It wasn’t the sobbing that awoke her, but the complete lack of it, Allura jostling forward with a start. Her movements did not awaken her companion, Adaline having exhausted herself at last. She glanced at the woman, and saw the faint marks of tears still wet and glistening on Adaline’s cheeks. The sight made Allura sad, for Adaline used to never cry, not for as far back as Allura could remember.
Now she did, and it was a terrible thing, this once strong woman reduced to nothing more than helpless rage. It frightened Allura, for the child had assumed Adaline could do anything, stop any hurt, any cruelty from happening. Now Allura knew better, and it left her whole world rocked, things turned upside down for the simple fact that bad things happened, and they happened to good people like Adaline.
How many days ago had it happened? The six year old did not know, unable to count past the number of fingers she had. But the memories were still vivid, and they shook her whole body with a shudder, Allura trying to block out the scenes she had seen, of Lotor arriving bruised and broken, his body flung to the floor at Adaline’s feet. Adaline had tried to protect her, ordering Allura to leave the room.
She had fled but with reluctance, unable to shake the bad feeling that was overtaking her. Something was going to happen, and Allura would be powerless to stop it! The shouting had barely waited until she was safely ensconced in the bedroom, the big scary man who Allura understood to be Lotor’s father screaming. Adaline’s voice had come out, loud and angry, the volume not quite rivalng the monster’s.
Allura had been unable to resist opening the door a crack, the girl staring out into the room at the two squabbling adults. They hadn’t noticed the door opening, too caught up in their argument. They spoke in Drule, too often using big words Allura did not understand, but the intent behind the shouting was there, they were both so angry. Adaline was like a lioness roused, fiercely protecting her son.
It made little difference, the monster would have his way, screaming at the woman not to touch Lotor, not to lend him her aide. Allura couldn’t understand why Lotor’s father would not want to help him, but when she saw him last out with the belt, then she realized the extent of his evil. No one ever confirmed it for Allura, but she knew, just knew that Lotor’s injuries had been caused by his father.
As brutal as the monster was to Adaline, he had stopped just short of doing any lasting damage. The woman was left on the floor, crouched on top of Lotor’s still form, the back of her dress torn and bloody. It had made Allura ill to see the damages on Adaline’s back, her skin swollen and red, bleeding profusely from the hardness of the belt buckle.
Lotor’s father had been all efficient, adjusting his clothes, and returning his belt to it’s place around his waist. And all the while he stared at mother and son with an emotionless look, not bothered by what he had done. He didn’t even bother to check on them, he just strode out of the room, slamming the door shut behind him. The six year old hadn’t known what to do, sitting there stunned, and feeling the tears begin.
Soon after she started to cry, help arrived in the form of women. These ladies were dressed differently from the maids and slaves, and they hurried to Adaline’s side, pulling her off of Lotor. They began to strip her of her clothes, and worked to clean her up of the blood, applying medicines and creams to the wounds on Adaline’s back. No one tended to Allura, she was ignored completely, but more disturbing than that was the fact that no one gave Lotor even a second glance once Adaline was free of him.
The boy was left on his on, to live or die by his own devices. Adaline was carried into the bedroom, and it was at that point that Allura hid in the closet, crying all the while. No one tried to coax her out, for even if they hadn’t been busy tending to Adaline they wouldn’t have cared.
Adaline and Allura were left all alone, and it took hours for the woman to awaken. She actually cried out when she did, the first of her tears starting, the woman sitting there with a hand to her mouth in an effort to stifle them. That was before she remembered about Lotor, Adaline trying to spring from the bed and ending up crumpled on the floor. She actually crawled forward, dragging herself by her hands to Lotor’s side, Allura following behind her silently.
Adaline would scream and shout for help, but once the guards realized it was for Lotor that she expressed these cries for, she was ignored. With no other choice, Adaline tended to Lotor as best she could, cleaning him up and wincing at his swelling. She’d wept even more, frustrated that no aid was coming, and unable to even move Lotor off the floor due to her own extensive injuries.
She tried to make him comfortable though, fetching pillows and blankets, and snuggling up to him on the floor. Allura joined them, and the three lay huddled together, Allura clinging to Adaline as she stared across her chest at Lotor’s bruised face.
That was the first time she heard Adaline cry, the woman would make it a nightly habit, waiting for Allura to fall asleep before allowing the sobs to start. Most times Allura only pretended to be asleep, laying there in the darkness, listening to Adaline’s grief. They never talked to each other about what had happened, they only sat and worried for Lotor, and during this time the monster never showed his face, not even one time.
The days passed and Adaline grew stronger physically, to the point the woman was able to lift up her son and carry him to his bedroom. It made Adaline and Allura both happy to have Lotor nuzzled safely in his bed, and soon Adaline spent every waking hour holding a desperate vigil by his side. Still he did not awaken, not even when caught in the midst of fever, or when his body was shaking violently from the chills that followed.
School came and ended, ushering in the summer season, along with Allura’s approaching birthday. She had never been able to remember her special day, but Adaline had found out for her. There was no talk of celebrating it though, not with Lotor injured. Allura couldn’t mind, unable to get into the party mood, and wishing for no greater thing than the recovery of her friends, both of them.
It seemed she would get only part of her wish granted, Adaline’s back having healed to the point it was scabbed over and bruised, dark purple and brown discolorations on once flawless skin. She no longer moved as though every step hurt her, the woman getting up and keeping herself busy fussing over Lotor. Allura fussed too, for all the good a six year old could do.
She frequently snuck out of bed, leaving Adaline alone though she didn’t go far. Her bare feet would pad silently across the carpet, Allura sneaking through the rooms and out into the corridor. Even now she did this, Allura walking steadily towards Lotor’s room. The guards ignored her, long used to her late night visits. They didn’t care much about Allura, so long as she wasn’t crying. Allura liked this, enjoying the freedom it gave her to be so ignored by the mean people around them.
Lotor’s door was never locked, Allura slipping inside his room. As always no change was apparent in the boy, Lotor sleeping with the covers drawn half up his waist. His clothes were changed daily, as were his bandages, the thick gauze wrapped around his chest, applying pressure on his broken ribs. Allura couldn’t begin to imagine how much pain that would cause him, and sometimes she thought it best if he didn’t wake up.
Even if it meant she was lonely, the girl walking over to the stool situated by his bed. She climbed up on it, and sat staring, performing her own sort of vigil in place of Adaline.
“Lotor…” She said his name softly, watching his face for any hint of reaction. There wasn’t even an answering flicker of his eyelids, the boy’s breathing remaining the same. “We miss you. Addy cries almost every night. Sometimes I cry too.”
She leaned forward, reaching to stroke her fingers down his bare arm, the child trying to think of what else to say to him. “It’s no fun being by myself. I want you to wake up and play with me!” Toys held no meaning now, Allura unable to find enjoyment in handling them, save for the stuffed robeast that was still her only source of comfort.
“Schools already over for the year.” She sniffled even as she smiled, Allura knowing how grateful Lotor would be to know he had missed out on the last few days of school. “Teacher Veria is most upset with you.” Upset didn’t begin to cover it, the woman angry that she had wasted her time tutoring a prince who might die. Teacher Veria often commented on what a pity it was, for she had sensed great potential in Lotor’s mind.
“Guess what!” Allura said, forcing excitement into her voice. “It’s my birthday tomorrow!” She pushed at Lotor’s arm, trying to rouse him. “You have to wake up to celebrate with us…” Another sniffle, the tears starting to trail down her cheeks. “Please..you have to!” She fell silent after that, just siting there staring, lost in deep thought.
“Would you like a story?” Allura asked at last, hands angrily brushing away her tears. “I know I’m not Addy, but I can try my best.” She pretended he said yes, and began weaving a tale, a story that was made up from bits and pieces of the ones Adaline would tell them. As she spoke, she realized how similar the situation was to the
scenarios in the story, they even had their very own monster in Lotor’s father.
“Once upon a time…” Allura began, voice soft and shaky. “There was a brave little prince, who lived with his mommy. A beautiful princess who was always kind and caring and smiling. Then one day the monster came, and hurt the prince, making the princess very sad. They didn’t want to let the monster win, but with the prince having fallen into a deep sleep they could do nothing else.”
Allura sighed then, trying to think how the story should go. It needed a hero, a savior for the prince and his mother. “One day…” Allura continued. “A hero heard about the prince and the princess. She came as quickly as she could, and hurt the monster! And then the prince woke up, the spell broken.” A hopeful look at Lotor, but he remained asleep.
Allura frowned, and shook her head. “No…that’s not how the story goes…” She tried to think of what was missing, and realized that in all the tales of sleeping princesses, a kiss had been needed to wake them up. “The hero approached the prince’s bed…” Allura whispered, getting up off the stool to climb up onto the bed next to Lotor.
She stared down at him with a serious expression, fingers reaching out to smooth back his hair. “The hero had a magic cure you see…one that was sure to wake the prince up from his sleep. Can you guess what that was Lotor?” No answer, but she didn’t expect one anyway. “It was a kiss!”
She bent over Lotor’s face, still talking. “A magic kiss that woke the prince up and made everyone happy again.” Gently, innocently, she put her mouth to his, hoping, praying that this would work. She didn’t expect Lotor to be happy about the kiss, she knew he would wake up and scream about cooties, but at least he would be up again and Adaline would be happy.
“So you see….” Allura pulled back, waiting for Lotor to open his eyes. “You have to wake up now. The hero gave you her kiss!” She waited a heartbeat, then another, and another but Lotor remained unconscious. Tears welled up fast and furious in her eyes, and Allura sniffled, a hiccup of sorrow escaping her. “Please!” She all but wailed, pushing at Lotor. “‘Wake up! You have too!”
It was Adaline who came to Allura’s cries, the woman wrapped up in a silk robe that’s hem dragged across the floor. “Allura? What’s wrong child?”
“He won’t wake up!” Allura said miserably, pointing at Lotor. “I kissed him and everything, and he won’t wake up!” Adaline was confused, Allura hurrying to explain. “Like in your stories! The magic kiss that wakes anybody up!”
“Oh…oh!” breathed out Adaline, reaching the bed. “Oh Allura…those are only stories..”
“You mean they’re not real?” A crushed Allura asked, and Adaline hesitated a second.
“They’re real. But they happened long ago, when there was more good magic than bad….” She lifted Allura up into her arms, hugging her close as she stared down at Lotor sadly.
Allura clung to her, burying her face against the woman’s neck. “I guess the kisses only work on princesses…” She mournfully said, having just remembered that aspect of the story.
“I guess so…” Adaline said absentmindedly, turning to carry Allura out of the room. But they only traveled a few feet before a moan was heard, Lotor’s familiar voice sounded hoarse from disuse.
“Mommy….?” He sounded confused, and in pain, Adaline spinning around to gasp and gape in shock at her son. Allura lit up with joy, and she excited squealed.
“It worked, it worked! My kiss worked!”
“Mommy!” Lotor again, his eyes fluttering open. Adaline all but ran to his side, depositing the elated Allura onto the bed. Allura practically danced about with joy, grinning from ear to ear.
“I’m a real hero!” She announced, then plopped down next to the disoriented Lotor. “I saved you from the monster!”
“Monster?” Lotor echoed confused, Adaline fussing over him with kisses and caresses. “Mommy…what happened…I…I hurt…I hurt a lot.”
Allura saw Adaline hesitate, the woman unsure of what to tell him. “There was an accident.” She answered at last. “It made you very sick….but…you’ll get better…you ARE better.”
“It hurts mommy…it really hurts!” Lotor whimpered in response, trying to sit up. Adaline ever gentle in her actions, pushed him back down, forcing Lotor to remain flat against his pillows. “Mommy?” His voice was full of wonder, Lotor trying to lift a hand to Adaline’s face. “Why are you crying?”
“I’m just so happy..” She whispered, leaning into his hand’s touch on her cheek.
“You cry because you’re happy?” The boy sounded confused, and became even more so at his mother’s nod.
“Addy was very worried about you.” Allura told him. “So was I! You slept for days!” This last was said accusingly, Lotor looking surprised.
“Yes.” Confirmed Adaline, stroking her son’s hair. “More than a week has gone by.”
“A week?!” Lotor looked stunned.
“You just weren’t ready to wake up.” She said to him, and bent over to kiss his forehead. Lotor seemed to accept that, nodding his head in agreement.
“Guess what, guess what!?” Allura said excitedly, not bothering to wait for them to answer. “It’s my birthday tomorrow!”
“Oh..” Adaline said softly, giving Allura the feeling the woman had forgotten about it completely. That was all right with Allura, she was just happy to have her birthday wish come true.
“Your birthday already?” A stunned Lotor replied.
“Uh huh!” Allura grinned. “Your waking up is the best present ever!” Adaline made a sound at that, a half sob half chuckle that had both children staring at her. The woman flashed them a sheepish smile, working to brush away her tears.
“I’m sorry.” Adaline said. “I just had to agree with Allura.” Lotor flashed his mother a crooked smile, Adaline making that strange choked out sound again. Allura giggled and crawled onto Adaline’s lap, the woman dropping a hand to her hair. The three would spend most of the night talking, choosing various, inconsequential subjects so as not to upset either one of them. It would be a brief period of happiness for the trio, sorely needed and not easily shattered, not even by the dark cloud of Zarkon looming over them.