Better Worse 19

It was never pleasant to wake up and find myself inside the castle dungeons. It was even more so to wake up hung over and on the floor, my body aching with unfamiliar pains. It made me wonder if the guards had taken time to hit me after I had fallen unconscious, or if I had hurt myself that badly slamming into the bathroom door. It didn’t help that the guards hadn’t taken the care to lay me on the cell’s cot, leaving me to spend the night on the hard stone of the floor.

I groaned as my body protested my movements. But I didn’t let the annoying pain keep me from sitting up. I’d lift a hand to my head, and realize at some point that ridiculous ribbon they had used to tie back my hair, had come undone. My hair was free, wild and tangled enough it would take some work to fix it. It was just another thing to grumble about, as if this nuisance could keep me from thinking about the real troubles I had.

I ran fingers through my hair, trying to work a lesser tangle free. As I did this, I thought about the day before, about how I had been forced to go through with marrying Allura. Most of the reception that followed was a blur. I had simply drank too much, succeeding in wiping out those memories. But not the memory of what had happened once I had finally deigned to retire for the night.

It had all seemed like a good idea at the time. I could blame that on the wine, my defenses lowering, and my desires raging out of control. To the point Allura had looked appealing, even huddled down in bed, dressed in the most unflattering of garments. I had been more than tempted to bed her, I had thought it my right. Some part of me still thought that way. After all what was a wife for, in not to satisfy the husband’s needs? Especially a husband who wasn’t allowed to take even a mistress?

I scowled at the cell’s bars. I didn’t like that I hadn’t had sex since my capture on Arus. I was used to having women, sometimes a different partner every night. I thought it ridiculously, and unreasonable of Alfor to deny me a chance to continue my playboy ways with other women. Especially when his daughter despised me to the point she would not allow us to have marital relations.

At this point, I could envision my future. It was not pretty to think of a lifetime with nothing but my hand to comfort me. I wasn’t yet desperate enough to try sneaking around Allura’s back. Not with the threats Alfor had made against me. I shuddered at the mere thought of castration, more terrified of that than anything Alfor might say to me about my behavior with Allura last night.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to avoid Alfor forever. No doubt Allura would soon report to him the mess that last night was. And if not her, than one of the guards. I wondered how long they’d keep me in the dungeons for it, and could only be relived I wasn’t chained up this time. But I suppose everyone figured they were safe, what with the subduing device in my arm.

I lifted that arm now, rolling back the sleeve to glare at it. The skin was almost healed over, soon no sign would remain of where they had cut me open. But I would never forget that there was this THING inside me. Nor what it could do. My scowl became worse, I was recalling how long I had endured the zaps last night. Long enough to exhaust me, and make me wonder if it could possibly be healthy to be shocked so many times in so short a period of time.

It was another thing to worry about, but I shoved those thoughts aside when I heard voices and footsteps. Someone had arrived in the dungeons, and I couldn’t muster up the energy yet to stand. I settled for sitting upright, turning my glare to the new arrivals. I got my first real shock of the day, spying who had come to see me. It was Allura, and to say her presence here in the dungeons was unexpected would be an understatement. And all because I had expected Alfor and not his daughter to come pay me a visit.

One of the guards had a small stool in his hands. He shot a dark look at me, then placed the stool just before the bars that separated the cell from the rest of the dungeon. He was solicitous as he spoke to Allura. “Is there anything else you require, your highness?”

“No, that is all.” She said, and took her seat upon the stool. Never breaking eye contact with me, she primly smoothed out the nonexistent wrinkles on her pants. The stool had to be uncomfortable, and yet the regal way she sat upon it made me think of a Queen on her throne. I felt even worse to be in such a disheveled state, half laying, half sitting on the floor.

Allura didn’t say anything to me, she just stared. Her blue eyes were unfriendly, the disapproval in them apparent. I returned her stare, my eyes just as cold and unfriendly, though it lack any true anger to them. I wouldn’t speak first, not even to break the uncomfortable silence between us. And it was uncomfortable, at least for me. She’d stare at me for several minutes, just letting the weight of her gaze fall on me. Letting me feel her disgust. A less confidant man would have fidgeted under such a look. I merely held her gaze, refusing to be the first to look away.

She seemed to be playing the same game, testing her will against mine. And when she did speak, her gaze remained on me, her words clipped as though Allura was trying to hide how angry she truly was. “Are you ready to behave like a gentleman? Or do you need to spend more time cooling your head in this cell?”

I broke the staring contest with a surprised blink, and then frowned. Was she actually threatening to leave me in this cell for an even longer stay?

“Answer me Lotor!” Allura snapped, when I took longer than she liked to respond.

“I’m more than ready to get out of this cell.” I said, and her eyes narrowed.

“That isn’t what I asked you!” Again that angry snap of her voice, emotion leaking out when it was apparent she was trying to be cool and composed.

“I know what you asked. But answer me this…Are you ready to be a wife to me?”

“You have no right to ask me that!” Allura hissed.

“I have every right…” I began, but she cut me off with a retort.

“No, you do not. Do you think because you are married to me, that gives you some kind of power over me? That you can just do what you like, my feelings be damned?” I tried to say something, but she was ruthless, continuing. “Well, you can’t!”

“So you what, just going to keep throwing me in the dungeons every time I try to exert my husbandry rights?!” I was sarcastic, and scoffed when she gave a quick nod. “Oh, that will go over well. Just what will the servants think, of a wife who won’t let her husband touch her? And they will talk Allura…a talk you can’t afford.” She was turning red with anger now. “You know I’m right. Appearances must be kept up.”

She glared at me, her eyes extremely hostile. She was upset, angry that I spoke the truth. It was a truth that had led her father to reluctantly agree that we had to share a bedroom. And all because of vaunted appearances. Allura and I had to appear to at least get along well enough to conceive a child, and soon. There was only a limited amount of time, and she knew it. Last night had been detrimental to our lie, and I would be surprised if the whole castle wasn’t gossiping about the scene we had caused. Everyone had to know we hadn’t done anything to consummate the marriage. And the longer I continued to stay in the dungeons, the longer the marriage would appear unconsummated.

Right now I wasn’t worrying about the sex. I just wanted out of the dungeons, and was using Allura’s fears to accomplish that. She didn’t want anyone to discover she had given her body away before she was married. It would be a taint to her name, a taint that the baby would carry. Part of the reason the wedding had happened so soon, was to give us the illusion that I had gotten Allura with child almost immediately after. We might never have sex again, but we were stuck in this lie together.

“Damn you.” She finally said, not losing her regal poise. I actually smirked back at her, which had Allura lunging up out of her seat. I didn’t even try to rise with her, just watching, waiting for her reaction. She looked as though she had a lot to say, and was fighting to remember we had the dungeon guards for an audience. Anything that was said, would surely be repeated to others.

“Fine.” Allura let out a deep breath, though it did nothing to calm her. “We will continue this in our room. BUT!” She held up one finger, almost smirking at me. “At the first sign of trouble, back to the dungeons you go.”

“Works for me.” I said, and now I did stand. I tried to hide how unsteady I felt. I don’t know if I succeeded, and Allura certainly wasn’t sympathetic enough to comment. She’d get one of the guards to unlock the cell door. I’d smugly walk out, smirking a cocky smile at the guards. Their own expressions were hostile, they didn’t want to see me leave with their princess. If I could have trusted Allura not to overreact, I would have put my arm around her. Just to further piss off the guards.

We walked in relative silence through the castle. Allura’s whole body was stiff with displeasure, but she kept her head up proudly. I was cocky, smirking at everyone I saw. Some of the maids actually stopped to just watch us go by, and not realizing what superior hearing a Drule have, immediately begin whispering gossip to each other once they thought we were out of range.

“It’s only going to get worse.” Allura said, to my surprise. She hadn’t needed my superior hearing to know what the maids were saying. “Especially since you insist on misbehaving.”

“Marriage doesn’t change a man that easily.” I answered. “Especially when you have to force him into it.”

“This is not exactly my dream situation either, married to a hateful man such as you!”

“It’s my actions you hate…but not me.” I said knowingly. She turned to look at me, eyes wide with her outage.

“You are arrogant and overconfident where you have no right to be!”

We were almost to the bedroom. I stepped closer to her. “Sure, deny all you want. But I know something you don’t.”

She eyed me, wary interest in her look. “What?”

I actually debated on not telling her. But then I stepped in close enough to brush my lips over her trembling ones. Giving those in the hall even more to gossip and speculate about. “You’ve said a lot of things to me, told me you despise me and what not. But not once have you actually said you hate me.” With that, and a cocky smirk, I stepped past a shocked Allura. The quiet would last long enough for her to recover, and then an annoyed sound would escape her.

“Oooooh! You!” I heard her footsteps hurrying towards me as I reached to open the bedroom door. I was walking through it when she tossed out the expected response. “I HATE you!”

“Too little, too late princess.” I said, unconcerned with her words. I glance at her, still smirking. “It doesn’t count if you have to be reminded to say it.”

“The hell it doesn’t!” She snapped.

“Now that is hardly fitting language for a princess.” I taunted, looking around her room. Somehow Allura managed not to slam the door shut behind her. The inside of the door was painted to match the pink and pink motif of her room. It was too much for me, shade upon shade of pink on the walls, the ceiling, even the carpeting and some of the furniture. It was garish to my eyes, seeing it in the bright light of the sun.

“We have got to do something about your taste.” I muttered, heading for a window.

“What’s wrong with my taste?!” She demanded.

“It’s too pink oriented for one thing.” I retorted. I was checking out the view of the window, seeing Allura’s room was positioned to the front of the castle. I could scale the outside, and not have to worry about falling off the cliff. However, there was an overabundance of guards patrolling the grounds here. They would easily be able to shoot me down and apprehend me if I tried to escape this way. I wondered if the guards would be less alert at night, and if I should risk it. “Pink is a very childish color.” I said when I turned back to Allura.

She bristled in response. “I happen to like pink.”

“I’ve noticed.” I went to sit down on one of the comfortable looking chairs positioned by the window. It too was pink, a dark shade that was almost magenta.

“You might as well get used to it.” Allura said. “Because I’m not changing it to please you.”

“I have bigger things to worry about then the room’s decor.” Like escaping from the castle and Arus for one thing.

“Then why did you bring it up in the first place?” She demanded.

Truthfully I had done it just to get on her nerves. Perhaps I was being as childish as I had accused her tastes of being. “Just an observation.” I said out loud. I leaned back in the chair, feeling good against the cushions. It was so much better than the stone floor of the dungeons! “Just as I’ve noticed this is only the second time we’ve been alone without anyone to eavesdrop on us since this whole nightmare began.”

She looked uneasy at that observation. I couldn’t help smiling. “Don’t worry. I will not be repeating my behavior of last night. I don’t want you nearly bad enough to risk getting zapped again.”

That stirred her ever present anger. “You don’t want me at all! You NEVER did.”

I didn’t try to confirm or deny that accusation. “Careful Allura. Your hurt is showing.”

Again that a deep breath, Allura trying to compose her self. “I have a right to be hurt.”

“I suppose you do…”

“I KNOW I do!” She insisted. “And not just for two and a half weeks ago. For all of it! Including last night!”

“Last night was a mistake.” It was more than a mistake, it had been a disaster. “I had been drunk…”

“Yes, I noticed.” She said snidely.

“I’ll try not to let it happen again.”

“You’ll do more than just try!” Allura snapped firmly. “That sort of behavior can’t be repeated.”

“I’m not going to give up drinking just to please you!” Bad enough they expected me to give up women, but wine too? Never!

“Nothing you do will please me.” Allura informed me, crossing her arms over her chest. ‘And you only make things worse when you have to get that drunk in order to stand the idea of bedding me!”

She had succeeded in rendering me speechless. I just stared at her a moment, noting how much hurt was showing in her eyes. Was she even aware of what she was revealing to me. But she was so certain of what she said. I almost laughed then, recovering enough to speak. “You think I got that drunk so I could do my marital duty with you?” A rapid nod from Allura. “I don’t need wine to have sex with you Allura.”

For one-second she lost all her anger, hurt and wary as she spoke. “Then why?”

“Why?” I paused. “It wasn’t as if I had anything better to do at the party. Trust me when I say the wine wouldn’t have made a difference in whether I could have sex with you or not…”

“As if I could ever truly trust anything you say.” Allura scoffed. “You know only lies and manipulations.”

“To a point, I suppose you’re correct.” I agreed.

“What happened to you Lotor?” She suddenly asked, sounding weary. “You used to be such a good person….”

“The boy you knew grew up.” I told her, and stood. I began unbuttoning my shirt the rest of the way. Allura’s eyes widened, alarm apparent in them.

“What do you think you’re doing?!” She exclaimed, not quite shouting then.

“I’m getting undressed.” I was very matter of fact, shrugging out of my shirt.

“Yes, I can see that.” Allura had her eyes on me, as though she couldn’t force herself to look away. “But why?”

“I have spent a long, uncomfortable night in the dungeons.” I told her. “I intend to relax and get clean.” She still looked worried, as though she couldn’t believe that was all I intended to do. I began to fiddle with my belt, not caring that she was watching me. A strangled sound escaped her as I pulled it free of my pant’s waist, and then she was snapping at me.

“You can undress in the bathroom!”

“Scared you won’t be able to resist me if you see me in all my glory?” I teased her.

‘I…I….OOOOOOOOH you snake!” She hissed, stamping her feet on the carpet. “Don’t get full of yourself!”

Laughing, I headed towards the bathroom. But not before I didn’t unzip my pants just to further torment her. I opened the bathroom door, and was all set to vanish inside when I paused. “Ah a moment Allura…” She was glaring at me, still so bothered by what I had said and done. “When exactly are we leaving for our honeymoon?”

“Honeymoon?!”

“Yes. It’s a human tradition is it not. One I have been looking forward too.” Now she gave me a suspicious look, but I kept my own expression neutral. There was no way I was about to admit the whole reason I wanted that honeymoon was that it might present me with more opportunities to escape. We’d be out of the castle, maybe off the planet. And surely we wouldn’t have as many guards with us as there was in the castle. I was confidant I’d make my break for freedom once we got to our honeymoon destination.

“There will be NO honeymoon.” Allura announced. I blinked, betraying how startled her words made me.

“No…no honeymoon?! But that’s…” My voice exploded with anger. “That’s absurd!”

“My father doesn’t trust you enough to let you out of the castle, Lotor.” Allura said, and slowly smirked at me. Somehow she was managed to maintain eye contact, no longer sneaking peeks at my body. “And from the reaction you’re having, I think he’s right to that mistrust!!”

I continued to stare at her, my face warm with anger. But more than angry, I was so disappointed, feeling foiled again. Allura continued to mock me with her smile, the girl taking pleasure out of this moment. I could have said some choice things to her, but in the moment I gave up. I wordlessly turned my back on her, and the only betrayal of my mood was when I slammed the bathroom door behind me.


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