Freedom 22

The report on the latest findings about the lions lay open on his lap, Lotor staring down at the sheaf of bound papers. The handwriting was neat, precise, and right now it was all blurring together before his eyes, Lotor hardly able to concentrate on his scientists’ findings. Not when he kept picturing Allura before him, imagining her looking at him, blue eyes uncertain as she leaned towards him.

Her kiss had taken him by surprise, it had been sweet like her, an innocent gesture that held so much meaning to it. Lotor sighed, raising a hand to his mouth, finger touching his lips as he closed his eyes, savoring the memory of it. She had radiated shyness as she did it, tongue flicking out slowly to tease across his lips. Lotor had been unable to resist her allure, quickly returning the kiss, even as he knew she wasn’t kissing him for his sake.

He dropped his hand, Lotor’s lips twisted into a scowl as he recalled that nanny of hers. That brute of a woman, boorish creature daring to strike him. His head still throbbed, even an ice pack hadn’t dulled the pain completely. It left him in a foul mood, one that was only marginally improved by the thought of Allura’s kiss. It had taken all his strength to pull back from her, Lotor exerting all his will power to tell her no. He knew she was surprised by his actions, and damn it, so was he.

Since when was he a nice guy, since when did he do the honorable thing? And yet there was a part of him that was already turning the angles in his mind, calculating the possible outcomes of his actions. It was a risk, but perhaps he could turn it to his advantage. Perhaps Allura would be impressed by his actions, moved in a way all his other attempts towards winning her had failed to do. Perhaps he would even be thanking that nanny of hers, finding himself one step closer to winning Allura’s heart.

Lotor sighed, laying his head on the desk. It still eluded him, this great love that he wanted. He never dreamed it would be so complicated, never imagined it would be so difficult to obtain. It was ever more frustrating when he thought about how close he had been, how close he was now to having Allura.

He was sure everything would be perfect once she gave in and stopped fighting her attraction to him. Then they could finally start their marriage off right, their days no longer tense and full of turmoil, but happy. It would be wonderful, the most perfect of lives.

Such thoughts left him smiling, Lotor lifted his head, ready to make another go at reading the document. His eyes scanned over key words, noting his scientists had yet to make much progress. They took a whole lot of paper to say a whole lot of nothing, Lotor sighing with boredom as he paged through the papers. So far the lions had proved resistant to Doom’s probes, setting up a forcefield that shocked the information gathering androids.

A hands on approach was more favorable, the scientists leery but removing panels inside the lions, poking and prodding at the wires. They had to be careful, the treaty prohibited them from taking apart the lions. They could only study, and conduct tests, and right now they were in the process of x-raying black lion piece by piece. A few of the x-rays had been included in the report, Lotor glancing at the findings but seeing little that interested him.

As he read, two female humans entered the room, a soldier holding the door open for them. They looked wide eyed at Lotor, full of nervous energy as they wheeled in a cart carrying dinner. Lotor was amused, knowing it did not take two people to serve him his dinner, figuring out that one had begged the other to accompany her. It pleased him to be such an imposing figure, Lotor was almost tempted to let out a teasing growl to hear them squeal. Instead he merely nodded at them, easing back from the desk as they stepped closer to set out his dinner.

Several steaming platers were uncovered, the maids carefully to keep from spilling any food on the table top. The desk had been loaded with papers, official documents of Arus that Lotor had swept off into the trash bin. He felt they were no longer important, being signs of the old regime. He had left the silver framed photos that sat on one corner of the desk, Lotor seeing a woman, and a familiar young man, that son of Coran’s.

Lotor smirked as he remember the advisor’s protests, the prince ignoring them as he commandeered the man’s private office for his own. It was just to his liking, roomy with a large desk, and comfortable leather chair. A window was to his back, overlooking the castle gardens. Lotor knew if he was to turn, he would see it being patrolled by Drule soldiers, the men careful to keep the peasants away from the castle grounds. And if they did get in, the glass was a thick pane, durable and resistant to laser fire.

Lotor found he actually liked looking out on the gardens, the tranquil beauty of it’s greenery calmed him. He looked forward to bringing Allura out into the gardens, wanting to see and compare her beauty to the flowers that bloomed there. He felt certain she would be unmatched, Lotor wondering if being among the flowers would bring a much needed smile to her face.

Still musing about the flowers, he noticed the maids had finished setting out the plates. They awaited further orders, one clutching a tray to her chest, the other holding onto the cart. Lotor reached for a spoon, dipping it into what resembled fondue. He took a tentative taste, fighting back an appreciative sound. Out loud he nodded at the two women, gruffly speaking. “It’s fine. You are dismissed.”

They turned to leave, and an impulse struck him. “I want some fresh picked flowers for my chambers. See to that at once.” He ordered.

“Yes, Prince Lotor.” They both said, dropping quick curtseys before hurrying out of the room. Lotor chuckled at the speed in which they moved, the door shutting close behind them. He set down the document, and turned to his dinner, quick to eat while everything was still hot. He wondered if Allura was eating, he worried about her, and how many meals she had skipped this past week. If she kept turning her nose up at food, she really would start to waste away.

He sighed, sipping soup, finding it was lonely to eat by oneself. Perhaps he should have invited Allura to dinner, but he felt neither one of them was ready for another attempt. Not after the disastrous one on the ship. Indeed they had taken no meals together since then, something Lotor knew could not go on.

He was giving thought to breakfast’s menu, when his intercom buzzed. He set down his spoon, feeling annoyed at the interruption. A finger was extended, switching the com unit on. “What?” he barked into it, and a voice answered.

“Prince Lotor, incoming communication from Planet Doom.”

“Doom?” Lotor’s eyebrows drew together in surprise, Lotor fighting back a frown. There wasn’t many who would dare to interrupt him on his honeymoon, indeed there was only a handful of people who would have the nerve. His father was chief among them, Lotor sighing out an order. “Put it on the monitor.”

“Yes, sir.”

Lotor reached for a remote, the black object dwarfed in his hands. Leaning back in his chair, he pushed the appropriate buttons, a personal view screen descending from the ceiling. Static showed for a moment, and then his father’s face appeared on the screen. He was sitting back in his throne, scepter in one hand, the other tapping his fingers impatiently on the arm rest. His eyes lit up when he noticed Lotor, a toothy grin as he flashed his fangs.

“Ah Lotor, my son! It is good to see you are still in one piece.” Zarkon said, Lotor looking at him confused. Had someone leaked the information about Arus’ small rebel faction to the King?

“I’m pleased to see that pretty little bride of yours has yet to put a knife in your back.” Zarkon continued, and now he chuckled, a horrible grating sound.

“Allura would never harm me.” Lotor said, affronted by the very thought. “She may not love me yet, but she is as loyal as they come.”

“I hope you’re right about that.” Zarkon replied. “I’d hate for my only son to be done in by such a pretty face. At least….not before you’ve made me a few grand children.”

“It’s a bit too soon for that.” Lotor said, and Zarkon laughed.

“Not yet eager to share your bride with a few whelps. That’ll change soon enough once you tire of her.”

“Is there a reason behind your call, or did you contact me just to harass me about my choice in brides?” Lotor demanded, annoyed by his father’s comments.

“This goes beyond a mere social call.” Zarkon said, his expression turning serious. “I wanted to make sure you arrived safely. I’ve been hearing some troubling rumors about Planet Arus.”

“Rumors?” Lotor asked, putting of his best poker face. “What kind of rumors?”

“There’s talk of a resistance going on down there.” Zarkon answered. “Attacks on our people, killings, sabotage. That sort of thing. Have you encountered any problems with them?”

“None.” Lotor said, truthful enough. He had yet to experience any resistance from the rebels, yet to have heard of any such incidents since arriving on the planet. True it was only one day into his extended stay on Planet Arus, but he was sure that his presence alone would put an end to such foolishness.

“Hmm…” A frown was on Zarkon’s face, making the king ten times as ugly. “You will.” He said at last, sounding confidant about the matter. “And when you do, I trust you know how to deal with it.”

“Yes, father.” Lotor nodded. “I will be sure to put a swift end to any such attempts.”

“Be ruthless.” Zarkon advised. “That treaty you formed with the princess did not extend protection towards any would be rebels. Be sure to take advantage of that loophole, and squash the resistance like the bugs they are.”

“Er….yes father.” Lotor said, uneasy as he thought about Allura’s reaction to such a thing.

“Make examples of them.” Continued Zarkon, grinning once more. “Let all know the penalty for daring to go against the Doom Empire.”

“I will father.” Lotor said, his mind turning over the problem, wondering how, or if there was a way to appear both Zarkon and Allura over this matter. He feared there was not, Lotor holding back his sighs so long as Zarkon was on the monitor. “Now if you’ll excuse me, my dinner is getting cold.”

“Aye. Eat your dinner, you’ll need to keep your strength up if you hope to bend Planet Arus to our will.” Zarkon laughed. “And be sure to convey my greetings to that bride of yours! I’m sure she will be thrilled to know she is in my thoughts often.”

“Good night father.” Lotor said, unable to keep the impatience out of his voice.

Still laughing, Zarkon made a dismissive gesture towards someone off camera, the image of his face quickly being replaced by static. Relieved, Lotor picked up the remote, allowing the view screen to ascend back up into the ceiling.

Now Lotor did sigh, pushing away his food as he reached to fetch another document. This one was about the recent attacks by the resistance, the rebels antics clearly defined for him to read. Ships had been sabotaged, in one instance a bomb had been planted onboard one of the ships. It had not detonated for a maintenance man had discovered it with plenty of time for the bomb squad to disable it.

That had been before they had finished removing weapons from the people, doing door to door searches of homes. The bomb itself had been a simple type, made of chemicals that could be bought over the counter. Such chemicals were now put on a protected list, the people being refused the sale of them. And still other problems manifested themselves, a whole field of crops that had been set to feed Drule soldiers had been set on fire. Little had escaped the engulfing flames, except for a few heads of corn.

A supply wagon bringing food and materials from Planet Denga had been caught in a trap, a barricade set across it’s route. When the Drule soldiers had stopped to remove the barricade, masked men had attacked them, knocking them out, and stealing their wagon. That wagon had yet to be found, and the assailants were still on the run.

Riots had started at rallies, Drule officials trying to give speeches to the people to assure them that their way of life would not be greatly disrupted. In one such incident, a rock had been thrown, hitting the official square in the forehead. A soldier had reacted, firing off his blaster into the crowd, the people growing angry, reacting with violence. That soldier had paid with his life, and several people had been taken into custody but ultimately released.

The report went on for pages and pages, far outnumbering the amount of paper used to document the findings on the lions. Lotor sat and read for what seemed like hours, eating occasionally but for the most part he sat there frowning. No one had expected Arus to mount such an impressive resistance to Doom’s occupation. After all, the last time Doom had held the planet, they had fled, hiding in caves to avoid being enslaved. Now it would seem the people had had enough of being oppressed, becoming crafty individuals tired of living their lives in fear.

He was almost impressed by this, Lotor once again wondering how best to deal with these interlopers. He simply wasn’t used to doing things through a non violent way, Lotor quick to unsheathe his sword and cut down any trouble before it took root. Still mulling over what to do, Lotor stood up, taking the reports with him as he left his office.

He chewed on a piece of meat as he walked, attention half on the papers he carried as he headed towards the stairs. He passed by soldiers and servants, giving little thought to what duties they had at so late a time. They were simply a matter of life in the castle, moving about in secret to keep his affairs in order.

He reached the landing, and paused, wondering if Allura was in her bedroom. He gave thought towards visiting her before retiring to the chambers he had acquired for himself, but decided against it. Instead he headed towards what she had identified as her parent’s bedroom, more than a little annoyed that they were spending the night in separate wings of the castle.

Soldiers pulled open the doors for him, Lotor sweeping by, giving orders that no one was to disturb him. The guards grunted out their understanding, easing the doors shut behind Lotor. He cast a quick glance around the foyer, seeing the remains of the broken vase had been swept up. Flowers had also been delivered as per his request, decorating the corners of the room.

Lotor strode into the bedroom, and here he tossed the documents onto the mattress, turning towards his closet. He pushed aside Allura’s gowns, to hang up his jacket. He then sat down next to his paper work as he began shucking off his boots. Soon he was in the process of unbuttoning his shirt, silk open down to his navel when he heard a noise.

Lotor tensed up, reaching for his sword, though he did not unsheathe it. He didn’t want the hum of lazon to give him away, didn’t want his intruder to know he was aware of them. Instead Lotor snuck over to the door, easing it open just an inch. He cautiously peered through the crack in the door, Lotor seeing the foyer was empty. But the sound persisted, coming from the bathroom, his eyes narrowing as he eased out into the room.

Tip toeing forward gracefully, he made quick progress to the bathroom door. He leaned to the right of it, sword still in hand as the other pressed against the door, hesitating for a moment. Gearing himself up, he gave a hard push, door banging open with a loud sound. Lotor moved into action, leaping forward, sword coming out of it’s leather scabbard as he took aim.

A startled scream was heard, a familiar female voice that sounding terrified. Lotor blinked, his arm frozen in mid swing, seeing Allura stare back at him with wide eyes. She was clad in a pale pink nighty, it matched the jewels that surrounded her diamond engagement ring. He didn’t have time to note more than the color of it, his eyes were sweeping efficiently behind her, making sure there was no one else in the bathroom with her.

Only then did he calm down, sliding his sword back into it’s scabbard. Allura seemed to finally remember to breathe, chest heaving, straining against the frail material of the nighty. There was a darker pink lacing the edge, a small bow tied over her breasts. The nighty fell down to just above her knees, pink ruffles covering her thighs. She was bare foot, and her hair was loose and wild.

“Allura…” Lotor said, forcing himself to look away from her bare legs. “What are you doing here?”

She stared at him a moment, still breathing a little too fast, eyes still dilated from her fright. He watched as she slowly drew herself together, that frightened expression being replaced with a frown. “Do you always run around with your sword unsheathed?” She demanded, crossing her arms over her chest.

“No. Only when I have an unexpected visitor waiting for me in my chambers.” Lotor replied, then sighed. “Allura, again I ask you, what are you doing here? Why didn’t the guards let me know of your arrival?”

“I….I wanted to surprise you.” She blushed, and his eyebrows lifted in surprise.

“That you succeeded in doing.” He told her. “With almost deadly consequences.”

She lowered her eyes, embarrassed by his words. “I’m sorry. I guess I didn’t think this out too well.”

“I’m still waiting to hear what this surprise of yours is.” Lotor said in reply.

“It’s not a surprise per se.” Allura admitted. “I’ve been thinking…” She glanced at him through lowered eyelashes, and when he did not reply she hurried to continue. “You were right.”

“Right about what?” Lotor asked, then smirked. “You’ll have to be more specific. I find myself right about a lot of things.”

She didn’t rise to the bait, instead shyly looking at him. “About the sleeping together.” He did a slow blink of his eyes, stunned by her words. “We should be sharing a bed together. At the very least we can sleep in the same room. Although…” And here she was firm, not hint of shyness to her expression. “I am not here to have sex with you, so you better behave!”

Lotor took a step back, leaning against the door. He gave her another once over, trying not to smirk at the way she was dressed. “You mean to tell me, you agree to sharing a bed with me?” At her nod, he continued. “Well….what brought on this change?”

“Pardon?”

“It’s just I thought I’d have to carry you kicking and screaming into my bed.” Lotor said. “And yet now you are here, all but offering yourself to me?” He frowned, an unpleasant thought occurring to him. “This doesn’t have to do with that Nanny woman does it? She hasn’t done something else I should know about?”

“Oh no.” Allura was quick to answer, shaking her head no. “I’m here without any ulterior motives. Besides, it will help the others to accept out marriage if they see us behaving like a couple.”

“Indeed. Very well Allura. I would be glad to allow you to sleep with me.” Lotor smiled, stepping back to let her walk past him. She nervously did so, Lotor inhaling the scent of her hair as she squeezed past him. He turned to follow her, watching her hips sway as she moved, and it was all he could do to prevent himself from lunging towards her.

Instead he forced himself to follow her at a more sedate pace, pausing to undo his sword belt. Once inside the bedroom, he deposited it on the night stand, making sure it was in reach should a real intruder make it into their bedroom. Allura scrambled into bed, pulling the covers up to her chest as she sank into the mattress. Lotor picked up the documents, and climbed in next to her, leaving a lamp on so that he could read the reports.

Not that he could concentrate on the words before him with Allura next to him in bed. The line of her body was touching his, Lotor keenly aware of her every breath, every movement. He kept glancing at her, finding she was staring up at the ceiling, fingers fidgeting, picking at loose threads on the blanket. He could practically taste her nervousness, and it left him on edge, Lotor at last sighing and putting the papers aside.

He rolled onto his side, back to her as he shut off the light. He tried to go to sleep, but his body refused to calm down, thinking about how close Allura was, and how all he needed to do was lift up some ruffles in order to get between her legs. Such a thought made him groan, Lotor trying to think of something that wouldn’t arouse him, such as how his father looked when he was constipated.

He was still thinking unpleasant thoughts when a small hand touched his back, Lotor not quite jumping startled as he tensed up. “Lotor?” Allura, fingers caressing his skin through the shirt he still wore. “Are you still up?”

“Yes, Allura.” Lotor answered, and then as moving, rolling to face her. He was surprised to see her on her side, the girl facing him as well. “Do you need something?” Lotor asked, searching her face for answers.

She smiled, and shook her head no. “No, it’s just…”

“Just what?” He asked when she fell silent.

“You mentioned something earlier.” Allura began, and her one hand reached to capture a few stray strands of her hair. She twirled the golden ends around her finger, over and over as she fidgeted, trying to find the courage to speak. “You said…you were raised by servants. Well….where was your mother during all this?”

“My mother?” Lotor repeated, taken aback by her question. She nodded, eyes intent on his, making him hold back a displeased sigh. “My mother was killed when I was a small child.”

“Oh how terrible!” Allura exclaimed, and she reached out to touch his hand, giving him a squeeze. “I’m so sorry for your loss.”

“Thank you…” Lotor said, realizing she was the first one to ever express sorrow for his mother’s death. Back on Doom, the Drules simply hadn’t cared, and some of the nobles had been rather pleased, thinking it a disgrace to have a human for a queen.

“Did….did her killer ever be brought to justice?” Allura asked, and now Lotor did sigh.

“No Allura. He did not.”

“He?” She questioned. “You know who did it.”

“It was my father Allura.” Lotor said, watching her gasp and reel back as though she had been struck. “Zarkon killed her during one of their disagreements.”

“How horrible.” Allura said, and he frowned, reaching to touch her face. His fingers came away wet, Lotor stunned to realize she was crying.

“Tears Allura?” Lotor asked. “You would shed them for a woman you have never met?”

“Yes.” She said simply. “It’s a tragedy to lose a loved one…especially at a young age. Even worse to know your own father is her killer!”

“We have that in common, you and I.” Lotor said, seeing her look at him curiously. “Zarkon took away loved ones from us both.” He explained, and she nodded.

“What was she like Lotor?” Allura asked. “I know you say I resemble her but…what do you remember of your mother?”

“Happiness.” He said after a pause, having to think about it. “Warmth and love, these emotions come to mind when I think back on my mother’s memories. She was a kind person, a good mother, she would have raised me completely different if Zarkon hadn’t been in the picture.” A chuckle then, Lotor trying to imagine it. “I dare say I would have become a scholar, anything but a conqueror of worlds if she had been allowed free reign over my education.”

“Somehow I can’t imagine you as a scholar.” Allura said, and he smiled.

“Neither can I truth be known. But it would have made her happy to see me do something that went against Zarkon’s teachings.” Lotor sighed. “Everything I know about love….I learned from her. From how she dealt with me, with others. She may not have cared for my father, but she was always somewhat civil with him.”

“I learned about love watching my parents.” Allura admitted. “I can’t remember much about my own mother. But I know she loved my father, and he her. I…I always wanted to have a love like that. A love like theirs.”

“You can still have it.” Lotor told her, reaching for her hands. “Allura, I offer you all the love I am capable of giving and more.”

“Maybe…” She sounded doubtful, Lotor bringing her hands upwards to his face.

“No maybes. It’s the truth.” He said, placing kisses on the back of her hands. She almost smiled at the gesture, staring searchingly at his face.

“The truth….I wonder…” She sighed, and pulled her hands back, touching the blanket once more. She stifled a a yawn, her eyelids drooping shut as she struggled to stay awake.

“Allura, sleep. We can talk in the morning.” Lotor told her, and she nodded, this time giving in to the yawn. She settled against her pillow, still on her side facing him, her eyes slowly closing shut. “Allura?”

“Hmmm?” A sleepy sound, her eyes opening halfway to look at him.

“I do love you, you know.” Lotor told her, watching as she sighed.

“I….I think I already knew that….” She confessed, struggling to stay awake. It wasn’t the confession of love he wanted, but it was better than nothing, Lotor rolling onto his back. All too soon she was asleep, cuddling up close to his side, her breathing light and even. Lotor carefully extended his arm, wrapping it around her so that he pulled her close to him, Allura’s one hand going to rest on his chest.

It was strange, but though they did nothing but sleep, he found himself feeling content. In fact, it was the first time since marrying Allura that Lotor went to bed feeling hopeful.


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