Laslow takes a long route back to the palace. Or perhaps it would be more likely to say that he wanders rather far away from it, only having the vaguest intention of being back that night. It takes a while for the tears to dry on his cheeks. He tries valiantly not to start crying again, thinking about it.
Of all things to happen, the crown prince of Nohr had fallen in love with him. And he had managed to fuck it up.
He groans loudly in despair, ignoring the strange looks he’s getting. How idiotic he had been! Surely he was close enough to the prince to be well aware that he was not the sort of person to want a consort. Xander was the only one of Garon's children to be born to his first wife, and the petty nobles schemes to pit his later wives against each other had often succeeded. Xander had lamented, on some vulnerable nights, that he felt he would have been able to protect his siblings better from the ugliness of the court if they had all been born to the same mother. Lamented, more than that, that it was only after he had come of age and insisted upon spending time with them that they had grown as close as they were now. After his father's habits had hurt their family so, of course Xander would want to settle down with one person.
The gravity of being that one person hits Laslow like a sack of bricks. Not only was he not nobility, he was a man. He couldn't even provide an heir. For Xander to even consider him as a life partner was... Well, it was ridiculous. It couldn't possibly be allowed. Even if they were to wait for Garon's passing to get married-
Laslow stops himself there. Surely he's getting ahead of himself. Perhaps Xander is too inexperienced to know the difference between love and a passing infatuation. As soon as Laslow thinks it, he feels guilty for it. He had seen Xander's face, in the garden. His expression could not have more clearly been painted with love.
He doesn't know what to do. He wanders in circles through the city, not noticing as the bells chime for 4pm, 5pm, 6.
Aside from Xander's intentions, he had to consider his own. He was here on a mission, after all. He had indulged in a number of flings since arriving in Nohr, but to make promises of love to someone was a whole different matter. It would have a permanence he couldn't bear. Not while his family and his closest friends were in another world, a world still in danger.
No, there were simply too many reasons for it not to work out. He made up his resolve to turn the prince down more properly, and set back towards the palace, firmly ignoring the feeling of something akin to panic closing in around his heart.
He is expecting, when he returns, for the prince to be in his quarters, going through paperwork as he digests his dinner. Instead, he finds that the prince has left again.
"Where has he gone?" he asks Peri, trying to conceal the anxiety in his voice. If he doesn't speak to Xander tonight, he fears he will lose his nerve.
"Oh he like, went to visit Corrin," Peri replies. "How'd your date go anyway? He didn't look too happy when he got back, and you're here like four hours later."
"It wasn't-" Laslow starts, and then realizes that it absolutely had been a date, despite him botching it spectacularly. "I don't want to talk about it."
"That bad, huh?" Peri asks, but she's still grinning. "Well, I'm going out to the stables! Lord Xander will probably be back the day after tomorrow, so I guess you can do whatever until then."
Laslow stares up at the arched ceiling, as if it might give him direction. "Do whatever, huh?"