Noctis almost fell off the bed when his bed sheets were roughly pulled off of his body. He sat up right away, his head tilting from one side to the other. He was groggy and blinking lazily, trying to figure out what the hell was happening. Noctis had been peacefully sleeping and he was never interrupted unless it was Ardyn, and usually the chancellor wouldn’t wake up him by pulling off his blankets! It was something he was for sure not used to, but all he wanted to do was to curl up on the bed and go to sleep again. He sighed loudly and tried to reach for his blankets, but he couldn’t feel them anywhere around him.
“Good morning, Noctis.”
Oh, it all made sense now. Noctis completely forgot about his new caretaker. He groaned and flopped down back on the bed, hugging one of his pillows. He curled up around it, closing his eyes stubbornly.
“I tried to wake you up normally, but it appears that normal methods are not good enough for you.” Ignis chuckled at the stubborn teen. Noctis was reaching out for another pillow but Ignis was faster and snatched it away from his fingertips.
“What time is it?” Noctis mumbled, using his pillow to hide his face and muffle Ignis’s voice.
“It is a quarter pass eight. Which means we are behind schedule already, so chop chop! Time to get up and get ready.” Ignis walked over to one of the dressers and looked through the different items of clothing until he was able to find some that he considered good enough.
Ignis brought the clothes over to Noctis’s bed, and was surprised to see that the prince was already sitting on the bed. He still looked like he was ready to fall over and sleep again. Noctis’s head was bobbing and his eyes were blinking slowly. Ignis was sure if he just pushed him on the bed the prince would pass out right away again. He wasn’t going to allow that though, he placed Noctis’s clothes next to him and gently tapped his knuckles against his shoulder.
“Go ahead and change, I’ll be back with breakfast.”
“You are seriously not going to do this every morning, are you?” Noctis tilted his head towards him, and frowned, looking less than happy.
“I will. I prepared a schedule for us to follow from now on, there is no better way to feel productive than to follow a steady routine.” Ignis was heading for the door, ignoring how Noctis was mumbling something in between his lips.
Ignis checked his watch and sighed at how behind they were already. He honestly never expected how challenging it would be to wake up the prince. He remember Ardyn easily waking him up but that involved manhandling the prince, which wouldn’t be a great start. If Noctis felt threaten then he’ll be less likely to cooperate and he could become hostile towards Ignis. It was best to be safe than sorry.
Ignis quickly moved through the corridors and only stopped by the kitchen to get Noctis’s breakfast. The tray of food was ready to be picked up, and the cook even offered him good luck. Ignis was confused by the cook’s words but didn’t question them, it wasn’t like he was storming to the front lines. He was just going to give the prince his breakfast, with that in mind Ignis made his way to the underground levels. He was expecting Noctis to be dressed and ready to go, but he wasn’t that lucky.
The room was empty? Ignis frowned and set the food down on the table. Noctis’s clothes were still on the bed, untouched and very much ignored. It wasn’t like the prince could get out, the door would lock automatically when closed. However, that didn’t change the fact that the prince was nowhere in sight...inside the room that is. Ignis rolled his eyes when he noticed the missing blankets and pillows, there was no way. He quickly made his way towards the bathroom and knocked on the door once, then twice. He tried his luck with the door handle but it was locked.
“Noctis, we are not playing this game.” Ignis fixed his glasses in frustration, not believing this was happening.
“Fuck your schedule.” A very sleepy voice screamed within the bathroom.
Oh, so this is how it was going to be? Alright, well, Ignis was fully prepared for this. The prince will just have to wait and see.
The next morning Noctis found himself jumping off his bed and landing roughly on the floor when Ignis used a spray bottle full of water to wake him up. The cold water was sprayed on his face and it woke him up instantly, but it also startled him and the quick movement made him fall off the bed with his blankets all around him. Noctis groaned and dropped his head on the floor. He wasn’t moving but he was fully awake. He growled like an upset cat when Ignis in return sprayed more water on his head.
“Knock it off! I get it!” Noctis hissed loudly and quickly got to his feet. He stomped over to the dresser. The prince touched his clothes, his glaring eyes staring in front of him as he picked the clothes he wanted to wear.
Ignis watched the whole time, only turning around to look away from the prince when he started undressing. Noctis was being extra loud, showing how upset he was by stomping his feet and slamming the dresser drawer shut. He was at least dressed on time this time, and Ignis took his victory.
Noctis turned around, dragging his feet to get his shoes until a spray of water on his face stopped him. He gasped and narrowed his eyes, his head tilting towards Ignis’s direction. “What the hell was that for!”
“Your shirt is on backwards.” Ignis pointed out. Did he need to spray water on him to point it out? No, not at all, but the way Noctis would squeeze his eyes and wrinkle his nose when he did so was pretty funny.
“Oh, my bad! How very rude of me, let me SEE what I can do about it...” The prince pointed towards his eyes as he spoke before pulling off his shirt and putting it on right. “Oh LOOK! I was able to fix it.”
Ignis stared at Noctis frustrated face and couldn’t help himself but to use the spray bottle again. He wasn’t surprised at all when the prince opened up the drawer again and started throwing the clothes inside at Ignis. It was well worth it.
It was a brand new day when Ignis found himself unable to walk inside Noctis’s room. It wasn’t because the key wasn’t working or the door was broken, but because there was something quite heavy pushed against the door. He was only able to open the door by a sliver, and it thankfully allowed him to see what exactly was blocking the door. The dinning room table and large couch had been pushed against the door, blocking the doorway. Noctis was laying down on the couch, his blankets and pillows all around him creating the perfect little nest for him to sleep in. Ignis was honestly amazed at how the hell was he able to do this.
“How long did it take you to do this?” Ignis asked through the door.
“A couple of hours. I lost track when my leg started cramping.” Noctis answered within the blankets, sounding so pleased with himself.
“If only you would put as much effort into waking up, as you do with making my life harder than it has to be.” Ignis sighed, taking off his glasses to rub his eyes.
“Could, but won’t.” Noctis’s smug little voice called out and then he was curling up underneath his blankets. He was ready to go back to sleep.
Ignis was dealing with a child, there was absolutely no doubt about it. He left the war for this, to take care of a mischievous child. Noctis was trying his harder to be impossible to deal with . At least that’s how Ignis was seeing it as. The prince would do everything in his power not to wake up when Ignis needed him to. He would lock himself in the bathroom or hide underneath the huge bed where Ignis couldn’t reach him. Well, this was of course after Ignis made sure he wasn’t able to drag the furniture anymore.
It was infuriating trying to deal with Noctis. If Ignis wasn’t a patient man he would had walked out of this assignment a long time ago. He was a trained soldier, not a babysitter. He was used to dealing with very calculating situations surrounded by a team that was willing to work with him, but Noctis was anything but willing. It would be easier to just drop everything and let the prince do whatever. It really would, it would for sure make his stay here a lot better, specially because Ardyn didn’t care about what he did as long as he kept an eye on Noctis.
Ignis just couldn’t bring himself to drop his original plan, it just didn’t feel right, and even though Noctis was being a complete brat with him, he was still acting a lot different than from the first week Ignis observed him. It was true that Noctis was constantly going against his orders, but he was conversing and interacting with him in a completely different way that he did with the rest of the guards. Noctis just acted different, and even his bratty attitude and stubborn nature was easy to understand. He was playing with Ignis in his own way, and Ignis was thankful he was able to see this so quickly or else he would had been in a terrible mood every day.
The days in which he was able to get Noctis out of his room, Ignis took his little vengeance. He wasn’t by all means trying to be heartless, but he still thought it was entertaining how Noctis was such a lazy cat. He would flop down from one place to another and nap at all hours of the day. It was how Ignis decided of a fitting punishment for the prince, exercise. The third floor had a small gym and Ignis ended up dragging the prince over, even if Noctis whined the whole time. He set up the exercise equipment and helped Noctis on top of the treadmill. Noctis of course didn’t know what it was until Ignis turned it on.
Ignis couldn’t deny that he was taking advantage of Noctis’s blindness to sort out his punishments and quite honestly he did feel a bit guilty over it. But Noctis’s face was priceless when the treadmill started moving and he had to cling to the front of it, almost hugging it for dear life.
“Oh my god, you jerk face! This isn’t funny!” Noctis whined, listening to Ignis trying to muffle his laugh behind his hand. In the end he did help Noctis set himself up properly in the treadmill and promised the prince he would be free to go as long as he worked out for at least an hour. Noctis seeing as he didn’t have much of a choice he did what he was told and ended up collapsing on the floor soon after. He was sweating non-stop, his shirt clinging to his slim form and his messy hair was sticking to his cheeks and forehead.
“I-I’m dying.” Noctis said, panting and breathing heavily through his nose.
“No, you are not dying. You are actually moving, I think that’s quite the opposite of dying.” Ignis took his victory and made it a point to bring Noctis to the gym a couple of times during the week. It also seem to give the prince more energy during the day, although after a few hours he would go back to napping and being lazy again.
Exercising was a good way to not only keep the prince busy, but also fully wake him up in the mornings. It was was now in Ignis's schedule as the first order of business. After that was breakfast and then recreation time for the prince. It wasn't like Noctis could do much, but Ignis did make sure to get him a few more books in braille. He wanted to ask Noctis who taught him to read like this, since no one truly cared much about the prince's living conditions in here but he didn't want to pry. Maybe somewhere in the future he could ask him this.
If Noctis wasn't reading books he was always listening to the radio. He seemed to spend an awful lot of time listening to it, even if sometimes he did nothing else but to close his eyes and curl up on the couch. Ignis would use this time to read a book or sometimes he would try his own hand at writing a short story. In reality he was just trying to distract himself, as it was awfully boring to wait for the prince to have his fill. Maybe Ignis could acquire a radio for Nocti's room, it would for sure keep him locked up and gave Ignis the freedom to leave the palace.
“Are you satisfied yet? We could always do something else.” Ignis stood up from his spot on the couch and stretched his arms above his head. He was tired of sitting down.
“Yeah, sure. Turn on the TV, let's watch a movie.” Noctis response was so fluent that Ignis found himself reaching for the remote before he stopped himself and looked at the prince with a deadpanned expression.
“Very funny,” Ignis rolled his yes and dropped the remote on the couch. “Five more minutes, alright?”
The silence that followed was odd, it wasn't tense or any of the like. Ignis could almost feel dread, and he wasn't sure how it came to this. The way Noctis's moods changed were unpredictable, but somehow he was able to drag everyone around him. As if people were meant to rotate and move at his will, depending in how he felt. It was probably the royal blood in him, although Ignis wasn't sure if that was all there was to it.
“I just like waiting for the news.” Noctis voice was quiet. He kept his eyes closed and his head rested against one of the large pillows on the couch.
“For what kind of news?” Ignis genuine curiosity was honest in his voice.
“News from home...where else?”
Ignis made it a point to let Noctis near the radio as often as their schedule would allow it.
It was thanks to Ignis that the prince was now given proper eating utensils, or at lest that's what Ignis was expecting when he was serving dinner. Ignis wouldn't pay much attention to Noctis's food once the prince started eating, but he noticed a knife was always missing for Noctis to be able to cut through the meat or the tough food he was given. Honestly how incompetent could these people be, it wasn't that difficult to give the prince a knife. Ignis was going to be here with him to make sure it was returned.
“They keep forgetting to give you a knife? I'll have a talk with the cook, this is the fifth time.” Ignis shook his head and watched as Noctis struggled to break the pieces of meat into smaller pieces. In the end the prince gave up and started using his hands.
“It's fine, I'm just glad they give me stuff now. Don't tell them anything, I don't want them to take it out on me.” Noctis shrugged one of his shoulders and took another bite of his meat. He licked his fingers clean and smiled at Ignis.
“If you insist, but they still shouldn't treat you like this.” Ignis sighed quietly and took a seat on the large couch.
“They shouldn't but they do. Oh well, it doesn't matter.” Noctis shrugged his shoulders uncaringly and finished the large piece of meat before using his fork to eat the mashed potatoes.
It wasn't just the eating utensils that were bothering Ignis anymore. He started to notice little things about Noctis as he ate his food. Sometimes the prince would wrinkle his nose and make a face after tasting his food. At first he just figured Noctis was a picky eater since he hated to eat vegetables, but it was more than that. There were times when Noctis would take a bite of his food before just shrugging his shoulders and saying he wasn't hungry, and it was making Ignis suspicious.
It was one of those days. Noctis took a spoonful of his oatmeal before losing complete interest, instead he started peeling the orange next to his plate. Ignis raised one of his brows and walked over to the table, staring down at the brown oatmeal before grabbing the spoon on the table.
“Don't do that.” Noctis warning came too late. Ignis was already taking a spoonful of the oatmeal in his mouth and he found himself quickly coughing against his hand. He turned his head and pulled a handkerchief from with in his pocket to cough and spit out the foul food in his mouth. The oatmeal was spoiled, the milk tasted disgusting and it was thick. The flavor was sticking to the roof of his mouth and the odd texture was clinging to his tongue. It was completely disgusting, and he was just amazed that Noctis did nothing but to swallow the disgusting food before turning it away.
“It's rotten.” Ignis shook his head and quickly walked over to the bathroom to rinse his mouth.
“I told you not to do it.” Noctis yelled at him from the table and continued to keep his orange. Once it was peeled he split it in half and began to eat the small wedges.
Ignis was back with a towel in his hands. He wiped the rest of the water off of his mouth and dried his hands. “You forgot to mention it was expired.” Noctis only shrugged his shoulders in response and popped another orange wedge in his mouth.
“Are the meals all like this?” Ignis dropped the towel on the table and stared down at the prince with a frown.
“Not all of them.” Noctis mumbled quietly and finished eating the rest of his orange before reaching for his bottle of water to drink.
“Unbelievable.” Ignis sighed loudly and shook his head. Was there something he didn't have to fix in this place? This was beyond ridiculous. It was starting to seriously get in his nerves, plus it was making his job harder than it had to be. He couldn't feed Noctis this, no one deserved to be fed something like this, it could make him seriously ill. It could even kill him. Were the people here so idiotic that they couldn't see that? If the prince died they were in serious troubles. He was the barging chip that was keeping them from getting overrun by kingsglaives.
“I'll start preparing your meals starting tomorrow. Please bear with it for today.” Ignis nodded slowly and almost missed the smile on Noctis's lips. Almost.
The preparation of food was not an easy task. It was quite complicated if one wanted to achieve something good, and although everything was an upgrade from what the prince had been fed Ignis didn't want to do a mediocre job. It was the reason why he ended up looking at recipes online while watching Noctis run in the treadmill. Some recipes were easy enough and didn't require that many ingredients, but he was going to have to find recipes that had similar items. Ignis didn't want to end up with a massive shopping list even if Ardyn was going to be the one paying for everything.
Ignis went grocery shopping that night. He bought everything he needed and took it to one of the kitchens that were unused. The fridge was empty and clean, something he was thankful for and he also had a decent amount of cooking equipment inside the cabinets. He wasn't going to be cooking anything for now, but he did take his time looking through the kitchen while putting the groceries away.
The next morning Noctis woke up to the smell of something heavenly. Ignis didn't even struggle to wake him up. Noctis was able to wake up on his own just by the smell of the food he was carrying. Ignis placed the plate on the table and couldn't help himself but to smirk when he noticed Noctis already sitting up on the bed with a curious look on his face. The prince's head was tilting towards his direction and he was bluntly sniffing the air around him.
“As promised. I'll be preparing your meals from now on. I hope you find this of your satisfaction.” Ignis watched as Noctis got off the bed and walked over to where the table was.
The prince slowly touched the plate and reached for the fork with his fingertips. He wasn't sure of what he was eating but he was cutting through the soft food like nothing. It had a sweet smell to it. He could smell honey and butter, just the smell already had his mouth watering and before he could stop and think of what it was he was putting the soft breakfast in his mouth. It was pancakes. He was eating pancakes. Noctis's eyes widened and before he knew it, he was shoving the food in his mouth as fast as he could. It just tasted so good. Everything about it tasted so good. He couldn't remember the last time he was able to eat a meal like this. He wanted to stop and enjoy it but he also wanted to just eat as much as he could right away. Almost as if he was afraid it was going to be taken away from him.
“Slow down, you are going to choke.” Ignis hid a small laugh behind his hand and watched as the prince devoured the food.
Noctis didn't slow though. He kept eating in the same way, but a wide smile was spreading on his lips and his clouded eyes look more alive than ever. It was hard for Ignis not to notice this. It was hard for him to ignore the smile on Noctis's full lips and the way his face looked so relax. The crest that was usually on his brows banished, giving him a youthful look. Ignis couldn't recall ever seeing Noctis this happy, in fact he couldn't recall ever seeing him smile. It was the first time in three weeks he was able to make the prince smile. It truly suited him.
“Do you have any family?”
The question came out of the blue, and it took Ignis by surprise. Noctis usually would never ask him any personal questions. “I used to, yes.”
“Oh, what happened?” Noctis closed the book he was holding and turned on his chair to face Ignis.
“I come from a military family. Almost everyone in my family went to war or died due to it. The rest died from old age. My uncle was my last relative and he died a few years back just after I enrolled in the military.” It was just Ignis now.
“Oh...you must hate me like the guards do, right?” Noctis shrugged one of his shoulders, and leaned his head against the chair's back.
“I do not,” Ignis couldn't miss the surprised look on Noctis's face. “Propaganda, military strategies, and the fear of the unknown is what makes people hate the Lucis kingdom. You were taken as a child and became a political hostage. Hardly someone that has earned my hate, to be honest.”
“War is about people protecting what they believe to be right, Noctis. I fight for Niflheim because is my home, if I don't fight it will be taken. I might not agree with everything we do, but that doesn't stop it from being my home. I fight for the people that are innocent and unaware of the dangers at our borders. I fight so people like them can have a future. I don't fight because I hate the Lucis. I have never met them, well, not until now and I can't say I hate you at all.”
Noctis nodded slowly and stood up. He walked over to the couch where Ignis was sitting and flopped down next to him. He closed his eyes as if he was thinking and hummed quietly. “You are not like the other people I met before. Well, in here.”
“Well, I can assure you, there are more of us than them. Sometimes it is just hard to believe it because of the environment you are forced to endure. But I can promise you, not all of us are like them.” Ignis gently placed his hand on one of Noctis's shoulders.
“I'll remember that, yeah.” Noctis chuckled quietly and smiled.
“Plus you were taken before you could even fight. I don't consider you a treat since you weren't even trained to use the Lucis magic.” Ignis missed the way Noctis's eyes flickered for a second but the prince only nodded his head in response.
“Yeah, but...tomorrow, would it be okay to eat fish?” Noctis rubbed his lips together at his request and tilted his head towards Ignis.
“Certainly, as long as you eat the salad that goes with it.” Ignis chuckled at the loud groan that Noctis gave in response.
Ignis left the prince's room that night after Noctis fell asleep. He locked the door behind him and left for the kitchen to prepare everything for tomorrow's breakfast, lunch and dinner. He was still going to have to wake up early and go buy fresh fish for dinner tomorrow, but it was only a small trip to the market. It was always best to get fresh fish than frozen after all. Ignis finished in the kitchen and left for his room, but not before making sure the guards were in their corresponding posts. It was nothing new that they would slack off during the night, and it was pretty normal since the one prisoner they were supposed to be guarding was harmless.
During the night, Ignis dreamed of smoke and gunpowder. The loud noises buzzing against his ears were making him dizzy, and the loud screams were blending in with everything else. The high pitched noise that follow was making him ignore everything else but his breathing. He could feel his heart beating against his rib cage and he could smell and taste copper in the air. The wet dirt was clinging to his body and he could see blood mixing with the rain. He kept moving, his grip tight on his weapons. He had to keep moving and keep fighting, even as he watched his own team being shot. Even as he watched as they were being blown away by the Lucis's magic. He had to keep going. It as a victory they couldn't afford to lose.
But in the mists of it all, he could hear a familiar voice screaming his name. The voice was cracking and breaking, sounding so lost and out of place. Ignis turned his body to look back, and standing there, in the middle of the battlefield was no other than Noctis. The prince looked clean and flawless, untouched by everything around him, but the danger was still there and Noctis didn't know where he was going. The prince's bare feet were dragging him through the mud, and his hands were reaching out in front of him, trying to find anything, but he could only touch air. The clouded eyes were searching for him and finding darkness.
Ignis needed to reach him. He needed to get near him before it was too late. He ran towards the prince, ignoring the fire and the kingsglaives that were trying to block his path. He ran as fast as he could and just before he could reach Noctis's delicate hands, a blade was piercing through his chest. The long sword was cutting through the flesh of Noctis's chest, leaving him his eyes wide as blood began to crawl from within his mouth. The clouded eyes rolled back before closing and Noctis's body fell, lifelessly. He was dead and Ignis couldn't do anything else but to gather the stiff body in his arms.
Ignis took in a deep breath as he woke up from his nightmare. It was almost as if he was remembering how to breathe. He quickly sat up on the bed and shook his head. He looked around the room, finding comfort in the fact that everything was as he left it. Ignis's heart was still beating far too quickly, and cold sweat was clinging to his forehead, but everything seemed fine. He was not in the battlefield anymore. He was back in the citadel, but thinking so wasn't really helping him stop the trembling on his hands.
It was the reason why Ignis decided a walk was needed. He couldn't go back to sleep now, he was too awake and it was only two in the morning. It was best if he did a night round, maybe he would give the guards a good scare for slacking off. It sounded entertaining enough, and with that in mind Ignis changed into a pair of casual trousers and a white button up shirt. Hopefully after seeing Noctis in his room he could go back to sleep with peace in mind.
Ignis left his room and made his way to the underground levels but frowned when he noticed the guards were nowhere to be seen. Even as he went to the second floor he couldn't find any guards, and the third floor didn't look any better. Where the hell was everyone? He couldn't find any of them. He figured that maybe they were on break but the break room was empty and they couldn't all just leave at the same time. It didn't make sense. The ground floor was also empty, or at least it looked like it. Ignis could hear noises not too far and he was able to see light from down the hallway.
The door for one of the bathrooms was cracked open and Ignis could see the light was coming from there. It was the bathroom near Noctis's bedroom and thanks to that he was able to notice that the prince's bedroom door was open. The guards had one of the keys but there was no reasons for them to go inside Noctis's bedroom unless the prince specifically asked for help. Did something happened to Noctis? Ignis found himself almost running towards the source of light. He couldn't help the odd feeling in his stomach that was building up, something was wrong, something was very wrong.
What greeted Ignis was unreal. He was almost sure he was still dreaming, because he wasn't able to move his legs and was frozen in place. Noctis was on the floor, his clothes missing. He was completely drenched in water, his hair covering his closed eyes as it clung to his face. He was coughing water and turning his head away from the bathroom hose that was being aimed at his face. The hot water was making his skin red. He was trying to crawl away but a hand on his hair pulled him back and held him in place.
“Hold him still.” The guard holding the hose hissed out.
“I'm trying, shut up.” Another guard growled back at him and kept his hold in Noctis's hair.
“Come on prince, spread 'em.”
Noctis reacted by pulling his legs closer to his chest, keeping them tightly shut. He rubbed his lips together and tried to push at the guard that was now reaching for his ankle to try to pull his legs open. He kicked his legs, the slippery, wet skin making it hard to get a hold of him.
“Why the fuck are you making such a big deal. I'm sure Izunia does this all the fucking time, right?”
Noctis ignored the laughter that follow and instead kicked his legs harder until two of the guards were pulling back with an amused look on their faces. It wasn't like Noctis was aiming right to begin with. He couldn't see where they were.
“Or that new guy? You are ignoring us now that you got him? What a heartless bitch.” The guard aimed the bathroom hose at his face again, and Noctis quickly turned his head. At first the pressure wasn't bothering him much, but after it had been done over and over again it was starting to hurt a lot, specially when the water was so hot it was steaming.
“Fuck off!” Noctis hissed loudly and slapped the hose away. A hand quickly grabbed his wrist and pulled him across the floor. He kicked his legs and began to struggle again but a pair of hands were holding his thighs and letting one of the guards slip in between his legs.
“Don't worry, I'll make sure you enjoy this.” The voice was near his ear and Noctis only growled in return and began to struggle again. He kicked his legs and trashed around until the weight on top of him was being lifted.
Ignis pulled the guard off of Noctis by the back of his shirt. He yanked him off with such force that the guard ended up choking with the collar of his shirt. He shoved the man against one of the walls, the glare in his eyes looking more deadly than his actions. The room was quiet now, none of the guards were moving.
Ignis snatched one of the large towels and walked over to Noctis, reaching for the prince. He hesitated when Noctis flinched and started backing away. He wasn't aware that Ignis was here now. “Noctis, I need you to stay still so I can give you this towel and get you back to your room.” Ignis voice was calm. He was trying to hold back his rage.
Noctis sighed quietly in relief at the familiar voice and nodded his head slowly. He let Ignis help him to his feet and then the warm towel was around his wet body. Ignis kept an arm around his shoulders and guided him out of the bathroom and into his bedroom. The door was locked behind them and Ignis was already rushing to get Noctis in a warm proper bath.
“I can leave if you wish. I don't want to make you uncomfortable.” Ignis called from within the bathroom, letting the water run until it was a nice temperature.
“N-no...it's fine, you can stay.” Noctis followed Ignis's voice to the bathroom, and he sat by the edge of the tub, waiting for the bath to be ready.
The silence that followed was awkward. Ignis wanted to ask what happened, he wanted to ask many things but he also didn't want to know the answers. It just felt like he hadn't been doing things right, that maybe he was too blind to see how things truly were around here. He felt out of place, the citadel just felt like a different world. One that wasn't too pleasant either.
“They have done this before...” Notics voice was the one cutting through the thick silence. “Other guards as well. I know that's what you are thinking. It has been like this for a while. So, don't blame yourself, okay?”
Ignis could only nod in response, even if Noctis couldn't see him. He finished prepping the bath and let Noctis take his time. Ignis ended up taking a seat in one of the couches, his head tilting back against the pillows. It was so frustrating to be in a situation like this. He wasn't sure how to respond to this at all. He could punish the guards, but in the end they could just take it out on Noctis. He could also inform Ardyn about what happened, but what the guards implied made him believe that nothing was going to be done. He was stuck, and for the first time in a long time, he truly didn't know what to do. He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes, trying to figure out a solution.
The clock kept ticking and before he knew it an hour passed and Noctis was still in the bathroom. Ignis stood up and went to check on the prince, only to chuckle when Noctis sleeping face greeted him. At least one of them could find peace. Ignis carefully picked up the prince and dried him up with a new, clean towel. He carried Noctis over to the bed and went to get some clean clothes for him to sleep on. Noctis's eyes were flickering open now, his thick eyelashes hiding his eyes. He sluggishly helped Ignis get him dressed before dropping his head on the bed and falling asleep right after. Ignis fingers gently brushed Noctis's hair off of his face, and pulled the warm blankets over the sleeping prince.
Ignis didn't leave Noctis's bedroom that night, instead he slept on the couch and used one of the extra blankets and pillows.
Noctis wasn't left alone at night anymore. Ignis ended up making the prince's bedroom his new sleeping quarters. He still had his own room and would leave every morning to get ready for the day, but during the night he would sleep on the couch. Noctis seemed to enjoy that, in fact it wasn't that difficult to wake him up in the mornings anymore. He would also read his books out loud for Ignis, every night Noctis's fingers would dance over the pages and he would read the words out loud for him. He would read until he was too sleepy to keep going and he couldn't keep his eyes open anymore. Noctis would fall asleep with the book in his heads and Ignis would tuck him in and put the book away, but not before bookmarking the page they left on.
“You know...m-my...my bed is big enough. I mean...the couch is probably uncomfortable.” Noctis's words were rushed and a dark blush was crawling over his cheeks.
It was how Ignis ended up sharing a bed with Noctis. Even if he thought of it inappropriate, he couldn't deny the fact that sleeping on the couch was hurting his back. Noctis bed was a king size and the prince would end up curling up on a corner all by himself. It was safe to sleep with him and if Noctis was giving him permission, he wasn't going to bother the prince either.
Ignis was used to sharing a bed, when he was growing up with his cousins they would all sleep together. They kept each other company and made the nights so much better to get through. Later down the road Ignis ended up sharing a bed with other soldiers as well. When you have to sleep on the floor or share a bed, there was no fighting about whatever people slept together or not. You had to learn to get over the fact that you were going to have to share your living arrangements sometimes. Ignis was used to it.
Ignis was not used to a warm body pressing against his in the morning. He was not used to raven hair resting against his neck and the smell of citrus. Ignis was not used to this at all, but it became something normal. Noctis was never awake to see that at night he would end up curling up against Ignis. But Ignis would always wake up early in the morning to witness it. Noctis slim frame fit perfectly against his, and his face ended up on Ignis's chest. The prince's even breathing was relaxing and his soft noises stirred something insides Ignis. Yet, he found it hard to pull away from Noctis every morning. Quite frankly the prince's warm body clinging to Ignis's was well welcomed by him. Even if Ignis himself didn't want to admit it.
It had been four months now. Ignis couldn't believe how quickly time seemed to go by. He also couldn't believe how things changed so much. He never expected to be able to accomplish this job so well, even less he couldn't believe he was cooking new meals almost every single day. It had become a passion of his, one that he wasn't even aware of until now. Noctis was also easier to take care of, he wasn't as stubborn or rowdy anymore and went along with Ignis's schedule without any issues. He would talk to Ignis for hours and read him books non-stop. If anything what changed the most during the past four months was the prince. He looked alive.
Today however, didn't feel right. Ignis woke up with Noctis curling up against his side but something felt off. He left to take a shower and get dressed and the whole time he couldn't help the odd nagging feeling that was bothering him. It was the same type of feeling he would get in the battlefield when he was able to sense that something bad was going to happen. Like when you know a trap is waiting for you but you are not fully sure of where it is.
Ignis wasn't able to get rid of the odd feeling, even when he was cooking he was still trying to find an explanation. It was probably just his nerves playing tricks on him, specially because today there was a large festival in the city and the vast majority of the guards in the citadel were out of duty, and the ones that were on duty ended up being stationed near the festival. That was the most logical explanation, it made sense. Ignis pushed the odd feeling to the back of his head and finished making Noctis's breakfast.
The prince was already awake by the time Ignis brought his breakfast. He smiled at Ignis and got dressed in the bathroom. Noctis's outfit was different today, he opted for black capris and a black T-shirt, when usually he would wear nothing but night clothes or loose sweatpants. He was also wearing shoes, something else out of the ordinary but Ignis did not question it.
Noctis took his usual seat and ate his food slowly, enjoying every bite instead of devouring the food like he usually would. “It's better than ever, Ignis.” The prince smiled, but the smile wasn't reaching the clouded eyes. He looked off, as if something was wrong.
“Is there something wrong?” Ignis gently placed one of his hands on Noctis's shoulder and was surprised when the prince placed his own on top of his.
“No, not at all..I promise.” Noctis gave a firm nod and smiled at him one last time. He took one last bite of his meal and was finished.
The odd feeling was back, and Ignis wanted it to stop. He tried to ignore it again but instead got their things ready to head over to the small gym. Noctis was walking around the room, his hands gently touching the furniture before he sighed quietly and turned to join Ignis by the door.
“You know, I think you are the best.” Noctis chuckled and lightly shoved Ignis with his shoulder.
“Oh, you think so? Or is that the sugar from your breakfast speaking?” Ignis smirked and glanced over at Noctis.
“No, not at all...I...Thank you, for everything.” Noctis grinned this time and Ignis had to stop in his tracks. It was the first time Noctis had done this, and it was directed to him. The prince looked so happy, and in all honestly...he looked beautiful like that. Something was growing in his chest, but then that odd feeling was back, keeping the nice warmth from spreading across his chest.
“You are very welcome, Noctis.” Ignis smiled and the two kept walking down the hallway. The silenced that follow was comfortable and it gave Ignis room to think about what just happened. The warm feeling in his chest was growing bigger and bigger by the day, but he refused to admit what it was. He couldn't admit it. He had to push these feelings far away, at least until he could properly deal with them. He sighed quietly and looked over at Noctis, noticing that the prince stopped walking and was staring down at the floor.
“I'm sorry.” Noctis voice was nothing but a whisper.
Ignis turned around, a frown on his face. He wasn't sure what Noctis was talking about, there was nothing to be sorry for, or at least nothing yet. He was about to open his mouth to ask Noctis what was wrong when a fading blue light caught his eyes. Something around Noctis was glowing, and the prince reached for it and snatched it in his hand before he threw it as far as he could. Ignis tried to respond as quickly as he could but Noctis was already warping away from his grasp.
Ignis was never told that the prince could even use the Lucis's magic. What the hell was happening? Ignis hardly had the chance to answer his own question. He was quickly chasing after Noctis wondering what he was throwing to keep warping. It took Ignis a couple of seconds to notice what it was, but when he did he narrowed his eyes. Noctis was using kitchen knives to activate his warping abilities. He was quick as well, not wasting any second. It was unbelievable that this was the same person that refused to run in the treadmill for more than fifteen minutes.
Part of Ignis wanted to deny this. Deny the fact that Noctis was trying to run away from him, but the reality was different. Even with Noctis's disability he was moving through the hallways without any problems. He was quickly warping up the stairs and leaving Ignis behind. It didn't matter if Noctis out run him, the guards upstairs were going to stop him, there was no doubt about it. Yet, Ignis found himself running faster, trying to catch up with the prince.
Noctis hand touched the wall as he ran, the only time he would remove it was when he was throwing a knife in front of him to warp. He quickly touched the wall right away, easily recognizing the dents and scratches on the rough surface. He was close, he knew it. He could hear the guards just ahead of him. He could hear them reaching for their guns and moving and he could sense them. Noctis threw one of the knives in front of the guards and summoned another two as he did so. He warped and just for a second he was able to sense everything around him. For that one second he could see. He narrowed his eyes and used one of the knives to stab the guard's thigh and quickly used the second one to cut through his throat.
Noctis heard the second guard aiming his weapon at him and he quickly reacted by throwing one of his knives towards him and warping right away. The prince used the force of the momentum to kick the guard onto the floor and quickly stab one of the blades through his throat as well. The second set of stairs was now free. He had done it. The prince didn't have time to celebrate though, he could hear Ignis catching up to him and he quickly summoned the knives back to him before running. He had another two sets of guards to deal with. After that he could run towards the kitchen and leave through the kitchen door. The construction would be up ahead and he could blend in and hide then. The festival would be crowded and people would make it easy for him to hide. Even if he didn't know where to go after, as long as he was away from this god forsaken place he didn't care. As long as he could use the Lucis's magic he could feel enough to know where he was going. It was almost as if his ancestors were guiding him.
Noctis attacked the second set of guards in a similar manner, except this time he picked up the two fallen guns. The two weapons vanished in a bright light, becoming see-through at first before dematerializing. Noctis moved to the third set of stairs, but this time he summoned one of the guns and threw it towards the guards. He warped right away and cocked the gun upwards before shooting the guard right through his face. The gun was tossed towards the second guard and as Noctis warped he aimed towards the figure he was able to feel on his left. He shot the guard without remorse and vanished the weapons.
The last set of guards were in the main floor. Noctis was finally able to reach the first floor and he could feel the clean air around him. He could breath it in and it was pumping the blood rushing through his veins. He could feel his heart beat against his chest, and the sweet promise of freedom was all the motivation he needed.
The guards rushed when they noticed him. He could hear their foot steps and their voices. Noctis smirked and aimed for the guard on the left first. He warped with one of his knives and then summoned one of the guns to shoot him on the face. The second guard was unlocking his gun but before he could aim Noctis was warping in front of him and taking him down onto the floor. The prince summoned two knives and without hesitation stabbed the guard in between his ribs. He leaned in closer, his half lidded clouded eyes staring at nothing. He tilted his head towards the guard, the same smirk on his face.
“Don't worry, I'll make sure you enjoy this.” Noctis's hands twisted the blades inside the familiar guard before he yanked them out, splashing blood across the white marble floor. The prince tilted his head, listening to the noises of the guard choking on his own blood. The satisfaction setting in his body was numbing him and he needed to move again. He threw the knife towards the kitchen and warped right away. He was about to start running when a body collided with his and tackled him onto the floor. He recognized this shape, it was Ignis. How the hell was he able to catch up with him?
Noctis narrowed his eyes and summoned a knife, he threw it randomly, not knowing where he was at the moment thanks to Ignis. The familiar flash of blue let him know where he was and Noctis quickly ran through the main doors not knowing where he was going now. He warped one last time, and saw the hallway and large windows, but the hallway just kept going and going! This was bad, this was very bad. The prince was about to turn and run back, wanting to follow his original plan again. He wasn't even able to turn before Ignis was tackling him again, except this time he did it with enough force for the two to break through one of the windows. Noctis hissed loudly at the harsh impact, his body tensing up and his hands moving on their own. He warped and noticed he was in the courtyard. He was outside. He could feel rain falling on top of his head and it just felt so good.
Ignis voice was so close, he was so close to him but Noctis couldn't stop now. He heard the construction not too far and it made his plan still possible. He only needed to go that way. He could make it. He could finally go home. The prince threw one of his knives and warped, his feet feeling the cold and wet grass. It was the first time he had been able to be outside. It was the first time he was able to breath in the fresh air. In all of these years, he couldn't remember how the rain felt on his hair until now. Yet, he could feel Ignis right behind him. He could feel him reaching for him.
The sound of something piercing the air startled Noctis and forced Ignis to pull away from him. The prince wasn't able to register what was happening until an excruciating pain shot through his leg. Noctis fell on the ground right away, a loud scream ripping through his throat. He reached down to touch whatever had pierced through his calf. A large rod pierced through the flesh and was sticking out. Noctis could do nothing but to reach down and pull the damn thing out. He hissed loudly in pain, trying to fight off the second scream that was trying to escape him.
“Ah? Where are you going, dear prince.” Ardyn's was unmistakable. He lowered the large crossbow he was holding and reloaded it. He hummed quietly, his hand easily slipping in the second sharp rod in the channel. The chancellor smirked and moved towards the fallen prince, moving at a steady phase and like if there was no rush.
Noctis whimpered and slowly got on his knees. Ardyn was here, he was here and the panic building up in his stomach was making his brain shut down. He needed to think, he needed to move. He crawled and dug his fingers on the grass. He could heard footsteps and they were getting closer and closer. He needed to move, even if his leg was bleeding, even if the pain was tensing his muscles in a way that it was almost impossible to move. He needed to move. The prince summoned another knife and threw it. He warped and as soon as his body touched the ground a foot was slamming him down. Noctis hissed loudly in pain and tried to turn to stab the the bastard that was keeping him in place but a familiar chuckle had his eyes widening.
Ardyn gave the prince no time to react as he pointed the crossbow at him. He gave Noctis one last snicker before pulling the trigger. The rod shot out through the chamber right away and pierced through Noctis's shoulder, pinning him to the ground.
The prince felt his throat burning as he screamed for the second time. This time he was unable to move or reach for the piece of metal that was piercing through his shoulder. He was panting heavily, breathing through his nose and squeezing his eyes shut in pain. Everything was hurting, the pain on his legs and now his shoulder were making him shut down. He couldn't do anything but lay there. He tried to summon another knife, to try to warp away from Ardyn but a foot was stomping on his hand. He was done.
Ignis walked to stand next to the two, his eyes looking from Noctis to Ardyn. “Chancellor, I apologize. This is all my fault.” He bowed his head and sighed in resignation.
“Oh no, don't worry Ignis. You were just about to catch him yourself. I just decided he needed to learn his lesson more thoroughly.” As if to make his point Ardyn's foot pushed harder against Noctis's hand until the sound of snapping bones could be heard. “Someone that behaves like a rabid animal, should be treated as so.”
Noctis bit down on his bottom lip, his eyes narrowing with nothing but blood thirst. He pulled his hand free from underneath Ardyn and as he did so his other hand was summoning a knife. He aimed for the chancellor, his strike quick and ready to kill but a tight grip on his wrist intersected his strike. It was Ignis. Ignis was twisting his arm behind his back and pushing him against the floor with a knee on his back. He struggled and tried to fight it off, feeling a bitter taste in his mouth that he didn't even know what it was. Why did he feel like crying, why was his throat burning with anger. It was upsetting him more than the chancellor shooting him twice.
“Thank you, Ignis,” Ardyn's voice dragged the thank you and he stared directly at Noctis's eyes. He smirked, the victory evident in his voice. “Do not worry, I will be taking care of him for now. Please go back and check if any of the guards can be saved.”
Ignis hesitated for a second, he was looking up at Ardyn with a neutral expression on his face, but his body wasn't willing to move just yet. He forced himself to do what he as he is told, even if his hands linger over Noctis's body a bit longer. Both of Ignis's legs felt far too heavy, and he couldn't help himself but to look back as he walked away. Ardyn is pulling the damned rod from within Noctis's shoulder, looking as uncaring as always. He grabbed onto Noctis's good arm and forced him on his feet. The chancellor shrugged one of his shoulders, saying something that Ignis can't quite hear and then he started dragging Noctis away. The prince's right leg was not responding and he is forced to limb until he is flat out being dragged by Ardyn.
Ignis can't look back anymore. He forces himself to look ahead. The rain was pouring outside and water was getting in through the broken window. Ignis ended up calling for back-up and and medical help before quickly checking the guards in the first floor. One of them was for sure dead and Ignis could recognize him as the soldier that tortured Noctis not too long ago before Ignis ended up staying in the prince's room. Noctis had ripped his lungs open making him choke with his own blood. What a terrible death.
The rest of the guards didn't look any better. They were killed quickly and without hesitation, and every hit had been precised. Ignis didn't want to be impressed but he was and what made everything harder to take was the fact that this was all his fault. He realized this when he found one of the bloody knives on the floor. The cook wasn't a liar, he had been doing his job. It was Noctis the one that took all the knives before Ignis was able to see them. It happened weeks ago, before Ignis started cooking. Noctis had been planing to escape since then. In fact that was probably the only thing in the prince's mind every day and Ignis had been foolish for thinking otherwise.
Ignis was given a week off from his duties. He was told this wasn't a punishment at all, but he felt as if it was. He knew very well that his skills were probably being questioned right now, and maybe they were looking for a replacement. Ignis couldn't blame them, he got played by Noctis and there was no taking it back. He wanted to be angry, he wanted to be upset but all he could do was blame himself. It was his incompetent behavior that led to this. It was his fault that six guards died and Noctis nearly escaped. It made enjoying his week off almost impossible.
No one called Ignis while he was away, he wasn't sure if that was good or not but he enjoyed not being bothered. It wasn't until the day before he was allowed to return to the citadel that he got a short phone call from one of Ardyn's secretaries. He was told his duties were the same as always, but he needed to be more careful this time. He wasn't punished and he also wasn't told about his incompetence. It was almost as if what happened was nothing but a simple accident.
Ignis was back in Ardyn's wing and a new set of guards greeted him. The guards didn't seem to have any knowledge of what happened a week ago, if anything they looked happy for the promotion. Ignis could hear them talking among themselves, and was able to catch a few words as he moved through the hallways. The walls were now clean and no signs of blood could be seen, not like Ignis was expecting the hallways to look the same but it was odd. When he was in the front lines there was no cleaning crew, no one to hide what happened there, but now. Now it felt as something was being hidden, when in reality it was normal to clean up the remains of the dead. He also noticed something quite different. The walls now had wallpaper on them, and the doors were changed for new ones, the only thing that remained the same on the hallways was the floor.
The door for Noctis's room also changed. It looked heavier and thicker, but the same key could still be used. Ignis got his key out and unlocked the door. The familiar sound of gears forcing the door open felt somewhat relaxing. It was something that he was just used to by now. What greet him on the other side though, was something far from familiar. The room was completely different. The furniture, the decor and the layout were not even slightly the same. It also felt as if the room was bigger, but there was no way, or was there?
The room was still luxurious looking, there was no doubt about it, and the colors were kept the same. But the furniture was completely different, even Noctis's bed was a complete different shape. The room didn't feel familiar at all, and it was somewhat upsetting for Ignis, even if he didn't know why. He moved through the new layout and sighed in relief when he noticed the familiar figure underneath the blankets. At least that hadn't changed.
Ignis gently shook Noctis's shoulder. It was time for him to wake up, their schedule wasn't going to be affected by what happened. If Ignis let his emotions get the best of him, then he wasn't going to be competent enough to carry on his duty. A mistake was made and he wasn't going to let it happen again. Not now or ever. He gave Noctis's shoulder one last shake before the body underneath the blankets moved. Noctis weakly and slowly sat on the bed. The blankets now pooling around his waist and letting Ignis see his body.
Ignis eyes widened at the bandages around Noctis's chest and the cast on his right arm. The skin on his chest was bruised everywhere and his face didn't look any better. The skin wasn't swollen anymore, but still looked a bit rounder than it should. Noctis right eye was a nasty black color and he was hardly able to open it, but Ignis could see how red his eye was. It was a good thing the prince was already blind because a wound like this would had done the job for sure.
“It's time for breakfast.” Ignis nodded slowly and turned to leave. He was letting the cook prepare Noctis's breakfast today. He still needed to go shopping for the week and didn't feel like looking through the massive pantry in the kitchen just to make something quick.
The loud noise of someone falling had Ignis turning right away. He frowned and walked around the bed to see Noctis on the floor with his hands moving in front of him. The prince's eyes were wide and for the first time since he met him, he looked blind. Noctis was slowly and carefully moving his hands around him, trying to find support in front of him. He was able to touch the night table and used it to get on his feet but then was almost tripping over the new carpet near his bed. It was even more difficult for him to move with his wounded leg. He was limping and dragging his leg, his hands in front of him.
Noctis was lost. He was panicking and breathing heavily through his nose. The prince's wide eyes were giving away the fear he was trying to mask on his face. But it was evident...he didn't know where he was going. He didn't know where he was. He whimpered when he hit his wounded leg on a chair and then tried to balance himself but he couldn't reach for anything...because he didn't know where anything was. Noctis fell on the floor again. He didn't move for a couple of minutes and when he did the prince did nothing but to sit on the floor. He sat in between his legs, not being able to bend his leg because of the fresh wound. Noctis face was facing the floor. He wasn't looking up and little by little his shoulders started to shake.
Ignis could hear the soft whimpers coming from the prince. He could hear his trembling sobs and it was building up something inside of him. He could do nothing but to watch as Noctis started crying. The prince was hiding his face with both of his hands, his whole body trembling with his tears. Ignis fought the urge to reach out, to touch Noctis's shoulder and reassure him that everything was going to be okay. He fought those feelings because he shouldn't be having them to begin with. He needed to turn around and get out. He needed to. But he couldn't.
Noctis body was bending over and he rested his head on the floor, his bangs covering his face. The loud sobs were being muffled by the hands on his mouth, but before he could help it he was screaming. The prince tilted his head back, and screamed. The desperate filled noise ripping through his lungs and throat. He couldn't be quiet anymore and the loud sobs and whimpers couldn't be ignored anymore.
Noctis forced himself to stand up, his shaking legs dragging him as he hit and tripped over furniture. He screamed in frustration and his hands dragged everything onto the floor. He threw the chairs against the wall and his hands wiped off all the decorations on top of the furniture. Glass was shattering and Noctis didn't care if he was stepping on it. He kept going, rage and frustration filling his actions. He wanted to do more. He needed to do more. He kicked the cabinets and hissed in pure rage.
Ignis couldn't watch anymore. He moved faster than he ever had and before he knew it his arms were around the prince. He was holding Noctis by his waist and turning him around. He held the prince close to his body, pressing his chest against his and holding him around his shoulders. Noctis struggled at first. He pushed against Ignis and even pulled on his shirt until it was ripping. Until Ignis chest was scratched from the violent outburst. Still, little by little Noctis's body began to tremble again. He was crying against his chest, holding tightly onto his shirt as his legs slowly gave up on him and he keeled down on the floor. Noctis dragged Ignis along with him and he follow with no hesitation. Ignis kept his hold on Noctis. Not letting go even for a second.
The prince cried against his chest, he shook his head and soon enough he was hugging Ignis. He was holding tightly on his torso, with his face buried against his chest. He couldn't stop shaking and the tears in his eyes were clinging to his closed eyelashes. The quiet sobs coming from his trembling lips were quiet but still there. Ignis arms tightened around the prince's shoulders in return. He placed one of his hands on his head and gently ran his fingers through the thick locks of raven hair. He leaned his chin on top of Noctis's head, pulling him closer until he was sure their bodies couldn't press together any further. The way Noctis was clinging to him was desperate and it was causing something to twist in Ignis's gut. The tight feeling inside his chest couldn't be ignored, but he couldn't put it into words. Not yet.
Noctis's weak voice broke through his thoughts. The prince's voice was so hoarse and sore, it sounded like a whisper. “I-I'm...I-I don't know where I am...I-I don't know where this is. I-ignis...I-I can't see.” The heartbreaking sob that follow made Ignis hands tremble against Noctis's shoulders.
“I know, I'm sorry Noctis. I'm really sorry.” And Ignis couldn't help that his voice cracked as well.