Slave 110

She wasn’t sure how long she stood there, unmoving save for the rise and fall of her chest. She wondered what sort of expression she wore, Allura staring at the closed door of the bedroom, waiting for something to happen. It became clear that Lotor wasn’t coming back, at least not for tonight, and she sighed, a heavy breath expelling from her. It carried with it all her emotional turmoil, the uneasy state the words she had exchanged with Lotor had driven her too.

Without even realizing it, she had started crying again, silent tears that worked their way down her cheeks. Allura angrily brushed them away, and that action broke the stillness of her body. Her feet carried her towards the door, Allura jerking it open and stepping into the empty outer chamber. The barren solitude of the room got to her, Allura hugging her arms around her as she walked determinedly to the outer door.

It was with a steady hand that she opened that door, catching sight of the long line of soldiers that made up Lotor’s guard. She knew what it meant that they were still in this hall, the girl realizing the King had retired to his own room for the moment. But she didn’t so much as spare a glance in the direction of Lotor’s apartment, Allura feeling another talk was not what either one of them needed.

And yet she couldn’t stand the thought of remaining alone in her room, Allura’s actions turning agitated as she began walking down the hall. One of the two palace guards who stood watch over this stretch of hallway approached her, the man leery of Allura traveling about unaccompanied. She wondered at that, having thought that the danger to herself was now at an end with the demise of King Zarkon. But perhaps there was other, just as real threats to her, Allura recalling the way the court had looked at her, and Lotor’s stressing the importance of her not appearing weak to the nobles.

It was a worry she didn’t need, Allura shivering as she slowed down enough to allow the guard to fall into step besides her. He didn’t question her, his job was merely to make sure she was safely guided to and from parts of the castle. The thing was, Allura did not know where she was going, just knowing she could not remain locked in her apartment.

If she had been on Arus she would have taken a walk in the castle gardens, the warm air doing much to put her mind at ease. But this wasn’t Arus, Doom lacking many of the niceties of her planet. She didn’t have to make a list to know Arus outdid Doom in simple pleasures, the girl missing the feel of sunlight on her skin, and the heady scent of fresh blooming flowers. Doom was a cold place, dark and dismal, with real dangers lurking not only inside the castle, but outside as well.

It wasn’t the ideal place to live, at least not for one like her, Allura holding back her sighs as she wandered aimlessly through the halls. She thought of her children now, wondering just what it would be like for them to grow up in such a hostile environment. There were no parks to play in, each city isolated from the next, separated by barren plains and empty wastelands. The world seemed designed to make those who grew up here into a hardier people, and she wondered if her children had a chance at growing up to be anything but cruel.

From the way Lotor had talked, his people would look down on any kindness, any soft attribute, deeming it a weakness. Would she be doing them a disservice to impart her values and morals onto them? Would it be wrong to teach them love and kindness when they would grow up among a people who so openly hated, people who coveted other world’s treasures? Allura feared she and Lotor would clash greatly over the raising of their children, the girl fearing they would grow up twisted inside, confused on which direction to take.

It was a humorless snort she let out, Allura marveling at the thought of a peace loving, gentle soul growing up to be the ruler of a conquest hungry people. She had meant it when she said she didn’t want her children to turn out like their father, but she also did not want to do something that would endanger them to the other Drules. She wondered how she’d know the right way to raise them, her thoughts turning turbulent as she thought of her own two parents and their methods for child rearing.

Methods that according to the picture Lotor painted, had been less than ideal, leaving Allura ill prepared for a reality that was harsher than what she had experienced on Arus. What he had implied set her world upside down, her thoughts topsy turvey as she examined her upbringing with an eagle’s eye. She thought now on her childhood, knowing it had been filled with love, and not just that of her parents. Family and friend, servant and guard, they were all so nice to her, so loving and kind. Hugs had been abundant, the girl spoiled on affection.

There had been nary an ill word spoken to her, even at her young age, the other children had been respectful of her status. She thought of the friends she had had, the shy children of various castle servants, and the few attempts at making friends with children from the court. She couldn’t remember ever leaving her castle in her young years, her whole world had existed between it’s walls. Much like her whole world now seemed to consist of the castle on Doom, Allura limited to the apartments that belong to her, Lotor, and Haggar.

It was a form of protection, Lotor sheltering her from the less than pleasant aspects of Drule culture. It didn’t mean he hid her completely, in fact now with his father dead and buried, Lotor seemed determined to ease her into Doom’s court life. So far his attempts had been less than stellar, Allura hardly enamored by what she saw. If anything it made her want to run even more from him, Allura hating what she saw and experienced since Lotor had become King.

Would she have hated Arus if her parents had let her see what Lotor swore was it’s true nature? Would she have ever been prepared for the harsh lessons that would come with her awakening awareness? On some level she had been vaguely aware of a less than nice aspect of her world, Allura knowing there were prisons and armies kept, though she hadn’t been able to imagine them being needed or used.

What else had they hidden from her? She did not know, but Allura didn’t think this meant her parents were bad people. Just misguided in their way of raising her. Who was to say she wouldn’t make the same mistakes, even with Lotor around to try and temper her lessons in kindness? And that was provided she stayed, a decision she felt no closer to making. Some days her desires leaned one way more strongly than the other, Allura always being stopped by two things.

Two conflicting notions, that tore her up internally, Allura wondering how she could ever hope to abandon her children to Doom’s care. But equally upsetting was the thought of remaining with Lotor, of pursuing a relationship with him. If she could be assured that he would never again press for sex with her, then Allura thought she could easily remain on Doom.

But the thought of sex with Lotor generally had her freezing up, Allura unable to imagine going through it willingly. An obstacle was between them, one that felt like unbreakable stone, Allura wondering how they could continue without Lotor forcing himself on her. She was unable to ask him to take the next step with her, too frightened to invite him to her bed, and she knew that the times Lotor lost his patience, his attempts at playing for her had come off too scary to accept.

Allura wished there was some way for them to remain on Doom together without sex looming nearby to ruin everything. She knew she couldn’t expect Lotor to wait forever, he was a man of passion, pursuing pleasure wherever and whenever he felt like it. He’d go mad if he had to abstain, he was bound to do something, maybe even find someone else to slake his hunger on.

As much as the thought of sex with him scared her, she wasn’t sure how she felt about Lotor becoming involved with another woman. Some days she reacted to such thoughts with something akin to jealousy, others her heart fluttering wildly, Allura fearing abandonment by Lotor. She couldn’t say the thought of him with another woman ever put her at ease, peace being the last thing on her mind!

In fact she was rarely at peace, far too often worrying about something or other. Mainly she worried about her big decision, all too aware of the time ticking downwards, coming closer to running out on her. Her children, would they be what ultimately trapped her on Doom? Trap was such a rough choice of words, but at times that is what she felt this pregnancy had done to her!

She didn’t always feel happy about having conceived, and she worried that meant she was a bad mother. And how much worse would she be if she left them behind? But she feared the resentment that might foster if she stayed on Doom, the twins tying her to Lotor and his planet, forcing her to do things, be around people who set everything she thought she knew about the world and it’s interactions upside down.

Would she love her children, or would she end up an unfeeling woman, dead inside as she dealt with daily life on Doom? Allura just didn’t know, even as she trembled at the thought of leaving them behind to go live on another planet. Would Lotor tell them about their mother? What would he say? Would he make up lies, or tell the truth? Would they want to see her when they got older? What would they say to her, how would they look at her? All these thoughts weighed heavy on her mind, Allura coming to a stop before a door that had runes carved into the steel.

It was no surprise that her aimless wandering had taken her to Haggar’s domain, the witch having grown settled in her new apartment. What was startling though, was when the door opened, before Allura had even been poised to knock. Even with most of her magic gone, Haggar still had an innate second sense about her, surely using it now to sense Allura on her doorstep.

The witch took one look at Allura’s shaky frame and tsked, standing aside to let Allura enter the apartment. She vaguely heard Haggar hiss at the guard, ordering him to wait outside the room, Allura dragging her feet forward. She ended up seated on a soft cushioned chair, the velvet fabric a dark silver color. Across from her was a matching chair, empty for the moment, though Haggar soon seated herself.

But not before pushing a warm mug of some steaming liquid into Allura’s hands, the tea leaves sending out a peppermint scent. Allura stared down at the liquid, barely registering that she was supposed to drink it, or that Haggar held her own mug. Nor did she jump when she felt the brush of fur against her legs, Coba having come out to rub a greeting into her skin.

“What’s he done now?” Haggar demanded, in between sips of her tea. Sensing Allura wasn’t going to pet him, Coba flounced off towards Haggar, the witch holding her mug carefully as the cat leapt onto her lap. He spun about several times, before curling up into a blue ball, though he kept one ear cocked towards their conversation.

“He?” Allura repeated dully, looking up just in time to see Haggar scowl.

“His highness!” Haggar clarified. “What’s Lotor done now that has you so rattled?!”

“Oh…oh nothing! Nothing…” She assured Haggar, and her shaking hands lifted the mug to her lips.

“Nothing? Bah!” scoffed Haggar, one hand gliding across Coba’s back. “Then how come you look ready to burst into tears at any moment?”

She flushed, Allura not having realized how upset she had grown by her own thoughts. “I’ve just been doing a lot of thinking….” Haggar didn’t have to ask what, the woman pausing with her mug to her mouth as she gazed at Allura.

“The decision is weighing heavily on your mind.”

“Even more so than usual I fear.” Sighed Allura, at last taking a sip of her drink. “I still don’t know what to do….”

Thankfully Haggar seemed nonjudgmental about Allura’s indecision, the witch leaning back in her seat to gaze at Allura. She didn’t stoop as low as to remind Allura time was fast running out, the Drule content to be a pair of ears for which Allura could vent to. Not that Haggar hadn’t heard most if not all of Allura’s fears before, the witch showing endless patience to the girl.

The silence stretched between them, unbroken save for the faint purr of a content Coba. Allura at last sighed, and set her mug down on the small table between them, the girl opening her mouth to speak. “He came to me tonight.”

“Did he?” Haggar nodded her approval. “It’s about time. He’s wasted weeks with avoiding you.”

“And I him.” Allura reminded her, fingers now free to fidget against one another. “He tried to work on our trust issues…although…I don’t know if he accomplished much. Certainly not as much as he would have liked, that’s for sure!”

“He’s always wanted more than you’ve been prepared to give.” Haggar pointed out, lips twisting slightly in a half smile.

“Maybe it’ll always be that way between us.” Allura said, frowning. “I just…just fear I can’t give him what he wants….be what he needs….I’m not even sure I WANT to be that for him.”

“It’s hard getting over the hurts of the past.” Haggar added, a sympathetic look in her yellow eyes.

“It is!” agreed Allura emphatically. “He tries so hard though. I don’t know….maybe there’s something wrong with me. That I can’t let go of what he’s done…”

“You’ll have to look deep inside yourself to find out the answer to that.” Replied Haggar.

“Maybe it’s a fault in my upbringing…” lamented Allura, although she had always thought of herself as having a forgiving nature. “Lotor tells me I’ve been too naive. That my parents protected me too well from what the real world is like.” She paused a beat, waiting for Haggar’s answer, almost anxious as she held her breath.

“Ah…” Haggar frowned, lowering her mug. “I can’t tell you a definitive yes or no to that question you’ve left unvoiced.” Allura deflated with disappointment, an exaggerated show that had Haggar smiling. “Surely your parents did love you, and wanted to provide the best for you. The best surroundings, the best people, the most nurturing of environments….”

“But could they have not done it without rendering me so…so innocent of the way things are?” Allura asked.

“They surely could have.” Agreed the witch. “But Allura? You’d be a different person from the one you are now. Whether that is a good or a bad thing we cannot know. A different Allura might not have even captured Lotor’s heart…”

“It might be easier on us all if I hadn’t!” She exclaimed. “You’ve surely heard what the others say about Lotor…that he’s changed since meeting me….a change they hate. I weaken him….”

“It’s a load of nonsense, that’s what it is!” Haggar retorted. “Lotor has not become so soft as to do a disservice to his people. What he does for his love life, which is his to handle however he sees fit, is none of the court’s business!”

“Even when that love life causes him to plunge Doom into a war?” Allura asked.

“It’s not that different….from the way his father behaved when Lotor’s mother was in danger.” Haggar cracked a smile at that at instant before she finished off her tea. “Zarkon was ruthless, even more so when Adaline was threatened. It’s no exaggeration to say the courts ran red with the blood of her enemies vanquished.”

“And that makes me shiver.” Allura murmured, knowing her eyes were wide as she tried to imagine it. She thought of her parent’s love, and how heart broken her father had been when her mother had died. He had ranted and railed at the world, a frantic, sobbing mess for months. How much worse would it have been if her mother had not died from illness, but some foe her father could have lashed out at? Would he have been capable of a violent vengeance, one that could rival the former Drule King’s?

“Be frightened if you must, but know that few women experience a love as…all consuming as that of a powerful Drule male.” Haggar said, and to Allura she sounded a tad wistful.

“Did you never marry Haggar?” Allura asked, watching as the witch seemed to shake off her melancholy.

“Oh Heavens no!” She let out a nervous titter of laughter, as though the question was absurd.

“But….wasn’t that lonely for you?

Haggar smiled at Allura, though the reassurance didn’t reach her eyes. “No, because I had my magic to keep me company.” Allura felt she must have looked disappointed at the answer, for Haggar was hurrying on. “And it doesn’t mean I didn’t indulge myself with a lover or three on occasion.”

“Can…can there be such a thing as being all sexed out?” Allura asked, knowing she was blushing now. Haggar looked like she didn’t know how to answer, Allura growing more flustered. “It’s just…I..well….when I think about being…intimate with Lotor. I tend to freeze up. It’s like I can’t get over one final hurdle to go all the way with him. Most of the time I don’t even want to try…”

“You’ve been through some rough experiences sexually…” Haggar began, leaning forward to set the mug down on the table. Coba flashed a disapproving look at her, not liking the shift her movements caused his position. It’s not surprising you’d be hesitant to get back into bed with him….with anyone now that you have a choice. It wasn’t just Lotor who hurt you, Morwin tried too…But…you shouldn’t let them impair you from future joys…”

“I’m trying…” Allura whispered.

“I’m not saying to just jump into bed with him the next time you see him.” Haggar added. “You’ll have to feel comfortable. You’ll have to feel it’s the right thing to do. And the Gods know we have to hope Lotor doesn’t bungle things again with his impatience! But Allura…I think the time will come when you will want to try…even if you’re apprehensive….you’ll push down that fear.”

“Is that a prediction of the future, or just a good guess?” Allura asked.

Haggar smiled. “I think it’s a bit of common sense. You’re young….far too young to live out your life cut off from love and desire. The ice you shield around you will eventually melt, it’s already started it’s slow thaw. That you can discuss Lotor and sex in so rational a manner proves that it is.”

“I guess….” Allura said uncertainly. Haggar continued to smile, and at a shift from her, Coba leapt off her lap, a protesting meow accompanying his actions.

“Come.” The witch said. “I could use some help with a potion I’m making.”

Allura nodded, relieved at the solace Haggar was offering her. The act of making magic would calm her further, and for a time she would be distracted by her thoughts, both new and old. Allura almost wished she didn’t have to think about this ever again, the girl wanting to put off the decision for her future for as long as possible. But as she stood, the babies gave off a vigorous kick, reminding her that the future was coming, and at a rapid speed.

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