Noctis isn’t happy, and he lets everyone around him know it. He glares at anyone that dares to look twice at him, and he keeps the scowl so deeply etched on his face that it might never come out. Ignis isn’t around, which doesn’t seem fair, because why should Noctis have to suffer alone? His father has Clarus at his side, which is basically his equivalent. The hall is lined with various Crownsguard trying hard to look inconspicuous. They’re stationed at even intervals, standing rigidly and pretending to be casual, like it’s normal for the Citadel’s lobby to have twenty guards on duty at once. Noctis half wonders if they’re staying inside the lobby because going outside would open them up to snipers. There’s a plethora of security outside, of course, but his father’s trying to make everything look normal. It’s totally not normal.
Noctis can hear the commotion beyond the towering doors. He stares at the murky glass and mutters to his father, “I’m not marrying him.”
“Noct,” his father sighs, admonishing.
“I’m serious. I’m not doing it.”
“If it were to go forward, it would be for the good of both our nations, but now is hardly the time to discuss—”
The doors part, and King Regis instantly cuts off. He straightens up and plasters on a fake smile that Noctis doesn’t mirror. Two guards usher in their Imperial guests. Iedolas strolls right behind them, looking even more skeletal and unappealing than he did on his last visit. Noctis couldn’t possibly imagine his offspring being anything less than hideous.
The emperor comes with a retinue. Most of them must be soldiers pretending to be decorative honour guards. Iedolas walks ahead of them at a clipped pace, stopping once he reaches Regis and Noctis. Then the formation of guards breaks, and a young man that looks about Noctis’ age steps forward beside the emperor. He’s around Noctis’ height, with a shock of blond hair styled in several spikes, and a smattering of freckles across his handsome face. His blue eyes are wide and exotic, his lips angular and pink. He’s dressed in elaborate white robes decorated with gold trim: a stark contrast to the Lucian royals’ black and silver. But most importantly, he’s holding a box with a cat in it.
Noctis’ head snaps down. The cat is pure white, well groomed, and sitting perfectly still. Only its ears twitch when it looks at Noctis. It has a thin blue collar with a diamond-studded pendant on the front. Noctis’ frown falters. The cat meows at him. Iedolas gives the blond man a sharp look as though it’s his fault the cat made a noise and such a thing is inexcusable.
Regis is the one to speak first. He dips his head in a courteous half-bow and greets, “Emperor. It has been too long.”
Iedolas dryly replies, “Indeed.” Without returning the bow, he gestures sideways. “I’ve brought my son, Prince Prompto Aldercapt, so that we may further discuss peace through royal marriage.”
Noctis gapes, because that couldn’t possibly be Iedolas’ son. The guy is... way too hot. Noctis can’t believe he’s never seen this prince before. He feels robbed.
Regis answers, “I have discussed the possibility with Noctis as well. But we can delve further into such matters after tonight’s feast. I have the conference room prepared. For now, I’m sure you’re tired after your long journey. Clarus will show you to your quarters.”
Iedolas grunts, “You’re too kind.” He doesn’t look particularly happy about being sent away, but he doesn’t counter it. Instead, he gives Prompto a look that would have any normal citizen screaming and running for the hills.
Prompto hastily thrusts the box forward. The cat meows again. Looking adorably nervous, Prompto splutters, “Uh... this is for you, Prince Noctis. Please accept my humble offering.” He tries to bow, except that it comes out looking more like a curtsy. Iedolas doesn’t look pleased.
Noctis takes the box from Prompto’s trembling hands. He offers a comforting smile and says, sincerely and vaguely hopeful, “Thanks.” Prompto pops a small smile too. Then Clarus clears his throat and gestures down the hall. Iedolas stiffly follows, Prompto startling and rushing to keep pace. Noctis doesn’t miss the several stray glances that Prompto shoots back over his shoulder at Noctis on their way out.
As soon as they’re gone, Noctis sits down on the cold marble floor. He needs to put the box down, and he needs to play with the cat. Above him, his father sighs, “Noct, not here.”
“Just gimme a minute.”
Regis shakes his head, but he does leave, taking half the Crownsguard with him. The rest inconspicuously slink back against the wall. Noctis ignores them.
He takes the cat carefully out of the box, scooping it up into his arms and drawing it into his lap. Then he can pet it properly. It purrs under his attentions and leans into his warm touch. It’s an absolutely beautiful creature, just like the man who gave it to him. Noctis already feels better just holding it.
With the cat gone from the box, Noctis notices something shiny under the rumpled blankets inside that served for padding. He reaches in and fishes under them, drawing out a game case. It’s the first part of a popular trilogy that he already owns two copies of. And loves. With the hand not busy petting the cat, Noctis awkwardly pops the case open.
There’s a scarp of paper inside with a hastily scrawled note. It reads:
Hey, maybe-future-hubby? I heard you like cats. I like games. This is my fav; I hope we can play it together. If not, that’s cool too. Anybody that likes animals can’t be a total monster. Just don’t tell my dad I put this in the box, please. PS: I hope you’re cute.
A doodle of a chocobo wearing a cat-ear headband adorns the bottom. It’s cute. Prompto’s cuter.
Glancing around at the guards who presumably aren’t paying attention, Noctis hides the note and game back where he found it. Then he puts the cat back over them and gets up to his feet.
Cats are pretty intelligent creatures. On his way up to his quarters, Noctis wonders if it realizes that it’s soon going to have two cute dads.