there wasn’t a handy guide to grief , what to do when the people you love die. if there was , noctis would have read it cover to cover again & again , worn the pages down & the spine thin. he would dog-ear the pages , mark the passages that eased the pain , tattoo the words on his heart. noctis would commit every word to memory if such a book existed , but there was no convenient way to deal with grief. pain demanded to be felt , whether it was convenient or not , whether it was easy to feel or carry. ten years alone had made it easy to come to terms with his fate , noctis thought he would be able to go without any regrets. but that had only been in his mind , only how he thought it would go.
he hadn’t anticipated the weight of seeing everyone again , how difficult leaving his friends , his family , his husband would be. in his time away , noctis had forgotten just how deeply they were connected , how deep their bonds run. he knows ignis & gladio will be alright , they’re strong , they’ll be just fine. he knows prompto is strong too , he always has been , but noctis isn’t oblivious to the fact that he’s in mourning already. noctis doesn’t blame him. more often than not , noctis has wondered if he were only born for the gods to use as their puppet , their pawn .
he’d never been able to choose much in his life , truly. he was a prince , destined to take the throne of lucis one day , he would marry & have children & lead his people. at least , noctis thought , he may have the illusion to choose his partner. & then his marriage to lunafreya was announced , & no choices were left for him to make. but he chose. he chose & he chose prompto. & prompto chose him , but there was never enough time for them , never enough time for anything. & now , they had even less time. there was no good way of saying goodbye , so the king didn’t even try. he didn’t want to think about that now.
‘ if i had a choice, you wouldn’t have to. ’
it’s the most selfish noctis can afford to be , admitting his deepest desire , his heart’s wish. he wished he didn’t have to die , leave prompto to his grief , leave his friends behind. but destiny rarely afforded its victims a choice. if he could change his fate , he would in a heartbeat. if he could change anything , perhaps he would realize it sooner , he’d be able to say it sooner , they could have more time. but noctis thinks that even if they had all the time in the world & it would still never be enough. eternity might be , but they would never get that much time.
noctis pulls his husband against him tightly , moreso for his own sake than for prompto’s , but he hopes it helps them both , if only for the moment. ever since he was a boy , he was marked , meant to be a sacrifice for the gods. would if he could find another way , but a sacrifice was demanded. he would have to make himself content with the short time they did have , & he would wait. if there was a heaven , or hell , or any kind of afterlife , noctis would wait as long as it took. days , weeks , months , & what noctis hoped would be years , he would wait with the hopes prompto would find him again some day.
for now , though , they were both here , living , breathing , here. come whatever made the morning , things would change. noctis found himself as that same 20 year old , not wanting things to change , not wanting to face the next day. but he couldn’t be like that anymore. he hated the way he felt now , so raw & vulnerable , & he knows there are people who’ve long waited for his return , to bring about the dawn & restore lucis to light. they need him to do this , & so he must. & as much as he didn’t want to be the lamb slain , he couldn’t bear the thought of another life lost for his sake.
‘ look at me, prom. just….just for a minute. ’
there’s too much sadness, prompto thinks to himself, too much that the both of them have suffered through. he wonders if there was a reason for any of this – if there was another universe parallel to their own where the two of them got things right. if this was the price they paid for happiness in another, one adjacent. the thought brings him enough peace to where he’ll settle for the shitty ending, but his heart still aches desperately to know why. he’s had enough grief to last him a lifetime, enough pity, and enough sadness.
when the sun were to come up, it would be without noctis; and no other warmth would come close to that of his lover’s body pressed against his own. and while there’s too much sadness, there’s far less time. prompto doesn’t want to spend their last moments grieving a man who hasn’t even died yet, but it’s hard not to when he knows what will come in a day’s notice.
noctis is both here and gone at the same time and that’s what makes all of this harder. he wonders silently if it would’ve been easier to let him go had he never seen him again. had he not seen the man he’d grown into and gotten to feel his touch once more. it’s selfish, he knows, but his whole world feels like it’s crumbling around him and prompto clings to noctis a bit tighter. he’s desperate, willing to do anything to keep him grounded to their world, to keep his piece of heaven.
there are no words in the multitudes of languages that could soothe his breaking heart, but the words that slip from his lover’s lips are enough to bring him peace for now. he will settle with the fact that noctis would chose him, if they’d been granted this choice– it would be him, it would be them. that’s enough to soothe any lingering wounds for now, to calm his troubled mind and put himself at ease. it’s not much, but for now it would have to be enough. the gunman refuses to spend his last moments with noctis in a state of disbelief, mourning a person who has already made peace with his duty. instead, he swallows thickly, the lump in his throat burns as it goes down and prompto pulls himself together enough to stand on his own.
at least until he’s engulfed in his husband’s arms, pulled flush against his chest and ready to break down once more. his fingers curl into the fabric of his shirt, tight enough to rip holes through the material. he clings to him, like it’s the last time he’ll ever be held – because maybe it is. there are a lot of things that will be their last and it makes his heart ache in his chest. it sinks to his stomach, his mind races and his eyes squeeze shut as tight as they can. the closer the night draws to morning, the less and less sure he is that he can let noctis go.
be it the sound of noctis’ voice or the lingering fear that any moment could be his lover’s last, prompto brings himself back to this and out of his own head. the blonde peers up at the king, eyes wide and uncertain. he reverts back into the boy he was a decade ago, scared and confused, wanting nothing more than to stand by his best friend. his body trembles in the moonlit room, bottom lip quivering as tear-brimmed eyes glance up at his husband. ❛ i love you, noct … i don’t want anything to change. ❜