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Among the Fields of Gold

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Prompto woke up disoriented, his eyes flicking from the shadowy outline of Noctis’s shoulder to the dark curve of Gladio’s hand as he tried to calm himself. A few seconds later led to the realization that he was also sweating like mad and feeling like the world was slowly spinning around him, and after a moment of deep, careful breaths, he gently pried himself out of Ignis’s arms and slid to the end of the bed to avoid disturbing the others as he got to his feet, scurrying as fast as he could manage into the bathroom. He closed the door and flipped the light switch, then moved to the mirror and inspected his reflection. He looked wan, his freckles standing out far more than usual against his pale skin, he was still sweating, even though fall had solidly arrived, making the ambient temperature even lower, and his stomach was churning like he had eaten something off.

That’s exactly what he had thought the problem was three days ago, but things hadn't changed, and he was beginning to lean towards having a flu bug instead, which sucked. They had planned to travel to Wiz’s and Costlemark soon, and he didn’t want to be sick. Also, considering he usually slept with three other people, if he was sick, there was a good chance he had gotten them all sick. Prompto sighed, leaning over and splashing some cool water on his face before sitting down on the toilet lid with a groan. He hated being sick, as he had always had to deal with it himself, and the only time he had been normal sick since they got together was the time the whole bloody Citadel had caught it. He hadn’t said anything yet, as he always seemed to feel better during the day, but maybe he should-

“Prompto?” The door opened slowly, admitting Ignis, who closed it just as carefully behind him. “Are you still feeling poorly?” Of course. Prompto bit his bottom lip for a moment before just giving up and nodding.

“Yeah, I thought it was just a bit of food poisoning at first, but it’s still sticking around-” Prompto trailed off as Ignis laid his palm on his forehead, the normally soothing touch hot and uncomfortable. “Iggy, I’m fine. It’s just a bug, and we all know I usually bounce back from this stuff pretty quickly.” Ignis lifted his hand away, looking at him with a raised eyebrow before turning to the sink and wetting a washcloth.

“While this is true, Prompto, we certainly don’t want you to suffer alone needlessly. We are all quite happy to help if needed,” Iggy said, wringing out the washcloth before folding it and laying it on the back of Prompto’s neck. “How does that feel?” Prompto couldn’t scrounge up more than a relieved sigh, and Ignis ran his fingers through Prompto’s sweaty hair, which didn’t feel so nice; he twitched his head to the side without thinking about it, and Ignis pulled his hand away without a word. “Do you wish to stay here for awhile longer, or do you think you can sleep?” That was a good question. Prompto took stock of his stomach, which had calmed once he had cooled down, and shrugged.

“I think I’ll go sleep out on the sofa, I don’t want to sweat all over everyone. Go back to bed, Iggy, I’ll be fine,” he said, getting to his feet; the washcloth fell from his neck, and Ignis deftly caught it and laid it over the edge of the sink.

“Let me at least find you a blanket,” Ignis said quietly, and the two of them left the room and his other quietly snoring boyfriends and headed into the living room, where Prompto flopped onto the sofa, grabbing one of the throw pillows and shoving it under his head as Ignis draped a blanket over his legs, smoothing it down with a hand. “Would you like me to stay out here with you?” Prompto actually considered it for a moment. He had become so used to sleeping with someone else around that he wasn’t fond of doing so alone anymore, but it was selfish to keep Ignis out with him when there was an incredibly comfortable bed only feet away.

“No, I’m okay, Iggy. Thank you. Go back to bed, I’m sure I’ll be fine in the morning,” he said, and was relieved when the older man didn’t argue, instead leaning over and kissing the side of his head before withdrawing.

“Get some rest, Prompto.” Ignis said softly, then turned and headed back into the bedroom, the door not closing all the way as Prompto got himself comfortable. He hated being sick. He hated the inconvenience, the fatigue, the isolation...but, things were different now. He had gone from being utterly alone most of the time to being surrounded by people who cared, who were interested in him and how he was doing, and he couldn’t discount that. Even Iggy’s simple offer had made him feel all warm and fuzzy, and part of him was wondering why he didn’t accept it, even though he knew the exact reason. Getting all of his partners sick too wasn’t cool if he could avoid it, and honestly, Noct had a very comfortable couch. He could handle a night or two. Prompto sighed, shifting under the blanket a few times before letting his eyes close. He better be feeling alright by the time they leave, he really didn’t want to be sick on their trip. He snuggled deeper into the couch cushions with another sigh, and was asleep in minutes.

“Hey, why’s Prom out here?” Prompto groaned as Noct’s voice pierced his brain and jarred him from a rather pleasant dream, then grumbled as the couch cushion sagged and a hand came down on his shoulder. “You alright?” Noct asked, and Prompto scowled before he even got his eyes open.

“I was until you woke me up,” he stated sourly, and the prince grimaced, patting him once more on the shoulder.

“Sorry, but you were with us when we went to bed, and I wake up and you’re out here. You feeling okay?” Noct asked again, and Prompto forced himself to sit up, scrubbing a hand through his grimy hair before giving a mostly-true nod.

“I think I’ve caught a bit of the flu, and I was roasting, so I figured it best that I sleep out here for the night,” he answered, stretching his arms above his head for a moment before sagging. “It’s nothing big, Noct. I just didn’t want to get you guys sick if it is the flu.” Noctis seemed unconvinced, but leaned in and gave him a kiss on the cheek, then pulled a face. “What?” Noct shook his head, and Prompto poked him in the side. “I’m that smelly, huh?” Noct jumped to his feet and scooted out of the way before he could poke him again, a smirk on his features.

“No, no, I’ve smelled worse behemoths, you’re fine-” Prompto tripped over the blanket trying to chase after him, and only Gladio’s swift interference kept him from knocking his teeth out on the coffee table. He’ll be feeling the resulting wedgie for the rest of his life, but at least his face was unbroken. He’d take it. Gladio managed to get an arm around his torso and got him the rest of the way upright, and Prompto picked his underwear out of his ass with a groan.

“Thanks, I like having teeth,” he muttered, and Gladio snorted, patting him on the back before letting go, a thoughtful look on his face.

“You’ve been bulking up a bit, I see. Have you been going to the gym more?” Gladio asked, and Prompto blinked stupidly at him as he processed what the older man had said. He had only been going to the gym with Gladio, and he hadn’t been doing anything out of the ordinary-

“No, I’ve just been going with you,” he replied, ignoring Noct as he sidled closer, and Gladio shrugged.

“I’m probably imagining things then. Nevermind, Prom. I think Iggy’s getting out of the shower if you want to take one, and I’m not saying you stink,” Gladio stated wisely, and Prom raised an eyebrow, but took the statement at face value as he waved his thanks, then walked back into the bedroom. He forgot about the Shield’s comment until he was in the shower, and he let his hands smooth down his stomach, trying to see if there was anything different. It did feel a little firmer and thicker than usual, and Prompto decided to chalk it up to his exercise regimen finally showing some effect beyond his arms. He hadn’t changed anything else recently, so that’s...all it could be. He shrugged to himself, then patted his stomach and finished up his shower, managing to nail Noct with a wet washcloth after he got out. The resulting yell made him feel much better.

His symptoms cleared up on their own over the next few days, just in time for the beginning of their trip, and Prompto was just happy he managed to avoid going to the infirmary. He didn’t have anything against Dr. Domitia, but he really didn’t want to be visiting her unless absolutely necessary. He had spent enough time there.

“Prompto, got your bag packed?” Gladio asked, jarring him from his thoughts, and he turned and plucked it from the sofa, throwing the strap over his shoulder.

“Yup, good to go. Wiz’s, here we come!” he announced, and Gladio snorted a laugh as they left the royal quarters and headed down to the parking garage, Prompto watching the lights on the buttons flash as they descended. “The others already down there?” The larger man nodded, then leaned against the wall of the elevator and crossed his arms.

“So, the king wants you to survey our route, huh? Compile a more formal list of your suggestions and concerns on infrastructure and public relations?” Gladio asked, and Prompto couldn't help the grin.

“Yeah, he thinks I might be good at it, because we all knew that me being a Crownsguard wasn’t going to work out. His majesty said that I'm too high-profile, which will never not be weird to think about, and he said he got the idea after I thought up the dodgeball tournament. He also commented that he liked some of the notes I made during our trip regarding the state of some areas, like when we went to Keycaterich and stuff,” he said, adjusting his bag as the elevator door opened and they stepped out, Prompto following Gladio. “So I'm going to try my best! I hate feeling like a freeloader-”

“You are not a freeloader, Prompto, and if anyone is claiming otherwise-” Ignis cut in as they reached the Regalia, and he shook his head.

“No no, I was just saying that I don’t like feeling like one, and with the king giving me something to do...well, I like it. I’m hoping I do alright with it, but I think we are kinda figuring it out as we go,” he cut in, and Ignis nodded sagely.

“Ah, that does make more sense. I think it is a task well suited to you, Prompto. I will not impose, but do not hesitate to ask me if you need anything,” Iggy stated, and Prompto leaned in and gave the advisor a quick hug before bouncing around to the passenger side and getting in, slamming the door shut.

“Job? You said something about helping out dad?” Noct asked from the back seat as Ignis and Gladio both got into the car, and Prompto hummed in agreement as Iggy started the car and pulled out of the parking space, heading to the surface.

“Yeah, trying something out. You know I like having something to do, anyway, and I hardly have the skills to become a professional photographer,” he shrugged, and ignored Noct’s sigh from the back seat. “And honestly, I enjoy taking photos for fun. I mean, selling the occasional one would probably be okay, but I don’t think I want to make a job out of it. Might take the fun out of it.” No one said anything in response to that, and Prompto pulled out a notebook as they headed out of town, jotting down notes as they headed through the tunnels and out into the Leide region. For once, they did not stop in Hammerhead, instead turning southwest towards the mountains; they had not taken this path before, and Prompto kept a sharp eye on what he could see as they headed through the pass, emerging south of the Chocobo Post and passing by a small pond that Noct whined at as they continued on by.

“Perhaps after we have finished our two planned stops, Noct. With Prompto’s tentative new position, it’s best we stick to some semblance of a schedule for now,” Iggy commented, and Prompto laughed as Noct pouted dramatically before finally giving a hint of a smile.

“Yeah, alright. There’s a few more ponds on the way to Costlemark, we could even stop at one of them on the way back,” Noctis offered, and Prompto nodded. It was only fair, he was dragging them to Costlemark again, after all.

Wiz was as friendly as ever, and after a proper greeting by the flock (the black chocobo chick looked around, seemed to realize that Cor wasn’t there, and begrudgingly allowed Prompto to scratch his neck for a minute before stomping off dejectedly. It was entirely too cute, and Prompto, to his own shock, actually snuffled for a moment, feeling overcome. Thankfully, none of the others noticed, and after making sure his face was back to normal, he sat down with Wiz to get his ideas about the area, both with crowd control and general infrastructure. Ever since Sarras had been fully cleared and deemed generally safe, there had been a steady stream of pilgrims and workers trying to clean the place back up, which had lead to a sharp increase of business at Wiz’s. And problems with parking. Prompto felt like he was just bumbling through all this, but he dutifully took notes and offered suggestions (paved parking lot was sounding like a great idea) before they adjourned to the camper for the night. The pilgrims who had seen him and Noct had left them alone with a few polite bows and nods, and the four of them enjoyed a nice evening with the required pile of sandwiches and chocobo chicks running around their ankles. Prompto woke up once in the middle of the night, his stomach churning oddly, but he remained in bed and the sensation eventually went away on its own. It was just nerves. When he slipped on his pants the next morning, it took him far longer than usual to get the zipper up and the button closed, and he stared himself in the tired mirror in the camper and frowned. He thought he had been imagining it, but he was definitely putting on weight.

“Prom, ready to go?” Noct asked, his favorite prince wrapping his arm around his waist, and it took all that Prompto had to not knock his boyfriend’s arm away. He shouldn’t be gaining weight, he wasn’t eating anything unusual, he was exercising- “Prom?” He jerked, then forced himself to turn around in Noct’s arms, dragging a smile onto his face.

“Hey! Yeah, sorry, just got lost in my head there for a minute.” Noctis gave him a skeptical look, but didn’t pry, and with one last glance downward at his stomach, Prompto followed the others out.

The others hadn’t been to Costlemark since they had cleared the site of the last of the beasts, and they were all pleasantly surprised to see the progress that has been made in the building, especially on the upper floors. Prompto, of course, had been there several times with Cor since then, even if he usually spent most of the time convincing him to let the younger people haul the heavy stone around. He had hurt his back enough over the last year, and both he and Nyx were getting genuinely concerned that there could be future ramifications if the abuse continued. Cor had told them that they were worrying too much, Nyx agreed with Prompto entirely. Needless to say, his dad didn't win that fight. The eyes worked on him every time.

“The stone masons have done a splendid job, the damage on the upper floors looks far lesser than it did only a month ago. I assume that the majority of the laborers come from Galahd?” Ignis asked, and Prompto waggled his hand in the air in response. “Oh?”

“I guess Galahd is not as well-known for their stone work as other places, which makes sense, as most of the traditional buildings I remember seeing there were made of wood. Several of the artisans are actually from Tenebrae, Luna sent them over with Ravus. While there’s definitely a Galahdian majority, there’s a wider grouping of people than you would think,” he explained, as he nodded to some workers as they descended further into the structure.

“This place seriously needs an elevator. Everyone is going to have amazing calves after walking this everyday,” Noct drawled, his deadpan comment drawing smiles from those they passed, and Prompto snorted.

“Maybe we can figure out a way? The only shortcut is the one from the deep interior to the surface, and while Cor can go all over the place without worrying about it, it is a lot of walking,” Prompto mused, and even Gladio nodded in agreement. They descended into the mostly untouched rooms beyond the formerly sealed door, the bricks that had been mostly hiding the corridor now gone, and after looking at what felt like an endless sea of stone by the time they were only four floors down, Prompto finally called a halt to their exploration. The lower rooms had, at one time, been made into smaller rooms with wood interior walls that could be rearranged if convenient, but those had long been destroyed by time, beasts, and daemons. With so many floors, though, they needed to figure out something, as no one would want to make that trek often. Who would want to go down over sixty flights of stairs?

“You could house the residents of Lestallum several times over in this place, it must have been quite the sight back at the height of its usage. Was there some sort of hierarchy in the levels?” Ignis asked, and Prompto closed his eyes for a moment and thought, the answer tickling at his brain.

“Yes, but it wasn’t as strict as you might think. The floors had lots of residential areas, but there were libraries, businesses, restaurants...things you would have expected a city to have. The lowest floors were for the upper classes and religious hermits, for the most part; everyone was so convinced that the tower would stand forever, especially underground, that it was not uncommon for upper-class types to keep an emergency residence near the bottom in case of invasion or incursion. The so-called lower classes generally lived closer to the top, which honestly, made it easier to travel around, but as people would walk through their floors more often, it was seen as a less-desirable area,” he explained, shrugging. “I don’t even know. But if people want to really start living here again, at least the upper floors of this part will need to be fixed.” Prompto looked around the bare room, feeling overwhelmed all of a sudden; the volunteers that had flocked to the tower after it had been finally cleared had come of their own accord and were pretty much operating on their own, but they were already starting to look to Cor and him for guidance as obvious repairs were being completed and more elaborate work was needed. It was a lot to handle, and he wasn’t sure he was entirely up to the task.

“Prompto?” Noct’s voice cut into his thoughts, and Prompto rubbed at his arms and stared blankly at the floor, not managing to put together a reply that would make sense as his stomach protested once more. “Wanna get out of here?” He looked up to see Noct smiling sweetly at him, almost missing the flash of concern as the rest of his companions quickly smiled as well.

“Sorry, I just started thinking about how much work this is all going to be here...it’s kinda intense. But yeah, let’s go. I want to go look at the parking area over by the haven, the king was concerned about it. Most people are just parking on the side of the road-” Prompto wasn’t so oblivious not to notice the others exchange a few looks as they headed back up the stairs, and he barely restrained another sigh. “I’ll figure it out, guys. There’s just a lot to do.”

The weather was cool and pleasant outside, without a cloud in the sky; after he took a series of photos and wrote notes and drew diagrams of the area around the crowded haven, they all made the decision to back up to Turncouth Haven, which was south of Wiz’s and about a thirty minute drive away from Costlemark, which would hopefully mean more room. They hadn’t brought the tent, for some reason, but the sight of the stars twinkling above their heads as they lined up their sleeping bags was more than enough for Prompto, who grinned as he dove into his and stared up at the sky.

“I think you are finally learning why I like camping,” Gladio said from his left, and Prompto shifted onto his side with a grunt; Ignis was still fiddling with something over at the camp stove while Noct had already drifted off, and he met the Shield’s eyes with a little smile.

“I never disliked it, but I admit I wasn’t as...enthused as you are. But with a view like this, I could do this every night.” Prompto sighed in contentment as the large man scooted closer, Gladio’s warmth apparent even through two layers of sleeping bags as he rolled onto his back once more, enjoying the starlight until he dozed off. He didn’t wake up once during the night.

They returned to Costlemark for a few hours the next morning, where the volunteers fed them a surprisingly large and varied meal considering their relative isolation out there; Prompto found himself utterly ravenous, and it was only when Iggy leaned over and whispered in his ear did he notice how much he had eaten.

“Did I not make enough to eat last night?” Ignis said softly, and Prompto froze, taking stock at the plate in front of him. How many times had he refilled it already? He had been kind of hungry last night, maybe that’s what the problem was- “Prompto?”

“Oh, you’re fine, I think I was just a little hungrier than usual last night. You know my stomach was bothering me off and on until a few days ago, so I’m probably just trying to make that up,” he said, feeling oddly self-conscious. He usually wasn’t one to eat so much, not anymore-

“I’m pleased that your grace enjoys the meal so much! Will your travels be continuing on today?” The unofficial foreman spoke up, and he forced himself to smile politely and nod.

“Yes, we will be departing soon, unfortunately, but you know that the herald will probably be stopping in at some point this week. You’ll see one of us soon,” he stated, the rest of the sizeable gathering nodding.

“We look forward to seeing you again soon, your grace. Your presence blesses us every time you visit.”

Noct and the others wisely didn’t tease him too much about his answering blush as they said their farewells and departed, and just for Noct, they stopped at one of the ponds so he could try a little fishing. Even as the prince was gleefully casting out his line, a thought came to Prompto, and he turned to Gladio.

“Isn’t the middle of the day the worst time to go fishing? Too much light or something like that?” he said, only to be shushed by the other man.

“It is, but don’t let him hear you, he’ll want to stay all night-”

“I can totally hear you, you know,” Noct deadpanned, and Prompto chuckled as he got comfortable, resting his head on Gladio’s shoulder and closing his eyes.

“Wake me up when it’s time to go or if he catches something.”

About two fruitless hours later, the four of them headed northeast back towards Hammerhead, where they planned to stay for the night before heading back into Insomnia, and he enjoyed watching the darkening scenery go by, occasionally jotting down notes if he saw anything he wanted to talk to the king about later; the mood was mellow, and he just enjoyed being in everyone’s company as they travelled into the night, arriving at Hammerhead just in time to have a late dinner. Even after the sizable meal they had earlier in the day, Prompto cleaned his plate once again before vegging out in the booth waiting for everyone to finish. If anyone noticed, however, no one said anything. As they headed back towards the caravan, Noct looked up at the night sky, as beautiful as it was the day before, and smiled wistfully as he wrapped an arm around Prompto’s shoulders, pulling him in close.

“Wanna play hooky and stay out here a few more days?” the prince asked, his voice matching his expression, and Prompto really thought about it for a moment; it was tempting, the weather was cool and wonderful and no one really had pressing commitments...except for him. Damn. Prompto shook his head regretfully, then tilted his neck and lightly bonked his temple against Noct’s.

“Afraid not, his majesty is expecting me back tomorrow, we’ve gotta go over this stuff. I want to make sure I did it right,” he replied, and Noct huffed.

“Dad can wait, princely prerogative,” Noct stated with an affected whine as he pulled away, and Gladio snorted behind them as they entered the caravan, Prompto shucking his vest immediately then tumbling into the bed with a sigh.

“We can probably go out soon, the king said that if this goes well, he wants to send me back out again,” he said, rolling over onto his back as Noct sat down on the bed next to him. “You know, you guys don’t need to come, there’s going to be a point where it’s going to be impractical for you all to go, being the future king and all. I’ll probably have to ask somebody-” Noct patted his stomach, both cutting him off and making his tummy grumble sourly, leading to a glimmer of confusion from the prince.

“You alright? You can’t be still hungry…” Prompto flushed, rolling on his side and away from Noct as he ignored what sounded suspiciously like a smack behind him. “Ow, okay. Prom, I’m not trying to say anything specific, it was just a question,” Noct commented quietly, and Prompto sighed.

“Stomach’s a little unhappy, guess it didn’t like dinner. I’m fine.” He kept his back to the rest of the camper as he let himself drift; he absently listened to the others move around the caravan for some time before he dozed off. He was awoken once by Ignis, who suggested he get in more comfortable clothes and brush his teeth, but he only managed kicking his shoes off before losing consciousness once more.

Prompto’s mood didn’t really improve, although he managed to be pleasant, and the drive back to Insomnia was somewhat awkward as everyone kept to themselves, which just made him feel worse. His stomach continued to feel unsettled, and it was with him in full brood that they returned to the Citadel; he dropped off his bag back in Noct’s quarters and split, heading to the king’s office with his notebooks without a word to the others. He’d talk to them later, he just needed a little time away from them, although he couldn’t articulate why. When he knocked on the door to the king’s office, however, he realized that he probably should have asked after the man’s schedule, but luckily, he was in residence, and Lord Amicitia ushered him in, motioning to a seat.

“How did your trip go, Mr. Argentum?” the king asked as he got comfortable, setting his notebooks on his lap, and Prompto barely restrained a shrug, instead forcing himself to sit up straight and look professional even as his stomach twinged again.

“It went well enough, I talked to some people as well and took notes regarding what we had talked about before,” he said, his fingers fiddling with the edge of the notebook on top as the king smiled and nodded with an almost paternal air. His stomach burbled audibly, and his face warmed immediately as both the king and Lord Amicitia chuckled politely.

“I am certainly looking forward to going through everything with you, Prompto, but you didn’t need to rush straight here. You could have fetched yourself supper first-” Prompto shook his head immediately before realizing he had basically interrupted the man, and his face felt even hotter as he bit down on his bottom lip. Maybe his majesty was right, he should have waited until later- “Prompto, are you feeling well? You seem somewhat out of sorts. If you need, we can return to this tomorrow, a day certainly isn’t going to make a difference.” The looks on both men’s faces were concerned, and for a split-second, Prompto had the strongest urge to just cry. But he took a deep breath, shook his head, and opened the top notebook, looking down his notes on the area around the Chocobo Post.

“My stomach is just a little unhappy, I think it’s the residuals of a bug of some sort. It’s been bothering me off and on for a week. It’s nothing to be concerned with, your majesty, my lord, but I thank you for your concern,” he said, and he meant it. He just needed to get some rest and eat sensibly for awhile, it would get his moody tummy under control. The king seemed a bit unconvinced, but they finally got down to business, Prompto laying out what he thought would be needed for the various areas they had looked into, from parking issues to road maintenance, and both older men listened with apparent interest and very little interjections until he was wrapping up his thoughts on handling the crowds already at Costlemark. When he commented lightheartedly on Noct’s off-hand statement about elevators, it was Lord Amicitia who actually spoke up.

“Considering what I understand and remember of the architecture, I don’t see how that could work, except for the circular part of the structure. I’m curious, however-” Lord Amicitia leaned forward, propping an elbow on the desk and meeting Prompto’s eyes directly. “-those magic discs, like the one that can bring you from the lower level to the top in a blink of an eye. Perhaps you and Cor might be able to figure out how to make a few more to make the place easier to navigate? The lower levels that you all cleared a few months back go down sixty floors, right? That would tire even the most fit person out to trek up and down on a regular basis. If the goal is to allow people to live there full time again, certain modern amenities will definitely have to be seen to.” Prompto froze, his brow furrowing as he thought. He had no idea how the teleporting discs worked, but maybe he and Cor could figure something out. That was certainly the only way they’d be able to make it work practically-

“Mr. Argentum, I am very impressed with your work, especially as we were both sort of bumbling along with the idea without a significant amount of direction. Are you willing to submit a more formal report on the subjects we discussed? I think it would be best for me to have something more concrete to present to the council, as I don’t want to subject you to them without a little more experience under your belt. While most of them are perfectly kind, decent people, there’s a few that have…” the king trailed off, his expression more than a bit exasperated as he brought up a hand and scratched at his chin before lowering it. “There’s a few that do not quite understand your remaining presence here. I fully expect at least a few comments that perhaps you should move to Costlemark as soon as it is habitable, which is certainly not my wish, of course, and I would say that regardless of the nature of your relationship with my son.” Prompto could feel his cheeks warm once more, but the kind looks on both the king and Lord Amicitia’s faces reassured him, and he kept his mouth shut. “Your presence has been a great boon for the Citadel, Prompto; I’m not just speaking of your actions in defense of the nation and the world, but your heart, your personality- you brighten every room you enter, whether you are aware of it or not, and your insight has already helped many people, and I suspect that will only continue into the future. I thank you for it.”

Prompto spent the rest of their meeting feeling like he was combusting from the inside out from all the compliments, and by the time he returned to the royal floor, he was feeling in much better spirits, giving all three of his boyfriends proper kisses before enjoying a nice dinner, heading to bed soon after. His stomach had apparently finally decided it was in a good mood, and he cuddled into Gladio’s arms and fell asleep easily. He’d start on that report for the king in the morning.

Getting dressed the next day was a mood-killer, and Prompto finally gave up on his fitted jeans and put on some track pants, which he was pretty sure the others noticed. Damn. The thought of getting checked out at the infirmary made his skin crawl for some reason; he actually liked Dr. Domitia, but just the thought of seeing her made him want to run very far in the opposite direction.

He would figure it out.

 

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“Cor, you’ve slept through two alarms and me getting out of bed, did you stay up after I went to bed last night?” Nyx’s voice pierced Cor’s rather pleasant dream, and he cracked open his eyes to see that his pillow was standing next to the bed, fully-dressed for the day and looking down at him with his arms crossed, and it took several more seconds before his brain caught up with what the man had said.

“Wait, what? What time is it?” he mumbled, forcing himself upright with a groan, and Nyx snorted before looking down at his phone.

“It’s almost nine, sleepyhead. Good thing you live in the same place you work-” Cor scrambled out of bed, his body protesting as he dove for the dresser, ignoring as Nyx cackled behind him. “You know, babe, you are the boss, you can show up a few minutes late,” the Glaive commented, but Cor didn’t deign that statement worthy of response as he threw clothing on the bed and dashed into the shower, only to have a sudden rush of dizziness slam into him, causing him to stumble and fall against the shower door, only providence keeping it from falling from its track. “Cor? What was that? You okay?” Nyx’s voice was a welcome distraction as he closed his eyes and rested his forehead against the tile as he waited for the spinning to stop. He wasn’t a kid anymore, he needed to not just jump out of bed like that- “Cor?” The shower door opened, and a warm hand came to rest on the back of his neck. “You alright?”

“I got up too fast, that’s all. Pretend this never happened,” he groused, finally opening his eyes and stepping away from the wall as Nyx sighed, squeezing the base of his neck one more time before letting go.

“Don’t break your neck, considering I’ve already been accused once of trying to kill you, that would make for a very awkward situation,” Nyx said lightly, and Cor snorted out a laugh as he reached for the soap. “Guess it’s just one of those mornings, hm?” the younger man said as he walked back out of the bathroom, leaving Cor to attempt to shower without killing himself. Thankfully, whatever the dizziness had been, it did not re-occur, and he managed to finish up without further incident, coming out off the bathroom to discover that Nyx had waited for him to get out.

“You didn’t have to stay, you know,” he commented as he pulled on his clothes, and Nyx snorted, leaning in and giving him a quick kiss.

“I figured I’d just make sure, being a few minutes late isn’t going to kill either of us,” the Glaive replied, running his hands down Cor’s chest and smoothing his shirt. “You never answered my question from earlier, you know,” Nyx commented, and Cor blinked for a moment before remembering.

“No, I went to bed with you. I don’t know why I’m so tired,” he said honestly, yawning right on cue, and Nyx hummed.

“Well, maybe you had busy dreams or something. Try to get to bed earlier today?” Nyx said, and Cor nodded as they headed out the door together. “Up to a shortcut?” Cor rolled his eyes, grabbed Nyx’s arm and stepped, appearing outside of the Kingsglaive offices before nodding his goodbye and stepping once more, appearing only feet from his desk. As per their agreement, he knocked on the wall to let Monica know he was there, then sat down and started going through his paperwork. He was just having an off day. As Regis and Clarus loved to remind him, he wasn’t quite the kid he used to be.

“Cor, the troops are wondering if you’ve died in here.” Monica’s voice caused him to jolt upright, and Cor scowled at the puddle of drool on the paper in front of him. He had fallen asleep. Again. “Cor?” The door opened, and Monica’s head popped around the edge of the door, her questioning expression turning amused in an instant. “I think you have printing on your cheek. Didn’t sleep well?” Cor brought a hand up and scrubbed at said cheek for a moment before sighing.

“I thought I slept fine, but I slept through all the alarms and Nyx getting up and ready for work, so I’m guessing I didn’t. I think I need to walk around for a little while before I doze off again,” he replied, and Monica held up a finger, vanishing for a moment and returning with a little wipe of some sort.

“You might want to scrub your paperwork off your face, marshal. Not your best look,” Monica replied, handing him the face cleaning wipe and patting him on the shoulder. “If I don’t see you in ten, I’m coming back in to make sure you didn’t fall asleep again.”

“Thanks, I think.”

He did manage to clean his face off and go for a walk without falling asleep again, but even as the work day came to an end, he never managed to shake off the fatigue that had dogged him all day, and he garnered more than one concerned frown from Nyx as they ate their dinner. But his partner kept his opinion to himself as they transitioned from dinner to watching the news, then as they got ready for bed; he was careful not to lay down until Nyx was settled, then snuggled into his usual position and closed his eyes to the sensation of the Glaive running his fingers through his hair.

The next day wasn’t much better, but he at least woke up when Nyx got out of bed, giving him enough time to sit up and pretend that another short bout of dizziness didn't follow suit; thankfully, Nyx was in the shower, and didn't see him. Ugh. He managed to stay awake at work, helped by the fact that he was out in the field most of the day, and maintained enough visible energy to avoid getting any more worried glances from Nyx that evening.

The following day saw him sleep through everything again, but thankfully there was no dizziness as he hustled around to get to work before he was too late again, Nyx looking more exacerbated than worried.

“I wonder if you've caught a cold or something as to why you've been so sleepy the past few days,” Nyx mused, and Cor nodded immediately.

“Yeah, that must be it,” he answered agreeably, even though he had a growing suspicion that he didn't have anything of the sort. He was just a bit tired, that's all. Probably just his body making up for the month or ago where he skimped on sleep. He was almost fifty, after all. He was just getting old. After stepping Nyx to his office, he headed to his, where he did reports and paperwork for a few hours before heading to the gym to meet up with Prompto. He found the blond back at the shooting range as expected, his technique as perfect as ever as Cor watched. It was when his son turned around that he growled on impulse.

“You look like you haven't slept in a week,” he said flatly, and received a quality glower in return. Good, his kid was improving. A moment later, Prompto rolled his eyes as he sent his pistol back to the armiger.

“Pot, meet kettle. You look like shit, too, dad, what's going on?” Cor sighed, motioning to a nearby bench. Prompto followed his lead and they sat down together, his son leaning against his arm; they sat together silently for some time, just enjoying each other's company as they enjoyed the quiet. The shooting range was never all that packed, and Cor, for once, was happy for it.

“I'm just tired, Prompto, I've just felt a bit off all week. How about you?” The blond frowned, twisting his hands together aimlessly.

“My stomach has been weird off and on for a couple weeks now, and I'm alternating been eating everything in sight to barely hungry, but more the former than the latter. The problem is that I-” Prompto trailed off, and Cor jostled his arm to get him to continue. “-the problem is that everything I eat seems to be sticking. I’ve not said anything to the others, although I know they’ve noticed, but I’ve put on ten pounds in the last three weeks and I don’t know why. I’ve been coming down and working out, but nothing seems to work. I’ve gained a few pounds before that, too.” Cor’s eyes flicked over Prompto’s form, but he couldn’t see where the weight was going; Prompto was in a loose t-shirt and comfortable track pants, however, so it wasn’t the best way to tell. He couldn’t remember the last time he had weighed himself, but he knew that his son had struggled with his weight when he was young, and the last thing he wanted was to see him panic over it happening again.

“Just keep up sensible exercise and do your best to eat normally, and if you are especially concerned about it, you might want to go speak to Dr. Domitia. Don’t hide this from the others, you know they just want to help,” he advised, and gained both a nod and a snort from the blond.

“This, coming from you? What’s Nyx say about you being off?” Prompto needled, and Cor pinched the bridge of his nose and groaned silently.

“I suppose this is one of those do as I say not as I do moments, isn’t it? But he thinks I may have a bit of a cold,” Cor offered blandly, getting a raised eyebrow in return.

“Do you?” Prompto wasn’t an idiot, and Cor shook his head and sighed once more.

“No, I don’t think so.” Prompto’s expression told exactly what he thought, and he waved his hand dismissively. “Refer to my previous statement on not following my example,” he stated, and his son stuck out his tongue.

“What is that smell?” Prompto asked, but before Cor could answer, the younger man raised an arm and poked at the side of Cor’s head. “That’s right, it’s the smell of hypocrisy,” Prompto volunteered, a friendly smirk on his face, and before they knew it, the two of them were scuffling around on the bench, which ended with Cor holding the squirrelly blond with a half-assed headlock and an arm around his stomach, which let Cor finally register his son’s weight gain. Hm.

“Did you have lunch?” Cor asked, letting the young man loose, and Prompto shook his head.

“No, but now that you mention it, that sounds good!” Lunch it was. The Citadel cafe was surprisingly full, and the two of them ended up at one of the little tables that was really only sized for one, although the staff insisted they were for two, and stared at the menus that collided with each other every time they moved in the slightest. “I could eat everything on this page. I shouldn’t eat everything on this page.” Oh boy. Cor picked what he wanted, which was small (he wasn’t all that hungry) and closed his menu and laid it down on the table.

“Remember what I said earlier, Prompto,” he reminded his son, and Prompto took a deep breath and nodded.

“Sensible, right.” Fifteen minutes later saw Cor with a salad and a burger, while Prompto had ended up with the three-course steak meal; he raised an eyebrow, but didn’t say anything as the blond demolished his plate before Cor was even done with his own, and started eying up the dessert counter from his seat. Where was he putting everything?

“I’m not going to comment, but again, keep that in mind,” he said, and Prompto looked down at the table, biting his bottom lip.

“Yeah, you’re right. Man, I hope whatever this is stops soon, I’m tired of gaining weight,” Prompto hissed quietly as Cor finished the last few bites of his salad. “You’ve gotta go back to work, right?” Cor nodded, watching with a frown as Prompto slumped slightly. “Yeah, I need to finish up that report; Ignis looked it over and offered some suggestions, and I just need to tweak it to be more...professional. I don’t really have any experience with that, and Iggy has loads, so-”

“Excellent idea, Prompto. You’ll get more accustomed to the format and presentation in time, if you continue with your new position,” he said, and Prompto grinned.

“I have a good feeling about it, so I sure hope so!”

Cor and Prompto parted soon after, and Cor returned to his office once more, where he...promptly fell asleep again. Luckily, Monica tripped over something in her office around the usual time to leave, which woke him up before she could come in and tease him; after a quick inspection of his face to make sure there wasn’t any marks on it, he walked out into the bullpen, wished everyone a good night, then stepped back to his quarters seconds after walking out of the office, stumbling as a wave of disorientation overwhelmed his senses. He managed to make it to the sofa, where he collapsed, closing his eyes and waiting for the sensation to fade.

This wasn’t a cold.

He knew he needed to say something to Nyx, whose brows seemed to be in a permanent state of furrow as the days went on, but he...didn’t. Nyx tried to get him to talk about it, but Cor changed the subject every time it came up, and Cor forced down the growing guilt every time Nyx gave him that sad smile that told him that he was totally fucking up somewhere. By the time the next week rolled around, he was just exhausted; he was having dizzy spells off and on that he was doing his best to hide, but he knew that people were beginning to notice. His appetite seemed to be dwindling with every passing day, and he was having to force himself to eat while Prompto seemed to be having the opposite problem; he wouldn’t have known about anything more than what his son had told him the other day, but he came across Ignis and Gladiolus talking about Prompto, and he had shamelessly listened in. The fact that they both were out of sorts at the same time was concerning, but until he heard Ignis talk about how Prompto didn’t want to see the doctor either did it really click for him, and he began to wonder. Why would they both be sick? The goddess had specifically reassured them that their link would be innately manageable from the time of their ascension, for lack of a better word, and that situations like the mess in Niflheim wouldn’t be repeated unless either of them deliberately reached out at full strength-

“Marshal?” Cor looked up to see Dustin lingering in his office doorway, and forced himself to sit up.

“What do you need, Dustin?” he asked, and the wiry man dithered in the doorway for a moment before Cor gestured him in firmly, Dustin shutting the door behind him and standing at attention in front of his desk, his expression fiercely neutral. A chill went down his spine before he motioned to a chair. “I’ve obviously fucked up something, I’ve known you too long to translate that look any other way,” he sighed, and Dustin’s eyebrow twitched upwards on his forehead as he sat, the man bringing up his arms and propping his elbows on his knees, then steepling his fingers together. Oh yeah, he was in trouble.

“Sir, I wish to discuss some concerns the Guard has, and I figured it best to just say it directly rather than letting it linger,” Dustin stated, and Cor nodded slowly, then motioned him to continue. “We are growing increasingly concerned about your health, marshal, while you went through one of your old-fashioned work binges a month or so ago, not even bringing up your week of...forced vacation, you were apparently on the mend until a few weeks ago. Now you, to be utterly frank, sir, look like you are getting run over by a behemoth on a daily basis. You barely eat, you look like you haven’t slept in weeks, and I’ve heard at least two different people say that you looked like you were having moments of dizziness or vertigo,” Dustin said flatly, and Cor had to bite his own tongue to keep from saying anything ill-advised. “We are not questioning your competence as marshal and as our leader, sir, we are simply speaking from worry. I’ve known you for almost thirty years, Cor, and I’ve never seen you like this.” Dustin sat back in his chair after he was done speaking, and Cor slumped slightly, his eyes flicking down to look at his twisting fingers.

“That obvious, huh?” he whispered, and Dustin sighed.

“I’m afraid so. I’m going to ask one thing just to get it off the table, because unfortunately certain attitudes still persist among a few of our number. I do not believe anything of the sort is the case, however-”

“Dustin, if this is going the way I think it is-”

“There are a few unnamed individuals who have expressed concerns about your partner, and I fear they believe that he is unduly pressuring or hurting you in some way. They have no proof of anything, of course, and simply point to the fact that you had never been like this before you two came together. Never mind that you’ve had many other things happen around the same time…” Dustin trailed off, and Cor realized that he was practically growling and shut his mouth.

“Sorry. So there’s still some pulling that shit, huh? No, Nyx has been worried about me too, before you ask, and he certainly isn’t doing something to cause this. Just the opposite, if anything. I’m getting tons of sleep, unlike a few months ago...it just isn’t helping. I’m sleeping through alarms, I’m falling asleep in here...I-” Cor cut himself off, looking up and meeting Dustin’s eyes straight on. “This is going to sound crazy.”

“Sir, you don’t have to tell me anything-”

“Something in my head has been telling me ever since the strangeness started that I’m perfectly fine, and it’ll pass on its own, that it’s just a...transition. Part of me is wondering if it’s some sort of strange physical leftovers from the ceremonial stuff I had to handle a few months ago. Just the thought of going to the infirmary makes me want to run the opposite direction, which isn’t generally like me-” Dustin raised an eyebrow, and Cor conceded the white lie with a huff before continuing. ”It’s...strange. But you’re right, I just feel off.” Cor managed to finish his piece without freezing up, and Dustin blinked at him in clear shock, before visibly composing himself and sitting up straight.

“Well, there is one thing that your partner has caused,” Dustin said with a straight face, and Cor arched an eyebrow.

“And what’s that?”

“You wouldn’t have told me any of that a year and a half ago. You would have grunted a thanks for your concern and I’m fine and that would have been the end of it. Between Ulric and that delightful young man you've effectively adopted, you've become somewhat more outgoing than you once were,” Dustin finished, and Cor? He couldn’t argue with that. “So, sir, what are you going to do? Wait it out and hope it goes away? I don’t think that’s going to work too much longer if you get worse-” Cor closed his eyes for a moment, breathing audibly through his nose.

“I’m going to give myself a little longer, and see how I do. I can still work, I’m maybe just not quite at one hundred percent. I just...I really don’t want to go to the infirmary. I’ve never had this sheer aversion to it before, which truly makes me think it’s something having to do with my...other role.” Dustin looked somewhat skeptical, but took his statement at face value, rising to his feet and nodding.

“Take care of yourself, sir, and if you need any of us for anything, just say so. I know it’s been a rather hectic year and a half, but we’ve come out the other side, and looking pretty well for it. We want to make sure you remain in good shape for the future as well.” Dustin nodded once more then exited his office, closing the door behind him; Cor stared blankly where the man had stood for long enough that his eyes began to burn before he finally folded his arms and laid his head down on top of them with a tired sigh. Not everyone was going to be so easy to convince.

The week continued on, and he even managed to go out into the city for work a few times without issue, but the constant fatigue dogged his every step, and he was ruing the day when a member of the public noticed something as well. Nyx was not happy with him, but had largely kept his opinions to himself (if not his concerned looks.) Cor didn’t deserve him. He knew he needed to go get checked out, but when he almost hyperventilated himself unconscious in his own damn office after seriously considering it, he discarded that idea. He would manage. Like he had told Dustin, it was temporary. It had to be.

Usually their Friday night dinner was a special one; sometimes they cooked, sometimes they went out, they often ordered in, but by the end of Cor’s second full week of feeling like increasing levels of crap, the mood between them was strained. He could barely force himself to eat more than just a small amount of the otherwise excellent meal that Nyx had ordered from the one Galahdian restaurant within walking distance of the Citadel that he liked (he had long learned not to ask what was wrong with the others, and doubly learned not to do it in Libertus’s hearing; the resulting lecture had taken almost a half-hour.) After barely finishing a plate that had held not even half of his usual serving, he pushed it aside as he watched Nyx finish his far more respectably sized meal, his head growing heavy with exhaustion as the Glaive carefully did not meet his eye.

“It was good, thank you,” he offered, and Nyx nodded without raising his head as he finished the last few bites of his meal, then set his utensils down on the plate with a clatter.

“Did you get enough to eat?” Nyx said as he finally looked up, and Cor nodded, managing a slight twitch of a smile.

“You know I like that place,” he replied, and the younger man looked down at Cor’s plate before sighing and picking up their dishes, heading into the kitchen and dumping them in the sink.

“For someone who likes that place, you ate about a child-sized portion,” Nyx said blandly, and Cor stiffened. “Your meals have been steadily shrinking all week, and if what I’ve heard is true, Prompto is doing the exact opposite. He was observed in the cafe eating two full meals without so much as a pause for breath a few days ago, only to look, and I quote from Pelna, like he had let his dog die, he looked so guilty after,” Nyx stated, and Cor was surprised enough that he jerked slightly as the Glaive abandoned the dishes in the sink and came back to the table, coming to a stop next to him with his arms crossed. “Cor, what in the hell is going on?” Cor stared up at him, his mouth opening, then closing, then opening for several repetitions before Nyx finally sighed and sat down next to him, reaching out and cupping his jaw with his hand. “I’ll be honest, I thought you were done with the strange physical reactions thing after your ascension, but you two seem to be right back at it again?”

“I don’t know, I don’t even know if our issues are related this time,” Cor finally admitted, and Nyx’s thumb stroked his cheek.

“Now we are getting somewhere. I don’t suppose you’ve gone to see Dr. Domitia yet-” Cor tore away from Nyx’s touch and leapt to his feet, his heart racing as that confusing fear overwhelmed him like a tidal wave; the expression that overtook Nyx’s face was one he didn’t think he had ever seen focused on him, and his stomach dropped to his toes. Was this it? Was this the thing that finally tipped Nyx over the edge? The sheer fury in the younger man’s eyes was so intense that he found himself doing something he almost never did, and before he realized it, he had backed up all the way to the sofa, Nyx following his every move. “What the hell was that?” Nyx hissed from only a few feet away, and Cor tried to get an answer out, but he couldn’t make himself speak. After a few moments of Cor swallowing heavily and Nyx scowling fiercely, Nyx cursed and stomped back into the kitchen, Cor wincing internally at the sound of the dishes clattering together. He couldn’t explain it because he didn’t even understand himself, but he couldn’t even get himself to come out and say it as Nyx noisily put the dishes away before walking past him without a word and going into the bedroom, and he listened to the man go through drawers as Cor ran his hands over his face. He had explained it to Dustin, but-

“Nyx? I- I don’t know if I can explain it, but I-” Nyx strode out with an old t-shirt and pants slung over his shoulder, and Cor felt suddenly faint, stumbling just enough that he was forced to grab the back of the sofa as the other man walked up to him, his breath close enough to feel on his cheek as he raised a hand and laid it on the back of Cor’s neck.

“Cor, I need a little time. And before you panic, I’m not leaving you, you silly moogle, I just need to get some air before I strangle one or both of us, okay? I’ll be back in a bit. Get some rest,” Nyx said softly, leaning in and giving him a soft kiss on his lips before pulling away and turning for the door.

“Nyx?” Cor said, his voice strained, and the Glaive half-turned in the doorway, his expression drained as he scrounged up a tiny smile.

“Get some sleep, babe, I’ll be back soon.” The door closed behind him decisively, and Cor barely made it into the bedroom, his chest aching and his head spinning as he flopped onto the mattress, grabbing Nyx’s pillow and burrowing his face into its familiar scent. He had finally done it. He had finally fucked up enough that he had driven his ever-patient partner away, and he only had himself to blame. He didn’t cry that night, but it was close; when Cor awoke the next morning, feeling like he hadn’t slept a wink, he was still laying on top of the blankets, wrapped bodily around Nyx’s pillow and realizing with heart wrenching dismay that the Glaive was nowhere to be seen. He had probably gone to his office or the barracks.

After a few minutes of wallowing, he forced himself to get up, walking into the bathroom on somewhat unsteady legs, heading to the sink and splashing some cold water on his face before looking at himself in the mirror. Nyx was right to worry, and the mirror told Cor that handily. His cheeks were thinner than usual, the dark circles under his eyes were competing with his equally exhausted eyes for supremacy, and even his lips were dry and cracked. He was half surprised that someone hadn’t started a rumor about drug use. He pulled his shirt off, noting where he looked a touch thinner at the arms, only to get freeze at the sight of his waist. He had no clue how, but he had thought his pants had felt a little more snug over the past few weeks, and the slightest bit of softness around the midsection appeared to put paid to the reason. Cor groaned, letting his hand pat the oddly firm fluff before dropping his arm to his side. What in the hell was going on with him?

He threw his shirt back on and walked out of his bedroom towards the main room, the sound of a very familiar buzzing snort cutting into his increasing worry; he approached the sofa slowly, his whole body sagging in relief at the sight of Nyx sprawled across its too small frame, sound asleep and snoring quietly. He had come back. Cor reached out to him, letting his fingers brush the man’s long hair before he pulled away. Maybe he could make them breakfast, start the day out on a more settled footing. Feeling better with a task in mind, he headed into the kitchen and began gathering the usual supplies, setting to work frying eggs and sausages; when he was popping bread in the toaster, soft footsteps approached from behind, and he sighed as strong arms wrapped around his waist.

“I’m sorry,” Nyx said softly as his head came to rest against the back of Cor’s neck. “I just got so fucking angry there for a moment, and I wanted to leave before I said something I was really going to regret.” Cor stared down at the toaster blankly, his heart pounding in his chest. He...what?

“Why are you sorry? I’m the one being an idiot about this-” Nyx’s forehead moved back and forth against the back of his neck, cutting him off.

“While I’m not exactly disagreeing there, I shouldn’t have cornered you against the damn sofa. That wasn’t...I shouldn’t have done it. I know better. So again, I’m sorry,” Nyx said, his tone firm, and Cor ignored the toast when it popped up and turned in the Glaive’s arms, leaning over enough to press his forehead against Nyx’s.

“We really aren’t used to fighting, are we?” Cor murmured, and Nyx snorted a rather strangled sounding laugh.

“We aren’t.” Nyx leaned in, meeting Cor’s lips for a long, soothing moment before pulling away. “There are many things that drive me mad, and seeing someone I love and care about fall apart in front of me is probably right at the top of that list. I don’t know why you don’t want me to bring up a certain thing, but please, Cor, give me something. ” Cor twitched, feeling that same panic from the night before flicker at the back of his mind, but he stood his ground. Nyx deserved better.

“Give...give me a week. Let me see how I’m doing, if I’m not on the mend by next weekend, I’ll-” he swallowed heavily as Nyx remained silent. “I’ll go see Dr. Domitia. I promise.”

Nyx was so happy with him that he didn’t comment on the burned everything they had  for breakfast after they were done talking (he had left the burners on low to keep the food warm,) and Cor just was happy the man hadn’t truly left, as pathetic as it sounded. He had no idea how he had become so accustomed to having the younger man there with him, eating with him, sitting by him on his old couch with his legs slung over his, sleeping with him in the oversized bed that Regis had gifted him when he became marshal (because that’s a normal gift friends give each other) that just a few fucking hours apart after a fight and he was a complete wreck. He’d say that those few ignorant bastards that still lingered in the Crownsguard had the tiniest bit of a point about him being different after getting together with the man, but as far as he was concerned, he was a better person for being with Nyx, and he was a happier person for it. They could go fuck themselves.

He awoke on Sunday feeling somewhat rejuvenated, and spent a nice day with his partner just relaxing and watching third-rate documentaries about various regions of Lucis (they both liked insulting the narrators when they got details wrong.) He continued feeling decent, if not great, on Monday, much the same on Tuesday and Wednesday, and was even up to seeing how Prompto was doing on Thursday. He decided not to chance fate and took the elevator up to the royal floor, walking to the prince’s rooms and knocked on the door.

“Come in!” Prompto’s voice was clear and chipper, and Cor keyed in and stepped through the door, closing it behind him. “Hey dad! I wasn’t expecting you.” He turned to see his son standing on the carpet a few feet away, and almost had a double-take; Prompto looked visibly rounder in the belly than he had just a week and change prior, but otherwise looked well enough. His face around his jawline seemed a bit softer as well, and when Prompto gave him a deadpan look, Cor realized he had been just standing there staring at him.

“Ah, my apologies, son. How are you doing?” he said, working his boots off and walking up to the shorter man, who looked rather dubiously at him in response. “What?”

“One, I really do look super fat, right? The others are trying not to say anything, but they keep having these looks on their faces-” Cor sighed, raising an arm and putting his hand on Prompto’s shoulder, and the blond raised an eyebrow. “You don’t really look any better than you did the other day, you know. You still look like you haven’t slept in a week, and you look like you’ve actually lost a little weight. How are you doing?” his son asked, and Cor frowned as he raised his other hand and pinched the bridge of his nose.

“I’ve been better, but I’ve been okay the last few days. I’m hoping I’m almost over whatever this is,” he said, and Prompto tilted his head towards the living room, and they both sat down on the prince’s incredibly comfortable sofa, his son tipping over until his head was resting on Cor’s shoulder.

“Do you freak out at the thought of going to the infirmary too? It’s so weird, I mean, I’ve been there a ton of times, it’s not like it’s my favorite place, but my head has been going nonono when it comes up the past few weeks, and I nearly knocked Iggy out by accident when he brought it up. Don’t ask.” Cor really wanted to ask, but he behaved himself, nodding in response to his son’s question. “Isn’t it weird? Why are we so weird? When you really think about all this stuff, it’s just wacky, but well, she chose us, we get to have fun with it, I guess-” Prompto was speaking at lightning speed, and Cor sighed, letting his head fall back to the back of the sofa.

“I’ve thought much the same over the years. But we were dealt a specific hand, to butcher the phrase, and we must play it. We’ve done pretty well for ourselves, even if we continue to have...moments. Like these. Unfortunately.” Prompto reached down and cradled one of his hands in his own, then hummed. “What’s up?”

“Your hands look a little funny to me, maybe it’s your fingers? They look a bit bigger than usual?” Cor lifted his head and glanced down at his hand, and it was possible Prompto had a point. Just another damn thing at this point. He let his head fall back to the sofa, and his son thankfully dropped the subject. They talked for a few more minutes, both of them neatly avoiding delving further into what was wrong with either of them before Cor dozed off, Prompto’s head heavy on his shoulder.

“Prom, we’re home-” Cor grumbled at the sound of someone yelling, and he adjusted his head on its perch. “Oh, Cor’s over, looks like they’re taking a nap.” That was the prince talking, of course, but Cor kept his eyes stubbornly closed as footsteps sounded their approach.

“Noct, don’t bother them, they’ve had a rough few weeks.” Ignis, that time, and he barely kept from scowling at the statement. Citadel gossip is too damn-

“I thought those rumors were overstating, but Cor looks rough, guys, seriously; he looks like he hadn’t had a square meal in a week, along with a proper night’s sleep for at least as long. Isn’t that strange, though, Prom’s getting...plumper, and Cor looks wrung out. Do you think it’s another Dawnsworn thing?” Noctis stated, and even Cor, who was still pretending to be asleep, couldn’t help but be pleased with the prince’s theory. If it was, though, what was it, and why? He certainly couldn’t think of anything-

“Have neither of you noticed that at least Cor is totally faking being asleep right now?” Gladiolus, and Cor found himself even more proud; Gladiolus had always been an observant boy, if somewhat tempestuous, and he had honed his natural talents extraordinarily well over the years. Cor blinked his eyes open, fixing his gaze immediately on Noctis, who colored remarkably gracefully as Cor patted Prompto (who had remained asleep) on the shoulder as he sat up.

“I’m very well aware that we both seem to have something strange going on with us, and no, I have no idea why. Hopefully it goes away soon.” All three of his son’s partners looked at him dubiously, and he couldn’t bring himself to say much of anything else before bidding all four men a good night, giving Prompto a hug before leaving. “If you need me for anything, Prompto, just call.”

Just as Cor had been hoping he was on the mend, he woke up Friday feeling like it was the previous week all over again, his appetite and energy completely nonexistent as he barely managed to drag himself into the shower, Nyx following him with worry shadowing his every move. It was the final nail in the coffin regarding seeking out medical attention, and they both knew it.

“Why don’t you stay home today, Cor? The office will survive without you, you could use the rest.” Nyx was near pleading, but he shook his head, barely masking the immediate surge of dizziness as the younger man sighed.

“No, I want to finish the week out, I’ll go see her tomorrow. I promised you, didn’t I?” he said, his voice shaky, and Nyx nodded slightly, his face drawn and tense.

“You did. Alright, Cor, do you need me to do anything for you before I leave?” Nyx offered, and Cor managed to scrounge up a little smile and gave a tiny shake of his head.

“No, I’ll be fine. I’ll see you tonight.”

He was not fine, but he managed to step to work, only to grow so dizzy that he fell to his little sofa, the world spinning around him as he tried not to throw up. He was out of options. He managed to get some paperwork done and grunt at a few people in-between naps before staggering back to his quarters, barely managing to get undressed before collapsing into bed. Nyx joined him sometime later, and Cor fell asleep to Nyx’s arms wrapped firmly around him. It was the best he had felt all day.

Chapter Text

Nyx awoke Saturday morning to find Cor still sound asleep, his features as drawn and bleak as they had been for the past few weeks with the night’s rest seemingly not even having an effect. Cor was going to the fucking infirmary today. He wasn’t going to be allowed to flake out of it any longer, even if Nyx still remembered that look of absolute terror that had overwhelmed the older man’s features after he had brought it up a week ago. That had scared the shit out of him too, and he still wasn’t proud of his immediate response. Cor shifted slightly, his face turning until his nose was jammed even more into Nyx’s chest scars, and Nyx let his hands run over Cor’s back and sides, slowing when they came to rest on Cor’s lower sides near his stomach. He thought he had seen Cor struggling to button his pants the other day, which had seemed so patently absurd given how little he had been eating, but he could feel an unexpected plushness where there had been only firm muscle. Huh.

He lounged around in bed with the still-firmly unconscious marshal until he decided to get up and shower, carefully sliding his partner off of his usual sleeping perch and onto the mattress, only hearing a bit of a grumble before Cor settled into his new position. Good. Nyx got out of bed and walked straight into the bathroom, stepping out of his underwear as he fired up the shower. He’d never get over the flash heating of the water, unlike the ages it took for the water in his old apartment to even reach lukewarm, and he stood under the warm spray, the pulsating jets soothing his muscles. A little part of him still internally grumbled about rich people and their swanky setups, but he knew he’d be pretty hypocritical at this point, especially after living in the Citadel for almost two years. After a little while of just relaxing and enjoying the massage, he actually set to bathing, and after his usual routine of letting down his hair and scrubbing down, he let himself stand under the stream for a minute longer, only to hear a loud thud from what sounded like the bedroom.

“Cor?” he said, pitching his voice a bit louder as he made sure he was fully rinsed off. No answer, and Nyx turned off the water, grabbing his towel and quickly drying off. “Babe? You alright?” Still no answer, and ice began to trickle through his veins as he wrapped the towel around his hips and bustled out of the bathroom, only to discover the bed empty. “Cor?” He continued out of the bathroom, seeing no sign of the other man until he saw what looked like a bare foot in the kitchen on the other side of the bar nook. “Cor!” Nyx ran to the unmoving Cor, where he was sprawled on his side on the kitchen tile, and took quick stock of his limbs before carefully patting the unconscious man’s cheeks. “Cor, babe, I need you to wake up,” he said desperately, giving Cor a little shake. “Goddess, I hope we didn’t wait too long-” Nyx spent at least several minutes trying to wake his partner, but after getting little more than a few groans in return, he knew he had to bring in the calvary. Carefully setting Cor’s head back down, he got to his feet and went to find his phone, immediately dialing Dr. Domitia’s number.  

“What is it, Captain? Isn’t this your day off-”

“It’s Cor. He’s passed out, and I can’t wake him. He’s breathing alright, and his pulse is...okay; we were going to come see you today anyway, but now-”

“If the Citadel scuttlebutt is correct, he’s looked half dead for at least two weeks, while Mr. Argentum is putting on weight like he’s planning to survive in the cold waters of the Lucinia Sound. Keep trying to wake the marshal, I’ll have an emergency crew up there in a few minutes,” the doctor said, ending the call instantly; Nyx ran into the bedroom and quickly got dressed before pocketing his hair ties, grabbing Cor’s cell phone, and wetting a washcloth before returning to the still man’s side, running the wet cloth over his face. That got more of a reaction; Cor groaned again, shifting slightly in a clear attempt to avoid the cloth, and Nyx couldn’t help the tiniest hint of a smile as he continued his attack, leading to an increasing amount of little groans and moans as Cor squirmed under his ministrations.

“Come on, Cor, for a guy they call the Immortal, you’ve had a bad habit lately of falling unconscious in random places-”

There was a knock at the door, followed by it opening a second later just as Cor’s eyes blinked open, looking hazily around before fixing on Nyx’s face. Nyx heaved a sigh of relief, then leaned over and gave him a quick kiss before moving back and letting the infirmary staff take over, Cor rousing enough to start protesting semi-coherently as they put him on a wheeled stretcher, getting him settled before rolling him towards the door, the older man’s voice beginning to get louder as they headed out into the hall.

“Cor, it’s okay. Just a quick trip, okay? The doc will have you patched up in no time, just...relax,” Nyx said in his ear as they headed to the elevator, and Cor’s bleary gaze locked on him once more.

“I...I feel awful. I’ve never felt like this before,” Cor mumbled, and Nyx sighed, ignoring the nurses or whatever they were as he rested a hand on Cor’s forehead, which felt clammy to the touch, letting his thumb brush through the older man’s hairline.

“I can tell. Just relax, Cor. I’m sure you’ve just caught a bug or something.” Nyx had a feeling it wasn’t anything of the sort, but well-

In what was sheer luck, they only passed a few people before they arrived at the infirmary, and Nyx was motioned to remain behind as they rolled Cor into the back. Now to wait. Nyx sat down heavily into the first seat he got to, staring at the patterned carpet at his feet as he tried to decompress. After a moment, he pulled his hair ties and wires out of his pocket and went about braiding his hair as he went down his mental checklist. Cor had been feeling poorly for weeks. His appetite had steadily dwindled, his energy had fled even faster, and while the stubborn old bastard had been trying to hide it, he had been having some sort of dizzy spells. That didn’t sound minor in the slightest, but after all the shit they had gone through over the past year and such, all Nyx could do was hope against hope that it was minor.

After stewing for longer than he wanted to admit to, Nyx pulled out his phone, staring at the screen for a moment before dialing Lord Amicitia, bringing the device to his ear.

“Amicitia.”

“It’s Ulric, sir. I…” Nyx took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. “I just wanted to inform you and his majesty that the marshal is in the infirmary, he passed out in the kitchen when I was in the shower and I was forced to call for an emergency pickup. He woke up when they arrived, but-” He could hear Amicitia take a sharp breath himself as he spoke.

“I’ve heard that he has looked horrible for the past few weeks, had he not gone to the infirmary already?” Amicitia asked, and Nyx scowled.

“No, he flat refused to go, and looked downright spooked when I asked him last week. I have no idea what the hell is going on with him, but between him and the kid-”

“Prompto I’ve seen, and he’s probably twenty pounds heavier than he was two months ago. Is this another them thing?”

“Honestly, sir, I don’t know. They don’t seem to know either, so-” The door to the infirmary opened, admitting Prompto, Ignis, and Noctis, who seemed to be all but dragging the definitely plumper blond into the room. “His highness, Ignis, and Prompto just arrived, I have no idea why. I’ll call later when I have an update.” After Amicitia grunted his understanding, Nyx ended the call, getting to his feet and facing Prompto, who looked downright disgruntled. “Why are you three here? I was going to call you next, Prompto-” He could see when the three men really registered who was talking to them, and they stiffened.

“Wait, why are you here? We got a call from Dr. Domitia, saying she wanted to see Prompto immediately,” Noctis announced, and Nyx grimaced. If she’s calling for Prompto, then what had she found?

“Cor passed out this morning, it took over ten minutes to get him awake again, I had to call for them to come get him,” he admitted, and Prompto gasped audibly, his expression torn before he turned and headed to the desk, where he was admitted to the back, leaving the now three of them behind to wait some more. “Is Gladio coming?” he asked, and Ignis nodded.

“Yes, he was doing some instruction in the training rooms, he should be here at any time now. I hope the good doctor can finally determine what has been going on with the two of them, as it has become increasingly concerning,” Ignis said, and both Nyx and Noctis nodded in agreement. They all sat down, conversation drying up as Nyx returned to waiting; Gladio joined them about five minutes later, getting a quick explanation before the big man sat down as well, his expression pensive.

“This feels different than the other shit that they’ve gone through, and I’m not including that wackiness from a few months ago. Could it be coincidence this time? I know that’s unlikely, but-” Gladio closed his mouth, raising an arm and scrubbing a hand through his hair. “Fuck.” Nyx agreed entirely. A few more awkward minutes passed by quietly, Nyx staring off into outer space while the others played with their phones. They all jerked upright when the door to the examination rooms opened, Dr. Domitia standing tall with her hands on her hips and the most done expression Nyx had ever seen on the old woman’s face. This was not a person coming out to tell them bad news, this was someone who was ramping up a good lecture.

“You four, follow me.” The doctor waited until they were a few feet away before swinging the door wide, letting them in. “You, in that room, you three, over in that one. I thought about doing this together, but I don’t want to deal with you all at the same time,” Dr. Domitia grumbled as she pointed, and the four of them exchanged a confused look before following her instructions, Nyx entering the indicated room with the doc at his heels. Cor was awake, but clearly very groggy; he was hooked up to an IV, and what appeared to be several monitors as well, and Nyx moved to his side and sat down, taking his hand. Cor’s fingers seemed somewhat swollen, which made Nyx swallow heavily before meeting the man’s eyes.

“You okay, babe?” he asked, and Cor nodded sluggishly.

“Just exhausted. I have no idea what’s going on, she wouldn’t tell me anything,” Cor said softly, and Nyx turned as the doctor closed and locked the door behind her, which was definitely not usual procedure before pulling a book out of her large pockets, which caused both Nyx and Cor to suck in a sharp breath. Why was she wielding a copy of the Book?

“I am eighty-two years old, gentlemen. I have reattached limbs, seen three kings in power, and watched as Niflheim ran roughshod over my home for decades on end. I have seen an ornery little scrap of a boy grow up to be the most respected warrior in Lucis, and possibly beyond, and I have seen that boy help save this entire ill-begotten wreck of a planet from its imminent demise. I have survived to see the empire on the verge of total collapse, and to see the most spectacular holy light fill the sky from a resurrected ancient temple. Now that boy is not so much anymore, and is lying here looking like he hasn’t seen a square meal since the battle here last year,” Dr. Domitia stated, and both Nyx and Cor stared at her as the old woman began to bounce the book against her own shoulder. “Marshal, how old are you turning in less than a week?” The non-sequitur threw them both off, but Cor licked his lips.

“Forty-seven.” Domitia nodded once, sharply, then moved in a few steps closer. Nyx felt like he was a garula being stalked by a coeurl.

“Forty-seven. Did you two ever consider that this damn book might actually be accurate in everything? Or only in what you had personally observed?” Nyx blinked at the old woman before turning to look at Cor, who looked equally confused, and finally turned back towards the doctor, his stomach and chest growing ever tighter as her lecture continued. “That’s what I thought. I’m not too worried about the kid, he’s nice and young, but you. You are getting to the point I wouldn’t even be advising average people to go through with it, but well, both of you two just had to have male partners-”

“What is going on?” Nyx snapped, before pressing his lips together and gritting his teeth. “Sorry.” The doctor opened the book, flipped to a specific page, then extended it towards the two of them; Nyx took it and glanced over what she had indicated, not really seeing what was on the page and having to reread it again before he looked up. “We’ve read this before. Why is it-” Nyx’s vision actually went completely white for a moment as the contents of said page finally worked their way into his brain, combining with the odd statements that she had been making, and only Cor’s frantic patting of his hand forced him to shake his head and squint up at the old doctor, who was actually looking rather...understanding. “No.”

“Yes.”

“No.” Dr. Domitia claimed the book from his lax fingers, setting it within Cor’s reach.

“Yes, Captain, I’m quite certain,” the woman said as Cor picked up the book himself, and Nyx managed to turn just in time to see Cor lose any bit of color he had on his face, the book falling from his fingers.

“Those tests you were doing, I thought I had a stomach tumor or something the way you were going at me with the ultrasound machine, but you are saying-” Cor swallowed heavily, looking at Nyx with an expression that was an odd mix of hopeful and completely terrified, and Nyx tightened his grip on Cor’s hand as he tried not to hyperventilate.

“To finish what I was saying, I’m eighty-two years old, and you two are...pregnant. Here I thought I had seen it all, but you two never cease to amaze me, let me tell you,” the doctor said, stepping away from the pair and picking some sort of film off of the table. “I certainly don’t know the particulars, but I’m guessing your ritual at Costlemark was the instigator, or at least the key that unlocked your ability to do this, because I’m quite positive you’d already be a parent by this time otherwise-” Wait, she said two.

“Doc, are you saying that the kid is too?” Nyx got out, and Cor made a strangled sound that sounded like it was coming from the depths of the planet, and Nyx found himself patting his partner’s hand in sympathy automatically as Domitia sighed, bringing over the film and laying it down on the white sheet at Cor’s feet.

“What’s even worse in your case with your age is that the whole fertility thing appears to be quite accurate, if you can see what I’ve discovered here.” Nyx leaned in, and the doctor didn’t even need to explain as he could clearly see two distinct skulls, and that seemed to be the moment when his brain decided that enough was enough, and a few hazy minutes seemed to pass before something sharp and acrid moved under his nose.

“Ugh, what-” The doctor stepped back, closing the little jar, and Nyx shook his head roughly trying to clear it. “Holy shit,” he gasped. “Cor-” he mumbled, stumbling to his feet and reaching out to grab his partner, who looked like he had shot straight past shock and had reached some sort of transcendental level of acceptance. Well, at least one of them had. “Cor, are you alright? This is...okay, right? Whatever you want to do, I’m totally okay with. Wait, if this is what’s been going on, why have you been having-” Cor’s hand came to rest against Nyx’s cheek, and Nyx ground to a halt, staring at the man wide-eyed and shellshocked as Cor’s mouth twitched a bit upwards.

“As relaxed as I am now, Nyx, either I’m in complete shock, or some well-hidden instinct is telling me this is absolutely normal. I’m guessing it’s a combination of the two. Deep breaths, Nyx, Dr. Domitia still needs to talk to those four-” Cor’s smile vanished at his last comment, and Nyx had finally pulled himself enough to realize a very big problem with Prompto being pregnant that he and Cor didn’t have to worry about. It was a distraction, but he needed one at the moment before he freaked out again.

“You’ve got to tell the king, don’t you? Isn’t it the law that notice is always given of possible heirs to the throne?” Nyx said, his voice still a little strained, but Dr. Domitia nodded sharply in response.

“Yes, that’s the other reason I wanted to tell you two first, less drama,” the doc said, then she locked her eyes on the two of them. “Cor, you are far too old to be having twins. Especially when this is your first pregnancy, and yes, I still am coming to terms that this is a thing I am actually saying. Your blood pressure is going up and down like a yo-yo, your appetite has fled to the point that you are only two pounds heavier than you were at your annual checkup earlier this year, which is very concerning considering I’m estimating you are around fifteen weeks at this point, and at this rate, you are going to be on bedrest for most of this pregnancy if you can’t turn things around. You will be here for at least a few days while I pump you full of nutrients and appetite-stimulating medication, and you will not be leaving until you are eating normally and have put on a little weight. I don’t have the results back, but it appears the babies are perfectly fine, but you are actually showing early signs of organ failure, or at least possible pre-eclampsia. I’m guessing your unique physiology is even more drastic in protecting its cargo, and thusly, we need to make sure you remain in good shape.” Cor was still pale, but Nyx nodded right along with him as Domitia headed towards the door.

“How is Prompto? He’s not...he’s in better shape, right?” Cor asked, and Domitia smiled.

“Yes, he’s as healthy as a chocobo, well, one who fell into the feed trough and ate for three weeks straight, at any rate. He’s almost gained too much weight, but not anywhere near dangerous levels, before you worry, and from what I got out of him, his appetite is starting to return to normal. It was probably his body trying to catch up, because I can’t think of anything else,” the doctor said, then sighed. “Their turn. Stay here and relax for now, I sense this isn’t going to go as smoothly.” The doctor left, closing the door behind her, and Nyx stared blankly at the closed door as Cor shifted in bed next to him, jarring him from his reverie.

“Babies,” he said, turning back towards Cor, who still looked way too damn calm.

“That’s what it looks like,” the older man stated, blinking as he looked down at his abdomen.

“Kids.”

“Yup.”

Nyx suddenly felt tears spring entirely unbidden to his eyes, and his lip trembled and he snuffled gracelessly as Cor’s hand returned to his face. “Cor, we’re gonna have kids! You’re gonna have more kids! This is amazing! You’re amazing! Goddess, I think I need to sit down again,” Nyx gasped, falling into the chair. Cor was smiling absently at nothing in particular, and Nyx gazed stupidly at his partner for longer than he would ever to admit until Cor opened his mouth once more.

“Nyx?”

“Yeah?”

“Feel like visiting the Dawn Mother again once I’m back out of here? Because my usual referee isn’t going to be in any better shape, and I really don’t want to pull something yelling at her,” Cor said, his voice almost monotone, and Nyx shivered as he barely restrained a grimace.

Okay, maybe Cor wasn’t quite as calm as he came off-

“What? That’s impossible!” They both froze as the prince’s voice came through the wall as clear as a bell.

“Obviously it’s not, and oh shit this is-” A thump cut off Gladio, and Nyx winced.

“They better not be blaming Prompto for anything,” Cor growled, and Nyx patted his arm.

“I’m sure they are just surprised as well, Cor, you know they love him,” he reassured him, and Cor took a deep breath, exhaling in a whistle before nodding.

“Do you have my phone?”

“Yes?” He handed it over, and Cor punched a few buttons and held it up to his ear. “What are you doing?”

“Ripping off the bandage now,” the older man said, and Nyx’s brows furrowed in confusion as Cor opened his mouth once more. “Regis, it’s Cor. You and Clarus need to come to the infirmary immediately. It’s not a bad thing, but...you do. Dr. Domitia will probably be calling soon, just to let you know.” Cor cut the call abruptly, and Nyx couldn’t help but bark out a startled laugh.

“You are a complete bastard.”

The two of them sat there for awhile in near silence, and Nyx knew he was possibly never going to get over this, but in the best of ways; they just needed to get Cor back on the mend, and then-

Nyx groaned suddenly, leading to a questioning eyebrow from Cor, who had laid back down properly, and he shook his head.

“Crowe’s gonna kill me. Blood, violence, the whole shebang. On the plus side, she and Libertus would be pretty awesome babysitters, they are both great with kids-” The door to their room opened, and the king and Amicitia both peeked in, confusion plain on their faces.

“Cor? What’s going on?” his majesty asked, and as one, both Nyx and Cor lifted an arm and pointed towards the boys’ room.

“Start with them, and if you are able, come back to us after,” Cor stated, and with another bemused look, the two closed the door again. After a moment, Nyx jumped to his feet and pressed his ear against the wall, leading to a snort from his pregnant boyfriend. “I wouldn’t do that if I was you.” Nyx blinked, but didn’t move.

“What would be the issue with-”

“You what?!” Lord Amicitia’s voice rang in Nyx’s ears as he jerked his head away from the wall, only to hear what sounded suspiciously like crying as he started moving it back. Oh hell.

“Prompto, it’s quite alright, he’s just surprised...” the king’s voice softened until he could no longer hear it, and he stepped away from the wall.

“The council is going to have a collective heart attack, aren’t they?” he wondered aloud, and Cor’s groan was answer enough for both of them. “How many do you think the kid’s carrying? If you’ve got twins, then-” Cor hissed, and Nyx decided to spare him for now as he returned to his abandoned seat, taking the older man’s hand in his own and slumping until his head was resting awkwardly on Cor’s sheet-covered thigh. “I don’t think I ever thought I’d be a father, Cor. But if this isn’t some crazy fever dream, babe, we are going to be the most awesome parents ever. And possibly grandparents, which is the part I think you are actually hung up on, but yeah, original point holds. Shit.” Cor actually barked a dry laugh as his eyelids began to droop, and Nyx huffed, trying to get comfortable as Cor’s hand went lax in his, and he followed his partner off into dreamland.

Surprisingly, the king did not make an appearance later, and neither did any of the others, and after considering going to visit (Domitia advised him to give them the day) and then sneaking out for some food, Nyx stole the spare blankets for Cor’s bed and curled up on the floor, his mind still spinning with the revelations of the day. Cor’s crazy health problems were just nasty side effects to the fact he was pregnant. The line in the Book hadn’t been a mistranslation, and he had knocked up his fucking boyfriend.

Nyx really wished his mom and sister were there. His mom would have been overjoyed, and would have started making the customary gifts within hours; the first clothes and shoes, the sachets of herbs for health and protection, the wooden carvings praising the goddess and the astrals for their blessings, even the plans for the formal presentation to the community- all normally planned by the matriarch of the family, and Nyx knew that his mother would have loved every moment of it. His sister would have teased him mercilessly, but would have been there every step of the way for both of them, and would have also helped with the traditional preparations. Nyx shifted, planting his face into the thin pillow as he tried to contain the sudden tears. Who would plan the naming ceremony? Who would make the carvings? Neither of them had any blood family worth speaking of left, and while Nyx knew that Libertus would step up in every way he could for the Galahdian traditions, it...wasn’t the same. There was nothing to be done about it, though. Life had delivered heartbreak and tragedy, but there had been much joy as well. He had to focus on that.

Nyx sighed and rolled back onto his back, ignoring the stray tear that ran down the side of his face and dripped into his ear. Twins. He had no idea what they were getting, but he had a wonderful idea for names either way. He’d speak to Cor in the morning.

 

-----------

 

Pregnant.

Noctis stood there frozen as Prompto stared wide-eyed at his own belly, Noctis and Gladio’s outbursts having been short-lived as Dr. Domitia stared disapprovingly at both of them while Ignis was apparently modeling as a statue. Holy shit.

“Are you three done? Or do we need a bit more time to yell incoherently while your poor partner tries not to cry?” Domitia deadpanned, and that got Noctis moving, even as Prompto was already shaking his head in protest.

“I’m fine, really, we’re just all really surprised, I think-” Prompto trailed off, and Noctis took one of Prompto’s hands in his own and brought it to his mouth, giving his knuckles a kiss before lowering it back to the bed; Gladio had moved to the foot of the bed, his hands clenching around one of the metal rods that made the base as he looked at Prom like he had the secrets of the universe contained within him. Noctis couldn’t help but agree.

“I’ll admit, I’m completely blown away, but Prom, are you okay with this? I know it’s not something we did more than joke about, then there was that gift-” Noctis’s brain screeched to a halt. Gift. His father. A sound came from behind him that was so strange that both he and Prom turned towards the source. Iggy looked two seconds away from expiring from a brain hemorrhage, so strained was his expression, and after Noctis got a nod from Prompto, he let go of the blond’s hand and slid over to Ignis, reaching up and wrapping his arms around the man’s neck and drawing his face down to his shoulder. “Iggy, are you alright? I know I’m still in shock, but you haven’t said a thing. Is this...fine? We all joked about it, as I just mentioned, but we never thought-” Something wet soaked into his shoulder, and Noctis clung tighter to his oldest friend as Ignis sniffled, Gladio and Prompto, who had gotten up as soon as Noctis moved away, came over to join them.

“Iggy, I know it’s crazy. If you don’t want to be part of this, I totally understand; I mean, most people in same-sex relationships aren’t usually signing up for, err, kids? Well, at least totally blood-related, anyway…” Noctis was gently pushed away as Ignis all but threw himself at Prompto, and Noctis, who still felt like he had been hit by a truck, met the equally overwhelmed Gladio’s eyes before they both turned back to Prom and Iggy, who had cupped Prompto’s face in his hands and was looking at him with the same look that both of them had as well.

Noctis found himself grinning, even as his eyes continued to prickle with tears he was refusing to acknowledge. It would be alright.

“Prompto, I tell you honestly that was the furthest thing from my mind,” Ignis breathed, and Noctis felt muscles he hadn’t even noticed had tightened loosen on the spot. “No matter whose child you carry, we will all be here for you. Do not fear us abandoning you. We would never even think of doing so. Am I completely stunned? Absolutely, but do not mistake my surprise for discontent.” Prompto snuffled as Iggy finished, and Noctis and Gladio could do no more than nod in agreement when Domitia cleared her throat, and all four of them turned towards the old doctor a bit sheepishly.

“Well, that’s better, at least. I hadn’t gotten to the last thing, which is pretty damned important and feels pretty convenient to me. Prompto, where did we figure you at, twenty-five pounds in the last three months?” the doctor asked, and Prom nodded slowly. “You put on the weight almost overnight, but you are completely in standard range for what you are carrying.” Dr. Domitia picked up a film of some sort, taking it over to the lightbox on the wall and clipping it in place before waving them over. When they were all only a few feet away, she switched on the light wordlessly, then stepped back and waited. Noctis leaned in closer, his heart skipping a beat when he made out what was clearly a head, then he looked down slightly to see another, then he stared at the film in disbelief as what looked like a third one nestled in the corner-

A firm smack on the back sent Noctis into a coughing fit as he realized he had been holding his breath, and seconds later a solid thud shook the floor.

“Well, I figured at least one of you would almost or actually pass out on me, and I was right. To be fair, your father did much the same when you were the one on the way, Gladiolus,” Domitia said as Noctis shook his head to clear it as he turned to see Gladio sitting on the floor, ghost-white and completely dazed, and his shaking legs decided that joining him was a good idea.

“Doctor?” Prompto asked, his voice soft, and Domitia quirked a smile.

“Yes, dear?” The blond turned back to the film, pointing sequentially at heads before turning back to the old woman, Iggy’s arm wrapped around his shoulders.

“There’s...three there, right?” Dr. Domitia nodded, and Noctis watched as Prompto looked down and poked at his stomach. “Well, I guess that explains why I’ve been gaining so much weight,” the blond said distantly, and Iggy deftly caught Prompto before he too could crumple to the ground, his eyes growing even wider as the advisor carefully lowered the both of them to the linoleum.

“How am I supposed to work? I can’t go running off to the other side of the continent like this, and the council already wanted me gone, and oh shit, this has to be the last straw, when they find out I’ve been sleeping with all three of them-” Prompto babbled, and horror flowed through Noctis’s veins on the spot. No. The fucking council could all go jump off the Citadel if they said one damn thing against him-

“Mr. Argentum. I don’t know whether all of your guests are from one father, two, or even one from each, but I can certainly tell you that neither the king nor Lord Amicitia would stand for the bearer of their probable future grandchildren to be kicked out of his own home, level of favor with the council or not. There will be much upheaval in your near-future, young man, but do not concern yourself with that. You are surrounded by many fierce protectors, and I doubt that will be changing anytime soon.” Domitia patted Prompto on the head with one of her thin-fingered hands, then began to head towards the door, only to stop when someone knocked. Noctis scrambled to his feet, managing to get the recovering Gladio up as well as Ignis took a deep breath and coaxed Prom to his feet as Domitia opened the door. Noctis felt like passing the fuck out all over again as his father and Clarus stepped through the doorway, and the old woman huffed and closed the door again. “Well, I guess I don’t need to call you.”

Noctis swallowed heavily as the two older men took in the sight before them, brows furrowed and a question clearly in their eyes. After a long, awkward silence, his father smiled thinly, looking between the lot of them and Dr. Domitia.

“May I ask what is going on?” the king asked, and the old woman sighed, but it was oddly fond, and she turned completely towards his father, standing with military precision.

“This will be the third time I’ve done this in my life, and the previous two subjects are standing here in this room,” Domitia stated, and both the king’s and Clarus’s eyebrows flew up their foreheads. “As per the law set down by the charter of King Antonius the sixty-sixth, I, a loyal subject of the Crown of Lucis and a Physician who has examined the individual in question, announce and declare to the Crown Royal that it is my belief that a future heir to the throne, may it last forever, has been conceived.” Noctis watched as his father grew more and more pale as the doctor spoke the ancient words, then both the king’s and Clarus’s eyes swivelled immediately to Prompto, who looked two seconds from fainting again.

“I thought that was a...mistranslation,” the king said, his voice a bit shaky, and it was Gladio who managed to respond.

“So did we.”

No one spoke for a long moment as Prompto continued to look faint and the king continued to look like someone had hit him over the head with a mallet, until Clarus made a gurgling sound that caused all of them to turn towards the increasingly red-faced man.

“You what?!” Clarus bellowed, and the response was instantaneous; Prompto burst out into noisy tears as Noctis’s father spun and smacked the man across the back of the head before turning right back around and walking towards the now-sobbing blond, his hands up as if to say he meant no harm. Noctis and Gladio flanked their crying partner, with Ignis standing directly behind, and all three set to work to try and calm him down as the king came up to him.

“Prompto, it’s quite alright, he’s just surprised. Clarus doesn’t always like surprises, I could tell you a wondrous tale of the time we convinced Cor to take all of the trashy magazines Clarus liked to drag around with him on campaign and wallpaper his motel room with the pages just in time for the idiot to return with some company. We were south of the disc, and I’m quite certain they could hear him in Galahd,” his father joked, his voice a touch manic, but it gained them a watery laugh from the blond as he reached out and patted Prompto’s cheek. “Deep breaths, young man, I would like to hear the rest of the tale with you upright and conscious, it’s far more interesting that way, don’t you think?”

Prompto nodded wanly, and Noctis sighed as Clarus, looking utterly contrite, walked up to Prom and held out a hand; after a fraught pause, Prompto reached out as well, Clarus’s big hands wrapping around Prompto’s long-fingered ones.

“Forgive an old man, Prompto, it may take a little while for this to work its way through my brain, but...this is true? All of it? This is madness, but...perhaps...positive madness?” Clarus got out, his voice still strained, and Prompto gave him a shaky grin. “Is there a way to tell who the...er, other father is at this point?” All four of them twitched in unison, and both Clarus and his father’s eyes narrowed.

“And what might that mean?”

The reveal of the ultrasound image nearly caused Clarus to start yelling again, but Noctis could see it was out of shock, not anger, and his father looked two seconds from fainting as he stared only inches away from the film, clearly needing his reading glasses.

“Three?” the king whispered, and Noctis nodded behind him.

“That’s what it looks like,” he said, his own voice still wobbly, and his father reached out and clasped Noctis’s shoulder.

“Is one of you the parent of all of them, I assume? Or-” the king asked tentatively, looking at the picture again. “-is it possible for there to be more than one?”

“It’s called superfecundation, and yes. While it’s normally quite rare, from the little I can gather on your predecessors, I will not be surprised if your unique biology allows for it with much higher frequency. I just wish there was more information on you. There’s so much I don’t know,” Dr. Domitia stated with a sigh, and Prompto scratched at his cheek and gnawed on his bottom lip as the rest of them just looked lost. “Well, while I have a great many questions that we will have to answer as we go, the vital things to note is that you are in good health, your weight gain considering triplets is normal, if a bit rapid, and none of you panicked in a bad way at the news. Thank the astrals,” the old woman groused, then sighed. “Your majesty, I would not recommend the procedure if Mr. Argentum was a woman, and I am certainly not recommending it now. Not when there is so much we don’t know about how this works with the Dawnsworn. While there is a way a bit later on to do genetic testing in the womb, I’m going to suggest waiting until they are born to clarify that. It’s possible that all three are from the same father, or that each one has a different one. But-” Noctis was utterly relieved when his father shook his head immediately.

“No, I would never even suggest anything that might be even the slightest bit risky to Prompto’s health, and I know that if I did, all four of you would pretty much tell me where to shove it. It will have to remain a mystery for now.” His father brought a hand to his chin and ran his fingers through his beard, his expression growing distant. “Well, I knew that one day the council was going to need to be informed of your relationship, but that has now become a immediate concern. I will take point, as is my prerogative, but Noctis, Gladiolus, you two especially will probably be summoned before them very quickly, as their right. I’m going to be digging through history books for awhile, as I can tell you now that the majority of the council are going to classify any child born as illegitimate if I can’t find some precedent for it. Ignis, I expect your help in this endeavor if it becomes necessary.” Ignis straightened sharply, standing at perfect attention.

“Yes, your majesty.” His father nodded, then looked over to Gladio, who followed Ignis’s lead.

“Gladiolus.”

“Yes, your majesty!” Gladio’s nerves were clearly still shaken from everything that had happened, and the king actually huffed a near-silent laugh.

“I’m afraid I do need to impose in one very specific way in your personal life, all of you. Starting immediately, Prompto goes nowhere without someone with him if he goes to any of the public areas of the Citadel, and absolutely nowhere outside without an escort. This will go public very soon, and as I don’t wish to keep you locked in for the next-”

“Three to five months,” Domitia cut in, and the king nodded.

“-for a considerable period of time, you need the protection. I can’t even begin to gauge what the public reaction will be at this point, and I don’t want to risk either you or what you carry. If you three are all busy, then Cor…” his father trailed off awkwardly, his face thoughtful, and Noctis tilted his head in confusion before the king continued on. “Or maybe Ulric, or perhaps a trusted Guard or Glaive must be with you, Prompto. I will not budge on this,” the king proclaimed, and Prompto finally stopped biting his lip long enough to nod weakly and respond.

“I...understand. I’m not thrilled about it, but I won’t argue it,” Prom said, and Noctis smiled as his father reached out and gently tapped the spot right under the blond’s bottom lip.

“That’s all I ask. Also, let me find you a tissue, you’ve bitten your lip bloody.” Dr. Domitia handed one over, and his father clearly considered doing the job himself, his hand twitching in midair, but Noctis couldn’t help the smile when he handed the tissue to Prom, who immediately held it against his lip. “Gladiolus, I figure you will take point on being Mr. Argentum’s primary escort, correct?”

“That would probably be best,” Gladio replied, and Noctis watched with bemusement as Clarus finally appeared to find his tongue again, placing his hand on the king’s shoulder, coaxing him to step aside as he approached the four of them once more.

“You four couldn’t keep things simple, could you?” Clarus asked, his voice still strange and breathy, and Prompto returned to gnawing on his tissue-covered lip while Gladio chuckled, Ignis sighed deeply, and Noctis couldn’t help but laugh.

“You’ve always liked a challenge, Clarus, we can’t disappoint you now,” Noctis drawled, and was pleased when Clarus snorted a laugh.

“Very well, your highness. Prompto, since even Regis was so stunned that he hopped almost straight to business to calm down, let me be the first to wish you congratulations. I suspect that the next year is going to be utterly fascinating,” Clarus said, and the relief Noctis could feel in his own limbs was so stark that he knew that the others were in much the same condition. They could do this.

“You know, I seem to remember a care package that we sent along when you all went on your big trip, I suppose it’s altogether too late to remind you to replenish those items on occasion-” his father said, his gaze sharp, but happy, and Iggy inhaled so quickly he began to cough, causing the rest of them to pound him on the back. Clarus smirked, but did not comment further, and Noctis sighed inwardly as Iggy got himself back under control.

“Thanks for the reminder, dad. Really.”

With a hug to both Noctis and a flustered Prompto, the king left the room shortly thereafter, with Clarus giving Prompto a handshake (with a friendly pat on top of their joined hands,) then clasping Gladio and Ignis’s shoulders before also leaving, suggesting they get some rest. That sounded like an excellent plan, but Dr. Domitia put her hands on her hips and glared at the lot of them before they could move another muscle.

“Mr. Argentum, back in the bed, I want to monitor you until tomorrow morning to get a baseline for the future. You three, I’m not even going to try and kick you out, but you’ll have to settle for some blankets and pillows on the floor, there’s no room for that many cots,” Domitia said, patting Prompto’s back to coax him back to the bed as Noctis and the others watched, and after a few swift minutes of applying monitors, she left them alone for a few minutes for the first time since their world had done a full barrel roll at their feet.

They were going to be parents. Prompto was pregnant. With triplets. The world was going to go mad once it got out. Children. Holy shit.

Noctis walked over to Prom’s bed, leaning in without a word and capturing the blond’s lips; Prom brought up his arms and pulled him in even closer, almost too tightly, but Noctis certainly didn’t mind. After a long session of investigating each other, with Gladio’s hand on his shoulder and Ignis’s wrapped around Prompto’s ankle, Prom finally let him go, and Noctis was forced to stretch to relieve the bruising ache of the bedrail digging into his stomach.

“Sorry, Noct-” Noctis put his hand over the blond’s mouth before he could even finish, and got a tongue to the palm for his trouble until he pulled his hand away. “Alright, alright. I won’t even start.” Iggy tutted authoritatively, the effect somewhat lost with him running his hand up Prom’s leg.

“May I?” Iggy asked, and Prom seemed confused for a moment before nodding. Iggy had beautiful hands, they had all long thought so (although Noctis was pretty sure he had thought so way before the rest of them) and they all watched as he carefully ran his long fingers over Prompto’s stomach soothingly before running his hand up to his face, taking a page from Noctis and leaning over to give their favorite chocobohead a kiss before straightening his back and nodding. “I’ll go fetch us some bedding, and see what options we have for a meal. I’ll be back shortly.” Ignis sped out of the room, clearly on a mission, and Gladio finally took the opportunity to move in and carefully pull Prompto into his arms, leaning over and kissing the top of his head as tears slowly dripped onto the blond locks as Noctis wrapped his arms around the big guy’s waist.

“Gladio-”

“I always wanted kids. But I figured maybe we would adopt someday or something, not...this. This is crazy, Prom, but it’s the best kind of crazy.”

None of them really spoke for awhile after that, and when Ignis returned with a cart filled with blankets, pillows, and food, they all got comfortable, chatting and talking about little of consequence until one by one, they dozed off, Noctis surprisingly the last one conscious as he looked at his boyfriends, his partners, and grinned before curling up himself and going to sleep. They woke long enough to have a small dinner, but returned to slumber almost as quickly, the sheer shock of the day having completely wiped them out. While the floor wasn’t exactly comfortable, none of them could even consider leaving the others now, and they especially couldn’t even consider leaving Prompto. To the surprise of all of them, they all slept soundly until the next morning.

“Wait, how is Cor? He’s been sick, and he’s here, and I totally forgot after all this happened-” Prompto, newly freed from his monitors and given yet another clean bill of health, a schedule of weekly doctor’s appointments, and a list of foods and activities to both do and avoid, started to the door before Dr. Domitia could even leave, the old woman pausing at his words.

“Oh, that’s right, I didn’t tell you,” Domitia began, and Noctis had to grab Prom as he bobbled unsteadily on his feet, abject terror on his face; the doctor’s hand flew to her chest, and she quickly shuffled to the blond’s side and patted his cheek. “Oh, my dear, I’m sorry, no, he’s not in the best of health, but it’s nothing drastic. He’s in the room next to this one, you’ll...want to talk to him. Before you ask, I did tell him what was going on with you, but he’s going to be staying here until I’m happier with his condition, so he’s been in bed. Why don’t you go see him?”

It took Prom a moment to recover from his self-inflicted shock, then the five of them walked the ten paces to the room next door, where the doctor knocked once, paused, then opened the door. Noctis entered behind Prom, and could see just how worn out Cor looked; Nyx was standing nearby, and he looked up as well when they entered, a sweet smile on his face.

“Heyya kiddo, how are you feeling?” Nyx asked, and Prompto scratched at his cheek and smiled.

“Okay, actually; my brain is still completely blown, but that may take awhile to get over, if ever-” Domitia rapped on the wall, getting everyone’s attention.

“Marshal, Captain, I didn’t tell them. I figured you two could handle that part,” the doctor said, then gave a rather uncharacteristic grin as she headed to the door. “Congratulations, all of you!” The door closed behind her, and Noctis blinked in confusion before turning back to Cor and Nyx, who looked resigned to their fate.

“Dad? What’s going on?” Prompto asked, moving closer to the supine man, and Cor looked like he was going to choke on his own tongue trying to spit it out; Nyx was no help as he stood next to the bed looking like his mind was a million miles away, and Noctis finally moved to Prom’s side and sighed.

“Cor? You alright?” Noctis inquired, and Cor blinked rapidly, froze, blinked again, then swallowed.

“It’snotjustyou,” the older man mumbled, and Noctis and Prom looked at each other in confusion before looking back at Cor.

“What?” Prompto asked, and the marshal took another deep breath, then leaned over and grabbed a film off the nightstand, tossing it to the foot of his bed.

“It’s not just you.” Prompto and Noctis looked down at the image, which resembled the one that Domitia had put away of Prompto, only with one less head, and that seemed to be the final straw for Prompto; Noctis and Gladio barely caught the blond as he fainted, and Cor tried to get out of bed before Nyx stopped him with a hand on his chest.

“Don’t even think about it,” Nyx said flatly, and Noctis watched as Nyx walked over to a shelf, plucking a small jar from it and coming over to Prompto, quickly unscrewed the cap and waved it under their favorite blond’s nose, eliciting an instant reaction.

“Wha- what in the hell was that?” Prom gasped, and Nyx smirked as he screwed the lid back on and put it back on the shelf.

“It’s to wake you up, trust me, works great, the old lady might have used it on me yesterday.” Prom blinked, then Noctis could see the moment when he remembered what they had just looked at.

“Dad, you’re...too? Really? But you’ve been so sick...” Prompto scrambled to his feet and moved to Cor’s side, grabbing at his hand and staring at him in shock as Cor nodded wearily.

“I’m a lot older than you are, Prompto. My appetite completely dried up and my blood pressure is going crazy, and she’s already threatening bed rest. I’m staying here still I’m stabilized to her satisfaction, unfortunately-” The four of them did a combination of snorting and smiling as Nyx rounded on the man, his stubborn expression telling Noctis exactly who was going to be winning this argument.

“You are going to stay right here until you are feeling better, old man, and if I have to chain you to the bed to achieve that, I will,” Nyx hissed, and it was Ignis, of all of them, who commented.

“Perhaps this discussion should wait until after we’ve left?” Iggy said lightly, and everyone started to laugh as it hit Nyx what he had said, even Cor, and the Glaive rolled his eyes and smirked.

“Fine, but point still stands. You aren’t budging until you are given a clear bill of health. If you hadn’t delayed so long, we would have figured this out faster, but-” Nyx paused, turning towards Prompto with a thoughtful expression. “Prompto, were you suddenly...averse to going to the doctor as well?” Prom nodded slowly, and Nyx frowned. “Huh. Strange, that’s got to have a specific reason. Something to ask her next time you all chat?” the Glaive said, only to get a poke in the side from Cor.

“You can remind us in person, because I’m figuring out how to drag you there, remember?” Cor stated, and Nyx sighed.

“Yes, dear.”

Noctis watched as Cor reached over and picked up the film, looking again at the image with a wistful look before putting it back on the nightstand with a sigh. “Things are going to get very strange around here soon. Son-” Prom nodded as Cor’s eyes returned to him. “I would suggest staying out of public for a little while, at least until I get out of here. I think it would be better that we both be available for the issues that will inevitably arise,” Cor said, and everyone nodded in agreement. “Forgive me if I’m a bit out of sorts, I think it may be a little while until my brain fully comprehends that there is five children on the way.” Gladio’s answering laugh was weak, and Noctis turned towards him.

“You alright, Gladio?” His Shield nodded, albeit shakily, and Noctis couldn’t help but smile at his pale countenance. “It’s all completely mind-blowing, isn’t it? I’ll probably freak out later,” he said, getting a wan smile from Gladio. “It’s also kind of weird, right?” Nyx and Iggy both frowned, but his smile was unwavering.

“Noct, isn’t that rather uncalled for-”

“I mean, we’ve known Cor since we were babies, and now he’s going to have some actual babies at the same time his kid is having babies too? That’s crazy! He’s gonna have kids and grandkids the same age-” Nyx and Prompto barked out a somewhat manic sounding laugh in near-unison as Cor slammed his hands over his face in a vain attempt to cover his forever endearing blotchy blush (they all decided to pretend that they couldn’t notice that his ears were just as red) while Gladio finally gave a real laugh, the type he was used to hearing from the big man and not the paralyzed little chuckle he had been doing for the last twenty or so hours since the big reveal. Nyx grinned, walking up to Noctis and holding out a hand, which he took with a smile of his own.

“Thank you, your highness, for your astute observation on the situation; that part has been making Cor’s head spin since he heard about it-”

“Nyx,” Cor groaned, and that set everyone off again until Prom actually doubled over, wincing; everyone scrambled to his side, only for him to wave them all off.

“It’s just a stitch, geez; are you guys gonna be like this the whole time? Because I’m gonna go move in with Cid or something if you are,” Prom groused, and Noctis found himself shaking his head frantically as the others followed suit in various ways. Cor sighed, reaching out and clasped Prom’s shoulder, coaxing him to turn around. “Yeah?” The older man gave the tiniest smile to his still only child as he rested his hand on the side of Prom’s neck.

“Prompto.”

“Yeah?”

“Killing the lot of them would look bad, at least wait until you are outside the city first before doing so, alright? A nice scenic trip to the Balouve Mines would probably be wisest-” Prompto cackled wetly, even as tears began to drip down his cheeks. “What I meant to say is that they generally do have our best interests in mind, even if you want to thwack them with a rolled-up newspaper.” Nyx rolled his eyes, but didn’t argue the point, and neither did the rest of them. “So I’m afraid we’ll have to get used to it, I’m afraid. Just keep the newspaper handy.” Prom continued to laugh and cry at the same time as Cor grabbed a tissue from a handy box, this time doing the fatherly thing and dabbing at his son’s eyes. Noctis’s near-permanent smile almost hurt by this point, but he couldn’t help it.

He... they were going to be parents. Cor and Nyx were also having kids, so Prompto would have siblings who were the same age as his own kids. Not unheard of, but definitely not too common either. They’d make it work. His dad was going to enjoy every minute of it, and Noctis had a feeling that Clarus would as well, now that he had gotten over his shock. He wasn’t sure how Libertus and the rest of Nyx’s Glaive friends would take it, but they struck him as people who would probably be bitching babysitters. Luna...would be thrilled. He knew she would, and he found that he couldn’t wait to tell her. Soon.

Noctis watched Prom and Cor as they talked about nothing in particular until a very specific problem came to mind. Where would all these kids go? They could take over some of the unused royal quarters on his floor, but they weren’t connected; there was the old Marcian Palace, once the traditional home of the heirs once they were married, but it had been mostly sealed since he was a little boy, as his father had never moved in as an adult, being unmarried at the time of his succession, and he only had the vaguest of memories of the place from a visit or two as a child. But it was near the edge of the southwestern forest, a move designed very specifically to give the hypothetically growing royal family some privacy, but more importantly (depending on the current ruler,) kept the heir from getting too powerful near the seat of power and isolating them near the edge of the city. A point somewhat negated in modern times by cars and trains, but even his great-grandfather allegedly used it for that exact purpose. Allegedly. Noctis knew Iggy would be shocked to know he remembered half of this shit, but well, he did. Could they even move in there without the council’s approval? And even more importantly, would Prompto even be willing to move there without Cor? Cor and Nyx certainly couldn’t move out of the Citadel, not with their positions-

“Noct?”

Noctis scrubbed at his hair and sighed inwardly. His father was right, there was a ton of work to do-

“Noctis!” He jerked as Ignis’s voice cut through his brain, and he sighed.

“Yeah?” Iggy reached out, clasping his shoulder for a moment before releasing it. The movement was small, but Noctis felt more centered already. Iggy was usually good at calming everyone down (well, most of the time.)

“We should let the marshal eat his lunch and rest. Why don’t we return to your quarters and relax? The king has cleared all of our schedules for today,” Iggy said, and Noctis nodded at him before turning back to Cor, who was looking rather tired.

“Yeah, sounds good. Get some rest, Cor, you’re gonna need it,” he said, and Cor snorted.

“Thanks, your highness. You aren’t wrong.” The four of them headed to the door, but just as Gladio was about to open it, Cor spoke once more.

“Don’t say anything about me to the king or Clarus yet, they left before I could tell them,” Cor said, a spark of mischief in his eyes, and Noctis gave him a smile and a thumbs up as they departed. They left the infirmary as a group, speaking very little until they reached the royal floor and safety of his quarters, where Gladio firmly locked the door behind them once they were all inside. The lot of them stood around awkwardly after they took their shoes off until Prompto rolled his eyes and headed to the kitchen, throwing open the refrigerator door and grabbing sandwich supplies and a soda before closing the door with his hip.

“Anyone want a sandwich? I’m starving, and I’d rather be well-fortified when we all inevitably freak out all over again,” Prom said bluntly, and Gladio barked out a laugh, walking into the kitchen and wrapping his arms around the blond, who squirmed and poked him with a butter knife. “Food first, hugs later.” Noctis sat down at the kitchen table as Gladio managed to kiss the side of Prom’s head before getting almost stabbed, Iggy sitting down next to him.

“Prompto, your drink-”

“Iggy, if you even think about saying that I should skip having a damn soda, I’m going to...say something really unpleasant,” Prompto interrupted, and Iggy’s mouth snapped shut. “That’s better. Look, I know I’ll have to figure some of this stuff out soon, but I’m almost positive that I read that some caffeine isn’t a big issue. If you were the one in this position, Iggy, you’d probably have to cut yourself down to one Ebony a day-”

“Perish the thought,” Ignis said with a quirk of the lips, and Prompto smiled before scratching at his cheek.

“So...yes. Trust that I’m not going to be a total idiot about this, okay?” Noctis snorted a laugh as Iggy, expression contrite, nodded immediately at Prom’s request.

This was going to be a fun five or so months. Maybe the mansion was a good idea...

Chapter Text

Regis and Clarus stepped out of the elevator near the infirmary, and Regis nodded to everyone they passed as they headed inside. They had both been so shocked by the revelations with the boys that they had completely forgotten to stop on in and see what was going on with their friend, and with Cor still in the infirmary over forty-eight hours later, it was high time they returned to check on him.

“Your majesty, my lord.” Dr. Domitia met them at the door and escorted them in, pausing outside of the same room as before. “He’s responding well to treatment and medications, thankfully, I’m hoping to have him out of here by his birthday. He’s going to be under the weather for awhile, though.” Both Regis and Clarus looked at the woman in confusion, but what she had imparted sounded good.

“What’s actually wrong with him?” Clarus asked, and Domitia froze, her mouth opening in an ‘o’ before actually smirking a bit.

“Ahh, I thought you knew. I think I’ll let him speak with you, as I’m probably going to have to pull him from active duty very soon.” Regis felt alarm shoot through him, and he rounded on the old woman just in time for her to open the door to Cor’s room. “I’ll give you three some privacy.” Regis and Clarus found themselves both inside the room with the door shut before they could even argue, and Regis huffed a silent laugh and walked over to Cor’s bedside. The younger man still looked ill in sleep, his face thin and skin pale, and he sighed as he looked at the IV that was currently attached to him. What was wrong with Cor? He was normally so...durable.

“This is what responding well looks like? I didn’t get a good enough look at him the other day, but he still looks pretty miserable,” Clarus commented, and Regis certainly didn’t disagree. After Cor showed no signs of waking up for several more minutes, Regis reached out and took the sleeping man’s hand, giving it a squeeze.

“Cor?” A groan answered him, and Clarus smirked before also reaching out and shaking Cor’s shoulder, finally netting them a grumble and the slightest opening of familiar blue eyes.

“Wha-?” Cor’s sleep-ridden cross-eyed glare was so nostalgic that Regis was grinning without a second thought as awareness flowed over the man’s features in an easily followable wave, his jaw tensing and his eyes sharpening; after a moment, both Clarus and Regis let go of Cor so he could sit up a bit in bed. “Finally came back, huh?” Cor muttered, and Regis huffed out a laugh, patting Cor’s hand.

“Well, we were a bit discombobulated considering the news of the day, I’m afraid, but I do apologize for forgetting,” he said, and Cor answered with a disturbingly gleeful smirk. Regis was suddenly very afraid.

“You have no idea why I’m here, do you?” Cor asked, his tone light and far more airy than Regis had heard from the man in a very long time. Clarus’s eyes narrowed, and Regis could see his fingers twitch at his side.

“Clarus, no strangling. As tempting as it is. Cor, just spit it out,” he ordered, and Cor’s mischievous energy seemed to ebb away on the spot, and he motioned sluggishly to his bedside table.

“Hand me that folder next to you, Clarus?” Clarus did so, and Cor opened it up flipping to something before turning the folder around and setting it by his feet. “There’s a reason that she called for Prompto after me,” Cor stated, and both of them leaned over to look at what Cor had flipped to just as their old friend’s words penetrated all the way through Regis’s skull.

“You too?!” Clarus choked out, and Regis looked closer at the image of two, not three, but Cor- Cor’s earlier bravado vanished like smoke on the wind, the younger man folding in on himself visibly as Regis felt tears prickle behind his eyes. Everything was changing so fast; he was going to be a grandfather soon, and Cor, who had always felt like a little brother to him, was also going to be having kids. There were so many questions he had in general, so many questions that would need to answered relatively soon, but-

“Well, when I first met you back in the day as a skinny teen, I never thought I’d see anything like this,” Regis said, his voice uneven; Cor looked up at him, those striking blue eyes uncertain, and he finally couldn’t help but smile. “Congratulations, Cor, looks like we are going to be having a baby boom around here soon,” he commented, and the younger man snorted with a watery note in his voice Regis knew that he would deny outright if called out on it. Regis’s head was spinning, and from the stunned look that had returned to Clarus’s face, he was the same, but- Regis froze. Wait. Prompto was plump and peppy, and, according to Dr. Domitia, in great health, but Cor? “Is this why you are ill?” he asked, and Cor looked down at his stomach with a frown.

“Pretty much,” Cor muttered, clearly tired; Clarus made a strange little noise, and then, to Regis’s great relief, reached over and drew Cor into a hug, digging his face into the short brown hair and sighing deeply.

“How worried is she?” Clarus asked, still holding Cor firmly, and Regis watched as their friend closed his eyes, sagging in his Shield’s arms.

“She thinks she’ll let me out on my birthday, but she wants to see me every other day for the rest of the month until she’s satisfied that I’m not going to starve myself again. She’s threatened me with bedrest if I don’t continue to improve,” Cor said, clearly disgruntled, and Regis smiled.

“In other words, you found yourself suddenly motivated, hmm?”

“Oh, fuck you, Regis,” Cor snapped, but there was no heat in his tone, and they all knew it. The two of them left their old friend to his rest a few minutes later, and the two processed silently back to Regis’s office, utterly silent as they moved to their usual chairs and sat. After another long pause, Clarus got back to his feet and walked over to the liquor cabinet, grabbing two tumblers and the good scotch, setting them on the desk with a thump. After they poured themselves a measure and took a sip, Clarus sat his glass down on the desk.

“We need to call Cid. Yesterday. When this leaks, and it will leak, let’s not fool ourselves; if he finds out about Cor’s condition through the news, he’s going to show up here and somehow manage to kill both of us. He’ll be angry at Cor for being Cor, but he’ll kill us,” Clarus imparted flatly, his gaze going down to his glass. “And no, I’m not waiting on the brat to tell him. I’ll do it myself if I have to.” Regis took a sip of his scotch and hummed.

“Should we wait for him to get out of the infirmary?” Regis asked, and Clarus shook his head.

“No, I’ll suggest that he come up immediately.” Clarus picked up his glass, looked inside, then knocked the whole thing back, causing Regis to wince; the silence between them grew long and awkward in a way that he could not remember in recent memory, and he felt a seed of unease grow in his chest as he looked at his oldest friend.

“Clarus.” The older man sighed heavily, putting his glass down and placing his head in his hands. “Clarus, you’ve been dodging this discussion for some nine months now, ever since the day we discovered the boys’ relationship. Tell me what’s on your mind,” he ordered, his tone brooking no argument, and after a pause, Clarus lifted his head again, his expression conflicted.

“You know your history, Regis. When we realized that they were all...together, I had no interest in interfering in their relationship. I’ll be honest, Regis, I figured it would last for a year or two, then the necessity of heirs for both the prince, and to a lesser extent, my son, would end their youthful dalliances. Prompto would either remain as a close friend, perhaps even one with benefits, or he would leave to take his place at Costlemark and be the main focus of the Dawn Mother’s faithful for the rest of his days while Gladio and Ignis returned to their former positions without the personal entanglements,” Clarus explained, and Regis could feel his eyebrows working their way up his forehead. “If they had been anyone else, Regis, I would have been utterly thrilled to have a whole slew of son-in-laws, but Regis, Queen Messalina was forced to banish her own lovers to keep the council from overthrowing her in all but name, and that was only two hundred years ago. And there was no danger of children, as all of her lovers were women. But now-”

“Clarus, perhaps it might not be so bad? The council complains as a matter of course, but they are actually quite predisposed towards me, as the recent successes and our luck has been rather blessed-” Regis’s interjection was cut off by a sharp shake of the head from Clarus.

“Regis, the future king, shield, and primary advisor to the throne have impregnated a semi-divine representative of a goddess whose reputation and influence have exploded worldwide in less than two years. A male , to make it even more scandalous. While the public has grown far more open-minded in the past century, the council will be hard to convince. They will consider these children illegitimate, no matter the sire. They already fear that Prompto’s presence in the Citadel and in the prince’s chambers is indicative of an undesirable shift in power and a disruption of traditional ways. His reputation as one who can charm the hearts from people’s chests and can apparently convince to do almost anything he wants has already garnered some accusations of him using some sort of magic on the lot of us, and as time goes by, I can tell you that this will only get worse,” Clarus’s voice had grown louder and louder as he had continued, and Regis finally reached out and put a hand on his old friend’s cheek to calm him down.

“Eprius and Fausta will probably advocate for death or something equally overwrought and ghastly, because we know how they are, but we just need to convince four or five of them, and I can already count on Verina and you,” he pointed out, and Clarus sighed.

“We probably have Ampelius as well, the old man has never been hung up on the legal status of marriage as long as paternity can be assured, mater semper certa est and all that. Well, for the most part, but I think we can guess that the boys rather enjoyed the work they put into what is now our current situation rather than any artificially assisted fertilization,” Clarus said, his voice drier than Regis’s favorite gin, and Regis reacted by snorting his sip of scotch.

Alcohol up the nose always burned.  

“If we can get at least six, Archadius will automatically vote on whatever I’m advocating for, so we need three more,” Regis got out between coughs, and Clarus nodded slowly.

“Ancus?” Regis frowned at the suggestion, bringing a hand up and running it down his chin. His closest cousin was staunchly loyal, and generally sided with him in most matters, but he had been trying to put his daughter forward for years as a possible marriage match for Noctis, and had not taken the rumors of Noctis’s relationship with Prompto very well. But-

“Perhaps, he’ll need to be talked down, though. He was hoping to reunite the two closest branches of the family through his daughter and Noctis, and we all know there’s no chance of that happening now. Put him down as a maybe,” Regis replied, and Clarus swiped a memo pad from the desk and started listing names.

“As you said, Eprius and Fausta are a hard no, they will be trouble; myself and Verina are a hard yes, Ampelius is a probable yes, Ancus will probably be okay after you speak with him…”

“Stolo won’t give a shit either, he’ll vote however Ampelius votes. Quintus?” Clarus grimaced.

“He’s hard to read, but I do know he finds even the possibility of Noctis being a relationship with any member of his small court scandalous. He could be trouble, but he tends to be mostly logical once he’s done clutching his pearls. He’ll want a reassurance of paternity, but I think he’ll not be that problematic,” his shield stated, and Regis chuckled.

“Always surprises me that a younger man like him is such a prude, but he is what he is. Annia? Placidia?”

“Annia is a good shot for yes, she’ll need personal assurances that Prompto isn’t trying an endrun to seize power, but I think she’ll be reasonable. Placidia...you know Placidia, Regis, she’s a billion years old and considers herself the moral center of the court and council. She wanted Cor and Prompto gone after the events of the Citadel due to what she considered incompatible interests dwelling in the same area, and this is going to make it worse. She’ll need...I don’t know,” Clarus admitted, and Regis thought for a moment. The woman had been on the council longer than he had been alive, which had led to some awkward moments, but... wait.

“She’ll go for legitimization when I point out it would be even more scandalous and risky to let a bunch of royal bastards go unrecognized and unchecked in Lucis, let alone Insomnia; bastards tend to grow up wanting what they almost got. Remember when Valens moved to stake his claim to the throne before my father’s body was even cold? Turns out his belief that he was a bastard of my father turned out to be inaccurate anyway, but we didn’t discover that until he was autopsied. Even the belief alone is powerful,” Regis sighed, but managed a smile. “Not my favorite memory, but Cor saved me as always, which was almost embarrassing that time. But back to our original topic. This is sounding promising, Clarus, who’s left?”

“Caesonia.” Regis cringed.

“She’ll need Luna to convince her of our desired plan of action, she’s the most overtly religious person I’ve ever met, and I’m well-acquainted with the Oracle and the chosen representatives of the Dawn Mother. We’ll have to ask Luna once the boys tell her. I think if Luna tells her that it’s alright, she’ll be fine with it,” Regis stated, and Clarus sagged in his seat, putting his head in his hands once more.

“You are way too optimistic, Regis, but-” Regis leaned forward once more and patted his friend’s fuzzy head, which earned him an amused snort. He’d take it. “What else can we do? It’s against the statute of Antonius for you to just say they are legitimate and fuck you, so we have to make this work,” Clarus stated quietly, and Regis smiled.

“Yes, we do.” Regis looked towards his phone, and his eyebrow twitched. “I’ll leave Cid to you.” Clarus rolled his eyes, then ran his hand over his head as he leaned back in his chair.

“Prompto’s trips will have to be put on hold. Do you think he’s realized what you are trying to do with those?” Clarus asked, and Regis shook his head.

“No, although I have a suspicion that Ignis or my son are getting an idea, however. Prompto is observant of things that might be disregarded or overlooked by the usual types often sent out to do survey and infrastructure analysis, and is exceptionally good at getting people to talk to him. He’s also quite talented at convincing people to both listen and act, which in almost anyone else’s hands I would be concerned with, considering his sphere of influence, so to speak, but he has shown himself to be largely guileless; the things he tries to achieve for his own benefit are understandable or whimsical, the wishes of a young man who simply wants himself and those he cares for to be happy.” Regis wove his fingers together, a thoughtful smile on his face. “I can think of no one more suited to be both the love of my son, Gladio, and Ignis, and to be an ambassador to the rest of Lucis. The regions outside Insomnia will not forget any time soon that we all but abandoned them over the past few centuries, and I will take any advantage I can find to foster any good will we can scrape together. Prompto brings a host of said advantages to the table, and I think the work will be good for him,” he said, and Clarus nodded.

“Even after the children arrive, I can’t see Prompto being a full time stay at home parent; I’m sure he’ll want to go back to what he was doing,” Clarus pointed out, and Regis chuckled and nodded.

“While there is certainly nothing wrong with that, and he may surprise us-” Regis shook his head. “I suspect you are absolutely right. He was almost bouncing off the walls during his forced confinement whilst he was recovering, I doubt he’ll want to return to those days completely, even with children.”

Regis woke up on Wednesday, bathed, dressed, took a half-hour to read a light-hearted novel he had been working on for weeks, then contacted his secretary and summoned the council to gather on Friday with the vague instruction that it would be regarding a somewhat urgent matter, then took a deep breath and headed down a floor to his son’s chambers, taking care to knock before entering slowly and deliberately, making sure to let the door creak.

“Anyone home?” he called out, and was relieved when Ignis answered immediately.

“Yes, your majesty, I’m in the kitchen, Gladiolus is out training, and I believe Noctis and Prompto are still asleep. As you well know, it’s been a rather tumultuous past few days,” Ignis finished as Regis rounded the corner to see the man, and the wistful smile that he had remembered seeing the other man was still firmly in place.

“It most definitely has.” Regis sat at the kitchen table with a silent sigh, then looked up at the young man he had known since he was a small boy. “How are you doing, Ignis? While the others have someone to turn to questions, you’ve not had anyone around since your uncle passed; while I am not your father, I am certainly willing to lend an ear if you wish for advice or to alleviate any concerns,” he said, and Ignis froze in front of the stove, large spoon in his hand.

“I- I couldn’t possibly, your majesty, but I thank you for your kindne-” Regis clicked his tongue, and Ignis’s jaw snapped shut.

“I don’t know if you’ve noticed, Ignis, but while there is no legal name for what you, my son, Gladiolus, and Prompto have, as far as I am concerned, you are all my sons. No matter who sired this miracle, I will think of them as my own grandchildren, and I’m quite sure Clarus feels much the same,” he said with certainty, and Ignis slowly lowered the spoon, setting it on the counter before turning to face him, his expression wide-eyed and uncertain; it was not a look that Regis was used to seeing on the usually calm and composed young advisor, and he couldn’t help a little smile at the sight. “Ignis, I am not angry, I do not harbor plans to whisk Noctis away to marry him off, I have no wish to send Prompto away, and I have no desire to see either you or Gladiolus disgraced. Clarus and I discussed the council yesterday, we believe we can convince them to vote for the future legitimization of any children that were sired, it will just take some more time. We will meet on Friday. Do not concern yourself too much yet, Ignis, we will weather any storm that may arise.” Regis rose to his feet, reaching out and clasping the young man’s shoulder as Ignis took a deep, shaking breath before letting it out slowly and dipping his chin.

“I can think of no greater honor, your majesty. Thank you.”

“Dad?” Regis turned to see both Noctis and Prompto, both still dressed in rumpled clothes that had clearly been slept in, and smiled.

“Good morning, you two. Sleep well?” His son yawned while Prompto looked vaguely embarrassed as he nodded, and Regis took the moment to run his eyes over the young man’s form, noting the taut fabric over the stomach and the softness in the cheeks that was a recent change. “I mainly stopped by to ask you all a question; have you spoken to the future queen yet? Luna should be told soon, lest you suffer her wrath when it goes public, which will probably be in a matter of days, I’m afraid. I do not put it past several of the council to allow an anonymous leak soon after our meeting on Friday.” Noctis grimaced comically, but nodded. “Cid has been told to come to the Citadel posthaste, as neither Clarus nor I wish to depart this mortal coil just yet and if we let him find out about either of you...but more specifically Cor through a media leak, he will undoubtedly make the decision for us.”

Prompto’s laugh burst out before he could smother it, and Regis smirked as the blond grinned behind his hand. “Cid would be pretty pissed, wouldn’t he? He was so concerned when we stopped in a few months ago when dad was itty bitty-” Prompto froze. “Oh no, do you think that has caused his health issues? He would have been pregnant already-”

“Dr. Domitia has not mentioned that in the slightest, so I’m quite certain it’s a non-issue. Don’t go borrowing trouble, Prompto, there will be plenty to go around soon enough,” he chided him lightly, and Prompto nodded shakily.

“S- sorry, you’re right. Everything is still working through my head, I think it’s easier to worry about dad versus my own situation sometimes,” Prompto admitted, and Noctis sighed, then yawned once more before smacking the blond’s shoulder.

“Prom, stop. We’re going to figure this all out.” Regis was pleased by his son’s certainty, if only because Prompto took it to heart almost instantly, the thin shoulders relaxing and brooding expression clearing, and Regis couldn’t help but think that they truly were all rather well suited to each other. They would need that support.

Cid showed up the next morning, tapping his foot impatiently when Regis met his old friend in person in the sixth floor conference room the Crownsguard had him wait in.

“Why the hell am I here, Reggie?” Cid grumbled, and Regis sighed. It might be better to tell the old man what was going on before going to see Cor-

“We have a unique situation, and I knew that if I let you find out through the news, you...wouldn’t take it well,” he said, a bit hesitant, and Cid leaned against the table and crossed his arms, scowl firmly in place.

“Last time I saw a unique situation, the kid was less than two feet tall and I was tryin’ not to have a heart attack. This new situation is worse?” Cid drawled, and Regis grimaced, bringing up a hand and scratching his fingers through his chin hair.

“Worse isn’t the word I’d use for it, it’s going to be quite the happy event eventually, but-” Regis trailed off, swallowed, and sagged slightly. “I don’t suppose you read any of the Book?” Cid shrugged.

“Cindy and the media told me most of it, so I never bothered. Figured I could skip reading the down and dirty regarding the kids’ sexy powers or whatever the fuck it is,” the old man said matter of factly, and Regis couldn’t really blame him. He tried to spit it out, just tell Cid what was going on, but after working his jaw uselessly for a few moments, he couldn’t bring himself to do it.

“Why don’t we go to the infirmary, Cor’s still a patient for a few more days,” he said, and Cid’s eyes narrowed, but he stayed blessedly silent as they took the elevator up, the two men getting waved through immediately. Just as Regis raised his hand to knock, Cid grabbed his wrist.

“Am I going to yell at whatever is going on with Cor?” Cid said flatly, and Regis couldn’t help a little smirk in response.

“Quite possibly.”  

“Well, fuck you too, Caelum,” Cid snapped, and Regis rolled his eyes at the horrified gasp that came from a passing nurse as he knocked.

“Come on in!” Ulric was obviously there this time, and Regis opened the door to admit the two of them. “Hey, Cid! Wasn't expecting you, but always good to see you!” Nyx exclaimed, the man lounging precariously on a chair next to Cor's bed as his partner...slept. Of course. Cid’s scowl grew even deeper as his gaze ran over their youngest friend’s form, turning to Ulric as he pointed at Cor.

“What in the hell is wrong with him? Looks like he partied for two weeks straight without stopping for either sleep or food,” Cid said, mildly accusatory (for Cid, anyway, Regis could tell he liked the Glaive) and Nyx sagged in his chair with a sigh.

“Trust me, Cid, I tried, the idiot refused to get checked out until he passed out in the kitchen and I had to call emergency to come get him.” From Nyx’s tone of voice, Regis knew that Ulric had gotten up close and personal with Cor's fuck you I do what I want brand of heel-digging stubbornness, and had not come out the victor in the battle. Both he and Cid knew that fight all too well, and they had usually been about as successful. Unfortunately.

“So what's actually wrong with him? You two don't seem too worried,” the old man commented, and Ulric looked at Regis for a moment before getting up and taking Cor's hand in his own, suddenly looking very young.

“He's pregnant.”

Cid blinked, then snorted. “Pull the other one, kid.” Regis scratched at his chin while Nyx just stared at Cid with a neurotic expression that begged to not make him say it again, and after a minute of utter silence, Cid swallowed heavily. “You're shitting me.” Both Regis and Nyx shook their heads, and Cid turned his head robotically towards Cor's still sleeping face. “You're not shitting me.” Another head shake, and Cid looked back at Nyx, his eyes glazed. “Yours, I'm guessing?” Regis knew how much the two were devoted to each other and stifled a cringe at the question, but Nyx just nodded again without missing a beat, and Cid nodded absently. “Of course, dumb question,” Cid murmured, then, without a word, lifted a hand and smacked Cor solidly on the thigh, causing the poor man to jerk (and Nyx to give an aborted glare that Cid ignored.)

“Wha-” Cor mumbled, then Regis watched as his eyes focused on Cid. “C...iiid?”

“Sounds like I should be wishing you congratulations, kid; when did you find out that this was even possible?” the old mechanic said, his smirk far softer than Regis knew he would even admit to, and after Cor just looked at Cid stupidly for a solid minute, Nyx came to the rescue.

“They found out last weekend.” Cid nodded in understanding, and Regis was just starting to think things were going well when Cid held up a hand, his expression distant.

“Whaddya mean, they?”

Well, he had agreed that Cid would probably start yelling.

It was Cor who managed to calm the old man down after he managed to wake up enough to gather some brain cells together, and after a talk, reddened eyes, and a hug that rivalled Clarus’s, Cid was sent on his way with promises to keep him up to date, and Regis and Clarus later heaved a great sigh of relief at his departure. They would live another day. But as Friday loomed, bringing in the dreaded meeting with the council, Regis wished, if just for a moment, that Cid had run them both over in his damn truck.

Clarus had made the mistake of telling Cor about the meeting, and it had taken Ulric threatening to chain him to the bed (again, from the sound of it) to keep the man from getting up and coming along; normally, Regis would have allowed it, while Cor was hardly a regular attendee, he was a concerned party in this circumstance, and he wanted to make sure that it was clear that Prompto had someone who wasn’t part of the council on his side, but Regis knew better than to get between Cor and Nyx in this case. He knew how good the Glaive was with his kukris.

“It’s fine, Cor, we’ll play this straight for now-” Clarus started to say, only to get a sharp shake of the head from the bed-bound marshal.

“Tell them,” Cor said, and both Regis and Clarus blinked in confusion before Regis opened his mouth.

“Tell them-”

“Tell them that it’s both of us. Some of those bastards- I mean, esteemed council members, are going to think Prompto is some sort of freak. As I can’t be there to punch them, I’m not going to sit back and let my son take all the heat. I can’t. Tell them, maybe the absurdity of it all will throw them off for a few minutes,” Cor all but ordered, his tone uncompromising, and after Regis and Clarus shared a time-honored Cor look, they nodded.

“They were going to ask your status anyway considering the reports of your health, so it works out,” Clarus replied, and Cor sighed.

“Good luck, you two. As soon as my jailors let me go-” Nyx’s irritated sigh was one for the ages. “-I’ll be there to argue with them as well.” Regis laughed before he could stop himself, and Cor scowled.

“Might be better that you stay in, then, I don’t want to have to authorize the repair costs…”

Cor’s aim with a pillow was as unparalleled at just shy of forty-seven as it had been at sixteen.

A few hours later found Regis and Clarus standing outside the primary council room, listening to the muffled chatter of the council members behind the door. Traditionally, they were to arrive at least fifteen minutes before the actual start of the meeting so they were prepared before the monarch’s arrival, although this time, the council had been given no information as to the reason for the meeting. A little part of Regis was actually looking forward to this, the part that was comprised of childish glee when big secrets were revealed, but the rest of him was well aware it was only the beginning of a giant mess. That took care of that anticipation rather handily.

“Ready, your majesty?” Regis took a deep breath, and nodded.

“Ready, my lord. I just-” Clarus quirked a smile, and Regis shook his head. “Grandparents. We’re going to be grandparents.”

“Crazy, isn’t it? Less than two years ago we thought we were all meeting our end, but now-” Clarus didn’t bother finishing his statement, and Regis hummed his agreement before nodding once more.

“Shall we?” Clarus stepped forward and opened the door, and the two of them headed inside as the eleven got to their feet, his shield escorting him to the head of the table before moving immediately to his left; Regis sat first, the others following a moment later, and he swallowed another sigh at the view of eleven expectant gazes upon him as Clarus set his paperwork down in front of him.

“I hope you all have had a good week, and my thanks for responding so swiftly to the sudden summons. We have a situation. While it is not an emergency, it is one that by law and practice needs to be addressed as soon as possible,” Regis said, and the others all exchanged a few glances before facing him once more.

“Your majesty?” Annia Faustina spoke up, question clear in her voice, and Regis couldn’t help the tiniest of sighs. Here goes.

“Dr. Vesta Domitia gave me an official notification under the decree of Antonius,” he said, and he could have heard an ant crawl across the room in the resulting silence, had there been any. Well, that was about what he had expected. He joined Clarus in inspecting the expressions on everyone’s faces, seeing a mix of confusion, concern, or in a few sadly expected cases, complete disgust. After close to a minute, it was Placidia Galla who, unsurprisingly, spoke up. The eldest member of the council had long considered herself the bastion of royal propriety and proper conduct, and Regis wasn’t even phased that she was the first one to comment.

“Does the prince have a female lover, your majesty?” the old woman asked, her tone sharp but controlled, and Regis shook his head.

“No, he does not.”

“Then how?” Quintus Labienus cut in, the young man genuinely confused, and before he could even reply, Eprius Marcellus snorted indelicately, drawing everyone’s attention.

“So the little sainted whore can have children, is that what you are saying?” Marcellus stated, his tone dripping with derision, and Regis and Clarus both scowled.

“Watch your tongue, Marcellus, that young man saved our asses; your crushed bones would be mixed with the rubble of the Citadel right now if the empire had gotten to finish what it had set out to do,” his shield bit out, and Marcellus rolled his eyes.

“We owe him so much that you allow him to sleep with the prince, your majesty? Since when was this the stories of old where the hero got the princess?” Marcellus snapped, and Labienus leaned forward, concern in his eyes.

“How do you know that child that the...er, Mr. Argentum, I mean, bears is even the prince’s? The boy is young and I understand that these Dawnsworn are very...sexual beings, are you certain of his commitment to the prince?” Well, that was a decent point, and one they expected from the always prudish man; besides, it wasn’t like he was wrong, technically, just not in the way he thought. Regis sat back in his chair, his shifting bringing the rest of the room’s attention back to him,

“Actually, Quintus, it’s actually very possible that it isn’t my son’s,” Regis stated calmly, and selfishly enjoyed the various looks of outrage and horror that met his statement.

“Then, why are we here-” Quintus started, only for Regis to look askance at Clarus; after receiving the nod he expected, he sat forward and gave a little huffing laugh.

“We are here because my son decided to reenact the tale of Romilius the thirtieth plus one, Quintus, and because Mr. Argentum is pregnant with triplets and I would not be surprised in the slightest if there’s a child for each of his lovers,” he stated, gaining a solid gasp as the young man realized what he was referring to, and barely restrained a smile when Galla actually hissed only seconds later, her still-sharp green eyes darting between him and Clarus like an angry sabertusk.

“So it doesn’t bother you that your son, your heir and the prince of the realm, is sleeping with his future shield, advisor, and his best friend, who is also a...divine being of some stripe, and that they’ve somehow managed to sire children? Your majesty, this is an outrage! The voice should have been expelled from the Citadel once he was in good health, but now he’s apparently lead the prince and his court down into a pit of vice-” An equally sharp voice cut through the old woman’s rant.

“Madame, you speak of Mr. Argentum like he was some sort of...courtesan, where my acquaintance of him has shown him to be a kind, gentle, intelligent person who embodies the songs that he sings. Have you ever even spoken with him?” Verina Aelia said bluntly, the youngest council member’s voice carrying across the room, and Galla frowned, the answer obvious. “Allow me to be the first to congratulate you and Lord Amicitia, your majesty, no matter what form these blessings may take.” Regis and Clarus both dipped their heads in thanks as Fausta Flavia rose to her feet, her rich red gown brushing the tile as she put her hands on her hips and raised an eyebrow.

“You wish to declare any child proven to be the prince’s legitimate, correct? That’s why we are here?” Flavia asked, and Regis did not deny it. Flavia looked like she had eaten something rotten as the two looked at each other, and Regis had no doubt as to her opinion. “To do so would be the downfall of Lucis, I categorically refuse. The foreign-born brat should be expelled from the city, he can have his ill gotten whelps in his ruined tower,” Flavia said smoothly, and even though he had expected it, anger was already building in his gut. “In fact, if you care one bit for the sanctity of your line, your majesty, you’d not only have him removed, you’d force him under the knife first. Make sure what creatures he bears are destroyed before they come into being-” The only reason Regis remained seated was Clarus signalling before he got to his feet, crossing his arms and glaring down his nose at the hateful woman.

“Only you would have the guts to tell the king to force his own probable grandchild to be aborted, Flavia. You’ve always been quite the piece of work-”

“The Astrals won’t stand for this! It could doom us all!” Caesonia Milonia said as the practically dressed woman got to her feet, her expression genuinely frightened; after a glare that caused Flaiva to shrink back and bow, Regis got to his feet and met the pious woman’s eyes.

“Caesonia, I can say on excellent authority that I find that highly unlikely; the Glacian, the Archaean, and even the Oracle have all stated their approval with the Dawnsworn’s presence and activities, and I’m quite certain the Astrals were aware of the possibility of this happening. I do plan to address the issue with the Oracle, however, to verify that this favor continues. Please do not worry too much on that front, but I will have an answer for you shortly,” he explained, and thankfully, Milonia took him at his word, bowing deeply before regaining her seat. Before Regis could return to Flaiva, loud, rhythmic banging on the table drew his attention.

“Your majesty!”

“Yes, Ampelius?” Regis said patiently, raising an eyebrow at the old general, who had a look on his face that announced he was about to say something that would scandalize the whole room, and honestly, Regis was looking forward to it. Anything better than Flavia’s horrid statements-

“Let’s cut to the chase. You are assured of the little blessed boy’s fidelity to the prince and his court?” Both Regis and Clarus nodded. “Very well. I don’t give a shit who’s bouncing on whose cock, as long as the whole genetic testing thing is done on the whelps when they were born,” Ampelius Lucius stated boldly, and Regis couldn’t help the somewhat inappropriate bark of laughter that followed, Clarus in a similar state as several of the other council members also joined in. “If the brats are legitimately the prince’s, then there’s no reason not to make a fuss of it. I vote yea now, no reason for delay.”

Further down the table, Regis’s cousin Ancus Marcius looked distinctly unimpressed as he most definitely did not join in the laughter, but kept his opinion to himself. Next to him, Stolo Licinius, one of the younger members of the council, looked utterly indifferent, which was rather refreshing.

“While the whole concept of a man being pregnant is strange to me, your majesty, I agree with Ampelius. No reason for delaying the mess; while I am concerned that this situation might entangle the royal line further with the Amicitia family, at this point, I know that is a long foregone conclusion. I vote yea as long as the obvious testing and precautions are taken. I am actually more concerned with the status of Marshal Leonis, I am given to understand he has been in the infirmary all week?” Regis blinked at the sudden change of subject, but retook his seat and nodded to Licinius.

“Thank you for bringing the marshal up, Licinius, as he very much wanted to be here, he is indisposed. Dr. Domitia hopes he will be able to leave the infirmary tomorrow so he might spend the evening of his birthday in his own home,” Regis explained, and Licinius nodded his understanding as Ampelius narrowed his eyes.

“But what’s wrong with the man? This isn’t like the marshal,” the old man asked, and Regis nodded to Clarus, who leaned in with a little smile on his face.

“Well, completely coincidentally, he too has found himself with child, thankfully with no argument about parentage, and I have already arranged for Deputy Elshett to be become acting marshal when he has to go off active duty-”

The news led to surprised shouts from the majority of the council, including Ampelius, doing exactly what Cor thought it would. The man did occasionally have good ideas.

“Well, that went about exactly the way we thought it would,” Clarus said later as they enjoyed a nice quiet dinner, and Regis nodded in-between bites of the excellent steak he was eating.

“We need to keep an eye on Flavia and Marcellus, I sense we will be having problems with them very shortly,” he replied, and Clarus nodded.

“I assume a leak from one of them will lead to the media stacked up outside the Citadel tomorrow.”

“I think it would be best to assume so, yes,” Regis said as he finished his wine, and Clarus shook his head, his expression wistful.

“Those six are going to be the death of us, Regis. It may not be any time soon, but I have no doubt about it.” Regis chuckled, and Clarus gave him a fond little smile in reply.

“There are worse ways to go.”

The next morning, Regis walked out onto his balcony, looked down at the masses of people surrounding the main entrance of the Citadel, and sighed. Time to get to work.

 

-----------

 

Luna twitched when her phone started to ring, the jaunty tune telling her it was Prompto calling, and Ravus raised his eyebrow when she didn’t answer it right away.

“Are you going to answer that?” Luna frowned, but picked up the device and answered. She had a strange feeling about this.

“Hello?” she said hesitantly, and she could hear a very familiar voice finishing up a sentence in the background, the phone clearly being held away from Prompto’s face at first until she could hear it being shifted closer.

“Hey, Luna! How are you?” Prompto asked, and Luna couldn’t help but smile.

“I’m very well, thank you. Is something going on?” she asked, and Prompto whined right on cue.

“I can’t call a friend out of the blue anymore?”

Luna tittered for a second before scraping together her composure. “You almost always text, Prompto, so no, you don’t usually call out of the blue, as you said. So again, what’s going on?” She smiled as Prompto sighed on the other end of the line.

“Are you both there?” Luna blinked, looking up and meeting her brother’s eyes for a moment.

“As in Ravus and I? Yes, he is in the room as well,” she said, and Prompto hummed.

“I really don’t wanna say this twice, so if you want to put me on speaker, I’d appreciate it,” the younger man said, and after exchanging another look with her brother, she turned on the speakerphone and set the device down on the table.

“Go ahead, Prompto, it’s just Ravus and I in the room.”

“Well, ummm-” Prompto’s sigh was heavy, but Luna held her tongue and waited. “I assume you’ve read the whole book? Both of you?” Book? Oh, the Book.

“Yes, I know I have, and I believe Ravus has as well-” Ravus nodded. “Yes, both of us. Are you well? Is Cor alright?” Luna’s mind started running through things she could remember, but nothing was coming to mind. What could be going on?

“So yeah, translation issues were a very important thing- Noct wanted to tell you, but he’s a mess and I decided to take the initiative, because the council is meeting now and you deserve to know before they leak something-”

“Prompto?”

“Okay, short summary; basically, I’ve been feeling weird for a month or so and putting on weight like crazy while Cor’s been feeling like shit for about the same period of time and was barely eating, making things even worse-” Luna gasped, and even Ravus frowned.

“Prompto, why didn’t you let me know-”

“-so I’m up twenty-five pounds in like two months, which is nuts, while Cor got so sick he passed out cold in his own quarters, Nyx was not happy about that, as you can guess-”

“Prompto-”

“-and then Dr. Domitia summoned me to the infirmary after looking Cor over-”

“Argentum, slow down.” Ravus’s cut-in had no effect.

“-and, um, yeah...we’re both pregnant.”

Luna had heard the term swallowed their own tongue before, but she had never so keenly felt the idea as she did at that moment, her shocked eyes meeting her brother’s equally stunned ones before she stared down at the innocuous device sitting on the table.

“Luna? Oh, shit, I’ve finally weirded you out, I...uh-”

Luna burst into tears.

A few minutes of both Prompto panicking over the phone and Ravus trying to calm her later, she finally managed to wipe her eyes and swallow down any more that tried to bubble up; after a few tries, she finally cleared her throat enough to speak.

“Prompto? This is wonderful news, I’m so happy for you! Do you know who-” Prompto gave a shaky laugh on the other end.

“Well, actually, with me, it could be an all-of-the-above sort of situation, as there’s, uh, three. But no, it’s gotta wait until after they are born, so we don’t know for certain,” Prompto said, and Luna could feel more tears tracking down her cheeks. Three. Triplets. Regis and Lord Amicitia must be so happy-

“Prompto, how did the king take the news?” Prompto laughed, his tone becoming more jovial and less nervous, which she took as a good sign.

“I mean, we were all shocked, but besides Gladio’s dad yelling a bit, everything went well. Thankfully. While I’m really worried about how the public and the council is going to take this, I’m more concerned about dad, he’s been in the infirmary almost a week and he’s only just starting to look better. The doctor said that he’s really too old for this, and she’ll confine him to bedrest if he doesn’t shape up soon. I think that threat helped, but I don’t know how far it’ll go. She’s hoping to release him tomorrow for his birthday,” Prompto finished, still talking a touch too fast, but Luna didn’t blame him. She just wished she could go visit, but with the coronation in less than two months, it was not the time. Speaking of…

“Prompto, are you all still able to come for the ceremony as we discussed? I certainly don’t wish to risk your’s or Cor’s health-” Prompto hummed a positive sound, and she closed her mouth.

“We’ll be there, Luna, I can guarantee it- ah, hold on-” Luna winced at the scraping noise that erupted from the phone, and she took the pause to smile at Ravus, who just looked thrown by the whole conversation, then looked back towards her phone as the scuffle noises coalesced into more breathing, but this time-

“Noctis?”

“Hey Luna, just realized Prom had called you, isn’t this nuts? Prom’s got three on the way, and Cor has twins-” Luna choked, but Noctis continued on. “-doc thinks they are around fifteen or sixteen weeks, and dad just got out of the council meeting, he says it’s going to be a fight, but he thinks he can get a legitimacy vote through before they are born-” Noctis paused, taking a deep breath before letting it out slowly. “-I can’t wait to see you, Luna, we all can’t; I think Cor will be thrilled to get out of Dr. Domitia’s clutches, so unless he’s doing really poorly, expect him there too. Your coronation is going to be amazing, right, Ravus?” Ravus stiffened at the direct address, but Luna grinned when her brother nodded out of habit.

“Yes, Noctis, I certainly agree. And may I extend my congratulations to both your beloved and the marshal, you all certainly do like making life interesting.”

The conversation wrapped up soon after, and Luna fell back into her chair heavily after the call disconnected, her eyes still threatening to start up again.

“Pregnant,” she whispered, and Ravus nodded.

“So it appears. It should take care of the succession should one of them be Noctis’s and the council allows for it, which is certainly convenient. As for the marshal, I must admit I’m somewhat concerned; he is well into his forties, which is not usually a recommended time to get pregnant, and it sounds like it isn’t settling as well with him. This does mean that both of them were already in this situation by the time I came out to help them with Costlemark, but they would have been less than a month along. It’s...quite the miracle. I wish them all every happiness.”

Luna couldn’t have said it better herself.  She smiled at her brother’s kind words, then got to her feet and pocketed her phone, walking over to the closest window and gazing out onto the soft blanket of snow that covered the trees.

“I’ll have to ask Gentiana what she thinks of the whole situation, I hope she’s happy for them.” Ravus came up alongside her, placing a hand on her shoulder.

“I’m sure she will be, sister. As I know we both are.”

Chapter Text

Prompto looked at himself in the mirror with a frown. It had been only two weeks since he had found out and only a week since Cor’s birthday, and he felt like he had grown a billion percent just in that time. It was bullshit, of course, his awareness of his condition had made him incredibly aware of every pound he had gained, and while Dr. Domitia had declared him to be in excellent shape, he still…

“Prom?” Prompto lowered his shirt and turned to Gladio, who had come up behind him, his eyebrows raised in inquiry.

“Nothing, just looking. What’s going on? Time to go?” he asked, deftly ignoring the knowing expression on the big man’s face as he moved around him and headed out of the bathroom, Gladio following in his wake as he headed out towards the door, where Noct and Iggy were already waiting. Noct opened his mouth, but closed it again before turning and opening the door as Prompto got his shoes on, leaning against Gladio for stabilization.

Even his shoes were tighter than usual. He didn’t want to think about it.

“Shall we depart?” Iggy asked, and they all headed to the elevator, Gladio following behind with Iggy in front. They had been taking the king’s orders seriously; the few times Prompto had been out of Noct’s quarters since the news leaked on Cor’s birthday, he had always had a diligent protector at his side. The only funny part of the leak was that Cor hadn’t even been mentioned, so his status was still a mystery...well, for a few more minutes.

The council had summoned Noctis and Gladio together the very next day, even as the media had been all but climbing the walls outside. Neither had gone into great specifics, but from what it had sounded like to Prompto, they had basically got lectured at like schoolboys; at least a few references of everything from causing massive amounts of trouble to sullying the bloodline had been brought up, the last one especially making Prompto a bit sick to his stomach. Maybe they were right. After all, he was effectively a clone of a madman, but the others had put that idea firmly down the instant he had made the mistake of bringing it up, also reminding him that as far as both they and crown were concerned, that had never happened.

It boggled Prompto’s mind that there was a part of his identity, as it were, that was an official state secret, but they were right. Considering there was Insomnian nationalists on the council in addition to those nasty types that still spread around their hateful message in the city, if it ever got out, he’d never have peace again. They’d chase him clear off the continent.

While Prompto still worried, Verstael Besithia and everything he represented was a branch attached to his existence that he was more than willing to allow to wither and die.

He owed that man nothing.

On a completely different note, he and Iggy had bumped into Sulpicia a few days prior, who had congratulated him, then given a world-weary sigh that told Prompto exactly how she expected the press release to go. He tried to apologise, but the woman had waved him off before hitching up her sleeves and giving him a wink before leaving.

He was just doomed to make the news, apparently. The media was having a field day, well, more like a field month, and he was happily parking his butt inside the building until he needed to go out again.

A few minutes later saw them entering the surprisingly packed quarters of the marshal and captain, and Prompto swallowed heavily as the crowd parted for him. Right. Straightening his back, he walked over to the sofa and sat down to the left of his dad, the older man wrapping a warm hand around the back of his neck and gently squeezing. It felt nice.

“So what’s going on? There’s all sorts of rumors and other nonsense flying about, Cor, and I would appreciate some answers. We’ve heard the rumors about Mr. Argentum, and while you are looking much better than two weeks ago, Cor, you are still pretty wrung out,” Monica asked from her perch on one of Cor’s barstools, Crowe and Dustin flanking her, and pretty much the whole room nodded in agreement with her question. Prompto met both Cor and Nyx’s eyes, then raised a hand.

“I’ll go first, I guess. I think the media is reporting that I’m pregnant?” he said, scratching at his cheek, and Iris, who was sitting on the floor near the television, nodded first.

“Yeah, there’s all sorts of things flying around right now,” Iris said, and Prompto took a deep breath, meeting both his lovers’ and his father’s eyes before sighing.

“It’s true. I am pregnant, which is still a crazy thing to think about, let me tell you-” The room erupted in shocked cries and cheers, and Prompto couldn’t help a short nibble on his bottom lip as Iris leaned forward and poked his ankle, a broad grin on her face.

“So that’s what’s been so hush hush? Dad’s been on lockdown for two weeks, and Gladdy hasn’t been around much-” Iris ground to a halt, her expression growing suspicious. “Who’s the dad?” Welp. Prompto flushed, and Iris, who knew damn good and well they were all together, grinned evilly. “You don’t know! That’s hilarious, the council must have had a coronary-”

“Prompto is expecting triplets, so it’s possible it’s an all of the above sort of situation,” Iggy chimed in, his tone so bland that Prompto almost started laughing, and he could see the moment Iggy’s meaning hit home with everyone who didn’t know that it was all four of them, not just him and Noct; Pelna, Crowe, Monica, and Dustin’s jaws dropped in eerie synchronization as several other Glaives and Guards that Prompto was less acquainted with just looked straight up bug-eyed as they too realized what Ignis had meant.

“All four of you?” Crowe said, her voice odd, and Prompto nodded, his cheeks burning. “Well, hot damn, kids, get it. I can see it, though, you four are always together, which is super sweet, also, I like the idea of the council getting their panties in a twist,” Crowe said, her smile growing as she spoke, and Prompto couldn’t help but laugh as Gladio and Noct both joined in.

“Okay, so we’ve discovered why Argentum is all over the news, and that’s kinda weird, kid, nothing personal, but why has the marshal looked like crap for the last few we-” Bavius, an older Crownsguard who had always been friendly to him, froze, his eyes flying open. “No.” Cor, in a rare show of public emotion, blushed a brilliant red, and Monica’s jaw, which had just returned to a normal position, dropped again.

“Cor, are you-” Cor looked like he wanted to just expire on the spot, but for the first time since they had gotten there, Nyx spoke up, his thoughtful expression a bit wry.

“The working theory is that their ritual from August may have unlocked the...ability,” Nyx stated a bit haltingly, and the room exploded yet again; Prompto actually flinched from the force of the glares directed at Nyx from his fellow Glaives as Monica got to her feet and walked over to the still-red Cor, sitting down on the coffee table directly in front of him.

“Cor?”

“Yes, Monica?”

“How unhappy is Dr. Domitia with you?” the deputy asked, and Cor's mouth twisted.

“Very.” Monica nodded, clearly expecting that reply.

“Well?” Prompto looped his arm around Cor’s left as his dad sighed once more.

“Twins, supposedly; unlike Prompto, I'm way too old for this shit, and I've been informed of this several times just in the last few weeks. I'm on medicine to help me eat and all sorts of vitamins and other things like that, which just makes it even better. I'll manage, but I do know that I'm going to be pulled off active duty soon. You'll be taking over then,” Cor informed Monica, who was looking more and more torn between crying or punching the man in the face as he spoke, and Prompto found himself leaning to the left just in case.

“Cor.” Cor frowned thoughtfully, and Prompto found a smile sneaking onto his face as Monica raised her hands and cupped his dad’s cheeks. “Cor, don’t you think that I would want to know how one of my oldest friends is doing? Screw work, you owe me a story,” Monica said, and Prompto chuckled as Cor actually smiled, small and sweet as the woman leaned in and gave Cor a kiss on his cheek. The room burst out into a mix of laughter and cheers as Crowe, Libertus, and Pelna all came over to the sofa as well, Crowe leaning over Nyx and hooking him in a headlock; Nyx choked and began to smack Crowe’s arm with a flailing hand, but she was unrepentant. Yeah, Prompto wasn’t all that surprised, he’d be pissed too if he found this sort of thing out way later-

“You knocked up your damn boyfriend and your oldest friends don’t even rate a mention? You’ve known for two weeks? Damnit, Nyx-” Crowe was jostling the increasingly red Glaive around as Libertus and Pelna nodded sagely in agreement, not moving a muscle in his defense, and it was only when Cor reached over and patted Crowe’s arm that she finally let the gasping Nyx go.

“While I understand your sentiment, I would prefer that he be alive for the foreseeable future, Glaive Altius. He is handy to have around most of the time-” Crowe rested her arm on Nyx’s head as she faced Cor, a smirk on her face.

“Well, that’s obvious, marshal; I don’t see how else you’d be in this situation otherwise-”

“Crowe!” Libertus yelled, setting off the whole room once more as Pelna knelt by Prompto’s side of the sofa, the always kind man resting his hand next to Prompto’s arm.

“So, this is a scandal,” Pelna said quietly, his eyes twinkling with mirth, and Prompto snorted.

“Just a little one,” he stated as his hand moved to his stomach, and Pelna raised an eyebrow.

“The marshal is one thing, Prompto, but one of your boytoys is the prince. It’s going to be more than a little scandal.” Pelna patted his arm after he finished speaking. “They probably haven’t brought it up too much, but they are really meticulous about the royal bloodline, due to their magical abilities. No one likes to say it out loud, but don’t be surprised if you are kept pretty...close to this place. While they don’t sequester the queens anymore, there was always the fear of losing heirs, especially when the wall was erected.” Pelna’s smile was thin, and Prompto suddenly felt sick to his stomach. He had forgotten about that. History classes had told him how crazy the concern over the Caelum line could be, but to be effectively locked away? The king hadn’t said anything, but maybe the council- “With the crystal gone, and the ring destroyed, it may not be such a thing anymore?” Pelna said, then shrugged. “I wouldn’t worry too much, now that I think about it. You two do like making life interesting, you know that, right? We’ve got your backs, Prompto. The Glaives, probably even most of the Crownsguard- we won’t stand for the council trying to expel you or anything of the sort. You haven’t done anything wrong, and this isn’t the dark ages.” Prompto’s eyes welled up with tears against his will, and he hastily used his hand and wiped them away as Monica and Cor both turned to see what had happened.

“Thanks, Pelna. I really appreciate it.”

The gathering broke up soon after, with a request that everyone keep their mouths shut until the press release went out on Sunday evening, and Prompto stood with his boyfriends, his dad, and Nyx as everyone filed out, most offering congratulations as they went. Libertus was the last one to the door, and just as he was about to leave, he turned and smiled at the lot of them.

“You always liked kids, Nyx,” Libertus said conversationally, and Nyx smiled.

“Yeah, that’s true. Never thought I’d have any of my own, though.” Libertus nodded in agreement, before looking at both Prompto and Cor once more.

“Five, huh? Between the two of you? That’s going to be wild. Like Pelna said, we’ve got your back. We all know it was at least one of the council who leaked the news in the first place, which pisses me off-”

“It was expected, unfortunately. Certain members of the council are quite staunchly exclusionary in their thinking. I could tell you exactly who did it, and I was lying in the infirmary at the time,” Cor cut in, his expression resigned, and Libertus scowled.

“Fucking politics, I have no clue how you deal with it, Cor. Seriously. Half the time I just want to punch some of those idiots in the face-” Nyx cut Libertus off with a smirk and a nod.

“Libs, there’s a reason Cor doesn’t go to most council meetings besides not being a member; Lord Amicitia told me flat out that he doesn’t want to have to have the staff clean the blood off the floor afterwards,” Nyx drawled, and Prompto giggled behind his hands as Libertus and Cor shared a look of commiseration before the Glaive nodded and took his leave, shutting the door behind him.

“Where’s Iris?” Noct asked, only to jump when arms locked around his waist.

“You guys aren’t getting rid of me so easily, I’m tired of being forgotten at home while everyone's out doing interesting things,” Iris said with a pout, and Gladio spun around and poked Iris in the head, causing her to skip back.

“This is one interesting thing that you certainly don’t need to be a part of, as the last thing you need to be doing is having kids-”

“That’s not what I meant!” Iris squawked, and punched Gladio in the stomach, causing the man to double over with a groan. Prompto winced, but he knew better than to get in the middle of those two. “What I meant is that I want to help! You’re going to need things, you things, baby things, and I have no idea how you guys are going to be able to visit Costlemark when you get further along, as I’m sure you have commitments there-” Prompto froze. She was right. He hadn’t really thought of it beyond he, Cor, and Nyx’s visit to see the Dawn Mother earlier in the week (he had never expected to see a goddess laugh like a complete lunatic at any point in his life, but well, that was a surprise bucket list item taken care of,) but they had been visiting at least once a week, and it had been almost three since they had last went due to Cor’s condition. That was a problem.

“She’s right, dad, we need to go check in; besides, Lord Amicitia had a great idea after we discussed my trip there, and I want to do some research,” he said, and Cor frowned before nodding.

“Might be a good idea to get out of here for a little while before the press release hits. I think I can convince Dr. Domitia to let me loose for a few days,” Cor said, and Prompto smiled and nodded. “How about you meet me here tomorrow around three-” A sharp throat clearing cut his dad off, and Prompto and Cor turned to see Iggy, Noct, Gladio, and Nyx all standing next to each other, sour (but unsurprised) expressions on their faces.

“Were you two really planning to just run off without a single word to us?” Noct asked, and Prompto bit his lip nervously as his dad sighed.

“Noctis, we’ve been going there for months without you all, why is it different now?” Cor’s tone was legitimately confused as he addressed the prince, and Prompto watched as the four shared an weighty look before turning back to them. Oh dear.

“Marshal, where were you a week ago?” Iggy asked, and Cor scowled.

“In the infirmary, but-” Nyx cut through the air with a hand, and the older man’s jaw snapped shut.

“No buts, Cor, you still aren’t a hundred percent yet, and I don’t know if you remember, but you’re pregnant,” Nyx said with exasperation, and Cor raised an eyebrow.

“Why don’t you go out and say that to a pregnant woman out in the city and see how that goes-”

“I’m sure it would go just fine once I explained that you are forty-seven years old and pregnant with twins, have just spent a week in the infirmary after half-starving yourself over the past few weeks, and are so run down the doctor has you on a veritable cocktail of drugs and vitamins just to get you back to a decent baseline,” Nyx snapped, and Cor looked away, shame-faced. Prompto patted his dad on the back as he avoided the looks from the others. They had a point. He’d be fine, but Cor wasn’t in the best shape, and that was looking unlikely to change for awhile longer.

“Prom?” Gladio said quietly, and Prompto dragged his eyes over to him sheepishly as he realized that they had all come up around him when Nyx and Cor had started arguing. “Prom, we know you are doing pretty well with all this, but we really want someone else with you, especially while-” Gladio tilted his head towards Cor silently, and Prompto sighed. He had no doubt that if something nasty went down, he and his dad would fight to the best of their abilities, but...it was better to have backup. Especially right now.

“Besides, Prompto, we do enjoy your adventures at Costlemark, I find it all quite fascinating,” Iggy said, his tone light, but firm, and alright alright, he got it.

“Hey, dad? Why don’t we all go this time? Might be best to have extra people, the rumors have probably already reached there, and you know we’ll need to tell them what’s actually going on,” he said, looking up at the tired man with his eyes wide and guileless; after a moment, Cor sagged, and Nyx sighed in relief.

“That sounds like an excellent idea, kiddo. Cor?” Nyx inquired, the irritation in his voice still present, but mostly under control, and Cor groaned.

“Fine,” Cor grumbled, raising a hand and running it through Prompto’s hair before patting the back of his head and stepping away. “You are devious, you know that?”

Noct snorted. “You’ve just now figured this out?”

In the end, they all met back at Cor and Nyx’s quarters the next day, only for Cor to be reminded that perhaps it wasn’t the best idea in his state to step them all to Costlemark with both his condition and their numbers. When Cor promptly grabbed both Prompto and Nyx’s arm and told the rest of them that they could stay behind, a scuffle ensued that ended up with the lot of them crashing into the dirt not fifty feet from the entrance to Hammerhead, Nyx leaping to his feet with a fury that actually made Prompto a little worried at first before the man visibly paused, took a deep breath, and unclenched his jaw.

“Could we not do that again, please? Cor, please, I know this is frustrating, but I know how stepping takes it out of you on a good day with a bigger group,” Nyx said tightly, then turned to Noct, Iggy, and Gladio, who all looked rather sheepish. “You three, I would appreciate you not giving my damn boyfriend a heart attack, especially right now?” Iggy tilted his head in clear apology while the others nodded. Prompto scratched at his cheek, barely avoiding a sigh. What a way to start a trip.

“You alright, dad?” he asked, and Cor nodded wearily.

“I’m fine, I just wasn’t expecting the extra passengers. Apologies on the landing,” the older man said, and Prompto shook his head.

“Don’t worry about it. So what do we do? Step again? Or see if Cid is willing to lend us a truck?”

After Cor rested for a few more minutes, he announced he would be fine to continue on; Prompto and his partners stayed wisely out of the way while Nyx and his dad had a mostly silent exchange of frowns, hand waves, and eyebrow wriggles before nodded.

“We are going to do this in two more jumps, if only to err on the side of caution,” Cor said, holding his hands out; Prompto took one, Nyx took the other, and the other three finished the circle, just as a very familiar voice cut in from behind them.

“Cor? What in the hell are you doing out here-”

The second tumble was almost as bad as the first, but wisely, no one said a thing as they brushed themselves off and followed the annoyed marshal as he walked towards the Crow’s Nest Diner, his cell phone already at his ear.

“Where are we?” Noct asked, and Prompto smiled.

“Longwythe, I’ve stopped here a few times with Cor on the way to and from Costlemark,” he said, and Noct nodded, reaching out and running his fingers through Prompto’s hair before resting his hand on the back of his neck, causing a warm pulse of energy to shoot down his spine. “Noct, we’re in pub-” A second hand found its way to the small of his back, and a different, larger one wrapped around one of his hips.

“Prompto, the press release is set to go out in about an hour, detailing our scandalous affair and both yours and Cor’s current...situations. Forgive us if we find ourselves not caring quite so much anymore,” Ignis said, a tense but honest smile on his face, and Prompto leaned back just enough to let his head bonk against Gladio’s chest, getting a unvoiced rumble in reply.

Right. Prompto came to a stop, the others pausing with him as they stood together outside the diner, already drawing attention. They were too well known, and he was pretty sure he recognized at least one of the people staring at him from the inside as a volunteer from Sarras. Everyone was going to know. Everyone was going to know.

“Prom, you okay?” Gladio asked, and Prompto felt his hand squeezing his hip as he tried to formulate a reply. Was he okay? There was a good chance he was going to be the most hated person in Lucis in an hour, but- He looked over at Iggy, who gave him a thin but heartfelt smile, then over at Noct, who just looked like he was waiting, and then finally he turned enough to look up at Gladio, who was smiling patiently as well.

Fuck it.

“You know what? Fuck everyone, I deserve to be here with you guys, and the council can go fuck itself if they try to say otherwise,” he said, his tone harsher than he had intended, but Gladio snorted out a laugh and kissed him on the top of his head as the others smiled.

“Took you long enough.”

Cor came back from wherever he had been hiding, phone out of sight and Nyx on his heels, and he paused at the odd sight that Prompto knew the four of them made; Cor blinked, but he was relieved when his dad quirked a tiny smile and approached the rest of the way without hesitation.

“Now that the old man is done shouting at me, shall we?” Cor said, his tone light, and Prompto nodded as they assumed the position that had been in just fifteen minutes prior.

The last Prompto saw of Longwythe was a collection of people filming them with their cell phones. Oh boy.

“Your graces! We were beginning to worry, it has been weeks, and there’s been such rumors flying from the capital-” the foreman froze, his eyes widening as he looked at both Prompto and Cor, and Prompto barely restrained a grimace. Did they look so different? “My lord herald, are you...well?” The foreman’s eyes flicked between both of them, and Prompto and his dad shared a look before sighing.

“I’ve had a strange month, Tullius, and it’s going to get stranger still,” Cor said, taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly. “Tell me, what of the capital rumors reached here?” The foreman still looked a bit thrown, but he signaled for them to follow as they approached Costlemark, and Prompto managed not to feel too self conscious as the various volunteers and other people turned to watch them approach. He didn’t care, he hadn’t done a damn thing wrong-

“Ah, well, your grace, it’s awfully scandalous, I’d rather not-” Tullius began, only for Prompto to shake his head.

“It’s possibly true, so feel free to say, sir,” Prompto said, and the foreman looked hesitant, but nodded.

“The rumors say that your grace is...uh, pregnant, by his highness. I know there was some disagreement as per the translation of specific parts of the Book, but-” The poor man looked so nervous that Prompto reached out and patted him on the back, which unfortunately served to make him even more so. “Your grace?”

“It’s true. Well, part of it, anyway-” Tullius spun around so quickly that Prompto actually jerked in surprise, tripping over a stray stone and falling; thankfully, the foreman caught him before he could finish his tumble, and the man set him firmly on his feet, awe in his eyes.

“I’m so sorry, your grace, but this is true? I must admit, you looked somewhat different than last time you were here, but I didn’t want to say anything-” Prompto laughed at the man’s flabbergasted expression, the tension he was trying his best to overcome unravelling slowly as the seconds went by. They could do this.

“That’s actually why were are here now, we want to tell you what is going on; there’s a press release going out from the Citadel any time now, and we knew you all deserved to hear it from us directly.” Tullius looked stunned, but stood up straight and managed a smile.

“Shall I call everyone together so you two can address them?” Cor came up alongside Prompto, resting a hand on his shoulder and nodding.

“We would appreciate it.”

It took about thirty minutes for everyone to be gathered together in the first main hall in the tower, and thirty seconds to shock the whole lot of them; Gladio actually moved in front of Prompto and Nyx in front of Cor when the crowd surged forward, joy and awe in their expressions for the vast majority of them, but thankfully, they seemed to realize that everyone slamming into their precious Dawnsworn was a bad idea in general, especially in their current state, and Prompto could see the tension bleed out of Gladio’s back as the volunteers came to a halt about six feet away. Cor rested his hand on Nyx’s shoulder, looking both a touch amused and tired, the Glaive glancing over at him and sliding to the side as Cor looked out onto the small crowd.

“We appreciate everyone’s support, it means a lot to us in what is certainly going to be a tumultuous period of time. While I’m not too concerned about myself, as my personal situation has been public knowledge for awhile, the circumstances regarding Prompto and his partners will be at the forefront for some time, I fear, and as such, we appreciate your good wishes and support into the future as well,” Cor said, and Prompto stepped forward and flanked his dad, his arm resting against the older man’s. “As some of you have probably noticed, the situation is settling much more smoothly on the Voice’s shoulders than mine, and as such, I will inform you now that you will be seeing me less and less as time goes by. I will do my best to travel here as much as I am able, however-”

“We understand, your grace, please get your rest!” A woman yelled from the back, and Nyx barked out a laugh, sending most of the room following in her wake; Cor’s cheeks and ears turned a rosy red as Nyx leaned over and gave him a kiss on the cheek, his grin still firmly in place as everyone cheered once more. Prompto turned and smiled to all of his partners, Noct leaning in to give him a kiss on his cheek as well. He could see a few disappointed faces in the crowd, and as wild as it still sounded to him, he knew that they had been hoping for either his or Cor’s attentions.

He was never going to get over that. Never. He knew he was kinda cute, in a freckly pale sort of way, but hell, he still didn’t understand how he somehow ended up with Noct and the others sometimes. It was probably best he didn’t dwell on it. After a good fifteen minutes of receiving well-wishes and congratulations from the volunteers, they adjourned to the entrance, Prompto and Cor both sitting down on the floor on opposite sides of the large brass carved disk that was the exit point of the portal from the restricted floors and leaned in closely to look.

“So Clarus had the idea, huh?” Cor asked, his finger tracing around the carvings, and Prompto nodded as he did much the same from the other side.

“Well, the four of us discussed it when we went to the lower levels last month, and we all agreed that if any of those lower levels are to be eventually used, we’ve gotta figure out some way to let people travel from place to place a lot easier than slogging down a billion flights of stairs,” Prompto said, glancing up and meeting Noct’s eyes with a smile. “Everyone who enters the tower is going to be endurance running champions at this rate if we don’t do something. And since there’s no way we can drill an elevator through the floors, Lord Amicitia wondered if we could figure out how to make more of the portals. So...here we are.” Prompto closed his eyes as he laid his palm to the metal, trying to feel for anything he could sense; there was nothing at first, and he fought back his disappointment as he tuned out everything around him, even his awareness of his dad shifting to the back of his mind as he stretched out further. After an indistinguishable amount of time, he felt something in the distance, something he could reach out and touch, and without a second thought, he did just that. Blue light flooded through his eyelids, but by the time he opened his eyes, he found himself...on the bottom floor where the dragon thing had been. Oh shit. He scrambled to his feet and palmed his phone, but he was too far down to have any signal. “Why do I do these things? I’m such an idiot!”

Prompto stomped back onto the portal, but nothing happened, and he scowled. Had he deactivated it somehow? That was the exact opposite from what he had wanted to do-

An awareness pushed at his mind, warm and cherry scented, and he concentrated, sending back as close as he could get to fine, just stupid to Cor, who seemed more amused than anything else. Well, it could be worse. He sat back down in front of it, and reached out once more for that unexplainable thing, this time stopping short of contacting it; he looked out onto an endless expanse of things, most far in the distance, and he suddenly realized what he was looking at, the surprise knocking him from his concentration. Prompto blinked at the disk, a smile growing on his face.

They could do it. He needed to make sure Cor could see what he could, but he was certain they could make it work. They would need someone to make the disks, though; neither of them was a metalsmith, and he definitely had no interest in learning. Before he reached out once more, he pulled out his camera and took a plethora of photos from every conceivable angle of the thing before tucking it away and standing back on its surface.

“Okay, time for you to go back to normal.” Prompto concentrated, and with another rush of blue, he found himself back near the entrance, Iggy already running his hands down his shoulders before he even had the chance to open his eyes. “Sorry guys, didn’t mean to vanish on you. There’s nothing down there anymore, thankfully, I think we would have noticed another jabberwocky move in,” he said, getting unimpressed looks from all three of his partners. “Dad, I think I’ve figured it out.” He knew Cor had been getting some echoes of what he was doing, but he wasn’t surprised when the man followed his lead, his eyes closing as he pushed the palms of his hands onto the disk. “Wait, dad, don’t reach out-” Another burst of light, and it was Cor who was gone this time, Nyx baring his teeth at the floor while Prompto facepalmed.

They really were alike, weren’t they?

The sensation he got a few moments later could basically be summarized to huh, and Prompto giggled before he could help himself.

“Prom?” Prompto shook his head, and Gladio raised an eyebrow. “I assume he’s fine, then?”

“Yeah, he’s just doing what I was doing, trying to figure out how it works. I’m sure he’ll be back in a minute-” Another flash of blue, and Cor was there, kneeling in the middle of the disc. Nyx rolled his eyes and extended a hand, which the man took immediately; Prompto tried not wince as Cor’s exhaustion made itself clear as he wobbled on his feet, Nyx using his other hand to brace him as he stabilized.

“Prompto.” Prompto looked up as Cor looked over at him, a smile in his eyes.

“Yeah?”

“I think we can do it,” Cor said, and Prompto grinned.

“Yeah, I think we can too.”

Prompto set to work snapping photos of the disc they were standing by, just in case there were differences in the etching (he didn’t see any, though) while the others waited patiently; after a few minutes, he got back to his feet and nodded vaguely to himself.

“Okay, I think I’m good. Hey, Iggy, I don’t suppose you know if the crown keeps any metalsmiths on contract or something? I’ve gotta figure out how I’m going to pay for this, too; the volunteers have been getting the supplies themselves, which is amazing, but I can’t ask them to do this-” Iggy blinked, and most of the others looked surprised. “None of you even thought about where stuff was coming from, did you?” he said wryly, and Nyx snorted a laugh.

“Honestly, kid, I didn’t even think about it, probably because I’ve only come a few times; from the looks on your boyfriends’ faces, though, it didn’t even register with them,” Nyx said, his tone jovial, and Noct conceded the point with a tilt of his head. In contrast, Ignis looked a bit irritated with himself, and Prompto patted his arm.

“Iggy, it’s fine, it’s not anything you’d need to be worried about-” Iggy shook his head sharply.

“Nonsense, not only is the work taking place in Lucis proper, it’s something that’s important to you, Prompto. I should have known,” Ignis said, his tone a touch sour, and Prompto met Gladio’s eyes over Iggy’s head, knowing expressions on each one of their faces. A hand rested against his upper back, and he turned around to see Cor standing right behind him, a thoughtful look on his face.

“I have a considerable amount of funds at my disposal, son; I barely use my salary as is, considering my lodgings are free. I’m sure we can figure something out-”

“Do you think it would look bad for the crown to chip in? I mean, Prom got the idea from Clarus, after all,” Noct asked as they began to head back into the tower proper, moving around the people as they descended. “Maybe phrase it as infrastructure funds? It’s strictly going towards accessibility-” Iggy raised a finger, tapping it against his chin with a thoughtful expression.

“That might work, but we’d have to proceed carefully; the council and the public will already be on high alert with the realization of what’s going on,” Iggy said, then he pulled out his phone and checked the time. “The press release went out about ten minutes ago, this sounds like an excellent time to get settled in the area that we were informed about.”

The six of them spent the night in one of the first rooms that had been created in the formerly locked levels; the stone had been dutifully scrubbed down and repaired, and a series of rooms in the style of what Prompto had described during their previous trip had been assembled against one of the stone walls. The rooms were made of what appeared to be standard wood construction with panelling, the type he had seen in many a modern building, but a closer look revealed that they had been made to be movable if needed, the segments latching together at the corners. Temporary housing, effectively. It worked. The walls didn’t extend to the stone ceiling, instead, fabric had been nailed across the top of the walls to provide a bit of insulation and a feeling of coziness, if not much in the way of privacy. It was enough. The room they had been offered was large, with a table and chairs on one side and a giant old rug someone had put down on the other, plenty of room for them to lay down their sleeping bags and have a light dinner provided by a few of the volunteers, who hovered around Cor especially before being gracefully shooed away. The bathroom was a portable restroom, which was for some reason absolutely hilarious to Prompto, but as the plans for running plumbing back down were still in the early days, they got what was available. They made it work.

Even with Prompto’s touchy stomach and Cor’s obvious lethargy, they managed to sleep rather well, completely undisturbed by any of the workers. He was concerned by how hard it was to wake his dad up the next morning, but he took cues from Nyx and didn’t bring it up, even as he and his partners all exchanged worried looks when Cor’s back was turned. He’d have to keep an eye on him. After they packed, they headed back to the surface, and everyone cringed in unison as their phones finally got reception. After the cacophony of noise and vibration finally stopped, Prompto grimaced at his battery life.

“I think that took like fifty percent of my battery just pushing those all through,” he grumbled, and the others all nodded in agreement as they did much the same thing.

“How’s it look, Iggy?” Noct asked, and Ignis sighed, his eyes running down the screen as he scrolled through whatever he was looking at.

“More positive than I expected on the surface; most people assumed you and Prompto were a couple, the only real change is that they now know that it’s all four of us instead. A lot of the usual xenophobic grumblings from the usual sources, more than a few comments about harems and dens of vice-”

“Sounds like fun, actually,” Nyx cut in, and Cor rolled his eyes as Prompto grinned.

“-but there’s plenty that the public will have to be convinced of, as was also expected. Things such as legitimacy of the children, a few odd concerns that the marshal is in an abusive relationship-” Prompto’s head snapped towards Iggy, just as Nyx’s prior mellow expression grew dark, but confused.

“What in the world-” Nyx began, only for Cor to rest his hand on the side of Nyx’s neck and sigh.

“Let me guess, says something like Marshal Leonis has been visibly ill for some time, unnamed sources cite obvious weight loss and a long stay in the infirmary along with-” Cor stopped awkwardly, looking oddly embarrassed, and Nyx sighed, the Glaive tilting his head until it rested against Cor’s jaw.

“-along with at least one observed spat that saw Captain Ulric storm into his office and sleep there overnight,” Nyx finished, his voice soft, and Prompto couldn’t help a wince, even as he looked at a stunned Iggy, who nodded in confirmation.

“Perhaps not quite so detailed, but yes, there was mention of an apparent argument,” Ignis said with confusion, and Cor sighed.

“To be fair, you didn’t stay away the whole night,” Cor mumbled, and Nyx turned his head and kissed Cor’s jaw, his expression ill at ease.

“I still feel bad for leaving, but not for the reason we argued,” the Glaive replied, and Prompto was really starting to feel like they were intruding, only for Cor to nod in agreement.

“You were right. I knew you were then, and I still know you are now. It’s okay, Nyx.” Cor returned the gesture, giving a quick peck to the side of Nyx’s shaved head before the Glaive suddenly jerked up his chin.

“Wait. You two never asked the Dawn Mother about the weird medical aversion.”

“Kind of hard to do that when she laughs like a maniac for twenty minutes, spins all of us around in obvious joy, then gives us each a kiss and sends us on our way,” Prompto drawled, and after a few snorts, even Nyx nodded in agreement.

“True. Next time, then.”

After saying their farewells, the five of them gathered around Cor, intending to head to Longwythe, but a sudden roar from a passing kujata distracted him just as he was beginning to step, and with a combined groan, they all tumbled to the ground outside Wiz’s. Prompto was not surprised when he found himself being hoisted to his feet before he even had a chance to orient himself, with Nyx helping Cor up right next to him.

“Damn,” Cor said with a grunt, but before Prompto could say another word, the familiar calls of chocobos sounded out, and he couldn’t help his laughter as his feathered friends swarmed him like they usually did; the only difference was that instead of stepping away, his boyfriends all stuck to his side, clearly worried that he would be trampled by the birds. They hadn’t done so before, and Prompto seriously doubted that would change, but…

He got it. There were times to complain about being smothered, but this was understandable. After a few minutes of petting all the chocobos, they finally parted enough for him to lay eyes on Cor, and he couldn’t help his fond grin at the sight. Cor was sitting on the ground, a completely indulgent looking Nyx at his side with the single black chocobo chick planted firmly in his lap; his dad’s eyes were shut, and he was slowly combing his fingers through the fine down of the bird in a soothing motion that was lulling the chick to sleep. Prompto met Nyx’s eyes, the man smiling before returning his gaze to Cor. The utterly enamoured presence that the man exuded towards Cor was positively inspiring, and Prompto found himself smiling as he walked over to sit on Cor’s other side.

“Maybe we could...take him with us?” he asked, and his dad’s eyes slid open, a distant look on his face.

“Where would he go? If I asked the Mews to be opened for one little chocobo, it’ll be seen as me using my position for wasteful reasons,” Cor said quietly, and Prompto frowned.

“There isn’t any there right now?” Cor shook his head, and Prompto sighed, then reached out and scratched the chocobo’s head gently.

“I suppose the little guy is probably better off here for now...maybe when he gets a little older?” he contemplated, and Cor shrugged.

“Maybe. I...don’t know.”

They all ended up sitting there with Cor and the chocobos for a solid half-hour, allowing the man to get some therapeutic chocobo baby time in before he finally sighed and coaxed the disgruntled chick off of his lap.

“We need to go, we need to go see Cid,” Cor muttered, and Prompto pretended he didn’t see Cor look wistfully down at the baby one last time before stepping away.

“We aren’t in a hurry, Cor, we can stay here a little longer if you want-” Noct was cut off with a shake of Cor’s head, and Noct nodded. “Alright, then, let’s go.”

From Wiz’s, it was on to Longwythe, then on to Hammerhead before a single person could even get their phone raised. It was not unknown that Cid had some rather famous friends, and Prompto’s nose wrinkled at the little crowd hovering at the edge of the property when they appeared. Cor took one look at them and before either party even had a chance to move, he stepped again, ending up right in front of the garage doors.

“Let’s go inside and say hi to Cid before heading home,” Nyx said quickly, and Prompto ignored the yells and flashes as they walked in, Cor taking the lead as they went back to the door to Cid and Cindy’s actual residence and knocking.

“Cor, get the hell in here with those boys before those media idiots decide to try out a little trespassing again!” Cid’s voice was clear as a bell through the door, and Cor let them in, closing the door behind them. Cid was sitting in his armchair with a thoroughly disgruntled expression, and Cor and Prompto immediately moved to his side, his dad shaking the old man’s hand while Prompto leaned over and gave Cid a hug. “Good to see you upright, kid. You still look like shit, but less so. So where did you all hide out for the announcement? Your tower?” Prompto nodded, then moved to sit on the rug by Cid, only for his arm and Cor’s to be grabbed by Gladio, who led them both over to the sofa, only letting go when they started to sit. Cor looked like he wanted to say something, but after a look from Nyx, he wisely kept his mouth shut. Prompto didn’t blame him, he didn’t want to see the look on Gladio’s face either, and instead, took the opportunity to lean his head against his dad’s shoulder.

“Yes, we spent the night in Sarras, which was a first. The volunteers have made a series of rooms in one of the lower levels, they were surprisingly comfortable...although I hope they figure out plumbing soon,” Cor said, his tone a touch amused, and Cid snorted before slapping his hands on his thighs and getting to his feet.

“Lunch? You need some meat on your bones, kid, and I still know how to make a decent sandwich,” Cid commented, and Prompto grinned at the old man as he felt a sigh reverberate through his dad’s body. He wasn’t going to win this one, the rest of them wouldn’t let him. “I expect a tour of this place when it’s ready, you two; I saw the outside when I was still traveling with Reggie, but from what I’ve heard, it’s really shaping up. Saw a few pictures on the television in the diner the other day,” Cid yelled from the kitchen, and Prompto laughed as Ignis looked at the lot of them and headed into the kitchen, presumably to help.

“I’ll take you around, Cid, I promise!” Prompto yelled back, and received a gravelly chuckle in return. That worked.

By the time Cid and Iggy reappeared with lunch, Cor had dozed off, and no one said a word as Cid walked over to him, looking down at Cor with soft eyes before he pulled his hat off and popped it roughly on the other man’s head, startling him awake; Prompto watched as his dad blinked, pulling the hat from his head in confusion and staring at it for a moment before looking up and meeting Cid’s eyes.

“You and your damn hats,” Cor said, but the look the two held seemed far more meaningful than his words, and Prompto said nothing as Cor held the hat back out to him, Cid grabbing it with a little smirk and plopping it back on his own head.

“You wouldn’t know what to do if I didn’t have them.”

Cor dutifully ate the sandwich he was given without any issue, and they left soon after, appearing in Cor and Nyx’s quarters. That seemed to be the final straw for any serious energy his dad had, and after giving Prompto a hug and bidding the others farewell, Prompto followed Cor into the bedroom, watching quietly as the older man sat down and pulled off his boots one by one, chucking them over by the far wall, his jacket following in a slightly different trajectory a few moments later.

“I sense this is a common sight,” Prompto said, and Cor snorted.

“I never claimed to be neat, my office makes that pretty clear,” Cor said, peeling off his shirt as well. “I’d suggest staying inside for now, son, until we know what to expect.” Prompto nodded in agreement, and Cor sighed, falling back onto the mattress. “I hope you don’t go through this bullshit, I’m tired of being tired.” Prompto leaned over, giving the other man a kiss on the cheek before stepping away.

“I’m sure you’ll feel better as time goes by, it sounds like things just got a bit out of wack,” he replied, and Cor huffed.

“I sure hope so.”

Later that evening, Prompto sat in Iggy’s lap while they all watched TV, Prompto trying his best not to wince at the varying accusations and theories flying about regarding the situation as his chair ran his hands slowly up and down Prompto’s stomach and thighs, which felt heavenly. After a few repetitions of this, Iggy rested his elegant hands on Prompto’s stomach, and a sliver of insecurity crept in as they relaxed together. Was he getting too fat? He knew he would end up with more stretch marks, and these would probably be far more obvious than the faded ones from before, but they didn’t seem to mind-

“Prompto, if you are stewing about what I think you are, don’t. You look fine. While the next few months will certainly bring about changes to your appearance, that does not mean you are any less attractive. Put that from your mind,” Iggy whispered in his ear, and his soft tone did not hide the certainty in the man’s voice, and Prompto nodded meekly. “Good. Now relax, we have you.”

He decided to follow his dad’s lead and doze off, his head resting against Iggy’s shoulder; the last thought in his mind was wondering how he would approach the king regarding funding for the metalwork Costlemark would need. At least he had something to distract him with everything else going on.

 

--------------

 

Cor stood before the council in silence, the curve to his abdomen reminding all in attendance what was going on. The majority of them had kept their opinions to themselves since the emergency meeting on the matter a month prior, but despite his and Prompto’s rapidly increasing waistlines, the matter was still unresolved. The public had gone through waves of everything from awe to disgust, from suspicion to acceptance, even a few tiny protests regarding succession (after all, Prompto was not married to Noctis, although he had a feeling they had discussed it,) and so when the next meeting regarding the matter was called, Cor made sure he was available to attend. While he still had little concern for himself, as neither he nor Nyx were landed gentry or nobility that needed be worried about encumbrances or entails to inheritance, this was for his son’s future, and for the future of his grandchildren. He refused to stand idly nearby as a bunch of stuck up bluebloods tried to say that Prompto’s future children weren’t good enough.

“Marshal, thank you for attending, and I hope your health has continued to improve since your hospitalization last month,” Lady Faustina said, and Cor nodded politely. He had no real quarrel with her, she had always been logical and willing to listen, which was often a rarity among the council. “Excellent. Well, we had shelved the discussion until after the new year to gauge the public’s reaction among other reasons, but it is time to return to the question regarding the legitimization of any children as a result of the...union between his highness and his lovers, most specifically Prompto Argentum, who is now-” Faustina looked questioningly at Cor, and he thought for a moment before responding.

“We are both around twenty-two to twenty-three weeks, my lady. Dr. Domitia’s guess was they would arrive somewhere around March or April, provided everything goes well,” he answered, and Faustina nodded her thanks. Ampelius Lucius met his eyes a moment later, and Cor forced himself not to react at the old man’s fierce scowl. Ampelius usually favored him, but then again, he was almost always there regarding military matters, which this certainly...was not. After a long and rather intense visual inspection by the gregarious councilman, Ampelius huffed a laugh.

“Well, you don’t look as strange as I thought you would, Leonis, you just look like you swallowed a large ball and haven’t slept in a week. Just had to get yourself up the duff, hm? Couldn’t knock up your fresh young boyfriend instead?” the old man asked, and Cor barely restrained a laugh.

“I don’t think it works that way, general. Nyx would have probably handled it better, true-” Cor was cut off by Marcellus rising to his feet and looking at him like he had swallowed rotten fruit.

“Lucius, stop being disgusting. The last thing I want to hear about is Leonis’s affair with one of those Galahdians, and to flaunt your condition in front of us is even worse. Why are you even here, marshal? This is regarding the issue of your...associate’s pregnancy, not yours,” Marcellus commented, and Cor met the man’s gaze with a stern expression of his own.

“I consider Prompto my son in all but blood, my lord, and as such, I wished to be here as a voice regarding his interests, as someone should be,” he stated firmly, and Marcellus raised an eyebrow.

“Couldn’t adopt a proper Insomnian, Leonis? Your so-called son is a foreigner and your boytoy is a Galahdian, not a good mix for one who is supposed to be the head of the Crownsguard-”

“Marcellus, get off your damn high chocobo already, we’ve heard this all several times. I know you seem to have problems with geography, but Galahd is considered part of Lucis,” Licinius snarked, and Cor forced himself not to shift as his feet decided to let him know that they didn’t approve of standing still for so long. He had stood before the council in far more pain than he was in now, he could handle it. “Besides, that Galahdian you keep insulting is the decorated Captain of the Kingsglaive, you make him sound as if Marshal Leonis has taken up with a highwayman instead of a skilled and honorable soldier.” Flavia waved a long-fingered hand, the nails painted deep red and sharpened a bit past what would be normal, and Cor’s spine tensed on the spot.

“Where is Argentum even from? Galahd? Tenebrae? Worse? What if he’s a Niff? We can’t have Niff blood anywhere near the royal line, legitimate or not-” Clarus surged to his feet at Fausta Flavia’s interjection, crossing his arms and glaring at the woman with an anger that Cor could feel building in his own chest.

“Lady Flavia, if you bring up or even imply termination one more time, I’ll see you removed from the Citadel myself. It’s bad enough we all know you’re the one who leaked it to the press, but to keep insinuating such horrendous things-” Clarus snarled, and Cor finally couldn’t help but adjust his stance, his back starting to join in on the aching as he continued to stand. Verina Aelia looked up at him thoughtfully, then rose to her feet with a sigh.

“Lady Aelia?” Regis spoke up, the first time since he had greeted the room, and the young woman smiled at the king before turning to Cor.

“Marshal, please.” Aelia pulled her chair out, and motioned for him to approach.

“Madame, I-” Cor began, only for Lady Galla to raise a hand and frown.

“Aelia, none but the council may sit at this table, that is the rule,” the old woman announced, and Cor stayed put as Aelia rolled her eyes and picked up her chair, walking it over to him and setting it down directly in front of him.

“I would not have you stand here and listen to us argue for astrals know how long about nonsense when you are clearly in pain. I can stand,” the young woman stated, and nodded sharply to him before walking back to her place at the council table. Cor hesitated for a moment, but when Regis quirked a smile and nodded, he sat down, the throbbing in his feet calming rapidly. “What does Mr. Argentum’s background matter anyway? The crown has often married people from a vast variety of origins, it has kept the bloodline healthy and avoided the issues some of the nobility have with their predilections for only marrying the right type. I don’t give a shit where he’s from, it’s clear he’s healthy and is already quite...bountiful in his pregnancy, and that’s more than many consorts have been over the centuries,” Aelia said, and Cor found himself feeling very inclined to like the young woman the more she spoke. It was reassuring to see that the newest voice on the council seemed to have some sense. Next to her, Caesonia Milonia seemed pensive, and Cor stayed silent as Regis leaned in and met the woman’s eyes.

“Caesonia, the oracle was beyond pleased by the news, and she told me recently that she spoke with her messenger and that she too was in good spirits. She said she would inquire with a few others, but she does not fear any retribution or anything near to the sort. She did inform me that the messenger had reminded her of the strength the Dawnsworn impart to their children, which certainly doesn’t sound like the words from an angered astral,” Regis explained, and Cor could see as the news sunk in, the woman’s expression growing pleasant as she sat up in her chair.

“That is excellent news, your majesty, I am gladdened to hear it,” Milonia stated with relief, and the room grew quiet for a moment as everyone looked at each other without speaking; Cor let himself relax the slightest amount until Placidia Galla’s head suddenly spun to look at him, and he forced himself to sit up straight.

“Marshal, I demand an explanation as to why crown funds were used on yours and the boy’s tower. The amounts were modest, but I find this worrisome; since when does the government intervene in... vanity projects? Especially ones that are attached to people in high areas of influence? Leonis, I expected better of you,” Galla snapped, and Cor had to close his eyes for a moment before he said something he would regret. He feared that this would happen when Noctis presented the idea formally to his father for them, but several weeks had passed without comment, and he had made the mistake of letting his guard down. Fool him, clearly.

“My lady, you seem to be laboring under a misconception. When the idea of crafting the discs came about, Prompto and myself discussed using our own funds for them until his highness-”

“-and myself,” Clarus cut in, and Cor nodded.

“-and Lord Amicitia both pointed out that per the laws of accessibility here in Insomnia, they could provide funds for the discs as they are solely for transportation, not for any other purpose,” he explained, and Galla frowned.

“Accessibility? What in the world does etched metal discs have to do with accessibility?” the woman asked, and Cor met her gaze directly. At least that was something he could explain.

“They are enchanted to bring those who step on them from one part of the structure to another. The tower is effectively inverted; the above ground floors are decorative-only now, little more than a half-standing shell, and there is no plans at this time to change that. However, the building extends approximately eighty floors underground, and besides a single set of these discs, it is entirely navigated by stairs. It’s a daunting exercise for anyone, and as there’s a surprising amount that wish to take up residence once the primary repairs are complete, this would allow for greater ease of movement throughout the tower. Not all who wish to move there are...religiously motivated, my lady, they seek the safety of stone walls and a promise of a community out in that part of the Duscae again.” Silence met him once he finished speaking, and he waited patiently for any sort of reaction.

“Eighty floors? I had no idea it was so large, repairs will take years on that sort of scale,” Archadius Flavius stated, speaking for the first time that evening, and Cor conceded the point with a nod.

“My lord, as those working are mostly volunteers, the plan is to get the top floors fully functional, as well as perhaps the first few floors of the residential area for now, further plans will be figured out at a later date,” he said, and Flavius tilted his head in understanding and sat back, clearly ending the conversation. Quintus Labienus hadn’t stopped frowning yet, and Cor was finally forced to meet his eyes when the man shifted as he readied himself to speak.

“Returning to our original reason for being here, marshal, I would like some reassurances, as the information I have seen is...concerning,” the man said, and Cor blinked. Reassurances of what?

“My apologies, my lord, but I am uncertain what you are referring to-” Labienus scoffed, giving him a sour look that Cor still was hard-pressed to understand.

“Leonis, if I’m to understand that blasted book and listen to the media, you and Argentum are currently sleeping your way around the damn continent, if not beyond, but even I realized that seems...unlikely, especially in your case, as you were quite infamous as the hermit of the Citadel,” the man stated, and Cor could feel his cheeks warm slightly. He wasn’t a hermit, he just didn’t seek out relationships- “But I’m sure you are uncertain as to the parentage of your own get, let alone Argentum’s-” Regis coughed harshly and Clarus nearly facepalmed as Cor felt sudden and utter fury overtake him, and he was on his feet before he could stop himself, the chair clattering behind him.

“I am willing to sit here and answer a great many questions, my lord, but I have no wish to listen to complete aspersions on mine or my son’s honor or dignity. I have had one partner in the last fifteen years, and our relationship is public knowledge. As for my son, by his own admission, his partners are the only ones he’s ever had. You dwell too much on old stories of antiquated ceremony, my lord, and not enough on reality. Neither of us have had the urge to reenact any of what you are thinking of, and I would ask that it not be brought up again,” he hissed, and took a little too much pleasure in watching several faces pale in fear after he was done.

Oh good, he hadn’t totally lost it yet.

The meeting ended rather abruptly a few minutes later, and Regis signalled for him to remain seated as the council filed out; Cor got two pats on the shoulder (Aelia and Lucius,) several approving looks (Licinius and Faustina,) a few thoughtful glances (Milonia and Marcius,) and two glares of outright disgust (Flavia and Marcellus,) as well as skittering away in fear (Labienus and Flavius) and one excellent impression of the personification of a distant mountain peak (Galla.) Overall, it could have been worse. About thirty seconds after the door closed behind Aelia, Regis snorted a dry laugh while Clarus closed his eyes and sighed deeply. Cor just felt vaguely wrung out. He hated politics.

“Well, you didn’t kill anyone, so I’ll call it a win. What was he thinking? I didn’t realize that he was so hung up on those stories from the book, Cor, I would have spoken to him ahead of time had I known,” Regis said, his tone apologetic, and Cor shook his head.

“Fuck him, I don’t care as long as he doesn’t mention it again.” He realized that perhaps he was more annoyed than he wanted to admit when Clarus gave him a sharp look at his phrasing. “Sorry.”

“I think having the reality of what was going on in front of them helped, Cor; I think my cousin is feeling more positive towards the whole affair, at least. We need seven. If you didn’t scare the shit out of Flavius, I think we’ve got it, but I don’t want to put it to a vote until I’m certain,” Regis stated, and Cor nodded, then winced as his stomach roiled oddly. “Cor?” Cor waved their concerns away, only to curl in on himself as uncomfortable twinges rippled up and down his abdomen and sides. Fuck. He managed not to make a sound as he took deep, calming breaths, waiting for the pain to subside. This wasn’t the first time, but his body seemed bound and determined to remind him that he was old and less capable to adjust to such a thing. He could deal; he would rather handle every bad part of what pregnancy had to offer a near middle aged man if it meant that Prompto continued to have the near-seamless pregnancy that he was having, as illogical as it sounded.

“Cor?”

“Cor, do you need me to call the doctor?”

Cor squeezed his eyes tightly for a moment before forcing himself to sit up and face his friends, both of whom were standing around him in concern. The pain was starting to recede, and he shook his head before grabbing at the arms of the chair and levering himself to his feet, sighing as both Regis and Clarus wrapped their hands around his arms in support. It was reassuring, and he allowed himself to wallow in it for a moment before moving his arms slowly away.

“I’m fine, just some cramping. I’ve already been checked out, it’s what it is, that’s all,” he said bluntly, and rolled his eyes at the two older men’s skeptical looks. “Do you think I would let something lie now that I know what was at stake?” he stated flatly, and Regis raised an eyebrow.

“You mean instead of when it was just you?” the king said lightly, and Cor spun on his heel and headed for the door before he got himself in trouble. He had promised his son they would meet that evening, and he didn’t want to be even grouchier than he already was when they did. “Don’t work too hard, marshal, I know Dr. Domitia is planning to move you off-duty soon. Also, we leave on Saturday for Tenebrae for Luna’s coronation, so don’t overdo it,” Regis pointed out, and Cor snorted.

“Yes, your majesty.”

Nyx was working late that day, so Cor stepped over and fetched Prompto from his quarters (because they weren’t just the prince’s anymore, and they all knew it) and brought him back to his. As they settled in at the table after Cor assembled dinner, he couldn’t help but notice the stark contrast in their appearances; Cor saw the growth of his stomach daily, but he was carrying two, not three, and far more importantly, he had over a half foot on his son, who was...not that he would say it aloud, already enormous. He had doubts that Prompto would be able to get out of a chair without assistance within a month. The coronation would probably be their last real trip, as he expected both of them to be told to stay home until the end soon after. He found himself minding the idea less and less as time went by.

“The metalsmith dropped off the third set of the discs with Gladio earlier, they are in Noct’s quarters. When do you want to try and figure out how to enchant them? I think we’ve got enough to experiment with now,” Prompto asked, drawing Cor from his thoughts, and he tapped the table with a finger as he thought. They could try immediately, of course, but-

“No, with us travelling to Tenebrae in only a few days, it’s probably best we wait. It’s possible that the process will be a tiring one, and we probably shouldn’t-” His son nodded and smiled.

“Yeah, we probably shouldn’t risk it. I’d be pissed at myself if I couldn’t go to the coronation or was a wreck during it, I mean, I’m already going to stand out, so I’d rather not be a mess too,” Prompto said, and Cor huffed. “Iggy managed to get a tailor to come to fit me for a few outfits for the trip, which was awkward. Not so much for the tailor, but the guys are getting a bit...paranoid? Iggy practically breathed down the woman’s neck the whole time she was there. How about you? If you two turn up without something Iggy or his majesty approved, there’s going to be violence,” his son smirked, and Cor scowled.

“I can still fit in my uniform, I just loosen the belt-”

“Oh, hell no. Nyx can wear his, in fact, I’m sure he’ll be expected to, but you’ll look ridiculous. You need to at least get something made for you, or altered at least-” Cor shook his head, and Prompto folded his arms, which rested rather snugly on top of his stomach. “Nuh uh. This is not the hill you are choosing to die on, I don’t want to hear about it, and I will hear about it if you go to Luna’s coronation in your stretched out shirts and saggy pants. I’ll ask Iggy to see if the tailor is willing to help you as well, we are running out of time,” his son decreed, and Cor’s scowl went even deeper, but to no avail.

Prompto had quickly become immune. He wasn’t sure whether to be proud of that or not.

What his son wanted, his son got, and the next day, he was forced to leave work early and return to his rooms so he could meet with the tailor, who, to her credit, didn’t even blink as he shucked his jacket and shirt, revealing his curving abdomen, and after a quick change into some worn-out shorts, she got to work without a word, measuring his torso, hips, and legs before moving on to every other part of his body one by one. Just as she had wrapped the measuring tape around his neck, the front door opened to Nyx, who froze at the sight Cor and the tailor made.

“I’ve clearly missed something,” the Glaive said in confusion, and the tailor chuckled as she pulled the tape away.

“Alright, I’m done. I’ll have your coronation outfit to you as well as a few extra outfits for the trip ready for you by Friday evening. I’ll make sure there’s a little give, both of you are very much in flux right now,” the woman said with feigned exasperation, and Cor thanked her as she departed, Nyx watching without a word until the door clicked closed behind her.

“The king or the kid?” Nyx asked as he walked up to him and offering a hand; Cor took it, drawing Nyx against him and tucking his face into the shorn side of Nyx’s head with a sigh as his partner ran his hands up his back.

“Prompto, of course; Ignis had him measured a few days ago, from what I understand. Prompto didn’t like my plan of just wearing my uniform as is to Tenebrae, and so-”

“Tailor. I wonder what she’ll figure out, because yeah, the kid’s right, your uniform isn’t fitting right anymore. It’s fine for here, considering you’ve been on light duty for over a month, but you’d look ridiculous otherwise. Your pants just weren’t made for what you’ve got going on up front right now-” Nyx trailed off as he ran his hands over Cor’s stomach, giving it a pat before running his fingers over Cor’s ass and giving it a pat as well. “Honestly, back here, too. You’ve definitely got more going all over your hips and butt, which makes sense. I wonder if you’ll keep it after you give birth-”

Cor groaned, both out of annoyance and for the strange bubbling he could feel in his stomach which decided to make itself known. That was the last thing he wanted to think about, Dr. Domitia didn’t even have a clue how these babies were supposed to come out, and just the thought made him vaguely ill. Nyx seemed to realize his discomfort at the subject, however, and ushered him into the shower (alone, sadly) leaving Cor to wash while Nyx prepared their dinner.

He couldn’t help but be somewhat concerned about the trip. His health was doing as well as it was going to, but neither he nor Prompto had been out in public since about a week after the press release, and that had only been to do a short trip to Costlemark. They had ballooned considerably since, especially his son, and the last thing he wanted either of them to be was...a sideshow. Cor ran his hands through his hair as the water beat down on his back, then looked down at his stomach. He hoped whatever the tailor made was flattering, and in his case, perhaps a bit...minimizing.

That’s all he asked.

The rest of the week went by quickly, and as promised, he received a bundle of packages on Friday evening, which he immediately packed for the trip.

“Don’t you want to try them on?” Nyx asked, but Cor shrugged as he closed up his duffle, laying the still-wrapped coronation outfit on top of it.

“I’m sure it’s fine. It’ll be a surprise,” he said, and Nyx raised an eyebrow.

“You hate surprises.” He wasn’t wrong, but-

“It’ll be fine. She was recommended by Ignis, and he seems to have good judgement in these sorts of things,” he replied, and Nyx conceded the point with a nod.

“This is true, I doubt he’d send someone too crazy with their style for something as important as Luna’s coronation. Fine then, surprise it is,” Nyx agreed, grabbing the duffle from Cor before he could pick it up.

“I’m hardly incapable, Nyx-” Nyx set Cor’s bag by the door with his before returning and squishing Cor’s face between his hands.

“I’m not saying you are, I was just moving your bag. On that note, though, you probably should avoid lifting anything heavy-”

Cor’s answering smack on Nyx’s backend was one for the ages.

“I think my ass still hurts,” Nyx whined the next day while they rode on Aranea’s ship (no Aranea, sadly, but Biggs and Wedge were there as always,) and Clarus sighed dramatically in response.

“Must we? We’ve barely passed over the wall,” Clarus groaned, and Cor smirked at his old friend, even as he shifted uncomfortably as his abdomen twitched.

“Are you doing better, Cor? You were in some pain the other day-” He was going to kill Regis. Would Luna mind throwing a double coronation? He was sure that Noctis’s outfit would be good enough to be serviceable…

“Pain? Cor,” Nyx hissed, and Cor shook his head as he glowered at the king, the older man looking like butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. He thought about getting up and yelling at him to make himself feel better, but the odd popping sensation started again in his stomach and thought wiser of it. “Cor?”

“It’s nothing new, just the cramping. Thankfully, it waited until after the council meeting the other day,” he said, sighing as Nyx ran a hand down the back of his head and down his spine. Nyx totally had his number, and he let himself slump as the impromptu massage continued, even as the door slid open, revealing his son and his cadre of boyfriends.

Prompto came up to him, nearly running his sizable belly right into Cor’s face before backing up and having a seat next to him on the bunk, Gladio and Noctis immediately sitting at his son’s feet while Ignis leaned against the bulkhead, a fond smile on his face. Although time was flying by, it was always a relief to see. Cor had been worried at first, concerned that the boys’ relationship would be under strain with the unprecedented situation combined with the pressure from both internal and external sources, but the four seemed as close as ever, and for that, he was grateful.

“How goes the work with the discs?” Clarus asked, and Cor met his son’s eyes before looking towards his old friend.

“We’ve gotten in three sets, but we decided to wait on attempting to enchant them until after we returned; we didn’t want to risk any unusual exhaustion or issues right before our trip,” he answered, and Clarus hummed before getting to his feet and walking up to Prompto, who looked up at him, a question in his eyes.

“Well, we all know Cor is a mess, not like this is anything new-”

“Hey.”

“-but how are you doing? You appear to be weathering this...change rather well, from the look of things,” Clarus finished, and Cor huffed, leaning against the bulkhead and letting his eyes close as Prompto shifted in his seat.

“I’m doing alright, I’m just getting big. It’s really…” Prompto trailed off, and Cor forced himself to keep his eyes closed as he felt Prompto squirm again. “Sir, it’s- I-” Prompto sighed. “Not many people know this, but I was actually really fat for awhile as a kid. You probably wouldn’t even recognize me if I showed you an old picture. It’s been a bit...disconcerting to go back to that.” Cor kept his eyes closed, but brought his hand up and rested it against his son’s back after he stopped talking, relieved when Prompto leaned back against it immediately. He listened as multiple people shifted as the silence began to run to awkward, taking stuttering breaths and scuffing their feet on the floor, and he found himself willing one of his son’s lovers to speak up-

“Prompto?” Noctis, and Cor held his breath and waited.

“Yeah?”

“You could be a hundred pounds or three hundred, you’re still Prompto. You were adorable when we first met, you know, I do remember,” Noctis replied, and Prompto whined in embarrassment.

“Noct, you couldn’t even help me up when I tripped, I was so heavy-” Nyx’s hand paused its ministrations on Cor’s back, and Cor immediately moved his other arm to his partner’s back, hoping to forestall any thought of speaking.

“Prom, don’t be ridiculous. Noct’s right, you’re you, no matter what you look like. Honestly, I think the stomach is kinda cute-” A rather pointed throat clearing cut Gladiolus off as Prompto squirmed again. Cor sighed inwardly. Kids.

“While there are things that don’t need to be said in mixed company, the sentiment is sound. While I am sure things have been strange for you, Prompto, do not think our affection for you is diminished in any way by current events. We will support you no matter what.”

Cor still managed to keep his eyes closed, but it was close. Ignis was definitely good at reassuring, and even the other boys’ sentiments were clearly heart-felt. Cor couldn’t help the little smile that tugged at the corners of his mouth as he let himself doze off, the situation firmly under control.

“Hey babe, we’ll be landing in forty-five,” Nyx’s voice was soft, and Cor blinked his eyes open to realize that he was lying on his side with his head on Nyx’s lap, and he let his face turn into the firm thigh with an exhale of breath as a warm hand ran up and down his arm. “You slept the whole time, you know,” Nyx commented, his tone a bit leading, but Cor hummed, disregarding his concern. He was just tired, it wasn’t like before-

“Enjoy your beauty sleep, Cor?” Regis said as he stepped closer.

“Fuck you, Regis,” Cor grumbled, and cringed slightly at the scandalized gasp from the background. Aw shit, sounds like Galla had wandered into their room. Cor opened his eyes just enough to make out the king and the old woman, both of whom looked rather unhappy. His timing could have been better.

“Your majesty, while I understand you two have been friends for quite some time, it is utterly improper that he speak to you in such a way-” Regis raised a hand immediately, bringing the old woman to a halt.

“Galla, he is one of my oldest friends and we are not in public. I would appreciate not being policed in every second of my life. He is well aware of proper conduct in public, as you well know,” Regis said shortly, and Galla frowned, but bowed gracefully (remarkably so, considering her age.)

“My apologies, your majesty, perhaps I was a bit overzealous in my concern. I am aware that the marshal has always been exemplary in his public conduct, and would not think to insinuate otherwise,” Galla said reluctantly, Cor sitting up as she spoke and keeping his expression neutral as Nyx stiffened next to him. No, Nyx needed to keep his mouth shut, he was already an outsider by most of the council’s reckoning, and the last thing he needed was to be making enemies-

“It was not me you insulted, Galla,” Regis said, his tone making it clear what he expected to happen, and Galla’s mouth pinched, but she gave a slight bow to Cor.

“My apologies, marshal.” Cor nodded his acceptance immediately, not wanting their trip to start off on any worse of a foot than it was already shaping up to be. “I will take my leave, I do not wish to interrupt again.” Galla was gone before he even took another breath, and Cor could only hope to be as spry as she was when he reached her age.

Nyx sighed next to him. “Is the council always so damn formal?” the Glaive asked, and Regis huffed as he stepped around the sleeping forms of his son and Gladio as he walked up to them. Cor pinched the bridge of his nose as he opened his mouth to apologize, but Regis waved him off.

“Galla is the worst, unfortunately; if she had her way, I’d be the most stodgy, boring person in the history of the royal family. She has opinions on the proper conduct of royalty, as you know, Cor. The look she shot my son and this puppy pile at my feet when she walked in could have stripped paint off a wall. She’s still scandalized about the whole affair,” Regis said, and Cor took the moment to stretch his arms over his head as he looked down at said puppy pile; Ignis was sleeping sitting up, his head resting against the wall, with Prompto awkwardly sitting in his lap with his legs draped over Noctis’s and Gladio’s torsos, the latter two curled up together rather snugly. It was a rather sweet display, but even Cor could see why Galla would have a conniption, and not just because of Prompto’s current state.

“They really are a puppy pile, aren’t they? If Lady Galla hasn’t stroked out because of this lot by the end of the trip, I’ll be surprised,” Cor said more than a bit wryly, and Regis and Nyx both snorted out a laugh. Gladio grumbled at the noise but did not wake, and the other three appeared out for the count. Regis sighed, and Cor could see his gaze fix on Prompto.

“I really hate to say it, but you two are what, second trimester for a few more weeks? I suspect that you’ll be rather...gravid soon, but I fear that Prompto won’t be able to get out of bed without assistance in a matter of weeks, the poor boy.” Cor closed his eyes in a mix of amusement and discomfort. Regis was right, of course, but he really didn’t want to think about it-

“Thankfully, Prompto has plenty of help to get up if needed,” Nyx replied, thankfully ending the conversation, and Regis gave him a knowing look, but nodded.

“This is very true. Well, I suppose I shall be the villain this time. Noctis, all four of you need to be ready to disembark in less than thirty minutes, so I would suggest you wake up…” Regis called, a bit louder than usual, and Ignis twitched, his eyes sliding open slowly to settle on the king, and he stiffened; the only reason he didn’t jump to his feet was his rather sizable passenger, and Regis gave him a paternal smile. “Ignis, excellent. As I was saying, we need to be ready in less than thirty, so it’s a good time to rouse yourselves and make yourselves presentable, as we are meeting the new queen and prince upon landing,” Regis informed them, before nodding to Cor and Nyx and heading to the door. “I’ll go check on the rest of our travel companions, you all get ready to disembark.”

After the door closed behind the king, the boys all slowly picked themselves up, and Cor pretended not to notice Ignis practically picking his son up to get him upright. He knew Regis was accurate, but. But. Part of his brain was still a little hung up on the pregnant son at the same time as pregnant him, and he doubted that would be changing any time soon. It was just one of those things.

Even as unwieldy as he and Prompto were, the six of them managed to join the rest of the gathered group within twenty minutes, Cor carefully avoiding looking in Galla’s direction whilst they stood by the loading bay doors as the craft descended. They hadn’t seen Luna since August, and he was looking forward to seeing her again...and seeing her reaction to actually seeing them in the flesh. A few photos had leaked out, mostly distant and blurry, but it had been enough to continue feeding the public and keep them in the news. Unfortunately.

“Who wants to vote on Ravus having a total spit-take? Anyone?” Noctis asked the group, and the peals of laughter that resulted thankfully covered up the expected horrified exclamation from Galla.

Noctis wasn’t too far off the mark. Ravus took one look at Cor and Prompto (especially Prompto) and choked, while Luna was clearly using every drop of control she possessed to keep from reacting at the sight of them, managing to keep a diplomatic smile on her beautiful face as she bid them all welcome. It was only later, after a somewhat bracing stroll down frost-covered bridges to the manor proper, and after Galla and the other council members that had accompanied them had been sent off to their quarters, did Luna come running up to Cor, carefully throwing her arms around him with gleeful laughter.

“You know, Cor, it’s one thing to hear about it, and quite another to see it in person. You look…” Luna trailed off, her eyes a bit wide, and Cor snorted.

“I look like I’ve not slept properly for a week, for starters, so don’t bother trying to make me sound like I’m-”

Nyx grinned. “Glowing?” Cor sighed testily as Luna stepped back with a giggle, looking him over carefully.

“I do understand that you’ve been somewhat under the weather,” Luna said, and Cor nodded.

“I’m far too old for this, but, well, it happened, so I will deal with it. I am just happy you didn’t wait until March or something for your coronation, there’s a decent chance I wouldn’t have been able to make it,” Cor replied, and Luna frowned, but nodded with understanding.

“I’m glad too.”

Luna left a short time later to go see the boys, and Cor let himself be led to their quarters and the rather sumptuous bed by Nyx, who prodded him into sitting down on the edge and set to work getting Cor’s boots off.

“Fancy digs again, I wonder where the council members are?” Nyx pondered aloud, and Cor shrugged.

“No idea, but hopefully not too close,” he grumbled on principle, and Nyx laughed as he pulled the second boot off and carried them back near the door before returning to his side.

“I’d ask if you had any deeper meaning with that, but I’m pretty sure I know the answer. Nap or soak?” Cor fell back onto the sheets and stared at the panelled ceiling while contemplating the Glaive’s question. Both sounded good, but he did sleep a considerable amount, so maybe…

“Soak sounds good, if you’ll join me,” he said with a quirk of his lips, and Nyx grinned, the glint in his eyes making Cor’s abdomen bubble once more.

“Do you think I’d pass up warm, wet, naked, and cuddly you? Really?” Nyx helped him to his feet, giving him a lingering kiss that warmed him up quite nicely without the application of water, and they headed towards the luxurious tub together.

He dozed off in Nyx’s arms in less than ten minutes.

The goddess summoned him that night, long after he had properly been tucked into bed by the ever-wonderful Nyx, and he found himself sitting in the soft grass, leaning against her much larger frame in a manner that was usually more Prompto’s style, not his, but the stubborn fatigue that dogged his steps had followed him, if to a lesser extent, into the Dawn Mother’s sanctuary. She wrapped a comforting arm around him, and he felt himself doze, a first for him in her lands.

“I am truly sorry for your current state, my heart, it has served to remind me why it was common for the ascension rituals to be done when my chosen were much younger; while not all my male chosen took lovers that would lead them to your present condition, it was not uncommon. It was less so once they neared their first half-century, however, as your innate fecundity often led to larger than normal...litters which could strain the body. While Prompto is young and...elastic, you perhaps are not so much as you age, ” the goddess said, and Cor looked up at her, an eyebrow raised.

“I’m not a cat,” he murmured, and the Dawn Mother laughed.

“Your love would probably disagree with your assessment, dear heart. Am I wrong?” Cor set his jaw and sighed. No, she wasn’t wrong. “You have a question for me that I did not give you the chance to ask last time we spoke,” the goddess said, and Cor blinked. What was it again…

Oh. “Both Prompto and I had a severe aversion to seeking medical attention when we started feeling strangely, and while I’ve never been fond of the infirmary, just the thought of it at first brought downright-” He swallowed heavily, remembering how he had felt when Nyx had brought it up. “-fear. Just, I wanted to flee the damn city, it was so sudden-”

“Ah. I am afraid that might be my fault, perhaps a form of ancestral memory from my past chosen I have passed along. It was not unheard of for my chosen to be seized or isolated whilst during their gestation, especially once the formal practice of medicine came into being, and this led to an avoidance of medical attention for many. If your doctor had been anything like the one who attempted to use you for his own gains, you could understand, but I am aware that the good doctor in your home has been nothing but honorable and helpful. Again, my apologies, Cor. It appears to have mostly faded once you were compelled to seek her out.” Cor nodded, and let his eyes drift closed once more as he lay more heavily against her. “I will not keep you longer, herald, you need your rest. Do not try to force yourself to work, my heart, you have plenty of people willing to help you, and they will all do so joyfully. They will not consider it a true burden.”

“I don’t like-” Fingers traced down his cheek, distracting him as they moved into his hair.

“Hush, Cor. Rest. Return to your love’s arms.”

Hmph. Sounded like a good idea, at least.

Chapter Text

Aranea would never admit to it, but she almost screamed when she saw how damn big the kid and the old man had gotten, especially the kid. He was going to be a giant ball in a month or two the way he was going, and- and shit. Cor looked looked like he had been run over by a truck and was only just recovering, and she had a bad feeling he was probably going to get worse in the long run. Poor bastard. Part of her wanted to give him shit, but he looked so worn out that it would be like kicking him while he was down. Maybe she could find some makeup to freshen him up for the coronation-

“Aranea?” Luna’s voice knocked her out of her musings, and she got to her feet and turned towards the soon-to-be queen.

“Yes?” Luna was dressed in a rather utilitarian dress, practical for running around and working, and Aranea tilted her head at the sight. “You don’t have any meetings or anything with the dignitaries?” Luna smiled, looking down at herself.

“I do, but this will do for now. I find myself not feeling the need to dress up for every single occasion, and if the Lucian councilors and the Accordians find umbrage with that, well-” Luna’s eyes twinkled with mischief, and Aranea barked out a laugh and slung her arm over the other woman’s shoulder as they started to walk. “-they can go right back the way they came. I will be in full coronation regalia tomorrow, I don’t need to be wearing that sort of thing all the time. My mother liked her frocks, but we are still in a period of reconstruction, I prefer to stick to tasteful moderation,” Luna stated, and Aranea certainly couldn’t fault her logic. “What were you thinking about when I came up?”

“Cor looks like shit, and I can’t even tease him because it’s clear he feels like it too. I was thinking makeup…” Luna stopped short, and Aranea scowled. “What? I can be nice too-”

“You are a kind-hearted soul, madame, even if you sometimes try to hide that in bluster and brusqueness. Don’t bother trying to fool me otherwise,” Luna said with a smirk, and Aranea scoffed, but she didn’t bother arguing. No one really argued with the oracle when it came to things like that, it never went the way they wanted. “Shall we go meet the representative Niflheim sent?” Aranea almost tripped over her own feet.

“Wait, what? They actually sent someone?” she said, probably a few decibels too loudly, and Luna tilted her head, a knowing smile on her face. “Wow, I’m legitimately surprised. Who did they send?” Luna began to walk once more, and she fell in step beside the almost-queen. When Luna didn’t respond for several hallways worth of walking, she grew suspicious. “Okay, now I’m worried.”

“You shouldn’t be, although I understand you last saw each other under somewhat awkward circumstances, but-” Luna stopped outside the entrance to one of the staterooms just as realization began to penetrate Aranea’s brain.

“Wait a damn-” Luna straightened up into a regal stance, then opened the door; Aranea swallowed her words and followed her lead as they entered the room, and she barely restrained a sigh at the familiar form looking out the window across the room, dressed in his armor. Of course. “Welcome to Tenebrae, General Tummelt, I hope the accommodations have been to your liking?”

“They are entirely satisfactory, your majest-” Loqi turned around as he was speaking, freezing at the sight of her before slumping the slightest amount. “Your majesty. I am aware that my presence here was short notice, and I appreciate your hospitality,” Loqi finished, then turned to face her. “Commodore-”

“General,” Luna cut in, her voice soft, but firm, and it took Aranea everything in her to not stare stupidly at the young royal.

Well, that was a hell of a way to find out about a promotion, even if they both knew it was basically a terminology tweak. Loqi seemed to take it in stride, however, and bowed gracefully to the two of them.

“My apologies. General Highwind, it’s good to see you again. May the manner of our time together be far more-” Loqi paused, his eyebrow twitching for a moment before he recovered. “-far more peaceful than last time.”

Aranea gave a slight bow of her own. “Agreed.”

Silence fell between the three of them, but just before it got awkward, Luna gave a shallow bow of her own before taking a step back.

“I have some matters to attend to, but I will leave you two to talk. I will see you both at dinner,” the oracle’s tone brooked no argument, and both Aranea and Loqi nodded their agreement as the queen (fuck it, she wasn’t going to keep putting an asterisk next to the title in her head) departed without another word, leaving the Niff and the former Niff alone. Damn it.

“General, hm?” Loqi said conversationally, and Aranea sighed heavily. He wasn’t an idiot.

“A recent development. With her majesty finally cementing her position formally, certain observances were decided on leading up to it,” she bullshitted, and Loqi nodded.

“Understandable.” The silence fell once more between them, and after what was at least a minute, Loqi rolled his eyes and walked over to the table in the center of the room, pulling out a chair while waving her to the one across from his chosen spot. Probably a good idea. After they were both seated, Aranea finally had to ask.

“Have you seen him yet?” Loqi frowned thoughtfully, and when a beat passed and there was still no recognition of her question, she leaned back with a smirk. “I’ll take that as a no, because you would have known exactly what I meant otherwise-” Loqi sat up with a jolt, and Aranea waited.

“Do you mean to tell me one of those mad stories of Leonis and Argentum are true?” Loqi gasped, and Aranea blinked. Oh hell, did he think it was just tabloid fodder? While a sizable part of her wanted to wait and let him be shocked by the sight, in the spirit of the occasion, she figured being forthcoming was best.

“What have they been saying in Niflheim?” she asked, and Loqi leaned to the side, letting his elbow rest on the arm of the chair.

“Things have been tumultuous since the death of the emperor, as you are well aware of; the current head of the government is none other than my grandmother, Margrave Lakka, but she is only there for a short time whilst they try to form a new government. The calls for a new emperor to be proclaimed have been dwindling in the face of the revelations spilling out about what had been going on at the highest levels and the extent of the manipulation by Izunia, and it’s left many wondering where to go from here. My grandmother thinks that perhaps they might switch to an elected emperor, or perhaps a pair to create a balance of power, but the idea is rather old-fashioned. She has work to do if that is to happen,” Loqi said, and Aranea felt her eyebrows inching up her forehead. She had heard about Lady Lakka, but she had never heard which house she belonged to. More fool herself, clearly. She really needed to keep up on such things- “But that doesn’t really answer your question. Things have been so inwardly focused that outside news has been inconsistent and somewhat unreliable, so…” Loqi trailed off awkwardly, scratching at his nose and looking incredibly young for a moment before he composed himself once more.

“Well, what have you heard?” she asked, and Loqi frowned.

“Regarding Leonis? Well-” the younger man looked somewhat embarrassed, but Aranea kept her mouth shut. “That he’s secretly a woman, that it turns out that the Dawnsworn can get pregnant, that he’s part of a harem the king has secretly been keeping-” Aranea choked on her own spit on the last comment, and Loqi kindly gave her a few moments to compose herself. “But they are all being presented with the same level of irreverence in Niflheim tabloids, so I figured it was all just silly talk. The outside cellular network is not open to us, as you know.” Loqi finished speaking, then looked at her expectantly. Right.

“Of those wacky tidbits you just mentioned, I want you to tell me the one that sounds the most reasonable to you,” she stated, and waited as Loqi looked rather dubious at her.

“He’s certainly not a woman, King Regis does not strike me as the harem type…” Loqi scowled. “You can’t expect me to believe-”

“About twenty-three weeks? Prompto is around twenty-four, supposedly. Apparently their ceremony at Costlemark unlocked the ability, well, that’s the working theory already, because Astrals know that they would have been knocked up ages prior if that weren’t the case-” It was now Loqi’s turn to choke half to death, apparently, and she waited until he was also done before she smiled. “Wild, isn’t it? I knew about it before they got here, but it was still mindblowing to see in person. So go on, ask your next questions,” she offered, and the red-faced General coughed a few more times before giving her a dirty look.

“You’re enjoying every minute of this, aren’t you?” Loqi said with a glower, and Aranea wiggled her eyebrows. “Of course you are. Who’s the father...er, sire? I assume that Ulric fellow?” Loqi asked, then he froze. “Wait, did you say both of them are pregnant? Who in the world sired a child with the blond?” Ah. Well, that wasn’t a secret anymore either.

“Well, you see, Blondie is part of a quartet, and he’s got three buns in there, so there’s an any or all sort of betting scheme going,” she explained, and it was very clear when it registered with the younger man, his eyes going as wide as she had ever seen them. “As for Cor, he’s got twins on the way, but he and Nyx are totally committed to each other and there’s no question of paternity. I would call it sickening, but that would just come off as weirdly jealous. They are just as cute as fuck,” she said, then sobered, leaning in and resting her arms on the table. “I’m not going to repeat this, as I know the last thing you want is it getting out, but thank you. Things would be very different and probably rather horrific if you hadn’t intervened, and I find myself caring too damn much about a lot of these bozos to see them hurt.” Loqi looked to the table top almost bashfully before nodding his head slowly. They moved on to other, easier topics for a short while before they both mutually agreed to go their separate ways; right before she opened the door, she turned to Loqi with a smile. “Try not to give the marshal too much shit, could you? He’s not having a smooth go of it.” She opened the door and stepped out, giving the general a smile. “See you later.”

She set off in a random direction, not really having a destination in mind. After passing through several corridors, she considered returning to her quarters, but that was boring. Part of her wanted to go bother Prompto and the rest of his boyfriends, but...one of the Lucian councilors passed through the next hallway over, and she found herself contemplating a different conversation. She wandered off towards where the king had been put up, reaching his rooms a few minutes later. There was a decent chance he wasn’t in residence, but- fuck it. She knocked politely on the door, and was pleased to hear footsteps within. The door opened a moment later, and Aranea smiled at Lord Amicitia as he rested his hands on his hips, a question in his eyes.

“It’s good to see you, General Highwind. Are you coming to chat with his majesty?” Aranea nodded, and Amicitia quirked a smile. “Then come on in, he’s got a few minutes.” After closing the door behind her, he led Aranea through the sitting room to a small office where the king was relaxing in a chair, gazing out the window with a glass of some sort of drink in his hand. “General Highwind, your majesty.” The king turned towards her with a smile.

“General! It’s good to see you, please, sit,” the king said, and she took him up on his offer, Amicitia taking the third chair without a word. “You look like a woman who has a question.” Aranea smirked at the silver-haired man, then sat back in the chair and crossed her legs.

“The majority of the world is talking about your increasingly round Dawnsworn living at the Citadel, but most are focusing on the usual celebrity silliness of baby bumps and what not, but I want to know how the fight for legitimizing any proven kids from Prompto and Noctis is going? It’s been brought up, but you all have been under complete radio silence,” she pointed out, and the king and Amicitia shared a look before turning back to her.

“Went right to the point, I see. Well, it’s...a work in progress. The council is mixed, and if I call for a vote now and we don’t get a clear majority, law states that it must be another three months until I can recall it for another vote, and there is a very good chance that poor Prompto will, er, pop before then. It must be decided before he gives birth, it is much more difficult to correct afterwards. I am gambling, but I hopeful it will work out,” the king said, stroking at his beard with a hand. “I have two staunch Insomnian supremacists on the council, and one of them, Fausta Flavia, has been working the more... traditional media to try and stir up discontent against the idea amongst the public. The other, Eprius Marcellus, is far more subtle; while I suspect that he too has spread about a few anonymous comments as well, he’s stayed oddly quiet apart some harsh commentary in the beginning. He’s made it clear that he will never change his potential vote, but has stayed out of the arguments beyond making those few nasty comments. I am concerned, I’ll be honest, but there’s nothing to do about it but wait. The others have varying concerns, one of which I will be addressing during this trip, but the winds appear to be blowing in our favor. I plan to call the vote next month.” The king’s eyes slid closed for a moment after he finished speaking, and Aranea looked towards Amicitia while his majesty took a moment.

“His majesty is right. It does appear we’ve convinced enough of them to make a simple majority, and perhaps even enough for a supermajority, which looks better in serious affairs such as this. However, minus keeping an eye on Marcellus, who did come with us, and making sure Caesonia Milonia gets her reassurances from the oracle, I hope to keep this occasion focused off of any dynastic concerns and back onto the real reason we are here,” Lord Amicitia said with a wry smirk, and Aranea barked out a laugh.

“Good luck with that, Prompto’s stomach enters rooms before he does, and Cor looks like he just wants to go to bed for the next fifty years. It tends to stand out.”

She was rather proud of the snorted laugh that came from the king after that line.

Even with the warning, Loqi nearly tripped over a rug when Cor and Prompto entered the hall before their dinner, and only his diplomatic training (now that he had a chance to truly use it, Aranea knew the kid had been thrown into the military early) kept him from gawking like a schoolboy at the strange sight the two made. It helped that Aranea had scooted to his side right before they had come in.

“Warned you,” she whispered, and Loqi huffed, his face outwardly composed.

“I don’t think there’s a thing in the world that could have truly warned me about what seeing them in person would be like, General. But I appreciate the effort,” Loqi muttered back, and Aranea smirked.

“Okay, that’s a good point.”

The dinner was a success, as Luna graciously went out of her way to engage everyone, even Loqi, and her skilled discourse diverted arguments and ill-advised discussions before they could start. Councilor Marcellus was polite, but Aranea trusted the king’s comments on the man and kept an eye on him as the evening went on. His mask slipped several times, especially when he would look at Prompto, but the man was definitely a skilled politician and he knew how to keep himself composed; after a few minutes, Aranea finally gave up and decided to take a closer look at the boys (young and old) instead. Noctis was on his best behavior, charming and friendly while Ignis and Gladio were equally as experienced in handling such situations, but Prompto? Aranea smiled. Prompto was doing quite well, perhaps not as polished as the others (she certainly wasn’t, but Luna thankfully didn’t mind, and Ravus just gave her dirty looks. It all worked out in the end.) But the blond was naturally captivating, drawing attention even with his stomach already large enough to require him to sit further away from the table. There was some truth in the rumors that the kid had somehow spellbound the whole damn Citadel, even if it wasn’t quite what those people thought. He just had those damn eyes.

Actually, out of the six, the one who was clearly the most uncomfortable was Cor. Part of it was due to his current situation, but she had heard stories from Monica, let alone her personal observations. The man just wasn’t a natural socialite. By any means. But he was managing, and that was good enough for this lot. Next to him, Nyx was politely chatting with people, but it was obvious to anyone who knew him that most of his attention was still on his partner without looking like he was hovering. Cor was still the famous Immortal, after all, and it wouldn’t do for him to look like he had completely lost his edge, pregnant or not, especially with the mixed company.

“This will sound horrendously inappropriate, but he looked better drugged and laying in the brig than he does now. I presume this is mostly due to his age?” Loqi whispered in her ear, and Aranea shrugged.

“That’s what it sounds like, but I’m certainly not going to pry. I suspect travel will be difficult soon for both of them, though,” she whispered back, and Loqi’s mouth quirked.

“Any pools on the sex of the infants?” Aranea rolled her eyes as she straightened her back.

“Probably.”

“Probably what?” Ravus asked from across the table, his eyes full of suspicion, and she grinned.

“Nothing.”

Aranea returned to her quarters in a surprisingly good mood, then shed her clothes in a heap by her bedroom door before immediately setting out to assemble a makeup kit to attack Cor with the next morning. This would be the first coronation of a queen of Tenebrae that was televised, and the last thing the marshal needed to appear as was an exhausted pregnant person when half the planet would probably be tuning in in some form. Even if he was an exhausted pregnant person. In contrast, Prompto seemed to be handling things rather smoothly, even if he was getting a rather amusing waddle to his walk that she suspected would only get worse as he grew larger. She needed to make sure that someone got a video of him in a month or two.

...she’d ask Ignis.

After she was finished with her preparations, she let herself fall into bed with a grunt, burrowing under the covers as the warmth generated by her exertions began to wear off and the cool air began to be more noticable. The heating in the manor was excellent, but the area was still covered in a light blanket of snow outside, and had the temperature to match.

It was still far warmer than Gralea, though, even at its most biting. She’d take it.

The frost had all but melted the next morning, the winter blossoms peeking through as as Aranea walked through the halls towards the guest quarters, makeup bag in hand, and she smiled as she listened to the dignitaries and staff she passed by talk about the unseasonably pleasant weather and how it must be a positive portent of the future. Once upon a time, she would have thought it all superstitious nonsense, the result of a Niflheimian upbringing that rewarded technology and reason (well, apparent reason, she learned pretty quickly they were dealing in some crazy shit,) but she had seen a whole hell of a lot over the last few years that made her not so quick to judge.

Aranea snorted as she stopped near their door. Considering she was heading over to slather makeup on a pregnant semi-divine being’s face so he didn’t look like shit on TV without so much as blinking an eye, there had definitely been a point where her life had gotten rather strange. She shrugged, then pounded her fist on the door. She’d definitely take what she had over the alternative.

“Who the fuck is making such a racket-” The door swung open to reveal a barechested and harried-looking Nyx Ulric, who scowled at her before stepping back to let her in. “Should have known. Not that I’m not happy to see you, but why are you here? I assumed you had a part in the coronation security?” Aranea stepped in, Nyx immediately closing the door behind her, then crossed his arms. “Well?” She grinned, reaching up and patting him on his cheek before sauntering on by towards the bedroom, deciding to be a good girl and not stop to enjoy the view.

“Someone is touchy this morning,” she drawled, only to stop dead at the sight of a rather green and miserable looking marshal sitting on the bed, and grimaced. “Ah. I take back what I just said.” Cor was also shirtless, showing off the reality of his crazy situation, and she sighed and put the bag on a nearby table before walking over and sitting down next to the visibly ill man. “I didn’t hear anything about morning sickness, is this what’s going on?”

Cor swallowed heavily, his expression far from reassuring as he scrubbed at his hair with a hand. “I have no fucking clue, but morning is the wrong word for it. I- we’ve been up most of the night. Maybe food poisoning?” Cor grumbled, his voice rough and thready, then pitched forward with a guttural moan. Before she could even move, Nyx had already emerged from the bathroom with one of the ridiculously decorative trash cans, just in time for Cor to try and decorate the inside of it; vomit didn’t bother her, and she took a quick peek at the contents after he lowered it from his face and scowled pathetically.

“I don’t like this, you’re just bringing up bile now, and you’ve aggravated your throat. Give me a few minutes,” Aranea got to her feet and walked back into the sitting room, digging out her phone and dialing the infirmary. “This is Highwind. I need a doctor to the herald’s guest quarters...bring medicines for nausea,” she ordered, receiving an affirmative from the person on the other end. Right before she was about to hang up, she paused, a horrible possibility coming to mind. Stepping to the furthest point of the guest quarters, she pitched her voice low. “Bring tools to take a blood sample, too; I want to test for any...abnormalities.” She ended the call, then scanned down her contacts until she found a very specific name.

“Hello?” Aranea felt the tension pour out of her shoulders at the sound of Prompto’s normal sounding voice, and she sighed.

“Hey kid, I’m going to ask you a quick question, I want you to answer me truthfully,” she said, hearing the sharp intake of air from the blond on the other end.

“Yeah?”

“Has you or any of your boyfriends gotten ill since last night?” Prompto hissed down the line in surprise, which pretty much answered the question for her.

“No, we’re all just fine, we’re starting to get ready for the coronation-” Prompto paused, his voice suspicious. “Aranea, what’s wrong? I’m getting unsettled...vibes from Cor.” Did she want to tell him? Cor probably wouldn’t appreciate his business being passed around, but this was his kid-

“The old man appears to either have a completely random touch of morning sickness or food poisoning, I just wanted to make sure you all were alright as well.” She could hear the kid’s intake of breath to speak, and she quickly soldiered on. “Prompto, finish getting ready and do not come rushing over here. I’ve already called for a doctor, I’m sure they’ll just give him some medicine and he’ll be fine. If you all come zooming down to his rooms, it’s going to end up on the news feeds, and that’s the last thing any of us want. I’ll call you if there’s something else going on, but I doubt it,” she finished, and after Prompto grumbled inarticulately at her for a moment, he finally sighed.

“Alright, but if something changes-” Aranea chuckled into the phone just as Nyx approached her.

“Yes, yes, I know. Bye.” She ended the call and shoved her phone in her pocket before meeting Nyx’s eyes. “How’s he doing?”

“Who were you calling?” Nyx asked, and Aranea gave him a flat look.

“The doctor, who you should have called hours ago, and Prompto, to make sure none of them were sick. I figured I would have heard something if the king or someone else important had gotten ill, but I just wanted to make sure. Before you ask, I told the kid to stay put, and that I’d call him if it was something more serious than just an unhappy stomach,” she explained, and Nyx sighed heavily, the circles under his eyes spelling out a long night.

“Doctors were kind of a touchy subject for a few months, so we both decided to see how he was in the morning. Unfortunately, he’s still feeling like shit,” the Glaive frowned. “Why the hell are you here, anyway? You never answered that.”

Aranea headed back to the bedroom, noting that Cor had laid back down in a miserable looking lump, then grabbed her bag and held it up. “Well, you see, I thought I’d do an intervention for sicky over there before he went to the coronation looking like he had been run over by a train, but I’m thinking both of you will need it now.” She waved the bag before setting it back down on the table. “Cor, I called for a doctor, they are just going to make sure your stomach upset isn’t anything that needs further attention, I told them to bring meds for you as well. They should be here at any time now,” she stated, only for a bleary eye to glare at her from the mattress. “Yes, yes, I know, you wanted to tough it out, but you are one, on a timetable, and two, pregnant. Probably best not to fuck around with that.” Cor grumbled, but didn’t try to argue, which was helpful when Nyx let the doctor in a few moments later. The woman immediately approached her patient, only for Cor to flatten himself against the back of the headboard, his eyes almost feral with...fear? Oh hell, this had to be some Dawnsworn nonsense-

Nyx flew by her, immediately throwing himself on the bed near his partner and reaching out to wrap a hand loosely around Cor’s wrist. “Cor, it’s fine, she’s just here to make sure you don’t have anything serious going on, I’ll be right here, Aranea is here, she won’t get up to anything they aren’t supposed to,” Nyx said quickly, and Aranea felt an ache start in her chest that made her look away from the two of them; the whole situation felt too...intimate to her. Was this because of the mess with that bastard Verstael? Or was this something else? “Cor?” She looked back towards the two, the tension in her shoulders lessening slightly when she saw Cor’s improved countenance.

“I’m fine, sorry,” Cor croaked out, and after a fraught round of looks, the young doctor approached carefully, making sure she got a nod from the marshal before moving in.

“Your grace, my apologies for startling you. My name is Rosa Florus, I’m one of the doctors on the manor staff. We’ve received reports that you have been ill overnight? I would like to check a few things, if I may,” Dr. Florus asked, and Cor nodded again, the early panic mostly gone from his eyes. Thankfully. Aranea sat down on the end of the bed as the doctor checked him over, asking him questions and doing various tests; Cor’s gaze was wary when the doctor took a blood sample, but Florus telegraphed her movements to give him plenty of time to back out, and he remained quiet. Just as well. Aranea figured this was just a sudden bout of sickness, but with the mixed crowd, she wanted to be sure. After the examination was done, the doctor slid back off the bed and crossed her arms. “Right now, I don’t see anything too out of the ordinary at this point. While I’m not entirely sure how your pregnancy might differ from an average woman’s, the children’s heartrates are normal, and I see no sign of distress. I’m going to give you some anti-emesis medication, which has no known conflicts with your appetite stimulants, and then I don’t see any reason that you shouldn’t feel better soon. Give the medicine a half-hour to kick in, then have something light to eat. While I understand the coronation isn’t going to be one of the epic spectacles of old, you’ll need to have something on your stomach before you sit for a several hour long ceremony, especially in your current condition. Of course, let someone know if you feel worse, but I think you’ll be alright.” Dr. Florus injected Cor with the medicine, then nodded to both Cor and Nyx. “Thank you for your patience, your grace, captain, I’ll be out of your way now.”

Nyx stayed behind as Aranea accompanied the doctor to the door. “Let me know if you find anything I need to know about,” she hissed in the woman’s ear, and thankfully, Florus understood, giving a single sharp nod. “Great. Thanks for your help, doctor.”

Aranea gave the two men their privacy as they started to gather themselves for the day and ensconced herself in a chair at the furthest corner of their quarters, checking in with Biggs and Wedge, who were actually the ones orchestrating security, then letting calling the king to let him know Cor’s status, then Luna to tell her the same, then Prompto before he worried himself into coming to the room anyway.

“The doctor thinks he’ll be fine, like I told you. She gave him some medicine, like I figured she would, and now he and Nyx are getting ready for today.”

“Thanks, Aranea. You’re awesome.”

“I know. And you are very welcome.”

After she was done with her phone calls, she leaned her head against the wall and closed her eyes, letting herself drift as she listened to the faint sounds from the bedroom. Poor bastard. Cor just didn’t seem to catch himself a break sometimes, and now with the whole actual pregnancy thing...which would never not blow her fucking mind, possibly even more than the whole demi-god schtick he and the kid did back at the tower, he...really looked like he was finally feeling a touch of his age. You usually didn’t hear about almost fifty year old women having children all that often, much less twins, and with him being a man? She could see plainly the strain it was putting on him, and that was just from looking at him.

Nyx was being completely supportive, as he should be, but she sensed a touch of guilt underlying it all; after all, it was with his assistance that his very special boyfriend ended up in these straits, and while she was quite sure Cor had told the Glaive that it wasn’t his fault, because it obviously wasn’t, that doesn’t mean he didn’t feel guilty nonetheless. She would eat her spear if they weren’t having unprotected sex before the whole ascension thing, they certainly had no idea that it apparently was going to change things.

She wondered how dad was handling the fact that his kid was pretty much knocked up within a few days of himself. She had a suspicion it didn’t go over too well, but-

She grinned. When Cor was feeling better, she was going to have great fun with that.

“Aranea, if you are planning on making us look less dead, we’re ready for you,” Nyx said, his head poking around the doorframe of the bedroom, and she slapped her thighs and got to her feet.

“That’s a lot of expectation there, but I’ll try my best,” she replied, then headed in and froze. Nyx was wearing a dressier version of his Kingsglaive uniform, which Cor was wearing a black ensemble, a finely knit undershirt with a high collar and carefully tailored trousers with fine gold and white embroidery down the sides of the legs that managed to look rather flattering, which was definitely not Cor’s idea. Probably not Nyx’s, either, the man seemed to wear t-shirts or polos most of the time if he wasn’t in uniform. He looked good in those shirts, but it wasn’t exactly high fashion. “Well, despite the I haven’t slept chic, you two look rather smashing. Prompto, Ignis, or both?” she stated with a smirk at Cor, and Cor rolled his eyes as he picked up his coat, a handsome piece which was definitely styled on the Kingsglaive uniform, and inspected at it with a look that Aranea would mark down as pleasantly surprised. “Had you not seen your outfit for today?” she asked, only for Nyx to snort and shake his head. “Really?”

“I figured it would be fine, and considering it was finished the night before we left, I didn’t have any other options. To answer your question, Ignis got Prompto first, Prompto got me. There may have been threats involved,” Cor grumbled, but his tone was fond, and Aranea grinned.

“Nothing else fits right, does it?” The marshal’s pinched mouth and utter silence was answer enough. “Okay, sit your definitely rounder butt down in the chair, I have work to do.”

Thirty minutes later, she stepped back and observed both of her victims; Cor’s complexion had thankfully lost its green tint rapidly after he received his medicine, and she had been able to do some bitching work to make him look like he had actually slept once in the last year. It wasn’t perfect, but she didn’t want to run the risk of him looking too made up. Nyx had just needed a bit of cover up around the eyes to look more alive, and she nodded to herself.

“Take a look in the mirror, boys, I think I’ve managed it. Good thing too, I’ve got to go get changed.” The two wandered off to go inspect their faces while she packed up her makeup, and just as she was snapping the bag closed, she looked up to see Cor bring a hand up to his face. “Don’t touch it!” she shrieked, startling Cor enough to get a dirty look from the man as he dutifully dropped his hands to his sides. “No touching, nothing more than pecks on the lips, and put your coat on carefully.” Cor continued to glower, but gave a begrudging nod as she headed to the door. “See you all in a little while!”

Having stayed far longer in Cor and Nyx’s rooms than initially planned, she zoomed back to her own rooms and got her own fancy brand new outfit on, courtesy of Ravus, who had drily informed her that he didn’t want to see her show up in that same damn armor she usually wore, and while she would have never done that (Luna would have never said anything, but she would have felt bad,) she wasn’t above snagging some new clothes. Thankfully, she had put on her face before she had headed over to take care of the boys, and only had to do a few touch ups before she examined herself in the mirror, approved of what she saw, and headed towards her own door. She had work to do.

Just as she was about to grasp the doorknob, her phone rang, and a quick glance showed it was the infirmary.

This better be good news-

“Highwind.”

“General, this is Doctor Florus.” She didn’t like the sound of this.

“Tell me.”

“Midgardsormr venom, concentrated, my guess is that it was put into his drink. It would be more obvious in food, the taste has been described as bitter, but if he had a juice of some sort, the sugars would have covered that up-” Aranea almost dropped the phone. No. Her paranoia wasn’t supposed to be true-

“Any long term effects? He’s got two extra onboard, could this-”

The doctor’s voice on the other end sounded tired and distraught. “Honestly, General, had this been almost anyone else, we’d probably be collecting their body for the morgue. But the fact that he suffered little more than serious nausea told me that he either didn’t finish the affected drink, or his abilities have given him some sort of defense against it. I got clearance from Prince Ravus to check the security cameras, and while I couldn’t see what he was drinking, he finished both glasses put in front of him,” the doctor said, and Aranea was torn between horrified tears or inarticulate rage; Cor was a dear friend to all of them and an honored guest to what was supposed to be a happy occasion, and someone had deliberately tried to poison him and his babies.

She wanted blood. But the coronation was slated to begin in only a little over an hour, so vengeance would have to wait. She forced herself to take several deep breaths, letting them out slowly before re-engaging in the conversation. “Did you notice anything with the children? Cor is a grown man, but they aren’t even fully formed yet, could this cause issues?”

“Their heartbeats were strong, as I said, which is an excellent sign, but I didn’t go into great depth. I do suggest further examination, but since he’s clearly on the mend, he’s in no danger. He’d be dead already otherwise. We can wait until after the ceremony.”

“Are you sure?” There was a pause at the other end of the line.

“Yes. Of course, if he shows any negative change, ignore what I just said and get him to me immediately.”

“Are you going to the ceremony?”

“I have a seat near the back of the room so I can leave as needed without causing a disturbance. I’ll keep my phone in my hand in case anything happens.” The doctor paused, then made a little noise. “Are you going to tell him?”

That was an excellent question, and one she could answer. “No, not until it’s over, provided he remains in good health. Everyone is going to be pissed at me, but I seriously believe that Luna would delay everything for him, and he’d hate it. He’d absolutely hate it. It would also make him an obvious target, which is the last thing he needs right now. On that note, don’t say a word to anyone, unless Ravus asks. We need to keep this contained.”

She ended the call a few moments later, and it took every bit of energy in her body to not smash her forehead against her door. Poisoned. Fucking hell.

Sometimes she had all too fond thoughts of her days as a mercenary. Shit was simple back in those days.

 

---------------

 

Ignis had read tales of the coronations and confirmations of the oracles of old to prepare himself for the trip, and while there was a great many examples, the grandest were from the days before the empire had occupied the bulk of Tenebrae. He expected none of that today. While Luna and Ravus had wanted to make it a formal, yet joyous occasion, they were doing so on a far smaller scale from the olden days, when lavish week-long festivals had not been an uncommon occurrence. The oracles of those days often wore great gowns trimmed with gold and precious jewels for their coronations, the trains so long a veritable team would have to hold them, the ornamentation of their jewelry would be the finest wrought in the world, the manor would be festooned with great banners and ornamentation, both within and without, and the whole country would be alight with celebration. Honestly, it sounded tiring, if assuredly beautiful.

While there was an official three day period of rest and celebration, there was a clear hand of restraint in the event, a concession to the current status of Tenebrae. The country was still very much in the midst of rebuilding, and Ignis knew that the last thing Luna would have wanted was to splash around wealth that the kingdom couldn’t really spare. While Luna was already the Oracle, and her original ascension was a full ten years prior, this would be the proper ceremony, not the stunted and contrived one that the empire had allowed her all those years prior.

“Iggy?” Ignis looked up from his phone to see Prompto standing nearby, already dressed for the coronation in an attractive outfit in a deep blue with white and gold embroidery that had been carefully tailored to his changing form, and smiled.

“Is it time to dep-”

“Aranea just called, dad’s been sick all night,” Prompto cut in, and Ignis frowned as he got to his feet.

“Did you not say you felt a bit uneasy just an hour or so ago?” he asked, and and Prompto nodded. “Do you need to go check in on him?” Prompto shook his head.

“No, Aranea already called back and said he’s responding well to the medication the doctor gave him and is getting ready for the coronation, so I’ll hold off. I sent him a text message. That stinks, though, I wonder why now,” Prompto mused, before shaking his head.

“Poor timing, to be sure.” Ignis reached out, brushing the younger man’s cheek with his fingers. “We’ll see him shortly, you can evaluate him then. Is it time to go?” Prompto kissed his hand as he withdrew, a smile on his face.

“Yeah, it’s time to go. And thank you.” They joined Noctis and Gladio by the door, both already dressed and ready; Noctis was resplendent in probably the second finest ensamble Ignis had ever seen him wear (the first being his formal introduction to the royal court on the day of his eighteenth birthday,) and Gladio looked excellent in a finely tailored tuxedo. While he had the right to wear the Crownsguard uniform to these affairs, as did Ignis, due to their unique positions, they generally did not. They were generally considered a bit apart from the organization, even if they were on its rolls. Prompto had been quietly removed from said rolls after the events at Costlemark, a final acceptance of what had been obvious for some time, and thusly was in a formal outfit without any hints of the uniform stylings, as he was no longer entitled to them. Ignis wondered if it bothered Prompto sometimes, considering all the thought he and Noct had put into their ideas for his Crownsguard uniform, but he didn’t ask. After all, there were more important things to worry about at the moment.

“Everybody ready?” Noctis asked, and after everyone nodded, he smiled. “Let’s go watch Luna be amazing.”

They all assembled outside the the great hall to the south of the primary manor, Prompto calmly approaching the marshal and speaking to him for a few moments before returning to their side once more, his expression troubled.

“Prompto?” Prompto stared through them for a moment, clearly seeing something else, then shook his head.

“He’s okay, I guess he just spent the night sicking up, the only reason he looks halfway decent is that Aranea showed and put some makeup on him and Nyx, cuz they were both up most of the night,” Prompto stated, and Ignis grimaced in sympathy.

“That’s unfortunate, but he does appear to be on the mend. Was there something else you were worried about?” Ignis asked, and Prompto looked thoughtful for a long moment before shaking his head.

“No, just a feeling.” Ignis and the other two shared a look, gaining him a pout from the blond. “It just hit me that this is the first time I’ve been in public for any length of time since all of this,” Prompto said as he gestured to his stomach with a sigh, then indicated the gathered crowd of dignitaries and guests. “Where do we need to go?” The subject change was obvious, but it was a legitimate question, and Ignis tapped a finger against his bottom lip as he went through the schedule in his mind.

“Noctis, you’ll be entering with the king, of course, followed by the nobles of Tenebrae, as well as the marshal and yourself, Prompto, as you two are officially here as honored guests of the royal house, and not in any official capacity. Cor would have probably rated an invite on his own due to his position, but you certainly would not have,” Ignis pointed out, leading to a bashful shrug from Prompto. “You two are also not here as your other roles, officially, anyway; her majesty was concerned that some would read into it the wrong way if you had been invited as such, and asked me to pass along her apologies if that offends either you or the marshal.” Prompto rolled his eyes with a smile, and Gladio huffed a quiet laugh. “Yes, I know, but it needed to be said. Captain Ulric will probably be seated up with Cor, but I may be incorrect.”

Prompto faced Ignis directly, but made sure he had Noctis and Gladio’s attentions as well before he spoke. “Honestly, I considered that there was a decent chance that I’d be specifically asked to remain behind, with the whole voice thing and all. It would have seriously sucked, but I would have understood.” Noctis and Gladio frowned, and Noct looked like he was about to argue, but Prompto shook his head. “I’m probably never going to be great at the whole politics thing, but I’ve figured out a few things.” Ignis nodded his agreement at the general statement, if not the spirit. Prompto was certainly absorbing some of the cues and lessons of the ways of politics and power struggles; he may or may not ever become an expert, as he had stated, but Ignis had no doubt he would become quite proficient.

“Your highness? Your grace? My lords? The signal has been given, it’s time to prepare for the procession.” A young man, clad in the white and blue uniform of the manor staff, stood at the ready, and Noct stepped forward and tilted his head.

“Lead on, sir.” This is where they parted from Noctis and Prompto, and Ignis smiled at both of them, receiving one in return from Prompto and a nod from Noct before they departed with the servant, leaving him and Gladio behind.

“We’re slotting in with the general muddle of nobles, right? Somewhere behind Prom and Cor?” Gladio asked, and Ignis hummed absently in agreement as he watched everyone begin to form up. The soon-to-be queen was nowhere to be seen, to no surprise, and neither was Prince Ravus; the newly-promoted General Aranea was present, and he nodded to her as he and Gladio began to join up with the small group of Altissian nobles that had been invited, as well as a single young representative from Niflheim, a small gesture from the provisional government that was not going over entirely well. The Altissians were pretending General Tummelt didn’t exist, while the Tenebraens were actively giving him dirty looks. It was impolitic, but it was clear they didn’t care, and only the occasion was probably keeping them from doing worse. Had it been pretty much anyone else from Niflheim, he admittedly may have ignored what was happening, but this had been the man who had leaked the information of Cor’s whereabouts that had allowed them to save him, events that may have ultimately led to the final downfall of the empire as it had been. While it was crystal clear that it was not to be mentioned, he couldn’t help but give him respect for the move. “It’s a bit surreal seeing him here, considering the last time I saw him. I think we should sit closer to him, just in case there’s a...slip somewhere,” Gladio whispered in his ear, and Ignis blinked. He hadn’t even thought of that, and it was an excellent point.

“I concur. Not too close though, but we will keep him in sight.”

The housecarls sounded the call, and they all formed into a respectable column, with King Regis, Noctis, First Secretary Camelia Claustra of Altissia, and Aranea leading the procession into the great hall. Pipes and trumpets heralded the doors opening, and they processed in slowly, and Ignis was impressed with the decorations as they came into view; great banners hung from the walls, both with the symbols of the royal house and of the oracle, while brilliant blue sylleblossoms lay in golden bowls sitting on decorative plinths lining the walkway. Ignis knew that in the days of old, all able would have been expected to stand for the entire ceremony, but Luna had clearly decided to go a different route, with long pews filling much of the hall, with rich white fabric draped over the backs of each one. At the end of the hall and up a small flight of stairs stood a single chair, high-backed and wrought from finely carved dark wood that Ignis knew was from the forests surrounding the manor. A similarly decorated but not as tall seat sat a step down and to the left of the queen’s throne, and Ignis knew he was looking upon the ancient thrones of the Oracle and Prince (also referred to as the consort’s throne, but it would depend on the current status of the bloodline. As Lunafreya was unattached, it would be Ravus’s for now.) He’d eat Noct’s cooking if they were reproductions, so it was clear that Luna and Ravus had managed to keep at least some of the old treasures of the manor from being ransacked. It had probably helped that besides a tiny bit of gold used for embellishment of the carvings, the thrones were surprisingly plain, considering who they were for.

The royal regalia had been destroyed, as far as he knew, the queen’s crown had been allegedly broken up and sold to collectors in the empire after her death, and her famous jewelry collection had vanished. The empire had stated that it had been the work of petty thieves, but there was few who had believed them. He was legitimately curious as to what would be used in their place.

They all filed into the pews without further instruction, but remained standing as the horns fell silent, only to be replaced by the soft notes of a large pedaled concert harp positioned near the far corner of the hall; Ignis watched as King Regis stepped away from the pew and stepped to the base of the raised platform just to the side of the stairs, turning to face the crowd. As tradition usually called for, his majesty would be involved in the ceremony, a gesture of the continuing friendship between the two kingdoms. Aranea also moved, taking the other side of the stairs from the king, spear in-

Ignis blinked his surprise. No. Aranea wasn’t holding her spear, she was holding the bident that Luna had used during their travels. It was plainly deliberate, and his curiosity grew as voices rose in song to join the harp, and without so much as a single indication, the room turned, watching as Prince Ravus entered, pausing in the center of the room with his sword unsheathed and held in salute as Lunafreya Nox Fleuret, soon to be the ordained Queen of Tenebrae, entered the building.  

Her majesty was clad head to toe in white in a beautiful dress with fine gold and blue embroidery that flowed around her as she walked forward, while the simple white veil of the oracle rested upon her head. Otherwise, she was unadorned; not a single piece of jewelry was visible, with even her usual necklace not in attendance. In her hands she held a small bundle of sylleblossoms, and as she passed the golden bowls she gently laid a single flower into each, her eyes fixed firmly on the dais in the distance. Sister and brother slowly processed down the center of the hall, her soft footfalls revealing that she was barefoot as she approached the dais; Ravus stepped to the side, allowing her to proceed, and she stopped at the base of the steps between Aranea and the king, looking up at her throne as Ravus faced those in attendance, his sword still raised in a formal readiness.

“To the earth and sky, to the dawn and the dusk, to those mortal and those divine, I present to you the unchallenged blood of the first oracle, Lunafreya Nox Fleuret, the true lady of Tenebrae; she has come forth to claim her crown and all that her birthright entails, and I, Ravus Nox Fleuret, also of the unchallenged blood of the first oracle, stand ready to defend her against all who would seek to keep her from what is hers by right.”

The words were ceremonial, and none spoke as a long moment of silence fell before Luna took the first step, then another, then another; she stopped one short of the final height of the dais where her throne waited and turned towards the audience, stretching her now empty hands towards them. A call for support, or of benediction, Ignis did not know, but he was as spellbound as the rest of them, and not a sound could be heard beyond breathing.

“I am Lunafreya Nox Fleuret, blood of the oracle, and I come before all of Tenebrae and Eos to claim my birthright. If there is anyone who thinks me false, that I do not stand before you in honor, speak now,” Lunafreya announced, her voice clear as a bell throughout the hall. There was a moment of tension, an irrational fear that someone would challenge her claim, but none came forward, and Ignis felt a little knot of tension in his chest unwind. With the loss of the trident, the fear was still present, but thankfully, all was silent, and she took the final step and stood in front of her throne, the hem of her gown settling gracefully around her feet.

“In honor of the ancient friendship of our houses, and the current friendship of our families, I would be honored to crown you queen, your majesty,” the king said, and a sharply dressed housecarl walked up to his majesty and handed him a wooden casket before bowing and returning to his previous position. “Will you accept my offer?” The king addressed Lunafreya through the crowd, before taking a single step to the base of the dais and facing her properly. The soon-to-be queen nodded, her smile sweet and sure, and the King of Lucis approached, bowing deeply to Luna before indicating that she should sit; she took a single deep breath, meeting the king’s eyes, then slowly lowered herself to her seat, smoothing the fabric across her thighs as she did so. The king walked behind her throne, and another housecarl came up behind to take the casket from him, the thump of the latches resounding in the profound silence as the box was opened. “The ancient crown of the queens of Tenebrae was lost, but with assistance, a new one has been fashioned for your use, and for the use of your line. May it serve you well.”

The king lifted his burden from its resting place, raising it above his head for all to see. Ignis had seen photos and even some film footage of the ancient crown, which at its core was a tiara of crystals, said to have been a gift from the Glacian; the queens would add their own embellishments, and as such it had taken on many appearances throughout the years. The crown that his majesty displayed to the audience was similar, if not exact; there was a line of crystals once more, but they were less irregular in cut than the previous piece, their swooping lines coming up to fine points curving towards the center. From the sides hang a beautiful latticework of gold and small gems, some hanging loose, while others curled under the chin and reattached to the opposite side as a connected length; its appearance was tickling at Ignis’s brain, it looked so familiar beyond its similarity to Queen Sylva’s configuration that he racked his mind to try and figure out why as the king paused as Lunafreya removed her veil, letting the fabric pool in her lap as his majesty lowered the crown slowly onto her head, the chains and gems falling into place around her cheeks and jawline as she sat silent.

“I crown you Lunafreya, undoubted queen of Tenebrae; may your beautiful heart and your endless wisdom carry your kingdom and our world into the ever-brighter future,” the king said, his mouth slowly curling into a smile as he lowered his hands and nodded to Ravus, who faced the audience with eyes that glittered with righteous joy as he finally lowered his sword to his side and sheathed it.

“People of Tenebrae! I present to you your queen, by the grace of the astrals, may her reign be long and fruitful!” Ravus shouted, and all those of Tenebrae in the hall surged to their feet in a resounding cheer, blocking Ignis’s view as the sound cascaded off the high walls; Ignis turned to Gladio, the smile on the other man’s face a mirror to his own, and he reached over and wound his fingers through Gladio’s larger ones and squeezed gently as the cheers slowly faded and the Tenebraeans began to retake their seats. The next phase of the coronation was the confirmation of Lunafreya as oracle, not as queen, and this was the part that he had no idea how it was going to go. It was different every time, from what his research had uncovered, and he settled in, Gladio’s hand comfortably in his, and waited for what was to come.

King Regis had stepped away from the throne, bowing to Lunafreya before walking down the dais steps and nodding to Ravus as he returned to his seat, leaving the queen alone. After the raucous nature of the cheers, the complete silence was jarring to the nerves, and Ignis tightened his grip unconsciously around Gladio’s hand. No one was moving, so what-

“General Highwind, approach the oracle.” Ignis and Gladio both jerked with surprise at the familiar voice, and everyone was craning their heads to see just who was speaking, with the exception of Cor, Prompto, Noctis, and the king, who all sat facing the front without budging; Aranea blinked, but otherwise kept her expression neutral as she turned and took the steps methodically before stopping on the step before the top, then moving to the side so Lunafreya was still visible, the bident at her side. “The world has changed far beyond anyone’s comprehension in less than two orbits of the sun; my sister, the Mother of the Dawn, has reawakened, and her support assisted in the prophecy being fulfilled with very little bloodshed, leading to the Scourge of our Star being eradicated and the dispatchment of the source of its remaining survival. The crystal has returned to its original home, no longer needed, and we find ourselves looking to a new future, one that will hopefully bring peace and balance to all.” Even though Ignis knew Gentiana, no, Shiva’s voice, his eyes still widened as she appeared in her full glory in a swirl of crystalline ice in her true form as the Glacian next to the queen whom she had known since birth, a cold chill circulating the hall for a few moments before dissipating like it had never been.

A few people actually leapt to their feet, a few more bowed awkwardly from their seats, and most of the room looked shellshocked as the queen turned to look up at her old friend with a sweet smile, Shiva responding by reaching out with a fine fingered hand and letting the chains of Lunafreya’s crown trail through her fingers before stepping away and facing Aranea. “General Highwind.”

“Yes, your holiness.” The Glacian quirked an amused smile at the title, before reaching out her arms, palms up.

“An oracle needs a proper tool, does she not?” Aranea grinned, sharp and understanding, and nodded, carefully shifting the bident in her grip before holding it out to the Glacian; the plain, store-bought weapon that had been bought for Luna to use and train with on their trip floated from Aranea’s hands, hovering in the air before coming to a rest in Shiva’s palms, and Ignis found himself clutching at Gladio’s hand even tighter as the bident began to glow, sharp lines of light cutting into its surface as it started to float higher into the air with ever-increasing levels of radiance. “The mandate of the oracles of old has changed; no longer need you seek out and cure a plague that has been driven from our star, but that does not mean the world will not look to you for succor in the future, that there will not be other calamities that must be met with wisdom,” the Glacian said as light filled the room from the changing weapon, causing Ignis to squint, and she smiled. “You have the love of your people and your kin, and of much of the world, as well as of the royal line of Lucis and the chosen of the Dawn Mother; trust in their love and their strength, and the depth and truth of your own soul, and together, a long-lasting prosperity and peace may finally be formed, one that could last the ages.” Shiva turned towards the queen, beckoning with a single hand. “Arise, oh oracle, and accept the blessings of my brethren.” Lunafreya gripped the ends of the armrests for a moment longer than probably planned before rising to her feet, her hands twitching at her sides before coming to a rest. “From the stars the original trident of the oracle came, and it is fitting that in this new era that its replacement come from the earth. This weapon has served you well, Lunafreya Nox Fleuret, may it do so until the line of your blood is completely spent.” The swirling brilliance surrounding the former bident exploded in a riot of bright white-blue light, the color reminiscent of the permafrosts of Niflheim, and the weapon began to descend, the glow gradually fading as it lowered itself neatly into the queen’s hastily raised hands.

“Oh Glacian, I am honored by your gift, and I will endeavor to be worthy of it-” Lunafreya trailed off as the last of the light finally dissipated in a final glittering burst, and the room looked upon the new trident of the oracle; whereas the original had been finely carved of a metal that had the look of steel, the new one was the color of platinum and both less and more adorned than its predecessor. The head was only lightly decorated with engraving, but the shaft was richly inlaid with what appeared to be touches of gold, dark wood, and even what was possibly some small gemstones, but Ignis was sitting far enough away to not be able to see it clearly enough to be certain. The queen stared down at it in wonder before carefully bringing it down to her side, the points facing the ceiling.

“All hail the oracle of Eos, and the queen of Tenebrae!” the Glacian announced to the crowd, and everyone rose to their feet with a mighty cheer, the sound deafening in its joy as the audience yelled, whistled, and even stomped their feet in unfettered glee; Ignis could barely see Lunafreya through the people standing in front of him, but he did see when several tears trailed their way down her face as she smiled at the clear devotion and veneration of the people. Aranea took the opportunity to return to her former place at the base of the dais, leaving Shiva and Lunafreya alone. Several minutes passed before the room began to quieten, and everyone retook their seats, even the queen-oracle as Shiva surveyed the room with a distant smile. “To commemorate this new age, I would first grant a boon, a favor for a favor. General Tummelt.” The Glacian’s gaze was intense, but Loqi managed to rise on remarkably steady feet, the sounds of those in the hall not entirely happy.

“Yes, your...holiness?”

“You had a choice, young general, and you did the world a great service in your choosing. No longer will my wrath remain eternal upon the lands of Niflheim, Loqi Tummelt; may your people use this opportunity to reclaim your lost territory as you establish your own future, free from interference from both within and without,” Shiva announced, and Ignis’s jaw actually dropped for a moment. Did she mean-?

“The people of Niflheim thank you, your holiness. While it is unexpected, we too will endeavor to be worthy of such a gift,” Loqi answered with a bow, and Shiva gave a single regal nod to the young man as he retook his seat.

“Chosen of the Dawn, arise.” Both Ignis and Gladio sat up bone straight in their seats as both Prompto and Cor rose carefully to their feet, and Ignis ignored the whispers and stared at the three of them as best he could from his vantage point; Prompto was swiftly reaching the point where standing still for any length of time was tiring to him, and Ignis could see this in the tiny shifts the younger man was doing to adjust as the Glacian looked at the two men with a soft smile on her face.

“Herald.”

Cor bowed from the waist, perhaps not as deeply as he might have managed a few months prior. “My lady.” Shiva’s smile grew wider as her gaze flicked over to Prompto.

“Voice.”

Prompto’s bow was little more than a short bobble forward, but the Glacian didn’t seem put out by this as she floated into the air, causing people to gasp as she traveled near to the two men. “Your holiness,” Prompto said as Shiva hovered nearby, and the astral raised an arm, moving it elegantly to indicate the room.

“Ever since the Dawn Mother called you two to her service, much of the world has been uncertain as to your place in it. Long has the flow and ebb of both religious and magical centered around the lines of the oracle and of Lucis, and the people have forgotten their history. Yours is a unique situation; you two have faced ridicule, skepticism, and anger in their ignorance, if not worse, and you have been accused of trying to usurp the oracle and seduce the line of Lucis, even insult the astrals themselves,” the Glacian stated, and Ignis found himself holding his breath. “That ends now.” Shiva glanced back at Lunafreya, who tilted her head with a tiny smile, then shot into the air, her expression stern as ice started to form on the edges of their pews. “Hear me, people of Eos; once, many centuries ago, the Dawn Mother, my sister, would choose two who would represent her love and be her voice to the people of our star. The astrals, myself and my brethren, would send messengers of our own, but in our foolishness in those early times, they were often alien and intimidating, unable to truly connect with the beings we watched over, and thus, it was my sister’s chosen who were looked to in all matters. The Dawnsworn were symbols of many things, but at their heart, they were symbols of life and hope; the world suffered when she no longer called for them in the days before the Great War of Old, and the sunrises were a little less brilliant in their absence. My sister suffered greatly in the war’s aftermath, and she was forced to retreat for many years until she found herself in a position to help once more. Had it not been for her intervention, leading to the efforts of her chosen in helping to find another way for removing the scourge from our world, we would not being standing here now. Remember this, oh people, and do not doubt their purpose nor their honor again.”

Ignis was awestruck by the Glacian’s staunch support of Prompto and Cor, and glanced around to see the reaction of those surrounding him; Gladio looked moments from crying, which was not unexpected, and he let his thumb brush across the other man’s hand as he continued his observations. What he saw was mostly heartening, as most seemed just as amazed or were at the least nodding in agreement; there were a few that still looked stubbornly unhappy, and Ignis feared there would be no changing the minds of those type. Humans were, after all, naturally rather obstinate. It didn’t matter if the gods themselves told them, they would do whatever the hell they wanted. While questioning was not necessarily a bad thing, in this case, Ignis definitely wanted people to agree with the Glacian, if only for Prompto and Cor’s sakes. They had been through enough, and their current situation unfortunately showcased their...unique nature. They couldn’t control the minds of those around them, but Ignis would do his best to make sure they were both (especially Prompto, but Cor as well) defended from those who would still try to harm them.

The murmurs and significant looks calmed as the Glacian signalled for Prompto and Cor to retake their seats, and the astral flew back over to the new queen’s side, her expression softening once more. “Oracle.” Lunafreya looked up at Shiva, who reached down and rested a blue-fingered hand on the queen’s.

“Yes, oh Glacia-”

“To you, Lunafreya, I am Gentiana.” The Glacian’s words were so softly spoken that Ignis had no idea how he heard them, but heard them he did; Luna’s face brightened instantly, however, and Shiva’s smile was just sweet as she nodded to the queen before straightening and looking once more out unto the audience. “As the king said, to the ever-brighter future.” An icy blast of wind caused everyone to gasp and cover their faces, and when Ignis was able to focus on the dais once more, Lunafreya sat alone, her smile dazzling as Ravus, who had remained silent and still for the entire time the Glacian had been present, took the steps to approach his sister and offered her his hand. She took it immediately and rose to her feet, and from the corner of the room, a single violin began to play.

Then Prompto stood up and began to sing.

Ignis realized with a jolt that he had heard the song before, as Prompto had sung it during the battle with Ifrit, but this time, he could listen to the words without disruption; the voice sung of shadow and of finding one’s way, of journeys and overcoming darkness, and Ignis could feel tears tracking down his face as the song came to an end, the first he had ever heard Prompto sing with instrumental accompaniment.

It was a beautiful benediction to commemorate the official start of Lunafreya’s reign.

By tradition, the new queen-oracle was to seek solitude and meditate, and Lunafreya and Ravus took their leave as the festivities started to ramp up; Ignis and Gladio had just managed to meet up with Prompto, Nyx, and Cor, who was looking rather wrung out but was doing an excellent job of hiding it when Aranea dashed up to the group of them, the grim look on her face making Ignis stiffen out of reflex. He wasn’t so distracted to not see Tummelt looking at them all curiously, though, and he forced himself to focus on Aranea.

“Where’s Noctis? I need to talk to you all, and it’s best that I’ve got you all in the same place,” the woman stated, and Prompto, his eyes still shimmering from the magics he had channelled with his music, dashed off without a word, returning only moments later with both Noctis and the king, who looked a bit confused.

“Is there something going on, general?” the king asked, and Aranea scowled before gesturing.

“Follow me.” Lord Amicitia joined them as they all walked back into the main manor building, and they exchanged more than a few confused glances as they followed the stiff-backed general to a room Ignis did not recognize, entering when she opened the door and gestured once more. A woman he did not recognize was waiting inside, but from Cor and Nyx’s reactions, they knew exactly who she was. After Aranea closed and latched the door behind them, she turned towards the lot of them with an expression that was both guilty and bode horribly for whoever had actually angered her, although Ignis was sure it wasn’t any of them.

“Highwind, what in the world-” Lord Amicitia began, only for Aranea to hiss and run a hand roughly through her hair.

“You all are going to kill me, but I made a judgement call, as Luna would have postponed everything had she found out, and the doctor was certain you were on the mend,” Aranea said, and Cor frowned.

“What’s wrong with me?” Cor asked as he gestured to the unknown woman, and Ignis clenched his jaw as any trace of amusement vanished in an instant from Nyx’s features, his gaze growing intense. What? “I’m not an idiot, with Dr. Florus being here, there must be something.” Aranea crossed her arms, then looked over at the doctor.

“I’ll start.” The general took a deep breath, then let it out in a sigh. “Your sickness wasn’t just a bad piece of meat, Cor, you were poisoned.” Ignis felt his jaw drop as the room exploded into shouts; Prompto immediately ran over to his dad, his eyes wide with horror, Nyx actually summoned once of his kukris out of reflex before recalling it and taking Cor’s hand in his own, his own expression similar to Aranea’s. Everyone else was just as shocked, and Aranea’s odd expression was rapidly making more sense as the king’s face became set in stone and Lord Amicitia began to pace.

“What did they use?” Cor said, his voice detached in tone, and the doctor spoke up next.

“Concentrated Midgardsormr venom. I’m almost positive you have a natural defense against it, your grace, because otherwise-”

“Because otherwise, I’d be dead. I’ve seen its effects, it’s a horrid but swift way to go if left untreated,” Cor said bitterly, then he looked down at his stomach, his expression haunted. “You said earlier that they seemed fine, are you wanting to verify that?” Dr. Florus nodded, and Cor snagged a chair and took a seat without another word. The doctor immediately moved in, and Ignis watched as Nyx worked his jaw for a long moment before stomping over to Aranea.

“I’m not happy with you,” Nyx said through gritted teeth, and the woman tilted her head in clear agreement.

“I know. You can’t tell me that Cor wouldn’t have told us to go ahead with everything anyway even if I had told you all before the coronation, though,” Aranea pointed out, and Nyx’s hands clenched and unclenched several times before he sagged.

“No, you’re right. Fuck!” Nyx barked, looking back over at Cor before turning back towards Aranea. “Do you have any ideas? Or did we not have enough time before the ceremony?”

“I honestly don’t, but I can tell you who exactly would be blamed if it goes public,” Aranea replied, and Ignis realized he knew exactly who she was talking about.

“They’ll blame General Tummelt,” he commented, and the looks of comprehension and understanding that overtook the rest of their group caused the king to sigh.

“Considering it was Tummelt sticking his neck subtly out that allowed you all to find Cor-” his majesty spun and pointed at the man in question, his expression vexed. “Cor, how is it you always get yourself tangled up with these shenanigans? Even as a boy you-”

“Regis, please,” Cor groaned as the doctor palpated his stomach, his nicely tailored coat thrown over a nearby chair and his shirt hitched up to bare said stomach, and Ignis watched with more than a bit of curiosity as the doctor worked slowly and methodically, pausing suddenly and looking up to meet the marshal’s eyes with a smile.

“How long have you been feeling them move?” the doctor asked, and Nyx nearly tripped over his own feet as he spun back towards his partner.

“Wait, what? Cor, you’ve not mentioned anything!” Nyx blurted out, and from the look of pure confusion on the marshal’s face, it was pretty obvious why he hadn’t said anything. Prompto had figured it out himself what the odd feeling he had been having were, but it was clear that Cor had not. Ignis and Gladio exchanged a smile as Ignis could feel the tension in the room began to release, Nyx huffing a fondly incredulous little laugh before walking back over to the marshal. “You...didn’t notice.”

Cor’s cheeks turned that always classic mottled pink, and Ignis couldn’t help the widening of his smile as the older man looked towards the ceiling, clearly trying to avoid meeting anyone’s eyes.

“Is that what that odd bubbly feeling I’ve had for the last week or so is?” Cor muttered, and Ignis barely restrained a chuckle when both the king and Lord Amicitia began to laugh, the realization that, with the possible exception of the doctor, the two older men were the only parents in the room (Cor certainly hadn’t been present for Prompto’s birth, so-) They probably remembered their wives mentioning it-

“What did you think it was, Cor? Remember how Aulea would go on about the constant feeling of popping in her stomach?” Regis commented, and Cor sighed, flinching slightly as the doctor patted his stomach lightly before rising back to her feet.

“An ultrasound would be wise, but they appear to be active and healthy from an outside examination. Your body probably filtered out the poison before it reached them,” the doctor explained, and Cor’s shoulders sagged in relief as he pulled his shirt back down over his stomach.

“Thank you. Do you want me to do that here, or wait until we return home?” Cor asked, and the doctor tapped her finger against her cheek in thought.

“We can take care of that here, but honestly, I-” Dr. Florus frowned, then sighed and ran her hand through her hair. “Considering that we have no idea who did this to begin with, perhaps it would be better that you don’t do it here, I’m sure you have a trusted physician back in Insomnia.” Lord Amicitia nodded to the doctor as Cor got to his feet and put his coat back on, the humor from the revelation of the children moving fading as the reality of the situation reasserted itself.

Poisoned. Someone at the dinner last night had been vicious enough to try and murder a pregnant person who hadn’t done a damn thing wrong. The strangest part is that the unknown assailant had gone after Cor instead of Prompto, who was generating far more controversy than the marshal was. Could it have been a grudge? Or a test run? Maybe the attacker wanted to see if poison would work before trying it on Prompto? Astrals, they’d have to test everything they ate if it wasn’t made by them-

“Iggy?” Gladio’s voice cut through his pondering, and Ignis turned to the man with a sigh.

“Apologies, I was just thinking about necessary steps we would need to take for the foreseeable future until we determine what the nature of the attack was,” he explained, and Gladio nodded in agreement.

“Yeah, I can think of a few things we’ll need to do. We’ve gotta assume this isn’t an isolated incident for now, not when they are already employing something that potent,” Gladio stated, and there was various murmurs of agreement from the others as Cor rubbed absently at his stomach, his expression considering.

“We all know Tummelt didn’t do this. The man risked his own neck to throw a few hints of where I was your way, which the Glacian unfortunately alluded to with her boon; it would be the height of folly for him to have suddenly turned around and tried to murder me. It’s not his style, if he’s going to try and kill you, he’ll do it without artifice,” Cor commented, before letting his hand drop with a sigh. “I can guarantee you that whoever did this, they were hoping we would make a big stink just so that fingers could be pointed at him. Most are unaware that Tummelt and I have a history of sorts, and next to no one knew that he had done anything besides be a good little Niff.”

Lord Amicitia’s eyebrows shot up as Cor was speaking, and Ignis wrapped an arm around Prompto’s shoulders as the man turned towards the marshal, suspicion in his eyes. “You seem pretty certain about the way this was originally going to play out, are you having one of your moments?” Lord Amicitia asked, and Ignis quickly looked back to Cor to see his reaction; the older man blinked, then his eyes went strange and distant, Ignis was not surprised to see a hint of light in them before Cor pinched at the bridge of his nose and groaned.

“Yeah, you may have a point. What I said feels right, and it sounds logical as well, but-” Cor trailed off as Nyx cupped the back of his neck with his hand, and Ignis’s eyes softened as he watched the older man lean back into his partner’s touch. They truly were well suited for each other.

“Well, we leave tomorrow, so we’ll just need to be careful for now. What do you think we should do about meals? It’s not like at home where we can just make our own,” Noctis asked, and Aranea, who had remained quiet for most of the discussion, scowled.

“Honestly, I doubt whoever the fuck it was that they’ll try again, at least not this soon to the last time. Especially because, from all outside appearances, it didn’t affect you at all. It’s possible whoever did this will try something again, but I doubt it’ll be poison,” Aranea commented, and Ignis found himself in agreement. “But, just in case, avoid anything with strong flavors until you leave just in case, and eat nothing that smells or tastes off.”

It was good advice, and after a little further discussion, everyone adjourned to their assigned quarters, with Prompto frowning as they walked into the room together.

“Man, the day was going so well, too; Luna’s coronation was so nice-” Gladio stopped Prompto with a hand around his arm, Ignis and Noct stopping as well. “What’s up?”

“Let me do a quick check around first.” Prompto opened his mouth, but closed it again without a sound as Gladio went through everything, from the pictures on the wall to the vases on the tables before standing in the middle of the room and shrugging. “Well, I don’t see anything obvious, at any rate. I’m not an expert, but I did get trained in basic room sweeps. Wanna do a loop yourself, Iggy?” Gladio asked, and Ignis paused, before tilting his head.

“Might as well.” His own search also turned up nothing, thankfully, and they all let themselves relax and change into more comfortable clothing, Ignis feeling rather mellow as he laid down next to the lounging Prompto on the bed. “How are you feeling, Prompto? It’s been a surprisingly busy day in some ways, including your short concert,” he inquired, and Prompto stared vaguely cross-eyed at the ceiling for a moment for sighing.

“I’m fine, just thinking that Cor always seems to be the one that gets caught up with this shit, it’s not fair. Why can’t people just leave us alone!” Prompto growled, drawing both Noct’s and Gladio’s attention, and Ignis reached over and pulled him into his arms, his back curving to accommodate the blond’s rather ample stomach.

“Unfortunately, the nature of the situation lends itself to extensive attention from outside parties, whether for good or ill, and we will need to adapt to it. That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy ourselves, however. We cannot let others dictate how we live,” he said, and Prompto looked up at him with a look he hadn’t seen in some time, the younger man’s fingers running up his chest and up to his jaw. The shiver down his spine was coincidental, of course.

“You always know what to say, Iggy,” Prompto whispered, and Ignis smiled as the blond hooked a leg around the back of his thigh, trying to pull himself closer. Unfortunately, the angle wasn’t ideal with Prompto’s current state, and after several awkward attempts from Prompto to try and do something (Ignis wasn’t sure, but frottage appeared to be the original plan,) the younger man growled again and pushed himself away, just in time for Gladio to sit down on Prompto’s other side, patting him on the leg.

“I see the hormones are waking back up,” Gladio said conversationally, and Ignis shot him a significant look while Prompto whined.

“I mean, I’ve mostly gotten used to the fact I’m getting to be enormous, but I think it was easier to be fat than pregnant, this thing doesn’t…” Ignis had to swallow an amused snort as Prompto poked irritably at his own stomach. “-this thing doesn’t flex, it’s like a vaguely squishy bowl attached to the front of my torso. It kinda makes it hard to do things,” Prompto grumbled as Ignis shifted enough to let his hand run over said belly, eliciting a moan from its owner. Hm. Ignis sat up, moving so he could sit behind Prompto’s head, then reached down and drew the blond into his lap, Prompto’s head resting against his stomach as he let his hands run down the freckled cheeks and down the finely muscled neck to Prompto’s chest, noting the faint blush starting to spread across his face before walking his fingers over and tweaking both of Prompto’s nipples simultaneously. The reaction was instantaneous, with Gladio nearly getting kicked in the head from the force of Prompto’s bucking, and that finally brought over Noctis, who looked down at the scene with a smirk.

“I’m clearly missing out here. You doing alright there, Prom?” Prompto groaned and squirmed as Ignis continued to roll the clearly-sensitive points between his fingers, revelling in the clear interest being shown in the proceedings as Gladio’s hands worked their way under both Prompto’s and Ignis’s shirts, coaxing Ignis to remove his own while Gladio helped Prompto out of his; Gladio had taken his off before they had even gotten fully settled, of course, and Noct took one look at them and lost his own very quick as Ignis returned his hands to Prompto’s bare chest and continued his fun.

“How do you wanna do this, Prom? Want us to take care of you? You haven’t really been the mood to-” Gladio trailed off as his hands ran across Prompto’s sizable stomach before running down to the waistband of his trousers, dipping his fingers under it as Ignis continued his ministrations with Prompto’s nipples. They were puffier than usual, even before he had started his current work, and Ignis felt a sliver of suspicion building in him as Prompto made an attempt to lift his hips to let Gladio get his pants off.

“Okay, that’s not going to work. Gladio, help him up, I’ll get his pants off,” Noct ordered, and Prompto whined in embarrassment as Gladio did just that, with Noct grabbing their favorite blond’s pants and underwear and pulling them off as one, revealing that Prompto’s hormones had indeed reawakened, and Noctis barely avoided being slapped in the face with the evidence. “Why, hello there, long time no see-”

“Noct!” Prompto wailed with clear embarrassment, and Ignis chuckled as he slid away from the other man, letting Prompto orient himself as Ignis got out of bed and took a moment to fully disrobe, garnering a few appreciative looks before he sat back down on the mattress, looking down at the flushed Prompto with a smile.

“We’ve not deprived ourselves over the past few months, Prompto, but you’ve had no interest in joining us, so we are more than happy to focus on you this evening,” Ignis explained, and Prompto flushed even redder as Gladio ran his hands over Prompto’s stomach and Noctis ran his down Prompto’s legs; Ignis leaned in and captured the prone blond’s lips with his own, enjoying the little gasps as he returned his hands once again to Prompto’s chest, those gasps turning into sharp moans as Noct decided to take the initiative and swallow him down, leading to a quiet whistle from Gladio, who slithered out of his own trousers before moving in on Prompto’s chest as well, and Ignis tangled his fingers into Gladio’s hair as the older man latched onto one of Prompto’s nipples and began to suck.

“You guys...you don’t have to do this, I know I look weird-” Prompto gasped out, and Ignis sighed, moving his other hand to the blond’s stomach as Noctis pulled away, his expression flushed and cross all at the same time.

“Prompto.” Noct’s voice was sharp (if a tiny bit rough, and Ignis would be damned if he ever admitted how much that turned him on,) and Prompto’s eyes darted around the room to look at everything but any of them, and Ignis found himself sighing again as he leaned over Prompto and met his gaze directly.

“Have we not reassured you enough, Prompto? Because I am happy to remind you of what we said on the ship the other day if you need to hear it again,” Ignis stated bluntly, and Prompto’s bottom lip trembled for a moment before he composed himself, taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly.

“No, I don’t need to hear it again, Iggy. I’m just being stupid.”

“You aren’t stupid, Prom, you just need to have certain facts drilled into your head a few times before you finally believe them,” Gladio commented, and the blond barked out a surprise laugh when the large man returned to playing with his nipples once more without another word.

“What’s with you two-” Noctis returned without comment to his prior activity, and Prompto’s back arched for a moment under the attention. “-ah...and my chest?”

“Gladio?” Ignis inquired, and the other man met his eyes without moving away from said chest, where his teeth were firmly clamped around Prompto’s left nipple. “I’ve been noticing something the past few weeks, and I was wondering if you would be willing to test it for me.”

“Iggy-” Prompto gasped once more as Gladio bit down harder, teasing the bud between his teeth for a moment before pulling back.

“Yeah, Iggy?” Gladio asked roughly, and Ignis leaned in until his lips were pressing against Gladio’s ear.

“Suck harder.”

The responding shriek from Prompto a few moments later, followed by the completely stunned expression on Gladio’s face as he licked his lips answered Ignis’s question handily, and even Noct joined them on the bed properly (while looking positively delectable, and Ignis had to pull his eyes away from his prince’s lips before he got seriously sidetracked.)

“Okay, I’m feeling forgotten down there, what in the world are you two doing to him up here?” Noctis asked, his voice still a little scratchy, and Gladio pulled his head away from Prompto’s chest once more to smirk at him, the telltale sign of white at the corner of his mouth. “Wait, you’ve been up here the whole ti-” Noct choked as Prompto gasped once again as Gladio returned to what he was doing, Ignis watching with more than a bit of amusement on his face as Noct’s mouth gaped open in shock. “Fuck, that’s...Iggy, you already knew?”

“I had my suspicions a few weeks ago, although Prompto went out of his way to try and hide what was going on, am I correct?” Ignis asked the prone blond, and Prompto gave a hitching sigh in response. “More concerns about what we might think? Or something else?” Prompto pushed at Gladio’s head for a moment, the other man finally giving Prompto a break as Ignis helped him sit up.

“I suppose there was some of that, but I just-” Prompto raised a hand and ran it over over his left nipple, catching a few drops on his fingers. “I just thought it was weird, okay? I had a bit of a freakout when this started happening, but then-” Prompto shook his head as he looked down at his hand. “I don’t know. I suppose if you guys are okay with it, it’s not too weird...” Noct reached out and grabbed Prompto’s hand, taking the slender fingers into his mouth and sucking, leading to a cascade of moans and shivers that none of them tried to hide.

“You taste awesome, Prom, you always do,” Noct purred, and Prompto snorted in red-faced amusement. Noct and Gladio both decided to sample from him at the same time, leading to a sort of giggling moan that Ignis leaned in and swallowed with his lips, just as one of Noct’s hands wandered over and took him firmly in hand without even looking, giving him a few firm strokes that brought him back into the moment quite well. Ah.

“No, it’s still... oh- It’s still weird. It just means you guys are weird too,” Prompto got out between his delightful little noises, and Ignis couldn’t help but silently agree as he watched the scene in from of him, reaching out and cradling Prompto’s jaw with a hand as he enjoyed what Noct was up to, his whole body warming under the younger man’s ministrations.

“Would you like to do anything else, Prompto? Or are you enjoying your current attentions?” Ignis asked, and Prompto’s glazed expression finally met his with a flushed smirk, but not before glancing down at what Noct had been doing with his hand.

“Well, Noct does seem to have you primed pretty well-” Oh. If Ignis hadn’t already been well primed, as Prompto had just said, that would have taken care of that handily. It took him a moment before he was able to speak around the sudden dryness in his throat, gaining him a snort from Gladio.

“That sounds...agreeable,” Ignis said slowly, only to find himself flat on his back a moment later, Prompto having torn himself away from the two sampling from him and thrown himself in Ignis’s lap, his considerably round stomach pressing Ignis’s erection against his own belly as he leaned over him.

“Okay, this is gonna take some getting used to. I don’t know how we should do this?” Prompto asked sheepishly, and Ignis reached up and let his hands run down the blond’s sides as both Gladio and Noctis moved to flank them, considering looks on their flushed faces.

“I hate to say this, Prom, but you may want to turn around, you’ll probably give yourself a back ache compensating for this-” Gladio reached down and rubbed Prompto’s stomach before sliding the same hand down further and giving both of them a quick grope, causing both Ignis and Prompto to jerk slightly. “Noct, what do you think?” Ignis huffed a laugh as Noct copied Gladio, also copping a good feel before wrapping his hands around Prompto’s hips.

“Yeah, I think you’re right. Come on, Prom, let’s get you turned around so you both can have fun,” Noct commented with a laugh, and after Gladio decided to make it easy on the lot of them and just pick Prompto up and plop him back on Ignis’s thighs with his back to him, the three of them set to work; Gladio took up Noct’s prior post in front, swallowing Prompto down as Noct grabbed the lubricant, and Prompto wailed once more as both Ignis and Noct worked together to prepare him, Noct guiding him into place a moment later, Ignis’s hands on Prompto’s hips as he sunk down fully in one smooth motion.

“Ohh shit, oh, that’s nice,” Prompto gasped, and Ignis sat up as much as he could manage, leaning over and giving Noct a deep kiss before straightening up and tightening his grip.

“Ready, Prompto?”

“You have no fucking idea.”

They realized a few seconds too late that they really should have found a condom for Prompto before they got going.

Ignis didn’t think there was a detergent anywhere on the planet that would save Gladio’s pants.

The man didn’t seem to mind too much, however.

The next morning saw them drag themselves (and Prompto, who had no interest in getting up after the previous night’s activities, but he was eventually lured out of bed with hot chocolate and the promise of a neck massage) down to one of the large halls, where her majesty was greeting her guests and thanking them for attending; Ignis and the rest of them got a suspicious look from Lord Amicitia when they slunk in a bit later than Ignis would ever admit to, but the king, the marshal, and Captain Ulric’s amused expressions made it abundantly clear that they weren’t fooled in the slightest as the reasoning for their tardiness. Unfortunately, the council members who had travelled with them were all in attendance, and while he expected the dark look from Lady Galla for the breach of etiquette, the disgusted glance from Lord Marcellus was irritating. The bastard could shove it up his ass, as far as Ignis was concerned...not that he’d ever say anything of the sort out loud. Lady Milonia seemed amused, at least, so he would take the positive where he could find it.

“Good morning, sleepyheads! Have a good evening?” Nyx said with a knowing smile, and Prompto’s answering blushing pout was enough to get the lot of them laughing quietly as Cor joined them as well.

“I’m not even going to ask, I get enough in here,” Cor commented as he tapped his temple, and Noct snorted out a laugh as Prompto groaned. “I assume nothing of note beyond personal activities happened?” Ignis and Gladio both shook their heads.

“No, we checked the room just in case, but nothing was out of order. Hopefully it was a one-time event, although I know we shouldn’t count on it,” Ignis said, and Cor gave a single sharp nod.

“We can hope.”

“My friends, I’m so happy you were able to make it.” Ignis turned at the familiar voice, immediately bending into a sweeping bow for the newly ordained queen-oracle of Tenebrae.

“From his highness and the rest of us, congratulations to you on your ascension and confirmation, your majesty, we were honored to be invited,” he stated, and Luna smiled broadly, before giving a slight bow in return.

“Thank you, my friends, I could not, nor would not have done this without you. I’m glad that you were all here to share this with me,” Luna said, and Prompto moved closer, leading to the queen pulling him into a hug. “I truly hope I can come and visit before your passengers arrive.” Prompto laughed as Luna moved onto Cor, giving him a hug as well. “I heard there was a situation, are you doing alright?” Luna whispered in the marshal’s ear, Ignis only hearing it due to standing right behind him, and Cor nodded once, sharply. “Good. We’ll look into it further and let you know if we find anything out.” After a full round of hugs, the new queen stepped back and grinned at the lot of them just as Lady Milonia came by, bowing to Luna.

“Your majesty, congratulations on this most auspicious event. I pray every day for your continued health and prosperity,” Lady Milonia stated as Luna visibly shifted from friend to queen as she turned to greet the councilwoman.

“Thank you for your kind words, my lady, and for your prayers on my behalf. I hope you have enjoyed yourself?” Lady Milonia smiled and tilted her head in agreement, and Luna smiled politely. “Excellent. I hope the Glacian’s words have put some concerns to rest?”

Lady Milonia twitched, looking between Luna, Cor, and Prompto before nodding slowly. “Yes, oracle. My apologies for my lack of faith,” the woman said, only for Luna to sigh inaudibly before reaching out and taking Lady Milonia’s hand, cradling it between her own.

“The astrals appreciate your faith, my lady, but they also appreciate those who are of their own mind. Reach out and learn about what you do not understand, and you will be the finer person for it,” Luna stated gently, and Lady Milonia’s eyes widened exponentially before she bowed.

“Thank you, oracle; your insight is very much appreciated, and you have given me much to think about.” The woman wandered off a moment later, and they all watched her leave silently before Luna turned back towards them, a strange look on her face.

“She’s a rare breed; it’s very unusual to find someone so devoted to their religious beliefs in this day and age,” Luna said, the distant look in her eyes fading. “She just needs to make sure to take care that it doesn’t blind her to what is right in front of her.”

Gladio crossed his arms and gave the queen a grin. “And it’s shit like that that reminds us why we all like you,” Gladio said lightly, and Luna snorted a laugh and smacked Gladio’s arm on impulse, which gained their group at least a few quizzical looks.

“Ah, oops.”

The trip home was uneventful, with Ignis and the rest of them generally avoiding the councilmembers as they relaxed in the same room that had become theirs over the past few rides. Both Noct and the marshal were doing what they do best, and Ignis found himself smiling fondly at the sound of mild snoring coming from different points of the room; Noct was curled up with his head resting on Prompto’s thighs, his face pretty much smushed into Prompto’s belly, who was reading something on his phone while carding his fingers through the prince’s hair, while Cor was slumped over and conked out on Nyx’s shoulder. Gladio was doing pushups off to the side while Ignis alternated between reading the news on his phone and surveying the room, but he couldn’t keep his attention on any one thing for long, and he finally put his phone back in his pocket and let his head rest against the wall with a sigh.

“Distracted?” Nyx asked, and Ignis’s lip twitched up on an affirmative. “I’m happy for Luna, and it was a beautiful ceremony, but we definitely could have skipped the damn murder attempt. I mean, I…” The Glaive trailed off, swallowing heavily as he let his head rest against Cor’s. “...I don’t know what I would have done. All three of them could have died if Cor wasn’t so damn durable, and-”

“I’m not going to die from some damn snake venom, Nyx. I categorically refuse to,” Cor muttered as he sat back up, shifting so his arm was wrapped around the Glaive’s waist. “I doubt it was one of the Tenebraeans. No concrete evidence to support that statement, but I just have a suspicion that it wasn’t. If only because most of them wouldn’t have done anything to besmirch Luna’s honor or ruin her big day. I think it’s become pretty well known that she considers all of us close friends, which would make anything like this from her people very unlikely,” Cor stated, and Ignis agreed. The marshal’s logic was excellent, and while it certainly could have been a zealous rebel of some sort, Ignis feared that the danger was far closer to home.

They would have to be careful.

Several weeks passed, however, and nothing came of the poisoning attempt on the marshal. There was no long-term effects from the attack, and although Ravus and Aranea investigated, all they discovered was that an unknown individual had travelled through the kitchens for less than a minute right when the drinks were being brought out, which led to the possibility that the poison wasn’t meant for Cor at all, and had simply been given to him by accident. Ignis was skeptical, but there was nothing else found, and so they all agreed to just keep an eye on things for the future. The vote was soon, and Ignis hoped that things would calm down after that.

He had to.

Chapter Text

 

“Captain Ulric.” The voice was one Nyx didn’t recognize, and he looked up from the report he was reading to see a vaguely familiar man with receding brown hair and sharp eyes standing in his doorway, dressed in the robes of the council. Oh. Nyx managed to get to his feet gracefully, sweeping into a polite bow as the king’s closest cousin (actually his fourth cousin, but Nyx could somehow almost see a touch of resemblance in Ancus Marcius’s features) stepped into his office, closing the door behind him. “My apologies for the interruption, Captain, I just wished to speak with you.” Nyx gestured him to a seat, and waited for the councilman to sit before following suit.

“My lord, I must confess this is unexpected,” Nyx said carefully, and Marcius waved away his statement as the older man crossed his legs, then leaned in and rested his clasped hands on a knee.

“I’m aware, Captain. I’m here as a matter of...curiosity. It’s not officially decided, but the king will probably be calling for the legitimacy vote tonight,” Marcius stated, and Nyx found himself stiffening. It felt all too soon, but March had just arrived, and Prompto’s waistline was beginning to reach relatively epic proportions as the weeks marched on. They were running out of time.

“I thank you for the update, my lord, but I’m not quite understanding-” Marcius gave him a sharp look, and Nyx let himself fall silent. Cor didn’t really have anything against the man, and without any real personal knowledge of most of the council, he was relying on what he had heard as to their character. Probably best to not piss him off unless it was warranted.

“Peace, Captain. I am here for a little perspective, that’s all. Before I continue, I assume that you are in favor of legitimization?” Nyx nodded immediately, and Marcius tilted his head. “As I assumed. What-” Marcius paused, his expression thoughtful. “What do you think of Prompto Argentum, Captain? What do you think of the relationship the four of them have?” Aw hell, why was this guy coming to him- “I know you are friends with them, captain, but I would hear your honest thoughts on the boy.” Nyx sat back in his chair, folding his arms and sighing.

“Prompto is a sweetheart. The kid’s loyal, smart, a great shot, always one of the first to help you out if you need it, and to top it off, he’s a cutie with those eyes that just sucker you in. If you are worried about the prince, Prompto is utterly devoted to him, as well as Lord Scientia and Gladiolus Amicitia. Those four are inseparable, my lord. I would be quite surprised if that changes anytime soon, if at all,” Nyx said, then sighed when he noticed the concerned expression on Marcius’s face. “If you are concerned that they are...what’s the word... codependent, they aren’t in the slightest.” Nyx had the tiniest doubts about Ignis on occasion, out of all of them, but that was neither here nor there. He was probably wrong anyway. “Prompto is a survivor, my lord, he came from a shitty background, and he was barely raised by equally shitty parents, and yet he grew up to be the charming and kind man that we all know today. He knows how to handle himself.” Marcius raised an eyebrow as Nyx finished, but nodded in understanding.

“The kid’s a Niff, isn’t he?” Marcius asked, and Nyx froze. Shit. Should he answer truthfully? He honestly didn’t know- “That’s what I thought. He’s been here in Insomnia since he was three, from what I could find out, delivered to the main orphanage by a man who did not give his name, but had piercing blue eyes the color of the sunlit noon sky, to quote the somewhat fanciful report from the employee who took young Prompto in, and that thusly leads to another question that I have a feeling you know the exact answer to.” Nyx swallowed heavily, hoping against hope that someone would come in.

“Sir?”

“Tell me, Nyx Ulric. Why would your partner go to Niflheim, fetch a toddler, then return to Insomnia, only to drop said child off at the orphanage, especially in the light of his clear paternal interest in the boy as an adult?” Marcius’s tone demanded an answer, and Nyx grimaced. Cor had tried to explain it to him early on, tried to explain that he had been convinced he would be a shit parent and that the sweet little boy he had toted around for over a month would do better with proper parents, but the guilt in hindsight was so palpable from the man when it came up that he had changed the subject. Thankfully, with Cor and Prompto achieving a caring relationship that worked very well for the both of them, the subject hadn’t needed to come up again.

“My lord, I’d prefer not to answer that,” Nyx finally said, and Marcius frowned. “I wasn’t there, and it isn’t my place to try and figure out what was going on at that time.”

“I see you're not denying that it was Leonis who brought the boy here,” Marcius pointed out, and Nyx sighed and shook his head. “I can appreciate your reticence and your loyalty to your partner, Captain. It’s obvious why young Prompto was brought here, so I will accept that at face value for now.” Silence fell between the two men, and Nyx forced himself not to speak as the nobleman looked absently down at his desk for a long while, his eyes fixing on a framed photo of Cor and Nyx that had been taken by Prompto. Nyx’s arm was wrapped around Cor’s waist in the picture, with Cor leaning into him with a sweet, drowsy expression that Prompto had been insanely lucky to catch. Marcius reached over and picked up the photo, and Nyx’s hand clenched on his armrest as the older man inspected it up close for a long moment before placing it carefully back down on the desk. “Have you two considered getting married?”

What. Nyx stared at the councilman with wide eyes for far longer than appropriate, finally drawing a chuckle from the lord that made that tiny sliver of resemblance to the king stand out.

“I’ll take that as a not at this time,” Marcius said lightly, and Nyx snorted awkwardly as he scratched at his chin. “I had been hoping for almost twenty years to have my daughter marry Prince Noctis. Reunite the two closest branches of the family and all that nonsense,” Marcius said out of nowhere, and Nyx blinked in surprise. “It sounded wonderful in my head, and I even told my cousin several times about the idea over the years, and he never discounted it, so-” Marcius huffed out a self-deprecating laugh before shaking his head. “When the surrender terms came up and the princess, now queen was mentioned, I knew there was nothing I could even say. But when the rumors started of the prince and the voice, I-” Nyx could see that the man just wanted to get this out, and he waited patiently. “-I was angry. My daughter is a woman of the utmost pedigree, carefully educated and supremely ideal to be a queen, a leader-” the man sighed, a wry smile appearing on his face. “-I thought it was an insult that the king hadn’t immediately ended the dalliance. I had never met the boy, of course, I knew that he had been essential to our continued survival, but I was angry about the whole idea of it.” Nyx leaned forward, resting his elbows on his desk.

“I know this probably doesn’t help, but they had been friends for years, my lord, their relationship was an evolving one-” Nyx was cut off by Marcius shaking his head.

“The biggest mistake I did throughout this entire pipedream was that for all of my pondering and assuming, I never thought to ask the most important person about what they thought of all of this,” Marcius commented, and Nyx could feel the edge of his mouth inching up as the lord huffed out another laugh. “Almost twenty years and I never so much as brought it up to my daughter. I asked her after the initial meeting regarding legitimization, and I think it took a solid week for my ears to stop ringing. I was a fool, Captain, and I’ve taken some time since to see and hear what people think of Prompto, this voice of the Dawn Mother, and what I’ve heard has largely been wonderful.” Marcius rose to his feet, Nyx scrambling up right after him. “My cousin is hoping for a super-majority tonight, as it evokes more of a sense of support for any given issue.” Lord Marcius moved to the door as he motioned for Nyx to stay put. “If my estimate is correct, my vote would make eight, which is what he was hoping for,” Marcius stated, his smile genuine as he opened the door. “Forgive the interruption, Captain, and my thanks for your assistance.”

The door clicked closed behind the man, and Nyx stared stupidly at it for longer than he would have ever admitted to before finally dropping his gaze to his desk. What in the world had that all been about? If the lord was correct, the vote would probably go well, but why did he come to him? Nyx tried to return to his work, but the strange encounter had distracted him far too much; he went ahead and packed everything up for the evening, then stepped out of his office and wandered over to Crowe’s desk, sitting down on the corner of it without a word.

“Why was that councilman here?” Crowe asked, and Nyx shrugged as Libertus and Pelna both wandered over as well.

“Hell if I know. He wanted my opinion on something, and he wanted to vent, I think. If Lord Marcius is correct, the legitimacy vote is tonight, and it sounds like it might just go well,” he replied, and Crowe and the others all grinned.

“Great, I was wondering when they were going to get around to that, the kid looks like he’d burst if you poke a pin in him-”

“Crowe, honestly,” Libertus interjected, his expression actually a touch insulted, and Crowe rolled her eyes as Nyx silently agreed with her. Cor had definitely expanded around the midsection, but Prompto? Prompto looked like he had fallen on a bicycle pump and it was slowly blowing him up. It was obvious the poor kid’s back was killing him, and his partners were hovering more and more as the days went on, even as Prompto was clearly alternating between wanting them there, and wanting to use them as target practice. Thankfully, Cor wasn’t really having any problems with his back, as his much larger form gave the children more room to grow, but Nyx could see the fatigue increasing day by day. He was still at work, if only riding his desk, which was driving Dr. Domitia mad; she had requested a full month prior for him to go off duty, and Cor had...done whatever the fuck he wanted. Nyx didn’t bother argue with him on that one, he was trusting that Cor knew when to quit. He had to, or they were going to have words.

Again.

“Hey, is Nyx around?” Speak of the Infernian and he will appear, the old saying went, and Nyx got to his feet as Prompto waddled in, dressed in what appeared to be one of Gladio’s t-shirts and comfortable sweatpants, Gladio himself following in his wake. The Kingsglaive offices were clearly central station today. Libertus reacted first, a big smile appearing on his face as he turned to greet the two men.

“Hey kid, how are you doing?” Libertus asked, and Prompto answered with a tired shrug.

“Everything hurts and I have to pee every five minutes, but I’ve been worse. You all look like you’re up to no good over here,” Prompto answered, and Nyx smirked as he reached over and gave the blond a careful hug.

“Us, Prompto? We are always paragons of good behavior, I wouldn’t even know what you are insinuating-”

“Nyx, stop before the Glacian pops by to freeze us from the sheer amount of bullshit behind what you just said,” Pelna finally chimed in while laughing, and Nyx grinned right along with the rest of them.

“Khara’s got a point, Nyx,” Gladio commented, and Nyx huffed out a laugh.

“Alright, maybe a bit of one. So what are you two doing down here?” Prompto’s face fell, and Nyx frowned. “Uh oh. Wanna go to my office?” Prompto shook his head, and Nyx looked up at Gladio questioningly, only to get raised eyebrows and a silent sigh. “Prompto?”

“The vote’s supposed to be tonight, and I thought-” Prompto trailed off, and without another word, scooted away, his eyes shining suspiciously as he turned towards the exit. “Never mind, I’m sorry to bother you.” Prompto had shuffled to the door while Nyx could gather his wits, but thankfully, Crowe had gotten to her feet and intercepted the young man before he could leave.

“Prompto, kiddo, you’ve gotta give people more than a half second to respond. Did you want Nyx to keep you company? Or do you mind if the rest of us come along?” Crowe asked, and Nyx watched as Gladio slumped in relief as Prompto gave a tiny smile and nod. “That’s better. Give us a minute, we just need to pack it up.”

Twenty minutes later saw them all ensconced in Nyx and Cor’s quarters, Prompto curled up next to Gladio on the sofa while Nyx grabbed some snacks and drinks from the fridge for his sudden guests. “I assume we’ll be seeing the other two soon?” Nyx asked as he walked back into the living room, and Gladio nodded, his hand running up and down Prompto’s side as they all rested and watched whatever nonsense was on the TV. Pelna had to beg off and return to work after an hour, but Crowe and Libertus both settled in gleefully, and it was to a full house that Cor returned to, Noctis and Ignis following almost immediately after, the latter two immediately joining their partners in watching the television as Cor stood there and blinked at the sight.

“Wha-” Cor opened his mouth, but Nyx grabbed his arm and quickly drew him into their bedroom before he could speak, and his taller half frowned at him as soon as the door closed behind them.

“What’s going on?” Cor whispered, his confusion plain, and Nyx smiled wistfully as he leaned in and gave his partner a kiss.

“The council is meeting tonight. I believe the legitimization vote is in the cards, from what I’ve heard from several people,” he replied, and Cor’s eyes went momentarily wide before scowled rather impressively, surprising Nyx. “Hey, it sounds like it’s expected to go well, what’s the problem?” Cor’s scowl transformed into an almost childish pout before the man sighed, turning away and pulling off his ill-fitting jacket. “You know, you really need to stop wearing that, you look ridiculous,” Nyx said, and he was not terribly surprised to get a face full of fabric a few seconds later. “You know I’m right, babe, seriously, you’re stretching it out-”

“Regis told me he would let me know when the vote was going to happen, I was going to be there,” Cor finally spit out, and Nyx pulled the jacket from his head and threw it into the laundry with a sigh.

“He may have just forgot, Cor, or maybe he was worried that you’d kill anyone who didn’t vote in favor. I don’t know, but what I do know is that Prompto is trying not to have a coronary while waiting, and while Gladio looked calm, I could tell he was nervous as well. Why don’t you change into something comfortable and go hang out with your kid and his posse of boyfriends so he doesn’t have a heart attack, and I’ll scrounge up some dinner for the lot of us.” Cor looked at him in consternation for a few seconds before nodding and pulling off his shirt, throwing it towards the hamper (he missed) before digging in their drawers for something new. “I’ll go see if I have enough food to feed this crew, I’ll see you when you come out.”

Nyx left the bedroom, closing the door behind him, then headed to the kitchen and investigated his pantry. Yeah, no. He hadn’t gone shopping in over a week, and it showed; there was enough for a few more meals for the two of them, but certainly not for a large group. Pizza it was. A few minutes on the phone later, and Nyx wandered back into the living room to see Cor sitting next to Prompto on the sofa, his partner meeting his eyes with a thankful nod before Nyx grabbed both Crowe and Libertus and dragged them out the door with him. For obvious reasons, pizza delivery couldn’t be done to the Citadel, so they were forced to slog out to the outside gates to pick it up; after a short hike, the three of them stood at the usual spot and waited in silence before Crowe turned to him, her expression serious.

“You think the vote will go alright?” Crowe asked, her tone somber as they looked out on the boulevard, and Nyx nodded.

“Yeah, I think it’ll be just fine. Lord Marcius thought he would be the eighth yes vote, which would make it a more decisive two-thirds, not even including the king’s vote. That does look better in these sorts of things, from what I’ve been given to understand,” he said, and both Crowe and Libertus nodded in agreement.

“What-” Libertus started, only to cut himself off and shake his head.

“Libs?”

“Was there any plans if it hadn’t worked out? Prompto would have ended up with three well-loved, but ultimately illegitimate children-” Nyx held up a hand to pause his friend.

“Ignis reminded me that the council doesn’t officially have the right to dictate the inheritance rights of anyone but the royal family, although I understand they do try on occasion, so if anyone of those kids are Ignis’s or Gladio’s, they would be...mostly fine. I understand that the Amicitia ancestral estate is entailed to children conceived of the marital bed only, so that will pass to Gladio, then Iris if I understand correctly, but Ignis informed me that the only entail that the Scientia line had was lost when one of his more disreputable recent ancestors burned the place down, although I got the impression he still owns the land the manor rested on, but that’s not important-” Nyx shook his head. “Anyway, Ignis stated that he, as head of household, has the right to name whoever he wanted as successor, born legitimately or not,” Nyx explained, snorting when both of his friends looked at him in surprise. “I find myself more involved with this sort of thing these days, so I try to remember what’s important. But to answer your question, I understand that Noctis was looking into having the Marcian Manor reopened either way, so even if the council shot it down, he fully planned to decamp with all seven of them and live together anyway. The main thing that was keeping him from going for it was his concern about Prompto leaving Cor behind, from what I understand, but as supportive as Lord Amicitia and the king have been, I’m sure it’s that, too.”

The pizza arrived just as he had finished speaking, forestalling any further discussion, and after paying the driver, the three of them marched back into the Citadel, pizzas in hand; just before Nyx was about to key in his entry code back into his quarters, Crowe punched him in the arm.

“Hey.”

“Ow, what?” Crowe smiled broadly, sending a shiver down Nyx’s spine. He knew that smile, and it never boded well-

“Two weeks from Saturday, asshole. You, the marshal, the kid, and hopefully all of his boytoys. Don’t make any plans,” Crowe ordered, and Nyx grimaced.

“Don’t tell me-”

“No plans.” Aw hell.

As soon as they got inside with their burden, Gladio and Ignis swooped in to grab the stacks from them, and Nyx could see the relief in their eyes as he followed them into the kitchen.

“Is it done, then?” he asked, and Ignis smiled and nodded.

“We just received word from the king himself. Nine yeas, including the king, two nays, and two abstaining. A solid majority,” Ignis said, and Gladio’s grin was brilliant.

“Those fuckers can stuff it, in other words. This sort of thing is binding, they don’t have the right to retract it later,” Gladio stated, then peeked over towards the living room before leaning closer to Nyx. “Prom is trying to act nonchalant about the whole thing, but he was a complete wreck earlier. I think the only reason he hasn’t threatened to shoot me today is because he wanted a hug.”

Nyx nodded as he pulled down a stack of plates from the cabinet. Okay, fair enough. Nyx was half-surprised that Cor hadn’t threatened to disembowel him yet, but he figured the man was just saving it up for later. After popping a few pieces of what he was pretty sure everyone liked on plates, he, Ignis, and Gladio came back out to the living room, passing out dinner to everyone before they all joined the rest in sitting around the TV. A quick glance back at Cor revealed a much calmer man, same as when he looked at Prompto and the rest, and Nyx could feel a knot in his stomach begin to unravel. He was just happy it was good news.

“Hey, Nyx, guess what?” Prompto said suddenly, his words muffled by the piece of pizza in his mouth, and Nyx laughed.

“Tell me.” Prompto swallowed his bite, then sat up with a ridiculous little wiggle that made everyone choke back another laugh.

“The news just said that it appears a wild chocobo has gotten into the city somehow! They are trying to get confirmation, but a bunch of people have reported sightings of it. I wanna go look too!” Prompto announced, only to get looks from every other person in the room. “I could sing, maybe it’ll come to me?” Noctis sighed fondly, reaching up and patting the back of Prompto’s head while he finished chewing.

“Prom, you walk at the speed of waddle right now, you’d need a whole security detail to go outside. Why don’t we wait and see if those sightings become more concrete, yeah?” The answering look on Prompto’s face promised Noctis pain in the future, but Cor distracted him with an arm around his shoulders.

“Son, let’s see what happens. Maybe we can go find it if it turns out to be a real thing,” Cor commented, and Prompto pouted for a moment before sighing.

“All right. Meanies.”

When Nyx curled up in bed with Cor later that evening, he let his hands slide down the other man’s back, feeling the loose muscles that had been growing steadily tighter over the past few weeks.

“You were really worried, weren’t you?” he asked, and Cor grumbled incoherently for a moment before sighing.

“Maybe a little bit.” Nyx snorted a little laugh, then wrapped his arms around Cor’s waist and rested his head against Cor’s neck with a smile.

“I’m just happy it worked out.”

Nyx was awakened the next morning by teeth nibbling at his neck and a hand smoothing perilously close to his nether regions, and his eyes flew open as Cor looked up at him with a sweet, mischievous smirk that never failed to take his breath away as fingers began to work their way under the seam of his underwear.

“I’m guessing that losing that stress really helped?” he mumbled as the underwear invader continued his slow descent, and Nyx jerked when they reached their destination, long fingers wrapping deftly around him. “I’ll take that as a yes-” He gasped, his spine arching as he was stroked, Cor scraping his teeth down the long line of his neck tattoo simultaneously, always a sensitive spot, and he finally gathered enough awareness to paw at Cor’s back until he was able to coax his head up so he could claim his lips, biting at his partner’s bottom lip as the hand around him stuttered. “What do you want to do, babe?” Nyx whispered between nips to Cor’s lips and jawline, eliciting breathy little moans that were handily taking care of the last vestiges of sleepiness as Cor continued to stroke him. Just as he ran his hands down Cor’s back, cupping his underwear-clad ass, Cor suddenly froze, his hand stopping its pleasant motions and immediately pulling away along with its owner. “Cor?” Nyx frowned, and the older man’s expression was apologetic as he slid out of bed and hustled into the bathroom, leaving Nyx lying in bed in a confused state of aroused bemusement. “Damnit.” He lifted his head and looked down at his cock, straining against his underwear, then sighed and let his head fall back to his pillow.

Fuck it.

Nyx had dozed back off by the time Cor came back, and not a word was spoken of the debacle after he woke back up. He figured it was a bit uncalled for to make an issue of it to a pregnant man who wasn’t exactly having the best go of it. Nyx was just happy that the issue of Prompto’s children (and Cor’s grandchildren) and their status of legitimacy had been resolved...as long as at least one of them was Noctis’s.

It would be rather hilarious to discover that none of the children were the prince’s after all the hubbub, but Nyx would keep that little thought to himself.

A few shockingly quiet days later, Nyx stopped by Cor’s office for legitimate reasons, which took all of ten minutes to sort out as he reclined on the deceptively comfy sofa the man had in his office. He should have left after they were done talking, but he was quite comfortable and his mind wandered until he found himself with a lapful of increasingly gravid marshal, his eyes shining and a mottled red flush high in his cheeks, and Nyx snorted as he met Cor’s lips halfway.

“Are we trying this again?” he murmured, gaining a pinch to the side in response, and Nyx choked back a laugh as he ran his hands up and down Cor’s sides under the man’s shirt, his thumbs brushing over the curves that were slowly growing as time progressed before running them up to Cor’s chest on a whim and lightly scraping his thumbnails over his nipples; normally, the older man would twitch at most, but the breath was driven clear out of him as Cor bounced suddenly in his lap with a keening shout that made his pants far less comfortable than they had been just seconds prior right as the door opened, Nyx not even to manage turning around before it slammed shut again with a strangled scream.

Aww shit.

“That was Monica, wasn’t it?” he asked breathlessly, and Cor, still flushed and shuddering in his grasp, nodded shamefacedly.

“She’s going to kill me,” Cor groaned, and Nyx shifted his arms as his partner slumped forward awkwardly, his belly keeping him from lying down all the way as he tucked his head in Nyx’s neck.

“Well, there are worse ways to go.”

Cor, too embarrassed to even confront his deputy, s tepped them home only minutes later, the mood so far gone they didn’t even try to reclaim it. Another time.

For the next few days, it was always something; the next day after the textbook why you don’t have sex at work mess, Monica stormed into their quarters to yell at them, only to walk in on them only half-dressed and making out in the kitchen. Nyx knew the woman could yell, but his ears were ringing for at least an hour after she left.

The day after that, one of the rookie Glaives had managed to warp clean through several plate glass windows in an attempt to show off, leading to a late evening call just as things were starting to heat up. Cor, thankfully, didn’t make one noise of complaint when Nyx threw on his uniform and ran out, but still. It stunk.

The day after that, Prompto showed up when they were in the shower, and they were forced to switch to cold water so they could go talk with the (increasingly enormous, but they weren’t suicidal enough to mention it) blonde without looking like they had been only seconds from having sex.

“Maybe we should just give up for now?” Nyx addressed the television as Cor was closing the door after seeing Prompto out, and was not surprised when neither the TV nor his partner responded. “Yeah, that’s what I thought.”

The weekend rolled back around, and with it...absolutely nothing of note. Cor’s checkup on Saturday morning with Dr. Domitia went as well as it was going to get, thankfully, and Cor went back to their quarters afterwards while Nyx assisted with some training drills in the training halls alone, returning home far later than he had planned that evening to find his lover asleep and curled up around his pillow. Nyx would never get over the fact that Cor was so tactile; while they generally behaved themselves in public, Cor was often draped over him the instant they were in for the day, whether he was resting his head on Nyx’s shoulder or thigh, or cuddling up to him in bed, and Nyx loved it. He sometimes wondered if it was somewhat because of the older man’s rather late entry into the relationship world, or maybe his relative isolation growing up, but he would never ask. He would just enjoy it.

Nyx took a quick shower, toweling himself off before putting on some clean underwear and sliding into bed, carefully reclaiming his pillow from Cor’s grasp and putting it back at its former location and laying down, pulling the taller man into his arms and resting his forehead against the base of his neck. Not their favorite sleeping position, but options were dwindling the rounder Cor got, and so...they dealt with it. It was only when Nyx was almost entirely asleep that he remembered that he had totally skipped dinner. Shit, Cor better have eaten something…

“Nyx.” Cor’s voice got him to turn around from where he stood near the front door inspecting his boots the next morning, and Cor was suddenly right there; before Nyx could utter a sound, the other man had backed them both up to the wall by the door, Cor’s fingers winding in his hair and pulling him up for a kiss. Okay, he could definitely get on board with this, but-

“Cor-” Nyx gasped as the taller man bit down on his neck, and he brought his arms up and cradled Cor’s head in his arms as he continued his ministrations, his fingers playing with the fine hair at the nape of Cor’s neck-

“No one is going to interrupt us this time,” Cor snarled, working his way back up to Nyx’s jaw with little nips and bites that had Nyx tilting his head to the side invitingly, and if Nyx’s pants weren’t already getting increasingly uncomfortable already, hearing the man like that never ceased to help, but-

“Cor-” When Cor’s right leg began to hitch up the back of his thighs, foot sliding slowly up his side, Nyx realized he was going to have to redirect this rather quickly before it all ended in tears. Sliding his arms down Cor’s sides, he put his hand on the offending leg and pushed down on it slightly, hoping to get his point across. “Cor, we can’t-” Nyx was cut off by a bite to the earlobe, but pushed again against the man’s thigh as he felt Cor shift his weight. “Cor, I’m not fucking you against a wall right now!”

The look of absolute betrayal on his partner's face made his chest ache, and he realized that maybe he should have phrased that differently, but Cor was already stomping away, the redness appearing at the edges of his eyes that made Nyx feel even worse. Oh shit, that's not- He scrambled after him, but his boyfriend was having none of it as he stormed into the bedroom, Nyx on his tail.

“Cor, I'm not saying that I didn't want to do anything with you, I'm just saying that now isn't really the best time for wall sex, not with you so pregna-” The door to the bathroom slammed shut before he could finish explaining, and Nyx did the honorable thing and exiled himself to the sofa, shoving one of the throw pillows over his face and yelling a few choice words into it before letting his arms fall to his sides, leaving the pillow in place.

At some point, his life had taken a strange turn, and he was pretty sure it was a train that would never be properly placed on the tracks again. Most of the time, he enjoyed every minute of it, but there were moments...

A few minutes later, he heard the bathroom door open, and the soft fall of bare feet began to move closer, but Nyx didn’t move. The footsteps came right up to the sofa, and he waited under his pillow with a tense sense of anticipation until Cor picked his legs high enough for the older man to sit down, and Nyx gently sat them back down in Cor’s lap, his right calf bumping into a round belly.

“I may have gotten a bit angry,” Cor commented, overly casual, and Nyx bit his bottom lip to keep himself from saying anything to get himself in trouble again. “-and while I don’t want to admit it, you are...probably right. I suppose the fact I’m getting rather...fat is not sitting all that well with me. I’ve always prided myself on keeping in good shape, but now-” Nyx finally couldn’t take it any longer, and pulled the pillow off of his face and sat up, shifting until he was on his knees and carefully straddling Cor’s thighs.

“Cor, you are one of the most gorgeous people I’ve ever met, whether you can wash laundry on your abs or not, and I am sure you’ll be back in the training halls the second the old lady gives you the okay. It’s just a few more months, if not less,” he reassured the man, running his hands over Cor’s belly and up to his chest, resting his fingers on the edge of his collarbone. “I could have said that a little better, though.” he said, leaning forward and brushing his lips against the other man’s. Cor remained still for a moment before surging up to meet him, and Nyx’s spine unknotted itself at his lover’s clear forgiveness as he kissed him deeply, bracing his hands against the sofa so he didn’t lean on Cor’s stomach. The last thing he wanted to do was argue with him, especially after their comedy of errors week that they had been experiencing-

“I miss training. I miss going out in the field, and I miss being left the fuck alone by people. And people who would just nod and flee my presence in the past are getting all...touchy-feely. I’m going to punch someone soon, and I’m going to enjoy every moment of it,” Cor growled, and Nyx sighed.

“Want me to put out a memo? Keep your fucking hands off?” he asked, only half-joking, but Cor shook his head.

“No, these people should know better. I’ve been letting my surprise let them get away with it, but no longer. They get one warning, then I start punching.” Cor’s expression was resolute, and Nyx...couldn’t blame him one bit. Tilting his head down, he nibbled along the ridge of muscle from the neck to the shoulder, gaining him a delicious shiver and forcing himself to brace even more as Cor bucked under his thighs, bumping his stomach against Nyx’s.

“I’m in total agreement with anything you want to do, babe. Punch away, I’ll be there to cheer you on and back you up,” he assured Cor, then latched his mouth back to the cord of Cor’s neck and bit even harder; the answering moan was the most beautiful sound he had heard all day, and he smiled. “Why don’t we have some lunch, gorgeous, and then I have an idea.”

Cor looked utterly mutinous at the suggestion, but his scowl was rather ruined by the flush that had overtaken the majority of his face; Nyx was two seconds from abandoning his meal plans and just skipping to the good part, but Cor needed to maintain a consistent eating schedule, and if Nyx had to be the bad guy to make sure he did, he would. Carefully scooting off Cor’s thighs, he got to his feet and offered his hand; the older man glowered at it for a moment, but finally allowed himself to be hauled to his feet (which took longer than it once did, but Nyx was definitely not pointing out Cor’s clearly changed center of gravity.) Nyx coaxed him to the table, then went into the kitchen and made up a light salad tossed with grilled chicken for the two of them, which wasn’t Cor’s favorite, but it was on the approved list (the pizza from the previous weekend wasn’t, but what Dr. Domitia didn’t know wouldn’t lead to lectures.) Nyx made up for it with a small chocolate tart, which certainly was not on the list. He knew how to choose his battles.

“Thank you,” Cor said as he finished the last bite of his tart, his earlier ire thankfully gone, and Nyx kissed the side of his head as he gathered up their dishes, leaving them in the sink to soak as he caught the other man’s eye and headed towards the bedroom.

He was not surprised when he was joined a minute later by an increasingly drowsy Cor, and with a knowing smile and without a word, Nyx joined Cor in bed, curling around his warm body and settling in for a pleasant nap.

When he awoke several hours later, he took one look at the man he had quietly and utterly devoted his life and future to, a future that had seemed very short until only around two years prior, still fast asleep and drooling slightly into his pillow, and let his hands run over Cor’s protruding stomach, feeling for anything different before continuing down Cor’s thighs and beyond until he reached his feet. This was something he had always been good at, and Cor clearly enjoyed them; Nyx pushed his thumbs into the arch of Cor’s right foot and got to work, enjoying the content little grunts and groans from his slumbering partner as he finished the right and switched to the left, his smile growing as Cor began to shift and awaken.

“I know you told the goddess that you could not be swayed by gifts, but honestly, give you a nice meal, a slice of cake, and a massage and you’d be a lost cause,” Nyx commented with a chuckle as pale blue eyes fixed on him, blinking slowly before they rolled admirably for someone who was just waking up.

“Only if it’s you, you idiot. I’m not-” Cor yawned, and Nyx winced at the popping sound from the older man’s jaw. “-I’m not interested in anyone else.”

Well. What could he say to that? Nyx viciously ignored the warmth in his cheeks as he leaned over, kissed the top of Cor’s foot, then slid back up to the head of the bed, meeting his eyes and stealing a kiss before climbing out of bed and heading into the bathroom. There was a very nice bathtub, one that could easily fit them both (a part of Nyx would never get over how nice Cor’s apartment was, and in turn, the Citadel in general,) but they had never tried it out for some damn reason. It was time for that to change. After inspecting the bath to make sure it was decently clean, he ran the water until it was pleasantly hot before plugging the tub so it could fill and turning to fetch Cor, only to find him leaning against the doorframe, a bemused little smile on his face.

“Really?”

“Why not? When’s the last time you just enjoyed a bath?” Nyx asked, only to get a wry look from Cor in return.

“Does the time we had to clean the ash off after that damn base blew up count?” Cor asked as he pulled off his shirt then moved to his pants, and Nyx snorted a laugh as he followed suit, their clothing ending up in a pile on the floor as they both stepped into the tub and settled in, Cor’s back resting against Nyx’s chest as the warm water lapped at their skin. Neither of them moved for several minutes as the heat soaked in, his hands resting on top of Cor’s stomach as they relaxed together. After a while, Cor shifted slightly, sliding back and letting his ass bump into Nyx’s burgeoning interest, and Nyx grinned.

“Wanna try this again, babe?” he said, letting his hands slide up to Cor’s chest and linger. “You normally aren’t all that sensitive, but the way you reacted the other day has me wondering-” Nyx moved his fingers slightly and pinched Cor’s nipples without warning; the older man shouted and bucked, slamming back against Nyx’s now very much awake cock and dragging a groan out of him. “Well, this seems to be a positive side effect, hmm?” he mused as he rolled the sharp points of Cor’s nipples between his fingers, enjoying the gasps and moans he was eliciting until an even better idea came to mind. “Hey babe, can I try something?” After some slightly awkward maneuvering, Cor ended up facing Nyx, lounging against the back of the tub while Nyx moved in; laying on his stomach, he slid forward and up to latch his mouth onto Cor’s left nipple, giving it the slightest scrape of teeth while he used his hands to keep Cor from squirming away.

“Nyx-” Cor gasped, and Nyx stopped biting and started sucking, feeling the flesh swell in his mouth under his ministrations as he pressed on. “Nyx, it feels strange,” Cor groaned, and his words almost stopped him, but after a moment and no further input, he continued; Cor’s moans degenerated to the closest thing to a whimper he had ever heard out of the man until Nyx gave one more strong suck, his mouth filling with sweet-tasting fluid as Cor shook like a leaf in his hands.

“Holy-” Nyx said as he swallowed on impulse, lifting his head away for a moment to see a line of white liquid trail down where his mouth had been. “Cor, you’re lactating,” he whispered in shock, and watched as the man looked down at his own chest and choked on his own spit.

“Shit,” Cor got out, and Nyx took one more stunned look at the man before diving back in and returning to his prior work; it tasted amazing, like lightly sugared milk with a hint of vanilla, and Nyx drank from him until no more came out, then switched to the other nipple and continued his work. “Nyx, oh-” Cor’s attempts to talk were quickly subsumed by his various cries as Nyx brought the milk to the surface on the right as well, and for the first time since they had gotten together, Cor came with his ass entirely untouched, his back bowing as he shouted out his release. Nyx rode him out, then finished the last few drips he could gather before sitting back and looking at his utterly poleaxed lover.

“I wonder if this is a permanent feature,” Nyx mused as Cor panted for breath in front of him. “You enjoyed that babe? Surprised the hell out of me, let me tell you-”

“Nyx?” Cor somehow managed to scrape up enough brain cells to speak, and Nyx slid back against him, tweaking his swollen nipples one more time and getting a lovely gasp for his efforts before giving him a little kiss.

“Yes, Cor?”

“You better not be done yet.” Goddess, he loved this man. Nyx thankfully had remembered to stock up on the good lube, and after several minutes of the slow slide of fingers leaving Cor shaking and falling apart against him all over again, Nyx laid back against the wall of the tub as he drew the older man onto his lap, the angle such that Cor’s stomach would be able to comfortably be without being crushed into Nyx’s own.

“Do you want to steer this ship, or do you want me to handle it?” he said, his tone light and happy, and Cor wasted no time in taking him in hand and sinking down to the base without further discussion, driving the breath clear from Nyx’s lungs. “I’ll...take that as a shut up,” he groaned as Cor lifted himself and crashed back down. It had been months since they had done this, which most would find absolutely astounding, but it was feeling like Cor wanted to make up for lost time-

“All week, fuck, months,” Cor growled as he impaled himself repeatedly on Nyx, his speed almost too fast as Nyx ran his fingers in the short hair at the back of the man's neck, letting his nails scrape against the skin and just held on; just as Nyx felt the wonderful building pressure that signalled his own impending orgasm, he hissed as Cor tightened himself around him so firmly it almost stung, which had the rather neat side effect of taking the urgency out of the moment. “I am not ready to be done yet.”

Nyx spent a split second wondering when the last time he had revised his will was before Cor settled into a rolling rhythm that drove any further coherent thought from his mind, and he clutched at his partner’s shoulders and settled in for what was clearly going to be a long ride.

Nyx woke up in bed with his arms around a wide stomach and feeling like he had been run over by a behemoth with Cor curled up on the mattress next to him, the two of them plastered together from chest to calves. He had no idea how they made it back to bed, but he had vague memories of dragging himself and the completely wet noodle that was Cor out of the tub...without showering. He didn't want to know what they smelled like, but he couldn't bring himself to care, leaning in and kissing the side of his partner's neck.

“Mmm?” Cor mumbled, clearly still mostly asleep, and Nyx smiled, letting his hands smooth up and down the man's stomach soothingly as Cor shifted in his arms with a groan. “Are we...as glued together as I think we are?” Cor muttered, and Nyx tested his question by attempting to pull away, only for some very uncomfortable hair pulling to occur in various sensitive locations.

“Yeah,” he replied, leaning back in; Cor snorted before rolling away without warning, leading to Nyx letting out a pained yelp he would never admit to as Cor attempted to sit up, only to groan, wince, and fall right back over, rolling from his stomach back onto his side with a grumble. “Let me make sure you are alright, you were very... enthusiastic last night, babe-”

“I’m fine.” Ignoring Cor’s usual answer, Nyx moved in and did a quick inspection, thankfully discovering no more than a little inflammation before giving him a helpful pat on his backside, leading to a yelp that he was going to pay for later as Nyx forced himself to get out of bed.

“You always are, but I wanted to see if you were alright, too,” he smirked, leading to a heartfelt eyeroll from Cor as he stood next to the bed. “Think you can get up? I hate to say it, but my nose has woken up, and we really need a shower.” Cor didn’t move, and Nyx gave an over the top sigh. “Very well, but when Prompto, Monica, the king, or fuck knows who else shows up out of the blue, because that’s been our luck this week, I’m not covering for you-” Cor’s hand shot out, wrapping around him and squeezing slightly as Nyx gasped, nearly falling back to the bed as the other man used his rather unorthodox handhold to sit back up before letting him loose.

“Looks like I’m not the only one a little sore this morning,” Cor commented, and Nyx glared half-heartedly at him before snorting out a laugh and helping the older man to his feet. He had deserved that. They shuffled back into the bathroom together, Nyx coaxing Cor into leaning against the wall of the shower as he set to work scrubbing them both down. After making sure they were both nice and clean, Nyx grabbed Cor’s towel and dried him off, the rough and tough marshal putty in his hands as he worked his way down the man’s body with the soft fabric, and after taking care of himself as well, he convinced Cor to relax in the armchair in their room as he stripped and remade the bed with fresh sheets.

“Want to sleep some more?” he asked as he stuffed the dirty sheets in the hamper, only to receive no answer. Nyx was not surprised in the slightest when he turned around to discover that Cor had dozed off in the chair, an arm slung over his stomach as he slept; after letting loose a fond chuckle, he went over and ran his hand through Cor’s hair, waking him back up. “Bed’s made, probably more comfortable than the chair,” he pointed out, and Cor nodded sluggishly and got to his feet, shuffling the five steps over to the bed before flopping gracelessly onto the already turned down covers (Nyx knew Cor all too well, he’d end up sleeping on top of the bedspread if he hadn’t.) After some adjusting, Nyx curled back around him from behind as he pulled the blankets over them both, then wrapped an arm around Cor’s stomach and squeezed the lightest amount. “How are you feeling, Cor?” The older man’s body was already growing lax as sleep crept back in, but Nyx could hear him swallow once, then twice as he tried to speak.

“I’m doing fine,” Cor mumbled, his voice trailing off as he lost his battle with consciousness, and Nyx smiled into Cor’s neck as he too began to doze off.

Yeah, they were.

The black chocobo that appeared in the Citadel lobby a few days later was a completely different matter.

 

--------------

 

Gladio looked stupidly at the large bird standing proudly in the lobby as Prompto valiantly ignored the endless camera flashes focused on both him and the chocobo, which made Gladio realize that Prom hadn’t been seen properly in public since Luna’s coronation . Oh shit, Ignis was going to kill him for not thinking of that before chasing after Prompto-

“Gladio?” Prompto said softly, and Gladio leaned down so his much shorter companion could whisper in his ear. “We need to call Cor, that’s his girlfriend. You know, the chocobo we met when we stayed at the Vesperpool? She helped us out when dad had that issue last year too. I’m positive that’s her.” Gladio blinked blankly at Prompto before returning his gaze to the chocobo, who was dodging any attempt to touch her as the crowd grew. She travelled all the way from the Vesperpool to Insomnia? Really? Prompto started to walk forward while Gladio’s brain was still trying to parse the situation, and he hastily followed along, the constant flashes from the cameras starting to get to his eyes. Didn’t these people have enough pictures already?

“Prom, what are you planning to do?” he asked, and Prompto tilted his head back to look him in the eye.

“I’m gonna talk with her while you call Cor or Nyx, since neither of them have wandered in yet,” Prom muttered, and Gladio barely refrained from grabbing the man as he waddled right up the chocobo, his posture relaxed and friendly. This was the same chocobo who had tried to kick Nyx several times, who was to say the bird wouldn’t try it again-

“There’s a chocobo in the lobby.” Gladio looked down to see Iris standing at his side, her expression thoroughly amused, and he sighed.

“We know the bird, we just don’t know how she got here,” he explained, and heaved a relieved sigh as the chocobo leaned down and gently bumped her head against Prompto’s stomach, then lifted it and nuzzled the side of his head before beginning to groom his hair. “Hold on, I need to call the marshal.” The damn photographers still hadn’t let up, but he forced himself to keep watching Prompto instead of turning away to do his phone call. Iris could and would help if an emergency arose, but she wasn’t expected to. Thankfully, Cor picked up on the second ring.

“Leonis.”

“Marshal, it’s Gladiolus. We need you here in the Citadel lobby, an old friend of yours has shown up and she’s causing quite the stir.” Gladio could hear the subtle intake of breath from the other end, then the creak of a chair followed by the rustling of fabric.

“Give me a moment.” Gladio ended the call and approached Prom and the chocobo carefully, reaching out and resting a hand on Prompto’s shoulder as he leaned in.

“He should be here in a second.” Prompto nodded, his hands tangled in the bird’s neck feathers, and Gladio took a step back and waited; sure enough, Cor blinked into existence a moment later (Gladio thought he saw him sway in place for a moment, but he wasn’t sure,) and the photographers set to work all over again as the marshal froze at the sight. Gladio was pretty sure he was going to seeing little lights behind his eyelids for a week.

“You’re shitting me,” Cor said flatly, and that was apparently the signal the chocobo was looking for; after another lick to Prom’s now-hilarious hair, the black-feathered beast sounded a tremendous cry before dashing over to Cor, who huffed an actual laugh before he found himself being affectionately smothered by an ecstatic chocobo, who was alternating between nuzzling at his head and rubbing gently at his stomach. It was possibly even cuter than it had been with Prompto, and Gladio grinned as both Iris and Prom joined him in watching.

“Why is that so cute?” Iris asked, and Gladio barked out a laugh.

“It’s because Cor’s not usually the type, so it just amplifies it,” he replied with a smirk, and received an elbow to the side from Prompto, who was giving him an exaggerated pout. “What? It’s the truth!”

“Are you saying I am the type?” Prompto said accusingly, and Gladio and Iris both put their hands on their hips and looked at him until he squirmed. “Okay, maybe I am a little, but still-”

“Prom, you’ve been practically living in your chocobo beanbag chair for the past few months,” Gladio pointed out, and gained a half-hearted glare in response.

“Sir, madame, your grace, this is all very sweet and it’s clear the chocobo is well acquainted with you two, but this probably isn’t the best place for the reunion,” Augusta, the long-standing wrangler of the lobby staff said with a hint of a smile (albeit a bit strained,) and Gladio nodded.

“Marshal, we’ve gotta move our little gathering somewhere more appropriate,” he called out, and Cor actually looked put out for a second before nodding.

“How about the gardens, we can relax out there for now and figure something out,” Cor stated, and thankfully, the chocobo went along with the idea, and the five of them managed to navigate the crowd and head out to the gardens. Madame was glued to Cor’s side, alternating between the usual kwehs and a oddly maternal cooing noise, and things were going smoothly until the marshal suddenly staggered, the chocobo instantly moving to grab the back of his shirt with her beak as the other humans present bustled to his side.

“Dad-”

“I’m fine,” Cor hissed, only to sway on his feet again, Prompto and Iris both grabbing at Cor’s shirt to keep him upright. Gladio met everyone else’s eyes (even the chocobo’s) with a silent sigh before moving in and doing something that would probably get him killed in short order, leaning in and sweeping the marshal up into a classic bridal carry; the fact he was able to do it at all without getting disemboweled told him far too much, more than he wanted to admit to the wide-eyed Prompto hovering behind them, and the shock from his move let Gladio quickly shift the man towards a nearby tree before Cor’s expression transformed to absolutely murderous.

“Gladiolus Amicitia, put me down!” Before the marshal could bark out another command, Gladio did just that, setting him down carefully against the chosen tree; Madame immediately plopped herself down at his side, grooming Cor’s short hair while cooing, and Gladio scooted back out of the way before the half-assed kick the marshal attempted could land. “I don’t appreciate getting manhandled when I don’t need it-”

“Dad.” Prompto was looming over his father, his hands on his hips and a fearsome scowl on his face, and Gladio carefully didn’t mention the fact that his giant stomach all but completely obscured a frontal view of his pose.

“Son-”

“Don’t you son me, Cor Leonis; you promised you would stop working when you got far enough along, but here you are, keeling over agai-”

“I’m just a little tired, that’s all-”

“If we hadn’t been here, you would have fallen, dad, and what could have happened then? What if no one had been around?” Prompto was almost shouting, his arms beginning to wave around, and Gladio moved in and laid his hand against Prompto’s back to calm his boyfriend down as Cor’s eyes went as wide as he had ever seen them. Oh fuck. Was this going to be a legitimate fight between the two of them? Gladio met Iris’s concerned gaze with his own, and the moment grew long and awkward as Prompto took deep, shaking breaths and Cor stared at the soil he was sitting on before finally, finally breaking the silence with a quiet sigh.

“You’re right. I just...I just didn’t want to pack it up, even if it’s possibly only for a few months,” Cor said softly, and Gladio helped Prompto sit down next to the marshal, the mood growing somber as he and Iris followed suit. Cor ran a hand over Madame’s head slowly, the chocobo shifting so he could reach her easily. “I’ve been working consistently in one way or another since I was a boy, Prompto, the thought of being shifted out because of my health is-” Cor swallowed heavily. “It’s frightening. It almost feels like if I leave, I won’t be coming back.”

Gladio found himself understanding all too well, for all their difference in years. He too had spent most of his life being trained to duty, and while he had turned it a bit on its head (although he was far from the first Shield to sleep with his monarch, not that it was generally taught in schools, and he had suspicions about his majesty and his father, at least once upon a time) he couldn’t imagine being forced to step away either.

“It’s not the same, but I have no idea how I’m going to handle this whole kids thing. I know you’ll be amazing at it, Cor, I know you will, you’ve proved that enough, but I’m petrified I’m going to screw something up. What if these kids are born and I just freak out? Maybe I don’t bond with them or something? And then this all happened right when I was finding myself a place here that made me feel like I could actually help, and now I’m being an even bigger burden,” Prompto said, his eyes unfocused and staring at nothing, and Gladio felt like he had been punched in the chest. Had Prom said anything? Had he missed something? Astrals, what kind of shitty boyfriend was he? Before he could speak up, however, Prom looked up, his eyes sharpening. “You know what? We can handle this. You’re going to have a few months off to enjoy sleeping in and not worry about work, and I’m going to start planning what I’m going to do after I...these kids appear. I really did think I had something there that would work out, and I don’t want to end up as a stay-at-home parent with nothing else to do. I’ll go crazy,” Prom said with a snort. “I suppose there’s some overdue adult conversations there that I’ve got to have soon.” Prompto’s eyes met Gladio’s as the blond reached out a hand to him, and Gladio threaded his fingers with the younger man’s with a relieved smile.

Cor continued to pet the chocobo as he met both Prom’s and Gladio’s eyes, looking tired, but suddenly at peace. Gladio could almost see the palpable acceptance of his situation settling onto the man’s shoulders, which would have seemed rather abrupt to anyone else, but this was Cor. The marshal had always been solidly practical once he had gotten over whatever the hang up of the situation was...although it might take a sledgehammer (or a Prompto, perhaps occasionally a Nyx) to occasionally get him to that point.

“Intellectually, I know that we both will be fine, that we have help, friends, and most importantly, people who love us...which I know we both have problems swallowing sometimes. I’ll-” Cor huffed, a wry smile appearing on his face. “I’ll put in for my leave today, which will give us plenty of time to think about the future, Prompto. Iris, didn’t you mention the other day that we probably needed to start shopping soon?” Iris perked up on the spot.

“Yes! Considering how...laborious it’s obviously becoming for you two to do any serious movement, we probably should do that soon. How about we make a date for early next week? There’s something going on this weekend, but after that we can make a day of it,” Iris said as she looked between the two men, and Prompto nodded immediately. “Cor?” A slow nod a moment later, and Iris got to her feet and brushed herself off. “Great! It’s a date.” After a bit of shuffling, Gladio helped haul Cor to his feet while Iris assisted Prompto, and Madame gave them all a dirty look before rising as well.

“I have one request,” Cor muttered, and the others turned to him. “Please don’t bring this up to Nyx, let me talk to him.” Gladio and Iris nodded, Prompto following suit after giving him a suspicious look, which the marshal answered with a vaguely pleading expression that forced Gladio to swallow a laugh. “Thank you.”

In the end, it was Gladio who finally remembered who was also there with them as they were working their way out of the gardens, and he stepped ahead and got their attention, a smirk on his face.

“Uh, guys? I don’t think Madame is going to fit in either of our quarters…”

After a short scramble and a few phone calls, a stall at the rarely used royal mews was quickly cleaned and prepped, and the five of them escorted Madame there, where Gladio, Iris, and the employees watched in complete amusement as Cor had an extensive discussion with the chocobo with Prompto at his side before the bird finally capitulated, grooming both Cor’s and Prompto’s hair before walking unprompted over to the freshly cleaned stall.Before they departed, Prompto’s eyes widened, and he turned to Cor with a smirk.

“It’s different when the bird basically gatecrashes, I suppose?” he asked, half-serious, and Cor colored slightly before turning away from the stables.

“I’ll take us to my quarters,” Cor said, and before Gladio could point out that it was probably a bad idea, the world flashed by, and it was Iris who grabbed the man before he could fall over when they appeared in the marshal’s familiar living room.

“Okay, you are officially knocking that off, because as cool as that just was, it’s clear it wipes you out,” Iris scolded, and Cor’s shoulders sagged almost imperceptibly as he moved away from Iris.

“I already have the paperwork filled out, I suppose I better go turn it in,” Cor said, neatly avoiding promising anything of the sort to Iris, and Gladio wrapped an arm around Prompto’s shoulders as they watched as Cor dug through his desk before producing a few sheets of paper.

“Want me to run that up to dad?” Gladio offered, but as he expected, Cor shook his head.

“No, I’ll do it.”

Iris left as soon as they departed Cor and Nyx’s quarters, promising to see them in a few days. His father accepted the paperwork from the marshal with the air of a man who had expected this for ages, and as soon as Cor turned around to leave, Gladio received a raised eyebrow and a chin pointing at the departing marshal. Not the time. He mouthed later to his father, then he and Prompto escorted Cor back to his rooms, where he pulled off his boots and sat down heavily on the sofa, letting his eyes fall closed.

“We need to work on those discs, Prompto, we only got the first set done, and we’ve got more to deal with now,” Cor said, his voice trailing off in a mumble; before Prompto or Gladio could even reply, the older man had dozed off, his head leaning against the back of the couch. Prompto wandered into the bedroom without a word, returning with a blanket which he laid over his dad’s lap before stepping away.

“Why don’t we go home for now, he needs to rest.” Gladio didn’t argue, and a few minutes later saw the two men back in their quarters, Prompto carefully flopping into his beanbag chair while Gladio sat down on the floor next to him, his thoughts tangled.

“I didn’t know you were so worried about everything, Prom,” Gladio finally said, his voice soft, and Prompto reached out and took his hand, his expression conflicted.

“I think it’s kinda natural to be, yeah? But sometimes I’m petrified that you guys are going to hate the fact that I’m effectively dumping this on you, as stupid as it sounds, and then there’s the whole childcare thing-” Prompto brought up his other hand and wiped at his eyes absently before he sighed, and Gladio felt his chest tighten just that little bit more. “We haven’t actually talked about a lot of this, you know. Were you three expecting me to take care of everything? Noct has his royal commitments, and you two usually attend those with him, so I’m the only one that will regularly be available. I would like to continue on with the whole surveyor thing I was starting, but obviously that’s going to have to wait for a while…” Prom frowned. “Were we going to set up a nursery here? I mean, there’s the spare room I’m using for the disc enchantments for now, but that’s going to get cramped really quick once they get old enough to start moving around.”

That was an excellent point. It was a series of excellent points, and Gladio realized that they really had been, if by omission, leaving Prompto alone to stew about all of this. He knew that Ignis had been looking into nannies or at least some help, but anyone helping with potential royal children would have to be screened six ways from Sunday before they’d be allowed anywhere near them. It was common to ask the previous nanny for recommendations, but the poor woman had been killed during the attack that nearly taken Noct as well, and there had been no others. But had Iggy even mentioned his search to Prom?

“Iggy’s been looking into the possibility of a nanny, someone who can at least help us out. As you said, we’ll all be busy here and there, and it’s not fair to dump all of this on one person all the time if it can be avoided. As for where they are going to go...that’s a good question. As you said, the spare room will probably be best at first, but once they have outgrown their cribs…” Gladio leaned against the bright yellow beanbag chair, and smiled when Prom wiggled so he could rest his head against Gladio’s shoulder. “We really are hopeless, aren’t we? It doesn’t sound like Cor and Nyx are that much further ahead, either; I know my sister, Crowe, and Monica have made at least a few men are useless type comments when they think we aren’t in earshot, and honestly, I think they’re right. We have been just...blowing it off,” he commented, leading to a giggle from Prompto.

“Well, we did have the overreaching uncertainty that the council wasn’t just going to kick my ass out, so that was definitely distracting enough, but now that’s been resolved…” Prom had a cheeky grin on his face, but Gladio could see the exhaustion in his eyes, the same exhaustion that had been present for months, and he wrapped his arms around the smaller man’s torso and nuzzled his face into the bend of Prompto’s neck before shifting down so he could lay his head on Prompto’s stomach, listening to the little sounds he could hear as the babies moved around.

It was entrancing, and it brought him down to Eos as to what they really needed to be focusing on right now.

“I’m sorry, Prom, we’ve been idiots. Noct and Iggy should be back from their meetings in a few hours, we’ll sit down and hash this stuff out. We haven’t even really talked about names, have we?” he said with an incredulous laugh, and Prompto snorted.

“Well, since we don’t even know who’s kids these are, let alone what we are getting, because Noct thought it would be awesome to be surprised and I went along with it for some reason-”

“That was your fault, I was all for at least finding out what’s on the way-”

“But Noct pouted at me, Gladio, he almost never does that-”

“Are you joking, Prompto? He pouts all the damn time! He’s been whining and pouting at me for at least ten years,” Gladio finally pointed out, and Prompto laughed and leaned in, resting his arms on Gladio’s back, finally returning the embrace.

“Yeah, he tends to just whine at me, I don’t get the pout too much.”

Gladio didn’t know how they managed it, but they dozed off in that awkward pose, and the next thing he knew was a graceful long-fingered hand laying against his neck, which immediately informed him that falling asleep slumped over wasn’t the smartest thing he had ever done.

“Ow. Hey Iggy.” Next to Prom, Noct was kneeling and doing much the same to the blond, and both Gladio and Prompto sat up clutching at their necks with a wince. “Okay, that was a stupid way to fall asleep,” Gladio groaned, grabbing Iggy’s still-extended hand and carefully pulling himself up. “Good to see you two.” He turned and gave Ignis a quick kiss before reaching down and helping Prompto to his feet, stabilizing him when he bobbled in place. “We need to talk, let’s go sit somewhere that won’t lead to us breaking our necks.” Ignis raised an eyebrow and Noct looked concerned, but they migrated to the sofa, where they prodded Prom into sitting with his feet up on the ottoman before taking their own seats around him.

“What’s going on, guys?” Noct asked, and Gladio and Prom looked at each other for a moment before Prompto ducked his head, looking up at him through his eyelashes.

Message received. Gladio sat up, bracing his hands on his thighs and looked at his other two partners with a stern expression on his face. “Firstly, Cor has officially been bullied into going on medical leave. Honestly, I think he was considering it anyway, because you have to know that he capitulated way too easily, Prom-” The blond snorted in amusement, and Gladio grinned. “Also, and more relevant to our current situation, we have been seriously falling down on the job,” he stated bluntly, and Noct bristled on impulse before subsiding into confusion, Iggy’s eyebrows knitting together on the spot.

“In what way, Gladio?” Iggy asked, genuinely curious, and Gladio waved to Prompto, who was starting to gnaw on his bottom lip, and sighed.

“Well, let’s see; we are less than three months out from the big day, and we’ve talked so little about the future beyond awesome, Noct’s kid or kids are officially legit that Prom has been worrying himself into a hole thinking that we’re expecting him to be the stay-at-home dad for the rest of his life-”

Prom’s head shot up with a glare. “That’s not what I said-”

“-we’ve not discussed living arrangements, if we are going to have a nursery, hell, we haven’t bought a damn thing for these kids yet, and we are clearly running out of time,” Gladio pointed out, waving towards Prompto’s stomach, and both Noct and Iggy were frozen in their seats. Good. “We haven’t even pondered names yet, at least not out loud. Have any of us even cracked open a basic parenting book? I helped with Iris, which means I’m probably the only one with any experience with small children, and mine’s hardly recent. Can any of you change a diaper, for fuck’s sake? Or were you all going to rely on internet tutorials when it came time?” Noct looked like he had taken a dunk into the Vesperpool in the middle of winter, while Iggy just looked straight up annoyed, but Gladio could tell it was directed at himself.

“Prompto, I certainly wasn’t assuming anything of the sort, in fact, I was looking around in my spare time for qualified help so we could employ to assist due to our increasingly busy schedules. I thought I had mentioned it earlier?” Prom shook his head, and Iggy sighed. “My apologies, then. Gladio, you do make a good point; we haven’t truly thought about the everyday needs of what is to come because we were so subsumed by the greater concerns that had arisen due to the issues with the council, but as that has been fully and legally resolved, there is no excuse,” Iggy stated, and Noct finally unfroze enough to nod slightly. “This is a life-altering event coming up, and while it will be a joyous one, we still need to prepare properly for it. Noct, are you doing alright over there?” Noct visibly tensed at being addressed, but nodded after a moment, his gaze firmly on Prom.

“Prom, I’m sorry, I could tell you were getting worried about...well, everything, but things kept coming up, and I kept forgetting to say anything. We are definitely not piling all of this on you, because that would be a shitty thing to do, one, and two, I want to be a part of this. I don’t want to be an absentee father. I understand that there is going to be times where I can’t be there, but I’m definitely going to try and limit them. Now that there’s no guillotine of destiny or some shit hanging over my head...hell, the rest of our heads anymore, I’ve got time. We’ve all got time,” Noct said, a growing smile on his face. “I had thought having the Marcian reopened, but honestly, I think all three soon to be granddads would be sad if we left at this point, and I sincerely doubt you want to live clear across the city from Cor and your soon to be shiny new siblings, right Prom?” Noctis pointed out with a grin, and Prompto shrugged, but his face told the real answer. “Yeah, that’s what I thought. Maybe an idea for the future.” Iggy leaned forward with his tablet in hand and Gladio sighed inwardly in relief as their usual coordinator got down to business with his usual brutal efficiency, bringing up the list of prospective nannies and showing it to Prompto, who gave Ignis a happy little smile as they began to discuss the contents.

Gladio was just thrilled that they were all, himself included, willing to shelve their hangups and figure shit out when they needed to. It was a talent they would all need to continue to cultivate as they moved into the future.

They ended up talking for several hours about plans and what they would need to do, and Gladio watched the tension slowly vanish from Prompto’s hunched posture as the discussion went on. They should have done this months ago, but at least they were doing it before the babies had arrived. By the end of the discussion, it was decided that the spare room would be converted to a nursery, with a probable future expansion to the unused quarters across the way at a later date. The Marcian was still a possibility for the future, but it was no longer the contingency plan it had been just a month prior. Thankfully.

Iggy and Noct vanished with Prom for a few minutes after they were done with their discussion, and Gladio was not surprised when they reemerged looking somewhat chastened, Prompto’s eyes a bit red around the edges, but otherwise clear. They knew Prom, they knew his insecurities and his tendency to keep his concerns to himself, and this was far too important to just let be. The whole affair was crazy, but it was a good crazy. They just needed to make sure they didn’t drown under the weight of it.

They needed to do better.

It wasn’t until dinner when Gladio realized that no one had brought up their unexpected guest, and he turned to Noct and Iggy with a smirk. “Did you hear about who showed up in the lobby earlier today?”

“I overheard there was a short-lived commotion, but I didn’t hear the details,” Iggy replied, and Noct nodded as Prompto burst out laughing.

“We forgot to tell you! Cor’s girlfriend is here!” the blond crowed, and received two blank stares in response. “Awww man, I thought you remembered that joke,” Prom whined, and Gladio snorted a laugh around the bite of potatoes in his mouth as the younger man pouted. “It’s the black chocobo, the one from the Vesperpool? She came all the way here, got herself into the lobby somehow without anyone stopping her. I’m sure security is going nuts trying to figure it out, but yeah, Cor’s girlfriend. I’m guessing that’s the one they were talking about on TV a few weeks ago.”

“That blasted bird made it all the way through Insomnia into the Citadel?” Iggy said with plain shock, and Gladio started to laugh, a deep belly laugh that caused him to drop his fork as he shook; the others joined him a moment later, even Iggy, and it…

It was nice.

“Black chocobos have always been rare; they have an intelligence that might possibly exceed their more-commonly colored siblings, and they have often tied themselves to those they considered worthy,” the Goddess said, and Gladio blinked right along with Prompto and the others when he realized where he was.

“Wait, how are we here again?” Noct said in confusion, and Iggy nodded as the towering woman tittered as she looked down at him.

“Well, with more acknowledging my existence and my chosen both ascended and fully vested in their role, so to speak, I find myself able to pull from the waking world a little more smoothly than I have been able to do over the past few millennia. I thought it would be nice to see you all once again, especially when certain events are soon on the horizon,” the Dawn Mother explained as she lowered herself to the grass next to them, and Gladio bowed as best he could from his seated position, even as she waved him off. “So I sense you all finally sat down and figured out your immediate futures? I know my dear Prompto was doing what he does best and worrying himself into a-”

“Really?” Prom interrupted with a whine, and Gladio couldn’t help but boggle at the fact that his favorite blond had just interrupted a goddess, but it was immediately clear she didn’t mind, as she laughed mischievously into her sleeve.

“Am I not correct? Should I ask your loves what they think of my statement?” Prompto shook his head wildly as Gladio found himself laughing with the rest of them, only to be distracted by a flash of blue out of the corner of his eye. “I see you have returned to see your favorite human,” the goddess said with a wry smile, and Gladio couldn’t help his growing smile as Carbuncle jumped into Noct’s arms with a squeal.

“Hey, Carbuncle, it’s great to see you!” Noct said with glee, and Gladio leaned against Iggy as he watched Noct and the little creature tussle with each other while Prompto rested on his side in the grass, his arm lying on his stomach. “Hey, Carbuncle, I should introduce you to Prom’s stomach, it’s got a lot going on right now.” Iggy huffed a near-silent laugh as Noct slid closer to the blond, and Gladio found himself looking up at the Dawn Mother while the others were otherwise distracted. She was looking down at Prom, her eyes soft and happy, and he found himself alternating between watching her and the antics in front of him as Carbuncle hopped gently onto Prom’s stomach, sniffing around in a circle before curling up and relaxing, causing Noct to laugh.

“I think your friend has found himself a new cushion, Noct, although I’m not entirely certain Prompto is thrilled about it,” Iggy commented, and Gladio snorted at the uncertain look on Prom’s face before looking back up the goddess, who actually met his eyes this time with a knowing smile.

All will be well, Gladiolus of House Amicitia. Prompto is bonny and blithe, to use a rather old expression, and while he hosts some aches and pains that are common with his situation, I suspect that he will have little difficulty completing his current task. Cor, on the other hand- The sparkle in the Dawn Mother’s eyes dimmed a bit, along with her voice in his head, and Gladio’s throat went dry. Was the goddess able to tell the future? Did this mean that Cor wasn’t going to make it? Should he say something to Nyx? The possibilities whirled around in his mind, growing rapidly more drastic as he stared wide-eyed at the Dawn Mother, who finally seemed to realize his increasing concern. Do not worry so much, Gladiolus, I do not suspect that it will be quite so dire. I may be old beyond counting, but even I do not truly see the future, only flashes of possibility. Cor will likely have a trying labor, much as his pregnancy has been fraught with various issues, but I see no sign of anything worse at this point. While you four may have a whole herd of children, should you all wish, these two will be Cor’s only issue of his body. I do not wish to tell him thus, and thankfully, I am quite certain that his physician will tell him much the same. If he tempts fate again, I fear it will not end so well. I ask that you not reference this discussion either, I do not wish to cause unneeded panic such as what you were working yourself into.

Gladio nodded sheepishly as she finished speaking, gaining him a strange look from Iggy, and a laugh from the goddess. Oops.

“I was having a short discussion with young Gladiolus, he was simply acknowledging what I had said. Pay us no mind. But where was I…” the Dawn Mother smiled. “Yes, the black chocobo. Quite rare, as you know, and they often choose their humans instead of the other way around. Madame sees Cor as her human, and has come to see Prompto as her human’s chick, which is fantastically endearing. Black chocobos have come to many who have been worthy of them, although the most famous companion of a black chocobo was the first chosen king,” the goddess said as her eyes filled with regret. “From what I remember, she stayed with him until she physically could not anymore, when the scourge had so overtaken him that she could not even be in his presence without being ill. He sent her away so she could live, and I think part of her never forgave him for it. I hope Cor will not do the same.”

Noct looked up at the Dawn Mother with confusion, which Gladio understood entirely. The first chosen king...was she talking about Izunia?

“You’re talking about Ardyn,” Noct stated, and the goddess nodded.

“I am. While you only saw him as he became over many years, do not forget that he was once a man of honor, someone who gave their all believing they were doing the right thing. It is good to remember to always be cognizant of your actions, as well as who might be seeking to manipulate you from the shadows. I am still not fond of how the man was treated, young Noctis, and while that does not excuse his later behavior, it does provide us with an object lesson on how it is very easy for events or actions to swiftly move beyond our control if we do not keep hold of what we hold dear.” The Dawn Mother sighed, a sound that made the breath stutter in Gladio’s chest, then shook her head. “Enough of this, I grow too maudlin when there is great joy to come. Ardyn Lucis Caelum has found his peace, and now it is time for the living. Dearheart, how do you find your new status as Carbuncle’s pillow?”

Gladio began to laugh as Prompto sighed gustily, but he was hard to believe as he stroked his hand through the fine fur of the being resting on his stomach. Both Noct and Iggy looked somewhat pensive given what the goddess had been talking about, but then Noct shook his head and smiled down at both Prom and his old friend.

“There could be worse fates, right?” his prince asked, and Prom snorted.

“You aren’t wrong.”

Saturday rolled around, and Gladio was not surprised when Iris showed up shortly before lunch, a brilliant and completely frightening grin on her face. He would have locked himself in the bedroom, but he couldn’t bring himself to abandon poor Prompto, who couldn’t move fast enough.

“Knock it off, Gladdy, I’m not out to get you! Prompto, Prom, Promy-prom, Prom-poms, oh bountiful one-”

“Really?” Prompto groaned, and Iris giggled, patting him on the arm as Gladio folded his arms and waited.

“I’m here to officially kidnap you two, the other two are being fetched as well. So put a shirt on, Gladdy, we have places to be,” Iris ordered, and Gladio found himself in the bedroom pulling on a t-shirt before he had even had a second thought about it. He had never been able to turn his sister down.

“Shit.”

Prompto thankfully was at least dressed in something he could go out in, and Gladio and Prom followed the evil mastermind a few floors down to one of the conference rooms, only to be stopped outside of it.

“Hold on a second,” Iris said, and Gladio watched as Iris peeked inside the room, then closed the door again. “We’re just waiting for a moment until everyone gets here.” Gladio leveled a dry look at his sister, but she had always been immune, and he shifted his focus to Prom, who was shuffling around uncomfortably in place.

“You wanna sit down, Prom?” he asked quietly, and Prom shook his head, a faint grimace on his face.

“No, I’m fine. Well, unless we are going to be out here another twenty minutes or something, but I’ll be okay for a little while.” Gladio glanced down at Prom’s feet with a sigh before wrapping his arm around the smaller man’s shoulders, giving him a gentle squeeze. They weren’t supposed to talk about the fact that poor Prompto’s feet were having pretty serious periods of pain and swelling as his pregnancy came to its conclusion (Prom got testy) but they could at least...allude to it so their poor partner didn’t suffer too much unnecessarily.

“Altius, what in the world are we doing? You interrupted my-”

“Your old man nap, let’s be honest-”

“-my rest.” Cor’s voice griped from behind them, and both Gladio and Prom turned around to see the marshal, wearing the most casual clothes Gladio had ever seen him wear in the Citadel (blue oversized t-shirt and comfortable black pants,) Nyx, who was the picture of low-key worried amusement, and Crowe Altius, who had very much the same mischievous expression that was still on Iris’s face.

Women.

“Here comes Noctis and Ignis now, I think we are good to go,” Iris said, and Gladio and Prom turned back towards the door to see their other partners walking up, and Crowe came around them and went to the door.

“Here goes!” Crowe opened the door, and Gladio exchanged a split-second glance with Iggy and Noct before they all walked in, and he wasn’t all that surprised when a bunch of people popped out from the sides of the room, grins on their faces.

“Surprise!” Prompto’s jaw dropped, while Cor rolled his eyes, but it was a half-assed attempt at best as Iris and Crowe guided the two pregnant men towards the large sofa, basically bullying them until they sat down. Nyx took the spot next to Cor, while Gladio ushered Noct to the spot next to Prom and then sat down himself at the blond’s feet, Iggy actually joining him for once on the floor. A large group of people were present, from the king and his father to even a few council members, probably half of the Glaive and at least a third of the Guard, along with Cid and Cindy, the foreman overseeing the Costlemark restoration, and Aranea, who flashed a cocky grin and waved.

“We considered bringing up your girlfriend, Cor, but we were concerned she would steal something,” Aranea commented, and the marshal snorted in amusement as Gladio nodded to his dad, then gave a slight bow to the king from his spot on the floor as they acknowledged everyone in attendance.

The room was decked out in a cornucopia of colored streamers and decorations, with at least one Congratulations! sign on the wall and wrapped gifts everywhere. A table with treats, drinks, and a cake sat off to the side, and Gladio watched as both Prom and Cor took in the whole picture before turning and admiring it himself. No wonder Iris had deliberately delayed their planned shopping trip, she had clearly wanted to make sure they didn’t duplicate anything. It was...really thoughtful of them.

“This is...this is amazing! I-” Gladio didn’t need to look at Prom to guess his wide-eyed expression, but he shifted to do so anyway. “-thank you! You all didn’t need to do this, I don’t know how I can repay you-” Crowe walked over and pinched Prom’s lips shut between two fingers, a smirk on her face.

“Shut it, kid, and enjoy.”

Prompto pouted, but his eyes were full of laughter as Crowe stepped away, revealing Aranea juggling two boxes wrapped in fancy paper, one slightly bigger than the other.

“These are from Luna, who wants me to impart her apologies for not being able to come in person. She hopes you all enjoy the gifts she sent for you,” Aranea announced, then plopped the larger box in Prompto’s non-existent lap, which promptly slid off and was grabbed by Noct, who set it on his own with a snort. The second box followed, with Cor’s longer legs allowing him to actually keep it in his own lap. “Well, go ahead and open them!”

It was interesting to see how the two men varied in opening presents; the normally vibrant and effusive Prompto was methodical, with fingers carefully sliding under the tape at the edges as he carefully separated the layers, while Cor just grabbed the first corner he could find and started tearing, the stern set to his mouth not hiding the genuine happiness in his eyes (Nyx grabbed the paper before it landed on Gladio and Iggy’s heads.) Noct braced the box as Prom peeled off the paper as one large piece, folding it and setting it aside before reaching for the lid; both Cor and Prom opened their boxes at the same time, and Gladio watched as Prompto and Cor’s jaws dropped slightly as they both reached in and pulled out a quilt. Then another. Then Prom pulled out a third. No words were spoken as Prom handed one to Noct, and one down to him, and Gladio spread it out in his lap.

The work was phenomenal. Finely wrought in cream and black with gold detail, Gladio wouldn’t even mince words about it as he traced the small skull device of the royal family in the corner, marvelling at the tight detail as his fingers traveled over a familiar geometric design, the suggestion of sylleblossoms-

“It’s called trapunto,” Ignis said softly as he reached out and traced one of the flowers with his fingertips. “It’s a very difficult technique to do well, and these are by far the finest examples I’ve seen of it. Her majesty hired a master, or she has some significant skill that she has neglected to tell us about.” Gladio nodded, then turned to look at the two Cor had received; his were cream, black, and silver, with motifs of greater Lucis, the Dawnsworn, and Galahd all tangled together in a beautiful display, with sylleblossoms interspersed here and there. All five were far more than blankets, they were works of art, and Gladio was not surprised to see that tears were sliding down Prompto’s face, and even Cor’s eyes looked suspiciously glazed as they continued to admire the fine work.

“I don’t know what to say, Aranea, I think I need to do more than a thank you card for something like this,” Prom said, his voice shaking, and even Cor nodded in agreement as Aranea smiled, reaching over and gently plucking the quilt out of Noct’s lap.

“They are amazing, aren’t they? She showed me them before they were packed up, and I know I’ve never seen work like that. She’s going to try and make it out here soon, so you can always send something now and thank her again later,” Aranea said, her fingers running over several of the designs before she handed it back to Noct. “I was also asked to pass these on, I’ve been told to call them a token of esteem from an unnamed individual.” Prompto was handed three small boxes, and Cor two, all bound with ribbon; Gladio watched as they untied the bows on all of them before opening them up.

“Wow, how pretty are those? They look like crystal-” Noct trailed off in a stutter as his fingers brushed the first piece of jewelry, and Gladio immediately shifted to get a better look. Necklaces, apparently, thin silver chains with a tiny dangling blue-toned crystal hanging from the middle, and Gladio decided to follow Noct’s lead, reaching out and touching one of the gems; for a short, heart-stopping moment, pure coldness penetrated his body, followed then by a soothing sense of...protection? He looked down at the elegant little pieces with wide eyes, and he found himself looking about to meet not only Prompto’s eyes, but all of the others involved as well before pulling his hand away. Prompto and Noctis closed the boxes back up carefully, with Cor doing the same with his before setting them all to the side.

“Tell the unnamed individual thank you, from all of us,” Noct said to Aranea, his eyes knowing, and Aranea nodded formally.

“Of course. Now I’m going to get out of the way and let some of the rest of your guests hand out their assuredly awesome gifts.”

The next half hour was full of just that; from the king came five beautifully crafted cribs, three for them and two for Cor and Nyx, from his father came furniture for the nursery, Lady Aeila gave jewelry, little anklets that could be expanded as the children grew, Lord Marcius gave strollers, a cunningly designed one made for three for them, and a twin seater for Cor, Aranea gave several sets of baby clothes per expected child, plus...gold coins? Gladio turned one over in his hands, noting the profile of the oracle on its front and yet more sylleblossoms on the back. He had seen one of these before, the empire had actually allowed their minting when Luna had officially become the oracle, but the luster of the coin in his hands was far greater than that one from before, and the figure was less generic and clearly resembled Luna this time. This was a new minting, and by the weight and color, it was a solid gold coin. It was no small gift, especially from a woman who had been only a mercenary a few years prior.

“It’s a tradition from where I was from, the gold coins symbolized a hope for good fortune and success in the future. Of course, most were plated at best because we were all broke, but we made it work. My current position gave me access to the good stuff, no plating here,” Aranea explained with a satisfied smile, and Gladio nodded as he passed the coin back to Ignis, who returned it to the case it came out of before secreting them away silently. Probably best.

More baby clothes followed, along with everything a small human could possibly need in their first year of life, even five small humans; Monica gave adorable cat plushies to them, one for each child, and Cor actually started laughing quietly at them as his deputy leaned in and gave him a kiss on the cheek in reply. Cloth and disposable diapers, changing pads, shoes, more toys, even more toys-

“We’ll never find them under all of these toys,” Prompto said with a chuckle, and Gladio didn’t disagree. From Crowe came a small collection of clothes sized for older babies, and Ignis nodded approvingly as they were repacked and set aside with everything else.

“Everyone gives new parents shit that won’t fit in six months, so it’s always good to get something for later too,” Crowe said bluntly, and Gladio thanked her as they reached for the next package, only for Aranea to pluck the box out of Iggy’s hands and frown at it for a moment while pointing at Nyx and Cor to stop them as well.

“Ah shit, I was supposed to give you these after Luna’s. These are from Ravus, he’s- they’re...well, this is Ravus. These are more for the future, I suppose, they’ll need to be walking to play with these properly…” Aranea handed the box to Noct, who gave her a look before Prom peeled off the paper, revealing a nice box containing-

“Toy swords?” Prom said, taking one out and inspecting it. “ Nice toy swords, these look real until you realize the blade is rubber,” Prom commented, then handed it down to Ignis, who huffed a tiny incredulous laugh before passing it to Gladio.

“It is nice, just...a bit premature?” Gladio got out, and Aranea snorted as Noct packed them away again.

“You know Ravus, he’s all about this sort of stuff. Well, rest assured that your children will all be able to beat the snot out of each other with proper tools in a few years.”

Probably the most awkward moment came when both Prom and Cor opened boxes containing formula and froze in unison, and Gladio realized in one somewhat brain-melting moment as both men stared at the contents that Prompto wasn’t the only one to find out about the whole milk thing. Gladio barely concealed a grimace as he forced himself to take the box from Prom and close it back up, adding it to the stack. He had known Cor since he was a baby, and the thought of him breastfeeding...made his head hurt. He was willing to accept a great many things, but that one might just be a bridge too far-

“Gladio?” Iggy whispered, and Gladio shook his head. He was being stupid.

“Nothing.”

Two conspicuously large boxes remained, and Gladio squinted at them suspiciously as Cid signalled for two of the Glaives to move them closer, a self-satisfied smirk on his face as they lifted the clearly heavy boxes.

“Do I want to know, Cid?” Cor asked drolly, and the old man huffed out a laugh.

“I had to, you know. I considered making one for each of ‘em, but I figured I’m not that sadistic,” Cid said, and Gladio raised an eyebrow as the enlisted Glaives plopped the large boxes down in front of him with a thud.

“I think I’m worried,” Prom said slowly, and Cid rolled his eyes.

“Tell those strapping young men of yours to open the bigger box. Ulric, go be useful and open the other.” Gladio met Iggy’s eyes before shrugging and getting to his knees, grabbing the box and dragging it closer with a grunt. Nyx followed suit, a conternated look quickly overtaking his features.

“What in the hell did you put in these, Sophiar? Bricks?” Nyx grumbled as Gladio managed to open the tape on the one he was working on, and he peeked into the box with a thoughtful frown.

“That explains the wood bottom. Why do I have a feeling that these things are constructed well enough that Iggy could ride around in them?” he said, bringing Iggy’s bemused face over to look in the box as well, leading to a raised eyebrow from the man as well. Yup.

Nyx abandoned the tape and pulled out a multi-tool, prying off the staples at the bottom instead then lifted off the cardboard once he was done. “Well, damn, that’s cool. Only one, huh? That’s asking for trouble, Cid,” Nyx said with a grin, and Gladio managed to get the cardboard off a moment later, showing off both of the man’s creations and leading to a chorus of oohs and ahhs. Inside the boxes were two child-sized cars strapped down to the wood bases, gleaming and sculpted to look almost exactly like their larger counterparts, and Gladio couldn’t help but mirror Nyx’s smile as well.

“You made us a little Regalia and a little Rita,” he said for everyone’s benefit, and that was exactly what they were; both cars had four seats, two in front and two in back, with (after some inspection) apparently working radios, functional retracting roof, and even tiny custom license plates. Considering Rita was a landaulet, the seats in front were covered while the seats in back were open to the air with the roof down, a perfect representation of the original. Cor looked blown away, and Gladio didn’t blame him. The workmanship was superb, and he couldn’t even guess how long it had taken to make these.

“How do they work?” Iggy asked as he looked down at the ignition button, and Cid waved him on.

“Fire them up!” Iggy and Nyx both pushed the ignition buttons at the same time, and the little cars came to life; the headlights turned on, the radios began to play, and Prompto’s jaw dropped.

“Man, I wish I had something like this when I was growing up! Thank you, Cid, these are amazing! Cor, aren’t these amazing?” Gladio glanced over to see Cor’s reaction, and was awarded with a rare sight; Cor was blinking rapidly, and he knew he wasn’t imagining the sheen covering the usually intense blue eyes as the older man turned to look up at Cid, who had the kindest smile Gladio had ever seen on the man as he met Cor’s gaze.

“They are, Prompto. Cid, I-”

“Don’t say a thing, kiddo. I was happy to do it. I’ll have to make sure I sized them properly when they get old enough.” Cid reached over and ruffled Cor’s hair, leading to a few titters and gasps from the audience as Cor rolled his eyes, but didn’t bother moving away.

The old man blustered a lot, but he was perfectly transparent in his fondness for Cor. Gladio turned away from the two to hide his grin, meeting Ignis’s knowing expression while Noct and Prom both ran their hands over the little car.

The more grandparents the better, and Cid definitely had practice.

By the time the gifting part was winding down, he came to the realization that Libertus and a few of the Glaives hadn’t given a single item, which was perfectly fine, of course, if a bit surprising. Surely Nyx’s best friend would have a gift for at least Cor’s and Nyx’s children? After the staff came and cleared the gifts back to the sides of the room, however, the man in question approached Cor and Nyx with a formality that made all of them sit up and take notice as Libertus knelt before them, bracing an arm on his raised knee as he faced them.

“Brother, I am here because your blood cannot be; I act in their place, with the same heart and of the same mind. While it is within me to grant, your children will know not hunger nor exposure, they will be beloved in my heart and treated as my own, and those who wish them harm will know the edge of my blade. In the name of Theia and Selena Ulric, who I have no doubt would be here enjoying every moment of this, I promise this to you and yours.” The room had gone fiercely silent as Libertus spoke, words that definitely smacked of ritual, and Gladio slowly turned his head to see tears pooling in Nyx’s eyes and Cor somewhat bewildered, but definitely honored, but the meaning of the words was clear.

Damn. Gladio actually had chills from the short speech. No wonder there had been no gifts, Libertus had basically promised to be...everything for his friend’s children. That was- He shook his head just enough to clear it before Libertus nodded once, sharply, then rose to his feet and faced Prompto, his serious mien still firmly in place.

“Your grace, while your children will have many protectors, and I do not wish to replace them nor imply that they will not be sufficient, I extend to you a promise; if ever you or your children have need of me and mine, call for me and I will be there.” Libertus bowed as Gladio tilted his head to meet Prom’s eyes, and after exchanging a short, significant look, Prom bowed as well as he could manage from his seated position with a smile.

“Thank you, Libertus Ostium,” Prom replied, and the solemnity of the moment was broken when the Glaive grinned and nodded before stepping away. Just as Gladio thought they were done, the other Glaives he had noted approached them as one, bowing to both Prom and Cor and repeating something very similar to the promise that Libertus had given to Prompto to both Dawnsworn before they too bowed and moved away, those assembled still oddly quiet as no one spoke for a long moment.

Gladio found himself meeting his dad’s eyes in the crowd, the aura of formality fading away as Iris grabbed a plate of cupcakes and began passing them out to the partygoers, feeling overcome by the sheer breadth of attention and care that had been shown to them; his father grinned and nodded, and he felt a thousand times better.

“Everyone really cares,” Prom said quietly behind him, and Gladio reached out and took Iggy’s hand before shifting to look up at his other two boyfriends, his whole body warm with joy.

“Yeah, Prom, they do.”

“Leonis, you look ridiculous,” Councilman Ampelius stated apropo of nothing, and Gladio actually found himself bristling a bit in the marshal’s defense, only for Cor to snort and nod.

“I'm well aware, my Lord,” Cor answered drily, and Ampelius burst out into loud barking laughter, the sort that reverberated off the walls and drew everyone’s attention as the much older man leaned in and slapped the marshal on the shoulder.

“Good reason, though. Take it easy, there will be more battles to fight in the future, even if they are mostly against paperwork these days,” Ampelius chortled, then shoved something in Cor’s hand before stepping away. “If you or anyone in your little family ever need it.” After a quick bow to the king, Ampelius departed without another word, and Gladio found himself leaning in with the others to see what he had handed Cor.

“It’s a family crest,” Iggy stated in shock, and Gladio stared stupidly at the medallion. That was exactly what it was, and it effectively was a shot across the council bow; generally only blood of the old families ever got them, and for a non-family member to receive one…

There was a lot of implied meaning in the move, and Cor was plainly uncertain what it was going to mean for them, while Nyx seemed to realize there was some importance in the gesture, at least. Before the rest of the crowd could move in, though, Gladio watched as Cor wisely curled his fingers around the medallion and stashed it in Nyx’s pocket before returning his attention to the party. It could be dealt with later.

They got a call from the Mews the next morning letting them know that Madame had laid two eggs overnight, and the thrilled Prom immediately called the marshal, who, in true fashion, immediately began to worry about care and whether the Mews had the resources to care for the chocobo and her eggs (they did.)

It was a good weekend.

Chapter Text

 

  “This is actually rather nostalgic for me, you two, I was always fond of seeing my chosen bountiful with the promises of continuing life-”

“I still would have appreciated a heads up,” Cor interrupted a touch sourly, the same way Prompto knew Cor had done every time he had seen her since they had found out, only for the goddess to clearly pretend he hadn’t spoken.

“-although you have both quite reached the point where the effects of your pregnancies have consequences both in the wider world and here in my little haven, unfortunately, but not for very much longer. Have you both prepared for your upcoming arrivals?” the goddess asked, her smile sweet and motherly, and Prompto nodded in honest relief.

“We were definitely running behind, but as for general preparations, I think we are both pretty set,” he replied, and the Dawn Mother gave him a knowing look as she reached out and gently touched his stomach; Prompto had reached the point months ago that he glared at anyone who tried to cop a feel without permission, but she was different. His whole body felt soothed by the simple contact, and he sagged in contentment, Cor doing much the same next to him as she repeated the motion with him as well.

“Well, I suppose better late than never, I suppose,” the goddess said with a laugh before patting their bellies one more time and pulling away. “Prompto, you and what you carry are in excellent health. Continue on as you have been, and you should have no serious difficulty when the time comes.” Prompto hadn’t even realized he had been nervous, but he suddenly felt transcendent with relief at her words. No serious difficulty sounded good to him, but- Prompto looked over at his tired dad, the man’s eyes softening when he met his gaze. What about him? When the moment dragged on for longer than he expected, Cor sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose, his expression growing somber.

“That bad, huh? Are they at least okay?” Cor asked, waving to his stomach, and the goddess’s smile seemed a little pinched to Prompto as she turned towards the older man.

“I will be honest, dearheart, you have not weathered this quite as well as your son. Your passengers are just fine, it is you who has been having steadily increasing...side-effects. I am pleased that the medicine of this time has advanced to the point that it has been able to assist in keeping you mostly healthy, as you would have been bed-bound some months ago otherwise. It does show how one’s apparent fitness does not always mean a smooth go at pregnancy, unfortunately; but you are both almost to the happy moment, and soon you will have far more lively homes,” the Dawn Mother said with a little smile, then she narrowed her eyes at Cor. “Prompto and his partners have figured out their living situation, but are you planning for all four of you remain in your current quarters? While it will probably be fine for now, I fear it might get a little crowded in there once they have grown-”

Cor’s sigh was epic, and Prompto couldn’t stop laughing as his dad’s head dropped into his hands. “I can’t even get a break here anymore,” Cor grumbled, his voice muffled by his position, and Prompto scooted over and threw an arm around his waist, not surprised when the older man leaned into him slightly.

“It’s because we love you that we bother you, you know,” he volunteered, grinning when Cor lifted his head and raised an eyebrow. “It’s true!” He fell silent as Cor’s expression grew considering, and after a minute of his dad looking at him, looking at the Dawn Mother, and then gazing at the sky, Cor finally nodded.

“Yeah, I suppose it is.” Cor yawned and sagged enough that Prompto quickly readjusted to keep them both from falling over. “Sorry, son, I’m just tired.” The goddess reached out and stroked her hands through both Prompto’s hair and Cor’s, her whole demeanor radiating peace.

“Rest, you two. I do not wish to rob you too much of your sleep, we will speak another day. While there are still some who oppose what you are, or even who you are in some cases, do not forget there are many who care for you both. Do not hesitate if they offer to help, dear hearts, they are not your weakness, they are your strength.”

Prompto bowed his head as the grassy meadow fell away, the weight of Cor’s body against his side vanishing as he blinked his eyes open in the dark. Noct was behind him, his body flush against his while Iggy was in front of him, his hand resting on Prompto’s stomach, and Prompto sighed on impulse as Ignis’s eyes cracked open, looking blearily into his as the man’s hand began to move on his belly.

“Prompto, is everything alright?” Iggy whispered, and Prompto nodded as he leaned forward and gave him a soft kiss before settling his head back on the pillow.

“Just talking with the goddess, that’s all. She said I’m doing great, and even she’s a little worried about dad. Nothing really major, just a chat,” he yawned, losing the fight to keep his eyes open. “Sorry for waking you.” Iggy murmured something in response, but Prompto drifted off before he could reply.

“Did we ever figure out the poisoning thing from Tenebrae? Luna and Ravus both said that they never did find out who did it, and as far as I know, no one has tried anything since? At least, if they tried, they didn’t reach either of us,” Prompto asked the next morning as he munched on some toast, and Gladio shook his head.

“No, they never figured it out. I think Cor and my dad both wondered if it was someone hired by Lady Flavia, as the woman has been quite publicly vocal on how she thinks the arrangement will lead to the downfall of Lucis etcetera etcetera,” Gladio replied, then stuffed a sausage in his mouth whole, which garnered a long-suffering look from Iggy. “Whaa?” Noct snorted softly as Gladio whined, and Prompto reached over and rested his right hand on the prince’s left wrist.

“What do you think, Noct? Have you heard anything?” Noct shrugged, but his expression was thoughtful.

“Dad thought that Flavia was definitely an option, as I guess she said straight up during one of the earlier council meetings that she thought you should be...forced to terminate, among other things, and has only calmed the rhetoric down in the meetings because Clarus told her he’d have her removed if she brought it up again. She’s not subtle, that’s for sure,” Noct mused as he moved his arm and took Prompto’s fingers in his own. “Just keep an eye out for unusual things, of course, especially when you go visit Madame and her eggs at the Mews. That’s probably the most exposed you get these days.”

“Not like I don’t usually have a few of you there with me or anything,” Prompto commented knowingly, and Noct grinned before leaning forward and kissing him on the cheek.

“Well, considering it takes you a half-hour to get up if one of us isn’t there to haul you to your feet- ow.”

The smack Prompto laid on Noct’s head was entirely deserved.

“So Prompto, do you have any plans today?” Iggy asked as they wandered back into the living room, and Prompto nodded, waving absently towards the spare room...nursery. Well, soon, anyway, Gladio had been talking about painting-

“Dad is supposed to come over and we were going to try and enchant another set of discs,” he replied, and Noct came up from behind him and wrapped his arm around his waist. Well, as well as he could, anyway.

“Need someone else here as a spotter or something? I’d love an excuse to get out of the uncomfortable council meeting I’ve been ordered to attend-”

“Noctis,” Iggy growled, and Prompto cackled as the arm unwound from his waist with a huff.

“It was a legitimate question!” Noct grumbled, and Gladio snorted as he walked by, patting them both on the shoulder as he passed.

“I’m going to be here, Prince Layabout, so don’t you worry about things. Go be a proper prince and go to the council meeting,” Gladio said, his smirk unforgiving, and Prompto grinned and wandered over to his chocobo chair, carefully lowering himself into it as Noct huffed his annoyance in the background.

Just a nice, calm morning.

Iggy and Noct departed soon after, and Prompto alternated between dozing, reading, and watching TV while Gladio puttered around the apartment. When noon went by and there was no sign of Cor, however, Prompto texted him first, gave him five minutes, then tried to call; when he still couldn’t reach the man, he sighed and pulled himself to his feet (they had rigged a rope handle to help.)

“Gladio, let’s go to dad’s quarters, he’s not answering his phone and he was supposed to be here almost fifteen minutes ago,” he said, and Gladio looked up from his book, glancing over to the clock then nodding.

“Yeah, sounds good.”

Cor was only a few floors down, and even with his reduced pace (he didn’t waddle, thank you) they made it in only about five minutes, and Prompto knocked on the door. Then waited. Then knocked. Then waited. After a full two minutes outside the door, Prompto finally sighed and keyed in, Gladio stepping in first and looking around before shrugging.

“Nothing unusual, he’s probably just asleep. I’ll let you check,” Gladio said, and Prompto nodded and headed to the bedroom, tapping on the closed door (still no response) before slowly opening it; as he had pretty much expected, Cor was curled up around a pillow in bed, the blankets pulled up so only the top half of his head was visible, and Prompto smiled ruefully before walking over and sitting on the edge of the bed.

“Hey Dad, you alive under there?” No answer, and he reached out and grabbed at a blanket covered ankle, shaking it slightly. “Dad, hey, you said you’d be at my place at noon.” Not even an annoyed twitch, and Prompto felt a thread of concern weave into his stomach. “Cor? You okay?” He shook Cor’s ankle a little harder, but there was still no response, and he wasn’t going to wait any longer. He shifted until he could see Cor’s face then gently peeled back the blankets until he could see to at least mid-torso; Cor was thankfully breathing fine, but no matter how many times Prompto shook a limb or poked him, he didn’t budge. He didn’t like this. Cor could be a hard sleeper, but this seemed extreme-

“Prom? Everything alright?” Gladio’s voice made him turn, and he met his tallest partner’s eyes with a frown.

“He seems to be breathing okay, but I can’t get him up. I’ve shook his ankles, his arms, poked him a few times, even pulled on his hair for a moment...he’s not even twitched. I don’t know what to do, should I call Nyx?” he asked, and Gladio nodded.

“I would, he’d know what was going on better than any of us, after all,” Gladio pointed out, and Prompto fished his phone out of his pocket and dialed.

“Ulric.”

“Hey Nyx, it’s Prompto. I have a quick question for you, if that’s okay,” Prompto asked, getting a positive sounding hum in reply.

“Hey kid, of course! What’s going on?”

“Is Cor sleeping...kinda hard these days?” The sharp intake of breath that shifted to a sigh answered that, and he sighed. “Is not being able to wake him up in general normal?”

“He was supposed to meet up with you today, right? He mentioned it yesterday,” Nyx said with a sigh. “I’m guessing you went to him when he didn’t show?”

“I’m sitting next to him on your bed, I’ve poked, prodded, jiggled his arms and legs...nothing’s working,” he mumbled as he reached out and patted Cor’s cheek. “Should I call for the doctor?” Prompto asked, his tone more small and childish than he would ever admit to, and to his surprise, he got a negative noise from the other end.

“No, he’s...fine, according to Dr. Domitia. She said he’s suffering from an extreme form of fatigue, and there’s not a lot she can do at this point, he just needs to ride it out. She also said he would have probably had this even if he was twenty-seven and not forty-seven, although she did say it probably would have been less severe. Some people are just prone to it, supposedly,” Nyx said with a sigh that reverberated down the connection. “Maybe give him another hour and try again? His bladder will eventually wake him up.” Prompto snorted his amusement before he could stop himself, and Nyx huffed a laugh from the other end. “It’s true!”

After he hung up with Nyx, he made the executive decision to just wait in Cor’s apartment, and he and Gladio sat down and watched television until he heard the suspicious sounds of Cor moving around in the bedroom.

“Yay, finally. Give me a minute,” he said, then scooted to the bedroom door and knocked. “Hey Dad, you alive in there?” He heard the toilet flush, then footsteps come up to the door.

“Prompto? What are you doing here?” Cor’s voice came through the door as he opened it, and Prompto frowned at the sight his dad made as they stood only a few feet apart. Cor was bare-chested, paler than usual, and looked like he hadn’t slept in a week. But since Prompto knew the man was sleeping almost constantly, it was clear that it just wasn’t making much of an effect. Prompto gave his dad a smile, even as the rest of him wanted to stuff the man back into bed. Soon. They were already effectively full-term, but with Dr. Domitia still seriously worried over how the kids were getting out, she was hoping that they held on a little longer. Cor may not have that option much longer, though, not with him having so many side effects- “Shit, I forgot about our meeting. I’m sorry, son, I guess I slept through it,” Cor said with a frown as he turned and walked to his dresser, pulling out a t-shirt and pulling it on, the shirt stretching threateningly over his stomach. “I’m good now.”

“You sure? You look pretty wiped, we can postpone-”

Cor shook his head, a resigned look on his face. “I’ve been informed that it’s probably only going to get worse until I finally...finish, so I might as well do whatever we need to do now,” Cor explained, and Prompto considered just calling the whole thing off, but the stubborn look on his dad’s face told him that…wasn’t the best idea. So he nodded, then walked back into the living room, where Gladio rose to his feet and smiled.

“We good now?” Cor looked like he wanted to say something when he realized they had both been there waiting, but the older man visibly swallowed back the words.

“Yes, let’s go.”

While Prompto had been initially concerned about how they would go about trying to enchant the discs to do what they want, the ability to reach out and attach them to travel to specific destinations appeared to be an ability they both had, and after a bit of trial and error with the first set (they had popped back and forth from the Citadel to Sarras several times while they figured it out, which had driven both Ignis and Nyx crazy with worry...not that either of them would have admitted it.) Basically, the anchor, the disk that wasn’t a million floors down, needed to be done first; they were aligning the current set with the top floor of the residential block, then linking that anchor with the other disc, which would be mounted in the corner of a far lower floor. If they reversed the two, they were in for a long walk, or, more likely considering their current condition, deep shit. This set was to link the first residential floor with the thirtieth, making it their fourth set. The first set had linked the first floor of the tower proper with the top floor of the residential block, then the second linked the first residential floor with the tenth, then the third set with the twentieth; the current set would be to the thirtieth floor, and so forth. The discs were prohibitively expensive, handmade by a metalsmith whose shop had held the royal warrant for centuries, and they had to be tactical as to their placement until they had the funding to procure more. Cor wanted to be very careful with what funds the crown was able to spare, if only to avoid more annoying discussions in front of the council. Prompto didn’t blame him.

Gladio helped Cor to a cushion on the floor in the spare room, surrounded by cribs and fine furniture, then Prompto accepted his help as well to sit down on the other cushion, the first disc sitting between them.

“Anchoring to the usual, right?” Prompto asked Cor, who nodded, only for Gladio to suddenly make a sound behind them.

“Wait, don’t you two have to step there to install these?” Gladio said suspiciously, his expression growing clouded, and Prompto winced, his eyes darting anywhere but his partner.

“Just for a minute?” he tried to offer, only for Gladio to scowl and move over to Prompto’s side, his arms crossed as he looked down at the two of them on the floor.

“Prom, this isn’t a good idea, you aren’t the most stable on your feet right now, and Cor-” Gladio turned towards Cor, who had already looked like he was ready to start yelling. “Cor, you aren’t in the best shape. I know it sucks, but are you really up to this? You’ve gotta bring you both back twice, all the way from Costlemark...does Nyx even know what your meeting was for today?” Gladio scolded, and Prompto sighed as Cor’s gaze danced away, his whole form emanating obstinate rebellion, which also neatly answered Gladio’s question. Aw hell. He hadn’t even thought about it, as they had just done a set a few weeks prior, but Cor hadn’t seemed so exhausted then.

“Maybe we should wait?” he asked tentatively, only for Cor to scowl and also cross his arms. Prompto could feel a headache creeping up the back of his neck as the moment dragged on, and Gladio sighed.

“Marshal, this is hardly an emergency, I’m sure these can wait another month or so-” Cor’s glare could have stripped paint, and even the tough Gladio recoiled on impulse as Cor set his hands to the disc.

“I’m fine. We’ll get this set done, which should help clear up most of the room so you can finish your preparations, and then we’ll wait on the other set until after.” Prompto looked up at his boyfriend, who grimaced again and scratched at his hair.

“Nyx is going to kill you when he finds out, you know that, right?” Prompto pointed out, and Cor sagged slightly before shaking his head.

“It’s fine.”

Prompto was really beginning to hate hearing those words.

In the end, it mostly worked out, even if Gladio had to all but carry the completely wiped out Cor to the sofa to rest after they were done, the man too exhausted to complain. Prompto was tired, but able to follow under his own power, watching as Cor fell asleep almost immediately upon lying down.

Enough. Prompto had, over the past few years, really come to see just why the king and Lord Amicitia sometimes seemed like they wanted to bop Cor one. The man was ridiculously stubborn, and unfortunately, it had centered around his health ever since the whole pregnancy thing had been discovered. No one told Cor when to quit. He had managed to convince him to finally take his leave from work, but for every rational decision, another completely illogical one seemed to follow in its wake.

He was beginning to think that this was Cor’s equivalent to the pregnancy mood swing stereotypes. He was half surprised that Nyx hadn’t just strangled him in his sleep yet.

“He did what?” Nyx snarled as he looked down at the sleeping Cor a few hours later, and Prompto grimaced.

“Yeah, I know, I’ll be honest, the whole installation process being an issue didn’t even come to mind until Gladio brought it up, as we had been fine just a few weeks prior, but...yeah. You know how he is, but he’s been even worse in the last few months,” Prompto said with a sigh, and Nyx made a series of unhappy noises before falling into the nearest chair.

“I suppose when you’ve powered ahead and dealt with everything largely on your own throughout your life, it’s hard to give that up, but he’s seemed more...stupid about it lately,” Nyx said, his voice deceptively light, and Prompto snorted from his perch on his beloved chocobo beanbag chair.

“I think it’s hormones.”

Nyx laughed so hard he snorted, which finally woke Cor; after a short comedy of errors moment where Cor’s half-awake gaze locked on to Nyx and he almost tumbled clear off the sofa in apparent panic, the older man dragged himself upright, allowing Nyx to sit down next to him.

“Cor,” Nyx said softly, and Prompto shifted in his chair and settled in with his hands resting on his stomach. Gladio had wisely cleared out when Nyx arrived, ensconcing himself in the future nursery to contemplate paint colors, supposedly.

Prompto smelled bullshit.

“Yeah.” Cor’s voice was smaller than Prompto was used to, and he found himself frowning as Nyx sighed and brought a hand up to the back of Cor’s head, letting it move slowly down his spine.

“I’m not going to lecture, I’m just going to ask you to please take care of yourself. You’re almost done, babe, just a little longer,” Nyx asked, his voice still pitched low, and Prompto found himself looking away. This was between them this time, he had already said his piece. Cor really was being a complete moron, and this was coming from him. He was hardly the epitome of genius, but really.

A few minutes of vaguely uncomfortable (for him, anyway) discussion later, Nyx and Cor both got to their feet and nodded to him. “Sorry, son, you and Gladio were probably-”

“Ehem.” The look on Nyx’s face (and probably his own, to be honest) was classic, and Cor swallowed heavily and pinched the bridge of his nose.

“-you were both right. I don’t know why I’m being so obstinate about this, I’ve certainly been laid up before and I wasn’t this bad,” Cor said with a frown, and Prompto met Nyx’s eyes with a grin before turning back towards Cor.

“Hormones.”

Cor’s answering sigh was definitely one of his better ones.

While he was definitely holding up better than Cor, who seemed to be doing a steady downward slide into complete narcolepsy that had only gotten worse since the last disc enchanting session only a week prior, he, on the other hand, could barely sleep more than an hour at a time, with his back hurting so much with the massive unbalancing weight that listed him forward, and even Dr. Domitia had been hesitant to give him any painkillers beyond basic over-the-counter ones, so he...toughed it out. As quietly as he could manage, anyway; while he was pretty good at convincing Noct he was okay, Iggy was good at sniffing out when he was in more pain than usual, while Gladio?

He couldn’t fool Gladio at all. But Gladio played along most of the time if he was trying to tough it out, and he loved him for it. Unlike a certain brown-haired forty-seven year old, he was more realistic about his current state, and he dealt with it.

Most of the time.

Prompto was jolted from his musings by his cell phone ringing, and he felt for it uselessly for a moment before finally bringing it to his ear.

“Hello?”

“Prompto, how are you doing today?” Prompto managed to wriggle into an upright position at the sound of the king’s voice on the other end, taking so long he heard a dignified chuckle from the other end. “That well, I see.”

“Oh, no no, I was laying down, I’m just my usual level of achy at this point. Can I help you, your majesty?”

“Are you alone? Or is one of your other parts around to possibly escort you up? I wished to speak with you,” the king said, and Prompto stiffened. Why him? He had seen far more of his majesty in recent months, which wasn’t surprising considering the current situation, but he hadn’t had a one on one with the man since...the debrief after his one successful trip before everything blew up in their faces. What could he want now?

“Er, it’s just me here, your majesty, Ignis won’t be back from his meeting for another hour-”

“Ah, I understand. I’ll be over in a few minutes, then.” The line went dead, and Prompto stared stupidly at his phone for a moment before shrieking (not that he would ever admit to it,) then scooting off the bed and getting to his feet, hustling into the bathroom and hurriedly brushing his hair and splashing some water on his face. He hadn’t been in anything from his comfy dumpy clothes in two months, so he wasn’t too worried about that, but he quickly scanned his shirt for stains before deeming it acceptable. Now to make sure the apartment wasn’t a mess-

Thankfully, Iggy especially was excellent at keeping things decently straight, but the king still entered to Prompto trying to clean up his pillow mountain off the sofa.

“Prompto, it’s fine, I didn’t give you any real warning, you don’t need to clean up for me,” the king stated with a kind, but firm, tone, and Prompto found himself freezing in place, a pillow in his arms crushed against his chest as he stared blankly at the eternally dignified king, and after a long awkward moment that left his back and feet throbbing as he remained unmoving, his majesty sighed and walked over, gently prying the squashed pillow from his arms and coaxing him to sit on the sofa. “I really am here just to chat with you, Prompto, you need not be so worried.” Prompto knew his face was redder than Gladio’s favorite chair, but thankfully, the king seemed willing to let him regain his composure for a few moments, which also allowed him to shift a bit around and find a more comfortable position. The kids had decided that it was a good time to start testing the walls of his abdomen the instant he had gotten out of bed, and he grimaced as one got a good kick in to his side, which worked spectacularly well for getting rid of his embarrassment.

“Sorry, it’s just, you know, you aren’t just Noct’s dad, you’re the king, and I’m just a giant useless ball right now-”

“Prompto, you are many things, and yes, a ball isn’t the most…” the king trailed off, his smile growing a touch whimsical. “-a ball is probably somewhat accurate as to your current shape, but you are hardly useless. After all, there’s my grandchildren in there, son, and I can’t wait to meet them.” The king motioned to the spot on the sofa next to Prompto, his smile growing wider. “May I sit?” Prompto immediately nodded, and the older man made himself comfortable next to him with a quiet little grunt. Prompto took the moment to examine his majesty closer; the loss of the crystal and ring had been blatantly beneficial to him, and he compared in his head the images of the king from the height of the war to the man’s appearance now, and he was utterly relieved. They may have caused all sorts of problems, but he would never regret his part in getting rid of the Scourge and the empire. Fuck them. The king suddenly flashed him a knowing little grin, and Prompto squeaked, his eyes skittering away and focusing on Gladio’s current read on the coffee table while he started to chew on his bottom lip. “Oh no, none of that, Prompto.” His majesty tapped a finger against the edge of Prompto’s mouth, and he reluctantly forced himself to stop. “Do I look so old? I know I don’t have the gift of looking ten years younger than my actual age like Cor does, but I like to think I’m a little fresher faced these days-”

“No, you look great, your majesty, I was just thinking of how you looked during the war as compared to now,” Prompto interrupted, then stiffened and looked down at his stomach. “Sorry for interrupting.” The king’s smile faded as he raised a hand loosely in the air, and it took everything in Prompto not to flinch. Why would he flinch? This was Noct’s dad, he had always been kind-

“May I?” May he what? Prompto didn’t know, but it wasn’t like he had the right to ask-

“Sure?”

The king gently laid his hand on his stomach, slowly moving it from the side to the top center; the touch was so soothing and warm that he felt himself drooping in relief as the little boxers in his stomach calmed down, and he didn’t even realize that he had closed his eyes until he heard a little chuckle.

“This always worked on Aulea back when she was carrying Noctis, she said it was the only good thing about my damn magic,” the king huffed with amusement, and Prompto drifted for a moment until the king’s words penetrated his blessedly pain-free self. Magic? His eyes shot open, and he looked at the mildly illuminated hand resting on his stomach in confusion until he realized what the king was doing. Heat. The king was using a tiny bit of his fire magic to soothe his stomach; it was utterly ingenious, and he found himself wishing that Noctis had thought of it.

“This is amazing, thank you. They all woke up when I got out of bed after you called, and well…” he trailed off with a little shrug, even as the king slowly slid his hand back and forth around the top half of his giant gut; a little part of him wondered if it was a little weird, after all, this was Noct’s father, let alone the king, but his little passengers were quiet, and even his back pain was muted. It was probably the first time in months that he didn’t completely ache, so...he found himself not caring too much.

“I’m happy to help, I sense I should have mentioned the idea to my son, however. You’ve been in pain for some time, haven’t you?” The concern was plain on the king’s face, and Prompto couldn’t lie to him, giving a little nod before sighing.

“Dad’s having more of the less common side effects, like the constant exhaustion and crazy hormone stuff, well, that’s my theory on him being an idiot lately, anyway, but he told me he’s actually just having mild body aches most of the time. I’m guessing the fact he’s so much larger has helped. I don’t even know how I’ve got three fitting in here, it still blows my mind,” he said, then forced himself to sit back up, his majesty lifting his hand away from his stomach as he shifted his position. He felt its loss right away, but he certainly wasn’t going to ask for it back.

Now that would have been weird.

“I suppose I should reach the point of my visit at some point,” his majesty commented, and Prompto swallowed against the sudden jolt of nerves at the words. “Don’t start that again, Prompto, I simply wish to ask you a few questions, entirely out of curiosity. No matter your answer, I would not think any less of you, young man. You know I have the utmost respect for you and what you’ve done for the world,” the king pointed out, and Prompto forced himself to nod, even though he knew it probably looked rather insincere.

“Yes, sir.”

“What were you thinking of for the future? After the children are born and your routine is established, I sincerely doubt you planned to stay at home and be a stay-at-home parent. You did so well with your first assignment that I was hoping you would consider continuing in it once you are able,” the king asked, and Prompto felt instantly relieved. He hadn’t known what to expect, but this? This he could answer.

“That was my hope, your majesty, I don’t want to return to being a- a-” he scratched at the side of his head sheepishly. “I don’t want be a freeloader again.” The king sighed, but there was a fond tone to it that made Prompto’s cheeks warm.

“You could never be a freeloader, Prompto. You helped save the world, but more importantly to me, you have remained staunchly loyal to Noctis, Ignis, and Gladio, even though I know there have been those who have tried to catch your eye, both for friendships of convenience as well as more intimate dalliances, and as far as I can tell, you have never wavered once. That takes great strength of character, and it has only added exponentially to my respect for you. You and Cor are the harbingers of great change here on Eos, and I do suspect that at least you will spend some extended time at Sarras as the years go on. I’m not as sure about Cor, but well, perhaps he’ll surprise me,” his majesty said, then smiled. “Most importantly, you are the...I suppose mother isn’t the right term here, but the bearer of my future grandchildren. And before you point out that they could just as easily be Ignis’s or Gladio’s, I’m very well aware of that. I consider the four of you as a unit, and I look forward to spoiling the kids when they arrive. And that includes your soon to be siblings, just so you know. Not that Cor won’t spoil the hell out of them himself, I know already that it’s going to be Captain Ulric who will be the tough parent out of those two.”

Prompto burst out laughing at the last line, and received a cheeky grin in reply that really made the resemblance between father and son apparent. The king wasn’t wrong, he had no doubts Cor would be a class A pushover when it came to his kids (not for the important stuff, of course, but he knew who would be ice cream and cake dad already,) he had already been like that with him…

“I think I’ll start compiling some tentative future assignments for you. We can go over them after the children get here and you are settled, as I said before, and I’m sure we will work out a cohesive path for the future,” the king explained, his smile still firmly in place as Prompto twitched as one of his little passengers decided to kick at his side. “Awake again?” Prompto huffed a tired laugh before patting at the affected spot.

“I’m used to it, but I am looking forward to this being over. I really am. Even if the doc still isn’t sure how- er, never mind,” Prompto squeaked, and the older man raised an eyebrow.

“I didn’t even think about that, is she thinking surgery?” Prompto shrugged.

“She said only if it becomes an emergency; she thinks, and honestly, Cor and I both agree, that our abilities will somehow provide an answer when it’s time. I’m trying not to think about it too much,” he groused, and the king gave a single bark of laughter before reaching out and patting him on the shoulder.

“I don’t find myself blaming you.” The king rose to his feet, motioning for Prompto to remain seated. “I’ll leave you to your rest, Prompto, thanks for indulging me for a little chat.” The older man stepped away, but only a few seconds later, he turned back around, a questioning look on his face.

“Your majesty?” For the first time since he had arrived, the king looked somewhat hesitant, but the man shook his head slightly and smiled.

“Prompto, considering the constant stream of rumors coming from the media, I must ask; have you and Noctis, or any combination of you all, talked about marriage? There’s no legal precedent for a four-way marriage, unfortunately, which is why I was so focused on making sure any possible children from Noctis and you were declared legitimate, but there’s been so much discussion of it that I must ask,” the king stated, and Prompto’s jaw dropped.

Marriage? As far as he could remember, they had only joked a little about it, but they had all decided that since they couldn’t all get married together, they weren’t in any real rush to think about it. Ignis had brought up the possibility that it would have been best for Noctis and him to get married, especially in regards to the children, but that had been put on a very distant contingency list in case things had gone poorly. If any of them was to get married, it would probably be Cor and Nyx-    

“I’m guessing not much, by your expression. Or you all decided that since you couldn’t all get married, you wouldn’t. One of the two, I’m guessing?” the king asked, and Prompto giggled in pure awkwardness as his majesty sighed in amusement. “That’s what I thought, there’s no way it wouldn’t have come up at least once with Ignis here, after all.” The older man proceeded to the door, but turned around once again in the entryway. “My cousin said he spoke to Captain Ulric the morning of the vote and asked him much the same question; according to him, he got a dumbfounded stare and a bit of choking, so he assumed they haven’t talked much about it either. If I was Lady Galla, I would be launching into a morality lecture, but I’m not, and frankly, a little wildness around here is just what we need, I think.” The king opened the door, and nodded. “Enjoy the rest of your day, son, I’m sure I’ll see you soon.” The door closed behind his majesty, and Prompto sat dazed on the sofa.

While he was thrilled that the king truly seemed to like him, and the council had decided there was worse evils than having a weird boy have the prince’s children, there still felt like there was another shoe about to drop, and he didn’t mean the whole giving birth part. Prompto sighed and dragged himself to his feet, making a short stop at the bathroom before wandering back into the bedroom and burrowing back into bed. Maybe the little bastards would let him take a nap.

“Hey Prom, how are you doing?” Noct’s voice woke him from a surprisingly deep sleep, and he glared at the man on impulse. “Oh, wow, I think you are taking lessons from Cor,” Noct commented, and Prompto glared again until the kids all decided to kick at his sides in unison, driving the breath from his body in a moan. “Aw hell, dad said you seemed pretty worn out when he visited earlier, he taught me a trick that he says works really well, want me to try it on you?”

“Just make sure you know what you are doing first,” he muttered, and Noct smiled.

“Yeah yeah, I prefer not to boil the kids and you, so I’m sure.”

“That’s a wonderful mental picture, Noct. Just astounding,” Iggy said as he came up to the bed, and Prompto closed his eyes as a slightly-too warm hand came to rest on his abdomen.

“Just a bit less on the heat, Noct, it’s a little too much.” Noct hummed, the touch on his stomach becoming absolutely divine. “Oh, that’s amazing, I’m going to just melt here and enjoy this, just so you all know.”

“Go back to sleep, Prom, I’ve got you,” Noct said softly, and Prompto managed to reach out and brush his fingers down Noct’s face before he sighed and closed his eyes.

He had such wonderful boyfriends.

Another week inched by, full of sore backs, pummelled stomachs, and eternally sleeping Cor; Dr. Domitia was looking more and more concerned when she stopped in to examine them, but there had been no sign of anything that was going to answer the eternal question.

How? Prompto and Cor found themselves in their favorite meadow only hours after their last examination, the Dawn Mother smiling sweetly at both of them as they melted into the grass with relieved sighs. Things hurt far less in her land than they did in the real world, but that still didn’t mean that either of them had the energy to do much either way.

“Your bodies will provide an answer at the right time, my chosen, do not panic. I doubt I will see you again in person before your babes arrive, so I want you both to remember that I am with you always; if you truly have need of my assistance, you only need call for me. Take care, dearhearts, and I look forward to meeting them.”

Prompto knew he did too, but at this point, he’d settle for them to just be out. Cor was in much the same state, and the whole Citadel and the media seemed to be on tenterhooks waiting for the big moment.

He never thought he’d be one of those celebrities that they were doing baby watch TV shows about, and with the added excitement of probable future royal baby, there was no way he could escape it. Ugh.

Prompto kept flipping channels on the TV, avoiding anything that had news or talk while trying to ignore the somersaults happening in his belly. They just had a little longer to go. Just a little longer. He was trusting the Dawn Mother on this, because he was done. He finally settled on a replay of an old movie about gangsters and weird family dynamics, one that wasn’t his favorite, but he didn’t feel like watching anything else he had seen on either. He had managed the bathroom a few minutes prior, and that was the extent of his recent activity; his back was killing him like usual, and he just shifted on the couch frequently in an attempt to remain comfortable. He was at least an hour into the movie when he heard the sounds of someone outside the door, and smiled. Maybe one of them was stopping in early? He wouldn’t mind some company-

The door opened, slowly enough to cause it to creak slightly, and a chill ran down Prompto’s spine. That wasn’t any of his boyfriends at the door, and he didn’t even need to turn around to smell the muted scent of what he would describe as decay and neutral soaps as the person came inside, but he did anyway, his heart skipping a beat in fear as his eyes focused on his unwanted guest.

The man was subtly hooded, just enough to shadow his face from view if he tilted his head just so, and Prompto barely managed to lever himself to his feet, knocking his pillow stack to the floor when the intruder dove towards him, a long dagger clutched in one hand. An assassin? He had expected a lot, but an assassin? According to Dr. Domitia, the majority of triplet pregnancies didn’t reach eight months, let alone completely full term, and he was reminded intensely of that as he tried to dodge another thrust of the stranger’s blade, wincing as it caught the side of his shirt, giving him a nasty cut. Damn, he’d have to shoot him, he didn’t have much else of a choice. He tried to retrieve his gun from the armiger, only for the familiar feel of metal to not slap into his palm. Wait, what?

“The imperial instability has made it easier to find some tools that make my job easier, young voice, and there is someone who very much wants to make sure you don’t reach the end of your pregnancy. Nothing personal,” the assassin said as he dove towards Prompto again, the blade catching the side of his arm this time, the wound deep enough to cause him to almost stumble from the pain as he fled towards the bedrooms, knocking several things to the floor in hopes of gaining some time-

Cor! Cor, I need you! Anyone, please! Prompto was aware enough to realize that Cor was deeply asleep, the almost frightening level of sleep he had been more and more prone to over the past few weeks, and he realized there would be no help coming from that quarter. He would have to figure this out himself, he didn’t expect any of them home for hours. The assassin clearly assumed he had his waddling ass cornered, as his movements were calm and deliberate as Prompto almost went into their bedroom, then froze; the bedroom was a dead end, that wouldn’t work. Shit! He and his kids were going to die there if he couldn’t think of something-

He dashed (as well as he could manage, anyway) into the half-constructed nursery where Gladio had just finished painting, cribs already in place, slamming the door and locking it behind him. That would give him just a moment, but-

Wait. The discs! They had one untouched set ready to go, just waiting for Cor and him to be able to finish them, but maybe he could- The door shook as the intruder tried to get in, and he stumbled over to the closest disc and fell painfully to his knees, slamming his hands against the disc as he reached out, feeling the essence of the ancient stones of Sarras brushing against his consciousness, and he yanked sloppily at that sensation, attaching it to the cold metal under his palms as the door shook one more time. He had no more time, had no idea where he had lashed it to, he just had to hope it worked with just him doing it. He had just regained his feet, his knees throbbing as the door flew open, smashing into the wall as a slightly-less composed assassin skulked in, his blade at the ready.

“What did you think you were doing, kid? There’s no exit-”

Prompto opened his mouth and screamed. The assassin stumbled, but did not fall as he slapped a hand against one of his ears for a moment; Prompto tried to move around him, but the attacker recovered quickly, the man’s eyes blazing with fury as he lunged towards him, dagger at the ready. Prompto realized that perhaps he didn’t think this out very well when they both fell onto the disc, the intruder’s blade buried in his right shoulder. The blue light overtook them, and the Citadel fell away, the two crashing to the floor in what Prompto knew was one of the lower levels of the residential areas of old Sarras. The blade was roughly ripped from his shoulder in the ruckus, and the scream that erupted from his throat was far less controlled than the first as his nails scraped at the stone as he tried to drag himself away, taking advantage of his attacker’s shock from the teleportation.

Fuck, that hurt! Blood was already running down his arm as he managed to regain his feet, his arm, knees, and back all radiating with pain, but adrenaline was keeping him moving as his opponent got to his feet as well, anger oozing from every pore.

“Where in the hell are we?” the man yelled, and Prompto reached out without thinking, the wonderfully familiar grip of his favorite gun falling into his palm. Yes! The assassin froze as Prompto brought his weapon up, pointing it right at his assailant.

“To paraphrase a movie quote, you come into my house-” The man dove at him as he fired, the first shot hitting his shoulder, causing him to stumble back; Prompto raised his aching arm one more time and aimed, waiting to see if the bastard tried again.

“Is this your damn tower? Isn’t that hours away?” the assassin yelled, and even though every bit of him hurt, his children were currently trying to kick their way out of him in distress, and he just wanted some painkillers and a shower, he found himself grinning as he held his position steady.

“It is! I’d bid you welcome, but I think I’ll have to rescind that, I don’t really tend to get along with people who’ve stabbed me,” he drawled. “Let me make this clear, you move again, that’s gonna be it. I’m actually a pretty good shot, which I know, I don’t look like I’d be, but yeah,” he said, enjoying the furious confusion on the man’s face.

“You can barely walk, and you expect me to believe-” His assailant dove to the side, and well, shit. He had warned him…

A single gunshot, and the assassin hit the ground, his gaze fixing on the stone ceiling in a way that told Prompto that he wouldn’t be moving again. Well. That happened. Prompto staggered away from the body, managing to reach one of the walls, leaning against it and letting himself slide to the floor. He was in the low levels. Like, fifty floors down low. He could barely walk across the room, there was no way he was going to be able to make it up all those stairs. He looked over at his arm, which was entirely covered with blood that was still flowing freely from the wound, and felt utterly dispassionate about it. That wasn’t a good sign. The room was growing darker as he laid there, and he forced himself to close his eyes and reach out one more time.

Cor, I really hate to do this, but I really don’t want to join the other ghosts down here in the tower, I need your help! This time he got some sort of awareness back, a presence wrapped in worry and panic, and he automatically tried to send soothing vibes to his dad, even as everything started to fade at the edges, the low light of the walls dimming as he felt his tenuous grasp on consciousness slip away.

This couldn’t be it, he didn’t want to die alone with his equally soon-to-be dead children along with him in a cold tower. He didn’t. He wanted his loves to see their kids, to be there with them…

Dawn Mother, help-

“I have you, dearheart.”

 

-------------

 

Clarus was just drying off his face in the restroom after a quick shave when he heard an out of place sound coming from the living room, and he found himself reaching for his sword in the armiger as he crept towards the noise- only to dart forward and grab Cor before he could collapse. The younger man fought him out of instinct for a moment before sagging into his arms, his strange burst of energy gone, and Clarus quickly helped him sit in the nearest chair, Cor clinging to his wrists with an unnerving desperation.

“Cor, what in the world? You aren’t supposed to be doing your teleporting schtick, you’re supposed to be in bed-” Cor grappled at his arms, his eyes wild, and Clarus was rapidly becoming concerned that his friend was having some sort of meltdown as he struggled for words. “Cor, deep breaths, I need you to calm down-”

“Prompto,” Cor gasped, and Clarus felt a chill shoot down his spine. “Something’s happened to Prompto, he called out to me...I don’t think he’s here in the Citadel anymore.” Clarus pulled away from the distraught man and grabbed a shirt he had laying over the nearby sofa, pulling it on and heading straight to the door.

“Cor, I’ll go check their quarters. Stay here-” he trailed off with a growl as Cor moved to his side, his gait worryingly unsteady, but his expression was not welcoming any other input on the matter. “Fine, I’m going in first, though, you tire out in twenty feet of walking, you’re gonna be near-useless fighting if there’s something going on.” Not waiting for a response, Clarus headed out his door and straight down the hall, heading to the elevator; there was one advantage of his position as shield in case of emergency, and that was the permanent quarters in the royal wing. The boys were only two floors down, and thankfully, Cor was able to keep up with him as they exited the elevator car and headed to the prince’s quarters; the lock was deactivated, he could see that before he even reached the door, and while they had a bad tendency in the past to forget to lock the damn thing, they had been especially careful since the revelation of the pregnancy came down, and even more careful after the apparent murder attempt on Cor. He didn’t like this.

His sword was in his hand as he opened the prince’s door slowly, his head peeking around it as he swung it open the rest of the way, Cor a few feet behind him similarly armed as they entered the room.

“Prompto?” he called out, and to no surprise, there was no answer; Cor moved around him, ignoring his prior edict, and it was readily apparent something had happened. There was pillows, knickknacks, and all sorts of detritus all over the floor, and Clarus could smell something that didn’t quite belong as he moved towards the mess. He managed to maneuver Cor back behind him as they entered the hallway after a short sweep, reaching the bedroom first. The door was wide open, and a short peek in revealed the room untouched, so they continued back towards the future nursery, and both he and Cor hissed in unison as they noticed the splintered wood strewn on the floor.

“Shit, someone broke through the door, the discs were in there-” Cor growled, and Clarus barely stopped him from scooting ahead of him, physically blocking the way with his own body.

“Cor, I’m going first, knock it off!” he barked, then he moved forward carefully, freezing at the sight of the glowing disc, a few drops of what looked suspiciously like blood speckled near the edge of it. He swallowed his own rising panic with a vengeance as he took in the scene in front of him; Prompto was effectively full-term, and if he was seriously injured- “Oh hell, I think you’re right. Do you think it’s possible he could rig one of these himself?” he asked, just as Cor stumbled; Clarus managed to grab him before he fell on the disc, but it was too close for his taste, and he dragged the gravid man out of range with a grunt, the two tumbling to the floor, with Cor in his lap. Well, they had been in more ridiculous situations before. Cor managed to move off of him and slide to the wood floor with a groan without assistance, but Clarus took note of the way the man was clutching at the side of his stomach. Shit, the last thing they needed-

“Sorry about that, I just lost my footing,” Cor groaned, then shifted slightly and pulled out a chunk of wood out from under his rear, throwing it to the side with a grimace. “As for your question, yeah, I think he could, but there’s no anchor, no return door...if he’s hurt, and I think he is, he’s going to need help out. Clarus-” Cor swallowed heavily, and Clarus quickly sent a mass text to the other three boys, Regis, and Ulric while his old friend tried to speak, telling them to drop everything and haul their asses to the prince’s quarters immediately. “Clarus, I can’t go, I need you, or maybe Nyx, or the boys to go, I can’t even walk straight right now, and I’m falling asleep every five minutes, I’ll just get us both killed trying to step us back-” Clarus could see what admitting his weakness was doing to Cor, and he raised a hand and laid it against the back of his old friend’s neck as Cor struggled to speak. “Clarus-”

“Shh, Cor, I understand. Considering you realized what was going on was good, we’re going to get someone through the portal and get him taken care of. I assume he’s at Costlemark?” Cor nodded immediately at his question, just as the sounds of running came into earshot.

“What in the fuck? Prompto? Dad? What in the hell is going on?” His son’s voice echoed off the walls, and Clarus lifted his head and shouted.

“Back in the nursery!” Gladio ran into view, eyes wild, and Clarus watched as he took in the state of the room with rapid jerks of the head.

“Where the hell is Prompto?” Gladio hissed, stepping forward towards the disc, only for Cor to quickly grab at his son’s ankle, keeping him from getting too close.

“He’s at Costlemark, from what I can tell, he rigged this to escape something...probably an assassin. He’s hurt, I can tell that much, but I think he’s in a place he can’t get out from easily,” Cor said, his eyes red with barely suppressed tears and fury, and Gladio scrubbed at his hair wildly out of frustration.

“Then why aren’t we going through?” Gladio snapped, then he sighed. “Right, I’m being stupid. Let me get the others.” Gladio ran out of the room, and Clarus took the moment to get to his feet.

“Let’s get you up and over to the sofa, Cor, you aren’t looking very good right now, you need to rest,” he said, and he had just managed to get his friend to his feet when Ulric ran in, followed by Ostium, and Clarus happily handed the ill-looking Cor over to the two of them.

“What in the world? Cor, where’s Prompto?” Ulric asked as he and Ostium all but hefted the marshal back to the living room, coaxing him onto the sofa. Clarus quickly filled him in when Cor didn’t speak up, and Ulric clenched his hands so tight that Clarus would swear he could hear the joints creaking before he let them relax, dropping to a kneel in front of the increasingly pale Cor. “Babe, deep breaths, we’ll go through and get the kiddo back-”

“No, you’ll stay here, Captain,” Clarus cut in, giving the man a significant look as he tilted his head towards Cor; Ulric’s mouth grew pinched, but he didn’t argue as Clarus turned to the other Glaive in the room. “Glaive Ostium, you and the threesome will go, make sure you have a full medical kit and curatives with you, as it sounds like Prompto will need it. You have five minutes, there should be a full medical kit under the sink in the bathroom, someone just needs to grab some curatives-”

“Prompto!” Clarus sighed knowingly as Noctis sprinted into the room, Gladio and Ignis in his wake, the young man skidding to a stop at the sight of the pale marshal sitting on his sofa. “Shit, I didn’t want to believe Gladio-” Ostium, thankfully, took the opportunity to dash out of the room, presumably to take care of his assignment, passing by the concerned Regis who had finally worked his way in.

“My apologies, Clarus, I was held up-” Regis trailed off as he took in the mess and the scene in front of him, his mouth pulling into a frown. “Cor, you look horrid, and I say that entirely as a well-meaning friend. What has happened to Prompto?”

“Appears to have been attacked, although he managed to escape to Costlemark through an unfinished disc. The attacker managed to not only reach this floor, they also got through the door lock, and I would guess by the disturbed pillow pile that Prompto was lounging on the sofa when the would-be assassin came in. Ostium is running to get some curatives, and my plan was to send the three boys and him through the portal to fetch Prompto,” Clarus rattled off quickly, and thankfully, all three young men and the king nodded in agreement. “Excellent, Ignis, get the medical kit under your sink, you may need it; also, water and food, just in case it takes a little while to get out.” Ignis headed towards the bathroom while his son went to the kitchen, and Clarus turned to Noctis, who looked like he wanted to murder something. Good. “Your highness, are your phones charged?” The question threw Noctis just enough to throttle back the fury, and Noctis glanced at his own phone before nodding absently.

“Mine is, at least.” Clarus nodded as Ostium reentered the room, satchel in hand.

“Excellent. Ready to go?” After receiving agreeable grunts from the boys, Clarus sighed. “Get going, be safe, get Prompto back quickly.” Cor insisted on accompanying the group to the nursery, and Clarus and Ulric stabilized him as the party of four surrounded the disc.

“Just in case, I suggest joining hands, we want to make sure you all get to the same place. I think the magic is stable, but...let’s not test it,” Cor said quietly, and the four complied immediately, before Noctis raised a foot.

“We’ll contact you asap, Cor, take a nap or something, Prompto will kill you if he sees you like this,” the prince commented, and before Cor could respond, Noctis slammed his foot on the disc, and in a flash of light, they were gone. None of them spoke for a moment, then Cor began to buckle.

“You know it’s gotten bad when even my son is commenting, Cor. Captain, do you need assistance?” Regis asked, and Nyx sighed.

“Probably best, less dragging on my part.” Between the three of them, they managed to return Cor to the sofa (he categorically refused to take the bed,) fetching a few of the fallen pillows and getting him laying down properly before Clarus ruffled Cor’s hair and stepped away.

“I need to take care of logistics, I’ll return shortly.”

“What if the assassin is there with Prompto?” Regis suddenly commented, and Clarus facepalmed. Of course. The two probably tumbled through together- To his surprise, Cor snorted from behind him.

“I get the feeling that was taken care of; the general public seems to forget that he knows his way around a gun,” Cor pointed out, before his face split into a massive yawn. “Prompto is resourceful like that…” the younger man’s voice trailed off to a quiet snore, and Clarus couldn’t help the fond smile that came to his face before he huffed.

“Proud father, there,” he commented lightly, and Nyx’s gaze fixed out towards the balcony for a moment before he smiled.

“Damn right.”

Clarus was on the phone before the door even clicked closed behind him, and thankfully, Monica picked up on the first ring.

“Monica, there was a breakin in the prince’s quarters, apparent attempt on Prompto’s life. He managed to escape to Costlemark via those discs, but we need to figure out how someone got all the way to the royal wing without being caught. This is an unacceptable breach in our defenses, one that needs to be remedied today,” he ordered, and heard the expected intake of breath on the other end.

“Of course, my lord, immediately. Is-” the acting head of the Crownsguard paused, and Clarus didn’t bother waiting for her to ask.

“Cor alerted us to something amiss, we believe that Prompto is injured, but alive. I want you to focus on the breach, I’m going to handle getting them back here to Insomnia.”

“Yes, my lord, it will be done.”

Elshett hung up first, and Clarus immediately dug through his numbers until he located the contact information for the small Crownsguard and Kingsglaive station at Galdin Quay; once upon a time, there was such stations all over the kingdom, but they had been abandoned one by one as Niflheim had overtaken territory, and the hunters had taken up the slack. With peace holding almost two full years later, it had been decided to reopen several of them on a trial basis, this time with a mix of Glaives included as well. There was only eight Guards and six Glaives assigned there, but the move had been popular with the locals, and Clarus and Cor had already been discussing several other places that the stations could be launched.

“Decanus Verus, this is Clarus Amicitia.” Verus, the decanus of the station, was an older Guard nearing retirement known for her diplomatic nature; they had thought her ideal to get the office in the popular resort town underway and to establish good relations with the locals. From all reports, it was going splendidly. He had actually considered sending Cor and Nyx there for a month to get away from the city and relax, but then, well, pregnancy. He was relieved that he had never brought it up as an option.

“My lord, what may I do for you?” He quickly explained a vague sequence of events, then requested for them to send a van up to the tower to pick the five of them up and return them to Insomnia. He could tell the veteran Guard was a bit bemused by the request, but she acknowledged the orders and indicated that said van would be dispatched in fifteen minutes, and should take only around an hour and a half to arrive. That would have to do, he didn’t want to rely on a hunter for something this important. Besides, it was Cor that had most of the hunter contacts, and he was off in dreamland once again. Like he had been for at least sixty percent of the past few weeks.

Clarus left the elevator and strode towards his office, his mind whirling as he walked. Why now? Was this an attempt of destabilization from Niflheim? He had his doubts, they had been consumed in just keeping their lands from descending into anarchy, he felt it unlikely at best. However- his expression darkened, and those he passed instantly gave him a wide berth. Flavia? It was possible; he had absolutely no proof, but he had suspected that the poisoning attempt was her handiwork, as that sort of attack could have easily killed the children while sparing the parent. Just the thing after her constant comments about forced removal-

But no, hiring an assassin wasn’t really stylish, as much as video games and movies tried to make it look, and if the woman was anything, she was about flair. She had probably watched too many movies about the elaborate poisoning schemes of old. It was possible, but unlikely. Marcellus, though...the old bastard had been far quieter than he had suspected he would be, making only a handful of comments about the sullying of the bloodline before voting nay immediately on the day of the vote, but besides looking disgusted, hadn’t made any overt comments or anything that would make Clarus think that he was planning something permanent. Clarus had always hoped that he would dig up something on Marcellus, something that could drive him off the council, but he had never succeeded. Could he have finally risked his position to pull something like this?

He would need to station guards in the royal wing, and he also needed to convince Cor to give up his old quarters and move to the family floors so they could have more space. They also had far more restricted access points, which they would definitely need. When were these kids actually arriving? A stray thought caused Clarus to pause suddenly in the hallway as he grimaced, noting absently as Citadel staff scattered at the sight.

Please do not go into labor in that damn tower, Prompto.

Chapter Text

They found Prompto in seconds, thankfully; the lovely blue light emanating from the kid made a handy visual aid. It took a few seconds longer to notice the dead guy off to the side.

Libertus didn’t know what he had expected when they arrived, but one dead assassin and one breathing, if glowing and unconscious, Prompto was far better than the alternative.

“His arm is a mess, and he’s bled way too much, if the look of his arm is an indication, but the fact he’s glowing like a neon sign is hopefully a good thing?” Libertus exclaimed, and the other three men nodded slowly. Yeah, they had no clue. “Right, we’ll go with yes on that. I’ll be honest, this is kind of like the marshal’s wound from Niflheim, I think it would best to forgo the major curatives until a doctor makes sure it’s not going to heal together wrong. We can probably use a bit on the other cuts, but-” Ignis uncapped one of the bottles and set to work doing just that while Gladio cradled the man in his arms; Libertus pulled the medical kit open and cleaned the stab wound, frowning at the excessive amount of torn flesh before wrapping in a thick layer of bandages. The attacker had been using a serrated knife, and it had done some damage. Had they been in Insomnia, it would have been one thing, as it would have been only five minutes to the infirmary, but they were on the sixtieth floor, which was the bottom-most floor in the residential city part of the tower (the lack of any more stairs down had been the clue,) and the final installed disc was on the thirtieth floor, which meant they would have to trek half way up on foot before they could take a shortcut. This would take at least an hour, and possibly longer, considering how Gladio was going to have to carry Prompto. Libertus watched as Ignis ran his hands over Prompto’s stomach deliberately, pausing occasionally before shaking his head. He didn’t look too concerned, and Libertus felt himself relax slightly as he watched the prince moving out of the corner of his eye.

“I’ve snapped a billion photos of this fucker and stripped him of anything halfway interesting for the inevitable investigation; I don’t see anything obvious like a kill the blond signed me note, unfortunately, but that’s why the crown pays someone else the big salary. He did have some sort of magitek device on him, though, reminds me of some of the shit from the lab we went through in Niflheim,” the prince announced, brushing off his hands and coming back to join them. “It gives me the creeps, feels like someone is trying to rip something out of me. I don’t like it,” he said with a shudder, then waved to the body. “Someone is gonna have to collect him, and I’m certainly not going to ask the poor construction volunteers here to do it, they don’t deserve that. Maybe I should freeze him?” Ignis finished his careful applications of potion and capped the bottle, rising to his feet.

“I was under the impression you needed one of your special flasks to do so? Do you have one with you?” Ignis asked, and the prince scowled.

“Shit, I forgot. I guess we leave him here, Clarus will probably send some Guards down soon,” his highness commented as he lowered himself to one knee, resting a hand on Prompto’s stomach. “How is he?”

“He’s got a nasty stab wound to the shoulder, and the blood loss to match, but I think whatever magic thing that’s going on with him is helping keep him somewhat stable. We need to move, though,” Libertus replied, getting to his feet and meeting Gladio’s eyes. “Need a hand?” After some shuffling, he helped the large man maneuver the dead awkwardly shaped weight that was a very pregnant Prompto into his arms; Libertus had no doubt that Gladio could carry Prompto all day in normal circumstances, but the poor kid’s massive belly made for a serious complication with holds, and Gladio would be forced to keep Prompto in a bridal carry, which was always more tiring.

“I’m ready, let’s start walking,” Gladio said, and with a backward glance at the rest of the crime scene, to put it plainly, they headed to the stairs, winding around until they reached the fifty-ninth floor.

Only twenty nine more to go.

As Libertus had expected, they were forced to stop for a short break on the forty-fifth floor to allow Gladio to rest his arms for a few minutes; Prompto was still glowing and stable, so they weren't too concerned about a short pause in their climb. Not that it didn’t mean that the prince and Ignis weren’t cradling Prompto in their laps while the young shield stretched out his arms. The circumstances didn’t lend themselves to much chitchat, but Libertus finally couldn’t help himself.

“Have you four decided on some potential names? I hate to say this, but it’s looking pretty imminent, after all-” He was met with three different expressions, all rather hilarious; Gladio looked haunted, Ignis looked annoyed, and the prince looked oddly smug. Huh. “I’m...guessing that you’ve thought of some, your highness?” The black-haired man grinned, running a hand through Prompto’s hair.

“I have some ideas that I legitimately like, which is more than these other bums can say. I fully expect this will be a crazy mess when they actually arrive,” his highness stated with a soft smile. “I think we are all looking forward to it, though.”

Gladio plucked the blond back up into his arms a minute later, clearly wanting to change the subject, and they continued on; by the time the five of them reached the thirtieth floor and the vaunted disc, Libertus was ready for a damn nap. Too many stairs. At least there wasn’t any other unpleasant surprises.

“Excellent, if I understand, this will link to the first floor of the residential block, then we can use another disc that will send us to the first lobby floor of the tower. From there, it’s only a few minutes to the surface, and we can determine our further course of action from there,” Ignis said, his voice obviously relieved. “Expect to be surrounded when we reach our first destination, so stay sharp.”

The young advisor wasn’t wrong, and people froze in shock when they all appeared on the top floor of the residential area; Libertus hadn’t been back since they had cleared it out last fall, and was stunned to see what appeared to be a bustling little collection of huts and rooms filling the entire hall. It looked like a little village, and he couldn’t help his grin as he looked around. He’d have to return and explore properly soon, but for now-

“Your grace? Goddess, is he alright?” It was clear that the boys recognized the man who approached, and so he kept an eye on the rest of the crowd beginning to gather as they slowly inched towards them, concern plain on their faces.

“There was a situation, but it’s under control now. I am afraid we are in a hurry, though, so we will wish you all a good day,” the prince announced, and Libertus tensed as people reached out and brushed their hands against Prompto’s arm, his stomach, any part of the voice they could reach as they walked by; he could see both Ignis and the prince position themselves to keep them from getting any closer, and he did the same, taking up the rearguard as they approached the disc to the top of the tower. Libertus understood the crowd, he truly did; after all, many of them were farseekers or other devotees of the Dawn Mother, and he as a Galahdian had been raised to her faith, but Prompto and Cor had never been just religious figures to him. He had known Prompto decently well even before their secret got out, and Cor? While he hadn’t really known Cor, they had spoken a few times before that infamous day, and well, pretty much anyone who had lived in Insomnia for any serious amount of time knew of the man’s reputation. They were real people, not just icons to be set on a pedestal, but he knew how easy it was to fall back to that.

The fact Prompto was still glowing probably didn’t help.

They stepped on the disc, and the crowd was left behind as they appeared in the lobby of the tower; there were people around, but thankfully far less, and while similar looks of concern appeared on their faces as well, the five of them were unimpeded as they climbed the stairs to the surface. Almost immediately, their phones burst into a cacophony of noise, and after letting all the messages push through, Libertus decided to take the initiative to call Lord Amicitia first.

“Amicitia.”

“My lord, it’s Ostium, we’ve made it out with Prompto,” he reported, and he knew he didn’t imagine the sigh of relief on the other end.

“His condition?” Libertus glanced over at Prompto, who was shifting slightly in Gladio’s arms, and sighed.

“He’s got a nasty stab wound in his right shoulder, but we’ve cleaned and bandaged it for now. It’s probably best we get back to Insomnia as soon as possible, he did lose a lot of blood. His magic...abilities, however you want to phrase it, seems to be helping him, though; he’s been glowing like a blue light bulb ever since we arrived down there, and he seems far more stable than he probably would be.” He could hear Amicitia’s muffled voice in the background, and waited.

“An attack, then, as we suspected.”

“Yes, sir, it appears Prompto was able to shoot him once they arrived here, permanently ending the threat. The assassin was carrying a device that his highness confiscated, he said it makes him feel like it’s trying to pull something out of him. Maybe...it kept Prompto from accessing the armiger at first?” Libertus offered, and the unhappy noise Amicitia wasn’t all that surprised, which made him clench his jaw for a moment.

“We never had solid proof, but there was word that they used some sort of device to assist in bringing the Glacian down, and some more rumblings beyond that. It would make sense they were trying to block any sort of magic use, considering who we are. Research will be thrilled to get their hands on that device, if we give it to them,” Lord Amicitia stated, then he audibly shifted focus. “I arranged for a ride the instant you departed, if you can make your way up to the main road, it should be there already or there at any time.”

Signalling to the others, Libertus started to walk towards the west and aforementioned road, the others following behind as he tried to think of what else he needed to report. “Thank you, my lord. We are walking that way now. It’s not going to be pleasant work, but someone should probably go down and fetch the bastard before he rots too badly,” he pointed out, and the huff of laughter from the other end of the line was humorless.

“I’ll get right on that.”

Standing at the new little parking lot off the road was a Guard he didn’t recognize and Glaive Tausif, a distant cousin of Pelna’s, who both waved to them and signalled to the van parked behind them. Oh goodie, vans.

“Not the most comfortable mode of transport, but we have too many here for anything else,” Ignis said as he passed Libertus, and with a glance back at the others, they climbed in after short introductions, and they immediately set off towards Insomnia. Prompto continued to glow with that beautiful inner light, but otherwise showed no other signs of consciousness beyond some slight wiggling, and they drove through the night, the rest of them sleeping in turns until they arrived back in the city.

The prince called ahead, and there was a gurney waiting when they arrived in the employee garage, away from the eyes of the public; Gladio gently laid the still-luminescent voice down on it, and after thanking their drivers, they headed straight for the elevator and to the infirmary, where Nyx, the marshal, the king, and Lord Amicitia were waiting. Cor got slowly to his feet the instant they arrived, nodding to him before following Prompto into the infirmary proper, leaving the rest of them out in the lobby, even Nyx.

“Why aren’t we going in?” the prince asked, and Ignis glanced towards the doors to the back before shaking his head.

“We are going to let the doctors take a look at Prompto first, Cor is there because he’s Cor, but also due to the fact that something involving their abilities is going on and it’s best he be there in case he needs to assist. We will go back as soon as they allow it, Noct, Prompto is in the best of hands,” Ignis explained, and Libertus agreed. The kid needed professional care, and while Cor had been acting rather...illogically lately on occasion according to Nyx, he had no doubt that the marshal would be on his best behavior.

“Thank you, Ostium, I know it was rather sudden to be asked to go,” his majesty said as he walked up to him, and Libertus bowed from the waist as he shook his head.

“I made a personal vow, your majesty, I would have asked to go had I not been requested,” he replied, receiving smiles from everyone present.

“You’re a good man, Libertus Ostium. If only everyone was as honorable as you,” the king said with complete sincerity, and Libertus heard Nyx chortle quietly in the background at the blush he knew was suddenly flooding his face. Damnit.

They all settled in to wait, with the prince even dozing off at one point on Gladio’s shoulder, and Libertus didn’t even notice he had done the same until he received a mild smack to the thigh.

“Muhh?”

“Wake up, Libs, they said we can go back for a few minutes now, I want to see how Cor is doing as well,” Nyx said in his ear, and Libertus nodded groggily.

“R-right. Let’s go.” The only people left in the lobby were the two of them, and he realized with some embarrassment that Nyx had obviously delayed waking him up. “Please tell me I didn’t snore too loud.” His old friend grinned, nudging his shoulder with his own as they headed through the doors to the back.

“Not too bad, actually. I’ve heard far worse from you,” Nyx replied, and Libertus sighed.

“Thanks, I think.” The scene they came upon was not entirely what he expected, and he felt Nyx stiffen next to him as their eyes fell on both Prompto and Cor ensconced in bed. Prompto was no longer glowing, shirtless, and looked wan and tired, but he was awake, fresh bandages around his arm and a multitude of machines attached to him, including one strapped across his expansive stomach. Cor was only feet away in the room’s other bed, also shirtless, his eyes closed and his chest moving in the slow manner of the deeply asleep. There was two machines attached to him, one to his chest, the other across his stomach, the same as Prompto’s, and Libertus could see little lines and numbers appear on a screen off to the side as they stood there.

“Why is Cor strapped in too?” Nyx asked aloud, before visibly summoning a smile and walking over to Prompto. Libertus could barely keep from cringing at the sight of the kid’s belly; not because of any sort of disgust, but because it just looked painful. He had no idea how Prompto was functioning with that thing, and even though he already respected the hell out of the kid, voice or not, the fact that he was handling the whole pregnancy with very little complaint just added to that score. “Hey, Prompto, I saw that you entertained an unwanted guest for a short time, and dispatched him when he wouldn’t leave. Good job.”

Prompto’s answering smile was shaky, but genuine; Libertus reached out and patted the kid’s sheet-covered leg while Nyx squeezed his arm. “Thanks, you guys. I don’t know how I pulled that off, but I’m glad I did. Cor came and got me from the Dawn Mother’s presence, and he’s just stayed asleep since, since I know you were wondering, Nyx.” That reminded Libertus, and he met Prompto’s eyes with a question.

“I’m assuming the glowing thing was part of that?” he asked, and Prompto nodded.

“I was afraid that if I passed out with the shock and blood loss, I wouldn’t wake back up, and I felt myself calling for her help as well. She was able to bring me over and put my body in some sort of stasis? I don’t know what it’s called, but she said she slowed the natural processes to give me more time. I’m just happy she was able to help,” Prompto said quietly, and everyone in the room echoed their agreement with a collection of happy hums and nods. Libertus would have to leave the goddess seeds on her altar over in Little Galahd when he was able to get over there.

“Both of them are having early contractions, which is common as their due date gets closer. There is some mild signs of residual stress to your passengers, Prompto, but that’s understandable considering what you went through, and I don’t foresee any issues arising from it. Shockingly, the whole ordeal didn’t send you into full-blown labor, which was definitely a blessing. Probably helped by whatever magic thing you had going on when you arrived here,” Dr. Domitia said as she entered the room, looking at all assembled as she indicated Cor with a wave of her hand. “Before certain people get concerned, there’s nothing to be worried about, but I figured I would take advantage of both of them being here simultaneously to see how things are going.” Nyx nodded, the relief clear on his face, and the old doctor then looked over at Prompto. “Most powerful curatives like elixirs can be harsh, and are not advised to be used on pregnant people except in the most dire of circumstances. Thankfully, Mr. Argentum is as healthy as a chocobo, and so I will administer small doses of potion to the wound over the next few days, which should heal it up nicely. So, unfortunately, it means you will be remaining here, young man. If you feel like going into labor while you are here, you can take care of two birds with one stone…” the doctor actually smirked as several people groaned, and Libertus stepped away and followed Nyx over to Cor’s bed, getting an eyeful of yet another swollen abdomen (not nearly as large, however) as he watched his friend run a hand through the marshal’s hair with a soft sigh.

Soon.

Or not. Cor was freed as soon as he woke up, and Prompto sailed through his treatments and was released two days later, with instructions to rest. Libertus volunteered to guard the prince’s quarters, as they still hadn’t figured out how the assassin reached the royal wing undetected, and he enjoyed spending time with the kid as the other three rotated in and out of their quarters due to various obligations. Still no sign of labor, and nerves were beginning to run rampant as everyone seemed to twitch at every groan or hitch in breath that either of them did as they headed towards thirty-nine weeks, which was nearly unheard of for a triplet pregnancy, and rather uncommon with twins. The second anniversary of the battle of the Citadel was only nine days away, and Nyx had started commenting about how his birthday was going to get very crowded soon.

Libertus didn’t think he minded, personally.

In the early morning hours of May sixth, however, Libertus was jolted from his focused zone by the sound of a blood curdling scream from within the prince’s quarters, and he rushed in and back to the bedroom, only to discover the lights on and the other three sitting up and grabbing at Prompto, who was curled into the tightest ball he could manage as he wailed in pain.

“Prompto?”

“Prom, what’s wrong?”

“Prompto!” Libertus came up to the side of the bed, his hands twisting in his jacket before he forced himself to let go.

“Should I call for the doctor?” he asked, and Ignis turned towards him, already nodding.

“Yes, I think that’s-”

“No! No, I’m fine, it’s-” Prompto shouted, then trailed off in a moan. “It just feels like someone stabbed me behind my junk, it’s just ow-” Ow was right, that sounded horrendously painful. Libertus decided the better part of valor was to retreat to the doorway as hands started to move towards the kid’s pajama pants, and he dutifully turned around and faced out towards the hallway as he listened to the shuffling behind him.

“That sounds like a perfect reason to call the doctor, Prom,” Gladio said, his voice tense. “Wait-” More shuffling, and Libertus really thought calling a doctor was best, just like Amicitia said-

“Well, you weren’t joking,” the prince said with a choke, and Libertus almost turned around before he stopped himself. “Maybe-”

“Maybe? What is it, you know I can’t see!” Prompto snapped, then groaned. “All I know is that it hurts, although it’s...getting a little better now.” Some more movement, then a sharp intake of breath.

“Prompto, I think perhaps your body is finally preparing the exit route, as it were; you have an...opening,” Ignis said, his voice soft and soothing, and Libertus winced. He had the utmost respect for the Dawnsworn, but he was glad it wasn’t him- Wait. Libertus moved to the living room, and fished out his phone. Cor. If this was happening to the kid, then-

“Why the fuck are you calling in the middle of the night, Libs?” Nyx said with a yawn, and Libertus sagged with relief.

“You know how the eternal question was how is baby going to come out?” he said, and the hiss on the other end told him to hurry the hell up. “Well, kid just woke up screaming like he was being disemboweled, and from what I heard, because I definitely wasn’t looking, he appears to have...er, developed an opening? Down there?”

“You’re shitting me,” Nyx said in shock. “That means-”

“Yeah, I suspect any time now, that’s why I rushed to call you,” he explained, and the line crackled. “Prompto seems to be recovering quickly, but he described the initial pain as being stabbed behind his junk, which sounds pretty awful, so-”

“Yeah, no, I get you. Thank you, Libertus, really. He’s out for the count like usual, so I’m just gonna have to keep an eye on him.”

He hung up with Nyx, took a deep breath while running his hands through his hair, then steeled himself and returned to the bedroom, knocking on the doorframe before peeking around. Prompto was lying on his side, the sheets pulled back up all the way to his neck, and he received somewhat shellshocked glances from the other three as he stepped over to the bed.

“You doing okay, kiddo?” he asked quietly, and smiled when Prompto’s blond head bobbed. “I suppose this means it’s pretty imminent, then.” Prompto sucked in a shaky breath, and Libertus suddenly regretted asking the question.

“Y-yeah, that’s what it looks like,” Prompto said, an odd tone in his voice, then to his utter dismay, the kid’s face screwed up and he began to cry softly, and Libertus shot a panicked look to the first person who met his eye (Ignis.)

“Prompto, I’m sorry, I wasn’t trying to upset you,” he said desperately, and the others ran their hands over the kid’s head and arms trying to soothe him, only for him to cry harder; it was Gladio that finally wrapped his long arms around Prompto and gave him a light squeeze, and after a minute or so of sniffles and hiccuping, the blond raised a hand and wiped fruitlessly at his eyes.

“Sorry, Libs, everyone; I just...freaked out for a moment,” Prompto mumbled, and Libertus found himself reaching out and clasping the hand that was still damp with tears.

“Prompto, you’ve been holding up amazingly well this whole time, I think you are entitled to a few freakouts. Think of it this way; hopefully very soon, you’ll be able to get back into some of your pants again,” Libertus grinned, and Prompto let loose a watery laugh.

“There’s a lot of exercise in my future, I think, I’ve gained a ton of weight-” Gladio poked the back of Prompto’s head with his chin.

“No rush, Prom, do it when you feel ready.”

After a few minutes, Libertus withdrew back out of the foursome’s quarters and back to the hallway, taking up his former post. His mind was still buzzing and his stomach was flooding with excited butterflies, also perhaps a little worry, but mostly the former. Soon, there was going to be babies everywhere, and while he was just the friend of one and effectively the employee of the other, he couldn’t wait to meet them.

Libertus got a text about three hours later from Nyx, thanking him once again for the call and relaying that Cor had also gone through the same ordeal not two hours prior (Nyx didn’t provide any details, and frankly, he didn’t want them. Let the poor man have some shreds of dignity left intact.)

Soon.

 

------------

 

Clarus and Regis had made a bet over who would end up in labor first months ago, and Clarus had picked Cor as his choice. Regis had banked on Prompto’s youth and higher number of children to give birth to being the obvious winner, but he knew Cor. While Cor liked the idea of his future kids, as much as he wasn’t...emoting a lot about it, Clarus also knew he was one hundred percent done with being pregnant. He didn’t blame him; if he had been in the same position, he would have probably had a meltdown months ago.

He was right. After all, it would have been a bit strange if Prompto’s new siblings were younger than him, after all. One must do these things in the proper order-

“It’s pretty early, according to Dr. Domitia, but he’s definitely in labor. She said it could be three hours, it could be tomorrow, there’s no way to tell at this exact point,” Regis whispered in his ear as they sat off to the side of Cor’s room in the infirmary, and he nodded.

“You know as well as I that there’s no rushing these things, they will arrive when they are good and ready,” Clarus pointed out. “And before you ask, I already called Cid, he should be here later today.”

“Stop talking about me,” Cor grumbled, who suddenly had the strangest expression on his face for a moment before relaxing in relief. Oh dear. Clarus did remember seeing much the same on his wife’s face once upon a time, and to see the same thing from Cor was admittedly rather...odd. Ulric, who was standing next to him, snorted and ran his hand through his partner’s hair.

“I think that’s going to be a pretty tall order, babe. Just saying,” Ulric said dryly, and Clarus laughed as he got to his feet and walked over to Cor’s bedside, laying his hand on his friend’s lower leg.

“We have every intention of talking about you for awhile, Cor, deal with it. Prompto will be probably joining in the fun soon as well, so at least the excitement will be spread out?” he commented, and Cor twitched, his face set in a scowl.

“I feel weird. I don’t like it,” the younger man muttered, and Clarus found himself giving UIric some serious brownie points for not just bursting out laughing, because he could see the edges of the Glaive’s mouth twitching fiercely as Cor continued to quietly gripe. The fact that Cor had the energy to complain told him that things were going well. Well, at least so far.

He just hoped it stayed like that. While Prompto had largely sailed through his whole pregnancy, Cor had been inflicted with everything from eating problems, blood pressure issues, and then there was the sleeping; while the other things had been manageable with diet and medicine, even Dr. Domitia had called his near-comotose levels of slumber concerning. Cor grumbling in bed was the most energy he had seen out of the man since the whole debacle that was the attack on Prompto, so he was hopeful this was a sign that he would be on the mend quickly once the kids made their appearance.

Fifteen minutes later saw Prompto and his posse flooding into the room, followed by a small group of Glaives, Elshett and several Guards, and even his own daughter, who seemed to have something stuffed into her zipped jacket. Huh.

“Iris, what in the world do you have in there?” he asked, only for his daughter to stiffen.

“Just a little something for Cor!” Iris parroted, and Clarus’s eyes narrowed.

“Mmhmm?” Iris grinned at him as she sidled sideways over to Cor, who gave her a tired, if slightly amused, look.

“I find myself concerned as to what you are hiding under there,” Cor commented, and Iris reached under her jacket and pulled; Clarus raised an eyebrow as an unbelievably large plush moogle head popped out of a far too-small space, and Ulric began to laugh as Cor blinked at it in confusion (he wasn’t the only one.) Iris held it towards him, then, when no one moved, she scowled and stomped closer, holding the plush next Cor’s left arm.

“You all are idiots. It’s a pillow! I figured the moody moogle of the Citadel-” Ulric’s laugh only got louder, leading to a half-hearted punch from his partner. “-could use some back support, as the pillows here stink. What do you think?” Cor’s glare at Ulric promised future pain, but when Iris finished speaking, he looked genuinely touched.

“Thank you, Iris; that’s very kind of you,” Cor said, and after some shuffling where Ulric and Iris helped get the pillow in position, he leaned back with a content sigh. “Mmmm, that was a very good idea. Again, thank you.” Iris flushed happily, then grinned as she leaned over and kissed the marshal’s cheek before backing away.

“I’m happy you like it, Cor. Now, I think I’ll leave you alone for awhile, because there’s like, a million people in this room, and if I ever have kids someday, I have a feeling I’d hate being surrounded by so many people when doing something like that.” Iris’s tone was a bit pointed, but she said nothing further as she waved and left. Her words spurred action, however, and within a few minutes, the crowd consisted of Cor, Ulric, the foursome, Elshett, Ostium, Altius, Khara, himself, and the king; still a decent amount of people, but perhaps not quite as bad. The commotion had apparently taken Cor’s earlier burst of energy, however, and Clarus watched as his old friend’s eyes began to droop, even as he winced and twitched with the contractions that were coming with gradually building frequency.

“I forgot to mention, but I called Luna, she said she was going to depart for Insomnia as soon as possible, and apologizes in advance if she doesn’t get here in time for the first big event,” Noctis announced, and Clarus nodded his thanks as Cor gave a sluggish bob of his head in understanding.

“Take a nap, Cor, I’ll be here,” Ulric said, and Clarus found himself smiling as Cor blinked sleepily up at his other half before taking a deep, slow breath and falling asleep on the spot.

A little part of Clarus still thought of Cor as that ornery boy who had impressed the Citadel with his skill (if not always his patience, but at least he improved over time,) thought of him as a little brother, even; his father had thought his fondness for the then-teen unseemly and below his station, but old Caelestis had been stubbornly inflexible on his views of class and society. After Cor saved Regis from an assassination attempt during that ridiculous coup attempt shortly after becoming king, however, the old man had, at least, stopped his bitching.

Anyway. Cor was, at least inwardly, still a little brother to him, and to see how much he trusted Ulric time and time again made any hint of misgivings about the relationship fade almost entirely away. A little part of him worried about the children and his and Ulric’s age difference, but perhaps that would be helpful as well; after all, babies were naturally exhausting, he could probably use the greater fount of energy that the significantly younger Ulric represented.

“Are you brooding, old friend?” Regis whispered, and Clarus forced himself to shake his head.

“No, just thinking about the past...and the future.” Clarus walked over to Cor, who was fast asleep, and reached out and took his hand for a moment before releasing it and returning to his earlier seat on the other side of the room.

Soon.

Chapter Text

Cor was ready. He had been ready for months, but, well, it was clear that his body knew when the time was right.

Well, that’s what he thought, anyway.

But after a solid fifteen hours passed and only a slow progression of those strange feeling contractions to show for it and feeling continually worse, and he was about ready to either sleep until the kids worked their own way out, or strangle someone. Nyx was the easiest candidate, of course, but besides laughing at him when Iris had given him the pillow, he had been on his best behavior.

Damn.

He would not pick a fight just so he could destress.

He wouldn’t.

“You have the most ridiculous look on your face, kid. Do you need to go to the toilet again?”

...then again, Cid was there.

“I’ve always wondered, Cid; have you always been such a pain in the ass? I mean, I didn’t even know you until you were in your forties-” the old man scowled instinctively, but then his gaze turned understanding, a smirk curling his moustache.

“Uh uh. You forget, kid, I had a kid. I was present for my granddaughter’s birth as well. I know you’re as bored and achy as shit, but I’m not letting you try to bait me into an argument, you don’t need the excitement...as much as you think you do,” Cid said knowingly, and Cor snarled before crossing his arms and shoving his hands in his armpits, which he realized a moment later was a remarkably childish pose. Damnit. Nyx had stepped out to fetch something to eat, and all he wanted to do was go back to his quarters and go back to his bed.

...actually, that sounded like an excellent idea, he’d just come back when things were actually happening. Cid was the only one in the room with him at the moment; Regis and Clarus had been back and forth, but the business of the kingdom went on per usual and they couldn’t be present the whole time. Monica had been popping by about every two hours, by his count, but as little had happened, she hadn’t been staying long. The other Glaives rotated in and out, particularly Libertus, who was taking his oath as a protector exceptionally seriously, but again, everyone was out. Except for Cid.

Waiting until Cid had looked away, Cor sat all the way up and carefully dislodged the various monitors and slid his legs over the side of the bed, internally bemoaning the damn hospital gown he had been forced to don as he carefully lowered himself to the floor, grimacing at the feel of the cold tile as he moved with stiff legs towards the door. Just as he reached for the doorknob, he heard a gruff clearing of the throat behind him.

Damn.

“And just were in the hell did you think you were going?” Cid said, and Cor stiffened his back and opened the door, pretending he hadn’t heard him; he had made it two steps into the hallway when a hand wrapped around his arm, and he tried to shake Cid off, to no avail.

“I’m going home, I’ll come back when things are actually happening,” he grumbled, managing a few more steps before a familiar voice caused him to freeze. “Shit.” He tried to scuttle backwards back into the room, but Cid was in the way, and Nyx rounded the corner before he made it back in. All three men froze as in place when Nyx took in what he saw, and Cor watched with growing guilt as his loving partner closed his eyes, took a deep, long breath, let it out, then walked up to him with a deliberate gait that made Cor want to go back to his damn hospital bed on the spot.

“Babe?” Nyx said, his voice calm, and Cor didn’t believe it in the slightest.

“I just-” Cor swallowed. “I want to go home,” he said softly, but firmly, and Nyx gave him an almost-amused smile.

“You were going to walk all the way back to our quarters in that get up? You’ll flash half the Citadel before you even reached our floor,” Nyx pointed out, and Cor sighed. “I know, I know, you don’t care. I hate to say this, Cor, but I don’t have the guts to face Dr. Domitia when she realizes that you’ve flown the coop, and you know what she said, this could change on a dime. I thought we liked the sheets we had, babe, I don’t wanna go shopping again-” Cid began to laugh behind him, and Cor scowled as Nyx put an arm around his waist and coaxed him back into the room, just as he felt a strange wet sensation around his crotch, and his face went hot instantly. Oh hell, maybe he had needed to go to the bathroom like Cid had suggested after all-

“Kid? You alright?” Cid asked, and he managed to dislodge Nyx and take a few steps towards the bathroom, only for the wetness to increase; Nyx seemed to realize that something wasn’t right as well, and when his partner rejoined his side with a concerned expression, followed by Dr. Domitia appearing in the doorway, that, unfortunately, seemed to be the trigger for an absolute deluge of fluid coming from his nether regions. Nyx was effectively holding him up by the time it calmed down, leaving a lake of reddish liquid at his feet and his legs feeling like they had been doused in behemoth blood.

It...definitely wasn’t his favorite sensation.

“Well, it’s good you didn’t manage your escape,” Nyx said faintly, and Cor walked awkwardly into the little bathroom, fumbling for a washcloth as he braced in front of the little mirror. He could see the completely unbothered Cid in its reflection, the man looking more sympathetic than he was willing to deal with, and he managed to get the washcloth under the tap as Nyx entered the room a few seconds later, a new hospital gown slung over his shoulder as he closed the door behind him. “Let me help you clean up, then we need to get you back to bed. Dr. Domitia seems to think this is your official turning point, and I’m sure you don’t want them making an appearance while you are walking around,” Nyx said, and Cor found himself blinking back tears that had come out of nowhere as his partner helped him out of the soiled gown before setting to lightly scrubbing him down without so much as a comment.

“Thank you.” Nyx looked up with a sweet little smile as he worked down Cor’s right leg.

“You’re welcome, Cor. It’s not like I’ve not helped you wash before, you know. Just a little different circumstances this time.”

“Yeah, I-” Cor shook his head and gave Nyx a tired smile. “The point still stands.”

A few minutes later saw him clean and dressed in one of those infernal hospital gowns, and he let himself be ensconced back into bed, Dr. Domitia looking surprisingly cordial she reattached all the various monitors back to his stomach and chest.

“I’m surprised you lasted that long, marshal; I figured I’d be dragging you back here six hours ago,” the old woman said with a smirk, and Cor’s mouth twisted as Cid snorted.

“I figured it would be even sooner than that, Vesta, but the kid has learned more patience than I thought over the years,” Cid drawled, and Dr. Domitia sighed gustily as she finished fitting the last device over his stomach. Cor found himself confused for a moment until he remembered that the woman did actually have a given name.

“Sophiar, did I say you could use my name?” the doctor snapped, and Cid barked out a laugh as Dr. Domitia stared at the monitors for a long moment. “Well, the contractions you are trying to manfully ignore are definitely coming more frequently, while I need to give it a little time to give you a threshold, I’m guessing you won’t be waiting too much longer.”

Oh, good. Cor took that little offering to heart, and he allowed himself to doze as his gut spasmed and twisted. People started to return to the room as time ticked on, from Libertus to Regis, Prompto and his crew, as well as Khara and Monica, and he grew less and less comfortable as the contractions grew more powerful, his vision going slightly blurry as each one rolled though. It took him some time to realize that he was gasping aloud at the worst of them, his grip crushing around Nyx’s hand, and Dr. Domitia entered the room with several nurses and cut straight over to him, her expression flat as she took in the crowd.

“The lot of you, minus the captain, over there!” the doctor barked as she pointed to the far side of the room, and without a hint of argument, the entire group, including the king, scooted to the indicated spot. “Thank you.” Cor sighed as she dove between his legs, cringing as she probed at parts of him he really didn’t want to be thinking about. “Well, you’re certainly dilated enough, I’m going to suggest that most of your crowd clear out, the time appears to be at hand.” Cor’s heart was pounding in his chest at the words, and he barely registered as most of his guests wished him good luck and departed, leaving behind Nyx, Prompto, Cid, Libertus, and Monica. Regis offered to stay, but Clarus suggested that there was probably too many people in the room as it was, and they had both departed together with obvious reluctance. He had known them forever, but there were some things they didn’t need to be present for.

“Cor, deep breaths, you’re almost done,” Nyx said, kindly not commenting on his rather white-fingered hand, and Cor tried to follow his lead, only to nearly bite his own tongue as a powerful contraction ripped through him.

“Marshal, when you feel you need to push, do so,” Dr. Domitia ordered, and Cor sucked in a breath and did just that when the sensation overtook him; after some time and multiple rounds of pushing, he was exhausted, but something was definitely happening, he could feel it- “That’s it, I see one now-” Cor glanced blearily to the side to see the other four people all clasping their hands and looking anticipatory (Prompto looked a bit more nervous, but well, he didn’t blame him,) before his gaze met Nyx’s.

“You’ve got this, babe, just a little more,” Nyx said with a shaky smile, and he managed to return it somewhat before a giant contraction actually caused his back to arch off the bed, knocking him breathless as the pressure released ever so slightly in his abdomen and below.

“Aaaand there’s the first! Congratulations, you two, you have a little girl,” Dr. Domitia said with a smile, handing the baby off to a nurse as Cor tried to watch; he found he couldn’t keep his eyes focused properly, however, and he ignored the pain in his chest as yet another contraction ripped though him. He didn’t feel well at all, but it was probably normal? “Her sibling is making tracks, though, only a few pushes and they should be here as well.” Sibling? Oh, that’s right, he was in labor- Cor did his best to push when everything went sideways and strange, and he fumbled for Nyx’s hand as his eyes darted around the room, his vision gone fuzzy and unable to focus on anything.

“Cor? Cor!”

“Damn it! Gaulus, get the-”

The last thing he remembered was rapid footsteps and really annoying shrieks coming from the equipment to the side of him as everything went dark.

“Cor, come on, babe, you’re missing all the excitement.” Cor knew Nyx’s voice as well as his own these days, and he groaned, not wanting to open his eyes. “Ah, I heard you, you need to wake up, our daughters are waiting for you.” That did it. He forced his eyes open, which both gave him a close up view of a slightly-blurry red-eyed Nyx, and a small herd of concerned people off to the side. Shifting slightly let him see Prompto holding his other hand, and he frowned at the tears that were staining the freckled cheeks. What-

“Good, you’re awake. You scared the shit out of us, marshal,” Dr. Domitia said, and Cor let loose another pained groan as his body informed him that everything hurt, even his-

“Why does my chest hurt?” he mumbled, and Nyx looked like he had seen something horrible for a moment before smoothing out his expression. “Nyx?”

“You...had an issue, Cor, don’t worry about it right now-”

Cor struggled to keep his eyes on Nyx, but his voice faded as the darkness carried him down once again.

“Marshal, I understand you’ve quite frightened everyone; I am going to try and help, but I want to see you open your eyes.” A woman’s voice, one he knew; he struggled against his urge to just go back to sleep, and opened his eyes to see the queen of Tenebrae leaning over him, and instinctively jerked, sending a cascade of aches down his body.

“Agh,” he groaned, and Luna backed up slightly and grimaced.

“Oh, my apologies, Cor, I didn’t mean to startle you. Nyx and Prompto are both right here, they’ve just asked me to look you over,” Luna said, and Cor frowned. Why did he feel so wiped out? He was in labor, right? Hadn’t one of the children arrived-

“The babies!” he gasped, and he pulled his hands away from whoever was holding them as he tried to sit up; Luna, Nyx, and Prompto immediately tried to stop him, and he snarled and batted at the hands trying to grab him, only for Luna’s hands to start glowing, instantly relieving much of his pain, which...only gave him more energy to fight them. “Where are they?”

“Cor, they’re fine, we were all just waiting for you to wake up!” Nyx said, loud enough to cause Cor to pause his feeble thrashing; Nyx and Prompto both moved out of view for a moment before each returned with cloth-wrapped bundles, slightly strained smiles on their faces. “Well, papa, do you want to meet your daughters?” Even though he was looking at the bundles, it took a moment to register just what Nyx had said, and his jaw dropped as the title worked his way through his head. “Babe, if you don’t like papa, I’m sure Prompto wouldn’t mind sharing dad with them-”

“No, it’s fine, I just-” Nyx grinned as he reached out and coaxed Cor’s arm into a bend, before slowly lowering the first bundle. “Ready? Here’s your firstborn.” He found himself with a little bundle tucked into his left arm, and he stared at the little sleeping face in complete bewilderment. Then Prompto tucked the second bundle in his right, and he turned to see a very similar face, the breath stuttering in his lungs. They were real. A small part of him had always wondered if he had been having an intense delusion or a fever dream, or had just completely lost it, but…

They were real. He didn’t even realize he was crying until Nyx leaned in and gave him a gentle kiss, the contact letting him feel the wetness on his cheeks. “Yes, babe, they’re real. Identical twin girls, according to the doc; at the least, it looks like they have my hair. Too early to tell with the eyes…” Cor managed to move his arms enough to reach for both infant’s cheeks with his fingertips, feeling the soft skin move under his ministrations. He had daughters. Actual live babies.

“Holy shit.”

The whole room burst out into raucous laughter, and Nyx grinned before leaning over and giving him a kiss once more as the children began to stir in his arms.

“Yeah, that’s about what I thought, too.”

Cor still felt like he had been run over by one of Tummelt’s old magitek armors, but as everyone from Regis all the way down to Iris came up to congratulate them, he realized he had never gotten an answer as to why he had passed out.

“What happened to me? I remember Dr. Domitia saying that one had arrived, then I felt really...bad. Next thing I know, it’s a few minutes ago. How long was I out?” Cor asked, and he could see the shutters come down over everyone’s expressions, especially Nyx and Prompto, and he sighed. “It can’t have been that bad-” Prompto reached out and brushed the cheek of the baby closest to him, his mouth twisted in an unpleasant expression.

“Cor, your heart stopped beating for almost twenty seconds. It started again on its own, but you were down for the count. Dr. Domitia thinks you may have had a mild heart attack, and the stress of the labor and all that led to temporary cardiac arrest on top of it. You actually woke up for about thirty seconds about twenty minutes before you woke up for good, but you conked right back out,” Prompto said, and Cor hissed and tightened his hold on the children. He could have died, right when this was happening-

“Cor, don’t you start dwelling on this, I’m sure you’ll be just fine once your body goes back to normal. As we have always said, you are usually an incredibly sturdy bastard,” Clarus chimed in, and Cor sighed as laughter worked its way around the room again, even if it was far more forced than before. Libertus caught his eye, and he nodded to the man as the infants began to nuzzle at the front of his gown; it took him a moment, but he realized exactly what they were trying to do. Oh. He looked around, taking in the large group of people, and made a decision.

“Nyx, help me get this damn gown off, or at least hitched down,” he said quietly, and Nyx blinked at him in confusion until realization dawned.

“Are you sure? We didn’t even tell the doc, because I know you were embarrassed-” Cor nodded wearily, and Nyx looked at him closely before nodding. “Alright, then.” Cor managed to lean a bit forward as Nyx undid several of the ties in the back, pushing down the gown low enough to leave his chest bared, causing everyone to turn back towards him. Aw damn, he was hoping they wouldn’t be paying attention-

“Cor, what in the world are you doing?” Regis asked, then his eyes widened. “I think the nurse has gone to get formula for them, you don’t need to appease them until then.” Cor gave the king a look, then with an ease that surprised himself, he hitched the children up into position, flinching when they both found what they were looking for almost immediately. Thankfully, something in his damn hindbrain seemed to realize that these were the babies and not Nyx, and he sighed in somewhat sore contentment as they settled in to their meals. The room had largely gone silent as they processed what they were seeing, and this was the atmosphere the doctor returned to, bottle holding nurse in tow.

“Forget to tell me something?” Dr. Domitia said dryly, and both Cor and Prompto cringed.

“Yes.”

“Maybe.”

“Might I ask why?” the doctor asked, and Cor met his son’s eyes with desperation, only for Prompto to bite his bottom lip and pout before the boy finally caved.

“Honestly, it was just kinda...embarrassing? It was just another thing, you know? Although I wouldn’t be surprised if this is somehow magical too, and I’m not just talking miracle of life magical-” Prompto cut himself off with a tiny groan, and Cor’s eyes narrowed as he watched Prompto shift awkwardly in place. Hm.

“Okay, as we all move on from the whole man I’ve known my whole life is suddenly able to breastfeed awkward moment, we haven’t talked about the most important thing,” Iris chimed in, and everyone’s attention thankfully shifted to her. “What’s their names? All six of you have been completely silent on the matter, and I wanna know!” Cor settled back and deferred this one to Nyx, who grinned and shook his head.

“We are following the Galahdian traditions on naming, we will formally announce their given names on the day of the next new moon,” Nyx informed all those gathered, and Iris speedily typed something into her phone before scowling. Cid raised an eyebrow, but thankfully, the old man decided to keep his mouth shut. Turned out there were a lot of Galahdian birth traditions, and it had clearly been important to his partner that at least certain ones were followed. He and Nyx had discussed this months ago, and since he didn’t care beyond whatever Nyx wanted, it had been an easy decision. “The family name is easy enough, we agreed to go with Galahdian traditions on that, too,” Nyx said a moment later, and Monica piped up.

“-but, you’re both men?” Nyx snorted a laugh as he looked down to meet Cor’s eyes.

“Well, since matrilineal didn’t entirely apply here, if you define the meaning as strictly female, we are going with the name of the bearer in the same spirit of the thing. The children will carry the Leonis name,” his partner explained as he reached down and brushed the babies heads with his fingers before looking back up, and Cor looked over as Iris playfully (and quietly) stomped her foot.

“But it’s almost three weeks away until the new moon!” Iris whined, and Cor felt his lips twitch up as Nyx, Libertus, and Crowe all shrugged.

“That’s how it works, kid, you won’t get them to budge on it. I got accustomed to it when I met these two idiots,” Crowe explained, and Iris pouted for a moment before sighing.

“Fine. If there is some sort of party involved, I want to be there.” Nyx grinned and nodded, and Cor let his attention wander as his daughters holy shit continued their meal, only to see Prompto wince next to him.

“Son? Are you okay?” Prompto blinked owlishly, then looked right at him with an odd look as he saw Gladio, Noctis, and Ignis move hastily towards their partner.

“Maybe?”

The small flood that even he could hear that appeared only a moment later gave the real answer, and when his red-faced son met his eyes, he smiled sympathetically as Prompto was quickly surrounded by the boys and Dr. Domitia, who sighed.

“Time for round two, then. I’ve been holding the next room for you, Prompto, let’s get you over there,” the doctor ordered, and the soiled and completely embarrassed Prompto was actually picked up and carried from the room by Gladio, his son sharing one last fraught look with him before vanishing around the corner.

“I don’t suppose I can join him in a little while?” Cor asked aloud, only for Dr. Domitia to pause in the doorway and shake her head.

“Marshal, while you seem to be doing far better, and we all know that you are pretty robust, I’m definitely not comfortable enough to let you out of bed yet. You were in cardiac arrest less than an hour ago, I still need to examine you more in depth. Let me get your son situated, and I’ll be back in a minute.” Domitia left, and Cor sighed and let himself sink back into the pillows. He wanted to be there for Prompto, especially because he suddenly found himself with first person perspective on the matter, but-

“Cor, your children are beautiful,” Luna said with a smile. “I suppose it makes sense that two gorgeous people such as yourselves would have lovely children, but well…” Luna winked, and Cor found himself snorting in somewhat painful amusement as Aranea, who had been standing in the back silently, began to laugh.

“Two down, three more to go. If I’ve heard right, if labor goes like most of his pregnancy, those kids will be out in an hour,” the dragoon drawled, and Cor huffed and nodded.

“I certainly hope so.”

 

-----------

 

Prompto was quickly scrubbed down by Ignis, as there was no way all four of them would fit in the tiny bathroom, and tied into one of those ridiculous gowns and led over to the bed, where Gladio helped him get situated as Noct paced for a moment before sighing.

“I knew you and Cor would be close in time, but I didn’t think that close,” Noct commented, and Prompto sighed as everything front the chest down seemed to squeeze unnervingly as Dr. Domitia came up alongside him.

“Time for me to take a look, Prompto, just wanted to give you fair warning.” He nodded, and forced his eyes on the others as she checked his recently acquired equipment before giving his thigh a pat and stepping away. “Well, I know your dad had hoped that he would be the only one of you two to have any issues with your pregnancy, and that appears to be exactly what is happening. You’re already dilated almost the full way, Prompto, I’m going to go check on the marshal for a few minutes, then I have a feeling it’s going to be showtime soon. Expect company, there are formal procedures for the birth of a royal heir, guaranteed or not, and you’ll have several members of the council in here as well. Prompto scowled for a moment before sagging in defeat. Ignis had warned him, but he had hoped-

“I know, Prom, it’s a weird thing, but it’s just the way it’s done. My dad did say it was kind of odd at first when he had to be present when Noct was born, because he could tell that the queen, if she had been given a choice, would have kicked every single one of them out-”

“Oh, trust me, Gladiolus, I was included in that number,” the king interrupted Gladio as he and Lord Amicitia walked in, and Prompto felt his cheeks go warm as more people followed as well. Some of these people had just seen him make a big scene over in Cor’s room, and he found he couldn’t even met their eyes as they came up to him. “Prompto, do not be embarrassed, it is natural, albeit a bit messy,” his majesty said, and after encouraging looks from his boyfriends, he finally dragged his eyes up and met a man who was, in a way, his father in law. Sort of. Lord Amicitia, who was also in a similar place, was also smiling, and Prompto found himself relaxing as the two men patted him on the arm.

“Prompto, we will both be here, as well as several of the others that were with us with Cor. Several council members will be in attendance as well, as the birth legally must be observed by at least four members of the council, and I am not allowed to include myself in this due to my personal interest in the matter. I expect the queen in here at any time, and I’m quite sure that Captain Ulric will convince Ostium to come here and leave them alone for a little while; that cardiac episode scared the shit out of us, and possibly Nyx most of all,” Lord Amicitia said with a tired sigh. “Do not repeat any of this outside this room, but I suspect that Cor’s Crownsguard career is not going to last all that much longer. I’m not saying immediate retirement, but I will not be surprised if he’s hung it up by the time he’s fifty-five. I may be entirely off the mark, but-”

Prompto hadn’t considered that. Cor hated being off work, hated the forced vacation, but if he chose it himself, perhaps it would be different. After all, he had his own children now. Oh, he knew that Cor would always consider him his son, but he hadn’t raised him, and Prompto was under no illusion that he would ever have the man’s undivided attention again. The babies would be more important.

Besides, Prompto would have his own to deal with in a matter of minutes, if he listened to the doctor, and he was hardly a child himself. He’d be fine.

“Prom, are you okay?” Noct’s voice cut into his thoughts, and he nodded immediately without even thinking about it, only to feel wet drops fall off the edge of his jaw. Why was he-? Prompto scrubbed at his eyes, feeling both sorry for himself and incredibly guilty; after all, Cor had literally probably just had a heart attack only a little over an hour ago while giving birth, and here he was feeling selfish. He almost felt like he was stealing Cor’s thunder by going into labor right after him, but he didn’t have any choice in that, no matter how much he wanted to ask if there was a way of delaying the inevitable just so everyone could fawn over Cor’s children for at least a day.

“Prompto, the others will be in at any time, would you like us to delay their entry?” Iggy asked, and Prompto opened his mouth to reply, only for his whole body to bow as a great contraction rippled down his torso; he tried to speak, but only a shout emerged, and even through his suddenly pain-logged head, he knew that Iggy’s offer was no longer an option.

“Prom, deep breaths, you’ve got this,” Gladio said as he held his right hand, Noct holding his left and Iggy combing his fingers through his hair, which was a total lost cause, and the pain helped him ignore as far too many people filed into the room, way more than he was comfortable in seeing, with the council members taking up places way closer than he expected.

“Wait, why?” he gasped, only for another contraction to drive the breath out of him; the council members glanced at each other (the two older woman looked a bit annoyed, especially Lady Galla, and Prompto didn’t even bother feeling ashamed at his sudden urge to kick her in the shins.)

“Certainly this was explained to him?” Lady Galla snapped, and the king sighed.

“Your expected presence was, madame, but I don’t think he expected you to only stand a few feet away from his...bottom half,” his majesty said lightly, and the old bat rolled her eyes impressively as she stayed in her chosen spot. The other older woman actually took a step away from him, clearly for his peace of mind, and Prompto found himself liking her for the gesture, as pointless as it was.

“I presume that the tests will be done immediately before any of the children leave the room?” Lady Faustina asked, and the king nodded once, sharply. “Excellent. Best clarify matters immediately before any unfortunate rumors can start.” That’s right, they had to figure out who the fathers were. He didn’t realize it would be so quickly, however. Prompto shifted and groaned as the next contraction caused everything to ache, even his chest. How was Cor? He wanted to make sure he was alright-

Prompto tried to listen to the people talking around him, tried to keep looking between his partners as the contractions continued to stab through him, but his vision seemed to be narrowing, his breath coming in pants as darkness closed in around him, and he heard the doctor curse as he felt his ankles being pulled on.

“Prompto? Prompto! Everyone, take a step back, there’s no baby coming yet, not like this-”

“Prom? You need to breathe, I think you’re having a panic attack-” Noct’s voice was soft, but he couldn’t focus on Noct’s words as he began to gasp. Was he sick too? Maybe he did lose too much blood after that attack-

“That’s not an I think, your highness, he’s actually trying to fight the contractions and he’s completely folded up his legs-”

A long-fingered hand began to stroke up and down his chest in a clear rhythm, and Prompto tried to match his breathing to the motions, but with limited success; he felt cold and clammy, and he wanted his dad. He wanted to make sure he was okay- His brain was trying to tell him that Cor couldn’t be there, but the rest of him wasn’t listening, and he found the breath he had been struggling with as he began to sob uncontrollably as he looked towards the door. The babies weren’t here yet, he could go back to him-

“Prompto, it’s alright, it’s almost over,” Luna said in his ear, only for him to weep even harder; he could make out Libertus as he leaned in and patted Prompto’s chest before hustling to the door.

“Glaive Ostium, where do you think you are going?” Lady Galla commented, and while he couldn’t see him, he heard Libertus heave a great sigh before opening the door.

“I appear to be the only one here who seems to realize what Prompto wants, and I’m going to get it,” Libertus snapped, closing the door behind him, and Ignis had finally moved his hand from his chest to cup at Prompto’s cheek and face in a vain attempt to soothe him.

“Prompto, we are all here with you, my dear, please do not overexert yourself,” Iggy whispered, but he just couldn’t stop crying. The door opened a few seconds later, and Prompto could just barely make out the sound of wheels over his tears.

“Ostium, did you unplug him from his machines?” Dr. Domitia sighed, and Prompto’s breath hitched as he tried to see what was happening, only to watch through bleary eyes as Libertus pushed Cor’s hospital bed into the room, babies and all, with Nyx right alongside him.

“He had already done the majority of them himself before I even entered the room, doc.”

“This is entirely against protocol, your majesty, I must object!” Lady Galla said; Prompto met the king’s eyes, just for a moment, and felt inordinately better when the man winked.

“Madame, be quiet,” his majesty interjected, and Lady Galla fell silent as Libertus pushed Cor’s bed as close as he could manage, and Prompto tried to stop crying as the man handed his children off to Nyx and pushed himself upright before leaning over and managing to take his hand.

“Prompto,” Cor said. “I’m here, and I will continue to be here for you. I know you, Prompto, you’re probably assuming I’m going to just leave you behind now that these two are here, but I’m not. I promise. I promise.” Prompto began to cry all over again, this time with a crazy sense of relief that he didn’t want to admit to, and Cor tightened his grip. “Breathe, son. Just...breathe.”

He breathed.

Cor’s bed was pushed away from his and moved into where the second bed usually was in the room after he hiccuped his lungs back into working order, exhaustion finally loosening all the limbs he had tightened up, and from there, it was a matter of minutes.

“We have a little boy!” Dr. Domitia announced, and Prompto could see as the doctor held the already screaming infant up for a moment before immediately passing him to a nurse. “The second is already crowning-” Another rolling wave of pain, and he gasped as the doctor froze, a bemused look on her wrinkled features. “Well damn, looks like the last two didn’t want to wait! Your second-born is a girl, my lords, and the third is another boy; the boy didn’t want to come out alone, apparently, he was holding onto her toes.” It was already over? The feeling of fullness had partially receded, but not entirely, and he found himself looking down at his stomach in confusion as he watched the nurses set the three babies down on seperate tables and began to clean them off.

“There was only three, right?” he asked, his voice scratchy and faint from his crying jag from earlier, and Gladio’s face appeared above his, his elated expression tempered by concern as he ran a hand through Prompto’s sweaty hair.

“Yes? Why do you think there’s another one?” Gladio asked, and Prompto looked back at his stomach.

“It still feels like there’s a lot in there,” he replied, and to his shock, it was Lord Amicitia who appeared in view and laid a damp cloth on his forehead and smiled.

“Remember, Prompto, you still have to expel the afterbirth. I’m sure Dr. Domitia would have noticed if there had been a fourth.” Oh. Duh. All three of his boyfriends had taken up his right side, their expressions a heartening collection of overwhelmed and happily blown away, and he reached out to them with a hand, Noct grabbing it first.

“I’m sorry, I just totally freaked out on you there, didn’t I?” he muttered, and Iggy sighed.

“While I will never be in your position, Prompto, it’s clearly an overwhelming experience. None of us here begrudge you anything, my dear,” Iggy stated firmly, and Prompto again found himself blushing as both Noct and Gladio nodded in agreement. He had completely lost it there, but even Cor hadn’t seemed to mind. Speaking of-

“Dad, are you...feeling okay? I’m sorry I caused all this fuss-” Prompto said as he shifted enough to be able to see him, and he couldn’t help but smile when he saw the dozing man in the bed next to him, one baby tucked into the crook of his elbow, the other being held by Nyx, who gave him a broad grin.

“Congratulations, Prompto. Don’t worry about it, he wanted to be here. He seems to be holding up okay, so don’t stress too much right now, you are going to be pretty busy yourself,” Nyx said, his eyes soft and kind and everything that made Prompto want to tear back up again, and he nodded before his eyes shifted back to his children. Real live babies. What. Just as he was about to speak, his stomach decided that it was time to take care of the rest of his burden, and thankfully, pretty much everyone gave him a semblance of privacy as that came to its conclusion. After a little time and a much lighter feeling stomach, he finally remembered what he had been about to say.

“Holy shit is right,” he commented aloud, and most of the room began to laugh (Galla remained sour-faced and silent, but that seemed to be her natural expression) as little colored anklets were snapped onto each child’s leg.

“Finally hit you, did it? Well, you three, be useful and come over and fetch your children,” Dr. Domitia ordered, and Prompto huffed as the three dutifully marched over, each looking nervous (although he gave Gladio credit, it was clear he was more comfortable with it) as they were each handed a baby. “The tests are being processed, so for now, time for you all to meet them, we’ll sort out who’s who in a few minutes.” Prompto watched as his three boyfriends just stood there and stared at the little bundles in their arms for at least a minute before he scowled.

“Some of us want to see them!” he shouted, and took a bit of probably-inappropriate glee in the way all three of them seemed to freeze, then, practically as one, they pivoted on the balls of their feet like automatons before marching over to him, apologetic looks on their faces.

“Sorry, Prom, you have to admit, they are rather distracting,” Gladio commented as he stroked a finger down the cheek of the baby he was holding. “This one has your hair, Prom, the other two have darker hair, because they were pretty screwed on that point otherwise.” Gladio tucked the first baby into his arms, and Prompto looked down at it. One good look at the shape of the eyes, the familiar contours of the face, and he knew exactly who the father was of the baby he had in his arms was. He grinned, then passed the baby back to Gladio and held out his arms.

“Let me see the other two.” Iggy handed over his burden first, a knowing sparkle in his eyes, and Prompto grinned at the very suspicious hair color before signalling to Noct. “Come on, Prince Dad, lemme see.” Noct’s jaw dropped at the silly title, but he also surrendered his bundle, which Ignis helped him maneuver into his arms. He wasn’t one hundred percent sure, but he was pretty sure who this one belonged to as well. “Hey, Luna?”

Luna, who had been standing quietly to the side along with Aranea, brilliant grins on both of their faces, turned towards him. “Yes?” He motioned her closer, and he whispered his predictions in her ear. “Let’s see if that...er, motherly intuition is correct,” Luna said with a quirk of the lips, giving him a peck on the cheek before stepping away. Dr. Domitia was looking at her computer screen, which was carefully angled to keep anyone from looking, and a cold jolt of anticipation shot through him as she looked up with a grin.

“I have results! Prompto, do I sense that you wanted to guess before I say anything?” Dr. Domitia said, and Prompto managed to sit further upright with a nod.

“Hey Dad, wake up!” Prompto yelled, and Cor grumbled awake, before his eyes sharpened on the doctor’s expression.

“Results?”

“Yup, I’m going to guess first, see if I’m right,” Prompto answered, and Cor huffed a laugh as he smoothed his hand over the fine near-black hair of the infant in his arms. “Ready?” Lady Galla snorted, but she did not comment as he motioned for all three of his boyfriends to line up. “Okay, Noct? Gladio?”

“Yeah?” Noct asked, and Prompto smiled and wiggled his fingers back and forth.

“Switch kids with each other.” Both men froze, but did just that before Prompto faced Dr. Domitia once more. “Well?” The doctor picked up her computer and walked over to the four... seven of them, and glanced at her screen, then at the colored anklets before bursting into delighted laughter.

“Well, I’ll be damned. Right on the dot, Prompto. I have a feeling your unique biology helped with the situation, because this could not have been more ideal, I believe,” Dr. Domitia said, then she turned away to face the rest of the room. “I, Vesta Domitia, loyal subject and physician to the crown, do declare to king and council that an heir male has been born to the Crown Royal, may it last forever. Congratulations, my lords.” The king, to the shock of almost everyone, was actually tearing up, and Lord Amicitia was patting him on the arm, a silly little grin on his face.

“And the others?” Gladio’s father asked, and the old woman huffed.

“You know the answer, my lord, but very well. To Lord Scientia, a son, and to Mr. Amicitia, a daughter. Sounds like you will have a very busy household, you four,” the doctor chuckled as she returned her gaze to Prompto. “Prompto, while I suspect there will be some deluxe birthday celebrations in the future, I have a suspicion you don’t know what time it is.” What? Prompto looked between over at Iggy, but he only blinked in response. “The marshal and captain’s daughters were born about an hour before midnight, on the tenth, your three were born on the eleventh. So at least you can say that your new siblings are older than your own kids,” Dr. Domitia said with a wink, and Nyx began to laugh (and Cor to groan) as Prompto tiredly pumped his fist in the air.

“Whoo hoo, a whole few hours,” he drawled, then snorted. “You probably aren’t joking about those birthday celebrations.” Something suddenly came to mind, and his eyes slid over to Nyx, a growing smirk on his face. “You’re gonna have the biggest...well, shared, birthday party ever every year, you realize that, right?” Prompto said, and both Nyx and Cor snorted before Nyx shook his head with a smile.

“Yeah, I give up. At least there’s more of a reason to celebrate the week now than my idiot self,” Nyx replied, and Cor rolled his eyes and raised a hand (probably to smack him,) before freezing in realization of what was in both of their arms.

“Well, shit. That’s going to take some time to get used to,” Cor muttered, and Prompto cackled.

“It’s so weird that we are going through this at the same time,” he commented, then flapped his hands at his boyfriends. “Okay, we’ve got all the dad info now, I wanna actually hold one of my kids, if you don’t mind.”

Noct handed over his kid first, which was probably smart, as everyone still loitering around was looking like they wanted to see the baby close up. So yeah, him first. Settling the boy into his arms, Prompto gently tugged at the swaddling until he could see all of the infant’s head; little wisps of blond hair poked out, and he found himself digging through dusty memories of the kings of Lucis as to when the last tow-headed one reigned. At least two or three hundred years.

“Well, he’ll stand out at the royal parties, Noct,” he said, and that got the attention of those stupid council members that were still in the room. Well, two of them were just fine, hell, Lord Ampelius and Lady Verina had both attended the baby shower, but he really wished crabby old Lady Galla would just fuck off already.

“What do you mean, your grace?” Lady Faustina asked, and Prompto found himself seeking out the king’s gaze, lifting his son just enough to indicate his offer, and his majesty, still dewy-eyed, swept in and reached out to him.

“Are you certain, Prompto? I can wait,” the king said, and Prompto answered by lifting the child a little more. “Then I suppose I will start the beginning of my grandfatherly prerogative and show off the babies.” The king did just that, sweeping around the room with little...oh hell, why didn’t they talk much about names?

“Blond, huh? Like you said, kid, he’ll stand out. It’ll be nice to see some color back in the royal family again, unlike the rest of these dark-haired idiots,” Cid said, his expression light and happy as he stroked a finger down the baby’s cheek. “Even out of the five of them he’ll stand out. Well, suppose it’s proper, being the royal kid and all.” Lady Galla dutifully examined the infant, the sour expression finally lifting slightly as she gazed upon the absolutely adorable kid (he might be biased.)

“Have you a name for our new prince, your highness?” Galla inquired, her voice almost congenial, and Prompto met Noct’s eye before beckoning him closer with a jerk of his head.

“You had something in mind, right?” Noct nodded with a proud little smile, and Prompto huffed a laugh. “I trust you, your highness. Name your son.” Noctis walked over and retrieved the infant from Clarus, who looked utterly charmed.

“I’ll admit, I had been counting on the small chance that the baby would be born with Prom’s hair, but he was, so-” Noct raised the boy enough so most of the room could see him, his little blond locks clearly visible. “May I introduce Aurelian.”

His majesty's’ delighted laughter echoed off the walls, and to everyone’s amazement, all five children slept soundly through the whole thing.

When Ignis passed out cold a few moments later in what Prompto would forever think was the most hilarious example of a delayed reaction he had ever seen, thankfully without a baby in his arms (Prompto was nursing him,) Clarus thankfully caught him before he could dash his brains out on the ground.

“Brings back memories, doesn’t it, Clarus?” Regis helpfully stated, and Clarus rolled his eyes while almost everyone, including Cor, burst out laughing, helpfully rousing the unconscious man.

Prompto met Cor’s eyes with a shaky smile, and was totally relieved when the man returned it with an exhausted one of his own.

They made it.

Chapter Text

Those almost three weeks whipped by, and the new moon came faster than Nyx ever thought it would. Cor had been kept in the infirmary for a solid week to monitor his condition and allow him to rest, and, as Lord Amicitia had predicted, was bouncing back splendidly. Nyx had never been so relieved about anything in his entire life.

The traditional first gifts that he had been so worried about had been supplied by a coalition of the Galadian Glaives and the people of Little Galahd, much to his teary-eyed shock, and when the children were taken home, Nyx had found himself happily arranging the sachets of herbs and mounting the carvings near to the cribs, which were sitting next to each other on the side of the room where Cor used to toss his clothes.

Nyx gave him a week before one of their poor girls accidentally got beaned with a dirty sock.

Nyx, Libertus, Crowe, and Elder Leontia, who had appeared out of completely fucking nowhere only days after the births were announced, her wrinkled face downright transcendent with happiness (they hadn’t even seen the woman since they had been ingloriously exited Galahd after Cor’s...kidnapping, but there she was, and Nyx was thrilled) arranged the ritual baths the children would receive right before dawn, preparing them to greet the world with their new names. An area in the gardens had been cleared to allow for the ceremony, and the soil had been tilled and the grass removed. The clippings had been gathered and laid out like a rug to form an altar space, and a ring of seeds demarcated the ceremonial area from the rest of the garden, carefully laid by Elder Leontia just a few hours prior. Cor, Prompto, and Luna were all in attendance, the former two as family, and the queen as official witness; while Cor was the bearer of the twins, and the herald of the Dawn Mother to boot, he was not of Galahd, and so, he would take a supporting role in the naming ceremony while Nyx took point. Normally, it was the grandmothers of the children who would lead the ceremony, but with Cor both long orphaned and Insomnian, and Nyx’s mother gone over five years prior, Elder Leontia stepped in to take their place.

Nyx could not be more grateful.

The gardens at the Citadel were lovely, and the dark moonless night left for the space to be illuminated by little more than small wax candles placed at regular intervals, highlighting the sharp curve of Cor’s nose and cheek as they stood by the altar. Nyx was quite certain he had never seen anything more beautiful in his life...although he’d make an exception for his daughters.

“What’s in the water?” Cor asked softly, his fingers twitching right above the carved wood basins, which had been lovingly handcrafted by Crowe and Pelna with Libertus’s guidance, and Nyx reached out and curled his hand around his partner’s, gently moving him away.

“Some oils and a few other things, nothing heavy or damaging, of course. It’ll make sense in a few minutes,” Nyx said, letting his fingers weave between Cor’s. “How are you feeling? Between the girls and the new chocobo chicks that arrived, you’ve been all over the place the last few days.” Nyx reached up with his free hand and smoothed down his partner’s uncharacteristically unruly hair, leading to a twitch and a sigh.

“Do I look that out of it?” Cor asked, his tone serious, and Nyx shook his head and smiled.

“No, you just look a little tired, nothing new, honestly,” he replied, and Cor huffed.

“I’ve actually been feeling better as the days go on, as has Prompto; it appears that we do have a nice side effect of recovering quickly from pregnancy. I’ll take it.” The two of them walked over to Libertus, who had his arms full with the twins, and Nyx took the moment to bring Cor down for a quick kiss on the lips before withdrawing.

“I can tell, and I’m glad. I don’t want any more health scares like that again, Cor. That’s an order.” Cor’s lips twitched upwards, and he tilted his head with a formal air.

“I’ll do my best.”

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a naming, Nyx. I’m honored to be here,” Libertus said solemnly, and Nyx reached out, plucked his eldest from his best friend’s arms while Cor followed with the younger, then leaned in and gave Libertus a loose hug with his free arm.

“I’m honored that you stand here with me, old friend. This will be, well, at least with me, a one-time affair, so I’m happy we can all be together for it,” Nyx said, his eyes following Cor, who was walking over to Prompto, younger baby in his arms, and smiled.

“That’s for certain, then?” Libertus asked, his eyes kind, and Nyx nodded.

“Doc said he’ll probably kill himself if he ends up pregnant again, and strongly suggested he ask the Dawn Mother if there are any Dawnsworn-safe assists to prevent such events in the future,” he said sotto voce, and Libertus’s expression was full of relief, which, honestly, Nyx understood.

“Scared the shit out of me when he just...dropped. I’ll be honest, Nyx, I thought he was dead,” Libertus said carefully, and Nyx couldn’t help the instinctive horror that lanced through him for a moment. “Of course, he revived himself only a few seconds later, but still. I don’t want to see him like that again. I knew you don’t either, but some people get inspired to have even more kids after the first ones, and well-” Nyx could see that Libertus was trying to not be accusatory, and he certainly didn’t take it that way. Still, he found himself sighing before nodding.

“No, I agree completely. He’d probably still be laid up if he was an...average person, but he’s not, and I’m definitely happy about it in this case. She has him on some medication for now that he’s not thrilled with, but he’s eating like he did before the pregnancy now, so she took him off the appetite stimulators,” Nyx said, shaking his head. “He thinks it’s an old man thing to be on meds, although he’d never admit it. I also think he’s worried that I’m going to be unhappy about the no more kids thing, but I’m not. At all. His health is far more important, and besides, we have two beautiful little ones that I know he’s going to be the best parent to. I’m-” Nyx paused, considering his words. “I’ve gotten everything I assumed I’d never have, Libs, I went from assuming I’d have a rather short life, probably right along with you and Crowe, to having Cor, and along with Cor came all these wonderful people, and-” Nyx sniffed, and looked down to realize he was crying, the tears dripping onto the baby’s blanket. “-aw, hell. You- you know what I mean,” he finished awkwardly as he stole the corner of the blanket to wipe his eyes, and Libertus smiled before leaning in and resting his forehead against Nyx’s.

“I do know what you mean, new daddy. I’m right here with you. Well-” Libertus took a step back and ran a finger down the baby’s cheek. “-all four of you, of course. So is Crowe, Pelna, and the rest of us, even if not everyone is so obvious about it. You two will both be wonderful parents...even though we all decided something,” Libs said with a smirk, and Nyx sniffed a bit more before raising an eyebrow.

“And what’s that?”

Libertus glanced over Nyx’s shoulder at Cor (presumably) before his smirk grew even wider.

“We all know who the tough parent is gonna be, and it’s not the bad-ass marshal.”

Nyx managed to keep a straight face, but it was not without effort, and it was to that moment that Cor returned, second daughter in his arms, his eyebrows raising at the picture Nyx made.

“I’m guessing I missed something?” Cor asked, his expression curious, and Nyx met Libertus’s eyes with a little twitch of his lips before shaking his head.

“No, nothing in particular.”

“The hour comes upon us, and there are children here that must be presented to those above and below. Herald, Captain, do you have them?” Elder Leontia asked, and Nyx nodded for them both. “Excellent, your other guests are arriving as well.” Nyx and Cor both turned to see the king, Lord Amicitia, all three of Prompto’s partners, their own children in their arms, Iris, Aranea, Pelna, Lady Verina, Lord Ampelius, Lord Marcius, Cid, Cindy, Monica, Dustin, and a whole collection of Glaives and Guards, all approaching silently and stopping at the outskirts of the ceremonially cleared area in the gardens. The king nodded to Nyx, his eyes twinkling in the candlelight, and Nyx bowed slightly before meeting everyone else’s eyes in a quick sweep before returning to face the altar, Cor following his lead.

“We are ready, elder.” Leontia stepped in front of the basins, raising her arms and looking to the star-filled skies.

“To all present, I am Leontia of Galahd, daughter of many daughters, standing in for two that can not be here today to name and honor two new daughters of Galahd. While the parent who bore them is not of our blood, our traditions- his partner, their sire is, and as far as we of Galahd are concerned, they are of one heart and mind. Nyx Ulric, son of Theia, do you present your daughters to be named before the Dawn Mother and the Astrals?” Nyx stepped forward, Cor at his side, and Leontia reached out and touched each of their cheeks, then placed her hands on their chests, over their hearts. “Your hearts beat with love for each other and your children, and it is with this love today that we present these new daughters of Galahd to those we pray will lend their strength for them to grow up healthy and strong.” The elder lifted her hands from Nyx and Cor’s chests and reached down, letting her fingers trace each child’s brow. They both fussed, wiggling uselessly in their blankets at the touch, but they subsided with little more than a whimper. “Bring them to the fonts.” Cor knew to follow his lead, and so he and Nyx followed Leontia towards the beautiful basins, the elder coming to a stop behind them and signalling to the children. “As they were born to this world, so shall they be once more; remove them from their wrappings and lower each one into the water.”

Nyx’s hands were shaking slightly as he pulled the thin blanket from around his eldest’s body, Cor following suit next to him as they carefully set each child into a basin, their heads resting on an elevated rest as their bodies became mostly submerged. The shock of the water was clearly not one either child liked, and Nyx was not surprised when both began to cry. He forced himself not to move back towards them as Elder Leontia raised a tiny vial.

Babies almost always cried during naming ceremonies.

“To the Archaean, we pray for patience; for the will to wait until what is needed is ready, and to not hurry through life,” Leonitia said as she uncapped the vial, dripping several drops on each child’s stomach before resealing it. The elder allowed for a small pause, and Nyx took a moment to remember Titan, and found himself mentally thanking him for his kindness.

“To the Fulgurian, we pray for wisdom; for the intelligence to see both our flaws and strengths, and to embrace them both as one.” A different vial, followed several drops to the head which caused the girls to cry even louder.

“To the Glacian, we pray for compassion; for the heart to understand both love and hate, and to rise above all those who would seek to wrest said love from our souls.” Drops directly to the heart, and Nyx couldn’t help his smile as a cold burst of air cut through the air around them, Cor actually huffing a near-silent laugh next to him.

“To the Hydraean, we pray for perseverance; for the will to continue on when all appears lost.” The oil was dripped on the feet, and was almost as quickly kicked off by tiny thrashing legs. Nyx met Cor’s eyes with an amused smirk as Leontia prepared the next vial.

“To the Draconian, we pray for strength; for the power to meet any challenge and come out the better for it.” As Leontia applied the drops to the girl’s hands, Nyx found himself pleading internally with the Draconian to not hold any ill will towards his daughters. It didn’t hurt to ask. A quick glance at his partner revealed uncertainty, and he reached over and threaded his fingers through Cor’s right hand, giving it a squeeze as he repeated his prayer to the Draconian in his head once more.

“Finally, to the Infernian, we pray for peace; for the serenity to know when it is time to rest.” The contents of the last vial were dripped directly into the water, then the elder stepped back and smiled as she put away the small vial. “May the Astrals hear these prayers, and bless these children who we honor here today.”

“Praise to the Hexathon.” Nyx and the other Galahdians stated in unison, and Nyx squeezed Cor’s hand once more as Leontia picked up a small jar, made of plain, unglazed red ceramic, and plucked out several seeds, placing them in her palm and lifting her hand into the air.

“To the Dawn Mother, bringer of life and hope, we present to you the newest children of Eos.” Elder Leontia set the first seed above their firstborn’s belly button, then raised her arms to the sky, which had been steadily lightening as she had been speaking. “To the dawn, I present to you Selene, daughter of many daughters, and daughter of many sons. Named for one who has passed into memory, may her forebears give her guidance for the future.” Nyx shivered as for the first time since their birth, one of his daughter’s names was said aloud; it was Cor who adjusted his grip, and Nyx who gained reassurance through his strong hand as the elder moved to their younger daughter, also placing a seed on her belly. “To the dawn, I present to you Theia, daughter of many daughters, and daughter of many sons. Named for one who has passed into memory, may her forebears give her guidance for the future.” The first rays of the sun seemed to pause on the horizon as Leontia beckoned them forward, Nyx and Cor still holding each other’s hands. “This is the time where your family and friends add their blessings for the future, should they so wish,” Leontia explained, and Nyx led Cor around the fonts to stand by the elder as Prompto approached first, his eyes shining and a beautiful smile on his face as he rested a hand on the edge of each basin.

“Hello, little sisters. You two are going to be amazing, you know that? I suppose you have to be, with such awesome parents. We’re all going to have such fun together!” Prompto said joyously, then reached in and laid down a seed on each of the babies’ bellies, near to the other one. “Happy naming day, Selene and Theia!”

Luna followed suit, with the king and Lord Amicitia immediately after; Libertus, Crowe, and Pelna also gave their blessings, and Nyx watched with stinging eyes as the little pile of seeds grew on the girls’ stomachs, a visible symbol of the love and affection that surrounded them all. The whole event was almost nauseating with its sweetness, but Nyx didn’t find himself minding.

Moments like these didn’t come along very often, after all.

“What happens next?” Cor whispered in his ear as Aranea stepped away, and Nyx grinned.

“We get to get oily.” After Lord Ampelius gave a little blessing, Leontia stepped forward, the sun appearing to follow suit only moments later.

“Take up your daughters, Nyx Ulric and Cor Leonis, and have them greet the dawn with their names proudly given.” Nyx moved forward, and plucked Theia out of the basin, Cor following with Selene, and all four of them moved around the fonts and faced the rising sun, soft smiles on both his and Cor’s faces as warmth travelled up his legs as the sun began to crest the horizon fully. Behind them, Nyx could hear someone moving the basins, and he forced himself to remain facing the sunrise as Prompto and Libertus came around with the large wooden bowls, elder Leontia following immediately behind. “From the planet we came, and to the planet we will one day return; but for now, we welcome life.” Leontia signalled, and Prompto and Libertus poured out the basins slowly as they traced the outside of the altar space, the scented oils fragrant in the morning air as the two men finished their work. “May we all live to experience such joy once more.” Leontia said, walking to their side and giving both Nyx and Cor kisses on their cheeks before finally leaving the circle with a smile. Nyx turned to Cor as he pulled the blanket from his shoulder and began to loosely wrap Theia in it, only to freeze at the distant look on the man’s face.

“Cor? It’s finished, we can head out-” The herald turned glowing blue eyes on him, smiling at both him and Theia before taking a step forward and lowering himself to the ground at the edge of the circle, Selene still in his arms, oil and damp covered grass clippings sticking to his knees. “Cor?” Cor’s long fingers brushed at the grass in a slow, deliberate manner, and everyone from Leontia on down waited with bated breath to see what was to happen next.

Cor remained silent as he looked down at the ground, and Nyx watched as a single tear traced down his cheek, catching on the edge of his jaw before falling to the soil; Nyx found himself holding his breath, and a moment later, he was not disappointed. Underneath Cor’s hand and between the grass clippings, little sprouts began to grow; Nyx’s jaw dropped as the earth teemed with life, plants bursting through the soil around the circle and growing rapidly upwards as everyone gasped.

“Holy shit!” Crowe gasped somewhere on the other side of the steadily growing wall of green and blooming things, and Nyx had to agree as Prompto started to laugh, clearly not as surprised as the rest of them.

“Nyx, guys, you might want to come out of there before you get stuck,” the blond helpfully stated, and well, Nyx thought that was a sound suggestion, managing to coax Cor to his feet and scoot between the still-growing flora as it stretched to the sky.

“Well, that’s definitely the most fascinating end to a naming that I’ve ever seen, and I’ve helped with a great many of them over the years,” Leontia said with wide eyes, and several present nodded in agreement as the growth began to slow; there was a pause where nothing seemed to happen, then in a wave, flowers burst into bloom, a great dome of them coming into being as the plants began to bend towards the center under their own weight.

“That’s possibly the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen, which makes it even more surprising that it came from the kid-”

“Cid, be nice,” the king interrupted, and Nyx managed to catch his partner’s attention, this time getting a focused gaze in return from only slightly illuminated eyes.

“Spontaneous inspiration?” he asked, and Cor looked down at their daughters, then towards Prompto and his brood, then nodded.

“Yes, I...think so,” Cor said slowly, and Nyx snorted, reaching over and brushing his fingers across Selene’s cheek.

“Well, I hear rumor of a giant welcome all the babies party, so I suppose we better move inside,” Nyx said, and Cor froze, his expression turning a bit dismayed. Before he could say anything, however, Monica swept in and kidnapped Selene from Cor’s arms, winking at Nyx as she bustled by.

“I have your kid...well, one of them, Leonis, you are going to the party. It’s officially a celebration of the birth of the new prince and the rest of his family, but well, unofficially, it’s the awesome new baby party. Deal. It’s nice to see you upright and mostly functioning again...well, as much as you ever were, anyway, so make an appearance and be a doting papa,” Monica ordered, and Nyx tittered as she gently lifted Selene’s hand and made her wave as she left at a fast clip, Cor giving him a betrayed look before chasing after her.

“Good work, Monica,” Nyx said quietly as he grinned, then shifted so he could nuzzle Theia for a moment before setting off after them, the new dome of flowers bright with a rainbow of color visible out of the corner of his eye.

“It’s a new era here in the Citadel,” Pelna said to his right, and Nyx looked at his old friend with a smile.

“I suppose it is...albeit a very noisy one.”  Crowe slid in on his other side, her hand sneaking in and playing with Theia’s short dark brown lock of hair before chuckling.

“We could use a little bit of happy commotion around here, anyway,” Crowe said, then Nyx huffed as she wrapped her hand around his left bicep and coaxed him towards the door. “Happy name day, Nyx.”

Prompto sung during the party, a sweet tune about adventure and perseverance as he ran around the room with the children in his arms, swapping out as he passed each one; Cor did not join in singing, but Nyx laughed he found himself holding Gladio’s daughter and Cor Aurelian as Prompto frolicked about even after he was done singing, light and stardust clinging to his form as he traveled, and Nyx found himself leaning towards Luna, who was standing right next to him.

“So, how many times have you heard the we need the next generation, your majesty? line yet?” he asked, and the uncharacteristic scowl that answered him was totally expected, yet jarring; Nyx found himself laughing like a complete idiot as Noctis and Gladio came by to swap children, their dual expressions of confusion at Luna’s face only made it worse.

“Keep that up, and you’ll be finding out why angering an oracle isn’t a good idea,” Cor said blandly as he swapped the little prince for Selene, and Nyx reached out for Theia from Noctis as he tried to control his snickers, only for Luna to grab his kid with a huff.

“I think Theia and I will go have a nice adult discussion without children present,” Luna said haughtily, and Nyx blinked as the queen of Tenebrae marched off with his kid, leaving Cor looking like butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth.

“Your turn.”

 

----------

 

“I have even more visitors than last time!” the Dawn Mother said with glee, and smiled as her guests bowed on instinct as she signalled for them to sit. “Before I fawn over them, I must ask; Cor, dearheart, my herald- how are you feeling?” Cor, ever the dour one, shrugged noncommittally, but she gave him a firm look until he sighed.

“Much better, my lady. I’m still tiring somewhat easily, but nowhere near as badly as before these two arrived,” her herald informed her, and while she already knew the answer, she did not wish to pry too much, preferring instead for them to volunteer the information.

Unlike most of her fellow divinities, especially in antiquity, she had always preferred giving them their autonomy as much as possible, and with Cor and Prompto being the first in many generations of mortals sworn to her, she didn’t want to...overwhelm them. She hadn’t always been so familial with her Dawnsworn in the past, but she found that she liked it. A new way of doing things for a new era. Even if perhaps she was being a little too apt at forgetting to tell them things-

“The fact my stomach flattened out almost to where it was before was a nice side effect, that was unexpected,” Prompto commented, and Cor nodded in relief.

“Yes, while any muscle tone I had is shot, it was a pleasant surprise.” She smiled knowingly at her herald, who colored and looked down at his daughter.

“You look forward to returning to your former levels of fitness, Cor, this is hardly a surprise. I suspect in no time at all, you’ll be back at work, children strapped to your chest or in a bassinet next to your desk,” she said, and was pleased at the answering laughter from all assembled, including the young prince, who was nodding in complete agreement.

“That does sound like you, Cor, let’s be honest,” young Caelum said, and Prompto nodded solemnly.

“It does.”

Cor rolled his eyes, but did not bother arguing. She found herself watching as the infants shifted in their blankets, with their parents automatically soothing them in a variety of ways as the breeze ruffled the grasses around them. She could not remember the last time she had seen babes of any species in person, especially there in her haven; she only knew it had been thousands of years. It was refreshing.

“Tell me, how did you decide on names?” she asked, and was not surprised when both of her hearts looked vaguely embarrassed as they waved to their partners.

“I think we both just decided to let them decide, honestly. I’m not good at naming, I named a dog tiny once because I couldn’t think of anything else. I figured they could do a better job than I could,” Prompto said with a laugh, and Cor shrugged, but nodded a bit sheepishly. Well, she supposed even her chosen couldn’t be good at everything. Shifting until she was sitting with her legs crossed, she smoothed her skirt over her lap to make an ideal sling, then patted her knees.

“Well, then, I expect proper introductions! Cor, since yours came first-” Nyx moved forward, swaddled infant in his arms, and she patted her lap. “It is quite alright, Nyx Ulric, I mean them no harm.” Nyx look scandalized at the thought, but at the same time, she could see his hesitation as he lowered the child into her lap. “The worries of a new parent, son of Galahd. I do not begrudge you them.” The girlchild wiggled on her lap, waving little arms aimlessly in the air as she unwrapped the blankets, and she smiled. “Welcome to the world, little Selene.” Cor lowered his bundle into her lap as well, and after peeling more blankets away, she nodded to both twin girls together, before letting her fingers trace their soft features. “-and welcome to you as well, young Theia. You were named after two strong and capable women, and I have no doubts that you will both do them both every honor. Your parents are both men of the utmost character, and I am perhaps only a...little biased on the matter. May you both grow up to be everything you want to be, without fear of war or suffering.” After carefully swaddling the infants back in their blankets, she passed them both back to their fathers with a smile, before beckoning Ignis forward.

“He’s been a bit colicky, your holiness, perhaps-” She cut Ignis off with a wave of her hand, and with a stiff nod, he lowered the child into her lap, where he, on cue, began to wail.

“Poor dear, he’s just not used to being out in the big wide world yet, that’s all. He will be just fine,” she said softly as she gently dislodged him from his wrappings, the baby's cries quieting almost immediately. “Also, he might have been a bit warm.” Ignis flinched with embarrassment, but she waved it away. “We are all learning, young Ignis, do not dwell on such mistakes, unless you are unable to learn from them.” She looked down at the hiccuping infant with a grin, letting her fingers brush through his fine brown hair. “Welcome to the world, young Aeolus. You and all of your siblings, both current and possible future-” She pretended she didn’t hear several chokes around her as she pressed on. “-will be raised in the most loving household any child could ever wish for, with an amazing array of parents and family. Your sire is well-regarded for his intelligence, his loyalty, and his skill at many things, Aeolus, perhaps you will follow in his footsteps.” She looked over at her voice, and gave a mischievous little grin. “Or perhaps you’ll do something entirely different and scandalize the lot of them. It was not uncommon for the children of my chosen to enter into my service as priestesses or priests, after all.”

  Gladiolus approached next, lowering his daughter to her lap without reservation, but staying firmly next to the child as she uncovered the fiercely kicking little legs with a laugh.

“She likes kicking like she’s trying out a martial art. She’s already given me and Noct nose bleeds,” Gladio commented with a fond smile, and she laughed.

“I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Welcome to our world, little Amaryllis; you are the daughter of a sharp and kind young man who also specializes in the ability to thrash anyone who hurts or threatens who he loves. With strength like yours, I suspect you will keep your whole family in line when necessary, and probably occasionally when it is not. I have a feeling neither you nor they will mind too much,” she said as she chuckled, her fingers teasing the soles of the tiny feet as Amaryllis continued to kick, and she took a moment to admire the dark brown peachfuzz on her head. “Just try not to break your poor parent’s faces, your bearer needs his nose to sing properly.” She grinned as the rest of them began to laugh, even Cor, and she wrapped up the child and passed her over to Gladiolus, who nodded his thanks before scooting away, leaving the last born of the lot left to go. “Your highness, may I?” The young prince and the future true king, a title he still deserved regardless of the changes in his destiny or not, knelt before her; she reached out and clasped his arm before he could lower the child into her lap, and he looked up at her with wide eyes.

“Yes, your holiness?” She reached out with her other hand and placed it against his cheek, her thoughts turning pensive as she looked at him.

“Do you miss what you would have become, in the original order of things? Not just the next king, but the true king? The one who the astrals themselves would have submitted to as you fought to save the world? The king that the songs would be sung about, the king who would be wrapped in legend?” she found herself asking as she let her hand drop from his face and down to the child, her fingertips teasing at fine sun-yellow hair; Noctis Lucius Caelum’s eyes had grown wider as she had spoken, but once she finished, his response was immediate.

“No. Sure, it’s always nice to be well regarded and all, but there’s a clear common denominator that comes with that sort of thing, and you know what? I think I’ll do just fine being alive and average versus legendary and dead, Dawn Mother. Without what happened, we would not be here, at least in this situation; I know for a fact that my father would be dead and that Insomnia probably would have been turned to ruin, let alone whether any of us would still be alive beyond that. Am I wrong?” Noctis asked, and a few feet away, her herald shook his head.

“No, I saw what would have happened in a dream, and it’s pretty much what you think. I do know that-” Cor trailed off, his expression growing somber, and Prompto leaned over and clasped his father’s shoulder.

“Nyx, right?” her voice asked, and Cor did not answer verbally, but his meaning was clear, and she watched as the prince nodded decisively as Nyx wrapped his free arm around Cor’s waist comfortingly.

“As I said, I choose happiness and peace over glory, and there is no shame in that,” Noctis said, his voice giving no allowance for argument, and she found herself smiling.

“No, there is not.” Silence fell between them for a long moment, but it was not uncomfortable, and she nodded and reached out to the infant. “Well then, I have one more child to meet!” she said, and the prince laid the baby in her lap, the same as the others, and she laughed as her thighs were immediately smacked by little flailing fists. “Already exercising as well, I see. Last, but certainly not least, welcome to the world, little Aurelian; one day, a very long time from now, I am sure you will be the finest king that ever reigned over Lucis, but for now, you are a child, the only one to inherit my voice’s lovely hair, and you have a fine set of little fists that will certainly challenge your sister’s kicks for face-damaging action. While you are bound to your fate more than your siblings and your...cousins, and yes, I know they are technically aunts, do not allow it to overwhelm you, young prince, and look to your family for guidance as you grow. While all of you have fine young men as your sires, you and your siblings have one of the kindest and most true people alive as your bearer, and I know that you will all do him, and all of them, proud.”

Prompto flushed from his spot in the grass, and she was not surprised when all three of his partners nodded easily in agreement. They knew his worth, and they would happily spend the rest of their lives reminding him of it. She was happy beyond reasoning that events had conspired to allow both of her chosen to find such wonderful partners, events that even she could not have foreseen nor influenced.

There was some magic even beyond her or her Dawnsworn, after all.

Aurelian was returned to Noctis, and she reached out, letting her favorite guardian know that he could now visit; Carbuncle appeared in a little burst of light moments later, and from there the scene degenerated into excited squeals and much furry cuddling of babies, both Prompto’s and Cor’s, and she settled back and enjoyed the wonderful sight in front of her, her gaze occasionally meeting both of her chosen’s as the friendly smothering continued. When her little blue friend finally curled up next to Aurelian and dozed off, she remembered something she wished to ask, and she sat back up and looked between Prompto’s partners with a smirk.

“So tell me, you three; was your children’s names coincidental, or did you all enjoy naming them after their bearer in some way?” she asked, and Gladiolus began to laugh, his wide grin a clear answer, at least from him.

“It was just a little coincidence, I think. Noct had made his choice separately, so-” Gladiolus trailed off with a snort, and Ignis nodded in agreement.

“It worked out, though, did it not?” Ignis asked, and she enjoyed watching Prompto’s increasingly confused expression as his eyes darted from one partner to the next.

“Wait, what? I mean, Noct named Aurelian because of the hair, I can see that, but-”

“Supposedly, an ancient meaning of Amaryllis means sparkling, and well, you are rather good at that when you sing, let alone in general,” Gladiolus said, his expression proud; Prompto blinked again before turning towards Ignis, who smirked playfully.

“Then, Aeolus-”

“The meaning from antiquity meant something akin to quick, fast, nimble; if you can not see where I was going with that, Prompto, I will be forced to buy you a thesaurus,” Ignis scolded, and she looked over as the blush took over her voice’s face quite thoroughly, showcasing his delightful freckles as he squirmed.

“I thought it was sweet, and the fact that it sounds like you didn’t collude on the matter only makes it better,” Nyx commented, and Prompto covered his face with his hands and whimpered as Cor began to laugh, a quiet, joyous sound that drew all attention to him. After a moment, even Prompto peeked out from behind his fingers.

“Dad?” Cor’s eyes held a smile far greater than his lips could ever portray, and she smiled as he leaned in and ruffled his son’s hair fondly.

“Deal with it.”

 

--------------------------

 

Pre-Epilogue:

 

Time, as it does, moved on. The whole Citadel was scandalized to discover that the Dawnsworn were able to breastfeed their children, which led to more than a few attempts at voyeurism, disgusted comments from a few, and probably a few unexpected fetishes, but after awhile, people...got used to it. Prompto never quite stopped being embarrassed about it, but he dealt. Cor stopped giving a shit almost immediately, and after a few inappropriate comments from others, they learned to shut their mouths or face a beat down in the gym.

That took care of the situation handily.

The public did find out eventually, but by then, both Dawnsworn just shrugged and ignored the commentary...for the most part. It wasn’t anything they hadn’t heard before.

 

“Insomnia Daily is way too invested in our boobs. This is the third article in a week,” Prompto scowled, and Cor pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed.

“Just ignore it. Unless someone gets handsy, then resolve the situation as required,” Cor replied, and Prompto raised an eyebrow.

“Punch them in the nose, you mean,” Prompto said dryly, and Cor crossed his arms and smirked.

“Isn’t that what I just said?”

 

-------

 

The device used to access the royal quarters was of Niflheim-make, as the would-be assassin had told Prompto during the skirmish, and it was quickly examined by the research department, leading to a complete overhaul of Citadel security. While it was too late to keep Prompto from getting attacked, he was thrilled that they at least were able to hopefully keep it from happening again.

Madame’s younger chicks were joined by her older child in the Mews a few weeks after the naming ceremony, the bird having escaped Wiz’s and made his way all the way to the edge of Insomnia, where he was picked up and taken to join the others. Cor was a regular visitor there both with and without his children, and by the time the children were crawling, it was a common sight to see the chicks waddling alongside their human friends. The eldest chick, already half-grown, was enamoured with Amaryllis, while the younger two followed Selene and Theia around constantly, and soon enough, all five children were crawling and toddling around the stables on a regular basis. Cor would never admit how adorable he found the whole thing, although he was completely transparent to anyone who knew him the slightest amount. Nyx just found himself wondering if his daughters were going to have chocobos following them around for the rest of their lives like their papa.

 

“The girls are covered in tiny black down feathers, Cor. You couldn’t at least brush them off first before coming back in?” Nyx groaned as he plucked feathers from a squealing Selene’s hair, only to look up and realized that Cor was in much the same state. “Never mind.” Cor looked down at himself, then reached up and pulled a feather from his sideburns.

“I don’t have the faintest idea of what you are talking about.”

 

-----------

 

Dr. Domitia told Cor and Nyx that under no uncertain terms on several occasions was he to get pregnant again. Not only was he really too old, she also informed him that she couldn’t guarantee that he’d even survive it the second time around. While he had expected that, it still wasn’t easy to hear, especially now that he knew he had the ability...but, he dealt. Nyx, thankfully, didn’t say a thing that wasn’t in support (Cor had been concerned that Nyx, being considerably younger, had been hoping for more, but Nyx reminded him that considering his partner was a man, he had never expected them in the first place,) and so- they moved on.

 

A sopping wet Selene streaked out of the bathroom with a shriek, with her sister giggling from the tub as Nyx sighed and grabbed the towel to dry Theia off.

“Cor! Grab your little nudist!”

A few moments later produced a very damp-shirted Cor in the doorway, slippery child in his arms, and Nyx tossed him the other towel without even turning all the way around.

“...and you thought I would want to subject myself to this a second time, huh?” Nyx drawled as he helped Theia into her clothes, and Cor snorted behind him.

“Well, you can’t say it’s not been interesting.”

Nyx got to his feet, Theia in his arms, and stepped forward so he could lean in and give Cor a kiss, leading to a chorus of whines from the peanut gallery.

“No, I definitely can’t.”

 

----------

 

They never did find out who hired the assassin. General Tummelt denied any knowledge of it, and everyone believed him. The empire was largely keeping its head down, and even the most paranoid of of the Crownsguard believed him. It would have done little but cause ill will, with no clear gain. Clarus thought it was Lord Marcellus, but there was never any proof either way, and if the man had been the culprit, he kept his nose clean in the aftermath. With several firm supporters of the new generation, as it were, on the council, with Lady Galla surprisingly aligning with them the majority of the time, Marcellus and Fausta were increasingly being sidelined. No one minded.

Prompto found himself buried in babies, but while he had held reservations in the past, he threw himself into the work with gusto, and was thrilled when his partners were there. All the time. Sure, there were times that they had commitments, but that anxious side of Prompto that had been still screaming that he was going to be an abandoned parent to triplets was so relieved with the situation that he cried. More than once. The other three were smart enough not to bring it up. It even got him taking regular photographs again, and by the end of their first month, he had a solid set of baby albums well underway.

 

Gladio finished with Aurelian’s diaper, only to hear suspicious sniffling from the other room that was definitely not from an infant. Ignis, who was patting Amaryllis’s back, immediately got to his feet, but Gladio stalled him with a raised hand and shook his head.

“Let me go peek,” he whispered, handing Aurelian to Ignis before tiptoeing down towards the bedroom, then craning his head slowly around the doorframe. Oh. Prompto was sitting up in bed while feeding Aeolus, tears making thin tracks down his freckled cheeks; Gladio almost went to him, but then he noticed the soft little smile on the blond’s face, and stopped himself. Backing away from the bedroom, he made his way back into the nursery, shaking his head at Ignis’s inquiring look. “He’s fine.”

Prompto joined them a few minutes later, eyes suspiciously glossy as he patted Aeolus’s back before giving them a smile, and both Gladio and Ignis returned said smile as he set the baby back into his crib.

“When’s Noct getting back?” Prompto asked, and Ignis looked down at his watch as he handed over Amaryllis.

“Any time now, the meeting wasn’t supposed to last more than two hours.” Sure enough, only a minute later, a familiar slightly uneven thumping cadence entered the apartment, and Gladio nodded to Noctis as he entered the nursery, immediately swiping the first infant (Amaryllis) he could get to and cradling her against his chest.

“Everything okay, guys?” Noctis asked, and Gladio looked askance at Prompto, who colored slightly before nodding.

“Everything is great, Noct.”

 

----------

 

Dr. Domitia asked around six months after the triplets were born if he was planning to have more children, and there was...possibly another minor meltdown somewhere in there. Planning? Already? He didn’t know, he wanted to go back to work, they wanted to see him more at Sarras…

Then everyone, even Cor, told him to stop worrying about it. They would figure it out. On that note, however, Cor did take Dr. Domitia’s earlier advice and ask the goddess if there was perhaps something that would act to prevent any unplanned...events, and after some deliberation, she was able to direct them to an herb that she remembered, promising that it would work perfectly if eaten directly or made into a tea, which was far more palatable. Regis quietly allowed for a section of the garden to be used for its cultivation, and that took care of much unspoken anxiety from multiple parties, albeit for slightly different reasons.

 

“It’s probably best I test this first, yeah?” a blushing Prompto said in a whisper to Nyx, who bit his lip for a long moment before finally nodding.

“I hate to ask, but that would probably be best. It’s not quite a matter of serious health implications with you like it is with Cor,” Nyx replied carefully, and Prompto nodded, his expression gone firmly serious.

“I’ll let you know as soon as we know.”

“Feel free to skip the details.”

...and that was when Nyx realized that the skinny blond kid actually did pack quite a punch. Ow.

 

---------

 

Cor did return to work within a few months, even if it was just riding a desk most of the time, and as the Dawn Mother had foretold, he usually had the children tucked in with him, either in a crib or on his person, and if he didn’t have them, Nyx did. Cor was also convinced to finally move from his old quarters and settle in one of the family quarters when the girls were around a year old, but his reluctance was the source of much amusement for some time. Nyx just called him a stubborn old man.

 

“This is Aron Ventius reporting from Marcian Square, where the Crownsguard has been called in to investigate a suspicious death. Details are sparse at the moment, but Insomnia Today will be the first to report on the details when they are released-” the reporter cut himself off with a blink, and the camera panned to show what he was looking at; Cor Leonis, marshal of the Crownsguard, had arrived on scene with an infant strapped to both sides of his torso, and Ventius stared dumbly at the sight for a solid ten seconds before finally gathering his wits together and facing the camera once more. “Marshal Leonis has arrived to the scene, apparently with his children in tow. You would think that he could afford a babysitter-”

“Ventius!”

 

-------

 

Monica’s new favorite hobby (between spoiling the kids rotten) was seeing how often she could catch Cor looking like a soppy mess with his daughters, and she happily distributed photos she took of him doing just that. She had no regrets. Crowe and Pelna often joined her in her efforts, and between the three of them (with Libertus’s occasional assistance) they ran the semi-official Citadel baby blog, which had a pleasant side effect of actually calming some of the media furor due to the ready access to fun photos and innocent little stories about the five children that the public ate up.

 

“Oh, look at the little prince! He’s so darling with his blond hair, I bet he’ll be a trend setter as he gets older.”

“The other four children are adorable too, don’t forget them! You know they will all be serious dolls when they grow up, as handsome as all of their daddies are-”

Monica, Crowe, and Pelna, who were blatantly listening in, silently high-fived each other.

 

------


Regis and Clarus were the very picture of doting grandfathers, with Cid visiting at least once a month as well, and between them and Libertus, who seemed to have a lot of free time for a man who had full-time employment (after seeing how good he was with all five of the children, both Prompto’s and Cor’s, Regis personally assigned him to their protection (read: babysitting) if he wasn’t otherwise needed, but they conveniently never told this to Prompto.  (He did figure it out eventually.) Prompto found himself with a lot more free time than he thought he would have, and he happily returned to reviewing and planning his future trips to various parts of Lucis, usually with at least one baby in his arms. He knew he couldn’t travel far just yet, not when he was still breastfeeding, but he could prepare, and with the king sneaking away from his less-important meetings to cuddle and bounce his grandchildren on his knees, with Lord Amicitia often right in his wake, he was a ready source of information.

 

“So, when you all travelled through the mountains, I believe there was some discussion of installing cell towers and repeaters so they could...to be honest, join the rest of Lucis? That region has always been somewhat-” Regis bounced Aurelian and Amaryllis on his knees as he spoke, his expression twisting wryly. “-somewhat backward. Even before the war even picked up. They tended to keep to themselves, for the most part, which was fine, but there is a point where they need to have modern communication, and that point is now.” Clarus leaned forward, shifting Aeolus in his arms.

“Prompto, you are hardly a telecommunications specialist, but perhaps you with a small group could go out and survey the best places for potential installation? We would send you with a few Glaives for your protection, of course, as I understand they were not entirely welcoming when you were last there,” Clarus said, and Prompto scribbled down a few things in his notebook before nodding.

“It was a little tense for awhile, I guess they had only heard bits of what had happened and assumed we were somehow holding Luna hostage in some way? It was kinda weird, but we managed to diffuse the situation. That’ll probably be the roughest part of the continent to work with, they definitely are...isolated,” Prompto replied. “As long as they don’t think I’m out to take Luna’s spot-”

 

----------

 

When all of the children were around a year and a half old, all eleven of them, parents and children together, went to the Citadel cafe for an ice cream break.

It ended up almost being a complete tragedy of unparalleled proportions.

A round of tiny ice cream cones were ordered for the five toddlers, and Prompto was waiting, camera in hand, for the moment to start taking what would assuredly be an utterly ridiculous sight, only for Theia, who got hers first, to drop it almost immediately onto a waiting plate; Nyx reached out to hand it back to her, getting a little bit on his finger in the process, which he immediately popped into his mouth. When the others saw the confused, then horrified expression appear on the Glaive’s face, they moved the other ice creams out of reach on the spot, Cor plucking Theia’s out of her hand as well.

 

“Nyx?” Nyx didn’t answer, spitting into a napkin before surging to his feet, Cor at his back; a man from behind the counter at the cafe broke into a run, and Noctis joined the two older men in pursuit. The man was no marathon runner, and they took him down less than thirty seconds later, Nyx’s kukris framing his neck.

“Fucking freaks, I’m doing Insomnia a fucking favor, and you had to ruin it-” Nyx’s hand slipped ever so slightly, leading to a scream.

“You tried to poison our kids, you sick bastard!” Nyx shouted in the man’s face, only for his hands to shake again. “C-cor, take care of him, I’ve gotta-” Cor’s sword was at the attempted poisoners throat as Nyx staggered back, his skin growing pale, and Noctis managed to wave at the wave of Guards and Glaives rushing down the hallway, Clarus only steps behind them as Nyx’s eyes rolled back in his head and he collapsed to the ground. Cor’s hand twitched, but he kept his position until Monica and Crowe took over, then he immediately moved to the unconscious Nyx’s side, bundling him into his arms.

“What in the hell did you use?” Noctis snarled, only for the man to spit in his face. Lovely.

They got no more out of the poisoner as he was frisked and searched before being hauled away; Cor was able to step Nyx over to the doctor, and only a few moments later, Libertus appeared with the remainder of the poison, which was found to be a concentrated malboro-based concoction, and thankfully perfectly responsive to standard antidotes.

“It would have killed the kids,” Nyx said between groans, and Cor and the others nodded as they stood around him in his infirmary room. Thankfully, there had been only one short temper tantrum from the children being denied their ice cream, and all five of them had fallen into fitful slumber, Theia tucked against against Nyx’s side in his bed.

“What do we know?” Ignis asked, and Noct and Cor shared a look before both of them sighed, Cor pinching the bridge of his nose.

“Monica thinks he’s the same person who poisoned me in Tenebrae. He used to be part of Lord Marcellus’s personal staff, but the man fired him a few months ago,” Cor said, and Noctis rolled his eyes.

“Lord Marcellus, of course, denies that he’s so much as seen the man since he was let go, and also denies any knowledge of any sort of poisoning attempt and passes along his thoughts and prayers for everyone,” Noctis said with clear sarcasm in his voice, and Ignis rubbed at one of his temples with his free hand.

“Well, Lord Marcellus is exceptionally good at staying out of trouble, I have a suspicion this will not be changing any time soon.” Ignis turned to Prompto, who was still looking rather shellshocked by the whole affair, and Gladio smiled sadly and placed a hand on the back of the blond’s neck.

“You can breath, Prom, it’s okay. We got him,” Gladio said softly, and Prompto shook his head.

“No, it’s not okay. Nyx got literally a half a fingerful, and he’s probably gonna be laid up for a few days; if Theia hadn’t dropped her cone, the kids would have all probably gotten in a good bite before we realized something was off. Why are people-” Prompto broke off into a strangled shriek before sighing. “Sorry, I’m just really pissed off.”

“There’s nothing to apologize for, Prom. I agree entirely,” Gladio replied, and everyone stood together quietly, holding their children in their arms.

It had been too close.

 

In the end, the poisoner did end up being the same individual who had poisoned Cor; while it was initially thought that he had done so because he was an avowed Insomnian purist, it came out that he was utterly obsessed with Lady Flavia, and he had been trying to get into her favor by doing what he thought she wanted done (she had not been subtle with her statements regarding her wish to see the children taken care of early on to those in the know.)

The councilwoman, in one of her smarter moves, immediately publicly disavowed any knowledge of the man and condemned his actions, and the court case was as open and shut as they came. Lord Marcellus, for once, also appeared to actually have been legitimately unaware of events, and everyone was relieved that there, at least, was a mystery solved. While there had been talk of security breaches, the man had no previous criminal record, and had been let go from Marcellus’s service due to constant tardiness, not for any deeper reason; the cafe had hired him as a regular employee, satisfied with his existing security clearance. While the events did prompt a regular review of the Citadel staff, there was nothing else found out of the ordinary.

At least for something.

 

-------

 

As the children grew older, they became far more than just cute little bundles of messiness and grew personalities. It was somewhat novel, as he certainly didn’t have any experience with children before, but Prompto found himself cherishing it…

...right up until the second word out of Aeolus’s mouth was no.

It was all downhill from there.

 

“He must have gotten it from your side, Prompto; I’ve never been known for my stubborness,” Ignis said smoothly, and the utterly flabbergasted look Prompto gave the man in response caused both Gladio and Noctis to break down in the background in paroxysms of howling laughter, only for little Aeolus to turn towards his other daddies with a frown.

“No!”

Gladio would forever swear he pulled something permanently that day.

 

---------

Nyx found himself agreeing with the sentiment somewhere around the third time he had to run clear across the Citadel to fetch his daughters after they decided to go for another adventure. Thankfully, approximately ninety-five percent of the Citadel found the children darling, and there was always someone who would wrangle them until either he or Cor could arrive and take custody. There had been no incidents since the poisoning attempt, but still, it was completely heart-attack inducing.

He could never figure out how they went so far when they could barely walk ten feet without faceplanting half the time. They only allowed them to drive their little cars with an adult present-

 

“You know, Captain, someday they’ll be dangling from the observation deck because it looked fun and you and the marshal will have a coronary trying to fetch them,” Crownsguard Livia said flatly, but her tone was somewhat softened by the little smile she gave to Selene and Theia as Nyx stared stupidly at his daughters as they were escorted into his office by the old Guard. “I found them over by the cafe, their faces smushed against the dessert display cabinet with neither the prince’s posse nor the marshal in sight. I assume the marshall misplaced them at some point?” Nyx shook his head as he ran over to his twins, sweeping them both into his arms.

“No, Cor is out of town until tomorrow morning, Glaive Khara was watching them-” From the general office came a great deal of noise, and Livia and Nyx both turned to see Pelna rushing in, panic on his face.

“Nyx, I can’t find them-” Pelna screeched to a halt, looking at the giggling girls in Nyx’s arms before clutching at his chest. “Holy shit, you two, I went to hit the elevator button and you two were gone. Where in the world?” Livia rubbed her temples with her fingers as she walked over to Pelna’s side.

“Glaive Khara, children are wily creatures. You need to keep an eye on them at all times in general, and with these two’s parents, probably several sets of eyes. Perhaps a leash…” Livia waved without looking back and walked out, leaving the fiercely apologetic Pelna, Nyx, who was still trying to calm his own heart rate, and two ornery kids, who were trying to wiggle out of their dad’s arms.

“I’m so sorry, Nyx, I have no idea how they got away from me,” Pelna said, and Nyx lowered the two to the ground with a sigh, before kneeling down and looking them both in the eye.

“Selene?”

“Yeah?” Selene took too much after her papa, as far as Nyx was concerned; his eldest returned his gaze like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. Instead, he turned to Theia, who looked at everything but him.

“Theia?”

“We din mean to go far,” Theia said as she scuffed her shoes against the tile, and Selene’s calm expression instantly turned rebellious. Yup, that’s what he thought.

“Didn’t, Theia. You two know the rules, you stay with Pelna. What if someone had snatched you up?” Nyx said, and watched as Theia’s lip trembled; a quick glance at Selene, however, and he sighed. “Selene, I’m serious.” Selene’s arms were crossed, with a scowl on her face that made her look the vision of a tiny clone of Cor.

It was unbelievably cute, but he needed to stay focused-

“You and papa will save us! Or I’ll just beat them up,” Selene announced boldly, a rather audacious claim considering she tripped over her own feet at least six times a day, and Nyx found himself meeting Pelna’s downswept gaze with a raised eyebrow.

“Remind you of someone?” he asked, and Pelna gave him a shaky smirk.

“Yeah, both of you nutcases.”  

 

---------

 

Prompto resumed his trips after the first year, usually with Cor’s help to cut down on travel time. The foursome did eventually find several part-time nannies to help when they needed it, but they were all proud of the fact they rarely needed the assistance. Nyx just grabbed Libertus or one of his other friends as needed for babysitting, except in rare circumstances; then they would go stay with the rest of their family which always was a source of great amusement.

For them.

The state of the interiors of the prince’s quarters after a play date? Maybe not so much. Especially if those little toy swords Ravus had given them were broken out. But Gladio and Ignis were expert mess cleaners, Noctis was exceptionally good at catching little bodies before they could zoom out of reach, and Prompto? He managed to be a solid jack-of-all-trades, for the most part, although Ignis was definitely the natural teacher out of the four of them when the children got old enough to learn their letters and numbers. The other three all did their part on that point as well, but Ignis was so skilled at it that Cor and Nyx began sneaking the twins in when the man was doing his lessons with the children.

Ignis didn’t mind.

 

“Noct, if you could please return Aeolus, we were about to discuss numbers,” Ignis asked, and Noctis held up the squirming almost-four year old so he could look him in the eye.

“Aeo, did you want to listen to your father explain numbers to you and your siblings and cousins?” Noctis asked, only to receive a body thrashing head shake in reply.

“No!” Noctis met Ignis’s eyes with a grin, then spun the boy around and plopping him into his lap.

“Too bad, you need to learn this stuff, kiddo.” Noctis was not incredibly surprised when he suddenly found himself with a wiggling lump of toddler fury in his lap, and he just kept a gentle grip on the boy, waiting for his anger to calm. Ignis was trying his best not to look stricken, but it got harder every time his son refused to sit and listen to him. Noctis held up a finger to forestall Ignis from saying anything, and plucked the now-limp boy out of his lap and met his eyes once more. “Hey, Aeolus, talk to me. Why don’t you want to listen to your father teach you things? The others seem to like it.” Aeolus bit his bottom lip, looking far too much like his daddy for a moment, before those big amethyst blue eyes began to fill with tears. “Come on, Aeo, I know when you are trying to scam me. Tell me.”

“I-” Aeolus’s sahagin-tears dried up almost immediately, leading to a sheepish toddler that Noctis maintained eye contact with until he visibly watched the boy fold like a piece of paper. “I dun always unner... under stand, and I dun wanna look stupid,” Aeolus muttered, and that sounded entirely like Ignis, in Noctis’s opinion. Before he could think of what to say, however, Noctis suddenly found himself covered in toddlers, and Aeolus was being dragged away and lovingly smothered to death by his family.

Ignis slid over to Noctis, his expression thoughtful, and Noctis leaned in and wrapped an arm around the older man’s waist.

“I always hated looking...stupid, I suppose, even as a child; it didn’t occur to me that Aeolus may have a similar viewpoint as I did. I disliked it when I didn’t understand concepts right away, and would often try to sneak off and figure out these things on my own before anyone could realize my-” Ignis sighed, his eyes rueful. “-my shortcomings, as I saw them.”

“What’s the term? We just need to teach him healthy ways of coping with it? We both knew he’s a super smart kid, but he can’t keep dodging learning things because he doesn’t get it right away,” Noctis said, and Ignis nodded in agreement. “Great, we’ll have to figure something out.” A cacophony of shrieks and squeals drew their attention, and Noctis and Ignis both looked over at the puppy pile of children. “Parts of me are jealous of them, you know that? I had you, but it would have been amazing if there had been even more kids around,” Noctis said wistfully, then shook his head. “I survived, though, and now I have all of you. That’s more than enough.”

Ignis watched as the children continued to swarm each other as he brought his own arm up around Noctis’s waist, drawing the two together.

“We all have each other.”

 

---------

When the children neared their fourth birthday, Lord Ampelius Lucius, the esteemed council member and old blood aristocrat noble of Lucis to most of the country, and to those he liked, the irreverent old man that occasionally showed up to play with the children, often stuffing them with sweets then letting them take their cars for a spin down the Citadel corridors (he tried to institute a points system, that was nipped in the bud immediately) as well as talking about the good old days with Cor and Nyx was fast approaching his eighty-fifth birthday, and made the momentous decision to retire from the royal council. The man had never married nor had any children, and before his cousins could fight over who would take his seat, Ampelius calmly turned to the king and announced his intention to symbolically adopt Cor, allowing him to hand the seat over to Cor and his heirs.

The old lord, of course, had not mentioned this to Cor first. The crest was supposed to be a clue, but well, it was a pretty esoteric one. Cor sure as hell didn’t know.

The news shook the city (a man from a low-class Insomnian family who was all but married to a Galahdian, let alone his other position, being elevated to the highest ranks of Lucian society was something that had not been done in a very long time) but it completely blew Cor’s mind; Ampelius gave him the chance to decide, and Cor very nearly turned him down on the spot. Only Regis, Clarus, and Nyx managed to convince the man to deliberate on the idea for a bit. Nyx outwardly was completely supportive of whatever his partner decided on, but inwardly?

He wanted Cor to take it. It would require Cor to retire from the Crownsguard, of course, but ever since that health scare during the twin’s delivery, a small part of Nyx was forever concerned of that re-occurring, and well, he could be a sap too. Cor was fifty-one years old, a perfect respectable age to hang it up. A nice cushy job on the council would get Cor out of the field except on his Dawnsworn-related trips, and well, Nyx liked the idea of his partner staying closer to home. For good. He would never say any of that out loud, of course, as Cor hated talking about retirement or anything even vaguely related to the idea, and Nyx liked sex and sleeping in the same bed as Cor. He knew better. Also, the council needed someone willing to call them out on their bullshit, and with Ampelius retiring-

 

“Is it wrong of me to want him out of the field?” Nyx asked plaintively, and Crowe sighed before shaking her head.

“Of course not, but the fact is simply that you are talking about Cor the Immortal, the famous marshal of the Crownsguard, and I think that's what's really holding you up. You don’t want to be the one to convince the Immortal to hang it up,” Crowe said, and Nyx knew she wasn’t wrong. Cor was a fantastic soldier, fighter, warrior...however people put it, and Nyx knew he had been a credit in all ways to Lucis for many years. He knew the king and Clarus were all for it, as they too felt it was time for Cor to relax and enjoy not being constantly beholden to his work, but they too knew that bringing it up with the man was a...prickly prospect.

Nyx didn’t know what to do. He let loose a noisy groan and dropped his head to his hands, feeling as several hands came to rest on his back.

“Nyx, I think you know what to do. Feel free to subtly mention things, but you need to let Cor make up his mind. He’s probably the most stubborn bastard I’ve ever met, and I’ve known you for over thirty years,” Libertus chimed in, and Nyx sighed as Pelna huffed a laugh.

“Libertus is right, Nyx. Cor is a man who has spent nearly his entire life identified intensely with his work, although I can tell you he’s branched out a significant amount since you two got together, and even more after the girls came along. While I think he’s going to stew about it for some time, I think he’ll go along with it. I think he’ll enjoy the prospect of kicking some sense into those high-falutin types,” Pelna said with a smirk. “While he’s not a city outsider, he’s from the rough side of town and pretty permanently shacked up with dirty Galahdian you, so he’s about as good as we non-Insomnians are going to get, I think. Many of the council, even the ones who are legitimately nice people otherwise, are so far removed from the lives of the average people of Insomnia, let alone the rest of Lucis, that they don’t always see the issues that need to be taken care of. Cor’s exceptionally good at fighting things, he’s sharp, intelligent, and not-so-secretly a complete moogle with the squishiness to match. He’ll provide excellent prospective that those old blue-bloods desperately need, especially in the changing times,” Pelna finished, sitting back in his chair and giving a vague nod to the rest of them. Nyx blinked, then grinned despite himself.

“You’ve put a lot of thought into this, haven’t you?” Nyx asked, and Pelna colored slightly before shrugging. “You aren’t wrong, but Libs, Crowe, you...we all agree that Cor has to make this decision himself. We can’t burden him with our expectations. For what it’s worth, I think he’s starting to shift towards this being a good idea too.”

“You just don’t want to say anything because you want to continue getting laid, and don’t try to tell me otherwise,” Crowe drawled, and Nyx snorted.

“Hell yeah. Besides, while the sofa is comfortable to sit on, it gets old to sleep on.”

 

Cor deliberated on it for a solid three weeks before agreeing to the old lord’s proposal, and exactly a month after the sixth anniversary of the Battle of the Citadel and Nyx’s thirty-eighth birthday, Cor officially retired from the Crownsguard, Monica and Dustin taking over as Marshal and Deputy. A week after that, the investiture of Cor into the ranks of the council took place, with the king and Clarus grinning like a loon for the entire ceremony. Nyx thought the ceremonial robes were a bit overwrought, while Cor himself just thought they looked ridiculous, but everyone agreed that the man looked fantastic in them. The first person who referred to Cor as Lord Leonis outside the council chambers got yelled at, and no one made the mistake again (outside of formal matters.) Lady Galla tried, but she could never convince Cor to wear the robes except for when it was absolutely required.

The majority of the council never forgave Ampelius. For a variety of reasons.

A few months after his investiture, Cor formally adopted Prompto, and Prompto immediately changed his surname to Leonis, finally shedding the last vestige of a set of parents that had wanted nothing to do with him in close to a decade. It was one of the best days of his life.

 

“Are you sure about this, Prompto? This is considered legally binding once it’s done,” Cor asked, and Prompto leaned and wrapped his arms around his dad, resting his forehead against the curve of the older man’s neck.

“I don’t think I’ve been more sure of anything else in my life.”

Chapter Text

Epilogue:

 

“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.”