When making camp at a haven, Ignis was frequently the last to bed and first to rise. On occasion, Noctis may have stayed up later or Gladio rose earlier for a run at dawn. More frequently than that, to Ignis’ concern, Noctis would awaken in the middle of the evening. Not pleasantly so either.
His nightmares were understated on the surface: a white-knuckle grip, an oddly quiet interruption of his usual restful breathing, and then a sharp hiss as if caught off guard. After a moment’s pause, an impatient sigh would indicate if the nightmare woke Noct. He had been much the same in his warning signs since he was a child. Following his recovery and return from the disaster in Tenebrae, the instances of his sleeplessness had increased. Yet he rarely spoke of it or sought support.
Simply put, Ignis had years of experience in waking when Noct was troubled. That first startled inhale cut through his dreams perfectly in time to catch the sigh as the young prince maneuvered his way out of his sleeping bag in pursuit of fresh air. If he paced the restricted grounds of haven, Ignis knew to leave him be. But when the sound of a camping chair unfolding reached him, he likewise exited the tent to see Noctis seated by the low embers.
He gave only a cursory glance and nod over his shoulder in greeting. Something in seeing him cast in silhouette, even without his spectacles, emphasized the burden placed upon him by his station and the Six. There was no one on Eos who deserved nightmares less.
Pulling a chair out himself, Ignis pressed it out to be a comfortable distance from Noct. He was not particularly tactile in his affections on a good day—Prompto being the exception, by and large. Intruding upon his space would do neither of them any favors.
“Was it a nightmare?”
His exhale was quiet and plainly displeased. The prince had yet to learn the lesson that the majority of healing procedures were less than soothing. He punctuated his distaste for Ignis’ observation with a half-shrug as stilted as it was tense.
“Yeah. Don’t worry about it.”
“Hm.” The answer wasn’t to his liking, but in fairness, the line of questioning wasn’t to Noct’s. The least Ignis could muster was being in his company for a while longer. The prince shouldn’t be forced to wait alone in the dark with the remnants of his fearful dream. Somehow, the nighttime chill made for a surprisingly crisp and refreshing atmosphere. His vision was not in need of so much correction that Ignis couldn’t see beyond the dim firepit to the moonlight cast over their forested surroundings. But it was the sky above that captured his attention above all else. In the hopes that a diversion would draw Noct back to slumber sooner, he made note of it aloud. “I find the views afforded to us in nature have an uplifting aspect to them.”
Noct looked to Ignis for direction, which never failed to instill a sort of pride in Ignis. To have his trust was a gift he could never bring himself to squander no matter how small the circumstance. He pointed to the stars in this case, and Noctis tilted his head up to see for himself.
“I guess.” He crossed his arms as his hair stood on end, but still held his attention on the stars. The chill didn’t agree with him, clearly, and he should return to the tent. Ignis similarly knew better what a pensive pause from Noct sounded like. “Where do you think she is right now?”
“Lady Lunafreya?” There were not many other women he might have referred to, yet assumptions were not known for paying off.
“Yeah.” He breathed the word more than speaking it. A testament to how near this conversation was to his heart.
“She is a highly intelligent woman with unwavering resolve.” Ignis himself had never met Lady Lunafreya in person before. In his role for the prince, he knew of her far more than their mutual unawareness would indicate. He knew his words to be true. Noct needed little else in the way of reassurance. “Wherever she is, I’m certain she’s safe.”
His response did appear to dissolve some of the tension from his shoulders. Ignis could not place the precise reason that he sensed there was more Noct had to share. All he could do once more was wait for him to be ready. That, too, was an honor Ignis gladly rose to accept.
“It’s not right.” He looked back down to the firepit, uncrossing his arms to rest his hands on his knees. “Nothing’s been right since we left. I get that my father sent me off to save me, but—” A frustrated sigh stole away the rest of his sentence while Noct rest back in his seat. “Forget it.”
“Noct,” Ignis implored him, speaking to the struggles had already been expressed indirectly. All part of his royal duty per His Majesty, and yes, a sort of hobby for him as well, as the prince preferred to refer to his stewardship. “Your father had every confidence in you when he sent you away for your own safety. He loved you.”
Turning away abruptly was a poor mask of Noct’s shaky inhale at those three words. Ignis pretended not to notice out of respect for his privacy. Sentiment was not a welcome aspect for him. He rather enjoyed having his emotions separate from his interactions with others as much as humanly possible. Where his father was concerned especially. Despite that, the truth that his father loved him dearly was a statement he should have heard more often in the years before King Regis passed so tragically. The Wall and the war occupied much of his father’s attention while Noct simultaneously came to realize what precious little time remained for them to share.
“He knew as I do that you will be ready for the road ahead. And whatever it may bring, you will not walk it alone.”
The three of them all supported Noct on his journey to kinghood. Prompto brought out a certain brightness in the prince that he’d only seen before his severe injury in his youth. Gladio inspired him to aspire, even as they warred over several subjects where their opinions differed. And Ignis himself took no small amount of pride in his steadfast service to Noct. Wherever their path lead, he would never suffer a time without their companionship.
“Thanks.” He’d reached his limit for emotional discussions. So soon. Ignis supposed he should be grateful he made it that far. Noct pushed himself out of the seat, circling around it in the direction of the tent. “I’m gonna—”
“Of course. Rest well.”
He received no answer aside from the zip of the tent doors opening. Ignis took the time to return the two chairs to their rightful place and wasn’t far behind.