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Fidelis

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Prince Noctis of Lucis is born with twin sylleblossoms dusting his shoulders, but only King Regis knows that their faded grey-blue had only unfurled as Aulea leans down to press an exhausted kiss over her baby’s forehead, tears tracking down to land in the heart of the slowly unfurling petals.

 

It is rare for a soul’s blossom to not mark the heart over which it flowers, but not unheard of. So Regis’ closest advisors mutter and murmur, choosing to think instead of the native lands of which the sylleblossoms blooms. Of Tenebrae and the young Oracle born to that land, for surely that must be what the prince’s mark means.

 

Even if the Oracle herself had been born with sageflower over her heart.

 

But when Aulea departs when Noctis is but a year old, he knows.

 

When he prays to the Crystal begging for another way, he knows.

 

When Noctis is eight and he has to hold his broken child in his hands as he rushes to Tenebrae, only to watch the sylleblossoms spill down his twisted back, he knows.

 

So when Regis looks down at the bowing figure of his son on the steps of his throne and the modest retinue that Noctis had selected for himself, it takes all he has to hold himself to the cold arms of the throne and see his son go.

 

But he gives in anyway, despite the pull of the crystal holding him back. His son has lost and will lose so much, if the fates are allowed to be fickle then surely his small act of mortal selfishness will matter not.

 

“What now?” Noctis grumbles as he turns back, but his eyes wear a worried expression for all that the corners of his mouth is downturned with feigned annoyance.

 

“I fear...I have left too much unsaid,” Regis’ lips are thin and tight, eyes seeking out his son’s. “You place a great burden on those who will bear with you.”

 

“I ask not that you guide my wayward son, merely that you remain at his side.”

 

He turns to survey the men his son has chosen to accompany him, feels their youth so keenly even as his gaze brushes over their determined faces.

 

Ignis Scientia, his son’s personal advisor, marked with a flower of mourning on his wrist.

 

Gladiolus Amicitia, his son’s shield, with a blossom of sacrifice on his nape.

 

And…. Regis frowns as his eyes fall on the last youth shifting awkwardly from side to side even as he hovers somewhere behind Gladio and looks slightly ready to bolt. He doesn’t know his soulblossom, Regis realises now. The cheerful youth had always hinted it was a common flower - a tulip maybe, or a carnation or wildflower, but...it wouldn’t matter.

 

“And another thing,” Regis is stalling for time now, can feel the seconds slipping through his grasp like water through a sift.

 

“Take heed. Once you set forth, you cannot turn back.”

 

“You think I would?”

 

He levels his son a final look, gaze sweeping and searching, mapping out a face he may never see again.

 

“I need only know that you are ready to leave home behind.”

 

“Don’t know about you, but I’m ready as I’ll ever be.” His son mutters, fidgeting on his feet and clasping his hands behind him, right where Regis knows lies the thickest cluster of sylleblossoms on his back.

 

“Take care on the long road,” He says with finality. “Remember, wheresoever you should go, the line of Lucis goes with you.”

 

So he bears his hand down on his son’s shoulder, right over where he knows lies the first sylleblossom of his fate.

 

“Walk tall, my son.”

 

And if there is a slowly blooming sylleblossom on his palm when he pulls away, Regis just curls his fingers into a fist and pretends not to see.

 

Because the sylleblossom is a flower of loss, of tragedy, and of death.

 


 

It is said that the gold capped spires of Solheim rose over a sea of flowers, the thousand coloured blossoms stretching as far as the eye could see, wherever the sun’s light went,, they would be. And the blossoms were as bright and as brilliant as the people who bore their marks, souls shining like the sunlight that had blessed them so.

 

The are many legends about the soulblossoms, the floral marks that unfurl over a baby’s heart the moment they first touch the sunlight. They are a mark of one’s soul, a precious life blossoming unto this star. A power beyond the Astrals themselves, one only the Fates could touch.

 

Sometimes, if you are lucky, life will bring you alongside other souls who will touch your own, leave a mark over your skin, a part of their flower blooming over you to bless the path you walk down.

 

And sometimes, people whisper and wonder and marvel, if you are very, very lucky, some souls will touch yours so deeply they mark your heart...and you will find that your blossoms are one and the same, as only soulmates can be.

 


 

Senior Year of High School

Summer

The whispers in the background had been going on all day and Noctis resists the urge to groan and fold his head into his arms. This definitely counts as one of those days where he shouldn’t have even bothered getting out of bed. To be fair, Ignis had all but kicked him out of the apartment in his school uniform, so it wasn’t for the lack of trying.

 

“It’s got to be a royal aster, right? The purple aster is the royal flower after all.”

 

“Oh, but imagine if it were a rose!”

 

“Well, I heard it’s an evening primrose.”

 

You just want it to be a primrose because that’s your flower.”

 

“Hey, who wouldn’t want to be soulmates with the prince?

 

Noctis gives up pretending to ignore the giggles and turns away to prop his head up on his hands, staring pointedly out of the window. It’s the last day before school is finally out for the summer, but this level of gossip and excitement is a bit too high even for that. His classmates and the rest of his senior batch had long since gotten over the fact that they were going to school with the prince! , or at least, given up on talking about it in earshot, but junior girls had been stopping by his class to stare all day.

 

He drags his phone out of his pocket to frown at the time. Why wasn’t Prompto’s club meeting ending yet? It’s the summer break, what did the Student Council even need to do over the holidays?

 

His thoughts are interrupted- thank the Astrals - by a familiar cheerful voice and a friendly slap on his back.

 

“Sorry for the wait, buddy!”

 

“It’s cool,” Noctis shrugs, but as he pulls himself up he feels lighter than he’s been feeling all day, warm like a ray of summer sun.

 

“Hey, did you hear?” Prompto drops into the seat in front of him and begins to scoop his books into his bag, “Some second year met their soulmate last weekend, at a...debate meet, I think? It’s the talk of the whole school!

 

“Apparently they were both rose-marked, so when they shook hands after the competition roses were blooming all around and up their arms or something. Pretty romantic stuff.”

 

“Trust you to find that romantic.”

 

“Oh,” Prompto flies a hand to his forehead, then clutches at his heart dramatically. “What can I say? I’m such a hopeless romantic.”



“Sure know that,” Noct drawls. He eyes the other students pressing in as they step into the corridor, then falls in closer beside Prompto. Thankfully, the other doesn’t seem to mind their bumping shoulders.

 

“After all the rom-com movies I’ve accompanied you to?”

 

“C’mon, you liked them too!”

 

“But really, it’s crazy though, meeting your soulmate like that,” Prompto tugs at his tie the moment they step out of the gates, loosening his shirt collar. He tucks his hands into his pockets and tilts his head up to the sky. The summer sun lights up the freckles on his face, makes his eyes bluer than usual.

 

"They’re really lucky. And they are rose-marked too…that means a true love."


 
"Lucky them,” Noctis says dryly, eyes half on his phone as he skirts closer to the cooling shade of the trees lining the sidewalk. Then he thinks through Prompto’s words and looks up to catch the wistful edge in the other’s gaze.

 

 "Do you want a soulmate?"
 

Prompto’s eyes go huge. “ What?!

 

“I mean-”


“Oh c’mon Noct! You don’t just- no one just suddenly asks these sort of questions.”

 

Prompto turns away, refuses to meet Noctis is suddenly burningly self-conscious... but he really wants to know, he realises now.

 

“Well, do you?”

 

“W-well, I mean, it’s...it’s nice to think about?”

 

He kicks at a pebble on the street, sends it scuttling down the scorching sidewalk and looking everywhere except at Noctis himself.

 

“Not all of us are lucky enough to have a….a r-rare soulblossom,” He clears his throat and looks hesitant for a moment, but then he’s back to elbowing Noctis in the ribs with a shit eating grin. “And not all of us can be the prince , you know.. Some of us have to depend on our sufferingly good looks. Ah, the burden of beauty- ow hey!”

 

They dissolve into laughter for a good minute before Prompto manages to catch his breath.



“I mean, who doesn’t? Don’t you want one, Noct?”



“I never really thought about it I guess,” Noctis shrugs. His phone is hot and slippery in his fingers, both hands suddenly behind his back again, pressing against the base of his spine.


“Sure, with all your princely duties and all. Besides, isn’t your soulmate the Oracle?”



“Luna isn’t…look, she’s just my childhood friend. I was eight when I last saw her.”

 

“Yeah, but I mean, you two have the same flowers…”

 

Noctis falls silent, a twinge of guilt spearing through his chest at the other’s words.

 

Except they don’t. But Prompto doesn’t know that.

 

The look Prompto gives him is oddly serious, seems strange on his face.

 

“You two have the same flower...right?

 

Noctis closes his eyes.

 

“...Yeah, yeah we do.”

 


 Noctis had always disliked summer - the season made afternoons too hot for naps and the days were too long. School being out just meant being shunted into more Council meetings, more training sessions with the Crownsguard, and more royal tutorage sessions with stuffy Citadel historians who quizzed him on his ancestors from centuries past. Some days, he doesn’t even have time to text Prompto, so exhausted by the time he returns to his apartment that he just nods off by the door.

 

Today is one of the rare days off that Ignis has scheduled for him and he’s been looking forward to this for weeks now. He will meet Prompto, and then they will hit the arcade and that ice cream shop with like three hundred flavours that Ignis hates so much. Then they’ll head over to Noct’s apartment to finally have that Monster Hunter showdown to settle the scores once and for all.

 

It will be great.

 

“The decorations for the Solstice are coming along nicely I see. Soon the streets will be busting with the flower markets and festival bazaars,” Ignis comments as he turns down into the Main Street. Above them, floral flags fluttered from the lampposts and loose petals from the newly placed potted plants swirled through the air.

 

“Will you be attending the Summer Solstice this year?”

 

“Probably?” Noctis shrugs, drumming his fingers on his thigh.  “I don’t know...maybe if Dad’s feeling well enough this year to make the royal parade.”

 

“I meant, with Prompto, perhaps? This year will be your eighteenth Solstice.”

 

Right. The Soulblossom Solstice had always been the most important event in Insomnia, but for those coming of age, it was also the day for the traditional flower exchange between close friends and family to celebrate their rite of passage into adulthood. It just wasn't something the royal family did, having a different set of royal traditions, so Noctis had all but forgotten about it.

 

“I….don’t know,” Noctis says finally. What if Prompto already has plans? Surely his family would go to the festivals with him, or at least celebrate it at home. Or maybe…

 

There was another sort of flower exchange popular during the Solstice, a more intimate kind beneath the midnight fireworks.

 

Maybe someone has already asked Prompto to go to the Solstice with them. Or maybe Prompto has plans to ask someone to go with him-

 

Come to think of it, he doesn’t even know what Prompto’s Soulblossom is.

 

“Maybe you should ask him?” Ignis says mildly and Noctis just flops over on the backseat, texting furiously to ignore the conversation and his spiraling thoughts.

 

>dude where are you? we’ve been circling Main Street for ages

 

>shit sorry sorry! i’ve just been busy with work. i got a new job for the summer! lemme text you the address

 

“And here we are….Helianthus Flora,” Ignis announces as he pulls up by the curb. Noctis props himself up to peer at the tiny shopfront through the tinted car windows.

 

It was probably more accurate to call it a garden rather than a shop. The large window display burst with colours of all sorts, the shop’s name in looping gold calligraphy barely visible amidst the sea of flowers.

 

Rows of tulips - red, orange, yellow, pink - lined up along the red brick wall, with pots of marigolds and daisies and carnations crowding around the baby blue door. A spindly white wire frame spilling red lilies and pink azaleas and bright purple begonias struggled to bear its heavy load by the side. Puffs of baby’s breath hung like swirls of white candy cotton in sprigs from the top of the door frame, with yellow daffodils and blue freesias gently tumbling down the sides.

 

“Ah, a florist. I imagine they must need the extra help with the Solstice coming up.”

 

“It must be….” Noctis mumbles, more to himself because hadn’t Prompto told his summer job was at the Crow’s Nest?

 

Maybe he got it wrong.

 

They sit in the car, engine idling for a good minute or two, before Noctis just sighs and tosses his phone into his pocket.

 

“I’ll just go get him.”

 

“Of course.” The cars doors unlock with a click and Noctis slips out, stretching a little as he steps out into the sidewalk. As he walks in, the tulips and carnations sway in the wind, bright spots of colours without a care in the world.

 

Common flowers, but they looked so happy.

 

“Oh sweet Shiva, you’re the prince - I mean, welcome to Helianthus Flora, stocking flowers from all over Eos. What soul flower are you looking for today?” The girl behind the counter says in a single breath and perfectly fixed smile, like she hadn’t just dropped an entire bouquet of lilies in her hands at his entry.

 

“Uh….I-”

 

“Noct!” Prompto bursts out from the swinging wooden doors behind the counter; arms filled with crepe paper and gold spirals of ribbon. There’s an errant daisy in his hair, dainty white petals sticking out over soft blond strands and Noctis resists the urge to reach over to pluck it out.

 

“Sorry Elena, I should’ve said something but I didn’t realise I was running so late. I was going to meet Noct outside I-”

 

Elena turns from openly staring at Noctis to shoot Prompto a pointed look.

 

“You never told me your friend was the prince-

 

“It’s not like I could just say it!”

 

There’s something about the knowing smiles they are exchanging and the tone of Prompto’s voice, light, happy and more at ease than Noctis remembers the past few times that they’ve met. And Prompto is blushing a little, head ducked like he does whenever he doesn’t quite know what to say. He’s looking away, not meeting Noctis’ eyes.

 

Distantly, Noctis thinks of their second-year when Prompto had crushed on one of the senior girls in the Student Council and would literally not shut up about how perfect she was. And if Noctis thinks about it, Elena does look a bit like her - all long, styled dark hair, confident smile and a cool, calm front.

 

“I see,” Elena says with a contemplative look, like she’s trying hard to decide on something, and settles on, “That’s...really cool.”

 

“Thanks, El.”

 

“Oh and Prom? Bring a nice bouquet to the Solstice kay?” Elena grins and Prompto returns it after a beat, and Noctis feels a cold wash of icy realisation strike him.

 

Oh.