The first thing Allura became aware of was the chill that seemed to surround her, leaving her shivering, her skin breaking out into goose bumps. She was surprised her teeth didn’t chatter from the cold, Allura frowning as she wondered the reason behind it. She knew the harem was always kept at a comfortable seventy-two degrees, neither too hot nor too cold.
~Something must be wrong with the heating systems.~ Allura thought, shifting about on the bed. Her actions left her tired, Allura feeling exhausted from the little movement she had done. Her whole body felt weighted down, heavy and sluggish, Allura frowning as she fought to open her eyes. It was an uphill battle, her lids heavy with sleep, but soon she was left blinking at an unfamiliar white room.
She gazed about in confusion, hearing the sounds of machines, beeps that sounded too loud making her wonder how she had ever slept through that noise in the first place. Faintly, she could hear the sound of talking coming from outside the room, voices hushed as though they did not want to disturb her.
She wondered what time it was, seeing the room’s lights had been dimmed down to a soft glow, leaving her to squint at her surroundings. A brighter light was in the crack of the closed door, she stared at it now, seeing it illuminate the corner of the room. Large metal boxes, various wires tangling around each other on the floor lined that wall. Their monitors black with green writing, the words meaningless to Allura.
She continued her study of the room, noticing a large window, the first she had seen since being brought into the castle. It’s curtains were drawn across it, an attempt at giving her privacy. She could make out shadowy figures moving past the window, the curtain hiding their identities from her. That was okay, she wasn’t in any hurry to draw their attention to her, Allura glancing down at herself.
Her top was rumpled, material thrust aside to make room for tiny white suckers. They clung to her skin, wires coiling out of them and down the side of the bed. She touched one now, testing to see if she could remove it but it held fast against her weak show of strength. She sighed, and turned her head, nearly starting with surprise at the sight that awaited her.
Prince Lotor. He was laying huddled over the edge of the bed, his head resting on his arms. Her left hand was held tightly in his grip, fingers laced together, the contrast of their skin colors apparent. His hair was swept back behind his ears, looking rumpled and disorderly. The way Lotor was hunched forward looked uncomfortable, the prince dangerously close to falling off his chair.
She stared at him a moment longer, not trying to get her hand back. She was surprised to see him, especially this close, even more so to feel his touch. Both things she had gone without for more than a week, seeing neither hide nor hair of Lotor. It had been strange, even for him, to not come to the harem, instead sending guards to pick out which woman he wanted for his bed.
She frowned, not like the memories and the feelings that came with that thought. She had felt something akin to bitter disappointment at being passed over, at being ignored by him. Allura tried to convince herself that it didn’t mean anything, that she clung to Lotor only because he had become her only anchor left in the world. But to herself she could admit that seeing him pick Romelle over her, it had hurt.
It made her wonder what was wrong with her, why was she reacting so strongly to a man who had raped her, forced her into his bed countless times. How could she feel anything but hatred for the man who had murdered Avok before her eyes, stealing away her only chance at being free?
Allura simply didn’t understand her thoughts and emotions, staring at Lotor with troubled eyes. Was she being conditioned to like him, so desperate and hungry for any scrap of affection, for any act of kindness that she’d look to Lotor to give her those things? But his way of giving affection always came with a price, she knew that, her body knew that, Allura fighting back shivers as she recalled the many times, the many ways he had taken her.
The body remembered, it knew and missed his touch, Allura shaking her head fitfully, eyes narrowing over her traitorous thoughts. It left her distressed, Allura feeling as though she might start crying at any second. It didn’t help when he stirred, the slow movements of his head making her freeze. He seemed to settle back down into sleep, a snort escaping him. That made her relax, thinking she had managed a reprieved when suddenly his eyes opened.
She didn’t make a sound, just stared at him wide eyed, seeing the gold of his eyes fixate on her face, the prince looking at her blearily. He seemed to do a double take, words tumbling free. “You’re awake?” She nodded, seeing Lotor become instantly alert.
He straightened, a relieved look on his face, Lotor letting out a sigh. “Thank the Gods!” He didn’t let go of her hand, his thumb caressing over the back of her knuckles as he scooted closer to her. His eyes took on a serious light, Lotor studying her features intently. “How do you feel?” He asked, his concern apparent.
She cocked her head to the side, thinking about her answer. “Tired.” Allura finally said, seeing Lotor lift a brow. “And cold.” He reacted to that, reaching for the blanket that was bunched up by her knees. Untangling the soft material, he dragged it upwards, going to cover her as best he could, though the wires got in the way. Her free hand touched the blanket, fingers clutching at the material, the chill she felt chased away slightly.
“Where am I?” It came out hesitant, Allura more concerned with why he was here by her side than her surroundings.
“You’re in the castle’s medical wing.” Lotor explained.
“Allura, you’ve been very sick.” Lotor said, frowning at her lack of reaction to the news. “They said you collapsed! You nearly died!”
“But I didn’t.” She pointed out, feeling far too calm in response to his words. Her tranquil reactions seemed to serve to agitate him further, Lotor squeezing her hand tighter. “You’re hurting me.”
He didn’t relax his grip, his stare intense and furious. “That you can feel this is because you’re alive. That I can touch you and have you react, good or bad is proof that you’re still with me. Allura….you nearly died….We….I nearly lost you. It’s a scary and horrific feeling, one I never want to experience again.”
She stared back, hand going limp in his grip. “I think I am not hearing you right.” She said at last, frowning. “The language is still so difficult for me…”
He let out his breath in a slow exhale, hand letting go of hers at last. She let it fall to the bed, letting it just lay there as she stared at him. His lips parted, he seemed on the verge of confessing something to her of great importance. But at the first sounding of her name, hesitation gleamed in his eyes, Lotor shaking his head no. “You’re right.” He said at last. “Please, forget I said anything.”
“All right…” She couldn’t help frowning, Allura looking away from Lotor to stare at her blanket. She tried to focus on the pale faded patterns in the material, following a yellow thread as it looped and swirled across the white. “Lotor?”
“When will I be going back to the harem?” She wasn’t eager to return, she asked more out of a need to fill in the awkward silence between them.
“You’re not going back.” Lotor’s answer surprised her, Allura raising her head to look at him once more.
“I’m not?” He nodded, causing confusion to blossom in her eyes. “Then where…?”
“You’re staying with me.” Lotor said, his tone a firm command that would not allow any arguments. “I won’t stand to have you far from my side for any longer.”
“With you?” Again that mixed feeling of emotion, excitement tainted by dread competing inside her. “Like on Pollux?”
“Yes, Allura, like on Pollux.” Lotor didn’t smile, his expression serious.
“Why?” She stared searchingly at his face, wanting him to give her an answer, wanting to hear it was for a reason that extended beyond sex. Lotor lifted his hand, brushing his hair away from his eyes as he leaned back in his seat. He seemed to be giving her whispered out question a great deal of consideration, weighing his words as carefully as he could manage before answering her.
“It’s because….” Again that pause, a slow hesitation as though he was changing his mind mid sentence. “I’ve gotten used to your face. Your body….it’s at the point it’s trained to react in just the way I like.”
“Oh….” Allura couldn’t keep the disappointment out of her tone, Lotor letting out a curt laugh.
“Did you think I wanted you near for something other than sex?” She wondered if her cheeks flamed at his question, Allura blinking back tears as she shook her head no. He blurred before her, Allura seeing the room through the veil of her tears. Lotor made a tsking noise, and for a second his hand moved, as though he intended to brush away her tears with his fingers.
Before he could make contact, another Drule strolled into the room, pausing to knock on the door. “Hope I’m not interrupting.” He said cheerfully, Lotor’s hand abruptly dropping back down.
“Not at all, Doctor..” Lotor answered, leaning back in his seat.
“Good, good.” The doctor smiled, approaching the bed. “I came as soon as the nurse alerted me to the change in her vitals. We’re all very relieved you pulled through young lady.”
Allura said nothing, just watching as the doctor stepped over to the opposite side of her bed, his hands reaching for her. They landed on her chin, tilting her head back as he shone a light in her eyes. The doctor had no comment about her tears, busy pressing a hand to her forehead. “Hmm, much cooler than before. Open please…”
She dutifully opened her mouth, a thermometer being placed under her tongue. The doctor continued to talk, his hand gripping her wrist now, finger on her pulse point. “We’re still waiting for the results of some of your lab work, but whatever it is, it appears to be out of your system.”
“You still don’t know what it was?” Lotor asked, the doctor nodding in satisfaction at her pulse.
“The blood work was inconclusive. We could not find any traces of foreign bodies in her system. It’s strange….” The doctor trailed off, pulling out the thermometer, glancing at it’s reading. “Fever’s gone…”
“What’s strange doctor?” Lotor questioned, and the doctor glanced at him.
“It may be nothing but…if it was an illness, there should have been some sign of the virus in her.” A nervous laugh then. “It’s almost as if whatever this was, it doesn’t want to be found.”
“I see.” A thoughtful expression on Lotor’s face. “Is there any danger of a relapse?”
“Well….I can’t say for sure without knowing what it was that affected her so badly. But…” The doctor glanced at Allura. “I would like to keep her here for another day or two of observation. Just to be on the safe side.”
“All right doctor. That much we can manage.” Lotor replied.
“And you, your highness….you should really go and get something to eat. Not to mention a good night’s sleep. You’ve spent the last three days by her side, almost as if you don’t trust my staff to take good care of her!”
Allura’s eyes went wide, she glanced at Lotor, whose face took on an uncomfortable expression. “I had too.” His tone was gruff, unamused by the doctor’s revelation. “I find my presence adds to their motivation in doing their job and adequately at that.”
“Well, you certainly motivated them all right.” The doctor shook his head, but he was still smiling. “Now….doctor’s orders. Go and at least eat. Allura will still be here when you get back.”
“…..Fine.” Lotor sighed, and slowly got to his feet. “But if anything should happen to her while I am gone, I am holding you personally responsible!” The doctor’s smile faltered, but he nodded, making shooing motions with his hand. Lotor glanced at Allura, his hand reaching to rumple her hair. “I’ll be back shortly.”
She said nothing, just nodded to show her understanding of his words. With a lingering glide of his fingers, Lotor stepped away from her bed, moving towards the room’s exit.
“Let’s get these wires off you.” The doctor was already pulling down her blanket, his fingers working to pull off the suction cups. Allura winced as one popped free, her skin looking red from where it had adhered itself to her. “And afterwards I suspect you’ll be wanting a quick shower.”
“Yes, please.” Allura said, liking the thought of immersing herself in warm water. “Doctor? Is it true what you said?”
“About what?” He asked, pulling two more suction cups off her.
“About the prince. Did he really spend three days here by my side?” The doctor glanced at her, doing a slow nod of his head. “Why?” whispered Allura. “Why would he do that?”
“You don’t know?” The doctor questioned. She shook her head, feeling more confused than ever. “Well, my dear, it’s not my place to say. But….it’s not everyday that a sick slave gets even a one minute visit from the crown prince. You must mean something special to him if he felt the need to remain by your side.”
“But I’m not!” Allura protested softly, the doctor turning away from her. “I’m not!” She insisted to herself. “I’m nothing more than a bed warmer to him…” And yet, what bed warmer had ever earned such devotion from it’s master, Allura marveling at the thought of Lotor spending three restless days by her side.