Chapter 1: Not every beginning starts off happy
To say that his life was nothing before he came to the castle would have been an understatement. He was a street rat; an orphan, homeless, willing to do almost anything to survive on the streets of Altea.
Begging, stealing, he did it all, hoping to scrap by with at least a small piece of the happiness and joy he sees on the crowds of Alteans every day. Lance isn’t exactly sure when it all started, but he somehow got into underground fight rings to try and get some money for scraps of food and clothing. He wasn’t very good at it. Okay, he wasn’t good at it at all. He would get beaten to a pulp night after night, nurse his wounds during the day while begging for money on the streets and would come back limping to the rings the next night.
Over time though, he began to learn how to fight and survive and surprisingly he won his first match after months and months of losing night after night.
He was 9 years old then.
And as he slowly moved up in the ranks, his skills became more confident and sharp; he was beginning to really feel like an actual threat in the ring rather than someone whose barely surviving in it. by the time he was twelve, he was winning half the nights and was able to actually afford warm meals and less than meager clothing. But with each win in the ring there also came the anger and resentment of those he had beaten; and one day that anger came back to dish out some of its own pain.
He’s not sure how they found him; he always made sure to sleep in a completely different alleyway than where the fights were, paranoia fueling his sleeping habits everyday, scared of being mugged in the middle of the night or Incase something like this ever happening, although it isn’t exactly easy to hide on the streets. Before he even knew what was happening three of his past competitors had surrounded him on all sides in one of the back alleys and they didn’t hold back. With every punch and kick they unleashed onto him, slurs and insults spattered his bruised and bleeding body about how weak he was, how he had to be a cheater, about how pathetic he was; how he was nothing and that he would never amount to anything in his life.
That he would always just be that.
And Lance could never denied it.
He knew they were right; he was a nothing, and that’s all he would ever be.
It felt like hours before they finally decided that he had had enough. bleeding and broken and Thrown into a heap of trash, they left him there in that alley way without even a hesitant glance back, not an once of remorse or regret tainting their minds. Left there like the trash he was thrown in. He looked up to the sky, dusk still falling over Altea giving it an array of punks and purples to decorate the sky and maybe even some stars already peaking through too, Lance can’t really tell with how one eye is swelled shut and the other has something in it making it hard to see.
The last thing before Lance can see before he blacked out from the pain was some sort of tall figure standing at the entry of the alley, looking down at him. Most likely witnessing the end of his short and meaningless life. He feels sorry for the man that has to watch him die.
Lance was surprised when he woke up in side of a bright room, tumbling out of a healing pod and into someone’s arms. Everything felt so cold and his limbs felt like jelly. The body that had catched him easily moves him from the floor and onto a bed, making sure that he was comfortable before sitting down himself.
“Well my boy, you sure gave us quite the fright there, but I’m quite glad that you seem to be all healed up.” The almost too chipper Altean says next to him, grinning at him as if he was actually happy to see Lance. “Wha- where….?” Lance staggers out, his voice feeling rough from being barely used back in the streets and the coldness that still clings to his body causes him to shiver and hunch in on himself.
“Ah, yes. You are in the Castle of Lions my boy!” The man said as if it was nothing. Wait…. HE WAS ACTUALLY IN THE ROYAL CASTLE?! “Oh don’t look so surprised my boy. You’ll catch gurtnels in your mouth with it hanging open like that.” Lance, now conscious of his mouth, snaps it closed with a loud clack of his teeth hitting each other. But he just couldn’t believe it; he was in the castle of lions? But why?! He was nothing but alleyway garbage, his life didn’t mean anything to someone in the royal family.
“Wh-why am I here?” Lance was finally able to whisper out, still stunned by the whole moment; expecting for it all to just be some last minute dream before he dies or for him to wake up back on the streets.
“Well, we found you in that back alley bleeding and obviously severely injured, and we just couldn’t just leave you to die now. Besides, we had a feeling that all you really needed was a second chance.” The strange man answered, pulling on his mustache in a somewhat whimsical way.
Lance scrunches up his face in confusion, asking “we?” As the doors to the medical bay whisk open and a dark man with completely white hair walks in, his head held high and his presence practically engulfing the room as he walks in. “Yes, we. Coran and myself found you.” The man from before turns around, somehow sounding both surprised at the other’s appearance and yet completely aware of what’s going on around him“Ah! King Alfor, you got my message!”
Lance can only look in awestruck as he watches the man he was once talking to greet the king. THE KING OF THE ENTIRE PLANET OF ALTEA! Like he was a personal friend of his for years. Lance somehow was able to will his legs to work as he gets off the bed and clambers to the floor in a kneeling position, afraid to even look up at the king.
He shouldn’t be here.
He shouldn’t be here where there is royalty.
He isn’t anything.
“Young boy, why do you kneel?” The king asks.
“Because you’re the king.” Lance simply replies, a slight tremor in his voice shaking his words.
Lance can hear a small chuckle above him before the king responds “then as king, I ask that you stand up and talk to me face to face.”
With some hesitation, Lance does as he is asked while still trying his best to avert his gaze. “I have just a small fraction of an idea of what you have lived through, and the fact that you are still so young and yet have the eyes of someone who has seen so much is heart wrenching. So I would like to give you a second chance at a better life.” The king starts, letting his voice carry his warmth and openness to Lance like an invitation. “Young man, how old are you?”
“I-I’m 12, your highness. I m-mean, I Think I am.” Lance stammers out, trying so hard to not be persuaded by whatever offer is about to come so easily. This isn’t the first time someone has tried to offer Lance a ‘second chance at life’ and he doesn’t want to be fooled again, that was a mistake he would never make again, no matter what anyone says, Lance will only ever be a street rat, and that all anyone will ever see him as. But yet he can’t help himself from feeling a small fraction of hope bloom in his chest.
“How well-versed are you in combat?”
“I-I think I’m decent at it, y-your highness.”
“Hmmmm, I’m sure that you will be a quick study.” The king comments, earning a puzzled look on the young altean’s face.
“What is your name?”
At that question he pauses; caught off guard by such a small question. No one has ever really asked for his name before; no one ever really cared to know. And yet this man, the king of the entire Planet is asking a lowlife, a nobody like him his name. “L-Lance.” He’s able to stutter out, looking at the floor in embarrassment as tears that he thought had long dried up years ago rise to the surface and threaten to spill down his cheeks.
“Well, Lance, would you like to have a job here as a guard? I’m sure with the right training and-“
“Well yes, I’ve been meaning to find someone special to become a personal guard for my daughter and I believe you are the person I’ve been looking for.” The king says, a smile on his face so full of confidence in Lance that when he does finally look up at Coran and the king, tears are streaming down his face. “But…..I’m a nobody. A dirty street rat. Why would you want me? I’ve done nothing to make me worthy of even working as a Dish washer here! I don’t deserve to even be at your feet! So why?! Why do you look at me with that look in your eyes?!” Lance is telling now, so over come with emotions he can barely decipher let alone express without screaming. This is all just too much, he just wants to know why! He falls to the floor, fighting and losing to keep his tears from falling, his hiccups bouncing around in the silent room.
Coran kneels down to Lance’s crumpled form sets a hand on his shoulder, giving it a small squeeze as he says “because my boy, you deserve the chance to live a better life.”
Chapter 2: First impressions
It has been months now since he was taken in by the King and began his training to become the princess’s personal guard. Although he still had quite some reserved feelings about all of it, and how it all felt too good to be true. But this was Lance’s chance to……...well, he isn’t even sure about what this may lead to, but he knows it’s a chance that he couldn’t waste.
Day in and day out, Lance met with the king and took lessons in the art of combat and weaponry ; sometimes, if the king was too busy, he would meet and train with some of the more seasoned guards or even one of the other paladins of Voltron if they had a spare moment. Lance wouldn’t waste a second of his training, pushing himself to his limit everyday. he kept his eyes steeled and picked up on anything that may help him learn faster and to keep himself, and some day the princess, safe.
After training, or when someone would kick him out of the training deck because he pushed himself too far, he would meet with Coran who had refused to let Lance call him by his official title since day one, and would be taught proper manners and how to hold himself in front of higher status people and during high class events. he was taught how to talk and act towards royalty, how to proper bow and how to know which names to use for different levels of royalty (Lance thought they all were called Lord or Lady, except for the royal family). Coran made sure he knew everything that he needed to know to become the princesses personal guard.
a princess that he hasn’t met yet.
and that probably scared Lance more than anything that some of the jealous guards have thrown at him during training or the overwhelming amount of information that has been thrown at him. all of it will be fore-not if the princess doesn’t like him. If she refuses to take him as her body guard, he’s going back out to the streets and he’s not even sure he’ll last even a month out there, not with those underground fighters lurking in the streets.
after the first few weeks of training and preparing himself, Coran had told him that the underground fight ring that Lance was once apart of was found by the royal guards and has been broken up. Lance believes Coran was telling him that to try and make him feel better and safer now that the organization is disbanded, but Lance knows the truth. while the fight ring itself has been dismantled, the fighters are still out there more angry than ever. and Lance knows deep down that they think he snitched to get a position in the castle; he knows that if he was thrown out of the castle he would be a dead man.
but those thoughts didn’t scare him into breaking, to try and run away and hide for the rest of his life. he had that beaten out of him years ago. instead, it has only pushed him further in trying to be perfect in every way, in both his studies and in his physical training, even when he knew it wasn’t possible, he still pushed farther than before, sometimes farther than his body could take leading him to have more than a couple of stents in the healing pods and having Coran and sometimes even some of the older guards worrying over him like he was actually important.
but at this moment it felt like all of that work doesn’t matter as he struggles to put on his new official uniform, much like what the regular guards wear, but with more blue and pink accents than the usual colors.
Coran had to practically put the suit on him himself he was shaking so bad, all of the nerves he forced away rearing their ugly heads as he stands in the grand hall, facing the doors to his impending judgement.
today is the day, after a little over 3/4th of a year of non-stop training for this position and wishing to every type of goddess out there, he was to meet the princess and start his duties as her personal guard.
or as Lance liked to call it, his day of reckoning.V
Coran was standing next to him as he waited in the grand hall for the king to bring his daughter in, making sure that Lance’s clothes were speckless, chatting nonsense into his ears about what his first day as the royal advisor was like, trying to help ease some of the young boy’s nerves and tension. Lance gave him a rare small smile as a way of thanking him, scared that if he were to talk his voice would give way to just how nervous he was. Coran returned his smile with his own full grin, mustache curling up more with it. with one more pat on his shoulder, Coran returns to standing beside Lance just as the large doors begin to open as the king walked in with a small girl by his side, her white hair was held back from her face by a decorative pin of a juniberry flower that probably cost more than Lance’s life; she was obviously quite young, having to reach up slightly to take ahold of her father’s hand while the other held up the skirt of her dress. she looked like she wasn’t even ten years old yet, most likely nine.
Lance isn’t sure if that’s a good thing or not; he may of come from the streets where the only thing that keeps you alive is to lie your way to surviving, but even he knew just how brutally honest kids can be.
they stopped just a few feet in front of him and Lance bows to them, his face at the same level as the princess’s own face. “Allura, this is Lance. he will be your new personal guard.” the king introduced, prompting Lance to speak. Lance prays one last time that he won’t stutter or his voice won’t crack, “it is an honor to serve you, your highness.” and if he wasn’t looking for it, Lance would have almost missed the quick look of disappointment cross her face before it was quickly covered up by a smile. her voice was light and yet loud in the ever silent room as she gives her verdict if Lance would stay or go. “it’s nice to meet you Lance.” she does a small curtsy to him and after the king explained more to both of them about Lance’s role as her personal guard and they both were sent off, the princess to her studies and Lance three steps behind her.
it’s been a couple of weeks now since Lance has started being the princess’s royal guard and he can say with all honesty that the princess was possibly one of the most bored girls ever; well, at least he knows that he’s bored out of his mind. all she ever does is go from her lessons to her room to the dining room when it’s time for meals. and usually she’s eating alone; both the king and queen too busy with their royal duties to always eat their meals in the dining hall with their daughter.
it was quite a boring life, but Lance didn’t let his boredom get the best of him. he still stayed vigilant about the princess’s safety; always checking the food that would be served to her, keeping a keen eye out for any lurking shadows or for new faces in the castle that may approach her, pretending to be a guard or maid. but then again, no one ever did to begin with. not the veteran guards they would walk past, or any of the maids that served her. no one actually talked to her at all unless it was her teachers, and even then it felt more like they seemed more or less reciting the books instead of taking the time to get to know her highness and working with her interests to help her learn. it seems that everyone doesn’t seem to notice just how being treated like some impossibly perfect person that they can’t possibly talk to does to her.
But Lance notices.
he can see just how much it hurts her that no one is willing to try and get to know her. and he knows just how hard it hurts to be treated like that; albeit, he was more accustomed to people refusing to treat him anything more than trash. but it was still the same treatment of forced isolation, even when it seemed like they were surrounded by people. he recognizes the pain that she tries to hide from everyone. and Lance wanted to do something, anything to make her feel less alone. it’s his job to protect her from anything, and Lance decides that he should try and protect her from loneliness as well, he knows just how dangerous being alone can be.
the problem is he’s not exactly sure how to do that. he’s never really had to comfort anyone before, and the only only people who have actually shown any sort of compassion towards him are Coran, the king and the rest of the paladins and a few of the castle staff, and usually he wasn’t even sure if any of it was actual compassion or just some other kind of motive. but he had to try something.
and that something decided to appear during the princess’s down time the next day. Lance had been talking with the maid who had brought the princess a snack, not uncommon now that she only really stays in her room, he had thanked her and closed the door behind him as the maid walks away down the hall. when Lance turns around to give the princess the plate of food, instead of being in the room like before, she was halfway hanging out the window, a rope of what Lance could only assume as sheets and old dresses tied together was also hanging out of the window as well, one end of it tied to her bedpost. they stared at each other for a few tense tics, both frozen in shock. thankfully, Lance moved first and quick, easily reaching the window on the other side of the room and pulling her back into the room before she fell off.
“what were you doing up there?!what if you fell off the window?!you could’ve gotten seriously hurt!” Lance yells, looking her over for any sign of bruising, he did pull her off the window sill pretty roughly. the princess still in shock of being caught and the fact that Lance had actually admonished her let him lead her away from the window and closer to the middle of the room. but apparently Lance’s brain hasn’t caught up to his mouth yet as he continues “ if you had wanted to go outside, you could have asked. it isn’t like you’re required to stay inside the castle, you don’t have to sneak out.” she blinked owlishly at him for a minute before finally saying “you...you actually care?” her comment catches Lance off guard as his mind finally catches up to himself, but the fact she wasn’t angry at him for speaking out of turn to her and actually surprised that he cared about her just urges him on. “well of course i care.” he said matter of factly; it was the one thing he was sure of about himself now.
at first it was about getting a chance to stay alive, to keep himself safe. but then he had to break out of that mindset during his training; it wasn’t about him anymore. it was about her. it was about keeping her safe from anything that might do her harm, even if it hurts him. when he first started his duties, he was never sure if he could actually do that, to put himself in harm’s way for this girl that he knew next to nothing about. while he tests every food that comes to her, he knows that it isn’t poisoned; whenever they walk through the halls, he knows that none of guards would hurt her, not consciously anyways. he had never had to put someone else before himself before now, and he was scared that in the face danger, that those old instincts would kick in and he would protect himself before her. but through the weeks he’s been by her side he’s seen sides to her that many people have seen, and he has seen the sides they haven’t. he sees how she helps some mice that had sneaked their way into the castle hide from Honerva’s cat when she comes to visit; he sees how she will often deflate when her parents are too busy and can’t be with her, he sees how excited she gets watching the paladins of voltron train with each other. and through it all it has cemented in him how much she is alone. he knew as soon as he saw the first time she truly seemed happy that it’s because of her that he has been given his new lease on life, even if she doesn’t realize it, and he would gladly do anything to make sure that she was safe.
when it was obvious how much his words truly meant to her, Lance gathers up the courage to ask “now what was it about today that made you suddenly want to go and try something like that?” it was probably the first time Lance has ever seen the princess flush and seem embarrassed about her actions, as if she finally realized how dangerous it was and how silly for her to try something like it. she sinks down to the floor, her dress pooling all around her. “I...I wanted to go to the juniberry festival. papa always takes me and momma to it, but he had to go and do a mission with Voltron and momma’s sick right now.” Lance lets out a sigh and kneels down to her, trying his best to give her a warm smile, feeling victorious as she gives him her own smile, not the fake one she puts on for others, this one is small like his but yet seems to make her face light up and to cause wrinkles beside her markings. “well then it seems that i have no other choice but to take you there myself, your highness.” he says, standing up and holding out his hand to hers. she looks at it and blurts out “does this make us friends?” Lance is a bit stunned by the question; he’s not really sure. he’s never had a friend before. well, sure there’s Coran, but Lance doesn’t see him as a friend, more like family. but a friend? maybe this could be a fresh start for both of them. “I’m not really sure if it does, but i would like to be your friend. just know, your highness, that as long as i live i will be by your side and protect you. both as your personal guard...as well as your friend.” Lance proclaims, leaning down just a tad more for the princess to take ahold of his hand. she looks up at his face, searching for any sign or hint of a lie in his words, before happily taking his hand and pulling herself back up onto her feet.
“well, since we’re friends now. I don’t want you to keep calling me ‘your highness’, it’s not something that friends call each other. just call me Allura.” the prin- Allura says, swinging both of their arms back and forth as she practically leads them down the halls towards the hangars. “of course, Allura.” Lance replies, happy to see such a real smile on her face.
while Allura is almost jumping up and down in the seat of the small shuttle, Lance explains to Coran and a few of the guards where they are going, promising to be back by nightfall. once he got the all clear from them, he sits down in the pilot's seat and starts up the vehicle. “are you ready, princess Allura?” and with a determined nod from her, Lance drives out of the hangars and into a bright and clear day.