She hadn’t had any visitors since getting out of the castle dungeons, not even the guards responsible for her two day imprisonment had dared to show their faces to her. She wondered about that, naturally assuming Lotor had taken care to get them off her back. Surely the King was explaining as little or as much as he was willing to reveal about the circumstances surrounding the former king’s death.
Allura was glad to be free of the questions, knowing the interrogations could have been much worse. But she was still leery around the guards of the castle, choosing to spend much of her time inside her apartment. Which is why when the knock on her door sounded, she had instantly turned worried, Allura knowing she had yet to order down a meal or call for a servant to help attend to her.
Nervous, and feeling as though her hands were damp with sweat, she had opened the outer chamber’s door. And was left blinking in surprise at Lotor, the King offering her a stiff smile that she barely managed to return. Even worse, she almost forgot to curtsey, Allura growing flustered at the sight of Lotor.
“What are you doing out of the hospital?” Allura asked when she had straightened. She looked him over curiously, noting his color had returned to normal, and he no longer looked so bone weary tired. He had also changed out of the hospital night shirt, wearing loose fitting clothing that would not pull tight across his stomach stitches.
“You almost sound bothered to see me up and about.” Lotor teased, and then laughed when she let out a flustered no. “I got an early discharge.”
“Is that wise?” Allura asked, and Lotor shrugged.
“I’m a busy man…I can’t stay in the hospital all this time.” She quirked an eyebrow at him, wondering about that. Too busy to rest, and yet he came to see her, rather than deal with work? She was almost flattered, allowing a small smile to cross her face. “May I come in?”
“Of course!” Allura said, realizing she had been rude in not inviting him in sooner. She stepped aside, allowing Lotor to brush past her, Allura shivering at the inadvertent contact of his body against her front. It left her blushing, Allura closing the door before following Lotor deeper into the room. He walked over to an overstuffed arm chair, and eased himself downwards slowly. That alone hinted to her that his injuries were still giving him difficulty, Allura worrying that he was pushing himself too hard in
leaving the hospital wing.
“Can I get you something to drink?” Allura was already walking over to her bar, a selection of drinks both alcoholic and non alcoholic laid out in colorful bottles.
“Yes.” Lotor said from behind her. “A Tyrusian grape wine if you have it.”
She hesitated her fingers over the array of bottles, turning to glance over her shoulder at him. “Are you sure that’s wise?” She asked, seeing him frown at her. “To be drinking alcohol so soon…and with the pain medications you’re on?”
“Ah…so kind of you to worry.” Lotor sighed, then changed his selection. “Just fresh ice water please.” Relieved, Allura poured the water into two glasses, then approached him with them. He took one from her, and sipped slowly at it, grimacing slightly. “I’ll be glad when I’m off this damn pain medication. The buzz of alcohol is a fine better cure for what ails me than the drugs and herbs the doctors ply me with.”
“It’s for your own good.” Allura said, drinking from her own cup. She wasn’t sure where to stand, choosing to lean against the table before his seat. “If it wasn’t for those drugs, you’d most likely still be laid out in bed.”
“Don’t misunderstand, I’m grateful for their effects, even as they limit me in other regards.” Lotor replied. “I was going stir crazy laying in that bed. Haggar and my attendants were having a field day having me a veritable hostage to their concerns.”
“Oh?” Allura was curious, setting down her cup on the table besides her. “My I ask what sort of things they been bringing up?”
He hesitated, long enough that Allura was positive he wasn’t going to share with her. “It…It mainly has to do with the throne’s line of succession.” A sigh then, Lotor lifting a hand to run it through his hair. “With my father dead, and my injuries, they are now more worried than ever about the throne’s vulnerability.”
“Ah…I remember when the guards found us…one of them mentioned something about a civil war happening should you die without an heir to the throne.” She paused, then added as casual as can be. “They even hoped I was pregnant, so as to avoid the nobles fighting for the throne.”
“Is pregnancy on everyone’s minds?!” Lotor surprised her with that growled out exclamation, Allura staring at him shocked. Her look calmed him down, he offered a weak smile, nervously brushing his hair aside once more. “Ah, forgive me. I mean not to take it out on you. It’s just…” A sigh then, Lotor looking bothered by what he had to say. “They want me to get married….”
“Married?!” This time alarm was in her voice, Allura’s eyes widening.
“Yes.” A sour look was on his face. “They’re already lining up candidates, various royalty from lucrative worlds. They don’t really care who I marry, so long as she is fertile, from a power nation, and has plenty of assets for her dowry.”
“I see.” Allura tried not to show how sad the thought of him marrying someone made her. “What do you want?” She asked, and Lotor chuckled.
“Truthfully?” She nodded, and he all but shouted. “To be left alone!” He followed that exclamation up with a sigh. “But I know that is next to impossible now. Especially once I am officially crowned king. My days of relative care free are coming to an end….I’ll have a huge load work of responsibility.” He grimaced at that, surely dreading it.
“How are you handling things?” She asked concerned. He shrugged at that, a gesture that seemed to hint at everything but say nothing at the same time. “Well, I will be here for you, your highness…” Allura said, flashing him a warm smile. “You can lean on me for support, whatever the reason.”
“Thank you.” Lotor replied, and smiled back at her. “It’s good to know I will still have some outlets to get away from the stress. I don’t intend to give you up, or fighting in the arena.”
She wasn’t exactly flattered to be compared in the same breath to the arena as a stress outlet, but she smiled all the same. “Oh? You still intend to fight?”
“Well…not exactly.” Lotor said. “I won’t be the arena star anymore, but on occasion, a little battle would do me good. Besides…” A chuckle, though it sounded forced. “I have to keep my sword skills up to speed. Especially now.”
That concerned her, Allura clasping her hands together. “Are you in danger?”
“I may be.” Lotor allowed. She gasped at that, hurrying him to continue. “Haggar has already warned me that it wont’ be easy, making peace with Demos. She says the nobles will fight me on this, that I am prepared to endure threats on my life.”
“Would they really do that to you?” A worried Allrua asked. He nodded, and she made a dismayed sound.
“Some people chafe at change. And as Haggar has dutifully reminded me again and again, peace is not something the Drules normally do.” He scowled then. “She says it’s a human weakness, one I am showing with my desires towards the Demos Empire.”
It left Allura wondering if he should risk it, the girl keeping her concern on her face. She almost wanted to tell him not to do it, but that was purely selfish on her part. The needs of the people of both empires surely outweighed her desire to keep Lotor safe. “Have….Have you gotten in contact with the Demos Empire yet?”
“Not yet.” replied Lotor with a shake of his head. He finished his drink, and she took the empty cup from him, her fingers brushing against his briefly. A slight jolt was exchanged between them, a discharge of static electricity. She blushed redder at the contact, then set the cup down on the table. “I was waiting to get the coronation business over and done with.”
“Ah….do you have a date for when that is to take place?” She asked, and he nodded.
“It’s soon. Haggar and the doctors want me to make a full recovery before I assume my kingly duties.” He paused, then smiled at her. “I would like it if you attended the event.”
“Don’t sound so shocked Allura.” He grinned. “Where else would my dearest friend be during such a momentous event of my life?”
“I would attend not as your mistress but as your friend?” Allura was even more surprised, Lotor blinking slowly as he considered the words.
“Can you not be both?”
“I….well yes…I assume I can be….” Allura said, and he grinned again.
“Excellent!” He leaned forward in his seat, arms extended towards her so he could catch at her hands. They dwarfed hers in size, Lotor covering her fingers with his. “And as my friend, I want you to do something for me.”
“What?” She couldn’t help but be wary, not sure what he would ask her.
“Call me by my name.” Lotor told her. “And not by my title. At least not while we’re alone.”
“Oh I coudln’t!’ Allura protested, earning a frown in return.
“Why not?” Lotor demanded, and now she shrugged.
“It’s not proper for one thing!”
“To hell with being proper!” Lotor snapped, still holding onto her hands. His warmth was apparent, a soothing touch on her hands. “You’re my friend, and what I say goes!”
“Is that a command, your highness?” She asked, and now he glowered at her, jerking his hands back to his sides.
“Damn it Allura, I don’t want to command you to do anything. I want you to be my friend again!”
“But only when we’re alone?” She didn’t mean to be snide, but Allura needed him to clarify a few things.
He blinked rapidly, as though trying to dispel whatever angry expression his face wanted to show. “There are certain…rules to follow. You can’t be seen with the privilege of speaking to me as an equal, not in front of others.”
How well she knew that, Allura having had to learn to change her way of speaking the Drule language, so that it properly reflected her status when she addressed other Drules. Still it hurt that he would remind her that she wasn’t an equal with him, no matter the privileges he granted her in private.
“They would talk!” added Lotor when she said nothing to him. “It would make all sorts of problems if my mistress was seen elevated above her station.”
“I can never be nothing more than your mistress.” Allura said dully, earning a frown from him.
“Damn it Allura, that’s not true!” He told her, making fists of his hands. “You’re my friend, the only one I’ve ever had, the only one that’s ever mattered to me. You’ve been with me through good times and bad, and despite some of the…disappointments we’ve had over things, I still value you. More than I can say.”
And yet Allura was positive they could never regain the easy, friendship of their childhood. “When my three years are up…..then what?” He blinked, startled at her question. “You don’t buy a friend…”
“I’ll free you from the contract.” Lotor decided, sounding passionate and earnest in the moment. “I’ll pay Madame Elianza whatever money you owe her for her care and expenses towards you. You won’t have to…”
“Won’t have to whore myself out anymore?” She couldn’t help the bitter smile on her face, Lotor looking wounded to see it. “What would I do once free of the courtesan life? It’s not as though the nobles will ever let me forget where I came from….Your father told me as much. And if I lived off your charity, wouldn’t I just be whoring myself out another way?”
“Allura no!” Lotor protested. “I want you to stay on Doom. To live here with me. We’ll find a way to make things work. If need be, I’ll get you the best teachers, you can learn a new trade, just stay on Doom….please…” He was practically begging her, and it did not suit him, Allura just smiling sadly at him.
“And how would your bride feel about you keeping a friend, one who is female, close to you?”
“I don’t give a damn about any potential bride’s feelings!” Lotor snapped back. “I don’t want to lose you again!”
“It might be our destiny to part…” Allura told him, and he shot up to his feet so fast he winced.
“No! I don’t believe that!”
She was standing too, her hands reaching out to catch him should he sway. “Your highness, your injuries….you’ll aggravate them…”
“Damn it, call me Lotor!” He insisted, and she conceded with a sigh.
“Fine…as you wish…Lotor.” It felt strange to be saying his name, an illicit thrill going through her at the lack of titles for him. But it calmed him down, Lotor relaxing
somewhat but not returning to his seat. Instead he stood before her, staring at her, the look enough to make Allura shift uncomfortable.
“What do we do now?” Allura asked, and he blinked.
“Yes.” She gave him an odd little smile, though she wasn’t happy as she spoke. “Surely you did not come here just to talk.” She looked down, not wanting to see the truth in his eyes. “You wanted to make use of me, didn’t you? Of my body…”
“Allura no!” He sounded aghast at that, Allura frowning as she looked back up at his face.
“I came here as a friend. Not as a lover. Not as a man with his mistress.” He told her, and she continued to frown. She wondered if he was in more pain than he was letting on, Allura thinking perhaps he was too sick to perform sexually.
“Don’t frown.” He said it softly, his hand raising towards her face only to drop down before he could complete the motion. “We haven’t had a chance to really talk since that night. Not without anger and accusations. It’s hard on me, and I suspect on you too, being reunited with an old friend under such circumstances.”
“It is.” She agreed, waiting for him to go on.
“There’s still so much I want to know. I’m curious about your life apart from me. Did the Madame treat you well?” He asked.
“She did. I wanted for nothing when it came to material things.”
“And love?” He prodded her when she drifted off into silence. “What about love?”
“The Madame tried.” Allura said. “All of them did….the children under her care are my family….but..” She sighed sadly. “They could not replace Adaline in my heart. Or you.”
Slowly Lotor sat back down in the chair, Allura easing herself down back on the edge of the table. She looked down at her hands on her lap, surprised when Lotor asked her about lovers.
“No, I had none. You know that well.” Allura told him, and he had to smile at that.
“You may have been a virgin, but there was no one who stole your heart? No crushes on any of the boys around you?”
“Not really…” She said, wondering if that was relief in his eyes. “I think Corrum fancied me more than he should have. But…we were each other’s family…and Madame Elianza was very strict about us not developing romantic infatuations with others.”
“What was it like, growing up in that environment?” Lotor asked, curious. “How did you learn to do what you do in bed?”
She tried not to blush, stammering out a response. “We had very detailed lessons. Madame Elianza told us everything she knew, along with having us read books and study holos.” She paused, debating if she should tell him more. “There was also…the teaching aide.”
“A teaching aide?” he raised an eyebrow at that.
“Yes.” Allura allowed a sheepish look to cross her face as she thought of the slave she had abused. “There was a male slave…we practiced our caresses on him.”
“I see.” It seemed jealousy sparked in Lotor’s eyes, the prince’s fingers tightening their grip on the arm rests of his chair. It made her glad she didn’t tell him about exchanging kisses with Corrum and Phillip, Allura positive he would not be able to handle such a thought.
“I really had to work to improve my technique..” She foolishly continued, hearing a low growl of annoyance come from Lotor. “Madame Elianza insisted on private sessions between me and the slave…”
“Oh really.” His tone was far milder than his expression would have her believe, Allura blinking nervous at him. “What else?”
“What else?” A blank look, Allura shrugging. “There’s not much more to tell. Madame Elianza had us all graduate early from her care. It was all quite disconcerting. We hadn’t expected to be out in the field for at least another two years.”
“I wonder if my father had something to do with that…” Lotor muttered, and now it was her turn to ask him questions.
“What brought you to Madame Elianza’s estate? Why choose then to take a mistress? Why not have a harem?”
“I’m not too fond of harems.” Lotor’s answer surprised her, but before she could ask why he was continuing. “As for picking a mistress, it was my father and Haggar’s idea. They wanted to….take control of my bedroom activities.”
“Oh?” She didn’t understand, thinking Lotor as a grown man should have a right to choose his own partners without interference from others.
“Yes.” A shadow seemed to pass over his face, his golden eyes becoming haunted as his voice lowered in pitch. “I…I didn’t make the best choice when it came to choosing lovers. I did a lot of one night stands. I was foolish, careless….I didn’t try to use protection, didn’t care about consequences….I was stupid.”
“What happened?” Allura asked, knowing something had to have gone wrong.
His head lowered, but not before she saw the raw pain in his eyes. “There was accidents….babies conceived…”
“You’re a father?!”
“I WAS a father. I…..I never got to meet even one child. My father learned about them before me. He took measures to neutralize the threat they were to the throne…” She shivered, having a bad feeling about what sort of measures Zarkon used. “He…killed them all…killed the mothers too….”
“Oh Lotor…” Allura breathed out, her stomach rolling with horror. She rose to approach him, awkwardly hugging him as he remained seated. At first his arms did not go around her, Lotor sitting there with a dull expression on his face. She continued to hold him, squeezing him as fierce as she could, murmuring soothing nonsense. His arms moved, wrapping around her, and his head buried itself in her hair. “I’m so sorry…”
“I didn’t want to be a father…I certainly wasn’t ready. But it hurt all the same…” Lotor told her.
“I can imagine.” Allura said, still hugging him.
“After that, he kept me locked up in solitary confinement…to keep me away from women….”
“I always wondered why you disappeared from the arena scene.” She confessed.
“It wasn’t my choice…..I had none. My father was controlling me again, doing what he thought best to make me into a fine leader for the Empire.” He sounded so bitter than, Allura pulling back to gaze into his eyes. She reached up to touch his cheek, Lotor leaning into her soft touch.
‘I’m sorry he did that to you…” She was being honest, thinking just when she thought Zarkon had done his worst, the fiend still managed to surprise her. “No one should have suffered the kind of things that monster did to us.”
He just looked at her, not saying anything. It left an awkward silence, one Allura wanted to fill. “You shouldn’t blame yourself…”
“How can I not?!” Lotor demanded, voice anguished. “If not for my actions, those women would still be alive. Those children…would never have been conceived to be killed by him!”
“Don’t torture yourself like this. You didn’t kill them, Zarkon did! Those sins lay on his damned soul, not yours.”
“I wish I could believe you.” Lotor whispered, and she leaned in to tenderly kiss his forehead.
“I hope someday you find your peace with this, Lotor.” He stared at her, so sad and anguished, Allura wanting to shed the tears he would never let fall. She was left to wonder how a man could go through so much at the hands of Zarkon, and not come out as twisted and evil as the monster himself.