The only positive element in this arrangement, as far as he was concerned, was the trip to Planet Altea.
Prince Lotor sat still in his seat, focused eyes unable to wander from the approaching jewel-like planet as his father’s command ship traveled through space. The screens around them stated they would be arriving at the royal capital in less than a varga, but before they landed and the games of politics would begin, he would just stare and study the wondrous sight before him in the blessed quiet.
If you asked the crown Prince of Daibazaal, the planet he would soon set his boots on was much more beautiful than the place of his birth. Altea was magical, colorful, full of life and prosperity and love. The luscious green of the planet calmed him, the enchanting history intrigued him, and the bright wide blue skies helped him take a big, easy breath of fresh air. Lotor couldn’t wait to sneak away, as he did with each visit. To the libraries, to the labs of the alchemists, or even into one of the nearby villages, as he had last time, where he’d met a fascinating blacksmith and had gloriously been given the honor of helping to craft an Altean broadsword before his father’s guards had found him and led him away.
“We’re not here for this,” Zarkon had said to him, a tight hold on his upper arm as his father tried to keep his voice down. Lotor went along easily. “We’re not here for silly games. We’re not here so you can run off for immature entertainment. We’re here for business. Get back to it.”
Zarkon, with his hand on Lotor’s lower back, gave him a shove that would appear to be only a concerned father reprimanding his mischievous son. A shove to where he knew the Princess and her family were waiting for him with boring refreshments and abhorrent small talk.
Silly games, Lotor had questioned in his mind but would never speak. This entire arrangement was a silly game.
Emperor Zarkon of Daibazaal and King Alfor of Altea had long ago conceived a plan almost immediately after both had conceived their only children. One son and one daughter, the descendants of the great Paladins of Voltron. The royal offspring of two mighty defenders of the universe. A prince and a princess.
Before Allura could walk and Lotor could talk, they were betrothed. Intended, promised. Destined to marry to untie the two kingdoms and begin a new era of peace and prosperity between Galran and Altean. A merging of the royal courts.
Business, Lotor thought with a quick roll of his eyes when his father wasn’t looking. That’s all it was.
And he had no say in the matter.
Once every deca-phoeb, since the two were fit to travel the stars as babies, Prince Lotor and Princess Allura would meet, alternating planets every time and spending an entire movement getting to know each other. Last deca-phoeb she’d visited Daibazaal, and as Lotor awaited the torture of having to once again entertain her somehow at his father’s command, he’d been given the glorious news that the Princess had fallen ill during the trip. Both Zarkon and Alfor, concerned for her health for different reasons, had confined her to one of their guest chambers so she could recover from a simple virus. Lotor hadn’t seen her the entire movement. He’d never been so happy for someone to be sick.
But he wasn’t a monster, and had still sent her flowers on his own time. He’d even chosen them himself.
The Princess was fine for this duteous visit, and Lotor had long given up the hope that another complication would spare him the tedious task of trying to get the Princess to like him. Again, his father’s command.
He would much rather explore Altea on his own. Lotor felt drawn to the planet, had felt that connection ever since he’d first stepped foot on the grounds and breathed in its air. There was something about Altea, something about Alteans, that lured him in like a ravenous man craving all that the planet and its inhabitants had to offer. He felt an odd sense of belonging, something he didn’t feel with the Galra because the Galra treated him like a lowly half-breed. They didn’t do that on Altea. He looked more Altean, spoke like one too. He was accepted here, so accepted that some stranger of a blacksmith would welcome the Galra Prince into his shop to help him with his work and teach him a little something.
As he stared at the planet that was getting closer and closer, Lotor took one moment to ease forward, glance over at his mother.
As usual, Honerva didn’t feel her son’s excitement of returning to her home planet. She only sat next to his father, also dressed in Zarkon’s colors, stoic and quiet with small hands folded neatly in her lap.
A customary gesture, he’d heard her say on multiple occasions. That’s all this was to her. Some tradition Lotor wasn’t sure she even approved of. His mother would rather be back on Daibazaal, continuing her work.
But visiting Altea once every two deca-phoebs was his own reward. And as his captivated eyes glistened from the reflection of the planet’s silver rings, Lotor considered it enough.
Uneasiness cut right through his elation, as it always did when Lotor sensed his father’s gaze on him. His jaw clenched tight and his chest felt like it sunk in. His palms started to sweat under his red gloves and a hint of anxiety slithered up his spine. A little wary now but knowing his place, Lotor craned his head up and met his father’s dark eyes.
Zarkon seemed to study him. The inspection started at the top of Lotor’s head and down to his boots. The son remained still.
“I should’ve done something about your hair,” Zarkon muttered, eyes focused on the white locks that now touched Lotor’s shoulders. “Wouldn’t want to give Alfor the wrong impression.”
Lotor almost self-consciously reached up to touch his head, but he kept his hands on the armrests. He rather liked the length. “Dayak would’ve seen to it if she thought I was unfit.”
“Dayak is Galra and teaches you our ways, not those of other races. She also allows her sweet spot for you to cloud her judgement.”
Sweet spot? Lotor wanted to question. His no-nonsense governess was anything but sweet. He had the scabs from her switch on his knuckles to prove it. “Perhaps then it would be beneficial to all of us for her to expand my education? She could incorporate both Galra and Altean studies, seeing as the wedding will blend our kingdoms into one. Or we could give her a partner. Mother might know of a suitable teacher on Altea who would be willing to return with us to tutor me.”
Zarkon breathed out a deep laugh as he looked over at his wife. “What do you think of that plan, my love? Would you like to conduct these interviews for our son?”
Honerva kept her eyes in front of her and simply answered, “No.”
“No,” Zarkon confirmed, turning back to Lotor on the other side of him. “After you are married, you will have your entire life to learn about Altean customs and history and whatever else you’d like to fill your thirsty brain with. When you aren’t leading the Empire or continuing our family line, of course. My flame will burn for millennia.”
Lotor turned away at that. He’d long ago stopped feeling humiliation when his father would talk to him about mating with the Princess, to give his own children to the Empire. It was expected of the Galra, to immediately brand your blood mate as your own forevermore after committing yourself to her. Perhaps, when it came to Lotor and Allura, it wouldn’t take as long to conceive a child as it had for Zarkon and Honerva. Lotor was already half Altean.
Remaining on the subject because any dobash now the soldiers around them would begin preparations for landing, Zarkon leaned down to his son and murmured, “I shouldn’t have to remind you to keep your hands off of Alfor’s daughter, but now that you are both no longer children, I’m going to do so anyway. She will remain pure until the wedding so that this union will be an honorable one. The Lions will know if you attempt anything… untoward, and then you will never be worthy to pilot Voltron. Do not embarrass me.”
The Lions will know. How many times had Lotor heard those words? He was pretty sure that wasn’t how it worked, that you couldn’t pass down a mystical machine made of a trans-reality comet like you could a crown. But he’d learned not to speak out of line, especially when it concerned Voltron. “I won’t embarrass you, Father.”
“Won’t you?” Zarkon asked, settling back into his seat. “No more running off. No more fraternizing with the Altean commoners when you should be impressing the royal family. The entire universe is watching you, boy. You are to be an example. You will strengthen the Empire.” Zarkon shifted his eye down at his son without moving his head, inspecting him yet again. It was a good thing Lotor looked more Altean for this marriage. Without Alfor’s agreeing to the betrothal, his son would have no chance with a full-blood Galra female. None would have him looking the way he did, even if he was a prince. But by Altean standards… Honerva had explained to him that most of their women would deem Lotor handsome. His Galra features weren’t that prominent. “And you will fight yourself to defend the Princess’s honor. If I find out you’ve been inappropriate with Alfor’s daughter, there will be consequences.”
“Why do you find it necessary to keep remind—” Lotor instantly closed his mouth when Zarkon’s head snapped in his direction. He couldn’t let frustration get the better of him. “I apologize.”
“I find it necessary to keep reminding you because I have been your age. You have not seen Alfor’s daughter in two deca-phoebs. That is a long time for a young woman to… blossom. The Galra know the scent of their mate, and I have given this task too much of my time not to see it through. You will do as I say. Enough fooling around. A future husband steps up for his beloved.” Zarkon knew Lotor had it in him to finish the task. He’d seen his son manipulate the court in his favor. A trickster he was, when not held firmly on the leash Zarkon would hold tight until the time was right. And because Lotor had the ability, Zarkon didn’t trust him at all. “I should’ve done something about your hair,” he muttered yet again.
The dismissal was clear. Zarkon was done talking with him. As usual, Lotor felt the almost crushing sense of disappointment he would never, ever defeat when it came to his father. Taking a slight risk, Lotor looked over again at his mother. Just a small quick glance in case there was something she’d like to add.
Maybe even… a defense of some kind on his behalf.
Honerva said nothing at all.
They were then cleared by the planet to land in the capital’s landing zone, the secured one in front of the castle used only for the royal family and their cherished visitors. Lotor forgot the frustrations with his father, almost forgot entirely what was expected of him as they entered Altea’s atmosphere. Excitement fluttered like wings in his chest. He could practically smell the air, feel that warm breeze on his skin, see the books and technology and architecture. A world full of multiple riches.
A world his mother had left for Zarkon.
Lotor would find some way to escape his family and his future one that would come with marriage. He didn’t loathe spending time with Princess Allura, but it seemed to him that all their interactions were proof of how they were like night and day. She was putting on a show, just as he was. They didn’t truly know each other. And they wouldn’t be able to under the watchful eyes of their parents. In his memory, she was just a young girl who was playing a part she hadn’t grown into just yet.
He only wanted to explore Altea.
The ship landed and the ramp lowered. Daylight hours, Lotor saw, with the sun shining bright and the white clouds swimming through the sky over the warmth of the tail end of summer. The soldiers exited first, and he followed behind his parents, cracking his back for good posture and slicking back the hair his father apparently hated. The sooner he made yet another fine impression, the sooner he could do what he wanted. From behind his parents, Lotor could see the small Altean group awaiting them. He spotted King Alfor, Queen Melenor holding onto his arm. Both were beaming with smiles. Their various advisors and servants tended to their needs.
Here we go again, Lotor thought with an inner sigh.
“Emperor Zarkon,” Alfor greeted warmly, his regal armor shining in the sunlight. “Empress Honerva. As usual, we’re honored to have you with us.” His eyes found Lotor. He studied him closely, and squeezed his wife’s hand a bit. “Prince Lotor. Welcome back to Altea.”
Lotor respectfully leaned into a bow. “Your majesty.”
“You’re looking quite well,” Alfor said, eyes roaming. And quite sad, he added mentally, something the king had been picking up on when it came to the prince. “He’s a handsome young man, Zarkon. I’m impressed.”
“Thank you,” Zarkon replied, and Lotor almost scoffed out loud.
You will do as I say.
“Enough of these dull pleasantries,” the Queen chirped, almost bouncing in place. “We’ve been through them a hundred times, and we’ve already lost a deca-phoeb. Coran,” she called from behind.
Lotor knew Coran, Allura’s stand-in second father, the man who would literally die for her if given the chance. What strange Altean monstrosity had he dressed the Princess in this time? Lotor wondered, as the small crowd parted and he waited blandly to once again see his betrothed after all this time apart. Allura had been a tiny thing the last time he’d seen her. Flat and shapeless, like a piece of wood. A late bloomer who would sometimes talk far too much or suddenly start tearing up out of the blue. It was obvious to him that not much would’ve changed, even as they entered young adulthood.
Coran, dressed in his usual attire, tugged on a hand from a body behind him. His face was practically gleaming with joy, his smile big and toothy under the outrageous orange moustache. “Here she is, your highnesses. Apologies for the delay.”
He’d been able to hit pause on this silly game, Lotor mused, showing hardly an expression as Allura was placed on the board with him. Now they had to resume playing. Their lives were nothing but a book being written by their parents. Lifting his eyes to greet her, Lotor opened his mouth to give her the mandatory dull pleasantries.
Something went wrong. Something short-circuited. Something completely froze him to the bone.
She was… a vision. A stunning, glorious vision.
Dressed in her colorful formal gowns, Princess Allura gave him a bright smile that rivaled the shining star above them in space. Her white hair, like a cloud, tumbled down around her frame, a frame that was no longer comparable to a piece of commonplace wood. Her body was curvy, her gowns hugging it, falling over the delicate bends and bows of her form. Her beautiful skin shimmered and her Altean markings the prettiest of pink to compliment her most beautiful, dazzling eyes. She had changed, in every way possible. A vision. It hit him like a bolt of lightning and torched his brain.
A Lion Goddess.
So striking was she that Lotor could only stand there, the mouth he’d opened to give her meaningless words hanging like a fool, his eyes going dry from the absence of blinking in fear that she would disappear like a radiant spirit. One he would be searching for his entire life.
“Prince Lotor,” the vision, the goddess said to him, approaching him carefully with that sunny smile. “I’m so glad you’ve made it to Altea safely. It’s nice to see you again.”
Her voice, smooth as silk and heavenly bells, made his mouth snap closed and the skin over his cheekbones darken just a bit. Was this the same girl? he desperately wanted to ask. Was this the same little thing he’d once been so annoyed with? He’d thought these lifelong trips a useless thing, a prison sentence he could not escape. A choice he could never make on his own. Neither could she.
As Allura smiled at him – did she feel the overpowering rush too? – all were suddenly jerked back in time.
They were seven deca-phoebs old – Allura was a bit older – and they were standing exactly where they were in the present. On Altea, right in front of her castle home, their parents and Coran and the universe watching closely as two royal children of two different kingdoms interacted, destined to one day marry. Lotor had been shy, almost cowering behind his mother’s legs in boyish clothes of red and silver. Zarkon had taken his small hand and pulled him out, had given him a little shove to meet the youngling princess waiting for him.
Allura had been anything but shy.
They stood in the middle, Altea’s sun shining bright above them. His parents behind him, Allura’s in the same spot on her end. She was a friendly little thing, even waved at him with the flick of her tiny brown fingers. Lotor had his head bowed, chin on his chest, a blush on his cheeks. He hadn’t known so many people would be here. His father hadn’t told him about all the people. Glancing behind, Lotor looked to Zarkon for… some kind of encouragement or support. Some help.
Zarkon gave him the look. Do as I say, it said. Lotor knew it well even then.
“Hello, Prince Lotor,” Allura had said to him, her hands behind her back and her body wiggling a bit so her dress swished at her shins. She was excited to play with a new friend. She hadn’t stopped talking about it for two whole movements. Mother, when will my Prince be arriving? she’d asked each day. “I like the color of your skin. It’s pretty.”
Lotor had only blushed deeper and tried to huddle in on himself. He felt so alone. He had no one. Allura’s father stood closer to her than his own to him. “Thanks,” he’d muttered in reply. Zarkon had cleared his throat loudly behind him. Lotor instantly straightened up. “Um… Thank you, Princess Allura,” he corrected, easing into an exaggerated bow that made him feel silly.
“Would you like to come play with my toys? I have quite the selection. Coran is even willing to play the dragon. He’s the Coranic dragon,” she added with a giggle. “It is very amusing.”
Lotor had only stared at her, not sure what to say. So many eyes, so many faces he didn’t know, and now the Princess wanted to bring him somewhere unfamiliar. Or was it familiar? He couldn’t remember. His father had said he’d been here before, but it didn’t feel that way.
Be nice, Zarkon had said in the command ship before landing. Be polite. Be a gentleman. Be a prince.
Do as I say.
Lotor was overwhelmed. He didn’t know how to act around other children; he was mostly kept away from them. His small chest felt like it was heaving, his hands were fisted tightly at his sides. He wasn’t going to cry because he was out here, so alone. No comfort. He didn’t want to be here. He wasn’t going to cry.
Suddenly, Alfor kneeled down next to him, crouched to his height. Allura’s father, the king, Lotor rehearsed in his head. He was in trouble for not speaking up, for not answering the Princess.
But Alfor only smiled warmly at him.
“Are you alright?” the King asked gently, keeping that smile in place. He tried to hold the boy’s gaze – eyes like the Galra, he saw – but Lotor didn’t know if he should look back or stare down at the floor.
Lotor gave one fast nod, little thin tendrils of white hair flicking in front of his face. “Yes, sir.”
“It’s okay to be nervous. You’re safe here, I promise you.” Alfor leaned in a little closer for privacy. He’d been watching Zarkon and the Prince’s interactions closely. It was a different relationship when compared to the one he had with his own child. “Just breathe. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. You can just be yourself. Allura is herself every day.”
Just be himself? Lotor questioned. But didn’t that go against being a Prince? Prince’s acted a certain way. Conflicted, Lotor finally looked up and held the King’s gaze. His breathing calmed when Alfor set a comforting hand on the back of his head.
“What is it you would like to do, Lotor? You’re our guest. You can play with Allura, or we could go for a walk? Or down to the park? I have a feast prepared for dinner, with lots of sweets for dessert in your honor.”
It was a little too long to Alfor’s liking for Lotor to completely relax, and finally offer the smallest of smiles. Why was Zarkon or Honerva not over here to calm their own little boy who was so obviously overwhelmed?
Lotor’s eyes found Allura. Alfor could practically see the wheels spinning in his head as he weighed the options, as he considered all that was offered to him. Finally, he made a decision.
“Do you have swords?” Lotor softly asked her.
“Yes!” she answered delightedly, clapping her hands. “Come, I will give you my best one. Together we will slay the Coranic dragon.”
Lotor stared at her hand for a tick or two before finally taking it. She pulled him into a slight jog, Coran skipping after them, as they headed for her play room.
Another jerk. Back to the present. And Allura was a wiggling little girl no longer.
Now she was a woman. And Lotor couldn’t seem to remove his eyes from her. A punch, is what it felt like. A lovely, striking punch he didn’t have the speed to block.
“Princess Allura,” he said finally, wondering how much time had passed with him staring at her like a degenerate fool. “You look radiant. Thank you for having me.” He cursed himself for saying that. Hopefully she didn’t take it the way his mind did.
She only continued to beam up at him. “Your hair,” she commented, and again he cursed himself. Was his father right? Did he look like a barbarian? “I like it. It suits you.”
Well, he thought, grinning back at her. Wasn’t that a point for him in this game?
“Come, my friends,” Alfor announced, waving them over as he turned with his wife. Pride was swelling in his chest at the Prince’s reaction to his girl that had now come a long way from a nervous little boy. “I’ve prepared refreshments. I’m sure you’re all famished. I certainly am.”
His plan to somehow sneak off and his actual first quintant on Altea hadn’t matched up in the slightest. And neither did the quintants after. Lotor quickly discovered that he didn’t have to sneak off to explore Altea because Allura had decided to take him to see her kingdom herself.
She took him everywhere his time would allow, within walking distance or a quick shuttle trip to the nearest ocean village. With her hand on his arm and a spring in her step, Allura happily updated him on Altea’s progress in all areas, showed him her own personal projects in diplomacy, and introduced him to all the locals who wanted to meet the Galra Prince. He’d never seen so much of Altea and probably wouldn’t if not for his betrothed’s insistence, and he was immensely grateful for it. Unbeknownst to him during his time away from her, Allura had blossomed into her role as Princess.
He couldn’t even be disappointed when they would return to her castle. Usually he wanted out, but to sit with her in the library, quietly reading with her or listening to her explain some Altean history to him, he realized he was right where he wanted to be. She fascinated him, he was marveled by her.
Princess Allura was gorgeous and smart and powerful and kind.
Lotor wanted her desperately.
Do as I say.
With his father’s voice in his head warring with the desires of the flesh, Lotor kept his hands off of her besides the simple gentlemanly gestures like assisting her out of a vehicle or suffering from her warm hand in the crook of his elbow. One time, in the library, she’d unconsciously set her hand on his knee in the middle of overly explaining an Altean holiday to him. Lotor could barely hear her, only stared at that hand and held his breath until she removed it. He’d tried his best to fill in the blanks of her conversation while giving her his full attention. Distracted, was what he was.
It was now his last night on Altea, and returning to Daibazaal felt like an impending punishment. Back to Dayak, back to training, back to the Galra who still refused to accept him. Back to the Gladiator Pit.
Back to trying to survive by any means necessary.
But until then, he would enjoy the dinner set out before them in the banquet hall, enjoy the last of Altea for another two deca-phoebs. Enjoy Allura’s company until he saw her again at this time on Daibazaal.
Wine was poured as the empty dishes were cleared. Their parents and other diplomats conversed amongst themselves, and even the other Paladins of Voltron showed up for the feast in their Lions. The Blue Paladin, Blaytz, eventually snuck off with one of their Galra servants who had accompanied them to Altea. Lotor noticed the crafty exit of both men, but didn’t bring it to anyone’s attention.
Quite frankly, he was envious of them.
Allura sat next to him, laughing at something Trigel said. For the dinner, she’d dressed herself in a long flowing dress the same pretty pink as her Altean markings, the snug sleeves reaching her wrists and the neckline a wide V shape that gave him a lovely view of her delectable collarbone. Her hair cascaded down her back, her eyes shining like the jewel in her tiara. The sweet scent of her was far more appetizing than the feast that had been cleared away.
The Galra know the scent of their mate.
Lotor forced himself back into the conversation.
“I heard you had troubles with an attack on one of your markets, Alfor,” Zarkon said, his large hand resting on top of Honerva’s on the table. “A lone wolf with a blaster. How did that fare?”
“Fortunately, we stopped him before any fatalities. There were multiple injuries, of course, but no loss of life. He self-terminated when he realized his mission had failed.”
“Then I congratulate you on your victory.”
“Actually Allura,” he continued, mentioning his daughter who sat across from him next to the Prince, “was the true hero. She was in the area and arrived before I could. I can’t tell you how many Alteans she lifted right from the ground, blood on her dress, transporting them all to the hospital and seeing to every last one. She even stopped the second attacker herself who’d come to finish the victims off.”
Lotor looked to her, astounded. “Truly, you did all of that?”
She gave a nod. “Yes. The second attacker was the first’s sister. For whatever reason, they were disturbed, and never sought medical assistance for their mental health. It was a great regret to me that they didn’t. My mother,” Allura said, gesturing to Queen Melenor, “works heavily with the hospitals of our planet. She is a doctor herself. If they’d asked for help, she would’ve seen to it. Instead, they resorted to violence and attacked the people. While I was assisting my mother with injuries in the hospital’s courtyard, I spotted a woman with a weapon in her hand approaching the group of survivors. Before she could shoot, I apprehended and disarmed her. The royal guard took her away and no one, save for the first aggressor, lost their life.”
Gyrgan, the Yellow Paladin, lifted a leg of meat he had yet to finish. “Brave girl!”
Lotor’s brows rose and he felt that rush again. A Lion Goddess protecting her people. “You’re amazing, Princess.”
“She is,” Alfor echoed proudly, waving with his wine glass. “I taught her everything she knows. Allura will make a most magnificent empress to both the Alteans and the Galra. She is kind and compassionate and certainly skilled on the training deck.”
It was a test, and Alfor looked to Zarkon, waiting to see if the Emperor would chime in with grand praises of his own son. Zarkon said nothing, and Honerva felt no qualms looking above to the clock on the wall, ignoring her full glass of wine.
Alfor didn’t know what to think of it. He was given regular updates on Prince Lotor – for his daughter’s protection – and everything he’d read seemed admirable to his eye. Lotor exceled in his studies, was quite the skilled swordsman and pilot. He spoke eloquently and knew how to present himself, and it was obvious he had a great attraction to the Altean culture, the other half of himself. Allura also hadn’t mentioned any inappropriate behavior during the whole movement. By all accounts, Lotor had been an upstanding gentleman. He’d also grown to be an attractive young man. Lotor and Allura would make beautiful babies together.
So why wasn’t Zarkon quick to lift up his own child? Especially when this marriage was so important to their individual court’s history? Alfor looked to Lotor, who was now glancing almost longingly out of the grand wide windows of the banquet hall where the stars gleamed in the night sky.
His parent’s behavior was nothing new to the Galra Prince, it seemed, and it saddened Alfor greatly.
“Allura, why don’t you take Lotor down to the fields to see the juniberries? They won’t be in bloom for much longer. He should see them now while he can.”
Lotor instantly perked up at the King’s suggestion. He wanted nothing more than to continue seeing more of Altea with her, and he was actually desperate to see the famous Altean flower.
“A fabulous idea. Shall we?” she asked, standing and motioning for him to join her.
The King and Queen of Altea grinned at each other as the two headed for the exit, Allura’s arm around Lotor’s own and the other hand resting on his forearm.
Zarkon didn’t turn to look after them, and he waited until Alfor was pulled into deep conversation with Trigel. In a low voice full of warning he knew his son would hear behind him, he uttered, “Remember what I told you.”
Lotor stopped on the way out and Allura felt the sudden tension in his body. She looked with concern to him, then back at Zarkon who now paid them no mind. With no expression on his face, it took Lotor a few ticks before he resumed leaving the banquet hall with Allura on his arm. Keep your hands off of Alfor’s daughter, was what Zarkon was darkly reminding him of, now that he would be alone with the Princess. Don’t ruin this for the Empire.
Do as I say.
Allura didn’t mention the… strange interaction with Zarkon as she led Lotor out of the castle, down a few paths and into the nearby field next to the mountainside as the stars and Altea’s moon shown above them. There was a lovely warm breeze too, and in the quiet of night, with the castle a sparkling star itself in the distance behind them, she dropped down onto the grass surrounded by thousands of beautiful juniberries. She’d long ago stopped worrying about the juice of the berry getting on her dress, but luckily for her, the berries had already been harvested, leaving only the flower. No purple stains to sully her pink skirts tonight.
Lotor cared less than she did about potentially ruining his deep red tunic over black sleeves as he sat next to her. He ran his hand over the cool grass, stared up at the twinkling sky, inspected the mountainside. It seemed he wanted to look everywhere at once, and it was an annoying thing to him that he couldn’t.
She found his interest charming.
“So,” she began, smoothing her pink skirts. “What do you think of the juniberries?”
Lotor drifted his fingertips – careful of his claws – over the soft petals of one. “As lovely as I expected. This entire planet is… spectacular.”
“Thank you,” she replied with a proud grin. “It is a glorious sight to see when people from all over the planet come together for the harvest of the berries. It is quite the celebration.”
“The summer berry festival.”
“Yes,” she murmured, watching his hand touch the flower before he pulled away. “We should rework the schedule the next time you come to Altea so that you will be here for it. There is an ocean of juniberry wine, and muffins and jams. And music, lots of music and dancing. I can already foresee the young ladies asking the handsome Galra Prince for a dance.”
He didn’t know what to think of that. Galra women weren’t so inclined in such things. “As long as the first one is with my princess.”
“Of course,” she answered plainly. “It pleases me that you know so much about Altea. I’m afraid I’ve lazed in my own studies of Daibazaal. I promise to change that.”
“Don’t worry yourself over it. Altea genuinely interests me.”
“I’ve always assumed it did. Considering that, when we were children, you would take any opportunity to escape me and wander down to the village.”
He flinched and frowned. “Ah, well…”
Allura laughed softly, waving her hand at him. “I don’t mind. You were a curious little boy, who was I to keep you from your adventures? I rather enjoy it that you’re so interested in my home. Which, I suppose, is your home as well, being half Altean. A home away from home.”
The frown didn’t budge and his eyes remained on the flower.
Allura felt a tug of worry. She didn’t know what it was like to be a half-breed. “Have I offended you?”
“Oh no. No, Princess, not at all.” He met her eyes then, a smile forced there now. “I… suppose I do feel drawn to Altea. I rarely get the chance to visit, and when I do, it is quite difficult to enjoy my time here the way I’d like.” He heard his words in his head, flinched again. How rude could he be? “Ah, I did not mean it that way. What you’ve shown me this trip…”
“I understand you, Lotor, you don’t have to make excuses, I promise. I only hope that this visit you were able to enjoy yourself. I made it so you didn’t have to sneak off.”
He stared at her, sitting in the grass surrounded by flowers in the moonlight. His heart thumped hard in his chest. “I must say that I’ve never had a better time in my life. That is in great thanks to you.”
Her eyes sparkled, and his heart now flipped. “I’m sure you will return the favor when I come to see you on Daibazaal next deca-phoeb.”
“Yes,” he muttered, worrying a little. How could anything he show her on his planet compare to the majesty of Altea? Was he honestly going to show her the Pits? Or the brutish Galra military bases and his mother’s unwelcoming laboratory? “Hopefully you won’t fall ill next time.”
Allura smirked. “Are you honestly going to sit in my flower field and act like you didn’t consider my sickness a small blessing?”
He only blinked at her, then shook his head when she laughed again. “You enjoy teasing me.”
“You’re making it quite easy to do so. I thought the flowers you sent me were beautiful, by the way.”
“I’ve also come to realize that I have very much underestimated you, Princess.”
“Isn’t that the point of these trips? To come to know each other? It will be a few more deca-phoebs before we marry. And at this time for the next one, I will be on Daibazaal, and we shall know even more.” Allura leaned back on her hands, felt the soil under her palms. Her feet stretched out before her and Lotor could see she’d removed her sandals. He studied the arch of her foot and the swoop of another pink Altean marking on the tops beneath her toes.
“I don’t know how I will be able to wait another deca-phoeb to know you better,” he said softly.
“Is there something you wish for me to tell you?” she asked, moving her skirt a little so he could now see a bit of her shin. “On our last night together until Daibazaal?”
He had to move his eyes away from her skin, the little he could see, more still with her shifting. But he couldn’t seem to manage it. The marvelous mountains and flowers of Altea were right there for him to absorb, and all Lotor wanted to look at were her delicate ankles.
“Or,” Allura continued, and he could’ve sworn she’d moved a tad closer to him. He could feel her shoulder on his arm. “Is there something you’d like to tell me instead?”
He was finally able to move his gaze to her face, and he found her staring right at him. There was a gust of warm wind, her hair flowing out like white streams behind her. He knew what he wanted to say. And as he thought it, his heart went from a thump, a flip, and now to a great knock against his ribs.
“I think, truly,” he said softly, mirroring her pose and leaning on his hands, leaning against her now, “that you are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.”
She smiled exquisitely, and the scent of the flowers wafted up, clouding his mind as if she’d willed it. “Truly?” she asked in a whisper.
“Yes.” There was that rush, that knock, that great jerk that had slammed into him when he’d spotted her on his arrival. Each and every morning this last movement, he felt it all over again when she would come to retrieve him. “You are remarkable, Princess.”
Her chin tilted up, her lips parted. Had she always been this close to him? “I prefer it when you say my given name.”
Not the scent of the flowers clouding his mind, Lotor thought distantly. Her, the scent of the princess, his betrothed. It entered his nose, and like poison, slithered inside his body until it infected him completely. He could feel it, couldn’t stop it.
Welcomed it instead.
“Allura,” he said, his voice gravely and her lips looking more delicious than a feast. Was it improper to line the shape of her mouth with his entranced gaze? Was it wrong to be pulled closer to them? To want to sample that sweet flavor? He couldn’t seem to help himself. “May I kiss you?”
She was already meeting him halfway, breathing, “Please,” before their mouths connected.
The taste of her was better than the wine had been, better than anything he’d ever tasted before tonight. He kept it soft and sweet, held himself back when all he wanted to do was change their positions and devour her. He felt her adjust a little as she pushed herself up some by her hands, felt a firmer press of her mouth. The movement made him lose his mind, made his eyes open and his pupils form into little blue slits. A primal need welled up inside him, one he’d never felt before her obvious insistence.
The poison spread deeper, gripping his organs, his knocking heart crashing against his bones.
Lotor was unable to stop himself from moving, from grabbing the side of her neck and changing the angle of his mouth, prying open her lips with his and dipping his tongue inside. He felt a rush of her breath against his face, a soft little sound in her throat under his hand. The taste of her tongue made him growl against her, made him desperate for the other flavors of her all over her body. He wanted to bite at those ankles, to nibble on her hips, to find her slick and slurp her right up in one big gulp.
He didn’t know if he pushed at her or she pulled him, but suddenly her back was lying on the flowers, their mouths remaining connected and his tongue still buried inside. He was hot, so very hot, and she was too, he could feel it. It was the poison, burning him up like a furnace.
The Galra know the scent of their mate.
Lotor’s eyes snapped open again, his sharpened fangs dragging against her lip. And his father’s voice in his head.
Do not embarrass me.
On a hard groan, Lotor pried himself away from her, their lips smacking apart. Still leaning over her, he saw her cheeks flushed, her mouth shiny, and her hair spread out around her on the grass. He could also see a faint red line on her lip where a fang had dug in, his hand still on her neck. He yanked it away.
“Allura,” he breathed, his chest now panting. “I’m so sorry. Forgive me.”
“I…” His eyes were darting everywhere, still hungry blue slits because he desperately wanted her. Especially now that she was lying on her back beneath him. “I don’t know what came over me.”
“Wait,” she said quickly, grabbing the lapels of his red tunic before he could move away. “Why are you apologizing? I didn’t deny you. In fact, I pulled you closer.”
“I can’t…” He took a moment to swallow, to breathe. But the more he stared down at her, the more he wanted to climb on top of her. Her grip on his clothes kept him from crawling back. “I want you,” he blurted out.
Ancients take him now.
Her grip tightened, her eyes staring into his. The change in those Galra hues was mesmerizing. “Then why did you stop?”
“Because I…” Lotor sighed and closed his eyes. Zarkon was in his head. His father had known exactly what he was doing when he’d made that comment before he had left for the field with Allura. Usually he could move past it, but right here, like this, he felt like he was being yanked in two different directions, and he couldn’t handle the pressure of the pull. “I have to defend your honor. A future husband does so for his beloved.”
Allura drew her brows together. “My honor? All of that belongs to me, and does not need defending, I assure you.”
“Of course,” he answered swiftly. Stars, he was ruining this. He couldn’t please his father and now he couldn’t please the princess. And he could barely keep up with holding himself back with his cock throbbing in his pants. “I need to keep my hands off of you. Until after the wedding. It is what’s proper and respectful.”
“Proper and respectful,” she repeated softly, rolling the words around in her mind. “It is not improper for a woman to want her betrothed. It is not disrespectful if I give you permission and you give me yours.” One hand left the tunic to reach up to his face, brushing some of his hair back. The act seemed to soothe him. “You don’t need to stop.”
“What would your father think?”
“My father trusts me. He’s raised me well, and if he didn’t have that trust, he never would’ve allowed me to be alone with you. If I choose to kiss you, if I choose to touch you, and if I choose to lie with you tonight…” His eyes went dark at that, his claws sinking into the soil on either side of her. “Then that is how it shall be. You don’t have to worry. You’re doing nothing wrong. And it would please me greatly if you would kiss me again. That is, of course… if you want to.”
If he wanted to? Stars, if only she knew how much he’d suffered being around her all movement, watching her beautiful form, seeing her interact with her people, listening to her and discovering how smart she was. He’d suffered, but in the best way.
And, for the first time in his life, he’d felt completely at ease with someone.
When Zarkon wasn’t ruining that ease with his voice in Lotor’s head, of course.
Allura’s hand touched his cheek, her thumb brushing under his eye where Altean markings would be if he wasn’t half Galra. He would match her if he was a full-blood Altean, he mused almost sadly, moving his face into her hand so his lips would brush against her palm. He could live here with her. He could be just as magical as she was.
He would not be doing whatever he could to stop this unfamiliar animalistic urge to mate with her. Something she obviously didn’t have.
But she wasn’t cowering away, he told himself as that thumb of hers now slid over his lips like a kiss. She plainly saw the change in his eyes, had felt the fangs in his mouth and the claws on his hands. She’d heard his growl and felt his strength, that urge. And here she was, on her back and still wanting more.
How could he deny her now, or himself? Away from her, he was constantly being denied in every way.
Lotor moved until he was hovering over her once again, and the closer he got, the more her smile spread. His shoulder length hair fell like curtains, her hand brushing them to one side as his mouth grew closer and he could practically taste her again.
“I want to very much,” he finally answered in a whisper.
Allura slid an arm around his neck, the other still gripping his tunic to keep him right where she wanted him. “Then kiss me, Prince Lotor.”
He did, a soft simple peck at first that quickly deepened when she opened her mouth for more. In the Altean night, in a field of juniberries, with the castle sparkling in the distance and a princess keeping him close. They breathed against each other, not wanting to separate for even a few ticks, her hand moving into his soft hair and the other caressing his neck. Lotor shuddered over her as her back arched a little, her breasts dragging against his chest. He wanted more than his tongue inside her mouth. What he wanted, more than anything, was to spread her legs and climb in between them, hike them around his waist and drive her into the flowers until she lay gasping beneath him.
And even still, he felt a little hesitant to touch her.
She liked to kiss deeply and wetly and he gave her all that she wanted, their lips smacking before they would merge once again. At some point, with Lotor completely occupied with kissing her, Allura moved her hand down his chest, over his stomach, pushing it further still.
Until she pressed firmly between his legs.
“Allura,” he gasped while rearing back.
“Oh,” she breathed at the same time, then spotted his discomfort and pulled her hand away. “Did I hurt you?”
“Stars, no.” Lotor eased back just a little, looking down at his pants. The tunic was covering his lap but he knew there would be a noticeable bulge there if it wasn’t. It wasn’t helping that he could smell a delectable sweet scent coming from her lower half too. “Allura, I must confess to you that it is taking everything in me not to… cut to the chase. And I’m not even sure how far you’re willing to take this.”
“I thought I made my intensions entirely clear.”
He held back a groan and adjusted his position next to her a bit. At this point he wouldn’t care if it was her hand or his own between his legs. “You certainly have,” he affirmed, accepting it now. “But before we continue… I must tell you that, though I appear more Altean in my features, there are certain parts of me that are all Galra.”
Her hand still tingled from the fleeting moment she’d felt him in the exact spot he was mentioning now. “So you’re saying…?”
“I am… not small,” he confessed, watching her face closely for any hint of hesitation. “Galran men and Altean men are quite different. I don’t want to frighten you, or overwhelm you. I will do my best to move at your preferred pace but, when mating, the Galra tend to… lose any inhibitions or self-control. And the scent of you, Allura,” he said softly, taking another breath of it and feeling that rush again. Driving him mad. “I’ve never felt such an urge to take.”
She smiled up at him and laughed gently. “Then take me,” she said simply, her glittering eyes darkening some with naughtiness before she reached for the neckline of her pink dress, tugging it so a few tiny buttons he’d been unaware of popped open, revealing more of her luscious brown skin. “I want you to.” She opened it all the way to the bottom of her ribs, more pink markings there for him to see. His eyes followed intently, like a map to the whole beautiful universe. “The Galra parts of you,” she continued in a soft, silky voice, drawing him in like creatures to light. “Your eyes, your teeth, your hands, your skin. I find it all very thrilling. I find you, my Prince, very thrilling indeed.” Allura then brushed the front ends of her dress to the side, baring her breasts to him. “I want to mate with you, Lotor. Right here in the juniberries.”
This time he did groan as he stared down at her chest. His eyes contracted to those primal slits again, he exhaled, and Allura could see those sharpened fangs ready to sink into skin. Needing his hands on her, she went to reach for them, to place them on her body. But she didn’t need to encourage him any longer.
Lotor instantly leaned down, nipped at her collarbone that had been torturing him all night, dragged his tongue up her neck, his teeth along her breasts. Allura shivered when she felt his tongue on her nipples, another part of him all Galra, and even gasped some when his hands fisted the open ends of her dress, yanking her up by them so he could feel more of her breasts against his face. Devouring her, consuming her whole, none left to share because she was all for him. Where to start, where to end, where to continue, he didn’t know. He wanted it all.
Such a thrill.
Back to her lips, back to her mouth. As he kissed her ravenously, Lotor reached down for the long skirts of her dress over her legs, started pulling them up inch by inch. Her fingers had slid into his hair, tightened on his locks when he shoved his hand up her dress to grab ahold of her panties, pulling them down her legs. Allura took his tongue again as she shimmied a bit, then kicked her underwear off of her ankle and into the field. He got her skirts up, uncovered her. The warm breeze on her skin felt nice, but made her very aware of how wet she was.
“Lotor,” she sighed after another kiss, adjusting her skirts a little when he spread her legs and crawled between them. She was already panting in anticipation and a touch of nervousness, her bare breasts heaving. “Have you done this before?”
He sat on his knees between her legs so he could remove some of his clothes, not wanting her to be the only one half exposed out in the field at night. Lotor grabbed his red tunic where his father’s symbol lay on the chest, yanked it over his head and swiftly removed the tight black shirt under it. “No,” he answered, feeling no shame when his cock was this hard. “Have you?”
It took her a moment to reply, her enthralled pink and blue eyes drifting over his half naked body. Not only was he handsome, but the Galra Prince was svelte; slender and lightly muscled. She came back to herself when she spotted Lotor staring intently down at her exposed cunt, his mouth open like he wanted to take a great bite out of her. “No,” she whispered, and like his, her eyes lowered to the bulge under his pants. “Let me see you.”
He didn’t have to be told twice this time, or really mull on the fact that both of them were untouched. Not when he was so close to remedying it. With his heated gaze still locked between her legs, one hand grabbed her thigh while the other tugged down his pants to pull out his throbbing cock.
Not small and not Altean were appropriate ways to describe him. Lotor was big, the entirety of him ribbed, darker in color than the rest of his pretty skin. Thick too, she saw, watching with wide eyes as his hand grabbed his cock, pumping it a little to relieve some of the built up pressure. Did the Galra, on their first time mating, she wondered, have a hard time keeping themselves from finishing early like most Altean men? Because it seemed to her that Lotor could potentially mate for quintants.
She was then snapped out of her thoughts when Lotor grabbed her hips, and yanked her closer to his cock.
Not a knock now, he thought, moving to hover over her so he could watch her beautiful face. A mallet in his chest, his heart attempting to burst through his ribs and fall right on top of her. His hungry eyes roamed her body; her lovely skin, her tasty breasts, her swollen mouth. How could he be so nervous to take her and so driven to pleasure her and so desperate to mate with her all at the same time? No feeling was superior, they were all equal inside him. But nestled like this between her thighs, her hands now resting on his bare shoulders, one grew far more demanding than the others.
His instincts screamed at him to mate, so Lotor let them take over and placed his hips into position. She was wet and warm and welcoming when the tip of his cock found her, even more so when he pushed inside. Only slight resistance, he found, trying to keep his heated eyes on her face, but the further he pressed, his lids lowered and his body tensed from the overwhelming sensation of intense pleasure. More, more, more, and her body gave it, made him shake, made him shudder, made lightning shoot up his spine until he bottomed out, grunting when he did.
Allura, he thought, panting against her and realizing that she now had an arm hooked around his neck, her other hand grasping under his shoulder. He’d practically collapsed on her, their chests heaving against each other, his face buried in her hair and the scent of the grass under her head mingling with her own natural fragrance making his mind spin. She breathed steadily, her eyes closed and her brow a bit pinched.
“Am I hurting you?” he asked in a whisper, right against her ear.
She gave a soft mew sound, and her body tightened around him in one big clench that made him moan into her neck.
“I’ve got you,” she breathed, smiling now as she adjusted. “A tight fit, my Prince.”
He needed to move, needed that drag and push into the wet and tight, indeed. Some men destroyed themselves over the inside of a woman, and buried deep inside the princess, Lotor could understand why if they all felt as amazing as she did. Instinct took over again. His hips drew back, plunged inside.
Allura inhaled sharply, and clutched at him tighter.
What a sound, what a sensation, he thought, fucking into her again, again and again and again until he started to lightly sweat in the warm night, her own skin dotted with perspiration when he leaned up so he could look down at her. He lowered his mouth to kiss her, slid his tongue inside when his cock did the same into her cunt. His Galra eyes went from a heat to an inferno as he watched her, almost predatory every time she gasped or moaned or sighed his name. Mark her, the beast demanded, and Lotor even set his open mouth against her neck, only setting the tip of his fangs there. Instead of biting down, he dragged his tongue over her skin instead.
“Allura,” he growled against her, removing his hand from clawing at the grass next to her so he could cup a breast, his hips smacking against hers. “How does it feel?”
She had a lazy smile on her face, one that spread a bit with every pump inside her. “Marvelous,” she sighed, placing a hand on top of his own over her breast while the other snuck down between their bodies. “Keep going.”
“You know what it feels like?” He rubbed his face over hers, her lips catching his in a quick, breathless kiss before he licked up her cheek. “To come?”
“Yes,” she whispered, shivering and moaning at the slight change of angle when she wrapped her legs around his waist. “Yes, yes, I want to come.”
Lotor then snapped his hips hard, taking a moment to just linger there, swaying slightly from side to side to savor her sweetness. And that’s when he felt it, the movement of her hand between their bodies, between her legs. He peered down to see, saw her fingers furiously rubbing her clit. So shiny, so hot, the rest of her so full of him. He was mesmerized by the action, the way the base of his cock pulsed deep inside her as her hand gave herself more pleasure. Just the smallest bit of friction, and he could come just watching her.
“Lotor,” she then whined, her face falling into a slight grimace. “Move. Please move.”
Huffing out a breath, his head gave one quick shake so he could get back to the task of making her come. All these deca-phoebs of visiting her or her traveling for him, all this time of being told he wouldn’t have a choice on who he would marry, and all the vargas where he’d schemed so he could sneak away from her; Lotor thought of it all, how wasted some of it had been, how precious if it meant he’d be right here with her, like this. The princess of the planet he loved.
The only person to see him, and give him a choice.
So close, he thought, fucking into her hard, rutting her into the grass and the juniberries and making her gasp with every surge inside, reveling in those fast movements of her hand between their connected bodies. His hands clawed into the ground on either side of her and he set his forehead on her collarbone, her body squeezing him, coating him, ending him.
“Lotor!” she suddenly cried, grabbing at him, moaning repeatedly as her hips moved in small thrusts under his own.
His name on her lips, her hold on his body, and that delicious wet pulsing around his cock finished him off. He came deep inside her, driving into her at that same frantic pace when instinct had him eager to fill her with his seed. He fell on her as he panted, her cunt still throbbing around him.
He didn’t know how long he remained that way, practically crushing her into the flowers, her legs still locked around him. What brought him back from the daze was her petting hand on his hair, fingertips drifting up and down his spine. Against his chest he could feel her slightly shallow breaths. Lotor quickly lifted himself up.
The same punch he felt in his gut when he’d first seen her in the beginning of the movement caught him again as he looked down at her, her eyes sparkling and exhausted in the best way, her body loose and her hair mussed from sex, a lazy satisfied smile on her lips. The poison he felt inside him since they came to the field, the infection, was so soon going to kill him.
“Well done, my Prince,” she hummed, stretching out on top of the juniberries.
He was careful to slide himself out of her, and not feeling the constriction of her around him made him feel like he was somehow without. Lotor gave her another kiss before moving away, relishing in the touch of her hands on his face as he did so, and sat next to her so they could both dress and compose themselves. Pulling the black sleeves back on and his pants up, he went quiet as he held the red tunic, eyes flicking over to Allura every now and then as she buttoned up her pink dress and smoothed down her skirts after retrieving her panties. She spent a few moments picking petals and blades of grass from her silver hair before she spotted him gazing down at the tunic, focused mostly on the Empire’s yellow emblem.
“Is something wrong?” he heard her ask before she scooted up next to him.
Lotor knew he wouldn’t trade this movement, this night, for anything in the universe. He’d made the decision to lay with her, and even now he wanted to do it again. But without overwhelming desire taking hold of him and his departure from Altea in the morning awaiting him, he realized that there might be a battle in store for him that he would never be able to win.
If I find out you’ve been inappropriate with Alfor’s daughter, there will be consequences.
He wasn’t frightened – he’d long ago stopped feeling fear – and he absolutely didn’t want to burden Allura, but Lotor couldn’t seem to stop himself when he said softly, “My father will smell you on me.”
He knew her face would be confused if he were to look up at her. She didn’t know anything else other than the love and acceptance and trust she’d spoken of earlier when it came to her father, and Lotor cursed himself for uttering the words.
“I don’t think so,” she said almost carelessly. “The scent of the juniberries is very sweet. I’m sure it will overpower anything lingering on either one of us. And if that doesn’t convince you, then I’m sure everyone has gone to bed by now. You need only to head straight for your quarters and close the door.”
Both options were plausible and something he’d already thought of. He gave a slightly nod. “You’re right,” he agreed, and tugged the tunic over his head.
He could feel Allura’s eyes on him as he pushed his fingers through his hair, smoothing it back neatly.
“Lotor,” she began hesitantly, taking a few ticks before she continued. He already knew what she was going to say. “Would Zarkon be… angry with you? For lying with me?”
Angry. Lotor pondered over the word as he pictured the Galra Emperor instantly knowing his son had lain with the Altean princess in a flower field outside her own castle. Would he be angry? Would he be disappointed? Would he come to not care at all if the betrothal was undamaged? He couldn’t know because Zarkon’s interactions with his child were usually unpredictable. The discovery of Allura’s and his… deflowering – and Lotor hated that word – could mean nothing, just as it could mean extra lessons, more time with Dayak, more inspections.
Another fight in the Gladiator Pit with the Empire watching him closely.
No, he thought quickly, brushing those thoughts away. No, he would not ruin this night for her, or himself while he was still in the juniberry field under Altea’s moon. Whatever fate awaited him, he would gladly accept.
“It is nothing to concern yourself with. As you said, everyone is mostly likely off to bed.” He gave her a smile, his eyes back to normal, his body no longer quivering with unshakeable lust. “I will hate to leave you in the morning.”
The sincerity in his voice made her soften. “I must confess that I had an… ulterior motive when I brought you out here tonight. I didn’t simply want to show you the flowers.”
Lotor turned to her, his head slightly tilted in mock innocence. “Is that so? How sly of you, Princess.”
“You should also know that I was studying you closely, in case you were uninterested. Of course I wouldn’t have pressured you if you denied me.” Allura ran a hand down his chest to pretend to smooth the fabric as an excuse to touch him again. “But my intuition told me that it was highly possible you were in fact very… interested.”
He laughed softly. “I was interested the moment I saw you after my arrival. It will forever be a regret of mine that I’ve put other matters before you these last deca-phoebs. I was incredibly foolish.”
Allura gave a simple shrug. “Our time was not then, and we mustn’t regret. I don’t regret anything.”
Not poison, Lotor realized then as he stared down into her eyes. It wasn’t poison she’d placed within him, burning him up and driving him mad for her. It was something better, something fresher, something brighter.
A soothing water that cleansed and healed. That’s what she felt like.
She then frowned and looked down some. “Lotor… If my pursuing you has caused strife between you and your father—”
“Allura, please,” he interrupted, taking her wrist gently. “There’s no need to worry about me, I promise you. I will never forget this night, even long after we’re married.”
His words seemed to ease her, and to add to it, he placed his forehead against hers and purred for her softly. They sat there in the flower field, under the twinkling sky full of star gems and a bright moon, the sweet scent of juniberries surrounding them within the wind. When the castle’s lights in the distance began to blink, signaling them back for bed, Lotor captured her mouth for one last breathless kiss.
The two fixed each other up as best they could, Lotor attempting to brush out her hair with his fingers, Allura picking some foliage off of his clothes. When they finally reached the Castle of Lions, the halls were dark and the night guards stood watch, giving them no attention as they passed them by. Lotor escorted her to her chambers, wished more than anything he could go with her to her bed.
Allura gave him a reassuring smile, a knowing one too of the fun they’d had in the flowers. “Good night, Prince Lotor.”
“Good night, Princess.”
They kept their eyes on each other until the door slid closed between them.
The next morning, as their parents bid each other farewell, Lotor and Allura put on the draining act of saying goodbye. It was different this time, they knew, keeping their night a secret with only the juniberries of Altea to know. Before, saying goodbye had been just another obligation that would come with these visits, and the only one he would look forward to if it meant it would be over until the next deca-phoeb.
Now… he couldn’t wait to see her again.
“Be well, Princess,” he said, hands dutifully at his sides, feeling his parent’s gaze upon him at his back as they waited for him to board the ship. “I will be ready to receive you on Daibazaal in a deca-phoeb’s time.”
She grinned, her hair pulled up and a bright blue dress adorning her body. Hands behind her back. “Vrepit sa, Prince Lotor.”
Hearing the Galran salute on her lips was strange, but also endearing. Impressed by her, Lotor eased into a bow, feeling a faint pain in his chest that he would have to leave her. But before he could turn to head for the ramp and onto the ship, Allura snatched his hand, quickly placed something in his grasp. He looked down.
In his hand was one juniberry flower, a deep pretty purple and lightly scented.
The pain increased a bit as he looked into her smiling, most beautiful face.
“For you,” she murmured softly, then dipped into a polite curtsy. “Until Daibazaal.”
Until Daibazaal, he thought moments later, sitting in the ship and watching Altea grow smaller. His father said nothing to him, neither did his mother. Both had no comment on the flower he held in his hand.
He clutched it tight, already longing for the Altean princess.