Disclaimer: I own neither Final Fantasy XII nor its characters.
A/N: Yes, I had to. I just absolutely adored a review left for me by Monochrome-muse...I simply couldn't resist. Consider it a way of apologizing due to my extreme lack of writing on my part. Yes, it probably could be sappier, but it is not. I hope everyone enjoys it none-the-less. Me, I shall simply do my best as ever I can. ;D Thanks again to everyone who left such wonderful reviews on this story. And my thanks to everyone who takes the time to read this and hopefully walk away with a little smile, hopefully. Enjoy!
Larsa's eyes darted from side to side. He was hoping that today he would either just get caught or perhaps left alone. He still couldn't decide for the life of him which was the more preferable choice.
Another corridor successfully navigated and his weariness was becoming more evident. He had traversed the entire length of his palace today in efforts to avoid the inevitable. Perhaps it was time to take a short break. He placed his hands on the wall shoulder width apart and let his forehead touch the cool stone as his eyes closed in an attempt to relax.
"Good-day Lord Larsa."
The raven-haired man's eyes shot open and he held his breath. He had purposely taken the longest route to avoid any chance meeting and then doubled back, twice, to ensure he was not followed. How the hells did the girl just 'pop up' out of nowhere?
He slowly drew away from the wall, hesitantly lowering his hands in the process. Any hopes of this being a simple figment of his imagination were shattered as he turned around. There she stood with that brilliant smile and wide hopeful eyes.
"Um, good-day Maedra," Larsa replied slowly as his eyes searched for the girl's parents. "Do your parents know where you are?"
The tiny peal of bell-like laughter made his heart jump.
"Lord Larsa, I'm hardly a little girl anymore," she said with a smirk.
Larsa tried his hardest to refrain from looking her up and down, but he was already damned. She was right. Maedra Gabranth was the farthest hint away from little girl nowadays. Her cherub features had transformed into rosy high cheekbones and a little pink mouth that always seemed to hold a smirk at bay. Her golden hair now flowed well beyond her shoulders. Her once childlike figure had been replaced with curves in places he should have known better than to stare, but he was weak.
It reminded him of the days when Gabranth had warned him of this day to come. Larsa sighed, heavily.
"Oh stop being so dramatic," she chided and held out her hand. "Come on."
"Where are we going?" he asked suspiciously, but took her hand all the same.
Larsa looked down at their entwined fingers and felt that same icy-heat prickle his senses. It wasn't as uncomfortable as when she first started with the handholding. In fact, now, it was…enjoyable. He knew he had lost against her years ago, but he had no intention of letting her know that.
At first, her forwardness terrified him, but in truth, it was more Gabranth's reaction versus the admiration of a little girl. No sane man would dare to not fear the Judge Magister when it concerned his children. Larsa had even attempted to resolve himself against the girl. His downfall came as she grew to adulthood and her determination became absolute.
Maedra had never behaved as a little girl should. There were no tantrums, no imaginary tea parties, no dolls, and in their place an absolute single-mindedness when it came to her aspirations of being Empress. Larsa had stopped counting the numerous times the girl informed him how cross she would be if he married before she turned eighteen. Oddly enough, the ploy had worked, for Larsa was still very much single (much to the dismay of the senate.)
As they turned to walk down a familiar corridor, Larsa finally realized that the girl had started humming pleasantly instead of answering his question. He stopped dead and pulled on her hand.
"Maedra," he said firmly, "Where are we going?"
She smiled and Larsa felt the corners of his mouth twitch to match hers. "We're going to see my parents."
The Emperor's mouth fell open and he shook himself back to sense. "Why?"
The blue-grey eyed woman raised an eyebrow. "Surely you haven't forgotten that I turn eighteen in a week."
Larsa stared at her dumbly. She was always too clever for her own good, but most of the time he was able to keep up with her train of thought. Yet for some reason, the way her soft silk gown brought out the color in her eyes seemed to have interfered with his reasoning skills.
"You're going to ask father for my hand in marriage, my Lord," she said calmly.
He felt her other hand grace his cheek and his shoulders slumped as he looked helplessly at her. She gave him that smile that seemed reserved for him and him alone. It made his heart feel light and somehow less fearful of the man who kept a constant vigil over him.
"You do want to marry me, don't you Lord Larsa?" she asked as her hand drew shakily away from his face.
He felt his heart painfully constrict as he watched the uncertainly flit across her features. The hand that still held hers tightened in response to ensure she would not run away. He could not refuse her. He would not refuse her.
It had taken him ten years to grow accustomed to the idea, but it was far from unpleasant. Certainly, he had to deal with the naysayers that accused him of inproprietious acts, but Larsa had taken comfort in Gabranth and Penelo's relationship.
The pair was envy of almost every high-society couple. They were just as much in love now as they had been when the married eighteen years ago. It was a love worthy of its own tale in storybooks.
He watched helplessly as Maedra's bottom lip began to tremble. He desperately wanted what happiness Gabranth and Penelo had, but was afraid. He did not wish to fail Maedra's expectations. If he held any further doubts, they were quickly washed away as tears started to fill her eyes. He pulled her roughly into his arms and took a deep breath.
"Of course I wish to marry you Mae," he said softly, a hand gently stroking her hair. "Nothing could make me happier."
He closed his eyes and smiled as he felt her arms snake around him. It seemed he had waited forever for this moment. He had no intention of letting her go now.
"Did you have to do that?"
The foolish grin never left his face as he replied, "You expected less of me?"
Her eyes narrowed at him, but they lacked conviction. "You're terrible you know that? Just terrible."
He chuckled and drew her into his arms. "And you are not half as intimidating as you once were."
"You didn't have to threaten him so much," she chided and pushed a hand at his chest, trying hard not to smile up at him.
"I did not threaten. I merely implied that our only daughter's safety is paramount."
"Uh-huh, yeah…telling him that if Mae isn't happy you're lessening his guard detail?"
Gabranth pulled his wife closer to him and grinned impishly. "Now we need not worry about our daughter's happiness," he said with a shrug.
"You're lucky I love you, you know," Penelo replied as she shook her head.
"Aye, I am well aware," he said fondly and kissed her for good measure.
The End…no, really…this time it actually is. The End.