Updated: Apr 13, 2019
There was a much more sizable audience than Lance had expected. And all of them were arguing. The throne room, usually lined with gleaming gosmer curtains and giggling courtiers—was now set up as council room. A broad table extended from the dais where Alfor sat and curved down around, forming a Long O through out the room, Most, if not all, the seat were filled, Council men and military alike all in attendance. Up around them large holographic projections lined around them. The largest was a direct feed—
Lance’s eyes widened.
It was a window to see—an entire Galra fleet. Their clan mark in deep red painted messily and smeared across the bow.
“Come on,” Shiro whispered to Lance as he tugged him up through the hall.
“Why would they attack,” Lance’s head whipped around to his partner, as they both walked hastily up to their seats at the head of the table.
Shiro spared Lance a glance, not answering but the look answer enough. He couldn’t tell Lance here.
“We need to strike first,” a general hissed from farther up the table.
Shiro slid a chair out, gesturing for Lance to take it, before he took his own seat at the King’s right side. There were a few prying eyes but Allura standing next to the King had drawn most of the attention.
“Without proper cause it will look excessive,” Allura countered.
Shiro next to Lance was very quickly getting a run down and updated through the data pad passed to him form behind by Coran. His eyes scrolled through the pages or reports and occasionally he looked up to the projections above them. At one point, Shiro even leaned over in a hushed whisper to ask Coran something.
Lance didn’t hear the transponded words, and looked himself back up to the screens. There were three war ships in total and they—they were nearing the Altean galactic line.
“This is more than posturing,” The general shot back
As King Alfor shifted forward, the room fell silent. “Would you send us into war?”
Allura stood a bit straighter, her head turned to look to their king.
“Shiro,” Alfor’s deep voice resounded in the room as he looked to the Black Paladin next to him.
it was clear he was asking for the man’s opinion on the matter, and slowly Shiro set the data pad down on the glass top table before him. He looked—calculated, Lance noticed as he sucked in his own breath next to Shiro.
Lance’s hands fidgeted under the table. He wanted to reach out to Shiro, to take his hand, but the chairs were seated too far away for Lance to be able to do it unnoticed, so he continued to fidget instead.
“War is coming to us,” Shiro said in a level tone.
“You would purpose an attack,” Iso’s voice rang out through the hall. He was seated next to Allura, still dressed as most were for the evening out on the lawns.
Lance tilted his head—had that all really been just moments ago? It felt like ages since Lance had been out under the tents, watching Shiro and speaking with his friends. The day had seemed so inconsequential when Lance had awoken that morning. It also made Lance conscious--Shiro had made sure Lance and himself looked prepared for the meeting. Even arriving late, Shiro was dressed as the red Paladin, not as he would a frivolous day outside.
“No,” Shiro answered plainly, “But that’s a raiding party,” he pointed to the sigil. “They’re here as an intimidation tactic only secondary, they’re testing defenses at this point and we can’t falter.”
Alfor shifted in his seat. “What would be your plan of action, Black Paladin?” Alfor’s gaze was settled on Shiro, looking over him, like Alfor was studying him.
Shiro didn’t answer with any sign of hesitation. “Send in Voltron.” His voice was still even but in the quiet room it carried without effort. “Make it clear we won’t attack if they leave— but if they attempt to cross into Altean space, we will not tolerate it.”
Allura’s arms crossed over her chest.
“You will start a war,” Iso hissed.
“I would make it clear, we have no intention of tolerating raiders in Altean space.” Shiro’s voice deepened. “We have too many colonies in open space, too many lives at risk. A Galra transporter ship is one thing—but a raider fleet isn’t to be tolerated.”
“Harshly dealing with a situation such as this could have unintended consequences,” Allura spoke up.
Lance sat forward in his seat, trying desperately to catch his sisters eye. Not bothering to hide it, Lance slid a hand over Shiro’s arm this time.
Shiro didn’t look over as he caressed over Lance’s fingers.
Lance didn’t either, looking to his sister.
She had to know Shiro was right. Lance had warned her. He’d told her, over and over again, Shiro knew the Galra, and she needed to trust him. They meant war.
“Not dealing with this situation could have consequences as well,” an Admiral spoke up from Lance’s left.
Alfor held up a hand silencing the room again.
It was quiet for a lasting moment this time.
Sitting back in his throne, Alfor considered before he spoke. “Allura, you are heir, what do you purpose we do?”
Allura straightened her full height as she looked to her father.
Lance could see as she pulled on the cold queenly mask. “It’s more posturing. They won’t cross the line.” She said with confidence. “I say we open up a com’s link with them, and diplomatically handle this locally through the forces we already have stationed there.”
Next to her Iso gave a firm nod in agreement.
Alfor spared a glance to no other as he nodded as well. “Than that’s what we will do.” There was a loud "thwack" as the guards directly behind the throne snapped at attention, their spears hitting the hard marble floors once to signify the King was standing.
The room rippled with murmurs but Lance still stood in respect and Shiro did the same at his side.
Allura gave a gracious bow to her father.
Lance looked down as Shiro grasped Lance’s arm, sliding him in closer to him. But Shiro’s attenion was elsewhere as he turned to snag Coran.
“You will inform me of any updates at all.” Shiro said in a hushed voice.
“Absolutely Sir,” Coran bowed to Shiro in acknowledgement.
“Shiro,” Lance stepped closer.
Shiro’s eyes shifted to Lance for a brief moment, long enough to give a quick impression. ‘not here, not yet.'
Lance worried at his bottom lip but didn’t speak further.
The room around them was already breaking into smaller chatting groups. Allura and her entourage was well on her way to leaving the room though, Iso in quick step with her.
It didn’t escape Lance’s notices the way Shiro’s eyes traced her path from the room.
Now that—now that he wasn’t laid flush against Shiro and his mind fuzzy with cooed praise and constant affection—it occurred to Lance, how very odd earlier in the evening had been. His sister had seemingly come alone to his room to get Shiro—or was it to challenge him? It was perplexing as Lance gazed at his regal sister.
It was then Lance notices as well—a flock of black clad Acolytes were hovering at the edges of the court. Had they been there since Lance had entered? He’d been so distracted with the actions around him, Lance wasn’t sure. But they were on the move now and they seemed to be aiming straight for Lance and Shiro.
“Black Paladin,” one tall and slender woman stepped up.
Her face rather gaunt and her hands slender she approached with quiet almost inaudible steps. He with drew her hood as she stepped forward.
Shiro’s attention was drawn away from the general he was speaking to and he turned.
As the woman fully approached them, she gave a flowing bow to Lance, “Your Highness.” The bow was deep and her chin tucked in as she descended to a knee.
Startled, Lance was usually never acknowledged at Shiro’s side. His hand came up to clutch at his uniform just at his chest. He was unsure what to do.
“Uh,” Lance looked around,
Shiro from beside him nudged at him, “That’s called respect,” He mused at Lance’s ear.
Lance shot him a glance before looking back to the woman, “It’s a pleasure to meet you,” He said quickly regaining his confidence. He held out his hand in the formal manner he’d been taught since birth. A few mere months as Shiro's side note couldn't erase the regality Lance was born into.
The woman reverently took his hand and pressed her forehead to his knuckles before rising. “The pleasure is indeed mine, your majesty.”
Lance’s eyes bulged for just a moment. That title, was not one he could claim. But correcting her seemed uncouth so Lance just nodded to her with a slight smile.
“I am Honerva,” The woman introduced her self.
“You’re an Acolyte?” Lance knew it was a bit rude to question her occupation, but looking at their robes—acolyte robes were deep blue. Lance couldn’t fathom which order would wear black.
“I am a priestess of the Goddess.” Hoth affirmed.
Lance nodded. “Of course.” He wracked his brain thinking if he knew of any orders of woman in the faith. He could have sworn there was none. All leadership were male… or so he’d thought.
“Paladin,” Hoth turned her attention to Shiro.
Giving her his full attention, Shiro let Lance curl in at his side.
He hoped it looked like an act of affection, but his main goal was to look behind Shiro. The war councils were already talking amongst themselves with grim looks on their faces. And though orders had been issued, not many seemed in any great hurry to see them through.
“What ever you need from the order, Black paladin, consider it yours,” Lance could hear Hoth behind him, but he wasn’t paying attention.
Farther away Lance’s father had been held up as several advisors talked with him. Narrowing his eyes, he wished he could understand their conversation from this distance.
“That is a generous offer, priestess.” Shiro graciously accepted, his arm was still loosely around Lance.
“We feel the need to express our support Sir.”
“That is very gracious of you, we thank you.”
Lances attention was drawn back as Honerba stepped closer. Her eyes—Lance blinked rapidly as he realized—her eyes were a wonderful crystaline.
“Your Highness,” she dipped her head again.
Lance dipped his head as well to her before she dismissed her self. Quickly her flock of black robed followers joined her as they swooped from the courtrooms escaping any further notice.
When Lance looked back over Shiro’s shoulder his father was leaving, his advisors dispersed. Lance scrunched his nose but accepted there was no information watching further that he could glean.
Shiro held out his hand, gesturing for Lance to lead the way out of the vast hall.
“Back to our rooms?” Lance asked as he stepped away.
“No,” Shiro shook his head. “We’ll have news soon enough, diplomatic enterprises such as this—never seem to take long,” It was the slight change in Shiro’s voice that had Lance on edge.
Looking to his Paladin, Lance spoke under his breath. “What’s going to happen?”
With a glance spared in Lance’s direction he directed them in to one of the much smaller sitting rooms lining the castle.
“We’re going to stay close,” Shiro said to Lance. “If this goes well, we’ll have spent a pleasant evening together in a comfortable room with colleagues—if it doesn’t…” Shiro trailed off. “We wont be far at hand then.”
Lance glanced around the much smaller comfortable room. Rich plush couches and armchairs strewn the room, but also several different holographic projections were starting to line the walls. It was all military men again, Lance realized as he looked around himself.
As Shiro released him, Lance slid down to one of the couches. It was—this was a new experience for him. He’d never been involved so closely with matters so… Lance looked around himself, feeling horribly out of his own depth. It gnawed at his stomach to think--he was second heir to the throne--and he knew so little of how the kingdom actually worked.
With in a few hours the room was filled with wafting smoke from the few men, and a woman, that indulged and food platters strew on every table. There was a constant stream of information coming through the room, there was also at least three different angles brought up of the corresponding “Diplomacy” underway.
Subtitles lined each holograph and most of the attention in the room was drawn there. Though many smaller conversations has broken out. Shiro's attention had very quickly been pulled away and to a smaller group convened at the couches directly in audience to the largest of the two projections.
It seemed a convenient enough time for Lance to slide away from the couch and drop the deep blue cloak from the clasps at his shoulders, letting it fall around and in front of him to shroud his form. He exited the room with a nod to the guard, saying he'd be only a moment.
But as a precaution, Lance pulled the hood up as he slipped through the entryway and down the hall.
He would make the trip short but hopefully profitable and Lance tugged the hood up closer around him.
With Keith gone, Lance knew his watch dog wasn't at least around but--Lance couldn't say he could trust that Shiro hadn't assigned others to follow him.
Lance slipped in and back around to the royal chambers. His own room had once been down this hall, a few steps only form his sisters though that felt like eons before when Lance had been a completely different person.
As Lance approached the double doors of his sisters room, He checked his surroundings again. There was a pair of guards stationed a the end of the hall but neither was looking in Lance's direction. That was fine. Rumors were always a problem with the staff but Lance just needed the secrecy of that moment. Shiro would find out sooner or later but Lance just needed a few short minutes.
Lance tapped at his sisters door twice.
There was no answer so smoothly Lance turned the handle in his hand very carefully and slipped in--
Right in to being face to face with Allura.
Lance tipped his head as his sisters crystalline eyes were suddenly presented in the small light from a compact she held,. Lance has forgotten--he was actually taller than is sister, and it was a fact that so often seemed to catch him off guard.
"What are you doing here?" Allura brow furrowed as she whispered to Lance.
Lance looked past Allura to--Oh.
Allura's massive bed in the bedroom beyond was occupied. The sheets and thin comforter outlined the long form and a splash of blonde hair was visible from the head of the bed.
Lance looked around them and gestured to the small sitting room off the entry rooms.
Allura's room though bigger than the Black Paladin's quarters--was set up almost exactly the same, almost all the living quarter except for the kings were that way. The main parlor/entry way opened up to a massive bedroom, with rooms at either side as well.
Allure quickly took Lance's hand and they slipped in through to a sitting room. Allura carefully glanced at the bedroom one more time, slid the door closed, securing it, before she clipped the compact light closed and flipped on the light.
"Lance!" she hissed as she turned. "Really?"
"Why are you here?" Lance gasped, his hands flared out in an exaggerated gesture. "You went to bed? Seriously?" He continued. His voice a strained whisper in effort to keep quiet.
Allura crossed her arms. "We need to appear calm, collected and in no way worried about the situation."
Lance could barely believe his ears. His mouth in fact hung open for a moment as his hands gestured to out side the door. "Shiro--" Lance shook his head. "Right now, Shiro has his own war council assembled and you've gone to bed."
"I'm not worried," Allura affirmed her chin held high. "The diplomatic envoys will work."
Lance crossed his own arms. "No one in the room I was just in, seem to be under that impression."
Allura shook her head,. "You've been sitting in a room of men of the military, I've seen those Shiro keeps for company. It's a room full of fear and war mongering"
"It's a room of people prepared," Lance affirmed.
Allura seemed to falter, her hand fidgety as it came up to her face. "What has Shiro said?"
With a frown, Lance's shoulders dropped. "Barely anything to me," Lance admitted. He gave a sigh. "It's been a very long night for the two of us."
Allura eyed over him.
“No, I wasn’t asleep,” Lance answered, already knowing her unspoken question.
"I knew it!" Allura hissed. Her brow lowered. "Why did you let him say those things earlier?"
Say those things? Lance blinked. Oh. OH. She had no idea. Even with Lance's ruse of sleep she still had no idea Shiro had finger fucked him in front of her.
"You--" Lances face shot red. “You have no idea what it's like having a mate like that, he says stuff and I just--it's hard to contradict him."
"You contradict me all the time!" Allura shot back.
"You're different!" Lance hissed. "Sisters don't count!" Lance's face squished in his own expression. "Besides, what the hell was up with you?
Allura was back to keenly standing very straight, her eyes and chin aloft. "I needed to make myself clear to him."
Lance's lips pinched into an unhappy smile. He'd heard the exact argument just an hour or so before from his counterpart. "Allura." He growled. "I married him."
Allura's head flicked back to Lance. "And he needs to understand that!"
"Insults and threats aren't going to make you friends!"
"He has you, only because we allow him to!" Allura hissed. "His power was given from us! From the real royalty here and he needs to have that spelled out to him clearly! He does not have the bloodline, he is not the destined ruler of Altea! And if he keeps walking around acting like he has any real power here, its going to cause a rift."
Lance's brow still didn't rise. "That's an absurd way of keeping him on our side!" Lance threw his hands up.
Hands fisting, Allura dropped them to her sides. the silken night robe she wore had long flowing sleeves that dropped down with her arms. "You can't still believe he is here simply to fulfill his duty."
It was Lance's turn to raise his chin. "I will keep him close, it's the reason we elected for this marriage. And I will keep him in check."
Allura was already rounding on him. "You've already admitted you're compromised when it comes to him."
Lance's own hands fisted. "I love him."
The words suddenly lit though Lance in a way he--he'd never. They were suddenly so horribly true Lance realized. Even with everything said and happened through out the long night. Lance knew they were true.
A push of Allura's head back showed her sudden surprise at the statement as well.
"You sentenced me to this." Lance cut her off quickly with a staggered breath. "Please don't act shocked, when the one man that's showed me affection and fondness has garnered that in return from me."
Falling quiet, Allura watched Lance carefully.
"This isn't a battle of bloodlines anymore." Lance continued. "If you challenge him for me--" Lance grit his teeth as he tried to formulate his thoughts. "This is the opportunity to pit him against a common enemy not to drive him between us."
That seemed to catch Allura. "I don't trust him, baby brother."
Lance didn't move. "I know--I--" Lance stalled.
Did-did Lance even trust him?
"He's having me followed." Lances eyes looked away. "He doesn't trust me."
Allura nodded. "It's smart." her eyes flicked to the bedroom door.
Lance looked over his shoulder at it--and wondered what poor soul was stuck stalking Iso all day. He blinked and looked back to his sister.
"I still disagree with your choice of ally," Lance spoke.
Allura smiled, though this time there was a peak of her old self, of the sister Lance grew up with. "I can't be like you, baby brother." Her gaze on him suddenly seemed quite sad. "I can't afford to be emotionally compromised."
It was--something only Allura would believe, but Lance still accepted it as he nodded his head, already reaching for the hood.
"Your times up?" Allura perked.
With a flick of the hood back over his head, Lance nodded. "After your little outburst into our room, I'm sure Shiro is already suspicious of me. I can't give him more cause."
"You confronted him over it?" Allura inquired, one brow tipped.
Lance's mouth pressed into an uneasy line. "In a way. He knows it didn't please me."
Allura tipped her head. "Do you know, does he feel the same?"
Lance swallowed, looking away. "I think--I hope he does."
It was a long moment. "He keeps you close." Allura stalled, her eyes hooded as she spoke to Lance. "But as an enemy or--or a trophy I can't tell which."
Lance pressed his lips into a thin line before stepping forward. He didn't say that he didn't liked the sound of either of those options--but he didn't live in a world were those he was surrounded by were treasured or precious--no, no as things were going he was pushing those precious as far as he could away. He grasped his sister lightly before leaning forward to press a kiss to her cheek.
"Please," He murmured. "Just be ready." He huffed.
Allura nodded and let her head fall to press her cheek to Lance's shoulder as she stepped forward to hug him in return. "You too." she murmured. "Be careful. I worry for you."
Lance sighed. "You've just said he keeps me close."
"True." She nodded. "The arms of a tiger may be safe--but it's still a tiger encircling you."
Lance snorted, and pulled away.
"Put some cloths on, get ready," Lance said. "I don't doubt you--I just."
Allura nodded. "Alright, just for you." Though she sounded skeptical.
Lance gave one last nod before he slipped back through the door and started back to the smokey lounge and back to his bond mate.
Lance re-entered the room a few swift steps later. Sliding through the generous doorway, Lance slipped the cloak off and let it slide to rest at a chair. He wasn’t sure exactly how but his things always magically returned to his room every time he left them about the castle, so with out fear of losing it, he slipped his way through the men back to slither in next to his mate.
Shiro didn’t look away from the screen before him, but his arm slid around Lance’s shoulders.
Abruptly Lance was constricted in and Shiro pecked a kiss to Lance’s cheek marking. It also afforded him the opportunity to speak ever so softly at Lance’s ear.
“How is your sister's night going?”
Lance’s spine creaked as it shot pins and needles straight. He—he had wondered if Shiro would even notice him gone. He had also considered that with his scent missing from the room, it was likely Shiro would—and Lance had planned to lie.
That option, was now very briskly revoked from him.
Lance slid a long slender hand against Shiro’s thigh. “Has Keith returned without you telling me?” He whispered in to Shiro's collar, breathing close against his primary glands just under his jaw.
Shiro’s only answer for a moment was a long look from over Lance and the smallest of upticks at the edge of his mouth.
"He said you knew," Shiro mused. "But I didn't quite believe him."
"You should have," Lance's brow lowered.
"Oh," Shiro's mouth twisted in a smile. "There are quite a few things I am coming to believe about you."
Lance wasn't sure if it was a threat or--a compliment. "I wont betray you." Lance blurted before he knew it. "But I won't be used."
Shiro nodded slow, his smile turning gentler. "I adore you."
Lance shook his head. "I'm not picking sides."
Shiro's smile didn't falter. "No." he reached out ever so gently, petting his fingers through Lance's hair. "I know, you wont."
"Don't make me in the future," Lance could feel the tone of his own plea. But he still maintained the frantic eye contact with Shiro's stormy gaze.
For such a crowded room, Lance could swear at that moment they were alone, he could feel the gentle thumb of his own heart, and his hand reached out, seeking Shiro's.
It was a long moment before Shiro spoke "Are you asking for a promise?"
Lance shook his head ever so slowly. "I--I guess I'm not." His eyes flicked away for just a moment considering his words. "I just--I need your understanding." He looked back to Shiro, his head tipping just the way he knew Shiro seemed to like. "I will always love my family. Please understand."
Shiro considered for a moment but soon he slid forward and pressed a kiss to Lance's prone open lips. "I will never ask you not to." He said very carefully. "I promise you that."
It happened all at once. Lance looked up at the screen to see one moment there was still more talks happening and in the next—Lance’s eyes went wide as the room went deathly quiet.
Shiro jolted into action first as he swiftly stood.
“Alert his majesty,” Shiro was already pulling on the black cloak as he reached a hand out for Lance to take.
“Of course,” A nearby footman answered.
“Have my guard at the ready,” Shiro was speaking to one of the generals at hand. “And get a message out to Kogane. I also want a starship to start preparing.”
The room was bursting with energy suddenly and men were pulling on coats and shifting around uniforms. several men were already leaving the room hastily seeing to Shiro’s orders.
Lance--Lance barely moved, his eyes glued to the screen. It suddenly--what Shiro had been afraid of, Lance had never imagined this--carnage. Like a switch had been flipped the Galra had all surged forward and attacked mercilessly tearing apart the Altean they outnumbered int the room. Lance’s eyes widened further as the last of them, a grilled older Altean--
"NO--" Lance gasped.