Constrained by Decorum

BY : Shortsnout
Category: Final Fantasy Games > Final Fantasy XV
Dragon prints: 577
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy XV and I am not making any money from this Fanfiction

Despite knowing your destiny, the shape in which your life was going to take, it was human nature to want things you could not have, a fantasy to escape reality. He was under no illusion, Noctis had always known what he was going to do, his set path in life. Regardless, he had clung stubbornly to a love beyond his reach, a hope that perhaps one day he could have that one small thing.

Until now.

Noctis had heard what Ignis had told him, had read the piece of paper he had been handed with instructions on it.

Marriage.

To Luna.

Ignis had watched him for a few moments before leaving to make food, letting Noctis stew in his own thoughts. He sat in his chair, hands gripping his trousers. The paper had spelt it all clearly, and Noctis knew his dad wouldn't have agreed unless backed into a corner. He was king, but he didn't usually try and force Noctis into things against his will.

Noctis stood, the apartment suddenly oppressive, escaping onto the balcony. He'd always known what was expected of him, how could he not? It was repeated to him often enough. Duty. Obligation. Responsibilities. He looked up at the night sky, the shimmering ribbon above his head that would be his death.

Hope. fairness. Love. They had no place in his life. He closed his eyes and rested them in his arms. He could lament the unfairness of it all and it would change nothing.

"Noct?"

His smile was hidden by his arms. It was rare for Ignis to call him that, and every time he did Noctis felt his heart skip.

In the past, Ignis had always irritated him. The first to point out when Noctis was doing something wrong, that he wasn't living up to expectations. Noctis had asked his father more than once to assign Ignis to someone else, that he didn't like the boy. His father had sighed and shaken his head, explaining that Ignis was receiving the best education, that he was a resourceful, intelligent child that Noctis needed to be friends with.

Ignis had been the recipient of many cruel pranks after that. Even to this day, Noctis still teased his advisor whenever he had an opening.

Tenebrae.

That was when things had changed.

Noctis had thought nothing of travelling with his attendants. His father was usually busy and left him the care of others, or, if they did travel together it was in separate cars. It was only now with the gift of adult perspective that Noctis knew why that was.

One of them needed to survive, to ensure the wall's survival. Separating the both of them gave a greater chance of that.

When Marilith had attacked them, Noctis had stood face to face to face with his own death, knowing in that moment just how powerless he really was. It was sheer luck that the damage done could be healed.

Luna had been a shining light in the darkness when Noctis had been recovering, he had many fond memories of the time they spent together. It wasn't that Noctis didn't love her, he did.

Yet, even she had held him at arm's length, as most did when talking to the royal child. Talking of his lineage, the crystal, the Starscourge. His destiny. Noctis had understood none of it, but wanting to please his new friend he had agreed.

To this day, Noctis was unsure what he had promised her.

That too had come to an end and Noctis's childish naivety of just what it meant to be royal born. The Empire had sent troops to kill him, a child. That wasn't what happened, in movies, in games, children where never killed. The Nif soldiers did not care about what Noctis's thoughts were regarding how they should act. They burned Luna's mother alive and fired at him.

People wanted him dead.

When he returned to Insomnia he was scared. Of everything and everyone. Were the people he had grown up with secretly trying to harm him? His father changed as well, having less time to see him, creating the Kingsglaive, insisting Noctis begin his training on magic, warping and combat.

The life he had known before was gone. He was thrust into lessons with older teenagers, refugees from outside the wall selected to be the new army. They either treated him with a scathing contempt for being the youngest or a cool indifference, putting distance between themselves and the heir apparent.

He was appointed a shield of his own from the Amicitia line, Gladiolus, and Noctis knew there was no turning back, ever. His shield appeared to hate him and Noctis grew sullen. There was no-one to talk to, none who could understand what he was going through.

Nobody would look past the mantle of the crown prince.

Ignis had acted no different, continuing to treat him the way he always had. In that traumatic time, Noctis had clung to it.
Noctis had been hiding under his bed, feeling suffocated from all the looks, the whispers, the pressure of what people wanted him to do, the distrust he held towards his attendants. His new friend Luna, as much as he was grateful for their secret notebook didn't help, notes about destinies, that he had been chosen by gods, that he had to dispel the darkness from the kingdom.

It was too much.

Ignis had looked under the bed, those green eyes piercing him, judging him. Noctis had said nothing, curling into a ball and wanting the advisor to go away. After a few moments of watching Noctis under the bed, Ignis had shuffled in beside him, watching him.

"Do you want to leave the Citadel for a little while?"

Noctis unfurled a little, unsure if he was being tested. He wasn't allowed to leave. Nothing in Ignis's posture suggested foul play, so Noctis hesitantly agreed.

"I'll get in trouble," he whispered as Ignis helped pull him from his hiding space.

"I've got you."

Those simple words. That had been the start of Noctis's trust. Whenever things had gotten too bad, Ignis helped him escape. When Noctis confided in Ignis that he missed Tenebrae, the freedom he had there, Ignis had tried to bring Tenebrae to him in the form of pastries. When Noctis first saw his back in the mirror, an act he had been avoiding for months, Ignis was the one to comfort him.

Over time Noctis grew closer to Gladio, forming another true friend, one who saw past the mantle of the crown and treated him as he would any other. Then Prompto, a commoner, but a lifeline to the outside world.

However, it was Ignis that Noctis held a special affection for.

When Noctis had been hesitant to allow others to use his magic, it was Ignis that coaxed him into it, training with him, pouring over archives to help Noctis understand what was happening to him. His father was astonished that it had been Ignis to first utilise Noctis's magic into elemental magic of his own, asking aloud why it hadn't been his shield, did Noctis and Gladio not have trust between them?

They did, but it was nothing compared to the bond he had with Ignis. It had evolved from tentative dependence and juvenile affection into complete trust and adoration.

Noctis knew that his position didn't give him the freedom others took for granted. He had people to protect, and if marriage was what Niflheim wanted for peace, then that was a small sacrifice.

However.

“I…I don’t want to…” Noctis couldn't pretend. Not around Ignis. Around him, Noctis could lay himself bare, his ugliest true desires. He didn't want to marry Luna.

“I was led to believe you harboured a fondness for Lady Lunafreya.”
Ignis always would put Lucis first. Just as he had been taught, just as Noctis had been taught.

“I do.”

Noctis tried again, knowing that he needed to say this. That even if Ignis never knew of his feelings towards him, Noctis needed Ignis to know that it wasn't willingly that he would go forward.

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

“It is your duty, Highness.”

Ignis's demeanour shifted, his tone polite, a voice he only used when dealing with council members or his father.

“You’ve had your freedom, now you have to serve your people.” There was an uncharacteristic bite to Ignis's words.

“What’s got you all upset?"

Ignis was hiding something. He was trying his best to conceal it, but Noctis knew better. He caught Ignis's wrist as he attempted to leave.

“Nothing, Highness. Your food is growing cold.”

Noctis quickly reviewed all he had said to Ignis in the past five minutes, checking he hadn't inadvertently offended the advisor with an off-hand comment.

It’s no different from the feelings I have for Prompto or Gladio.

“I didn’t mention you,” Noctis felt himself smile. Ignis could be obliviously sweet at times. It had clearly hurt the man that Noctis didn't hold him in the same regard as his friends. "Ignis, you think you’re not as important to me as the others.” Noctis softly accused.

“You don’t know.” The last part slipped out, meant to be for himself more than Ignis. Noctis had always assumed Ignis knew how he felt, that the advisor ignored it to keep things professional between them.

“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.” Ignis was closing himself off, protecting himself from the rebuff he believed Noctis to be giving him.

He tried to tug away from Noctis, and despite knowing that he would never, ever tell Ignis his feelings, he couldn't help but let something slip, a small crack in the facade, just to let Ignis know just how important he was.

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

“Blind to what?” Ignis's voice edged on the side of hopeful, his expression almost childlike, like he couldn't believe that Noctis might care for him, that he didn't expect it. It only added to the pressure, exposing more of the chink in the armour of Noctis's secret. He said nothing more to Ignis, he couldn't, not without revealing himself and destroying everything they had together now.

He leant forward for an embrace. He knew it was out of Ignis's comfort zone, but he was used to Noctis's clumsy attempts of affection, and he returned it, hesitant as always.

How could Ignis not know? How could he possibly not understand how much Noctis needed him? Not for the first time, he cursed his upbringing and the crown. Noctis knew Ignis, Gladio and Prompto inside out, knew that although Gladio was gruff and prickly with him at times, that he cared. Noctis knew that despite Prompto's easy going attitude and light airy smiles that he had a chip on his shoulder.

Then there was Ignis. Dear, sweet loyal Ignis, who always hesitated to tell him bad news, who tried to protect Noctis from everything. It was as though the advisor had created two Noctis's in his mind, the prince who needed protecting, and his friend who demanded to be treated equally.
Ignis just couldn't meld the two in his head.

“I’m going to bed. Let me know if you have any revelations.” He wasn't in the mood to eat, his mind leaning towards a brooding sulk he was famous for. Still, he couldn't stop himself from teasing Ignis, desperate from one last shot at normality before his life was rear ended.

 

>>>>

 

Noctis sat with Nyx Ulric in the car, his car, which he had to be driven home in. This was usually Ignis's job and Noctis had been looking forward to some time together before their trip.

They were both silent, surreptitiously casting glances at the other.

"So, am I more in awe of you, or are you in awe of me?" Noctis after a while of being stuck in traffic, growing tired of the silence.

Nyx looked at him, and then laughed, wiping his hand over his face.

"Sorry your Highness. It's not often I sit with royalty."

"And it's not often I sit with the 'hero' of the Kingsglaive," Noctis smiled, inclining his head in an attempt to make Nyx comfortable. "You don't need to stand on ceremony with me. Noctis is fine."

Noctis turned to look out the window, watching the sprawling neon lights of Insomnia, thinking of what he needed to pack for the road trip.

"As you wish, Prince Noctis."

It was a start.

"So, hero of the Kingsglaive, that's quite an honour." Noctis tried to keep his tone light and regal as Ignis had taught him, but his curiosity was getting the better of him.

"It would be more of an honour if we weren't being forced into this treaty," Nyx swore under his breath, looking out of the rear-view mirror.

"The treaty...how do the people of Insomnia feel about it?"

"Haven't you read the reports?" Nyx inquired, not judging just asking.

"No, neither Ignis or my father hasn't divulged that information. They tend to keep me in the dark about matters until the last minute."

Nyx chuckled. "Ignis Scientia, your advisor if I'm not mistaken?"

"That's the one."

"He's got a shrewd mind on him from what I've heard."

That and other things.

"There must be a good reason they are keeping it from you." Nyx cleared his throat.

"Tensions are a little high," he told Noctis reluctantly. "There are some that welcome peace, tired of the fighting on the borders. Then there are others who find it too bitter to swallow like we've rolled over and exposed our belly to the empire."

"I thought they had a good reason for keeping it from me."

"I don't like being kept in the dark about matters involving me, I'm guessing you do not either, Prince Noctis?"

"No, which side do you fall on?"

"It doesn't matter, I will do as the king commands."

"I'm sure one who has fought for my father for as long as you, one who is so highly regarded has an opinion on the matter. Speak, what you say shall remain between us, I swear it."

Nyx gripped the steering wheel tighter, his shoulders hunching. "If you had asked me a few days ago, I would have sided with the ones calling Insomnia a coward. My home as most of the Kingsglaive is outside the city, and I lost it to the Empire. I lost my entire family." Nyx looked pained, and Noctis turned fully in his chair to witness, this small glimpse to the outside world.

"I want the Empire to pay for what they did to me, what they've done to my brothers and sisters in arms. I want to fight them until the Empire is but a word in the history books. "

Noctis recognised the thrum of magic sparking along Nyx's arms, the pale blue electricity borrowed by the Glaive from his father, the same magic that coursed inside him.

"I lost someone close to me a few days ago, a Kingsglaive like myself. Her death was considered honourable, she died in service to her king, defending Insomnia. I don't want to lose anyone else, I don't want to be a slave to the past. I want to help shape the future, a Lucis where people no longer have to fight to protect their families, where children and loved ones are safe."

Noctis could hear the lingering agony in his words, and he felt an answering tightness in his chest. The future for Insomnia was going to be shaped by what he, Noctis did next.

"I hope for a future like that too. Where my people can be safe and happy. Where perhaps my heirs can live long lives, without the constant fighting, their sacrifice for the wall."

"It is a king's role to sacrifice himself for his people, and we honour and respect him for it."

"I'm aware, but when you strip him of his title, he's still my father, and the more I prepare to take his place, the further he slips from my reach. I might be a prince, with a tie to the crystal, obligations, but I'm also just a man, Nyx and I don't want any sons or daughters of mine to sacrifice themselves."

Nyx smiled, a warm one and reached over to clasp Noctis on the shoulder. "As long as you're willing to do everything in your power for the citizens of Lucis I believe you'll be a fine king indeed."

Noctis reached up to clap his hand over Nyx's and squeeze tightly, "I promise, I'll always do everything in my power to keep the people of Insomnia and Lucis safe."

"I pray that you do. When your time comes rule well, young king."

 

>>>

 

"Iggy can't make it?" Gladio asked as a way of greeting, barging in with cardboard boxes.

"No, he's got out of packing duty for now. He called and said my father requested an audience with him." Noctis threw the masking tape at him, continuing to sort through the items on his bed. Prompto was singing in the kitchen, utensils banging against the work surfaces as back up.

"King Regis has a lot on his shoulders right now."

"We waited hours to see him," Noctis grumbled, putting more clothes in the to keep pile. "He can't see his son, but can make time for his advisor."

"Stop being a spoilt brat. Ignis has other duties than just being your nursemaid. You got Nyx Ulric to drive you home didn't you? Man, I would have loved to speak to him, hear some of his battle stories!" Gladio was praising the hero as he left Noctis to it, joining Prompto with his singing in the kitchen.

Noctis knew, deep down that his father was busy. It wasn't personal, it never was. It didn't stop the resentment from bubbling up. This was the last time his father was going to be able to spend time with him before his son became a married man. Unwilling to dwell on that thought for too long, he threw everything into a box and taped it up. It would wait till later.

For his room in the Citadel.

With Luna.

"Yo, we've ordered pizza, that ok?" Prompto called.

"Sure, just no-"

"Veggies. Dude! Whatcha take me for!"

Noctis took a long look around his barren room, sighing. Everything was coming to an end. He slammed his bedroom door behind him with vengeance.

"So, Noct, you excited about getting hitched?" Prompto nudged him as Noctis sat on the living room floor heavily.

"A gorgeous girl like that? He'd be silly not to!" Gladio teased, getting up to answer the doorbell.

Noctis didn't respond.

Gladio dropped the pizza box between them and stood looming over them, hands on hips.

"You alright there, mama Gladio?" Prompto quipped.

"You wanna cut out the teenage angst and tell us what's wrong?" Gladio sat and offered Noctis the pizza box.

Noctis pulled out a slice and chewed on it thoughtfully, debating just how much to tell them.

"Is this about you not liking girls?" Prompto had a huge grin on his face, cheese stuck on his chin.

Choking on his slice, Noctis spluttered, waving Gladio off as the big man pounded on his back.

"Don't start with all the 'how did you know bullshit,' it's been obvious for a while now." Gladio sat back down grabbing his own piece.

"Does Ignis-"

"Nah man, that dude is like a robot." Prompto laughed, opening his can of soda.

"You can be honest with us." Gladio reached for more pizza.

Noctis placed his slice back in the box, sorting out the words in his head. "Sometimes it feels like there are two parts of me, you know. The prince side, and the-"

"Brat side?" Gladio offered, grinning at the punch he got.

"I care about Luna, she's my friend. I guess being married to her wouldn't be the worse thing possible. I just had the idea in my head that when I got together with someone that it would be for love. It's a small sacrifice to pay for the safety of Lucis...but still."

"Fucking Nif's," Gladio growled.

"Are you guys...you know..." Noctis gestured between them with his arm.

"Alright with it?" Prompto guessed.

Noctis nodded, feeling his insides twist as he waited.

"Sure, why not." Prompto stuffed another slice of pizza into his mouth.

"I've known for years, and it hasn't stopped me kicking your scrawny ass."

His gaze flitted between the two of them, and despite their jokes, both had an affectionate smile on their face.

"Besides, I've always known you find my looks irresistible!" Prompto brushed back his hair in exaggeration, striking a glamour model pose.

"You wish!" Noctis flicked a bit of magic in his friend's direction, laughing as his hair froze into place.

"Ah man! Not cool!"

"Careful, or you'll snap it off. Want me to thaw it for you?" Noctis held up a leaping tendril of fire in his palm.

"Gah! It creeps me out when you do that! I've never really got the hang of it." Prompto watched as Noctis closed his fist around it, drawing the magic back inside himself.

"You might have done if you'd paid attention to Iggy's lectures." Gladio pointed out, grinning.

"I didn't see you paying that much attention!" Prompto lobbed the remains of his pizza crust at the burly man.

"My muscles are all I need." Gladio flexed his arms.

"Does it hurt? When we you know...pull magic from you? Is that even the right word?"

"Guess it's as good as any." Noctis chuckled. "No, it doesn't hurt. It can do if the person I'm gifting it to isn't concentrating and just rips it from me. That feels like someone has plunged a hand into your chest. Kind of what it feels like when you do it, Prom." Noctis lifted his arm to fend off the strikes.

"Ignis seems to have the hang of it. That dude is scary good at everything."

"Helps if you have the wielder's affections," Gladio smirked, lifting the bottle of beer to this mouth/

That smug bastard knew.

"Besides, you'd probably end up scrambling something inside Noctis's head if you kept doing it. Best just to stick with your weapons."

"He's joking...isn't he?" Prompto went pale.

"It's a direct link to my heart, my very essence. You could easily destroy me, you all could." Noctis confirmed, not liking the look on his blonde friend. "Hey, it's fine. I wouldn't let any of you do it if I didn't trust you, honest."

A stretched silence formed between them as they each thought about that.

"Don't you think it's a little cruel to marry someone off to the gender they aren't attracted to. What about Luna's brother instead?" Prompto mused aloud, drastically changing the subject.

Noctis and Gladio just stared at the blonde, Noctis breaking down into laughter first.

"Ravus? Etro, could you imagine it! I'd be strung up by the rafters after the wedding night." Noctis rubbed away his tears, laughing was good, it helped dispel any residual tension Noctis had about revealing his sexuality.

Gladio stopped first, clutching his sides with wheezing breaths. "You crack me up, kid." He reached over and clapped Prompto on the shoulder. "Listen Noctis..." Gladio scratched the back of his head. "When we first met I thought you were a spoilt, egotistical prick-"

"Gee, don't hold back there big guy!" Noctis scowled.

"Just listen. I know that you'll do what's right, what Lucis needs you to do. It doesn't mean much coming from me, but I'm sorry. Sorry that the treaties are making you do this, that you can't, you know, be with someone you love."

Noctis easily caught the double meaning, that even though Gladio knew of his feelings for Ignis, Noctis still needed to do what was asked of him.

Just a small unsubtle reminder.

"It's the hand fate has dealt me. Besides..." Noctis looked up at the ceiling. "Can't have heirs without a wife." He chuckled bitterly.

"If the treaty holds, maybe Insomnia won't need for a wall. Maybe by doing this, it means the future heirs can marry who they want." Prompto said optimistically.

Gladio shared a look with Noctis over Prompto's head. Heirs to the throne never married for who they loved. It was a political game, one that Ignis would navigate for him.

 

>>>>>

 

Noctis woke with a jolt, heart thundering in his chest and drenched in sweat.

That dream.

That damn nightmare again.

He began to shake, and he quietly muttered the words, "I'm fine, I'm safe," over and over to himself. He tried to move, twisting his back and agony shot through him, phantom after pains of his dream. The cover bunched up under his hands, his room wasn't his room. It was an empty space which magnified his panicked gasps. His thoughts became warped and mutilated, unable to shake off the fear inspired by the nightmare.

Without thinking he pulled his phone off the bedside table and hit dial.

The dial tones stretched in the silence, and Noctis's breathing grew more and more laboured.

"Noctis?" The voice answered, gravely from sleep.

He couldn't say anything, his mouth working but no sound coming out. A muffled sob escaped, and he put his head in his hands, dropping the phone to the bed, scalding tears burning his palms.

"I'll be right there."

Noctis waited, hunched over, trembling with terror. What was waiting for him out there? He closed his eyes against the memories of Marilith, her cold vacant eyes, sharp teeth and coiled snake body. She still held thrall over him, her body winding its way around his chest and neck, constricting him.

A touch to the top of his head had him recoiling, lashing out in desperation. His arms were easily caught and emerald eyes held his gaze.

"You're safe, I've got you."

"Ignis?"

The pressure on his arms dropped, and Noctis stared dumbly at his advisor perched on the edge of his bed, his usual immaculate appearance ruffled.

"Nightmare?" A soothing hand rubbed across his shoulders, deliberately staying away from his scar.

Noctis launched himself into Ignis's open arms, hands clamping around the strong neck, his face buried in Ignis's shoulder.

"I've got you," Ignis murmured again. A hand began petting him on the head, smooth rhythmic strokes that Noctis focused on, banishing the residual fear from his dream.

"I'm sorry," he croaked out, feeling the hand stop on his head. Sorry for what? The dream? The phone call? Weakness?

"Don't be. It's my job to assist you."

Tears welled up again. Noctis didn't want this. He didn't want Ignis here because it was expected of him because the prince had called.

Misunderstanding the tears, Ignis carried on speaking. "You are safe within Insomnia."

Come morning, he wasn't going to be inside Insomnia.

 

>>>>

 

All his life he'd dreamed of a freedom outside Insomnia, wanting an adventure just like the one his father and his friends had.

Reality never met up to expectations.

His first fight outside the boundaries of the crown city and his friends were lecturing him, trying to hold him back. If his friends didn't respect him or trust him, then how was anyone else going to?

Despite all that training Gladio had put him through, all the training of warping and magic his father had subjected him too, the practice magic lessons he had Ignis had sat through, they still thought of him as a thing that needed protection.

"Got to learn sometime." He was cocky and he was arrogant, but this was the chance to prove himself, both to his retinue and himself.

They wouldn't let him.

Frustration was slowing him down, making his attacks weak and sluggish, Gladio kept flinging him to the ground, finishing monsters he had already weakened, taking credit. Huffing in anger, Noctis pushed away from the dusty ground again, trying to put distance between himself and the shield.

It stung when Ignis pushed him aside, his cheeks flaming at the blow to his pride. He couldn't appear pathetic in front of Ignis, not him of all people.

"I'm fine!"

“Stop being stubborn! This is not about skill but about keeping safe!” Ignis killed the creature and glared down at him. Noctis could feel himself bristle at the advisor's tone. He wasn't a child to be mollycoddled and pampered, they couldn't have it both ways. Was he to be a prince hiding behind the Citadel walls, or was he going to be a prince who stood beside those he trusted?

He would show them.

Getting to his feet he warped to a stray Sabertusk, far beyond their overbearing protective circle. He would do this, he needed to do it for himself and for his friends.

His blade tore into the side of the Sabertusk and it lurched back, hissing. Noctis lunged forward again, deflecting claws with a parry. He could hear Gladio and Ignis shouting at him, but he ignored it, he could do this.

The Sabertusk reared onto its back legs, exposing its vulnerable spot, the perfect place for Noctis to strike.

He couldn't move.

He could see his reflection in those cold amber eyes, the fangs and claws that were descending towards him. He heard screams of his attendant, saw her laying before him, blood pooling around them.

Move He screamed inside his head, it wasn't real, his subconsciousness was playing tricks on him. It would be easy, plunge the blade forward, kill the creature.

The blade fell limply to his side.

"Noctis!"

Through the haze he heard the anguished scream, he responded instinctively, warping out of harm's way. Without a destination, he only moved a few feet, allowing the Sabertusk to slice into his thigh. Noctis held back the shriek, scrabbling away from the creature.

It hurt.

It hurt, just like with Marilith.

A sharp agonised tug to his magic had him placing his hand over his chest, expecting to see a gaping wound. The creature exploded into flame, and Noctis stiffly moved his head over to where Ignis was standing, hand extended, the crackling after effects of magic.

Ignis had never hurt him using magic before. He was pale, sweat beading his brow, a look of fear and anguish so raw on his face that it had Noctis struggling to breathe.

Ignis was terrified.

Over losing him.

 

>>>>

 

"You alright man?" Prompto sat beside him on the edge of camp, gaze fixed on his leg.

"Pride's wounded a little."

"Not surprised. I'm surprised your head didn't snap off with Gladio's shakes."

"I needed it."

"Probably." Prompto said nothing for a few moments, pulling his knees up to his chest and looking out over the land. "It's a lot different outside Insomnia then I'd thought it would be. Even though I've had basic training, when you're in battle...common sense goes out the window."

Noctis said nothing, not wanting to admit his fear. Prompto was his friend, his best friend, would hold nothing against Noctis if he told him. He felt stupid and ashamed, glad for the cover of night to hide his red cheeks.

"It's harder than I thought. Actually taking a creature's life." He offered a half truth and Prompto leapt on it, talking animatedly. Prompto was good for that, not allowing silences to linger, so Noctis didn't need to drown in his self-doubts.

He knew exactly when Ignis was behind him, he always knew when the man was close by. Shame had his face lowered, but he still whispered his thanks at the food. No reason to continue to bolster Ignis's assumption that he was a petulant juvenile.

Nodding at Prompto's change of topic, gossip about people at school, Noctis finally looked down at his food.

A Schnitzel Sandwich.

The last time Ignis had made this was when Noctis had first moved to his own apartment. His father had not been pleased with the decision, and it had led to a huge fight between them. Even some of the Crownguard given him the stink eye, muttering under their breath. Noctis wasn't an idiot, he knew what they thought of him.

The first night alone had been horrendous. Noctis had considered going home, that perhaps the rumours about him were true. That he was a conceited, over indulged heir. He couldn't cook, or look after himself and he was just being stubborn.

The next day he'd come home from school to find Ignis cooking. The man had never said what he was doing there, just enquired about his day and carried on, like nothing had changed between them. The small piece of regularity helped him focus.

As they sat down to eat in his new apartment, Noctis had looked up to see a rare smile on Ignis's face.

He had been proud of Noctis.

Noctis was shaken from his thoughts, literally, by Prompto saying goodnight.

Despite being tired, he waited while the others retired to the tent, just watching as Ignis cleared away the remains of food. Even while washing dishes there was a sensuality to Ignis's movements. His shoulders were broad, and Noctis could see the muscles in his back flex under his shirt as he worked.

There was more to Ignis then met the eye.

Noctis knew that despite his scholarly appearance, Ignis was strong. His mind wandered inappropriately. What would it feel like to have those arms around him, not in comfort but in passion? Would Ignis be a tender lover or would he be fierce, demanding?

He stretched his legs out in front of him, trying to calm the ache in his groin. He tilted his head back to the starry sky, trying to rub some of the pain away from the wound. The discomfort was a stark reminder of the realities of the world, the constraints on him.

“Would you like me to take a look for you?” Ignis's tone was kind, as always, making the humiliation Noctis harboured burn brighter. He was a nuisance and would continue to be treated as such.

“You do not have to bear the pain just because you made a mistake.” Ignis rummaged through his bag and knelt before him. “Remove your trousers.”

“What?” His adolescent hormone riddled body couldn't cope with Ignis being that close to him. What would Ignis think of him? Gladio was always ribbing him about being scrawny and although Ignis had seen him in various states of undress that had been years ago.

“It’s fine Ignis, it’ll heal on its own.”

“Desist with the theatrics and let me see.”

It was Ignis the advisor speaking, his tone the usual 'don't give me any crap your Highness.' There was no point fighting him and Noctis gave in, taking off his trousers and sitting down in shorts.

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

The hiss of anger in Ignis's words had him looking up. Ignis was angry, not at him, yet the rage was there.

Ignis was worried about him.

“I didn’t want to bother anyone with it.” Intense eyes met his. Noctis felt himself swallow thickly. Bashfully he ran his hand through his hair, anything to distract him from Ignis, sitting between his legs. Ignis's hands were burning as they touched the inside of his leg. Noctis held his breath, cursing mentally, willing his body to behave.

“You're allowed to be afraid," The disinfectant stung, and it pulled Noctis out from his lust ridden thoughts. Ignis was so close to there it was painful.
Agonised at the effort it was taking to will down an erection, he concentrated on the conversation.

“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.”

He hung his head, wishing the ground would swallow him. It was though Noctis was just handing Ignis reasons not to take him seriously.

“Noctis…” those talented fingers were back, tender brushes causing pleasure fused sparks in his muscles. “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."

His composure crumbled. Just what was he doing? He had completely fucked up today and that had just been a tiny Sabertusk. How was he meant to protect his home? The people relying on him?

“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?” Horrified, Noctis felt the tears start to fall.

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

He used his nickname again.

“Yeah but…for how much longer? When you find out…” He spoke without thinking, the closeness of Ignis lulling him into a false sense of security.
Ignis couldn't know.

He could never find out about his feelings. He would ruin everything. What he had now would have to be enough. His feelings had no place. To protect his people he needed heirs, he needed to uphold the alliance.

In his deep recesses of his heart, Etro, how he wanted Ignis to love him. Just Noctis. He took all his feelings, imagining squashing them into a box, pushing harder and harder until they were all contained.

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

Ignis supplied the padlock for his suppressed feelings.

Highness.

That's all he was.

He was the crown prince. First and foremost that was who he was. If he could have these few weeks of freedom, of fun with his friends that that was enough. If he could keep Ignis beside him, then that was enough.

Expecting Ignis to leave, Noctis waited.

His advisor didn't leave.

Ignis's thumb was running over skin, the softness of the action mesmerising. Noctis wanted Ignis to put both his hands on his thigh, dragging them slowly up, teasing Noctis, wanting Noctis.

He tried to hold it in.

He really did.

The moan came from deep in his throat. Ignis's head jerked up to meet his. His pupils were huge, his eyes dark and predatory. Watching each other, neither of them could look away. Ignis's tongue darted out to touch his top lip, and Noctis couldn't tear his eyes away.

What if, just tonight, in the secrecy of the night Noctis told him? If he just leant down and touched his lips Ignis's. A spell had them transfixed, Ignis must have felt it. Like a puppet on strings, he moved towards Noctis. Noctis reciprocated, moving to meet halfway.

What if Noctis broke with tradition? Escaped decorum and expectations. He didn't need his magic, as long as he could live a life with Ignis.

What if, just maybe, Ignis could love him back?

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

Ignis broke away, remaining attached to Noctis by his hand.

Sheer disbelief bubbled inside him and turned into humour. It was the only outlet Noctis had for it.

Despite everything, Noctis couldn't help but challenge Ignis. He couldn't be imagining things. Ignis had been caught up in the moment, just as he had.

“You coming to bed, Ignis?” He practically purred out the word, there was no mistaking the intent this time.

Ignis reacted. He gave a strangled half moan, before turning. He wasn't fast enough. Noctis caught the stain of red on Ignis's cheeks.

Ignis felt something, so he was either hiding it from himself, or from Noctis. Unwilling to dwell on that idea tonight, Noctis went into the tent and smiled down at Prompto who was sprawled out across the floor, taking up enough room for all of them. Gladio was asleep, or so he wanted Noctis to believe. He wasn't stupid, he knew Gladio wouldn't finally fall asleep until he knew his prince was nearby, safe.

Taking off his boots and jacket, he crawled beside Prompto, gently shoving his friend on his side to give him some room. In this arrangement Ignis would have no choice but to lay beside him, the thought made him chuckle as he got comfortable on the floor.

After a long while, Noctis heard the zipper open, and he cracked open his eyes, trying not to snort at Ignis gazing down at them all. As he glanced at Noctis, his face looked pained, and Noctis felt a pang of guilt.

Maybe what Ignis felt was nothing and he was ignoring Noctis's probes to save them both from humiliation and awkwardness. A thought crept into his mind, gnawing away at him as he waited for Ignis to settle down beside him. He didn't want Ignis to feel uncomfortable around him, didn't want him fretting about how to turn down a wayward prince's advancements.

Noctis could not lose Ignis as his advisor. Lucis could not lose Ignis.

The people of Insomnia. The people in the old territories of Lucis. Luna. They were all counting on him.

He turned, his treacherous hand reaching out for his constant. Ignis turned at once, not speaking and Noctis moved closer, needing the comfort.
“You can do this, Noct.”

Ignis knew. He always did. He spread his arms, without question, without judgment and Noctis burrowed in, pressing his head against Ignis's chin. He wished he could burrow under Ignis's skin and just be held there, away from everything. A heavy hand rested on his head, fingers threading through his hair, soothing the worry away. Noctis let Ignis pet him, feeling the other arm wrap strongly around his back. He felt safe, protected, and he let his worries go, his mind beginning to drift towards sleep.

Teetering on the precipice between reality and dreams, Noctis felt the one holding him together shift, and he went to protest only to find himself embraced once more, tighter than he ever had during waking hours. As Noctis felt himself doze once more, he was convinced he felt Ignis's nose pressed against his neck, deeply breathing him in.

>>>>

Ignis had been acting...strange ever since that night. To the untrained eye, it appeared his advisor was the same. He still cooked for them, still nagged Noctis about every little thing, but Noctis knew. Judging by the looks Gladio was throwing the pair of them, he did too.
Ignis never blushed.

He could barely look Noctis in the eye and whenever he did his pupils were blown wide, his entire demeanour nervous. When Noctis had reached out to take the plate handed to him, fingers touching, Ignis had jumped back as if scalded. Noctis had not seen Ignis enter the tent again since that night.

It was puzzling but Noctis was giving the man space. Being around the same people, day after day, no matter how close you were to them became tedious. There could have been anything on Ignis’s mind. Noctis would respect his privacy.

Watching Prompto hobbling around their camp for the night made Noctis feel sorry for him. Ignis and Gladio were trained for this, for marching for days, living with little food and sleep. His city born and bred commoner friend was not. He gestured the weary traveller over. “I’m going to do some fishing, wanna come?”

“I thought we had to stay ‘within range,’” Prompto emphasised with air quotes, throwing a glare at Gladio with that one.

“As long as we are within the runes it’ll be fine. Look the stream is within the boundary.”

“Can I have a go?”

“You can help watch the line.”

Grumbling, Prompto helped carry the bags over, watching as Noctis cast the line. They sat in companionable silence for a while, just listening to the ebb and flow of the water.

“So, Noct? How you doing?”

“I’ve been better.” Noctis drew his leg up and rested his chin on his knee, looking over the black ink of water.

“Do you need to talk?” Prompto inquired, picking up one of the lures and fiddling with it.

"Why do you think I need to talk, Prom?"

"Because I know you." The explanation was simple, his friend easily seeing through the bravado Noctis was putting on, the false cheer at his freedom.

Noctis moved the rod away, the pretence of fishing forgotten.

“Why can’t I stop this hesitation, Prompto? This is a simple decision. Go marry Luna, have peace. Simple. That's my job.”

“Take it from me Noct, as an ordinary citizen, it’d be nice not to have to live in fear of the Empire. They’ve taken so many of the outer regions and there are so many rumours flying about the atrocities out here. I would want my ruler to do everything possible to save me.”

He tossed the lure to Noctis who caught it without thinking.

“Being your friend, I don’t think I can be considered an ordinary citizen.”

There was a wistful note, a twang of uncertainty that had Noctis reaching over to punch his shoulder. “Of course not, you’re the crown prince’s best friend.”
“I don’t want you to be forced to marry her Noct. I want you to find someone, settle down and live happily ever after.”

“I’ve already done the meeting someone.” The words tumbled from his lips.

"Would this someone maybe be a glasses wearing advisor to the throne?"

Noctis closed his eyes and nodded.

“Yeah, I’d figured. How long you been crushing for?”

“It’s not a crush. I’ve never felt like this before."

"I knew you guys were close..." Prompto trailed off.

Noctis felt a tingle in his core, one of them had pulled on his magic. Ignis frequently did it while cooking, to save on matches. Usually he asked, but Noctis was too preoccupied to care.

“But love? Man are you sure?”

“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.”

“But Ignis of all people? Talk about chasing the unobtainable Noct!"

A camp chair falling down had them both leaping out of their skins, turning to face Ignis and Gladio, the former who had left his chair from watching them.

“You don’t suppose…” Prompto gasped, holding fingers over his mouth.

“No, we’re too far away.” Noctis scoffed, reeling the line in. "Listen, don't worry about it. Nothing's ever going to happen. It's not like Ignis ever needs to know. The people of Lucis have to be more important than my feelings. They need a king and an advisor, that's the only relationship we'll have."

"But..." Prompto shook his head, "that's heartbreaking."

"A small price for peace, Prom. Come on, let’s get some dinner.”

As they came closer, Gladio spotted them, waving them away with his hand.

“Wha?” Noctis began, feet stuck to the floor as he heard the clipped words.

“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.”

The use of his magic.

Ignis had eavesdropped.

The blow landed in the soft part of his stomach, forcing the air from his lungs.

“Iggy…” Gladio was frantic, now gesturing at Prompto. His friend was just as dumbstruck as he.

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

His heart felt heavy like his blood had turned to tar and it was struggling to keep beating.

“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?” Noctis heard himself croak through the anguish.

Ignis froze, Noctis could see the sudden tensing of the shoulders, the way Ignis slowly turned to face him. Nothing was hidden on his face as he looked at him, and Noctis held nothing hidden on his either.

“Noct-” He began, reaching out for him.

No.

Noctis wasn’t going to listen anymore. Ignis had broken something deep within him, the fragile, foolish hope he’d been carrying. His eyes were stinging and he closed them in anger. He would not let Ignis see.

A pained gasp escaped Ignis.

“It’s late and we've still got a long road to follow.” His words came from some hollow place inside himself.

“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.”

Noctis span on his heel, ignoring the pleas of his friends. No. He was not going to deal with this now. He looked at the sleeping rolls, where he’d been sleeping next to Ignis, just content on being next to the man. He threw himself on the other side of the tent glaring at the canvas wall.

Gladio came in soon after him, saying nothing but lying beside him. Noctis had curled into a ball, ignoring everything. He felt a large hand press against his back, a show of support, and he ignored it, waiting to be on his own. Prompto was next, softly whispering to Gladio. He felt eyes burning into him, but Noctis did not turn. Eventually, the zip went for the last time. Noctis didn’t turn, didn’t look.

Just wait. He told himself. Just a while longer.

After long minutes had passed, snoring softly filling the tent, Noctis rose, unable to bear being this close to everyone. He knew Gladio would wake as soon as he moved, he knew Ignis wasn’t going to be asleep.

Noctis didn’t care.

The fresh night air made the tears on his cheeks sting, and he quickly moved as far away from the tent as possible while still being within the runes. Dark violent clouds of negative emotions were gathering inside his skull, cutting off logical thought and reason. Nausea swirled in his stomach, and he dropped to all fours, dry heaving.

Not like this.

Why did Ignis have to find out? Ignis had betrayed him, had taken part of his soul and manipulated it to find out Noctis's hidden secret. An upsurge of anger burst from his chest in a violent cry of anguish.

Hands picked him up from under the armpits, placing him astride a muscled thigh. "Gladio..." He croaked into that strong chest, pounding his fists into solid muscle, wanting someone to hold him together.

"It's alright, Noct."

They didn't speak, Gladio just letting Noctis's anguish flow out of him, supporting him, protecting him as he was sworn to do.

"Are you..."

"Here because it's my job?" Gladio murmured softly. "No. When you can't think I think for you, when everything is falling around you, I'll be your pillar of strength. What happened tonight...I'm sorry." Gladio rearranged him, sitting Noctis in the space made by his outstretched legs.

Noctis sniffled pitifully and leant against the warmth.

"First loves, they never work out. Better to find out now then pine for an unreachable fantasy."

"You think it's unreachable?"

Gladio took a deep breath and cleared his throat. "You caught Ignis off guard with your admission, you know what he's like Noct, he completely loses his composure when something doesn't go the way he expects. He was trying to protect himself. He...he honestly had no idea how you felt about him. He can be totally blind to people's feelings."

"You're not answering the question, Gladio."

"Look Noctis," Gladio sighed and closed his eyes, wrapping his arms around Noctis. "It doesn't matter how you feel, or how Ignis feels. You have to marry Lunafreya."

"I know that. I just thought...that maybe..."

"What that if Ignis found out you guys could run off together into the distance? Real life doesn't work out like that. Maybe if you weren't king and the Nifs weren't holding Insomnia by the balls, but unfortunately, here we are."

That and Ignis saw him as his job. Not Noctis. Crown Prince Noctis, heir to the throne and sacrifice to the people of Lucis. The conversation haunted Noctis, taunting him, replaying over and over like an echo.

Egotistical prince.

Self-indulgent fantasies.

Noctis knew that others saw him like that, that they couldn't see past that label given him. The knife that seemed to have wedged in his gut twisted sharply.

 

>>>

 

Noctis avoided Ignis. He just couldn't deal with it, not yet. He was aware of Ignis trying to corner him alone, cooking his favourite meals, that Noctis refused to eat, surviving on junk food they brought. Prompto and Gladio it seemed were on his side, which he was thankful for.

It would return to normal one day, Noctis might even look back on his as some sort of learning experience, but not now, not with the pain still so raw. It made him feel a little better seeing that Ignis was suffering as well. The man was a master of his emotions but Noctis could see it in the small tell-tale signs.

If he pushed the pain down he could function as a normal human, join in the jokes with Prompto, even if all knew it was false.

The days seem to pass slowly, the pain crystallising into a hard lump he had to carry around with him. Nights were long, Noctis struggled to sleep knowing Ignis was only a few feet away. Despite the pain, the hurt, Noctis wanted things just to go back to normal. If Noctis was upset by something it was usually Ignis he went to.

Now he was alone.

No, that wasn't true. Prompto had taken it upon himself to act as a buffer, moving to sit up beside Ignis in the car, leaving Noctis in the back. Prompto had been his rock, distracting him, making sure Noctis didn't wallow in pity. He also protected him against Ignis, never allowing them to be alone together.

Gladio had helped too, in his own way. Making sure Noctis was exhausted at the end of each day, training him, taking him out to battle foes alone, small ones so that Noctis wouldn't freeze again in battle. The shield felt guilty about something, and knowing his Gladio the way he did, his high expectations of Noctis, he wouldn't be surprised if Gladio had been the mastermind behind the eavesdropping. Just to put the right amount of distance between prince and advisor.

His anger at Ignis faded. He had been livid with Gladio at first, but the heat of his fury had cooled to embers. It wasn't unusual to have people steer him in what they thought was the right direction, and it wouldn't be the last time Gladio took it upon himself to act in Noctis's best interests.

When they arrived at Galdin Quay he looked out at the sea longingly and with trepidation. Ironically it might be his marriage that would save his fractured relationship with Ignis. Once he was wed they would fall back into an established working relationship. That had to be better than Ignis leaving forever.

Walking along the pier did dissipate some of the despair. He'd never seen the sea, never smelt the salty air. The sky melted into the endless horizon, different from the scenery he had grown up seeing.

He felt almost playful again, watching as Prompto tried in vain to boost his mood, going out of his way to cheer him up. Noctis shoved him into the sea, feeling laughter bubble up as Prompto screamed about his hair. His heart swelled with fondness. Loyal Prompto, Noctis didn't think he could get past this without his friend's help.

The affection left as he was pulled down head first into the chilly sea water. As he broke the surface, he heard laughter. Prompto was clutching him, treading the water pitifully and Noctis vaguely remembered he wasn't the best at swimming. Supporting him, he glared up at Gladio and Ignis, both in stitches laughing.

Perhaps things weren't as dark as they seemed.

Ignis knelt on the pier holding out his hand. Noctis could either be churlish about the whole thing or man up and take the first step. Ignis's eyes were almost pleading. Breathing deep he took the offered hand, cursing when he misjudged the footing and Ignis's strength, falling against heavily against him.

"Sorry." Noctis detangled himself as quickly as possible, not willing to make the situation any less bearable. He was going to be king one day, and he needed Ignis to do that job, whatever else had happened, Noctis needed to take responsibility for it.

"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."
"Noctis, wait a moment-" The words were pained, but cut off.
"I'm afraid you're out of luck." A drawling voice interrupted, a smug, messy redhead standing before them.

>>>

 

Insomnia was gone.

Obliterated.

The Empire had gone back on its word and left this in its wake.

He felt Prompto's presence behind him and he blindly groped for it, trying to hold himself together. He was supposed to prevent this, he was going to keep them all safe. Noctis had done exactly what everyone has asked him to.

Fumbling in his pocket he grabbed his phone, struggling to see his phonebook through blurry eyes. Cor would know, his father trusted him.

“Cor? Is it true?”
There was a pained sigh. "The rumours are true highness. Your father King Regis has been slain. As has most of the Crownsguard and Kingsglaive."

The world tilted on its axis and Noctis flailed, grasping hold of Prompto's wrist.

Nyx Ulric.

His father.

Luna.

“And Luna?” He hesitantly asked.

"Lady Lunafreya made it out of Insomnia." Cor was hesitant, meaning that she was not with him.

“Good, so she’s safe.”

"She was reported leaving Insomnia by a Kingsglaive, I can only assume she escaped with the refugees. Meet me in Hammerhead, we can talk in safety there."
The phone call ended and Noctis cast his eyes on his ruined city once more. His retinue waited behind him, expecting instruction.

“We’re meeting Cor in Hammerhead, let’s go.” Noctis speared Ignis with a glare, challenging him. The advisor had got his wish, Noctis was living up to his responsibilities, regardless if he was ready.

>>>>>

 

Prompto was fussing around him in the motel room. Noctis had insisted they have separate rooms, not caring about the extra Gil. None had argued with him, and Ignis had handed him a key without question. Noctis wanted to be on his own, away from prying eyes.

His best friend had seen through it all, making sure he had food and tucking him into bed. Usually, Noctis would rib him for it, making a wise crack or two, but he hadn't the strength, cracking under the careful care. Prompto had said nothing as the tears came, gently encouraging him under the covers, to get some rest.

Noctis had closed his eyes, breathing in great shuddering breaths, unable to calm himself. A hand rubbed his shoulders, something that Noctis could focus on, reassurance that he wasn't alone. After what felt like an age, the hand stopped, Prompto creeping stealthy away from the bed.

He thought Noctis had fallen asleep.

They had murdered his father. They had demanded a treaty for nothing, caused all this anguish for a pretence. Stolen the crystal, left the people helpless. Noctis curled into a ball under the covers, sobs wracking his body.

How was he going to do this without his father? He had assumed with a childlike certainty that his father would always be there, that Noctis had a years before he would need to give his life.

What else could the Empire take from him? His family, his freedom.

Where did he go from here?

Instinctively he found himself knocking at his door. Seeking the steady constant in his life. A broken heart felt like a wasp sting compared to this.

Ignis froze as he saw him waiting at the door.

Noctis barely got his name out before bursting into tears, crumbling to pieces. He needed Ignis, he craved Ignis. Ignis would make it better, he would fix things just as he had done when he was younger. Ignis didn't push him away, holding him in an embrace, letting Noctis cry into his shirt, his head against the top of Noctis's. He couldn't stop the shakes, the excruciating cries ripping through his body.

How could his father be gone?

“I am sorry…Noctis.” Words ruffled through his hair.

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

Noctis pulled away from the comforting feel and smell of Ignis to look up into his distressed face. Ignis's gloveless hands came up, thumbs gently stroking around his painful eyes.

“You are not alone. You have us.”

Noctis felt his face screw in ugly misery. Ignis always saw through him, knew Noctis's soul, the childish fears of being alone that he tried to bury.

“I was horrible when I left. I didn’t say anything to him…I just left.” The guilt was swirling, he'd had the chance to say goodbye properly, and he hadn't.

“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!”

He clung to Ignis, almost demanding his advisor to make it better. That was his role damn it.

“Come, this way.” Ignis manipulated him onto the bed, pulling off his boots. Noctis had missed this, the gentle way Ignis showed he cared. “Rest, everything will wait till morning. I will be here with you.”

Noctis had a moment of clarity through the miasma of sorrow. If Noctis was just a job to Ignis, then why was the man going far beyond the call of duty? How was it that Noctis knew that the man cared if there was nothing between them.

“Stay with me?”

“Of course, I shall be over there.”

“No, stay with me here.”

He was too tired to over think things, too emotionally wrought to second guess things. He needed Ignis with him. Ignis took a deep breath, closing his eyes and nodded his head, pulling off his shirt and getting in beside Noctis.

“Ignis?”

“Yes, Highness?”

The damn title again.

“Did you mean what you said?”

Ignis's face floated above his, sans glasses and Noctis was struck by just how handsome Ignis was without them, just how green his eyes were.

“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."

Noctis closed his eyes, grateful someone seemed to understand his reasons.

"I envy you that." Ignis sounded wistful.

“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."
Noctis fought the urge to kick him in the groin.

“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.”

Doing what was right. Noctis looked out into the emptiness of the room. Just what was the right thing to do now? Luna was out there somewhere, and people had died.

“Why me?” Ignis's voice was hushed, as though he truly didn't understand. It was the closest they had come to speaking of that night, of Noctis's feelings.

There was no reason to hold back. He'd already lost nearly everything.

“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." Noctis reached up to place a hand on Ignis's cheek, breath catching as Ignis leant into 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.”

Ignis looked down at him for a long moment, and Noctis suddenly became aware of just how close they were. The length of Ignis's hard body next to his, the body heat seeping into his skin. Ignis's eyes were heavy-lidded, his breathing quickening. Noctis could see the leaping pulse point in his neck.

The treaty was void.

There was no reason for him to wed.

Ignis's eyes flickered down to his mouth, his head beginning to drift down. Noctis closed his eyes against the intensity of Ignis's gaze, the feeling of Ignis's breath on his lips. His hand gripped the back of Ignis's neck, feeling the tendons strain as Ignis tensed.

“I cannot.”

Noctis felt his self-preservation instincts flair up.

“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.”

Ignis had wanted to kiss him just as much as Noctis wanted to be kissed. Noctis was willing to bet his life on it. It was Ignis that had the problem here, not him. Ignis who was putting obstacles in his path.

“You cannot forget Lady Lunafreya.”

Noctis felt a sharp snap inside his chest, and his magic reacted, trying to shield him from harm.

Ignis couldn't be doing this to him again.

“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 jumped out of bed, primarily for Ignis's safety. He could feel his magic seeking out the source of his pain, trying to remove it.

“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."

An infatuation.

That's what his love was being regarded as. Akin to a childhood crush. Noctis knew his feelings were real. He had never considered breaking with tradition for anyone else, never considered leaving his people for anyone else. He was foolish, his people deserved more than a king and an emotionally dead advisor.

“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.”

With the pain came clarity.

His destiny was waiting for him, and Noctis would embrace it with both hands. No longer would he be a slave to his emotions, this was bigger than him and his needs.

Insomnia needed her king.

“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 wouldn't hurt him again.

>>>>

 

In his hotel room, Noctis practised with his new Royal Arms, making them appear and disappear at will. Two new weapons, two tombs down, only eleven more to visit. Noctis didn't want to gallivant across Lucis any longer. He could understand Nyx's Ulric's frustrations that day in the car. The Empire had indeed struck at Insomnia's weak spot, and instead of taking vengeance, Noctis was on a quest to visit tombs.

There was reason, logic in Cor's command, setting Noctis forth on this path, but it left a bitter taste in Noctis's mouth. Like he was hiding from the Empire. His new driving force was finding Luna, saving his friend. She was alive, Umbra having visited him with their shared notebook. What Luna was doing, Noctis had no idea.

He'd poured all his frustrations into battle, feeling smug satisfaction that he could hold his own now, that he didn't need assistance. He knew a part of it was to hurt Ignis, to show the advisor that he wasn't needed anymore.

Pushing himself to the point of exhaustion he stopped, falling onto the plush hotel carpet on all fours, panting. Not matter what he did, pushing himself to the limits, he couldn't shake off the dull ache in his chest.

Ignis had feelings for him.

He shook his head irritably. He wasn't going to spend any more time on it. Ignis had made his choice loud and clear, and Noctis needed to move on. In fact...he needed to move on right now.

Decision made, Noctis rolled onto his back, thinking about how to just do that. What he needed was a night of oblivion. Falling in love with another wasn't an option, but a night of being drowned in salacious desire? That might do the trick.

With a deep breath, he seized his courage and left the room, heading downstairs. His clothes were not the usual black, he didn't need to be marked out as royalty, he just wanted someone to want him for him. He couldn't leave the hotel, and he was certain Gladio and Ignis had some sort of tracking device on his phone.

Nervously he looked around the bar, sitting at the counter, ordering a drink and hiding his uncertainty behind a mask of indifference. He had no idea how to go about this. Thankfully he didn't need to brood for too long, a young man sidled up to him, friendly and easily approachable.

His magic sensed Gladio enter the bar, Noctis knew without turning his head that the shield was there, watching over him. He felt somewhat reassured, and he looked back over his shoulder slightly, nodding in respect. Gladio tipped his drink in his direction, giving him permission.

Noctis couldn't remember his name, but he was easy on the eyes and not trying to pressure Noctis into anything. He had forgotten just how easy it was to talk to someone outside the stifling confines of royalty. It was refreshing not to have someone hide their true thoughts or opinions, treating Noctis as if he were just another man of Lucis.

He felt some of the tension melt, some of the weight he'd been carrying float away. This is what is should have been like, easy flirting, no pressures of political weight, no screening his words. It was like being with Prompto, except Noctis didn't want to be intimate with Prompto.

Noctis wouldn't mind it with this man.

He made a joke about the Empire and his attentive stranger laughed, reaching out to cup the back of his neck. Noctis froze. People rarely touched him. Prompto gave him messy bear hugs, Gladio flung his arm casually his shoulders and rarely even Ignis patted him on the shoulder on occasion.

They all knew not to touch him there.

Dimly, Noctis was aware of a commotion behind him, back where he knew Gladio to be, sounding something like a glass tipping over. Clumsy brute. Squashing his feelings of panic, Noctis reached up to pull at his beau's hand, resting it on his forearm and giving what he hoped was a sensual smile to soften the rebuttal.

"Sorry, the skin on my back is a little sensitive," Noctis offered in explanation, hoping it would be enough to appease his friend.

"Are there other parts of you that are sensitive?" He leant in to whisper in Noctis's ear. He was still being cautious, not pressuring Noctis, but the warm air near his ear felt amazing.
He could forget himself with this stranger.

“I believe it is time to go, Noct.” The voice was low, gravely.

“Stop it Specs, go finish your conversation with Gladio and I’ll see you both in the morning.” Noctis wasn't going to play games, putting enough venom into his voice to ensure Ignis would leave him alone.

A swift grab to his arm had Noctis recoiling.

Ignis never handled him roughly.

“I do not believe I was giving you an option.” The voice was dark, lethal and Noctis felt his heart jump in panic as Ignis dragged him away. He gestured at Gladio, but his shield was staring at them, jaw slack.

Some help he was.

“You are the king, Noctis, you cannot be acting like that with commoners.” Ignis looked dangerous standing over him, eyes narrowed, tendons straining in his neck. Despite his annoyance, Noctis found the sight mesmerising. He'd never seen Ignis lose his composure before.

His own frustration bubbled, his anger flaring. He was consumed by the uncontrollable need to aggravate Ignis further, to fight with him.

"I can speak and act any way I want." Noctis tried to escape, to see if Ignis would prevent him.

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

“It was not talking on mine either Ignis, move!” Noctis could feel the tension in the air, coiling between them.

“You can't mean to tell me you planned your first intimate encounter with someone like that.” Ignis was seething, his arms gesturing wildly.
Now they were getting to the crux of the issue.

“It’s none of your business!”

“Everything you do is my business, Noctis.” Ignis was reverting back into the advisory role, shutting himself off from Noctis, from his feelings.

“Fine!” Noctis snapped, adding more pressure. “I’m going to go back downstairs, and then the commoner and I are going to go back into his room.”

“I think not.”

Noctis could feel his temper fraying. Ignis's couldn't have it both ways. He didn't want Noctis, but Noctis wasn't allowed to be with anyone either.

Have to remain pure for the next highest bidder, Noctis thought bitterly.

“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 pushed Ignis's chest, ignoring the solid build of muscle, the heat under his fingers.

"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 hung his head, his hands clutched into fists at his sides, his body tense.

“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.”

Why couldn't Ignis let him have this one night, this one lapse?

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

Of course he could, that was the advisor's duty, help carry the weight so the king didn't crumple under the weight. “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?”

Like a puff of hot air, his anger evaporated, his traitorous heart leaping with longing.

A warm weight pressed on his back, a large hand came into his line of sight, closing the door, cutting off his escape. No, he couldn't get swept up in this, this stupid game of cat and mouse they were falling into. Ignis had made his choice, duty over feelings, as was his right, he was not going to keep stringing Noctis along with what ifs.

“Not anymore,” he lied. He needed to cut the hold Ignis held over him. Ignis would let him go and Noctis would walk away, leaving this finally behind him. Fingers fluttered against his jaw, applying gentle pressure, manipulating him to turn over his shoulder.

“I can be the one you want.” The husky tone made Noctis quiver.

Ignis leant down, his supple lips covering his own. Sheer panic and disbelief made him fight against it, against the feelings. He'd been waiting, so so long for anything like this, years in fact. Ignis had to be using it against him, surely? Manipulating him, trying to make him walk down the assigned path.

A warm brush of tongue probing his mouth made Noctis's rational thoughts flee.

Hands gripped his hips, digging deliciously against Noctis's skin. Ignis turned him, and Noctis was now flush against the hard plains of Ignis's chest, the man's scent curling around him, taunting him with how close he was. Ignis demanded more, tongue snaking in, twisting against his. A sound escaped him, a longing moan. His hands came up to hold onto Ignis's jacket, attempting to bring himself back to reality. He wasn't ashamed that all the sounds leaving him, he was drenched in sensation, and he wanted more, wanted all of Ignis.

Ignis pulling back felt like someone had dumped a cold bucket of water on his head. Ignis looked almost smug, and Noctis's earlier fears of being manipulated reared.
“You were the one I wanted. But not anymore.”

Noctis wasn't going to fall for these tricks.

>>>>>>>

 

Prompto bolted upright as he stormed into his room.

"Noctis? What's wrong? Who's attacking?"

Noctis couldn't think straight, could still taste and feel Ignis against his mouth.

"Ignis!" He growled, prowling around in circles.

"Ignis? Oh man, what he do now? Get you hitched to some Nif lord?" Prompto yawned and flopped back on the bed, scratching his stomach sleepily.

"He kissed me. What does it mean?" Noctis snarled, feet wearing a path on the carpet.

"Say what!" Prompto jumped up, a wide smile on his face. "Well I'll be, seems I did something helpful after all."

Noctis halted, whipping his head around to look at his friend.

"Did what exactly?" His voice was deadly.

"Whoa easy there, your eyes man...they're looking a bit...well you know, red."

"Why now?" Noctis carried on pacing, his thoughts chaotic.

"I spoke to Ignis at the Chocobo ranch."

Noctis didn't answer, his magic scorching inside of him. He needed to spar, needed to do something with the extra energy.

"He admitted he loved you."

His stomach knotted.

"He...what?"

"Dude, come on, you know Ignis. His appearance is everything to him. Nothing he can do can make people doubt you, everything he is, everything he does is for the future king of Lucis. What if people knew he loved you?"

Back to square one. Back to his constraints.

"Why now?" Noctis looked up at the ceiling, closing his eyes. "I'm not sure what the feelings I have for him are anymore."

"That's bullshit and you know it."

Noctis tilted his head at his friend, surprised at his irate tone. "You've loved him for years Noctis, we both know it. If you're scared of your feelings he's terrified Noct. You think it's easy to love someone knowing that they would one day need to marry to have heirs? He swore an oath to protect you, to guide you, don't you think that he's possibly breaking it a little in having feelings."

Noctis felt a cold clarity seep into him.

"Ignis is a proud man, Noct. He values his morals, his ethics, and he's breaking them by loving you."

"Why now?" He croaked out. "Why is he doing this now? He's had plenty of chances to talk to me, he had the chance to be with me the night after my father died."

Prompto got off the bed, slinging an arm around his shoulder and guiding him to the bed.

"Seriously Noct? What kind of a dick is going to take advantage of someone on a night like that? I was in pieces seeing Insomnia, you were completely broken. No-one was thinking straight, and knowing Iggy he was probably trying to protect you from something you'd regret."

"But...since then?"

"What? With all the deathly glares you've been sending him? Even I wouldn't come near you."

"You're saying-"

"Ignis loves you? Yeah course, aside from Ignis you're the only one who didn't notice."

Ignis loved him. Was struggling with feelings for him.

Ignis reciprocated his feelings.

His magic grew to a crescendo, taking over, removing him from the distress. He warped straight out of the first story room and dangling in mid-air. Noctis barely heard Prompto's yell as the ground rushed up to meet him.

 

>>>>

Ignis's temper the morning after had been apocalyptic. Despite knowing what Prompto had said there was a still a lingering doubt. Duty, decorum to Ignis was everything, a part of who Ignis was, an innate part of his soul.

Noctis couldn't trust that Ignis would consider him anything other than the prince.

Gladio had caught his discomfort, telling Ignis to pull over. The advisor ignored him, shoulders hunched, hands trembling on the wheel. Another bump in the road had Noctis wincing, and he ordered Ignis to stop.

"You wanna tell me what happened last night? I've never seen Ignis like that, thought he was going to rip your arm off."

"We argued, I went to Prom's room, and I warped through the wall into the ground. It hurt, I need potions, end of story."

Gladio said nothing, picking up snacks on their way around the outpost.

"If you've got a problem just tell me," Noctis sighed.

"Is this going to affect your mission?"

"The going around Lucis looking at creepy dead royalty? No." Noctis yelped at the cuff to the back of his head.

"Don't be a smart ass. I'm serious, Noct."

"I don't know, Gladio. Things are complicated with Ignis, but it's not going to stop me from making the Empire pay."

Gladio's fingers tilted his head back and took a long time studying his face.

"Alright," he said finally. "Just be careful, Noct. I don't want either of you guys getting hurt." Gladio went to pay, leaving Noctis loitering around the shelves. Peering out of the window, he saw Ignis and Prompto deep in conversation.

"It's...not often life gives you a second shot at something, Noctis. With the treaty gone, the wall destroyed, maybe this is a chance for some happiness. Gods know, you both deserve it." Gladio handed him a potion.

"What if when all this is over I need to put the wall back up? Lucis still needs heirs Gladio, there isn't anyone else able to take my place." Noctis left the shop, Gladio in tow, heading back to the car.

"See that's the thing, Prom pointed something out to me the other day?"

"What meddling has he gotten himself into now?"

"You couldn't have a surrogate to carry your heir?"

Noctis halted on the concrete.

"All I'm saying is, don't discredit other options. Destroy the Nif's and worry about the royal protocol later."

 

>>>>

 

They were soaking wet and Noctis felt himself shiver. The beast they'd been fighting wasn't overpowering, yet Ignis had seen the need to pull him to cover while Gladio and Prompto finished it off.

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

This whole thing smelt like a setup.

He was going to kill Prompto.

“I handled it, handled it all poorly,” Ignis whispered.

Here it came. The prepared, 'even though I have feelings for you we must think of Lucis speech,' Noctis didn't want to hear it.

"I do not believe it is in your best interest to marry Lady Lunafreya." Noctis recognised the cool analytical tone.

"You know of a lord that would be a more beneficial match?" He couldn't do it anymore, couldn't fight it. His hope had died and Noctis couldn't revive it.

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

He was sick of this.

"Noctis wait!"

“Enough, Ignis!” A whiplash of anger flared from his chest. “Stop toying with my emotions! This is just…” Noctis felt his the stinging in his eyes, saw in Ignis's concerned expression what had happened, that his eyes had changed. “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!”

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

Something pleading in Ignis's voice shook his resolve, the guard he'd put up around him, to protect him from Ignis began to wobble.

“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."

Noctis wished his magic allowed him to rewind time, back to before all of this, back to when they were young and Ignis would huddle under the bed under him, back to a time Ignis made him safe, back when the world made sense.

“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.” Hands clutched 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."

Noctis felt confusion sink on him. Been with another? Memories of last night came flooding back. Ignis thought he had slept with someone else. He breathed out sharply as Ignis's perfect mask fell, allowing Noctis to see how he had felt. Ignis trusted him with that vulnerability.

"You have trusted me enough 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.”

Noctis felt deadened hope spark to life inside him as a thumb lovingly stroked his lip. Trembling Noctis took hold of his courage, asking the question, the one that would heal him or destroy him completely.

“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.” Ignis brushed lips across his forehead. The rain was painful, tiny pinpricks of ice assaulting him.
Was this going to be where Ignis told him that this would have to be enough?

“You’re telling me you love me?” His voice wobbled.

Ignis came closer, green eyes staring deep into his soul. Noctis could feel the clammy heat of Ignis's forehead against his own.

“How could I not?”

Hands slid up from their claw grip on his shoulders, raking through his hair, causing his scalp to tingle.

“I love you, Noctis.” He mumbled against his mouth. “I want to be with you. Not as Prince Noctis, but as just Noctis."

The words were like a magic charm that released the seal on Noctis's feelings. Everything he'd been trying to hide, to suppress tumbled free, banishing the numbness he'd been carrying.

Noctis initiated the kiss, but Ignis met him half way, a tentative brush of lips, nothing more.

He pulled away, waiting, gauging Ignis's reaction, still cautious that more was to follow, that Ignis would say something to ruin the moment. Ignis's face crumpled and he lunged at Noctis, clumsily brushing back the hair from his head. “Sorry I was so blind, sorry that I hurt you. I just…I did not know…”

Noctis could hear it. The anguish, the sorrow in Ignis's words. He could feel the man trembling under his arms. His own tears welled, spilt over his cheeks. "You promise? You're not going to...push me away this time?"

He needed to make sure, to be certain Ignis wasn't going to disappear.

"Never again, Noctis."

>>>

 

It had been days since their kiss, and Noctis felt a sense of calm flowing through him. Things had returned back to the way they were, but with subtle differences. Noctis knew that when Ignis watched him there was more to the gaze then concern for his well being. Noctis knew Ignis waited till he thought he was asleep to embrace him, could feel the kiss Ignis would place just below his ear while Noctis was slipping into sleep.

There was...tension bubbling under the surface of things, and Noctis knew Ignis was feeling the heat, but he also knew Ignis would never push for anything like that, would never ask Noctis for any more than Noctis was willing to give. It wasn't as though Noctis didn't have lustful thoughts, there was something he needed to get off his chest first.

He'd asked Ignis one night around the campfire if they could stay in a motel just for a shower and some freedom. Prompto was a space hog, and Noctis was getting annoyed at how often he was woken by a flailing limb or jerking leg.

It was on one of their marches through dense grass that Noctis finally decided to approach Ignis. He trailed behind the others, back to where Ignis was holding up the rear. Ignis automatically came into step beside him.

"Something the matter, Highness?" Ignis said without thinking, scanning the surrounding area, constantly alert.

Despite having announced their feelings to each other, Noctis was still uncertain as to just what they were. The transition from friends to lovers was awkward. Noctis felt his body flush as he thought about what lovers entailed, sweat coating his palms.

"I need to talk to you about something, could you spare me some time tonight?"

He had Ignis's full attention, frown lines appearing. "Are you feeling unwell? You're looking a little warm."

Noctis cleared his throat awkwardly, "I'm fine, so, tonight?"

"Of course Noctis, I always have time for you."

"Thank you." He glanced down to Ignis's hand, reaching to take it in his own. Ignis looked down and Noctis snatched it back, jogging ahead to catch up.

He was making assumptions about Ignis not wanting to flaunt their new status in front of the others. Noctis was certain they already knew, but Ignis didn't strike him as the type that enjoyed showing affection in public.

 

>>>

 

Only when it was night and they were sitting at the campfire did they have a spare moment to themselves. Noctis had slumped into a camp chair, enjoying the warmth from the fire on his face. They had slain enough creatures to earn Gil for a motel and Noctis was finally beginning to feel more confident using his Royal Arms.

When Noctis opened his eyes it was to the canopy of the tent and the accompaniment of snores. His stomach was protesting its emptiness, angry growls that had Noctis rubbing it in order to soothe. He rolled to the side, jumping up when he saw Ignis's was missing.

He exploded out of the tent, flustered, smiling weakly at Ignis who was sat in his chair waiting.

"You should have gone to sleep, Ignis!" He chided, flopping down into the chair beside him.

"You requested a moment to talk, so I waited. Besides, I knew you would be hungry. I left you some supper, but it will need heating. Wait just a moment."

Noctis pulled his phone from his pocket, spluttering when he saw the time. "Iggy, it's three in the morning! It would have waited." Noctis jumped to his feet, trailing after his advisor.

"It's...not a problem, Noct." He shooed him away back to his chair.

He must have dozed off again, jumping a foot in the air when he was lightly nudged.

"Eat, and then go back to sleep. You look exhausted," Ignis chided.

"I don't know what's wrong with me. I feel worse than usual." Noctis took the offered plate, began spooning it down without really tasting it.

"It might be a residual toll on your body from the Arms," Ignis commented thoughtfully, moving his chair so they were sat directly opposite each other. "You said you wished to speak with me?" Ignis asked, hesitant after a long silence.

Noctis halted, spoon half-way to his mouth, surprised to see trepidation on Ignis's face.

Unable to stomach anymore, Noctis placed the plate by the side of his chair, leaning back, away from Ignis. "I've been wanting to ask...well know for a while now."

Ignis said nothing, trying to conceal his dread.

"I can't move forward with this...whatever we are until I sort this out." Noctis took a deep breath. "Why'd you do it? You of all people know the amount of trust it takes for people to use my magic."

Ignis made a sound like a wounded animal and leant forward, laying his hand on Noctis's knee.

"There is nothing I can do but beg your forgiveness, Noctis. I know only too well the trust you have placed in us, just how vulnerable you are in allowing us our weapons, our elemental magic."

"No, I don't want you to say sorry, Ignis. I want to know why you did it." Noctis pushed the hand from him, not mad, just not wanting to get distracted.

"I thought you were hiding something from me," Ignis muttered, so quietly Noctis had to strain to hear it.

"Well yes, kind of obvious what that was." Noctis felt himself smile despite the situation.

"It was not just you. King Regis also withheld information. He implied you have another burden to carry, one that I was not aware of."

Noctis felt himself stiffen.

What burden?

"I think, no, I know King Regis knew of your feelings for me, for my feelings for you. I believe he was giving me his blessing, he was giving us his blessing."

Noctis squeezed his eyes against the pain. He'd give anything to have his father back, to be able to talk to him. Knowing that he knew, that he had spoken to Ignis about it reassured him.

"What did...what did he say?" Noctis heard the yearning in his voice. The strong hand came back to rest on his knee again.

"He wished for your happiness and that if you had a chance to obtain it for me to help you. He knew the treaty was false."

"Cor said the same thing."

"His Majesty knew that you would not need to marry Luna, he told me he placed full trust in whatever decisions we made, any future decisions we made."

"I still need to help Luna, I think she and I are tied together in some way."

"Of course!" Ignis reared up, eyes narrowed. "The Oracle's duty is to assist the King of Lucis."

"Are you...can you accept that?" Noctis asked.

"Yes Noctis, I trust you."

"Can I trust you?" Noctis blurted.

The hand tightened on his knee before pulling away. Noctis's hand shot out to capture it. "I understand why you did it, that you thought you were trying to help. But knowing that you manipulated my magic like that, that you resorted to eavesdropping, it doesn't sit well with me Ignis."

"Do you remember when we found out about Insomnia? When we were staying in Galdin Quay?"

"Of course."

"You turned to me, for comfort..." Ignis broke off, clearly finding it difficult. "You closed yourself off, refused me." Ignis hung his head, breath escaping through his teeth in a sharp hiss. "I can say with assurance, Noctis, that it was one of the most painful experiences of my life. I thought that was when I had lost you. I've lived with that guilt ever since."

Noctis got to his feet, waiting for Ignis's head to lean back to look at him.

"Until that day, in the rain, I've been wandering around lost, trying to keep it all together for you, to be strong, for you."

Ignis sounded broken.

Noctis raised his hands to rest on Ignis's head, guiding it to his stomach. Ignis came willingly, nuzzling against his warmth, arms wrapping around his lower back.

"There isn't anything I can say or do that is going to be worse than that, Iggy." Noctis grasped his head tenderly. Despite the anger and broken trust Noctis had felt, no-one was harder on himself then Ignis. The man would have been living in a perpetual torment.

Plus Noctis knew Ignis had been manipulated by Gladio, Ignis couldn't shoulder all the blame.

"I am sorry," Ignis whispered hoarsely, arms shaking.

"I know." Noctis stroked the trembling head, holding Ignis together. When Ignis's breathing slowed, Noctis pulled back. "Come on, it's late and you need to sleep."

Ignis gave him a long look, his eyes taking in the length of his body. Noctis felt his cheeks flare, and he turned, unused to such scrutiny.

"I believe tomorrow night would be a fine night to sleep in proper beds."

"Thank Etro, my back isn't going to put up with it much longer."

"Indeed," Ignis said cryptically.

 

>>>>

 

The shower was luxurious. Like a thousand tiny hands massaging him, taking the grime with them. Noctis wanted to sleep here, bathed in warm water.

The knock on his door was loud, invasive, and Noctis groaned, not in the mood to see anyone. He was looking forward to the extra space in bed, was craving a night without interruptions. Part of him was sad not to be sharing the same sleeping space as Ignis, but they weren't at that stage of their new...relationship.

He rubbed himself down briskly with a towel, pulling on his shorts and flinging the towel around his shoulders to stop the water from his hair trailing down his back. Ignis's eyes widened at Noctis's lack of clothing.

“Ignis? Everything alright?”

“May I come in?”
They hadn't had a discussion about tactics or plans in weeks and apart from 'get to Lestallum', they really had no battle plan in place.

“Is this about Lestallum?"

“I’m not here as your advisor.”

Noctis was confused, why was Ignis here then? They had eaten, they had all wished each other good night, what other possible reason was there?

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

Noctis felt his heart painfully miss a beat.

“They…were.”

“Have I done something to offend? To reconsider our new…relationship.” Ignis sounded genuinely concerned, and Noctis felt alarm strike him.

“No!” His head cracked at the force in which it snapped up to look at Ignis.

“I was beginning to believe that you had changed your mind,” Ignis groaned as Noctis leapt on him, desperate to stop the doubt invading Ignis. He knew the man was struggling, that Noctis's late night chat had unnerved him. Noctis didn't want him to feel that, to doubt Noctis's love for him. He knew Ignis was a private man, and Noctis had just assumed Ignis didn't want physical affection from him.

“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.”

“I’ll never have enough of you, Noctis.” Ignis had encouraged his head to tilt back.

“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.”

Noctis felt shame crest over him. He really wasn't good at this. A few days of being together and already Ignis was berating him.

“I…I’m not really sure how to act.”

“We’ve got time to figure it out together.” Ignis held him in a hug, and Noctis returned it fully, relaxed in the knowledge they didn't have to be quiet, didn't have to worry about the others.

“Would you…do you want to be on your own tonight? It isn’t often that we have space for ourselves.”

A night where he could be held by Ignis? No chance he passing that up.

“Stay with me.”

“As you wish.” Ignis dropped a kiss on his lips. “Come, you are exhausted. Into bed.”

As they got into bed together, Noctis suddenly realised something.

They were alone.

In a bed.

The mere thought had his blood erupting into fire, his rampant hormones flooding his head. He'd had lots of thoughts about being intimate with Ignis and while back in Insomnia it was what fuelled his frantic jerk off sessions. Those fantasies were now laying next to him. Despite his hormones, Noctis still felt doubts nudging the back of his mind.

What if Ignis didn't like him in a sexual sense?

Grasping hold of his courage in both hands, he tested the waters. Just enough to let know Ignis he was interested, a quick stroke of his tongue against Ignis's collarbone, subtle enough that he could downplay it if rejected.

“Do you…do you ever think of me in that way Ignis?” Noctis tried to keep it light, playful.

“In what way?” Ignis's reply was breathless.

“In an intimate way.” Noctis didn't want to be rejected, not again.

“All the time,” Ignis suddenly rolled them, pinning Noctis beneath him. The sensations sent him into overload, his body over sensitive. “When I watch you fight, I’m reminded of how strong you are.” Ignis was looking down at him, gaze dark. Noctis could feel Ignis's interest.

His arms were pinned above his head and Noctis forgot how to breathe, so focused on Ignis above him. "I've wanted your body, intoxicated with pleasure under mine for a long time." Noctis felt his body bow, desperate to be closer to Ignis, for Ignis to show him.

“When you sleep next to me at night I have to constantly remind myself that I can’t fuck you into the ground.”

Ignis did not just say that.

A whimper tore from his throat as Ignis bent to wickedly whisper in his ear. “Nothing to stop me tonight though, is there, Highness?”

Oh yes.

Ignis definitely thought of him in that way.

>>>

 

He saw a burning red eye, oppressive and demanding, bearing down on him. Pain blossomed in his head, fire engulfed him. He struggled against it, trying to flee. Scalding pinpricks held him down, restraining him.

Noctis.

The ground beneath his feet crumbled, separating him from his friends. As he smacked into the ground, pain exploded along his spine. Frantically, he scrabbled at the tumbling rocks. His friends hand stretched out to him, they couldn't reach.

He screamed, nails ripping against rocks, blood trickling down his fingers.

Noctis!

He began to shake, beaten about by boulders, tumbling down towards the malevolent presence. Noctis reached out for Prompto, Gladio, Ignis. He was thrown to the ground, the blow winding him. There were strange, alien thoughts in his head, harsh, grating sounds, demanding something from him.

Noctis turned, he could see his friends above him on the ledge. They seemed to be in no hurry, watching as Noctis fell to his knees, hands clamped to his head, trying to scream.

"Ignis!" His hand reached out, desperately trying to escape.

"Noct!"

He came to with a start, the darkness closing around him, weight on his shoulders. He scrambled away, falling from a small height with a painful thud. His heart was galloping in his chest and it was painful to breathe.

"Look at me." A voice demanded.

"Ig...Ignis?" His throat burned..

Adjusting to the dark he saw the broad chest of Ignis, the rumpled brown hair, green eyes narrowed with worry. His hands were placed up in a comforting gesture, where Noctis could see them.

"You're safe Noctis."

"What? Where am I?"

"You were in bed, with me." Ignis hesitantly placed a hand on his calf, gripping it. "You had a nightmare."

Just a nightmare. It didn't feel like a nightmare.

"Noct?"

The concern in his voice broke Noctis. He wrapped his arms around himself to ward off the shivers. He protested a little when Ignis gathered him into muscled arms, guiding his head to rest on his shoulder.

"Don't be strong with me, dear heart."

It tipped Noctis over the edge, trembles escalating into full blown shivers, arms wrapping painfully tight around Ignis's neck. The man said nothing, whispering affection into his ear, lifting his shirt so he could trail tender hands over his back.

"I will not let anything harm you again." His fingers traced the gruesome reminder.

“It wasn’t…it wasn’t that night,” Noctis choked out.

In one swift movement, Ignis got to his feet, carrying Noctis bridal style back to the bed. His back twinged as he was moved, the potion not completely removing the ache from their earlier rampant activities. Ignis placed him on the bed, climbing in beside him and gathering Noctis close to him.

“It was just a stupid dream, it didn’t even make any sense. It was a jumble of images.” Noctis stuttered out, trying to pull away from Ignis. It was stupid, they were just dreams.

“Tell me what it was about,” Ignis persisted, not letting go, lacing his fingers together in the small of Noctis’s back, creating a small cage around him.

“There was a big red eye, bearing down on me. And a meteor and a hole in the ground. Then I was falling. I was looking up at you all, and I was falling. I couldn’t reach any of you.” Noctis jumped when Ignis came close, lips tracing his brow.

“It isn’t foolish to be fearful. Dreams are our manifestation of our subconscious selves. In that truly vulnerable state your worst fears can manifest. I do not think any less of you.” Ignis’s palm rested on his cheek.

“It didn’t feel like a dream Ignis, it felt like something more than that.” The trembles started again, the oppressive feeling a heavy weight. “I couldn’t reach you.” He muttered, looking up through hazy eyes at Ignis.

His advisors breathing hitched. "That’ll never happen, Noct.”

Noctis pressed closer, wedging his arms between them, finding his favourite position of head under Ignis’s chin, listening to the steady reassuring thump of a heartbeat. Ignis tangled their legs together and just held him. Noctis knew Ignis would now stay awake until he fell back asleep.

After his fear had calmed, the scent and feeling of Ignis close to him soothing the last visages of fear, Noctis shifted, watching as Ignis’s eyes snapped open.

Tentatively, Noctis stretched his hand forward towards Ignis’s face. His advisor reached up to catch it, pressing a kiss into the palm.

“Ignis?”

“Yes, Noctis?”

“I…” Noctis trailed off, feeling heat rise in his cheeks. It should be easy enough to say, but here he lay, tongue thick in his mouth.

Ignis smiled against his hand.

“I love you, Noctis.”

Noctis pressed forward, gingerly kissing Ignis. He had been the aggressor earlier, weeks of pent up lust and frustration overflowing into carnal desire. With it out of his system, Noctis was nervous and insecure, bashful. Ignis seemed hesitant, not refusing the kiss, but not returning it fully.

After a few moments, Noctis pulled away, looking anywhere but at Ignis. “Sorry,” he mumbled. “We need to sleep; I didn’t mean to wake you.” He was babbling, and he turned away, presenting his back to Ignis.

A tentative hand fell on his shoulder. "I do not want to take advantage of you in such a state. If you are scared I only wish to be your strength.”

Noctis said nothing, bringing his knees up to his chest, shutting himself off from Ignis.

“Do not be nervous around me,” Ignis whispered as the silence stretched on.

The remains of his dream were invading his reality, twisting the two together in his head. “I just…sorry Ignis…I wanted to be with you, so badly…I know you’re not the type to abandon someone after sex…” The implications of what they were doing, the ramifications it had for Lucis, what last night meant to them...

What if all of this was too much for Ignis to handle?

Nothing gentle about his touch anymore, Ignis forced Noctis to face him, tilting his head up with a strong hand. “I will not leave you Noctis. Not only as your advisor but as your friend, your companion, I will not. I swear it to you.”

“Everything’s getting jumbled in my head.”

“Let me give you an anchor.” Ignis pressed his lips to Noctis’s, softly, sweetly. He didn’t demand anything, Ignis never did and it was up to Noctis to set the pace, to take as much or as little as he wanted.

Noctis craved more. He rolled onto his back, pulling Ignis with him, still keeping their mouths together. He curved sensually towards Ignis, enticing his advisor, deepening the kiss.

“Love me?”

“Always,” Ignis whispered reverently against his skin. Noctis slid his arms from Ignis’s neck, tangling his fingers in feather light hair.

“Show me,” Noctis demanded against Ignis’s ear, wrapping his legs around Ignis’s hips and squeezing.

Ignis groaned, deep in his throat, and he pressed his lips to Noctis’s throat. “You are still sore from earlier, I can tell by the way you are holding yourself.” He pulled away, brushing away Noctis’s fringe from his head. “It is not my desire you hurt you, dear heart.”

Noctis's affection swelled under the pet name, feeling Ignis’s words easily banish his fears. “You would never hurt me Ignis.”

The kisses were warm and caressing, a far cry from earlier. Ignis took his time, soothing him, petting him, dropping adoring kisses on his neck, his chest. Noctis felt his body come alive under the touch, the world narrowing to just him and Ignis.

Noctis wanted to touch Ignis in return, to show how much he was loved but Ignis was having none of it, pinning his hands to his sides and continuing his ministrations. When Ignis peeled off his boxers, tongue trailing a path behind them, Noctis grew uncomfortable, shifting against the hold.

Ignis returned above him, looking down with fond amusement. “Embarrassed, Noct?”

As he went to answer, Ignis grabbed his cock with a firm hand, stroking him from base to tip. A garbled cry escaped his lips and he twisted his head to the side. “You are stunning, Noctis. Feel what your body does to mine.” Ignis's hand guided Noctis down, wrapping their hands around a hard cock, pulsating and weeping under his touch.

“This is because of me?” Noctis was awestruck.

Ignis’s eyes widened with disbelief before smiling, fingers tracing the contours of Noctis’s face. “Yes, Noct. You’re the only one who’s been able to elicit such a response from me.”

Noctis stroked Ignis's cock, coming up to rest on his elbow so he could watch. The sight of Ignis, full and heavy in his hand had him spell bound. Ignis’s eyes were closed, ardour evident in his face, his laboured breaths. Ignis shifted, freeing himself from Noctis’s grasp.

Before Noctis could even formulate a response, a fierce, wet heat engulfed him and Noctis crashed back to the bed, hands fisting in the sheets.

“Fuck, Ignis,” He groaned, moaning deeply.

Ignis hummed in approval, his fingers digging into Noctis’s hip bones, holding him in place. Ignis didn’t hold him in his mouth for long, pulling Noctis's cock out to give long, languid licks up the side, twirling his tongue around the head. Noctis screwed his eyes shut, lifting his hands to cover his face, whimpers escaping his mouth.

“Ig…Ignis!” He called, when the mouth swallowed him again, trying to still his hips, trying not to choke Ignis. Hands snaked around to cup his ass, encouraging Noctis to do just that, coaxing Noctis to thrust into his mouth. Giving a garbled cry, Noctis drove wantonly into the awaiting mouth, daring to peek through his at Ignis. His advisor was savouring him, wanton, dark green eyes looking back up at him.

“St…stop Ignis!” Ignis halted immediately, releasing him.

“Noctis? Are you alright?”

Noctis swallowed thickly, forcing his body to calm as that taunt stomach rubbed against his cock.

“You…you were going to make me come,” Noctis breathed out, running his hands up toned arms to clutch at shoulder blades.

Ignis breathed a heavy sigh of relief, clicking his tongue. “That was kind of the point,” he admonished gently.

“I want you inside me,” Noctis commanded shyly, stretching up to flick a tongue against a nipple. Ignis groaned and shuddered, cupping the back of Noctis’s head, supporting him while Noctis circled the dusky pink nipple with the tip of his tongue.

“You’ll be the death of me,” Ignis muttered darkly under his breath, placing him back down on the pillows. His mouth slid languorously against Noctis's, enticing Noctis's tongue to move against his. Noctis felt his body yield to Ignis's finger, his own hands began to knead Ignis's shoulders, his cries lost against Ignis's skin.

It was different from before, Noctis could see Ignis’s face as he entered him, passion flitting across his face. Ignis held still as Noctis adjusted, eyes screwed in pleasured agony as Noctis tried to accommodate him. Ignis didn't stray too far from his body, even when moving, slow gentle rocks that euphoric spasms down to Noctis’s toes.

Ignis’s kept his lips close to Noctis’s, one hand returning to cradle the back of Noctis’s head, gently massaging the base of the skull, chasing Noctis’s moans with his mouth.

Noctis felt a sense of completion, their sweat slickened bodies rubbing together. The frantic energy their coupling earlier has dissipated, the sensations Noctis felt now were influenced by tenderness and adoration. Ignis knew this was what he needed, knew how to tame Noctis's vulnerabilities.

He threw his head back, bowing his body as Ignis shifted, hitting that spot. Lightening raced across his nervous system, Noctis convulsed with the intensity, the heels of his feet digging into Ignis's ass.

"Ignis!" He pleaded.

The hand at the base of his skull manipulated his head up, allowing Ignis to suck on his earlobe. Noctis wrapped himself impossibly closer to Ignis, making it difficult for the man to move. He clung to Ignis's body, his hand coming up to claw at Ignis’s supporting arm, digging deep into flesh. Ignis gave no sign of noticing.

“Noctis,” he moaned with fervour, long and deep.

The feeling of it all, the safety of Ignis surrounding him, the care he was given, the longing moans breathed into his ear, it was too much to handle. Noctis shattered, his orgasm an intense focused point of pleasure. An arm held him close as his body rippled from the aftershocks, his body spent. Ignis hadn't even touched him.

As he regained his senses, he felt Ignis move from him, and he stopped him with a leg. “You haven’t…”

“That does not matter,” Ignis reassured.

“It does to me, please.”

"Noctis..."

"Come inside me, Ignis."

Ignis gave a stifled yell and moved, thrusts harder than before. Despite feeling exhausted, Noctis felt clear headed, the feeling still incredible. With his own lust sated, it gave him a chance to spur Ignis along, nibbling along his neck, squeezing his nipples. Ignis growled, arms trembling as he held himself above Noctis.

He was close.

Noctis wrapped his arms around Ignis’s neck, beckoning his head down. Even lost in his movements, Ignis followed his prince’s lead. Noctis reached up to Ignis’s ear, darting his tongue around the shell. “Ignis,” he sighed it turning into a moan as Ignis brushed that spot once again, pleasure boarding on pain. "Your cock feels amazing inside me." Teeth sunk into his neck and Noctis heard himself cry out.

"Yes, Ignis! Harder!"

Ignis remained steadfast, his concern for Noctis overriding his lust.

“I love you, Ignis.” Noctis panted into his ear. Ignis let out a shuddering moan, burying his head into Noctis’s neck as orgasm overwhelmed him. He encouraged Ignis down to lay on him, supporting his weight as Ignis calmed. Noctis ran his fingers over Ignis's back, chuckling as he felt the muscles flex under his touch.

"Ticklish?"

"It would appear so." Ignis pushed himself up, supporting his weight with one arm, using his free hand to stroke Noctis's hair. Noctis couldn't hold back the yawn, feeling his eyelids grow heavy.

Ignis pulled out of his body, Noctis cried out a little at the sensation, thinking that it probably wasn't the best idea to have sex twice in one night. Ignis got out of bed alarming Noctis. He rushed to sit up, whimpering at the pain that shot through him. Ignis was beside him instantly, encouraging him to lie back down.

"Hush, I'm not going far," he reassured.

Noctis watched Ignis walk to the bathroom, eyes trailing down to Ignis's firm ass, mind throwing up delightful images of just what he'd like to do to it. Ignis returned, washcloth in hand, and Noctis turned away, blushing at the full frontal nudity.

Ignis peeled back the blankets, carefully cleaning Noctis and then dropping the cloth to the floor. They didn't bother dressing again, enjoying the feel of bare skin contact.

"I'm not made of porcelain you know." Noctis joked, yawning.

"No, you are however in discomfort, and I should not have made that worse." Ignis berated himself.

"Don't do that." Noctis poked him in the rib. "I needed you. I wanted you to love me."

He was encouraged to lay half on Ignis's chest, strong arms wrapping around his back. Noctis's hand rested just below Ignis's neck. Fingers began to trail down his spine, thumbs pressing into the dip of his lower back, the tapered end of the long scar. Noctis didn't feel the need to pull away, his body pliant under Ignis's touch

"I don't want you to hold back because you feel you need to." Noctis struggled to remain awake.

"Then next time, I assure you I will not." Ignis's voice oozed sensuality, and Noctis felt his body twitch in interest, despite his falling asleep.

"Sleep Noctis, I've got you."



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