Larsa ponders his friends and plots over lunch. Set after-game.
It was when Larsa had two spare moments to rub together that he found himself in a sitting room in the Rabanastran palace's most lavish guest suite, peeling an orange and watching as Vaan and Penelo regaled the Lady Ashe with a tale of one of their childhood escapades. The story began with an unattended pastry stall, had an exciting turning point involving Vaan and a tray of pastry rings, and was currently taking a detour through an unfortunate altercation with a sweets-loving chocobo. Vaan was gesticulating wildly to indicate the chocobo's apparently impressive size, and Penelo was trying to correct him, much to the amusement of Lady Ashe.
Larsa watched as Penelo elbowed Vaan in the ribcage viciously, her smile exasperated but fond, quick hands busy peeling an apple with a tiny knife she usually kept in her boot. Vaan stuck out his tongue at her and continued with the next plot twist, his eyes dancing, his energy infectious. Lady Ashe laughed at him good-naturedly, and the movement finally eased the hard lines of worry and determination around her eyes.
They were all three of them beautiful.
Larsa knew that come the morrow he would have to return to Archadia, and he would not see them for weeks at least, possibly months. After that there would be years where he could not leave Archades at all and whatever camaraderie they had now would slowly seep away to pale, nostalgic fondness.
Larsa decided that this was not at all a satisfactory course of events, and so he pondered ways in which he might improve it. After a long few moments, half of an orange, and a quick scouring of his memory for relevant Archadian and Rabanastran political and cultural customs, he realized that, should he be very patient and very clever, he could quite possibly have all three of them. Perhaps even at once.
Penelo shook her head again at Vaan. She saw Larsa watching and rolled her eyes as if to say, "There he goes again...." while Vaan busily illustrated some ridiculous-looking sort of hand-to-chocobo combat technique and Lady Ashe laughed so hard that she looked as if she might fall out of her chair.
After all, Lady Ashe would need to make some sort of political marriage eventually, and though the courtship would be a fine battle of amorous wits with Al Cid...well...Al Cid had not been there on the Bahamut, now had he? Larsa admitted that he would likely be at a disadvantage because of the difference in their ages, but Lady Ashe seemed not in a hurry to remarry, and perhaps given five years or so the difference would not be so apparent. The men of his family tended to grow into their height early.
Lady Ashe threw her napkin at Vaan, protesting some particularly impossible twist of Vaan's story involving the appearance of more chocobos, while Vaan held up his hands and swore by several gods that he was telling the truth.
Larsa would, he knew, have to keep particularly good track of Vaan and Penelo. They were not like the Lady Ashe, who would never fall out of the public eye ever again, and as they'd taken so well to the road, it was likely that the two of them would hie off to hunt treasure or adventure or both at the first opportunity. Larsa would have to keep in touch with them somehow. Perhaps he could persuade Penelo to correspond on a regular basis. And, of course, he would have them watched. Discreetly, and for their own safety as much as his peace of mind. The last thing he wanted was to find that they'd been killed by bandits in some godsforsaken corner of the world. Because then he would have to kill all of the bandits, everywhere, and that would undermine Archadia's shadow economy something terrible....
Penelo, apparently, couldn't take anymore and raised her voice, talking over Vaan's protests and insisting something about it being four guardsmen, not ten and couldn't Vaan tell the story right for once? Lady Ashe looked vindicated, wiping tears from her eyes.
Larsa smiled slightly to himself. Yes. This plan was entirely workable. And, should he marry Lady Ashe, it was completely within both Rabanastran and Archadian customs to take consorts outside of the marriage bed. He did not think that Lady Ashe's heart would ever truly light on another man, and so he could not see her begrudging him one or two extramarital affairs, especially not when the two in question were such good friends. Perhaps, should she be amenable, Lady Ashe might even....
Vaan pouted as Penelo took over the storytelling, reducing numbers of both irate chocobos and pursuing guardsmen by at least half in one fell swoop.
It was such a far-reaching plan that many things could go irretrievably wrong with it, of course. Though Larsa was not accustomed to giving up on things that he wanted, neither was he fool enough to let his wants turn his friends against him. After all, perhaps they might fall in love with others, and then all his plans would come to naught. Perhaps Penelo would seduce the young Bunansa lord that Larsa had caught her eyeing. Perhaps Vaan would fall in love with some sleek, trim thing on the airship docks and be lost to them forever. Perhaps Sir fon Ronsenburg would come out of mourning and realize that there was a queen who was waiting patiently for him to look at her as a woman rather than a child princess.
Vaan protested that his version was much more interesting and that Penelo had not even been there, so how would she know? Penelo retorted that she'd heard it all from someone named Kytes and that she trusted his word more than Vaan's any day. Vaan put a hand to his heart, proclaiming that he was wounded/, and how could his best friend /say such a thing....
Perhaps. But perhaps not. And really, if they had no other pressing engagements...well, Archadia was a perfectly lovely place. It all made perfect sense, really.
"--believe you, Penelo. No faith in your friends. I mean, without your friends, what've you got? Right, Larsa? C'mon, back me up here."
Larsa smiled and popped the last section of fruit in his mouth, considering as he chewed. "Of course. You're absolutely right."