He listened to the witch make her final sounds, a horrible gurgling sound that spoke of the wetness filling the remains of her lungs. At the instant she crashed down to the floor, Cortana landing face first on the stone, her magic dispersed, the knives and swords, needles and pick axes falling, crashing in a harmless clatter to the floor. It was then that Lotor moved, the prince turning in the direction of Allura’s scream.
He glanced away from Allura’s pale face, spotting the witch slumping to the ground. Her eyes were unseeing, lids slow to close as her body grew limp with exhaustion. Lotor called out her name, hurrying towards the pair, Allura hanging over the edge of the slab to peer down at Haggar.
“Hold on!” She was saying, and Lotor added his voice to her concern.
“Haggar, you did it!” He called out, voice not as happy as it should have been. “You killed Cortana!”
But there was no answer from Haggar, and only the rise and fall of her chest hinted that she still lived. He stepped quicker to the rear of the room, gaze glancing back and forth from Allura’s worried face, and Haggar’s peaceful one. Allura started to move, her intention to climb off the stone slab, when Lotor reached her, sweeping her up into his arms.
“Allura…” He whispered, relief coursing through him at holding her once more. She seemed to sag in his embrace, as though she would faint, and Lotor could feel Allura shaking. Her trembles betrayed how frightened she was by the whole ordeal, Allura wrapping her arms around Lotor, to cling to him tightly. “It’s okay….you’re safe now.”
She wasn’t crying, and that was a relief, Lotor not sure he’d be able to comfort her if Allura burst into tears. But her voice was soft, speaking shakily on her fear. “I thought this was the end for me…”
“But it wasn’t…” Lotor pointed out, rubbing his hand soothingly over her back. “Haggar and I made it just in time…”
“Yes…Haggar…….HAGGAR!” She tried to pull back from him, concern for the witch making Allura forget her own fear. “What is wrong with her? She….she’s not dying is she?”
Truthfully Lotor didn’t know, still holding onto Allura as he glanced down at the witch. He could see no injury on her body, but something had weakened her to the point of collapse. “It might have been too much for her…” Lotor began, feeling Allura squirming against him. “To use that much power against Cortana.”
“We shared power…” Allura informed him, and now Lotor jerked back, to stare at her shocked. The questioning look in his eyes had Allura nodding, the girl almost shy as she confessed. “It was like nothing I ever felt before, such raw magic…I could feel the untapped potential within me when I joined hands with Haggar…”
“Untapped potential…” murmured Lotor, wondering just how much magic was within Allura. He touched her face, finding her skin was colder than it should be, although the girl was not shivering. Her blue eyes were lively, sparking with excitement over the display of magic she had helped create. And yet Lotor felt ill at ease, noting how pale Allura was, and wondering if the combined forces of magic had been a drain on someone as powerful as Haggar, what would the effect be on Allura and their unborn baby?
“We have to get you checked out.” Lotor told her, placing a hand on her belly. It was then that he noticed the tears in her dress, lines that touched the skin beneath it, with thin welts of blood. The blood was not much, but it frightened him, Lotor remembering how horrified he had been when he and Haggar had come across the trails of blood. Those trails had led all the way to Cortana’s den, and Lotor moved into action now, checking over Allura for any other cuts.
He saw her injured hand, and cursed himself a fool for not noticing it sooner. The wrist was bleeding from where Cortana had dug her claws in, an unhealthy amount of blood that needed to be stopped immediately. Lotor began tearing at his shirt, ripping off long strips of fabric to make a bandage for Allura’s wrist. She watched him do it, though her words proved she was more concerned about Haggar than her own health.
“We need to get Haggar to a doctor.” Allura told him as he began winding the strips of silk around her wrist. She winced when he tightened the bindings, but was other wise quiet in her complaint. “She has to pull through this, she just has to.”
“We will, though I would have you worry about yourself and our baby first and foremost.” Lotor said, voice stern. “All of this excitement can’t be good for the baby…”
“The baby…” Allura murmured, placing her hand on her stomach. Now she looked close to tears, blurting out words that made his blood run cold. “That witch was going to kill our baby!” Lotor felt infuriated, wishing Cortana could die a second time. Allura must have noticed his look, for she gasped out loud. He tried to soften his expression enough to smile at her, reaching to take her in his arms once more.
“Lotor…..Cortana knew…” Allura’s voice in his ear, the girl upset and frantic. “She said she was going to kill me and my baby to activate Voltron!”
“What? How…” Lotor paused, then growled, anger making him sound dangerous. “How could she have known about that?!”
“I don’t know….but she was determined to kill me.” Allura replied, squeezing her arms tight around Lotor’s shoulders. “Said she would bathe the lions in my blood if she had too!”
“I’ll kill anyone who even thinks to shed your blood! This I promise you!” vowed Lotor, though he sensed she was hardly comforted by his words.
“The lions are here…” It was not a question she asked, Allura sounding sure about the lions arrival. Lotor nodded, almost cracking a smile when Allura wilted in relief. “Thank goodness…..it means Doom is saved…”
“Yes.” Her next words surprised him, Allura letting out a giddy sounding laugh.
“You didn’t have to die!!”
“Were you worried about me?” He asked, and she pulled back enough to stare seriously into his eyes.
“Of course I was.” Allura told him, tone earnest. “I would be an unfeeling monster to feel anything less than concern for you.” It wasn’t the heart felt proclamation he wanted, but at least she could admit to feeling something for him. “Oh!” Her eyes widened, a thought occurring to her. “What about Cossack?! Is he all right? What about the girls from Arus? Did you find them okay?”
Lotor held back a sigh, noting Allura had room in her heart to show concern for many people. It made him feel less special, Lotor hiding a frown. “Cossack will be all right, although I suspect he may have to spend a few days in the hospital for observation.” He could see the relief on her face, Lotor continuing. “The slaves from Arus were also taken to the hospital wing. They should still be there.”
“Thank goodness.” She whispered, and slumped in his arms. He checked her to make sure she hadn’t lost consciousness, seeing Allura was merely resting against his chest. She seemed too tired and weak to be able to walk on her own, Lotor wondering just how he was going to get both Allura and Haggar to the hospital wing. He didn’t want to leave Allura behind, and he knew she’d be angry if he left Haggar alone for even an instant.
“Allura..” Lotor gently shook her, trying to keep her attention focused on him. He was worried about the amount of blood she had lost, feeling it too had a part to play in her weakness. “Can you walk if you lean on me?”
“I…I think so…” She said, and he smiled, lifting her off the slab. But upon setting her feet down on the floor, she nearly collapsed, Lotor catching her at the last minute.
“Seems that’s not an option.” Lotor muttered, wondering if he could carry both Allura and Haggar over his shoulders at once.
“I’m sorry…..I’m just so tired….” apologized Allura, leaning heavily against him. “If I could just rest a little, I know I’d be good to go.”
“All right, we’ll rest then.” Lotor said, and Allura shook her head.
“No, I will rest. You take Haggar and get her to a doctor.”
“Allura I’m not going to leave you here! Not for one second longer than I have too!” protested Lotor.
“You don’t have a choice…” She started to say, Lotor frowning down at her. “You can’t carry us both.”
“You’re being stubborn.” Lotor told her, seeing her blink in surprise at him. “You can’t just think about yourself now. You’re pregnant. The baby could have been weakened by all that has happened to you. If you won’t go out of concern for yourself, than go for our child.”
“I…” She looked chagrined, as though coming to the realization that he was right. “Yes….for our baby…” She was unprotesting as he lifted her up off the floor, cradling her close to his chest so that she rested her head just about where his heart lay. She wrapped her arms around him, holding onto him for support as he walked past Haggar, and down the aisle between bookcases.
They drew near to Cortana’s body, the hole in her chest an ugly thing, that showed the insides of her body. Allura made a dismayed sound, and Lotor soothed her, allowing her to hide her face against his chest. “Don’t look Allura.” He advised, quickly moving past the body. “Don’t even waste a minute of your time thinking about her.”
“I won’t.” A shaken Allura whispered, and Lotor stepped out into the hall. He heard a glad shout, men hurrying towards them, dressed in the uniforms of the castle guards.
“Your highness, thank the Gods you are all right!” One exclaimed, the others murmuring in agreement. Lotor didn’t pause, moving past them as he gave commands.
“My father’s witch has been killed. See that her body is disposed of.”
“Cortana killed?” One said in shock, the others whispering things as they made the holy symbols of their Gods over their chest.
“Haggar is also there. See that she is brought to the hospital wing immediately.” Lotor told them, hearing the leery protests come from the men. “Is there a problem?”
“It’s just….Cortana’s den….it a place of forbidden magic….I don’t think we should enter….”
“Are you afraid sergeant?” Lotor demanded, no humor in his tone.
“Er….not exactly…” The Drule shifted in place, looking anywhere but at his prince.
“She’s dead sergeant. She can’t harm you anymore. I, however…” Lotor allowed a feral grin to twist his lips, seeing the guard flinch back in fear. “Can. So I suggest you get in there, and do as I ordered, lest you find your lives shortened considerably.”
The guards didn’t dare grumble within ear shot of Lotor, performing stiff backed bows before turning away to creep towards the witch’s lair. Lotor waited, watching as they hesitantly crossed the threshold of the room, and only then did he resume walking.
“Lotor?” Allura’s soft voice, the girl sounding as though she was struggling to remain awake. “Would you really kill them for refusing to help Haggar?”
“They’re doing as I commanded, so we need never find out.” Lotor retorted, knowing it was the closest he’d come to answering her question truthfully.
“Hmm…” Allura fell quiet, Lotor walking quicker through the halls, being careful not to jostle her as he moved. Just when he thought she had fallen asleep, she spoke, head turning to peer up at him. “Haggar’s not just a nursemaid, is she?” He hesitated, casting a surprised glance down at Allura. She smiled up at him, shifting in his arms. “It’s all right. You can tell me.”
“No Allura, she’s not.” Lotor admitted, frowning when she giggled.
“I knew it.” A shake of her head, eyes looking full of wonder. “I had my suspicions because of the magic lessons. No nursemaid I know of has ever dabbled with magic. But I was willing to write it off as a custom known to the Drules. But…”
“But what?” prodded Lotor, seeing Allura was starting to nod off once more.
“She was just too knowledgeable about magic. About magic that had nothing to do with birthing a baby.” Another smile from Allura, the girl continuing. “And when we joined hands, and shared power, that’s when I knew. Knew she was a powerful witch.”
“And that doesn’t change your opinion of her?” questioned Lotor, seeing Allura shake her head no.
“No, she’s a good woman. I trust her…”
Lotor kept quiet about Haggar being a good woman, the prince having his own doubts about that. But if he thought about it, really sat back and examined her past history, there was little he could find that was actually evil. “Yes….” Lotor at last said, his agreement appeasing Allura. “I suppose she is.” Satisfied, Allura closed her eyes, and snuggled against his chest, her breathing evening out as she went to sleep.