Title: The Price of Honor

Author: Seph

Series: Final Fantasy XII

Disclaimers: Final Fantasy XII and all other related characters, events, etc. do not belong to me.

Summary: 5 years after the defeat of his brother, Lord Larsa Solidor will finally be crowned as Emperor of Archades—or so he should be. However, the only thing which is preventing him from accepting the crown involves one person... the same person who has sworn to protect Lord Larsa as the rightful heir to the throne of Archades. Gabranth x Larsa

Overall Story Notes: (minor spoilers) The story is about Gabranth and Larsa so in my story, Gabranth DID NOT die in the end of the game. :)

Timeline: Story is generally post-game, but there are many instances of flashbacks concerning the in-game events.

Chapter Notes: Chapter I is set during the first part of the game wherein Vayne Solidor is yet to be announced as the new Consul of Dalmasca.

Chapter I

"…but brother! I do not know how to dance—nor do I see the need for me to do so at the feast. It is your welcoming feast as Consul of Dalmasca, not some—ball or other frivolous event!"

The young Larsa Solidor looked up defiantly at his older brother Vayne who stood over him with a formidable two heads taller at the least. "Do not be foolish Larsa, you very well know that it is a required formality for the nobility." Vayne reprimanded his younger brother gently before he turned away and began discussing quietly with Judge Zargabath who had accompanied him to the young Solidor's study.

Larsa stood up from behind the massive wooden desk and pressed his palms hard against its surface. "Brother, I have told you that—"

"Enough Larsa! I have no time to bother with your childish complaints. You will dance at the feast tomorrow night and not shame your brother with this kind of impish behavior." The steel in Vayne's voice managed to quiet Larsa, but not without him reiterating his earlier concern. "I do not know how to dance… even if I am compelled to do so, I cannot."

Vayne let out an exasperated sigh as he again looked at his brother, who was now staring fixedly at an invisible spot on his desk. "Truly Larsa, have you not been taught to dance?" This earned Vayne a nod from the suddenly silent boy who still refused to look at him. "Just for this, I shall have your tutors executed! By the gods, what have they been teaching you if not the Rules of Court at the very least?!"

Even before Larsa could open his mouth to object to the executions, Vayne had started talking again—this time, he called upon the young maid who was dusting the bookshelves behind Larsa's chair. "You there, you are a fine girl—surely you can teach our young Lord Larsa how to perform your Dalmascan court dances."

The woman quickly turned her head down and shook her head meekly. "Forgive me My Lord, but I am not of noble descent… I have no knowledge of the court, only my duties in the palace."

"Not one?! Even a simple waltz would suffice! Teach him woman, you must!"

"F-forg-give m-me my lo-lord… b-but—"

"Enough. It is alright, you may leave the room." Larsa interrupted Vayne before his brother distressed the young girl further. The maid curtsied respectfully to both heirs before she hurriedly left the study.

"Zargabath!" Vayne motioned for the Judge to approach the desk. "Yes my lord?" The deep voice of the Judge sounded even colder through his metal helmet. "Where is Drace? I am sure that one of our own would be cultured enough to teach my young brother a simple court waltz."

"Drace is not here my lord, she has accompanied Judge Ghis to quell a small uprising in Old Archades."

Vayne frowned and was about to speak when a sharp knock on the wooden doors of Larsa's study interrupted him.

"Enter, it is open." Larsa called out to whoever it was who was knocking.

"Ah, it is you… Gabranth…" Vayne acknowledged the Judge as he bowed to both heirs before quickly assuming his position beside Larsa's chair. "I was beginning to wonder where you were…"

Indeed it was an unfamiliar sight to find Larsa alone either in the palace or otherwise—for he is almost never without the company of either Judge Drace or Judge Gabranth.

Larsa nodded quietly at the newly arrived Judge but did not say anything.

"Gabranth, do you dance?" Vayne was growing impatient at the amount of time he had already wasted in trying to remedy Larsa's absurd predicament and his tone was strained.

"Pardon my lord?" Gabranth was taken aback by the question and thought he had heard wrong.

"Do you dance? Court dances… were you taught even a simple waltz?"

There was a short silence before Gabranth replied, "Aye my lord, I have been taught such."

Vayne's face lighted up at once as he clapped his gloved hands together. "Then all is good! Gabranth, I trust you teach Larsa a court dance—a simple one. And mind you, he must do it well."

"Enough brother, enough! I pray that you humiliate me no further!" Larsa all but pushed his older brother out the door in exasperation. "Very well, I will leave you both to practice—and perfect that which must be done. I shall be expecting much from you tomorrow evening Larsa." Vayne called out as he left Larsa's study followed by Zargabath who bowed to the young Lord before he closed the door behind them.

An awkward silence fell over the room as soon as the heavy oaken doors of the study were shut tightly once more. Larsa had taken his seat and was pretending to be busy reading a few manuscripts which littered his desk while Gabranth contented himself by standing as he always did by the young Lord's right side.

Unable to take the pervading silence, the young heir was the first to break it. "How is the Emperor?" Larsa inquired about his father, knowing that Judge Gabranth had returned from a summons by the Emperor.

"He is well my lord." Gabranth's reply was short and curt… as usual, though his voice sounded quite strained—even through the steel of his helmet.

"I see… that is good… thank you Gabranth." The boy heaved a deep sigh as he slouched into his chair—a rare sight for an heir of the House of Solidor. "About what my brother has said, I—I…" and yet again, in the presence of his Judge protector, Larsa found himself unable to continue with what he was saying.

"Does my presence bother you my lord?" The question made the young Lord sit up straight in his chair and look up at the Judge who towered over him more than his brother did. "I have said no such thing—and I will not have you assume such either."

"Forgive me, my words were out of line."

"They are forgotten." Larsa offered a smile—one of many which he will never know if ever it was returned. "As for what my brother has asked of you, I am grateful for your acceptance."

"It is an honor to be of service to you Lord Larsa."

"Then… we shall practice after supper…"

"In the ballroom my lord?"

"What?! Do you intend to humiliate me worse than what my brother has already done?!" Larsa was aware that his sudden outburst was childish, but he could not help it. The very idea that somebody might walk in and see him as he awkwardly tried to learn to dance overnight left the young boy with a very uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach—and to have Gabranth for a mentor did nothing but multiply the feeling a hundred fold.

"I had no such intention my lord."

Larsa sighed once more. "I know."

"Then…"

"My chambers… I shall expect you there… after supper."

"As you will it my lord."

And again, there was silence.

TBC(?)

This idea just begged to be written since I'm such a Gabranth x Larsa fan:) I plan to continue it… but reviews and suggestions would be well appreciated. :) No flames please… this is my first Final Fantasy fic and I might cry. TT

A possible 3 to 5 part story if all goes according to plan… but it will most probably change. :P

Seph