A K&A Laundry Fan Fic Challenge.
My little spin on the challenge's theme. Enjoy.
As per his usual nighttime ritual Keith walked the dim sleek halls of the unfamiliar castle. He had barely begun to get his bearings in his new home only to have it fall away into ruins to reveal this gleaming technological marvel, it as foreign to him as the rest of the strange technology on Arus. The melding of juxtaposed medieval living, unfathomable magical energies all mixed with high technology that dwarfed anything they had at Garrison still had his head spinning.
He walked closer to the wall and let his fingers glide along the sleek metal that just days ago was rough honed stone. The core of the architecture of the castle had remained the same, but now there were many new niches and passages to be explored, and he would continue this ritual nightly to learn every twist and turn of this new home.
The castle still had an eerie quality too it, as fantastical and modern it now was the lack of the human element still made it seem out of place and time. With only a skeleton crew of Arusains one could wander these halls for hours and never see another soul. But with the appearance of this new castle he could already feel that would soon be changing, the rebirth of Voltron and the rising of this fortress would be a beckon to those hiding in the caves, they would soon be coming and he was glad of it. They needed techs, they needed security and more importantly they needed support staff to keep everything functioning and handle the tasks of day to day living.
As his wandering took him down into the service levels he felt the soft rumble of the castle's systems all around him... power generators, climate and ventilation, water and sanitation, each with its own signature rhythm. He made his way into each room, walking around all the machinery, eyes looking all around as his fingers reached out to touch each surface to commit it all to memory.
As he was approaching the next room down the corridor a new sound met his ears, along with the hypnotic purring of machines he could hear the sound of someone softly singing. He cocked his head to focus on it. The song was one unfamiliar to him, as were most things on this new world. He quietly approached to peer into the room. There his eyes spied out a maid working. Maid? He knew Coran had said he was going to begin to look for prospects but he didn't know any had been brought into service yet. Suspicion growing he quietly approached.
He soon saw that the young woman was busily sorting a huge pile of clothing into large hampers, her task and song distracting her from his presence. She was dressed in a simple well worn gown, hair pulled back and wrapped in a scarf to keep it out of her work.
As he watched her work his brow furrowed, it was hardy suspicious behavior but that he had not been informed of her employ was gnawing on him. He knew Coran was busy but the man had always had any new recruit run past Keith in his role as acting chief of security. Perhaps it was just an oversight or perhaps... He dropped into a low crouch, his hand instinctively slid down his leg to finger the grip of his blaster holstered in his boot. Reassured that it was there he stood and took a few steps closer, eyes shifting this way and that noting all points of nearby cover. "Hello?" He called into the room.
The woman jumped and let out a squeal, tossing the clothing in her hands as she spun around to look at her intruder. Her eyes went wide in surprise, her azure eyes, those most memorable eyes, the eyes he saw every time he closed his own…
Prin….cesss? He took a stumbling step back.
Her hands clutched at her chest to catch her breath, relief growing across her features as she saw who the intruder was.
Keith shook his head to remember his place and he quickly bowed his head and dropped to his knee. "My apologies, Your Highness. I did not mean to frighten you."
She made her way to him gesturing for him to get back up to his feet. "It is I who should apologize for overreacting like that. I'm still not used to others living here." She gave him an embarrassed smile. "And please, call me Allura."
He slowly stood up, straitened his top and attempted to return the smile. "I'm sorry, Your Highness, but I don't think I can do that." As his eyes met hers he began to fidget awkwardly. Looking for an escape his gaze caught sight of the garments she had flung halfway across the room and he quickly went about picking them up, so focused on his task he didn't quite take the time to notice what it was he was collecting. He gathered the bits up in his hands and walked back to her. Keeping his gaze averted he extended his hands out to her. "I believe you dropped…"
"I… ummmm…." She stammered. "Thank you."
As she was taking them from him one piece got caught in his fingers. He only then looked to his hands to notice the silken frilly string like fabric that had woven its way in between his fingers. He turned as crimson as his uniform as she dexterously extricated it from his hand.
Once it was free they each took a step back from each other. She pulled her hands behind her to hide the frilly nothings from his view. "I um… I was sorting out some of these old stored clothes for the village's refugees."
Keith blinked a few times to gather his wits. "Do they have much need for, er." He dared a glance up to her to see she was as flushed at the whole thing as he was.
She sucked in her lips as she glanced up at him then let out an embarrassed shrug and walked back over to her sorting area tossing the handful of garments into a hamper off to the side. Her focus went back to the large pile in front of her busying her hands pulling out a piece here and there and tossing them into various hampers. "I don't know." She kept her eyes on her task. "I kind of like thinking that even with all that has happened that somewhere out there someone would get some pleasure in having something nice to wear for their special someone. Her fingers delicately plucked out a sheer lace chemise and she held it up in front of her to look at it dreamily.
From across the sorting table Keith couldn't help imagining this fair princess clad in only the flimsy frills she was holding up in front of her. All other thoughts drained from him into a puddle on the floor. He stood frozen, mouth slightly agape.
She glanced up. Realizing what she had done she hastily wadded up the garment dangling from her fingers and tossed it into a hamper. She started selectively pulling out other pieces of clothing each successive one more modest than the last.
Keith's hands went to his face in a futile attempt to wipe his memory free of his inappropriate imaginings. Not knowing quite what to do or say next he found himself standing there like an idiot for what felt like an eternity when a buzz from across the room rang out as one of the large industrial dryers slowly spun to a stop.
"Ah." Allura dropped her sorting and made her way to the machine. She pulled the large windowed door open and began pulling out an armful of clothes.
Snapping back to the present and seeing that the pile she was attempting to carry was far taller than the dainty princess and threatening to topple Keith rushed over. "Here let me…" But before he could help adjust the heap the top of it began tumbling towards him.
Allura tried to catch the pile but over corrected sending her tumbling over with it into a garment explosion that all but buried Keith.
"Are you alright?" Keith asked in a worried panic as he tried to extricate himself only then noticing how intimately the Princess had landed on top of him, her nose poking into his belly only separated from his uniform by a freshly laundered woolen tunic. Any continued movement only threatened to shift them into an even more intimate position.
A loud clearing of a throat from behind him met Keith's ears and he looked down to see Allura lift her head from his abdomen and look up past him.
"Oh, hi, Sven." She smiled sheepishly to their onlooker.
"Hi indeed." His mirth laced his words. "I was looking for the Commander to discuss tomorrow's outing but I see he's a bit… occupied at the moment." He gave Keith a broad grin. "I'll leave you two to your…"
Allura blushed at Sven's thinly veiled accusation. "Keith was just helping me with the laundry and well…" Allura pushed herself up to kneel. As she stood up she reached her hand out to Keith and he tentatively took it. She easily pulled him up with her, the strength hidden in her slight frame surprising him as clothes rained down around him. "I made a mess of it."
"I see." Sven approached the hamper Allura had been using to sort the more intimate items into and glanced down into it. Casually he dropped his hand into it and pluck out a pair of frilly panties between two fingers. "And how does one get assigned to this…" He lifted the garment up to inspect it more closely. "'Laundry' duty?"
Keith turned an eye to the one who always seemed so naturally at ease with the Princess. A twinge of jealousy twisted in his gut as it always did when he saw the two casually chatting together. Sven had always kept telling him. 'You do know when we're talking all she ever asks about is you, you, you.' But Keith never dared to believe that. Sven was just teasing him as did the rest of the team. Taking jabs at him over his obvious unease around Her Highness.
Keith's attention was called back to Allura as she stormed up to the blue's pilot and grabbed the panties from his fingers and tossed them back into the hamper. His jaw flinched as Sven laughed at her, the Princes flushing a beautiful shade of pink then joining Sven's laughter, bursting into her own fit of giggles. He swallowed trying to get the ever tightening knot in his belly under control. Needing an escape he looked to the floor seeing the clothes still lying there he hurriedly kneeled back down to gather them up into his arms but as the hastily stacked heap grew pieces continued to fall back to the floor. He grew more and more anxious. All he wanted to do was clean up the mess he made and get out of there as quickly as he could.
"Keith, this is my fault." Allura's voice was suddenly a mere few feet from him. "Let me help"
He tried to avoid looking at her. "Your Highness, you shouldn't have to do this." But in spite of his will his eyes had a will stronger than his own and sought to catch a glance at her.
As their eyes locked she corrected him yet again. "Allura." She bit her bottom lip as her eyes pleaded with him.
Keith blinked and slowly shook his head trying to shake himself free of her spell and the confused haze it always left him in.
"Princess then?" She asked him hopefully.
Keith's lips twitched, struggling to try and form the word. "Prin…" Confounded he swallowed, finding the word far too difficult for him to fully utter.
"It's pronounced Prin…cess." Sven chuckled as he walked up to the two of them and placed a smaller laundry basket down beside them. "Here." He then leaned over to Keith's ear to whisper in his native Norwegian tongue that he knew only Keith would understand. "Don't be an idiot, my friend. She wants to spend time with you. Talk to her!" Sven gave the back of Keith's head a playful tap as he stood back up and continued in the Alliance common tongue. "I'll leave you two to finish your 'laundry'"
Keith's head turned in a panic to his retreating friend, mouth opening and closing trying to find a way to call Sven back so he could be the one to escape but it was to no avail. The Norwegian just smiled back at him. 'Talk.' He mouthed and gave him an exaggerated wink before leaving the room. A few moments later a single thickly accented word echoed from the hall back into the laundry room. "Princesses."
"What did he say?" Allura asked.
Keith answered without thinking as he turned back to help her. "Princess."
Allura froze in the middle of tossing the spilled clothes into the basket and looked at him in surprise, a shy smile blossoming on her face.
Realizing what he just managed to utter Keith froze. He tried the word again. "Princess."
Allura completely lit up in front of him in delight that he finally managed to speak her more casual title. As if sensing his embarrassment she turned away and went through the motions of gathering up the rest of the dropped clothes.
"Princess" He breathed the name once more, this time in an inaudible whisper as he watched her tossing the last of the clothing into the basket.
She lifted back out a white shirt to hold it up between them, on it was a fresh looking stain it must have picked up from the floor. She let out a huff of air. "Looks like I have some more laundry to do." She dropped the shirt back into the basket.
Lifting up the basket Keith pulled it to his hip as he stood up but this time it was his turn to extend his hand down to her.
Her eyes fluttered up to meet his as she placed her hand in his.
"It would be my honor to help you complete this task, Your High…" He paused and let out an embarrassed breath. "Princess." He corrected as he pulled her up to her feet. It took him several moments to realize he was still holding her hand and had to forcibly will his fingers to loosen their grip, however even as he did so her hand still remained in his.
A second buzzer went off from behind Allura as yet another dryer slowly spun to a stop and their hands slowly let go.
Keith's eyes looked down the row of huge machines to see a couple more also in motion. He looked back to her. "Wait? What did I just get myself into? How many loads of laundry are you doing?"
She shrugged her shoulders and gave him a weak smile. "A village's worth."