Okay, so I said I was done with this story. I didn't exactcly lie, I just changed my mind :)
This really is the last chapter, I decided to write about the ball. This chapter is pure fluff and fun, it started when RL2 mentioned how she would have liked to have read about the ball and then the scene between Lance and Erik found it's way to my imagination.
I hope you enjoy the real last chapter of this story.
Thank you all!
Lance knocked sharply on the door in front of him. His hand fell heavily to his side, still fisted as he waited impatiently to be granted entrance.
The door slid open and he found himself face to face with a surprised, and nervous, Erik.
"Uh, Uncle Lance, sir," the younger man stammered.
"Can I come in?" Lance asked curtly.
Erik stepped aside, "Of course."
Lance walked into the neat guest room. The only visible sign that anyone was staying there was the suit jacket hanging over the back of the chair. He turned as the door slid shut and studied Sven's son. Lance couldn't pretend he didn't like Erik, as a matter of fact, he thought the world of the young man who he had granted his permission to marry his daughter. Erik was a good, hard working man who was madly in love with Sky. But he had hurt her, devastated her, and Lance could not abide by that.
"First off," Lance began. "I just want to say that I am here of my own free will. Neither Darcy nor Sky know I'm here, as a matter of fact, they would both probably be rather angry with me for interfering. But I cannot, and will not, stand aside while you hurt my daughter."
Erik didn't respond, but color flooded his cheeks as he waited for Lance to continue.
"A few months ago, you came to me, you asked for my blessing to marry my daughter. You were able to convince me that you loved her and cared for her enough to want to spend the rest of your life with her. Now, I've known you your entire life, Erik, and I knew you were a good person, just as I knew you were the only man for my Sky. What happened on Terra changed everything, changed the person you were. You came home a totally different man. But Sky stuck with you, hoping you would become the man you were again. How did you repay her for her patience and love? By treating her like crap, breaking her heart, and leaving her."
Erik looked down, too ashamed to meet Lance's eyes. He knew this was coming, he knew he had it coming, but he hadn't been prepared for the shame and pain that befell him.
"I know that what happens between you and Sky is between the two of you," Lance continued. "Just as I know that Darcy and I raised an intelligent, amazing girl. Sky will make the right decision for herself and, regardless of what that decision is, we will support her. But know this, Erik, you have hurt my girl and seriously disappointed and angered me. I know you've been through a tough time, that's all that's keeping me from kicking your ass right now. Just remember that I am not as forgiving as Sky and I never forget. Understand?"
"Yes, sir," Erik replied, looking up at him.
"Do you have anything to say?"
Erik cleared his throat, "I know I screwed up, sir, Sky did nothing wrong, it was entirely my fault. I am planning to spend the rest of my life making it up to her."
"It just might take that long to make it up to her."
"We're taking it slow, I will do whatever I have to to gain her trust back."
Lance nodded slowly, "I know you will, but if she wants you to leave her alone, don't argue, just leave. Don't hurt her again, Erik."
Erik flinched at his tone, but didn't respond.
Lance crossed to the door, but turned back before leaving, "I always liked you Erik and I had hoped you would do right by my Sky, don't let me down."
"I won't, sir."
"Is Erik escorting you?" Cady asked.
She was sitting at her vanity getting her hair done while Sky and Brina prepared for the ball in her room.
"Uh, yeah," Sky said, sliding the trinity knot necklace Erik had given her around her neck. "We're taking small steps to see if we can make this work again."
"Oh, good, I'm glad you're giving him another chance."
"Yeah, well, we have to see if he doesn't blow it this time."
"How is he doing?" Brina asked. "I mean, we haven't seen him in a while and I've been worried."
Sky shrugged, "He's doing all right. He has a lot to work through, he has to realize that I am not ashamed of him or embarrassed by him. I never was, but he was convinced otherwise. He was too proud to let me help him, but he's working on it. Now we just have to see if he lets me help him get through all this."
"Tristan said he might get more surgery," Cady said.
"Yeah, he's planning on it."
"He wants to."
Cady stood and thanked the hairdresser who had just finished arranging her hair. "Thank you, Mari, it looks lovely."
Sky stepped in front of Cady's full length mirror and studied her reflection. She wore a full length blue gown with spaghetti straps and a full skirt. Her hair was pulled back on the sides with jeweled clips and her face was touched up with just a bit of makeup. All in all, she thought she looked nice and was doing a fine job at hiding her nerves.
"I love your necklace," Cady said, leaning over to examine the emerald Brina wore.
"Thank you, Declan gave it to me."
"Declan? My brother, Declan?"
"The one and only."
"Wow, he must have it bad. Usually, Dec is the most inept gift giver I know."
"What did he do?" Sky asked.
Brina furrowed her brow, "What?"
"What did he do wrong to have to buy you a beautiful necklace like that?"
"He was just being remarkably sweet."
"I know you guys were having a rough time there for a while," Cady said carefully. "Everything's okay?"
"Yeah, he, uh, he was having trouble adjusting to his new responsibilities, but he's doing much better. He's not as stressed out, he's more like his old self."
Cady smiled, "I'm so glad to hear that."
Sky checked her watch, "Come on, Cady, you need to finish getting dressed. The guys'll be here soon."
The Princess lifted the lavender gown that was carefully laid out on her bed. The fitted bodice left her shoulders bare and the skirt fell to the tops of her lavender shoes. She loved how much more mature she felt wearing it than she had with any of the pink, high necked gowns she had worn not too long ago. She slipped off her robe and stepped into the gown, turning her back to Sky so her friend could tug the zipper up for her.
"That's a beautiful gown," Brina sighed.
Cady turned to look at his brother's girlfriend who wore a shorter dress in a deep green, with short, fluttering sleeves and a flirty ruffle around the knee length skirt. Her hair tumbled in thick, carefully arranged curls past her shoulders. She looked exotically beautiful. "Thank you, Brina, you look amazing. That dress is gorgeous."
"Thank you, I wasn't sure if it was formal enough."
"Oh, it is."
A knock at the door had Sky running trembling hands over her skirt.
"That would be Tristan," Cady said. "I asked him to come early."
"I think that's our cue to go find our own dates," Brina whispered to Sky.
Sky nodded, "I think you're right."
"You are right," Cady ushered them to the door. "I love you both, you look great, thank you for coming tonight. Now go."
Tristan stood on the other side of the door in a tuxedo, looking very much the relaxed groom-to-be. When the door opened, he grinned at the three beautiful women who greeted him, but he only had eyes for one. "You girls look incredible."
"So do you," Sky straightened his perfectly straight tie. "You look good enough to marry a Princess."
"Thank you and you look good enough to give a Prince a second chance."
She smirked, "Subtle, Tristan."
He winked at her, "I'm just trying to help out a friend."
"You can go now," Cady poked Sky in the back.
Smiling at Brina, Sky said, "Come on, we can finish getting ready in my room."
"That wasn't very nice," Tristan teased, leaning over to kiss her. "You look unbelievably gorgeous."
"Why thank you," she smoothed her hands over his lapels. "You look pretty hot yourself. I just want some time with you before the ball starts."
"Well, you have me alone, what do you want to do with me?"
"Hm, we don't have time to do what I really want to do right now."
He groaned and pulled her close, pressing a line of kisses along her exposed shoulder, "I can be quick."
Cady laughed, thrilled with her fiancé, thrilled with her life in general. Wrapping her arms around his neck she tilted her head up to look at him, "I love you."
"Love you too," he murmured, sliding his hands down to rest on her hips.
"Did you think, a year ago, that we would be where we are right now?"
"Let's see, a year ago, I was intimidated about being in the Castle of Lions and working with the Voltron Force and terribly nervous because I had just met the most beautiful, amazing woman in the world and I was afraid I was falling madly in love."
"Captain Klari?" She teased.
"Nah, she wouldn't have me, so I settled for the next best thing."
"I guess you should be glad I've lowered myself enough to agree to marry a commoner."
"Yeah, I guess I am."
Cady stood on her toes and slid her hands up to frame his face, "I have something for you."
"Oh yeah," she pressed her lips to his before releasing him and turning to cross to her dresser.
Tristan watched as she hurried, barefoot, across the lush, cream colored carpet. She pulled open the top drawer, shifting through the contents as she rubbed the back of her left calf with her right foot. A small smile played at his lips as he watched her, his heart melting at her innocence and beauty. He knew he was lost to her, completely.
Cady finally closed her hand over the small box that had slipped to the back of the drawer. With a pounding heart, she turned back to him. "Here, this is for you."
"You didn't have to get me anything," he told her, accepting the gift.
"I know, but I wanted to give you something, I mean, you gave me this beautiful ring and I wanted to give you something to show you how much you mean to me and that you're mine."
He smiled at her nervousness, "Thank you, Cady."
She tapped the box, hopping from one foot to the other, "Open it."
Giving the ribbon a tug, it fell away from the box and he flipped up the lid. Wrapped around a small satin pillow was a gold watch with a sapphire at the twelve and the crest of the Arusian royal family carved into the background of the face. Tristan felt emotion well up inside him. Not only was it a very generous gift from his fiancée, but it was also a symbol that showed his acceptance into the family.
"You like it?" She whispered nervously.
"I love it," he assured her, taking it out of the box and replacing the old watch on his wrist. "Thank you, Cady." He kissed her gently and hugged her tightly.
She sighed and rested her cheek against his shoulder, "You're welcome."
Tristan glanced at his new watch and smiled, "We have to get going, beautiful."
Reluctantly stepping out of his embrace, Cady sat on the edge of her bed and slipped her shoes on. When she stood again, she was a good two inches taller and her eyes were level with his nose. "Ready to face the crowd?"
"With you? Of course." He took her hand and tucked it in the crook of his elbow.
Sky stood in the hallway outside her room with Declan, Brina, Gideon, and Lynnai. They were talking, laughing, and trying to keep the mood light. Sky was trying her best to hide how nervous she was, but her friends knew, just as they knew she didn't want to talk about it or draw attention to her anxiety. Her hands didn't stop moving, smoothing her skirt or playing with her necklace, her eyes constantly shifting down the hall, looking for someone.
Finally, she heard the clip of dress shoes on the marble floors of the Castle hallways. Her heart raced as he rounded the corner and entered the Voltron wing. Erik was dressed in a tux with a tie and cummerbund the same shade of midnight blue as her dress. She tried to think of when she had told him about her dress, but couldn't remember.
"Hey, Erik," Declan said stiffly, sizing up his cousin.
"Hi guys," he replied, not taking his eyes off Sky, keeping one hand behind his back. "I would have been here earlier, but I was held up."
"It's nice seeing you again, Erik," Lynnai spoke up.
He turned to her, smiling, "Thank you, Lynnai, its nice being back here. I didn't realize just how much I missed this place and everyone here until I came back."
Gideon took her hand, "Come on, we should head on down, they'll be announcing us all soon."
Brina pulled Declan along, following his brother. Declan continued to glare menacingly at Erik.
"I have my work cut out for me," he mumbled.
"What do you mean?" Sky asked.
"I've pissed off a lot of people, I have a lot of work to do to try and repair some relationships."
"Yeah, you do."
Erik smiled and stepped closer to her, "But there is only one relationship I am working on right now."
"And what are you doing about it?"
He brought his hand from behind his back and held out a clear box. Inside was a wrist corsage made of two flowers, one blue and one white, entwined together and tied with a blue ribbon. She recognized the flowers as being indigenous to Arus.
"Oh, Erik, it's beautiful," she whispered, utterly charmed.
He flipped open the box and held his hand out for hers, "Not nearly as beautiful as you."
She blushed as he slid it over her hand and onto her wrist, "Stop it."
With a gentle touch, he stroked her cheek with his fingertips, "You look beautiful, Sky, absolutely ethereal."
"Ethereal?" Her voice shook a bit as she tried to tease him.
"I may have learned a new word a two while reading."
Feeling a little too overwhelmed, Sky stepped back, "We, uh, we should head down."
Erik dropped his hand, trying not to feel hurt at the distance she put between them. He had to remind himself that it was his own fault. "You're right. May I?" He offered her his arm.
She laid her hand on his arm and walked beside him. It felt right, she realized, to be with him again, to be attending a ball with him. She had missed his nearness, his strength, his presence. She had missed him.
"How's Cady doing?"
His voice interrupted her thoughts. "What? Oh, she's fine, excited. You know how she loves these things."
"Yeah, she does."
"I'm glad you came back."
He looked down at her and smiled, "So am I."
Everyone gathered in the Observation deck before heading to the ballroom. Gideon and Lynnai were going to be announced first, followed by Sky and Erik, Declan and Brina, Keith and Allura, and, finally, Cady and Tristan. The younger Whitaker children along with rest of the original Force members and their families were already in the ballroom, mingling with the invited guests and media.
"Oh, Cady, you look beautiful," Allura cried when she entered the deck. The Queen had spent the better part of the last few hours dressing, crying, and laughing. She was so happy that her daughter was going to be marrying such a wonderful young man, but at the same time, she was having a hard time accepting the fact that her little girl was old enough to be marrying such a wonderful young man. "All of you look so great! Oh, I am so proud of you all!"
Keith pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and offered it to his wife. She took it and dabbed delicately at the corners of her eyes.
"Let's get you guys lined up," Keith instructed. "Cady, your mother has a few things to say, if she can get through it, before you guys enter."
"I'll get through it," Allura huffed, shoving the handkerchief into his pocket.
"Ten bucks says she breaks down crying and Dad has to finish," Declan whispered to his brother.
Gideon nodded, "You're on."
"Boys, no betting on your mother's emotional distress," Keith reprimanded lightly. "Come on, let's get this over with."
"Dad always hated this whole introduction thing," Cady whispered to Tristan as they lined up.
Keith leaned over and whispered, "It's one of those obnoxious things you have to put up with, falling in love with a Princess."
Cady stood just outside the ballroom doors, her entire body trembling with nervous excitement. Tristan took her hand and held it firmly to stop her fidgeting. They listened as the others were announced and the gathered crowd applauded politely. There was a moment after Allura and Keith were introduced where they waited for the noise to die down.
"I want to thank you all for coming tonight," Allura spoke loudly. "This is a very important night for our family, for Arus, and, most importantly, for our eldest daughter, Cadence. You have all known Cady her entire life and you've watched her grow into a beautiful, intelligent young woman. Many of you have already heard her wonderful news, but Keith and I would like to make the official announcement and welcome a wonderful young man to our family. Allow me to introduce our daughter, Princess Cadence Whitaker and her fiancé, Lt. Tristan Alexander."
The doors swung open and the two of them were greeted by riotous applause and the sound of the twins wolf-whistling. Cady was suddenly overwhelmed with nerves and excitement. As though sensing it, Tristan tugged at her hand and pulled her closer. She looked up at him and smiled, he met her gaze and winked at her. They both ignored the sounds of their picture being snapped and stepped down into the crowd, happily accepting the congratulations offered as they were rushed by friends and media alike.
"Our baby," Allura sighed, watching as her daughter and future son-in-law talked to a reporter.
Keith held the handkerchief out to her.
"Its okay, Mom," Nicky appeared at her side. "You still have me."
"That's right," she wiped her nose and smiled down at him. "And you're never allowed to get married."
He wrinkled his nose, "I don't want to. I don't like girls."
Keith smirked and ran his hand over his young son's hair, "That'll change in a few years, son."
"I'm glad to see Sky and Erik are going to try and work it out," Darcy whispered to Romelle. The two of them stood with their husbands off to the side of the dance floor, watching the introductions.
Romelle nodded, watching as her son flinched when his picture was taken. She just wanted him to be happy again and if his happiness was with Sky, that was where he belonged. Maybe it was for the best. Erik needed to be comfortable in his own skin again, to find his confidence. She saw a quick flash of it when Sky smiled at him and accepted the glass he offered her.
"She's good for him," Sven murmured into her ear as he slid his arm around her shoulders.
"I know. I just…I just hate being so far away from him."
"He's not dat far."
She smiled up at him before turning to Darcy, "We'll be the next ones planning a wedding."
"Let's not rush things," Lance muttered.
"If I know Sky, she'll want an autumn wedding," Darcy replied, ignoring her husband.
They all watched as Becca walked past, cradling a crying Ben to her shoulder as she left the ballroom.
"But I'm in no hurry to be hearing that again," Romelle admitted quietly.
"Yeah, when I said an autumn wedding, I meant two years from this autumn," Darcy added.
The string sextet in the corner was playing and couples were starting to crowd the dance floor.
"Would you like to dance?" Erik asked Sky.
She looked up at him her eyebrows raised, "Are you serious?"
"Erik, you don't have to do things you don't want to do just because you think it would make me happy."
"Sunny," he smiled at her and took her wineglass from her hand, setting it on a nearby table. "You like dancing, I like you, so let's dance."
"Okay," she took the hand he offered and allowed him to lead her out to the dance floor as a slow song began.
"And if it means I get to hold you again, well, that's just an added bonus."
Sky smiled up at him as he took her left hand in his and wrapped his other arm around her waist, "How did you know to wear a blue tie and cummerbund? And the flowers."
"You match my dress, how did you know what color my dress was?"
He winked at her, "I make it my business to get to know everything about you."
"You sound like a stalker, Erik. Seriously, how did you know?"
"I asked Tristan."
"You asked Tristan to find out what color my dress was? How did he know?"
"Well, lets see if I can remember what he told me. I asked him to find out, he told me I was crazy, so I threatened him and he asked Tess who asked Cady, who wouldn't tell her because she wanted your dresses to be a surprise, so Tess went to her mother who sneaked into your room and found it and told Tess and Tess told Tristan and Tristan told me."
"You went to a lot of trouble."
"You're nothing but trouble, Sunny," he teased.
"And you enjoy it."
"Every second of it," he agreed, stealing a quick kiss. "And I've missed every second of it."
Cady turned from where she was watching her best friend and her cousin, thrilled to see them together. Tristan hadn't left her side and she was so glad to have him there to help her face the media. She smiled at the young reporter who stood poised with a pad and pen, "Yes?"
"How are you this evening? You look beautiful, by the way."
"Why thank you, that's very kind of you to say. I'm doing very well, thank you. And yourself?"
She smiled at the Princess, "I'm just fine, thank you. And you, Lt. Alexander, how are you?"
He nodded, already tired with all the media after only an hour at the ball, "I'm fine, thank you."
"My readers are just dying to know, how did you propose?"
Cady smiled up Tristan, "Should we tell her about the first time or the second?"
"Well, your father doesn't know about the first time," he reminded her.
"But he has already given us his blessing, so I don't think it matters now."
"There were two proposals?" The reporter asked.
Cady turned back to her, "Tristan originally proposed to me on Terra, after…after the incident there. But because of all that had happened and with my cousin, Erik, in the hospital, we decided to wait before we told anyone. And he had done it on the spur of the moment and hadn't had the chance to ask my father for his blessing, so I wore the ring around my neck and waited for the right time. Which came about a month ago when he walked into the rec room, sat down beside me and said, 'So, you wanna get married?'."
"I like to think it was a bit more romantic than that," Tristan muttered.
"The first time around was, the second time was…well, it was something Declan would have done."
He placed a hand over his heart and grimaced, "Ouch, you wound me, Princess."
"Speaking of the ring," the reporter spoke up, waving over her photographer. "May we see it?"
"Of course," Cady held her left had out.
"It's lovely, really. Is it an antique?"
"Yes," Tristan told her. "It's been in my family for generations. As the eldest grandson it was handed down to me."
The reporter made a notation while her photographer snapped pictures of the Princess' hand. "That's wonderful, so romantic. Have you been working on the plans for the wedding?"
"A bit, yes, we've been concentrating more on getting ready for this ball. But my mother, my sisters, and my best friend and I have been tossing around a few ideas. Tristan's mother is here for the ball and I know she will want to get involved as well." Cady explained.
"Oh, is your family here, Lt. Alexander?"
He nodded, "My parents are here somewhere. More of my family will come for the wedding."
"I would love to speak with them. It must be hard for them, their only child moving so far away."
He shrugged, "We'll do some traveling, we'll visit them often and they'll come here."
"Now, Your Highness, how is your sister doing since her ordeal?"
Cady started, a little surprised by the question. She knew her father had made it very clear that none of the media were allowed to question Tess and she knew her sister had stuck close to her parents or the twins, not wanting to be alone. "She is doing very well, luckily, everyone in my family is well."
"Do you know, yet, what charges are going to be brought?"
Tristan set is glass down on a nearby table and took Cady's hand. "You know, we've been here for nearly an hour and I have not yet had the opportunity to dance with my fiancée."
The reporter looked annoyed, "My readers are interested in knowing what happened to the Princess."
"This interview is over," Tristan insisted, pulling Cady onto the dance floor.
"Thank you," she whispered.
He winked at her, "I got your back, babe."
"I thought they were all told that Tess was off limits."
"I guess she thought she could get around it by asking you about it."
He smiled and leaned down to kiss the tip of her nose, "You're so cute."
The ball went on long into the night with the last of the guests leaving after midnight.
Erik walked Sky to her room, stopping in front of her door.
He smiled down at her, "I had fun tonight, Sunny."
"So did I," she admitted shyly.
He reached out and twirled a lock of her hair around his finger, "Maybe we could go out again sometime soon."
"We're going to make this work," he promised, leaning down to capture her lips in a sweet kiss. "I promise you."
Sky fought back the intense urge to throw her arms around him and cling to him as tightly as she could. For a few moments, she waged an internal battle between her brain and her heart. She knew they had to take it slow, she knew she needed time but at the same time, she wanted to be with him, she wanted to feel him, to love him. Closing her eyes she took a deep breath and tried to compose herself. When she opened them again, she found him watching her with a look of understanding.
"Good night, my Sky, I'll see you in the morning."
She nodded, "Good night, Erik."
"I love you."
Sky leaned over and pressed a kiss to his cheek, "Love you too."
He waited until she was in her room and the door was shut behind her before he left to return to his own room.
Sky leaned back against her closed door, her heart thudding and her mind whirling. Erik knew her better than anyone else and he knew what she had been thinking. All he had to do was gently push her and she would have caved, taken him back right then and there. But he hadn't. He let her know that he was going to let her set the pace, let her make the next step.
She pushed off from the door and kicked her shoes off. Reaching her desk, she opened the bottom drawer and shifted beneath some papers until she found the picture of the two of the that had once sat on top of her desk. The glass was broken, but it still rested within the frame. She studied it a moment, a wonderful thrill racing through her, before propping the frame against her desk lamp.
"Well, we're official," Cady declared as Tristan walked her back to her room.
"Yes, we are."
"Your parents seemed to enjoy themselves."
He nodded, "My mother was in her element. She is going to be the mother-in-law to the Princess of a powerful planet."
"And she has an amazing son she's very proud of."
"Yeah, I give her a few things to brag about."
Cady smiled, "I brag about you all the time."
"Do you brag about what an incredible lover I am?"
He laughed, "I hope you sound more convincing than that when you're bragging."
Cady opened her door and pulled him in with her before he could pretend to protest, "Why don't you give me something to brag about, husband of mine."
"I suppose I could try," he framed her face with his hands and stared directly into her ocean blue eyes, "Mrs. Alexander."
She grinned, "I like the sound of that."
"Good, get used to it," he leaned down and pressed his lips to hers in a gentle, drawn out kiss.
The next morning, the front page of every newspaper and on the cover of almost every magazine was the photo of Cady and Tristan standing on the steps in the ballroom. She gazing up at him while smiled down at her. A picture that portrayed their devotion to each other and showed the people of Arus that Tristan was not just some Terran pretty-boy, he was the love of the Princess' life and a partner to help her prepare for what would be her days of ruling.