- "I used to study judo, for sport, when I was younger. But I was too big for the women's classes. Nobody could give me any real practice, and besides, doing all katas was so dull. My brothers used to sneak me into the men's classes with them. One thing led to another. I was all-Barrayar women's champion two years running, when I was in school. Then three years ago a man from Captain Negri's staff approached my father with a job offer for me. That's when I had weapons training. It seemed the Princess had been asking for female guards for years, but they had a lot of trouble getting anyone who could pass all the tests."
- ―Cordelia's meeting with Drou[src]
Ludmilla Droushnakovi Koudelka (luhd-MIH-luh DROOSH-nuh-kaw-vee koo-DEHL-kuh), better known as Drou, was the wife of Clement Koudelka; together, they were known as "Kou and Drou". They had four daughters, Delia, Martya, Olivia and Kareen; the elder two daughters were body births, and the younger two were among the first, if not the first, voluntary uterine replicator births on Barrayar.
Drou grew up with a single father and three brothers, all of whom were in the Barrayaran Imperial Service. Drou, like much of Barrayar, was attracted to the military, but due to the conservative prejudice of Barrayar, she was unable to join the military. However, her strong build and martial arts proficiency caught the eye of Captain Negri, who hired her as a "Servant of the Inner Chamber", which was classified as "Bodyguard, Level 1"; she was the personal bodyguard of Princess Kareen, who desperately needed a female bodyguard for the fullest protection.
Drou became personally close to Princess Kareen, and young Prince Gregor's sole friend. When Cordelia Naismith emigrated to Barrayar and became Lady Vorkosigan, Drou became intrigued by this woman whom she viewed as a female warrior. Kareen, noticing Drou's interest in Cordelia, assigned her to Lady Vorkosigan's staff. Kareen's motives for doing this were never fully revealed, but the Princess was pleased by Cordelia's demeanor, personality and wisdom, as well as her humanist perspective on the military; further she was grateful to Cordelia for her role in bringing about the deaths of Ges Vorrutyer and her husband Serg Vorbarra.
While serving the Vorkosigan family, Drou became attracted to Kou, who at the time was recovering rather poorly from severe nerve disruptor injuries, aided by a clumsy artificial nervous system. Drou slowly got through Kou's defensiveness about his handicap and his jealousy of her physical prowess to the point where one night, Kou made love to her; both had been virgins. Their budding love was crushed soon afterwards by the infamous soltoxin gas attack, in which Evon Vorhalas attempted to retaliate against Lord Vorkosigan's refusal to pardon his younger brother Carl, resulting in his execution by beheading. The attack only grazed Aral, but struck his pregnant wife, severely affecting her pregnancy. Drou carried the guilt of having had sex during the attack, though Cordelia reminded her that normally, she would have been asleep anyway. Drou's mood was furthered soured when she missed her period and feared she might be pregnant. She was relieved by her negative pregnancy result, but became outraged when Kou apologized for "raping" her.
When Vidal Vordarian attempted his palace coup, Drou was one of two suspects in cutting Vorkosigan House's communication lines. She was quickly cleared via fast-penta interrogation. She accompanied Lord Vorkosigan and Koudelka to Tanery Base. When Cordelia's unborn son Miles's uterine replicator was kidnapped by Vordarian's forces, Drou was enlisted alongside Sergeant Bothari and an initially resistant Kou to rescue him. Drou was invaluable in that Negri had taught her the most secret areas of the Imperial Residence that only Negri, Drou and Emperor Ezar knew about, including emergency clothes, weapons and secret passages. When the group rescued Lady Vorpatril from execution by Vordarian's troops, Cordelia successfully reconciled the lingering problems between the pair, convincing them to become betrothed before Kou embarked on a dangerous mission to return Alys and baby Ivan to Tanery Base. Drou, on an equally dangerous mission, managed to save Miles with Cordelia, but both were unable to save Kareen, who died of nerve disruptor fire.
Kou and Drou hired a baba, and were married shortly after. Lady Alys became a bridal consultant for motherless Drou, and gave her and Kou a lavish beach house as a wedding gift. Cordelia reassigned Drou to young Gregor's person, primarily for emotional constancy, since his grandfather, father and mother were all dead.
At some point, Drou retired from military service and raised four daughters. Drou became a pioneer in uterine replication with her two youngest daughters. Kou and Drou cunningly also had daughters when most of Barrayar was using sex selection technology to sire sons - two decades later, the sex ratio of Barrayar was skewed, giving young women unprecedented power.
When the Koudelka family fell into financial problems due to the need to pay for college education for four young women, Drou took up martial arts instruction to help earn money.
Personality and appearance
Drou was described as a muscular, blonde woman; also in her (likely) fifties she was still blonde. She despised her first name "Ludmilla"; only once during the series was her first name mentioned. She tended to be insecure in her younger years; she did not really believe that her bodyguard work was "real" as compared to that done by armsmen and ImpSec military personnel. She also tended to pull her punches in practice fighting. In later years, she appeared much more centered.