"You see," said Vir, smiling as he waved at the retreating back of his two little lovebirds, "isn't it nice to know that we did the right thing?"
Londo rolled his eyes and turned in the direction of the transport tube. "Yes, it fills me with joy to know that I have aided the triumph of adolescent infatuation over centuries of tradition. I only hope your cousin has thought about the damage this will do to his reputation and career. Not to mention the trouble it will cause between House Mollari and House Maray, never mind House Maray and House Tensus."
"I'm sure that the honour of having their children fostered by your house will soothe their tempers," Vir said cheerfully. His good mood was beginning to become wearing. "Besides, Kiron and Aria have already decided that love is more important than status."
"No doubt they will have plenty of time to contemplate their decision," Londo said, shaking his head. "I suppose it is too much to hope that Kiron will have obtained some common sense and changed his mind by the time his Ascension Day arrives." The boy, at least, might still salvage his reputation, although there was little hope that a noble girl who had tried to elope with her beloved could do the same.
"He has already gone against the wishes of his family and run away from home," Vir replied as the transport tube doors slid shut at their ride back to Green Sector began. "Why would he abandon Aria after he's already risked so much?"
Why indeed. Londo Mollari knew all too well that decisions made in the haste of youth could soon be repented. "As he grows older, he may come to see that it is a mistake to blend love with marriage - one might as well mix the finest brivari with lamp oil. But I take it you also believe such nonsense?"
Vir hesitated, but only for a moment. He had been growing bolder about expressing his opinions of late - Londo did not yet know how he felt about that. "I do. When I marry, I want it to be for love. Career and reputation aren't everything."
"I see," said Londo. "Then perhaps you would care to explain to me just why it is that your young friends arrived on the station asking after someone by the name of Ambassador Cotto?"
His aide turned crimson, and began to stammer. "I didn't think that you - I mean, I just wanted -"
"I am disappointed in you, Vir," he said sternly, "for imagining I would not find out. I will begin to think that you are plotting to poison me and usurp my position."
Vir's eyes went wide. "I would never ...! How can you think ...?!"
Londo shook his head. Teasing Vir was like - what were those earth animals, with the big eyes? - ah, yes. Teasing Vir was like kicking an owl.
He put a hand on the young man's shoulder, and squeezed it reassuringly. "It is alright." If he was honest with himself, he had been a little relieved to catch his aide lying to inflate his position. He has been starting to think that the boy was too honest to be a Centauri, and that he had been sent a Minbari changeling by mistake. "Just avoid such embellishments in the future."
"Of course, ambassador, it will never happen again!" Vir was quiet for a moment, and frowned unhappily. "I didn't mean to cause any trouble. It's just that, my family ... they don't think very highly of me."
Londo laughed. "If you want them to think better, then you must not tell them that you have my job. That will not impress anybody."
Vir blushed again. "I think that ambassador is a noble title."
And what was a Centauri, without title, reputation, career? Who would love Vir Cotto, if he had no status attached to his name? Londo could imagine Kiron and Aria twenty years hence, the flame of their passion cooled, resenting one another for the reduced circumstances they found themselves in. Such a marriage would have a soured sweetness far more bitter than an arranged match. The young did not understand how intertwined love and status could be.
Perhaps it would not be that way. Perhaps they would always see only one another, and not what it has cost them to remain together. Perhaps they would be happy.
"Maybe I should give it to you, then, and go in search of true love instead," Londo said.
Sometimes, he thought of simply walking away one morning. He would leave a note for Vir, abandon his life and future destiny, climb on board the next transport for Davo, and ... but there was the snag. If he could have been certain that she would love him with no title, no fortune, no reputation, he would have left today.
"Do you really think that Kiron and Aria are making a mistake?" Vir asked. He was also becoming too good at reading Londo's expression.
He wondered how he had ever been young enough to believe that marrying for love was anything other than foolishness. Then he wondered how he had grown so old that there was a tiny part of him that would be glad to watch the young lovers fail, rather than see his cynicism proved groundless.
"I think that we can only let them make such mistakes on their own. Whatever happens to them, at least they will know that they brought it upon themselves."
Whether that would be better or worse than living with the choices made for them by others, Londo Mollari did not know. Perhaps, as the humans said, ignorance truly was bliss.