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Fire Heart

Chapter Text

Do you remember? Do you remember the stories I told you of the Infernian and his heart?

Tell me again.

Nine year old Ignis Scientia and seven year old Noctis Lucis Caelum sat cuddled under a blanket on the roof of the Citadel, a book of astronomy open on their laps. Noctis’ eyes were wide as he stared up at the sky, following Ignis’ finger.

“That one there is the Infernian. See him? He strides across the heavens with his great sword,” Ignis said carefully.

Noctis squinted. “Hard to see.”

Ignis nodded, staring up at the faint constellation. “That’s because the Infernian is looking for his heart. The gods turned against him, and his heart was cut from his body and destroyed. He was trapped beneath Ravatogh, dead but never really dying. He was named the Betrayer, even though it was the other gods that turned against him.”

Noctis frowned, dropping his eyes to look at the book in their laps. Many of the words were too big for him to understand, but he had heard the story of Ifrit the Infernian before.

“That’s not what everyone else says,” Noctis said.

Ignis looked down, shoulders hunched. He opened his mouth, closed it. He didn’t know what to say.

Noctis gave him that blinding smile that only he could, and Ignis felt warmth spread through him at the sight. He always felt warm at Noct’s smile.

“I like your version better,” Noctis said firmly. “Point him out again?”

Ignis pressed his shoulder into Noct’s and lifted his hand again, pointing out the faint stars of the Infernian.

FFXV

Ignis never told anyone that fire talked to him. Fire had been his first and oldest friend, a warm companion, a teacher, a disciplinarian. He could touch fire without being burned, use fire magic before being bound to the king and Crystal.

He never told anyone. The fire told him to keep it a secret.

He didn’t remember much of his parents. He knew they had loved him, and nurtured his love of learning. They had died when he was young, in a fire set by the Empire.

He had begged the fire to stop. He tried to control it, but the inferno raged around him.

He had been found in the rubble, completely unburned and crying. His uncle had taken him in, swearing him to silence about what had happened.

The fire told him to keep it a secret, so he did.

He met the prince, Noctis, and felt the same warmth spread through him that he did when he touched fire.

He was home.

FFXV

Ignis held the dagger in a firm grip, darting out of the way as Cor Leonis swung his blade.

“Better,” Cor said. “This time don’t dodge with your whole body. Use the daggers to knock my blade just far enough away that you don’t get hit.”

Ignis nodded, brushing sweat off his forehead. They reset their stance and started the dance again. Ignis fell into an almost trance like state. He swore he could hear Cor’s heart pounding in his breast, but he knew that was impossible.

Cor lunged, katana slashing out towards Ignis. Ignis raised the daggers, parrying the blade. Cor immediately riposted, swinging in closer.

Ignis did a backflip, landing near the edge of the mat. Cor grinned, swinging his blade and running at Ignis.

Ignis stood there, letting him come. He heard dual heartbeats, his and Cor’s, and he didn’t understand. He somehow knew what Cor was going to do before he did it, and Ignis threw his hand up, slipping sideways just enough to let Cor fly by.

Cor spun, and Ignis held a flaming dagger to Cor’s throat.

They froze. Ignis dropped the dagger with a curse, leaping back with wide eyes.

“Forgive me, Marshal,” Ignis said.

Cor rubbed his throat, staring down at the young man. “I didn’t realize you had already started pulling magic from the prince.”

Ignis opened his mouth. How could he tell Cor that he wasn’t pulling magic from the prince, or the king? It was inherently his.

“No matter. We’ll start working with magic then. I’ll bring one of the Glaives in to help train you in magic. I’m not very good at it.”

Ignis breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank you, Marshal.”

Cor patted Ignis on the shoulder and walked out of the training hall. Ignis sank to his knees and pulled the dagger close. Flames erupted along the blade.

“That was a little close, don’t you think?” Ignis muttered.

The Glaives can’t teach you to wield fire. Not the way you need to. I can.

“I know, but people will get suspicious if I show too much aptitude for magic of any kind. That is the purview of royalty.”

Once, all men could wield magic, not just those the Draconian blessed.

“I know,” Ignis whispered again. The flames ran along his wrist, cradling his skin like an old friend. Ignis sighed, watching the flames lick along his skin. It didn’t hurt. It never did. It was a soft warmth, like skin on skin.

The door opened, and the flames went out.

FFXV

Whenever Ignis was alone, he felt cold. Even when he was surrounded by people at events, he felt different from them. He couldn’t name it, but he felt like he was missing something.

You aren’t alone. I am with you, always.

“I know,” Ignis whispered, eyes roving over the crowd. It was Noctis’ sixteenth birthday, and the annual birthday ball was in full swing.

Ignis sipped his drink, watching as Noctis danced with Gladio’s little sister. Iris looked absolutely delighted, while Noctis looked somewhat resigned. At least he knew and generally like Iris; Ignis knew Noct hated dancing with the girls he didn’t know.

Ignis set his drink down and leaned against the wall. He could feel a headache coming on, and he pinched the bridge of his nose.

Leave. I can teach you more of what you must learn.

“I can’t leave,” Ignis hissed. “I have to wait for the prince.”

“Who are you talking to, Iggy?”

Ignis gasped, spinning to face Gladio. The larger teen arched his eyebrow. Ignis looked pale and slightly sweaty.

“You feeling okay? You look like you’re about to pass out,” Gladio said.

Ignis took a deep breath. He could feel the familiar warmth of the fire’s voice at the back of his mind.

“A headache is all. I haven’t been sleeping much,” Ignis said. It was the truth. His nights were spent communing with the flame, his days learning everything he needed to be the best advisor possible to Noctis.

Every hour was spent telling himself he couldn’t love Noctis. It wasn’t proper.

“You need to take care of yourself, Iggy,” Gladio said. “I’d hate to kick your ass in training again.”

Ignis rolled his eyes. “Keep dreaming, Gladiolus.”

Gladio grinned, and they turned to watch the dancers. Noctis finally managed to break free, and he made a beeline for Ignis and Gladio.

Ignis told himself the warmth that spread through him as Noct laid his hand on Ignis’ shoulder meant nothing.

He was only warm with the fire, and Noctis.

FFXV

Mortals have forgotten the truth. Ifrit gave them fire, impressed as he was with their strength and love in their short lives. The Draconian didn’t care for them, doesn’t care for them. He has only ever cared for power.

“What happened to Ifrit?” Ignis whispered, sitting cross legged in the middle of his room, a bowl full of fire before him.

He was adored by the people. He had given them the means to beat back the dark, and he was praised above the other gods. Shiva’s heart of ice was melted by the Infernian, and together they walked the land, and the people loved them for it.

Leviathan didn’t care either way about humans, as long as the Tide Mother had her oceans, she was as happy as she could be. Titan and Ramuh were distant, but let the people love Ifrit and Shiva. The Draconian simmered and raged.

Mortals began to tell stories, that Shiva and Ifrit were the parents of mankind, that they were made in their image. Offerings were made to them, and many times when people fell in love they begged the Glacian and the Infernian for their blessings, for they said that the Infernian also gave them the flame of desire that turned to love.

The two gods were glad to give their blessings to the mortals.

Ignis cradled the fire in his hands. His heart pounded. He half didn’t want to know how this story ending.

He somehow knew how it ended.

The Draconian grew jealous of the love the people showed Ifrit, as he had once grown jealous of Etro. He held that he was the most powerful of the Astrals, the Ifrit had stolen his power and the adoration that was his due. He believed that Ifrit had stolen Shiva from him as well, even though the Glacian had never been in a relationship with the Draconian. He wanted what Ifrit had, and would do anything to take it.

Mortals began to dream. They dreamed of raging infernos and Ifrit dragging their loved ones to a dark realm where no light survived. They began to whisper. The Infernian was no benevolent god, they said, but a dark god who would destroy them all. They turned against him, and the Draconian laughed.

The mortals who had once so loved Ifrit turned on him, destroying the shrines they had built to honor him. They turned to the Draconian, begging for his help. Of course, the Draconian was more than happy to help them destroy the Infernian.

They fought, fire and aether coursing across the heavens. The battle lasted for centuries, or so it seemed. The Draconian convinced Shiva to turn against Ifrit, and in his sorrow, Ifrit was thrown down to Ravatogh.

Ignis moaned, stomach turning. He had nightmares of that mountain, of falling, of being trapped in a dark tomb for eternity, of a bone crushing, soul killing loneliness.

The fire’s voice was soft, knowing Ignis’ pain.

The Draconian tore Ifrit asunder, trapping him in the bowels of the mountain. He tore Ifrit’s heart from his body and destroyed it, scattering the remnants to the wind. Ifrit became known as the Betrayer, even though it was not he who did the betraying. The gods stepped back after their great war, leaving the mortals to their own devices.

For a time.

The Astral war had unforeseen consequences. Daemons appeared, and people attributed them to Ifrit. The Draconian blessed a man, a king, with a great Crystal. The king was chosen. He was to rid the world of the Starscourge, brought upon mankind by the Infernian.

Until the Draconian grew bored with his Chosen King, and refused him death.

“Don’t tell me this,” Ignis whispered. “Please.”

I am sorry. You know what is coming.

“Bahamut can’t have him. Not him. Anyone but him,” Ignis sobbed.

The fire was silent, crawling up Ignis’ arm to cradle his face.

What would you give to change his fate?

Ignis looked into the flame, his green eyes blazing.

“Anything.”

The fire engulfed his body, and it sang with joy.

FFXV

The first time Ignis and Noctis kissed, Ignis finally knew what it felt like to be on fire. He had never felt such heat and desire race through his veins, even when he was fully engulfed by his friend the fire.

Ignis had cried with the perfection of it, of Noctis. He only ever felt whole with Noctis, when Noctis touched him, smiled at him. And now he knew what it felt like to be kissed by him, and he would never be whole without it again.

They kept their relationship quiet. Ignis knew it was improper, but he didn’t—couldn’t—care. Noctis had been his home from the moment they had met, and now Ignis couldn’t imagine a world without him.

“I’m going to have to get married one day,” Noctis said, staring at their entwined hands.

Ignis’ hand spasmed in his. “I know.”

Noctis swallowed and looked at him. “Will you stay with me, even then?”

Ignis tilted Noctis’ head back and looked into those blue eyes. “Noctis, I will never leave you. Nothing could tear me away from you.”

“Promise?” Noctis whispered, eyes swimming with tears.

“I swear it,” Ignis said, sealing his promise with a kiss.

Ignis felt the warmth of Noct’s kiss surround him, and he surrendered himself to the flame of desire.

FFXV

Noctis turned twenty, and the world changed again. Word of the treaty came down, and Ignis mourned. Noctis was to be married to Lunafreya to bring peace to the realm.

Ignis fell to his knees before the fire, heart wrenching cries escaping his throat.

You knew this day would come.

“It doesn’t make it any easier,” Ignis gasped, reaching for the flame. The fire leapt and danced along his body. “It feels like a piece of me has been torn away, and it hasn’t even happened yet.”

You know the marriage to Lunafreya will not be what takes him from you.

“Shut up!”

You have been privy to the council meetings. You know that the Starscourge is rising again. The gods are being killed. Shiva is already dead. The Accursed one walks, and he raised Ifrit from beneath Ravatogh.

Ignis froze, eyes wide. “What do you mean? Ifrit is back?”

The fire was silent for a moment. Not as he was. He has been corrupted by millennia alone, and by the Starscourge that was used to reanimate him. Remember, the Draconian tore his body apart. He was stitched back together with darkness and hate. He no longer has a heart. The Draconian destroyed that long ago.

Ignis wiped his eyes. “How do you know?”

He calls to me, begging me to return. It is hard not to answer his call.

“Don’t leave me, please,” Ignis whispered, cradling the fire in his hands. It caressed his cheek.

I cannot leave you, Ignis. You and I are one and the same.

Ignis didn’t reply. He didn’t know how to reply. There was nothing he could say.

FFXV

Whenever Ignis trained, he realized he could hear the heartbeat of the others he was training against, his opponents. He didn’t understand, but he found that he could usually anticipate their actions.

Mortals burn with an internal fire. It runs through their veins, and it calls to you. Listen to what it says, not just in battle, but all the time.

Ignis would stand in the Citadel, eyes closed, and listen to the people going about their day. It was unnerving, and he didn’t like it.

He could recognize Noctis’ heartbeat anywhere, and he cried the day he realized he could hear Regis’ heart failing.

He excelled in his training, eventually taking Cor Leonis down.

He trained until he collapsed from exhaustion. He had to be perfect. He had to protect Noctis.

FFXV

“Ignis!” Regis called. Ignis stopped, turning to face the king. They were leaving Insomnia the next day.

“Your majesty,” Ignis said, bowing slightly.

Regis sent his retainers on, leaving them standing alone in the sun drenched hall.

Regis put his hand on Ignis’ shoulder. “Sit with me for a moment?”

“Of course,” Ignis said, and they walked to a nearby couch and sat.

“I am sorry I wasn’t able to see Noct today,” Regis said, staring out the window.

Ignis hummed, not sure what the king wanted to hear.

“You leave tomorrow morning. Are you prepared?”

“As much as we can be, your majesty,” Ignis said.

“Good. Ignis, you have always watched over Noct. I ask that you continue to do so. Be there for him. What comes will not be easy on him, or you.”

“Yes, majesty,” Ignis said quietly.

Regis tilted Ignis’ head so he could look Ignis in the eye. “I leave him to you, Ignis. Burn any who would harm him.”

Ignis’ eyes widened. Regis leaned over and pressed a kiss against Ignis’ forehead.

“Walk tall, Ignis, and Godspeed.”

Regis stood up, leaving Ignis staring after him in shock.

Regis knew. There was no other explanation for what he had said.

Ignis sat there until his phone rang. It was Gladio, asking where he was.

He stood up, and went through the rest of the day in a daze.

FFXV

The next day they stood before the king and said their farewells.

Ignis stood behind and to the side of Noctis. His eyes flicked to Drautos and he frowned. Drautos’ heart beat with excitement. He was looking forward to the delegation from the Empire.

Ignis glanced at Regis, wondering if he should say something. Regis looked utterly resigned.

He sends his son away for safety. He knows what is coming.

Ignis sucked in a startled breath when Regis looked right at him as Noct got in the car. Regis bowed his head to Ignis.

Ignis stared in shock for a moment, then bowed lower in return. He lifted his head, nodding to the king.

He got in the car, eyes flicking to the prince.

“Ready to head out?”

“As ready as I’ll ever be.”

“Just think, Noct,” Prompto said, looking back at the prince, “when you come back, you’ll be married!”

“Hmmm,” Noct replied.

Ignis clenched the wheel of the Regalia as he drove away from the Citadel. He glanced in the rearview mirror, watching the Citadel shrink.

He dropped one hand into his lap, and felt the fire burst to life in his palm.

Be ready.

Ignis listened to others talk, and with every passing mile his heart sank.

FFXV

The city had fallen. The king was dead.

They stood on the overlook, staring at the smoking city in the distance. Massive ships flew overhead, heading straight for the city.

So, it begins.

“Shut up,” Ignis hissed. He couldn’t deal with the fire’s muttering.

“Noct,” he started, watching his prince after he got off the phone with Cor.

“Cor’s at Hammerhead. Let’s go,” Noctis said shortly.

Ignis sighed, resting his hand on Noct’s lower back and leading him slowly back to the car.

Ignis felt cold, and even touching Noctis couldn’t warm him.

He could only remember Regis telling him to burn any who would harm Noctis, and he knew that the king had expected to die.

Ignis drove back to Hammerhead in silence, fearing he would never be warm again.

FFXV

Their mission changed. They started gathering the Royal Arms, and Noctis would do good deed missions for anyone they came across in need.

Gladio raged at the delay. Prompto supported the prince. Ignis tried to get warm.

Noctis hadn’t touched Ignis since the fall; hadn’t kissed him, held his hand, smiled at him.

Ignis stared at the man before them. Ardyn Izunia. He made the hair on the back of his neck rise.

Do not trust him. He is Accursed.

Ignis frowned. He couldn’t ask the fire with everyone talking. What did Accursed even mean?

Ardyn’s eyes met his, and Ignis felt the fire rise in him, a raging hatred that he had no explanation for.

Ardyn stepped forward, pushing past Noctis and staring intently at Ignis. He grabbed Ignis by the chin and tilted his head back, staring into his eyes.

“Your eyes burn with such fire,” Ardyn whispered, “such hatred. And we’ve only just met.”

Ignis growled. Ardyn’s lips twisted in a sardonic smile.

“I have only seen a shade of that fire once before,” Ardyn whispered in Ignis’ ear. “Do they know what you are?”

Noctis shoved Ardyn back. “Don’t touch him again,” Noctis snarled. “I’ll follow you. Get in your car and let’s go.”

Noctis spun and walked to the Regalia, Prompto scrambling after him. Gladio waited for Ignis, watching Ardyn with open hostility.

Ignis couldn’t tear his eyes away from Ardyn. What had he meant by that?

“Iggy, let’s go,” Gladio said, gently taking Ignis’ arm and steering him away.

Ardyn smiled at Ignis’ back, sweeping his hat off his head in a mocking bow.

FFXV

The closer they got to Titan, the worst Ignis felt. It wasn’t the headaches, like Noctis. It was Ardyn’s words chasing each other through his mind.

Do they know what you are?

He was a man. Just a man.

They stopped for the night, and Ignis walked to the back of the gas station. He slid down the wall, pinching the bridge of his nose.

“What did he mean?” Ignis whispered.

The fire was silent.

“Talking to yourself?” Ignis leapt to his feet, flaming daggers in hand as he stared at Ardyn.

Ardyn smiled, leaning against the tree.

“You don’t know, do you? How utterly delightful,” Ardyn said with a laugh. “Tell me, Ignis Scientia, how often does fire leap to your hands before anything else? How often do you want to burn everything simply because you can?”

Ignis sent his daggers away. He turned on his heel and walked away.

Ardyn’s voice trailed after him. “You can’t run from this, my boy! It’ll catch up to you eventually.”

Ignis walked around the corner and ran straight into Noctis.

“Noct!”

“Ignis. Is that creep bothering you?”

“Ah, nothing I can’t handle,” Ignis said. He felt wired, felt like molten fire was raging beneath his veins.

Noctis snorted, and took Ignis’ hand. Ignis felt like he was going to combust.

“Noct!” he whispered, voice cracking with emotion.

Noctis turned to look at him. “Come with me.” He led Ignis to the car. “Gladio and Prompto are going to stay and watch over the Chancellor. There’s a nearby haven. We’re going there.”

Ignis sat in the passenger seat as Noctis drove the short distance up the road. True to his word, the soft glow of the haven was just off the road. They walked there, Noctis never letting go of Ignis’ hand.

Noct tossed their sleeping bags onto the haven, then pushed Ignis back.

Noctis cuddled against him, staring up at the stars. “Look, the Infernian is rising,” Noctis said, pointing at the horizon where the faint constellation was indeed climbing into the sky.

Ignis felt his stomach tighten at the words, and he didn’t know why.

“It’s still my favorite constellation, you know?” Noctis said, head resting on Ignis’ chest. “And the story you told me about him. I think about it a lot.”

Ignis opened his mouth, but Noctis silenced him with a kiss.

Fire twisted through their veins, and they surrendered to desire, combusting together.

FFXV

They faced Titan. They stood before him and fought him.

It was hot, but the heat didn’t bother Ignis. He fretted while he and Prompto were separated from Noctis and Gladio, only relaxing when the four of them were finally together.

When he was with Noctis again.

Noctis tried to reason with the Archean, but he kept lashing out at them. The Empire flew in, and started to restrain him.

Titan looked straight at Ignis and said something in the language of the Astrals.

Ignis swore he almost understood it.

They threw Blizzard spells, the ice burning Ignis’ hand through his glove.

Titan submitted, bowing to Noctis. The Archean and the meteorite disappeared.

They stumbled away. The Regalia was gone.

Ignis tried not to think about the Landforger. He tried not to think of those strange words the Archean had said to him.

The fire remained silent, burning inside him just a little hotter.

FFXV

They met Gentiana at Wiz’s Chocobo Post, and she sent them to gain the blessing of the Fulgurian.

Ignis trailed behind the others as they set off on foot, the Regalia still in the hands of the Empire. He turned, eyes widening as Gentiana neared him.

She smiled, her eyes closed.

She pressed her hand against his chest, right over his heart.

He opened his mouth, but she disappeared.

“Iggy! Let’s go!” Prompto yelled.

The rain kept pouring down, flattening their hair. Ignis stared at the spot the High Messenger of the Gods had stood, and he turned and ran after his friends.

FFXV

Ramuh agreed far more readily to the covenant with Noctis than Titan. Ignis couldn’t shake the way Ramuh had stared past Noctis and looked at him.

The storm abated the moment the covenant was forged, and when they came out of the caves, Cindy called them. She gave them the location of the Regalia.

They called their chocobos and mounted up. They rode hard, their feathered mounts breathing hard beneath them.

“What is that?” Prompto asked, pointing up.

“A base,” Ignis said, shielding his eyes.

“We’re going to take it down, right?” Gladio asked.

“Hell yeah,” Noctis said.

“We will need a plan,” Ignis said, “there’s a nearby haven. Let’s stop there and make a plan of attack.”

“That’s our Iggy,” Noctis said, smiling at him. “I was starting to think you weren’t there anymore.”

Ignis frowned at him as they reached the haven. “What does that mean, Noctis?”

“You’ve been different, lately,” Noct said, swinging off his chocobo and dropping to the haven. Ignis joined him, staring at Noctis.

“What do you mean?” Ignis asked softly, his heart pounding.

Noctis tilted his head, looking up at Ignis. “I’m not sure. Ever since we left the city, you’ve been…different. I can’t put my finger on it.”

Ignis swallowed. “I’m still me. I’m just Ignis.”

Noctis smiled at him and pulled him down for a heartfelt kiss. “You’ve always been more than ‘just Ignis’ to me.”

Ignis felt like he was burning, fire surging through his body. He cupped Noctis’ face, returning the kiss gently.

“Hey! You two wanna help set up camp, or just keep sucking face?” Gladio asked.

Noctis laughed, kissing Ignis one more time. He went to help Gladio, leaving Ignis standing alone, invisible fire burning in his palms.

FFXV

They infiltrated the base, silently taking down every Magitek trooper that stood in their way.

Ignis fell behind the others, watching Noctis’ back.

He didn’t like fighting the Magitek troopers. They didn’t have a heartbeat. They didn’t feel right.

He found himself alone, and surrounded. They leveled their guns at him, and he considered calling for help.

Use me. Use the fire.

Ignis summoned his daggers, flames dancing down their blades. He lunged, slicing through one, then another. He fell into a trance, listening to the song in his chest.

Gladio ran around the corner, staring in shock as the last Magitek trooper fell to the ground, sparking.

“Shit, Ignis. You okay?”

Ignis stared at the carnage around him. “Fine,” he whispered, sending his daggers away.

Gladio stepped over the ash covered parts on the ground. He swallowed. “Remind me never to piss you off.”

Ignis smiled wanly. “Let’s go.”

Gladio followed him, wondering at the heat rolling off Ignis’ body.

FFXV

They went back to Lestallum, only to be faced with the fragility of their lives. Jared was dead, killed before his own grandson. Iris held Gladio and sobbed, and Gladio held both her and Talcott in his arms.

Ignis watched as Noctis knelt before Talcott, promising revenge.

Ignis went to speak to Holly.

“The damn Nifs didn’t kill many, but they dragged that poor old man into the square and executed him in front of everyone. They were asking for the prince,” she said.

Ignis nodded, eyes hooded. “And his body?” he asked quietly.

“We managed to get him away from them. He’s in this apartment,” she gave him a slip of paper with an address on it.

“We thank you,” Ignis said. They said their farewells, and he went to retrieve Jared’s body. He had been cleaned and wrapped in a black cloth. Fifteen others were stacked next to him.

That night, Lestallum built a pyre for the dead, and Ignis lit it, commending their souls to the beyond.

FFXV

They travelled with Iris, heading for Cape Caem. It was cramped in the car, but they managed, reaching Caem after a number of days to be hit with a startling blow.

Gladio was leaving. He had some things to figure out.

Noctis let him go. Prompto tried to remain cheerful, but they all felt Gladio’s absence.

Ignis burned with an unexpected fury.

Gladio had left them, had left Noctis.

They went to the Vesperpool, the Regalia much roomier without the Shield.

Ignis was less than thrilled to see Ardyn Izunia waiting for them. Ardyn watched him with a strange intensity, a different intensity than he watched Noctis with.

It was unnerving. Ignis didn’t like the man.

They met Aranea officially, and she led them into the dungeon. She fought well, and Ignis found that he actually enjoyed her company.

They got the mythril they needed, killing what seemed to be a small dragon. The return journey was quiet. They were exhausted and filthy. Aranea took them back to Lestallum, where they met up with Gladio.

Gladio had new scars, and a new sword, and his heart beat with renewed vigor.

They returned to Caem, and then they went to Altissia.

FFXV

Altissia was a disaster.

Ignis hadn’t wanted to be separated from his prince, but they’d had no choice. Leviathan was summoned, and the fire within him churned.

He lost Gladio and Prompto in the chaos of the city. He had to get to Noctis.

He gained an unexpected, if untrusted, ally in Ravus Nox Fleuret.

He saw strange visions; Noctis pinned to the throne, fighting Ardyn. He knew it was the future, it was Noctis’ destiny.

He and Ravus continued to fight.

It went marginally well until they reached the altar.

Lunafreya was dead. Ravus tried to kill Noctis, and Ignis fought back, raging against him.

Ignis lost track of everything but Noctis. He fought to protect him, the fire raging.

Gladio walked up to him, staring at Ravus.

It’s not him! The fire cried, twisting through Ignis’ body.

Gladio’s form twisted in Ardyn’s, and Ignis found himself forced to watch as Ardyn threatened to kill Noctis.

He listened in horror as Ardyn revealed his true identity, the fire whispering through his mind.

Accursed one, once Chosen, then denied.

Ardyn Lucis Caelum, the true founder king.

Ignis’ eyes moved towards Noctis, his body still being held down.

The Ring of the Lucii rested near his hand.

Ignis knew it was foolish. Ignis knew he had no chance, no choice.

He slammed the ring onto his finger.

FFXV

Ignis was in a strange place, and he was terrified. He looked up into the eyes of the Draconian.

“You think to undo all that I have done?” The Draconian bellowed at him.

Ignis stepped back. “I don’t know what you mean!”

The Draconian roared, and Ignis screamed his defiance back.

Ignis felt the ring, heavy on his finger.

“Kings of old, please,” Ignis whispered, “help me save Noctis.”

The ring burned.

Bahamut lifted his hand and threw his power at Ignis. Ignis clutched his face, screaming in agony.

Fire pushed from Ignis’ body, striking back at the Draconian.

It wasn’t enough.

Ignis thought he heard the voice of Regis, and then nothing.

FFXV

Ardyn watched with interest as purple fire raced up Ignis’ body. It was Bahamut’s fire. Ardyn had seen it before. He had been subjected to his fire before.

“Well, dead before you get the chance to discover the truth. Pity.”

Ignis stopped screaming and stared at Ardyn through flame filled eyes.

“You will not harm Noctis.”

“Interesting,” Ardyn said.

They fought, and Ardyn could see that at least one of the old kings had defended the boy from Bahamut’s rage.

He had no chance against Ardyn, not like this.

He now knew what it felt like to be caught in a conflagration. The fire couldn’t protect him.

He thought he heard it scream. He thought he heard Bahamut laugh. A searing pain tore through him and he screamed. He felt as if a part of him was missing.

Ardyn walked away.

Ignis fell next to Noctis, the Ring of the Lucii rolling between them.

“Forgive me.”

The fire was gone.

FFXV

Ignis felt frozen inside. Noctis had been unconscious for days, and the fire was gone. He couldn’t feel it inside him anymore.

He couldn’t see, and he hurt in ways he never had before.

He could feel scars over his body; his left eye, spiraling up from the finger that had housed the ring, over his heart. He couldn’t see, and it scared him.

He felt alone, trapped in a sea of darkness, and he was terrified.

Noctis woke, and Ignis nearly begged him to stop this journey, to leave humanity to its fate.

Noctis refused, and Ignis fought back tears. He would stay with him no matter what.

If Noctis let him.

What use did the Chosen King have for a blind man who couldn’t access his magic?

None.

FFXV

They rode the train to Cartanica, hitting the breaking point hours before reaching the station.

Ignis listened to them fight, listened to Gladio berate Noctis unfairly, listened to Prompto sniffle quietly next to him.

He missed the fire. It had been his constant companion, and somehow Bahamut had done something to him, had torn it away from him.

He didn’t understand what had happened when he put the ring on. What had Bahamut meant? Had he really heard Regis’ voice?

He was terrified that Noctis was going to leave him behind on the surface, but Noctis took his hand and squeezed, leading him to the elevator.

They went down into the mines.

Prompto remained next to Ignis, and Ignis realized how much he had come to rely on the fire and his ability to hear heartbeats.

Being without the fire was worse than being blind.

There were fights, and Ignis was worse than useless. He stumbled and fell and blundered straight into packs of creatures, only to have to have one of the others pull him out.

Gladio continued to yell at Noctis, and Ignis wanted to strike him. Couldn’t he see Noct was hurting?

They decided to camp at the lone haven in the mines, and it was a tense, unpleasant night. No one slept.

The next morning, a light rain misted from the sky. Ignis retreated deeper into his jacket, colder than he’d ever been in his life.

He thought he felt the fire twist briefly when Noctis touched him, but it was so quick and fleeting Ignis knew he was just imagining things.

They reached the tomb, and the fight was on.

Ignis huddled to the side, where Gladio had half thrown him to get him out of the way. He raged and screamed internally.

He just wanted to help! He wanted—needed—to protect Noctis.

He dropped his head, blocking out all the sounds raging around him, the smell permeating the swamp, the pain that shot through him every beat of his heart.

“Please,” he whispered, “I have never asked for much, but please, come back. I cannot protect him without you.”

He felt it, deep within him, twisting and flaring like a flame about to gutter out.

He clutched at it, half sobbing. “Please!”

I am here! Use me!

Ignis let out a scream, and he felt the fire surge through him. Sound rushed back to him; not only the sounds of the fight and the swamp, but his companions’ frantic heartbeats. He could almost see them—bright spots in a sea of darkness.

He could feel the thing they were fighting, and he thrust his hand out to it. He heard a terrible shriek as the thing was torn apart by fire, and Ignis staggered sideways.

“Iggy, you did it!” Prompto yelled, helping Ignis stand.

Ignis leaned against Prompto, breathing hard. Noctis squeezed Ignis’ hand and retrieved the katana.

Ignis told them off for bickering, and asked to remain with them until the end.

They returned to the surface in silence.

The fire beat in Ignis’ chest.

I’m here. I’m here. I’m here.

FFXV

Ignis sat alone in the sleeping compartment, cradling a flame to his chest.

“I thought you were gone.”

I nearly was. The Draconian tried to tear me away from you.

“Why? What have I done to deserve the rage of the Draconian?”

Nothing, dear one. The Draconian is a jealous god, and he does not share power well. He tried to destroy us, but I am a part of you. I simply had to find my way back to you.

Ignis was silent. “I am afraid of what is to come. I fear losing Noctis will destroy me.”

The fire didn’t reply; it simply curled around his hand.

I will not leave you again. Even the Draconian cannot part us.

The compartment door opened, and Ignis snuffed the flame.

Noctis sat beside him in silence. Ignis reached for him timidly, and Noctis took his hand.

They held each other as the train rolled down the tracks, and Noctis wondered at the changes that were taking place with Ignis.

FFXV

Prompto was gone, Tenebrae was in flames, and they continued towards Gralea.

Ardyn teased and taunted them, trying to drive them to despair.

They escaped the train in the Regalia, driving straight into utter chaos.

The Regalia was destroyed, finally beaten but having served her master well.

They continued on, until Ardyn separated them.

Ignis and Gladio had to follow his voice through the maze of Zegnautus Keep, Ignis’ hand fisted in the back of Gladio’s shirt.

He could feel the daemons in the city; a strange fire burned within them.

“We’re never going to find Noctis,” Gladio cursed, kicking out at the wall.

Ignis took a deep breath. Noctis.

Noctis.

“This way,” Ignis said after a moment, using his cane to feel his way.

“Hey wait!” Gladio called, hurrying after him. “Where are you going?”

“I can hear him, Noct’s voice,” Ignis said firmly.

Gladio stared at Ignis’ back, practically jogging to keep up with him.

Ignis couldn’t hear his voice, but he could hear Noctis’ heartbeat, the fire burning in the king’s chest that was unique to him.

Ignis would be able to find Noctis anywhere.

FFXV

The four of them were together again, and it felt right.

The closer they got to the Crystal, the worst Ignis felt. He didn’t know why. He remembered the few times he had been near the Crystal in the Citadel. He had gotten ill the first time, and every time after that he had suffered a migraine that lasted days.

It was far worse now.

I cannot shield you from the Crystal’s power. It is the Draconian’s, and far too powerful.

Ignis nodded. He understood. His feet dragged, his eyes hurt. He concentrated on the heartbeats of those around him.

Noctis’ beat with determination, a fire burning inside his heart for what was to come. Gladio’s beat with resignation. He would do whatever it took to protect Noctis. Prompto’s beat with renewed vigor for his friends. They hadn’t turned away from him upon learning the truth.

Ardyn’s voice cut through Ignis’ mind. He felt something familiar, something newly tainted, coming closer.

“Ravus?” Noctis asked.

“What happened to him?” Prompto said in horror.

“He’s turning into a daemon,” Gladio muttered.

“Oh. That poor man,” Ignis whispered. They hadn’t gotten along terribly well, but no one deserved Ravus’ fate.

They fought, and Ignis realized again that he could almost see.

My gift. You can see the fire that lights mortals’ souls.

“Thank you,” Ignis whispered as Noctis delivered the fatal blow to Ravus.

“His body is still turning!” Prompto said in horror.

Ignis knelt carefully next to Ravus’ corpse and held his hand out over him.

“May you find peace in the flame, and live in eternal joy in the beyond,” Ignis whispered. His hand flared with white hot flames and Ravus’ body went up in fire.

Ignis stepped back, basking in the heat.

“What was that?” Noctis asked, staring at Ignis.

“A prayer for him. As Gladio said, a sad end for him,” Ignis said.

Noctis frowned, eyes drawn back to the fire. Ignis felt different, and he couldn’t pin it down.

The daemons appeared, and Ignis sent Noctis ahead.

“You have to get to the Crystal. It could be the only way to bring back the dawn,” Ignis said.

“Go, Noct!” Prompto yelled, shooting a daemon. “We’ll meet you there!”

“Yeah,” Gladio grunted, swinging his Greatsword. “Do what you gotta do.”

Noctis stared at Ignis, convinced that Ignis could almost see him.

“Go!” Ignis yelled, fire encasing his daggers.

Noctis ran, straight into the arms of the Draconian.

FFXV

Noctis was gone, and the sun slowly disappeared behind a shroud.

They didn’t spend time together. Noctis had been the glue that held the three of them together and without him, they couldn’t be around each other.

It was too painful.

Gladio became a well-known hunter, training with glaives that had appeared out of nowhere. Prompto stayed in Leide, helping Cindy keep Hammerhead as the last safe outpost in the desert.

Ignis lived alone at Galdin Quay. He told others that he fished, and he did, but mostly, he trained.

The fire taught him many secrets. He learned to see with the fire that dwelled in peoples’ breast. He learned to fight the daemons, and the corrupted fire within them.

He waited for Noctis to return, his only companion the fire.

And darkness.

FFXV

Ten years after Noctis disappeared into the Crystal, he came back.

Ignis knew the moment it happened. He felt the fire in his own chest burn hotter, and he nearly sobbed in relief, and terror.

He knew what was coming.

Noctis came to Hammerhead, and the moment he laid his hand on Ignis’ shoulder, Ignis was home.

Yet he mourned.

Noctis had come to Ignis that night, stepping up to him and kissing him hard. They fell into bed, desperation leading their actions.

They wore their formal Glaive uniforms as they left for the city. They didn’t tell Noctis how they hadn’t been together during the ten years.

They walked slowly to Insomnia, stopping at the overlook where they had once watched the city fall.

Noctis told them he went to his death.

Ignis sat there, tears rolling from his ruined eyes.

Chosen King. The Draconian has convinced him death is the only way. Sacrifice, yet another pawn in the Draconian’s game.

Ignis clenched his fist. It wasn’t fair. Noctis deserved to live.

Noctis deserved the world.

Ignis would burn Eos to ashes if the Draconian won.

FFXV

They walked through the city, their home. Daemons stalked the streets, windows were broken, entire buildings destroyed in the aftermath of the fall.

They felled a massive behemoth, stopping before the Citadel gates.

“This is it,” Gladio said quietly, looking up at the darkened palace.

“We’re home,” Prompto said.

“Finally,” Ignis whispered.

“It’s nearly finished,” Noctis said, and he opened the gate.

FFXV

Ardyn waited for them on the steps of Citadel, watching them with a smirk. He bowed in a mocking welcome.

“Ifrit, the Infernian,” Ardyn said.

Ignis’ head snapped up, nostrils flaring. The fire moaned in his mind.

“He doesn’t share the Glacian’s fondness for mankind, but you can expect a warm welcome,” Ardyn said.

Remember, he is not the Infernian of old. The moment the Draconian tore out his heart he was rendered incomplete. The Accursed raised him with the Starscourge. He is a daemon.

Ifrit appeared in a shimmer of heat, sitting upon a flaming throne.

“Uh, he looks pissed,” Prompto whispered.

Ignis could see him, a corrupted heat, an empty heart.

Ardyn smirked, staring at Ifrit. “Burn them.”

Ifrit looked at the four men below him, his eyes drawn to Ignis.

They stared at each other.

Ifrit stood up.

“Get ready,” Noctis said. “He’s going to bring the heat.”

Ignis stepped forward, gently shouldering Gladio out of the way.

“Iggy?” Gladio asked.

Ignis ignored them, focused only on the raging inferno of Ifrit.

Ardyn watched, a frown marring his face.

Ifrit knelt before Ignis, bringing his face down to his level.

No one moved. No one could tear their eyes away from Ignis and Ifrit.

“No,” Ardyn whispered.

“Ignis?” Noctis asked.

Ifrit held his hand out to Ignis.

Ignis lifted his hand, resting it lightly on Ifrit’s fingers.

The moment they touched, they were engulfed by a pillar of fire.

Noctis screamed. Gladio grabbed him around the waist, dragging him back. Prompto clung to Gladio’s jacket, covering his mouth as the inferno raged.

Ardyn stumbled back, shielding his face from the heat.

The fire abruptly disappeared.

Ignis and Ifrit were gone, a ring of ash left on the ground.

FFXV

Ignis and Ifrit drifted through the stars, the past flashing before them.

Do you understand, Ignis?

“You are the Infernian’s flame,” Ignis whispered to the fire.

Yes.

Ignis stared at the stars, heart slamming beneath his breast.

Let me tell you a story, Ignis. One I should’ve told you long ago.

The stars spun around them, and Ignis saw the beginning.

Etro was the first of us, our mother. I do not know from whence she came. She has always been there. I was the youngest of her children, and delighted in learning at her knee. She used some of my fire, my soul, to ignite her creation, her mortals.

She gave them freewill, as she had given it to us. She created the mortals from the leftover dust she had used to make my siblings and I.

Let me speak of my brothers and sisters.

Ramuh, the eldest, spent his days and nights among the storms, listening to the song of the thunder. Titan, the next eldest, turned his attention to the rocks and earth, building towering mountains and deep valleys. Leviathan, the eldest female, was only concerned with the tides and the waves, and she kept her focus on the waters of Eos. Shiva, the most beautiful of us, kept the high and cold places, rejoicing in her blizzards. Bahamut, the Draconian, born of strength, was by far the strongest of us.

I was born last, of Etro’s desire for warmth. Bahamut hated me from the moment Etro breathed life into me. I took her attention away from him.

Ages past, and the Draconian simmered. Not long after I took my first breath, Etro created mankind, as I have said.

Etro was fond of them, her creations, and created a fantastical afterlife for them. When they died and stepped through her gate, they were greeted with heaven. The other gods did not care about the mortals. They were beneath our notice.

At first, I did not care about the mortals. They were short lived, fickle creatures. And they were afraid of the dark. They did not venture out at night, they did not rejoice under the stars, for they feared the darkness.

One night, a brave woman stepped out of her cave and stared up at the stars. She wished for a way to see in the dark. I appeared to her, and taught her the secret of fire.

Mankind could conquer the darkness, conquer their fear of the night thanks to her. She told them of me, and of Etro.

The Draconian had never agreed with Etro about giving the mortals freewill. He thought we should bend them to our will, make them our slaves. Etro would not take back her gift of freewill, and I would not take back my gift of fire.

One night, Etro disappeared. I do not know what happened to her, but I believe the Draconian had something to do with it. Her gateway still stood, but many got lost when they died, unable to find their way home.

I began to spend time with the mortals, because I missed Etro. I missed my mother, and I felt closer to her with her creations.

Over eons, Etro was forgotten. Shiva watched me, and grew curious. I showed her the joy of mortals, their intense emotions, everything so bright because they lived for so short a time.

She grew to love them, and I grew to love her.

The Draconian sat Etro’s heavenly throne. I ignored him.

I have told you of how the Draconian grew jealous of the love and adoration mortals showed me, and how he hated the relationship between Shiva and myself.

You remember the story?

“Yes,” Ignis whispered, his voice echoing around them. He could almost see his voice as color, nebulous ribbons dancing between the stars.

He wished Noctis could see this.

Tell me.

“The Draconian turned humanity against you. They saw you as a dark god, an evil god, who dragged their loved ones to hell. The Draconian fought you, eventually throwing you beneath Ravatogh and tearing out your heart.”

Ignis had tears running down his face. Ifrit brushed the tears away, flicking the drops of water to spin between the stars.

For Eons I lay beneath Ravatogh, incomplete and mourning. One day, I noticed a crack in my prison, and I sent the fire seeking. It found you, just conceived. It could see that you were strong, and I sent the fire away to join you. I chose you, or maybe, you chose me.

Ignis looked up at Ifrit, somehow being able to see here in this holy space.

The Accursed one came to my tomb, granted entry because of his connection to the Draconian’s Crystal. It had been a gift to the Caelum line, but it was, in actuality, a curse.

It bound the line of kings to Bahamut’s service. He gave them magic in return for their lives, and their souls. This I learned after the fire went to you. This I learned when Ardyn Lucis Caelum reanimated my corpse with the Starscourge and bent my heartless body to his will.

Ignis stared through the heavens.

“Noctis is bound to him. The Draconian.”

Ifrit nodded. Noctis has spent ten years in the Draconian’s embrace, listening to his lies. He believes he must die to bring back the dawn, to save mankind from this hell on Eos that the Draconian has orchestrated.

Ignis’ eye locked on Ifrit’s. “He doesn’t have to die?”

Ifrit shook his head slowly.

It comes a cost. There is always a price.

“What must I do? I will do anything to save Noctis.”

Accept the mantle that has been yours since birth. Take your place among the Astrals, and tear the Draconian’s lies apart.

Ignis stared at his hands as planets were born and died around them.

He could save Noctis.

Noctis could live.

“Whatever I have to do,” Ignis whispered. “I will live with the price.”

Ifrit leaned forward, and he was suddenly the same size as Ignis, or maybe Ignis was the same as him. Ifrit cradled Ignis’ face, looking into his one open eye.

He traced his fingers over Ignis’ scars. These were formed by the Draconian. It was your king Regis that saved you from death. If you succeed, the scars may fade.

“I do not care about the scars, as long as Noctis lives. I cannot imagine a world without him.”

Ifrit smiled, and Ignis was amazed at the change in his face. He could see why people had loved him. Ifrit leaned close and slotted his lips against Ignis. Ignis felt as if he were combusting, power and fire surging through his veins.

Ifrit faded, smoke among the stars.

“May you find peace in the flame, and live in eternal joy in the beyond,” Ignis whispered.

He was alone amongst the stars.

The fire burned in his chest.

He vanished.

FFXV

“Ignis!” Noctis yelled, looking around wildly.

“Iggy!” Prompto and Gladio called.

“Where is he?” Noctis snarled at Ardyn.

Ardyn shrugs. “How am I to know the minds of the gods?”

“I’ll kill you!” Noctis yelled, summoning his sword.

Ardyn smiled nastily. “I do believe that’s the point of all this.”

He summoned his own blade.

“Look!” Prompto yelled, pointing to the sky.

A fireball streaked from the heavens.

They all turned their eyes skyward, watching the fire descend from the sky.

It slammed into Ardyn, sending him flying back into the Citadel proper.

“Oh my,” Ardyn gasped, staring up into Ignis’ face. “Hello, Infernian.”

The others ran into the building, staring in shock.

Ignis held Ardyn down, a jeweled sword at his throat. Wings of fire arched from his back, and a crown of flames twisted about his head.

“Ig…Ignis?” Noctis whispered, staring in awe. He had never seen anything as beautiful as Ignis in the full glory of fire.

Ardyn looked up at Ignis. Fire moved beneath the scars on his face, and Ardyn felt the tip of the sword pierce his throat.

“You have accepted your fate then,” Ardyn said quietly.

“To save Noctis,” Ignis replied, wings flaring behind him.

“At the expense of yourself,” Ardyn whispered. “I may not be a god, but I know what it is like to watch those you love age and die while you remain the same.”

Ignis’ heart twisted, and the fire in his soul remained silent.

He knew there would be a price.

He did not know it would be so horrible.

He closed his eyes briefly, then opened them, staring into Ardyn’s hazel eyes. Ardyn stared back, aware of the other three standing just on the other side of Ignis’ flaming wings.

“You were subjected to the Draconian as well,” Ignis said flatly, staring into Ardyn’s eyes.

“Yes.”

“Do you want to be free of him?” Ignis asked, knees squeezing Ardyn’s arms to his side.

Ardyn looked up at Ignis and laughed. “Oh, you are going to enrage him. Yes, Infernian, I wish to be free. Tell me, are you going to bend me to your will? Make me dance to your tune like Bahamut has made countless kings?”

“No,” Ignis said, standing up and dragging Ardyn to his feet. “I’m going to destroy the Draconian, and you’re going to help.”

Noctis stared at Ignis, eyes wide. “Ignis…Ignis what happened to you?”

Ignis looked at him, and Noctis was shocked to see green looking back at him from his one open eye.

“To the Crystal,” Ignis said, fisting his hand in Ardyn’s jacket and half dragging him across the lobby.

“What the serious fuck is going on?” Gladio hissed.

“I don’t know,” Noctis whispered.

They followed Ignis in silence, Noctis’ heart pounding in trepidation.

FFXV

Ignis dragged Ardyn before the throne, and the Crystal. He could feel the power of the Draconian reaching out for him, and the fire rose in him in response.

“You wish to be free of all this?”

“I wish to rest, to be free,” Ardyn said.

Ignis nodded again, and grabbed Ardyn by the throat. He stood on the throne and slammed Ardyn into the Crystal. Ardyn let out a groan as the Crystal dug into his back, the force of the blow knocking the wind out of him.

Ignis took the jeweled sword, the one that Ifrit had once carried, a gift from Etro, and slammed it into Ardyn’s chest, spearing him to the Crystal.

Ardyn grunted, staring at the sword driven through him deep into the Crystal. Ignis still held the hilt of blade, driving in deeper.

Black blood welled from Ardyn’s mouth and eyes. Ignis pushed the sword as deep as he could.

He could almost hear the Draconian screaming.

Noctis stared in horror at the sight before him. He had known, somehow, that his own fate had been to be pinned to the throne.

He never expected to see Ardyn stuck above it.

Ignis turned to look at Noctis, eye blazing with fire. “Pull whatever weapons you wish to keep from the armory.”

Gladio summoned his Greatsword, Prompto his guns. Noctis pulled his favorite weapons, eyes locked on Ignis’ form.

He didn’t know what had happened to Ignis, why he had wings of fire, how he had driven a sword through Ardyn into the Crystal, but he wanted answers.

He wanted Ignis.

Ignis took Ardyn’s face in his hands, ignoring the black ichor running over his hands.

“The Draconian took you into his service, then turned away from you when he grew bored with you. He cursed you.” Ignis swallowed. “I free you, Ardyn Lucis Caelum, to the beyond. May you find joy in the flame, and live in eternal joy in the beyond.”

Ignis leaned forward and pressed a gentle kiss against Ardyn’s forehead, and then both Ardyn and the Crystal were engulfed by white flame.

Ardyn screamed, the white flame burning the scourge from his body.

Noctis covered his mouth, stumbling back against Gladio.

Ardyn’s screams tapered off as the fire ate at his body.

Noctis let out a strangled yell as the felt the power of the Crystal shatter.

Bahamut screamed, appearing in the throne room in a flash of light.

“What have you done?” the Draconian screeched, bladed wings shattering marble pillars.

Ignis turned, the Crystal still burning. He wrenched his sword from the Crystal. His eye blazed, his own wings flared out behind him. He radiated heat.

“I have freed him. I have freed all the Caelums from your grasp, Draconian,” Ignis spat.

“You cannot save him!” The Draconian bellowed, swords of light appearing before him.

“You cannot have him!” Ignis screamed, raising the sword. It flared with fire.

The Draconian lunged forward, reaching for Noctis. Gladio threw himself in front of Noctis, desperate to save Noctis.

Fire washed across the throne room, shoving the Draconian back. Bahamut roared, his swords disappearing.

Ignis stood before Noctis, wings spread protectively in front of the king.

“They’re speaking the language of the gods,” Prompto whispered. “Ignis is speaking the language of the gods.”

Noctis started. He hadn’t realized, as he had always been able to understand that language.

“You poured too much of your power into the Crystal, Bahamut,” Ignis continued, pointing the sword at the Draconian. “For thousands of years, you tied yourself too closely to it. Did you actually plan to let Noctis bring the dawn back, or were you going to deny him death as you did Ardyn?”

Noctis stared at Bahamut. He remembered his time in the Crystal, and the sweet words Bahamut had whispered in his ear; promises of the dawn, of seeing those he loved again.

“It can’t be true,” Noctis whispered, staring around Ignis at the Draconian. Bahamut looked at him, his eyes angry.

“What?” Gladio asked. “What did they say?”

“You are nothing,” Bahamut spat at Noctis. “A mortal toy that I can bend to my will. My slave.”

Noctis reeled back like he’d been struck.

“We trusted you!” Noctis yelled. “For two thousand years, the Caelums have prayed to you and for what?” Noctis wrenched the Ring of the Lucii from his finger and flung it at Bahamut.

“Noctis,” Ignis said quietly. Noctis looked at him in his fiery glory, blinking back tears.

“What?”

“He cannot hurt you again,” Ignis said.

Bahamut lunged forward, and Ignis flew up to meet him. There was a flash of light, of heat, and Bahamut was flung back.

“The Crystal is dead. You will fade, Draconian, into nothing. Your power will disappear, and within a generation your name will be reviled by the very playthings you thought to control. You are done,” Ignis said.

Bahamut roared, and Ignis raised his hand.

“The Caelums are henceforth under my protection,” Ignis said, eyes blazing. “And if any harm befalls Noctis or his heirs at the hand of you or any under your thrall, I will hunt you through the heavens until you scream for mercy. I will destroy everything you hold dear, Draconian. Now. You are not welcome in the Citadel. Get out.”

Bahamut roared, and Ignis shot a geyser of flame at him. The Draconian disappeared in a shower of flame and light.

Ignis stood there, panting. He lowered his arm, the sword dragging the marble floor.

“Ignis?” Noctis whispered, taking a step closer to him. Ignis sheathed the sword and turned to face Noctis.

“Noctis,” Ignis whispered, voice cracking.

“You’re the Infernian?” Noctis said, eyes wide.

Ignis closed his eye and nodded.

“Yes.”

FFXV

There was a moment of silence that seemed to echo into eternity.

“What?” Gladio said incredulously.

“Since when?” Prompto asked, staring in fascination.

Noctis was silent.

Ignis rolled his neck, uncomfortable under their scrutiny. “Fire has always spoken me. I did not realize what it meant until I stood before Ifrit on the steps of the Citadel.”

“What did you do to Ardyn?” Noctis asked, rubbing his chest. It was the same location that Ardyn had been speared.

Ignis looked at the dead Crystal. “The Crystal needed Caelum blood to break the hold of darkness. I gave the Crystal what it needed when I burned the scourge from his body.”

“He couldn’t die, I thought,” Noctis said.

“The Draconian barred him from the afterlife. As the Infernian, I sent him through. His death shattered the Draconian’s hold, and destroyed the Crystal. After all, Ardyn was the first Chosen King,”

Ignis turned, walking up next to the throne. Ardyn’s hat rested on the scarred marble floor. Ignis picked it up, turning it between his hands. With a thought, he incinerated it, ash blowing away in a light breeze.

“So…it’s over?” Prompto asked.

Ignis nodded. “It’s over.”

Noctis looked at the throne, then at Ignis. Ignis was the Infernian?

Noctis’ brain refused to process. Ignis couldn’t be the Infernian. He was Ignis. He was the man he loved.

Not a god.

“Oh…oh look,” Gladio said, pointing out the massive hole in the side of the throne room.

The sun was rising.

FFXV

Ignis watched the sun rise, and felt his heart break.

He could feel it, inside him. He was different.

He was immortal.

He stared at his hands, his left eye still sealed shut. The fire was silent, but he could feel it.

It was his.

The other three were talking, watching the sun climb slowly into the sky.

Ignis could only think of what Ardyn had said to him.

He was going to have to watch Noctis die.

Noctis would age, and Ignis would remain the same.

“We should head back to Hammerhead. Cor and the others will be waiting,” Prompto said. Gladio nodded. He clapped Noctis on the back, then pulled him into a tight hug.

“I’m glad you’re not dead.”

Noctis was startled into a laugh, hugging Gladio back.

“Me too.”

“Noctis,” Ignis whispered. They turned to face him.

“I have to go,” Ignis said.

Noctis’ face went white. “No. Ignis, I need you.”

“Noct, please,” Ignis whispered, stepping back as the king stepped forward.

“Why?” Noctis spat. “Why are you leaving?”

“I…I cannot stay.”

“Why?” Noctis snarled, grabbing Ignis’ jacket. He could feel heat roiling off Ignis’ body, those flaming wings held back tightly.

“I cannot bear to watch you die,” Ignis said.

Silence.

“But…I thought he gets to live?” Prompto cried, panic making his voice rise.

Ignis nodded. “He does. Of course he does.”

“Then what the hell are you on about?” Gladio asked.

Ignis looked away. “I am immortal, Gladio. Do you know what that means?”

“You don’t die. I’m not an idiot. I’ve read plenty of fantasy.”

Ignis looked at him. “It also means I do not age.”

Another echoing silence.

“Oh,” Gladio whispered.

“The three of you will age, and I will eternally look as I do now,” Ignis whispered.

“I don’t care,” Noctis yelled.

“You will,” Ignis said.

“I won’t!”

“Guys!” Gladio said, stepping forward and pushing them gently apart. “Let’s go back to Hammerhead. We’re going to need your help to explain what the hell happened, Ignis, so you can’t leave yet. You can discuss it when everyone calms down, okay?”

“Gladio’s right,” Prompto said, looking between the other three. “We need to go back, first, and then we’ll decide what to do. Together.”

Noctis looked at his feet. He certainly didn’t feel like a king. He felt uprooted and adrift. He had walked into the Citadel expecting to die. He would walk out alive.

But Ignis wanted to leave.

“Fine. Let’s go back to Hammerhead.” Noctis spun on his heel and stalked the length of the throne room, not looking at the others.

Prompto scurried after him, Gladio a step behind him.

Ignis stood before the dead Crystal, the empty throne. His shoulders slumped, wings dragging the floor as he walked down the steps.

The fire beat in his chest, surging through his veins.

You knew there would be a price.

Ignis closed his eye.

He didn’t respond.

FFXV

Cor Leonis picked them up outside the city, truck rumbling. His eyebrows skyrocketed as he saw Ignis with flaming wings and a fire crown. He nearly went to his knees when he saw Noctis, his king.

He fell into a bow before Noctis, taking his hand in both of his.

“Your majesty,” his voice cracked. He knew what Noctis had been walking into.

“Rise, Marshal,” Noctis whispered. Cor stood up, staring down at Noctis. Noctis’ eyes were red rimmed with tears, but he managed a smile when Cor embraced him in a fierce hug.

“How?” Cor whispered.

“Ignis,” Prompto said, gesturing to the other man. Cor looked at him.

“So. Regis was right about you, then.”

“What?” Noctis breathed. “Dad knew that Ignis is…is…”

“The Infernian,” Cor said, bowing briefly to Ignis. Ignis’ eye widened, remembering Regis’ words the day before they left. “Yes. Or, at least he suspected that Ignis was the Infernian reborn. He also knew there was no better protector or friend for you.”

“How did he know?” Ignis asked. “I didn’t know until today.”

“He saw you talking to his fireplace when you were seven. You spoke the language of the gods.”

Ignis blinked. “Oh. I never realized I did that.”

Cor nodded at him. “Clarus and I were the only two he told. He wasn’t sure you knew, but he wanted you to have as normal a life as possible.”

Ignis bowed his head, hair falling across his face. “And I thank him for it.”

Cor nodded.

“Everyone in the truck,” Cor said. Ignis climbed in the bed of the truck, unsure of what to do with his wings. At least they didn’t seem to be setting anything on fire. Gladio got in the back with him, and Noctis and Prompto rode in the cab with Cor.

Gladio watched Ignis with interest. “It does explain a lot, you know.”

“I would rather not talk about it right now. I’m still coming to terms with it.”

Gladio nodded. “But you’re going to leave.”

Ignis sighed. “I must. I cannot bear to have him come to hate me because I will not age.”

“What will you do?”

Ignis looked at the landscape whipping by. “I will travel the corners of Eos, spreading word of the Dawn King.”

Gladio sighed, and they finished the trip in silence.

FFXV

There was much rejoicing when the truck pulled in and Noctis stepped out, the sunlight striking his hair.

Iris squealed and hugged him, then her brother. She stared with wide eyes at Ignis, fascinated.

“Long story,” Gladio whispered.

Prompto and Gladio explained as best they could, with occasional input from Ignis and Noctis. The explanation took most of the day. They ate lunch, watching hunters rejoice in the sun.

“What happened to Ifrit then?” Iris asked, head cocked to the side.

“Ifrit has gone beyond, to Etro’s garden,” Ignis said.

“Say who what now?” Cid grunted.

“The first goddess,” Ignis said, “mother of the other Astrals.”

“How do you know that? Is Ifrit in your head?” Gladio asked, stepping back. Ignis sighed and shook his head.

“No. I assure you, I am only me. Ifrit has moved beyond.”

“Ifrit has passed Etro’s gate, finally?” A soft voice said. They all turned. Gentiana stood there, eyes open, looking straight at Ignis.

Ignis nodded. “Yes, my lady. He has moved to just beyond the gate. I believe he is waiting for you.”

The shell of Gentiana disappeared, leaving the beautiful Shiva in her wake. She took Ignis’ hands.

“I thank you, Infernian,” she whispered, pressing kisses into his palm.

Ignis looked at her, his heart pounding. “I could use your help, Lady Shiva.”

She smiled at him. “You are the new age of us, Ignis Infernian. With the death of the Crystal comes the death of the old ways. You have freed us all from our brother’s foul influence, freed us to the earth and the skies and seas. I have been dead many years, a shell of myself thanks to the Empire. I go to my beloved. You do not need me.”

She kissed his lips gently, and turned and walked away. She disappeared in a wave of snow, and Ignis knew he would never see the Glacian again.

FFXV

“So…your majesty,” Talcott said, “what now?”

Noctis shrugged. “I don’t have a clue. I expected to be dead.”

“It is a gift that you are alive,” Iris said fiercely. “You brought back the dawn, and you got to live to see it.”

“I didn’t do anything,” Noctis said. “Ignis did it all. As always.”

Ignis rocked back, a flash of pain crossing his face before a mask of impassivity fell across him.

“And as always,” Ignis said quietly, “I did it for you.”

Ignis turned and walked away, staring out over the desert landscape. It would take decades for the land to recover from the long night.

They were already treating him differently. They bowed to him, stared at him in awe. No one touched him, or offered him any comfort. He was beyond them already.

Iris glared at Noctis, who was pointedly not looking at Ignis. “Talk to him,” she hissed, herding the others away.

Noctis sighed, shoulders slumping. The sun was starting to set, casting Ignis in a golden light, wings brighter than the darkening sky.

“Why do you have to leave?” Noctis asked, standing next to him.

Ignis looked to the west. “I cannot bear to watch the love in your eyes turn to bitterness as the decades pass…and I remain the same.”

“I wouldn’t, Ignis, I would still love you.”

Ignis looked down at him. “And when you’re seventy and I still look thirty-two, could you say the same? Could you look at me without feeling the bitterness of age?”

Noctis was silent for a moment. “I don’t know.”

Ignis nodded. “Thank you for being honest.”

They watched the sun crawl across the sky.

“I can’t do this without you, Ignis,” Noctis whispered, his voice breaking. Ignis turned to him, cupping Noctis’ face in his hands.

“Noctis, you are the strongest person I know. You will be a magnificent king. The Dawn King. Lucis needs you.”

“I need you, Ignis,” Noctis half sobbed. Ignis let out a soft moan and pressed his lips against Noctis’.

Noctis gasped, warmth spreading through him. He looked up into Ignis’ eye as the Infernian pulled back. Ignis put a hand over Noctis’ heart, feeling the steady pound.

“Please, don’t leave me alone,” Noctis whispered.

“Noctis, I must leave,” Ignis whispered, “but you are not alone. I am in the fire that warms you, in the sun that touches your cheek. I am the flame that burns in your heart, and whenever you feel alone, look to the fire and I will be there.”

Noctis clung to him, and Ignis wrapped his arms and wings around Noctis. They cried together.

“I love you, Ignis. I always have, I always will.”

“I love you, Noctis. Live. For me.”

Noctis sniffed. Ignis kissed his tears away and stepped back. He looked up. The others stood behind Noctis, watching them. Gladio and Prompto were crying, and even Cor’s eyes were suspiciously misty.

He stepped back from the king. “Remember, look to the fire,” Ignis whispered.

Noctis didn’t try to stop his tears.

The sun hit the horizon, and for a brief moment, Ignis was silhouetted by the light, all shadow and flame. They had to shield their eyes from sudden brilliance that was the Infernian.

Noctis sobbed Ignis’ name, hitting his knees.

The sun set, and the Infernian was nowhere to be seen.

Ignis was gone.