Freedom 52

Her words had had an effect on him, Allura could see that much from the way Lotor nearly dropped his glass of brandy. He tried to recover, the amber liquid sloshing over the glass’ sides as he tightened his fingers around it. But there was no hiding the startled look on his face, his mouth not quite hanging open as he stared at her. Allura wanted to smile, pleased she could shock him, but she settled for keeping her face impassive.

Silence stretched out between them, but it wasn’t that awkward quiet they had experienced back on Arus. This time the air was charged with tension of a different kind, Lotor trying to recover enough to think what to say to her. He found it difficult to get over his shock, and Allura wasn’t helping, shaking out of her cloak, to lay the heavy velvet across a chair. That left her clad in purple muslin, the fabric molding itself to her curves, skirts flaring out from the hip to drape down across the floor. She was lovely as a picture, stealing his breath away much like the very first time he had ever laid eyes on her.

For one brief instant Lotor closed his eyes, trying to get control of the emotions she stirred within him. There was the pain of his regrets, but more than that was the swelling of love in his heart, enough to make him fight against the disbelief he felt at her words. Lotor felt sure he had misunderstood her, urging his heart to calm it’s frantic beating as he opened his eyes and looked at her. She was still across the room, hands fussing as they smoothed down her skirts, Allura’s eyes on him as she patiently waited for his reaction.

He gave her one, though it was surely not the words she had hoped for, Lotor quickly turning his back to her. “Would you care for something to drink? Some sherry or port?”

Allura frowned, her eyes doing a rapid blink in surprise at the calm tone of Lotor’s voice. His words would have her believe he had no interest in what she had just said to him, but she knew by his reactions, and the stiff way he held his body that he was affected. “Lotor….did you not hear me?” She took a step in his direction, seeing him toss back his brandy in one fast gulp. “I’ve come to get you back.”

The glass made a resounding thump when he slammed it onto the bar’s counter, Lotor still not facing Allura. She saw his hands on the counter, relaxed for the moment as he leaned over the bar. “Why…?” Lotor said at last, his voice hoarse with raw emotion. “Why would you…” A shake of his head, Lotor changing his mind. “What has happened to make you come all this way?”

“Do I need an excuse?” Allura asked, coming to a stop mere inches from Lotor. “Lotor, you’re my husband…I wanted to see you. To talk with you…” Her hand was lifting towards his shoulder, the princess intent on touching him. Lotor seemed to sense her movement, turning to catch her wrist before she could complete the movement.

“Talk?” Lotor asked, keeping his fingers loose around her delicate wrist. “We had plenty of time to talk back on Arus.” She was frowning, but made no move to pull back her hand, staring at him with a frustrated light in her eyes. He wondered at that emotion, wondered if she was bothered he wasn’t falling over himself with joy at her words. But suspicions wormed their way through him, Lotor staying on guard, not wanting to give her the chance to hurt him.

“That’s not entirely true.” Allura said quietly, trying not to thrill at the feel of his fingers on her wrist. Even with the sleeve in the way, she could feel his heat, Allura having missed and longed for his touch. “We barely saw each other those last days on Arus.”

“And whose fault was that?” Lotor questioned, dropping her hand. She pulled it back to her chest, holding it pressed over her bosom as she stared at him. “It was not I who locked you out of the bedroom. It was not I who spent the days hiding, avoiding you at all costs.”

“That was my fault I know.” Allura admitted. “I was difficult…” He gave a snort at that word, amused agreement in his eyes. “But you have to understand, I was upset.”

“And now you are not?” Lotor demanded, seeing her hesitate. Her lips trembled once more, a quiver to them as she bit back words, Allura trying to figure out just what to say.

“Not exactly, no.” She said at last. “I’ve had time to think. I’ve come to some realizations about you and I. Would you like to hear them?” Numbly, he nodded his head, watching the relief form in her eyes. “I knew who I was getting when I first agreed to marry you. I knew I was getting the crown prince of Doom as my husband. I was prepared for that, or so I thought.”

She didn’t quite sigh, Allura moving to pace away from him. “Before that, before Arus, all those stories about you, the rumors about the kind of behavior you were capable of were just that. Stories. I hadn’t really come to grips with that side of you, and Lotor, you only further confused things for me.”

“Did I?” He wondered out loud, seeing her nod.

“Yes. You did.” Allura said, hand brushing back her hair from her face. “You were different from the stories. To me….and to the people around us. You were actually pretty kind.. caring. You may have been a bit frayed around the edges, but you had the makings of being a wonderful man.” She closed her eyes, bracing herself for her next confession. “I couldn’t help falling for that man.”

A sharp breath from Lotor, the prince staring at her shocked. “Falling for me? Allura…are you saying you’re in love with me?” He saw the color flare in her cheeks, Allura blushing furiously at his question. She wasn’t looking at him, her hands doing fidgeting movements as she considered his question.

“I did come to love you…a part of you at least.” Allura began, peering at Lotor’s face through lowered eyelashes. She felt mortified to be speaking so frankly like this to him, but she forced the words to come out. “You see….I fell in love with only one aspect of you…” A nervous chuckle escaped her, Allura twisting her fingers around in nervous agitation. “I’ve fallen in love with Lotor the man, not Lotor the crown prince of Doom.”

“How unfortunate for you.” Lotor said, keeping his expression blank though his heart was practically singing to hear her say she loved him, even if that love wasn’t all encompassing. “They are one and the same.”

“Yes, I realize that now.” Allura said. “It was shocking to me to see what you can do. The night of the ball was a rude eye opener for me…the crown prince is so violent…and he lies. Maybe not outright, but an act of omission is still a lie.”

“Ah…the Voltron research…” Lotor said, seeing her nod.

“It was all too much to take in at once…and you didn’t make it easier with your acts towards remedying the situation.” Allura was relieved she was able to talk about this without flashing onto the scene in the morgue, the dead scientists a distant memory she’d sooner forget. “How else was I to react, when faced with all this?”

“I suppose I can’t blame you for your reactions.” Lotor said, glad his blue skin prevented a blush from appearing on his cheeks. He actually felt embarrassed over the killings, regretting the extreme measures he had taken to try and fix the problem between them. “I should have thought things through. With your reaction to the executions at the party, clearly killing the scientists would not go over well with you.”

“It jarred me.” Allura admitted. “That you could be so casual about killing…” A helpless shrug of her shoulders, Allura continuing. “It still leaves me unsettled. It’s a part of you I don’t think I’ll ever be able to accept…Lotor, you mustn’t do it again. You mustn’t kill to solve our problems.”

“I don’t know if I can…” Lotor told her, waiting for her reaction. He thought she’d grow angry or burst into tears, but Allura merely lowered her eyes, looking sad. “I can try…” he added, trying to cheer her up.

“Please…” Allura whispered, hands clasped together like a prayer. “I’m not asking you to stop killing completely. I understand that sometimes it’s a necessity, it’s self defense. I may not like it, but….I cannot begrudge you defending your own life.”

“Or yours.” He said. “Allura, I want you to be clear on this. When it comes to protecting you, I won’t hesitate to do what’s necessary. I can’t have you acting squeamish every time, I can’t go through you shutting me out of your heart over and over again.”

“I….I don’t know…the killings upset me…it’s so hard not to react in anger and disappointment…”

“Then we have nothing left to discuss.” Lotor said firmly. “I can’t change who I am. Not completely. It’s better we remain apart then suffer through the torments that being together causes.”

“But I don’t want to be apart from you!” Allura said, and she couldn’t stop the urgency she felt from slipping into her voice. “Lotor, I miss you….don’t you miss me?”

“Gods Allura! What do you think?!” Lotor demanded, his own emotion leaking into his voice. “Of course I miss you. I spend every day thinking about you, it’s all I can do to function properly.”

“Then don’t run away from me!” Allura’s voice was heated, eyes blazing with passion. “Don’t run from us, especially when it’s so out of character for you to just give up.” Her lips twisted into a smile, wry amusement on her face. “I worried you know…Worried that you had lost interest in me.”

“Don’t ever think that!” Lotor exclaimed, finding himself moving towards her before he could stop himself. “I love you Allura…” He seized hold of her hands, raising them up between them. “Don’t ever doubt that!”

“You make it so difficult.” She said softly, staring over their entwined hands at his face. She was pleased to see he still wore his wedding band, the gold a stark light against his azure colored skin. “Especially when you take off like a thief in the night…you didn’t leave a note….no message for me…”

“I’m sorry…” Lotor said, abashed. “I wasn’t thinking clearly. I behaved like a spoiled child, taking his things and leaving.”

An incline of her head, Allura agreeing with him. “At one point I tried to hate you. I felt used and tossed aside….it’s not a far stretch to say I was abandoned by you.” She let the pain show in her eyes, let him see just how hurt she had been. “Your father delighted in your flight from me, he was sure this meant you had lost interest. He never let an opportunity go by to tell me he had been right…”

“Damn him!” Lotor growled, startled when Allura pulled her hands free of his. She didn’t lower them, raising them both to touch his face, the feel of her hands on his skin calming the beast inside him.

“He wouldn’t even tell me where you went…” Allura sighed. “He could have made things so much easier for me…I could have been here much sooner…”

“Perhaps we needed this time…” Lotor said, shoving thoughts of his father out of his mind for now. “Do they not have a saying on Earth about absence making the heart grow fonder?”

“I’ll admit I am not on top of my Earth sayings, but yes….that does sound like something they would say.” Allura agreed, a small smile crossing her lips as she continued to caress her fingers on his cheeks. “It certainly feels true…”

“So where do we go from here?” Lotor asked, savoring the feel of her fingers stroking back the strands of his hair.

“I thought we could return to Arus if your business here is done.” Came her answer, Lotor cracking a smile in response.

“I would like that very much indeed.”

“So…” Allura let his hair fall free of her hands, the princess reluctantly stepping back from him. “How about that drink now?”

“Yes…” He looked disappointed that she had pulled away, Lotor hurrying back towards the bar.

“Sherry if you please.” Allura added, following him. She watched Lotor pour the drink into a clean glass, the princess taking it from him and sipping carefully. “So….this is Zaroovia…” A wide gesture from her free hand, taking in the cityscape outside the window’s pane. “I haven’t been here very long, but….it seems peaceful enough…”

“If you had arrived sooner you’d have landed in the midst of a war.” Lotor said, pouring out more brandy for himself. “Gods Allura, you would have been in danger…you should have called…”

“Would you have even answered me if I did?” A pointed reminder of how he had ignored her attempts at hailing him on the day he had left Arus. “No, I suppose not. The element of surprise worked to my advantage.”

“Hmm.” He fell quiet, drinking from his glass as he thought on what to say. “Allura…it was more than just killing that upset you…Are you okay with everything else? The army of Voltrons….and Doom continuing to invade new planets?” She fell silent, not answering him, her eyes staring thoughtfully at her glass. Seconds ticked by into minutes, and at last she sighed, not quite nodding as she looked at him.

“I realize the army of Voltron is partly my fault. Let me speak.” She said when Lotor began to protest. “I…I didn’t think that area through when forming the treaty. I shouldn’t be surprised that your father is quick to exploit any weakness in that document. But I’ve been thinking…the night you left, I tried to come to you. I had an idea I wanted to run by you.”

“Oh?”

“What if there was a way to peacefully take planets?” Allura asked, and Lotor found himself trying not to laugh at her question. He busied himself with his drink, gesturing for her to continue. “Can’t Doom give the other planets a choice? Between forceful invasion, and peaceful cohabitation? Surely they would leap at the chance to avoid the war, to avoid the death and destruction the Doom name brings with it.”

“I don’t know. Doom’s never really asked if we could just move in. We’ve always taken what we wanted.” He sighed then, frowning. “After what Doom has done, the reputation the empire has, I doubt anyone would willingly open their doors to us.”

“What if we offered them incentive?” Allura asked, and this time Lotor did laugh, a light chuckle that left the princess confused.

“Doom’s incentive has always been resist us and die, give in and be made slaves.” Explained Lotor.

“I’ve got a better idea.” Allura said, all but blurting out her suggestion hastily. “What if you did not take slaves, but paid the people a fair wage to work for Doom? But also….with the army of Voltrons, what if you offered one to each willing planet as their protector? People would line up to become a part of the Doom Empire!”

She was looking at him so hopefully, and he did not know what to say. “Allura…we could try the no slave route….” Lotor said, already imagining his father’s protesting shouts in his ear. “I’m not sure it’s practical to give everyone a Voltron of their own though….”

“Doom would ultimately hold the rights to Voltron…” Allura said. “It would be like on Arus, a weapon just to guard the planet from forces that sought to wrest control from the Doom Empire. I admit…the idea does need some work, but please….try and consider it.”

“All right. I’ll give it some thought. Perhaps you and I can hash out the details together so that a workable proposal can be passed along to my father.” A grateful smile appeared on her face, Allura nodding quickly.

“Are you hungry my dear?” Lotor asked, already moving towards the voice com unit on the wall.

“Yes. I was too nervous to eat anything before seeing you.” She confessed, watching as he activated the com unit, his voice clear as he began ordering a meal in his language. It took a few minutes, but Lotor nodded, looking satisfied over the meal he had ordered.

“Lotor? Before we leave for Arus, can you show me the city?” Allura asked hopefully. “I’d like to see for myself how the people are doing with their new rulers in place.”

“You’ll be pleased to find there is little mistreatment going on of the people.” Lotor said. “It’s been very peaceful, I’ve done little to upset the natural balance of Zaroovia.” He smiled, coming to stand next to her so their arms brushed against one another. “I let you be my conscience in how I dealt with the Zaroovians.”

“Then you can focus on showing me the sights tomorrow.” Allura said, and with a slight twitch of her arm, she captured his hand. He felt her squeezing his fingers, her hand a familiar warmth he had missed these past few months.

“Gladly.” Lotor told her, dropping a kiss on her forehead. She smiled up at him, and led him over to the window, positioning herself in front of his body so that she could lean into him. A bit uncertain, Lotor wrapped his arms around her, hearing Allura let out a happy sigh as they stood there gazing out on the city.

“Maybe Merack was right.” Lotor suddenly said, feeling the urge to laugh.

“Hmmm?” A questioning sound from Allura, the girl bending her head back to peer up at Lotor’s face. “About what?”

“About relationships taking work. It’s tough, and it’s difficult, but so is anything worthwhile.” Lotor hugged her tighter, relishing the feel of her in his arms.

“Those are wise words the commander told you.” Allura smiled up at him.

“I almost didn’t listen.” Lotor admitted. “I thought maybe it was my destiny to be alone…”

“I don’t believe that. And you shouldn’t either.” Allura told him, expression serious. “You love to passionately to accept such a fate.”

“Love…” Lotor relished the sound of that word coming from Allura’s lips. “Yes, I do. I’m glad you noticed.”

“It’s kind of hard not too.” Allura smirked, a teasing light in her eyes. “It shows in how you act towards me. In your voice and in your eyes. It used to scare me to have someone so focused on me…”

“And now it doesn’t?” asked Lotor, seeing Allura cock her head to the side as she thought about it.

“No…not anymore. I’m through running from it. You love me….and I love you.”

“Even my prince of Doom half?” questioned Lotor, anxiety flaring up at her hesitation.

“The crown prince still scares me.” She admitted, lowering her eyes. “But my love for Lotor the man overpowers that fear. I’m willing to get to know all sidesof you, to learn to love each and every facet of your personality.”

‘That’s all I ever wanted to hear…” Lotor said, letting go of her to place his hands on her shoulders. She turned when guided, Allura looking curiously at him, a slight flush to her cheeks. He locked eyes with her, hands drawing her closer, watching as Allura tilted her head back, her sweet lips puckered. She was waiting for the kiss he offered her, and Lotor did not disappoint, brushing his mouth against hers in a soft press of lips.

For a second Allura trembled against him, and then she giggled, the princess throwing her arms around him as she went up on tip toe. Lotor grinned into the kiss, finding his life had just grown a lot brighter with Allura in his arms once more.


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