She sat back in her chair, head tilted at an angle as she stared up at the sky. Allura held one hand just over her eyes, casting a shadow on her face to block out the harsh rays of the sun. She was watching the lions, seeing them perform loops in the sky, maneuvers becoming more daring as the pilots got a handle on the controls. Right now only four lions were in the air, black lion having been called back, leaving Allura to wonder at the reason why.
But even without black lion in the air, the lions were magnificent, filling her with such calm. She needed that peace, her mind was in turmoil, Allura worrying over the revelations of this morning. If she concentrated, she could still see the face of that woman, Tamara, her eyes filled with such sheer hatred. Allura had never seen such a look on anyone’s face directed towards her, not even King Zarkon had looked at her with such undisguised animosity.
Even more unsettling was the fact that Allura felt she hadn’t done anything to the woman, in fact she had HELPED her. Wasn’t it every slave’s greatest desire to be set free? Allura had seen to that and more, ensuring the former harem girls would have a way to earn their keep, giving them jobs and education at the castle. She had never expected any of them to feel resentment over it, leaving Allura confused. Was Tamara just a special case, or did all the women feel this way?
It made her wonder if more of the harem had been as misguided as Tamara, thinking themselves special to Lotor. She thought it cruel for him to mislead them in matters of the heart, Allura wondering how she would feel in their place. She knew it would hurt, but could it drive her to commit a crime, and one as deadly as what Tamara was accused of doing?
“I’m not like that…” Allura decided out loud. “I would never let myself be ruled by jealousy and heart break…”
Still she kept thinking of Tamara, wondering what the woman’s ultimate fate would be. She knew it looked bad, Tamara pretty much caught red handed with the poison in her hand. If the liquid in the jar tested positive, would anything stop Lotor from killing her? Was Allura herself so kind hearted as to overlook an attempt on her life? Uncomfortable questions with no easy answers, Allura sighing and lowering her hand.
The remains of this morning’s breakfast were still laid out before her, untouched for the most part. Lotor had left before finishing his meal, and after the excitement surrounding Tamara’s arrival, Allura had found she had little appetite. She covered the plates, pushing the unappetizing meals away from her.
Allura didn’t know what to do with herself, finding since she had gotten married her days had little to occupy her mind when she wasn’t with Lotor. It left her bored, longing for something to do, wondering if Lotor would allow her free reign on some of the affairs of the state. She knew such matters surely kept him more busy than he let on, Lotor might even be glad for her assistance.
She was easing back her chair, intent on seeking out Lotor, when who should arrive but the prince himself. He stepped onto the roof, no sign of an escort with him this time, even Commander Merack had abandoned him for other duties.
“Lotor.” Allura raised a hand in greeting, a smile on her face. Lotor mirrored her expression, pleased to see her. “Is everything all right? I thought you had work to do?”
“I finished early.” Lotor answered, coming to a stop by the table. “I’ve actually been looking all over for you.” He added, glancing at the covered plates. “Have you been up here all this time?”
“Yes.” Allura nodded. “I’ve been enjoying watching the lions.”
“Besides….there really isn’t anything urgent that needs my attention.” A none too subtle hint, Allura hoping Lotor would pick up on it.
“You are bored?” Lotor sounded surprised as he made the realization, Allura nodding her head.
“Maybe just a little. I’m not used to having all this free time.” She explained. “Back before we were married, I had studies to do, matters of state to attend to, not to mention my training as a pilot. There was almost never a free moment to do what I wanted to do.”
“You never had any hobbies?” asked Lotor.
Allura laughed, shaking her head no. “Honestly Coran and Nanny kept me so busy, I never had time to develop any. Although…” Now she was shy, confessing what had been her greatest pleasure back in those days. “I found myself often turning to thoughts of flying blue lion. Even though Keith made it into such hard work, it was freeing, a real pleasure to fly the lion.”
“I see.” Lotor grinned, reaching for her hand. “Well, I have a real treat for you then.”
“Another surprise?” Allura asked, allowing him to lead her away from the table. “Honestly Lotor, you spoil me with all these surprises.”
“Good.” Lotor laughed, walking hand in hand with her. “That is exactly my intention.”
“I suppose it’s futile to ask where we are going now?” Allura wanted to know, Lotor merely smiling at her as he held open the door. “Lotor…” She paused, casting another glance at the sky. “Where is black lion? Why has it been removed from the test flight?”
“Ah…” Lotor’s hand on her back, ushering her forward towards the stairs. “You noticed.”
“It’s kind of hard not.” Allura pointed out.
“Let’s just say it’s part of the surprise and leave it at that.” Lotor said.
“Lotor!” Just his name, a loud protest from Allura. “Just tell me. I don’t think I can stand the suspense.”
“It won’t kill you not to know.” His tone was teasing, Lotor leading her down the steps.
“Please.” She said, trying to wheedle it out of him.
“All right Allura, but you can probably guess. Black Lion has been called back to the castle.” Lotor said.
“The castle? Why?”
“Well….” He paused on the steps, turning to look her in the eyes. “I thought we could make good on your promise.”
“Promise?” She was echoing his words, still not understanding.
“To teach me how to fly black lion.” Lotor clarified, and her eyes widened in surprise.
Lotor grinned, pleased by her reaction. “That’s the look I wanted to see. To see your face light up with joy.” She blushed, embarrassed by his scrutiny. “Actually, telling you makes one step a lot easier. I was wondering how I’d get you to change your clothes without spoiling the surprise.”
Allura glanced down at her sun dress, realizing it really wasn’t suited for piloting duties. “You don’t always have to make everything a surprise to spoil me.” She told him, Lotor leading her to the floor where their bedroom was located.
“Ah but I like seeing that look on your face.” He responded.
“What look?” Allura asked.
A glance over his shoulder, Lotor smirking. “The look of infuriation.” She couldn’t help herself, she twitched, face surely taking on the very look he so enjoyed. She only grew more annoyed at his laughter, Allura glancing away, a furious blush on her cheeks.
“Lotor…” She was casting about for a way to change the subject, settling on the first thing that came to mind. “What is happening with Tamara? Is she still in the dungeon?” She felt the tension via his hand, Lotor stiffening up at her questions.
“Yes, she’s still down there. As comfortable as can be given the circumstances.” Lotor replied, sighing. “She’s made a full confession.”
“She has?” Allura couldn’t help it, suspicion creep into her tone. “You didn’t….coerce her into it, did you?”
“I’m hurt. You think so little of me and my men.” Lotor said, not looking at her.
“You gave me good reason to, this last year and a half.” Allura pointed out.
“Don’t worry Allura. This time I made sure to conduct myself properly.” Lotor told her, leaving her to wonder just what proper behavior constituted with him. “You’re not at all curious of her motives?”
“Of course I am.” Allura said, the two finally reaching the bedroom. “I’m always interested as to why someone seeks to end my life. I mean….I grew used to such attempts being out on the battle field, but that was never personal. It was always part of the war. But with this woman, with Tamara…I can tell she bears a grudge against me, and I really don’t know why. I have done nothing to her.”
“That’s not how she sees it.” They walked across the foyer, and into the bedroom, Allura noticing her flight suit led out on the bed. Lotor walked over to the closet, removing a change of clothes, even as Allura began undressing.
“Oh? Then what is her reason?” Allura asked, sliding the straps down her arms.
“You were right.” Lotor sighed, hanging up his jacket. “She did misunderstand my tokens as a gesture that implied she meant something more to me. The poor fool thinks she’s in love with me…she’s misguided in her attempts to reunite with me. She blames you for her loss of position in the harem.”
“In a way she’s right.” Allura said, sliding on her top. Her zipper made a sound as she eased it close over her chest, her pilot uniform fitting to her body like a second skin. She glanced at Lotor, seeing him pull up his shirt, revealing a finely honed abdomen.
She shook her head, trying to break the spell his body seemed to weave over her. “I took her from the only life she’s ever known.” Allura explained, hurrying to pull on her pants. “I didn’t think…didn’t expect there to be any resentment on her part for doing that. Obviously I was wrong. But…” She frowned, tugging the material up her hips. “It would be wrong to return her to slavery just because it is her comfort zone. She needs to learn how to function as a useful member of a society….preferably one far away from Arus!”
“You speak as though you intend to see her pardoned.” Lotor hardly sounded pleased, Allura avoiding looking at him as she cinched the belt at her waist.
“I….I honestly don’t know.” Allura admitted, sitting down on the edge of the bed to put on her boots. “I can’t help feeling sorry for her.”
“Allura she tried to kill you!” Lotor protested, making her flush with embarrassment.
“I know that. But…I believe in second chances. Don’t you?” Now she glanced at him, seeing the prince dressed in his familiar Doom military uniform. He was buckling his belt, grinning skull at the center of his waist.
“The Gods know my father gave me plenty of those in concern to my defeats at the hand of your robot. But…” He paused, thinking about it. “I don’t recall ever giving any of my men the same opportunities…”
“Maybe you could start now. With Tamara.” Allura said, offering a nervous smile to her husband.
“Maybe.” But his voice sounded doubtful, Lotor reaching to help her to her feet.
“Please say you’ll consider it at least.” Allura said, staring intently at him.
“Fine…but let’s put such thoughts aside for something much more pleasant.” Lotor said, turning to walk out of the room. She hurried after him, the prince still speaking. “After all….I wouldn’t want to damage my reputation by having word get out that I am growing….soft.”
“You think showing mercy is a weakness?” Allura asked, stepping out into the hall with him.
“Perhaps. I find when you show mercy, others tend to take advantage of you.” Lotor answered. “You are wise to want to send Tamara away. There’s no guarantee she would not try again if given the opportunity.”
“I am not THAT foolish Lotor.” Allura said, wondering just how naive he had thought she was.
“I never said you were.” Lotor said, tone hesitant as though he was attempting to hide his true emotion. “And just as you ask me to keep an open mind about her fate, I too ask you to do the same, regardless of what is decided about her.”
“All right.” Allura agreed. She hurried to catch up to him, reaching to take his hand once more. He glanced at her, surprised and she smiled at him. “So…we will be flying in black lion yes?”
Lotor nodded. “I thought it a fun diversion. However…what would you say to perhaps teaching my men the ins and outs of flying and fighting in the lions?” Allura’s eyes widened, she stared at Lotor in surprise.
“Do you mean it?”
“I wouldn’t bring it up as a joke.” Lotor said. “They are just barely managing to control the ships in flight at the moment. I shudder to think what would happen if they tried to activate the weapons system.”
“Oh dear.” Allura murmured, imagining the catastrophic results all too vividly. She could remember how much trouble she had trying to learn to pilot her own lion, never mind the failures she had had at fighting in black lion. She wouldn’t wish such mishaps on anyone, Allura quick to agree. “Then I’ll do it.”
“Excellent!” Smiled Lotor, leading her down to the main level of the castle. “Of course, Doom will now be helping to defend Arus rather than attack it. But I’m sure the people of Arus will be much more comforted to see the lions in the sky, rather than the Doom fleet.”
“Yes.” Agreed Allura. “The memories of what those ships have done still linger strongly in my people’s minds.”
“True…Not that I expect anyone to dare attack Arus now that it is part of Doom’s Empire.” Lotor shrugged. “But just because times are somewhat peaceful, doesn’t mean we should relax our guard.”
“Yes, you’re right.” She said, following him into Castle Control. She stopped, startled, seeing nothing but Drules sitting behind the computer panels, and wandering the floor. It was a jarring sight, like something out of one of her old nightmares. She closed her eyes, Allura needing a moment to compose herself.
“Allura?” Lotor’s voice, concerned. “Are you all right?”
“I’m fine.” She said, opening her eyes to look at him. “I just felt…disoriented for a moment.” She was relieved when he didn’t question her further, Lotor walking over to the chute that was already raised up out of the floor. A glowing number one was situated over the opening, showing which lion’s lair the passage would lead too.
“So this is how you transported yourselves to the lions.” Lotor murmured, walking over to peer down into the chute. She knew he would see nothing from this vantage point, the chute’s passage went straight down but went on for some length. “Just how deep is this chute?”
“Sire, we’ve measured it’s length at just under half a mile.” Reported one of the Drule technicians.
“I see. Well, Allura…” Lotor gestured for her to come closer. “Shall we?” She nodded, finding he was slipping a muscled arm around her waist, pulling her close to his side. His other hand reached for the trapeze swing, giving it a testing pull. He showed not one sign of being nervous, stepping off the platform so that they fell downwards, only the swing slowing their fall, spinning them around and around. It was unsettling to Allura to be held while going down the chute, the princess wrapping her arms tight around Lotor’s waist.
“Don’t worry, I got you!” He told her, and she merely nodded, fearing what would happen if his arm grew tired of supporting both their weight. They spiraled their way down into a waiting transport, a tiny ship barely having room for two people. The opening in it’s roof closed, the swing already jetting back upwards now that it was free of their weight. Lotor looked around curiously, seeing no controls for the transport, though it lit up and came to life, speeding down a horizontal tunnel.
It was a short flight, black lion and blue lion’s lairs being located the closest to the castle. Together they entered black lion, Lotor allowing Allura to sit in the pilot’s chair. For now he would be a mere observer, watching everything she did. She felt nervous under his scrutiny, strapping herself into the seat. Lotor stood behind her, hovering over her so that his shadow fell across her body.
Allura was quiet, flipping switches, powering up the console. “Black Lion ready for duty.” She said out of old habit, her hands reaching for the throttle, easing it back slowly. Lighting seemed to flash, Black Lion bursting free of it’s stone confines, leaping into the air. Allura kept it’s speed slow, not wanting Lotor to fall over as she flew the lion upwards, taking it past the very roof of the castle. The other lions were still there, and they seemed to react to black lion’s presence, flying forward to surround the lion.
“Let’s see what this ship can really do.” Lotor urged her, his tone eager. Allura laughed, and pulled back on the throttle, causing the ship to burst ahead of the other lions, quick to leave them behind in it’s wake. “Amazing!” Lotor exclaimed. “I knew black lion was fast, but I never realized just how fast it was capable of going.”
“It can make a sudden stop too.” Allura said, demonstrating. The lion went from breaking the sound barrier to suddenly being still, just floating in place in the air above the woods. “It can also travel the length of the planet in a matter of hours.”
“Fascinating.” Lotor said, studying her hands as she pushed switches and changed gears on the lion. They flew around the Kingdom of Altea, spending just hours enjoying the scenery and being away from the castle. Soon Lotor grew impatient to fly the lion himself, Allura reluctantly handing over the controls to him. He was shaky at first, the lion rumbling with vibrations as Lotor piloted the ship in short awkward bursts of speeds.
A few corrections from Allura had him learning how to make the ride smoother, Lotor letting out an excited whoop as he soared through the air at break neck speeds. “What I wouldn’t give to have a robeast or two to battle!” Lotor grinned, flying about.
“Er…let’s not get too carried away.” Allura said, thinking of the property damage a robeast could cause to her planet. Her people had already spent much time and energy rebuilding their homes and business, the castle’s treasury being taxed to it’s limits in offering aid to the downtrodden.
“Not even a small robeast?” Lotor asked, glancing at her. “One confined to a canyon well away from any people?”
“Keep your eyes on the monitor!” Allura cried out, panicking as black lion veered off course. Lotor swore, pulling hard on the throttle, desperate to get the lion back on track. She couldn’t tell because of his azure skin, but she wondered if he was blushing over the near mishap. They flew in silence a while longer, Lotor eventually growing tired of doing nothing but flying around Altea.
“Hey….are you hungry?” He asked, this time remembering to keep his attention focused on the monitor.
“Well, I am a little.” Admitted Allura, knowing her stomach was practically growling for food.
“Good.” Lotor answered, guiding black lion down towards a clearing in the woods. “I packed us a picnic.”
“YOU did?” She asked amazed.
“Well…” He was slow to admit this. “I had the servants pack us one. But I supervised.” He hastily added, making her giggle.
“I must admit, I’m not very handy in the kitchen either.” Allura said, thinking of the few disastrous times she had tried to make a meal for the Voltron Force. She had shocked the servants when she had proven it was possible to burn water after all, the liquid cooking down to the point there was none left, the pot blackening as it burned.
“Well, you don’t have to be. You’re a princess.” Lotor said, his tone matter of fact. Black lion shook as it made a bumpy landing on the grass below, Allura grabbing onto the back of Lotor’s seat for support. He quickly unbuckled his straps, freeing himself from the seat. Allura tsked, and leaned forward, hands reaching to power down black lion.
“You musn’t leave black lion’s engines on when not in use.” Allura chastised him, the side of her body brushing up against his. She wasn’t paying attention to what he was doing with his hands, Allura keying in the power down sequence. And so she was taken by surprise, his hands suddenly touching her, a teasing caress across her back. She went to straighten, his hands landing on her waist, Lotor giving an insistent tug that had her toppling over onto his lap.
Allura squirmed, trying her best to sit up, but Lotor’s hand on her belly held her down, pinning her in place. She wasn’t sure if she should be exasperated or excited, lifting her head to stare into his eyes. “Lotor…what?” She knew it was a foolish thing to ask, she could tell by the look in his eyes, the way the gold darkened with desire that he was up to no good.
“I’m hungry for more than just food Allura.” Lotor told her, his voice husky.
“Oh!” Just a one word exclamation, Lotor allowing her to sit up enough that he could nuzzle his lips against the side of her neck. They moved against her skin, Lotor’s mouth brushing against the high collar of her uniform. She shifted, finding one of his hands was touching her hair, fingers entwining in the loose strands so that Lotor controlled her head’s movements. Just a tug, but her head eased back, offering her throat to him. Lotor practically purred as he lavished attention on her throat, his other hand warm on her belly, rubbing in caressing circles.
“Lotor…what about our picnic?” Allura jumped, feeling his fang tips prick against her skin, light enough not to bleed her. His tongue quickly washed over the imprint of his fangs, soothing the sting of his teeth.
“Picnic can wait.” He mumbled against her skin, Lotor chuckling. “It’s all cold foods.” That seemed to settle it, Allura sighing, doing her best to relax against him. His hand left her belly, reaching towards her neck, fingers nimble as he caught her zipper, beginning to ease it down. He kissed her skin as it was exposed, zipper stopping just over the swell of her breasts.
Allura closed her eyes, enjoying the drag of his tongue against her skin, a giggle escaping her. Lotor pulled back, and she looked at him, seeing the quizzical look in his eyes. “I was just thinking how soon my neck won’t have a spot unmarked if you keep up with your attention towards it.”
He smiled, his next words making her blush. “What if I told you I mean to mark every inch of your skin?”
“You can’t possibly be serious!” Allura protested.
“Let’s find out, shall we?” A smirk then, his mouth kissing all over collarbone. She smiled, reaching up to touch his hair, smoothing back the strands so that she tucked them past his ear. Her fingers then caressed the edges of his pointed ear, Allura knowing how sensitive a body part his ears were to him.
He soon kissed his way back up her neck, planting his lips on the underside of her chin. His hand was still controlling her head’s actions, Lotor intent on decorating her skin with his mouth’s mark. She was waiting for him when his goal became clear, mouth traveling up towards her lips. Allura lost herself to his kiss, feeling her heart beat faster and faster as his mouth sealed tight over hers.