Duty 18

Her feet were dragging, Allura’s steps slow and exaggerated. She hadn’t wanted to move, hadn’t want to follow Lotor into the house. Not even for the slight protection against the elements the house would offer her, Allura thinking she would rather freeze to death then go to bed with Prince Lotor. And she had come close, her teeth still chattering even minutes later. The fire hadn’t been enough to stave away the night’s shocking cold, not when she was garbed in so thin a summer dress. Allura wouldn’t be surprised if her skin had turned blue from the chill she had gotten, and she tried to ignore how warm Lotor’s hand felt on her own.

That hand of his, had a firm unyielding grip on her own. Lotor wasn’t taking no for an answer, marching determinedly up the rickety stair case. Allura had no choice but to trail after him, trying to adjust her steps to keep up with Lotor’s quick ones. She wondered if he hurried because he was THAT eager, that hungry to bed her. Such a thought didn’t do anything to make Allura feel better, the girl trembling harder from fear than the cold she still felt.

They reached the landing of the empty third floor. Most of the Drules had remained outside, even with the colder temperatures. Soon enough even the Drules wouldn’t be able to tolerate the chill, and then they would retire. Some to the cottages, most to the mansion. They wouldn’t even care to investigate if she screamed, Allura taking in a gasping breath as she tried not to let her imagination get the worst of her.

Still she half stumbled when Lotor began walking towards the master bedroom. He’d actually turn in concern, putting out a hand to catch her. She stiffened at that new touch, Lotor drawing her against him. This close, she could smell the faint scent of the beers he had drunk. Even one beer was too much, Allura fearing the alcohol would make Lotor behave even worse to her.

Lotor didn’t say anything, just keeping his arm around her. She realized then, he was taking advantage of their closeness to breath in her scent. It seemed to make him smile, Lotor losing some of his own tension. A tension she hadn’t even realized he was filled with until the prince had relaxed just then. Allura didn’t know the reason for his tension except to think he was still upset about their earlier conversation. Allura didn’t regret one thing she had said, and still wanted to know just what Prince Lotor thought he was doing in running away from his own Empire.

“Lotor…” Allura began, positive she could distract him from holding her by bringing up that which he found unpleasant. “Why are you doing this?” Before he could pretend to misunderstand her, she continued. “Why are you running away? What possible reason could you have to want to leave everything behind?!”

Abruptly he stepped back from her. His smile had faded, gone in an instant. He stared at her a moment, and then Lotor was moving, dragging Allura forward by her hand. Allura held in her sigh, and bit out angrily, “I have a right to know!”

And still he said nothing! She wondered then if Lotor thought she had no rights left. Certainly no rights to the information she wanted, and maybe no rights over what would happen inside the bedroom. She felt the familiar panic flare up inside her, Allura opening her mouth to try and draw in more air. She knew from experience, she’d start to hyperventilate if she focused on the fear, and yet it was so hard not to!

Every step was a reluctant one, and the journey down the hall to the bedroom was a journey far too short. In no time at all, Lotor was opening the bedroom door. She breathed harder for relief, stumbling again as she crossed the threshold of the room. It was dark in here, the lanterns not being able to provide enough light to illuminate things clearly. But she could still see the bed, looming large and frightening against one wall.

Lotor had let go of her hand, though Allura hadn’t realized that until the door close shut behind her. She turned, just in time to see Lotor pocket a key, and then her fear and paranoia took over. “You locked the door!” Allura exclaimed, her voice ripe with accusation. “Why did you do that?” But she already knew why, Allura half babbling, part pleading, part demanding. “Open it! Open it right now Lotor!”

“Allura…”

“There’s nowhere for me to go!” She continued over him. “Even if I leave this room, where would I flee to? How would I get away, with no money and Drules everywhere I turn?!”

“You’re a very resourceful woman.” Lotor told her. “You’re capable of many things…”

“‘But even I am not able to do the impossible!” Allura exclaimed. When Lotor stepped towards her, she ran from him. Actually cowered, and fled towards one of the room’s two windows. She dramatically drew back the curtains, the bars on the windows revealed. “Why are there bars on the window!? Why? Why are you trying so hard to keep me in?!”

“They weren’t put there for you.” Lotor answered, and it was too dark for her to make out his expression from this far away.

“They’re to keep something out?!” Even in her fear, she was surprised.

“There’s no predators here on the estate.” Lotor quickly assured her. “Those bars were put up roughly fifty years ago. It has nothing to do with you.”

“I don’t understand…” Allura shook her head, letting go of the curtains. “I’ve seen other rooms…they too had bars on the windows…”

“A great many things happened at this house.” Lotor told her. “Many…things people would try to escape from. It was out of necessity that Zarkon had the windows barred. And that’s all I will say on that.”

She frowned at him, trying not to let her overactive imagination think on Zarkon’s reasons. It didn’t stop her from thinking people would rather risk breaking a limb by jumping out the windows, then suffer whatever it had been that Zarkon had done to the people of Simestia.

“Your father is a horrible man.” She said out loud. “But then I already knew that.”

“I think you don’t know even the half of it.” He muttered it, Allura straining to make out the words. She was surprised then, staring at him.

“Just what did he do?” She asked. “What did he do that even you find objectionable.”

“There’s very little he does that I approve of.” Lotor retorted, sounding tired then. “I’d be hard pressed to name them.”

“This isn’t the first time you’ve alluded to disagreeing with your father’s ways.” Allura pointed out. “Wasn’t it you, yourself who called him evil?”

“I also said there was no stopping his brand of evil.” Lotor reminded her.

“And you know I don’t believe that.” Allura told him. Her fear hadn’t left her, but it receded part ways so long as Lotor stayed away from her. So long as they kept talking about anything but sleeping together.

“You believe in a lot of things.” Lotor noted. “But not everything you believe in is real, is possible. You can’t stop an evil like Zarkon. I’ve witnessed countless people who have tried, and died screaming for their efforts.”

“Okay fine. Zarkon aside, what about you?”

“Me?” Lotor sounded puzzled now.

“I’ve heard a lot of things about you. Is it true?” She asked.

“Well obviously not.” Lotor retorted in a sardonic tone of voice. I can’t both be the monster you fear, and the kind hearted champion of the Drule, can I?”

She didn’t try to deny that fear. Both she and Lotor knew of it, Allura’s panicked reactions to him too strong. “Can’t you be?” Allura asked, her voice more uncertain than she would have liked. “I mean, it’s not as if you don’t go out and invade worlds. You’ve conquered people at your father’s request, and I haven’t heard you do anything to try and make things better for them. Only for the Drules. Only for your own kind.”

“I believe I already explained that. Zarkon would never tolerate me helping those that he deemed our enemy.” He sighed then. “And Doom has so many. Far more people than I could ever help. I was run ragged just trying to take care of my own people, not to mention keeping Arus safe.”

“Safe?” She let her disbelief fill her eyes and her voice. “You call the constant attacks keeping Arus safe?”

“Arus never fell to Doom, did it?” Lotor questioned sharply.

“That was thanks to the Voltron Force’s efforts!” Allura snapped.

“Not even the Voltron Force’s luck is THAT good.” Lotor retorted. “Believe me Allura, when I say if not for me, eventually even the mighty Voltron would have fallen. And if you had not died instantly…” He trailed off, and turned away from her.

“Your father would have killed me.” Allura tried not to be affected, tried to state it in a matter of fact way.

“Eventually.” Lotor agreed. “But before that he would have broken you. Tortured you until you begged. Not for mercy, but for the sweet oblivion death would provide you.” He still wasn’t looking at her, but Allura felt how disturbed those words made him. They bothered her too, Allura wondering just what Zarkon would have done to her. Allura realized she was probably better off not knowing that kind of nightmare.

“What about your friend? That impostor, Mara? Won’t she be in danger then?” Allura asked him, watching as Lotor paced the length of the bedroom. “If Zarkon thinks she’s me, won’t he try to hurt her? Kill her?”

“Mara understood the risks. It’s a dangerous time to be the princess of Arus. Especially without the prince of Doom there to run interference between her and Zarkon.” Lotor told her.

“And she still was okay with this?” When Lotor nodded, Allura let out an exasperated breath. “I don’t understand this devotion your people have for you, Lotor. They’re not only willing to start their lives over elsewhere with you, but they’re willing to throw away their lives as well!”

“Isn’t it the same for you?” Lotor questioned. “Don’t you have people close to you, willing to die for you?”

“Yes, but…” She paused, her cheeks turning red as she realized how insulting what she had been about to say was.

“Yes, what?” He prodded, and she actually looked away from him. “Were you going to say it’s because you’re not like me?” She didn’t dignify it with an answer either way, her blush deepening as Lotor let out a laugh. “I know I’m not as…pure as you. I’ve done bad things, and my reasons for doing those things don’t change that I did them. But I’m still a good person, tainted though I may be.”

She struggled to understand that. To Allura, her world was painted in strict black and whites. There was good, and there was evil, with nothing in between. Lotor had always existed on the evil side. He invaded and conquered worlds, had enslaved people, had killed those who would try to resist his empire’s control of them. And yet the other Drules had told her of a Lotor who did good things. And that was something that greatly confused Allura, because what evil ever did anything good, except for it’s own benefit? And Allura couldn’t see how helping the Drules out with money and medical treatments, could ever benefit Lotor.

“I don’t understand you…” Allura finally said.

“I know.” Lotor replied. “But it is my hope someday you will.”

That understanding couldn’t come soon enough for Allura. She liked things neat, structured. She wanted to be able to put Lotor on a definite side of her black and white world. Allura didn’t want any confusions, didn’t want to be uncertain about whether Lotor was good or bad. It was the same with the Drules she realized. Allura had always assumed ALL the Drule were evil. But the people that had traveled with them to Simestia, didn’t give off an evil vibe. They frustrated Allura for all their refusal to help her escape, but they didn’t seem a bad people. Certainly they had been through hardships, and that was another thing Allura hadn’t ever carefully considered. She had though the Drules had a wonderful way of life, growing rich off the suffering of others. But these people had talked about the suffering, had hinted that only those rich enough to afford slaves truly lived the life that the rest of the Denubian Galaxy was so angered by.

She held in her sigh. This kind of thinking made her head hurt. She was so used to the absolutes of her life, Allura wasn’t sure she wanted to change her perceptions. Especially where Lotor and the other Drule were concerned. She could only be grateful no one was trying to convince her that Zarkon was actually a good man as well. She almost snorted at that, knowing no matter what was said, there was no way to lessen the evil Zarkon did.

She was still turned away from Lotor, when she heard the sound. Several some things thumping lightly against each other. Allura immediately turned in that direction, seeing Lotor down on one knee. He was fiddling with something, and then she saw the flames spark. He was building a fire, setting the flames to the logs he had set down inside the brick fireplace. The fire brightened the room more, allowing Allura to see it’s features better.

She had already looked her fill of the bedroom earlier, and little had changed since that time. The only difference was the bed, clothing laid out on it’s sheets. But she made no move to go closer to the bed, just watching as Lotor walked towards it.

“You’ve already felt it.” He said out loud. She made a questioning noise, Lotor continuing. “The cold of a Simestian night. It’s very much like an earth’s desert. Hot during the day, but once the sun sets, the cold quickly comes.”

“It surprised me. Is all the planet like this?” Allura asked.

He nodded. “It’s why climate control is so important a feature in a Simestian’s house.” Lotor grimaced then. “We’re pretty much screwed until the wiring can be fixed. The cold will seep in, even with the windows closed and the fires lit.” His grimace faded, a small, almost hopeful smile appearing in it’s place. “Sharing body heat will help keep us warm.”

She didn’t like that idea one bit. “Wearing warmer clothes would be the better option.” Allura was firm on this, letting her displeasure be known. She wasn’t willing to share anything of hers with Lotor, not even body heat.

“Ah…it’s unfortunate…” He hadn’t lost his smile, whatever Lotor was about to say, he clearly didn’t mind. “But our wardrobe options are limited. The clothing was purchased with the mind that there wouldn’t be a problem with the climate control.”

“How…convenient.” Allura muttered, watching as Lotor picked up something slinky off the bed. She realized it was a nightgown, all satin and silk, with a long flowing skirt that would reach to her ankles. Thin straps for the top, which would leave her arms bare. It had a matching robe to go over it, but the robe’s fabric was thinner than the nightgown. At least it had sleeves, thin though there were, Allura frowning as Lotor approached her with it.

The nightgown was a royal purple color, something so different from the pink she favored. She didn’t have to put it on to realize it would cling to her body, and that it’s neckline was less than modest. She didn’t want to put it on, and yet Allura feared what Lotor would do if she rejected his offering. Would he just rip off her clothes in response? Would he skip the illusion of modesty the nightgown gave them?

And yet Lotor did nothing more than hand her the clothing. She expected him to do more, as though he would forcefully dress her. Instead Lotor walked away from her, gathering up the other set of clothes on the bed. It was a long sleeve shirt, and draw string pants, Lotor carrying them with him as he headed for the only other door in the room. It wasn’t until Lotor had entered and locked the bathroom door, that Allura realized he was giving her the privacy to change. She hated how grateful she felt for that, Allura hurrying to unbutton her sweater.

The nightgown turned out to be a heavier fabric then the light summer dress she had been wearing. It easily slid onto her body, fitting like a second skin to her even over her thighs. When it reached her knees, the skirt flared out. It was like nothing she had ever worn, too clingy and sexual for her liking. Her dislike increased when she caught sight of herself in the mirror, Allura hating how noticeable her body’s shape was through the clinging fabric.

With a grumble, she quickly pulled on and belted the robe around her. Lotor had not yet come out of the bathroom, and Allura hurried to the bed. But she didn’t get on it, the girl determined not to spend on minute under it’s covers. Instead she stripped off the top sheet, and brought a pillow with her over to the love seat in the room. It wouldn’t be the most comfortable place to sleep, but it was preferable to being with Lotor.

She didn’t think it would be that easy though, Allura laying down, and pulling the sheet up to her neck. She already felt cold, even with the sheet and the fire roaring in the fire place. And then the bathroom door unlocked, Allura’s apprehension mounting as she quickly closed her eyes.

“Allura…” Was that amusement she heard in Lotor’s voice? “I know you can’t possibly be asleep that quickly.” She said nothing in response, trying to keep her breathing even as to feign the sleep Lotor knew she wasn’t doing.

She heard his footsteps walking towards her, and her stomach seemed to flutter in response. If she wasn’t careful, her panic would make her give up the ruse. But Lotor was approaching, and all too soon she felt his fingers sweeping back her hair from her face. “Allura.” He said, voice low but not enough to be a whisper. “This is hardly the ideal place to sleep. Not to mention you’ll freeze by morning, and end up sick.”

She controlled her response, until his hands touched her shoulders, Lotor tugging the sheet off of her. She heard him take in a sharp breath, Lotor apparently liking what he saw. And then he was touching her, hands on her body so that she couldn’t hide the trembles that raced through her. And then he lifted her up, Allura’s eyes snapping open with a gasp.

“What are you doing?!” She exclaimed, though Allura feared she knew already.

Lotor didn’t laugh or gloat about her ruse at sleep being unsuccessful. Instead he answered her, and his words made her fear go screaming through her. “Taking you to bed.” He said it so matter of fact, and Allura panicked at the true meaning of his words.

She began struggling in his arms, crying out the word no again and again. Lotor held onto her, enduring the slap she landed on his face, not even growling in response. She didn’t calm down, feeling as Lotor adjusted his grip so that he could pull back the bed sheet. And then she was being slid onto the mattress, Lotor quickly climbing in after her and pulling the cover over them both. She tried to shift away, but there was nowhere to go. Lotor had put her in on the side that faced the wall, leaving her trapped between it and him.

Allura ended up pressing as hard as she could into the wall, blue eyes wide and staring at Lotor. He stared back at her, expression looking unreadable in the moment. She kept right on protesting, saying the word no over and over again. Lotor reached out to cup her face in his hands, and she immediately tried to bat them away. It ended with her wrists caught in one of his hands’ grip, Lotor using his other hand to pet over her hair.

When that didn’t calm Allura down, she found herself seated on Lotor’s lap. His arms held her to his chest, Lotor snuggling her as close as possible. She shivered and trembled, her voice weaker now. And then Lotor put his lips to her forehead, the move seeming so innocent, it brought Allura’s head up in surprise. Her confused eyes looked into Lotor’s, seeing the concern there.

“Allura…” He spoke in a soft whisper, which left Allura two choice. Either be silent to hear what he was saying, or keep on kicking a fuss and drown out his words with her protests. She chose the first option, protests abruptly dying. She nearly gasped when he said the following. “What happened to you?” Allura must have gotten a shifty, evasive look on her face, for Lotor allowed the saddest smile on his lips. “Don’t try to deny that something did not happen. It’s obvious you’ve been through some kind of trauma. It’s the only explanation I can think of for this incredibly strong panic you have.”

“Why does something have to have happened?” Allura wanted to know. She was still shaking, her heart pounding furiously in her chest. “Isn’t what you’re going to do to me, reason enough to fear?”

“All I am going to do is hold you tonight.” Lotor told her. She noted his words with suspicion, Allura wondering about tomorrow night, and the night after. It showed on her face, Lotor sighing. “Allura, I won’t do anything like you imagine, I won’t hurt you.”

She didn’t, wouldn’t believe him, Lotor frowning. “Who did this to you, Allura?” He didn’t act as if it was a speculation, Lotor was that sure she had been through something terrible. Even worse, he was right, though Allura wasn’t about to admit that to him. “What happened….? Tell me…” He urged, and Allura shifted in his grip.

She took a deep breath, looked Lotor in the eyes, and said rather defiantly, “I will share my secret with you, if you share your secret with me.” Allura hadn’t been expecting Lotor to agree to that, and for once she was grateful. Now he looked away from her, shaking his head no.

“There’s nothing to share.”

“I’m not imagining it.” Allura managed to snap at him. It help to calm her, to keep her focus if she thought about the things Lotor might be hiding from her. “And you can’t expect me to share anything with you, if you won’t do the same!”

“It’s not open for debate.” Lotor told her firmly. “There are some things you shouldn’t have to know. This is one of them.”

“You frustrate me as much as you scare me!” She exclaimed before Allura could stop herself. His eyes met hers again.

“I am sorry for that. The last thing I want is to scare you.” He actually seemed sincere when he said that too, Allura frowning.

“I really don’t understand you.”

He shrugged, and was suddenly leaning back with her in his arms. He pressed himself into the many pillows of the bed, as though he would go to sleep with Allura on top of him. Her own body was coiled with tension, Allura unable to relax in this position. Even once his arms shifted so he could get a hand in her hair, Allura continued to stay stiff against him.

She really couldn’t wait for the wiring in the house to be fixed. Especially if it meant she wouldn’t have to spend anymore time in Lotor’s arms! But more than that, Allura hoped to be on her way to escaping before the wiring was repaired. She didn’t dare hope she’d escape as early as tomorrow, but Allura did think by the end of the week she just might be able to get away. It just depended on what would happen come tomorrow.

Lotor was still petting her hair, but the motion was becoming lazy. He was starting to fall asleep, eyes closing as he settled more easily against the pillows. Allura tried to shift off him, and his arm gripped her more securely against him. It made her sigh, even as Allura noticed she didn’t feel anywhere as cold as she had on the love seat. Like it or not, there was something to be said about the sharing of body heat.

And still she grumbled, though she was nowhere as upset now that Lotor looked to be drifting off to sleep. “Tomorrow can’t come soon enough for my liking.”

“Sometimes tomorrow is all we have to look forward to.” Lotor muttered, his eyes closed. “The hopes that whatever happens, tomorrow will bring better things.”

Allura found herself nodding, wondering what things Lotor had hoped his tomorrows would bring. She knew he wouldn’t be hoping for the same things she wanted. Not when Allura wanted to escape him, and get back to her home world. Right now, that was what she most wanted, Allura trying to relax herself enough to settle down and sleep. She knew the quicker she slept, the quicker tomorrow would come. And then she’d be able to enact her plan, and leave the insanity of Lotor and his friends well behind her.


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