Updated: Apr 12, 2019
The day before felt like a dream. But Lance knew it was real. In the still early hours of the morning, Lance remembered Shiro moving away from him in bed. Lance had clung to him, murmuring nonsense about staying, But Shiro had still left, reassuring Lance he wouldn’t be gone forever.
When Lance himself finally got out of bed, the first place he’d gone was to get a status update on his father—
He hadn’t expected to find himself left back in the hall without a word on his father’s condition.
“What?” Lance said a bit more grumpily than he had intended. When he turned to the source of the voice he quickly straightened and changed his tune. “Paladin Yarl—Uh it’s a—I apologize—“
The very thin elderly man that was the Green Paladin Yarl held up his hand to stop Lance.”
“It’s understandable.” Yarl glanced at the great grandiose doors leading to the King]s Quarters. “I was told they’re not letting anyone in.” He glanced back at Lance. “I wasn’t aware that pertained even to his son.”
Lance was never sure how to act around Yarl. Like Shiro, the man was just too god damned sincere.
Raising his hand, Lance, Still stammered on. “Right, but I still feel I should apologize, I should have greeted you more warmly.”
Yarl was always quick to smile as well as a grin spread on his face. “Don’t worry about it.” He made a swiping motion with his hand. The grin faded though in a few seconds as Yarl cast his dark eyes at Lance. “I actually came to find you.”
There wasn’t much Lance had ever had in common with Yarl. He was an old Paladin, one of Lance’s father's generation. Iso the red paladin had replaced, Roric Alfor’s Red Paladin three years before the death of Ganon, the blue Paladin. That had started the slow turning over of the Paladins of Voltron, then Yellow had picked Hunk and just a little while ago—Shiro had been picked as Black.
Lance frowned deeper as he realized, Yarl was the last of the old generation of Paladins.
“Yes?” Lance asked as he looked over Yarl.
He looked it. Wrinkled face and deep dark marks under his eyes, Yarl looked old.
“Do you mind if we speak in the council rooms?”
Lance pursed his lips but shook his head. “Of course not. “
Yarl gave another smile before gesturing for Lance to lead the way.
The Paladin Council rooms were a part of the palace with restricted access to only the Paladins of Voltron and the high council members, as far as Lance knew even Allura wasn't allowed there. It was probably the only place in the entire Palace Lance had been, but his elder sister hadn’t.
They were nothing special on their own even really. It was more like going to a temple of the Lion Goddess than anything else. Everything was smooth lines and white walls. Unlike the rest of the palace, there was no rich gold adornments or crystalline sparkling stain glass windows.
Lance had learned that at one time it was where the Paladins had lived as well. That’s when the service was more of a monks calling then what it had become now.
Once entering the grand council hall, Lance let Yarl lead the way.
He was so—slight Lance thought, possibly even skinnier then himself, and that would be an accomplishment.
“I’ve been told your mate hasn’t spent much time in these halls.”
Lance looked around before resting his gaze on Yarl. “Neither have I really, if I’m honest.”
There wasn’t much reason too after all. The rooms were used for meetings of the Paladins of Voltron, but prosperous times—there hadn’t been a need.
Yarl chuckled. “The two of you don’t seem like much of the religious type.”
Lance shook his head. He wasn’t sure about Shiro, but judging from his clear distaste for Acolytes Lance would say it was a fair assessment to say that Shiro wasn’t exactly fond of religion.
Yarl just still smiled at Lance as his eyes looked round him.
Lance wondered what it was he was seeing that Lance didn’t—white walls, simple white chairs around another impossibly simple white curved, half circle table.
“Our new Leader—“ Yarl started. He tipped his head to Lance. “He has a lot of potential I think.”
“But—“ Yarl stopped his brow creased. “I’m very glad he’s picked you as a mate.”
Lance wanted to snort but he didn’t. They didn’t in anyway pick each other. But if Yarl was trying to be kind with his words, Lance wasn’t going to step in to correct him.
“I think he’s going to need the sway of a kind—of such a characteristic Blue!” Yarl chuckled.
He’d always been told, he was the poster child for a Blue, so Lance just smiled at the words.
But he was—growing anxious.
“Yes, Your Highness?”
Lance breathed out slow before he asked. “Why are we here?”
Yarl just continued to stare at him for a long moment before he gave another smile.
“I’m getting old, Your Highness.”
Giving a slow nod, Lance had no idea what Yarl was chipping away at.
“And with in the week, I will be announcing my retirement from the Paladins.”
The statement was like a cold breeze on Lance’s face. He just—
“What?” Lance asked.
Yarl was old, but he wasn’t—he wasn’t like Lance’s father. He was still sharp as a tack and though he tired faster then the rest of them during training he could still pin a gladiator sentry to the ground with that long spear of his in under four-seconds. All with that sparkling grin.
Yarl just still smiled. “It’s time. This isn’t my team anymore.”
“Is this?” Lance struggled. “Is this because of Shiro?”
“No, my boy! Of course not!” Yarl jumped to, then reconsidered. “Though at the same time if I’m honest—yes.”
Lance frowned. He wasn’t sure how to… Shiro was so much to him.
“But not how you think, Your Highness.” Yarl hastily replied. “The Black Paladin—“ Yarl's old old eyes looked over Lance. “Your Highness, a storm is coming—you know that right?”
Lance looked up at that. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t know what to say even if he could manage it.
Because the answer was—yes.
Lance knew something was wrong about so much lately. He could sense the shift. The world was changing and it was slipping right under his feet.
“There’s a war on the horizon I think, and i’m afraid it might be real this time, not the usual posturing threat. ” Yarl said, his smile was much less sad this time. “And I don’t know, maybe I’m just being selfish, but I’m not sure if I have it in me to fight. Not at this point in my life.”
“Why are you telling me?” Lance asked.
Why were they alone? Why did Yarl want them in a place no one could over hear them talking? Why Lance? Of all people, shouldn’t it be Shiro Yarl was telling all of this to?
“I think we both know why.” Yarl said softly.
Lance stood so still he was certain he could become a statue if he chose.
“You should be prepared.” Yarl went on. “Things are changing very quickly and I think—your sister’s focus isn’t wrong—but more so, it’s blinding her.”
Yarl stepped forward to Lance, placing his hand on his shoulder. “Don’t be blinded, Lance.”
Lance couldn’t get himself to move. Was he still breathing? He couldn’t tell.
Yarl stepped away from him on his way back towards the door. "The Black Paladin isn't the only one I think that has a lot of potential."
As he left, the room was quiet. Lance wondered if he was left in a sanctuary or a tomb.
He wanted to see Shiro.
But as Lance came back through their bedroom door, He was met by—
“Keith?” Lance said as he blinked.
The boy—was lounging on their couch. And it looked like he’d had a late lunch brought to him there as well.
A smile curled on his lips as he looked at Lance, he licked some honey from a finger as he sat up a bit straighter.
“Your Highness,” Lance cut in.
There was silence in the room again. Keith’s gaze on Lance didn’t falter int he least bit.
“Your Highness,” Keith gave a grand gesture with his hand and mockingly bowed from his seat on the couch.
Striding in, Lance made no attempt to hide his irritation as he started to remove his jacket. He felt stiff and over heated.
“Why are you here, Keith?” Lance asked, He went to the side table, the one before the large mirror in their sitting room. He removed his gloves, laying them across the table’s polished surface before looking up at the mirror.
The pearly mark at his neck was barely visible over the blue collar of his shirt. But even looking at it gave him a flash of a memory, of standing at that table before, Of Shiro standing behind him—only in the flash…
Shiro has been smiling at Lance, an arm around Lances middle, bottomless grey eyes staring at Lance in the mirror as Shiro nuzzled in against the mark and flashed that smile—the same smile he’d flashed at Allura…
Lance looked away. That wasn’t a memory he’d had.
“I missed you,” Keith snorted. His tone was only dripping in sarcasm.
Lance rolled his eyes. “Yeah, yeah and pigs fly,” He grumbled under his breath.
Keith took another bite from his honey smothered sweet bread roll as he leaned back on the couch, looking over his shoulder to Lance.
After chewing, Keith spoke again. “Maybe I was sent here,” Keith gave a shrug. “To you know, keep an eye on you.”
Lance frowned at that. “Right, cause of all people I need to be supervised by the likes of you.”
Keith actually chuckled at that. With another couple of bites he finished off his roll.
As he leaned forward, face back to the coffee table filled with food he spoke again. “Lighten up a little, Lancie Pants! “ He took another bite of something Lance couldn’t see. “You left in a hurry after all, I came to see how you were doing. Your pops doing okay?”
The gloves still on the table at Lance’s finger tips were fisted in half a second. He gritted is teeth. “I’m doing fine,” Lance tried to think how his sister would handle the situation. “Thank you for your concern.”
“You got it!” Keith gave a mock salute of his fingers in the air over the couch back. Lance also wasn’t impressed with the bland monotone in Keith’s voice.
It only irritated Lance more than ever. He huffed as he glared through the mirror at Keith.
As if on cue, Keith swiveled around to lean over the back of the couch to look at Lance.
“Hey, you should come eat.”
Lance turned around, leaning back against the side table but now looked at Keith straight on. “I’m fine, thank you.”
Keith gave a shrug. “Okay, suit yourself.” Keith turned back around to start layering honey onto another roll.
Lance gave a sigh.
Sometimes it was kind of miserable to be a prince. He wanted Keith to leave, but without a proper reason for kicking him out it would be seen as—unseemly.
Sentenced to suffer through Keith’s unbearable presence, Lance decided it would be preferable not to suffer on an empty stomach. Trudging to one of the arm chairs, Lance bent to pick up a stem of grapes. As he slumped into the chair, he plucked one off and started to chew on it.
“So I’ve got a question for you,” Keith said before taking another bite of a honey roll.
Lance just hummed in acknowledgement.
“So the king, He’s not doing too well I hear,”
In half a second, Lance was at one hundred percent full attention, sitting up in his chair he looked to Keith.
“My father will be just fine,” Lance said as firmly as he could.
“Of course he will be, “ Keith said slow, his gaze drifting up to meet Lance’s. He looked away just as he reached for another bite of food. “But let’s just pretend he won’t be,” Keith went on as he snagged himself a peach and sat back into the couch, his arm extending along the back of the couch. “Who ascends to the throne when, you know, the inevitable comes?”
The grapes in Lance’s hand were completely forgotten as Lance pressed his lips into a tight line. “Allura ascends to the throne.”
Keith gave a nod, but made a face. “But who decides that?”
Clearing his throat, Lance sat forward just a bit as he ran through the process in his own head. “Well the High Council has final say on who is chosen, but it-it will follow the blood lines, and Allura is heir by blood and by right.”
“I see,” Keith nodded and his voice had a small lift in it as if he really had learned something. “and the High council, the Black Paladin is on that, right?”
Lance felt the air leave his lungs very quickly at the question, but he still nodded. “Yes, technically Shiro is on the High Council.”
“So what would happen if Allura were dead?” Keith took a bite from his peach.
“What?” Lance wondered at that moment when his life had changed so drastically.
It felt like just a few days ago he’d been scolded for spending too much time in bed or skipping out on court or for flirting too much with the Ladies of Noblemen at dinner. And now—now it was just one tense situation after another, One terrible revelation followed by another. Lance felt like he was being strung along, like he’d been invited along for a trip and he wasn’t sure where he was headed and where he was going and—
Lance looked away to the floor. “Theres no reason for Allura not to be able to take the throne.”
Keith leaned forward, tipped his head and waited.
It wasn’t till Lance glanced up that he spoke.
Lance considered not answering. He considered not saying a word but in the end it felt like it was almost pulled out of him.
“Typically, I—I would ascend at that point.”
Keith's gaze was still on him, it was still holding Lance in place like a knife to his throat.
Ever so subtly, a corner of Keith's lips curled, slithering into a smile.
“And if you’re dead?” Keith asked. “What then, Your Highness?”
Lance could hear his heart beat, it was hitting so hard against his chest, it was rushing blood through his ears. He couldn’t look away from Keith, his mouth dropped open but no words came, his lips felt dry and he blinked a couple of times trying to process—
The door opened then.
If Shiro was startled to find his sitting room occupied he didn’t show it. Instead his gaze looked to Keith first before settling on Lance, a smile tugged at his lips and he stepped forward.
“Keith,” He said in a tone that suggested he was pleasantly surprised. But his feet took him straight to the armchair where Lance was sitting.
It was like Shiro’s touch released him from what ever hold Keith’s questions had on him and Lance melted as Shiro simply pet a hand over Lance’s shoulder and down his spine.
“Hey,” Shiro cooed to Lance before gifting him with a soft nuzzle at the bond mark.
Lance had to stop himself from tangling a few of his limbs around Shiro and forcibly keeping him in place.
“Have ya had lunch yet?” Keith asked before he took another bite of his peach.
Shiro shook his head. “Naw, haven’t had time.”
Keith held out his hands as if to present the food to Shiro. “Well, you are welcome to dig in!”
Shiro gave a snort. “You are aware this is my room, right?”
“Don’t see your name on,” Keith drawled.
All that earned him was a chuckle as Shiro walked around the room to the drinks cart. Lance stood and followed him.
He wasn’t sure exactly what he was seeking, if possibly just a reprieve from Keith. He wanted to cling to Shiro as they met at the small cart, but instead Shiro just held out a glass of what looked like juice to Lance.
Lance took it, taking a small sip.
“I just got out of a meeting with Yarl,” Shiro said casually as he poured himself a drink of the same thick deep purple juice. “He’s retiring. It becomes official the end of this week.” His gaze flicked up to Lance’s. “You wouldn’t know anything about it all, would you?”
Lance pushed out a breath, forcing himself to take in another as he lifted the drink to his lips again, taking the drink in order to give his nerves time to settle down in his veins.
Shiro made a face as he gave a slight shrug. “It just seemed sudden.”
Lance gave his own shrug “Yarl is getting old.”
Those intense grey eyes were on Lance, probably hadn’t left since Shiro had first entered the room.
Lance felt suddenly small in their reflection, paper thin, like the smallest flinch and he’d tear, spilling every bit of his insides for Shiro.
Then Shiro stepped forward. “You’re right, it's probably a good time for him to retire,” He murmured before a hand slid onto Lance’s neck. It was to hold him in place as Shiro rubbed against the mark again, even giving it a light nip and drag of his teeth before he turned to Keith, striding into the sitting room to start on a late lunch as well.
Looking down at his juice, Lance felt like he never wanted to eat again.
Through out the next few days, Shiro was backed into wall to wall meetings. It seemed since the King had taken ill—well everyones responsibilities had expounded. The few times Lance had seen Shiro, he looked tired and had seemed agitated. It was usually before they went to bed, or even later if Shiro had an exceptionally full day.
Lance hadn’t pushed any affection again but if he was lucky a tired Shiro would pull him in against his chest. The past several nights though—Shiro had just crawled under the sheets, and was usually asleep before Lance had a chance to even turn over.
Allura had been even more of a ghost. Lance would see her at breakfast if he was lucky but never more. It made sense all of the king’s duties were dropping straight onto her shoulders.
And then there was—
“There was an attack,”
Keith had looked so neutral as he said it.
Lance wasn’t sure how his world had flipped so dramatically that Keith had started to be the one to tell him key information.
“It was on a star cruiser.”
Maybe it was because the information was coming from Keith, but Lance had quickly excused himself.
The gardens’ seemed like the only sane place in the castle. It was the only place there wasn’t whispers about his father.
No one was allowed in yet. And the secrecy was what was starting to bother people Lance felt like. He wasn’t sure what the point was anymore. They all knew if he was being kept aways he was clearly ill, it was the lack of transparency that made them uneasy.
As Lance sat at the edge of a water lily pond, there was something else eating him inside out as well.
He’d lied to his mate.
Lance scooped up a lily. It was a pale yellow, and almost gleamed in the midday sun. Hunk loved these flowers.
Lance physically sighed with the thought. Hunk was another problem.
They hadn’t spoken since Lance and he had fought. And Lance still needed to apologize. He set the flower back afloat before drawing his arms in around himself. He squeezed tight, clutching his small frame in thinner. He wanted to feel bound together like that, the binding holding him all in one piece.
“It feels like the worlds flipped upside down, doesn’t it?”
Lance turned to find his sister.
“Upside down and possibly set on fire.” Lance quibbed.
Allura gave him a melodic chuckle. “The fire must not have reached here yet then,”
Lance looked around him. “Oh no, it’s here. Trust me, I can feel the heat.”
“It must be the tranquil appearance that’s fooling me,” Allura said as she came to the end of the pools raised rims. She slid into sit next to Lance more easily than Lance expected.
“It’s been so terribly long since I’ve been in these gardens,” Allura sighed. Her gaze was out over the water, looking at the expanse of flowers and hedges and general splendor of nature. "I nearly got lost trying to find you. I always forget these gardens were designed to be a giant spiraling maze."
“I’ve come here every day since…” Lance trailed off. He looked back down at the water.
He felt Allura’s hand then, brushing over his head, lightly petting his short hair.
It wasn’t till Lance looked up though that Allura spoke.
“My dear baby brother,” She gave a sad smile. “When did we grow up?”
Lance smiled as well. “I didn’t know you had such a high opinion of me.”
The sound of Allura’s laugh was something Lance always loved. Ever since he was little. Maybe that was a big part of who he was. His goofy, embarrassing self—all because he just wanted to hear people laugh.
When it was finally quiet again, Lance asked. “How’s father?”
Allura didn’t say anything, which probably said more then anything.
Lance pulled a knee up to his chest. “Will he recover?”
Allura did give a firm nod at that. “I believe so.” She didn’t look hopeful though. “Lance—it will. Our father will never be the same though. His age has come upon him very quickly.”
Lance had guessed.
“I think we have turned a page in our lives.”
“You know that’s why I’m here, right?”
Sighing, Lance gave another nod.
His sister didn’t do casual anymore. She was right, since she’d grown up—she didn't have time for anything that didn’t further her goals, and wandering in the maze of gardens was far from furthering.
“How is your relationship with Shiro coming?”
Lance jerked his head up towards his sister. He had one hundred percent not expected that question.
Allura nodded. “The two of you seem to get along very well, is he as affectionate with you when you’re alone?”
Lance blinked. Like it was an act? Was that really what she was suggesting?
“We’re good.” Lance reaffirmed. “Allura it’s been a month.”
“Exactly,” Allura shot back. “And things are already changing quicker than I planned. Lance I need your reassurance that Shiro is in support of us.”
“Why wouldn’t he be?” Lance asked exasperated.
“The acolytes made it clear he was not open for discussion of an heir. Is he withdrawn from you?”
Lance blinked. Was this really happening? Was his sister really asking him if Shiro and he—?
“He supports me.” Lance said firmly. It was an answer he could give.
“And what about the rest of the kingdom?”
“Would you like me to ask him if he plans on racing you to the throne?” Lance spat out.