“Cor, the council meeting is in fifteen minutes, how did you end up with all five of them?” Regis asked as Aurelian began to scale him like a tree, and Cor sighed in response, grabbing both Aeolus and Theia by their belt loops and hefting them in the air before they could run off towards lil’ Rita, which was sitting on the other side of the room. Amaryllis and Selene were calmly reading over on the couch, and Regis couldn’t help a little smile at the sight the whole circus made as he watched Cor finally just slung the two over his shoulders like sacks, the children giggling all the while.
“Libertus is sick, Crowe is busy, I can’t afford the property damage if Pelna watches all five of them, and Nyx and the crew are all out of town. Ignis and Prompto are supposed to be back later today, as you know, but until then-” Cor shrugged, and Regis huffed a laugh.
“Well, Ampelius always said he wanted to shake things up,” he said as he adjusted Aurelian onto his hip properly. “Girls, why don’t you bring the book with you, we are going on a little field trip.” The magic words caused a veritable stampede, and Cor lowered the two in his arms to the floor as they watched little legs run around the room, grabbing toys and books before running up to them. “Okay, I need you all to listen for a minute. We are going to the council chambers, and I’ll need you all to be on your best behavior. It’s only for a short meeting, but-” Regis cut himself off with a smile as he looked between the children. “Can you do this for me? We can have fun afterwards.” There was a long pause, and several of the children looked somewhat rebellious, but Cor was well aware of how much they liked their grandpa. After some silent deliberation between the children, they all nodded. “Thank you.”
The seven of them trekked out of the Leonis family quarters, Regis with a child holding each hand, and Cor with one on each hand and one dangling from his neck (Aurelian.) Regis was well aware of the sight they made as they progressed towards the council chambers, and he couldn’t help but smiling as they passed by Lady Flavia, who looked like she had swallowed something horrible as she looked at them. Excellent.
“Time to get down, Aurelian, we’ve got to make the proper impression when we enter,” Cor said, and Regis couldn’t help a tiny snicker as the children all got into what was apparently an attempt at the testudo formation, with books at the ready instead of shields, and Regis found himself meeting Cor’s eye with a raised eyebrow.
“What in the world have you been teaching my grandbabies, Cor?” Regis asked, and Cor actually gave him a mischievous little smile as he patted Theia on the head.
“The important stuff, of course. You never know when knowledge of classic military tactics will come in handy.” Regis found himself looking into the middle distance, imagining all the ways this could go completely wrong.
It sounded like fun.
“So, this is a regular party.” Clarus appeared at Regis’s side, his expression thoroughly amused, and Regis nodded.
“Expect several barely-controlled meltdowns,” Regis replied, and Clarus frowned.
“I think the children are better behaved than that-”
Regis cut Clarus off with a sharp shake of his head.
“I’m not talking about the children.”
Regis wasn’t wrong. The kids were initially sent over to relax and read over next to the east wall of the room, where they all were on their best behavior and read quietly to themselves, only to receive multiple dirty looks from both Lady Fausta and Lord Marcellus. As expected, but-
“Do you have a problem with my grandchildren, my lords?” Regis asked lightly, and Marcellus shook his head immediately (if with obvious resentment,) but Flavia scowled fiercely and pointed directly at the children.
“This is a council meeting, not a daycare! I don’t know how your people handle things, Leonis, but in proper society, children are not meant to come to such things-” Regis met Clarus’s eyes, barely restraining a smile as Cor leaned in to meet Flavia’s angry expression with an unconcerned look of his own.
“My people are used to adapting to changing situations, Lady Fausta, and when the usual help is unavailable, allowances are required to be made. If you are otherwise inconvenienced, I’m sure you can reschedule for another day, if his majesty is willing-” Cor paused, his eyes going comically wide as he got to his feet and bowed. “You know what? We've been rude, my lady, my apologies. Kids, come on over, you all haven't been properly introduced to the council-” Lady Aeila started giggling from next to Cor, and Flavia’s face turned a brilliant shade of red as several of the others joined in; the children dutifully got to their feet and marched over to their father-grandfather, and Cor turned Aurelian around to face the fuming noblewoman, his mien radiating utter innocence.
Regis was trying his damndest to not burst a blood vessel holding back his laughter.
Clarus wasn’t in much better shape.
“So, as you are well aware, this is Aurelian Lucis Caelum-”
“I know who the damned kids are, Leonis! I don’t know what you are playing at here-” Marcius got to his feet, crossing his arms and glaring at the furious woman.
“Lady Flavia, must you be so beastly around the children? They haven’t done a thing wrong, the only person I see acting like a child here is you.” Marcius smiled down at the kids as he spoke, then turned his glare back on Flavia, who stiffened.
“Marcius, this is about propriety; if Ampelius hadn’t retired and left his seat to a commoner freak with a brood of mixed blood brats, we wouldn’t be in this appalling situation-” That was enough. Regis got to his feet, took a deep breath, and did something he had wanted to do for a long time.
“Fausta Flavia, of House Flavia, your behaviour in this council and beyond has been abominable, and you have finally gone too far for me to disregard it any longer. You are suspended from the royal council, effective immediately. You may take your time off to reflect on your behaviour, madame, and perhaps you may return to us at a later date with a more tolerant outlook on your fellow Lucians,” Regis commanded, and watched the color leech from the woman’s face dispassionately as she looked wildly about the table, clearly hoping for support from one of her fellow council members. It didn’t come. While Marcellus was radiating general displeasure, the old bastard was far more cunning than Flavia and kept his mouth shut.
Pity. Regis was still quite certain that Marcellus had arranged the assassination attempt, but they had never managed to scrape together any real proof. The man hadn’t slipped since, besides being his usual quiet asshole self, and he and Clarus had finally decided to mentally drop the subject. There wasn’t much else to do about it.
“Your majesty, my only concern is for the welfare of Insomn-” Regis twitched his hand, and Flavia fell silent, but plainly seething as she did so.
“You have spent your entire tenure here forgetting that there is more to Lucis than Insomnia, madame, and that is another thing that I feel you should spend some time ruminating on. I wish you good day, Lady Flavia, and I will summon you after the standard three month period has passed,” Regis stated, and to her credit, Flavia managed a graceful bow before sweeping from the room, shooting a glare that would have stripped the flesh from Cor’s bones had she had the ability as she departed.
The meeting was a complete loss from there, and Regis calmly wished the other council members good day as they filed out. Regis had two children in his lap before they had even left, and just as he was beginning to relax, Caesonia spun on her heel and walked back to the table.
“Yes, Lady Milonia?” Clarus asked, balancing a dozing Theia on his lap, and Caesonia bowed.
“I know I don’t speak up very often, your majesty, my lords, but I want you to know that you have my full support regarding anything involving the children, and when certain individuals among the council insist on being completely hateful towards others. I know Verina thinks the same, as do several of the others,” Caesonia stated, and Regis tilted his head in thanks as both Cor and Clarus nodded. “I’ll leave you all alone, my apologies for interrupting your family time. Excuse me.” The woman strode from the room, leaving Regis, Clarus, and Cor to look at each other and shrug meaningfully before turning their attention on the children, who were, one by one, dozing off on their various perches.
“That first lady was mean,” Aurelian mumbled, and Cor ran his hand through the bright sun-yellow locks and sighed.
“Yes, she was. Don’t ever let anyone talk to you or your family like that, okay? It’s not nice,” Cor said softly, and Regis watched as the little prince dozed off in Cor’s arms after managing a single, sleepy nod.
“Well, things will never be perfect, but there’s always baby steps towards getting them as good as we can possibly manage,” Clarus said, his voice quiet as the little buzzing snores increased, and Regis smiled.
“This is true. And in the meantime, we can enjoy somewhat quieter council meetings,” he said, wiggling his eyebrows, and Cor rolled his eyes in a way that was so nostalgic that Regis, if for just a moment, saw a ornery sixteen year old sitting in the chair instead of a fifty-two year old father of three.
They had come a long way.
A knock on the council chambers door some time later admitted Prompto and Ignis, who both stopped and smiled at the sight Regis knew they must have made; even Cor had dozed off, as he was wont to do when things were quiet, and Regis winked at the blond as he walked over to his father and plucked Aurelian out of his lap, passing him to Ignis before leaning over to speak in Cor’s ear so softly that Regis couldn’t even hear him. Whatever he said, however, it worked, and Cor shifted and groaned before looking up at Prompto with a tiny smile.
“Hey son, everything go well?” Cor asked, and Prompto nodded immediately before raising a hand and tweaking one of the emerging lines of silver in Cor’s hair.
“Everything went great. I heard the kids got the bi- er, Lady Flaiva suspended?” Prompto corrected himself with a sheepish grin, and Regis couldn’t help the bark of laughter.
“Yes, in a way. She made a few comments that finally were the final straw, and not a single person spoke up in her defense. I hope she learns something, but I’m not holding my breath,” Regis explained, and Prompto nodded before looking down at Cor once more.
“So more dumbass articles in the news tomorrow, I’m guessing?” Cor’s expression went flat for a moment before he took a deep breath and groaned, and Prompto chuckled. “We’ve got this, right dad?”
Cor raised a hand and pulled lightly at a lock of Prompto’s hair, his smile widening at Prompto’s responding twitch.
“We most certainly do.”