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Consort to the Crown

Chapter Text

Ignis Scientia, right hand man and advisor to the King, strode into his offices and ran knees-first into a desk.

He stopped there a moment, bracing his hands on the corner of the offending piece of furniture, feeling the smooth, polished surface slide under his fingers.

“Anthony,” he said, in a quiet voice. “Did the new girl move her desk again?”

“Oh, no,” cried a young man from the other end of the room. “I’m so sorry, sir, I thought I moved everything back the way it was—“

“No, no,” Ignis said. Anthony was an earnest young man, with a keen eye for detail and an eagerness to please that was almost painful. “You’re quite alright. Next time, I'll simply nail the desk to the floor and let her figure it out."

Anthony let out a discreet cough. The poor boy had no sense for sarcasm.

Ignis tread with a mite more care than usual. “Did we receive any news from the embassy in Lestallum since last week?”

Anthony hurried to the desk, and Ignis suppressed a sigh. It seemed like he spent so much time in the palace, lately, traveling from office to council hall, council hall to the King’s offices, following King Noctis like a shadow at his heels. He only half listened to Anthony’s reports, wishing he were out in the chill air of Insomnia’s spring.

“And I had Bethan enter it into the system for you,” Anthony finished, rambling to a stop.

“Thank you,” Ignis said, inclining his head slightly. “It was a good decision to promote you to this office.” He could practically feel the joy radiating from the young clerk. “Take the rest of the day off. I’ll close up here.”

“Really? Thank you, sir!” Anthony scrambled to straighten the files he often left scattered on the desktop. He paused a moment, and Ignis lifted his chin in an unspoken question. “Sir? If it isn’t too bold to ask?”

“Continue.”

“You were there, sir, on the day the Queen destroyed the Starscourge. What… what was it like?”

Ignis pressed his lips together, breathing in deeply. How had he forgotten? It was the fifth anniversary of the defeat of the Starscourge just next week—soon he would have to tune out half of the radio stations in the country just to get by.

“I can't say I recall the details,” he said, in a short, clipped voice.

When it became clear that was all he was going to get by way of response, Anthony murmured his goodbyes and tripped out the door. Ignis turned to follow the sound of his exit, and tried not to recall the sound of the churning sea of Altissia, the scent of electrical fire, the taste of blood and grit in his teeth.

--

One of the last things Ignis saw in this life was Lunafreya of Tenebrae. She was crouching in her white dress, her hands clutched to the arm of Ardyn Izunia, chancellor to Niflheim. A golden haze seemed to well up through the chancellor’s skin, like spots of sickness, blooming and fading as he struggled in the Oracle’s grip. Dark blood pooled at Luna’s side, but she hung on, and Ardyn started to convulse on the distant pier.

Above them, held aloft by Luna’s power and little else, Noctis fought the Leviathan.

Ignis had his own fight to contend with. He had to clear the northern exit to Altissia of imperial soldiers, giving stragglers time to flee the carnage—Prompto and Gladio were already handling the western and eastern gates. But he was frozen in place, stricken with a wrench of horror as Noctis’ childhood friend dangled in the chancellor’s grip. The man broke free, and she threw herself onto him. Waves threatened to knock them aside as the Leviathan writhed in agony behind them, and just as the chancellor’s scrabbling hands closed around Luna’s neck, Noctis rolled to the ground beside her. Luna turned, and a pillar of blinding light rose around her and the chancellor, sending Noctis back. The prince staggered, righted himself, reached his hand into the light, and was consumed.

Ignis didn’t even have time to react. He was knocked to the ground as a magitech soldier’s anchor narrowly clipped his arm, landing in a scramble of slick cobblestones and metal-toed shoes and fear. There were too many of them, all at once, red eyes glowing in their green, synthetic faces, the chest of the nearest battery soldier sparking and hissing an inch from his temple as they bore down upon him.

--

“Ignis Scientia,” cried a warm, familiar voice, shattering the silence of the empty office. King Noctis Lucis Caelum walked smartly in his well-worn boots, heels tapping on the stone floor. “I have come to rescue you from the deadly grip of paperwork. Is that squirrely clerk of yours still here?”

“I sent him home,” Ignis said, “and you shouldn’t be so—“ He was cut off by the press of Noctis’ body to his, the calloused hands in his hair, warm lips soft on his own. He sank into the kiss for a moment, relishing the gentle pull of Noct’s lips in his teeth, before leaning back.

“Your Majesty, the door.”

“Not when we’re alone, Ignis,” the King said, heading in for another kiss. “Your Majesty is for the throne room. How long have I been telling you?”

“Only most of your life.”

“Shows how much you respect my wishes,” Noctis said, and cupped Ignis’ face in both his hands. “Gods, I thought Council would never end today.”

Ignis made a disapproving sound—Noct never paid nearly as much attention at Council as he should—and ran his hands up Noct’s jacket, hooking his fingers around the buttons at his chest. Noct kissed him again, deep and slow, parting his lips with his tongue and curling his fingers around the back of Ignis’ head.

“Luna’s invited us to lunch in the city,” he said, when he’d left Ignis dazed and faintly breathless. “Let’s sneak out before we’re forced to sit in on another meeting. I’ll set something on fire this time, you know.”

Ignis could only nod, well aware that Noct had timed the question only when he was too dizzy with the taste of him to protest.

“Come on, old man,” Noctis said, and Ignis could tell that he was wearing that same, self-deprecating smirk that even five years of public service couldn’t erase. “The fresh air will do you good.”

Chapter Text

The important thing that Ignis learned at Altissia was that even though divine favor was a powerful force, free will could always throw a wrench into any operation.

Shortly after the pillar of light shot out from the place where Luna, Ardyn, and Noctis had been, there came a shockwave that rippled the stones of the city and sent a wave crashing through the lower levels. Ignis, backed into a corner, his face warm with blood, had been knocked to his side with the impact. The wave was followed by a ring of light, spreading outward from distant Niflheim. As it passed through them, the magitech soldiers in the streets collapsed in on themselves, leaving Ignis, Gladio and Prompto in scrap piles of metal and synthetic rubber. When Gladio and Prompto ran to find Ignis, they’d seen another pulse of light at the pier, weaker now. They waded through flooded streets to see the light fade, revealing Luna, drenched in blood, holding Noct on the dais where she had summoned the Leviathan. Ardyn’s body was nowhere to be found.

Noctis had been chosen by prophecy to take out the Starscourge, but it was Luna who had the ability to cleanse the darkness. Luna who had called upon the power of ancient kings and woken the crystal chained in Niflheim, who burned the scourge from Ardyn Izunia’s flesh and left him a husk in the roiling waters. In the end, all Noct had done was serve as a distraction.

Ignis heard the story from Gladio as he sat in one of the abandoned upper story houses, shoulders hunched, gritting his teeth against the throbbing pain in his eyes and at the base of his skull. The fresh scars seemed to pulse with their own heartbeat, and he had to keep asking Gladio to back up and tell parts of the story again. To his credit, Gladio did not complain. When it was over, Ignis gripped Gladio’s hand too tightly and asked the only question that really mattered.

“Will they make it?”

Gladio was silent. He slid his hand away, and Ignis reached after him, desperate for contact.

“Gladio, will they survive this?”

“Ask me tomorrow, Ignis.” Ignis let his hand fall, and released his grip on his nerves, letting the pain take over all remaining sense of feeling.

Three days later, Luna was the first to wake.

“Prompto, who is this?”

A woman’s voice. Soft, with the hint of a lilt at the edges. It had to be Lady Lunafreya—Ignis could vaguely remember the same voice fed through radio speakers and video feeds in Insomnia. Carefully, Ignis sidled into the room and bowed. His foot scraped on the edge of a chair, and he heard a sound at the far end of the room. Prompto, no doubt. Prompto’s hands touched Ignis’ right arm, and helped guide him to a chair.

“This is Ignis,” Prompto said. “Noct’s—One of our—he’s our—“

“Yes,” Luna said. “Of course.”

“Are you well, Lady Lunafreya?” Ignis asked. Luna’s voice, when she responded, took on the cadence that she used in her public speeches, as though instinctively reacting to Ignis’ own formality.

“I’m not certain yet,” she said. “How is Noctis?”

“Alive,” Ignis said, and held his breath, unable to trust his own control. Noct’s skin had felt so cold, his breath so faint, and Gladio—Gladio had been shaken in a way that Ignis had never thought possible before.

There was a rustle of cloth, and Prompto made a distressed sound at Ignis’ side. Then there was the tickle of a hand hovering just over the skin of his cheek.

“May I?” Luna asked. Ignis managed a nod. “Prompto, if you could come back in a few minutes. I’d like to speak to Ignis privately.”

There was a draft at his side as Prompto obeyed, feet shuffling on the expensive carpets. Then Luna’s hand was on Ignis’ cheek, brushing gently just at the edges of his fresh scars. Ignis sank into the touch, shaking slightly.

“I’m sorry, Ignis,” Luna said. “The loss of the crystal meant the loss of my power, and I could only heal wounds of the spirit.”

“I don’t need to be healed,” Ignis said.

“Noctis will survive,” said Luna. Ignis was surprised to find that her hand was shivering, and he reached up to take it in his own.

“All these years we’ve loved him,” Luna said. “It would be selfish of him to leave us now.”

Ignis struggled to keep his composure, strained with every cell in his body to sit straight, to be still, to speak with a level voice and quiet authority. But when he opened his mouth, his breath hitched in his throat, and he pitched forward to rest his forehead on the edge of Luna’s mattress. He sighed, unable to place the knot of emotion in his chest, but certain that nothing could erase the shame of breaking down in front of the one woman who had nearly given her life to destroy the Starscourge. As he struggled to breathe, he felt Luna’s hands gently drift through his hair, at once soothing and strange, her own breath uneven in the empty room.

 

--

 

Sneaking out of the palace had been much less complicated before Noctis became King.

Now, five years after they'd hobbled their way back from Altissia, it seemed that fate wanted to shackle Ignis and Noct to the palace grounds. First they had to make a detour for Gladio, who refused to let Noct wander the city alone, and that meant calling for a car, which meant passing through the string of connected offices and drawing rooms that hummed with the voices of well-meaning clerks and pages who “only need a moment of your time, Mr. Scientia.” In the end, Noct had to exercise royal authority, and practically dragged Ignis out of their clutches.

Gladio was only happy to join them.

“Clara said her fourth word today,” he told them in lieu of greeting, filling the car with the smell of leather and the faintest sheen of sweat. “Do you want to hear?”

Noctis groaned. Ignis stepped on his shoe and dutifully listened to the video of a small child speaking nonsense into the phone.

“Yes,” he said, after a minute. “That’s certainly… I heard a vowel, for sure.”

“Isn’t she clever?” Gladio asked. Noctis continued to groan, low and constant as the hum of the engine. Ignis wondered if this happened to everyone when they became a parent, this obsession with chronicling every second of their lives and forcing their friends to bear witness. Gladio and Prompto were parents to three now, all orphaned refugees from Niflheim, and Ignis suspected that they were in talks to adopt yet again. The Amicitia clan was certainly in no danger of disappearing at this rate.

“Just wait,” Gladio said to Noctis. “In ten months, you’ll be telling everyone who can listen that your kid is the smartest child in the universe because ‘Look how good they are at making facial expressions!’” He nudged Ignis with an elbow. “Iggy’ll be the worst about it. I can tell.”

Ignis felt Noct sink into the seat beside him. “Luna and I already have Ignis under strict orders not to monopolize them, trust me.”

“Which is entirely unreasonable,” Ignis said. “I don’t monopolize anyone.”

There was a silence as they all contemplated the enormity of that lie.

Luna already had companions with her when they finally made it to the restaurant for lunch. A former Kingsglaive member, a servant from the palace, Iris—her bodyguard—and a construction worker she’d met on site five minutes ago. They all moved aside for the newcomers, falling silent at Noct’s approach, and Ignis heard the King rush in to give Luna a chaste peck on the cheek before sitting down.

“Gladiolus, how good to see you,” Luna said. “I got the video—but I don’t know what she was trying to say. Sorry.” Ignis hurried to her side before she could get up, knowing that she would try to rise and greet everyone personally.

“Ignis,” she said, with real warmth in her voice. “May I?”

“Of course.” Luna took his hands. She was one of only a few people who were allowed to touch Ignis without warning, but insisted on asking all the same.

“Stop mothering me,” she said, immediately. Ignis opened his mouth in protest. “Don’t think I don’t know what you’re doing. I’m pregnant, not dying.”

Noct let out what, in a less exalted man, would be considered a snort. Traitor.

“This is the same woman who jumped from a moving plane because the pilot wasn’t going in the right direction,” said the former Glaive. “In heels. Honestly, I’m terrified of her. With all due respect, Your Majesty.”

“Thank you, Libertus. I’m flattered.”

Lunch went about as well as could be expected. Ignis and Luna maintained a careful distance from each other and Noct, but Noctis was constantly hooking his foot around Ignis’ boot, or eating off of his plate, or leaning a little closer to Luna than decorum allowed. Really, there was no taking him anywhere. Prompto could have distracted him, but Gladio said that it had been the blonde’s turn to look after the kids that afternoon.

“Marius shows signs of being a good shield one day,” he said. “Might want to think about it, for the one on the way.”

Luna sounded just a little startled. “Isn’t he… young for that?”

“I started training when I was four,” Gladio said, reasonably. “Marius is six this fall.”

“I know the traditions here can still be a little strange,” Ignis said. He held out a hand, and Luna gave his fingers a quick squeeze. “But if the child resents their post, we don’t force them.”

“Did you ever resent yours?”

Noct made an uncomfortable sound at Ignis’ side, and Ignis grinned. “Not for long, Your Majesty.”

Chapter Text

Much changed in the time it took for Noctis and Luna to recover from the events in Altissia.

The death of the Starscourge had purged the land of daemons, leading to a surprising result in the course of the war: All of Niflheim’s magitech infantry had shriveled into empty husks at the exact moment the crystal’s power had been unleashed, effectively disbanding the Niflheim army. The citizens of the empire, fearful for so long of those humanoid soldiers, were even now staging a coup. Ravus, of all people, was at the head of the rebellion.

“Good,” Gladio had said, when Prompto relayed the news. “Let them sort it out themselves.”

Prompto, Ignis, and Gladio took shifts watching over Noct and Luna. Luna was awake for most of the day, now, but was too weak to walk more than the few steps needed to reach the bathroom. Showering was a three hour ordeal, and Ignis fretted so much after how long it took her the first time that Luna’s polite demeanor had cracked, and she’d shouted, “I’m not a child, Ravus!”

The embarrassed silence lasted nearly a day.

The result of this was that it had broken whatever wall of formality they’d built between them, and Ignis learned that Luna had a voraciously inquisitive mind. She wanted to know everything about Noct. How long had Noct known Prompto? What kind of food did he eat? What do you mean, no vegetables—how was he still alive at 21 on potatoes and meat alone? In the end, Ignis took to sitting with her on her expansive bed, letting her pore through his phone for videos and text messages exchanged over the course of the past few years.

“There was the diary, and Gentiana told me some about his daily life, and I’ve seen Prompto’s photography,” she said, her shoulder pressed warm against Ignis’ own. “They’re very good—Though he does take quite a lot of photos of Gladio. You don’t think—“

“I try not to speculate,” Ignis said. “But yes, I do think.”

“Oh, what’s this? I’m sorry, I mean, there’s a picture here of Noctis in a suit, in some sort of hall with pillars on the sides. He looks younger. His hair’s different, and he’s… making a gesture…”

“Ah.” Ignis crossed his arms. “His high school graduation.”

Luna hummed. “He’s sleeping in this one. Ignis, is this in your bed?”

“I can’t rightly say.”

“Well, he looks adorable, anyways.” There was a pause, and Luna said, haltingly, “Did you notice that… Does his hair still have a bit of static when you touch it?”

Ignis hadn’t realized that he’d been withdrawing, chest tight with misery, face twisted in an uncharacteristic frown. He tried to find the voice to answer Luna’s question.

“A bit,” he said. “It’s softened, of late.”

“What do his hands feel like?”

Ignis turned to the sound of her voice in pure bewilderment. “I don’t know.”

“The next time you s— go to him,” Luna said, “try to remember, and tell me.”

“I’ll do my best.”

 

Ignis was the one on guard when Noctis woke. Ignis had been sitting in silence in a chair facing the bed, and jumped to when he heard a creak of mattress springs and the scrape of blankets over Noct’s clothes.

“Ignis.” Noct sounded the same as always, if slightly muffled with sleep. “You’re—Luna. Is Luna alright?”

“She’s in the other room,” Ignis said, standing stiffly. “I can get her, if you—“

“How long was I out?”

“Three weeks,” Ignis said. He held himself back, refusing to run to Noct through sheer force of stubborn will. The bed creaked again, and Noct let out a soft groan. “Your Majesty. Don’t move so quickly.”

“Ignis, why aren’t you looking at me? When did you get new…” Noct’s voice faded, and Ignis gathered himself.

“It was an accident. A small price to pay. Though there’s… a good chance I’ll never recover my eyesight.”

“That isn’t a small price,” Noct said. “And don’t call me Your—“

“We don’t need to speak about it right now,” Ignis said, louder than he’d meant to. He sighed, and stepped forward, stopping at the foot of the bed. “What matters is that you’re with us.”

Warm hands gripped Ignis about the shoulders, pulling him onto the bed. Ignis stumbled into it, desperate not to bowl Noct over, and ended up with his left knee at Noct’s side and his right leg trailing behind him, tangled in the blankets. Noct’s hands ran over Ignis’ neck, his shoulders, dug into the fabric of his shirt and held him close. Ignis wrapped his arms around the King a little more gingerly, careful not to brush any healing scars or bruises. Noct’s face settled in the curve of Ignis’ neck, and he sighed deeply.

“Something happened, Ignis,” he said, hoarsely. “For a minute there, in the light. I was there, with Ardyn, and Luna, and—“

“We can piece it together later,” Ignis said. “You’ve been through an ordeal.”

Noct laughed, mirthlessly. “And you haven’t?”

“Hey!” That was Prompto. Ignis gently tried to withdraw, but Noct made a disgruntled noise and pulled him down farther, letting them both drop to the mattress.

“Ignis,” Gladio said, a warning in his voice. “Don’t wear him out.”

“Farthest thing from my mind,” Ignis said, into the blankets.

Noct stubbornly refused to let Ignis disengage for a good half hour, all through his rushed, disjointed conversation with Gladio and Prompto. He assured them that yes, the crystal and the ring were gone, no, he couldn’t get it back, yes, this meant he was, for all intents and purposes, an ordinary scrublord now, thanks Prompto. Ignis kept trying to sit up and roll off the bed, only for Noct to press a hand to his chest, or prop a leg over him, or threaten him with treason if he didn’t stop moving, Specs.

Then Prompto let out a sudden cry, and Ignis felt Noct tense at his side.

“Noctis.” Luna’s voice, some feet away. Had she walked all the way there on her own? Ignis heard Gladio murmur words of protest, but there was only the soft scramble of bare feet, Noct’s half-strangled shout of warning, and the creak of the bed as Luna flung herself into Noct’s arms.

“Easy, princess,” Gladio said, “You’ll strangle him.”

“I don’t think she’s listening, dude,” said Prompto.

Ignis was inclined to agree. Beside him, Luna was a heavy weight, her words so soft that even Ignis couldn’t hear. It was altogether too personal. Ignis gently eased himself up on his arms to give them more privacy—

Only for both Noct and Luna to reach out and pull him down again.

“Or I can stay here,” he said, to the room at large. Noct kicked him in the ankle.

“We’ll, uh. We’ll give you a minute,” Prompto said, sounding distant and strained at the far end of the room.

“Ignis, don’t let them smother each other,” Gladio ordered. Ignis raised a hand in a weary salute, certain that he would have no influence on either of them whatsoever.

As soon as the others were out of the room, Luna’s voice began to rise, and Ignis caught some of what she’d been whispering to Noctis.

“—have died! Twenty-one years we protected you, Noctis, I protected you, and you tried to throw it away? I knew my duty. I was willing to—“

“Well, I wasn’t,” Noct said, abruptly, and Ignis was surprised to hear heat behind his words. “I couldn’t let you die for me, Luna. I can’t let anyone die for me.”

“It wasn’t just for you, Noctis,” Luna said, in a voice that shook with force of feeling.

“But it’s done.” Noct said.

“At your expense? Even for so short a time—I saw it, Noctis, don’t look away from me. I felt it, before the crystal burst—“

“Pardon me for interrupting,” Ignis said.

“You’re pardoned,” Noct and Luna said, together. Ignis tried to raise his eyebrows, and winced at the tug of the scar at his ruined left eye.

“Childish outbursts aside,” Ignis continued, “The fact of the matter is that you are both, at this point in time, alive. Unless you choose to kill each other.”

“Childish?” Luna said, in a strange voice. “I’m older than all of you—“

“Chronologically, certainly,” Ignis said. Luna gasped.

“Is he always this way?” she asked Noct.

“Only if he likes you,” Noct said, sounding deeply amused.

“Remind me not to make him my enemy.” Noct laughed, and Ignis felt the brush of Luna’s hand against his chest as she struggled to sit up.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I didn’t mean to lecture you as soon as you woke. But we need to talk, all three of us.”

“Only when you two are able to walk without dropping,” Ignis said.

“Yes, mother.” Noct rolled over, hands on Ignis’ neck, and pressed his face to his shoulder.

“You’ll forgive me for saying it, Noct, but you’ve been asleep for weeks. Imagine, if you will, what that means about the state of your breath.”

“So romantic,” Noct mumbled, and Ignis could have sworn he heard an sound from Luna that could have been a laugh.

Chapter Text

Luna chose to ride in the backseat of the car with Noctis and Ignis on the way back to the palace. She kicked off her shoes immediately, lay back on Ignis’ shoulder, and spent half the drive there trying to find a comfortable position. She kept kicking Noct, who bore this treatment with all the dignity of a ten year old, and pulled her hair back from its tightly pinned braids to let it hang over Ignis’ arm.

“You two,” she said, in a husky voice, “don’t know how good you have it.”

“I don’t know,” said Noct. “I think I have an idea.” Luna huffed in disbelief.

“Please,” she said, “tell me again why I decided being a Queen was a good idea.”

“Blame Noct,” said Ignis, earning a cry of betrayal from the other end of the car. “He’s the one who proposed.”

Noct had brought it up in the middle of the night five years ago, as the three of them discussed the next step in the battle to take back Insomnia from Niflheim’s shattered military. They were exhausted, all three of them, unable to sleep while Gladio and Prompto led small squads of men and women into Niflheim outposts in the night, and Ignis felt like the grime of the underground had crept into his skin.

“I think,” Noct had said, “that the three of us should get married.”

The silence that followed went on for a very long time.

“You said three,” Ignis said.

“I meant two,” said Noct, in a voice that rose in growing panic. “I mean, yes. No. I mean, Luna and I should get married, and you and I—“

“Does Ignis get a ring?” Luna asked, suddenly. Both Ignis and Noctis turned to face her. “Well, does he? Do I? You can’t just propose marriage without a plan, Noctis.”

“Luna, at least, needs to be wooed,” said Ignis.

Luna made an approving noise. “Take us to dinner, first.”

“Tell us how pretty we are.”

Noct groaned. “Please take this seriously.”

“We are,” Luna said. “Yes, Noctis, I think you’re right. The thr—two—It would be best if we did go on with the wedding. You can even marry Ignis, if you’re good.”

“Please, no,” Ignis said. “I look terrible in white.” He reached for Noct, who gripped his arm. “But I’ll bear through it, I suppose.”

“Good,” said Noct, and the three of them went back to plotting the course of their soldiers’ next moves on the field.

 

It was unusual at first, how quickly things moved after that. It took nearly a year for the city to recover enough for a wedding to even be possible, and even as Ignis stood with the groomsmen at the King’s right side and heard the processional music swell to announce Luna’s appearance, he still couldn’t quite believe it. Iris told him that Luna had opted not to wear the dress that Niflheim had commissioned for her, and had settled on something in a deep, dark blue, with a shimmering overgown that gave off the impression of a starry night. Gladio had wept like a child. Prompto was a trembling wreck at the thought of the wedding for a good week. And later, as Luna and Ignis laughed over drinks and Noct revealed exactly how many dessert chocolates a King could hide in his suit in the course of one evening, they had their own sort of ceremony.

There were some changes, after. Luna preferred companionship over pleasure, except on rare occasions, and spent much of her time in her own rooms. When Luna found the time to be right, though, they would all be together, Luna twined around Noct on one side, Ignis kissing him deeply on the other, all of them flushed and tangled up in each other, sharing Noct like some precious thing. At other times, it would just be Ignis and Noct, pushing against each other, Ignis sprawled out on the sheets with the King sitting over him, whispering how beautiful, Ignis, how did I deserve this, Ignis, his firm touch making his advisor shudder and gasp. Luna generally left them alone for this--but occasionally, Ignis would feel the presence of a hand over his head and the unspoken question there, and Luna would brush back his sweat-damp hair while Noct made him come undone.

Ignis supposed he could find this strange or conflicting, but there really seemed no point. He suspected that this was Noct’s influence.

Gladio and Prompto knew. There was no hiding anything from Gladio, and Prompto had become the confidant of the Queen with a speed that was truly staggering. And Cor. Of course, Cor.

It had become a habit in the morning, when Noct finally dragged his sorry ass out of bed, for him to stagger over to the breakfast tray, inhale a cup of coffee with his eyes closed, and then kiss Ignis or the Queen good morning. That particular morning, both Ignis and Luna were present, and Noct kissed Ignis first, because he was closer, and Luna next, with his right hand still trailing down Ignis’ shirtfront. And then he’d looked up at Cor, who had once again let himself in just in time to learn how thoroughly Noct and Ignis had debauched Lady Lunafreya.

“Cor,” Noct had said in a light voice, as Luna and Ignis grimaced. “Didn’t hear you come in. Grab some coffee, why don’t you?”

At least some things never changed.

People were starting to talk, of course. The right hand of the King was awfully close to the Queen, or so the papers speculated, even with the fact that the Queen had more of a head for policy than King Noctis and could put his council to use. And what of that Prompto, who could be found taking chocolate with Queen Lunafreya most mornings, heads together like childhood friends? Gladio was exempt from scandal only because questioning his loyalty to the King was a concept too terrifying for even the most lurid publications to contemplate.

“Oh, I’ve had people commenting on my private life since I was a teenager,” Luna said, when Ignis brought up the subject over coffee. Or coffee for Ignis, at least. Luna had resigned herself to exactly three brands of tea for the next four months. They had left Noctis asleep in bed, Ignis having rearranged his schedule to allow for one morning to sleep in.

There had been a hesitancy in Luna’s speech that worried Ignis. “You seem unsure,” he said. “Is it the magazine from last week?”

“No, no.” Luna was silent. Ignis let her work out whatever it was she needed to say, opting instead to prepare the coffee.

“To be honest, Ignis,” Luna said, after a minute. “I never thought I’d live to be thirty.”

Ignis started at this, frozen in the act of lifting the electric kettle from the breakfast tray.

“The covenants,” Luna reminded him. “They were… hard. I doubted my body would have lasted much longer after Altissia. I had no illusions about that.”

Ignis took a breath. “Happily, you survived,” he said. He reached for a cup, and Luna pressed one into his hands.

“You’re using your formal voice, Ignis.”

“Pot, kettle.” Ignis poured Luna her tea and settled back on his chair, soaking in the mid-morning sun. “I find it surprising, is all. I didn’t take you for a fatalistic sort.”

“Well, I was.” He felt a warmth by his hand, waiting for his approval, and then the soft brush of her fingers over his. “And now that it’s all over, I don’t have a plan anymore. Being an Oracle felt like second nature. But being a Queen?” she sighed. “I worry that Noctis is the same.”

“Noct never had a plan,” Ignis said, earning a laugh from the Queen. “We’ll just have to make it up as we go.”

Chapter Text

“Ignis!” Noct shouted, his voice echoing in the royal chambers. “Come to bed!”

“I’m reading, Noct,” Ignis called back. He wasn’t, really—his book, and his text-recognition software, had been set out of reach on the table. He was simply enjoying the night air, the sounds of the city through the open window almost as loud as it had been before the fall. If he concentrated, he could imagine himself back then, laying out in his small quarters in the residential wing, pretending the rush of traffic was a wave hitting the shore.

“Please, Ignis.” That was Luna’s voice, this time, also coming from the bedroom. “You know he won’t be quiet until you do.”

“Lunafreya?” Ignis rose to his feet. “You’re never up at this hour. Are you well?”

“Oh, you’ll get up for her,” Noct said, and Ignis heard the faint sound of Luna smacking him lightly.

“You, Noctis, are not incubating a small human being above your pelvis,” Ignis said, as he made his way down the connecting hall.

“Thank you for that, Ignis,” said Luna. “You have taken all of the magic out of childbirth in less than twenty words.”

“You did that yourself,” said Noct, “when you said, and I quote, ‘Oh, might as well.’”

“Hopeless,” Ignis said. “The both of you.”

He paused at the door to the royal bedchamber. The bed in the center of the room, where Luna and Noct were waiting, radiated warmth against the cool spring air.

“Ignis,” said Luna, the savior of Lucis.

“Come to bed,” said Noctis, the man whom he loved.

Ignis touched the fine grain of the doorframe for a moment, breathing in the scent of them, letting their voices fade into the roar of the distant city with all the weight of the years they’d nearly lost, and hurried to obey.