She was moaning, turning back and forth in bed, making pitiful sounds. She could feel how wet with nervous sweat her hair was, her nightgown clinging to her body in damp patches. The bed sheets lay tangled around her legs, Allura making a half conscious move to kick free of them. She wanted her legs free, she needed them to retain mobility, the girl running in her dreams.
Dreams that were more like nightmares, the floodgates of her imagination opened after the traumatic events of the night before. But it wasn’t fanciful things she saw, Allura reliving events of the past, haunted by memories of Lotor. Of his hands holding her down, his lips on her mouth, and his eyes gleaming with a determined look. She twisted, kicking out with her trapped legs, somehow slipping free of Lotor’s hold.
She ran down a corridor, and with her came the ghost of her past self, the girl clad in the flimsy silk of a harem slave. That hated outfit covered little, designed to be easy access for a man’s rampant desires. She merged with her past self, tasting the familiar fear, feeling the panic increase with every step she took.
Running back and forth through the castle, hunted like an animal, her ultimate destiny to be the trophy of a monster. She didn’t even hear him behind her, he was just there, lunging forward so that his arms slid around her waist, his thrown weight bringing her down to the ground. She was stunned, seeing stars, Allura shaking her head, trying to clear the confusion. Lotor was there, easing aside the length of silk that hung down the front of her legs.
She was pinned, Allura’s breath wheezing out of her, Lotor’s finger caressing her in an abrupt manner. She hated the way he used her body against her, Lotor stroking fire into Allura even as she struggled against him. It did no good, he forced her legs to stay spread, the prince sliding into place between them. She felt the proof of his desire rubbing against her, Allura gasping out a panicked no.
She beat her hands against him, Lotor grabbing her wrists, forcing them down past her head. As he tried to penetrate her, Allura twisted, catching the sight of gold gleaming in the distance. It distracted her at a pivotal moment, Allura crying out in pain as Lotor thrust inside her. She wept real tears, feeling them streak down her face, Allura staring at the gold gleam.
It became more distinct, the girl realizing it was hair she had spied. A gold pool of it, spread out on the floor. Other details came into view, and soon it was like looking in a mirror, Allura seeing herself, seeing another time when Lotor had hurt her. He was pinning her down to the floor, hand on her back as he positioned himself behind her. Allura realized what she was seeing and screamed, the sound hoarse with fear.
Her mind sought to protect her from the horror, forcing her awake, Allura jerking up to a sitting position. For a second she didn’t see the room, her vision blurred with her tears. Her breath was loud in her ears, her scream echoing long after it had stopped.
The sound of it still ringing in her ears, Allura hugged her arms around her, shivering as though she was cold. Slowly her vision returned to normal, Allura staring at the darkened room. She let out a shuddery breath, and shifted across the mattress, leaning to the left to reach the lamp on the bed’s night stand. Her fingers fumbled for the switch, and then a dim light flooded the area by the bed, Allura letting out a startled sound.
He hadn’t reacted to her screams, hadn’t seemed to care, just standing there by her bedside, staring down at her with an unreadable expression. She stared up at him, wishing she hadn’t kicked the blanket onto the floor, Allura wanting to pull it over her and hide her body from his stare.
“Lotor.” She shivered as she spoke his name, Allura frightened by his nearness. She studied his face, noting it look haggard, dark circles under his eyes, the prince apparently having forgone sleep. His hair was wild, he hadn’t taken the time to run a comb though it. Even his clothes were disorganized, the same shirt and pants he had worn the night before. “Wh….what are you doing here?”
His golden eyed stare regarded her, Lotor silent for so long she thought he wasn’t going to answer. “Needed to see you.” He finally croaked out, and she lifted her brow, waiting for him to go on. “Allura…I was up all night, thinking about what you said. What you told me…”
“Oh?” A wistful sound, Allura wishing she could have forgone sleep rather than endure her nightmares.
“I can’t stand knowing you feel that way. That you think that way about us.” She shrugged, and gathered her knees against her chest, wrapping her arms around them so she stay huddled against the bed’s headboard. “It wasn’t all bad was it?” A searching stare from Lotor, the prince studying her face. When she said nothing, he continued. “It was different between us after I saved you from Merla and Morwin…you were grateful to be saved.”
“Yes….yes I was.” Allura agreed, and saw him frown.
“Then why? Why say it was nothing but rape?”
“You never ASKED me if I wanted to sleep with you.” Allura pointed out, making his frown deepen.
“You never said no though. I’m sure of it!”
“I didn’t dare too! I was frightened of what you would do if I told you no!” She brought up her hand to brush away her tears, sighing. “You made it clear in the past you didn’t handle rejection well. How much worse would it be if I said no to you?”
“I’d never hurt you!” He protested, and she couldn’t help herself, Allura making a scoffing sound.
“You hurt me plenty in the past.” She had to look away from his eyes, the gold looking full of pain at hearing her words. “And Arus needed saving…”
“So you whored yourself out to me?!” She flinched at Lotor’s words, Allura hearing the hard truth in his statement.
“It was the only thing I had left to give…No.” A shake of her head, frowning. “You would have had me anyway….Arus just guaranteed I didn’t fight you as hard.” Lotor was disappointed, she could see that. “Why did you come here Lotor? What did you hope to accomplish?”
“I thought we could come to an understanding of what happened between us during those first months together…” He answered, running an agitated hand through his hair.
“What more do you need?” Allura demanded crossly. “You saw, you wanted, you took. It’s a simple enough mentality to follow.”
“Besides…” She was glancing at him out the corner of her eye, watching the effect her words had on him. “Why should it matter what you did to me? You’ve done it before, to the countless women in your harem.”
“I wish that was jealousy in your voice….” He muttered, and she let out a bitter laugh.
“I don’t envy the women in your harem. We’ve all been made your victims…even if some of them fool themselves into believing they have feelings for you.”
That last statement might have been pushing him to far, his face turning angry. “I haven’t touched the women in my harem for months…not since the night you ended up in the hospital!”
“Ah yes, lucky me.” Allura was bitter, staring at her knees. “To bear the brunt of your….affection for all this time.”
“It’s more than affection!” Lotor all but shouted, and the bed creaked, the prince getting his knee up on it. “I’m in LOVE with you! I’ve been in love with you for a long time now!” She was scrambling, trying to lunge out of the way, fearful of what he would do. But he snagged her arm, and pulled her back against the pillows, forcing her to endure his closeness.
For one short minute, they just stared at each other, the two breathing just a little heavier as she lay trapped between his arms. But Lotor wasn’t touching her, careful to keep his hands on either side of her shoulders, a half an inch of space between them.
“Allura…it is love. I’ve never felt this way for anyone before…never had this kind of attachment, even with family. I would have done things differently with you if I had known I’d fall in love with you. You must believe me!” Lotor said heatedly.
She stared up at him, conscious of the fact that any movement of hers would bring her body brushing against his. “I don’t know if it’s love…” He made a protesting noise, but Allura didn’t quiet, determined to finish. “But I do believe you have feelings for me that are stronger than what you are used too. But…”
“But?” He repeated anxiously.
Allura sighed, but didn’t dare close her eyes. “Can you really say this love of yours would have protected me from your desires? That you wouldn’t have been driven to take what you wanted, even more because you felt so strongly for me?”
“I…I don’t know…” He admitted, and she sighed.
“It’s only recently that you’ve been making the effort to change. And it is an effort for you. I can see how you struggle to do what you think is right towards me.”
“No one ever said love was easy.” Lotor retorted, sticking stubbornly to the idea that he was in love with her. “We’ll look back on this one day…”
“And what? Laugh?!” She demanded hotly.
“No…..it’s no laughing matter. But we’ll wonder why it took so long for us to see the truth. Why it took you so long to realize I loved you.” He frowned when she did, the prince mirroring her expression. “What?”
“That it leaves you wondering why it took me so long to realize that means you still don’t understand the severity of the situation. That you still don’t think what you did was truly wrong!”
“I’m sorry if a lifetime of Drule culture and laws has made me….resistant to the idea that fucking a slave is rape.” He snapped harshly at her, Lotor angry once more.
“And that it is not considered a crime here…..that idea is abhorrent to me!” She shivered, pained and angry. “I don’t want to live in a world where that is normal. That that is expected behavior! I don’t want such values imparted on my children!”
“Then stay with me!” Lotor sounded as though he was half begging, half commanding. “Stay with US…” A hand on her belly, the touch possessive. “And teach them YOUR values. Teach them what is right from wrong.” She thought she would have hated him at the moment if he smiled at her, but fortunately he remained serious. “Show them what they need to know so they don’t make the same mistakes as their father.”
“You seek to blackmail me emotionally!” He made an annoyed sound, rolling off her. She immediately sat up, not quite glaring at him. “That’s not love! That’s not right, to keep giving me these horrible choices to make!”
“Horrible? Hmph. They could be a lot worse than you think!”
“What’s worse than having to leave behind my children?!” She demanded, and crawled off the bed, moving to pace back and forth by it’s side.
“Apparently, sleeping with me.” He sounded bitter, laying on his side, watching her move about the floor. Allura didn’t know what to stay to that, mouth opening and closing silently. “We still have almost five months before your choice…Five months Allura, to work together and make an outcome where we can all be happy.” A sigh then, Lotor looking downcast. “Because I won’t be happy without you by my side….just as you won’t be happy if you leave behind our family.”
“I think we’re doomed.” She said plaintively.
“We’re troubled…but it’s not yet a hopeless situation.”
“It feels like it is.” Allura said, coming to a halt as Lotor eased off the bed.
“It’s not.” He reached for her hand, turning it over to study her palm. She stood watching him, wondering what he was up to. “Can you tolerate this much?” He asked, stroking his fingers against the palm of her hand. She blinked, feeling the pleasant sensation of his finger’s caress.
“Yes.” She nodded, cautious of what he was doing.
“Then it’s not hopeless.” Lotor smiled at her. “You don’t hate all my touches. We can build on that. We can make things right between us.” He continued to stroke her palm, fingers moving downwards to skirt lightly over her wrist. She didn’t object, and after a few seconds he grew bolder, starting to rub his hand along the space between wrist and elbow.
“I don’t like when you grab me.” Allura told him, conscious of his touch on her arm. “Be it my body or my arm. It frightens me.”
“Then I will work with you so as not to frighten you.” Lotor told her. He stepped closer to her, and she tensed, fighting not to back away. He noticed and sighed, but did not stop caressing her arm. “Does my approach really bother you that much?”
“Sometimes it does.” She admitted. “It depends…”
“On the look in your eyes.” Allura shrugged, trying to think how to explain it. “Your eyes are the window to your soul. They show so much…they hint at your intentions….you get a gleam in them, a warning that you’re about to do something….naughty.”
“Naughty.” He repeated, sounding thoughtful. “Interesting choice of word. You don’t like when I’m naughty…”
“It usually means bad things for me.” She told him.
“We’ll have to work on that. Make it so that you anticipate the naughty, rather than fear it.” His fingers trailed back to her hand, Lotor taking hold of it. He tugged on her arm, and she moved, Allura following him across the bedroom floor. He led her into the outer chamber, and brought her over to the table, sitting her down before the breakfast of fresh fruits.
She reached for a strawberry with her free hand, Lotor continuing to hold her other one. He seemed to be content with that simple touch, Allura dipping the berry into a thick yellow cream. She was about to take a bite when he spoke, the girl glancing at him, seeing how serious he looked.
“Last night, the capital of Amazonia fell.” The strawberry fell to the table, the cream dripping globs on the surface.
“What?!” She gasped, shocked.
“It took the lions nearly two days of hard fighting, but they were successful. There was little loss on Doom’s side.”
“What about the Queen?” Allura asked, anxious to learn of Merla’s fate.
“Captured….and executed for her crimes against the Doom Empire.” He said this without inflection in his tone, Lotor a soldier reporting on the enemy. Allura sat there staring at him, her mouth a round o of shock. The seconds ticked by, a full two minutes before she broke the silence.
“How did she die?”
“I’m not sure you want to know…” Lotor hesitated, and Allura turned insistent.
“Tell me….please…” It was a morbid curiosity within her, Allura needing to know.
“Her Queen status did not prevent my father from ordering the most extreme execution given to our enemies.” His tone was bland, he was still trying to appear unaffected by what he was saying. “She was beheaded.”
“Beheaded?!” gasped Allura, and he nodded.
“Even as we speak, her head is being preserved….a trophy for my father’s collection. Her body has been burnt, denied the rites of a proper burial.”
“‘How…horrible…” Allura whispered, feeling a tear drip down her face. “I know she had to die…that she’d never stop so long as she lived…but..it’s harder than I thought to justify that death in my heart.”
“You need comforting.” Lotor noted, gently squeezing her hand. “Would it be all right if I put my arms around you?” She thought about it, Allura desperately needing the comforting touch of another being. But she wasn’t sure it would be okay if that person was Lotor, Allura hesitating. “I won’t misinterpret it’s meaning. It’ll only be a hug to relieve you of some of your distress.”
“Please Allura.” Lotor did not quite beg, his eyes staring into hers. “Let me do this for you.”
The tears fell faster, and Allura nodded, shifting in her seat to go into Lotor’s arms. She sniffled, trying not to sob, clinging to his shirt as she tried not to think on the horribleness of Merla’s final moments. Lotor kept his hands innocent, just holding her, his embrace relaxed and loose.
“She would have done the same to us.” Allura whispered. “I know that and yet….”
“And yet you cannot help but mourn the loss of a life.” Lotor noted, and she nodded. “You are a compassionate woman Allura. Just one of the many reasons I love you.” For once she didn’t object to his love, merely laying her head against his chest so she could listen to his strong heart beat. It was more proof that they were still alive, having defeated one of their numerous enemies. With Merla gone, that left only Zarkon, Allura wondering if the King would find a way to become even more dangerous to them before he died.