Nivalis was looking out the window, the late morning finally creeping to fruition. Ignis was the only one awake aside from Gladio who had said he was going to find somewhere to train. The other two were fast asleep still, and she probably would be too had it not been for her wandering thoughts. She’d woken sometime in the night, a dream, almost vision like, of her mother’s death. She wasn’t the most affectionate woman but she knew she loved her, and Rowan, and she wished she’d realized that a long time ago so she could’ve told her mom every day how much she meant to her. She was always afraid to, didn’t want to show weakness in her mother’s eyes, but it would be something that she’d regret now.
“Nivalis,” Ignis called to her quietly from the door. “Would you like to accompany me to find a market? Perhaps we could procure some supplies?”
She nodded, heading over towards him and following him out the hotel. They walked quietly for a bit, which wasn’t uncommon, but he’d noticed her unusual silence.
“Is everything alright?” He asked and when she didn’t respond she felt the softness of his hand on her wrist as he pulled her aside. “You didn’t sleep well.”
She shook her head, “No… No I did not.”
“Is something troubling you?”
“I… I was just thinking of my mother.” His hand slipped to her own, and she swallowed the lump in her throat. Ignis’s light touches had always been something she craved, but tried to convince herself that she was content with their friendship. The longer their journey went along, the more she wanted to tell him how she felt. How she’d always felt.
“Rowan mentioned… she died protecting King Regis?”
She nodded, “Yes… To the very end she was at his side, despite their efforts to leave the Crownsguard out of it.”
“I’m sorry, Nivalis.”
“I know… You have already helped me once before with her passing,” she smiled lightly, “I was only having some bad dreams.”
“Do you wish to speak of her?”
She shook her head, “it is alright, Ignis. Thank you. This is helping.” She smiled brighter, wanting to say being here with him made everything better. They moved forward until they found the market and she watched as he gathered different herbs and spices. She didn’t know how he was able to figure out all his crazy concoctions, but everything he made was always so delicious.
“Iggy, do you do anything for yourself?” She suddenly asked.
“I beg your pardon?” He seemed startled at her question.
“Well… You are so keen on taking care of us all. Do you ever do anything for yourself? I know you were picked to be Noctis’s advisor really young.”
“Oh…” he was quiet a moment, seemingly struck by her inquiry. “I really do enjoy cooking for all of you. I’m rather fond of it.”
“Really?” She asked as he placed some more spices into the bag she was holding. She could recall a time when they were camping and eating a dish when Prompto had pointed out the lack of mushrooms in her bowl. Noctis had groused that Ignis took out the things that she didn’t like but was content to force him into eating vegetables. She was somewhat of a picky eater herself, but she always liked to try new things. Prompto had made a comment and Ignis had stayed silent on the matter, seemingly flustered and without a witty comeback until Gladio had chastised them both and told them to continue eating.
“I do. I rather enjoy the look on your face—ah your faces, when I make something to all of your liking.”
“You pick out things I do not like from mine…” She spoke quietly and he bore that startled look again and finally moved to push his glasses up.
“I uh, well yes… You don’t complain about them like Noct does, but I’ve seen the way your nose turns up at the sight of mushrooms and tomatoes… I wanted to take them out for you. However, you enjoy other things likes squash and zucchini so I know you’re receiving a balanced diet more than Noct is.”
She began to laugh, “Ignis, you do not have to worry about me so much. You should worry about yourself some too. Be selfish for a change.” She was looking at some trinkets when she glanced back seeing the conflicted look upon his face. “Oh, Iggy, I did not mean to—”
“Nivalis, would you like to take a walk through the city with me? Perhaps… a ride on the gondola through the harbour?”
“R-really?” She stammered, suddenly nervous.
“Yes, it is something that I wish to do. With you. We can drop off the supplies at the Leville. The others won’t notice our absence for quite some time, I’m sure.”
“Yes, I would like that very much.” She said and they made their way back to the Leville to drop off their bounty at the front desk, hurrying along in case any of the guys had come around. He led her over towards the gondola handing over some gil to the driver and helped her step inside the small boat. She sat next to him in the back and the driver shoved them off.
“This city is so beautiful.” She remarked. “I have always wanted to come here.” They watched as the water opened up to them, heading closer to the harbour, boats with the backdrop of mountainsides and waterfalls in their line of vision. She always thought Altissia looked like something straight out of a fairytale. The pictures she’d seen never did this place justice.
“As I recall, you were always looking at some sort of travel magazine in your spare time; if I indeed recall correctly that is.”
Smiling she leaned back, finding his arm resting on the seat behind her. He tensed for a moment, but when she relaxed into his side he relaxed as well.
“Yes, I was. I love Insomnia, but I have always dreamed of the day I would get to explore.”
“It has been rather nice. Despite having to corral everyone in the morning, even camping has proven to be a decent experience.”
“I would not survive camping if not for your cooking.”
“I’m rather… Pleased to hear you say you enjoy it, Val.” She saw him smiling ever so softly and then looked back towards the city. The lines of buildings over the water was incredible, more mountains in the backdrop, nearly completely surrounding them. “Shall we ride some more? Or shall we get off at the next stop and acquire those pastries you were eyeing yesterday?”
“Oh no, you saw me drooling over those, didn’t you?” She put her hands to her face, trying to ward off the warmth in her cheeks that was creeping there as a result of him catching her.
“Yes,” he chuckled, “you have quite the fondness for sweets.”
“Guilty. I rather like those desserts you make for Noctis. Each time I think they are the best I have ever had, but you manage to make them better the next time you make them.”
“I make them now more for you considering the dessert he really had back in Tenebrae was a cake,” he uttered shaking his head about Noctis’s Tenebrae cake disaster. Before she could even think to respond about him making the pastries for her now, the gondola driver had docked at the station and was thanking them for their time. Ignis got up quickly and offered her his hand to help her out the boat. “They should be right over here.” She followed after him, settling in by his side when her hand brushed against his.
She didn’t know how it happened, but his fingers found hers, and he was holding her hand in his. They let it happen, neither one trying to draw attention to this little moment. She was afraid if she said something she’d ruin whatever this was. “Two please.” She looked up seeing that they were at the little pastry cart and Ignis had ordered them two cakes. He’d ordered the chocolate and vanilla crème cake, one for each of them.
“Do you have ebony coffee?” She quickly piped up and the clerk nodded. “One of those and a hot chocolate, please.” She saw the pleased smile on his face and she grabbed the bag of pastries with her free hand while he gathered the drink caddy with his. They found a spot to sit, reluctantly untangling their hands and she watched him take a sip of his coffee. “Is it good?” She asked.
“Mm, yes. They have a very good blend of it here it seems.” He said as he set a cake in front of her. “I don’t have a particular taste for desserts so early in the morning, but I shall make an exception this time.”
She took a bite of hers and nearly melted, and she saw his look of approval when he tried his. “Thank you, Ignis… It is easy to forget what must be done when we share moments like these.” She felt his fingers slip into her palm, so natural, and she squeezed his hand back.
“I easily forget our troubles when I’m alone with you, Nivalis.”
She couldn’t take it anymore, the moment was just too right and she found it easily coming out, “Ignis, I have always—”
“Hey, you two!” She immediately let go of Ignis’s hand when she heard Gladio’s voice. “You two sneaking off to have treats without the rest of us? Our lovely Prince won’t be too happy to hear about that.”
Ignis as poised and calm as ever straightened in his seat. “Well, our dearest companions were asleep and you had gone for a run. We went to procure some supplies and decided to have some delightful baked delicacies.”
“Ah, these were the cakes that Nivi was eyeing yesterday.” Gladio said as he pulled up a chair to their table.
“Here, have a bite.” She offered her plate to him and he took a piece. “Good, right?”
“Yea, that’s some good stuff! You gonna eat all yours?” He turned his attention to Ignis and he actually shook his head no.
“I shall be eating all of this. If you’d like one, the pastry cart is right over there.” He took another bite.
“Aw, Specs, you’re no fun.” He groused.
When they had finished they all began to find their way back towards the Leville, figuring that those two should be awake at this point and if not they needed to be woken. Gladio traveled in front of them, and she couldn’t stop thinking about what she was about to say to Iggy. Did he know what she was going to say? Did he have a feeling? He was always really good at reading people, but she hadn’t gotten it all out.
She looked to him, and he gave her a smile that melted her heart all over again. “Thank you, Iggy.”
“No, thank you for a lovely morning, Nivalis.” He said quietly.
“What’re you two going on about back there?” Gladio piped up.
“I assure you, it’s none of your concern,” Ignis replied, and she felt his hand in hers for but a moment, with a quick squeeze. It set her heart beating a mile a minute. Maybe he did know. Maybe he even felt the same way she did? But she knew she needed to bury it. There were more important matters to tend to. She found she couldn’t be selfish, no matter how much she had wanted to.