In the Garden
In the Garden

Allura froze as she stared at the smoldering ruins of her garden. With tears welling in her eyes, she ran through the debris, hoping against hope that parts of it had survived. Stopping violently, she left out a strangled half-sob as she discovered the rose bush.

The plant with its vibrant red blooms had been planted on her parents’ wedding day. Even after all the battles with Zarkon and Lotor, the plant had survived and even thrived years after her parents had died. However, this battle had hit it, leaving only a few battered blooms clinging to small bits of greenery.

Someone grabbed her shoulder, making the princess jump. She whirled to face the person and found herself face-to-face with Keith.

“Are you all right?” Keith demanded, worried at the pain expression on Allura’s face. “You need to be inside, Princess. It’s too dangerous for you out here.”

“Oh, Keith,” she sobbed, not listening to the captain’s words, “they’re gone.”

Glancing at the smoky sky, he turned his attention back to the princess. ‘Doesn’t she know how dangerous it is for her to be out here with no protection?’ he wondered. However, noting the tears she was fighting, he knew that she wasn’t considering her safety.

Gently, he placed his hands on her upper arms. “Princess, what’s gone?”

“Everything,” she whispered, closing her eyes. Despite her efforts, a few tears trickled down her cheeks. “The roses, my parents, Arus. I’m losing them all again.”

He pulled her against him, wrapping her in a protective embrace. In all the years he had known her, Keith had never seen Allura this close to completely breaking down. He realized that no matter how painful it was for him to see Arus like this, it would be even worse for its princess. Closing his eyes, he hugged her tighter, wishing that he could spare her and her people this pain.

“We’ll beat them, Princess,” he told her. “We’ve done it before, and we’ll do it again.”

She gave a heartless laugh. “And again and again, while my people cower in caves, fearing for their lives, wondering when the next attack is going to be.”

“You can’t give up hope,” he said, holding her at arm’s length. “Especially now, Princess. Your people need you.”

He released her when he realized that he was shaking her by her shoulders. Taking a deep breath, Keith ran a hand through his hair. Allura looked up, her face showing some signs of hope.

“Then you know how important it is for me to be up there fighting, Keith,” she said. “My people need me up there.”

Keith shook his head. “Princess, I am standing by my decision to have Sven fly the blue lion.”

Folding her arms across her chest, Allura glared at him.

“Your people need you safe, Princess,” he said. “It’s too risky for you up there.”

With regal posture, she closed the distance between them. “How is it, Captain, that you and my guardians can trust me to rule my planet but not make decisions regarding my life?”

Keith’s reply was cut off by his communicator. Keeping an eye on the princess, he opened it. “Keith, here.”

“Keith, you may want to get up here,” Lance replied. “It looks like they’re getting ready for another round.”

Allura paled before setting her jaw resolutely. “Has Pidge gotten the castle defenses up?”

There was a pause before Lance replied, “No, not quite yet.”

“I’ll be there, soon,” Keith said. “Keith out.”

Allura was already heading for the castle with a purposeful stride, leaving Keith to follow her. As she neared the door, she paused and turned to face Keith. The sense of regality hovered over her again.

“Well, Captain,” she stated crisply, “it seems that you can’t ground me just yet.”

Without waiting for his reply, she turned and headed into the castle toward the Control Room. Keith ran a weary hand through his hair as he followed, his longer stride catching up with the defiant princess. What, in the name of heaven, was he going to do with her?