"Obligation."

Story by Adele
Story Copyright 2003
A story based on the series, "Voltron, The Third Dimension"

The characters of Voltron are the property of World Event Productions.  All other characters are the copyright of Adele.  Please do not use them without asking for permission.  Thank you.

Enjoy!


Chapter 8
The Truth... At Last.


Allura was still dressed in her evening gown from the night before. Traces of perfume still lingered, and her hair still looked as incredible as it had during the banquet.

But her heart was heavy.

And Keith was no where to be found.

Against Sven and Lance's advisement, she left the sanctuary of her chambers to search for Keith.

She tried his quarters... nothing.

She tried the Control Room... still nothing.

She even tried the rec. room.  He wasn't there either.

Finally, lost in thought, and crushed in spirit, she made her way to the garden bench that Keith favored.  She often found him there when he was troubled, or when he needed to think... alone.

But once again, she didn't find him.

Allura settled herself down in almost the exact spot that she would find him in.

She stared at the flowers in the garden.  How beautiful they were.

A short time ago, Coran and Sven had broken the news to her about what was in archives.  She just couldn't believe it was true.

Distraught, her only desire now was to find Keith.  She wished with all of her heart, that he could hold her tight, and tell her it would be okay.  But she resigned herself to the reality that it wasn't going to happen that way.

The plan that Sven presented didn't sound very impressive.  He too, didn't have much faith that it would work.

And so, Allura came to the garden, to enjoy what was most likely, a final, peaceful moment as Princess of Arus, before being made to marry a King she knew nothing about, instead of being courted by the man she loved with all of her heart.

And now, he too, appeared to have abandoned her in her hour of need.

The tears finally found their way to her eyes.  Allura bent her head to her lap, curled her arms around her head, weeping bitterly.

*****************

It was then, that Keith entered the garden.

He stopped dead... he could swear he could hear something.  It sounded like...
someone was crying.  Holding his breath, he hesitated... to make sure that it wasn't a maid crying.

Then, his heart confirmed it: he was sure it was Allura.  He recognized the familiar whimper.

Carefully walking over toward the sound, he at last found her.  She was sitting on his 'self proclaimed' bench.  He quietly came to her side, and knelt down in front of her.

"Allura..." Keith whispered, bringing his hand to rest gently on her head. "Don't cry. It's going to be alright...really."

Allura immediately lifted her head up.  When she saw him there, she didn't think. She immediately thrusted herself into his arms.

"Keith!" she cried.  "Tell me...this is just a nightmare!  Please...tell me this isn't real! I don't want to marry Augusta!  I can't marry him!  I won't marry him!  I'll leave Arus, if I must!"

Keith cradled her in his arms, cherishing the feel of her close to him.  He only wished this moment could last forever.  He had held her on several occassions in the past...
but never while on the brink of telling her the most important secret he had been keeping in his heart.

But suddenly, he snapped out of it, remembering that there was a reason for him being here.

"Allura, listen to me," he said, trying to break away from her.  He held her at arm's length to look at her.  "I have something very important to tell you, and I know the timing isn't the greatest to say this, but you have to know!"

She took the back of her hand and wiped her cheeks of the tears.  "Keith...Coran told me what he found in the archives.  Why would Queen Ariela do this to me?  I can't marry Augusta!"

Keith shook his head and tried again.  "Princess...please... this is important..."

Consumed by her own problems, she continued to talk right over him.  "Now you tell me that you have something very important to tell me?  What could possibly be more important than this?  He's taking me away from my beloved home, my friends, and..."

"Allura!  Listen to me!  Just let me say this...before I burst!  I went to the Royal Crypt and I saw your father!  And he told me to..." Keith said, grabbing her by the shoulders.

"What?  My father?" Allura gasped.  "Why did you go there?"

"I was... afraid, Allura.  I was looking for his counsel, I guess." Keith replied, shaking his head.  Then he quickly continued. "Anyway, when I saw him, I also saw Queen Ariela!"

"Queen Ariela?" Allura gasped again.  "When?"

"She appeared with your father, Allura!  She told me that Anserrot is behind all of this, and is working with none other thanà our dear friend, Lotor!" Keith seethed.

"Lotor!" She shrieked.  "What's he doing involved in this?"

"He's attempting to gain possession of you and Planet Arus, and Voltron!" Keith replied angrily.

"But... what about the archives?" She asked.  "They give Augusta the right to demand my hand in marriage because of this vow Areila made, and because of our customs and Royal traditions!  How can we refute that?"

"We can't... " Keith said quietly.  "At least, not yet."

"What are you saying?" Allura shouted, staring at him.  "If we don't do something, I'll have to marry him!  Is that what you want?"

"Of course not, Allura!  But your father sternly warned me not to interfere... no matter how bad it gets.  We have got to let this thing run its course!" Keith said, still firmly holding her by the shoulders.  "You must marry Augusta, Princess!"

"Keith!  I can't believe I'm hearing this from you!  You...of all people!" She gasped, pushing his hands away from her.  "I can't believe you're just going to stand back and let this mad man carry on and dishonor me like this!  The freedom of Arus is at stake! If he is allowed to marry me, then Arus will fall into Lotor's hands!  I can't allow that to happen!  We can't allow that to happen!"

"Allura, believe me!  I feel the same way that you do!  But your father and Queen Ariela were both very clear with me that Voltron must journey to Surbain...and that you must marry King Augusta!  It's the only way we can meet up with Lotor and save both planets from destruction!  But if we interfere with it, then Arus will be doomed!" Keith said.  He then stood to his feet and walked a few steps toward the flowers nearby.

"And you're going to listen to this advise...this coming from a ghost?" Allura said, nearly shaking in anger.

"You do!" Keith barked back before turning his head to look at the flowerbed. "Don't you?"

Allura sighed in frustration.

Silence fell between them for a few minutes.  Suddenly, Allura let out a forceful breath of air...

"I don't understand this, Keith!" Allura shouted.  "Why must I marry Augusta, in order for Voltron to make the journey to Surbain?  Can't we just go..."

Keith raised his hand in the air, turning his head slightly toward her direction.  "I don't know, Princess.  The only thing I could think of, is perhaps the only way to really get to the bottom of Surbain's problems, is if you were somehow crowded their Queen..."

"I don't want to be Queen!"
Allura shouted again.  "Certainly
not of a world I know nothing about!"


"Allura!  I don't pretend to understand
it all! I don't want to understand any of it!
You're asking me questions, that I have no answers to!  I'm only telling you what your father told me!" Keith proclaimed in a raised tone of voice.  "All I know is right now, I wish I could take you away from all of this.  But that won't help Arus...or Surbain!  We must be willing to sacrifice our individual needs for the good of both worlds! If for nothing else...then for Arus!"

Allura remained silent.  A stunned look came over her face.  "Keith...I..."

"Princess, I know you have no reason to believe what I'm saying... except... to trust your heart." Keith replied softly.

"My heart?" she said, flustered.  "I thought I knew what my heart was telling me!  But it seems, I too, was deceived about a few things!"

Keith quickly turned around to face her.  He took a deep breath and held it, realizing that now was the time to be candid with her...

"Allura... your heart has not deceived you.  In fact, your heart has been telling you the truth all of this time.  And I now know why I was brought back here to Arus." He began to say. 

Then he walked back over to her,
and assumed a kneeling position
in front of her.   He took her hand in
his, and gently held it.  Allura was
still looking away...consumed by her
grief.

"Allura, I started to say this, before
all hell broke loose."

The Princess suddenly turned
her head to look at him.  He had her
attention...at last.

He struggled to catch his breath.   The mere sight of her beauty made him feel so inadequate before her.   "I want you know this.   And always remember it... no matter where tomorrow finds us... no matter what happens to us... I want you to know, that I...I..."

The words were lost to him suddenly, and he turned his gaze to the sky.  He sighed again.



"Why is this so hard to say?" he thought.



Allura took her free hand and cupped his hand.  "Go on, Keith..." she said quietly.

His gaze was forced back toward her.  He beheld a glimpse of her beauty once again, and found the courage to continue.

"I want you to know that...I'm... in love with you, Allura.  You've captured my heart, Princess. You're the vision that I've waited for all of my life, and I'm sure that I was destined to find you."

Allura stared blankly at him, numb in feeling.  "Why are you telling me this now... when I am about to become another man's wife?"

"I've tried to tell you...so many times.  But, I always felt so unworthy of you." Keith replied. But now..."

"No Keith.  You're not unworthy.  I'm unworthy of you." she said serenely. "You have always been here for me.  And so many times I've taken you for granted."

"Allura, I love you!  Did you hear what I said?  I was afraid to say it before...but...I now
realize that I can't go on pretending anymore.  I'm in love with you, and that's all I know. And perhaps I've overstepped my bounds with you in telling you this now, but I had to make sure you knew how I felt about you...before..." Keith said, his eyes searching hers deeply.  "Before anything else happened."

"I...I feel as if this is a dream...only now, I don't wish to wake up." she replied softly.  "Oh Keith, if only we had more time..."

"I know." he sighed.  "That's my fault.  Lance was right.  He preached at me until he was blue in the face.  He said that if I didn't tell you, soon, someday I might find that its too late. Guess for once, Lance knew better then I did.  I just had to tell you, Allura!  It was an ache in my heart.  I've been in love with you for a long time, but I wasn't willing to admit it to myself."

"Keith," she smiled, taking her hand that was resting on top of his, and bringing it to rest on his cheek.  "I've known your love for me for a long time, because I too, feel the same for you. But I didn't know how to tell you, or... even if I should tell you.  Your my commanding officer..."

Keith blinked several times, making sure he heard what he thought he heard.  "You do?  You really do...feel the same?"

She nodded her head wildly.  "Yes!  Oh yes, Keith!  Of course I do!  I love you with all of my heart!"

Suddenly, the words stopped, and their eyes took over, conveying all the information their hearts felt.  Keith brought her hand to his lips, and gently planted a kiss on top of it.

"Allura, our love will see us through this!  I have the faith to believe that somehow...all this will work out.  No matter what goes on today, or in the days to come, remember that I love you, and that you love me.  And as long as our love exists, there's nothing that can hurt us... even if things appear to be dark and hopeless." He said to her.

She nodded. "I'll remember.  I promise." she said, smiling at him.  "No matter what happens, our love will see us through."

He smiled at her.  Then, rising to his feet, he pulled her to hers and cupped her face with his hands.  "I promise... wherever you go, I won't be far away from you."

"I'm afraid, Keith," she said, her eyes suddenly full of fear. "What if..."

"No what ifs.  We have to trust in our love.  No matter what happens, I still love you.  Just keep telling yourself that, Allura." Keith said, giving her hand a reassuring squeeze.

"No...no matter what happens?' she repeated in a whispered voice.

Keith nodded, looking at her fondly.  "No matter what, Allura.  No matter what."

Dawn was breaking.  And Keith's personal COM was beeping.  He could feel his heart beginning to beat wildly.


"No matter what, Keith..." he reminded himself of his own words.



He answered his COM. "Keith here."

"Keith!"

It was Pidge.

"King Augusta is screaming down the hallway demanding the Princess!  Hunk said he's going to clock him one!"

"Calm down, all of you!  The Princess is with me...I've...located her.  We'll be right there. Inform King Augusta." Keith said with an even voice.

"Okay, Commander!  But you better hurry!  Things are starting to get out of control here!" Pidge warned.

"Got it. Keith out."

He closed off his communication, and returned his gaze up to Allura's face. "Ready?"

She shook her head.  "Not yet," she said, then leaned toward him, catching him off guard by kissing him on the lips.

The kiss was brief: hardly enough time to even focus on its sweetness.  But it was enough to make his heart beat faster and his blood pressure to rise.

After they separated, she looked at him with tears in her eyes.  "Now I'm ready." she said reluctantly.

Keith reached for Allura's hand, and together, holding hands, they walked toward the Castleà toward what appeared to be the end of Allura's freedom.
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