubled in size compared to any map Keith has seen around the castle.

The Princess walks around the projection to stop in front of the steps, “Your majesty, the Daibazaan Empire grows by the day. It is only a matter of time before Zarkon controls everything from the mountains of Oriande down to the Isles of Tesoro. I have been working with leaders and rebels to create a fighting force that could turn the tide of this war however we need manpower. Arms. Skilled fighters who are familiar with the ways of the Galra .”

Keith flinches at the emphasis. While half Galra, engaged to Daibazaan royalty and even appearing similar to the soldiers that swear their loyalty to Zarkon, Keith rather not be lumped together with the same army that has turned the grasslands of the peninsula red. And neither does the Queen.

“Need I remind you, we are Galra.” She hisses.

The Princess quickly realizes her slip in words and casts her gaze to the floor, “My apologies, it is just for many in Altea we only have known the cruelty of Zarkon. However, we’ve also heard stories. Of your people, of the Blades of Mamora. The most skilled fighters in all the lands, swift and agile. With such a force, we could finally fight back!” As Allura pleads with the Queen, Keith lifts a hand to run his fingers over the emblem on his chest holding a maroon cape around his arms. A symbol not only representing his family crest but of the fabled Blades of Mamora. Keith leans his head back into his hand as he gives his pity to the princess. If she wanted the Blades of Mamora’s assistance she would be about ten years too late.

“The Blades have long been disbanded.” The Queen explains, “The Kingdom of Mamora has sworn itself to neutrality. My people have only known bountiful harvests and times of peace in the past 9 years. There are Mamoran children who have never known the cries of war. Why should I take that from them to send their mothers and fathers to fight your battles?”

The Princess tenses, “I would never ask of such a sacrifice if I did not believe it was for the greater good! I pray that the children of your country never have to know war the way the Altean youth do. If we strike now, we can prevent such a future.”

“We can prevent such events by staying out of your war.”

Keith shifts in his seat. His mother is right, no child under the age of 10 knows the metallic tang of iron and blood or the smell of burning and rotting corpses that used to litter the streets of the Kingdom of Mamora. Most teenagers can not remember a time when Daibazaal soldiers ransacked and destroyed vital farmland while killing anyone who stood in their path. All because the Mamoran monarch and Keith’s father, King Tejas defied Emperor Zarkon’s orders to abandon their alliance with King Alfor of Altea.

Those days are the reason Keith knows his way around a sword and why he can not only sympathize but feel empathy for Princess Allura. It is also why there is a burning sensation in his chest and a foul taste in his mouth as he watches Queen Krolia turn Allura away.

“Queen Krolia, I beg of you, please consider my offer. With your forces, we can take back the bordering states and attack vital outposts-”

Allura is silenced when Krolia lifts her hand, “You have my sympathies, Princess Allura, you do. However, my answer is final. I will not risk my people nor will I wage war against the country that my son’s fiance calls home.”

Keith freezes as Allura snaps her gaze to him. He prays his face telling of his discomfort and opposition. The twist in her features displays the princess’s disappointment and anger. He imagines she wants to know how the queen could claim neutrality while the prince marries the family of the man responsible for Altea’s misfortune. At least that’s the question in Keith’s mind as he clears his throat and tries to hide his embarrassment under his moppy hair.

Allura looks to her advisors before speaking again, “And what of the land your late husband called home?” Her questions suck all air from the room, “King Tejas once fought by my father’s side to defend it! To preserve the land and culture to one day share with his child.” Allura turns to give a hopeful smile to Keith. He can only shake his head, as he attempts with his eyes to tell her to stop talking. Alas Keith cannot speak telepathically and the Princess continues, “But at this rate, there will be nothing left of Altea! Zarkon will not stop his conquest until the entire peninsula is under his rule. He will set his sights on your kingdom! He-”

“That’s enough!”

Keith gives the silenced Princess one last pity glance before watching his mother descend from the steps of her perch. She towers over the Altean as she glares her down, “I gave you my answer. Your outburst changes nothing.”

Allura keeps her chin up and her eyes sharp, seemingly not ready to back down. However, Coran raises his head and pulls her back with a hand on her shoulder. With that, she returns to herself and lowers her head, “I see. Well if that is all…” She lifts her head with a newborn smile, “Perhaps I shall stay for a few weeks. I have heard so much of Mamora, my father has told me many stories of your food and culture. If it is alright with you, Your Majesty, I would love to familiarize myself with your customs before returning home.”

Krolia finds herself with a slow and deep breath before giving a professional smile, “Of course, Princess. Mamora has much to offer. I shall have rooms prepared for you and your party. Kolivan.”

From the Queen’s side, her most trusted advisor and the man Keith could practically call his uncle steps forward. He bows his head to the queen before leading the alteans out of the throne room without further instruction. Once the guests are out of the room, Krolia sinks back into her seat with an exhausted sigh.

“She takes after her father.” She comments as she turns to Keith with a soft smile.

Keith cannot return one as his features harden, “We should help them.”

Krolia sighs again as she straightens herself, “Did you not hear a single thing I just said? I will not risk our people in some fight over land or resources that has nothing to do with us.”

“But it can!” Keith barks, “Do you really think some arranged marriage with Zarkon’s niece will stop him from storming our walls and taking Mamora for himself once he has conquered everything else?”

“Keith, what of our people?”

“What of them?” He yells, “Nearly a third of them are Altean! Do you think they do not fear for their families across the desert? What of the refugees who fled here after their homes were destroyed by Zarkon? Those are our people now, we cannot guarantee their safety when war stands so close to our door!”Keith jumps to his feet as Krolia's gaze falls downcast, “Doing nothing, being a bystander to Zarkon’s crimes is just as evil if not worse than what he does!”

She hides her eyes in her palm, “It seems the princess is not the only one who takes after fathers.” She lowers her hand to the armrest before giving Keith a stern look, “When you are king, you may charge into whatever battle you see fit. Until then, what I say is law and I said no.”

Keith digs his nails into his palms as his jaw tightens, although it does nothing to stop his hot tongue, “And what you say is stupid!” He earns an eye roll from his mother but he does not back down, “How can you stand by while thousands of people, father’s people…my people are slaughtered by Zarkon?” Keith rarely claims his Altean heritage publicly, not when he knows nothing aside from the alphabet and a few simple phrases here and there. But he will if it means possibly swaying his mother’s answers.

Krolia stands again, her anger dissipates as she rests a hand over Keith’s cheek, “It is because of your father that I cannot. I cannot lose all I have left of my husband. I will not risk losing you.”

Keith tries to stay spiteful, but the tears forming in his mother’s eyes kill his motives. Keith jerks away from her hand as he tries to erase her sorrowful expression from his mind. He searches for the words to battle her pleas, “You will when Zarkon decides my marriage is meaningless to him.”

Krolia flinches at his words but does not argue. Not that Keith gives her the chance to respond when he turns on his heel and flees from her watch. He can hear metal footsteps behind him as he leaves the hallway but does not stop to check. Keith rushes through the castle halls, anger and frustration still fresh in his veins. He knows he needs to find an outlet for this unchecked energy before some poor scullery maid becomes the target of his aggression. He storms down to the courtyard of the castle. Finding knights, scouts, and guards training on dummies, some sparing with each other while others sharpen weapons while resting on benches.

Keith stalks through the small crowd who bow to him as he rushes past. In his memories, his father had a habit of greeting everyone, even the servants as he made his way through the halls. It is one of the many ways Keith differs from the late king and why he scratches the emblem on his chest. He is not a diplomat or talented speaker, he can hardly get through the morning report without a groan or whine. He is terrible with manners, constantly being reminded by his mother, Shiro, or Kolivan to greet this person or address that person accordingly. In his studies, he can barely keep himself awake when his teachers explain his future duties as King.

There is of course the dread of royal arranged marriages. Being tied down to someone for the rest of his life all in the name of diplomacy. There are rare instances of finding companionship and sometimes even love in such arrangements. His parents were amongst the lucky few. In all his memories and every painting hanging in the halls, King Tejas was enamored by Queen Krolia as she was completely infatuated with the Altean Earl.

Keith knows deep down he will never be so lucky.

Keith twists at the emblem as he pushes his way into the armory. Swords, spears, and arrows litter the walls. He finds a sword to his liking before spinning around to see Shiro blocking his path. At his side, a masked woman dressed as a Mamoran scout rather than in shiny knight’s armor like Shiro.

“I do not wish to be lectured right now.” Keith snarls as he tries to push past the pair. Shiro holds him back with a metal hand.

“You never do, your highness.”

“I mean it, I will not apologize for a thing I said back there. So don’t try.”

Shiro rests a hand on Keith’s shoulder, “I would never ask you to. Not when I agree. What you said back there, many of us agree with your sentiment and I’m proud of you for standing firm in your beliefs.”

Keith shrugs his hand off as he turns to hide the blush from his cheeks. Such praise from the man he looks up to, fries his brain. However, Keith rather be shot dead than admit some pretty words mean anything to him. He’s been cursed with too much pride for that. So instead he crosses his arms over his chest with a huff, “Okay? So what is it that you want? Why are you following me?”

“I assumed you’d want to let off some steam after getting into not one but two arguments with your mother in a span of what?” Shiro asks.

“30 minutes,” Keith mutters.

Shiro chuckles, “Wow, that has to be a new record. Anyway, what do you say we move your training for this evening up? I have some free time right now.”

With almost childlike excitement, Keith nods before throwing off his cape and running into the first empty sparing field he finds and plants his feet. Keith knows his many faults. He believes with all his heart, that when the day comes he will make a terrible king. Someone like Shiro is much better suited to rule and hopefully, he can rely on the man when the time comes. Or maybe the woman he is intended to marry will make for a better Queen. Keith wouldn’t mind letting her bear the burden of responsibility. It’d give him the time to do what he does best.

Keith readies his blade as the scout takes to the opposite end of the field. Shiro stands at the edge of the sand circle, “Take her down.”

That is all the start Keith needs to run forward spinning his sword once before swinging it to the scout who easily deflects. Her feet stay planted in the sand as Keith pushes his weight on the blade. At least this woman seems stronger than the ones Keith has knocked over in one blow. He jumps back as the knight pushes forward. She takes a turn to swing at him with a jagged long dagger. Her skill shows as Keith is forced to deflect and step back until he finds himself at the edge of the ring. Before he is forced out of bounds he slides under her blade and dirties the white of his shirt with sand. He hardly cares as adrenaline takes over. Using the blunt end of his blade he trips the scout. As Keith jumps to his feet, now behind her, he wraps an arm over her shoulder, pressing the dagger to her neck.

“Stand dow-!” Before Keith can finish his demand, he’s tossed over the woman’s shoulder and onto his back as she pins him to the sand. Keith kicks a leg up forcing the scout off enough for him to flip them over as he holds his dagger to her throat once again. As he presses down in warning, he feels something sharp digging into his chest. Looking down he sees the scout has her dagger to his gut.

He freezes as he debates what to do next, he rarely finds himself a draw. On occasion, he’s managed to get this ending in his spares with Shiro however out of respect for the man he is quick to withdraw his weapon and yield. However, this strange woman has piqued his curiosity, there is only one such person he knows that matches his skill.

With a free hand, Keith rips away her mask and slouches his shoulder at who he finds underneath. He raises to his feet before extending a hand to her, “Princess Axca.”

The woman ignores his hand and stands on her own. She dusts herself off before taking a few steps away from him, “Prince Keith.”

Shiro joins the two, his smile cutting through the growing tension, “She arrived this morning, figured I’d let you two fight before you pretend to court one another.”

Keith crosses his arms over his chest as he eyes his bride-to-be, “Why do we have to waste our time with such annoying customs? It’s not like we have any choice on what’s to come when she turns 21 years of age.” The younger woman steps forward with the same annoyed expression as Keith.

“Just be thankful our age difference buys us time. Even if it is only a few months.” Axca snarls as she mimics Keith and folds her hands into her sleeves.

Shiro looks between them, almost amused by their terrible chemistry, “I do not understand why you two can’t get along. You used to be best friends as kids and you’ve grown up to be so alike!

Keith drops his arms at the notion, “It is because we are alike that I cannot stand her.”

“I am right here.”

Keith turns away from Axca and Shiro before picking up his blade from the sand and storming off into the armory to return it. From the doorway, he watches as Shiro tries to sole Axca who turns his way with a solemn expression. Keith would pity her if he didn’t pity himself more. The Galran princess would be a prize to anyone, a beautiful young woman with skill and wit. As children, the two bonded over their shared disdain for crowds and the spotlight. Opting to play with wooden swords in quiet courtyards. As a young teen, he missed his friend dearly and prayed for her safety even while her soldiers marched through the streets of Mamora, knowing she had no power over the actions of her uncle. Even at his father’s funeral, he held no resentment for Princess Axca. Just like him, she was a child with no control over the actions of the adults around them. Keith was thrilled to see his friend again when she arrived at the castle with her father. His excitement was shot by a false cupid’s arrow when Queen Krolia and Axca’s parents agreed to marry them in the name of peace between Mamora and Daibazaal. He had no romantic thoughts for the princess. Shiro would tell him that as he reached maturity he’d find feelings for the princess. No such sentiments ever sparked.

A few knights passed between Axca and Shiro, eying the Princess in the uniform that hugged her figure. The trio whisper amongst each other as they pass. Keith turns back to the Princess. Yes, she is blessed with both beauty and strength. Keith knows he should feel some sort of want for someone like that. Yet, not once in the 15 years, he has known Axca has he found himself attracted to her. He has always chalked it up and added it to the many emotions and thoughts Keith seemed to lack or fail to understand.

Axca breaks their stare to turn back to Shiro.

Keith sets the sword back onto the rack before heading into the chill afternoon air of the courtyard. Axca does not acknowledge him as he stops at her side, “You have improved since we last spared.” He mutters.

“Your skills have deteriorated since we last fought.” She murmurs keeping her eyes to the ground.

Keith tenses as he tries to find the appropriate way to continue the conversation. When his brain fails at dialogue he turns to Shiro. Shiro takes control of the situation and leads the two young royals back inside the castle, “Well if you are down sparing then you two should go get ready. I’m sure Kolivan has already made plans for your evening.”

Keith tries to hide his disdain for the idea with a short smile. Axca keeps a blank stare as she nods and heads to her quarters. Once alone with Shiro, Keith tries to relax but Shiro’s next words cause him to tense, “I wish you would try to get along with her. You are going to have to marry her in 6 months. Marriage is by no means easy, however having a friend as your partner will make things a hell of a lot easier.”

Keith turns away from Shiro and begins the walk to his room at the opposite end of the wing. Shiro falls into pace with him forcing Keith to answer, “It’s hard to like someone you are being forced to marry.”

Shiro laments next to him, “Prince Keith, you have been aware of this fact long before your resentment towards her began. What changed?”

Keith’s blood runs cold as he recalls the reason the two haven’t held a proper conversation in years. A dreaded 3-year-old memory of the night of his 18th birthday. Axca had found him taking a break from the party on a balcony and caught him by surprise with a kiss. He wished for some heat on his cheeks or a tug on his heart, if he was so lucky maybe even those sparks that he’s read about in romance novels. And yet he felt nothing. He knew then and there he would never feel anything for the Princess. His face must have shown that as well as she gave him a cold stare afterward and every day since.

She resented him for not feeling the same. That is the only logical explanation Keith has come up with with her cold shoulder every day after.

“I don’t know.” He lies as they climb the steps up to the tower of his room, “Maybe it’s the realization that I have to spend the rest of my life with that woman in hopes of keeping Zarkon away from Mamora.” Keith catches two guards lost in conversation when they round the corner before his room. The two stand at attention when he makes his presence known. Keith stops before the door to his room before turning back to Shiro, “I know it is my duty as a prince but that does not mean I have to go along with it with smiles and glee.”

“No, I suppose you don’t.” Shiro mutters as he looks the prince once over, “You know Zarkon also has a son if that is more to your liking.”

“I would rather die.” Marrying an evil Emperor’s niece is already enough of a betrayal of his Altean ancestry. He may as well abandon all his ties to that side of him if he were to marry directly onto the Daibazaan throne.

“What about a nephew?” Shiro asks with a co*cksure smirk.

Keith takes a step away from the captain. He chokes on his breath and turns to check if the guards are truly listening, “I-I-How dare you suggest such a thing! A marriage in which I can't sire an heir is a wasteful one.” He manages to get out before rushing for the door of his room, “I must get ready now, leave.” Keith rarely orders Shiro around, it’s hard to when the man commands such respect with his presence alone. But Keith needed an escape, something to hide the blush creeping onto his face by Shiro’s suggestion.

Behind the safety of the tall wooden door, Keith lets go of the breath he’s been holding. He ponders the idea of some male version of Axca, someone similar to the paintings he’s seen of the Emperor’s son. Would he then find some pleasure in marriage? Well…how much pleasure can there be in marrying a descendant or relative of a crazed bloodthirsty Emperor? Man, woman, or anything in between, Keith would remain a traitor to half of his blood. Although marrying Axca already feels like a betrayal to himself anyway.

Keith pushes away all thoughts of what ifs to find something new to wear. He has dirtied the Oxford fabric he wears with sand and dirt. He settles for black long-sleeve silks before freshening up in the sink across the room. He does not bother with fixing his hair or dressing in any accessories as he leaves his room to find Axca. When he arrives at her room, Kolivan is already waiting.

“Good evening your Highness.”

“Evening Kolivan.” He mutters back. While he may not bother to respond to servants or knights, enough beatings with a paddle growing up have trained him to always return a greeting for the most trusted advisor and highest-ranking member of the queen’s inner circle.

“Lady Ilun is hosting a dinner and she has invited you and your mother. The Queen must handle some other duties tonight so I have made the arrangements for you to be in attendance with Princess Axca instead.”

Keith lets his head roll back with a groan, “A dinner? The last dinner you had me attend ended up being a ball. I told you I will not do any more balls this season.”

Kolivan shakes his head, “No, this is just a small gathering for the younger members of Ton. Your presence with Axca will be most welcomed. If you two can appear to tolerate each other that is.”

“That will not be a problem.” The bedroom opens and Axca steps out dressed in deep purples and a black shawl over her arms. Keith is caught by surprise when she loops her arm around his and presses to his side, “We know to appear in love in front of watchful eyes.” Keith fixes his stance to hold her arm properly before nodding.

“We got to spare before this anyway.”

Kolivan rolls his eyes at the pair, “Then let us leave. It is one thing to be late, it is another to be the last to arrive.”

Neither Keith nor Axca smile or act too sweetly as they follow Kolivan to their vehicle. However, even being seen arm in arm earns the gleeful chatter of servants and guards. As they make their way through the halls, Keith spots a few high members of his mother’s court pressed into the corner of the foyer. Amongst them, Keith spots the blond pigtails of one of the advisors who had accompanied Princess Allura, Romelle. Their conversation ceases as Keith passes through. Romelle gives a polite smile his way. Her features twist with disgust as her eyes fall on Axca. Within the borders of Mamora live a mix of Galra, Alteans, and dozens of other races. Long-time residents are aware of the bethrowel between their prince and the princess. However, if the things Allura says are true, then he can understand why this woman is trying to kill his fiance with her eyes.

If Axca takes notice she does not make it known as she follows Kolivan outside without a word. Once in the safety of the vehicle, Axca pulls away and slides across the bench to press herself as far away from Keith as physically possible.

Keith follows suit propping an arm against the door to focus his attention out the window. The ride gives him time to mentally prepare for the festivities. However, when they arrive, he wishes for more time. Reluctantly he follows Kolivan out of the vehicle. Kolivan elbows him before gesturing to Axca behind him. Keith turns to extend a hand to help her out of the vehicle. At first, she scowls at the fingers exposed by the ends of his gloves as if his hands are soaked in mud. However, a gasp from someone nearby reminds her that she is in public as she accepts his hand. They link arms once again, thankfully holding hands has not been deemed appropriate by unwedded couples.

Keith’s discomfort only grows when all eyes fall on them as Kolivan leads them inside Lady Ilun’s estate. The band may as well stop playing now that the people have stopped dancing and conversing to welcome the royal couple. Maybe in another life, Keith would be blessed enough to be one of the guards posted along the walls of the ballroom, invisible to the crowd instead of being the center of attention.

Their host rushes over filled with delight, “You Highness, Princess Axca, I am honored to have you in attendance tonight! I had my chef prepare only the finest cuisine for your enjoyment.” Lady Ilun, galra-born, seems to lack the usually reserved nature of their species as she goes into great detail about her party preparations. Keith drowns out her chatters about 3 minutes in and he takes in the room. A mix of Altean and Galra nobility fill the space, along with a handful of wealthy Unilu merchants here and there. While combined, both races make up about 65% of Mamora’s population, they make up nearly all of Mamora’s nobility. A fact that becomes evident when a Balmaran servant brings a round of drinks. Keith accepts the drink and hands one off to Axca who sips at it without so much as acknowledging the man who brought it. Watching it from another perspective Keith pities the servant.

“Thank you.” He mutters as he takes a drink from himself. As the servant bows his head and leaves, Keith reminds himself to get into the habit of thanking his own servants and possibly even start learning their names once he returns to the castle. While its dull walls may drive him to insanity with boredom, the constant motion of being greeted by dukes, lords, and earls who all wish to fall into his good graces may be the death of him.

However, Keith finds some enjoyment in watching Axca struggle all the same. She is pulled away by a group of ladies eager to flatter her. She can only silently stand by as they talk her ear off with pointless gossip.A small part of him aches for the days the two would run off to spend the evening playing in gardens or cause mischief for some unlucky guard. But alas, those days are long past them, Keith lost that friend when he failed to reciprocate her feelings.

“You should consider yourself lucky Prince Keith, getting married so young saved you the hardship of courting a lady now!” A duke whose name Keith fails to remember, says with a dashing smile.

A Lord of something or another nods in agreement, “These days they want you to wine or dine them! Take them to the theater or shopping for the latest fabrics. And worst of all, none will so much as give you a hand job without a ring!”

The duke snorts out a laugh, “I mean would you want to marry a lady who would?”

The lord shrugs, “I suppose I would not. But no matter, that’s what masquerades are for. Wouldn’t you agree Prince?”

Keith swirls the dark liquor in his cup as the two men chat. His eyes stay locked on the plump lips of the tall and lean duke before him. A group of ladies have had their eyes on the man since the start of the conversation and Keith can see why. The man talks with his hands and with every sway of his arm, the tight material of the man’s sleeves hugs his muscles. Whatever species he is, he is quite the representative. The man appears nearly identical to an Altean. He does not need any markings to bring out the color in his eyes that find their way to lock with Keith’s stare. He fails to hear his title being addressed until those full lips call him again.

“Your Highness?”

Keith snaps up, “Wha-what?”

The duke gives him a quizzical expression, “Surely you frequent masquerades. I cannot imagine surviving such a long engagement without one or two.”

Keith can only blink at them as he tries to use context clues to find the meaning of the new word, “I um- yes…I have had…been to some here and there.” Keith isn’t sure why he felt the need to lie just there. However now that he has, he has to sell it. He takes a swig of the bitter alcohol before returning to a confident demeanor, “Who hasn’t?”

The duke smiles at him, “Would you be interested in coming with us to one tonight?”


“Yes.” The Lord chirps, “Unless you already have plans for your princess?” The man asks with a boastful smirk.

The two men turn to Axca, who has managed to slip away from the girls and has found herself in a more personal conversation with a lady across the ballroom. A tanned Altean with short hair cut just below her ears and a pair of glasses smiles and laughs at something Axca whispers into her ear. Keith finds Axca's hand placement around the woman's hip to be odd, but women are always more touchy-feely aren't they?

“I mean, how can you wait when you have all that!” The lord comments while playfully elbowing Keith. Guilt rattles him, he should feel as these men do, excited at the prospects of marrying a woman such as Axca, and yet he finds himself gravitating more towards the duke than he ever has towards the princess. Oh gods, what is wrong with him? Well, other than the obvious.

“No, I’m not doing anything tonight.”

“Pity.” The Duke gives him a sympathetic pat on the shoulder, “All the more reason for you to come out with us.”

Keith debates the idea of finding out what this masquerade the handsome duke speaks of as well as the possibility of getting to know the man more. Although Keith could start with an introduction, “What did you say your name was again?”

The duke steps back dumbfounded, “You cannot be serious.” When Keith remains silent the duke steps forward, “My apologies Your Highness, I failed to introduce myself. I assumed with all that time you spend in the castle you’d study up on the families that help make your great kingdom run.” The man tucks an arm across his waist and lowers his head to a bow, “I am James Griffon, Duke of Garrison.”

The lord lowers his head next, “I am Lord Kinkade. We both reside here to study at the University.”

The duke nods, “And of course check out the scene, if you know what I mean. So, can we count you in attendance for tonight?”

Keith is beginning to piece together this invitation for some sort of event. Admittedly this ball has drained his social battery. He does not even have the energy to scowl Kolivan for referring to it as dinner. He is in desperate need of a good night’s rest after the day he’s had. However, going to sleep would mean waking up and repeating the same nonsense all over again. Waking up, only to spend his morning being tortured with the news of dirt and seeds, or maybe tomorrow he’d hear the most exciting news about taxes and the kingdom’s finances. Tomorrow would also be his day of lectures with Kolivan. If Keith thought the minister was boring, he can only imagine what mindnumbing lecture Kolivan has in store for him come sunrise. He can always look forward to his afternoon training with Shiro however with Axca here, his time in the yard will mostly be cut short with another public outing with his fiance who will ignore him the entire time. Fun.

Keith’s options are simple.

  1. Go back to the castle to sleep and wait for his boring routine to begin anew in the morning
  2. Follow along with the plans of a charming Duke and find out what this new mysterious event is

“I’m in.”

Keith waits until a quarter to midnight during the changing of guards to sneak out of his room with a mahogany cloak over his head. He follows a few paces back as the current guard descends down the steps of the tower. Before the guard reaches the bottom, he slips in between the space of the steps and holds tight dangling from the underside of the steps in the air. He waits until the new guard walks over him and heads upstairs before letting his feet slip back onto the stairs and crawling through the opening. A trick he has mastered from the countless times he’s snuck out of his room over the years.

He checks the hallways before dashing towards a window at the end of one of the paths. He pushes it open, flinching when it creaks. When nothing happens he pushes himself onto the window sill, calculating his jump from two stories up into the bushes of the garden below. Just before he pushes himself off a cold hand sends him toppling backwards onto the carpet behind him. He looks up to see Shiro glaring over him.

“And where do you think you are going?”

Keith can only give him a guilty smile, “Out?”

“I gathered as much.” Shiro helps Keith back to his feet while strategically keeping himself in front of Keith’s escape back to his room. “I asked where, not what."

“Would you believe me if I said I was simply trying to get some fresh air?”


With a sigh, Keith shifts his guilty conscious between his feet. He has been caught red-handed, there is no use lying now, “Some of the guys at the ball invited me to hang out.”At first, Keith doubts if he said that aloud as Shiro remains quiet and still.“So I was um…going to meet them.”

Shiro snaps from his daze, “You? Were going to hang out with people your age?”

And suddenly Keith takes offense, “Yes! Why is that so hard to believe?”

Shiro nods, “It’d be more believable if you had said you were sneaking off to train or going for a joy ride with one of the ships.”

Keith pouts as he crosses his arms over his chest, “Well I could be doing those things too.” The sounds of bells going off, announce the top of the hour, “But no, I am going to meet some…friends.” Keith waits for Shiro to make another comment but when none comes he starts for the window again, “And you will not stop me. In fact, as your prince, I command you tell no one that you saw me.”

Keith doesn’t wait for a response as he pushes himself off the ledge. The bushes break his fall as he rows out onto the dirt before jumping back to his feet. He dusts his clothes off before pulling out a colored slip of paper from his pocket. On it was an address, given to him by James. Keith is startled by a loud crash, he turns to see Shiro tangled in the bushes behind him. With an annoyed sigh, Keith pockets the paper before helping Shiro to his feet.

The captain shakes himself off the dirt and leaves, “If you insist on going, then I am coming with you. It is not safe for you to be unattended at this hour.”

Keith rolls his eyes and starts down the path, “Fine. But do not get in my way.”

The address takes them to the middle ring of the city. Home to merchants, wealthy bureaucrats, and successful business owners. The University of Mamora towers in the distance. Keith stops in front of what appears to be an upper-middle-class residence. Just short of being a manor, Keith finds himself at a villa. He can hear the faint sounds of music and chatter from within. With a knock, he waits as he begins to second-guess his decision. If masquerade is just student talk for another party, he is hardly interested.

Before he can go back on his decision the door opens to a man, chest exposed, face flushed under a drama mask, and dressed in leather. Another man appears behind him kissing on his neck while eying Keith and Shiro from over his shoulder. Keith’s cheeks go red as he takes in the men in front of him, “Invitation?”

Keith fails to break eye contact as he blindly shoves a hand into his pocket for the red sheet of paper James had given him earlier. The man snatches the paper from his hand and looks it once over before opening the door wider. Keith steps into the space and his lungs fill with smoke and incense. He coughs at the taste in the air before looking around. Directly in the foyer, a group of young adults sit around couches placing bets on some card game while passing around a bottle. No one pays any mind to a pair of women in the corner of the room kissing and exploring each other over their clothes. All wear masks over their eyes. Keith turns to the doorman ready to question their accessories. Before he can get a word out, the smaller man accompanying the doorman hands them each a theater mask. One black and one red. Keith takes the red one and slips it over his head. Shiro is less hesitant about wearing his.

“Prince, what is this?”

He shrugs, “They only said it was a masquerade. I do not know anything else.”

Shiro accepts his explanation or lack thereof and dresses himself in the mask.

Keith braves down the hall towards the music. He finds it coming from a doorway that leads farther down into the home. As he descends into the basem*nt, Keith is blocked by a young couple thoroughly enjoying themselves at the bottom of the steps. He steps over a mess of legs and into the space.

Keith has not frequented the homes outside of the ballrooms of the upper ring to become familiar with their layout. However, he is certain that no home should have this much space underneath it. Keith finds himself in an open chamber illuminated by soft yellow lighting and an assortment of streamers along the walls. A small ensemble plays in the corner of the room, but their sounds are nothing Keith has ever heard before. Instead of the usual classical or upbeat tempo meant for ballroom dancing, the songs filling the room create a sensual atmosphere. The violins seduce the listener while the cello undresses them with every pull of its string.

Whatever is in the air seems to be the reason people cannot keep their hands to themselves as they mingle, chat, or more around the room.

“Your Highness, I-I don’t think this is a respectable setting for a prince,” Shiro whispers, the mask doing little to hide his blush as a masked man lazily spinning on a metal ring next to the entrance blows him a kiss. Keith would have to agree. He’d earn the punishment of a lifestyle if Kolivan, or worse, his mother found out he ever ventured to such a place. And yet that only fueled his curiosity. Why has he never heard of such events? How has he never heard of this kind of music? Or know that someone could bend in such a way as the contortionist on his hoop can?

“Have you ever been to one of these?” Keith asks in a whisper.

“No! No, never. I’ve heard of such events from some of the knights but this is- this is something.”

Keith finds amusem*nt in the way Shiro seems so far out of his element. Even more reason to stay, the captain could use a night out to relax. And amongst the crowd, Keith fails to see a single person not enjoying themselves lost in conversation, dance, and song, or mesmerized by the various performers around the room.

“Glad you could make it!” Two masked figures appear from the crowd, still dressed in the same formal clothing as earlier.

“So what do you think? Ever been to a masquerade like this?” James asks with a smirk, even over a mesmerizing black and gold mask with horns, Keith can see the spark of mischief and charm in those eyes.

Keith rests a hand on his hips as he looks around, letting false confidence ooze from him, “I’ve seen better but-”

“What?” Shiro inquiries next to him, “You’ve been to one of these before, Your Highness?”

James waves his hand in front of Shiro’s face, “And it’s clear you have not. The first rule of the masquerade, drop the titles. Here we are all the same, unknown.” James explains with drama and marvel.

Kinkade nods next to him, “Yes, no names or identities, it’s part of the fun.”

Shiro gets defensive as he steps between Keith and the other men, “He is a prince. To abandon his-”

“Shiro” Keith rests a hand on the man's shoulder to settle him. The more he finds out about this strange event the larger his smile becomes. A place where no one knows his name. Somewhere he does not have to act his title. Packed wall to wall with interesting and new things? It’s particularly a wonderland.

“Who is this man?” James asks.

“A friend,” Keith answers, Shiro seems about ready to correct him but Keith manages to settle him again with a glance. Here, Shiro is not the Captain of the Royal Guard, sworn to defend him with his life. Tonight, Keith is not the crowned Prince of Mamora, destined to a life of politics and boredom set to marry a woman who hates him for not having an ounce of love for her. Right now, Keith is no one and he will make the most of this night of freedom.

“Well tell your friend to loosen up! Have a drink!” James passes them each a goblet filled with golden liquid that smells awful like cleaning chemicals. Keith drinks it anyway, it tastes as foul as it smells.

“Come on, friend.” Keith turns to Shiro and urges the cup into his hand, “Have a drink with me!”

Shiro studies the glass then the almost foreign expression of glee over Keith's features that remain seen under his mask, “...Fine. But only because I have not seen you so cheerful in years.”

Keith ignores his comment with another chug of the sour liquor. James cheers on Shiro who takes a large gulp of his drink. Keith lets James lead him around the room to the various forms of entertainment. While there is some fun to be had watching the couples sometimes multiples of people swapping spit and undressing each other in the corners of the room, the host of the event has hired actual entertainers as well. From a painter offering quick portraits, to sensual ballet dancers who twirl and sway on a stage in the center of the room, to a woman playing with fire. Keith’s eyes are drawn to each and every oddity he’s been sheltered from. Has so much excitement and wonder truly just beyond the upper ring’s walls? He becomes especially distracted by a male performer swallowing a sword. Keith watches baffled and amazed. He hardly notices he now stands alone in the crowd.

Keith fails to detect someone standing dangerously close behind him until they tug at his hair. “Don’t you rich folk have people to do your hair for you? I mean who willingly gives himself a mullet?”

Keith spins around startled, a hand going from a small concealed knife he always carries for good measure. He freezes at a confusing and colorful sight. Standing before him must be another entertainer, no guest is dressed in such vibrant blues. Bells chime as the entertainer tilts his head to study Keith with bright sapphire eyes. Dressed in a deep blue blouse with puffy sleeves stands a man wearing a cap and bells. One side of their cap is navy blue and littered with pastel azure hearts while the other side is striped white and pastel blue. While most of the man’s face is hidden behind a mask, freckles skin fills the tawny skin underneath. Keith’s gaze falls from the bells to the blue hearts on the man’s mask. His eyes travel down to the black leggings hugging the performer. It should be illegal how tight the fabric is around the man's waist, ass, and thighs. The rest of the man’s lofty legs are hidden underneath thigh-high navy blue heeled boots.

Keith hardly registers the insult as his breath is stolen by the sight before him, “Hey now, my eyes are up here.” Keith snaps from his trance to meet a brash smile and squint of sapphire eyes watching him.

“My apologies,” Keith mutters quickly as he steps back, suddenly feeling the space between them is not enough to hide his growing blush.

“The only one who should be apologizing is whoever gave you that damning hairdo!” The man teases as he reaches over to twirl a loose strand of Keith’s hair before tossing it over his shoulder.

Keith conscientiously grabs at his hair, “What is wrong with my hair?”

“What isn’t?”

Keith is rarely stunned into silence, but he is utterly shocked and slightly amazed that someone dares to speak to him in such a way. There are only a handful of people in the kingdom with the authority to criticize Keith on anything and an even smaller amount who dared to speak so freely at his expense. And yet here, in a dimly lit basem*nt filled with aristocrats playing pretend and hiding from responsibility, a strange, plain folk no less, dares to break tradition.

“Do you know who you are speaking to?” Keith asks seemingly in disbelief.

Bells jingle again as the man tilts his head in the other direction dragging out a “Uuuh, no? No one knows who anyone is. This is the point of a masquerade.”

Keith’s blush deepens with embarrassment, “Right.”

His demeanor seems to pique the interest of the man before him, “Has all that fuzz on your head grown into your brain?”

Keith grits his teeth, “Enough about my hair! Are you not supposed to entertain the guests? Insulting me is far from amusing.”

“Oh, it is quite amusing actually.”

Keith steps into the man’s space to flip one of the silver bells dangling from either end of his cap over his shoulder, “And what is it that you are exactly? Some sort of fool?”

The man pulls the bell back over his shoulder, and whines as if it physically caused him pain to have the bell tossed. He fixes his hat before pressing forward with both hands on his hips. Keith refuses to move despite the man’s masked face now only a few centimeters away from his own, “Close.”

The man jumps back to strike a ludicrous pose, “I’m a jester!”

Keith nods, “Oh, so you are supposed to be humorous? If that’s the case you are not very funny.” He says with a pout.

The jester snickers, “Oh Red. Red, Red, Red. Clowns are funny and I am no clown.” Keith gives a cold shoulder to the jester as he continues his pouting. The first insult was new and somewhat exciting. By now, the wonderous blue fabrics and silver bells have lost their initial charm and now get under Keith’s skin. “As I said I am a jester and I am downright hilarious.”

Keith rolls his head with a groan at the annoying confidence of the man before him, “Says who? I am not laughing.”

The jester startles Keith as he jumps onto his hand into a cartwheel before landing in front of him, co*cking his head down to meet Keith’s gaze, “Says me.” He sticks his tongue out before bursting into laughter and spinning away from a now-fuming Keith.

“What is your name, Jester?”

“Why? Are you going to report me to the guard for huwting ywour feewings?” The jester pulls a frown and twists his fists around his eyes, impersonating a crying toddler.

“I should have you arrested for being such an idiot.”

The jester’s frown flips into a mischievous smirk, “If idiocy was a crime, they’d have hung you already.”

Keith sees red as his hand finds its way around the handle of the concealed blade in his cloak. The jester snickers as he raises his hands in surrender, “Oh I do pray your blade is not as dull as your wit otherwise this is going to be a very slow and agonizing death.”

“Who allowed you in here?” Keith barks out letting go of the blade, “What purpose do you bring other than being a pain in the ass! How are you supposed to be even the slightest bit entertaining?”

The jester answers his question by taking a step back towards a small group of women behind him who sneer as they watch along. Had Keith been so distracted by this harlequin he failed to notice they had an audience? The jester pulls his cap off to present to the group, revealing a head of short chestnut curls, “It is not you that I was trying to entertain.” He says to Keith while keeping his eyes on the woman now dropping silver coins into his hat. He slips it back over his head with a shake, the coins jingle along with his bells. He takes the hand of one of the ladies before pressing his lips to her gloved knuckles, “It is all I can do as I dream of being the lucky suitor who wins your heart.”

The woman flushes pink as her Altean marks glow under her mask, “Oh Blue, you must allow me to spoil you for a night. I’d fill that cap of yours with all the silver it can hold if you could fill me up with something else.”

Keith physically recoils as he fights back a gag. All his hairs stand on end as he watches the jester fluster under the woman’s flirt. What kind of sick joke is this? Who hired this man to galivant and parade around the venue, begging for coin like a common wench while insulting and poking fun at the honored guests?

The prince takes the opportunity to turn on his heel and put as much distance between that damning joker and himself as possible.

“There you are!” Keith does not make it far enough, not when he’s stopped by a disheveled-looking Shiro. “Ah, I haven’t had this much fun since I was still a private!” Shiro throws an arm around Keith’s shoulder as if he were not the crown prince Shiro is sworn to protect. Keith will blame the two glasses he carries in his hands for his actions. “Here, here. I brought you one.”

Keith looks up to study Shiro’s face through his mask, he’s never seen such a relaxed version of the Captain. Maybe he’d have to get this man drunk more often so he wouldn’t be such a hardass all the time. Keith accepts the drink and downs it with ease, anything to ease his shot nerves caused by a nonsensical blue clown.

“Well I am not having fun, I just spent ten minutes being verbally assaulted.”

Shiro pushes away with a quizzical expression, “Oh? By who?”

Keith turns around and spots the bright costume easily amongst the dark hues of Mamoran high society, “There.” Keith points out Blue now balancing a woman’s glass with one hand as he holds himself with the other, heels high in the air in a handstand. No matter how bendy the man is, or how much his leggings hug around his ass, he is still, “The most annoying and irritating person I have ever had the misfortune of meeting.”

Shiro takes one look at who Keith is referring to before he bursts out laughing, “Him? My Prince, please do not tell me you fell for the taunts of a jester?”

Keith tenses as he fails to see the humor in any of this, “What do you mean fell? The man would not stop poking at me! I had to say something!”

Shiro doubles over, holding his gut as he gets a hearty laugh out of Keith’s misfortune. Once Shiro wills himself to stand upright again he turns to give Keith a pitiful smile while he holds back his laughter, “That is what jesters do! It’s his job to make fun of you! And it seems he is quite good seeing how he’s left you all riled and unsettled like this.”

“That is-I’m not-ugh!” Keith drowns his frustrations in the cool purple drink in his cup, allowing it to soothe his nerves. He stays by Shiro to watch him be wowed and amazed by the performers. After a while, the two eventually find the ones who graced them with an invitation.

“How are you enjoying yourself?” Kinkade asks a buzzed Shiro who can only nod as he watches a woman spin flaming rings around her wrists and one ankle.

The four men watch the flame dancer as she twirls in time to the ensemble in the front of the room, leaving Keith side by side with James.

“I suppose I owe you my thanks,” Keith mutters keeping his gaze to the performance.

“What for?”

Keith dares himself to peak between his long locks to James, his words become trapped in his throat when he finds James eying himself with fascination and a charming smile, “Um…For the invitation.” Keith tears his eyes back to the dancer as he runs his nails over the knuckle of his thumb, “It’s been quite the evening.”

Keith nearly jumps from his skin when James rests his arm on his shoulder while keeping the dazzling smile his way, “Of course, anything for my prince.”

Keith is certain James did not intend to say that line, in that tone, with that smirk while maintaining deadly eye contact. He is sure, he is reading far deeper into the meaningless interaction.

“You.” The performer hops over to James as she sucks on the end of a flaming stick. She coaches James forward with a single finger and he leans forward. She leans in, hovering just an inch from his lips before gently blowing the smoke into his mouth, “Pass it on.” She says with a wink before returning to her stage. James turns to Keith and for a moment Keith wonders if there is more to that sweet little sentence in his head.

James holds back a cough as he gives Keith a co*cksure grin before turning to his left and finding the arm of a woman standing nearby before tapping a finger to his lips. Without another word, the woman wraps her arms around his neck and allows him to shotgun the smoke into her waiting lips.

Or you know, the phrase meant nothing.

“I need another drink,” Keith mutters leaving Shiro, James, and Kinkade to have their fun. He cuts through the crowd in search of a servant carrying drinks. Do they have that here? The two drinks he had obtained, were given, so where could Keith get his hands on another? Antsy, he less than politely pushes through the crowd to the ends of the room in search of refreshments.

Keith is stopped by a tug on the back of his head. He stops in his tracks and snatches at the hand behind him, holding whoever it is in place. He turns to find the insufferable smirk of Blue the Jester.

“I will not fall for any more of your taunts, so leave me alone,” he growls pushing Blue’s hand away.

The jester spins out his other hand revealing a glass of the very thing Keith has been searching for, “How about a drink then instead?”

Keith eyes the cup, “is this another joke? Is there some foul poison in this?” He questions as he takes the glass for further inspection.

Seemingly out of thin air, Blue summons another glass and presents it to Keith, “No, no tricks. Our little bit earlier earned me quite the coin, so allow me to repay you with a drink.”

Blue holds his cup out between them with a different kind of smile than the one that plastered his tawny cheeks just hours earlier. This one, more sincere, welcoming, and dare Keith say, charming.

Keith looks between the glass and the man before him. He waits for a punch or tagline to follow but none come. Keith clinks his glass to the jester’s before taking a slow sip of his drink. He’s shocked when the man tilts his head back and allows the liquor to spill into his mouth. Blue holds his glass to the light until all its contents disappear down his throat before dropping his head with a smile.

“Oh, I needed that.” Blue’s eyes click up to meet Keith’s bewildered expression, “What? You’ve clearly never worked a day in your life to feel the need to drown your troubles under some wine.”

Keith is taken aback by the statement, “Well no but-”

Blue snickers, “And that’s why I made you my target, you reeked of needing to be taken down a peg or two.”

Keith slowly lifts his sleeve to his nose, “I do not…smell?”

Blue snorts before bursting into a cackling fit, “Are you-are you sure you are not the fool between us?”

Keith shifts in discomfort as his sheltered life in the last decade becomes apparent the more he talks with the seemingly common man, “I thought you said you were not here to make fun of me.”

Blue nods, “Yes, yes but you make it too easy.”

“Or perhaps you are too quick to run your mouth,” Keith says with a snarl as his old irritation resurfaces.

“Oh, there’s a lot I can do with this mouth.”

Blue leans in as that co*cksure smirk returns in a flash. Keith freezes in place as he is once again unsure he fully understands the subtext of what he’s been told.

“Is-is that so?”

Blue stays a mere centimeter away, eyes switching between his before pulling away with a laugh, “Oh you make this way too easy. That is why I love my job so much.” The jester stretches his elongated limbs over his head with a yawn before letting his arms fold over his chest, “There is nothing more satisfying than getting under the skin of rich sheltered bureaucrats like you.”

Keith snaps from his initial gaze to press a finger to the blue fabric of the man’s chest, “You, do nothing to me. I was simply caught by surprise the first time because I have never met such an idiot person before in my life.”

“An idiot who does something to you.” The words are paired with a conceited smirk and a challenging glare.

Keith’s jaw tightens, “No. You do not amuse me. You do not bother me. And you certainly do not humor me. You are simply a fool earning his coin by playing into his even more foolish ways.”

“That you fell for.”

Keith grabs a fistful of Blue’s shirt and yanks him forward. The man has several centimeters on him, Keith will award that point to the man's flashy azure-colored heels. The same boots that hug and paint every muscle in his long legs and cling around his thighs for life. The heels accent the round and firm ass, plainly visible under the skin-tight leggings. Keith forces himself to stay focused. To stay on topic and not let his eyes wander any farther.

“You do nothing to me.”

Blue breathes out a small laugh and flashes a set of pearls free of the fangs that belong to any Galra born. Pointed ears with silver earrings, tell that this man is not the same race as James or Shiro, but Keith would need to get under that hearts-for-eyes mask to see what lies underneath to make any final confirmations. Gods, Keith wanted to know the face of the moronic man who dares speak to him this way. Not that Blue had any way of knowing who Keith is anyway, but he should have known better than to pick a profession of pissing the rich and powerful. Keith was not even aware such a job existed until meeting Blue here tonight. Keith has learned more at this party than he has in the last month in any of Kolivan’s lectures.

He has learned that people can breathe fire, swallow swords, and walk on their hands. He’s discovered his cheeks darken a shade of purple whenever he watches sweat roll from the bare chest of the male performers. He’s learned that watching James practically share spit with a woman right in front of him is bothersome. Even now, he’s coming to an understanding that something about the way this foolish jester speaks to him not only raises him to anger but sets a low fire in his gut.

One that only grows when Blue lets out another laugh as he wraps his arms over Keith’s shoulders, “This is scandalously close for nothing my lord.”

At this distance, Keith can almost taste Blue’s words on his tongue. He can just about feel the glossed and plump lips of the jester whose eyes remain unchallenged. He can nearly get a sense of the soft sunkissed skin under that mask. This man knows no fear it seems. Blue is not a yesman, he is not a polite servant like the nameless ones who fill the castle on any given day. He does not command respect like Shiro or Kolivan. He holds no title such as The Duke of Garrison or Lord Kinkade and yet the man speaks as if none of that matters. That even before a prince, Keith is no one special. That Keith is just like any other man. And while that is all Keith has wanted for years, seeing his wishes come to life in the form of a boastful overzealous clown, infuriates him. No, it intrigues him. The realization unsettles him.

Blue fascinates him.

Keith should set this man straight for speaking to him in such a way and have him punished. He should tell this ridiculous clown exactly who he is and watch him fall to his knees, begging for forgiveness. The lofty fool. On his knees…

The thought reveals itself in a pool of lilac spreading to Keith’s cheeks. He shakes away the feeling to drag the jester into the first corner he finds. Once hidden behind a large curtain of one of the main stages, Keith lifts his mask up to his head, “Now do you know who you choose to so blatantly disrespect?”

Blue studies his features, taking it all in with a neutral expression before pulling his mask down into his hands. In the dark corner, pastel blue crescent moons glow just under the man’s eyes. An Altean, as Keith suspected. Although one of no nobility judging by the chestnut curls peaking out from the band of the cap.

“No, should I?”

Keith is flabbergasted, his lips mouth to say something but he fails to find words. He wants to be offended, to flash his title, to let this jester know who exactly he so bravely mocks. And yet there is something so invigorating about not being known. No, your Highness this or Prince Keith that. Within the walls of the Masquerade, he’s been deduced to a color, Red.

Blue snickers while tapping his mask against Keith’s chest, “ ‘fraid I’m not from around here to know the name of every birdbrain Mamoran inbred. I’ve only just arrived in your humble city, your grace.” Blue oozes with sarcasm from his words down to his actions as he backs away to fold over and give a dramatic bow.

“Well I am the-“

Blue lifts his head, intrigued to know just who he has successfully riled up enough to get their identity from. Before the words leave Keith’s mouth, Blue seems to be celebrating some competition Keith was not aware he was a part of. He shuts his lips tight and Blue’s shoulders drop, disappointed.

“Fine, don’t tell.” The man steps forward, closing the distance in one long stride. Resting against one arm propped on the wall behind Keith, “Makes this all the more fun.”

Keith pushes off the wall as Blue gets dangerously close yet again. Does this fool know nothing of personal space? The man shifts to rest on his back with one lanky leg propped up against the wall.

“If you are hoping I buy a night with you, you’d have better luck with that girl out there.”

Blue drops his head, “I already told you. I am a jester, not a clown or prostitute. You cannot buy my body.”

“And yet I can buy your dignity to frolic around in dingy basem*nts in skin-tight clothing, making a fool of yourself.”

“So you do like my clothing!” Blue runs his hands down his sides, “I noticed your wondering gaze earlier although I could not tell if you were intrigued or disgusted. It’s hard to tell under that mop head of yours.” Blue tosses the hair in front of Keith’s eyes.

Before he can retract his hand, Keith grabs his wrist and pins it at the side of his head, “You seem rather fascinated by my hair for someone who supposedly hates it.”

“Never said I hate it.” Blue continues seemingly unbothered about being restrained. Using his free hand to tug at another strand. Earning him to have both wrists pinned to the wall as Keith holds him still while positioning himself between the navy leather of his heels

“Then what do you call your constant mockery?”

Blue drops his head to the wall, studying the man who has him pinned, “flirting, obviously.” He answers with an upward turn of his lips.

Without the mask, Keith can see every push on his lip, the movement of thin eyebrows, and the raw emotion illuminated by Altean marks. This man should be fearing for his life right now, not watching Keith with flushed cheeks and batting his lashes as if this is some sort of game. If anything it is an interrogation.

Blue leans against his restraints with a hum, “Mmm, you are strong. Let me guess, son of a high-ranking knight. Who sneaks away from overbearing parents and strict rules for a night of debauchery?”

When Keith doesn’t answer, Blue continues, “No, your clothes are much too regal, you must be a noble. Barren of the Mullet!” Blue bows his head, “I am at your service, My Lord.”

Blue continues he taunts much to Keith’s dismay, “Stop talking already!”

“Make me.”

Keith has been known for having a bit of a quick fuse. Another one of the hundreds of reasons he hopes Axca will make a better ruler than he will be. Or that Shiro and Kolivan will put up with him long into his reign, less he makes a million mistakes and becomes the downfall of Mamora. He could see it now, some hot-headed imperial ruler would challenge Keith to something as stupid as a duel and he’d accept it without hesitation. Keith has never backed down from a challenge, not in 21 years. He rather pass out trying than surrender. A poor character trait, honestly.

Something he’s hoped to control by now and yet he cannot back down from the jester’s challenge. His two little words send hot sparks from his clenched jaw to the fists holding Blue’s wrists steady. His hair stands on end as he glares the jester down. A better prince would not let someone so far beneath him get under his skin and yet the only thought in Keith’s head is how badly he wants to get under the jester’s clothes. To see what nonsense would fall from his painted lips if Keith were to press his lips to him. To swallow any efforts of taunts or sarcasm and let his tongue burrow the man’s will under moans and pants.

“Oh.” Blue says with a chuckle, “No, you are no noble. I will bet my bottom coin you are a royal.”

Keith pulls Blue forward only to slam him against the wall again, “I said, stop talking.”

“Definitely a royal, trying to order me around like that as if no one has ever told you no. Do not be mistaken, I am quite into-”

Keith pulls Blue’s hands over his head to pin them under one hand before grabbing his chin with the other. Blue’s words fall short when Keith finally silences him with a kiss. The jester’s boastful persona crumbles in an instant as he slouches against the wall, moving his head along to meet the desperate lips of a hot and bothered prince.

Blue pulls against his restrains and Keith holds tighter, wanting full and absolute control over the man who had spent all evening daring to be challenged. Keith is pulled forward by a navy blue heeled boot wrapping around his legs. He obliges, pressing his chest to the warm body before him. While keeping a hand on Blue’s cuffs, Keith runs his hand up and under the cap to slip it off, letting it fall to the floor with a few jingles before the sounds fade under quickening breaths from both sides. Keith grabs a fistful of those short curls to tilt Blue’s head and deepen the kiss. Keith’s hearing has always been better than most, even by Galra standards. He can hear the growing heart rate of the jester as his tawny skin darkens with blush.

Keith pulls away, watching with a breathless smile as Blue pants fill the air between them, his altean marks glowing brighter.

“Now you look…more like the Galra… I am familiar with.” Blue mutters between breaths, “Yellow eyes ready to tear me to shreds.”

Keith lifts a hand to his eyes, and a soft yellow light reflects off his fingers. Another quirk of his mixed blood. If Keith does not keep his emotions in check, it becomes apparent through glowing golden eyes. Although usually his eyes only glow when he is sent into a rage. His irises have only turned to diamonds under extreme distress. Yet here they are now, betraying him and exposing just how rattled Blue has made him.

“Do they bother you?” Keith asks, finally releasing Blue’s wrists. If this jester truly had only just arrived in the city, it’d be safe to say he had fled the wartorn lands of Altea. Forced to leave everything behind because of soldiers with the same yellow eyes, bat-like ears, and purple fur as Keith.

His answer comes in the form of Blue wrapping his arms around Keith’s shoulders and pulling him back in, “No, they excite me.”

Blue presses forward, capturing Keith’s lips again. Seeing the Altean’s eagerness only sends Keith into more of a frenzy as his hands fail to stay in one place for long. Starting in the mess of tawny hair before exploring the toned and muscular figure hidden under pastel fabrics and braving at getting a feel for the ass and thighs that have distracted him all night.

Blue moans into the kiss as Keith pulls one lanky leg up to his hips, the crescent moons under sapphire eyes flicker like a light bulb in need of being changed. Seems Alteans have also been cursed with physical traits that expose their every thought. At this proximity, Keith’s senses are filled with the earthy scent of warm cinnamon permeating from underneath the ruffled collar of the jester. Keith lets one hand travel back up and blindly search for the buttons to undue Blue’s choker letting it drop to the floor with the cap before trailing his kisses down to an exposed cylinder of skin.

Blue’s breath hitches in his throat as Keith follows his instincts and bites down around the source of the scent, letting cinnamon fill his tongue. Blue shutters in his arms but doesn’t shy from the bite. In fact, the man tilts his head into his shoulder to give Keith more access, slender fingers now digging into the very same hair he had spent all evening making fun of.

Keith licks away the blood that spills from where his fangs have pierced skin, he had not intended to hurt the Altean. Although Blue does not seem to care one way or another as he pulls Keith’s head back to meet his gaze, cheeks flushed red, eyes half open, and hair a mess. Small pinches of guilt creep through Keith’s skin and into his consciousness. He shouldn’t be doing this, not with Axca sleeping soundly back at the castle. She may hate him but Keith deserves her wrath. Especially now, as he contemplates if he should stop or continue getting a taste of cinnamon powder and skin. He shouldn’t be hiding away in some middle-class basem*nt, undressing someone so below his station. Don’t even get Keith started on the fact that his body finally responds when the kiss comes from a man after not so much as reacting to his fiance.

“Please Red” Blue mutters, pulling Keith in by his collar, “make a mess of me.”

How could anyone stay in their thoughts when such words are uttered in that alluring tone by a man as beautiful as the one who’s captured Keith’s attention? His guilty conscious fades from his awareness as he accepts, that here, he is no prince. He’s whoever the mask now tossed to the floor by Blue says he is the moment he walked through the front door. He is simply Red. A no one, someone not tied down by arranged marriages or royal blood. Free to succumb to his urges and ravish in the wonders of flushed summery sepia skin.

Keith yanks Blue’s head back into the wall with a hand in his hair and bites hard into a spot just below his chin. Blue withers into the sensation as he fumbles to slip the cloak off Keith’s shoulders and start at the buttons of his shirt. Keith pushes him off to do the same, although he is much less careful as he rips open Blue’s blouse, not caring about the buttons that pop off in the process. Of course, an acrobat would need muscle to carry their weight with ease and grace. Keith is pleasantly surprised to see a toned set of muscles hidden underneath the blouse that now shiver with every shaky breath.

“You owe me a new shirt, your grace.” Blue taunts as he pulls his blouse down to his arms. Keith digs into his pocket for a coin sack and slips a gold coin between Blue’s panting lips before attacking his exposed collarbone leaving as many marks as he sees fit while pulling on the fabrics of his leggings earning a groan from the jester.

Blue yanks Keith back by his hair before pulling him into another kiss and forcing the cold coin between Keith’s teeth, “I told you I don’t want your money.”

Keith spits out the coin, and any noise muffles its fall as it lands on the fabrics spilled onto the floor, “Then what do you want?”

“You, wasn't that...obvious?”

Keith’s flushed cheeks turn indigo as his hair fluffs under his blush. Before Keith can figure out what to do with himself Blue runs a hand down his chest and tantalizing close to his waist. All of Keith’s thoughts are shot as he watches Blue work. He hardly cares for the drowned-out chatter of the party going on just on the other side of the curtain. It’s not like he hadn’t seen people doing worse things in the light of the dance floor. Keith cannot bring himself to worry about the implications of being caught when Blue slips a hand below his belt. His common sense is scrambled when slender fingers find their way around his half-hard-on, pulling him free of his trousers. Keith’s breathing flutters and escapes him when Blue finds a rhythm to his strokes and rests his head on Keith’s shoulder.

“sh*t Blue-”

“Lance.” The jester lifts his gaze and kisses the sensitive skin just below Keith’s ear that has been turned back and presses to his temples, “My name. It’s Lance.”

“Lance…” Keith repeats back letting the name spill out of him somewhere in between a pant and a moan as Lance expertly works his hand around his co*ck, while keeping fierce eye contact. “I-I cannot tell you- you…my name.” Keith manages to get out somewhere between Lance’s hand and mouth on him, sending sparks that short-circuit his brain.

“I figured. You are still a halfwit royal at the end of the day.” Lance teases before biting into Keith’s skin, giving him a matching love mark to the dozens that currently litter Lance’s neck and shoulders.

His insults are meaningless as lust hazes over Keith’s mind. Although Keith can still remember his demands from earlier, “And you…you still run your mouth...”

Lance pulls away from his bruised neck before letting his eyes wander down to Keith’s galra dick pulsating in his hand then back up to the yellow glow before him, “Would you like me to put my mouth to another use?”

Keith slowly nods as he watches Lance lower himself to his knees before him. His breath warms the spot just above where Keith’s fur fades into the skin, connecting his shalf to his pelvis. Lance takes great care to maintain eye contact through fluttered lashes as he presses an open-mouth kiss to the base of Keith’s co*ck. His hot breath sends shutters through Keith’s spine as his hands rush forward to grab onto the jester’s hair. A smile creeps on Lance’s sepia skin as he trails the light touches up and swirls his tongue over Keith’s tip. Keith tightens his grip on Lance’s hair, fighting the urge to push him down until he's choking his co*ck. The temptation grows tenfold when Lance hums around him, sending vibrations over his most sensitive skin.

Lance spells out the altean alphabet over his tip and shaft, coaxing it in spit while his hand works up and down. When he pulls back, a trail of drool dribbles from his lips, “Are all galra so…well endowed?”

Keith rests his head against the wall behind them as his legs begin to quiver under the growing pressure building in his stomach, “I-I don’t know.”

Lance tilts his head and even without the cap, Keith can still hear the faint sounds of bells, “Oh? Do I have the honors of deflowering Mamoran royalty?”

“No.” Keith mutters out, “Just never been with-hah- another Galra.” He lies straight through his fanged teeth.

Keith watches Lance process the false truth, gears turning as he takes it in. Keith rather not give the jester any more ammunition to use against him.

“Oh, so you just have a type.” Lance swirls his tongue once over the slit leaking precome onto his fingers. Keith slams his head back with a groan, “I suppose I do look quite a bit like that human you came here to meet.”

Keith’s eyes flutter open as he glares down to Lance, “You were watching me?”

Lance shrugs before taking Keith’s co*ck between his lips, Keith can feel Lance’s tongue pressing against the foreign object as he bobs his head to slowly take another centimeter down his throat.

“sh*t-Lance-hah-” Keith pulls hard at the coconut curls between his fingers managing a groan out of Lance as he chokes on the length he’s managed to swallow around. He wraps his fingers around what he can’t get to fit in his throat and pumps it in time with soft arithmetic movements of his head.

Keith’s legs tremble as his heart pounds against the confinements of his chest. This must be the altean magic he’s read about in books and reports. There is no other explanation for the sensation building inside him as he looks down to Lance happily sucking and stroking his co*ck. Watching the lights in those pastel marks flicker with every muffled gag may as well be like being presented with Keith’s favorite desserts. The gargled sounds of slurping and chokes fill Keith’s ears like music with both their fast-beating hearts as the base. Are all Alteans so eager to please?

He’d have skipped out on using his hand years ago if he had no such wonders existed outside the castle walls. Although there would have been no guarantee Lance would be there specifically. Whatever his reasons for coming to Mamora, Keith couldn’t be more grateful.

As the tension in his stomach threatens to boil over Keith yanks Lance’s head off him just as his dick hits the back of Lance’s throat. Lance lets his hands fall to his lap as he catches his breath. A drunken smile never leaving his features. Keith reaches down to grab an arm and pull Lance back to his feet. He turns and throws Lance to the wall, who stumbles over his heels before his back hits the barrier.

“So rough,” Lance comments, although he fails to make it seem as a negative. Keith hooks his arm under Lance’s knee and holds his leg up, finding the best angle to rut his hips against the forming wet stain over the bulge in Lance’s leggings. “Ah-hah so eager Red, I must really be your type.”

While Keith rather hear his own name being uttered in that sweet trembling voice, he still has enough wit left to keep his identity a secret. Besides breaking the illusion he’s created, he could not risk giving Lance any more power over him than he already has. He may claim not to want his coin now, but Lance may very well change his mind if he were to find out he had just been sucking the co*ck of the crowned Prince of Mamora.

“ ‘nough talking.” Keith breathes the words into Lance’s lips before drowning himself in the sweet cinnamon wonders of Lance’s tongue and mouth. Keith chases his own pleasure as he mindlessly grinds his hips up and into Lance who digs his nails into Keith’s hair for purchase. Keith can hardly feel guilty about his lies when it’s clear Lance has a secret obsession with the mullet he claims to dislike. Keith runs his hand over Lance’s chest, stomach, and waist before palming him over the thin fabric of his pants. Lance breaks the kiss as a gasp escapes his lips.

Lance rests his head on Keith’s shoulder to watch. Keith’s mind works overtime to figure out the new urges clouding his head. He’s familiar with his own needs for gratification. Though now he’s filled with the desire to satisfy another, to see what other sounds and expressions he can pull from Lance if he flips the right switch. His ears flip back to the sound of chatter only a few meters away. Right, right, the party. Damn the party. Keith groans at himself for not picking a better spot. While secluded, all it would take is one person to pull at the curtain to reveal the prince stroking off a peasant man through his clothes.

Keith shudders at the thought. The fear of being caught only adds to his vigor. He drops Lance’s leg to pull his leggings over his ass and as far down as they can go down his thigh before being stopped against his leather thigh highs.

“Why must you wear such complicated outfits?” Keith growls into Lance’s ear.

“Becau- ah -” Keith does not give Lance the time to answer before wrapping his gloved hands around Lance’s member. Much like Lance, Lance's appendage is long and lean, twitching at the slightest bit of contact. “Wh-why are you so against…me…speaking!”

Keith follows the scent of cinnamon back to Lance’s bruised neck, “I rather hear the sounds of your sweet moans in my ears instead.”

Lance spoils him with a stuttered pant as he shutters in the prince’s hand. Lance holds tight onto Keith’s shoulders as he begins to wobble over his heels. Lance whines as Keith releases his grasp over his dick to slip a finger lower. Keith thanks his preference for short claws as he presses one precome-covered digit in the warm wonders hidden between lofty tanned legs.

Lance rests his chin on Keith’s shoulder, letting a shuttered gasp tickle the fur of Keith’s ear and send lightning through his body. Keith tests a second finger causing Lance’s manicured nails to dig into the fabrics of his shirt. Keith pumps his fingers just as he has done to himself in the dark privacy of his bedroom. He’s pleased to know his strategy works wonders. When his fingers hit Lance’s sweet spot, Lance’s legs buckle from underneath him with some blur of sounds in an attempt to say Keith’s pseudo name. “Reh-re-red there!”

Keith pins Lance’s hips to the wall with his own, holding him steady. While Keith much rather see just how much he can fold and bend Lance into whatever position he so desires, the fabrics bounding the man's legs in place prevent that, so he continues fingering the hot slit sucking his fingers back in. The desperate grinding of hips down onto his knuckles paired with saccharine moans in his ears, is all the encouragement Keith needs to add a third digit, sending Lance into a mess of noises. It takes several attempts for those sounds to form words.

“Gimme hah more. No more fingers. The real real thing, now.”

A fire has been set ablaze in those sapphires as Lance orders Keith to give him exactly what he wants. Lance has given Keith many firsts this evening and he will now be the first titleless person to demand anything of the Prince. The first village idiot to have Keith digging his claws into the thin material of those revealing leggings and ripping them open.

“And now you owe me a new pair of stalk-ings!” Lance’s voice hitches in his throat when Keith forces his leg back to the wall as he had before. Lance playfully kicks his feet in the air, “I can bend quite a lot farther than that.” Keith watches in amazement as Lance lifts his foot over his head and straightens his legs into a split, holding his heel in his hand.

“Hold that.” Keith orders before taking a handful of exposed thighs and pinning the raised leg to the wall. Keith is well aware the size of his co*ck will be a stretch compared to his digits. Even now as he lines himself up with Lance’s slit, he’s unsure how all will fit inside Lance’s lean build. Well, only one way to find out. He presses his hips forward and pushes his tip through the firey tight rings of Lance’s hole. The sensation of Lance’s walls clamping down around him sets his senses ablaze and for a moment he stays perfectly still lost in the euphoria.

He returns to himself when Lance paws at his hips through wide eyes and stuttering breaths, “I…quiznack…I won’t break, promise.”

Keith presses a quick kiss to the corner of Lance’s lips. He rests his forehead on Lance’s searching for approval in his hazed eyes. Lance smiles with a nod, pulling Keith forward with a trembling finger through one of the loops of his trousers. Keith watches as Lance’s smile cracks into an open-mouthed “O” as Keith presses deeper. Lance’s eyes roll back before Keith has even finished inserting himself. However, even the amount of himself burning in the wet hot heat is nearly enough to send Keith over the edge.


The need to satisfy fights his euphoria to hold out a bit longer. Keith bottoms out and Lance’s leg drops over his shoulder while his head hits the wall.


Lance’s body answers the call as Keith feels every shutter and tensing muscle around his co*ck. Keith holds his hips still as he presses a kiss to the exposed skin of Lance’s collarbone. Lance rolls his head back over his shoulder and it's clear he is lost in bliss. His legs tremble around the co*ck stretching him beyond what can naturally be repaired. But nothing a healing pod can't fix. Lance's eyes are jaded beyond recognition and tears spill down his cheeks. If it weren’t for the breathless smile stuck to his cheeks, Keith may have been concerned.

“f*ck me.”

Keith hums against Lance’s neck, keeping his body still other than the tongue twirling over the newest bruise in the collection. Enjoying the aroma of cinnamon and the warmth of the co*cksleeve he’s found himself in that silences his mind of anything that doesn’t pertain to Lance.

Keith is snapped from his trance when Lance grabs a fistful of his hair and yanks him back, “I said f*ck me you royal dickhe*d.”

Keith holds back a laugh as a sinister grin settles over his lips. Something about someone so below his station barking orders as if Keith isn’t balls deep in him just feeds that fire in his stomach and moves his body seemingly on its own.

“I’d say I’d f*ck you stupid, however-” Even just the smallest thrust up, strikes a crack through Lance's confident demeanor, “Seeing how you’re already there that might be a challenge.”

“At least I am not some- oh quiz - gods- Red!”

Whatever insult Lance had planned is lost in a mess of moans as Keith lets go of his restraint to thrust into Lance chasing his high. His head empties and his skin feels as though he’s been set ablaze. Lance claws at his back, and grabs at his hair, clenching around him as all words fail him. Keith is ruthless as he ruts into the man, groaning and panting into Lance’s ears. His claws threaten to break skin as he holds Lance’s hips to meet his with every thrust.

“Yes-yes-yes-like that Red, f*ck me silly.” Lance’s control breaks and bends under Keith’s will as his volume hiccups into one notch short of a yell. Keith slaps a hand over Lance’s mouth.

“Quiet. Less the whole party hears you.”

Lance squeezes his eyes shut cutting the trail of tears wetting Keith’s fingerless gloves. Keith’s hand only muffles the whimpers that follow every thrust. Whether it’s the Altean or Galra blood coursing through Keith’s vine, every part of him demands he sinks his teeth into the cinnamon-scented sweat glands before him. He can hardly taste the powder as blood spills onto his tongue while Lance turns into dead weight under him. Keith bottoms out as the overflowing glass inside his gut finally cracks and spills.

“Lance I’m close-”

Lance frantically nods against his muzzle, indicating he’s barely holding on by a thread.

“You gonna come for me blue?” Keith growls into the pierced ears of the man trembling and mewling against him. Keith drops his hand to hook under Lance’s other leg and pins him onto the wall. Lance wraps his arms around Keith for support, as he attempts to balance himself between Keith and the wall.

“Yes Red, pleaseImsocloseIcant

It’s almost cute how Lance’s talkative nature translates over once he’s been pushed to the brink of delirium. Although Keith prefers the silence that comes when he’s stripped Lance of all ability to form words. He’s determined to find that again as he mercilessly bounces Lance on his co*ck, stretching him out and hitting his pleasure spot over and over. Some may say he is a brute for how ruthlessly he f*cks into a man already crying and begging for a release, but until he hears such a sentiment come from Lance, he presses on.

ImcomingRed I-I-Imsosorry I cannot wait- I-” Lance paints his stomach with strands of his release as his sentence falls into a whine and then sweet silence. Lance arches his back and Keith pulls him impossibly closer as he ruts into the walls closing around his co*ck. Lance’s legs violently shake in Keith’s arms. His marks shine against blow-out wide eyes and stuttering lips that gap to speak like a fish out of water.

The sensation of Lance coming around him, paired with the blissed-out euphoric joy painted on his sunkissed features is enough for Keith to slow his thrusts before burying himself inside the rapturous heat that doesn’t even know his name. His groans falter into a low growl as he drowns in cinnamon, sex, and sweetness. Lance whimpers as his abused insides are painted white. Keith eats up every attempt at sound from the other man's lips as he kisses away the bite marks left on the sepia skin. Keith holds Lance on his co*ck, as his vision and mind go blank.

The first of his senses to return is touch. Still engulfed in fluttering heat he lifts Lance off his spent dick but holds him to his waist. Lance obliges and wraps his legs around Keith’s hips before dropping his chin over his shoulder. The next feeling to come back is sound, which comes in the form of quiet shaky breaths from Lance filling his ear. Cinnamon and sweat permeate in the air as Keith blinks his swaying vision back into place.

Clarity fills his head as Keith takes in the torn fabrics of Lance’s shirt and pants that hang over his limbs, “sh*t.” He mutters as he lowers Lance to the ground. Lance sways on his feet before throwing himself back against the wall with a tired laugh.

Keith’s blush returns as he watches Lance hide his hair under the cap and bells before picking up his mask and ruffled choker in one hand while attempting to close his shirt with the other, “I might need that new shirt sooner than I thought.”

“I’m so sorry, I got carried away,” Keith utters as he dresses himself again. He goes for the clothes scattered around them, last picking up the cloak he came in with. He drapes it over Lance’s shoulders and pins it closed over his naked figure, “Keep it. There should be enough gold in there to buy yourself new clothes.”

Lance digs his hand into the cloak pocket and pulls out the coin purse. He slips a finger inside and peers in, his eyes go wide before he shoves the sack back toward Keith, “No! That is too much. I told you I will not be paid for sex.”

Keith shoves the bag back towards him, “I’m not paying you for anything! I am repaying you…for the clothes I ripped. Just accept it!”

Lance shakes his head and when Keith refuses the bag he drops it on the floor, “I am not some escort, keep your coin.”

Keith snatches the bag off the floor before grabbing Lance’s wrist as he turns to leave, “You’re not! You are Blue the Jester. Tasked at entertaining all your guests, even at the expense of others.” Lance turns back to Keith and eyes the hand around his wrists.

“Bout time you got it right.”

Keith moves his hand over Lance’s turning their palms upright, “A jester needs colorful outfits. Marvelous fabrics to dazzle their company.” He drops three gold coins into Lance’s palm and closes his fingers over it. Lance attempts to pull away but Keith keeps him still, “Consider this repayment. For not taking better care of your magnificent costume.”

As Keith retracts his hand, Lance lowers his to his sides. With a sigh, he drops the coins into his pocket, “Fine. It’s not like I can go back out there and make back my lost profits without a costume anyway.”


“Keith! Where did you go?”

Hearing Shiro call his name, snaps Keith from whatever spell Lance has put him under as he steps away. He checks himself over one last time as he turns back to the yellow lights of the party. Lance stops him with a hand on his chest, “You almost forgot your mask.” He whispers before slipping the red theater mask back over his eyes before he does the same to himself, “There! Now no one will know you are royalty.”

If only Lance knew how spot-on he was. Keith gives him one last smile as he steps out from behind the curtain, “Thank you…for this. It was fun.”

Lance shakes off the last of his euphoria as he falls back into his jester persona, “Well of course, I am here to serve and please.” Lance says with a wink. The bells of his cap jingle as he follows Keith back out to the main floor.

Keith finds Shiro not far off from where he had been hiding, “Oh there you are. Ready to head back? You should get at least some sleep before daybreak.”

“Yes. I’m ready to go, let me just say goodbye to-” As Keith turns to Lance, he finds no one behind him. Without the colorful blue costume or bells chiming, Keith loses Lance in the crowd still dancing and mingling as if the sun is not about to rise. Keith turns back to Shiro, hiding his disappointment with a smile, “Let's go.”

Keith cannot bother to feel any ailment towards the men who invited him as he catches a glimpse of James on a bench tongue deep inside of a random woman and his hand up the skirt of another. He should be thanking the man if anything, but he will leave James to his fun.

Keith’s mind remains blissfully empty the entire walk back to the castle. His silence is nothing new however the soft smile on his face leaves Shiro suspicious, “Did you enjoy yourself tonight Prince Keith?”

“Mmhmm.” Keith hums out as he replays scene by scene every interaction he had with one Blue the Jester. From the co*cky taunts that nearly led to Keith stabbing the man, to sharing drinks and then sharing spit. The scent of cinnamon lingers in the air as Keith mindlessly follows Shiro back through the castle gates.

“Looks like it.” Shiro gestures to the forming bruise just below Keith’s ear. He reminds him to cover it with his hair or high-collared a shirt come morning. He should be embarrassed that have been caught red-handed by the man he respects above anyone else. And for a moment, he does until his eyes fall to red spots visible just under Shiro’s shirt.

“Yeah, says you.” Keith teases back.

“Well I am not engaged, so I think I’m allowed to have a bit of fun here and there.”

“I am free to do as I please for the next 6 months so lay off.” Keith pretends to be upset, but his euphoric high prevents any negative feelings from settling for more than a second. As they reach the top of the tower of Keith’s room, the two guards standing watch jump out of their skin.

“Y-your Highness! How-”

Keith raises a hand to silence them, “Maybe if you were better at your job you’d have noticed you’d been guarding an empty room all night.”

Shiro nods his head in agreement, although even he knows Keith would best both knights no matter the circ*mstance.

“Now, I need some sleep. No one is to wake me unless someone is dying.”

Keith leaves Shiro to his knights before slipping into his room. The morning sun has already begun to cast its rays through a slip between the curtains. Keith crosses over to the window and pulls the curtains shut, allowing his room to fall into darkness. He kicks off his boots before throwing himself face-first into his sheets. He manages to slip a pillow under his head before sleep claims him.

He dreams only of Lance. He hears the jingle of bells in his ears as they mix with joyous laughter and mouthwatering moans. Keith imagines he managed to sneak Lance through the castle and into his room to kiss all the bruises he left on his sunkissed skin. He’d have wiped away the tear stains with a warm towel and cleaned him up before holding the altean close to his chest for as long as he would be permitted to.

Even as a Kolivan rips him from his dream world, all Keith can taste is cinnamon.

“Someone better be on their death bed.” Keith groans into his sheets.

Kolivan ignores him as he opens the curtains allowing the late morning sun to blind Keith and making apparent the killer headache now pounding behind his eyes, “Your presence is required in the throne room, your Highness.”

“I do not need to be present for every morning report, now leave me be!” Keith yells grabbing the nearest pillow and throwing it in the direction of Kolivan’s voice. Kolivan catches the pillow with ease before setting it down on a chair. He moves over to the bed. Keith feels a weight dipping the sheets before a hand at his collar yanks him to his feet.

“Afterwards we will go over Mamoran royal etiquette.”

Keith groans and lets his head roll back, “No, I’m up, I’m up.”

“Starting with the basics, seeing as you fail to grasp even that.”

“Kolivan please, my head will explode if I am to hear a word about customary codes.”

“Get dressed.” Kolivan grunts before leaving Keith alone in his room. Keith drags his feet to his sink and stares at himself in the mirror. His hair has been tossed in every direction, his clothes wrinkled and fur matted from all the places spit has stuck to it. He runs a cold bath for himself before freshening up. As he lets his hair dry in a towel, he dresses himself in brown pants and a red button-up decorated with white royal patterns over the shoulders and down the middle. Picking his boots off the floor Keith pulls them back over his feet before grabbing a black shall from his closet and securing it to his body with his family crest. He digs through his assortment of jewels for a black spiked crown with a soft glowing lilac gem in the center. Something that he only wears for decorative reasons such as dreadful morning reports.

Judging by the sun, Keith has missed breakfast so he steals a fruit for the centerpiece on top of his dresser before heading out. He finds Kolivan, Queen Krolia, and Princess Axca already waiting for him in the throne room. Keith pulls his collar as high as he can manage and pulls his hair over his shoulders, hoping to hide any evidence of last night's ventures. Shiro managed to do so anyway as he stands next to the empty throne in armor, the metal stopping just under his chin. Although the dark circles under his eyes, tell a different story. Keith throws himself into his seat, not bothering to meet the scowl coming from Axca who stands on his mother’s other side.

As the stewart approaches, Keith props his head into his arm, hiding any bruises with his sleeves, and lets his hair fall over his eyes. Perhaps if he is so lucky he can catch a few more minutes of sleep while whatever minister lectures them.

“Bring her in.” The queen orders. The stewart nods before hurrying out of the room. Keith lets his eyes close in the passing moment. He opens them at the sound of the throne room doors being dragged against their hinges. Two altean centries enter before Princess Allura struts her way up the carpet and stops at the steps. Keith sits up in his seat. Just yesterday she was one of the few alteans Keith had conversed with in ages. And yet at the dawn of a new day, he got to study one inside and out. Coran and Romelle follow on her heels.

“Good morning your majesty.” Allura says with courtesy, “The weather is beautiful this side of the desert.”

Queen Krolia keeps a plastered smile, “Yes, good morning to you too Princess Allura.” Her features fade to a professional neutral, “I am afraid I have several appointments for today so please make your announcement with haste.”

The Princess nods, “Yes, I come bearing gifts!”

“Princess, my answer yesterday was final. No amount of flattery shall change that.”

Allura beams at the rejection, “With all due respect Your Majesty my offerings are not for you. I accept your decline to provide arms. However, our discussion from last night reminded me that there is someone in your court who is unfamiliar with Altean customs. Before my ways of life are lost in this war I wanted to gift a piece of it to the prince.”

All eyes fall to Keith as he looks around to the quizzical faces of Shiro and Krolia. He notes a harsh snarl from Axca as well. Kolivan’s eyes find Keith’s before gesturing back to the Princess. Keith sits up straight, “Thank you, Princess Allura, for your offering.” The warning glare from his mother urges him, “However I cannot accept.”

“Please, Prince Keith at least allow me to present my gifts before you deny my charity.”

Keith turns to the Queen who glares daggers at him before settling to a plastered smile once again, “Fine, show us.”

The Princess of Altea is all too excited to signal her centries to open the throne room doors. In walks in a small crowd, lifeless bots holding an assortment of things from novels and journals to technology and gadgets Keith has never seen before. He can’t hide his curiosity as he’s presented with more than enough new toys to last him a year. The princess takes a red “H” shaped tool from one of the centries before stopping at the bottom of the steps.

Keith raises to his feet and motions her forward. Allura stops before him and hands him the object, as Keith takes hold, his palms warm as it takes the form of a sword. A smile creeps over his features. If the princess is trying to win him over, consider it done.

“This is called a bayard, made to take the form of whatever weapon its user desires most. It is yours.” Allura offers before stepping backward down to the bottom platform. The sword morphs back into a bayard as Keith turns to his mother and then to Shiro, making sure they too bear witness to the feats of Altean engineering. Alteans are quickly gaining a soft spot in Keith’s heart.

“I have brought crystals, Altean literature, and history books as well as the latest technology of our skilled alchemists.” The throne room opens once again for a few more alteans to enter, Keith returns to his seat as they enter, “I also notice the Prince lacks a court. I wanted to offer him three attendants familiar with Altean culture, so he may learn of his heritage.”

“You wish to put your spies in my son’s ear.” Queen Krolia corrects.

Allura shakes her head, “You may probe them before allowing them near the prince, however, I guarantee you they are nothing but eager to share their perspective knowledge of Altean culture. May I present Hunk Vaai, he is not only a skilled engineer but a master of Altean cuisine.”

Keith is less eager to accept actual people as gifts. Do they not have families or friends of their own waiting for them back home? Or perhaps this is yet another Altean tradition Keith is unfamiliar with.

“This is Pidge Holt, child of Altean’s most talented scientist and skilled herbalist.”

Keith takes in the faces of his new attendants, he had sworn he would start learning the names and faces of his servants last night and he plans to keep to it. These are no mere servants either. These are personal attendants who could share more of the side of himself he hardly knows.

“And this is Lance McClain, a scholar in Altean arts and humanities.”

Keith sinks into his seat as his heart drops to his gut.

A blush spreads from ear to ear as his eyes meet the sapphires he had found himself lost in just hours before. Lance bows his head and bells jingle as he lifts his head again. It seems Lance has already spent the coin Keith had given him as he now stands dressed in finer silks than what he wore to the masquerade. Keith even spots two new piercings on each pointed ear. Not that he cares what Lance did with the money he was given. What Keith does care about is how Lance has found his way into his throne room.

Lance shoots him a co*cky smile and a small wave of his fingers before settling next to the other two alteans.

“They are yours, if you will have them.”

Queen Krolia turns to her son, leaving the decision to him.

Had Lance ever mentioned his reasons for arriving at Mamora? Were James and Kinkade a part of a ploy to get Keith into that dingy basem*nt? Was Lance waiting for his arrival to seduce him and wiggle his way into Keith’s good graces? Or worse, was last night a trap to blackmail him? Did Lance only pretend not to recognize Keith?

Hundreds of questions run through Keith’s mind as the three young alteans present themselves to him and bow their heads. Keith can only sink farther in his seat. He could not have some foolish clown running around filled with his secrets, amongst other things. He had wanted to be stripped of his power and found so much joy in having Lance order him around. All that came back to bite him in the ass, didn’t it?

“Keith, if you do not want these Alteans in your court, I shall have Kolivan search their memories for what they know and send them on their way.”

Oh gods, all the things they’d find if they probed Lance for his memories. Keith slaps a hand over his mouth, practically trembling in his seat.

“I shall take them,” Keith utters out between his fingers. Kolivan and Krolia share a bewildered expression at the prince’s acceptance while Shiro follows Keith’s shaken gaze to study Lance up and down. His outfit is nearly identical to the one he wore last night, except for new white stripped stalkings and shiny new silver buttons down his blouse. Lance has lost the puffy collar, leaving his neck exposed, revealing several noticeable bite marks down his neck. Shiro gives the prince one look before sighing.

“Splendid! Then I shall take my leave!” Allura trots out of the room, celebrating her small victory. Keith takes back everything he thought about Alteans. They are evil incarnate. Sly dogs plotting his downfall and Allura as the puppeteer, planting Keith’s demise underneath the charm and wit of a court jester.

Hunk is the first to present him to the royal Mamoran family, “I look forward to serving you, Prince Keith. I do hope we can eventually become friends.”

“Keith? Friends?” Axca snarls.

Pidge bounces up the steps, “Yes! Well, it is not required of us to form any lasting bounds, we are here to serve the prince and teach him all we can of his altean heritage!”

Keith cannot already share in their excitement, not when Lance stalks up the steps, his bells chiming with every sway of his hips.

“And what are you supposed to be? Some sort of clown?” Kolivan asks, inspecting Lance once over.

“A jester,” Keith mutters from behind his hand. Lance shoots him an approving smile before stopping just before his feet.

Lance leans down and rests his hands on Keith’s thighs. Keith jumps at the contact while Kolivan and Krolia gawk at Lance’s forwardness. Shiro already has a hand at his sword, but just as it happened last night when Keith tried to draw a blade, weapons have no effect on the jester. Lance’s charming smile grows perverted as his eyes narrow and hone in on a razzled Keith. Lance kicks his feet off the ground, balancing his weight on Keith’s legs. He bends a navy blue leather boot over himself just above Keith’s head while keeping his other heel pointed towards the chandelier overhead. Keith holds his breath as cinnamon fills his nose and bells chime in his ears.

“Hello again, Your Highness.”

The Prince's Fool - A Voltron Royalty AU - Haibunnyy (2024)


Who kisses Pidge? ›

Keith and Pidge sharing a romantic kiss.

Is Keith a prince in Voltron? ›

Fandoms: Voltron: Legendary Defender

Keith is the prince of the blade of Marmora and empire. He goes through many hardships after losing his father the king.

Is there any LGBT characters in Voltron? ›

Pairing Shiro off at all as an “apology” for season 7 was unnecessary; the series had two other gay characters, Zethrid and Ezor, whose romantic relationship is the focal point of a minor subplot in seasons 7 and 8, and could have naturally culminated in a marriage in the epilogue.

Does Pidge have a crush on Lance? ›

Shippers have speculated that Pidge may have a crush on Lance, similar to Toph's crush on Sokka in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Their evidence stems from the subtle differences in how Pidge treats Lance vs everyone else.

Who does Allura marry? ›

Voltron Force

Keith discovers that his great-grandfather was an Arusian, making himself a human and Arusian hybrid. He eventually retires as the pilot of the Black Lion and hands over the position to Daniel so that he can marry Allura and become her king consort.

Did Keith know Pidge was a girl? ›

Though Pidge agonized over whether keeping the truth about who they were a secret from the team, it turned out many of the paladins already knew. While Keith and Hunk both claimed to know the truth without being told, Allura learned that Pidge was Katie from the mice.

Who is Keith shipped with in Voltron? ›

2612Keith & ShiroShiro
1435Keith & LanceLance
6 more rows

Who does Lance kiss in Voltron? ›

Voltron Lance and Keith Kiss Scene.

Who are the couples in Voltron? ›

Here are the 5 greatest unsung ships in Voltron.
  • Keith and Lance (aka Klance) The relationship between Keith and Lance (referred to as “Klance”) obviously leads this list. ...
  • Zethrid and Ezor. ...
  • Coran and Alfor. ...
  • Blaytz and the Galra Waiter. ...
  • Veronica and Acxa.
Dec 21, 2018

Who does Allura marry in Voltron? ›

Voltron Force

Allura complies with her father's advice and promotes Larmina to be the Blue Lion's pilot. Allura is in a romantic relationship with Keith and proposes marriage to him so that he can become her king consort.

Who does Allura kiss? ›

Lotor and Allura share their first kiss. Once back on the castleship, Lotor helps Allura down. Allura is a little tired, as Lotor holds her hand she falls into him. As the reached the floor, Lotor tells her, “We accomplished something amazing today.

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