She sat on the floor, the carpet plush and soft beneath her bottom. An array of toys lay scattered before her, giving Allura more choice than she was comfortable with. It didn’t matter, her companion was quick to decide for her, picking a bright red ball and rolling it towards her. It bumped gently against her, Allura nudging it back in his direction. He smiled, pleased by her easy participation and together they began to amuse themselves with the game of passing the ball between them.
The boy was a constant in her life, she spent every minute with him, both waking and asleep. Allura liked being around him, enjoying his company and the sound of his voice, even if half the time she couldn’t understand the things he was saying. He spoke an odd mix of Arusian and some foreign dialect, leaving her confused under the best of times. What were these words, and was she expected to learn their meaning?
Such thoughts turned her anxious, Allura wondering why the boy couldn’t stick to words she already knew. It didn’t register with Allura that she should be grateful he even knew enough to speak to her partial understanding, the others around them sticking to that strange, guttural sounding language. They seemed to growl every time they spoke, sounding angry, snarling meanly. They never spoke with kindness, and most of the time they seemed to be shouting at her, making Allura inwardly flinch to hear them.
Sometimes, if the people were especially loud it drove her to tears, Allura not understanding the fear they stirred up within her. The loud voices reminded her of something, something bad, a memory she was desperate to block out. As such she didn’t examine it too closely, fearing her thoughts would uncover the memory, which always lingered close to the surface.
Close enough that it came to her in dreams, horrific nightmares she couldn’t explain. They woke her up screaming, shaking and covered in sweat, Allura unable to understand the vivid pictures of her dreaming mind. She knew it involved her friends, and grown ups, the people employed by her father to keep her safe. Only, she came away with the distinct feeling they had failed in that regard.
She pushed at the ball, feeling unsettled and restless, and unable to voice those feelings out loud. She knew that at one time she had been vocal, to the point of annoyance in others. Now she was quiet, and that seemed better, safer somehow.
The boy continued to speak, his voice loud and delighted. He didn’t seem to care that the adults were bothered by his constant chatter, hardly becoming subdued when reprimanded to be quiet. She thought him strange for that, though it wasn’t the only reason she found him odd. Allura looked up from the ball, studying her
He was older than her, though by how much she didn’t know, the boy bigger, taller than any of her friends. He also looked weird, a strange mixture of human and those other beings, his skin a very light shade of blue. His hair was devoid of color, it reminded her of snow, and it fell down to his shoulders, though right now it was tied back in a pony tail.
With his hair tied back, it allowed Allura an unobstructed view of his ears, long, pointed things that reminded her of the elves in story books. Looking at his ears always gave her the strongest impulse to reach out and touch them, though somehow she managed to not give in, Allura scared over how he would react. Absentmindedly she pushed the ball, noting how the strangest in a slew of odd things was perhaps his eyes.
A dark yellow that could have been golden, they were almond shaped and expressive, with black slits in the center that thickened or thinned out depending on his mood. Allura learned to read his eyes, though in truth the boy very rarely changed his expression around her. He was very happy to have her there, enjoying their play, and perhaps even more enjoying bossing her around!
Not that she complained, Allura glad to do what he said. It gave her a purpose, the tasks he asked simple, such as fetching new toys, or eating some vegetable that he didn’t like. She was still at that stage where she would eat almost anything, the girl remembering her time in the darkness, when food had been scarce, and even more horrible than broccoli.
“Allura..” The boy had grown tired with the ball, pushing it aside as he gestured at her to walk to his toy chest. She nodded her head, rising to stand, clutching the stuffed toy he had given her. She carried the toy everywhere, only parting from it during their baths, the stuffed creature left to sit on the sink, a silent witness to the goings on in the bathroom.
She loved to snuggle with it when she slept, the toy soft, and she cried into it’s fur when she was upset, the toy not judging her. It became her favorite of all the toys the boy had, Allura unable to put it aside for fear it would vanish one day.
She stared into the toy chest, free hand rifling through the remaining toys, a forlorn thought going through her. She wished the boy had dolls, Allura missing playing dress up with them. But he coloring books, and crayons, building blocks and board games, all things Allura enjoyed though not as much as dolls.
“Allura ships!” The boy decided, and she found the casing with the miniatures, small replicas of vehicles, some colored brightly, and some the dull grays and blacks of real ships.
“Vroom vroom!” The boy made sounds, lifting one of the ships from the case, pretending to fly it in the air. She didn’t particularly like this game, it made her anxiety rise, especially when he had the ships attack his toy soldiers. “Blam!” The boy giggled, knocking over the figures with a ship. They lay on their sides, and Allura had to quickly look away, feeling the threat of tears in her eyes.
“Allura play!” The boy ordered, and she lifted a purple ship out of the casing. But her actions were half hearted, Allura bobbing the ship up and down in the air. She could only wait for the boy to grow tied with this latest toy, Allura knowing she wouldn’t have to wait long. The boy was notorious in having a short attention span, sometimes their play lasted only minutes before he was demanding a new game.
They were still playing with the ships, when the woman walked in, Allura feeling excitement surged through her. The boy may be a constant in her life, but to Allura the world began and ended with Adaline. She had saved her from the darkness, taken Allura out of that awful, smelly place, away from the sounds of hopelessness and despair.
Allura might be young, but she wasn’t so little as to confuse Adaline with her mother, able to note the differences between them even if they both had long blond hair and blue eyes. The shapes of their faces were different, Adaline’s nose not as sharp as her mothers. Another key difference was the sadness that surrounded Adaline, the woman trying to hide it with some degrees of success. But Allura could see it, perhaps because she hid her own emotions and thus was able to recognize when others tried to do the same.
“Mommy!” The boy cried out, Allura once again wondering how the two could be related when they looked so different. The boy waved the woman over, Allura gratefully setting down the ship, hoping Adaline would prove the distraction needed for him to forget all about their current game.
“Lotor…” Adaline smiled and held out her arms, the boy running to her for a hug. Allura didn’t know that word, but she had a sneaking suspicion that was the boy’s name, the woman repeating it often enough in their presence. “Are you being good?”
“The best mommy!” Lotor said, smiling a big toothy grin that showed off the small fangs that were slowly growing in.
“What about Allura?” Adaline asked, smiling in her direction. “Is she still not talking?” The boy nodded, and though Adaline looked disappointed, she didn’t stop her smile.
“She will…” Adaline let go of Lotor to come kneel besides Allura, placing her hand on Allura’s unruly mane of hair. “She’s just not ready yet.”
“When will she be ready mommy?” Lotor asked, sitting down opposite Allura and Adaline. He gave off the aura of one impatient, as though the boy was eager to learn the sound of Allura’s voice when she wasn’t screaming or crying.
“I’m not sure…” admitted Adaline, stroking her fingers through Allura’s hair. “We will just have to be patient and kind, let her know it’s safe enough to speak.” Adaline always spoke Arusian to Allura and the boy, although she too was capable of that other language. Allura had heard her speak it with the others, and sometimes the results had the strange colored men and women return with treats, things Adaline must have requested.
Allura snuggled against Adaline’s side, liking the feel of the woman stroking her hair. The boy resumed speaking, making rapid conversation as though he feared someone would shush him at any moment. Adaline nodded and smiled, and expressed the proper interest as Lotor told her about his and Allura’s day. There wasn’t really much to describe, their days repetitive but fun.
Allura often wondered where Adaline went when she wasn’t with them, but the woman rarely spoke about her own time. Allura had a feeling that was for the best, if anything the sadness she sensed around Adaline was not a result of her time spent with the children, but the time when she went away. It left Allura wishing Adaline never had to leave them, the girl not wanting anything bad to happen to the woman.
She often wondered about her own parents, Allura fearing something equally bad had happened to them. It had to have, for them to have allowed such treatment to befall their daughter. Allura could only hope they had an Adaline of their very own, to help them through whatever it was they were going through. Maybe if they did, then they would come for her, Allura sure her parents would be able to vanquish the bad dreams completely.
Adaline’s presence helped but couldn’t keep the dreams completely at bay, Allura wondering why her mind tormented her so. She couldn’t remember ever suffering such an all consuming fear, the nightmares of the past mild and childish in comparison to the dreams she now suffered through. It left her scared to sleep, and she often spent the hours in bed with Lotor wide awake, waiting for when Adaline would appear to take the two into her room.
Allura didn’t know where Adaline went during the first few hours of the night, the children left to the care of others, people who were less kind and considerate than the boy’s mother. They didn’t have the patience for Allura’s tears, shouting nastily and raising threatening hands which frightened Allura even more. She could remember Lotor hugging her to him, the boy trying to protect her from the angry strangers.
She shivered in remembrance, Allura crawling into Adaline’s lap. The woman cooed softly, hugging her close, Allura clutching at the stuffed toy. Lotor continued to talk, filling in the silence with the sound of his voice. It was comforting, but it didn’t last, a new presence appearing in the doorway, making Adaline stiffen and sit up straighter.
Allura looked, spying the man she had seen only once before. The angry stranger who had appeared in the bathroom, the one who had grabbed Lotor, his grip making the boy cry out in pain. Allura buried her face into the fur of the stuffed toy, hiding from the scary looking man, hearing him speak pleasant enough. Lotor had fallen silent, and it was Adaline who answered the man. Whatever she said, it made him angry, Allura could hear it, the madness barely restrained in his voice.
It only grew worse, Adaline’s quiet answers serving to further incense the man, till finally he stalked over to them, roughly grabbing hold of Adaline’s arm. Uncaring of Allura on the woman’s lap, he jerked Adaline to her feet, Allura tumbling onto the floor. She lay there stunned, even as Adaline grew angry, trying to jerk away from the scary man to check on Allura.
The horrible man snapped out a word, sounding very commanding to Allura’s ears. He jerked on Adaline’s arm again, and the next thing Allura knew, she was crying, Adaline looking upset to see Allura’s tears. The man acted bothered by them, seeming to shout at Allura but did not allow Adaline to check on the girl. He began dragging her towards the door, and Allura became positive something awful would happen if Adaline left the room.
“Addy…” Her voice croaked out, sounding unfamiliar after being unused for so long. “Don’t go….”
Adaline gasped, and Lotor’s eyes became huge, the boy startled by her speaking. The big, scary man look even further displeased, and a heated argument erupted between him and Adaline, the woman wanting to go to Allura. In the end it made no difference, the man dragging Adaline out of the room, Allura letting out a wild shriek, voice full of primal fear.