Freedom 10

It was the second night he had spent away from his bed, away from Allura, giving his bride to be the comfort of mind she needed in order to sleep. Lotor wished he could say the feeling was mutual, but thoughts of her weighed heavy on his mind. She was only one room away from him, and yet he felt worlds separated them, Allura holding fast to keeping him out of her heart.

Right now Lotor would settle for simply sharing a bed with her, finding himself crouched uncomfortably on the divan, his tall frame proving longer than the length of the couch. He had tossed off most of the pillows, settling for a cushion for his head and back, a thin blanket across his legs. A heavy book was open across his legs, the pages toting advice on the art of war. But it went unread, Lotor sparing far too many glances towards the locked bedroom door.

He supposed he couldn’t blame Allura for not trusting him after what he had almost done the night before, but still the open rejection bothered him. His lips gave a wry smile though no one was around to see it, Lotor reasoning he should be used to the princess’ rejection after all this time. It was quite a blow to his ego, Lotor used to having women throw themselves at his feet, looking at him with adoration in their eyes. But then….Allura wouldn’t be Allura if she behaved like those girls, wouldn’t be the woman he had fallen in love with.

With a sigh he was settling the book next to him on the floor, determined to cease his musings and get some sleep. However, he was just settling down for the night when the screams started. He sat up startled, pillows falling off the divan, a name shouted out in reply.

“Allura?!”

She just continued to scream, and before he knew it, he was running towards the bedroom, bare feet slapping against the carpet. He banged on the door, shouting to her. “Allura, open this door!”

Scream were his reply, Lotor thinking a thousand reasons why she could be screaming. Was there an assassin hidden in his room, was she injured somehow? Rational thought left him for a moment as he threw his shoulder against the door, remembering after the jarring pain that he could simply override the locking mechanism. His fingers tapped the override sequence, impatience not enough to make him clumsy with the numbers.

The key pad beeped it’s acceptance of his input, metal door sliding open with a hiss of air. Lotor immediately set foot in the bedroom, casting about for an intruder. In the dim light of the room, he saw no one but Allura, writhing in the bed, screams issuing out of her mouth.

“Allura!” He was by her side in an instant, pulling back bed covers to check on her. There was no time to admire her in her new night gown, he was seizing hold of her shoulders, giving her a little shake as he realized the princess was still fast asleep. “Wake up Allura!”

Another shake, hard enough to rattle her head this time, and her eyes snapped open. She did a half leap forward, almost tearing herself free of his hands, Lotor quickly sliding an arm around her waist to keep her on the bed. Her scream died down midway, Allura’s chest heaving as she panted. Lotor noticed her skin was slick with sweat, night dress clinging to her damp skin.

“Lotor?! I…I…” She seemed barely able to speak, and her eyes brimmed with tears. With a sniffle she huddled her face against his bare chest, sniffling audibly.

“You were dreaming Allura.” Lotor whispered, his other hand going to the back of her head. “It was nothing more than a nightmare.” He said relieved, fingers petting her hair. She clung to him, hands on his upper arms, her whole body trembling as he held her.

He heard the sound of soft sobbing, Allura giving in to her tears. Lotor gathered her up so that she sat in his lap, hugging her to his chest. He rocked her gently, making soft soothing sounds, her head tucked in under his chin. A part of him thrilled to be holding her like this, Lotor cursing himself for being an opportunist of her tears.

They sat like that for what seemed like hours, Allura needing that time to compose herself. But eventually her sobbing lessened, a change coming over her as her tears dried. He could feel it in her body, the girl stiffening in his arms. Lotor pretended not to notice, keeping his hold on her.

“Are you all right now?” He asked, and she glanced up at him with red rimmed eyes.

“Yes, I’m fine.” Allura said, voice a little broken from her heart felt sobs. “It was….was just a nightmare.”

“Can you tell me about it?” He could see the idea didn’t appeal to her, Allura glancing away. “It might help to have someone hear about it.”

“If only that was true.” She whispered.

“Allura?” He prodded her when she fell quiet, seeing her look away from him.

“It was your father.” She said at last, and he frowned.

“My father?”

“Yes.” She nodded. “I dreamt about him. About him and the coliseum. I kept seeing those two fighters, again and again. Kept reliving the moment when the beheading happened. And then it changed…”

“Changed how?” Lotor asked, starting to feel true regret at having brought her to that place.

“They changed. Became Zarkon and my father. I…” A lone tear slipped down her cheek, Allura’s whole body shuddering. “His head went flying, just like the furred warrior’s.”

“Oh Allura…” Lotor said, hugging her close.

“Zarkon bathed in his blood, laughing…” She continued. Her voice broke, she was burying her face against his chest, giving in to her tears once more. Lotor honestly didn’t know what to say to her, knowing it couldn’t all be blamed on an over active imagination. Not when his father really had killed Allura’s father.

He settled for petting her hair, Lotor feeling almost helpless in front of her tears. Allura was trembling, tiny body shivering against him. “Shhh….shhh. It’s okay.” He crooned to her, rocking her like a small child. “It’s okay. He can’t hurt you anymore. I’ll make sure of that.”

She didn’t ask him how, and for that he was grateful, Lotor not knowing how to protect Allura from the workings of her mind. A shuddery sigh escaped her, Allura murmuring words into his chest.

“You should have never brought me to Doom.” She said, and with that she was crying again, almost wailing the next words out. “I’ll die if I have to remain here in such a horrid place!”

“Allura no.” Lotor pulled back to peer into her face, trying not to frown. “You’re stronger than that. You won’t die….you’ll learn to make the best of the situation. Here with me. I’ll help you…” She didn’t look like she believed him, blue eyes so sad it pained him to look at them. “I’ll help you.” He repeated, raising fingers to trace the tears on her wet cheek.

At least she didn’t push him away, eyes blinking slowly as she considered his words. “Lotor….what if I need more than you can give me?”

Now he did frown, not understanding her. “I have wealth, power, a vast array of resources. There is nothing I can’t afford to buy.”

“Some things even money can’t obtain.” She whispered back, doing a slow shake of her head. “I need my friends, my family.”

“I will be your family.” He hurriedly interjected, but she only spoke over him.

“I need to be surrounded by light, laughter…love…” Allura explained, eyes serious. “I cannot hope to thrive in Doom’s environment, it’s cold, an uncaring place, and aside from you I have yet to see any other person I can relate too.”

“It’s a bit early for you to decide all this.” Lotor said at last, his mind thinking over the possibilities. Indeed the Drules didn’t seem the ideal companions for Allura, but neither was the slaves any better. Their worlds were so different, they would only resent Allura’s position of power in relation to their hopeless situation. He wondered if he could bring some women from Arus to be Allura’s friends, gift to her a small entourage of hand maidens to attend to her other needs.

“I have had a lot of time to think.” Allura countered. “Sometimes that’s all I’ve had to do.”

“You’re bored?” He asked, and she cocked her head to the side.

“Maybe just a little….” She admitted.

“I’ll find things for you to do.” Lotor assured her. “I’ll bring you books and holos.”

“Thank you…” She sighed. “That’ll help, but it still won’t change the fact that I miss my home.”

He was quiet, debating with himself. Lotor had wanted to leave the honeymoon on Arus a total surprise to Allura, wanting to see her eyes light up with excitement upon their arrival. He wondered if it would be worth the wait, letting Allura torture herself with homesickness.

“We won’t always be on Doom.” He said at last, seeing her surprise.

“Won’t we?” Allura asked. “I mean…I thought I would remain here when you leave to go attack other planets.”

“I don’t think I could bear to be apart from you that long.” Lotor said ruefully, admitting to his weakness. “I’d much prefer you to accompany me there, than to have you remain at the castle with my father and Haggar.” She paled, shivering at the thought. Even he had to admit it was a horrific thought, Lotor not trusting Allura’s safety around his father when he wasn’t there to protect her from him.

An unwanted flash of memory, Lotor recalling how he hadn’t been able to save his mother from his father. Unconsciously his arms tightened around Allura, Lotor making a vow that with her things would be different.

“Lotor?” She was studying his face intently, eyes serious. “What are you thinking of?”

She was a little too perceptive if she had noticed a change in his demeanor, Lotor shaking his head as he offered her a small smile. “It’s nothing. Just a reminder of the past.”

“Won’t you tell me about it?” Allura asked.

“No.” Came his answer, Lotor feeling it would only serve to leave Allura more upset than she already was.

“You don’t trust me with your secrets.” Allura said sadly, causing Lotor to shake his head.

“That’s not true.” But deep down he wondered, realizing he hadn’t shared much of his past with Allura. He frowned, realizing she really didn’t know much about him aside from his reputation, his infatuation with her, and their encounters during the long Arusian war. He would have to change that and fast, but tonight was not the time to do it. “Someday I’ll tell you the story…but not tonight.”

“All right.” He was relieved she accepted that, Allura letting out a sigh and actually leaning into his chest. Her cheek pressed against his skin, and he wondered if she could hear his heart beat beating faster at the contact. He peered down at her, seeing her eyes start to close.

“Are you tired?” He asked, her eyes snapping open once more.

“Yes….but I’m afraid to sleep.” Allura whispered. “I don’t want to dream anymore.”

“Here…I’ll stay with you.” He said, and he shifted so that his back was against the headboard, Allura still snuggled on his lap. His hand touched her hair, he took as much comfort as he gave, enjoying the feel of her blonde tresses as he petted her. “That way if you do dream, you’ll know I’ll be here, waiting to protect you.”

He supposed it was a telling sign how much the bad dreams had bothered her, that she didn’t protest spending the night in his arms. She merely nodded, letting her eyes fall close as she settled down for the night.

“Sleep Allura…” Lotor whispered, hearing her make a confirming sound. He continued to pet her long past the time she fell asleep, Lotor watching her face for signs of turmoil. Except for movement behind her eyelids, she seemed at peace, silent as she slumbered. Satisfied with this, Lotor allowed his head to fall back, eyes falling close as he finally gave in to sleep’s seductive call.

Lotor wasn’t sure how long he had slept, but when he awoke she was gone from his arms. He mourned the loss of her, wishing he could have held her for even just an instant longer. With a yawn and a stretch of his arms, he grew more alert, ears picking up sounds.

Allura emerged from the bathroom, this time dressed in a cornflower blue dress, several shades lighter than Lotor’s skin. Tiny spaghetti straps held the dress up over her chest, leaving her shoulders almost bare. A darker blue sash was around her waist, tied in the back as a large bow. Slippers covered her feet, matching the sash. She looked good, refreshed from the night of rest, and though she wasn’t smiling, she nodded at Lotor.

“Thank you…” Allura began, touching her fingertips together as she fidgeted. “For last night I mean….”

“It was no problem.” Lotor said, offering her a smile. “I was glad to do it. I take it you slept well for the rest of the night? No more dreams?”

“No more dreams.” She confirmed, relief in her eyes. “Breakfast is already laid out…I thought I would wait for you.”

“I’ll be there in a moment.” Lotor said, pleased she wanted to eat with him. She nodded her head, than exited the room, leaving Lotor alone. He eased off the bed, the prince walking over to the dresser. Atop it;s surface lay a communicator, Lotor reaching for it now. His thumb pressed down, activating it, the communicator flaring into life with a hiss of static.

“Prince Lotor here.” He said into the device, glancing at himself in the mirror. A hand was raised, brushing back his hair as he waited impatiently for a response.

“Prince Lotor sir!”

“Are the preparations well under way?” Lotor asked, getting right to the point.

“Yes, sir. Operations are moving along and should be completed soon.”

“Excellent.” Lotor smiled to himself. “Send over Thelessa. We’ll be waiting in my chambers.”

“Understood sir.” Lotor cut short the communication, depositing the device back into it’s resting place. Smiling, and in exceedingly good sprits he went out to join Allura, who was already seated at the table. Once again his chef had prepared the finest of Arusian delicacies, breakfast items he was sure would make Allura’s mouth water with hunger.

Indeed she was already eating berries, dipping them in a thick cream as she waited for Lotor to join her. Pausing to deposit a kiss on her lips, he sat down next to her, reaching for a plate. While Allura favored fruits and salads this early in the day, Lotor reached for heartier foods, piling on the eggs, meats, and vegetables.

He kept their conversation light, airy, avoiding troublesome subjects. Lotor did not want to give Allura cause to skip another meal, privately worrying about how little she had eaten the day before.

They were just finishing up eating when a knock sounded out the door, a vigorous rapping against the metal. Allura looked at Lotor, the prince pushing his plate aside. “Ah…that should be Thelessa.”

“You were expecting someone?” Allura asked, watching as he strode over to the door. It opened to admit a tall Drule female, whose height nearly rivaled Lotor’s. Her skin was a dark green color, her head bald except for bone ridges of a lighter green, looking very much like a human’s mohawk style. She was dressed stylishly, with a wealth of jewels at her throat and on her fingers.

“Prince Lotor.” She said, leaning forward to air kiss his cheeks. Lotor inclined his head in acknowledgment, and the woman continued. “Now where is this bride I have heard so much about?” Before Lotor could point out Allura, the woman noticed the princess, and let out a gasp. “Oh! Is that her?!” She went striding past Lotor, coming to a stop before Allura.

Her hands reached out, grasping Allura by the chin before the girl could protest, turning her face to the side to study her profile. “She is exquisite!” Thelessa exclaimed, turning to smile at Lotor. “You must be very proud.”

Allura frowned, her words snapping out with biting force. “You speak as though Lotor himself is responsible for my looks!”

Thelessa blinked, reptilian eyes looking surprised at Allura’s outburst. Lotor hid a smile, amused. “Allura, Thelessa meant no disrespect. She just needs to choose her words more carefully.”

“Er yes…” said the woman, stepping back to study Allura critically. “Forgive me princess, I spoke out of turn. Well!” Her mood changed abruptly, hands clasping together in a loud clap of sound. “Now off with your clothes dear, let me see what I have to work with!

“What…?!” Allura glanced at Lotor, her eyes seeming to demand answers.

“Thelessa is the premier designer for Drule fashions.” Lotor explained. “She’s here to see to your wedding dress.”

“My wedding dress?!” Allura repeated, hardly seeming pleased.

“Yes. You’ve got to have one for the ceremony.” Lotor said.

“Don’t worry my dear, I’ll make sure you look fabulous on your special day.” Thelessa clapped her hands, three short smacks, and suddenly a giggling gaggle of Drule females ran into the room, carrying dresses and swatches of material. They surrounded Allura, pulling her out of her seat, the chair toppling to the ground from her momentum.

Swatches of material were held up to her face, the servants trying to see what color best suited Allura. Thelessa was tugging at her clothes, Allura pushing back to prevent the woman from stripping her. Someone sent down a stack of bridal magazines on the table, trying to get Allura to look at the cover of the top most one.

“I’ll just leave you be.” Lotor said, heading for the bedroom.

“Lotor wait!” Allura cried out, but he ignored her, stepping through the doorway. He could hear the sounds of her protests being drowned out by the women’s chatter, Lotor smiling to himself pleased. He trusted Thelessa’s taste implicitly, sure the woman would make Allura the most stunning of visions for their wedding day.


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