Freedom 07

When Allura woke up, for one brief instant she was disorientated, staring confused at the strange surroundings she found herself in. For all her time on the Voltron Force, out of all the strange places she had ended up spending a night in, never, ever had she awakened in a bathtub.

And yet here she was, body curled up in the jacuzzi sized tub, towels spread out to somewhat cushion her body. A folded up towel was beneath her head, Allura noticing the golden cursive letters written on it, the words in an unfamiliar language. She sat up, and at the sight of her torn top, the memories of last night came flooding back to her. Of waking up with Lotor on top of her, kissing and touching her, tearing at her clothes.

She shuddered, once again trying to pull the tattered remains of her blouse over her bra, but the damage was done. Her shirt simply wasn’t salvageable. With a sigh, she moved to climb out of the tub, stepping down gingerly onto the floor mat. She caught sight of her reflection in the mirror, it was impossible not to. Not when the mirror took up such a generous portion of the wall, a testament to how vain the owner of this bath was.

Allura stared at herself, seeing how wide open her eyes were, the blue of them frightened and wary. Her hair was wild, she was sure there would be some gnarly tangles to work out of that unkempt mess. Her skin looked slightly paler than it normally was, and she could see marks on her neck and her breast, dark bruises that she was slow to realize came from Lotor’s mouth suckling at her skin.

She gave a shake of her head, setting her blonde hair flying as she tried to block out the memory of his mouth on her. It had been strange, not entirely unpleasant, but oh so frightening to Allura. Never had she imagined such a thing could happen between a man and a woman. She wasn’t completely naive, her nanny had told her about sex, and what not to allow a man to do to her. But that had involved other parts of the body, no mention being made of a man’s fascination with a woman’s breasts.

Just thinking about it was making her blush, color restored to her cheeks. She took a step over to the sink, faucet switching on when she held her hands beneath it, water rushing out at the perfect temperature. She slapped some on her face, trying to freshen up a little, trying not to think on what she must do. Allura didn’t know how long she had been sleeping, but she knew she could not spend forever in Lotor’s bathroom. His patience would last only so long, and then she wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t break down the door and drag her out.

Eyeing the door warily, she reached for a towel, and came away with a bathrobe. Lotor’s by the size of it, and she hesitated as she touched the soft material. But only for a moment, then she was pulling it on, seeing it drape down past her knees, the sleeves covering her hands. It smelled of him, that scent of spice and musk surrounding her. She sighed, finding it yet another reminder of him, Allura realizing that last night there had been another smell added to his breath.

She inched closer to the door, hand reaching to switch off the lock. The whoosh of air as the door slid open sounded far too loud to Allura, the girl cringing as she cautiously poked her head out into the bedroom. Her eyes sought out the bed, to her relief it was empty, covers still drawn aside like they had been last night. But something was different about the bed, Allura noticing a thing of white laid out across the black sheets.

She crept closer to the bed, grateful for the carpet that muffled her booted footsteps. Curiosity was getting the better of her, Allura reaching out with one hand to touch the object, finding it made of cool silk. She lifted it up, discovering it to be a night dress, white and far more revealing than anything she had ever worn. She was staring at it, wondering where it had come from when a throat cleared.

Gasping, Allura turned, seeing Lotor leaning in the archway of the door that led to the other room. They stared at each other for a long moment, neither one daring to speak, although Allura was sure she was blushing. She was grateful for the bathrobe, glad it hid her breasts from his curious eyes. Lotor’s eyes briefly looked her over, but his expression did not change, mouth still devoid of humor and anger, leaving his mood unreadable to Alllura.

“I had that made for you.” Lotor said at last, gesturing at the night dress she held against her chest. “There’s some other dresses in the closet if you would like to change your clothing.”

“Th….thank you.” She said nervously, not making a move to see. She was too busy looking at him, wondering if her eyes showed her surprise at seeing him sans uniform. Instead of the familiar tunic and leggings, he was dressed in a black shirt that was partially open down the center of his chest. Light gray pants cinched around his waist, the material having appeared to be painted onto his figure.

“You could take a bath.” Lotor continued, seeming unaware of the way she was looking at him. “I’m sure it would be relaxing for you.” She was shaking her head, not quite trusting her voice. He frowned, Allura watching as the realization dawned in his eyes. “I won’t try to come in. You have my word, you’ll be unmolested.”

“Right.” Allura said, suddenly the words came tumbling out, delayed anger from last night forcing her to speak. “And you’ve proven how trustworthy that word is in the past!” She glared at him, seeing him blink, surprised. “Shall I make a list for you, stating all the instances of you going back on your word? I can assure you it will be quite lengthy!”

“Allura, be sure to note that on the rare occasion that I did give my promise…” Lotor began, voice level. “It was all on conditions that you failed to meet.”

“I don’t believe you!” She snapped, throwing the night dress onto the floor. “You lie and you manipulate….you twist things around to suit your advantage!”

“Be that as it may, I am always honest when it comes to you.” Lotor replied, and Allura shook her head no. “It’s the truth!” He added insistently, and she laughed at him.

“You wouldn’t know the truth if it bit you on the…” She hesitated, thinking of the more colorful words her male friends had accidentally used in front of her. “Foot.” She finished up lamely. Now it was Lotor’s turn to laugh, the man amused by her choice of words.

“Allura….for one to be as skilled a liar as you seem to think I am, I would need to be closely associated with the concept of truth.” She said nothing in response, just glaring at him. “This is ridiculous.” He muttered, and took a step into the room. She had to bite her tongue to keep from snapping back an insult, just watching as he approached her.

“Stay back!” Allura shouted, Lotor ignoring her panicked command. He was moving with a purpose, advancing quickly on her. She took a step back, and her legs hit the bed, Allura dropping down to sit on the edge.

Still not showing any emotion, Lotor bent over her, hands slamming down on either side of her legs, leaving her trapped between his arms. “I’ll scream….” Allura warned, and frowned to see a hint of a smile on his face, lips curving upwards.

“Go ahead. It’s not like anyone will hear you.” Lotor told her, and she inhaled, ready to let loose with her shrillest scream. “If you scream I will kiss you.” His words caused the scream to come out in a wheezing hiss of air, Allura staring alarmed at him.

“That’s better.” Lotor said, still bending down so that their faces were level with each other. “Now….I think we both know where this anger is coming from. And I think we both know what it is that needs to be done to appease it.”

“What?” whispered Allura, watching as a contrite look crossed Lotor’s face. No hint of his smirk remained, his eyes looking troubled as he spoke.

“I’m sorry.”

“What?!” Allura exclaimed, staring at him in surprise.

“For last night I mean. I shouldn’t have done what I tried to do.” Lotor looked abashed, uncomfortable with the idea of apologizing for his actions. “I just wanted to let you know I am sorry and…”

“And…?” She urged him onwards when he paused, almost forgetting to breathe.

“And it won’t happen again.” Lotor got out at last. “At least….not without your permission.”

“You’ll never have my permission!” She said promptly, watching his face for signs of anger. He merely sighed, face resuming that blank state, devoid of all emotion.

“We can worry about that later.” Lotor said, reaching for her hand. She reluctantly allowed the touch, Lotor’s thumb caressing circles on the inside of her wrist. With a gentle pull, he had her on her feet, Allura staring wordlessly at him. “Go….take your bath. Lock both doors if it’ll make you feel more secure.”

“What will you be doing?” Allura asked at last, Lotor seeming pleased by her show of interest.

“I will be seeing to breakfast.” Lotor said, laughing at the interested look that crossed her face. Much as she wanted to refuse his offer of a fresh meal, Allura’s stomach protested the thought, knowing the last time she had eaten anything was on the flight to Doom.

“All right….” Allura said, and Lotor let go of her hand. He took a step back, pausing only long enough to drop into an extravagant bow. She didn’t quite smile at him, watching his every move as he turned to leave the room. It was only when the door slid shut behind him that she hurried forward, fingers keying in the locking sequence. She wouldn’t let herself worry over the thought of Lotor having the commands to override the door. Such thoughts would only serve to see she never got clean.

Allura hurried into the bathroom, taking care to lock that door as well. She took the time to remove the towels from the tub, folding them neatly before setting them back on a shelf. Taking off the robe, which she hung up, she began to remove her clothing, looking around for a laundry hamper. Perhaps someone would be willing to sew up the tears in her shirt, at the very least the pants were salvageable.

She began opening cabinets, exploring their contents. She was amazed to find a vast array of soaps, oils and shampoos, nearly double the amount she had at home. “No wonder he has such great hair.” She murmured to herself, looking over the labels. She found a bottle that was close to the shampoo she used at home, also pausing to grab a bar of white soap.

Like the sink, the water that filled the marble tub was the perfect temperature, Allura sinking into it’s clear depths with a happy sigh. But she couldn’t relax, not completely, and she began a hurried bath that would have shocked her maids back at home. Fast though she moved, she still took the time to make sure she got clean, almost giggling as she wondered at Lotor’s insistence that she take a bath. ~Perhaps he thought I smelled.~ She thought to herself, soaping up her legs. She wouldn’t blame him if he did, she had been out in the wilds of Arus for almost two days, never mind traveling through space for several more hours.

By the time she rinsed the shampoo out of her hair, Allura was in better spirits, feeling refreshed and almost calm. She dried off with the towels, once again tying Lotor’s robe around her waist. Sending droplets of water on the floor, Allura opened the door, checking to make sure Lotor had kept his promise to let her bathe in peace. The empty room seemed to confirm that, Allura padding forward on bare feet, noting the way they sunk into the plush carpeting.

She looked around, needing a moment to spot the doors that signaled the appearance of a closet. They melded almost seamlessly into the wall, Allura only noticing by chance the tiny knobs positioned about level with her chest. She let out an audible gasp when she opened the closet, a veritable rainbow of colors greeting her, as dress upon dress commanded her attention.

Feeling overwhelmed by the choices she had, she let her hand fall against one such dress, stroking the velvet material. She couldn’t help wondering how much such a wardrobe had cost Lotor, Allura amazed he had gone to such an expense for her. She began rifling through the closet, noting that many of the dresses had a neckline her nanny wouldn’t approve of.

At last she settled on a pale lavender dress, with a darker shade of purple lining the edge of the bodice and sleeves. That same dark purple color covered the bottom of the skirt, slowly fading in intensity the higher up it went. It fit her like a glove, silk clinging to her curves, accentuating her figure. Allura actually felt self conscious to be in such a dress, nervously looking at her reflection as she worked a brush through the tangled mess of her hair.

Soon her blonde tresses were back in order, Allura smoothing her hands thought it, sweeping the curls away from her face. She knew she had no more reason to delay, and with a deep sigh, and a quick wipe of her sweaty palms on the bodice of her dress turned to unlock the door. The smell of sweet meats greeted her, Allura seeing a table had been brought in, laid out with a small feast of food.

Lotor stood up when she entered, his eyes sweeping over from head to toe. “You look lovely.” He praised her, a pleased smile on his face.

“Thank you.” Allura said, fighting not to blush at his words. He hurried over to the other side of the table, pulling out a chair for her. She sat down, and he touched her shoulders, a caress so brief she almost thought she imagined it. “It smells delicious.”

“I had my chef prepare all your favorites.” Lotor said, returning to his seat. “Please dig in.”

“My favorites?” Allura asked, and now she took a good look at the food spread out across the table. Roasted hams, sweet meats, broiled lamb. Corn, carrots and peas, just a smattering of her favorite vegetables, and a delicious looking cake she hoped was angel food. “How do you know what my favorites are?”

“I’ve made studying you one of my main hobbies.” Lotor said, a light laugh as he started carving into the ham. “After our last disastrous dinner together where you refused to eat, I made sure to find out what indulges your appetites.”

“I refused to eat that time not because of the food….but more so of the company and his threats against my friends.” Allura pointed out, looking sourly at him. He looked unperturbed by her words, piling meats onto her plate.

“We have a busy day today.” Lotor said, clearly trying to steer the conversation away from his failed attempt at wooing her in the past.

“Oh?”

“We have to meet with my father’s lawyers.” He reminded her. “Do not worry, I will make sure your planet gets a fair deal cut out for it.”

“How kind of you.” Allura said, reaching for her goblet. It was fresh spring water with just the hint of a berry aftertaste to it. She couldn’t fail to notice the wealth of the goblet, silver with red rubies encrusted on the sides. Lotor had a similar goblet, and she dearly hoped he wasn’t imbibing alcohol so early in the day.

That brought an interesting question to mind, Allura setting down her goblet. “Lotor?”

“Hmm?” He said around a mouthful of lamb.

“How do you tell what time it is on Doom?” She asked. “It’s always dark, and there are no windows in your rooms.”

“Clocks.” Lotor told her, lips quirking into a smile. “We use clocks.”

“I mean besides that!” Allura said, and Lotor laughed.

“I’m serious.” Lotor told her. “Our sky very rarely ever changes color, it’s always nightfall on Doom since we orbit no sun.”

“How do you grow crops?” Allura asked, recalling how her brief view of the outside land had shown nothing but rocky plains, hardly the ideal ground for a farming people.

“We don’t.” Lotor said. “We have to import our food from elsewhere.”

“You mean steal, don’t you.” Allura corrected him with a frown. “You take the food from the planets you’ve conquered!”

“So what if we do?” Lotor demanded. “Is it that different from greedy planets charging us outrageous fees for a handful of vegetables? Allura, you will learn, nothing can grow on Doom. If we want to survive, we must take from other planets.”

“Why not simple leave Doom?” She asked, curious.

“And just who would take us in?” Lotor countered, draining his cup dry. “Especially after centuries of subjugation at my people’s hands?”

“I see your point.” Allura said sadly. “People can hold a grudge for a long time indeed. But Lotor!” She was barely touching her food, so busy trying to find a way around Doom’s problems. “If you stopped attacking other planets, helped them instead, perhaps in time those people would come to accept you.”

“And have my people starve in the interim?” Lotor asked, arching a brow at her. “No, Allura. There can be no going back for Doom.”

“What if you’re wrong?” Allura asked, and Lotor smiled at her.

“You are an optimist princess. I find that endearing. But no, even if there was a chance for change, my people would rebel against it.” Lotor explained. “They are too set in our ways, too used to being on top of the food chain.”

“I see.” Allura sighed, and Lotor gestured at her plate.

“Please eat Allura. I don’t want to see you wasting away.”

“All right.” Allura said, and dutifully began eating. The food was good, a welcome treat after eating so very little the past few days. But still it left a bitter taste in her mouth, Allura unable to stop thinking about the people who must have slaved away under the merciless hand of Doom.

They finished their meal in total silence, Lotor having a heartier appetite than Allura. When at last she set down her knife and fork, Lotor mimicked her moves, glancing at her empty plate. “Have you had your fill?” At her nod, he continued, standing. “Then let us be off.”

She stood too, moving before he could pull out her chair. He offered his arm to her, Allura hesitating for an instant. “Come now princess.” Lotor said, a teasing look in his eyes. “I won’t bite.”

“You bit me last night, you brute!” She retorted, taking hold of his arm. “I still bare the bruise!”

“You didn’t seem to mind it at the time.” Laughed Lotor, and this time she did blush, highly embarrassed by their banter. Her hand on his arm, he guided her to the door, the pair stepping out into the hallway. She had almost forgotten how dark Castle Doom’s halls were in contrast to throne room and Lotor’s private chambers. She had never been one to be scared of the dark, but here Allura was learning to fear it. It was the paranoia of what lurked around the unseen corners that set her heartbeat thumping faster, Allura moving closer to Lotor.

They walked for a while, Lotor pointing out rooms that he thought might interest her. She perked up at the mention of a library, wondering if they could visit it at some later date. All too soon they reached the conference room, Lotor ushering her inside the dimly lit room. Three Drules were seated at the table, two of them men, the third a woman with the blackest hair Allura had ever seen.

They all stood at the entrance of the Royal pair, dropping into bows and curtseys. “Right…” Lotor said, speaking brusquely as he gave a dismissive nod to the bowing trio. “Let’s get this over with.”

Allura was seated next to Lotor, documents slid across the table before the both of them. She peered at the writing, relieved to see it in basic, the neat penmanship describing the terms of the marriage. She was frowning as she read, but before she could voice any protests Lotor was speaking.

“Let me guess.” He said. “This is a draft thought up by my father?”

“Why yes Prince Lotor.” The woman said, making doe eyes at the prince. “He thought it best to lay all the cards out on the table.”

“Well…I can already tell you this much.” Lotor said, tearing up the document. “My bride to be has demands that must be seen to, before she concedes to unite Arus with our Doom.”

Allura gave him a grateful look, though she didn’t stoop to the theatrics of tearing up the document like Lotor had. Instead she slid the paper back towards the lawyers, clearing her throat for attention. “I won’t have my planet be mined dry of all it’s resources. Nor will I allow my people to be enslaved. However, I will allow for the people of Doom to coexist peacefully along side the people of Arus.”

The lawyers were making protesting noises, exchanging worried frowns when Lotor spoke. “Instead of forcing people to do our work, I think we should offer up a job program that allows some of the citizens of Doom to join the Arusians out on the field. Of course, any who applied, be they Drule or Arusian would be well compensated for any work that they do.”

Another side long glance at Lotor, pleased by his words. “Also, Arus must be allowed to continue it’s relief program to aid our sister planet Pollux.” She left of mention that Pollux was in such bad shape because of Doom’s attacks against it.

“Once Pollux submits to us, of course that will be allowed.” The dark green Drule said, his hand busy as he wrote down her demands.

“Submit?” Allura looked at Lotor, alarmed.

“Allura, you cannot negotiate for a planet you do not rule.” Lotor whispered to her, and she frowned. But before she could speak, the dark green skinned lawyer was talking, tongue flicking out nervously like a lizard’s.

“There is the matter of the robot to consider. King Zarkon is most eager to see it set to use for Doom.”

“I will not have my father’s creation used as a weapon to attack people!” Allura said, nostrils flaring. She nearly jumped out of her skin when she felt Lotor’s hand on her knee, giving her a squeeze.

“It’s either that or dismantle it.” Said the third lawyer, and Allura made a shocked sound.

“No!”

“Allura.” Lotor said, voice a soothing sound. She took a deep breath, trying to calm herself.

“No.” She repeated more sedately. “My father’s creation will not be dismantled. Nor will it be used as an instrument of conquest. Find another use for it.” The lawyers began conversing amongst themselves, casting furtive glances at the princess. After a few more minutes of talk, they offered a tenuous suggestion.

“Would the princess object to allowing Voltron to be set on troublesome planets to maintain peace?”

“That doesn’t sound too bad.” Allura said, trying to work the angles in her mind. “Provided there is no excessive show of force in keeping the peace.”

“We’ll have to run this by King Zarkon.” The black haired woman said, but Lotor shook his head no.

“This is my marriage we are negotiating for. I get the final say.” A slow smile that revealed his fangs was flashed at the lawyers, Lotor looking very dangerous at the moment.

“All right…let us continue.” The green skinned lawyer said, a nervous look in his eyes. Allura bit back a sigh, realizing it was going to be a very long morning.


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