Allura had been raised alongside the Lions.
She had watched her father construct them, forge them, fly them. She remembered meeting their paladins, too.
Her father, of course, was the one she knew best. She could recall: the ghost of his hand brushing down her back, straightening her spine as she looked upupupup - up into the yellow eyes of his creation. The Red Lion wasn't a perfect match. Even at a young age, she could tell. The creature was brash and stubborn, so very eager to fight, to win (as the years passed and Zarkon's betrayal became clear, she would realize that he had refused to pilot the Black Lion, having believed that another's leadership would be better. It wasn't)
But the Red Lion was loyal, and that - if nothing else - fit King Alfor's personality perfectly.
Blaytz had visited Altea often, walking through the castle's door with a chagrin grin twisting his lips and a youthful glow in his eyes. Out of all the paladins, Allura had spent her time with him the most. Fondly, she looked back on the days that he would take her into the Blue Lion, sitting her on the pilot's chair as he told the grand tales of his adventures on his home planet.
She had always been so fascinated by his stories, listening with rapt attention until the very end (Blue seemed to listen as well, whirring and humming whenever Blaytz exaggerated a certain detail, seemingly sharing her paladin's good nature).
The first thing she had come to know about Gyrgan, was that he was huge. As a child, his towering height and large figure had intimidated her. Realistically, she knew that the Lions were much bigger, but they were also familiar (how could they not be? They'd been crafted by her father's hands. The same hands that tucked an errant strand of hair behind her ear, or held her close whenever she awoke from a nightmare. How could she not love them, when she loved him? )
Surprisingly, the thing that had managed to bring Allura and Gyrgan together, was food. An impressive pilot of the Yellow Lion, Gyrgan was a master chef. She caught him one day - when him and the other paladins had come to visit Altea in order to discuss some things - shooing away the cooks as he took the space as his own.
She'd crept up on him, slowly.
He'd noticed her, of course, but hadn't said anything about it. His lips had tugged upwards into a gentle grin, before he went back to focusing on his food. They didn't speak. She merely watched him, as he crafted not one, but two, dishes of exquisite gramdil.
They had eaten in silence.
They talked much more after that.
She only met Trigel once, really. She would see her from afar, or hear someone mention her name, but there was only one moment when they came face to face. Allura had snuck into the Lion's Bay: a place in the castle where the Lions could rest and repower - intent on meeting the one Lion she hadn't. The Green Lion.
She'd stumbled upon Trigel instead.
They'd fallen into conversation easily enough, and while missing her lessons would've been an inevitable consequence of her curiosity (just a simple accident, a coincidence of nature, really - nothing more) they ended up discussing the technological nature of the Lions. Trigel had pointed out the sheer science that came with being a pilot: calculating movement according to thrust and the lack of a gravitational pull, coordinating attacks on a moving object with the consideration of its flight's curvature, estimating the different concepts of time each plasma ray obtained based off of the particles' acceleration and the density -
Their discussion ran well into the night.
Zarkon (she shudders at the thought of his name, walking over the ghosts of her people, hearing their wails from so long ago: monster, liar, betrayer! How could you do this to us how could you betray us - MURDERER ) had been her father's closest friend.
(Looking now, upon her own paladins, she wonders how hard it was for them to fight him. Did they plead, or beg, or demand? Did they even get the chance to? Or did he fire his cannon upon them without hesitation, leaving them no choice but to fight? To die.
A leader against his teammates,
A lion against her pride)
She has many memories of him, but she shoves them away, burying them beneath the weight already crushing her shoulders: just another body to bury, alongside the rest of her people, alongside her entire species - (Her demons, they scream again.
YOU MADE AN OATH TO PROTECT US YOU LIED YOU SLAUGHTERED EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US YOU MURDERER HOW COULD YOU -
Allura silences them, but they never stay quiet for long)
She glances up at the creature before her, feeling an old sense of awe and wonder stir inside of her stomach at the sight. Ever since she was a child and met the paladins - met the Lions - she's wanted to pilot one.
But not like this.
Please not like this.
Shiro is gone, and in his absence, he ordered Keith to lead them. But the Black Lion had refused. Her barrier had flickered to life, blocking everyone out - shutting herself away. Even without a link, they could all feel her pain.
And Allura understands, she really does. She's lost so much: her people, her planet, her life - how could she not? She's been with them every step of the way. From the moment they were forged, to the split second before they were sent away. For ten thousand years, she slept with them, waited alongside them, until it was time to wake up again.
It's a sobering thought, and she rests her palm against the blue barrier. I know how you feel. You aren't alone.
To her surprise, she hears a whisper back.
We both mourn, Allura, Paladin of Voltron. Black's voice is quiet, almost tentative. She can hear the others gasp as the barrier falls away, and the mighty beast throws back her head and roars - before she bows down, golden eyes glowing and alive (burning holes right through her very quintessence. Her gaze is open and bleeding, filled with loss and love and pain and anger and hate - it's all too much and Allura can hardly breathe). Her maw opens wide, inviting her, accepting her.
Now, let us heal.