Chapter 1: Those who taught by how they lived
Those who taught by how they lived
Regis truly wished he could play the fool to the moment that changed everything, but one doesn’t tend to forget when a young man starts singing magic right in front of you as people collapsed to the floor. He also would never forget the power flowing from Cor’s skin, his eyes; the way he sliced the armor from Glauca like it was paper-
Regis shook his head, allowing his own magic to pool in his hand; fire teased at his palm, but the heat did not touch him. It had been nine months since everything had happened, and it felt like a decade with the sheer amount of change that had occurred. The revelations of Prompto and Cor’s other roles as messengers of the Dawn Mother, the discovery and defeat of Ardyn Izunia as an ancient prince of Lucis, long bespoiled by the Scourge, the destruction of close to ninety percent of the Niflheim Empire’s troops, the death and near-immediate resurrection of both his son and Lunafreya, and the destruction of the crystal and ring. It had been a very busy seventy-two hours last May.
The fact that both his armiger and his magic still responded to him as ever had been surprising to him at first, but he had been pleased. Noctis could still use his magic as well, lending hope that the skill would not die with them. He may not have been able to summon the new wall anymore, but the old wall still whispered in his mind if he reached out for it, and the Glaives were still able to access his magic...but oddly, it strained him less than it had before the crystal’s destruction. Something to explore in the future.
Regis felt better as well; ever since the crystal and the ring had been lost, his energy had come roaring back in the months since. He rarely needed the cane, and even his dodgy knee felt somewhat better, even if he still wore the brace. He still looked far older than his years, the black would not return to his hair, the lines on his face would not fade, and he’d be surprised if he made it to seventy-five. But still, the possibility of more years with his son and his friends was a wondrous one, something that he had thought impossible less than a year ago, and while he had been furious at Cor’s deception, what his actions had helped wrought had brought so much promise that he hadn’t been able to stay angry. At all.
Even when he had to deal with the more unpleasant parts of the aftermath. The Kingsglaive had lost over a third of its members in those first minutes of Prompto’s enchantments, thrown into the holding cells, and the fact that over half of the detained members had confessed to some sort of crime the instant the questioning had began later had not come as a surprise. The depth of Drautos’s schemes had been vast, his network of disaffected Lucians, Niflheimian spies, and shady mercenary types had been found in almost every part of the wider government of Lucis, from the governing council of Lestallum all the way to infiltrating the hunters that patrolled the frontier, and he still didn’t know why.
Drautos had been born in the Lucian frontier in a small town that had been destroyed in one of the many senseless battles between Niflheim and Lucis when he was a teen, then at some point, he had made it to Insomnia and managed to join the Crownsguard, a feat for a non-Insomnian. He volunteered for the test program for the Kingsglaive, showed serious promise, and was given command of the new unit when it was formed. Had he been a traitor all along? Or had he been swayed to Niflheim afterwards? Regis did not know the answer, even as the death warrant for the man sat on his desk, waiting for his signature. Drautos had said next to nothing since the day he had been discovered as Glauca, even in his own defense during his trial. It was infuriating.
Regis sighed and looked down at the document. His grandfather had been on the throne the last time one of these had been drafted and executed, and the judge had been forced to consult a rather dusty law book to make sure it had been done correctly. There had been options for method of execution, but in the end they had chosen for him to be hung by the neck until dead. Regis felt sick thinking of it, but what else could they do? The public was close to ninety percent in favor of it, and they could not risk putting him among the general population in prison where he could use his obvious skill in fomenting dissent. No, this would be the end.
A knock on his door roused him from his dark thoughts, and he looked up and bade the person enter. Clarus strode in, closing the door behind him before taking his usual seat to his left.
“Still looking at that damn thing, aren’t you?” Clarus stated, and Regis sighed.
“It needs to be done, we can’t leave him rotting in the cells below forever,” he replied, and Clarus crossed his arms and sucked air through his teeth.
“I was tempted to gut the man myself, but we needed to find out his plans. Also, it probably would have looked bad,” Clarus smirked, and Regis took the bait and snorted.
“No, it would have looked very bad. Murdering someone already in custody is considered in poor taste, after all,” he said, then looked back down at the warrant with a grimace. “Would have solved us a few problems, though.” Clarus’s hand came to rest on one of his, and Regis turned his wrist and gripped his old friend’s fingers. “I’m only fifty-one, Clarus, and I feel eighty right now.”
“Leave it, it can wait for tomorrow.” Regis looked at the paper one more time, and nodded. “Why don’t you go see your son? Perhaps you can have breakfast with him tomorrow.” Regis smiled at Clarus, tightening his grip on his friend’s fingers.
“Why don’t we gather all the kids together? You can always call Iris, we can have an extended family meal,” Regis let go of Clarus’s hand and got to his feet, brushing at the front of his coat. “Why don’t we stop by Noctis’s room, see if the boys are available? I could use the walk,” he said, and Clarus shrugged and got to his feet as well. The two walked out of his office together, heading to the elevator; it was thankfully empty, and Regis let himself sag against the wall for a moment. Clarus moved in front, ostensibly to block the view of anyone who might see the tired monarch taking a moment, and Regis couldn’t help a tired smile as he let his eyes fall closed. Unfortunately, the Citadel elevators were fast, and he sighed and peeled his shoulder away from the smooth surface as the doors opened, Clarus leading the way down the hall to his son’s chambers.
Regis knocked first; it was only polite, and his son was an adult. There was no answer, and he knocked once more to no avail before punching in the access code and opening the door.
“Son, are you in?” Regis looked down to discover an array of shoes in the entryway, some Noctis’s, some he would guess were Prompto’s, but the very large pair of boots screamed Gladiolus, while the classic pair of Oxfords told him that Ignis was also in attendance.
So where were they? He and Clarus proceeded into the main room, again seeing no sign of any of them besides what appeared to be Gladiolus’s jacket thrown across the back of one of the armchairs, and suddenly an ominous feeling began to trickle down his spine.
“Clarus?” he whispered, and the fixed jaw of his shield told him that he was thinking much the same. “If this is what I think it is, I’m going to kill Cor.” Clarus blinked, clearly thrown by his statement and the signs that were in front of them.
“Why Cor?” Clarus hissed back, and Regis’s eyes narrowed.
“Because I would have hoped that he could have least given me a heads up, because there’s no way that he doesn’t know about any relationships that the young man he has some sort of mental link with is involved in-” Regis grumbled, then took a deep breath and walked over to the bedroom door. “Clarus?”
“Yes?” Clarus whispered back, and Regis stroked his fingers through his beard, tugging on his chin hair.
“This is going to make getting grandkids much more difficult,” he said, then reached out and slowly turned the doorknob to the bedroom, sliding the door open just enough for the two of them to see inside. It was exactly what he suspected, and he really wasn’t sure how he felt about it, but it wasn’t... bad. Ignis was curled up around Noctis, who was resting his head on Gladiolus’s chest, right next to where Prompto’s was resting as well, the blond wrapped around the largest of their group like a limpet. None of them appeared to be wearing shirts, and Regis was quite certain that if he walked over and pulled back the blankets, he’d be seeing a lot more of his grown son and his friends than he had ever planned to. Regis slowly turned his head to meet Clarus’s eyes, the other man blinking rapidly in his shock, then tilted his head towards the front door. Regis carefully closed the bedroom door, then they quietly exited Noctis’s quarters without a sound. The two headed back to the elevators and boarded, pressing the button to a very specific residential floor before Regis flipped up the cover over the emergency stop switch and pressing the button a little harder than he had meant to. Royal prerogative.
“Well shit, I didn’t expect that,” Clarus finally wheezed out, and Regis let his head thunk against the back wall of the elevator and burst into full-bodied laughter, his bum knee crumpling as both men sagged to the floor, Clarus trying to catch him on the way down and only partially succeeding.
“We always joked about Iris marrying Noctis, but we never really thought about Gladiolus-” Regis gasped out between bursts of laughter, and Clarus groaned.
“All four of them! I really want to know which one thought that up-” Clarus also continued to wheeze and laugh, and Regis tipped over until his head was resting against his shield’s shoulder, his body still shaking with laughter.
“I bet young Prompto was the catalyst, even though I suspect they had been thinking about it for some time. They spent so much time together around and after the battle, after all. Was that ridiculous book certain that the part with male Dawnsworn and children was a mistranslation? Because if Prompto can have them, it’s going to be quite the mess sorting out who the father is of any kids he pops out,” Regis said, and Clarus groaned heartily.
“Ability to have kids or not, if they all stay together and the council finds out about this, I suspect we’ll have a full out war on our hands. Too many traditionalists, and well, the eternal heir issue. I’ve got a second shot at grandkids with Iris, but you-” Regis poked Clarus in the arm, and he trailed off.
“Unless things change any time soon, they have time. We have time. While there might be some things to sort out in the long run, I think we can leave them to it for now. I’ll wait to the right moment to let them know that I know, however, I want to get maximum effect out of the declaration,” Regis cackled as he sat back upright, and Clarus rolled his eyes and sighed. Regis sobered a bit. “Does it bother you, Clarus?” Clarus shook his head almost immediately, and he closed his eyes in relief. “What are you worried about?”
“I’m not sure, actually. Just a feeling. Ignore me,” Clarus said, his eyes distant for a moment before he blinked and focused, and Regis patted his friend on his shoulder then grabbed his cane, trying to get his footing. He was too damn old to be sitting on the floor, and his knee was going to remind him of the fact. Clarus managed to get himself up first, and helped Regis hoist himself to his feet, just in time for the speaker near the emergency button to crackle to life.
“Unknown personnel. Are you experiencing an emergency with the elevator? If not, please disengage the emergency stop and proceed to your destination.” Clarus held up a hand, forestalling Regis from speaking.
“This is Clarus Amiticia, elevator was paused for classified reasons, I am continuing on now. Thank you for your service.” Another burst of crackles, and Regis huffed another laugh under his breath.
“Lord Amicitia! My apologies. Please proceed as you wish.” Clarus didn’t reply, and he reached over and re-engaged the elevator.
“Are we going to where I think we are going?” Clarus inquired, and Regis sniffed haughtily, tossing his hair back.
“I just want to talk to him for a moment.” The shield frowned.
“We could just talk to him in the morning like normal people, Regis,” Clarus grumbled, and Regis waved a dismissive hand.
“I feel like being spontaneous.” The older man rolled his eyes, but dropped the conversation. Regis knew he was being silly, but he really wanted to keep his mind off of that damn piece of paper in his office, and he really wanted to glare at Cor for a minute on principle.
They didn’t bother knocking at Cor’s door, and Clarus used his master override to enter the apartment, which was already dark. Regis frowned, but walked back towards the bedroom anyway, Clarus in his wake. Had Cor gone to bed already?
“If he kills us by accident, it’s our own damn fault,” Clarus hissed, and Regis shook his head.
“No, we’ll be fine, Cor sleeps like the dead when he’s in whatever his brain perceives as a safe space. He probably won’t even budge-” Regis realized he had severely miscalculated when the large knife slammed into the wall by his head as he opened the bedroom door, blue eyes with the slightest hint of grey glinting in the low light from the bed. Ulric. They had forgotten all about Ulric. Cor, as he expected, was still sound asleep, his head resting on the captain’s stomach and his arm and leg thrown over the man’s body, looking altogether incredibly comfortable. It would have been rather sweet had Regis had not almost ended up with a rather sizeable blade through his skull just a few seconds prior from his bedmate. He could see the exact moment realization of who he had just thrown his kukri at hit Ulric, his eyes widening in shock before he gently peeled Cor off of him (who promptly wrapped himself around Ulric’s pillow) and slid out of the bed, thankfully wearing underwear as he stalked up to king and shield and pointed a finger out to the main room.
“I hate to say this, your majesty, but what were you thinking? I could have killed you!” Ulric said between his teeth a moment later, and Regis and Clarus exchanged a sheepish look before Regis sighed and ran his hand over his beard.
“Would you believe that it didn’t occur to me that you would probably be here? We just came down to yell at Cor, I knew he sleeps like the dead and figured we would just throw a pillow at him or something. It’s worked in the past,” Regis finished rather feebly, and Ulric groaned and rolled his eyes with intent. To be fair, he deserved it, and Regis pulled at his beard a bit in embarrassment. Clarus sighed next to him.
“Our apologies, Captain. Thank you for not killing the king today, that would have been a very awkward mess to cover up,” Clarus stated bluntly, and Ulric ran a hand through his hair and snorted, the tension visibly leaving the younger man. Crisis averted, Regis took the opportunity to give the Glaive standing in front of him a quick once-over. Nyx Ulric was a very fit man with moderate body hair, a rather distinctive scar pattern on his chest, and multiple simple tattoos in the Galahdian style; Regis had known the man was handsome before, but getting a nearly full view cemented that opinion even further. Ulric raised an eyebrow at the scrutiny, and Regis chuckled.
“I was just thinking that Cor had done rather well for himself,” he said, and Ulric’s eyebrows flew up. “And no, I don’t just mean physically; you know he sleeps like a log, and you immediately moved to protect him when idiot intruders broke into his apartment. While I appreciate not having one of your infamous kukri through my head, I can also appreciate the sentiment.” The light was low, but Regis could see Ulric’s nose pinken as he spoke, and he scratched sheepishly at his beard once more. “My apologies for disrupting your evening, Captain. We’ll see ourselves out.” Nyx folded his arms and squinted at him, and Regis waited with growing amusement as the underwear-clad man shifted in place, clearly trying to figure something out.
“What were you two coming to yell at him for-” Ulric cut himself off, his expression turning impish, and suddenly Regis realized that Cor probably wasn’t the only one who knew about the boys. “Excuse me for a moment, your majesty, I’ll be right back.” Ulric fled to the bedroom, the door closing behind him, and Regis and Clarus snuck as close to the door as they could and shamelessly listened in. Some rustling later, he could hear Cor’s groggy voice through the door.
“What’s going on?” Cor grumbled, and Regis listened to the bed creak as the man woke up.
“Remember what you said about a vacation in Tenebrae sounding appealing if the king found out about you-know-what?” Ulric said, and Regis had to bite his lip to keep from laughing. Clarus wasn’t much better, his shoulders were shaking as he laughed silently. He heard another grumble from Cor.
“Yes...why are you bringing this up- wait, why is one of your kukris in my wall?”
A few minutes later saw all four of them out in Cor’s living room. Both Ulric and Cor had put on pajama pants before slinking back out, and Regis was cheered when his old friend gave him a frantic once-over before sighing in relief.
“So, Nyx told me he almost killed you because you broke into my apartment,” Cor spoke with abject irritation bundled with a touch of worry, and Clarus nodded and shrugged nonchalantly while Regis struggled to speak without laughing again. It was all one hell of a distraction from what was sitting on his desk, that’s for certain. Cor flopped down onto the sofa next to his boyfriend with a groan, Regis and Clarus relaxing into two convenient armchairs. “Do I need to book a nice long vacation, or do I just sit here and accept my punishment?” Cor muttered, and Regis grinned evilly before crossing his ankles and arms as he settled back into Cor’s surprisingly comfy armchair.
“So there we were, thinking of gathering up the kids for a nice breakfast together, and so I decide to get a walk in by going to ask my son in person. There was no response when I knocked, however, so we went inside, where there was all sorts of shoes that weren’t Noctis’s, and I’m just wondering where everyone was, and then-”
“Please tell me you didn’t give your son a heart attack. You’d be hardpressed to find yourself another heir at this point in your life-” Cor cut in, and Regis glared and continued.
“-and then lo and behold, I get a rather striking scene of not just my son, not just my son and young Prompto, which I admit I expected, but my son, Prompto, his future shield, and his advisor, all very comfortable with each other. Asleep, thankfully, and we withdrew before any of them even realized we had been there,” Regis finished, and Ulric barked out a laugh.
“At least for small favors, Prompto probably would have stroked out on the spot.” Cor and Clarus nodded almost simultaneously in agreement, and Regis sighed.
“Why didn’t you say anything?” he asked, and Cor pinched the bridge of his nose and huffed.
“Firstly, because they are all adults, and I was hoping the prince would just suck it up and tell you. Secondly, because I was only fully certain about a month and a half ago. Thirdly, because you know I hate talking about that sort of thing, Regis, and really? What was I supposed to say?” Cor’s voice, still a bit scratchy from sleep, was about as close to whining as Regis had heard it in a very long time, and he smiled at the sound of it.
“I would have appreciated a bit of warning just the same,” Regis grumbled right back, but he knew Cor was right. “-but very well, you make a good point. I’ll live in hope for a little while that Noctis will say something, but I’m not holding my breath,” Regis snorted, then grabbed his cane and levered to his feet, the other three men following immediately after. “Sorry for the rather awkward wakeup call, you two. I’ll be careful to announce myself if I drop by again.” Ulric nodded his goodbye before returning to the bedroom, probably to fetch his blade from the wall. Regis, Clarus, and Cor all headed to the front door, and before Clarus could open it, Regis turned to Cor and put a hand on the younger man’s shoulder.
“Regis?” Cor asked, and Regis smiled, tilting his head towards the direction Ulric had gone.
“I know it’s only been a few months, but I think you’ve found yourself a winner. He didn’t even hesitate to defend the two of you when he thought we were intruders, and had we actually been up to nefarious purposes, he would have probably had them subdued before you had a chance to wake up. Always a good trait,” Regis stated, then grinned. “Also, he’s rather nice on the eyes.”
“Regis, please.” It was definitely a whine that time, and Regis and Clarus left the apartment quietly laughing to the sight of Cor’s ridiculous blush. As they walked back down the hall towards the elevators, Regis looked over at Clarus and sighed; all the shock, manic-laughter, near-death experiences, and amusement had taken the last bit of energy he had, and he needed fortification.
“My quarters. I have a Duscaean vintage port that I find myself in need of, unless you have other commitments,” he said as they once again got into the elevator, and Clarus shook his head.
“Lead on, your majesty.”
Unfortunately, distractions or not, the warrant was still sitting on his desk the next morning, and Regis picked up the paper and read it over once more, the fine script not working to disguise the intent behind the document. What was he waiting for? A sign? The man to just drop dead out of spite? He had no excuse. It was clear that the man wasn’t going to say a word either to his defense or not, not when he had squandered many other opportunities to do so already. Lingering further would serve no one any purpose, and he knew it. Setting it down onto his blotter, he carefully unscrewed the cap off his fountain pen, took a deep breath, and signed his name. After staring at the signed death warrant for a very long time, he picked up his phone and called down to the Kingsglaive offices.
“Ulric.” Regis took another deep breath, then spoke.
“Captain, I felt it necessary to inform you that I have just signed the death warrant for Titus Drautos, as requested by the will of the people of Lucis as determined by a fair trial before the highest court in the land. As per ancient law and tradition, the warrant is to be read to the condemned before the preparations for the sentence are begun. I have called to ask if you wish to be the informer,” Regis said, his voice formal and remote; he could hear the sharp intake of air through the phone line, and he waited while the new captain decided on what he would do.
“Your majesty, while I am willing, I- I believe I know a better person,” Captain Ulric stated, and Regis nodded in understanding when Ulric offered his idea for the solemn position. An hour later, the king and his shield joined Captain Ulric and Crowe Altius as they descended to the holding cells below the Citadel, walking in utter silence through the long corridor to the cells, a Crownsguard bowing and opening the security gate so swiftly that they did not even slow before entering the cellblock proper. The four of them approached Drautos’s cell, the sight of the former captain stealing the very breath from his chest. If things had been different, this man would have watched Insomnia burn and the corpses pile high as the city was overrun by daemons, and as far as Regis could tell, he would have done it with little to no regret. Drautos looked up at the four of them with an emotionless expression, and Regis stepped forward.
“I’ve wondered much about how we ended up here, why you went through so much work for so long just to bring down Insomnia. But I find myself standing here now, and I think that this had a lot less to do with the city, and a lot more to do with me,” he said, and he got his confirmation in the slight narrowing of the man’s eyes at the end of his statement. “I’m hardly perfect, Drautos; I’ve made many a decision I regret throughout my life, but I still do not know what I have done to garner such unrelenting hatred from you. But you will not tell me, and perhaps that is your final act of vengeance against me. Titus Drautos, former captain of the Kingsglaive, I will see you at the Old Square of Justinius in two weeks time. Glaive Altius, I leave this to you.” Regis handed over the silk-bound folder with the death warrant to Altius, who bowed and smiled darkly as she received it. Without looking back, he turned on his heel and walked away from the cells, Clarus at his heels, listening with a cold smile as Crowe Altius read off the death warrant to the man who had nearly sent her to her own doom without compunction or reason, but just because she was inconvenient at the time.
Ulric was right. He could not think of a more appropriate person to act in that position.
Those who fought for something better
Cor looked up from his sword as he heard his front door open, the sound of boots being worked off and thumping to the floor a familiar one as he set the blade and polishing rag down on his coffee table. He brushed his hands off on his pants as he rose to his feet, turning to see Nyx hang his uniform coat on the hook.
“Everything alright? I tried calling-” Cor cut himself off when he saw the somber look in Nyx’s eyes, his chest tightening at the unusual sight. Without saying a word, Nyx walked up to him, reaching up and pulling Cor’s head down to his, pressing their foreheads together and closing his eyes. Cor responded by wrapping his arms around the shorter man. They stood there in silence long enough for Cor’s neck to cramp, but he stayed still and waited for the other man to decide what they were doing.
“I considered him a good friend once, even a mentor of sorts. Looking back, I can see where he was trying to sway me to be loyal to him instead of the institution, the king- little comments about my sister’s death, comments about how the frontier and Galahd would probably be better off had the king not pulled the wall…” Nyx whispered, and Cor realized he knew exactly what had happened, but kept quiet and let the younger man speak. “-but I would usually change the subject; I didn’t want to talk about my sister with him, and he always seemed to forget that it was Mors that pulled the wall, not King Regis-” Nyx finally opened his eyes, and Cor gave him a sad smile. “Damn, I’m probably killing your neck. Sorry, Cor.” Nyx stepped back out of his arms, and Cor gave his neck a quick stretch before shaking his head.
“Don’t worry about it. The king signed it, didn’t he?” Cor asked, and Nyx nodded, sitting down on the sofa next to where Cor had been sitting just minutes earlier. Cor retook his former spot, and the two men sagged back against the cushions with a sigh, their shoulders resting against each other’s as Cor looked over at Nyx’s tired face. “Did the king call you?” he asked, and Nyx nodded absently.
“Turns out there’s an old law that requires the death warrant to be read to the condemned before preparations are to begin. He called and asked if I wanted to do it.” Cor sucked in a breath, and Nyx shook his head in response. “I told him I was willing, but that I had a better candidate.” Cor wrapped his hand around Nyx’s, giving it a hopefully comforting squeeze; Nyx’s mouth quirked a little, and Cor considered it a win. “So about an hour ago, the king, Clarus Amicitia, myself, and Crowe Altius headed down to the holding cells, where the king spoke to him about his guesses at his motive, then handed over the warrant to Crowe and departed with Amicitia. As you can guess, he didn’t speak once, and the only real reaction we got is when the king stated that he figured that it was a personal vendetta of sorts against him. I know I sure as hell don’t know. I think I wanted to say something to him, but Crowe finished reading the thing and left immediately, and I knew it was better I didn’t. Not then,” Nyx said, and Cor watched as the other man worried at a knuckle with his teeth, something he had never seen Nyx do before. “The bastard hates the king, thinks he’s a hypocrite for seeking some sort of peace here in Insomnia if he can’t give it to all of Lucis, and it never seems to occur to him that he had been enjoying the benefits of that stability for decades as he plans the deaths of millions just because he’s a bitter asshole who can’t move on. Who’s the fucking hypocrite, huh?” Nyx hissed, and Cor tightened his hand around the Glaive’s and sighed.
“I never quite...trusted him, I think. He was part of the Guard for a short time before the Glaives were formed, as I’m sure you know, and I think some people assumed that we would work well together because we were so close in age. But while he seemed professional enough, and we worked together multiple times in those early years, there was something in him that never sat well with me. In hindsight, I wonder if my intuition was based on myself or my...abilities, but I suppose they are one in the same. Then I was named marshal the year before the Glaive was formally created, and he seemed-” Cor trailed off. “-not jealous, but almost annoyed. I still don’t understand why. Did I ever tell you that he-” he broke off again, this time having to swallow heavily before continuing.
“Cor?” Nyx said with concern, and Cor shook his head.
“He made it clear to me on several occasions about six or so years ago that he was interested in me; I turned him down several times, but he persisted off and on for close to a year. I almost changed my mind. I had started thinking that maybe it could have worked, but by the time I had reconsidered, the offer appeared off the table. I found myself relieved even then...you know I’m not good with things like that-” Nyx’s eyes had widened in what Cor could only label as horror before Cor found himself yanked into the Glaive’s arms, his face pressed against a familiar chest.
“Goddess...Cor, had you actually accepted his suit, you could have- fuck, everything would have changed. There’s no way he wouldn’t have realized you were special, and as good as he was at his plans? You would have been worked into them somehow, and I’m sure it wouldn’t have been pretty,” Nyx gasped, his breath rustling the hair on top of Cor’s head. “I’m glad in this case your natural awkwardness worked in your favor, Cor. Seriously.” Cor felt lips against the top of his head, and he sagged into Nyx’s arms. “You know what? I think he was so lost in his vision of what his life could have been that he’s basically made a reality in his head out of whole cloth. I mean, none of us are perfect. I know I haven’t agreed with many of the decisions done by the king during the course of the war, but he also made just as many good ones, in my opinion. I’m sure even you haven’t agreed with everything he’s done, even though you two have been friends for over thirty years.” Cor snorted, wiggling a bit until he was more comfortable.
“I’ve told Regis to his face that he was an idiot many times over the years, and he’s done the same to me. It’s a privilege I only abuse when necessary,” he mumbled, and Nyx’s chest shook under his cheek.
“Only when necessary, huh? I wonder if that’s what the king would say if I asked,” Nyx said, and Cor pinched his pillow rather firmly on the butt, causing a rather satisfying jerk. “Ow, hey! Watch where you are wielding those fingers of yours.” The two fell silent after that, the faint smell of metal polish almost soothing as Cor dozed in Nyx’s arms. When the clock chimed eight in the background, Cor groaned and pushed himself back up to a seated position.
“We should probably scrounge up some dinner,” he said, and Nyx nodded and also sat up, but neither of them moved to do anything.
“Damn, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to screw the evening up,” Nyx muttered, running a hand through his already messy hair, and Cor turned to him in astonishment. Nyx had done so much for him over the four months, had helped him work through a lot of his shit, had seen how stupidly awkward he was without getting tired of him, and he was apologizing one of the first times he had been a little emotional . Fuck that. Cor reached out and pulled the man towards him, meeting his lips with a bit more intent than he usually managed to pull off; Nyx’s lips gave way immediately, and Cor deepened the kiss, letting his fingers run through the Glaive’s hair as he tried to assure the man as best he could. A few pleasant minutes later, and Nyx gently pushed him away with a hand on his chest, a toothy, openmouthed smile on his face. “Well, I guess I’ll take that as a don’t apologize, dumbass. Thank you, babe. I think I needed that.” Cor, as he always did, blushed at the endearment, and Nyx grinned. “Nope, no danger of you changing any time soon.”
The two of them managed to arrange something edible for dinner, and after the usual cycle of eating, cleaning, and showering, they went to bed. Cor curled up in his usual position, his head resting on Nyx’s chest as he relaxed. He had forgotten to ask Nyx one final thing, and he sighed.
“When is it supposed to be?” he asked, and the Glaive’s fingers stilled at the nape of his next.
“In two weeks. He dies in two weeks.” They spoke no more after that, and Cor closed his eyes and let himself drift. It wasn’t lost on Cor that Nyx hadn’t said Drautos’s name once.
Cor’s dreams were filled with fire and destruction, visions of something that had not come to pass. But that knowledge didn’t matter when he could feel the heat on his skin, smell the acrid scent of burning chemicals, hear the screams of the dying; he had been consigned to the outskirts of the city with much of the Crownsguard, as per the original plan, and he ran through the streets as the wall fell and the Imperial warships descended, killing swathes of citizens in a matter of minutes. He reached the Citadel just in time to watch helplessly as Drautos slaughtered Clarus with his own sword, following Nyx as he and Luna tried to escape with Regis, only for his king to sacrifice himself to save Luna; the dream felt far too vivid, and he tried to stop the attack, only for Glauca’s blade to stab right through him into Regis. Tears were streaming down his face as he chased after Nyx and Luna, watching as traitor after traitor went after them, then Glauca confronting them directly once more. Then Nyx put on the ring, a last ditch effort to save what was left of the city, and he screamed.
“-Cor! Wake up, it’s just a dream! Cor!” Cor could hear a voice, a beloved voice, but he could not reach it, his horror of what he was seeing all-encompassing. He watched as Nyx’s face began to crack and scar as he used the damn power of the ring, his arm burning itself alive with every spell as he and Glauca fought while the city crumbled around them. The fight seemed to last forever, weaving around massive daemons who were destroying the city, and only as the sun began to rise did both Drautos and Nyx collapse in the middle of the wreckage, Nyx staring wistfully at the dawn as his body seemed to crumble and turn to dust. Cor started screaming again as he tried to do something, anything, and could only watch in vain as Nyx disintegrated and vanished on the morning breeze, leaving nothing behind.
A sharp pain across his cheek caused him to gasp, and he opened his eyes to find himself tangled in sweat-soaked sheets on the floor of his bedroom; Nyx, healthy and very much alive, was sitting on his stomach with tears in his eyes and a hand still raised, ready to strike again. Cor’s chest was heaving for breath, and the Glaive slid back onto his lap so he could breathe. “N-Nyx.” The younger man sagged visibly in relief, and Cor fought at the blankets entangling him until he could sit up, wrapping his arms around the man he had just watched die in his...dreams? That was no dream, that was a vision, he knew it in his bones; what would have happened had he and Prompto had not intervened, and he shuddered. Why now? Just a reminder with Drautos heading to the scaffold in a few weeks?
“Cor, thank fuck. You wouldn’t wake up, you just kept screaming- you kept screaming my name. What-” Cor cut Nyx off as he tightened his arms around him, shaking his head into the side of the younger man’s neck.
“Don’t. Don’t ask- it was what would have happened last May had we not caught Drautos. You tried your best, helped Luna escape the city, but you died fucking horribly in the end. I couldn’t do anything-”
“Cor, it was just a dream-” Nyx began, but Cor shook his head once more, digging his nose into Nyx’s neck and grounding himself in the man’s scent for a long while, forcing himself to take deep, measured breaths. The ghostly smell of burnt flesh and metal slowly faded from his senses, and he sagged against Nyx’s throat. After his heart stopped feeling like it was going to burst out of his chest, he lifted his head and finally managed to meet the younger man’s worried eyes.
“No, that was a vision, and I don’t know why. Maybe...I should seek her out. We haven’t spoken in close to six months,” he said quietly, and Nyx frowned.
“Do you think it’s that serious?” the Glaive replied, and Cor shrugged, his eyes drooping as exhaustion seemed to overtake him in a great wave.
“Probably best I ask either way,” he mumbled, and Nyx sighed, kissing him on the cheek before sliding off his lap.
“Think you can sleep again?” Nyx asked, and Cor could barely keep his eyes open enough to stagger back to his feet, the younger man coaxing him back into the bed. “I’ll take that as a yes. I’m going to get us some fresh blankets from the closet, be right back.” Cor watched Nyx walk out of the room with swiftly blurring vision, and he knew no more that night.
The next day passed in a daze. Monica had come up to him the next morning with clear concern, and he had realized with more than a little embarrassment that he had been loud enough to be heard through the walls, even through their excellent soundproofing.
“It was just a dream. A really bad dream, but just a dream. Sorry for waking you up,” Cor muttered, his face hot, and Monica shook her head and sighed.
“You really care for him, don’t you?” Monica asked, and Cor’s flush grew. “Was it that bad, the dream?”
“Yes,” he said quietly, his chest tightening just at the memory of it, and Monica leaned in and gave him a peck on the cheek.
“Let me know if you need anything.” He really didn’t deserve her.
Nyx called with increasingly feeble excuses every hour, which Cor found sweet, if a bit unnecessary; he knew that Nyx was working through his own feelings on the upcoming execution, however, and thusly didn’t tell him to knock it off. Nyx needed the distraction too. The Citadel was a strange mix of subdued and jubilant, many thrilled that the traitor was finally going to be put down, but just as many were conflicted; after all, they had worked alongside the man for decades, and it was a hard thing to want to see dead a person they ate with, talked with, even went to parties with- but then most remembered that he had systematically planned the downfall of the city, which would have probably seen the majority of them dead, and Cor could see them reevaluate their own thoughts on the matter. It would have been far simpler for the man to have put up a fight that day, he would have cut him down and that would have been the end of it, but that would have made it very difficult to pursue the others. As drawn out and grating as the process was, it had been for the best.
When the work day came to an end, he didn’t bother being polite. He stepped directly back to his apartment with a sigh, immediately getting into the shower to unwind. Afterwards, he threw on some comfortable clothing and stripped and remade the bed, which was still a mess from the night before. He let loose a sigh as he tucked in the sheet. He hadn’t spoken with the Dawn Mother since he had sheepishly reached out to her after reading that damn book, and he wasn’t sure what to say. Was he being paranoid? He had always had the feeling that there was more he could do, but she hadn’t gotten into great detail, only showing him the things that would be useful in a fight, for the most part...the whole revelation over the more scandalous things saw to the truth in that. Prompto seemed to be able to will his vocal sorcery to do what he needed it to do to a point, but him? Well, popping from place to place was incredibly handy, as were some of the other little things he knew how to do, but the more he thought about it, the more he suspected that something had gotten lost in translation.
Cor laid down on his freshly made bed, rolling over and stealing Nyx’s pillow out of habit. He should probably wait. Nyx had never seen him while he was in contact with the goddess, and he knew that he was impossible to wake while he was...gone. After the night they had, the last thing he wanted was to spook him any further.
“Cor? You home?” Cor couldn’t help a little smile as he heard Nyx thump through the front door, and he rolled onto his back.
“I’m in here,” he spoke up, and after a few more thumps, Nyx walked into the bedroom, raising an eyebrow at the sight of him already lounging in bed.
“Little early to be in bed?” Nyx asked, confusion in his voice, and Cor shook his head.
“I was just waiting for you to get home, I was going to go speak with her.” Nyx’s mouth opened in understanding, and he came and sat down on the bed, putting a hand on Cor’s arm.
“Is there something I should be concerned about?” Nyx asked, and Cor shrugged.
“No, not really. You just won’t be able to wake me until I’m done, and I-” he trailed off at the slight smile on Nyx’s face.
“Don’t want me slapping you again, right?” Nyx said, and Cor snorted, reaching up and letting his fingers trail down Nyx’s jaw.
“I don’t think it would work, but I’d appreciate not waking back up and wondering why my face hurt,” he said lightly, and the Glaive barked out a laugh.
“Can I stay in here with you while you do this?” Cor blinked, but thought about it for a moment before shrugging.
“I don’t see why not.” Nyx laid down on the bed next to him, and Cor refrained from cuddling up to the man like usual, instead just scooting a little closer. He didn’t want to inadvertently pin him if the conversation took longer than he thought it would. He closed his eyes, calling out for her in his head, and reality faded away.
“It has been some time, herald.” Cor winced at the sour tone in the goddess’s voice as the meadow came into view, the familiar green grass moving in the mild breeze as he stepped forward and knelt to the Dawn Mother.
“My apologies, my lady, I have been remiss in visiting,” he stated as he looked at her bare feet, not daring to look up until he felt a warm hand on the side of his face.
“Rise, Cor, I am not angry. I know how you are; you’ve always been quite independent, not one to seek me out unless you are truly in need,” Eos said, and Cor got to his feet still avoiding her eyes. She wasn’t wrong. Perhaps he should have made more effort to reach out- “Peace, Cor. I know you have been busy. You have been ever a guide to Prompto, and he has bloomed under your patient hand. But perhaps more importantly, you have found another to share your heart with-” The Dawn Mother waved a hand, and Cor watched in amazement as he could see Nyx lying on his side in bed next to him, the younger man holding his hand and waiting calmly for him to awaken.
“It’s strange, seeing us like this,” he murmured, and the goddess smiled, taking his hand and drawing him to the ground as the image dissipated, Eos sitting gracefully as Cor sat cross legged, bracing his elbows on his knees.
“Nyx Ulric’s heart is true, his spirit brave and honorable, and most importantly, he cares for you very deeply. You have chosen well, my herald,” Eos stated, and Cor could not completely quash the smile that crept onto his face.
“It just...happened, but I am thankful everyday that it did,” he said in complete sincerity, and the Dawn Mother grinned cheekily.
“Is that not how most things both good and ill come about?” Cor nodded absently, her mention of good and bad reminding him of what he had truly come for. The Dawn Mother’s mirth faded, and she reached out and took Cor’s hand once more. “What troubles you so?
“I had a dream last night...well, I think it wasn’t a dream at all, I believe it was a vision,” Cor explained, and the goddess nodded in agreement. “Is this something I should be concerned about? It was horrific, I watched nearly everyone I know and care about die horribly, and I-” Eos reached out and placed her hand against his face, and he closed his eyes for a moment.
“Your vision was of a past that was averted, my dear Cor, there is nothing to be concerned about. You must suspect why you had it when you did,” the Dawn Mother stated, and Cor nodded absently.
“We had been discussing Drautos.” Eos nodded.
“Yes, the traitor captain. He would have been one of the harbingers of the world’s doom had he not been stopped. But stopped him you did, with Prompto’s help, and now he will soon pay for his crimes by a punishment imposed by the laws of your people. While I am quite aware that it was a disturbing thing to see, Cor, I am uncertain why you are surprised. You have had visions before, after all; this is part of what you are, what you are capable of,” the goddess said with some confusion, and Cor’s jaw dropped.
“I’ve never had visions before. I don’t even think we’ve talked about them,” he croaked out, and Eos’s eyes widened.
“Of course we have spoken of this-” As irritated as Cor found himself, there was possibly nothing more simultaneously amusing and worrying than to watch a goddess suddenly realize that she may have forgotten to mention something. “I grew so used to my devoted followers explaining everything to my chosen in the past that I appear to have grown...lax. You have my deepest apologies, Cor, I have failed you,” the Dawn Mother said, completely contrite, and Cor could not stay irritated with her for long. After all, without her blessing, that vision he had just suffered through might have become reality, and he would gladly suffer himself to see such things nightly then face the alternative.
“Don’t worry about it, it’s done. What do you mean, though, about visions?” Cor asked, and Eos sighed and smoothed her hands down her gown.
“If you have read that book, you must have read about your role as a judge, an arbitrator.” He nodded, and she gave a wan smile. “The visions are never of the future, herald, they are there for you to make sense of the past. After all, if two people came to you, both claiming to be the rightful owner of...a rare chocobo, and asking for your judgement, how would you know?” the goddess said, and Cor shrugged.
“Honestly, I never thought I would act in that role, not with the modern courts of today. I figured that would be something left to antiquity.” Eos laughed, giving a single sharp shake of her head.
“There is always questions to be answered and arguments to be settled, Cor- while you may not be approached in Insomnia, do not be surprised if that changes swiftly as you travel the frontier. You have had visions before, my dear Cor, you simply did not recognize them as such. Some day, you will be petitioned for your aid, your judgement, and it is with this ability that you will know how to answer. It will generally not be so...dramatic as what you experienced yesterday, perhaps just a flash of sight, a few moments that tell the truth.” Cor nodded, his fingers running through the grass around him as he thought about what she said. If visions were related to his otherwise neglected role as a divine judge of sorts, why would he-
“You were subconsciously reminding yourself of why the traitor is receiving his due judgement. You may have not made the decision, but you were the one that surrendered him to it,” Eos explained, and Cor huffed out a harsh laugh.
“Hell of a reminder, my lady.”
By the time Cor blinked his true eyes open, the sky was long dark, and Nyx had dozed off next to him in the bed, still in his uniform. Their hands were still clasped, however, just as the goddess had shown him, and he rolled over and gave the Glaive a quick peck on the lips. Nyx’s eyes flew open, momentary shock transforming smoothly into a soft smile.
“All done?” Nyx asked as he yawned, and Cor sat up in the bed and snorted at the sight of the younger man in his rather rumpled uniform. “I’ll take that as a yes. Is everything...okay?” Nyx also sat up as Cor nodded, turning and looking at the glow of the town out of the window.
“She forgot to tell me that I can get visions of the past, or, in this case, a past that didn’t happen. It’s related to the judgement thing I’ve never used. Would have been nice to know, but what’s done is done,” he said, and Nyx hummed in understanding before getting to his feet, giving him a crooked smile before shucking off his shirt.
“Try to avoid visions like the other night, Cor, that scared the shit out of me,” Nyx stated, and Cor nodded his silent agreement as he watched Nyx walk into the bathroom. Drautos wasn’t worth it.
Nyx has had some time to deal with the fact the man he considered a mentor and a friend was a total traitor, but having it right in his face again isn't his favorite thing. Luckily, while Cor may be a bit more awkward in his comforting attempts, he's getting the hang of it. :)
Cor has had tiny visions here and there over the years, but never really realized as such, with the possible exception of talking to Ifrit, which dug up the Dawn Mother’s memories. The events a la Kingsglaive in his dream-vision were intentionally a bit scrambled, as in this AU-verse, this is a past that never happened.
Speaking of Eos, she had gotten so used to her priests/devoted/acolytes explaining most of this stuff to her freshly chosen Chosen throughout the millennia that she completely brain-farted on it. Hey, she’s possibly billions of years old (she has no clue how old she is,) you’d have memory problems too. :P
Before their work was done
Prompto usually spent the majority of his time in Noctis’s quarters, but even he felt the tense atmosphere pervading the Citadel as the days inched closer to Drautos’s execution. He barely knew the man, had only interacted with him a few times...yet somehow it had been left to him and Cor to reveal the former captain’s secret and take him down, an act that had set off the craziest chain of events the likes of which Prompto would probably never see again in his life. Which was a good thing.
On the other hand, Cor was definitely having a rough week, if the night of uncontrolled emotional...bleed-through he got the other day was any indication. Prompto had awakened in the middle of the night fighting the urge to scream, and that sensation had not faded for close to an hour as he clung to Noct like a barnacle, trying not to cry. He had almost called the other man in a panic until he had realized, somehow, that Cor was just having a nightmare. It was a really fucking bad one, but it was just a dream. Right when he was reconsidering that phone call, the horrid sensation had faded away, leaving him feeling wrung out and shaky.
“You alright, Prom?” Noct had asked, and Prompto had managed a weak nod before curling up and managing to fall back to sleep. He loved Noct, loved the lot of them, but he figured they didn’t need to know Cor’s personal issues any further. The whole near-debacle on New Year’s Eve had been more than enough.
The news had been an incessant drone of painful facts and rehashing of the events of the previous May, focusing on the day everything had begun, for the lack of a better word; at some point during Drautos’s trial, the footage from that meeting had been declassified, and Prompto found it very strange (and honestly, a little creeped out) to watch himself glowing and singing as he walked around the room, Glaives collapsing at his feet. Gladio said it made him look badass, he thought he looked freaky. It was just...hell, he didn’t know, but he hoped he would never need to sing like that again. He much rather preferred the more positive, uplifting songs to what he had been forced to sing against the traitor Glaives and Ardyn.
Prompto settled back on the sofa with a sigh as the news program again reminded viewers when the execution was to take place. What a thing to advertise. He knew he would have to go, considering he was one of the reasons Drautos had been found out in the first place and all, but to market it as a public spectacle-
“Let me guess, they’re still going on about the damned execution.” Prompto looked up and smiled as Ignis walked into the room, the older man glancing at the television before sighing and sitting down next to him on the sofa. “I cannot wait until it is done. Perhaps then the city will finally be able to move on. While it’s done wonders for your reputation, much to your dislike, the fact they keep showing the footage of that day is rather...tiring.” Prompto groaned as Ignis finished speaking, letting himself tip over until his head was resting on the man’s upper arm.
“Tell me about it. It’s crazy how much they’ve been going on about the whole thing. I understand it’s a seriously major thing, considering it’s been so long since there has been one, but I’ve seen ads for professional fights less in your face than some of these. It’s really icky, if you really think about it,” he said, and shifted as Ignis slowly brought up the arm he was resting against, wrapping it around his waist.
“What were your plans this afternoon?” Ignis asked, and Prompto stared blankly at the screen as he thought about the question. He hadn’t gone out much lately, even though the weird questions had mostly calmed down- and that was the one thing he had to thank Drautos’s impending execution for, it had diverted the never-ending attention and speculation off of him and Cor, and onto what was to come. He’d take it while he could get it.
“I wanna go out. Take some pictures, go get something to eat, go hit the arcade...just something,” he said, whining a bit more than he meant to, and Ignis huffed a quiet laugh.
“Do you mind if I join you? I have no more commitments for today,” Ignis said lightly, and Prompto appreciated the attempt to sound like he had a choice. He hadn’t been outside alone since everything had happened, though, and while he understood on one hand, it was really annoying on the other. He didn’t want to live like that forever. Prompto sat up, Ignis’s arm pulling away as he did so. No, he was going out by himself. Even if just for an hour or two.
“Actually, I’m gonna go out on my own. Just for a little while. We can meet up for dinner later?” he said, putting a little more intent into his tone. Ignis frowned, and Prompto watched as Ignis swallowed several times as he opened his mouth and closed it again, but after a few moments, he still hadn’t said anything. “I know you want to convince me otherwise, but I need to do this. I’ll wear a hoodie, I’ll do my best to not stand out, but-” Ignis held up a hand, a somewhat strained smile on his face, and Prompto stopped talking.
“I understand. Will you call me when you are ready to meet up for dinner?” Ignis asked, and Prompto could hear the unspoken if you need me for anything behind his simple statement. He barely forced down a sigh of relief; he knew he would have folded like an accordion if Ignis had seriously pushed back, and he didn’t want to be in that position. He got to his feet, then leaned over and gave Ignis a soft kiss on the lips before smiling and withdrawing.
“Of course, you’ve got to pick us out something nice for dinner!” he said, and Ignis hummed an agreement as Prompto jogged into the bedroom, grabbed a hoodie and his camera bag, then headed towards the front door.
“Shall the others join us if they are available?” Prompto froze as he fought his shoes on, and snorted.
“Of course! Unless you just want it to be the two of us…?” Prompto cringed at how that came out, but Ignis walked up to him without hesitation, leaning down and kissing him on the side of the mouth.
“Have a safe trip, Prompto. I’ll look forward to hearing from you,” Ignis said with a little smile, and Prompto gave a little wave as he ran out the door, pulling the hoodie over his head as he sped to the elevator. He wanted to be out of the Citadel before anyone decided to intercept him. He was almost to the ground floor when the door opened, permitting Cor and a few other Guards into the elevator. Shit. Prompto tried to shove his hoodie down, but he knew he was screwed.
“Excuse me, something just came up,” Cor said to the other Crownsguards, and in a smooth motion, grabbed Prompto by the arm; Prompto didn’t even have a chance to react before he was somewhere else. Cor released him immediately as he blinked away his disorientation, the older man crossing his arms and looking at him with an eyebrow raised.
“What?” Prompto whined, and Cor sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose.
“Why did you look like you were trying to sneak out?” Cor asked, and Prompto pouted.
“I’m just going out, I just didn’t want anyone to bother me,” he explained, and tried not to react at Cor’s dubious expression. “-and why were you on the elevator anyway? It’s not like you need it.” The marshal didn’t rise to the bait, instead looking at him with slightly narrowed eyes for a moment before his gaze softened.
“Are you sure about this?” Cor said bluntly, and Prompto straightened up and nodded sharply. “Pay attention to your surroundings, call me if something comes up. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do,” Cor finished, and Prompto grinned, throwing his arms around the older man.
“But it would probably look bad if I started slugging people-” Cor rolled his eyes, then another moment of disorientation later, Prompto found himself blinking into the sunshine in a small alleyway outside the Citadel. “Wow, thanks!” Cor almost smiled, patting him on the arm before stepping away.
“Stay safe,” Cor said, and in a breath, he was gone. Prompto blinked for a moment in his wake, then barked out a laugh, hitched his hoodie down over his face a little more, and walked out of the alleyway.
He got a few looks over the next hour as he wandered around, enjoying the feeling of being by himself for a little while as he snapped some pictures and wallowed in the February breeze, but if anyone recognized him, they didn’t approach. Out of some sense of morbid curiosity, he headed towards the old square, where they had already constructed the platform for the execution and were working on a small viewing box, from the looks of it. Prompto frowned. He’d probably be up there in a few days. Just as he was turning to go, he heard some very familiar voices, the sound of which he hadn’t heard in over ten months, and his heart dropped into his stomach. Slowly turning on his heel, he looked over towards the direction it came from to see his parents, or the people he once referred to as such, pointing at the scaffold and talking to each other. It was strange seeing them, almost a year after he had last done so, and he took a few steps forward on impulse before stopping. They had made their opinion of him clear when they never showed once while he was in the infirmary, never answered when he had tried to call them for months after; he had asked that they not be bothered, a final concession to what they had done for him as a child, and as far as he knew, that had not been breached. It was a hell of a way for a relationship to end.
They turned towards him as he was standing there, and all three froze as their eyes met; Prompto swallowed heavily, but did not look away, waiting for one of the other two to do something. His mother took a single step forward, her own eyes conflicted, but she sighed and gave him a nod before turning and walking away. His father frowned, shook his head, and turned and followed his wife without even truly acknowledging his presence, and the last bit of hope in Prompto’s chest died on the spot. He had generally accepted it, but to see it in person-
“Who do I need to kill, kid?” Prompto jumped at the voice, whirling around to see Libertus standing there in casual clothes, his expression clouded as he looked Prompto over. “Who were those people?” Prompto opened his mouth to deny everything, but the Glaive reached out with a large hand and delicately touched under his eye, and only then did Prompto realize he was crying. “Don’t tell me it’s nothing Prompto, not with those tears.” He looked at the older man, his lip quivering, and Libertus gave him a sad smile. “Let’s get you outta here before someone realizes who you are, okay? This is a gloomy place anyway right now.” Libertus signalled for him to follow, and they walked together until they arrived at a little cafe Prompto didn’t recognize, sitting down at a partially isolated corner table. He looked down at the table, picking at the napkin roll for a moment before looking up again.
“Thanks, Libertus, but I’m-” Libertus raised a hand, forestalling him.
“Who were they?” the older man asked, a thread of steel in his voice, and Prompto gave up. He didn’t have the energy to deny it any more.
“Those were my...parents. Well, I guess they were, anyway-” Prompto said in a whisper, flinching when rage flashed across Libertus’s face for a moment. The other man’s features instantly turned contrite, and he reached out and patted Prompto’s hand with his own.
“Oh hey, kid, I’m sorry, that wasn’t directed at you. Those two you were looking at? They just...left. When was the last time you had seen them?” Prompto looked out towards the street, watching the people walking by for a long while before responding.
“Last April? It had reached the point where I was only seeing them about once a month. I-” Prompto trailed off, unable to finish, and the Glaive scowled.
“Fuck, Prompto...were they like that when you were little?” Libertus enquired, and Prompto shook his head immediately.
“No, when I was a kid, like, before middle school, we were a real family. We did things, they were there for me, they supported me-” he paused, picking more at the napkin. “They just gradually drifted away after that, maybe they knew I was weird, maybe they had second thoughts about adopting me, I don’t know. But I think it’s pretty obvious that they want nothing to do with me. I thought I’d be sadder than I am, but I’m almost...relieved. Relieved for the confirmation, as much as it fucking sucks,” he finished, and Libertus sighed and squeezed his hand before withdrawing.
“You’ve got your friends, you’ve got the herald, you’ve got the rest of us. Anytime you need us, okay?” Libertus said, and Prompto wiped away a few more tears before nodding. “Good, remember that. We aren’t going to leave you behind, kid, we take care of our own.”
Prompto and Libertus went their separate ways a short time later, the big man giving him a bearhug that Gladio would be hard-pressed to top before leaving. Prompto took a deep breath, let it out, and set off towards his favorite arcade. When he noticed that the sun was starting to set, he finally stepped away from Justice Monsters Five and called Iggy.
“What are you thinking for dinner?”
All four of them (of course) had a wonderful dinner together, and Prompto let himself be whisked away by the other’s energy, happy for the distraction. It was Noct who looked at him suspiciously a few hours later as they were getting ready for bed, and Prompto stood up straight and waited.
“You okay, Prom? You’ve been a little...off since we met up,” Noct asked, and Prompto smiled and shook his head.
“I’m good. Just had something confirmed while I was out, that’s all.” The prince’s eyes narrowed, and Prompto worried a bit at his bottom lip.
“You sure?” Noct asked once more, his tone clearly searching for information, and Prompto nodded firmly in response. “Okay then.” He might say something to them eventually, but not today. There would be no more said on the matter that night.
The day of the execution dawned cold and clear. Due to the solemn nature of the whole affair, Prompto had been directed to wear something formal, and the morning found him styling his hair quietly in the mirror as Ignis stuffed Noct into a proper suit behind him; Gladio was already dressed in a button-down shirt and somewhat distressed looking slacks (he would say that Gladio needed a size bigger, but who was he to judge?) No one had bothered to try and get him into a suit jacket. Iggy was of course dressed to his usual perfection, and after a few minutes of shuffling and tie fixing, they were ready to go. They hadn’t even made it to the lobby when Prompto’s phone began to ring, and with a confused blink, he answered it. He wasn’t expecting any calls, especially today-
“Good morning, Prompto, I trust you are well?” Luna’s voice was clear through the connection, and Prompto couldn’t help the soft smile that snuck onto his face as a result.
“Luna, good morning! It’s good to hear from you,” Prompto replied, and while her tone was light, there was only one reason that she would be calling on this day, of all days.
“I know you will all be quite busy for the next few hours, but I have called to ask for a favor,” Luna said quietly, and Prompto nodded automatically before flushing and answering properly.
“Of course, what do you need?” Luna took a deep breath, then another, then another; Prompto waited patiently for her to speak as they walked out to the waiting cars.
“Just- just tell me when it’s done.” Her voice was quiet, but firm, and Prompto could do nothing but agree.
“Thank you, Prompto. Say hello to the others for me.” The call disconnected before he could say goodbye, which wasn’t exactly like the princess, but he understood. Today wasn’t a day for cheerful conversations. Libertus nodded to him as he opened the back passenger door, and he quirked a smile for the Glaive as he slid in behind Gladio, Ignis and Noct following behind him.
“Well, I certainly hope this is a once-in-a-lifetime affair. It’s one thing to fall in battle, but a formal execution…” Ignis sighed, and Prompto and the others all nodded in agreement.
“I’d say give him a sword and let the king or Cor at him, but that’s both risky and unfortunately very against the law, if I remember correctly. Right, Iggy?” Gladio said, and Iggy nodded.
“Yes, for several centuries now. While it sounds appealing, it tended to be a rather uncoordinated affair.” Noct and Prompto snorted simultaneously at Iggy’s phrasing, and Prompto settled back in the leather seats and took a deep breath, letting it out in a whistle. Then he remembered what Luna had said, and sat back up.
“Oh yeah, Luna says hi.” Noct’s expression immediately bloomed into a sweet smile, and Prompto would have felt jealous if he didn’t know better. They really should have her out to visit.
“Did she say anything else?” Noct asked, and he nodded.
“She just asked me for a little favor,” he replied, and Noct frowned in thought until his eyebrows went up.
“No pictures, right?” Noct inquired, and Prompto shook his head.
“Just a confirmation.” Noct’s mouth twisted with something Prompto didn’t quite understand, but the prince eventually nodded, and the last bit of conversation died out as Libertus drove them the rest of the way to the square.
As soon as they came to a stop behind the king’s car, the Glaive got out and came around to let them out; Ignis indicated that Noct should go first, followed by Prompto, and they all climbed out of a car in a line, Prompto cringing a bit at the sudden flash of cameras from off to the side. Really? Now? This wasn’t a party, this was...a funeral. A funeral where most of the watchers were there to cheer on the soon-to-be decedent's demise.
He barely controlled a shiver as he followed Noctis over to where the king, Lord Amicitia, and Cor were standing, and were in turn joined by Nyx and a small band of Glaives, including Crowe, Pelna, and Libertus, who bowed to the king then fell into step behind the principal group as they headed to the viewing stand. They all filed in, Noct and the king sitting together with Lord Amicitia on his right, and Cor to the left of Noct; Prompto sat down next to Cor, and was surprised when Ignis and Gladio both stayed down at ground level instead of joining them. Nyx and the group of Glaives had gone out of his view to the far side of the stand, and Prompto looked out to the gallows to see a row of Crownsguard waiting for Drautos to arrive, the noose already in place. The row behind them filled in with a collection of council members, and Prompto’s stomach was already starting to twist itself into knots. He didn’t want to watch this. The longer he sat there, the more he just wanted to vomit, and only managed to stay seated by Cor placing a warm hand on his knee, giving it a light squeeze.
“I know, Prompto. I don’t want to be here either,” Cor whispered, and Prompto looked pleadingly at him, only to receive a tiny headshake in return. “We are the original accusers, as it were, we are expected to stay. I’ll take you home the instant it’s done,” Cor paused, then leaned in a bit closer. “You don’t have to watch, Prompto. Try not to look at your lap, but if you look at the sky above the scaffold, they’ll never know the difference.” It was sound advice, and Prompto took a deep breath and looked up at the clouds, trying his best to ignore the roar of the crowd as Drautos was marched in, the heavy steps clear even over the maddening noise. The king rose to his feet, raising a hand for calm; after a few minutes, the crowd subsided enough for him to speak.
“Titus Drautos, citizen of Lucis, former captain of the Kingsglaive; you have been judged for your many crimes and found guilty by the highest court in the land. You have not spoken once to your defense in these many months, this is your final chance to speak before the sentence is carried out. Do you have any last words?” the king spoke, and Prompto looked to see Drautos’s jaw clench, then, to his shock, the man opened his mouth.
“I seek the king’s justice, as is my right,” Drautos said bluntly, and Prompto had no idea what the man was talking about, Cor’s brow had furrowed, but he didn’t seem to know either. A quick glance over to the king told him that he definitely did, however; the monarch’s grip had tightened around his cane, and his shoulders slumped the smallest amount before immediately straightening once more.
“Very well, Drautos. You shall have it. Anything more you wish to say?” Drautos turned his head slightly, looking at Prompto and Cor straight on, and Prompto swallowed heavily as that feeling at the back of his throat, in his chest, one that he had not felt since he had stood before Ardyn some nine months earlier filled his chest, and he looked over at Cor in shock as both of them rose to their feet without a second thought. What in the world was going on?
“I would hear the Dawn Mother’s sentence of me as well, considering her agents are the reason we are all here today,” the condemned man spoke with little inflection in his voice, and the cold tone made Prompto close his eyes against it until he felt Cor shift next to him, the voices of the council behind him fading away as he focused on the herald of the dawn.
“Titus Drautos, the traitor captain of Lucis. You have betrayed your sworn liege, the very land of your birth; for a misguided vengeance, you have cast aside your home, those who you once called friends, you have smeared the reputation of the institution that you once led, and most importantly, you have dishonored all who would have called you family. Your mother gave her life to see yours continue, and you have repaid her memory with murder and disdain for her sacrifice. Your bones will not see their rest under the stones of your ancestors, and your heart will not dwell within the rich soils of your homeland,” Cor’s voice sounded like it was coming from the earth itself, and Prompto would have sworn that the entire city had quieted as the blood rushed out of Drautos’s face at the damning words.
“How could you know such things, Leonis- how would you know what my mother did-” Drautos, after nine months of stoic, stubborn silence, had finally broken, his paper-white face twisted in fury as he glared at Cor. “Everything I did was to end this war!” Cor’s eyes, glowing with power, narrowed, and the man froze.
“You would have ended the war, Drautos, you are not wrong. However, your actions would have also led to the end the majority of life on this planet...had they been successful. Thankfully, they were not,” Cor paused, and something came over his face that softened his expression, if only the slightest amount. “May you find the peace you always sought, Titus.” Cor sat back down, the glow fading from his eyes, and said no more. Prompto closed his eyes, and for what he hoped was the last time in such a dark capacity, a phalanx of spirits, mainly comprised of Drautos’s own countrymen, came into view around him as he opened his mouth and sang.
About ten minutes later, Prompto sent Luna a simple text message.
P: It’s done.
L: Thank you.
Cor did as he promised, and the two of them went on ahead back to the Citadel, appearing in Noct’s familiar living room; Prompto sighed and yanked at the knot in his tie, pulling it loose before walking over to the doorway and taking off his shoes.
“That was-” he started, and behind him, he heard Cor sigh as well.
“It was. Preferably something we’ll never have to see or participate in again,” Cor stated, and Prompto nodded as he walked back towards the living room, peeling off his jacket and throwing it and the tie over Gladio’s usual armchair before flopping himself down on the sofa.
“You just knew, didn’t you? You just looked at him and that whole speech came out,” he asked, and Cor’s eyes seemed to unfocus for a moment before his shoulders slumped, walking over and sitting on the sofa next to Prompto.
“Pretty much exactly like that, actually. I had no idea his mother had saved him until I started to speak, but then it all became clear,” Cor said softly, and Prompto could hear something in his voice that made him dredge up a sad smile and scoot closer to him on the sofa.
“Are you okay? I didn’t really know him at all, but you worked together for what, twenty years?” he asked, and when Cor didn’t answer for a moment, he scooted even closer, smiling when the older man automatically brought his arm up and wrapped it around his shoulders. He loved to snuggle with the others, but when it was just him and Cor, it felt totally different. The memory of seeing his former parents the other day pushed to the front of his mind, but he quashed it down and waited to see if Cor would say anything more.
“We did, that is true. The last ten years or so not so much, but yes. I-” Cor trailed off, and Prompto managed to worm an arm behind him and squeeze his waist as the marshal seemed to be struggling for words. “It’s just a waste. He was truly talented, and he let his thirst for revenge twist him until I don’t think he even knew himself anymore. Damned idiot,” Cor spat, and Prompto just continued hugging him until he sagged in his seat. “But it’s over and done. How about you, Prompto? That was quite the performance earlier.” Prompto grimaced, barely resisting the urge to smash his face into the man’s rib cage to avoid the question.
“I hope I don’t have to do anything like that again. I like singing for positive things, that was a song of judgement. I really don’t like it,” he grumbled, Cor’s eyes softening in sympathy when he looked up at him. Screw it. Prompto gave into the urge and curled up into the man completely, his head resting on Cor’s side. They sat there quietly together for several minutes until he finally just blurted out what he hadn’t mentioned to anyone except Libertus. “I ran into my parents a few days ago. That day when I went out on my own.” He barely avoided flinching at the sudden intake of breath from above, Cor’s arm moving until his hand was resting on Prompto’s head, his long fingers slowly mussing up his hair. He didn’t mind.
“Did you...speak?” Cor said tentatively, and Prompto shook his head, blinking back a few rogue tears that threatened to emerge.
“No, she...she at least acknowledged me, he just shook his head and walked away. I mean, I knew already, they haven’t talked to me in close to a year, but I think in some way...it was good to have the confirmation. As much as it sucks,” he mumbled, suddenly feeling really self-conscious, and tried to push away from Cor, who moved his arm back around Prompto’s waist and didn’t loosen his grip. “-and I’m acting like a little kid, and I’m sure you don’t want me draping myself all over you-” Cor pinched his side, just enough to derail his personal pity party, and sighed.
“Prompto, what did we talk about last year?” Cor said quietly, and Prompto thought for a moment before a shaky grin worked its way onto his face.
“I told you that I had used up all the angst credits?” he commented, and internally cheered when Cor actually choked back a laugh in response.
“You little-” Prompto laughed out loud this time, and Cor gave him another pinch on the side. “Anything you need, Prompto. I mean it. If you want a damn hug, I’ll give you as many as you want. Don’t ever feel like you are imposing. I fucked up once, I don’t plan to again.” Prompto opened his mouth to deny Cor’s last statement, but snapped it closed again. While he didn’t agree with the older man, it was clear that Cor would not be dissuaded from that train of thought. Prompto wiggled a bit before finally giving up. Fuck it, he was comfortable. Prompto’s eyes drifted closed to the sound of Cor’s steady heartbeat.
“-at was quite the speech, marshal.” Iggy’s familiar voice roused Prompto, and he realized with a bit of embarrassment that he had totally just fallen asleep on Cor. Oops.
“Thanks, it wasn’t planned in the slightest.” He snorted at Cor’s wry reply, and he heard Noct’s distinctive laugh in the background as he finally pried open his eyes.
“He lives!” Gladio said, and Prompto flipped him off automatically before realizing that there was more than just the usual suspects in the room; he looked up to see Nyx badly covering a laugh while he leaned against the back of the sofa, looking down at the two of them with more than a little amusement.
“Are you stealing my man, kid?” Nyx drawled, humor in his tone, but Prompto could see the strain in his eyes and the utter exhaustion in his posture. Of course...while Cor had lost a former co-worker of sorts, Nyx had lost a man he had once called a friend. This was something he could handle, at least for the moment. Shooting the Glaive the goofiest grin he could summon, he tightened his arms around the bemused Cor.
“Of course I am, he's comfortable,” he smirked, and Nyx pouted.
“Can we work out a schedule? I wasn't planning on sharing custody,” the other man whined dramatically, and Prompto looked up when someone tugged on his hair from behind.
“You forget about someone?” Noct grumbled, and Prompto laughed, finally letting the still somewhat bewildered (and amused, although Prompto only could tell through their bond) Cor loose with a grin before untangling himself and getting to his feet, turning towards Noct.
“Not willing to share, huh?” Prompto drawled, and before anyone could answer, Cor got to his feet, gave a tiny bow to Noctis, ruffled Prompto’s hair, grabbed Nyx’s arm, and the two of them vanished without a single word. The remaining four of them stared at the place where Cor had been for several seconds before they all burst out laughing.
“Astrals, the look on his face!” Noct choked out, Gladio nodding between chuckles as Prompto laughed and laughed, firmly putting the events of the day out of his mind. It was time to move on.
“Is everything alright?” Ignis asked, his eyes soft and kind behind his glasses, and Prompto nodded, looking out towards the afternoon sun with a wistful smile.
“Yeah, we’re good.”
“Well, the kid totally got you,” Nyx snorted as he looked at his neon-red boyfriend; Cor growled under his breath as he stomped into his bedroom, shucking off his tie and coat, Nyx following in his wake. “You are really good with him, you know. We all are well aware that he’s been left out to dry by his other set of parents.” Cor’s shirt actually made it into the hamper this time instead of hitting the floor, and Nyx raised an amused eyebrow as he also managed to get the tie in as well. “Your aim’s improving.”
“He ran into them the other day,” Cor said, his voice quieting as he spoke, and Nyx was confused for a moment.
“He ran into-” he began, but then it hit him. “-oh damn. What happened?” Cor shook his head as he sat down on the bed, removing his socks and sending them sailing into the laundry basket with the rest.
“They pretended he didn’t exist, from the sound of it. How could someone just-” Cor grimaced, pulling off his belt and throwing it over by the hamper, where it bounced off the wall and landed on the floor. Nyx shook his head in response.
“Hell if I know. My mom crawled through fire for us more than once, and she’ll always be who I judge other parents against. I get that no parent is perfect, but adopted or not, to just pretend like they didn’t raise him for...what, seventeen years? I’ll never understand that,” he said, then sat down next to Cor on the bed. “I don’t want to understand that.” Cor, now down to his slacks and undershirt, looked like he was considering just going to bed, and as much as the day had stunk, he knew the older man would regret it tomorrow. “Cor, it’s only two. Why don’t we...I don’t know, go spar or watch a movie or something.” Cor sighed and pinched at the bridge of his nose.
“You just don’t want to hear about it when I’m a wreck tomorrow,” the marshal muttered, but Nyx could see a spark of humor growing in his eyes. Finally. He got back to his feet and walked over to Cor’s dresser, pulling out some of his exercise clothes and throwing them at Cor’s head.
“Let’s go beat people up, old man. I can guarantee we won’t be the only people there.” Cor snorted, then got to his feet, stripped out of his slacks and put on the offered clothing, managing to get the discarded pants into the hamper as well.
“Fine, brat. Let’s do this,” Cor said as he walked past him heading towards the front hallway, leaving Nyx to give his other half a proper once over before following. Still gorgeous. As the two of them put on their shoes, Cor leaned in and gave him a quick kiss, the simple gesture finally driving some of the tension out of his shoulders. “Everything good?” Cor asked, and Nyx returned the kiss.
“It will be.”
Prompto hadn’t been outside of the Citadel grounds by himself since the day everything went to hell, and while he understands everyone’s security concerns, he’s getting pretty sick of it. Cor and Ignis both trust him to use his head, though (so do the others, but they weren’t there) and that’s a good thing. :)
Libertus and most of the Glaives, Galahdian and not, have pretty much quietly adopted Prompto. They may not be too obvious about it, but they all keep an eye on him. That being said, Libertus legitimately ran into him in the square, he wasn’t following him. He had been considering leaving him alone, but when he saw the kid crying...
When Drautos asks for the King’s Justice, he wants Regis to “swing the sword,” or, in this case, pull the lever. Regis had a suspicion that he would ask for this, but had hoped otherwise.
When I was first picturing the execution, I traded between two songs for Prompto mentally (both Peter Hollens versions, of course, because this is me:) Rains of Castamere, and for tone, if not content, his World of Warcraft medley (I don’t play the games, so I don’t know the music.) Rains really doesn’t work here, so when I picture Prompto singing Drautos to his doom, it’s him singing the rather dark-sounding WoW medley with a bunch of incredibly pissed off spirits from Drautos’s old hometown. 8D (My original idea is that Drautos’s mother is singing the main female lead, but I’ll leave that up to you.) You can find the excellent medley on the playlist. :)
Cor and Nyx do exactly what Nyx suggested, and basically spar with most of the Kingsglaive (who were given the day off) and a good amount of the Crownsguard, all of which are trying to were trying to get their minds of the events of the day. They both slept like babies that night.