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Good Intentions

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"Laslow," Xander says, and Laslow is sure he must be imagining the hesitance that seems to edge his voice. "Would you care to accompany me into town?"

"It would be my pleasure, Lord Xander," Laslow replies, smiling easily.

Xander smiles back. "Allow me a moment to redress myself, then," he says.

When he re-emerges from his chambers, he's wearing a loose tunic and a vest so well-fitted as to resemble a corset, fine gold embroidery around the collar and hemline. His pants are tight, but not excessively so, and his knee-high boots are tasteful in the way that only very expensive footwear can be.

Laslow, in the same uniform he always wears, feels somewhat drab by comparison. But he supposes it's fitting that his lord outshine him.

"Come along then," Xander says. His tone is gentle, but carries under it, as always, the commanding presence of his royal blood. He strides down the hallway, and Laslow has to quicken his step to keep up.

In town, it seems like Xander has some errands to run. He buys sweets for Elise, at a shop bursting with colour despite the grey stone of its walls, and the grey skies above. He stops into a book store to see if they have anything that Leo might like. He spends some time peering through precariously stacked tomes, sliding through tight-packed aisles such that make Laslow worry the books will fall in an avalanche upon their heads. It turns out that they don't have anything he thinks Leo is lacking. Laslow is a bit surprised that he keeps such close tabs on what Leo already has, and what he might be interested in.

They enter a couple clothing stores, as well. The first one is filled with greens and silvers, clothes ranging from sharp military-inspired apparel to flowing dresses. The second seems to favour dark red this season, as well as yellows and a certain shade of navy. Laslow thinks much of it looks terrible, and makes no secret of it.

Xander seems to be looking for something in particular, but if he is, he doesn't share the details of his quest with Laslow. To make up for whatever Xander isn't saying, Laslow devotes himself to making conversation. He comments on the weather, and Xander responds politely in turn. He comments on court gossip, and Xander reprimands him, though not seriously, for engaging with such trivial scandals. He comments on the current fashions of the stores they're in, and Xander replies in such a way that makes Laslow laugh at how out of touch he is with the trends of common folk. He supposes it's as he should expect from someone who hires a full-time personal tailor. Xander always looks sharp, but never trendy.

After a while, Xander gives up on whatever his quest had been, and, noticing a couple drops of rain starting to spot the cobblestones, they settle into a small cafe.

The cafe has a glass case of treats at the front, and an elegantly-lettered menu of drinks behind the counter, a list of import teas stretching from top to bottom and cycling back to top again. The building is made from the same dark grey stone as most Nohrian buildings, carved smoothly into large bricks, which only part for a fireplace set into the back wall. The tables, and the majority of the chairs, are black wrought iron, metal sculpted into resembling lace. Xander chooses, instead of the iron chairs, the leather ones sitting by the fireplace.

He orders rosehip tea and tiramisu for both of them. Laslow had been eyeing the red velvet squares, but he figures it's fine for Xander to take the lead. He tries to strike up a conversation with their waitress, but between her professional disinterest and Xander's stern glare, he gives up quickly.

The tiramisu turns out to be excellent. The two of them continue to make small talk while they eat. Xander talks of his duties in a tone just slightly too polite to be taken as complaining. Laslow sympathizes, but tries not to say anything that could be construed as an offer to help with the drudgery of paperwork. Not that Xander often delegates things that are his own personal responsibility.

The fire crackles beside them, and gentle rain patters down outside. As they're reaching the bottom of their pot of tea, Xander says something somewhat unexpected.

"In truth," he begins. "I was hoping to buy you an outfit." Laslow blinks a few times. "But it seems I haven't the slightest idea where to look for clothes that a fashionable young man would wish to be seen in. I fear this outing may have been dull for you, as a result."

"Of course not, Lord Xander," Laslow insists. "I haven't had such an enjoyable afternoon in some time. And I assure you, I'm more than capable of dressing myself."

"Oh, I didn't mean to imply otherwise," Xander says, seeming a bit flustered. "You always dress suitably-no, you dress well."

"Thanks," Laslow says, smiling. "So shall we head back to the palace?"

"I suppose it is about that time," Xander replies. "Let us be off, then."

Laslow picks up the sweets for Elise while Xander pays for their afternoon tea. As they head back to the palace, the sun finally emerges, and the way it hits Xander's hair makes him look all the more radiant and regal.

Laslow supposes that it's a bit sad that his first afternoon tea that month, nearly a week into the month, no less, is with Lord Xander, of all people. But he can't bring himself to mind.