Freedom 11

She was standing on a foot stool, clad only in her underwear. Allura had long since ceased blushing, resigning herself to the scrutiny of Thelessa and her servants. The Drule females had oohed and ahhed over her, marveling over her pale coloring, how smooth her skin was, and comparing her blonde hair to spun gold. They were very quick with the compliments, praising her left and right.

Allura was unused to being so openly admired, finding herself embarrassed by their over the top flattery. She tried to get them to stop, but her pleas fell on deaf ears, leaving her to sigh and resign herself to their adoration.

Dresses were shown to her, a dazzling array of styles, some traditional, some outlandish, and all looking very, very expensive. Such material were paraded before her, satins and silks, lace and taffeta bodices, skirts made of crinoline, even fabrics she had no name for. Colors were compared against her skin, the dress maker Thelessa quickly deciding against bright and bold colors, going for soft, subdued shades such as lavender and pale blue.

The latest dress was being drawn up over her head, Allura enmeshed in soft fabric. It was pulled down her body, Thelessa standing behind her, long fingernails carefully handling the laces of the corset, drawing it tight enough that Allura squealed. “I can’t breathe!”

Thelessa chuckled, and loosened the corset slightly, the Drule speaking. “Now what do you think of this one?” Smiling servants stepped forward with a floor length mirror held between them, Allura catching sight of her reflection. She stared critically at the mirror, frowning at the bodice, finding it dipped down low, scandalously so! Her nanny would have a fit to see her breasts offered up for display, the corset molding the velvet to her like a second skin.

“It’s….lovely…” Allura said, not wishing to hurt the dress maker’s feelings. She tried to smooth down her skirts, but it was impossible, they were puffed up with starch, forming a round hoop around her.

“I hear a but coming on.” Thelessa’s smile was strained, Allura feeling a flash of guilt. This would be the tenth dress she had rejected, the princess always finding something wrong with each one. But as much as Allura lived to please others, in this one instance she was adamant about choosing a dress that suited her. It was after all, the only part of the wedding that she had any control over.

“I’m sorry. It’s just not me.” Allura said, hearing the dress maker’s sigh. The corset was unbound, Allura quickly pulling the sexy dress off.

“Let’s try another traditional one.” Thelessa suggested, and a servant offered loose fitting robes to Allura. She practicality swam in the loose fitting robes, horrified to see they were similar in type to the outfits King Zarkon had worn. Light purple robes that hid her figure from view, with a darker shade making a sash that went from left shoulder to right hip.

“This is traditional?” Allura asked in disbelief, and Thelessa frowned. “Yes. It harkens back to ancient Drule civilization. All the brides used to wear this type of gown when getting married.”

“I see.” Allura’s hands were hidden by the sleeves, indeed the only thing that could be seen of her was her head! “Um….do you have anything else?”

“One more…and if you don’t like this one, I’m afraid you’re out of luck princess.” Thelessa said, leaving Allura to wonder what Lotor would do if she didn’t have a dress picked out for the ceremony. Knowing him, it probably wouldn’t delay things, he was apt to carry her down the aisle in her underwear! She’d laugh at such a thought if she didn’t fear Lotor really would do it.

“All right, let me see it.” Allura said, preparing herself for the worse.

A servant giggled, eyes friendly as she chided Allura. “Your tone is as though you are going to battle rather than try on a dress.”

“Is it?” Allura wondered, and several of the females nodded, eyes amused as Allura blushed. “I’m sorry. Really…I don’t mean to imply that.” She bit her lip, stopping herself from saying anything further. She doubted she could make them understand, Allura having always pictured being surrounded by friends as she searched for the perfect dress. The perfect dress for her perfect wedding, to a man that may not be perfect but one who she would love truly.

Instead she was left to settle for a wedding that was hardly her ideal, to a man she did not love. Sometimes Allura wondered why the dress even mattered, she should cease this quest, and just pick one and be done with it. After all, it wasn’t like she was going to want to save it as a memento of her wedding day.

“Here princess.” A servant said, a dress being carried gingerly forward. It was held up before her, Allura’s eyes widening slightly as she got her first good look at the gown. Predominantly white, the dress had a sweet heart bodice, skirting the borders between daring and modest. Tiny pearls were sewn into the bodice, hundreds of them, which she stroked now, liking the feel of the beaded material against her hand. Lace was sewn along the edge of the bodice, a brilliant gold color that traveled up towards the sleeve’s edges.

The sleeves were transparent, tapering down to opaque material for the wrist cuffs. The skirt flared out from the bodice, volumes of material falling all the way towards the floor in huge sweeping train that would need two pairs of hands to handle. The skirt parted in the front, lifting up to reveal an under skirt that contained a hint of a soft butter yellow color that accentuated the gold lace.

“Princess?” Thelessa asked, and Allura realized she was still stroking the pearls. “Do you want to try it on?”

“Oh yes.” Allura breathed out in agreement. The dress was quickly put on, Allura staring stunned at her reflection. She was dazzled by what she saw, her lips turning upwards in her first genuine smile since being brought to Doom. “It’s perfect…” She whispered, and was startled when the Drule females let out giggles. Somehow she managed to tear her eyes away from the mirror, to see the ladies smiling in approval.

“I take it you found your dress then.” stated Thelessa, unable to keep the relief out of her voice.

“Yes.” Allura nodded, hands once again caressing the beaded bodice. Thelessa fussed with the back, murmuring out numbers which one of her servants recorded down on a piece of paper.

“The hem will have to be shortened a little.” Thelessa noted, pulling on the front of the skirts. “Wouldn’t want you to trip down the aisle!” Allura barely heard her, once again looking at her reflection. Shoes were brought forth, white sandals with gold edging around the toes, fitting like a dream on her dainty feet.

“All right princess. Let’s get you out of this dress.” One of the servants said, breaking the spell. Allura allowed them to disrobe her, feeling far too plain without the dress to enhance her loveliness. Someone handed her her dress back, Allura slipping into the blue number wordlessly.

“Don’t worry your highness.” Thelessa said, the dresses being carried out of the room by her servants. “I’ll have the hem done up in plenty of time for the ceremony.”

“Oh?” Allura asked, curious. “When is the ceremony exactly?”

The dress maker laughed, giving her a strange look. “Surely you jest princess. Or has your husband to be kept you in the dark?” Allura just looked at her, the Drule’s eyes widening. “Why….you’re to be married tomorrow!” Allura nearly feel off the step stool at her words, Thelessa catching her in her arms. “Princess!”

“I’m fine.” She said, pushing free of the woman’s hands. “I just…just felt dizzy for a moment.”

“You should rest.” Suggested Thelessa, concern in her tone. “Weddings are an exciting but tiring time.”

“I will.” Promised Allura, going to sit down on the divan. “Thank you for your concern.”

“Please. Do not mention it.” The green skinned Drule said, and with that she was bowing to Allura. “Good day your highness.” With that she turned smartly, and exited the room. The door swooshed shut, and Allura sighed, resting her head on a pillow as she stared sightlessly off into the distance. She couldn’t believe it. By this time tomorrow she’d be married!

She was rapidly going into a state of shock, her cheeks paling as she thought about being permanently tied to Lotor and Planet Doom. It was all too sudden, she didn’t like it, yet knew she had little chance of changing what was to happen. It would take a miracle to stop this wedding, and right now it appeared she was all out of those.

Sometimes, when she was all alone, she thought back on the events that had happened this past week. She thought back to how things could have been different, how she could have changed things. A million what ifs ran through her mind, what if Voltron hadn’t fired those missiles, what if Lotor hadn’t crash landed onto her planet, what if she had stayed in the castle like everyone had told her to.

Lotor was right, she realized. There really was no dwelling on the what ifs of the past. It would only drive her mad, make Allura curse herself for her foolishness. But neither was worrying about the future any better, Allura realizing she could scare herself witless if she wondered what life as Lotor’s wife would be like. If the past two days had been any indication, it would be a very stressful and depressing time for her.

Once again she found herself wondering how she would survive, Allura thinking how strange it was that she might come to enjoy those trips to the planets Lotor thought to conquer. If only because it meant it got her off Planet Doom!

Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the bedroom door opening, Lotor cautiously poking his head into the room. “Is the coast clear?” He asked with a smile. He had tried several times to come out while Allura was trying on gowns, the princess amazed to see Thelessa ordering the prince away before he could get a good look at Allura.

“Yes, they’re gone.” Allura said, sitting up.

“Good.” Lotor stepped into the room, freshly showered, his wet hair slicked back. He was dressed similar to the day before, casual clothes that softened his appearance slightly. “Did you have fun?” Lotor asked, touching a bridal magazine that had been left out on the table.

“I wouldn’t quite call it fun, but yes….it was a nice change of pace.” Allura said. “Lotor….are we really going to be married as early as tomorrow?”

“Yes, Allura. We are.” His words confirmed her fears, Allura sighing.

“Why the rush?”

“Allura, I think you know why.” Lotor said, and she felt foolish for asking.

“You want to marry me as soon as possible in case Keith and the others come to rescue me.” She said, and Lotor nodded.

“Yes, that too.” His tone teasing, he approached her. “But mainly it’s because I have waited what feels like a lifetime to make you mine.”

“You do realize..” She began, tone scathing. “That you don’t own me just because we are tied together in marriage!” He frowned at her, and she rolled her eyes in annoyance. “Marriage is a partnership, Lotor! Both people are equals!”

“I know that!” He insisted, and she arched a brow at him.

“Do you? Do you really?”

“Yes!” He sounded exasperated, throwing his hands up in a wide gesture. “If I simply wanted you as my property, I’d make you part of my harem.”

“Harem?!” She tripped over the word, staring at him aghast. “You have a harem?”

“Er…” Lotor had the grace to look uncomfortable. “Er yes…but it’s a small one!”

She didn’t know what to think, Allura’s mouth opening and closing as she tried to find the right words. At last she spoke, tone frosty. “You cannot keep them.”

“I wasn’t planning too.” She was stunned by his quick agreement, Lotor moving fast to speak before she did. “But what do you suggest I do with them?”

“Set them free.” Was her immediate answer, Allura thinking it the obvious choice. She frowned when Lotor shook his head no. “Why not?”

“Allura, most of these women….how shall I put this delicately. Most of the women in my harem have no marketable skills, they wouldn’t be able to survive in the universe if I simply released them into it.” Lotor explained.

“Can’t….can’t you return them home?” Allura paused, a horrible thought occurring to her. “Do they even have a home to return to?”

“Some of them do not.” Lotor admitted, making her sigh in frustration.

“How about….we send them to Arus?” asked Allura. “They could learn a trade there, settle down, find husbands. Raise a family.”

“I suppose they could…” Lotor sounded doubtful.

“They could. And since you are the one who is their….” Allura hesitated to say master. “Keeper, you should pay for their schooling.” Lotor raised an eyebrow at this, Allura quick to defend her idea. “You’re used to paying for their food and clothing, are you not? Then this should be no different!”

Now it was Lotor’s turn to sigh, holding his hands up in surrender. “All right. It will be done. My harem will be disbanded, the girls set free.” A smirk then, Allura watching him warily as he approached her. “You will have me all to yourself. Not that you don’t already hold my undivided attention.”

“Sometimes I think my life would have been easier if you had hated me.” Allura retorted, fighting the urge to hit him with her pillow.

“Allura, once I laid eyes on you, I knew I could never hate you.” Lotor said, and she snorted in disbelief.

“You always have a smooth line to say, don’t you?!” She demanded.

“It’s the truth!” He protested, and she shook her head no.

“Fine, whatever. I don’t want to argue with you.” Allura said, her words making Lotor smile.

:And I do not want to argue with you, my beloved princess.” Lotor said, reaching for her hands. He pulled her to her feet, Allura looking quizzically at him. “I want to show you something.”

“What?” Allura asked, and Lotor laughed.

“You always look so wary when you ask that.”

“I think I have good cause to be on my guard.” She pointed out with a frown. “What will it be now Lotor? More gore in the coliseum, a meeting with your father, or perhaps you want to show me Haggar’s lab?”

“None of the above.” Lotor replied, chuckling. “Come Allura, I can assure you that you will like this surprise.”

“I will be the judge of that.” Allura said, allowing him to lead her across the room. Lotor let loose with light laughter, Allura wondering how he could feel so confidant of her reaction to this surprise of his. She began quizzing him, trying to learn just what it is he wanted to show her, but the prince remained tightlipped, refusing to give her even a hint of what it could be.

“You’ll just have to be patient a little longer Allura.” Lotor told her, grinning from ear to ear.

“Honestly Lotor…I grow weary of the suspense.” Allura told him, being led around a corner. She stopped, actually recognizing the hall, or more specifically, the large double doors that were guarded by two Drule soldiers. “Lotor….what is this?” She demanded, and he turned to reassure her.

“It’s just behind those doors.”

“I KNOW what’s behind those doors!” She snapped, stubbornly refusing to move. “It’s your father’s throne room!”

“Yes, but he’s not here right now.” Lotor said, tugging on her arm. “Allura, don’t make me carry you in there.” That got her moving, if only to preserve her dignity. Lotor kept a tight grasp on her arm, making sure she didn’t try to flee. The soldiers hurried to open the doors, and this time there was only the soft murmur of voices to greet them, people hurrying back and forth across the floor.

Lotor ushered her inside, Allura peering about curiously. It was empty of the nobles, only Drule servants and a select few human slaves ran about the room. The room itself was being transformed, white drapery having been hung from pillar to pillar, and a long rug of royal purple was laid out across the floor, covering the tile from doorway to dais.

Long tables were laid out, their cloths white with purple and gold designs on them. Silverware covered the tables, place settings arranged across it’s surface. At intervals there was bouquets of flowers, which upon closer inspection were revealed to be fake. The colorful flora was made of silk, the expensive material bunched up and folded to resemble roses and tulips.

Rows of pews were between the tables, situated across the middle of the floor, a divide between them for two, maybe three people to pass by. Off to the side, a servant fiddled with a machine, the hiss of air heard as he blew up one balloon after another. Whenever enough were made, he would tied a string around them, making a bouquet of six or seven balloons, white, gold, and purple mixed together. Servants would carry off those balloons, rising to tie them high up on the walls.

In the corners of the room, cameras were set up, ready to catch the proceedings on film. Allura stepped away from Lotor, eyes wide as she looked around, spinning in place slowly. “Lotor….is this what I think it is?” He nodded, his smile showing how pleased he was with himself.

She began pacing along the pews, Lotor a shadow behind her, Allura taking in the sights, but staying out of the way of the servants. “When…..when did you have time to plan all this?” She asked at last.

“I’ve been having people work on this night and day once my father gave his permission for us to be wed.” Lotor explained. “I know it’s not as…extravagant as it could have been, but I think my servants have managed quite nicely in the time frame, don’t you?”

“Yes….” She couldn’t help but be amazed, Allura fingering one of the silk flowers. “It’s fine…no….more than fine.”

“I’m glad.” Lotor said, clearly relieved. “I wanted everything to be perfect for you. In fact…” He reached into his pant’s pocket, searching for something. Allura watched him, eyebrows raising in surprise when he went down on one knee.

“Lotor, what are you doing!?” She asked, seeing him reach for her hand.

His eyes were serious, Lotor offering her a sincere smile. “I know it’s a little late but….” His hand emerged from his pocket, a ring clutched between his fingers. Her eyes were drawn to the ring, seeing the huge diamond that was set on a gold band, surrounded by smaller crystals that were the palest of pinks. “Princess Allura, would you do me the honor of becoming my wife?”

Eyes wide, she stared at him, hand frozen in his grip. She let out a nervous titter, stuttering out a question. “You don’t do things in the correct order, do you?”

He laughed, eyes alight on her face, watching her reaction carefully. “I am anything but predictable. Well, Allura? What is your answer?”

Still she hesitated, though she knew she had no choice. Sadness filled her, Allura feeling as though Lotor was making a mockery of her, and of weddings in general. “Yes, Lotor…” She said, words feeling hollow and meaningless. “I will marry you.”

A dazzling smile from him, Lotor slipping the diamond onto her ring finger. With a laugh he was standing, scooping her up in his arms. She let out a startled sound, hands flat against his chest as she tried to distance herself from him. Lotor either didn’t care, or did not notice, leaning his face towards her, mouth capturing her lips in a passionate kiss.

A smattering of applause broke out, the Drule servants and slaves having paused to watch the exchange. Embarrassed, Allura turned red, grateful that Lotor had the decency to break the kiss at the sound. He was all smiles as he gazed into her eyes, leaving Allura to wish she could feel even a smidgen of the happiness he felt.

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