Renewing Hope
Renewing Hope

Princess Allura watched the transfer of the prisoner from the monitors of the Control Room. This was a matter regarding Galaxy Garrison personnel and she had remained out of it as much as possible. Keith, Lance, and a group of the palace guards met Commander Piedmont and a group of GG soldiers. The two commanders exchanged a few words and then Dr. Hamilton was handed over.

Allura sighed, drawing a curious glance from Coran. Feeling his eyes on her, she turned and flashed her guardian and advisor a brief smile. She watched the monitors until the guards and the two Voltron pilots had returned to the castle.

The swoosh of the doors signaled Pidge's arrival. Nodding to the princess and then to Coran, he wordlessly began his shift in the Control Room. After a few moments of indecision, the princess rose from her seat.

"I'm going to the rec room, Coran," she stated, "unless you need me for something."

"No, Your Highness," he replied. "I'll let you know if I do."

Waving goodbye to Pidge, she left the Control Room. As she walked, she thought about the events of the past few days. She was glad that Catherine had finally been turned over to the Galaxy Garrison. She and the others had been uneasy with a suspected and then known traitor in the castle.

The doors of the team's rec room opened and closed quietly and Allura crossed the room to the large window. She studied the landscape of her planet. While the view was beautiful, her eyes took in each scar the war with Doom had inflicted.

Her thoughts drifted back to their battle. She had completely torn between defending her friends and defending her planet. She had known that she was the weak link of the team, the complications of her life making the group vulnerable. Yet, this past battle had shown the weakness clearly.

'I don't know what to do,' she thought miserably. 'Father's given me his blessing to fight and it feels right. But Catherine's trap has finally made me face the truth, that I maybe making the situation even more dangerous for the rest of the team.'

'But should I quit?'

She shook her head violently at the thought. 'No, I will not quit.'

The doors to the rec room opened and Lance strolled in. He paused when he noticed the expression on the face of the princess. 'I guess I'm not the only one in a bad mood,' he thought, dropping into a chair directly across from the princess.

"So, what has our captain done now?" he teased, relieved as a smile slowly appeared on Allura's face.

"Nothing, Lance," she replied. "I was just thinking about some things, that's all."

"Like our latest little bit of excitement?" he prodded.

The princess studied him for a moment before answering. This was one of those times that she believed that Lance could read people's minds. Dismissing the thought, she replied, "Maybe."

"Try not to dwell on it too much, Princess," Lance stated. "Our fearless leader is already doing that for us."

"Where is Keith?"

Lance's grin broadened. "I'll give you three guesses."

"The Control Room."

Lance shook his head. "Nope, try again."

"Checking on the repairs on the lions."

"Sorry, Princess, not even close."

Allura rose from the couch and headed for the door.

"Oh, come on, Princess, be a sport," Lance called. "You still have one more guess."

She turned, a huge smile on her face. "I don't need it, Lance. I know exactly where he is."

Lance stared at the closed door for a moment before shaking his head with a smile. "I'll never understand those two," he muttered. Then he got up and stretched out on the couch, prepared for a long nap.

* * * * *

True to her hunch, Allura found Keith sitting on the bench underneath the huge willow tree. She paused in the garden path, debating on intruding on the captain's rare moment of solitude. She was about to head back in the castle when she heard him call her.

"You can join me, Princess," Keith said, standing to face her, "if you like."

She smiled. Despite her frequent demands for him to use her first name, he would still occasionally call her by her title, mostly out of habit. Other times it would be to annoy her. Yet, whenever he did use her title instead of her name, the title seemed like an endearment.

"I hope that I'm not intruding, Keith," she replied, strolling over to the bench.

He pulled her next to him as they sat down. "You intruding? Never."

They sat together quietly. Allura wrapped her arms around his waist and leaned against his chest, letting his heartbeat lull her into a daze. With a contented smile, Keith sat back and ran his fingers through her hair. Gradually, the tensions of the past couple of days slowly left the couple.

After several minutes, he leaned down and kissed the top of her head. Allura looked up with a pleased smile, which Keith returned. She rested her chin on his chest, while still looking up at him.

"What was that for, may I ask?"

Keith's smile grew. "For being you."

She sighed and began to study one of the patches of his jumpsuit. Concerned by the expression in her eyes, Keith cupped her chin and forced her to look back at him. 'Yes,' he decided, 'she's definitely hiding something.'

"What's wrong, Allura?"

She shook her head. "Nothing, Keith," she answered with a smile. Yet, the smile seemed a little forced.

"I know you better than that," he stated, his dark eyes boring into hers. "What's bothering you?"

"I almost got all of us hurt today," she replied sorrowfully, averting her eyes.

Keith made her met his eyes again. "Do you honestly believe that?"

Allura slowly nodded. "That trap was set for us because of me. If Zarkon and Lotor weren't so desperate to capture me and Arus, none of you would be out there risking your lives in the first place. How can I live with myself if someone got killed, Keith?"

"Allura," he began, "each of us joined Galaxy Garrison to the universe a happy place, knowing that we could give up our lives in return. So, even if we weren't assigned to Arus, we would be out there, risking our lives. If one of us did get killed, you would have to go on, Allura."

She shook her head, but he forced her to hold his gaze. "That's one of the hazards of leadership, Allura. No matter how dark things become, you have people depending on you to carry on. It's been your strength, determination, and hope that has gotten your people through this war."

He folded his arms around her. "I don't know about the rest of the team, but I have never regretted this assignment. I honestly don't want to imagine my life without you in it, Allura. Think about it. Sven would have never met Romelle, and Pidge now has a home where he is considered a hero. I know that Lance and Hunk are pretty happy here, too, Princess."

"I don't know why I've been so scared lately, Keith," she admitted, once more intent on a patch.

He stroked her hair. "I think that part of it was your injury."

She looked up at him, her blue eyes questioning.

Keith held her even tighter to him. "It made you realize how quickly and easily any of us could be hurt."

"Or worse," she whispered, thinking about Sven and their own experiences at this spot not that long ago.

"Yes," he said quietly, "or worse. This is war, Allura, and no one should know that better than you."

She nodded. "Keith, will you increase my training?"

He quirked an eyebrow at her, surprised by the request.

"I think we agree that I not quite to the level I need to be in a few areas," she explained. "I need to be the best pilot I can be, Keith."

"Sure," he agreed, "but you'll hate me for it later."

She smiled, matching his playful grin. "Probably, but I guess one of the hazards of your job, Captain."

"You have no idea," he replied, kissing the end of her nose. Then, he turned serious. "How about an extra hour in before the team's lion practice?"

"Sounds like a good idea," she agreed. "Thank you, Keith."

"No problem."

They sat there for a few moments more before Keith's communicator buzzed. With an apologetic smile to Allura, he pulled the offending device out of his pocket. Allura sat up, watching him with an understanding expression.

"Keith here."

"Did the princess find you?" Lance asked.

"She did," he replied, giving the lady in question a wink. "Why?"

"Well, I thought that you were heading to the firing range, but I didn't see you there. The princess mentioned finding you earlier."

"I changed my mind," the captain stated. "Well, she found me. Anything else I can do for you?"

"Oh, I'm cutting in on your together time," Lance cried melodramatically, earning a giggle from the princess. "Forgive me, Cap, Princess. Lance out."

Keith shook his head and put the communicator back in his pocket. He gazed off into the distance and then back at the princess. "We should head in soon, Allura."

She nodded. They stood up and studied their surroundings for a long moment, hand in hand. Then, with a smile, they turned and headed back to the castle, each armed with a renew sense of dedication and more importantly hope.