Maybe he should’ve hid farther; tighter between the camellias and most definitely nowhere near the roses. Noctis hates those, because the scent isn’t the sweet kind of sweet and the sun spears too easily between the stems. It always ends on him losing, and Ignis finding him.
He’s crestfallen, wiping on his shirt the grass he ripped off due the anxiety of being seen. Ignis dwells in silence for a moment, being two years older suddenly on par to a lifetime of difference, and offers his hand.
“Dinner is nearly ready. Now, go clean yourself up.”
They’re rare, the times where Noctis follows a calling on the first warning. But Ignis doesn’t speak in threats, hardly speaks in anything louder than what’s considered serene. Rather, the open hand and lack of iron expectancy prompted him to do as he’s told, to grasp and let himself be tugged forward, away from his self-made playground.
“Your glasses—I should hide them from you next time.”
“I beg to differ. You just ought to seek a better hiding place.” Noctis looks up to Ignis not sparing him a glance. “The roses gave you away.”
The prince doesn’t say anything. Ignis doesn’t expect him to.
“When I was your age,” he fits the part of old soul well for someone so awfully young, “I played hide and seek. And I was good at it, too, until I got too cocky. Hiding behind a rose bush didn’t end on a fair note. Pricked my eyes with the thorns and got myself a week of poor vision, all because of a wrong turn of the head.”
“Is that why you need glasses?”
The doors of the chamber are pushed open, and Ignis halts by the frame while Noctis, bright eyed, wide eyed, still stares up at him. For a moment, he considered telling the truth. But couldn’t bring himself to.
In the heart of Insomnia, witnessing the rain, not to mention feeling the droplets on his skin, warranted its own quiet moment. It’s why he didn’t mind holding the umbrella closer to Noctis, nor felt it necessary to press against him the fact it took him too long to notice.
You’ll get sick, he can already hear Noctis say, so he beats him to it and assures he’s fine. That it was his fault for forgetting to bring another, and that the rain had never bothered him in the first place. Some raindrops manage to get into his eyes and blurry his vision, but it’s fine. He holds Noctis’ bag for him, shrugs it upwards.
“You’re something else,” Noctis always says like it’s the first time he points it out. Gladio always pins it back on him, says he’s selfish and bratty, just because he doesn’t understand how genuine Ignis was about his selflessness.
“So I’ve been told.”
And that’s exactly how arriving to Gladio’s training went— an unnecessary back and forth, despite Ignis assuring being a little humid from the rain was hardly anything to fight over. But Gladiolus’ patience is already ice thin, and Noctis turns into the brat he isn’t just to spite him when he treats him like this.
“Look at him! He’s soaking wet. And you, Noct— can’t even read the damn forecast, even less carry your own bag. Do you make Prompto carry you on his back on the way home?”
Seasonal, Ignis would define it. Their personalities clash by seasons, and it’s tolerable, mostly because they picked the most irrelevant things they can muster to fight about. Prompto and Ignis bond the most when a "season" began, so not much was lost.
Prompto then takes his glasses off him, uses the silk of his highschool uniform’s tie to wipe them clean. Ignis holds back on cringing; it felt too similar to seeing someone wipe two fingers across the lens, but lets him continue.
“Your glasses were all wet, here you go!” He hands them back a little scratched from the rubbing, but dry, nonetheless.
Ignis thanks him.
Prompto isn’t a mindful person by any means— not out in the open, at least. It appears the camp was nowhere close to ready, and the sun had already set on drowning behind the mountain range. But the sightseeing narrows his vision into a tunnel and all he can focus on is snapping a good shot, before the moon manifests in its place. He’d picture that, too.
“Prompto, stop playing dumb and help.”
“Hold on, Glad, I really think I’m onto something with this angle I got here—“
Looking back on it, Ignis should’ve paid more attention and, for dear life, looked over his shoulder. But he didn’t. So, in what’s less than a moment, the photo is ruined and Prompto loses his balance and Ignis feels the gravel get inside his eyes. That can only mean one thing, and his suspicion is confirmed when Prompto finally falls beside him, back first— then they both hear it.
Next thing he knows, there’s an ugly crack and thank god Prompto’s gloves were leather, or the glass shards would’ve cut through. Prompto stutters, Noctis gasps, Gladio whistles and Ignis groans.
“Shit, Iggy—! you alright? I didn’t see you crouching there!”
“I’m fine. My glasses… not so much.”
“Watch your step,” Gladio hoists them both up, “You got lucky. Next time, your camera might end being the one paying the price.”
“I mean, it kind of has to now,” Prompto crouches back to the miserably destroyed glasses, guilt overwhelming. “I can fix this! Well, not literally, but uh… if selling my camera means I can afford Iggy new glasses, then—”
For a moment, Ignis considered egoism. But couldn’t bring himself to.
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. That won’t be necessary.”
He’s not sure why he didn’t just accept the offer. Maybe because it sounded so earnest and straight from Prompto’s already overly-tender heart, he deems it is the thought that counts. Ignis didn’t have it in him to let his one true hobby fall in a rut for an accident so stupid. He rubs his eyes and waves a hand in dismissal, tells him he’ll ask for another of his emergency pairs to be delivered to him at once.
Noctis’ fingers snap in realization, and calls dibs on being the driver tomorrow.
Prompto laughs, and calls shotgun. Gladio just looks at Ignis, suspicious he might be lying just to go easy on them. And he was. And he’d do it again if it meant preserving moments like this.
Too young, Ignis thinks, he’s too young to be burdened by myopia when he tries to look at the road pass by. Squinting made his eyes hurt, but at least looking through the camera’s visor helped somewhat. Or so he told Prompto when he came up with the idea.
It’s the longest time, not to mention first, he’s been blurry sighted.
By the time the covenant is forged, Ignis goes blind.
It’s unknown if the kings had a sense of how precious his sight was to him, or if he told them himself when slipping the ring. All he’s certain of is that he woke up to partial darkness despite the birds chirping, and his first instinct was thanking whatever moves the world he was still alive. Not in the same magnitude, but alive.
His hands grip what he makes out to be the sink, and he thinks he’s weeping by now. There’s no sensibility to his eyes, not with the skin burnt around them, so it was hard to tell. Prompto doesn’t arrive the room soon enough to see him like this, but he doesn’t have to. His own waterline pools tears when he sees him hunched like that.
It’s the only time he’s glad Ignis can’t see.
Sitting on the red velvet couch right across Noctis’ sleeping form, Ignis relishes. Not so much in the idea of the past, but the promise of future. The oath he owed him.
It doesn’t feel right, being in the same room as the ring after what it stole from him.
Noctis wakes up shortly, and he sounds nearly in the verge of tears. Just hearing him speak reminds Ignis why he was here in the first place; leaving home, sacrificing living for himself, giving up his sight, possibly getting killed, it doesn’t matter.
Doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter.
One day, he met the child that would be Insomnia’s rightful king, and so his life story began, like falling asleep in the middle of the night to a dream you’ve tried to conjure by yourself before. By extension, death only means waking up. And then, everything turns hopeful and dying isn’t so scary anymore.
It just means opening your eyes again.
By the time their campfire is set, the cries of the crickets fall on deaf ears.
He should be dead by now.
Ignis’ head falls back to this realization. He should’ve not made it this far, it feels like cheating. Looking back, he should’ve dropped dead the moment he slipped the damned ring.
But he’s not. And it feels ten times more surreal thinking of the odds of him, here, and them, aside. Ignis feels twelve again, with the fire’s warm trickling at the minimal exposed skin, back straight, eyes closed as they usually were.
Vision isn’t exclusive to sight, and he can already foresee what’s to come.
What they wouldn’t give for another night like this. And another, and another. To fall in a limbo and remain ever at his side. To go back to being reckless and live the perfect days, if there ever were any. But Noctis has grown old, and Ardyn hasn’t rested.
“You guys… are the best.”
What Ignis wouldn’t give to look up at Noctis, bright eyed, wide eyed, like he once did. Look up at him again and again to see the king he was forced to grow into, and tell him he did a fine job at it.
Ignis dwells in silence and offers his hand. Noctis feels ten again, and takes it, firm despite his shaky breaths.
“Dinner is nearly ready.”
By the time their last campfire dies down, Ignis has no doubts.
Tomorrow he’d open his eyes again.