Blinded by Decorum

BY : Shortsnout
Category: Final Fantasy Games > Final Fantasy XV
Dragon prints: 1095
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy XV, nor the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

Blinded by Decorum

 

Even though Noctis was resting his head on his folded arms, Ignis knew that his eyes would be screwed shut. Setting the plate of food down on the table, Ignis watched, unwilling to intrude on Noctis’s thoughts. The prince’s shoulders were rigid, his coat ruffling in the breeze.

“Noct?” Ignis ventured slowly, joining him on the apartment balcony.

The night air was cool, the sounds of bustling Insomnia floating up to them.

“I…I don’t want to…” Noctis sighed heavily, and lifted his head, hair falling into his eyes.

“I was led to believe you harboured a fondness for Lady Lunafreya.”

Eyes closed again, and when they opened Ignis saw they were shiny and far-seeing. Ignis spun, ready to head back inside, knowing it would take his charge a while to digest his feelings.

“I do.”

Ignis halted, waiting to see if any more would be said.

“It’s…it’s no different from the feelings I have for Prompto or Gladio.”

His chest felt constricted, waiting for the prince to correct himself, or continue his sentence, yet nothing was forthcoming.

“It is your duty, Highness.”

Noctis’s eyes focused on his, his brow furrowing at Ignis’s sudden polite tone.

“I know. I’ve always known that one day it’d be my turn. My turn to feed the wall.” His gaze drifted to the sky, to the wall that would one day kill him.

“You’ve had your freedom, now you have to serve your people.”

Noctis pushed off from the rail. “What’s got you all upset?”

“Nothing, Highness. Your food is growing cold.” His wrist was caught as he attempted to leave. Noctis looked confused, eyes darting over his features as though trying to work it out. Ignis gave nothing away, face a mask.

“I didn’t mention you,” Noctis whispered, face clearing in understanding. “Ignis, you think you’re not as important to me as the others.” As a shy smile spread across his charge’s face Ignis felt his stomach twist. “You don’t know.” His voice was still soft, the fingers on Ignis’s wrist tightening.

“I do not know what? It is alright, Highness. You have worked closely with Gladio, and Prompto is your first friend outside the Citadel. I had hoped, having grown up with you that you might have built the same level of trust with myself. However, I understand why it is not so.”

He was the guiding force in Noctis’s life, the tiresome, rigid advisor, who was constantly on his back to clean up after himself, to follow royal protocols, to embrace all aspects of being a future king. Noctis didn’t need to like him, he needed to trust him, and in his decisions.

Ignis waited for the prince to let him go, clearing his throat when they still remained standing there.

“Oh, Ignis,” Noct leant in, and after swallowing painfully Ignis felt himself move away, putting distance between them. “For someone who claims to be a master analysis and my closest advisor, you sure can be blind sometimes.”

Ignis just stood there, mouth dry. “Blind to what?” his voice was a murmur.

Noctis's face showed a myriad of emotions, his teeth sunk into his lower lip and his head hung slightly. He seemed to come to a decision, nodding to himself. Noctis closed the distance once more, his face close enough for Ignis to feel Noctis's breath across his cheek.

His whole body tensed at how close Noctis was, how he could feel the young man’s heat pressing against his body, the scent of the shampoo he made Ignis pick up for him at the store. His fingers trembled, and slowly, ever so slowly, his arms lifted.

“I’m going to bed. Let me know if you have any revelations.” Noctis informed him brazenly, waving a hand in farewell as he walked away.

Ignis stood there, dumbfounded, the bitter air harsh against his heated cheeks.

Just what the hell had happened?

 

>>>> 

 

Ignis was supposed to be helping Noctis and the others pack away the prince's apartment, ready to move back into the Citadel. He knew it was to be their last day in Insomnia, the last time the four of them would be alone before the trek to Altissia.

There was nothing that could be done when the king summoned you.

As he rang Noctis to explain why he couldn’t come to help, he felt the prince’s frustrations, the hurt that the Regis could make time to Ignis on matters regarding the kingdom, but not for his own son. He had been with Noctis this morning, ready to meet King Regis, but his Majesty had been laden with treaties and meetings regarding the truce, therefore unable to see his son.

Ignis had to put up with a sulking, petulant prince in the car ride home.

He hung up his call with a sigh, wishing that it didn’t have to be this way. That Noctis and his father could be ordinary citizens of Lucis, but it was not the case. He waited outside the council room, his mind wandering over what provisions they would need on the journey.

What would it be like when Noctis was married? How was it going to affect the dynamics of the small group they had created for themselves? Ignis had always known that one day Noctis would have to step up and shoulder the responsibility of being king, yet for now, Ignis was content to remain in the solitary bubble they had created for themselves.

The doors opened, and Ignis stood to attention, head bowed in respect for the senior council members. They all had various stages of distress on their faces, and none spared him a glance. Tension was high, and Ignis was glad King Regis was sending Noctis away from Insomnia.

Clarus gestured towards Ignis with a sharp hand signal, indicating the king was waiting.

"How does Noctis fair?" Regis was straight to the point, not glancing up from his documents spread over his desk.

"He was saddened not to see you this morning, but he understands."

Regis nodded, putting the paper down and pressing the heels of his palms into his eyes.

"Is everything in place for Altissia?"

"Yes, Majesty."

"Speak your mind Ignis, what ails you?"

The king always did have an astute mind.

“You asked me once when Noctis was younger to support him. While I endeavour to do such a thing, I am afraid that he is concealing information from me. I do not know how to proceed from here. Noctis…The prince does not wish to marry Lady Lunafreya.”

“I am aware of his…feelings. One would need to be obtuse to not notice."

Ignis shifted, nervous as Regis speared him with a glance, unsure as to why the sudden scrutiny.

“He knows his duty, Highness. He will marry her.”

Regis’s posture relaxed, and he smiled at Ignis.

“I’ve always believed Noctis would grow and do what is best for his people. I only wish it did not have to be so. He is strong of both heart and will, and once he sets his sights on something he will obtain it. However, if he is uncertain he lacks the tenacity to reach for things.”

Ignis knew of what the king spoke. Despite having a facade of confidence he projected around people, inside he was a sweet, shy man, who often lacked confidence in making decisions. It took Noctis a huge amount of trust to be open enough with someone, to speak about anything remotely personal. Ignis was proud that he was designated one such person.

“I have done my duty as king to install the principles Noctis needs to abide by to be a capable ruler. I have surrounded him with the best shield, and an intellectual advisor. Nevertheless, this ideology is in disagreement with me as a man, Ignis. As his father, I only wish for his happiness, yet I fear it can never be so.”

“My king, I am not only his advisor. As his friend, I too want him to be happy.” Ignis held his curled fist up to his chest. “I only wish to help share his burden. He will not tell me what ails him "

“He probably will not, as it is in conflict with who he wants to be and who he needs to be.”

Regis leant back in his chair and watched him. “What would you do, Ignis?”

“If it came down to a choice between happiness and duty?” Ignis readjusted his glasses, stalling for time. He too understood the conflict, the blurring of boundaries between Prince Noctis and just Noctis. He was raised in court etiquette, raised to stand behind his prince, to impart wisdom and advice. That part of him knew that the treaty with Niflheim was of the utmost importance. His detached, analytical side understood that Prince Noctis had to sustain the wall with his life force, to protect the people.

Noctis was not just his liege. Noctis was also a boy who he had watched grow up, a man who had confided his insecurities in Ignis. Ignis had seen the way Noctis struggled with his responsibilities, the pain he felt of being alone. That had been the reason Ignis had taken on duties that were more suited to a care giver. Noctis had been genuinely touched that someone had noticed enough to do it, someone who hadn't been ordered to.

Noctis's happiness was his happiness.

Even if he was an immature, egotistical teenager at times. Ignis snorted in fond amusement.

“There is no right answer,” Regis sighed heavily. “Those of my line are destined to die young, giving their lives for their people. Noctis carries a heavier burden than most, it is more than a kingdom that weighs on his shoulders."

The king's words made his ears prick up. How was Noctis's job any different from that of his ancestors? All of them eventually gave their life for their Kingdom, how was Noctis to be any different? It made the hair on the back of his neck stand up.

Another secret?

"I know Noctis’s heart. He will not fail in his mission. There is something I wish to ask you, as a father, not as your king.”

Ignis stood straighter, awaiting instruction.

“If there is a chance, a glimmer of happiness that Noctis can have, as a man, and not as the future monarch…would you assist him in obtaining it?”

“Of course, Highness, that is not something you would have to ask me.”

“I fear it is something I must Ignis. Stand beside my son as an advisor, a sworn sword, but also a friend. Let him find his own path in life. His destination cannot be changed, but the path leading there is not set in stone.”

Ignis was confused. “His path is already laid out before him: marry the Lady Lunafreya, continue peace talks with the empire, maintain the wall and guard the people of Lucius.”

Regis watched him a few moments, a soft, poignant smile on his face. “I’m afraid we taught you too well the decorum of duty. Sometimes things that have been set in stone for many years can crumble, and a new way must be forged.” He stood and Ignis knew he was being dismissed.

He bowed, still hesitant about leaving. “The thing that Noctis is hiding... it is nothing that will affect his decisions. Allow him to be a foolish young boy for now. If it is meant to be he will seek your counsel. If he does not, then it wasn’t important enough to him in the first place.”

Ignis nodded, content to think over what had been said.

“Thank you, Ignis. For everything you have done for Noctis. I place..." King Regis trailed off, closing his eyes sadly, "full trust in whatever decisions the pair of you make. Know that I am very proud of you, that I could never be disappointed by any future decisions the two of you make. I know everything you do, it is done for Lucis, and for the future."

 

>>>>> 

 

 

Driving away from Insomnia, driving Noctis to be married to someone he did not wish to…it made Ignis feel dreadful. It did not help that they left with a sense of foreboding, double meaning colouring the king's words as he wished Noctis goodbye. Gladio had also noticed, frowning over Noctis's head at Ignis in silent communication.

Noctis was trying to be strong, joking with Gladio and the others. Ignis stole glances at the boy sat in the passenger seat beside him, keeping an eye out for anything suspicious. After a while in the car conversation hit a lull, people swayed into a contemplative state by the motions of the car.

His charge shifted, pulling one leg up onto the seat, leaning on his arm as he looked at the scenery rolling past. Ignis hid a smile as he drove. For all of Noctis’s apparent wish to not be royalty and to be like everyone else, there was always an innate sense of poise and elegance to the way he held himself.

The prince caught him looking and grinned back, turning to face him.

“Are you excited to be leaving the city?” Ignis asked.

“Yeah, just wish it was for different reasons,” he muttered, sulking.

“We’ll be back soon.”

“Yeah with your new bride in tow!” Prompto added, wrapping his arms around Noctis from the back seat.

Noctis scowled and pushed him off. “I barely remember what she looks like.”

“Yeah, but you kept in contact, right?”

“Yeah. Wasn’t many people to talk with when I was young.”

Ignis’s eyes shifted over again when he admitted that, watching the way Noctis’s arms hugged himself.

“Ah buddy! Now you’ve got us, don’t worry about it.”

“He won’t have much time to hang out once he gets hitched. Going to be too busy with his royal duties.”

Noctis looked visibly distressed at that, turning towards Ignis for help. Ignis wasn’t sure which part Noctis was upset about, the lack of time or the implied sexual innuendo from Gladiolus.

“When we return Noctis will begin taking on some responsibilities from King Regis. Then, within time he’ll be busy looking after the new heir to the throne.”

Ignis gripped the steering wheel tighter at the look on Noctis’s face. He looked sickened by the fact, and Ignis did not understand the reason for it. Lady Lunafreya was suitably attractive, there were many that found her so. Ignis strayed back into familiar waters. “I am sure we can schedule some time for King’s Knight here and there.”

“And trips to the arcade?” Prompto piped up.

The car was silent, all aware of just how impossible that would be.  The feeling of driving Noctis to a lifetime of servitude and torture continued.

“The road to Altissia is a long one, I’m sure there will be ample time to explore the region,” Ignis offered, feeling a warmth in his chest when Noctis nodded gratefully at him. It was small things like this that gave Ignis a sense of contentment, making Noctis happy. Perhaps this had been what King Regis had been alluding to? Taking some of the burden, the strain off Noctis’s life.

“Do you remember sneaking out of the Citadel when we were younger?” Noctis asked quietly, trying not to attract the attention of the other two who were bickering over something trivial in the back.

“I remember taking the fall for it if we were caught.” Of course he remembered. The prince who had returned from Tenebrae had been morose and solemn, a far cry from the mischievous, inquisitive child he had been. Ignis couldn’t stand to see his young charge shying away from people almost fearful, hiding in the shadows, overwhelmed by everyone. In the moments it had gotten truly oppressive they had snuck out, just to give Noctis a reprieve. It had been dangerous of course, and against the rules, but Ignis had needed to do something for Noctis.

“I don’t think I ever thanked you for it. It helped me through a difficult time in my life.”

“It is not often I receive gratitude for performing tasks."

Noctis huffed, affronted. "I'm just the typical royal brat aren't I?"

"That you are."

Ignis's didn't react to Noctis's shove, concentrating on the road.

"I was happy to help you.”

“Because it was your job?” Noctis pierced him with his gaze, the blue of his eyes glimmering. Ignis could see it in his body language, the hunch of the shoulders, the soft bite of a lip.

It was charming.

“Of course not.”

That was the right answer, Noctis expelled a breath and relaxed into his seat. Ignis wanted Noctis to tell him about the secret he was hiding, the issue even Regis knew about. Yet the prince said nothing.

A stalling grind of metal from the engine made them all jump, and Ignis’s eyes widened as smoke billowed from the bonnet.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” Gladio growled as the car rolled to a stop, all of them looking at each other, not quite believing what had happened.

Ignis got out of the car, the others hot on his heels as he inspected the car. “I believe we are not too far from Hammerhead.”

“Oh no, Iggy! You can’t be serious!” Prompto threw his arms up groaning.

“I am always serious. Get pushing gentlemen.”

 

>>>>>> 

 

Ignis noticed another clue in Noctis’s behaviour, and it came in the form of Cindy Aurum. While Gladio and Prompto were practically salivating over her…assets, Ignis had observed something.

Noctis was not.

Her ample cleavage and skimpy clothing would make any hot-blooded male lustful. Noctis’s eyes did not stray from her face, listening as she explained the problem, nodding at the appropriate times.

It confounded Ignis. Had his lessons of how royalty should uphold themselves in public finally coming to fruition? Ignis found that doubtful, he had witnessed Noctis acting like a young man in public with Prompto, teasing each other in the arcade, jostling each other on the way home. Perhaps now they were out of the city a sense of growing up had occurred?

Another scenario was that Noctis was trying to stay faithful to his intended, not wanting to lust over other women as a show of respect. That made Ignis think. Had Noctis ever mentioned another to him? There were plenty of girls in his school, and eligible females in the court. Ignis could not recall a time when Noctis had mentioned having a passing fancy. Even when conversations between Gladio and Prompto had become vulgar regarding women and sex, Ignis could not recall Noctis participating.

“Yo, Specs?”

Ignis was wrenched back to the present by Noctis’s frantically waving hand in front of his face.

“Cindy says it’s going to be a while, there's a part she needs. We’re going to go get it, you coming?”

What an inane question. Why would Ignis stay behind if Noctis was going someplace?

Ignis attempted to keep an even closer eye on Noctis than usual, trusting Gladio to take on the role of bodyguard. If something was ailing Noctis, then it was his duty to discover what it was and make the burden easier. There was nothing unusual about the prince’s conduct. He still laughed and joked with Prompto. He still looked out into the far distance when he thought no one was watching, trying to shoulder the pain and obligation of becoming the future king.

Ignis could not figure it out. Even placing together the pieces of information Regis had told him, the scrutiny he had placed Noctis under, it was like a jigsaw puzzle with most of the pieces missing.

“Isn’t this what Cindy wanted?” Prompto held the part aloft, grinning from ear to ear.

“Looks like it. You wanna be the one who gives it to her?” Noctis bumped shoulders with his friend.

“Might get the conversation rolling.”

“I think we better set up camp for the night. It’s getting dark and we’re a ways from the garage.” Gladio pointed at the sky, Ignis glanced at Noctis, waiting to see if he would argue. He didn’t, cheerfully following Gladio towards the runes marking a safe haven from enemies.

He and Gladio clocked the Sabertusk pack at the same time, the creatures spindly bodies whipping around to face them. Both instantly drew their weapons and halted in front of Noctis.

“I know you’ve been trained for this, and you’re strong. But real life is a bit different then a training room, don’t let your guard down and run if it gets too much for you.” Gladio hissed, eyes darting around. “That goes for you too kid.” He jerked his head back at Prompto.

Noctis drew his own blade in a flurry of sparks, crouching in the standard attack position he had been taught. “Got to learn sometime,” he jested, running forward with a battle cry. Gladio swore and sprinted after him, not waiting to see if the others caught up.

Noctis was good, Ignis knew that. Yet he was unprepared to face an enemy, to kill something for real. He kept hesitating, and Gladio had to keep shoving him aside for safety.

“I’m fine!” Noctis scowled when Ignis threw him to the ground, deflecting the attack with his knife.

“Stop being stubborn! This is not about skill but about keeping safe!” Ignis shouted, losing his temper. Noctis glared at him and got back to his feet, warping towards another creature.

"Damn it, Noct!" Gladio roared, trying to push off the beast that was slashing at his chest. "Prompto, help him!"

Dancing around the Sabertusk with his knives, Ignis tried to get to Noctis. The prince was attacking without support, and as the beast lurched up onto its hind legs, Ignis saw what he'd been dreading.

Noctis froze.

“Noct!” Ignis heard himself scream, desperately trying to assist.

It was his bloodline that saved him. As the beast swiped at him with razor claws, Noctis warped, out of harm's way, but not far enough, catching Noctis with its claws. Sheer determination had Ignis killing the monsters, sprinting towards his charge. The world had narrowed, sound disappearing except for the pounding of blood in his ears.

All he could see was Noctis, staring up at the monster, eyes wide with fear. He wasn't going to get there in time. Anguish tore out of his throat, his feet scrabbling on the floor.

This wasn't going to happen.

He wasn't going to lose Noctis.

In his desperation he tore fire magic from Noctis, hurling it towards the monster. The spell had the desired effect, felling the beast and getting Noctis out of harm's way. The prince held a hand to his chest, the result of magic being pulled through him in such a frantic way apparently painful.

 Noctis got to his feet, clutching his hands around his thigh. “Etro that stings! No, don’t use a potion.” His hand clasped Ignis’s wrist. “It’s just a scratch, don’t waste one on me, we don’t have enough Gil to buy more.”

“Just what the hell do you think you were doing!” Gladio dropped his broadsword, hoisting Noctis to his feet by the collar of his shirt. “This is real life kid! You’re going to get yourself killed!” His words were punctuated by shakes.

“Gladio! Unhand the prince.”

“If you die that’s it! The empire will overrun Lucis, is that what you want?”

 “I’m sorry, Gladio.”

“You need to stay safe! Don’t rush into danger without support to prove yourself.” Gladio placed Noctis down, moving his hands to rest on his shoulders. “You’ll have plenty of battles to fight, but we fight as a team, understood.”

Weak, Noctis nodded, the blood drained from his face.

"Nice work, Iggy." Gladio clapped him on the back. “Let’s get to camp.”

Despite Ignis’s impulse to reach out and comfort Noctis, he held back, knowing that Gladio was right, that Noctis probably needed a scare to realise the reality of the situation.

 

>>>>>> 

Noctis was quiet in camp, spending most of the evening deep in conversation with Prompto, whispering his thanks when Ignis gave him his dinner.

As he finally tasted his food, Noctis stopped his conversation and looked up, eyes meeting with Ignis’s across the camp. He hadn’t expected his favourite, and the expression on his face was well worth the extra effort Ignis had put in to create it.

“You’re going to spoil him you know,” Gladio nudged him playfully, scanning the area surrounding the camp for danger.

“A little comfort will do him wonders.” Ignis ate his own food, gaze alternating between sweeps of the area and the two young members of the group.

“Bullshit, you just like the looks he gives you when you do something nice for him.”

Ignis didn’t deny it, thinking ahead to other meals he would need to prepare.

"That's some impressive magic handling you did back there," Gladio muttered, finishing the last of his food.

"Noctis and I had been working on the transfer of magic between us. I had hoped it would have been less painful for him. Given time I am certain you too could manipulate the elements."

"Nah, I'm happier just slashing at the enemy. Still, Noctis must trust you to let you pull on him like that."

"He trusts all of us, our weapons come from his Glaive."

"Magic just feels more...intimate. It's like you're touching part of his soul, the essence of his bloodline. I don't think he'd feel as comfortable with me or Prompto doing that. Just be careful alright?" Gladio placed down his empty plate and retired to the tent for the night.

Chalking it up to over protectiveness, Ignis shook his head, gathering the dishes to clean. He barely registered the others calling good night to him. Placing the dishes down to dry, he went to retire himself and was shocked to see Noctis still awake.

“Something troubling you?”

Noctis said nothing tilting his head back to the night sky and absentmindedly rubbing his leg.

“Would you like me to take a look for you?”

Noctis didn’t answer.

“You do not have to bear the pain just because you made a mistake.” Ignis grabbed the first aid pack from his bag and knelt in front of him. “Remove your trousers.”

“What?” Noctis became flustered and sat up straighter. “It’s fine Ignis, it’ll heal on its own.”

“Desist with the theatrics and let me see.”

Noctis finally yielded, standing and losing his trousers, sitting back down in just his shorts. The cut on his thigh looked excruciating, the skin an angry red.

“You should have come to me earlier. If this does not begin to heal soon then I will be using a potion. Expenses damned.”

“I didn’t want to bother anyone with it.” Noctis ran a hand through his hair, messing it up. The firelight bathed him in an amber glow, and his eyes sparkled under heavy lids.

Ignis became flushed, clearly a result of his close proximity to the camp fire. Ignis held Noctis’s thigh in his hands, the heat becoming close to feverous, his hands growing clammy under his gloves. He paid no mind to his body's reactions, focusing on Noctis needing him.

“You're allowed to be afraid," Ignis murmured, rubbing disinfectant around the wound.

Noctis winced at the sharp sting but remained still in Ignis’s grip. “No…I'm not Ignis. First day out here, and I act like an over excited child. When fighting that thing…”

“We are all fearful during our first fight.”

“This time I had weapons, and I’d been trained. But when I looked at it…I was just a kid again. Scared.”

“Noctis…” Ignis wrapped a bandage around the wound, watching as Noctis’s muscles tightened every time his fingers brushed against skin. “You met death at an early age. That would have been enough to have any man apprehensive in leaving the Citadel walls. You have not let it stop you. You have fought through the fear."

“I don’t know how I’m going to do this Ignis. What if I’m not the right man for the job, what if I fail…everybody?”

Ignis looked up at the catch in his voice, lifting his hands to brush away the slow tears.

“You can do this, Noct. We’re all here for you. I’m here for you.”

“Yeah but…for how much longer? When you find out…” Noctis clamped his jaw shut as he realised he had over spoken.

“You can speak to me about anything, Highness.”


As soon as he spoke, Noctis’s eyes clouded, and he went silent. Knowing you couldn’t push Noctis to speak once his mind was made up, Ignis backed off, still rubbing soothing circles on Noctis’s thigh.

 

He became mesmerised by the sight of his thumb running circles over the pale flesh, his black gloves stark in comparison. Why hadn’t he taken them off? They might have been cold on skin. He must have pressed close to the wound because Noctis moaned, low in his throat. Ignis's head snapped up, transfixed. Noctis’s state of undress, the way the light danced across his skin, he truly was a dazzling creature.

The uncomfortable heat returned full force, intoxicating and stifling.

“I did not mean to cause you pain. Keep an eye on the wound and keep me informed.”

Noctis snorted through his nose and laughed.

Ignis had missed something of importance.

“You coming to bed, Ignis?” Noctis used a tone Ignis hadn’t heard before, low and sultry and Ignis felt his throat constrict.

“In a moment, good night, Noctis.”

Alone in the campground, Ignis looked at his hands. They tingled from where they had been touching Noctis. Shaking his head he stood and returned his thoughts to more pressing matters. The prince was feeling overwhelmed, Ignis needed to resolve that.

Perhaps Gladio had been amiss in his harshness. Noctis needed more experience with life outside the city, perhaps they needed to find an enemy easy to slay, so Noctis could gain confidence.

Entering the tent, he noticed that the only free space was beside Noctis. In this formation both the younger members were in the middle for safety, Gladio and himself on the outside. Stripping off his jacket, boots and lightly folding his glasses, he got beneath his cover, and settled on his side, facing away from them all.

A tug on the back of his shirt had him turning around. All he could make out was a blurry mop of hair and gleaming eyes. Without a word, Ignis let Noctis shuffle towards him, sharing his warmth with his charge. It had been a while since Noctis had sought him out like this. Clearly he was more shaken then Ignis had realised.

“You can do this, Noct.”

He felt, rather than saw the boy nod, and Ignis opened his arms as Noctis came in close, tucking his head under Ignis’s chin. Ignis stroked the top of his head, waiting until Noctis twitched in his sleep, his breathing deep and even. When he was convinced he was the only one awake, Ignis embraced his charge close to him, enjoying the familiarity of Noctis’s scent.

How he wished Noctis would just tell him what was plaguing him. With that last thought it mind, Ignis felt his eyes slide shut.

 

>>>>>> 

 

He was in a cave. No, they were in a cave. Noctis was waiting, mouth parted, tongue darting out to moisten them. Ignis felt himself moving, gathering Noctis to his body, claiming those sensual lips. The prince jumped a little in surprise but met Ignis’s fire with his own passion.

Hand clutched at Ignis’s shoulders, as Ignis walked the both of them backwards. Noctis’s mouth opened in a cry as his back hit the rocky wall and Ignis took full advantage. Their tongues battled for dominance, and Noctis conceded, moaning low in the back of his throat.

Deep in the back of his mind, behind the lust filled fog Ignis knew that Noctis deserved more, that a first kiss should be romantic, that there should be soft lighting, whispered words of adoration.

As Ignis pulled away, Noctis chased his lips, his eyes heavy lidded with passion.

“Please, Ignis,” Noctis pleaded, hands rubbing over Ignis’s back.

He never could deny his prince.

He pressed his mouth against Noctis’s, both just enjoying the feel of the other. Ignis was content to just keep kissing Noctis, both slowly working out what the other liked, mapping out unfamiliar territory.

Noctis broke away and gasped as Ignis’s hands travelled to the nape of his neck, gently tugging at the dark strands. Unable to help himself, he tasted the prince’s offered throat, gently peppering kisses across Noctis’s jaw. Noctis wriggled against him, pressing his body wantonly against Ignis’s.

“Ignis,” Noctis keened, rubbing himself against the taller man. His legs shifted, restless and he let out a loud wail as Ignis bit down on the junction between neck and shoulder.

Ignis pulled back, having enough sense to make sure Noctis was still willing. Noctis’s flushed body beneath his, his pupils wide with pleasure, mouth red and abused from kisses, it was an aphrodisiac. Feeling instead of thinking, he wrapped his hands around Noctis’s thighs, shifting the prince up against the wall, encouraging the man to wrap his legs around his waist.

Noctis’s hands tightened on his shoulders, fierce in his demand, as Ignis allowed their bodies to rub together. Ignis slid his fingers under Noctis’s shirt, the pads of his fingers feather light against supple skin. Noctis’s back arched, a strangled cry escaping as Ignis gently rubbed over nipples.

Emboldened by Noctis’s whimpers and moans, Ignis added a bit of pressure, gently pinching them, taking the sting away by kissing Noctis’s throat, occasionally stopping to catch the murmurs escaping the prince’s lips with his own.

“I want…I want to touch you too…” Noctis gasped, his voice ending on a loud moan as their hips shifted together. Ignis’s felt his own eyes slide shut at the delicious feeling of grinding against Noctis.

“Let me,” Ignis undid the buckle on Noctis’s trousers. “Take care of you,” he mumbled against Noctis’s mouth, “let yourself go for me.” He smiled at the moan he got in response. He felt the hard cock of Noctis underneath the cotton of his boxers, the heat almost burning a brand in Ignis’s hand.

Pausing, he ripped his gloves off, almost in anger, and undid his own trousers, careful not to dislodge Noctis in the process. His own moan rivalled Noctis's as he rubbed their two cocks together, his hand aided by their own precome. Noctis moaned, head falling back against the wall as he rutted in earnest against Ignis.

Ignis could feel himself coming apart, the feeling of rubbing himself and Noctis, the feeling of Noctis’s member against his own. The way Noctis was moaning and calling out his name, giving himself totally over to Ignis’s control.

“Ignis…I think I’m going to. You need to stop.”

“I think not, Highness. I wish to see you come undone, Noctis. Give yourself to me, come for me.”

The prince came with a low shout, tendrils of cream exploding over the both of them. It pushed Ignis over the edge, coming himself over the prince and his hand. They pressed together, panting and sweaty. Trembling, Ignis carefully placed Noctis down.

"I love you, Noctis."

Ignis woke with a gasp, jack-knifing into a sitting position, hand clutching at his chest as his heart raced. After taking a few deep breaths he calmed, finally noticing the burning ache in his groin. Willing it away, he pulled over his phone, finding it still too early in the morning to be up.

He lay back down, moving Noctis to make room for himself. Noctis groaned sleepily as he was moved, turning onto his side, revealing a bare strip of flesh around his stomach as his shirt rode up. Ignis was transfixed, staring at the taunt stomach.

Dreams meant nothing, he told himself. His care and protective instincts were simply manifesting themselves in his slumber

 

>>>>>> 

 

Another night out under the stars, another week passed on their trek. Ignis had never been fond of camping, and judging by the way Prompto was hobbling around the camp stretching out the kinks in his back, he wasn't the only one. Only Gladio seemed at ease outside, happily gutting the fish Noctis had caught, whistling as he worked.

Ever since that dream it had been hard to look Noctis in the eye. Every time Noctis brushed close icy tendrils danced down his spine. These thoughts had no place within his advisory obligations.

“That smells like it’s burning.”

Alarmed, he moved the pan from the stove to simmer, immediately trying to think of a way to salvage the dish.

"Blast it all!" he growled.

“Not like you Iggy, something on your mind?”

“A momentary lapse in concentration. Apologies.” Attempting to salvage the vegetables with an over-spiced sauce to hide the burnt tang, Ignis sat back heavily in his camp chair. Cursing his failing will, he turned to watch Noctis hunched over with Prompto, the fishing line resting between them.

“They sure look like they’re having a serious conversation,” Gladio mentioned offhandedly.

“Indeed.” Ignis quashed the exasperation that swiftly rose.

“You know,” Gladio scratched the back his neck, “the magic you’ve learnt through Noct, don’t suppose…”

“There is something I could…modify to eavesdrop. However, that would be immoral.”

“Aren’t you meant to be his advisor? I know something’s been bothering you.” He inclined his head to the secretive pair. “This could be your chance to find out what it is.”

Ignis debated the thought, weighed it in his head. It was entirely improper, a breach of etiquette. Whatever had been bothering Noctis was beginning to burrow its way into Ignis's brain like a parasitic worm, and Ignis could stand it no longer.

He causally flicked his wrist. A slight gust of wind blew back at them, and on it were the sounds of Noctis and Prompto speaking.

“But love? Man are you sure?”

Love. Was that what had been praying on the prince’s mind? Ignis frowned, tilting his head. Royal couples often married for social and political moves, Noctis knew that. It would be a good thing if Noctis could glean some love from the match.

He lifted his hands to massage his temples

 “I…I can’t help it Prompto. I know what I’m meant to do, who I’m meant to marry and what it means…for everyone. I can’t just turn my feelings off for him though.”

Him? Noctis was in love...with a him?

Gladio choked on the beer he had been drinking. His hand began cutting across his neck unsubtly. Ignis went to drop the spell.

It didn’t happen fast enough.

“But Ignis of all people?”

Ignis’s hand froze, heat rising in his cheeks. He stood abruptly, the chair falling back in his haste. He was overzealous in stirring the pot, anything, anything else than thinking about what he had just learnt.

“Ignis?” Gladio’s voice was unusually hesitant, soft.

No.

No, this couldn’t be. Noctis had to marry Lady Lunafreya. It was part of the treaty, a condition imposed on them by the Empire. His fingers trembled around the wooden spoon.

Oh Ignis, you think you’re not as important to me as the others.

Ignis was back in Noctis's apartment, right back in the beginning of when all this had started.

For someone who claims to be a master analysis and my closest advisor, you sure can be blind sometimes.

How had this even happened? Ignis had seen no signs of it.

“No Gladio, he has a duty to fulfil. This is not the time for playing with self-indulgent fantasies. He will marry Lady Lunafreya, he will become king and hold the wall.” His words were brisk, clipped. He couldn’t allow himself to be anything else.

Above all his duty was to the crown, to Lucis.

He pressed his glasses into his eyes, giving him pain to think about other than the turmoil inside his chest. Those glances. The glances Noctis had thrown him when they were alone, or when the young man thought no-one was looking. Ignis had thought them nothing but fondness, of an understanding between future king and advisor. The feeling of trust, of knowing someone inside out.

A vice was squeezing around his heart. He couldn’t think, couldn’t breathe.

Noctis loved him.

Flutters of emotion subdued the raging turmoil.

No, the future king of Insomnia loved someone of no importance. That was something he could never allow as an advisor. Kings could not marry for any other reason than mutual gain and benefit. Noctis could not be with someone for love.

“Iggy…” The voice was urgent.

“This is another excuse for him to escape his responsibilities. Pretending to have feelings for another. It is shameless.”

He knew as he was speaking that it was all nonsense. He needed to put distance between his heart and his mind, between himself and Noctis. Ignis was being iniquitous and still his mouth continued, churning out vile words.

“We shouldn't be surprised by his behaviour. This is typical of the egotistical prince. I am nothing more than his advisor, Gladio. Looking after him is my-”

“Job?”

The cracked voice pierced his heart.

Slowly, as though turning in thick ooze, Ignis faced the three of them. Gladio, had his eyes shut and was pinching the bridge of his nose. Prompto's mouth was agape. Ignis couldn't breathe as he dragged his eyes up to meet Noctis's.

Ignis wanted to crumble to his knees and beg forgiveness. Never before had he seen such despair, such anguish etched on Noctis’s beautiful face.

“Noct -” He reached out a trembling hand.

Blue eyes, those damn expressive blue eyes of his glimmered with tears, before Noctis squeezed them shut and raised his own hand in a clear stop. When he opened them again, his face was schooled into that regal, untouchable expression. The one Ignis had practised with him to hide emotion.

Ignis actually bit back the sound of pain that rose in his throat.

“It’s late and we've still got a long road to follow.” His words were flat, his tenor emotionless. Ignis felt the blade twist even further into his chest.

“Noctis, I -”

“I’ve heard enough, Scientia. Your feelings regarding the matter were made perfectly clear. Now if there is nothing else to discuss I’m going to bed.”

 

>>>>>> 

 

Ignis was usually the last to retire for the night, preparing everything for the day tomorrow, thinking on which routes to take. Tonight, on this night he wanted to be certain everyone was asleep before he joined them. He’d even considered sleeping outside for the night, but his need to watch over Noctis, no matter how much he’d hurt his charge was overwhelming.

Restacking his equipment and reorganising his ingredients for the last time, he could put it off no longer. The zipper was obscenely loud, and he flinched. The sounds of Prompto softly snoring continued and Ignis breathed a sigh of relief. Waiting for his eyes to adjust to the darkness, he felt his way around, unsurprised to find the group sleeping dynamics had shifted.

He could see the soft outline of the prince now, turned away from him, far away from Ignis as he could manage, allowing a wall of Gladio and Prompto between them.

It hurt Ignis, and he fought against the desire to wake the prince and beg forgiveness. What had happened had been cruel. He had broken Noctis’s trust in multiple ways. First intruding on privacy, then suggesting he had no feelings other than that of an employee of the crown, and finally all the harsh words that had escaped Ignis in his manic moments.

Clenching his fist to his chest, he lay down beside Prompto and willed himself to be strong. They had fought before, and Ignis would mend the harm. It would do Noctis no good to wake him now, he needed his sleep.

As he tried to soothe the tumult in his mind, trying to ignore the guilt swirling, he heard the shuffles over Gladio’s deep snores. The shield’s breathing changed in an instant, turning from snores into wheezing snuffles. Ignis recognised it for what it was, pretend sleep.

Noctis sat up and waited for a few seconds before silently moving over to the flap of the tent and unzipping it. When it had zipped closed again, with Noctis on the other side, Ignis rose as well.

The sounds of sobs, trying to be quiet had Ignis fumbling for the zip.

“I think he’s been hurt enough tonight,” Gladio’s voice, raspy with sleep interrupted.

“I need to right that which is wrong,” Ignis snarled back.

“And I’m telling you to leave it. Go to sleep Ignis, I’ve got him.”

Cursing Gladio under his breath, Ignis returned to his place in the bed roll, crossing his arms and staring at the canopy of the tent. He could still hear Noctis and judging by Prompto’s sudden silence he wasn’t the only one.

 

>>>>>> 

 

Noctis said nothing to him in the morning, swollen eyes downcast. He had nodded his head in thanks at the food that was handed to him at breakfast, and listened to Ignis’s suggestion that they press on for Galdin Quay. Ignis had opened the passenger door for Noctis, like he had done so many times in the past, only to be presented with Prompto.

“Gladio thought it’d be safer for Noctis to ride in the back with him. Guess my life is more expendable.” The joke fell flat, the strained smile on Prompto’s face killing off any attempts at humour. Ignis watched as Noctis climbed into the back, trying to think of some words of comfort. He could think of nothing to say at present time, not with his own thoughts still scrambled, so he chose silence, climbing behind the wheel.

They fell into a sombre stillness during the drive, Gladio reading his book and stealing glances at Noctis, Prompto looking out the window lost in thought. Noctis had stared sadly down into his lap for a while and eventually fallen asleep with the rocking movement of the car.

Ignis slowed the speed of the Regalia, allowing Noctis to have as much sleep as possible. Watching his charge through the rear view mirror, Ignis felt the heavy weight of remorse upon him. Noctis was exhausted enough as it was, warping and magic having their toll on his body. All Ignis had done was add to stress and fatigue the prince already carried.

Driving allowed him to sort his thoughts, his eyes constantly shifting between the road and the mirror showing Noctis.

How had this happened?

No, how had Ignis not seen this happening? He had completely mistaken the prince’s affection for him. Ignis’s fingers gripped the steering wheel. Noctis had always been apt at hiding his feelings.

It was possible he never intended Ignis to find out, which only made what he did even more shameful.

Noctis had never given any suggestion of having romantic feelings, nor had he given any indication that he might desire men in that way. Ignis allowed his thoughts to wander over that possible idea. Did it bother him that Noctis found men attractive? He tried to imagine it, the idea of Noctis holding another in an embrace.

A quick flash of anger caught him, a strike to the heart.

Without thinking he slammed on the brakes, chest throbbing, breath coming in sharp gasps.

“What’s the matter? Are you alright?” The hand on his shoulder was Noctis’s. After everything, Noctis was asking if he was alright. He glanced up into the mirror, into those vivid eyes.

No. It didn’t bother him that Noctis could be with a man.

“Apologies, a stray animal ran out into the road.”

“An animal? Was it hurt?” Prompto launched himself out of the car to look for it, Noctis following.

It bothered Ignis that he could be with someone else.

 

>>>>>> 

 

Galdin Quay was an eye opener for Noctis, his face immediately lit up at the prospect of catching fish from the seashore, but his current mood still had him sulking. It had lasted days now. Every time Ignis had tried to get Noctis alone he had been thwarted. He had expected Gladio to strong arm Noctis into speaking with him, clearing the air as it were.

Nothing had happened.

He had hoped Prompto's ease and laid back personality might have helped Noctis's ruffled feathers.

The young man was clearly on Noctis's side.

No-one had commented on the new sleeping arrangements or the new driving positions.

It was driving Ignis crazy.

He did not want his relationship with Noctis to continue in such a manner, but he found himself being a coward. He knew he had hurt Noctis irreparably and he did not know how to fix it. Saying sorry seemed hollow.

As they walked along the pier, Noctis's spirits seemed to lift a little, the saline stained air teasing his hair into a tangled mess. Prompto took advantage of it, taking photos, and Ignis shared in the laughs as Noctis shoved him into the sea.

Laughing, Noctis reached down to help Prompto up, only to be tugged down alongside his friend. The indignant look on Noctis's face as he came up spluttering did amuse Ignis, leaning against Gladio as they both laughed.

Noctis glared at the pair of them, before showering them both in a spray of sea. Gladio reached down and plucked Prompto out, dumping him heavily on his feet. Ignis knelt down and hesitantly offered his hand to Noctis.

He stared at it a moment before accepting, allowing Ignis to pull him up. They collided, the momentum catching Ignis off guard, both wrapping their arms around the other.

This was the perfect chance. He opened his mouth, but Noctis beat him to it.

"Sorry." Noctis wouldn't meet his eyes, pulling away quickly.

Ignis let himself watch longer than was necessary. Noctis's hair was sticking up in odd ruffles, his shirt clinging to his lithe torso. His words clumped on his tongue.

"I won't...I won't come near you again. It's inappropriate and I know you've got to do your job. Please continue to advise me, Scientia."

His stomach clenched as he followed the rest of them walking towards the dock, his footsteps slowing as he fought against the pain. He had done this, and he needed to right it.

"Noctis, wait a moment-"

"I'm afraid you're out of luck."

Ignis glanced up at the man barring their path. He recognised him but had trouble remembering from where.

"Are we?" Noctis was abrupt, his eyes shifting subtly to Ignis, seeking help.

"The boats that bring you here. Well, they'll not take you forth."

Gladio shot Ignis a look, and Ignis nodded, scanning the dock for anything suspicious.

"And what's your story?" Gladio challenged, the muscles in his arms clenching.

The man stalked past Noctis, and Ignis found himself instinctively moving towards Noctis, his charge not shying away.

"I'm an impatient traveller, ready to turn ship."

They watched the ruby haired man walk away, turning as a united force to face him. Ignis moved a step forward with Gladio. If this was a threat then he'd have to go through the both of them.

"The ceasefire is getting us nowhere."

From behind Ignis came the sound of shifting feet, a sudden exhale. Noctis was finally faced with the reality of the real world, people in which the actions of the crown affected. The meeting might have proven beneficial after all. As the man turned, Ignis rose on the balls of his feet, but Gladio got there first, catching whatever it was he threw.

"What's this? A souvenir?"

Ignis spared a brief look at the coin and turned back to watching the stranger, the ordinary coin had no value.

"Consider it allowance."

His tone had everyone on edge.

"Yeah? And who's allowing us?" Gladio expected a fight, taking centre point.

"A man of no consequence."

Noctis scoffed loudly, "yeah right."

The group turned to create a circle, watching each other.

"It sounded like he was making a threat. The ceasefire? What did he mean?" Prompto was wringing his hands together.

"It means, Prompto that our suspicious stranger is highlighting the importance of what we set out to do. How crucial it is that we get to Altissia, and prevent any attacks on Insomnia."

"It doesn't matter what I want? That I don't love her?" Noctis grumbled.

"Enough Noctis!" Ignis snapped.

Noctis's pose was reminiscent of times in which they had fought in the past when Noctis was shirking his duties.

"You will do what is asked of you. The council, your father the king, and the Empire have all agreed to these terms. You will go to Altissia. You will marry Lady Lunafreya, you will become the king you are meant to be. Even if I have to drag you there!"

Three pairs of eyes looked back at him stunned.

"I get it... I get it alright!" Noctis stepped up to him, challenging him. "I know my duties. I will not fail my people." He bumped past him, leaving Ignis speechless.

Noctis had never acted aggressively towards him before.

"Real nice, Ignis." Prompto glared, hurrying after Noctis.

"He knows what he's got to do, Iggy. Stop pushing your own issues onto the kid." Gladio followed, leaving Ignis alone.

That was what he was doing. If he hid beneath the task assigned him, if he just followed his duty unwaveringly, then he didn't need to deal with what was happening. Noctis needed to forget about his infatuations.

And Ignis needed to suppress his.

"For Lucis," he muttered, biting the inside of his cheek.

 

>>>>>>> 

 

They decided to room together in Quayside Cradle, to save money for the ferry Dino had secured them. As always Ignis was first to rise, stretching out his muscles from where they had cramped laying on the floor. There seemed to be no bruises from rocks this time though.

He sat up stealthy, placing his glasses on and checking that everyone was still present. Prompto and Noctis had nestled together in one of the beds, and Ignis ignored the burning flair he felt in his gut at Prompto's hand clutching Noctis's hip. Dressing, he bent to whisper to Gladio that he was leaving to gather information, the shield nodding without opening his eyes.

Ignis loved early mornings. It was when he was most productive, the time before everyone was truly awake. He was going to grab a cup of ebony and come up with a solution to clear the air with Noct. The prince was hurting, and Ignis was only prolonging the agony. Noctis needed to know that he wasn't a job to Ignis, that he knew Noctis was trying his best.

He perused the shelves of the local store. Noctis needed to know that Ignis did not mean any of the atrocities that had tumbled from his mouth that night at the campfire. A gift perhaps, to soften the mood, to bend Noctis's ear into listening.

No.

It couldn't be.

The coffee tumbled from his hands as he reached out for the paper. Then another, and another.

The store clerk shouted after him as he left the store, unpaid papers in hand, eyes blurry.

When he re-entered the room everyone was up and dressed, waiting for him.

He looked at Noctis. He couldn't do this. Couldn't take everything away from him. It was Ignis's job to save him from pain.

"What's that look for?" Noctis's voice was cold, on guard.

He handed the paper to Gladio. "It's in all the papers." He needed support with this one, Noctis was not going to be receptive to him.

"What is?"

"Insomnia...falls?"

Perhaps it was better coming from Prompto.

"Wha?" The facade dropped in an instant, horror dawning on Noctis's face.

Ignis wanted to save Noctis from his, to shield him from the hurt that was close at hand.

"This your idea of a joke? You don't think I can follow through on orders so you're going to give me another lesson on consequences!"

"I need you to calm down so I can explain."

"I'm as calm as I'm gonna get!"

"There was an attack. The imperial army has taken the Crown city."

Ignis barely listened as Gladio read the news to Noctis, hanging his head. Everything had been for nought. Noctis's panicked voice cut through his thoughts.

"No, wait. Hold on."

"We had no way of knowing." Ignis gritted his teeth. He should have foreseen this, known that it was all a ruse.

"What! Knowing what!" Noctis was pleading.

"That the signing was last night."

"But the wedding! Altissia! It was supposed to hold the treaty."

"I know! That was the plan." That was what Ignis had been sticking to all this time, his justification for ignoring feelings evoked by Noctis." But the reports of invasion are all the same. How can every headline in the kingdom be wrong?" Ignis hated the despair, the sheer hopelessness.

Noctis’s face crumpled, eyes wide and pleading. “Ignis…” It was the first time Noctis had used his name in days, looking at him for help, for comfort. Ignis stepped forward, ready to receive his charge. After Noctis had taken a few steps, eyes filled with tears he stopped, and his face hardened. He wiped his eyes angrily and shook his head, looking away from Ignis.

Oh, Etro.

Just what had he done?

Ignis couldn't be in the room anymore. He fled, leaving them in their despair. Without the wedding, without the need to uphold the treaty, where did that leave him? Where were they meant to go from here? What reasons could Ignis give himself now?

He shook his head, straightened his jacket. When life was at its darkest, that was when Noctis needed him most, not hiding outside fretting about trivial things such as feelings and emotions.

Ignis was surprised to see Gladio and Noctis deep in conversation when he re-entered the room. Pushing aside the guilt, he sat at the table and waited for the two to come to a natural halt.

“It seems you have decided on a plan of action without even consulting me.” The bite was evident in his voice, but it was Gladio he directed it towards.

“I was merely suggesting, not advising.”

“So? What have you come up with?”

“We need to return to Insomnia. We need more information about what’s happening, not second-hand rumours and idle gossip. I…I have to see what’s happened, if there are any survivors or any of the Kingsglaive or Crownsguard. Once we’ve obtained factual information, we can decide how best to attack the empire. Do you approve?”

“It is wise to gain facts. They have pronounced you all dead, and yet here you stand before me. It is possible that others might not have perished.”

“Do you think…do you think the king might have survived?” It was Prompto who asked.

“It is…possible.”

“And…Lunafreya?”

They all looked at Noctis, who had turned and was looking out the window, eyes closed.

“Also possible.”

“If Luna’s alright, she’ll send Umbra to me soon with a message. I don’t have another way of contacting her.” Noctis looked pained. “I’m guessing the treaty was just a ruse for the empire to invade and steal the crystal?” He looked at Ignis as he said this, wanting confirmation.

“It appears that way, yes.”

Noctis nodded, frowning he thought.

“Speak your mind, Highness.”

Eyes flashed with anger as Ignis spoke, and he found himself recoiling from Noctis. “Not until I have enough information. We need to get back to Insomnia.”

 

>>>>>>> 

 

Ignis couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Insomnia, the impenetrable, overrun with military machines, burning buildings, screams of the suffering. All four of them stood, in grave silence looking at the destruction of the Crown city. Huge airships were flying overhead, vultures eager to eat the scraps of civilisation.

His eyes shifted a little to observe Noctis, not enough so that the prince would be aware he was being watched. His jaw was set in that way he clenched his teeth when he was trying to hold back angry tears. Hands were fisted, legs shaking. Prompto got there before he could even move, a supportive pillar for his friend.

Ignis went to suggest they leave before they were spotted and was interrupted by Noctis pulling out his phone and dialling.

“Cor? Is it true?”

Ignis couldn’t hear the Immortal answering but knew by the closing of Noctis’s eyes, and the way his hand wrapped around Prompto’s wrist what had happened. He pushed his own sorrow away for the deceased king for now, mourning would be needed to be done in private, not when Noctis needed him to be strong.

“And Luna?”

There was a spark of hope in his chest which horrified Ignis. He did not wish Lady Lunafreya harm, but something had him waiting with held breath.

“Good, so she’s safe.”

Ignis was mortified.

Insomnia was defeated, his king murdered, and all he wanted to know was if Noctis would still need to marry Lady Lunafreya. There was no logical reason behind it. He wished her no ill harm, yet…he didn’t want Noctis to marry her.

It was because Noctis was against it, he told himself. It was cruel to make someone marry the opposite gender of that of which you were interested. Perhaps a high male official, someone who could help rebuild what they had lost. His stomach swayed, and he pressed his hands to his head.

Just what sort of monster was he becoming?

Now he was bartering the prince off to whichever suitor proved to be their greatest ally? Did he not care for Noctis at all?

“We’re meeting Cor in Hammerhead, let’s go.” Noctis addressed all of them, but Ignis knew the comment was aimed at him, even if the prince still wasn’t on proper speaking terms with him.

 

>>>>>>> 

 

The knock on his motel door surprised him, Prompto had already stopped by on his way back to bed, assuring Ignis that Noctis had eaten and had fallen asleep. Before Ignis had even asked, Prompto told him that Noctis had fallen asleep crying, and Ignis had tried to push past the boy.

“I wouldn’t Ignis. I think…one day he’ll be able to forgive you. I know you didn’t mean what you said, and he knows too, deep down. He’s hurting…he’s hurting real bad. He needs us to be strong.”

It had to be Gladio knocking on his door then, they needed to go over what they would say to Cor, what the Marshal expected from them.

Yawning as he walked, a thousand ideas running through his head, they all fled as they took in his visitor.

“Noctis,” he whispered.

Bright eyes gazed up at him, tear tracks down his cheeks. His hair was dishevelled, his body quivering and his face was pale.

“Ignis…” Noctis’s voice broke and tears fell anew.

Without thinking, Ignis reached forward and pulled the boy to him, shutting the door behind him. Noctis sobbed into his chest, hands clutching his shirt. Ignis cradled Noctis’s head, pressing his cheek against the soft hair. His heart broke as Noctis clung to him. He had grown up with him, supported him and guided him. Never before had he seen him like this.

When the tears slowed, breathing slowing into slow snuffles, Ignis pulled away, tilting Noctis’s head up.

“I am sorry…Noctis.” Which was he apologising for?

“What am I supposed to do Ignis? He’s gone.”

The skin around Noctis’s eyes was red, and Ignis soothed away the ache with his thumbs.

“You are not alone. You have us.”

“I was horrible when I left. I didn’t say anything to him…I just left.”

“He was your father, Noctis. Before being king, he was your father. Everything he did, he wanted you to be safe.”

“I don’t want to run a country. I don’t know how! I just…I just want him back!” His eyes squeezed shut, and he wrapped his arms around Ignis’s back.

“Come, this way.” Ignis led his charge to the bed, sat him down and removed the prince’s boots and socks. “Rest, everything will wait till morning. I will be here with you.”

Noctis merely gazed at him with huge eyes and after a moment he nodded and got down under the covers. “Stay with me?”

“Of course, I shall be over there.” He indicated the chair with a nod of his head.

“No, stay with me here.”

Ignis froze, the refusal on the tip of his tongue. When he looked back at Noctis, huddled with a blanket, eyelids heavy from exhaustion, his resolve crumbled. It wouldn’t be acceptable, especially not knowing what Ignis knew about Noctis and his feelings. Ignis knew it, yet it did not stop him shedding his shirt and climbing in beside him, close enough to take comfort from his presence.

He was a pathetic man.

He had missed Noctis sleeping next to him. Etro, how he had missed it.

Ignis stared at the ceiling, feeling the minutes drag by, listening to the soft sounds of Noctis breathing. The prince's presence began to feel oppressive, his warmth seeping into Ignis’s skin, scent coiling around him.

 “Ignis?”

“Yes, Highness?”

“Did you mean what you said?”

Ignis rolled onto his side, propped himself up on one elbow. Without being asked he knew of what Noctis was speaking. “Of course not. Your feelings caught me…unaware. I have always known that you would be a great king. You are young, and much has always been expected of you. It was a brave decision to leave the Citadel, to discover who you are before the mantle of ruler will be placed upon you.”

"I envy you that." Ignis had never got a chance to develop any sort of a personality outside of his duties. Did he actually enjoy cooking or had to become a requirement of him?.

Noctis’s eyes opened, and he turned his head slightly.

“You honestly believe that?”

“You are a brat on occasion, and you do avoid your studies and any sort of work. Your diet is abhorrent, and your living standards leave much to be desired.” Ignis smiled at the scowl he received.

“You are honourable, you are kind, and you care about your people. I know you wish to do what is right. That is all a wise king can do, that and listen to his advisor.”

Noctis’s gaze slid past him as he took in what Ignis had said, thinking it over. Ignis took the time to study the prince’s body, his slender neck, broad shoulders and the jut of collarbone against light skin. He had always known the prince was attractive, he was fair of face, and he did not lack female suitors. Yet there was something adorable about the way he was laying there, beneath him, trusting Ignis to keep him safe.

Ignis had not been intimate, with anyone. He had neither the time nor the interest. His entire life’s focus was and always would be Noctis. With that thought, came the startling realisation.

He loved Noctis. There it was. Plain and simple.

“Why me?” He tried to stop the words, the thought had no place. It wasn’t the time, the prince had just inherited his father’s doomed legacy.

Noctis’s eyes flickered back to meet his. The look made something unfurl deep in Ignis’s stomach. Trust, love, adoration. Ignis wanted to scoop him up, press him close to his skin, whisper his devotion.

Heat flared in his cheeks, the devotion taking a lewd turn.

“You’ve…you’ve always been there for me. I used to think of you as a surrogate parent, calm, comforting, always trying to take care of me. When you started calling me Noctis, I knew I wasn’t a job to you anymore. I don’t know when it changed, I can’t explain it. You’ve always been important in a different way. I always knew you’d be behind me, until the wall took my life. It was only when I grew up that I knew I’d want you beside me, not just as my advisor.”

Noctis’s palm was cool against his heated cheeks, and Ignis’s eyes automatically drifted down to the red lips. A small step, a small break in decorum. His head dipped down, Noctis’s eyes fluttered shut, his hand curling around to cup the back of Ignis’s neck. Their breaths mingled. Ignis craved the sweetness he could smell on Noctis, craved Noctis.

He was so close.

“I cannot.”

Hurt made Noctis pull away.

“You are king now, Noctis. I have no place beside you except as your advisor. You are in pain, you are confused and you have responsibility crushing down upon you. I cannot in good conscious take advantage of this.”

“Ignis? I thought…I thought you understood.”

“You cannot forget Lady Lunafreya.” The air around them got noticeably cooler, and Ignis recoiled from the blue sparks crackling on Noctis’s skin.

“I’m still going to marry her? The treaty meant nothing to them. They killed my father, invaded Insomnia, destroyed everything that meant anything to me, and I’m expected to uphold my end of the bargain?” Noctis leapt out of bed.

“There might be a way to appease Niflheim. Your marriage could still solidify relations of peace between us and the Empire. Do not foolishly disregard future connections made because of a childish infatuation."

Noctis crossed his arms, fingers digging into his elbows, and his head fell to his chest.

“If you ever…ever mock my feelings again Ignis I will send you back to Insomnia. I know my duty, and I will avenge my father.”

“Highness-”

“Don’t worry advisor. Your advice has been noted, and you can be assured that whatever childish feelings I had have just been destroyed by yourself.”

Ignis took a sharp breath at the venom in the prince’s words, in the fury of his gaze.

“Noctis, please, I spoke poorly.”

The door slammed behind him.

 

>>> 

 

"The power of kings passed from the old to the new through the bonding of souls. Once such soul lies before you. To claim your forbearers power is your birthright and your duty, as King." Cor was just as imposing as always, determined to get Noctis to fulfil his obligation.

"My duty as king of what?"

"Now is not the time to question your calling. A king is sworn to protect his people." Noctis's anguish got the better of him, his anger at having the same message repeated over and over again.

"And yet he chose to protect only one prince. Was that his calling? Forsake the masses to protect his own son?" There was guilt there, and Ignis saw then that Noctis was slowly accepting his role, that even he understood that a king gave his life for his people.

"How long will you remain the protected? The king entrusted the role of protector to you." Ignis watched Noctis in the dark tomb, the way he gripped the monument. He would remain protected for as long as Ignis had life in his body.

"Entrusted it to me? then why didn't he tell me that! Why did he stand there smiling as I left? Why? Why did he lie to me?"

"That day he didn't want you to remember him as the king. In what time you had left he wanted to be your father. He always had faith in you that when the time came you would ascend for the sake of your people."

If there is a chance, a glimmer of happiness that Noctis can have, as a man, and not as the future monarch…would you assist him in obtaining it?

Ignis jolted as the memory of Regis's words echoed in his mind.

"Guess he left me no choice." Noctis glanced over at Ignis as he said it, clearly marking Ignis part of the culprit.

I’m afraid we taught you too well the decorum of duty. Sometimes things that have been set in stone for many years can crumble, and a new way must be forged.

 

Regis had known. He had known how Noctis felt. He had also known how Ignis would react to it, how blinded he would become.

Ignis felt a sense of awe as he watched Noctis hesitantly touch the royal arms, watching as the Royal Arms appeared before him. That more than anything else proved that Noctis was beyond his reach. Ignis did not know what to do but press forward along the path Regis had already laid out for him.

Let him find his own path in life. His destination cannot be changed, but the path leading there is not set in stone.

 

Ignis was lost.

 

>>> 

 

Prompto stood beside Ignis has they rested against the bonnet of the car, watching Noctis feeding a Chocobo.

"Man, that has got the be the best shot ever!" The camera was shoved in front of his face. Ignis drew back a little in order to focus his eyes.

"Indeed."

It was a close up of Noctis, carefree and happy as the huge bird took the greens from his hands.

"Do you think it's a king’s destiny to live alone in solitude?"

"Of course not, Prompto."

Ignis continued to stare at Noctis, the way he was trailing his hands through soft yellow feathers, the tender way in which he spoke to the animal.

"Then why are you pushing him towards it?"

"Kings have to lead by example, and they have to make sacrifices for their people."

"Don't cha think Noctis already has? Losing his dad, giving up his life eventually...those...well, they're pretty big sacrifices, Ignis. Kings are still people, they still have feelings, and they still deserve to be with the ones they love. Wasn’t that what King Regis wanted?"

Ignis bowed his head, he now knew what Regis meant, but he did not know how to advance from here.

"I don't know much about royalty, but it seems to me that Noctis has never fit the mould for what royalty should be, how they should act. Loving another man, and you at that…surely there are worst things huh?"

Prompto had stopped fiddling with his camera and was waiting for a reaction. Ignis was too well trained for that, nothing would show on his face. The tension grew and eventually Ignis relented, standing up straight from his slouch.

"What if things were to end badly? Not only would it change the dynamics of our group, Noctis would lose my experience my expertise."

"Could it make the dynamics any worse than it is now?" Prompto scoffed, chuckling. "Are you telling me that if it were to end badly between you that would just abandon him?"

“Of course I would not!" Ignis snapped.

If…Etro forbid, it ended horribly, even if there were pain and suffering on both sides, I know...you know that you would both move on for the good of the people."

Ignis stood there with his mouth hanging open. Prompto had summarised it all, in just a few sentences.

"But it is unethical for me. I’m supposed to look after him, guide him. I know you mean well Prompto, and as much as I value your friendship and your opinion you cannot understand my position."

"You can't look after him or guide him as a partner?"

They both looked up at the pathetic yell. Prompto laughed as Noctis defended himself from hungry pecks. Ignis felt the ache in his chest, the bitter sweetness of it spreading outward.

"What if my judgment becomes clouded by romantic attachment?" he breathed out.

"You've never allowed your judgment to be clouded by your feelings. You already love him. Everything you do, it’s always for Noctis."

"That’s…not…that cannot be right."

“You cook because it makes him happy.”

“Because he cannot do it for himself.” Ignis was quick to point out.

“He isn’t as incapable as you make it sound. From what I hear your entire schooling was dedicated on how best to support him. You attended meeting for him, even the ones you didn't need to. I remember Noctis moaning about you lecturing him on tasks he didn't even need to do. Even when he moved out of the Citadel you checked on him. Every night from what I heard."

“All requirements of my role I assure you. You and Gladio both love the prince. Why does mine differ from yours?”

“Noctis is my first real friend, Gladio thinks of him as a pesky little brother. You, however, Ignis, are something special. You just never saw it.”

Ignis was stunned into silence, everyone had noticed apart from him?

“I can’t…” his voice broke. “I cannot take him away from his duty, Prompto. The Lucis line has to continue, our city, our country needs heirs, to uphold the wall, to protect the crystal. If we were to have a relationship…I could not stand in his way of having a child, and he need a queen for that.” Anger began to bubble.

“Or am I supposed to look the other way while someone I love consummates with another.” The slip had him bringing his fingers to his mouth.

Prompto was smug, smiling from ear to ear. “Took you long enough to admit it.” He clapped a friendly hand on his shoulder. “Look, I don’t know about decrees or running a kingdom, that’s your job. But the way I see it Ignis, we don’t have a kingdom anymore. The wall has been broken, the crystal stolen. Who’s to say it isn’t time for a change? The Lucis line has been giving up their lives for centuries, maybe now is the opportunity to change all that?"

Ignis had nothing to come back with, Prompto made sense. He was clinging to old ideals, the old way of life.

Niflheim had destroyed all that.

“Besides…he doesn’t have to sleep with someone to ensure heirs Ignis. I’m sure, once all this is over there’d be plenty of women happy to surrogate for a future royal baby. As long as it isn't Cindy.”

“It’s all so matter of fact with you, isn’t it.”

“And it’s always over thinking with you, isn’t it Iggy?”

“I’ve…I hurt him Prompto. I fear the feelings he had for me are now dead.”

“Trust me Ignis, he’s loved you for years. That sort of feeling isn’t just going to vanish. He’s protecting himself.” Prompto shook him gently by the shoulder and walked away with a bounce in his step.

As Ignis watched him go, he caught Noctis glancing at him, The prince wasn't fast enough in looking away, and he began to kick at the ground embarrassed.

He felt himself smile, "I do believe it is time for a change."

 

>>> 

 

Ignis took his time walking down to the bar of the hotel. He was tired, and he just wanted to sleep, but Gladio had insisted he meet him for a drink. Yet another seedy motel on their way to Lestallum to meet the refugees, but none of them had it in them for a night camping. Not after their fight with the Empire and its machines.

The bar was quiet, a few groups of people here and there, milling around, enjoying conversations. Ignis spotted Gladio easily, the tall man waving tattooed arms around when he saw Ignis enter. There was a tumbler of whisky waiting for him, and Ignis smiled his thanks, breathing deep and enjoying the first burning sip.

They sat in companionable silence for a while, both drinking from their glasses, listening to the activity around them.

“Heard any titbits worth pursuing?” Ignis asked after a while.

“I didn’t come here for work, Iggy, I just wanted some time away from it all, you know.”

“Everything that’s happened, it’s a lot to take in.”

Gladio hummed into his drink. “It’s a heavy weight Noct is carrying. I thought he would be older before needing to wear the crown.”

“Indeed.” Ignis followed Gladio’s gaze.

He spluttered, drink burning a path down his throat as he coughed. Noctis was at the bar, without his usual black attire, speaking with someone.

No, not speaking.

Flirting.

The stranger threw his head back and laughed, lifting his hand to curl around the back of Noctis's neck.

Ignis stood.

“No, leave him be Ignis. I’m watching him, he’s safe. He can have this one night away from it all.”

This wasn’t the sort of behaviour he was used to seeing in Noctis. The prince who usually baulked at physical contact, his demeanour usually morose around strangers. It was a different young man he saw before him, relaxed in well-fitting blue jeans, and a cream t-shirt that contrasted strikingly with his dark hair.

Noctis subtly moved those fingers that were clinging to his neck away, away from the scar that was peeking out from the neck of his t-shirt. Ignis felt his eyes narrow, his hand applying pressure to his glass. Why was Noctis allowing someone touch an area so vulnerable?

Ignis had been there when Noctis had returned with that injury. Ignis had bolstered his confidence when a young prince looked into the mirror self-consciously and burst into tears, clinging to Ignis. Ignis was the only one, asides Gladio and Prompto who Noctis allowed to touch him there.

The splintering of glass barely registered. Could the uncivilised ruffian not see the way in which Noctis was tensing? The subtle tightening around the eyes and mouth that meant Noctis was uncomfortable but not able to express himself. 

Noctis steered the hand away, resting it on his forearm and smiling at the man. That was a smile unlike one Ignis had seen.

It was a provocation.

“No, I cannot permit this.”

“Ignis, he’s allowed to have a one night stand, who knows? It might even lead to a relationship.” Gladio chuckled into his glass.

There was no way a commoner would understand the onus of political pressure. That man…Ignis’s nails dug into the meat of his hand as he leant to whisper in Noctis's ear, causing a blush to erupt.

Ignis wasn’t going to tolerate this.

He shook off Gladio’s hand and marched towards the pain of them, gut clenching as he saw their heads leaning together comfortably.

“I believe it is time to go, Noct.” Ignis’s voice was low, but it had the effect he wanted, the stranger immediately drawing away.

“Stop it Specs, go finish your conversation with Gladio and I’ll see you both in the morning.”

Ignis reached forward, grasping Noctis’s upper arm in a vice grip. “I do not believe I was giving you an option.” He jerked the prince to his feet, cutting off the potential beau’s protests with a hand and a glare.

“What the hell?” Noctis shouted as Ignis pushed them into his room and slammed the door behind him.

“You are the king, Noctis, you cannot be acting like that with commoners.”

"I can speak and act anyway I want." Noctis tried to move past him, but Ignis barred the way.

“It was not talking on his mind, Highness.”

“It was not talking on mine either Ignis, move!”

“You can't mean to tell me you planned your first intimate encounter with someone like that.” Ignis was scathing. How could Noctis even consider a man as uncouth as that riffraff as a partner?

“It’s none of your business!”

“Everything you do is my business, Noctis.”

“Fine!” Noctis had an angry gleam in his eye, his jaw clenched. “I’m going to go back downstairs, and then the commoner and I are going to go back into his room.”

“I think not.” Ignis's attempt to remain in control of his emotions was rapidly failing.

“You don’t have any right to stop me. It’s not endangering the kingdom, there's no kingdom left to endanger! No-one will know. There is nothing to advise me on.” Noctis snapped, pushing at Ignis's chest.

"He has no idea who you are, who you are going to be. He cannot help you with your struggles, nor can he love you in the way you deserve to be loved.” Ignis bowed his head, closing his eyes against the rage.

“Maybe that’s what I want. Someone to like me for me Noctis, not as the future king. It’s not like anyone is going to understand what I’m going through.”

“I know the pain you are going through. I can help you carry the burden.”

“No, Ignis. All you want is for me to follow the laid out plans. I will do as you say, I will be the king everyone wants me to be, but I am not passing up a chance for happiness, not anymore.”

Noctis wrenched open the door.

“I can't be your happiness?” Ignis pressed the door shut, leaning flat against Noctis’s back.

“Not anymore,” Noctis whispered, relinquishing his hold on the door.

Ignis rested his forehead between Noctis’s shoulder blades, feeling him tense. He couldn't let Noctis walk away from him. Not again. With his free hand he cupped Noctis’s jaw and turned his face round so Noctis was looking over his shoulder at him.

Eyes regarded him wearily.

“I can be the one you want.”

Ignis moved forward, pressing his lips against Noctis’s. The prince was stubborn, struggling against him, but after a swipe of a tongue over a warm lower lip he conceded, allowing Ignis to turn him around, holding him against the door.

It was intoxicating. The feeling of plump, pliant lips beneath his own, the taste of Noctis exploding on his taste buds. Noctis moaned, holding onto the lapels of Ignis’s jacket. Ignis deepened the kiss, stroking his tongue alongside Noctis’s. He stifled all the tiny whimpers radiating from the back of Noctis's throat, the sounds of pleasure urging Ignis forward.

When he pulled away, Noctis was looking dazed beneath him.

“You were the one I wanted. But not any more.” Noctis nudged Ignis away from him, leaving silently.

Ignis's fist collided with the closed door.

 

>>> 

 

There were no words of greeting that morning. Ignis stormed past them all, wrenching open the door of the Regalia and waiting behind the wheel. His hands tightened on the wheel, teeth clenched, as he watched Noctis approach the car.

Exhausted, tousled Noctis.

Who had a limp.

"Move it!" He barked at the party, tearing his gaze from Noctis, refusing to feel anything as Noctis struggled to sit.

Gladio assessed Noctis's demeanour, clearly coming to the conclusion Ignis had already known.

"Anyone you wanna say goodbye to?"

 "Nope." Noctis yawned and stretched his arms over his head.

Ignis wouldn't look over, he did not want to see that skin marred with marks of passion. It took all his self-control to drive away from that place, away from the stranger Ignis longed to rip to shreds.

This was of his own doing. He had pushed Noctis away, belittling his emotions and now it was too late.

No-one wisely said anything of his reckless driving skills, or in his new found love of beeping the horn at slow drivers.
 

Noctis winced at a sharp turn and Ignis finally glanced up into the rear view mirror, slowing the car as it was clear he was causing the prince distress. Gladio thumped back of his seat a few times indicating an outpost coming up.

 

"We need to stop." He rolled his eyes at Noctis beside him.

 

Ignis said nothing. He would wait till he was ordered.

 

"We need to stop," Noctis finally spoke.

 

"Certainly." Ignis finally had the rage under control. He would sink back under the mask of decorum, and that was where he would stay. He had lost him. He had a chance of making Noctis happy, of making himself happy and he had lost it.

 

He didn't accompany Noctis and Gladio as they got out the car, watching as Noctis limped towards the shop, knocking away Gladio's offered arm in jest. Ignis wanted to weep, to go back in time and undo this cosmic mess he had created. He rested his forehead on the wheel, in-between his hands still clamped on. He took long shuddering breaths, trying to calm himself.

 

"Do you remember when Noct got upset he used to warp without thinking? You used to say he had to handle his emotions better, that his magic was directly tied to that."

 

"He warped himself straight out of his room in the Citadel and landed outside in the stream. He was most upset." Ignis muttered.

 

"Last night, he came into my room. He was really flustered and angry, walking in circles muttering, 'why now?' and 'what does this mean?' over and over. I was going to go back to sleep when he warped, that light hurts your eyes you know? Anyway, he really hurt himself, got some killer bruises across his back and legs."

Ignis wrenched his head up so fast from the wheel it made his vision swim.

"Noctis was with you last night? The entire night?"

"Yeah of course. Someone had to take care of him. I didn't have any potions on me, and you know how Noct is about asking for help."

Noctis and Gladio walked back to the car, snacks and potions in their arms. Noctis kept his eyes on the ground, avoiding Ignis completely.

There was a chance.

"I need you to do something for me Prompto."

His friend was already nodding.

 

>>> 

 

"Gladio reports that he and Prompto are safe just over the ridge. They’ll wait out the storm and then rejoin us here.”

Noctis nodded, water dripping from his fringe as he looked down at the puddles forming. They were waiting under a rocky overhang, heavy ferns blocking them from any unexpected creature encounters.

It had been easier then Ignis had thought, getting Noctis alone. He had fully expected Gladio not to let him out of his sight. Prompto was probably getting an earful, he made a mental note to cook something his friend loved as compensation for helping.

“I handled it, handled it all poorly.”

There was no response, no indication Noctis had even heard.

"I do not believe it is in your best interest to marry Lady Lunafreya." Ignis began, trying to piece together his argument as he spoke.

 "You know of a lord that would be a more beneficial match?" There was no fire in his words, just resignation. Noctis had given up.

It broke Ignis's heart.

"Highness...Noctis. Listen to me, do not give up on something you want. I know that I have not made this easy-"

Noctis walked into the rain, away from him.

"Noctis wait!"

“Enough Ignis!” Noctis spun to face him, rain dripping down his face, eyes crimson with anger. “Stop toying with my emotions! This is just…” Noctis looked down, hands balled into fists, eyes screwed shut. “This is all so messed up. I never wanted you to find out how I felt. I just wanted to be close to you, that was enough for me. I would have married Luna, and you would have been with me as my advisor, I didn’t want to ruin that!”

Ignis stood there, letting the rain fall down around them. He was cold, and his clothes were sticking to him unpleasantly, but he wasn’t going to deny his feelings, not this time.

“I’m glad I found out. Noctis. Look at me.”

Noctis raised his eyes slowly, the red bleeding back into the normal striking blue, mouth trembling.

“I hid my feelings behind decorum, I ignored everything I felt for you because I knew my duty. I never wanted to cause you all this pain."

“If I’d never said anything, things could have just stayed the way they were. I don't want to lose you. Lucis can't afford to lose you.”

“Noctis, things should not always remain as they are. Listen to me.” He walked the few short steps to Noctis, placing his hands on his shoulders. “Even if you were to find another, to stop loving me, my duty to you would not suddenly cease to exist. There would be pain, yes. Not unlike what I felt this morning when I thought you had been with another."

Ignis took a deep breath, allowing Noctis to see the pain he had been feeling. Noctis gasped, not moving when Ignis cupped his face with a gloved hand.

"You have trusted me enough that despite hurting you. I only want what is best for you. I am but a man, and I have jealous, lustful thoughts like others-”

“Your feelings have never stopped you in supporting the royal family.”

“No. Nothing will ever stop my obligations. That is who I am.” Ignis let his bare thumb run over Noctis's lips.

“Is there…any other part of you? Can you be more than an advisor to me?”

“Noctis, I have always been more than your advisor.” He pressed his lips to the cool, damp forehead. Noctis regarded him sceptically. He didn’t believe Ignis, didn’t want to open himself up for hurt again. The rain was pounding around them, running down their faces.

Ignis wished he could remove that look the hesitant, insecure look, that perhaps Ignis was teasing with his emotions, fearful Ignis was going to hurt him again.

“You’re telling me you love me?”

Ignis pressed their foreheads together. “How could I not?”

Noctis was still cautious, looking at him with wide, vulnerable eyes. Ignis brushed his fingers through the prince’s scalp, relishing the way Noctis closed his eyes in reluctant pleasure. “I love you, Noctis.” He mumbled against his lips. “I want to be with you. Not as Prince Noctis, but as just Noctis."

 Noctis gradually leant forward, meeting Ignis in a kiss.

It was gentle, hesitant and over quicker than it had started.

Ignis felt himself choke back a sob and he gathered Noctis in his arms. “I’m sorry.” He stroked Noctis’s hair back with one hand. “Sorry I was so blind, sorry that I hurt you. I just…I did not know…” Ignis stumbled over his words, unsure how he could convey everything he felt.

Noctis's arms tightened around his back, he felt the prince's own muffled tears. "You promise? You're not going to...push me away this time?"

Ignis kissed Noctis again, feeling their tears mingle with the rain.

"Never again, Noctis."

 

>>> 

 

Nothing had changed between them since that night.

Noctis had returned to what could be seen as normal given the circumstances. He joked around with Prompto, went back to fishing with a gleam in his eye, took on reckless hunts for the Gil. Their eyes met on occasion and Noctis would give him a bashful smile. He had returned to his usual sleeping position, and sometimes Ignis would feel the brush of Noctis’s hand against his own as he was close to sleep.

Ignis had expected something…more.

They were now courting, were they not? Ignis froze, the root he was peeling in his hand falling to the table. The sounds of his camp mates laughing floated over him as they waited to be fed.

Had he…made a mistake in some way? They had not been intimate since their kiss days ago, granted there was not much time for privacy and Noctis had clearly picked up and understood that Ignis was not the kind of man who lavished affection in public.

Frowning, he placed the root into the stew and stirred, sighing.

“Something on your mind, Iggy?” Noctis called out, looking over his hand of cards.

“Nothing to concern yourself with.”

Noctis nodded and returned to his game, cheering when Gladio destroyed Prompto with his next hand. Ignis continued cooking alone with his thoughts, jumping when he turned and bumped into Noctis.

“Hey, I was thinking. We’ve been roughing it outside for a while…and it’s not that I don’t like camping…but.”

“You could do with a shower?”

“Hey! I don’t smell.” Noctis raised his forearm and smelt. “Alright, yes I need a bath. Plus I feel like I’m turning into an old man. My bones are starting to creak from laying on the cold floor all the time.”

Ignis stopped what he was doing to give Noctis a thorough appraisal. “Is your health ailing you?”

“No, it’d just be nice to you know…sleep in a bed.”

Noctis didn’t mean anything in the way he said it, the tone was innocent enough. It didn’t stop the thoughts from crossing Ignis's mind.

“I’m sure that can be arranged. We have enough Gil after all. However, a few more hunts might be welcome.”

“Sure got it.” Noctis moved close, and Ignis found himself leaning down, only to stop as Noctis peered over his shoulder. “Food ready yet? I’m starving.”

 

>>> 

 

Noctis didn’t even look back as Ignis paid the bill and sorted the rooms. He trailed after Gladio and Prompto, looking exhausted. Ignis followed room keys in hand, unsure of what to do. He had four, assuming everyone had wanted space, but it was not uncommon for them all to share a room, safety in numbers and all that.

“Separate rooms?” Gladio asked when they came to a standstill in the hallway.

Ignis nodded, holding out the cards in a fan for people to choose from.

“First shift mine?” Gladio asked, picking a key and looking at the number.

“Actually, I believe I can cover for the night. I find myself quite awake.”

Gladio said nothing, an eyebrow raised in amusement.

“Blank text when you’re ready to bunk down for the night and I’ll take the watch. Deal? Or we’re all sharing a room.”

Ignis spared a glance to where Prompto and Noctis were talking, oblivious and messing around with the camera.

“You have my word.”

Gladio nodded with approval, swiping two of the other keys, taking a moment to memorise the numbers on them before handing them out to the other two. Noctis said nothing as he walked down the hall, bidding them all good night. Ignis was silent, waiting with his hand on his own door handle.

Shaking his head, he entered his room and tossed his bag onto the bed. Peeling off his clothes he folded them carefully, wrinkling his nose at the smell of them. He pulled out a clean worn shirt for sleeping in, matching it with comfortable sleeping trousers. His shower was quick, methodical and he found himself standing back in his room, the silence pressing around him.

Seizing his courage, he snatched up his phone and keys for the room and the Regalia.

Noctis opened the door after the first knock, clad in nothing but shorts and towel around his shoulders. “Ignis? Everything alright?”

“May I come in?”

The prince nodded and stepped aside, closing the door softly behind him.

“Is this about Lestallum?"

It actually pained Ignis to hear Noctis say that. He didn’t expect anything romantic or loving from him, just a factual meeting.

“I’m not here as your advisor.”

“Then what’s wrong?” Noctis sat on the edge of the bed and waited expectantly.

“I was under the impression our relationship had changed, that my romantic feelings towards you were made clear.”

“They…were,” Noctis murmured and lowered his head slightly.

Ignis found the demure position endearing.

“Have I done something to offend? To reconsider our new…relationship.”

“No!” Noctis’s head shot up. There was a blush on his cheeks, and Ignis was fascinated to see it stained Noctis’s throat. His eyes didn’t stop there, taking in the pale skin, the defined muscles, the trail of hair leading into shorts.

“I was beginning to believe that you had changed your mind,” Ignis grunted as Noctis slammed into him, arms wrapping tightly around his back.

“I didn’t think…well…I thought you’d want me to act normal. I didn’t want to push you or make you uncomfortable. You hadn’t suggested any private time, so I thought that maybe that time in the rain was…you know…enough for you.”

Ignis tilted Noctis’s head up with a finger. “I’ll never have enough of you, Noctis.”

Noctis’s eyes slid away from his again.

“I appreciate your efforts to keep things normal, and while I’m not usually happy at witnessing public displays of affection, I’m willing to make an exception for you. It is alright to sit with me in camp, to hold my hand, and to come to me at night for comfort. I want to do these things for you, Noctis.”

“I…I’m not really sure how to act.” Noctis had buried his head in Ignis’s chest, the words coming out muffled.

Ignis rested his chin on top of his head, his breath ruffling the black hair. “We’ve got time to figure it out together.” They stayed that way for a few moments, just enjoying the feel of the other. “Would you…do you want to be on your own tonight? It isn’t often that we have space for ourselves.”

“Stay with me.” Noctis lifted his head.

“As you wish.” He sealed the promise with a kiss. “Come, you are exhausted. Into bed.”

He watched Noctis get into bed, placing his phone on the bedside table, ready to text Gladio. Once he got in Noctis rolled so they were against each other, Noctis’s head tucked under his chin. Ignis smiled and rubbed a hand soothingly over his partner’s back, content to leave the message until Noctis was asleep.

He was unprepared for the flicker of a tongue against his collar bone. His heart began to hammer in his chest, his breath quickening as that tongue licked a clear path across his neck.

“Do you…do you ever think of me in that way Ignis?” Noctis asked with a playful bite to the column of his throat.

“In what way?” Ignis gasped.

“In an intimate way.” The mouth on his throat stopped, and Ignis could feel Noctis tense.

The idea that Noctis was scared, fearful of being rejected by him was ridiculous. Noct was beautiful, his body the embodiment of sin.

“All the time,” Ignis rolled them both so Noctis was laying beneath him. He balanced his weight on his forearms. Noctis immediately reddened, nervous. “When I watch you fight, I’m reminded of how strong you are.” Seeing Noctis splayed beneath him, his mouth parted Ignis felt something in him awaken, a primal urge that he had kept hidden for far too long.

Ignis sat up, resting his weight on Noctis’s hips. He raised Noctis’s arms above his head and held them there at the wrist. One hand trailed down body pinned beneath him, the barest brush of fingers causing ripples of excitement. "I've wanted your body, intoxicated with pleasure under mine for a long time." Noctis groaned, attempting to arch into Ignis.

“When you sleep next to me at night I have to constantly remind myself that I can’t fuck you into the ground.” Noctis’s eyes went impossibly wide at the use of foul language, the blush returning across his chest.

Ignis lowered himself and whispered into the shell of a delicate ear. “Nothing to stop me tonight though, is there, Highness?” He licked the lobe, Noctis shivering beneath him. He pressed his lips to Noctis, gently biting down and getting the prince to open his mouth for him. Noctis moaned at the slight aggression.

Releasing his wrists, but not his mouth, Ignis allowed his hands to wander across Noctis’s chest, rubbing circles over raised nipples. Noctis cried into his mouth, and Ignis grew excruciatingly hard, moaning at how sensitive Noctis was. He rolled the nubs between his fingers and thumb, relishing Noctis’s moans, how he arched beneath his touch. Ignis pulled away from his mouth, watching Noctis’s face as he writhed.

“I never knew you were so sensitive.” Ignis reached down, paying attention to one with tongue and teeth.

“Neither…neither did I.”

Noctis’s fingers threaded through his hair, holding on to Ignis, trusting him with his body. Ignis’s heart swelled at the feeling, knowing not only was he the first to elicit such a response in Noctis. He could feel Noctis’s cock rubbing against his chest, hard and impatient. Ignis switched his attention to the other nub, groaning at Noctis’s legs shifting on the bed, lifting up to cradle Ignis between his knees.

Ignis pulled back, taking a good look at Noctis, strands of hair sticking to his forehead, abused, bruised lips. His eyes were screwed shut in an attempt to hide. Ignis was overcome with the sensation of possession, a hungry carnal need to make Noctis only his. He suppressed the aggressive urge as blue eyes showed themselves.

“You are exquisite, Noct.” They kissed messily, a clash of tongues and teeth, Noctis becoming overwhelmed with the sensations.

“Ig…Ignis,” Noctis moaned, tugging at his hair.

“Do you want me to stop?” He asked against Noctis’s lips, swiping his tongue across them. Noctis moaned and shook his head. “I want to…can I?” Ignis felt the trembles and his hands soothed him, rubbing up the prince’s side.

“What do you want Noctis?” Ignis moved to his neck and bit down, relishing the shudder that shook the body beneath him.

“I don’t want to be king.”

The words brought enough sense back into Ignis’s lust addled mind, and he was able to pull away and glance down at Noctis who was biting his lip. Ignis reached down and pried Noctis’s lips apart.

“I do not understand your meaning.”

Noctis attempted to turn away from him, covering his body with his arms, but Ignis stopped him, pinning his body beneath his once more. He ground their cocks together, hoping a little incentive would loosen the prince’s tongue. Noctis’s hands scrabbled at his back, nails digging themselves into Ignis’s flesh.

Noctis hips jerked up, trying to prolong the feeling, but Ignis moved out of reach, chuckling at Noctis’s irritation. “Explain yourself to me, Highness.”

“That.”

Noctis’s hands were tender on his back, travelling up to the back of Ignis’s head, affectionately stroking the hair he found. Ignis found himself leaning back into the touch, inadvertently grinding them together again.

“I want us to be equals, Ignis. I know out there-” Noctis nodded towards the closed door, “That you’ll always be my advisor first, before my partner. That duty is more important than love. But in here, when it’s just us, I don’t want to be your king.”

Ignis tilted his head, thinking on the matter.

“No.”

Noctis's body froze for what he thought was another rejection. Ignis hastily calmed him with a finger on Noct's lips. “I meant no, my duty is not more important than my love for you. I will always be your partner first and foremost.” Ignis's chest swelled at the wondrous smile Noctis gave him. “I am curious to know why you brought it up at this time, however. It is your intent to completely frustrate me so I lose my mind? I am attempting to savour you, and you are making me want to bury myself in your body.”

Noctis whimpered, hands pawing frantically at Ignis's shoulder blades.

“I want…I want to touch you Ignis.” The way Noctis said it, the uncertainty and hesitation made Ignis scoop him up, sitting back so Noctis was now straddling his hips.

“I am yours to command.”

The words only added to the insecurity.

Ignis felt the atmosphere of the room change. His heart was heavy at Noctis’s obvious distress and Ignis knew it was time for the words to be said.

“Noctis. Look at me.” His hands cupped Noctis’s face.

“That was a poor choice of words. I do not love you because you are to be king. I am not here because of some sense of obligation. As your advisor, I am duty bound to follow you to the ends of Eos, as your friend I have come to care about you and your well-being. As for myself, just Ignis I love you, Noctis. I have always loved you,” he smoothed back the hair covering Noctis’s forehead, leaning up to press a kiss there, “and I always will. Please forgive me it took so long to realise it.”

He caught Noctis as he fell forward, returning the embrace with equal fervour. They remained like that, Ignis quietly muttering his devotion, his pledge of fidelity to Noctis.

Then Noctis shifted in his lap.

The movement rubbed directly across Ignis’s cock and he couldn’t quite smother the moan. Noctis’s hands circled round so his palms were planted on Ignis’s chest. “You like that?” He asked against Ignis’s ear, grinding his ass down on Ignis again.

“Yes,” Ignis growled, attempting to reach up and kiss Noctis.

“What about this?” Noctis’s fingertips ghosted over his nipples delicately, before pinching quite hard.

Ignis gasped, rubbing himself against Noctis, seeking friction. Noctis scooted back so he wasn’t flush against his hips anymore, but on Ignis’s thighs. Dexterous hands unbuttoned his shirt, fingers continuing their magic work, his mouth attacking Ignis’s neck with open mouthed kisses. Despite every urge Ignis had he allowed it, choking back a moan as a tongue circled his nipple.

“It’s not fair if you try to hold them back,” Noctis complained looking up at him.

“Sorry,” he rasped, clamping his hands on Noctis's muscled thighs as the prince stroked his cock through his trousers. Craving curled deep inside him as his charge shimmed him out of his trousers, allowing him to spring free in the cool air. Ignis fisted the sheets below him, frantically fighting the urge to flip them over. Noctis made no movement, staring down at him, and as the seconds passed Ignis found his patience wearing thin.

“Noctis?”

He jumped with a jolt. “Sorry, I was just-” Noctis tentatively touched him. “Wow, Ignis.”

Ignis groaned against the words of wonderment, his head falling onto Noctis’s shoulder as he stroked him tentatively. Ignis was spellbound. Noctis, the one he had been longing for was touching him, wanting him. Noctis's hands were calloused from weapons, the rough patches of skin adding just the right touch of painful pleasure. Nudging Noctis’s head with his own, Ignis managed to kiss him, fisting the hair at the nape of Noctis’s neck as he came close.

When his hard on became unbearably painful, Ignis halted Noctis. Before his charge could even question him, Ignis had his thumbs in the waistband of Noctis’s trousers, sliding them down over angular hips, exposing all of Noctis’s body. Ignis roughly pulled Noctis closer by his hips, allowing his cock to slide along Noctis’s exposed crack. Noctis flamed red, noises of embarrassment tumbling from his lips.

Distracting Noctis via kissing, Ignis kneaded Noctis’s behind, trying to keep a level head himself and not to just come all over the exposed skin. His fingers began to explore, one circling the base of Noctis, the other gently rubbing over Noctis’s opening.

Noctis gasped, bringing himself up on his knees and throwing his head back wantonly. Knowing that all hesitation was finally gone, he released his hold on Noctis, and brought his fingers up to Noctis’s mouth, enthralled as the prince greedily sucked on index and middle finger.

Feeling the vibrations against his fingers, the way his tongue was moving in swirls, the small thread of saliva running down his chin, it all drove Ignis crazy. He bent his head to nip at Noctis’s chest, nipples and throat, cock growing impossibly hard at the sounds Noctis was making, the way he was trying to grind himself down on the finger still rubbing between his crack.

“Oh how I’ve longed to do this,” Ignis sighed, wrenching his fingers from Noctis’s mouth, and replacing one dry finger with one slick with saliva. “Every time you bent over in camp,” one finger began to press against the opening, causing Noctis to wail and claw at Ignis. “Seeing you sweaty and tousled after a fight.” The finger sunk to the knuckle, and Ignis began to circle it around, waiting for the muscle to loosen. “It just makes me want to throw you down and fuck you in front of everyone.”

Noctis was ever so tight, and Ignis groaned at the heat surrounding his finger. It was too much, a cardinal sin that he was drowning in. He wanted to be closer, wanted to taste everything offered. He wanted to thrust himself inside Noctis, be joined forever, the emotions made him shake, and he kept reminding himself to be gentle. This was the first time, and he wasn’t going to injure Noctis.

He withdrew his finger, smiling at the whine of protest, pressing a kiss to the side of Noctis’s mouth in a request for patience. He untangled himself and left Noctis on the bed, still kneeling up, watching Ignis with a predatory gaze. Ignis rooted around in Noctis's clothes and eventually found a potion in Noctis's pack. Having found what he was looking for, he turned back to the bed, feeling his breath escape.

Noctis was panting slightly, his eyes heavy-lidded, lips parted, his eyes glowing as he watched. His skin almost gleamed with the thin layer of sweat, his erection jutting proudly out.

It was Ignis who caused that response in the prince, it was on Ignis’s body that Noctis’s eyes kept watch, his gaze expectant.

Noctis was aroused by him.

“Oh Noctis, you deserve to be worshipped.”

Noctis gave a cocky smile in return.“ Then you better get on with it,” he quipped, holding his arms out.

Ignis fell into the embrace, dropping the potion on the bed, taking his time to curl his tongue with Noctis’s. Noctis startled when Ignis abruptly turned him around, placing a hand on his lower back to get him to bend down on all fours.

“Ignis?” Noctis’s voice was high, watching Ignis over his shoulder, his eyes flickering down to his back, the fear evident.

“Trust me.” Ignis bent and dropped kisses along his spine, tracing his lips along the gruesome scar. He would not cause Noctis distress, never again. He worshipped that which made Noctis self-conscious, dispelling the fear that his charge still had towards it.

Dipping his tongue in the groove between spine and ass, Noctis's hands clutched at the sheets. Ignis wrapped his hand around, stroking along Noctis’s cock, rubbing a thumb against the tip, trailing his other hand over the velvet softness of the heavy sack.

The pleasured moan turned into a stuttered yelp as Ignis leant forward, parting Noctis’s cheeks.

“Wait... Ignis…that’s embarrassing.”

Noctis tried to pull away, Ignis wrapped his hands around Noctis’s hips, preventing movement.

“Nothing about your body is embarrassing. It is exquisite. Do not hide from me, Noctis.” Ignis thrust his tongue into the puckered hole, moaning hungrily. Noctis’s body began to tremble at the onslaught of sensations, Ignis caressing Noctis's cock in time with his thrusting tongue.

“Ig…Ignis!” Noctis warned, grinding back against the invading tongue.

“Not just yet.” Ignis reluctantly stopped, rearranging them so Noctis was sitting in his lap once again. “As much as I enjoy having you on all fours below me, I want to see your face as I take you for the first time.” He reached for the potion, spreading it over two of his fingers, sliding them inside Noctis.

Noctis yelped, this time in pain. Ignis reassured him with murmured adoration, kissing away the tears that escaped Noctis’s clamped eyelids, his free hand tempting Noctis’s erection back into full hardness. He moved his fingers slowly, concentrating on relaxing the muscle, scissoring them, preparing Noctis.

"Do you wish me to stop?" Ignis asked, despite the screams inside his head telling him otherwise.

A brush against a nub inside Noctis’s body had the boy gasping, his hands frantically trying to hold on to Ignis, to pull him closer to his own body.

"No. Please Ignis," he pleaded.

"Please what?" Ignis teased moving his fingers away.

"Do...do that again."

"What? This?" He rubbed over the gland again, smiling at the agonised pleasure on Noctis's face.

Deeming Noctis ready, he rubbed some potion onto Noctis’s hand and guided it down to his own cock, Noctis eagerly stroking him.

“Ignis…Please…I need.”

“I know Noct, I feel it too.”

He supported Noctis’s weight, as the prince sunk down on his straining cock. He urged Noctis to move slowly, halting the hasty actions as Noctis tried to impale himself.

“Easy now,” he ground out from clenched teeth, fighting against every instinct he had not to impale Noctis and fuck him into oblivion.

“Want you…so bad Ignis.” Noctis was nearly sobbing, Ignis could feel Noctis’s heart thundering, the pulse leaping in the skin at this throat. “Wanted you for so long.”

Ignis halted, halfway inside Noctis, and held Noctis’s face in astonishment.

“I do not deserve you.”

“Ignis!” Noctis yelled, squirming against the grasp. “Please! Fuck me already.”

He needed no other words of encouragement, allowing Noctis to take him to the hilt. Holding his body close as Noctis trembled in a mixture of fulfilment and pain.

“I’ve got you.” He stroked his fingers through the dark hair.

Noctis was outrageously tight and hot around him and the very idea of being this intimate with his prince was almost enough to push him into orgasm. His heart was filled with reverence, overflowing with adoration and dedication towards the young man trembling in his arms.

“I love you. I will always love you, Noct.”

Noctis shifted in his lap, clenching around Ignis, and the breath hissed out of him. Ignis did nothing as Noctis gingerly pulled himself up, and slid back down, allowing him to set the pace, to get used to the feeling.

Years of practising self-control had finally paid off. Ignis ran his hands over Noctis’s sides, rubbing the smooth skin. When Noctis gasped out, from pleasure his time, Ignis allowed his fingers to trail over nipples, throwing his own head back as Noctis slammed down, harder than before.

“Ignis!” Noctis choked out, joining their hands, entwining fingers. Ignis lifted their joined hands to his mouth, brushing a kiss across knuckles.

Noctis was lost in sensation, his words incoherent, moans chasing each other. His grip on Ignis was painful, trying to merge them impossibly closer. Ignis began to move his own hips in response to the thrusts and Noctis’s body bowed. His arms held the Noctis steady around his back, encouraging the prince to move faster, harder.

“Need more,” Noctis reached down, biting Ignis’s lip, “I want you to take me.”

Ignis was bewildered. Just what did Noctis think they were doing? He felt the boy shift his weight, trying to lean back and Ignis understood.

“Are you sure?” Ignis had tried to give at least some semblance of control to Noctis, knowing that he was royal born and bred, that it made Noctis stubborn and unwilling to concede.

Noctis hushed him with a kiss and pulled Ignis down with him, opening his arms and legs to support Ignis’s body. “Show me what you’ve been wanting to do.” The sultry tone was back.

He ran a hand down one of Noctis’s legs wrapped around his waist, feeling the trembling muscles. He thrust into the willing body slowly, watching Noctis’s face as his mouth fell open. Noctis's head tossed from side to side as Ignis drove into him.

The pleading drove Ignis crazy and he forgot about self-control, about appearances. He untangled Noctis’s legs from his waist and put them over his shoulders, splaying his hands beneath hips and lifting Noctis to meet him. His thrusts grew frenzied, powerful, almost bending Noctis in half. The prince was letting out the most glorious of sounds, and Ignis felt his end so close, so very close.

Noctis’s erection kept brushing against his stomach, smearing precome in hot smears across him. In his passion clouded mind, Ignis freed one of his hands to stroke him, suppressing a cry as Noctis tensed up around him.

“Ignis!” The prince screamed as he exploded, his scorching body squeezing scorching around Ignis, dragging him down into the abyss that was absolute pleasure. He came with a guttural cry of his own, his hips flat against Noctis’s ass, digging nails into his lower back. Noctis was gasping beneath him, trembling in aftershocks. Ignis kissed the curl of Noctis's ankle, before lifting them from his shoulders, falling over his charge.

After he regained his senses, he realised he might be crushing Noctis with his weight, Ignis could feel the shallow breaths as his weight made it impossible for Noctis to breathe deep. Lifting himself onto his arms, he was stopped by arms lazily circling his waist.

“I love you, Ignis.”

Ignis felt satisfaction spread across his body as he looked into sated blue eyes. He bent down to rub noses alongside Noctis, nuzzling his face.

“And I you, Noct.”

The arms didn’t leave his waist, but Noctis allowed him to fall beside him, turning so their chests were pressed together, Ignis’s chin on top Noctis’s head, both coming down from their euphoria.

“We need to clean up Noctis.” Ignis's words ruffled messy hair. He got nothing but a sleepy murmur in return. “When you awake it will not be pleasant. Come.” He shifted away, chuckling as Noctis groaned and reached out for him. Ignis left him to it, leaving the room to turn on the shower and make it warm.

“’M cold.” Noctis yawned, appearing in the doorway. Ignis cursing his body for reacting to the sex-mussed Noctis, bites adorning his neck and torso.

“The shower is warm,” Ignis blurted out, ashamed of his vulgar thoughts.

“What’s matter?” Noctis yawned again, shaking his head in an effort to be more alert.

“It is nothing. Come, you need to bathe.”

“Are you coming with me?” Noctis challenged, a teasing smile on his face.

“If you so wish.”

“No.” Noctis shook his head, and stepped closer, Ignis noticed the wince on his face as Noctis moved but chose not to comment. “Do you want to shower with me?”

“Of course I do.” Ignis captured Noctis's lips in a swift kiss.

Noctis broke the kiss and nodded, satisfied, limping to the shower. Ignis felt guilty about the pain and he trailed after. The prince had his eyes closed under the spray, facing away from Ignis so his back was presented to him. Ignis couldn't tear his eyes away from the jagged gash, lifting his hands to stroke it.

Noctis sighed in annoyance and turned around. “I know…it’s hideous.” Noctis hung his head.

“You are mistaken if that is what you took from me looking at it. I do not think it hideous, but it does remind me of how very close I came to losing you.” Ignis gathered Noctis in his arms. “It has always been a fear of mine that I would lose you, both as a king and as a friend. Now, I am more fearful than ever, such is the depth of my feelings for you."

Noctis said nothing, bringing his own hands to Ignis’s chest.

“One day…one day you will.” Noctis buried his head against Ignis’s collarbone.

Ignis placed a finger under his chin, lifting Noctis’s head to look at him. “Times are changing and the wall that kept Insomnia safe is no longer. I know not of what your destiny entails, but you are foolish if you believe I’m going to let anything take you away from me.”

Ignis washed Noctis, mindful of the tenderness of the prince’s body. He smiled as he felt Noctis’s hands raise up and bashfully do the same, rubbing lather onto Ignis’s body. Fingers reached up to his hair, and Ignis tilted his head, allowing Noctis to wash his hair, almost purring when Noctis massaged his scalp.

Even long after they were clean, they stood under the warm spray together, just committing skin to memory, loving each other through touch. When Noctis was unable to stifle his yawns anymore, Ignis reached over to turn off the taps, leaving Noctis in the shower. He returned with a fluffy towel and the remains of the potion.

“Take this, it will ease the pain.”

“Can’t you just take care of me tomorrow?” Noctis whined but did as was asked.

“Then the others would be jealous. I’m going to change the sheets, get yourself dry.”

By the time Noctis joined him, the bed was fresh and waiting. As he turned to pick up clothes, he noticed that Noctis had donned his shirt and was looking at him sleepily. Ignis felt the smile tilt his lips at the sight of Noctis standing there, shirt just above his knees, open wide at the neck, exposing skin.

“If you keep looking like that it’s going to prove very difficult to keep my hands off you.”

Noctis chuckled and brushed past him on the way to bed.

“Then don’t,” he counteracted cheekily, settling down under the cover.

Ignis got in beside him and allowed Noctis to snuggle beside him, chuckling as he felt Noctis’s breathing slow to sleep in seconds. With Noctis warm in his arms, he felt his own eyes growing heavy, only remembering what Gladio had asked him to do. He sent the text from his phone, and minutes later, heard footsteps outside his door, stopping just short outside.

Knowing they were safe, Ignis breathed in deep, snuggling into the warmth. “I meant what I said,” He promised, half asleep. “I’m not going to let anything take you away. Nothing.”

"You got my back?" Noctis asked groggily.

"Always."

 



You need to be logged in to leave a review for this story.
Report Story