Note: I rescued this incomplete fic when it disappeared elsewhere, but I accidentally missed out on Chapter 3 of 5. Take of it what you will. ;)
Allura gazed up at the night sky. From the balcony just outside her bedroom, she had a spectacular view. The stars were so bright that their light sparkled in her large blue eyes. It was one of her favorite places to be, the stars always seemed to have a calming effect on her, but tonight she wasn't really seeing them. The events of the day had affected her far more than she liked to admit.
It had begun like any other day on the quiet, peaceful planet. The sun was shining, and a light, cool breeze pushed small, cotton ball clouds across the sky—the weather didn't tend to change very much on Planet Arus.
She and her friends had been enjoying a leisurely picnic on the castle grounds when it had happened. Darkening the sky like an approaching storm, the ships of Planet Doom had moved in towards the castle calling the Voltron Force into action.
The battle had been more easily won than most, but that was not what was presently bothering the Princess. It was what had occurred after the dust had settled down. The Robeast, the flag ship had sent out to attack them, had been sliced into three separate pieces by the robot's giant sword, each bit exploding and disintegrating into tiny pieces as it fell towards the planet. All of the pieces save for the gigantic head. It had fell through the sky slamming into the main Doom ship hard enough to tear through its hull and tearing the ship nearly in two before it had crashed to the ground. Only bits and pieces of the ship had survived the crash, hardly recognizable as the ship it had been.
Once the team had made sure that the people in the village over which the fight had taken place were alright, they had set forth on the task of clearing the demolished space ship and looking for survivors—not that they expected any considering Doom ships usually were manned by androids.
He had been hard to spot in the wreckage. Most of his body had been covered with the twisted remains of his command chair. Allura had been the one to first spot the scraped, bruised hand poking out from under the debris. He had been unconscious and barely breathing when she had approached the prone body. The hue of his skin had made it rather difficult to tell if he had been suffocating considering its already blue tint. She had had to lean in until his still lips had grazed her trembling cheek to tell if he was still breathing while the other members of the Voltron Force had struggled to lift the twisted chair that pinned his body to the ground.
It had taken at least fifteen minutes, maybe a little more, to free Lotor's body from the wreckage. The boys had barely begun when Allura had noticed the leather clad fingers of his free hand twitch and heard a soft moan of pain escape his tips. She had taken his large hand into her much smaller one and began to whisper words of comfort into his pointed ear just as she would have if he had been one of her own injured countrymen.
"Allura?" The Prince's eyelids had fluttered open nearly at once, his glazed eyes seeming to focus on some invisible point just over her right shoulder.
"Don't try to talk," she had whispered, her slender fingers brushing his long, white hair back from his face taking care to avoid coming into contact with the nasty gash marring his smooth forehead.
Out of the corner of her eye, she had caught Keith glaring down at her as he had reluctantly assisted the others to clear the wreckage from Lotor's body. At the time, she had chosen to ignore it, but she made a mental note that she would definitely be having a talk with the captain of the Voltron Force when they were safely back at the castle.
It had taken nearly an hour to free Lotor from the remains of his ship. His leg was lying amongst the metal at an unnatural angle, obviously broken, and she was sure there were probably quite a few other injuries not visible to the naked eye. Allura had cringed as Lance and Keith roughly picked him up from the dent in the ground that his body had made and hoisted him onto Hunk's huge shoulder. She could see Lotor's pointed teeth sinking into the flesh of his bottom lip as he had forced himself to not cry out in pain.
She had wanted to say something then, but she had needed their help to get Lotor back to the castle. She couldn't help but be distressed at how they had treated the injured man. He was Prince Lotor, Crowned Prince of Planet Doom, a man who had attacked Arus time and time again, but he was also a gravely wounded man who desperately needed their help.
Hunk had lugged Lotor over to his Yellow Lion and had hefted him, none too gently, to the floor of the cockpit behind his seat, and once they had made certain that the villagers had the clean up under control, the team had returned to the castle. Once there, they had turned the Prince over to the Royal Guard who had taken him to the lower reaches of the castle where the prison cells were located. Once this task was done, the boys had quickly dispersed to their rooms, leaving Allura on her own to summon a doctor to tend to Lotor's injuries.
After seeing that he would get the medical attention that he direly needed, Allura had spoken to her advisor, Coran, about what should be done with their visitor. He had made the suggestion that Lotor might be useful as a bargaining chip with his father, King Zarkon. Perhaps knowing his only son was a prisoner on Arus might halt the many assaults on their planet, but Allura had quickly nixed that idea. The King of the rival planet had made it more than obvious on quite a few occasions that he considered his only heir as expendable as the many androids that manned his army.
The only other option she had was to turn the prince over to Galaxy Garrison. There he would have a trial and be properly punished for his crimes against their planet. It had seemed like a logical answer to the problem at hand, but the more time Allura had to think about it, the less she thought it was the right course of action. Her mind kept wandering back to the rough way the boys had treated the injured man, Lotor's gasp of agony, the cruel look that Keith had shot her when she had made an attempt to comfort him. These were her friends. She had trusted them to be good and kind, and they hadn't shown even an ounce of compassion to their fallen foe. Could she really trust some Garrison that was light years away to treat him any better.
Allura sighed deeply. Her decision finally made, she turned from the edge of the balcony and walked back into her bedroom. She would speak to Lotor in the morning, and afterwards she would have a very lengthy talk with Keith about their new guest. She really didn't know which conversation was going to be harder, but it had to be done. Sometimes being the Princes was unpleasant, but she had made her decision and there was no changing it.
"Are you sure you wish to enter, Your Highness?" the young guard asked nervously. He couldn't help but be uneasy. He had served at the castle for a number of years, but he had never actually spoken to the Princess. Anyone would be uneasy, especially when the Princess had come down to the dungeons—unescorted no less—wishing to speak to the prisoner.
"I wouldn't be here if I weren't sure," Allura told him patiently forcing a smile to her lips in hopes of calming down the guard who looked nearly as nervous as she felt. "Now, please open the door."
The young man's concern was obvious. Even though he spent most of his time in the bowels of the castle watching over the nearly empty dungeons, he knew exactly who the new prisoner was. It wasn't like he never left the castle and went home. Still, she was the Princess, so slowly he proceeded to open the heavy cell door. Allura marched through the door, her chin raised in determination before the guard had a chance to lead the way. The light inside the tiny cell was dim, and there was a musty smell permeating the air, more from lack of use than lack of cleaning.
She could see the Prince's unconscious body lying on a small metal cot bolted to the stonewall. Allura shuttered to see him like that. Being so used to seeing him standing tall, demanding, expecting her to fall into his arms, it was alarming to see him in such a weakened state. His shirt was gone, replaced by thick white bandages that covered nearly his entire broad chest. His left leg, also tightly bandaged, was propped up on a rather ratty looking pillow.
"Is he asleep?" she asked the guard who was hovering at a respectful distance by the door.
"I believe he is resting, Your Highness," he told her softly hoping that he was correct. He hadn't actually checked on the Prince's recovery since he had arrived in the dungeon, but he did hope that his unconscious state might be enough to convince the Princess to leave.
"I am awake."
Allura jumped at the sound of Lotor's voice echoing in the quietness of the tiny cell. His eyes opened slowly, his steady gaze finding her quickly. She cringed at the sight of the Prince trying to push himself up to a seated position. A hand flew to his bruised ribs and he winced at one point, but Allura forced herself to remain where she was. No matter how she felt, he was still the enemy.
"Are you here to gloat, Princess?" he growled, his golden eyes leisurely running down the length of her body making her wish she had changed into one of her modest gowns rather than wearing her fitted Voltron Force uniform.
"What?" Her eyes fluttered as she forced herself to focus on reality rather than the promise she could see in his steady gaze.
"You defeated me," he explained, a rather knowing smile curving his lips. "I suppose you already tried contacting my father."
"Actually, no," Allura admitted quietly.
The Prince smiled sadly for a moment. "It would have been pointless anyway. I knew at an early age that I was expendable."
"Lotor, you're not..."
"Don't pity me, Princess," he interrupted sharply. "I suppose you will be sending be off to face Galaxy Garrison then."
"I... I wasn't... No," she sputtered. This was definitely wasn't going as well as she had hoped.
"No?" he asked. His eyebrows rose in surprise as he struggled to stand, supporting most of his weight on his good leg. Even injured, he was still an imposing figure. She fought to keep her breathing under control while her heart began to race in her chest.
"No," she repeated breathlessly.
"Then, what are you planning on doing with me, Your Highness?" he asked slowly, hobbling towards her.
"You will be staying here," she whispered raising her chin in order to meet his eyes.
"Really?" he asked softly, not missing how uncomfortable he was making her and enjoying the fact immensely. "And why would you chose to make me your guest, Allura, rather than turning me over to the interrogators at Galaxy Garrison?"
Allura found herself unable to take her eyes from his. Why did she let him make her so nervous? After all, she was the one in charge here! Suddenly, she was having second and third thoughts about her decision to keep the Prince on Arus, but then memories of the scene on the battlefield and the rough way the boys had treated their fallen foe overrode her thoughts. Could she really trust some faceless Galaxy Garrison to treat Lotor with fairness?
"You will still be a prisoner, Lotor," she informed him sharply, hoping to hide how intimidated she felt with him standing over her. "You will stay here on Arus, but that does not mean that I have forgotten what you have done in the slightest..."
"Have you lost your mind, Princess!?"
The sound of Keith's voice echoing off the walls of the small cell made Allura jump in surprise. Quickly, she took a guilty step away from the Prince and turned to face the Captain of the Voltron Force. He stood in the doorway with his arms crossed angrily over his chest in the spot vacated by the timid dungeon guard. His icy glare flashed from Allura to Lotor and back again.
"Keith," the Princess gasped, "how did you know I was here?"
He crossed the small room to place himself protectively between Allura and the Prince before he answered. "Luckily, the guard had enough sense to know you shouldn't be here alone with the prisoner and told me you were here. You can't seriously be considering having him stay here!"
"Keith, I think you need to calm down," she told him, keeping her voice even despite her rising frustration. "We can talk about this later."
"I think we need to speak about this now, Allura!" he insisted.
She eyed him angrily, barely blinking, refusing to back down. This was exactly why she had decided to keep Lotor on Planet Arus. She caught a glance of Lotor's mocking grin over the Captain's shoulder and felt an overwhelming urge to scream at the both of them.
"In case you have forgotten," she spoke in a short, clipped tone as she turned and headed for the cell door, "I am the Princess, and I say he stays!"
Allura leaned over the edge of the balcony as she gazed up at the bright stars dotting the sky over the castle. The night air was chilly, and if Nanny had been about, she would have been scolding her charge for taking the chance of catching a cold in that loud, abrasive tone of hers. Risk of sniffles of not, the Princess just couldn't stand being inside another minute. She had spent the last few hours pacing her room pondering the events of the day, and she had hoped a change of scenery would help to clear her head. Besides, if she had stayed inside, she would run the risk of running into one of the boys, and she just wasn't up to another conflict.
They were concerned. She was taking a huge chance keeping the Prince at the castle. Allura knew better than anyone how sneaky and underhanded Lotor could be, but regardless, she felt like she was doing the right thing. He was her concern. Zarkon had attacked the planets of the Alliance in an attempt to take over the universe, while his son's attention had mainly been focused on Arus. It only seemed right that he should be tried for his crimes on her planet. If only she could get Keith to listen to reason. Whether the Captain wanted to believe it or not, this was a political matter most definitely not a personal one.
Not a personal matter, that had become her mantra as the memories of her talk with the Prince entered her thoughts time and again. No matter how hard she tried, she just couldn't wipe the image of him lying on the bed wearing only a sheet, his piercing gaze so intensely focused on her. It didn't mean a thing, she insisted stubbornly. He had just caught her off guard. That was all it was. It wasn't like she made a habit of confronting half-naked enemies in their bedchambers every day!
"Sir, you shouldn't go out there!"
The sound of voices and the door to the balcony opening drew the Princess from her thoughts with a jolt. It seemed like a welcome diversion from her wayward thoughts for a moment. Running a trembling hand through her hair, Allura tried to regain her composure before whoever it was could make out her features in the dim light and figure out the reason for her guilty expression.
"Lotor!" she gasped upon seeing the Prince step onto the balcony followed at a distance by two of the Royal Guards. "What do you think you are doing here?"
"Taking a walk," he replied coming to a stop only a few feet before her. His closeness affected her more than any of her previous thoughts. "If you recall, Princess, you did say I could leave my chambers—with an armed escort, of course. It did take quite a bit of arguing to get these dolts to back off a bit. It's not like I'd make it very far in a castle filled with guards, even if I truly wanted to escape."
"And I seem to recall telling you to stay away from me," she snapped, having to crane her neck to look him in the eye. Her anger was quickly forgotten. The moment they made eye contact she began to tremble. It was only because of the chilly night air, she assured herself.
"Actually," Lotor paused to give her a wicked grin, letting her know her reaction had not escaped his attention, "you told me that I wasn't allowed near your chambers. So unless you have taken to sleeping outdoors, I am following your orders perfectly. We simply met by chance, my love."
"Don't call me that!" she growled turning her attention towards the door. "And I was just leaving anyway."
"You don't have to leave on my account." His voice took on a mocking tone as he moved to block her retreat. "Or perhaps, you are just afraid to be alone with me. Not that having those idiotic guards breathing down my neck would really constitute being alone."
"I am far from being afraid of you!" she replied giving him the angriest glare she could manage under the circumstances. "I think we already have proven you aren't really much of a threat. It is simply becoming cold, and I would prefer to go inside."
"I could keep you warm, Allura," he told her softly, catching her slender hand in his before she could make her escape.
The guards took a step forward, but Allura motioned for them to keep their distance—at least, for the moment. She hadn't been looking forward to it, but she had known this confrontation was going to take place at some point in time. She would handle the situation herself. If she didn't, he'd never believe she had no feeling for him.
"You can let go of me," she hissed attempting to pull her fingers from her grasp unsuccessfully. A spark of panic flickered to life in the pit of her stomach, but she forced it to the back of her mind. "Must I remind you that you are a prisoner, Lotor? I did not invite you for a little romantic tryst!"
"Hmmm... Yes, a prisoner," he agreed. His lips curled into a knowing smirk as he leaned in towards her until his face was only a few inches above hers. "A prisoner that should have been shipped off to Galaxy Garrison for trial, but yet I am still here. I wonder, Princess, why is that?"
"Because your crimes are against Planet Arus," she reminded him, cursing herself silent as she did. Why did she have to sound so darned breathless?
"Or perhaps, it's because you wish for me to stay," he suggested. His warm breath fanned over her lips in a gentle caress. The chill she had felt only a moment before became a surge of warmth.
"I only allowed you to stay," Allura snapped, "so that you could be tried here on Arus. Don't flatter yourself into thinking it was anything more. I assure you, you will be returning to the dungeon soon enough."
"And yet, I will still be in the castle." His golden eyes glittered with laughter. Obviously, he was enjoying her discomfort. "Still right where you can find me. I'm sure your precious Captain had noticed your attraction. He doesn't seem particularly happy about it."
"Keith understands you are here for purely political reasons," she replied. It was only a little fib. "And there is no attraction."
"And who are we trying to convince, my love? You deny you feel anything, and yet your every reaction tells me otherwise."
Her mouth fell open, ready to voice yet another denial, only to be cut short when his firm lips pressed against hers. Her large blue eyes grew wider as she struggled to believe he was actually kissing her. She could feel the firm muscles of his chest beneath her palms as Lotor's arms snaked about her waist pulling her in. Somewhere in a very remote corner of her mind she wondered what had become of the guards. A sigh escaped her lips as her eyes fluttered shut and her fingers found their way to his snowy white hair.
"Deny it all you like, Princess," Lotor laughed as the guards roughly pulled him away from her. "I think we both know how you feel."
Allura's fingers flew to her swollen lips as she took a stumbling step backwards. "Take him back to his room," she said as forcefully as she could manage with the sound of the Prince's laughter ringing in her ears. Quickly, she addressed the guards before rushing off the balcony. "If you dare mention this to anyone, you will lose your positions in the castle!"
Allura could feel her heart pounding rapidly as though it would burst from her chest at any moment as she walked through the corridor. She was already late for her morning meeting with Corran, and she had to admit that still didn't make her any more anxious to rush down the hall to the encounter.
Sleep had been impossible. She had tossed and turned all night, so now she could add exhaustion to being complete and utterly confused. Perhaps Keith had been right, and she should have sent the Prince directly to Galaxy Garrison. She still would have been concerned with the prejudices he would have faced there that might have led to an unfair punishment for his crimes, but that guilt would have been nothing in comparison to what she was feeling now.
The whole point of letting him stay there on the balcony with her the evening before had been to prove to him and herself that the was absolutely no emotion involved in her decision the keep him at the castle, and instead of being the steadfast leader of her people, she had turned into a tremble mass in his arms. If only had some redeeming quality, some excuse for what she had felt while his lips has brushed over hers making every cell of her being tingle.
What was she thinking! She mentally scolded herself as the tingling sensation she had experienced the night before returned with full force. There was no excuse for how she felt, and there was no way she could allow it to happen again! So deeply involved with her thoughts, the Princess nearly ran headlong into two maids loitering in the hallway as she rounded the corner.
"Princess!" the blond maid, who looked no more than sixteen, gasped nervously as her eyes darted towards her companion as if deciding whether running might be the best course of action. "Please forgive us! We didn't mean to ignore our duties. We just got so caught up in our conversation... I mean I know that's no excuse either..."
"Please, no need for apologies," Allura sighed. It wasn't like they were the only ones attempting to ignore their duties at the moment. "I really wasn't paying attention either. May I ask what was so engrossing in the first place?"
"Well, um," the redhead's pale cheeks turned a bright shade of crimson as she fidgeted under the Princess's gaze. "We were talking about the Prince, Your Highness."
"Lotor?" she asked as her blue eyes rolled towards the ceiling. Why wasn't it possible for her to pass one minute of her day without him being the focus of it! For a moment, she played with the idea of running away herself, but perhaps hearing what her people felt on the subject might help her decide what she should do about the situation. "And what do you think of the Prince?"
The redhead's cheeks flared a few shades darker as she tried to suppress a giggle behind her fingers. "Well, we were just saying how handsome the Prince is, Your Highness."
"Handsome?" Allura snapped sounding a little harsher than she had intended. "Does the damage he has done to our planet mean nothing to you?"
"Oh no, Highness," the blond replied quickly. "I mean, yes. Yes, it does. I mean it was just an observation. He is quite handsome, even if he is the enemy. If there was some way he would make up for his crimes, of course, he would be a very interesting companion."
"Not to mention the things he could do to a woman," the redhead's eyes sparkled wickedly before the color drained from her face as she remembered who she was speaking to. "Forgive me, Princess. I did not mean to speak out of turn."
"No harm done," she replied with a weak smile. "Now, if you'll excuse me. I am already running late for my meeting."
Allura continued down the hallway not waiting for the girls to reply. Stopping to talk to the two maids had been a mistake. It had done nothing for her peace of mind. If anything, it had only raised more doubts and questions. She had hoped that speaking to her subjects would help remind her that she was dealing with the enemy, but it seemed that they were even more taken with the Prince than she was. Not that she was anywhere near taken with him, mind you, but if only there was something redeemable about him—besides being an incredible kisser. She really didn't see her advisor accepting that as a reasonable excuse for keeping the Prince on Arus. Allura nearly slapped herself for that last thought as she entered the conference room with an extremely guilty look on her face.
"You're late," Corran pointed out as he greeted her sternly from his seat at the large conference table.
"I'm sorry, I overslept," she replied softly as she took her seat at the head of the table. She was relieved to see that the Voltron Force Commander was not present. These early morning meetings were always just between her and Corran to discuss their concerns for Planet Arus, but considering the events of the past few days, she half expected to find Keith in the conference room waiting to confront her the moment she set foot through the door.
"Yes, well, shall we begin the meeting?" Corran replied. His quiet tone letting her know he was well aware of what had kept his Princess from sleeping. "I believe we have quite a bit to discuss about our new prisoner."
"What about him?" she sighed not really ready to discuss the topic, but knowing it was unavoidable.
"I believe it is a mistake to hold the Prince at the castle, Allura," he told her. "It could be dangerous for Arus, not to mention for yourself personally."
Keith may not have been at the meeting, but his opinions definitely were. She had to remind herself that this was Corran. While he held no friendly feelings towards, Lotor, he did not outwardly hate him as Keith had done when he had confronted her. Corran was like a father figure to her. While it would have been nice to have someone on her side, she knew he only spoke out of concern for her. Thankfully, it appeared that the guards had kept heir mouths shut about the incident on the balcony. The situation was uncomfortable enough without having to explain her way out of that.
"Zarkon doesn't care if he's here," she reminded him. "If he attacks Arus, it won't be because his son is being held prisoner here."
Corran could not argue against her statement. Saying that Zarkon and Lotor had a bad father-son relationship was an understatement. They could definitely be the poster boys for family therapy. King Zarkon would not think twice about sacrificing his son if it means finally conquering Planet Arus.
"So, Princess," he asked slowly, "what do you plan to do with the Prince?"
"Well," she paused a moment. She really wasn't sure she had come to a firm decision on that point herself yet. "I believe he will stay here at the castle for the time being, perhaps maybe he could do some sort of community service. He could help repair some of the damages he has caused."
"Allura, do you really think that is wise?" Corran cut in, his eyes wide with surprise at her suggestion.
"Locking him up in the bowels of the castle would teach him nothing. Frankly, it is something his father would do," she replied. "At least he would be earning his keep." And keeping busy and away from me, she added silently.Fin.