The room was loud with noise, such as the sound of footsteps as medical personnel rushed in and out of the room. The two doctors and their many nurses talked constantly, words coming out foreign, Allura unable to understand even half of what they said. Her skill with the Drule language was still so limited, and even if they had been talking in Basic, she would have been at a loss over the medical terms they used.
So she tuned them out, concentrating instead on the sounds of the machines, listening to the little clicks and clacks, and electronic whirring. Mostly she paid attention to the beeping, knowing that particular machine was set up to monitor not only her heart, but the heart of her unborn child. Allura took comfort in listening to her baby’s heart beat, noticing that though it was erratic in speed, it still sounded so strong.
She couldn’t wait until this was all over with, Allura eager to meet her child, to look into her son or daughter’s eyes for the first time. She already felt the connection with the child, it had been fostered over the past nine months, making her feel closer to the baby than to anyone else in the room save for her husband Lotor. He stood to the side of the bed, fussing over her, a wash cloth in hand. He kept dabbing the soft cloth against her face, soaking up the perspiration that beaded on her skin.
She smiled up at him, able to manage such a happy expression because she was in between contractions. It was odd, but that brief time between contractions was a time of peace for Allura, her body almost pain free, the princess feeling tired but otherwise in good spirits. It was when the contraction hit that her face distorted with pain, Allura all but screaming as she fought not to push before the doctor gave her the okay.
She had two doctors, both women, and they checked on her constantly, making sure the dilation process was occurring without problems. Allura knew she was close to being fully dilated, waiting almost impatiently for the permission to start pushing. A nurse was fiddling around with her iv, making sure nothing interrupted the flow of the fluids into Allura’s arm. Allura vaguely wondered why there was so many nurses hovering around her, not liking the nervous excitement that seemed to radiate off them. It made her worry, the princess wondering if they knew something she didn’t.
A nurse was fluffing a pillow, adding it to the pile that was situated behind Allura’s back, keeping her propped up slightly so that she didn’t lay flat on the bed. Allura had been in the bed for hours now, and when she wasn’t being hit with the pain of her contractions, she wanted out. She felt alternatively full of energy one minute, exhausted the next, Allura wanting to scream at the conflicting feelings she felt.
A contraction hit her, and she did scream, Lotor dropping the wash cloth to grab her hand. She squeezed her fingers tight around his, but even at her most vicious, she couldn’t get him to do more than grunt in acknowledgment of the pain she was inflicting. Allura tried her best not to thrash about, panting as she endured the pain. A voice somewhere near her feet was telling her to concentrate on her breathing, Allura’s breath coming out in a displeased hiss.
“Can I push now?” Allura cried out, in between exaggerated shows of breathing the way her birthing instructor had taught her.
The doctors held a hurried conversation, one ducking down to peer between her legs. She wished she could see what the woman was doing, but the blanket was in the way, draping over her legs to block her view of the lower half of her body. Lotor said something, his voice lacking it’s usual authoritative edge. He sounded worried, though he kept flashing her reassuring smiles, almost absent minded as he stroked her hair.
Finally the doctor straightened and nodded, speaking in halting basic. “Yes, your highness. Push now.”
It was almost relief that went through her, Allura giving in to that desperate need. They urged her to keep pushing all throughout the contraction, and by the time the pain subsided, she was practically limp, weak and panting. But she knew the worse was not over, the contractions would return, and each time she would have to push. Lotor kept right on holding her hand, voice excited as he urged her to breathe, and told her how he wished he could take her pain away. She barely responded to him, giving weak squeezes of his hand, bracing herself as another contraction hit her.
This contraction lasted long enough for her to do three pushes in all, Allura gasping in pain. Soon her world had narrowed down to nothing but contractions and the need to push, she would later learn the whole process of pushing had lasted little more than an hour and a half, and fifteen contractions in all. Allura could recall the stretching feeling as the baby’s head was pushed through her opening, a sense of relief following it’s emergence. The pressure was still there when she worked to push out the baby’s shoulders, but it wasn’t anything like the sensations she had felt when working on the baby’s head.
The rest of the baby’s birth proceeded smooth enough, the child slipping out almost faster than the doctors were prepared for. Allura let out a cry, falling back against the pillows with relief in her heart. She only had a few seconds to rest, worry worked it’s way through her as she realized her baby was not crying. “What’s wrong?” Allura asked, trying to keep the panic out of her voice. “Why is my baby not crying? Lotor? Tell me what’s wrong!”
“Shhh….” He said to her, but he wasn’t looking at her but at the doctors whose voices were an excited chatter. They hurried away from her, going off to a special table in the corner, nurses joining them there. There was five people in all around her baby, blocking her view, and causing Allura to grow all the more concerned. She tried to sit up, determined that if no one would tell her what was going on, she’d get off the bed and walk over there herself.
“Where do you think you’re going?!” demanded a nurse, taking Allura by the shoulders and pushing her back against the pillows. Even Lotor looked stunned at his wife’s actions, the prince reaching to hold onto her more securely.
“My baby!” Allura said insistently. “What’s wrong with my baby? Why is there no crying?”
The nurse ignored her questions, running her hands over her stomach, checking for something. Another nurse was checking on Allura’s heart monitor, frowning at the rapid way it beat. Allura couldn’t calm herself down, feeling panicked over her baby’s condition. She didn’t even know if it was a boy or a girl, she just knew something was wrong, and they weren’t telling her what.
“Lotor…” She was tearful, emotions running rampant. It wasn’t fair. This was supposed to be a happy time, a joyous occasion as she gave birth to their child.
“It’s all right Allura…” But he didn’t sound reassuring, Lotor squeezing her shoulder. “They’re just making sure everything is all right…”
“But…” To her relief she heard something, a weak sounding wail as her baby let out it’s first cry. The doctors made some excited sounds, and Allura sagged with relief to hear her baby crying. “Please….” She said, looking imploringly at the nurse. “I want to see my baby.”
It took another five minutes before they brought the child to her, the doctors having taken care to clean the blood and fluids off the baby. They placed the child on her abdomen, Allura reaching down to carefully stroke a finger on the soft white fuzz that was atop the baby’s head. A scrunched up face stared at her, Allura noting the baby had a mixture of her and Lotor’s eyes, almond shaped blue ones, that held a black slit in the center. The hair was not the only thing their baby shared in common with it’s father, the skin was blue, but a far paler shade than any color ever seen on a Drule.
“Hello little one…” Allura said softly, just staring at her child. Lotor reached to carefully touch the baby’s back, one large finger stroking along the child’s skin. The baby continued to cry, and Allura cooed at it, just staring in amazement at this wonderful, perfect specimen of a child.
“It’s a girl.” The doctor spoke softly, not wishing to intrude on the tender moment between proud parents and baby.
“A girl.” Allura whispered, awed. She couldn’t take her eyes off her daughter, not even to glance at Lotor and see how he felt about it. “A little princess.”
“She’s beautiful.” Lotor said, and she could hear the pride in his tone. “Just like her mother.” Allura laughed at that, thinking she must look an awful mess, all sweaty and tired out from the process of delivering their baby.
“The most beautiful little girl in the world.” Allura confirmed, unable to stop touching her baby. She wanted to hold the baby in her hands, cradled the child in her arms, and yet she was scared, fearing this fragile little person would break at the slightest touch. Lotor’s hand looked so big next to the child, as though he could easily fit the baby in just his palm. He too was being as careful as she in the handling of their child, treating their daughter like she made of porcelain.
“Excuse me…” The doctor’s tone was apologetic, gloved hands reaching for the baby. “We still need to run some tests on the child.”
“Tests?” Allura managed to tear her eyes away from her baby, aiming a questioning look at the doctor. She moved, carefully clutching her daughter’s body, trying to ward off the doctor’s hands. “What kind of tests?”
The doctor had hesitated, not wanting to fight with her for the baby. Instead she glanced at Lotor, almost looking helpless as the woman looked to the prince for guidance. “Allura…” Lotor’s hand landed on her shoulder, the prince’s tone low but urgent. “Please….allow them to do this.”
“What kind of tests?” She repeated, still holding on to her daughter protectively. She was prepared to fight when Lotor reached for her hands, attempting to pull her fingers off their baby. Another contraction hit her, Allura tensing up in pain, the distraction allowing the doctor to snatch the baby from her. She tried to protest, but it came out a soft wail, the baby’s cries distressing her as much as the pain in her body.
A nurse moved into place between Allura’s legs, holding a metallic tray and urging the princess to push. She was dimly aware that her body was ejecting the after birth, a process that was slightly less painful than the actual birth of her daughter. The whole experience kept her distracted, buying Lotor and the doctors time to avoid answering Allura’s questions.
As she expelled the after birth, she was aware of the doctors back in their corner, doing things to her daughter. Lotor kept on holding Allura’s hand, but she could see he was distracted, staring over to where the baby lay. “Wh…” She mumbled, licking her dry lips, trying to voice her question. “What are they doing to her?”
“They’re checking for things…” Lotor began, voice hesitant. She risked taking her eyes off the doctors to look up at her husband. “It’s fine.” He added, forcing a smile on his face. “They just want to make sure everything is all right with the new princess.”
“I don’t believe you.” Allura said, ignoring the feel of the nurse touching a wet towel between her legs. The water was lukewarm, the nurse working to clean Allura up of blood and body fluids. “There’s something going on. I can tell even if I don’t speak the language one hundred percent.”
He actually sighed at that, refusing to meet her eyes. “All right Allura, I’ll be honest with you.” His serious tone made her even more worried, Allura tightening her fingers’ grip on his hand. “Our daughter is….weaker than expected. She….her heart isn’t very strong, and they’re worried about her lungs.”
“Her lungs? What about her lungs?” Allura couldn’t keep the hysterical edge out of her voice, the princess trying to swing her legs off the side of the bed. The nurse grabbed at her ankles, using her Drule strength to force Allura back onto the bed.
Lotor said something in Drule, one of the doctor’s hesitating before answering. “It’s….it’s a breathing problem…” Lotor began, sounding like he was unsure of what he was saying. “I think you humans call it asthma….”
“Asthma?” Allura repeated, alarmed. “Our baby has asthma?”
“From what the doctor’s have ascertained…..yes.” Lotor confirmed, leaving Allura shocked. She barely paid any attention to the nurses’ actions, the Drules removing the suction caps that adhered to her skin, another carefully taking out the iv line. All she could think on was her baby’s condition, wondering if her child would ever have a chance at a normal life, would she be able to run and play without succumbing to the need to use an inhaler.
“Is there anything else wrong with her?” Allura hated to asked, fearing Lotor would nod his head. Instead he just shrugged, looking uncertain.
“They still have tests to run…” He answered, glancing at the nurse who was fiddling with the railing of Allura’s bed.
“We’re ready to move her to her room.” The nurse said, speaking in Basic for Allura’s benefit.
“Not without my baby.” Allura insisted, and the nurse glanced at Lotor for help.
“Allura be reasonable.” Lotor said, brushing fingers through her mussed hair. “They just want to see to your comfort. I’m sure they will bring our daughter in to see us just as soon as they can.”
“Let them work without us hovering over them.” Lotor advised, and she sighed, defeated.
“All right.” Allura said, allowing Lotor to scoop her up in his arms. He held her up in the air, waiting for the nurse to draw near with the wheelchair. He carefully deposited Allura into it’s seat, the nurse taking position up behind it. Allura stayed slumped in her seat, staring at the corner where she could glimpse her baby, a suction cup on it’s chest, it’s wire coiling over to a machine that monitored it’s heart beat. It was weak but steady, beating away as her daughter fought to live. Allura took comfort in the sound of her daughter’s weak cries, taking it as proof that she was still alive if she could scream like that.
“Let’s go.” The nurse said, and began wheeling Allura towards the room’s exit. The princess gripped the arm rest of the wheelchair, digging her nails into the fabric as she willed herself to remain seated. It was a struggle, she wanted nothing more than to run over to her daughter and hold her. She didn’t know how Lotor was handling this, keeping away from their baby as long as he had.
They walked in silence to the private hospital room Allura had been assigned to, the princess feeling empty and numb now away from the birthing room, and her child. The nurse disappeared into the bathroom, the sounds of water drifting out into the main room. Allura barely paid attention until Lotor lifted her up out of the wheelchair, cradling her against his chest as he walked.
The bathtub was half full with warm water, Lotor and the nurse working together to strip Allura of her soiled nightgown. As tired as she was, it felt good to be out of that dirty and wet garment, Allura letting out a sigh as she was set down in the tub. She leaned against the side, the nurse slipping a bath cushion behind her neck so that Allura could rest comfortably in the water.
When the nurse moved to bathe her, Lotor chased her away, taking the wash cloth and soap from the woman. “Let me.” He said, and even though it was probably against hospital protocol, the nurse agreed. The woman left the room, and Allura could hear her moving about the bedroom, doing various tasks to prepare the room for Allura’s return.
Both Lotor and Allura were quiet, the Drule soaping up the towel, working it into a fine white lather. He touched it to her neck, carefully easing the towel downwards, and under normal circumstances Allura would have smiled. “I won’t break.” She said out loud, feeling him scrub the towel across her collar bone. “You can rub a little harder.”
“Are you sure?” Lotor asked, sounding anxious. “I don’t want to hurt you.”
She struggled to lift her arm, placing her hand on the side of his face. “You won’t.” That set him off towards washing her arm, spreading the soap all over her skin, before focusing on the left one. He touched the towel to her chest, all business as he caressed the towel over her breasts, going lower to wash over her belly.
The bath was a speedy process, Allura didn’t think she spent even ten minutes in it’s warm waters before Lotor was rinsing her off. When he reached to help her out of the tub, she wrapped her arms around him, neither the prince nor herself caring if they got his clothes wet. “Thank you.” Allura murmured as he lifted her out of the tub. “It feels good to be clean.”
“You’re welcome.” Lotor was serious, using a towel to help dry her off. The nurse entered the room, a fresh night gown over her arm, and together with Lotor helped to dress Allura into the clean garment. Her husband then carried her to the bed, careful as he laid her down, Allura feeling relief to feel the soft mattress beneath her. “You did so well Allura.” Lotor was petting her hair, speaking softly to her. “I’m proud of you.”
“But…our daughter…” She began, voice sad.
“It’s not your fault.” Lotor was quick to reassure her. “You did everything right. Not just today, but all throughout your pregnancy. You took care of yourself, ate well, kept up on all your doctor visits. It should have been a perfect birth, there shouldn’t have been any complications with our daughter.”
“She should have been born healthy…” Allura whispered, surprised her eyes weren’t welling up with tears. She felt too tired to cry, exhaustion making it’s way known throughout her body. And yet she refused to go to sleep, ignoring the lulling touch of Lotor’s fingers in her hair.
“We’ll get her the best care possible.” Lotor told her, settling his frame on the edge of the bed. “Money will be no object.”
“What if it’s not enough?” Allura asked, snuggling against Lotor’s side. “What if they can’t fix her?”
“‘Shh…..don’t think like that.” Lotor urged her. “You must stay positive Allura. Don’t give in to the doubts.”
“Answer me!” Allura pleaded, fingers grasping at Lotor’s damp shirt. “What will we do if she di—”
“Don’t say that!” Lotor snapped, voice harsh enough to cause Allura to flinch back. His expression softened at her fearful movement, Lotor taking hold of her hands, thumbs stroking the back of them. “I’m sorry….I just don’t want you to entertain any negative thoughts about our daughter. She needs our prayers, and our positive energy.”
“I know…” Allura spoke quietly, trying to take comfort from his touch. “I have to be strong now for her.”
“We have to be strong.” Lotor corrected her, placing a kiss on the top of Allura’s head. “With the two of us pulling for her, she’ll survive anything.”
“Yes.” Allura tried to ignore her doubts, knowing she wouldn’t be able to calm down until she was holding her daughter in her arms once more. “Excuse me…?” She caught the eye of the nurse, the Drule woman standing off to the side, attentive to Allura’s needs.
“Yes, your highness?” She asked, coming closer to the foot of the bed.
“Please…my baby. Can’t you go find out what is happening with her?” The nurse looked hesitant, Allura pleading with her. “Please…I won’t be able to settle down until I get some news!”
“I…I’m not supposed to leave you alone.” The nurse began, Lotor interrupting her.
“She won’t be alone. I’ll be with her.” The nurse looked upset, as though the woman wanted to argue but didn’t dare do it with the prince. “Please.” He added, voice soft rather than commanding. “I will watch over my wife. You just go and find out about our daughter.”
“All right.” The nurse agreed with a sigh, performing a stiff backed bow before turning to exit the room.
“Do you need anything Allura?” Lotor asked, looking down at her as she snuggled against him, arms wrapped around his waist. She thought about his question, but ultimately ended up shaking her head no.
“Just our daughter.”
“Don’t worry. She’ll be with us soon.” Lotor told her, the sincerity in his voice making Allura believe him. She peered up at him, blinking as he tenderly brushed the hair out of her eyes, smoothing the long strands to tuck them behind her ears. “Health problems aside, our daughter is near perfect, wouldn’t you say?”
She thought about the tiny face she had seen, the soulful blue eyes she had gazed in. It was too soon for their baby to be able to recognize her parents, and yet she thought their daughter had been glad to see her. The eyes were indeed the window to the soul, and Allura felt her baby had a beautiful one indeed. “Perfect.” She agreed with a smile, inclining her head in a nod.
“And she’ll only grow more beautiful as she gets older.” Lotor continued, tone boasting. “Why we’ll be having to fight off suitors left and right.”
“Just remember…” Allura began, her words a cautious reminder. “You can’t toss every man who comes to court her to the robeasts.”
“Why not?” Lotor asked, looking close to pouting.
“Well, for one it’s uncivilized!” Allura exclaimed. “And second, some of these men will be powerful. You could start a war if you dispose of them.”
“I’d start several wars to protect our daughter from the evils of men!” Lotor told her, expression deadly serious.
“Let us not be so hasty. I’m sure she will end up with a good man.” Allura replied, inwardly laughing at how worked up Lotor seemed to get at the thought of his daughter being courted. She supposed he knew first hand the evils that he spoke of, Allura knowing their own courtship had been unorthodox at best.
“I’d feel better if she didn’t have to marry at all.” Lotor muttered, then spoke louder. “She could rule as the Virgin Queen of Doom.”
“What would she do when it came time to name an heir?” The ever practical Allura asked him. Lotor hesitated a moment, thinking it over.
“She could adopt.” He said at last, his answer really surprising Allura.
“You would be okay with that?” Lotor nodded, Allura letting out a low chuckle. “But our daughter is beautiful. I’ve never seen eyes like her. Or skin that shade of blue for that matter. Lotor? Why is she so light in skin tone?”
“I think it has to do with how human she is.” Lotor answered, his shoulders doing a shrug. “After all, her blood is more human than Drule. I suppose it’s lucky she even retains any Drule characteristics. But it’s a pretty enough shade.”
“The others won’t look down on her for her human blood, will they?” Allura worried out loud.
“They wouldn’t dare too!” Lotor exclaimed, looking fierce and protective. “She will still be a princess of the court, human blood or not, and as such they must treat her with respect. But…” He smiled then, a proud father’s fondness showing in his eyes. “I’m sure they will love her. How could they not? She is a little charmer.”
“Lotor, we’ve barely spent anytime with her to know that!” Allura giggled as she pointed that out.
“Ah, but she is. She is my daughter, and we all know I am a natural born charmer.” Lotor grinned.
“Don’t forget about that ego of yours.” Allura added, making Lotor’s grin die down.
“It’s not ego, it’s the truth!” She just giggled at that, Lotor growling softly in response. “She’ll have inherited the best qualities from us both.”
“I hope so.” Allura murmured, trying to stifle a yawn.
“You can rest.” Lotor told her, trying to ease her back against the pillows. She stubbornly tightened her hold on his waist, refusing to let go of him. “You’ve more than earned a right to sleep.”
“I’ll sleep later.” Allura insisted, even as she fought another yawn. “Want to see our daughter first.” But Lotor’s hand was on her hair, petting her into compliance, Allura’s eyelids drooping. She must have slept, for the next thing she was aware of was laying flat on the bed, staring up at the ceiling. She blinked her eyes rapidly, trying to chase off the remains of sleep, surprised that she had succumb to her body’s urges when she was so worried.
“Lotor?” She whispered his name, turning to look at him. He was slouched over in the chair next to the bed, body in an uncomfortable position. His eyes were closed, lips parted just enough for a soft snore to escape him. It made her smile to see him, Allura reaching out to tenderly touch his face. He snorted, eyes snapping open as the same instant he snagged hold of her wrist, Lotor instantly on guard from attack.
“It’s just me.” Allura assured him, and he relaxed, though he didn’t let go of her hand. “Has there been any word?” She asked, watching as he kissed the back of her hand, his lips making an apology for grabbing her like that.
“Not yet.” Lotor frowned, glancing at the chrono meter that hung on the wall. “It’s been hours….what’s taking them so long?”
“Can you go check?” Allura asked, and he hesitated.
“Not supposed to leave you alone….”
“I got the remote right here.” Allura said, reaching for the device that would call for a nurse in the case of an emergency. “I promise if I feel the slightest bit of discomfort, I’ll send for a nurse.”
“If you’re sure…” He still looked uncertain, Allura fixing him with her most irresistible look.
“I’m sure. I’ll be fine Lotor. Just find out about our daughter.”
“All right.” He stood, pausing long enough to brush a kiss across her lips. “I won’t be long. And if luck is on our side, I will return with our daughter.”
“I’d like that.” Allura said, watching as he strode out of the room. He closed the door behind him, leaving Allura all alone in the hospital room. She sighed and looked around, noting the view screen mounted near the ceiling, positioned in a way that was most uncomfortable for one’s neck. Still she reached for the remote, wanting something to take her mind off worrying, and finding nothing on the many holo channels did the trick.
She was left sighing, Allura dropping the remote on the bed, view screen clicked to the off position. She wasn’t sure how many minutes she had wasted with the view screen, but Lotor still wasn’t back, leaving Allura to frown. She fidgeted with her hands, fingers pulling out the loose threads on her blankets, hoping against hope that Lotor would not return with bad news about their daughter.
Several more minutes passed, and then she heard a noise outside her door. A child was crying, voice a weak sounding wail that she instantly knew was her baby’s voice. She cheered up immediately, a smile lighting her face as she stared expectantly at the door. The knob turned, door opening slowly, the cry growing louder as a large shadow fell on the floor.
“Lotor…” began Allura, pleased he had returned with their daughter. “Did the doctors say it’s all right to….to…” She trailed off, smiled dying down on her face at the sight of the man who was holding her baby. It was no prince of Doom that cradled the child to his chest, using only one hand to hold the baby in place, claws looking deadly next to the girl’s head.
“Zarkon…” She whispered his name fearfully, her eyes locked into place on the screaming baby the king held.
“Hello Allura.” Zarkon said, letting the door fall close behind him. He stepped nearer to the bed, glittering gold eyes staring at her, satisfaction on his face at her reaction to his presence.
“I…I see you’ve met your granddaughter…” Allura tried for a calm front, but inwardly she feared he could sense how rapidly her heart was beating, the princess wondering if the old Drule could smell her fear.
“Yes, such a fragile little thing.” Zarkon seemed immune to the baby’s wailing, still holding her in that careless manner. She wanted to scream at him, to demand him to hand over her baby to her, but instead she forced herself to appear as unaffected as she could.
“May I hold her?” Allura asked, reaching out with her arms towards the king. “Please?”
“I was against this marriage from the start you know.” His tone was conversational, his claws carefully touching the back of the baby’s head, as he ignored Allura’s begging. “I knew nothing good would come of my son’s union with you.” His look was pure disgust as he fixed his gaze on the child, Allura’s daughter continuing to scream, squirming about that she feared her daughter would wiggle free of Zarkon’s grasp.
“Please…” Allura tried to ignore what he was saying, leaning forward as though she would pluck her baby from the king’s arms.
“You were always making trouble for me….not because you were strong and an able fighter…” Zarkon continued, stepping back out of Allura’s reach. “But because my son so foolishly believed he loved you. It made him weak, that emotion, made him do stupid things that allowed you humans to win against the Doom Empire time and time again.” He snorted then, voice just loud enough that she didn’t have to strain to hear him speak. “You never even apologized for the trouble you caused me. The money and resources your resistance cost me.”
“I’ll say it now.” Allura whispered, feeling frantic for her baby, knowing no good could come of Zarkon holding her daughter. “I’m sorry.”
“I’m sorry is too little and too late now.” Zarkon told her, and her baby wiggled in such a manner that half it’s body now dangled precariously from Zarkon’s careless grip. “The damage has been done. In more ways than one.” He looked now at the baby, a sneer on his face as he took in her features and light blue skin. “You couldn’t even give him a boy.”
“Lotor loves our daughter. He has since the moment he laid eyes on her.” Allura informed him, her hands fisting the blanket as she watched Zarkon scowl.
“Yes. He would, wouldn’t he? Such a soft, sentimental fool I have for a son.” Zarkon made a tsking sound, and in a move that made her heart stop, he carelessly switched hands, nearly dropping the baby in the process. He actually caught her by her foot, leaving her to dangle upside down for an instant before he carefully righted her, pressing her against his robe.
She remembered the remote, lying besides her on the bed, Allura making a move towards it. “Ah ah ah!” Zarkon chided, and slowly began lifting his fingers off the child. “If you call for help, if you so much as look at that remote, I’ll drop your brat right where I stand.”
“Why would you do that?” Allura demanded, narrowing her eyes at him. “How can you be so cruel?!”
“Cruel? No no no! I am being practical.” Zarkon retorted with a hiss, securing his hold on her daughter once more. “The child is weak, sickly, she probably won’t live long at this rate. She’d be a burden on Lotor, a drain on his money and emotions. It’s better to kill her now than watch her grow older, watch her hold on Lotor strengthen.”
“Have you talked to the doctors?” Allura demanded. “Do you know something more than what they told me?!”
“I know enough.” Zarkon snapped, his angry roar frightening the baby into crying harder. “She has two strikes against her. Two reasons why she can never be a legitimate heir to the Doom throne. Bad enough you give Lotor a daughter, but to give him one that is so weak, so utterly human and rife with sickness. It is an insult!”
“It was an accident.” Allura retorted, inching towards the edge of the bed. “I could no more choose the gender of my baby then I could choose if she be healthy or ill!”
“This child will bring my son nothing but pain and suffering.” Zarkon spoke as though Allura had said nothing, looking over the screaming baby. “It’s better to end it now, before Lotor can form a deeper attachment to this girl.”
“End it now?” Allura was alarmed, swinging her legs over to the edge of the bed. “What are you going to do?!”
“Why I am going to put this child out of it’s misery.” Zarkon grinned evilly at her, Allura’s feet touching the cold linoleum of the floor. “Don’t worry, I’ll be sure she doesn’t suffer. She won’t even know what has happened.”
“Monster!” She tried to stand on her own, and her legs gave out from beneath her, still too weak from her birthing ordeal to properly support her. She hit the floor with a scream, hearing Zarkon laugh, the sound malicious and cruel.
“Do not try to strain yourself Allura. I am only doing what is best for the child. After all…” He walked around the edge of the bed, his feet stopping before her face. She pushed on her hands, glaring up at him, seeing the evil look on Zarkon’s face. “The members of my court would not suffer the presence of such a weakly princess. If I don’t kill her, one of them will, and I can assure you they will not show the tender mercy of the pain free death I offer.”
She grabbed at his legs, using his body as support to pull herself up to her knees, glaring at him all the while. “I will kill you if you harm my baby!”
Zarkon laughed at that. “I admire your spirit Allura. It’s a pity you’re a weak human.” He stared down at her, and odd look in his eyes. “Perhaps the fault lies not with you, but in my son. Perhaps if I was to make a child with you, we would create an heir strong enough to ascend to the Doom throne. Would you like that Allura? To bear a strong and healthy baby that is fit to rule my Empire?!”
“You’ll never touch me!” Allura hissed, one hand on his leg, the other reaching for the bed, grabbing hold of the mattress. “Me or my baby! Now give her to me!”
“Catch.” Zarkon said, making a move to drop the child. Allura screamed in horror, scrambling to grab hold of her daughter. At the last possible instant, Zarkon snagged the baby by her foot, hauling her up against his chest once more. He laughed again, the sound grating on Allura’s nerves, the princess staring at the king through eyes that were blurred with horrified tears.
“Stop it!” She cried out, using her grip on the mattress to haul herself up right. Zarkon still towered over her in height, staring at her in consideration. Her daughter seemed to sense her distress, wailing louder, Zarkon making no move to comfort the child.
“You’re so much fun to toy with.” Zarkon smirked, reaching out with his free hand to scrape a claw across her tear stained cheek. “Yes, cry some more. Let me taste the desperation in you.”
She opened her mouth to respond, just as the door to the hospital room was flung open. She and Zarkon turned at the same moment, Allura wilting in relief to see Lotor standing in the doorway. “Lotor!” She dropped back to the floor, his name a sob on her lips.
“Hello son.” Zarkon was calm, now using both hands to hold the baby.
“Father….!” Lotor’s eyes shifted from Zarkon standing there holding the baby to Allura laying on the floor, the prince looking disturbed by the scene. “Just what is going on here? What have you done? Why is Allura on the floor? Why is she so upset?”
“So many questions, Lotor.” Zarkon retorted, tone casual. “Do you really want to know the answers?”
“Yes, of course I do.” Lotor was already moving, door swinging close behind him as he stepped towards the bed. “I wouldn’t have asked otherwise.”
“Ah…” Zarkon looked down at the little girl he held against him, no sign of emotion on his face as he stared into her face. “I was merely discussing with your wife, your daughter’s future. Short though it may be.” A chuckle then, Zarkon returning his attention to his son. “From what I see, the princess’ prospects are limited at best.”
“He was talking about killing her.” Allura said, voice carrying clear and strong, with only the slightest hint of tears in her eyes. She was all eyes for Zarkon, watching him carefully, frightened that this monster would do something more to her baby.
“What?” Lotor’s voice was a carefully controlled hiss, shocked anger escaping him as came to a stop just inches from the king.
“It’s true!” Allura was urgent, desperate emotion showing on her face and in her voice. “Lotor…he dropped her. He dropped our baby!”
“The child is a liability to you.” Came Zarkon’s response, and Lotor let out a vicious growl, eyes narrowed into a glare.
“You’re not even going to deny it?!” The anger and animosity in Lotor’s voice was almost enough to get Allura to look away from Zarkon, the prince growling out how enraged he had become by Allura’s words.
“Why would I bother to lie?” Zarkon demanded, Allura’s breathing almost stopping when she saw him stroke his claws over the baby’s tender head. “The truth is a million times more devastating. The child will die…if not by my hands, or her weak little heart giving out, then by one of the many who seek to use her. You have enemies Lotor…ones that will do anything to seek revenge on you. They’ll make her suffer to hurt you….I’m only looking out for your best interests Lotor.”
“You are not!” Lotor shouted, and the baby began crying harder in response to his loud voice. “If you were, you wouldn’t even suggest such a horrid thing. You wouldn’t even THINK it. You would be focusing on a way to help us heal her, rather than this!”
“I’m trying to save you the heart ache that will come if you form an attachment to this child!” Zarkon snapped, not reacting when Lotor thrust his arms before him, hands gesturing impatiently for the baby to be handed over to him. “I’m trying to keep you from having a weakness that others could exploit!”
“Let them try!” Lotor hissed, his fingers grazing the baby’s back. “Now give me my daughter!”
“You’re a fool.” Zarkon said, his reluctance showing as he handed the child over to Lotor. Allura relaxed somewhat to see her husband holding their daughter, though she still panicked to see the king so close to her. Lotor cradled the child close to his chest, his hand holding the baby securely. She certainly wasn’t prepared for him to strike Zarkon, his fist moving so fast it was almost a blur of color.
The sound of his fist connecting with Zarkon’s jaw echoed through the room, a resounding crack that staggered the king backwards. Lotor himself was an odd mix of emotions, his one hand so gentle in the way he took care of his daughter, the other clenched into a tight fist, an angry sneer on Lotor’s face. “You are to never come near my daughter again. Do you understand me?! Never!”
“You struck me…” Zarkon said, slowly straightening up. Allura glanced at him, and saw a thin trickle of blood leaking out one corner of his mouth.
“You’re lucky that’s all I did!” Lotor retorted, and made a furious gesture to the door. “Now leave before I forget you are my father, and I do something worse to you.”
“You’re being irrational.” Zarkon muttered, moving past the glaring prince to head towards the door. “Perhaps when the excitement of a new baby wears off, you’ll realize the value of my idea. Yes….I’m sure in time you’ll come to regret not killing her. But…” A smirk then, Zarkon pulling open the door. “That is something we can easily fix…”
“GET OUT!” shouted Lotor, now using both hands to cradle and rock his screaming daughter. Zarkon just snorted and turned, slamming the door closed behind him, the glass rattling from the force of his slam.
“Lotor…” She whispered, still sitting on the floor, holding up her hands to him. He kneeled down besides her, not fighting her when she made a move to gently ease her daughter out of his arms. She began openly weeping, cradling the baby against her chest, aware of Lotor petting her hair, in an awkward attempt to calm her down.
“It’s okay…..it’s okay….” Lotor repeated the phrase over and over, voice a soothing lilt as he stroked his fingers through her hair. “I won’t let him harm our daughter. I won’t let anyone try.”
“You can’t guard her at all hours of the day.” Allura whispered fearfully, fat tears rolling down her cheeks as she sniffled.
“I’ll hire the best guards for our daughter.” Lotor quickly answered, wrapping his free arm around her so that he hugged Allura close to his chest. “They will be paid well, and will pay with their lives if something happens to her.”
That did little to calm Allura down, the princess crying, “What kind of life will she have if she is under constant guard?”
“A long one.” Lotor said at last, bringing his fingers to touch their baby whose cries had lessened in intensity. “A safe one.”
It would have to be enough, Allura realized, staring sadly down at her child. She knew how vicious the Drule Nobles could be, having had a taste of their true nature while she lived on Doom this past few months. Zarkon’s words were more accurate than she’d like to admit, Allura knowing they seized upon any weakness, using it to their advantage to further their own positions of power.
“Come…” Lotor was gathering Allura up in his arms, being careful as he lifted her and the baby up off the floor. She said nothing, just staring at the child in her arms as Lotor eased her down onto the hospital bed. He even took care to pull the sheets up over her legs, trying to make her more comfortable as he fussed over her. Little by little, she calmed down, enough to stop crying, and focus on easing her daughter’s distress.
The baby’s wailing lessened, and soon the child was fast asleep, resting her head on Allura’s breast. Allura risked a smile, glancing up at Lotor who was watching the tender scene, a half smile on his lips that couldn’t hide the fact that he was still unnerved by his encounter with his father.
“We haven’t given her a name yet…” Allura said softly, and Lotor looked surprised.
“You’re right, we haven’t. What do you suggest?”
Allura thought back on all the names they had discussed the previous months leading up to their daughter’s birth, remembering how they had narrowed it down to a choice of three names. “I…I want you to choose.”
“You would let me have that honor?” He looked touched, eyes softening as some of his tension fled in the wake of this important decision. Allura nodded, and he actually smiled, staring thoughtfully at the baby. “Aliana.” He said at last, having spent several minutes thinking on his choice. “Is that all right with you?”
“Aliana.” Allura whispered, looking down at her daughter. The baby made a sleepy little gurgle, and Allura laughed. “I think she likes it.”
“I think it was more a snore than any agreement from her.” Lotor joked, bending to brush a kiss on Allura’s forehead.
“Princess Aliana of Doom.” Allura murmured, carefully petting the white fuzz that passed for hair on her child. “She will have big shoes to fill.”
“But she’ll do it. Because she will be as brave and bold as her mother.” Lotor said, and Allura hoped he was right. She knew troubles would come, they would have to discuss Aliana’s health, the discoveries the doctors had made, as well as dodge assassination attempts from Zarkon and the other nobles. But for now it was a moment of peace for the three of them, Lotor and Allura basking in the quiet joy of the miracle that was Aliana.