Attraction 76

The first snowfall of winter had come and gone, blanketing the landscape in never ending white. The frost had killed off all of her garden’s flowers, leaving it as bereft as her heart currently felt. Her husband Lotor, had been gone for months, Allura counting off the days to eighty-five in total.

Eight five days, and each one seemed to drag on, an endless torment as she tried to go on living. As draining of her energies as her days were, the nights were even worse, Allura hating to return to her bedroom and empty bed. She had grown used to sleeping in Lotor’s arms, spoiled by his comforting presence, and the warmth of his body. Nothing could replace him by her side, not even the biggest stuffed animal that she clutched in times of need.

Her days were filled with worry, but could not compare to the fears that plagued her during the night. At least during the day she had other people around her, friends and servants trying to distract her with their antics, Coran bringing paperwork to her so that Allura could throw herself into the work. She feared she was making a lot of mistakes, but Coran was there to go over her dealings with a fine comb, making sure Allura did not mess up anything too badly.

The new orphanage she had wanted for so long, was finally getting ready to be built. The funding was all in place, and the construction only waited on the spring thaw, for the ground was too frozen to dig into. The snow stopped much from being accomplished, other buildings being delayed, and the only farming that was being done was inside Altea’s greenhouses.

Allura could have gone to visit the farmers, in fact she had been strongly encouraged to do just that, Coran figuring she might be cheered by a change in surroundings. But Allura could barely muster up the energy to leave her bedroom, the girl staying secloistered inside the castle of lions. She sometimes wondered if she would ever leave, the girl waiting for something, waiting for her husband to return.

Her subjects came to visit her, bringing with them their concerns, and attempts at cheering their princess up. She often met and dined with the families of the Arusian soldiers who had gone off to fight in the war against Zarkon. Those times had her experiencing mixed feelings, because while the talks could be pleasant, other times they were stressful. Especially when the families shared the same concerns Allura had, fearing for the safety of their loved ones.

Even worse was when word came that a soldier had been killed in the line of duty, Allura being present for the sorrow the family expressed. It was cold comfort to them to receive medals of honor and pensions earned from their work in the battlefield. She often broke down and cried with the survivors, and that made her feel ill, Allura knowing she was weeping more for the danger Lotor was in, than any sorrow she felt for the soldiers that had been killed.

Reports came in several times a day, the soldiers keeping the people of the castle up to date on the current state of the war. Allura always tried to be present for those communications, and her heart always seemed to stop as they read off the damages done to their ships, and the lives lost. She kept fearing that one day it would be Lotor’s flag ship that was bombed, destroyed in an instant by lasers, the soldiers carrying on bravely without their leader.

Somehow she had endured this fear for eighty-five days, and it had yet to come true. It still didn’t leave her room to relax, Allura saying nightly prayers for Lotor and his soldiers. Lotor himself also contacted Allura privately, sharing a few minutes a day with her. It was never enough time, the two staring at each other via the view screens, separated by thousands of light years.

Sometimes they did nothing but look at each other, the pair just enjoying the sight of one another. But her keen eyes looked past the joy she felt in seeing him, to note the changes in his appearance. He often appeared haggard, expression distracted. Lotor appeared to be losing weight, and no matter how often Allura reminded him to eat, he seemed not to be gaining any weight. It made her worry, the girl fearing he was succumbing to heart sickness, Allura never realizing that she too was losing weight, and becoming far too pale from her time spent hiding indoors.

Her cousin Romelle, who absolutely hated the winter weather, had made it her active mission to try and coax Allura outside. It was almost annoying, Romelle’s attempts to entice her, leaving Allura to wish she had returned to her own kingdom with Sabbath after all. She knew her cousin meant well, and knew that if the situation had been reversed, she would have been working overtime to cheer Romelle up and get her to go outside.

Part of her wondered if she was envious of her cousin, of the fact that her mate had been allowed to stay behind on Arus. Lotor was the only mated Drule to have gone off to fight a war, Cossack returning to Amazonia with his mate Milleenia. None of the other Drules who had arrived to fight in Lotor’s name had been mated, although support from mated Drules had come in the form of money and goods, and offering up their unmated sons as warriors for the cause.

From what little she knew about the circumstances on Doom, it was a world divided, and all because of their king’s handling of the mating bond. What the Drules had been willing to tolerate as talk, they could not abide when that hatred spurred such horrific actions. A good portion of the population of Drules were horrified and disgusted by Zarkon’s attempts to kill his own son’s mate, not many wanted to be ruled by a curmudgeon of a king who would destroy love and his son in the process.

There was of course those who thought like the King, Drules that had for whatever reason given up on love. Perhaps they had grown bitter as the years sped by, their mates going unfound. Perhaps they didn’t like the changes that came over a Drule that was mated, agreeing with the King that a love driven Drule made for a weak, useless

Whatever the case, Zarkon had his own army, enough ships to be a force that could contend with Lotor’s. The two military mights had met at an even distance between both worlds, Zarkon’s armada flying at top speed in an attempt to reach Arus. Lotor’s armada had left almost too late, if they had delayed even two more days, Zarkon would have reached Arus, and forced them to fight over the planet.

Instead they battled in space, and some of the lights of their lasers and photon beams were rumored to be seen on the planets around them, people spying the light show through high powered telescopes. Much wreckage lay floating in space, they would remain there for salvage crews, or until they floated into the orbit of a planet, and were dragged down by the world’s gravity.

The battle waged consistently, every minute devoted to fighting, each side trying to press forward. Amazingly enough, after a month and a half’s time, Lotor’s armada gained enough ground to have Zarkon’s forces on the run, the ships beginning a slow retreat to Doom. Lotor’s ships nipped at their heels, lasers shooting, disabling ships, or outright destroying them.

It proved too soon to be a decisive victory, for when they got closer to Doom, new ships joined them, Zarkon mustering reinforcements he had called back from other worlds. They dealt enough blows to have Lotor lose ships and good men and women, the people dying deaths they did not deserve. And still they pushed onwards, keeping Zarkon’s forces from getting past them, leaving Arus relatively untouched from the fighting.

But not from the results, not with all the deaths being reported. To take their minds off the sadness of the situation, the people of Arus began assembling care packages to send to their soldiers, wanting to remind them they were thought of and prayed for. This kindness did not extend just to the human soldiers, Allura was proud that many of her people sent packages to cheer up the Drules as well.

In fact, Gloria and her friends took up writing letters to the Drules, forming new friendships and flirtations. She knew that some, like Gloria, longed for a Drule lover of their own, and she wondered if anything would come of those flirtations. Allura didn’t know if she should try to warn them off flirting with the Drules, the men certainly wouldn’t mind the charm and comfort of an Arusian girl, but she knew the only permanent commitment they could offer was to the women that would prove to be their destined mates.

They might not even survive the war to find those mates, or to meet her friends in person. Allura sighed, leaning back in her chair, her face troubled by all she was thinking. She wondered how much longer this war would last, and feared they were only at the halfway point. Zarkon was sure to have ground forces on the planet, all ready to fight and prevent Lotor from taking the castle.

“Such a troublesome tyrant…” Allura muttered to herself, even as she knew that Zarkon had been the common enemy that had brought Lotor and her together. She didn’t even want to think what might have happened if they hadn’t teamed up against the King, Allura fearing she’d be living a loveless life without her husband. Such a thought made her tear up, Allura sniffling as she thought how she might still face a life without Lotor.

It was times like these she regretted fighting him for so long. She felt it unfair that they had had only a handful of months to be together, and she did indeed feel foolish when she looked back on all the difficulties and anguish she had caused Lotor.

She was still sniffling, tears trailing down her cheeks when a knock sounded on the room’s door. The person on the other side wasn’t waiting for her permission to answer, the knob already rattling as it was turned. Allura knew it could be only one of two persons who would dare barge in on her, the princess hurriedly wiping away her tears.

Sure enough, the open doorway revealed her cousin Romelle, the girl dressed far too warmly for the castle’s core temperature. In her hands was a magazine, one which Allura eyed with an inwards groan. She could tell by the woman on the cover, that it was a bridal magazine, Allura realizing that today’s distraction would be focused on her helping to plan Romelle’s wedding.

It was a recent thing, this urge of Romelle’s, to have an Arusian ceremony for her and Sabbath. She had yet to receive permission from her father, the King seeming to hope that if he ignored what he saw as a problem, Romelle would give up on such things. Romelle’s father was a strange one, waffling in indecision, one minute liking Sabbath, and the next growing angry that his daughter’s choice in husbands was not one he would have picked for her. Allura sometimes wondered what would have happened if Romelle and Sabbath had returned with the king to their kingdom, if Sabbath and Avok wouldn’t have attempted to kill each other, goaded on by her uncle.

“Allura..I think I’ve narrowed it down to five dresses!” Romelle was saying, opening the magazine to a book marked page. Allura tried to put polite interest on her face, the magazine being thrust before her. Romelle stared down at her expectantly, Allura looking at the dress she pointed at.

“It’s very nice.” She said truthfully, Romelle flipping to another page to show her yet another dress. This one too earned the very nice comment, and so did the third, and the fourth, Allura unable to muster up more enthusiasm than that.

“Are you even looking at them Allura!?” A visibly frustrated Romelle asked, and then sighed at Allura’s response.

“I am. They’re all quite lovely. You’ll look beautiful no matter which one you choose.”

“That’s the problem. I can’t decide on which one. I was hoping you’d be able to give me some help in this matter.” Romelle took the magazine back, and plopped down into the chair near Allura’s. “I bet Sabbath’s not having this much trouble choosing what to wear.”

“Truthfully I think Sabbath couldn’t care less about the details, so long as he gets to be with you.” Answered Allura, and Romelle grinned. It was the look of love on her cousin’s face, one she wore often, whether she was with Sabbath, or merely thinking about him. It was almost enough to make Allura sick with envy, the girl wishing she had Lotor around to fawn and coo over.

“True.” Agreed Romelle, flipping through the magazine. “But I know he’s anxious to have our mating be acknowledge by my father. And our people need this, need this official ceremony to better accept the match I have made. Oh, this looks yummy…” She had found the section with cakes, elaboration concoctions, some of which stood about six feet high.

“They won’t be half as good as the cake Nanny prepared for my wedding to Lotor.” Allura said, then winced. Nanny was still being sedated, the woman could hardly speak to Romelle without getting upset. She knew it was a sore point with her cousin, the girl wishing for Nanny’s approval. “Forget I said anything.” Allura muttered an apology, and tried her best to be interested in the magazine. “I’m sure we can find lots of ways to spend more of your father’s fortune!”

Romelle’s eyes twinkled at that, the princess seeming determined to spend several fortunes worth on the noteworthy event that would be her wedding to Sabbath. Together, the two princesses began going through the magazine, Allura slowly but surely becoming distracted from her own grief and worry. She wasn’t quite able to relax enough to laugh, but she did find herself caring about the details of Romelle’s dream wedding.

“I’m thinking a summer wedding would be best.” Romelle was saying, flipping back to the page with the wedding gowns. “There’s really not enough time to get everything ready for a spring wedding…”

“If you’re going to get married in the summer, then that leaves out this dress.” Allura tapped a finger on the page of the winter like gown, with it’s heavy velvet train, and long puffy sleeves. It was the kind of gown Romelle would melt in during the warmer months, and it helped them narrow down the choices to four dresses in all.

Romelle stared at the winter gown a moment longer, a wistful look in her eyes. “We could always wait until next year…” began Allura, and Romelle quickly shook her head no.

“I want to be married to him as soon as it’s possible to get this wedding set into motion! I want everything perfect, and I want everyone to recognize him as mine under our planet’s laws.”

“I can understand that.” Allura said. “Have you given much thought to where you’ll live?” Romelle hesitated, and Allura quickly reminded her of her earlier offer. “You and Sabbath are welcome to stay in the castle of lions for as long as you like.”

“Thank you. I know my father would like me to live closer to home, but I don’t know if that’s wise…” Romelle sighed. “I’m really not sure where would be a good fit for Sabbath and me….”

“You’ll figure it out, I know you will.” Assured Allura with a slight smile. Romelle just nodded, paging absently through the magazine. A knock sounded on the door, this person waiting for permission. Allura knew then it couldn’t be Nanny, and when Romelle called out, Sabbath walked in, the girl lighting up with a dazzling smile. She was dropping the magazine to bound over to him, throwing her arms around him as she went up on tip toe.

Allura could only watch with a bland smile on her face, waiting for the two love birds to stop their display of affection. Romelle was an able bodied distraction for Sabbath, his eyes twinkled, and he held her close to him, inhaling her scent. He almost seemed to forget why he had sought Allura out, and it wasn’t until she began to clear her throat none too subtly, that he drew back from his mate.

“Princess Allura…” Sabbath tried for a more serious expression, which had Allura sitting up straighter.

“What is it? What’s happening?!”

“I do not mean to cause alarm. Your husband, my prince has contacted the castle. He’s awaiting the chance to speak with you.” Sabbath explained, and Allura felt warm with pleasure.

“Is the call ready to be transferred here?” She was standing, looking for the remote to the room’s view screen.

“Yes.” Nodded Sabbath. “The control room only awaits your command to do so.”

“All right.” Allura had found the remote, pressing the right sequence of buttons to get the view screen to lower from the ceiling. Sabbath and Romelle bid her good-bye, quick to understand her need for privacy with her husband. She was barely aware of their exit, the door clicking close behind them as she waited impatiently for the call to be transferred.

And then he was before her, Lotor clad in a clean uniform of gray and navy blue colors. The uniforms had been chosen to easily separate them from Zarkon’s soldiers, for when they would be fighting each other on the ground. Allura thought he’d look good no matter what he wore, even if the clothes seemed to be bagging slightly on his thin form.

“Lotor!” She exclaimed, stepping closer to the screen. If she could, she would have walked through it, all in an attempt to be by his side. “I’ve missed you!”

“I’ve missed you too love.” He rumbled back in that seductive tone that was reserved for her and her alone. “You’re looking well.” His eyes traveled over her, pleasure coating his features to see her.

She blushed, resisting the urge to strike a more flattering pose. “Liar.” She chided, hand going up to pat her unruly bun. “I’m hardly at my best, and my hair’s a mess.”

“Trust me to be truthful when I say you could be covered in soot and wear rags as a gown, and you would still be stunning in my eyes.” Lotor told her, and she knew he was sincere.

“Thank you…” She stammered, bringing her hands together to play with her fingers nervously. She didn’t ask him how the war was going, she already knew from the day’s reports. Allura also wanted to be a haven for Lotor, the one moment in his days where he could think and talk about something that had nothing to do with the fighting going on around him.

“Are you eating?” Allura asked, gazing with some concern at her husband. He really was losing weight, it was alarming how noticeable his new thinness was.

“I’m managing.” Lotor evaded her question, then grimaced. “The food is nothing to compare with the meals Nanny over saw at the castle.”

“I’ll bet.” Allura agreed, knowing soldiers did not know much about cooking elaborate meals. “You must hurry and end this war, so you can feast on a home cooked meal made with Nanny’s hands.”

“How is the old girl?” Lotor asked, and Allura shrugged.

“She’s hanging in there. I’m sure Coran is still drugging her tea. She’s been pretty quiet. Or maybe that’s just relief to see the Drules gone from the castle. Who knows with Nanny.”

“I actually almost miss her mouth and her temper.” Lotor chuckled then. “I’d much rather be there on Arus to endure one of her naggings, then to be out in space, fighting for my life.”

“You’ll get that chance, I’m sure.” Allura said, and fought not to start crying. She knew it would do no good, and that her tears would only upset Lotor. The pain he wore when she cried would only make her cry all the harder, and the two would become absolutely miserable in trying to console one another. “You’ll beat your father, and then we’ll get to have a million chances to do all the things we haven’t been able to do these past few months.”

“I want to hold you in my arms again.” He told her, eyes holding a heated look to them. “I dream about the day I can step off this ship, and be welcomed back home by

“You’ll get that chance, I know you will!” Allura said, voice catching on the sob that wanted to come out. “Your return will be heralded, celebrated by all on Arus and Doom. You’ll be a hero a second time over…”

“The only one I want to celebrate is with you.” He replied, and actually took a step closer to his view screen. “Allura I…” The screen flickered, his image wavering. Allura’s eyes widened for this had never happened with any of their communications before. Lotor looked just as startled, he started to say something, and then an explosion was heard. It sounded just seconds before the transmission was abruptly cut off, Allura not knowing what to make of it.

She was immediately on the line with the control room, demanding answers. None could be given to her, even when she turned frantic, remembering the explosion she had heard. “Something’s wrong!” She cried out in a panic, Allura twisting her fingers in her agitation. “I shouldn’t have been able to hear that….that sound must have meant someone scored a direct hit on his ship!”

Before she could stop herself, the tears were falling, Coran appearing on the view screen. His grave expression did nothing to calm her down, Allura starting to weep uncontrollably. “Coran! Please! Tell me what’s going on?!”

“We’re trying to find out princess…” Coran said, and she could see and hear the technicians in the room with him. Their voices sounded frantic as they tried to get in contact with Lotor’s ships.

“Oh God, it’s Doom isn’t it?! They’d taken him down!” Allura cried out, panicking.

“It will do no good to speculate like this!” Coran told her, and she shook her head, breathing funny. “Allura? Please….calm down…”

“The Voltron force!” She managed to gasp out, hand pressed over her chest as she took in wheezing gasps of air. “You must release them from their duty! The Voltron Force must fly to Lotor’s aide immediately!”

“They’re needed on Arus!” Coran protested. “Should an attack come from Zarkon, they will be needed to fight him off.”

“I don’t…” She was grateful she choked then, Allura had been about to say she didn’t give a damn about Arus. Not with Lotor in danger, his state of being unknown. “Coran please…”

“Allura no, we must keep a calm head about this.” Her advisor said. “Prince Lotor knew the risks when he decided to fight in this war. He even made me promise not to let you send away all of our defense to aid him.”

“He what?!” She wheezed out in disbelief, almost gagging at that point.

“It’s the truth.” Coran insisted, and then was heard shouting for someone to go to Allura’s side, and take care of her. She barely heard him, she was already falling to her knees, unable to get enough air, and feeling as though someone had punched her in the stomach. With her husband on her mind, she passed out, tears streaking across her face.

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