(originally this was called 'the one where he promises her they can keep vaan as a pet'.)
Probably her first mistake was thinking that Larsa sounded lonely in his letter. Basch had finally snapped and gone off like a chocobo scenting his mate or something ("it was very romantic," Larsa wrote, "Her Highness turned bright red and tried to get him to stand up. I don't believe he's ever going to live it down.") and gone off to lurk happily around Princess Asche, which was sort of disturbing when Penelo thought about it too hard, so mostly she thought it was good that they were, in their own way, happy together. ("Didn't he--" began Vaan, stopped, and looked vaguely unsettled. "You know what, never mind." "At least they know they have the same taste," observed Balthier.)
But he'd left Larsa to his own devices, and Larsa, Penelo thought, was maybe just a little restless without someone with him. So when he wrote and asked if Penelo would like to visit the Imperial City, she kicked the hatch that Vaan was working in, waited until his dirty blond head poked out reproachfully, and said, "I'm visiting Larsa for a while. Keep out of trouble and remember to wash your fingernails."
"Okay," said Vaan. She knelt down and kissed him and then she caught an airship to the Imperial City.
Larsa was waiting for her, smiling his sweet smile from a face that was five years older and more mature and handsome instead of childishly beautiful. She stopped for a second on the airship runway and felt a small cold chill down her spine. He was up to something, she just knew it. Then again, she told herself firmly, Larsa was always up to something.
He reached his hand out and she placed her hand in his. Instead of clasping it, or even kissing the back, he turned it around and placed a kiss on the inside of her wrist. It was too late to run back to the sanctuary of the airship. He looked at her under his black lashes and another shiver ran down her spine, not cold.
"I was thinking," he said, drawing her hand close and tucking it against his side.
"What?" she said warily.
"I would like to get married soon," said Larsa sunnily. "Don't you agree?"
""For an heir?" said Penelo. Larsa was the last of his family, and of course would have to get married. It seemed a little strange to think of it, Larsa married to someone. "Of course you should but not if you don't --"
"No," said Larsa, smiling. "Not for an heir." He led her out of the hanger into a private aircar.
The Imperial Palace was a hundred times the size of the palace at home. Penelo thought that if she got lost they would find her a hundred years later, still hopelessly trying to figure out if the door was actually a door or merely painted into a wall. Gardens opened into rooms opening into courtyards filled with pools and fountains. It was very beautiful. Larsa kept her arm tucked into his and led her through the maze of his palace without hesitation.
Something was bothering her even if she couldn't put it into words. "Have you chosen your wife yet?" she said carefully. With Larsa you never knew.
"Oh yes," he said easily, steering her around a fountain made of two nymphs intertwined lovingly together. Their marble hair fell down their backs, bound only in silver and gold roses.
"Have you made arrangements yet?" pursued Penelo.
"Of course," said Larsa. They walked through a courtyard with a mosaic tile floor. The pattern was some sort of labyrinth knot. It made Penelo a little dizzy to look at it. Larsa's shoulder brushed against hers. He was taller than her now, and broad shouldered. She remembered suddenly when they were in the mines killing undead, how he would watch with bright eyed interest as Balthier examined the remains and picked out the best of the remains for selling. He had helped them pry the heavy iron shells off the creatures in the Plains. She knew him. He was definitely up to something.
Larsa stopped too and looked at her curiously. "Larsa,"
she said. "I know you won't take offense. But." Larsa's
eyelids dropped quickly and then raised again. "Have
you even asked her to marry you yet?"
"I am now," said Larsa.
"What, now?" said Penelo stupidly. "Where is she?"
For answer Larsa pulled her quite close and kissed her. Either he had been practicing for her benefit or he had a lot of natural talent. It was nothing like kissing Vaan, except that it was warm and sweet. Larsa took his time about it and when he finally pulled away it took Penelo a second to realize her hands were crushing the fine silk of his shirt, and when she looked up at him he was smiling like a cat. It made her want to hit him. He put his arm around her waist and began to steer her onward. "The wedding will be the day after tomorrow. I wasn't quite sure I had your size correct, so the dressmaker waited to finish it."
"You didn't ask!" said Penelo sharply.
He stopped again and bent his head close to hers. "Dearest Penelo," he said softly. "Will you marry me? I want to keep my promise I made, you see." His hand brushed her cheek gently. "I promised to protect you, remember?"
She had to make a token effort at least. Otherwise he would run roughshod over her the rest of their lives. "What about Vaan?" she said.
"Oh," said Larsa, smiling even more sweetly, "We can keep him as a pet, if you like." She glared at him. "I don't see what the problem is," said Larsa, in the tones of someone who believes they are being entirely sane. "Emperors can have concubines and Empresses can have lovers. Sky pirates can love whomever they please." He began pushing her gently forward again, and this time she let him.
"Has anybody told you that you are a little crazy?" said Penelo. He opened a door into the largest bedchamber she had seen in her life. The bed alone was bigger than the cabin of their airship. He led her to the bed and kissed her again.
"No, actually," he said. "I was hoping you'd remind me sometimes."
Somehow they were on the bed. Penelo realized suddenly that Larsa must have been planning this since the day he gave her the manufacted nethicite. She wished she was more surprised. He was placing unhurried kisses along the side of her neck. "No, really," she said, trying to think clearly. "What about Vaan?"
"I'll have him told I kidnapped you," said Larsa calmly. "He'll come after you."
"Oh," said Penelo. Larsa's skin was even nicer than his silk shirt. "That's all right, then."
this is basically a series called 'larsa is a manipulative little brat'. I love that kid like a fire in mah haaaaaaaaaaaart.