"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  haracters are the copyright of Adele.   Please do not use them without asking for permission.  Thank you.

Plesase note:
This is the last chapter in the book.


Enjoy!


Chapter 32
The Moment


A buzz came to Allura's door shortly after Romelle had left to meet Sven for the banquet.

Allura walked over to the door, and as it swished open, it revealed a very dapper-looking Commander Keith Hunter.  He was dressed in his military formals once again.

He looked so very handsome...

Keith too, recalled the last time that he had met her here to escort her to a banquet.  It was under very different circumstances.  And at that time, he was struggling with just how to say the words he had been longing to tell her for so long.

She looked absolutely breath taking...

"You look gorgeous."
Keith said just above a
whisper.

"Why, thank you, Commander Keith."
Allura said, curtsying to him. "And may
I say that you look positively handsome,
yourself."

Keith placed his hand across his chest, covering his heart, then bowed before her reverently. "Why thank you, Princess Allura." he smiled with a wink.

She stifled a giggle in her hand. "Well, do you think we've swelled each other's heads enough for one evening?"

"Not really," he chuckled. "I rather enjoy the compliments."

Allura waved her hand at him, "Oh you...you're too much!"

"I hope to be much more, Your Highness." he said, extending his elbow toward her. "Shall we go?"

"Yes, of course." She smiled, taking his elbow with her hand.


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


The two of them entered the ballroom to a thunderous round of applause.  More than two hundred people appeared to be in attendance.

Allura leaned into Keith.  "Good thing Coran said this was going to be a, 'small' affair."

"Small?  This?" Keith shot a questionable look her way.  "I'd hate to see the BIG events!"

"Well now, those are grand indeed.  Something on the order of what I had done for your birthday...or...a wedding reception, perhaps?"

Keith caught her drift, and smiled fondly.  "Oh, I see..." he played along.  "Well, perhaps someday, I'll get to see one of those types of banquets.  The, 'wedding reception' type, I mean."

"Perhaps you shall." She giggled.

"Well, we'd better get inside.  It looks like they're waiting for us, and I'm sure their hands must be getting tired of clapping by now." he motioned, as he lead her through the tremendous crowd to the head table where Coran was waiting, along with Lance, Pidge, Hunk, Sven and Princess Romelle.

Everyone took his or her seats, except Coran, who,
as usual, was the Master of Ceromonies.  He began
the banquet by calling for everyone's attention. 

"Ladies and Gentleman...thank you for coming
on such short notice.  It is my great privilege
to introduce to you, our guests of honor, Princess
Allura Adrianna DeVille, Crown Princess of
Arus, and the valiant  members of the Voltron Force...
Arus's brave protectors of peace!  It is also
my extreme pleasure to welcome, once again,
Princess Romelle of Planet Pollux, in attendance
this evening with Lt. Commander Sven B'Yourn, Chief Commanding officer of Prince Bandor's
military forces on Planet Pollux.  And now, let us welcome home our heroes!"

Another thunderous round of applause broke out, honoring the head table.  As the applause continued, Hunk leaned over to Pidge. "Okay, so they like us!  Where's the food, man?"

"Calm down, Hunk!" Pidge teased. "It'll be out shortly!"

The members rose to their feet, along with Sven, for his part in the operation.

Coran quieted the crowd down.  "May I take a moment to allow Princess Allura herself to say a few words."

The applause broke out again, as Allura rose to her feet, bowing graciously before her honored guests. As the applause grew quiet, Allura began to speak.

"Good evening, Ladies and
Gentleman. Thank you all
for attending this evening,
as we celebrate the safe
return of Voltron back to Arus. 
It has been a long, very grueling
several weeks away from Arus,
and I must say, to quote a line
from a very famous book from
Earth literature... there
truly is, 'no place like home'."




Keith smiled at her, flattered that she thought to recite that line from a book he had only loaned her three months ago...

The Wizard of Oz.

She continued: "As I stated, it was a very trying time for all of us...but we have returned home triumphantly.  We have been through much, and suffered much at the hands of Zarkon and Lotor.  It was indeed good to be able to help another planet in need.  Although the
circumstances surrounding our departure were not favorable in the least, the outcome was a rising success. And we owe it all to the bravery of our beloved members of the Voltron Force, Commander Keith Hunter, Lt. Commander Lance Andrews, Lt. Hunk Simon, and Lt. Pidge
Villatoro. And of course, we thank the man who left his post and duty on Planet Pollux to accompany us to Surbain, Lt. Commander Sven B'Yourn. Please join me in a round of appreciative applause to the brave men of the Voltron Force."

A standing ovation
accompanied the room
full of applause.  Keith
rose to his feet, and
signaled his team to do the same.
Sven also joined them, rising to
his feet as well.  As the crowd
began to sit, Allura signaled Keith
to remain standing.

"And I would like to personally
thank Commander Keith Hunter,
for being the fine leader and
officer that he is.  Without you,
I would not be here at this moment.
I'm sure I would be a slave to Prince Lotor."

Allura reached behind her, and grabbed the box that Coran had set down in front of the Princess.  Allura brought the box up and held it between herself and Keith.

"Contained in this box, is the Arusian Metal of Valor, given to all those brave individuals who go beyond the call of duty. Commander Keith Hunter has, and continues to, risk his life for the safety of your Princess and members of his team. It is therefore with great pride, that I bestow upon him the Arusian Metal of Valor."

She opened the box and pulled out the metal.  It was in the shape of the Royal Insignia of the House of Arus.  And with all of the colors thereof.

She placed the box on the table and carefully pinned the metal on Keith's uniform.

Once in place, she leaned forward and kissed him lightly on the cheek.  He closed his eyes, caught up in the tenderness of her touch.

As she leaned back again, she turned him to audience.  "Ladies and Gentleman, Arus's Commander of Voltron, Commander Keith Hunter." she introduced him and took her seat next to him as the crowd continued to applaud.

He looked down at her with a sincere smile. She returned the smile. The room quieted down, and Keith briefly addressed the audience.


"Ladies and Gentleman, Princess
Allura, Sir Coran Anderson, members
of the Voltron Force, Princess Romelle
of Planet Pollux, and honored guests.
I bid you welcome on behalf of the
Voltron Force.  It has always been my
esteemed pleasure to be Commander
of Voltron, and to lead such a dedicated
group of people.  I use the word, 'people'
instead of ,'men' as the Princess used,
because she too, is a member of the
Voltron Force, and the pilot of Blue Lion. She usually skirts her achievements as a pilot, but I can brag about them, since I am her Commander, and I have the floor at this time."

Several chuckles broke out throughout the room as Keith continued...

"Princess Allura risks her life daily for the protection of this planet, and other needy planets in both the Alliance and beyond." he fingered the metal on his chest pridefully.  "Although I accept this metal with honor and pride, I can not accept it alone.  I accept it for all of my team. For without them, there would be no Voltron.  Each of us does what is necessary in order to protect this planet from evil.  Princess Allura is a part of that team, and deserves this metal as much as I do.  And my men, Hunk Simon, Lance Andrews and Pidge Villatoro, are equally responsible for the freedom Arus enjoys.  I also include Sven B'Yourn in this esteemed honor as well.  I know all of you know of Allura's vast accomplishments in becoming a pilot. But what you don't know is the many hours it took in training and practice...and listening to me reprimand her... to get her to where she is today."

Keith looked down at her, as she shyly smiled up at him. "She's worked very hard to be the best that she can be for her people, and for the Galaxy Alliance.  She has given me wise counsel, and has been a friend to me...and much more. I am eternally grateful to the
Galaxy Alliance for assigning me here to serve Princess Allura and Planet Arus.  And it is my fervent desire to remain here for many more years to come, as servant to Arus and protector of her as well.  May we all stop and appreciate the freedom we enjoy here on Arus, and
never take for granted all that our Princess does to allow that to continue.  Thank you."

The crowd rose to its feet once again, breaking out in applause that continued for several minutes without end.

Coran finally rose to his feet, quieting the crowd down. "Thank you, Commander Keith Hunter and Princess Allura, for those rousing speeches.  And now, without further ado, let the banquet begin!"

"About time!' Hunk said, leaning into Pidge's ear. "I'm starved!"

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

The evening ran smoothly as planned.  Allura mingled with her guests, greeting such people such as, Prime Minister Zala of Planet Yadel, Princess Cassiopeia of Planet Mira, and Queen Serena of Planet Zorn, and of course, Vice Marshall Jonathan Graham of Galaxy Garrison on
Planet Earth.

"It was good of you to make the trip from Earth, Marshall Graham." Allura said, shaking the Marshall's hand.

"I could never turn down any of Coran's invitations, Your Highness." Graham replied, sipping his punch, while eyeing Coran, who was standing next to the Princess.  "He's always been such a good friend to me."

"And to me as well, Marshall Graham." she added, smiling at Coran.

Graham took another sip of his punch thoughtfully.  "I was right in deciding to reassign those boys here.  They make a great team, wouldn't you agree, Coran?"

"Yes, Marshall Graham.  Indeed they do." Coran replied agreeably.

"And Commander Keith Hunter...he's one of our finest officers.  I'm sure he'll be very happy here. I knew his parents...before they died. Good people." Graham commented, taking another sip of punch. "Its good to see Keith fitting in so well."

"Have you known Keith long?" Allura asked.

"My dear Princess, I sponsored Keith
when he first applied at the Academy.
I sort of...well...looked out for him, you
might say.  He's been a special interest
of mine for quite some time." Graham replied.

"How nice!" Allura replied. "So, it would
be fair to say, that you are very
proud of him at this time, is
that true?"

"Of course, Princess!"
Graham beamed.  "You
might even call it a bit
of, 'father's pride'.  After all,
I watched him grow and
mature into the highly skilled
young man he has become today.
He's quite a goal achiever.
Truly, I haven't seen him this
happy in years, Princess.  I think
secretly, he was looking forward
to returning to Arus.  Amalgamus, little to his knowledge, did Keith a favor by reassigning
him back here."

"Speaking of Amalgamus, where is he?" Allura asked, looking around.

"Oh yes!  I completely forgot!" Graham said, snapping his fingers in a recognition-type manner. "Amalgamus sends his regrets, Princess.  He felt it unnecessary to attend this evening if I was.  Said something about...oh how did he put it... oh yes... 'Gallivanting across the galaxy to attend a social event was not part of my primary programming. Therefore, go Marshall Graham, and have a good time for us both'." Graham said, using his best 'Amalgamus' voice imitation.

Allura's hand flew to her mouth,
covering it as she laughed aloud.
"Oh my! That sounds like something
Amalgamus would say!"

Coran too was laughing over Graham's
imitation of the stuffy cyborg. "Truly, a
unique likeness, Marshall Graham!"


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

The Princess danced with just about everyone diplomat in the room, and including Lance, Pidge and Hunk.  After she had finished her dance with Coran, she mingled a bit more, suddenly discovering that the one person she most wanted a dance with...was no where to be found.

She swept a glass of punch from a traveling tray on the arm of one of the Castle attendants.

Walking gracefully back to the head table, she took her seat for the first time in several hours. She placed the glass on the table and reached down toward the floor to remove her shoes.

"My feet are killing me..." she commented quietly to herself, as she began rubbing them methodically.

"Too much to dance anymore, Princess?" the familiar voice behind her cooed in her ear.

Allura lifted her head suddenly, to face the voice in her ear.

"I'm disappointed that you didn't save a dance for me." Keith said teasingly, a flair of Shakespeare in his tone.  "I'm supposed to be your escort, and low... you haven't allowed me the pleasure of one dance with you."

"Well, if you would have stayed put for just one moment, I would have been delighted to dance with you, Commander." She said with a mischievous smirk on her face.  "And just where have you been the whole evening?"

"Oh, I've been here and there..." he replied nonchalantly, shifting his head from side to side. "But...I'm here now."

She slipped her shoes back onto her feet. "And so you are." she said sweetly.

Keith bowed melodramatically to her,  "Princess Allura, it would indeed be a privilege if you would grace me with a dance at this time."

As he extended his hand to her, she giggled at his attempt at flair...but decided to play along with him.  "Why, Commander Keith, I would be honored, indeed."


She slipped her hand into his,
and he bowed humbly to her as
she rose from her seat. Bringing
her hand to his elbow, and covering
it with his other hand, he led her to
the dance floor.

There were several people dancing,
including Sven and Romelle.

Keith took her in his arms, and led her in a beginning whirl across the floor, before finally slipping into a waltz routine.  Allura blushed at their close proximity to each other. Keith continued to lead her around the ballroom floor in a graceful manner.

It was like two people dancing on a cloud.  Allura suddenly felt the very comfortable feeling of being in his embrace.

Sven and Romelle quickly began tapping the shoulders of the other participants, asking them to clear the floor for this dance, and allowing it to be solely for the Princess and her Commander.

As Keith glanced around, he saw that he and Allura were the only ones on the floor, and all eyes were on them.

He cleared his throat to gather her attention. "I think we're being spotlighted, Princess."
he said quietly.

She looked up and took notice of the absence
of couples on the floor as well.  She giggled
quietly... "I wonder if Sven and Romelle had
anything to do with this?"

Keith chuckled. "If I know Sven and Romelle...
I'm sure they did.  So, what do you say, we give
them something to really watch, shall
we?" "Sure, Keith!" she smiled brightly.

Keith led her in another whirl, drawing applause from the onlookers.  They danced gracefully,
as if they had done so together for years.

As the music was ending, Keith took her hand in his, and kissed it lightly, bowing before her. More applause erupted at the end of the dance.

The music started up once again, and Keith took Allura in his arms for another dance, this time, being joined by the crowd surrounding them.

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

Later that evening, after the crowd of partygoers started to thin out, Keith and Allura decided to take a midnight's walk through the Castle gardens, with Keith having changed into something a bit more comfortable than his military formals.

As they approached Keith's favorite bench, sitting quietly in the middle of the garden, they both suddenly collapsed onto it.

"Oh, my aching feet!" Allura groaned, removing her shoes. "They hurt so bad!"

"Yeah, I'm beat too." Keith sighed, throwing his head back on the bench to look at the evening sky.  "Quite a lot of stars out tonight."

Allura stretched herself out on the bench next to him, tilting her head up as well.  "Yes," she said thoughtfully. "You know, Keith...it sure feels nice to sit out in the night air, enjoying a cool breeze without freezing to death."

Keith chuckled, "Yeah, you're right about that, Princess."

A moment of quiet balanced out their conversation before Keith finally spoke again. "You know, I've been meaning to correct you on something."

Allura turned her head toward him and looked at him. "What did I do now?" she asked.

"Nothing serious," he replied. "You mentioned, back on Surbain...a reference to my being 'Captain Bligh', and about how I was hunting my whale."

"Yes," Allura replied softly. "What about it?"

"Well," Keith began. "I wanted to point out to you, that you have your literatures crossed. Captain Bligh, was from the book, Mutiny on the Bounty.  The, 'whale' chasing reference you made, is from the story called, Moby Dick. The Captain in that was 'Captain Ahab'.
They are two different stories...two different guys, Princess."

"Well, in defense of myself, I got the information from Lance!" Allura said.

"Ah...that explains it, then!" Keith chuckled.  "Lance doesn't read much.  He never could keep his attention on it.  And he always messes that up too! His biggest asset is his big mouth...not his brain!"

Both of them bursted out laughing immediately...winding down after a minute's time had passed.

Silence then came to them as they both stared into the night sky. "It's good to be home." Allura suddenly commented.  "I even missed Coran's constant nagging."

"He's just concerned about you, that's all." Keith said, coming to the defense of the Castle advisor.  "He just wants the best for you."

"And you?" she said, turning her head to look at him.  "What do you want...for yourself, that is?"

Keith sighed, refusing to bring his gaze to meet hers.  "What do I want...hmmm... I guess I never really stopped to think about that question before.  I've always thought that what I wanted was to be in a team leader with lots of huge responsibilities.  But now..."

"But now..." Allura repeated, beckoning him to finish his thought. "Now...what?"

"Now...I'm happy just being here on Arus...with you, Allura." he said quietly.

"If you could wish one thing in the whole world, what would your wish be, Keith?" Allura asked of him.

"Wow...that's a big question!  I have so many wishes... I can't pick just one." Keith replied thoughtfully.  "I guess, one of them would be for peace in our galaxy, with no more Zarkon and Lotor to bother us."

"Any others?" she quizzed.

He closed his eyes for a moment.  "If I could wish for anything... I'd wish for you." Then he turned his head to look at her face.  "But I can see that that wish is too late for the asking. Because I can see in your eyes, that I do have you."

The response brought a flush to her face.  "Yes, Keith.  You do."

Keith suddenly sat up straight.  "And what would you wish for, Allura?"

"Well, I use to play this game with my father when I was a small child.  He asked me one time, if I had to wish for a boyfriend, what would I like to see in him." Allura said.

"...and you responded?" Keith prodded.

"I responded...I'd like a boyfriend who's kind, compassionate, gentle, caring of others, protective, but firm, when he had to be, and loving in spirit." she said, placing her finger to the side of her cheek.  "Someone...just like he was."

"Oh, I see." Keith smiled. "And have you found anyone who fits those characteristics?"

Allura nodded tenderly.  "Yes, there is one young man.  He matches all of them all...and many more.  He's the Commander of the Voltron Force.  And he's very dear to me."

"Oh, does he know that?" Keith teased her with his smile.

"I would think he does now!" Allura giggled, placing her hand to her heart.  "At least, I hope he does..."

Keith rose to his feet, pulling her up into his arms.  "I remember this being the place where I confessed my love for you."

"I remember." Allura said, wrapping her arms around his waist.

"Do you realize how long I had tried to tell you?" Keith said.  "I tried to tell you when you cornered me out here after our return from our mission on Planet Zorn.  And then I tried to tell you that day I followed you as you sneaked off to Porter."

"I thought that's what you were trying to do at Porter, and then Lance called and interrupted you.  You were so frustrated!" Allura giggled.

"Not half as frustrated as I was when I tried to tell you before the chaos broke out at the banquet for King Augusta's visit to Arus.  I could have killed Pidge!" Keith snorted.

"But, you finally got the chance to tell me here..." Allura finished.

"Yeah, but I wish the timing were better.  I was sick over the fact that King Augusta was forcing you to marry him.  I had no control over it, and I was sick inside because of it." Keith said, becoming frustrated at the memory.

"Yes, but all of that is behind us now." Allura reminded him. "And now we're here together, alone..."

"At last." Keith sighed, now looking at her beautiful face.  His embrace suddenly tightened around her.

"Yes... at last." she repeated softly,
gently moving closer toward him.

Suddenly, their faces began to move
closer together... and it only took
seconds before he began to kiss her.
The kiss was sweet...perfection complete,
feeling as if the entire world's problems
had melted away, leaving just the two of
them to enjoy the seemingly endless moment.

When they had parted, Keith gently touched her cheek with his fingers. "No matter what I have to do as a Prince Consort, I'll gladly do, if it will make you happy."

"But Keith, you hate the idea of being shut down." Allura commented.  "Perhaps we should rethink this for a moment."

"There's nothing to rethink, Allura... unless... you don't want to choose me as your Prince Consort." Keith suddenly released her, stepping away from her at arm's length. "If there's another person you have in mind,
I'll gladly step aside."

"What?" she said, confused, bringing
her arms up to her chest. "No!  There's
no one else! Just you, Keith! I just
meant that you could be Prince Consort,
and still be Commander of Voltron.
That duty is your heart's desire, and
I would never allow anyone to take
that away from you, much the same
way I wouldn't allow anyone to take
Blue Lion away from me!"

Keith looked at her sincerely. "You know, Allura, in many ways, you and I are very much alike.  Both stubborn, compassionate for others, and determined for peace in the galaxy."

"Yes, and both of us are orphans." she added. "We can feel each other's hurt, because we have both been there before."

Keith took hold of her again, hugging her close. "Yeah, that's true," he simply said in a whisper. "I think Mom and Dad would approve of you, if they were here."

"I know Father approves of you, Keith." she said convincingly.  "And I know Mother would approve too."

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

From a distant window in the Castle, Sven and Romelle glanced longingly out at the two lovers...just at the beginning of their lives together.

Sven held Romelle close. "Well, jist maybe we'll have a double wedding ceremony."

Romelle smiled, beaming with happiness for her cousin. "That would be nice." She said. "But he has to ask her first."

"Maybe dat's what he is doing right now." Sven said. "I wish now I was good at reading lips."

"Sven!" Romelle said, pushing away from him. "You can't mean that! This is a private moment between Keith and Allura!"

"Of course I mean it!" Sven teased. "I want to make sure he's using all da advice I have given to him."

"You are impossible!" she said, sticking her tongue out at him, while closing one eye. "And I don't think that I shall ever speak to you again!"

"Oh, you will..." Sven replied. "You'll have to.
I have to fly us home! And its seven hours to
Pollux!"

"So...maybe I'll ask Lance to fly me back
in Red Lion." she said sarcastically.
"Who said I have to fly back with you?"

Sven shrugged his shoulders. "Okay, if
you insist. I'll see you
back on Pollux."

He started to walk away, when she
caught his arm with her hand.
"Well, maybe it might be better
if you took me back. I wouldn't want to bother Lance, anyway."

"Are you sure?" Sven said, his brows knitting together in a sarcastic gesture.

Romelle huffed at him. "Yes!"  Then, she released her anger...breaking into a smile.

The two hugged once again.


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


In the window above them Pidge, Hunk and Lance stared out the window, observing their Commander in a loving embrace with the Princess.

"I say, it's about time!" Hunk said, stuffing the last piece of cake in his mouth. "He's been pining over her for months!"

"Yeah, and it's not like we all couldn't see it coming, either." Pidge said, raising an eyebrow to them. "I think Keith just didn't want to come out with it.  He's too noble."

"You mean, too chicken, don't you?" Hunk giggled back. 

"Better not let Keith hear you say that!" Pidge chuckled.  "Or you'll be doing extra practice time in the remote simulator!"

"Yeah, well, if you ask me, it looks like we might be attending a wedding somewhere down the road." Lance commented. "And he'll take on a new title...King Keith Hunter of Planet Arus."

"Do you thing he'll keep this last name?" Hunk asked, his mouth full of cake.

"Of course, you idiot!" Lance barked back.

"Well, I didn't know!" Hunk barked back. "Geez!"

"Well, either way, it looks like our Commander has himself a new girlfriend... so look out, Lotor!" Pidge joked.

The three men laughed as they turned to leave the window.


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


In his stateroom, overlooking the Castle gardens, Coran had invited Marshall Graham in to enjoy a cup of tea with him. The two of them also saw the tender scene play out between the Princess and her Commander.

Coran sighed out loud.

"Well, Jonathan... It appears that Commander Keith will be spending a lot more time on Arus then he originally intended to." Coran regarded.

"Yes, and I'm glad to see the boy is finally starting to let up and enjoy what life has to offer." Graham said.

"And he does seem to make the Princess happy." Coran reflected. "And truly, that is the most important thing in any union."

"Of course it is, old friend." Graham said, sipping his tea. "And you can be sure that Arus's future King is as bright and courageous as King Alfor was.  Keith will give one hundred and ten percent of himself to this planet.  He does now."

"Future King???" Coran asked with a surprised look.  "Do you really think that it is heading in that direction?"

"Well, from what I'm seeing of them right now, I don't see it being a passing fling, that's for sure." Graham said. "And who knows, maybe you'll live long enough to hear the pitter-patter of little feet running through the Castle again."

"Oh dear," Coran gulped hard. "Princess Allura...a...a mother?   I must say that I have never really thought seriously on that, Jonathan!"

"That is what usually happens when two people get married, isn't it?" Graham chuckled, nudging Coran in the side. "Come on.  Let's leave them to some privacy."

Coran reached over, and pulled the curtain closed... leaving Keith and Allura to be alone...at last. 

And as he did... something in the conversation that Coran had been having with Jonathan Graham, triggered a memory ... something he had once read in the Arusian Archives... something that might easily be related to Keith and the Princess....

"Could Keith be..." Coran began to think, as he caught a final glimpse of the two sweethearts in the garden below.  He only smiled, shaking his head...choosing not to finish the thought.

Perhaps...that was a thought best served for another time...and another place.


The End...
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