A Heart's Desires
Disclaimers: Voltron and all associated characters are owned and copyrighted by WEP. Original/new characters belong to the author.
Rating: PG for Mild Language, Sensuality and Innuendo
"Stop right there, young lady," Coran commanded, stepping forward and attempting to grab Allura's arm.
"Ohhh, what would your Father say if he could see you?" Nanny wailed. As usual, the governess was in complete agreement with the advisor.
"Just leave me alone!" Allura pushed her way out the door and ran from the room. She dashed down the hall, tears streaming down her face as she passed guards and maids alike, ignoring the questioning stares and the many pleas for her to stop.
She had to get away from them all. From every last person in the whole castle. She was exhausted and her patience depleted. Did no one understand that there were times she simply wanted to be a girl?
~'I never asked for any of this!'~ she thought ruefully, ~'I didn't ask to be born a Princess!'~
There were days when all her responsibilities and duties became far too overwhelming. Coran and Nanny's voices ran together.
'Princess, you cannot do this, you cannot do that... It's unbecoming for a young woman of your station to be friends with such hooligans... Zooming about in that Blue Lion is far too dangerous for you... You must marry and provide an heir for our people...'
And on and on it would go. Never ending demands, never ending criticisms. It seemed she could do nothing right. And she was never allowed any type of freedoms. She had just had her seventeenth birthday and she still hadn't had a boyfriend. And here Nanny and Coran were attempting to marry her off.
~'I don't think so,'~ she thought ~'They are leaving me with no other choice! I must take control of my life!'~
When she reached the nearest door leading outside, she slipped out and made a bee-line for the stables. She continued to run at full speed, slowing only as the corral came into view.
Allura quickly dried her tears and squared her shoulders before pasting her "Royal Princess" look onto her face.
She had just reached the gate when she spotted one of the stable boys hurriedly approaching. He looked a little pale, and more than a little worried. Allura assumed Coran had already put out a warning via the comms that she was on the loose and to be stopped by any means necessary.
~'Well, we will just see about that!'~
"Your Highness," the young lad said, inclining his head toward his monarch.
"I want you to saddle my horse." It was a command, not a request.
"But, Your Majesty, it's growing late... it will be dark very soon." He didn't want to contradict his Princess, but her safety was important to every Arussian. Coran had made that more than clear on many occasions - the last no more than a few minutes ago.
She turned an icy stare on him. "If you won't saddle my horse, I will."
"No, no. That's not necessary. Your word is my command, Highness. I apologize. It's just that..." He looked down at his muddy boots and wrung his hands together. "Well, Your Majesty, Master Coran sent out a message-"
"Enough." Allura's tone was a little harsher than she had meant it to be. She noted the way the boy refused to meet her eyes and she gentled her tone.
"Master Coran is not your concern. I am your princess, and I am giving you a direct command. If Coran, or anyone else, attempts to reprimand you, you will send word to me immediately and I will protect you."
When he looked up, the boy's mouth hung open, just slightly. He looked both impressed and yet, still afraid.
"I give you my word, as your Monarch."
With a nod and a very deep bow, the youth set off to quickly prepare her horse. He was soon leading the beautiful red roan mare out of the stable and helping his princess onto her mount.
Taking a moment to look down at the stable boy, Allura graced him with one of her most charming smiles.
"Thank you," she said just before turning her horse in the direction of the forest and spurring her into a fast-paced cantor.
Keith was just returning from a quick trip to one of the nearby villages where he had gone to personally interview someone about joining the castle guard. He had found people were often more comfortable when you went to them, to where they had a feeling of familiarity. This helped him because they would open up a little more, and sometimes even let things slip -
~'What the hell?'~
His thoughts had been interrupted by the sight of Princess Allura taking off on horseback across the field and toward the forest that surrounded the castle, alone.
~'What's she thinking? She can't be out here by herself! What if Lotor-'~
That was all it took for Keith to nudge his horse into a gallop and take off after the wayward monarch. He saw Allura turn back and do a double take when she realized he was following her. He knew it was coming before it even happened - in true stubborn form, Allura spurred her horse into a full run and took off.
Keith gave his horse the lead and within minutes, his stallion was already neck-in-neck with her small mare. He didn't know why she did things like this! She had to know that he was going to chase her down. And that he would catch her.
"Princess," he called as he reached out for her horse's reins. When he caught them, he pulled them out of her hands and slowed the two horses before brining them to a halt.
"Where are you going this late and all alone?"
She looked at him angrily. "You have no right to stop me. You have no authority over me!"
Keith looked bewildered, but sensed the frustration behind her words. "I do have a right to stop you. You're my friend and I don't want to see any harm come to you."
She looked surprised for a moment; she had thought for sure he was going to give her the whole, I'm sworn to protect you spiel. "I'm sorry, Keith," she gave him a sad smile. "I shouldn't be angry with you."
The dashing Captain returned her smile, but his heart remained troubled. "Why don't you tell me why you're so upset."
Allura sighed as she searched his handsome face for some hidden answer. "I'm a princess," she finally offered up as explanation.
The ebony haired young man remained mute, letting her take her time to sort things out in her own mind. He knew her heart was often heavy with burdens no one else could truly understand; the loss of her parents, the destruction of her planet, the well-being of her people - hell, even the survival of her race! How could all these things not weigh down on her - she might have been born royalty, but at the end of the day, she was still just a teenage girl.
He looked over at the stunning young woman next to him. She really was one of the most beautiful women he'd ever seen. Long golden curls, bright cornflower-blue eyes - a smile that made you feel as though your legs had turned to water. He watched her for just another moment as she looked out over the nearby valley. She seemed lost, heartbreakingly lost.
He had to do something for her. "Why don't we walk for a while and you can tell me all about it?"
She returned her attention to Keith and studied his face. Over and over, she felt as if she could drown in those velvety, chocolate-brown eyes. The Captain of the Voltron Force tried desperately to give the constant impression of a disciplined soldier. But he couldn't hide his emotions! Time and time again, those eyes gave him away. They twinkled with laughter; they burned with fury.
There was this one way he would look at her. . .it was so intense that it made her bones feel hot, like flames licked the inside of her body, and yet her skin would prickle as if exposed to intense cold. She couldn't give name to what he was feeling in those moments, but when he turned that look onto her, she felt as if she were the only woman in the world.
But, that wasn't the way he was looking at her today. Right now, he watched her with a genuine, heart-felt concern. She smiled brightly.
"Thank you, Keith. I think I'd like that."
He broke into a grin as he jumped down and went to help her dismount. But, before he was within her line of vision, he quickly removed his communicator and turned it off. Tonight, he would give the Princess a much needed break, even if that meant he would have to face Coran later.
They walked along an unplanned path, both remaining quiet, lost in their own thoughts, simply enjoying the cool evening air as the last few rays of sunshine were replaced by the moon's silvery glow.
"Doesn't it ever bother you that Galaxy Garrison has so much control over your life?" Allura broke the silence.
Keith was completely thrown by her question and paused for a moment to consider his answer. "Sometimes it does. But it's my responsibility, so I try not to think about it." He ran a hand through his dark hair before continuing. "Besides, achieving and maintaining peace is more important than anything."
She understood and agreed with his last statement, but for some reason, it also disappointed her. "Yes, peace is what's most important."
Keith heard the troubled note in her voice. "I thought you were going to tell me what's bothering you."
She sighed deeply. "Coran and Nanny."
Keith chuckled. "That doesn't surprise me."
The pilot of Blue Lion smiled in response, but her mirth quickly faded. "It's the same arguments, over and over again!"
"Flying the Blue Lion?"
"That, and they want me to marry."
Keith felt his heart tighten at the thought of her marrying, but he remained silent. Some time ago, he had realized he had very deep feelings for Princess Allura, that he may even be in love with her. But knew he would never be worthy of her. Besides, as she had just pointed out, Galaxy Garrison was in charge of his life right now and he had no idea how much longer this war would last. Until Zarkon and his evil army were defeated once and for all, he wouldn't be free.
Allura heaved a deep sigh. "Do you think it's wrong of me?"
"What do you mean?" he responded, hoping he hadn't missed something she'd said.
"When I marry, I want it to be for love, not because it's tradition or because my kingdom needs an heir." She shook her head sadly. "I wish people would remember that I didn't ask to be the princess. That regardless of my station, I'm still just another person." She looked up at him, her eyes threatening to spill forth a torrent of tears.
He chose his words carefully; the last thing he wanted was to see her cry. "I don't think it's wrong of you at all. You deserve to be loved and to have happiness, everyone does! At the same time, I honestly believe Coran and Nanny only want what's best for you. I think it's hard for them to accept that the universe has changed, and that many of your Arussian traditions are outdated."
She didn't say anything at first and they continued to walk along in silence. Suddenly, she turned a bright smile onto him. "I know you're right. Nanny and Coran love me and want what's best for me. They want to rebuild Arus, and honor my family's legacy, I see that. I think it's difficult for them to understand that no matter what happens, we can never go back to the way things were. Thank you, Keith."
"No need to thank me," he said returning her smile, "that's what friends are for."
"Just remember that, the next time you need a friend... I'll always be there for you, Keith," she responded, her eyes conveying that she meant every word.
He swallowed hard and looked away as they continued to walk. He felt he should say more, but found himself at a loss. Everything he could think to say lead into a deeper exploration of his own feelings about the lovely young woman. And he couldn't afford to do that! The last thing he felt he should do was confuse - or frighten - her by admitting to his deepening feelings. He also worried that, once freed, he would never be able to regain control of his heart. Not when it came to her.
"Look! An apple tree," Allura exclaimed happily and turned her shining blue eyes on Keith, "We should pick some apples for the horses!"
They had just begun to cross a meadow and in the middle was a huge, and extremely old looking, apple tree. It was covered in brilliant red fruit, so bright and shiny that they almost looked like glass balls hanging from a Christmas tree. Before Keith could utter a word, he found he was holding the reins for both of their horses and that his companion was half way up the tree.
"Be careful, Princess!" He shouted. If she were to fall and hurt herself, he hated to think about what Nanny would do to him! He hurried over and stood under the tree, watching as she climbed.
Quickly, she disappeared into the upper branches of the tree, giggling like a playful child. After a few moments she called out to him and tossed some of the ripened fruit down. He set the apples on the ground, watching closely as she began her descent. When she was close enough, he reached up and set her safely on the ground.
Keith began to chuckle and when the Princess looked askance, he reached forward, plucking a leaf from her hair. "Your hair is full of leaves."
"Here, let me," she laughed softly and pulled out the hairpins that carefully kept her bun pulled tight. She handed them to Keith, who held his hand open to collect the tiny objects. As she handed him last one she added, "It's much easier this way."
Keith couldn't pull his eyes away from the vision before him. ~'To say she is beautiful would be an a great understatement,'~ he thought.
The moonlight peeked through the tree's branches, dancing across her skin and turning it an opalesque color. He watched as she threw her head back and shook the leaves from her hair; it seemed to have come alive, appearing a molten gold and incandescent silver all at once. Watching it shimmer and move, the sensual flow of her tresses forced his eyes to chase the curve of her waist downward until he found himself thinking about how that silky hair would brush against her rounded derrière.
Keith was reminded of a fairytale he had heard as a child. Something about a fairy enchantress so becoming that mere mortal eyes couldn't look upon her face. . .He shook his head, trying to free himself of whatever spell she was using to hypnotize him.
He looked down into her beautiful face and, not for the first time, she took his breath away. Bright blue eyes filled with a soft laughter. Skin that appeared porcelain-like with its flawless complexion, cheeks dusted pink with good health. And her lips... A lazy smile began to play across his face as he studied her plump, rosy lips, moist and slightly parted, just begging to be kissed. He had never wanted anything more desperately than he wanted to pull this moon-goddess into his arms and love her senseless.
Princess Allura watched as a myriad of emotions played across Keith's face, smiling in response to his lazy grin. She sighed inwardly, noticing once again just how handsome he was. His ebony hair was wild and unruly (as always), and fell just below his shoulders in thick waves. A strong and determined jaw, full and sensual lips... And those eyes. Such a warm and rich shade of chocolate. Those eyes gave way to his soul and often to the feelings he couldn't hide.
Tonight he looked at her in such a way it made her tremble despite the warmth of the night. Her breath caught in her throat as she looked up at him and she saw a fierce fire burning deep and low in those amazing eyes.
With no thought to his actions, Keith reached down and took Allura's hands in his own, gently cradling them next to his heart. Stepping in, he closed the distance between them. For the span of a heartbeat, they looked into one another's eyes, seeing deep into one another's souls. He lowered his lips to meet hers, and just as she felt the warmth of his breath on her face, she let her eyes slip closed.
When their lips were no more than a whisper away from touching, their horses began to whinny loudly. From somewhere close by, there was an answering nicker, forewarning Keith and Allura of someone's approach. But it just wasn't enough time and before they could tear themselves away from one another, Lance appeared, his solemn expression suddenly growing into a rather wide grin.
"I'm really sorry to interrupt guys, but Coran sent all of us out to search for the two of you," the lanky young man noted both their reddening faces. "Of course, maybe it's a good thing I got here when I did... I'd hate to listen to Nanny if she had to plan a wedding for her sweet Princess and a not-so-princey guy like you!"
"LANCE!" Keith shouted.
The horse and rider quickly turned tail and as the young man spurred his mount into a run, he shouted his farewell. "See you two back at the castle."
The Captain turned back to the Princess, unable to meet her eyes. "I'm really sorry. I don't know what came over me."
"The same thing that came over me," Allura said without hesitation.
"Um... yeah... " He was uncertain about everything at the moment - her words, his feelings. He would need some time and distance to work this one out. "We'd better head back."
She nodded and without another word, they mounted their horses and took off in the direction of the Castle of Lions. The ride back allowed them both time to think and reflect on what had - and almost had - happened that evening.
Keith berated himself for his lack of self-control and the temporary loss of his mind. At the same time, his heart was soaring at having held Allura in his arms. His frown returned as he thought of Lance's taunting. He'd have to make sure that his second-in-command kept things to himself.
Now, Allura was absolutely ecstatic to have seen this part of Keith. She was growing more and more confidant that her feelings for him were much more than those of friendship and his actions today had given her hope that he felt the same. If only Lance hadn't interrupted them she would have had her very first kiss tonight. Well, she was going to give him an earful.
As they arrived at the stable, Keith spotted Lance standing near the corral gate. He grinned at his friends before taking off in the direction of the castle. Keith would have followed but he knew the Princess was going to be in big trouble and he wanted to be there to help her. And in part he felt responsible.
"Oh, my baby!" Nanny cried as she came running out to where the two adventurers had just dismounted. Coran followed closely behind, wearing the deepest scowl Keith had ever seen. As the governess reached them, she began her scolding. "Don't you ever run off like that again!"
"And you, Captain," Coran began, "Where have you been all evening? I've been trying to reach you, but you haven't answered any of my transmissions."
Allura stepped in front of Keith. "He escorted me on my ride and I won't have you yelling at him for that or for anything else. I know he didn't receive any messages at all, so there must be something wrong with his transmitter."
"Young lady!" Both of the Princess's guardians cried at the same time.
"I don't mean to be so short with either of you, but Keith isn't the one to blame here, I am. I ran off because I was angry. He followed me and convinced me that I was wrong to be upset with you because you only want what's best for me," the Arussian monarch proclaimed. "But, that doesn't mean I'm going to get married or quit flying the Blue Lion."
Coran sighed deeply, knowing that when Allura was like this, there was just no talking to her. She was indeed her Father's daughter. "I will not force you into a marriage you do not want, Princess. But, I will continue in my efforts to convince you that you are making the wrong decision when it comes to flying the Blue Lion."
"But, Coran!" The plump matron exclaimed, an argument already on the tip of her tongue.
"Now Nanny," the Royal Advisor began, "you do remember how stubborn King Alfor could be. It was impossible to change his mind once decided, and I do believe our Princess is much like her Father in that way. Let's go in and get these two young people something to eat." He proceeded to lead the governess back toward the castle, arguing all the way.
Allura laughed ruefully. "I guess I won. For tonight, anyway."
Keith smiled. "Looks like it. But, Princess, I have an admission to make."
She turned to face him, "Before you do, I want to tell you something very important."
He looked a bit confused but nodded and held his tongue anyway.
"Thank you so much for being there for me tonight. You are a very dear friend to me and I want you to know that you can always count on me."
She held up her hand, "I'm not finished yet." Trying her best not to smile, she continued. "What happened tonight-"
His cheeks started to turn a deep shade of red as he sputtered, "I... uh... uh..."
"Wait," she commanded. "What happened tonight was left unfinished. But, I want you to know that this isn't finished, Captain." She gave him what could only be called a seductive smile. "You will kiss me, Keith. And I do mean the kind of kiss I've read about in my romance novels."
She turned around and began to walk back toward the castle but, after a few steps, paused and turned back around. "Oh, and don't forget to turn your transmitter back on, Keith." She grinned knowingly before she turned and ran off toward the castle.
Captain Keith stood with his mouth hanging open, watching until she disappeared.
~'How'd she know?'~
He laughed as he reached into his pocket, pulled out his transmitter, and turned it back on.