The room was small, a cot and a toilet crowded into the limited space, with only a foot to separate the two from each other. Lotor supposed he should be grateful for the luxuries, the prince knowing that if he had been imprisoned back on planet Doom, his cell would have been empty save for the chains. And though the prison in the Castle of Lions was a far call from the dank and dirty dungeons of Castle Doom, they shared one thing in common. The sheer and utterly hopelessness of one’s situation.
It was a feeling Lotor was unfamiliar with, agitation gnawing at his insides as he glared at the bars of his cell. Those thin tubes were glowing, a harsh green color that hinted at the flow of energy that kept anyone from getting in or out of the cell. The green was the only hint of color in an otherwise drab room, Lotor having grown to hate the sight of dark gray.
There were no windows in the cell, Lotor willing to bet a great sum of money that the dungeons were located beneath the main floor of the castle. He felt as though he had been left to slowly rot underground, the air stale and recycled, making him miss the fresh breezes that blew on the surface of Arus. It was not just the outside he missed, but freedom itself, Lotor finding there wasn’t even room to pace properly in his cell.
He could hardly sit still, hands making fists again and again as he fought the urge to scream and snarl like a madman. It had been too long since he had been put in this room, too long since they had taken Allura from him. They had spirited her away, leaving him with no clue as to what her current condition was. He spent the days tense, finding the passage of time was moving agonizingly slow.
The only thing that kept Lotor from losing it completely was the thought that she had to still be alive. He was certain if the princess had passed away, someone, Keith most likely, would have been by to scream accusations at him. He wouldn’t be surprised if they came and shot him dead in this cell, Lotor knowing there would be no one to stop them if Allura died.
They hadn’t bothered much with him since sticking him down here, Lotor left to be forgotten as they did God only knows what to save the princess’ life. Not one of the members of the Voltron force had been by to see him, not even the smart mouthed Lance. Perhaps the pilot had had enough of him on the trip back to the castle, Lotor riding in red lion with his hands bound by steel cords, locked into place behind his back.
He had almost begged them when they took Allura from him, he could remember the growl he let out when they pulled her from his arms. She had been left to the care of the pilot of green lion, Pidge flying back ahead of the others to reach the castle first. Hunk had to remain restraining Keith, the captain still determined to attack Lotor. The prince hadn’t helped matters with his smirks and snide comments, further agitating the Voltron force captain.
Only the threat of being gagged had stilled Lotor’s tongue, the prince not wanting to suffer the indignity of being rendered speechless. He had been almost quiet as he sat in the rear of red lion’s cockpit, Lotor looking around in interest. It was the first time he had been inside a lion, first time he had experienced it’s awe inspiring speed firsthand. And yet he couldn’t enjoy it, not when concern for Allura worried at his every thought.
His hands formed helpless fists, Lotor recalling how pale her skin had looked, and how weak her heart beat had been. He still felt shocked that she had jumped in front of him, hurling her body forward to protect him from Keith’s blast. It was in that instant that he realized the truth, that her greatest lie hadn’t been that she loved him, but that she was in love with Keith.
He regretted much of what he had done to Allura in his jealous rage, Lotor wishing for a chance to make it up to her. He’d spend his whole life making amends if that is what it took, Lotor not wanting to think on what would happen if she didn’t recover. He bit back a sigh, whispering her name, hearing footsteps approaching his cell. He sat down on the cot, a glower twisting his face as he thought it was about time someone come to check on him.
How long had it been since they last fed him? More than a day, he knew that much. It annoyed him, even as he turned his nose up at the slop they called food, Lotor eating sparingly for fear that it would be drugged or poisoned. What sleep he could attain was light, Lotor keeping alert in case someone made an attempt on his life during the night.
The footsteps stopped, Lotor glancing towards the bars, surprised when he saw two pair of feet standing there. One was bare, Lotor following the feet up a pair of shapely legs, seeing them stick out from beneath a short and ugly hospital gown. “Allura!” Lotor rose to his feet, relief in his eyes as he looked her over. She still looked pale, and her hair had been braided back, not a strand of hair out of place.
Next to her was a nervous looking guard, the same oaf who had disdainfully thrown the tray of food at Lotor. He kept a wary eye on the prince, but spoke to the princess, words laced with anxiety.
“Are you sure about this your highness?”
“Yes, positive.” Allura said, never taking her eyes off of Lotor. She wasn’t smiling, but her eyes were warm, unable to hide the great deal of emotion she felt for him. “Open the cell.”
“I…I don’t know…” The guard said, not moving a muscle. “Maybe we should speak to Captain Keith about this. I mean, this…this Drule is dangerous.”
“He won’t hurt me.” Allura said, tone confidant. “As for the captain, his opinion is neither needed nor wanted. Now do as I command and open the cell!” He was shaking his head no, and Allura turned to glare at him. “Are you refusing to obey a royal command?! I could have you stripped of your post, and tossed into a cell next to this man’s!”
“Your highness, no!”
“That will be your fate unless you do as I command!” Lotor wanted to cheer, watching his princess throw her weight around. He settled for a smirk, seeing the angry way the guard glared back at him. But he moved all the same, resentment coloring his every action as he went to switch off the energy bars.
Lotor had grown used to the humming noise the cell bars made, the silence that followed the powering down of the energy was a stark contrast. The guard moved to open the cell door, and Allura gestured for him to step inside. “Now remove your clothing.”
The guard was startled, turning from Lotor to flash a surprised look at Allura. “I beg your pardon?”
“Your clothing. Remove it.” Allura said, a hint of impatience shown in her angry gesture.
“You heard the princess.” Lotor’s smirk widened, seeing the guard turn around to glare at him. “Or do you require further assistance?”
“No need.” The guard began unbuttoning his shirt, Allura nodding in approval. “The gun holster too.” His hands dropped to the belt, unbuckling it and handing it over, weapon and all to Allura. Lotor couldn’t see the man’s face, but he was sure he was blushing, the guard humiliated by his princess’ commands.
Allura waited until the guard was down to his under shirt and boxers, and then she drew the laser pistol, taking aim at the shivering guard. “Forgive me.” She said, the man’s voice rising in alarm.
The blast hit him square in the chest, the man staggering backwards. Lotor effortlessly caught him, and lowered him down onto the cot. “That was surprisingly ruthless of you.”
“It’s a stun blast on the medium setting.” Allura explained. “He’ll come away from this with nothing worse than a migraine.”
“And what was the point of all this?” Lotor asked, and now he saw Allura smile.
“I want you to change clothing with him.” Lotor’s brow furrowed, and Allura sighed. “There’s no time to discuss things, please do as I say.”
“All right.” Lotor began undressing, hurriedly stripping off his clothes. He pulled on the guard’s pants, finding it was a snug fit, he could barely get them zipped up. He suffered the same problem with the shirt, buttons straining, ready to pop free.
“Don’t forget his helmet.” Allura said, her words having him bend over the unconscious man. “You can hide your hair under it…And the visor will help hide your face. With the gloves on, no one will be able to tell your skin color unless they look closely at you.”
Lotor tucked his long mane under the helmet, pulling down the translucent visor, seeing the world tinged purple. “Perfect.” Allura smiled, and gestured for him to step out of the cell. “Don’t try and touch me just yet. There are cameras down here.”
“And we wouldn’t want a display of affection caught on film?” Lotor wondered out loud.
Allura locked the cell door, then turned the energy bars on, her pale features lit up by the green glow. “No, we don’t. I don’t want to rouse anymore suspicion.”
“I take it I am not about to become a welcome guest of the castle?” He asked, and she sighed.
“No….I wouldn’t be able to pull off that command. They’d lock me away for sure, thinking I’ve gone mad.” Allura looked dejected. “Keith thinks I am sick in the head for loving you.”
“You told him?” He felt pleased, even as he felt anger that Keith had questioned his beloved’s mental faculties. She nodded, gesturing for him to follow her.
“Yes. He didn’t take it well. At this moment he is off getting a priest to perform a marriage ceremony for us.” She snorted, disgusted. “As if I would ever marry him after all that has happened.”
“Ah. So…” Lotor tried to keep his tone causal as they walked down the hall, passing by the empty cells. “What are you planning to do? About us I mean?”
Allura glanced at him, another smile lighting her face. “I plan to be with you. But before that can happen, I have to get you to safety.” She opened the door that led to the staircase that led up out of the dungeon, Lotor following her.
“Safety?” He asked. “Is there any such place for me here on Arus?”
“There’s a few spots.” Allura said.
“When you say you want to be with me. What does that mean?” Lotor questioned.
“It means everything. I’ll go with you anywhere, even if our path leads to planet Doom. Just so long as I can be with you, I’ll be happy.”
“You wouldn’t say that if you knew what Doom was really like.” Lotor’s tone was grim. “It’s not like Arus, there’s no sunlight, no flowers, no endless fields of green. You’d wither away on the planet, die of depression in such harsh surroundings.”
“I’ll die without you in my life.” Allura retorted, clearing the final step.
“And the people are even worse.” Lotor continued, ignoring that remark of hers. “They’ll eat you alive Allura!”
“I’ll manage somehow.” She said, and they began walking through another hallway, passing by other people in the corridor. They barely looked at Lotor, too surprised to see their disheveled princess prancing about in nothing more than a flimsy hospital gown.
“You shouldn’t have to manage!” Lotor hissed in a whisper, Allura turning to look at him, eyes wide.
“We can’t stay on Arus. They’d never allow you to be here.”
“You’re their ruler, shouldn’t your word be absolute law?” Lotor demanded, surprised when she shook her head, eyes showing her supreme frustration.
“You don’t know what they’re like.” Her mouth was an unhappy frown, Allura resuming walking. “Keith…the boys…my advisor, even my nanny, they never listen to me. They make choices for me, decide my path in life. If I try to do something they disapprove of, they overrule me. They wouldn’t hesitate to disobey me if it came down to preventing us from being together.”
“How horrible it must have been for you.” Lotor said, tone sympathetic. Right now he wanted to wrap his arms around her and chase away the sadness in her voice.
“I’m used to it.”
“You shouldn’t have had to get used to it!” Lotor retorted. “Allura, I promise with me, I’ll always listen to what you have to say. I won’t just make decisions for you without consulting you first.”
“Thank you.” A wistful smile on her lips, Lotor wondering if Allura doubted what he said. “We’ll have much to discuss…later…” She stopped at a door, and looked around, as though making sure no one was paying attention to them. There was only a maid in this part of the castle, and she had her back to the royal pair, scrubbing at a window.
Lotor followed Allura into the room, seeing it was furnished elegantly, designed to be a room where one sat and took tea with one’s friends. For one brief instant he felt wistful, knowing he would never get to explore her home, never get a chance for Allura to show him the many sights of Arus.
“Watch and learn one of the many secrets of the castle.” Her words were mysterious, Lotor watching as she walked over to the fireplace, her hand tapping at the wall it was built into. He heard a hollow sound, Lotor taking a step towards Allura.
“It’s a secret passage.” Allura said, and triggered it’s opening by pushing on one of the bricks of the fireplace. The wall pulled back, opening soundlessly to reveal a darkened corridor. “Here…” A torch was thrust into his face, unlit for the moment. “Use this to navigate the pathways.”
“Pathways?” Lotor set the torch on fire, listening to the flames crackle. “As in more than one?”
“Yes. You’ll have to be careful. Follow only this one, go straight ahead as far as you can, and when the road splits in two, go to the left. It will leads you to some stairs.” She gestured for him to step inside. “The stairs lead to another corridor, and at it’s end the wall will open up to a room long since abandoned by the staff. Wait for me there.”
“What will you do in the meantime?” Lotor asked, hesitating at the edge of the passageway. She looked resigned, doing that nervous habit of hers, her poor lip being chewed to bits.
“I will have to face Keith and the others. I will put on my greatest performance yet….” She didn’t quite smirk, but Lotor could tell she was amused. “And convince them that you are gone from the castle. I’ll have to lie, and make things up, but no matter what, I will return to you. Do you trust me?”
He looked her in the eyes, and did a slow nod of his head. “Yes. Of course I do.” A relieved smile from Allura, the girl risking a quick touch of his hand. “Go now Lotor…and no matter what, don’t leave that room.”
“All right.” Lotor stepped deeper into the darkened corridor, turning to watch as Allura closed the passageway’s entrance. His last sight was of her smiling, before he was left all alone in the dimly lit darkness. He sighed and began walking, knowing his torch couldn’t stay lit indefinitely ~Good luck Allura.~ Lotor thought, wishing he could be there to lend her support as she faced down Keith and the others. ~You’ll need it.~