Disclaimer: WEP still owns Voltron...

Beta: Thanks again Dawn!

This is the fourth installment in my "Chivalry arc. 1. Chivalry, 2. Lion House Restored (2A. LHR - Allura's POV), 3. Doomed Quest, and 4. Alternate Choices.

Rating/Setting: Rating is T bordering M in some chapters. Nothing graphic or overly violent. The setting for this is rather unusual once the quest begins. It shall truly be AU in nature... just read and see.


Chapter One

Nanny watched the pair of them from under the tent where she was supervising food service. Keith and Allura tried to act impervious to the other, but their attraction to each other was obvious to those who knew them. She sighed. Wasting time. That boy's just wasting time keeping her at arm's length. She had hoped this trip would help things, but apparently not.

Allura had wanted to attend the Winter Festival in the town of Galla. The town had invited her, along with the Force, to attend. In addition, they had asked for Nanny's assistance in the best way to serve the food and keep it hot. The last festival had been the year that King Alfor was murdered. The townspeople wanted to revive the tradition now that they had rebuilt over half the city. There were many things about putting on a festival where they simply lacked knowledge due to the passage of time. Nanny had been happy to help, and the thought of having her two favorite people out in a social situation had only made her happier.

Keith was always Allura's bodyguard when she went out unless there was something incredibly urgent requiring his attention. The people never pressed too much on him, although now he was a target of interest. After all, the Captain of the Voltron Force, who had recently become an Arusian Lord of Lion House, was a celebrity in his own right. He hated it…

"Lord Kogane! If I could have a minute of your time?" David, a member of the Arusian Council, who lived in the area, called out to him. He had been trying to get Keith to attend a council meeting ever since it was revealed that he had been knighted by King Olen during the Right of Challenge.

Grimacing, Keith turned in the direction of the eagerly approaching councilman. "Yes, Councilman David, what can I do for you?"

"Well, there is the upcoming council meeting in a week's time!"

David was actually one of the council members he liked. However, until his completion of the prophecy, Keith had decided to distance himself from Arusian politics unless Allura needed him. He had told her if she truly felt his presence was needed, he would go. The new lord was very pleased that she had so far handled things on her own. Putting his thoughts back on David, he asked, "Is there something in particular that I need to hear at the upcoming meeting? You do understand that I have put political concerns to the side for the time being. I'm waiting until I complete the requirements of the Arusian prophecy before taking on any political role."

"I understand that, Lord Kogane, I just thought that since the council would be talking about Princess Allura's suitors, that you might wish to attend."

That got his full attention. "They're what?" His voice was loud and garnered several glances, so he lowered it before continuing, "Suitors? Is this a normal discussion for the council?"

"Ever since the council was reinstated, it is brought up every few months. The council and people would like to see the Princess marry and provide an heir." David noticed the stormy look that came over Lord Kogane's face, and he began to stammer. "It's just that I thought… that we thought… well, you are a lord now and the word from the castle is that you and the Princess are close… I didn't mean to presume, Lord Kogane." Even though the air was cool for the season, David was feeling quite warm. Actually, he was feeling uncomfortably warm at the moment.

Schooling his features back into a semblance of indifference, Keith replied, "Don't worry, David. I know you didn't mean anything by it. However, the council MUST stop meddling in the Princess' marital concerns. It only makes matters worse. Until I have completed the quests, I will attend meetings at Princess Allura's request only. Thank you for speaking to me, but I must check on the princess now. Good day, Councilman David."

"Good day, Lord Kogane," David said to the retreating back of the lord.

Walking in Allura's direction, Keith wondered if she knew about the plans the council had for the next meeting. If so, why hadn't she told him?

Allura was laughing and talking with a group of young women around her age. It was refreshing to talk when she had this kind of opportunity. She had tried to engage a number of the young castle maids in conversation, but Nanny had drilled into them the rules about their differences in station. Romelle was her age, but they didn't have a chance to visit as often as Allura would have liked. Perhaps she needed to get out more among the people, or perhaps have more events at the castle where she could make friends of her own age and gender.

"Um, Princess, does Lance have a girlfriend?" asked a pretty young blonde named Carla.

Laughing, Allura responded, "Well, I think it's more appropriate to say that he has a number of girlfriends. But as far as I know, he doesn't have one particular girlfriend." She thought about Naveena, and although there had been some mild flirting between the two, they were far from a romantic couple at the moment.

"How about Hunk?" another asked.

"Hunk is dating one of the nurses from the med wing. Pidge isn't dating anyone, but I think he may be a little young for most of you," Allura giggled.

There was a lot of giggling chatter and a few more questions about Lance, when one of the girls finally asked what they were all wondering. "What about Keith?"

Silence spread over the group as they all waited anxiously. It was widely rumored that the Princess and the Voltron Commander were a couple, though they never appeared as such in public. If they weren't a couple, well, quite a few of the girls intended to get introductions to the handsome leader of Voltron.

Allura looked past the girls in front of her to see Keith approaching. He looks so handsome, she thought. Why does he continue to push me away? With a smile on her face, she replied to the girls, "I'm afraid that Commander Kogane is taken." She watched as Keith lounged against a nearby tree. Close enough to help if needed, but far enough away to give her some independence. She began moving over to where Keith was, but turned back to the girls and winked, "Most definitely, taken." She listened as the girls giggled, and then she bid them farewell so she could move over to another area.

Keith took in the giggling group of girls and the looks they were giving him as Allura walked over. Obviously, he had been a recent topic of conversation. He was unsure whether he wanted to know what the discussion had been about. But when Allura reached him, he couldn't resist. "Okay, what did they ask about me this time?"

Smiling up at him, she responded, "Oh-ho, you are starting to sound like Lance now."

"Can you honestly tell me that I was not a topic of conversation?"

Putting her hand to her lips to stifle a giggle, she said, "I can't. And they did ask a question about you."

"And?"

"They want to know if you are taken?"

"Taken?"

"Don't be obtuse, Keith. They want to know if you have a girlfriend."

The smile left his eyes as he gazed at her. Speaking softly, he asked, "What did you tell them?"

Her eyes and voice were equally serious as she replied, "The truth. That you are definitely taken."

Keith looked from her eyes to her lips and back again. Cursing the fact that he had said friendship only, and no kissing, he just nodded as he responded. "You're right. That is the truth." He looked away from her to some small booths down by the water. "Would you like to visit some of the booths that have been set up with baked goods and house wares?"

Allura sighed. That was all she was going to get from him today. She cursed the fact that she had accepted just friendship and no kissing. Following his gaze, she saw the area of which he spoke. "Yes, Commander, I would like to visit them." She took his arm and followed him to the row of colorful booths.

Okay, I PROMISE there is hope and KA in this story! He's already starting the break just looking at her lips! Hang in there!