4,567,245. Prompto stared at the number on his wrist, wondering just how far away that was. Why was his soulmate so far away? Were they in Niflheim? Altissia? Tenebrae? Why were they so far that he couldn’t reach them?
It wasn’t always that far, but it was always far enough away that Prompto knew they would never meet. Usually, when Prompto was home alone, waiting for his parents to call and check on him, it was exactly 9,554 steps away. Prompto tried to figure out so many times what direction that was in, and he always came to the conclusion that it was likely a joke, that his soulmate was probably not even real.
Prompto’s parents were never home, only giving him reason to worry even more. They didn’t care for him, nor did they check in on him, at least not frequently. When they were home, they either ignored him or hit him for getting in their way, so he kept to himself mostly, yearning for the day that he would finally be loved.
That was why he had tried to find his soulmate, following the numbers until he reached the Citadel where the prince and king lived. He stared at the number, seeing how low it was, and realized that he was likely soulmates with someone in their prison or something like that. There was no way anyone in that grand building would so much as look at him.
Ultimately, Prompto gave up when he was thirteen years old. At sixteen now, his parents had decided to transfer him to Insomnia High instead of keeping him at Insomnia Central, thanks to the persistent bullying problem. They blamed him for it, telling him that he should have stood up for himself. It wore on him to the point that Prompto genuinely felt at fault for being bullied. Often, he hated how he was so obviously adopted from Niflheim, how he was an easy target for bullies.
It didn’t help that his parents only gave him well worn uniforms, used messenger bags, and everything else secondhand. Prompto considered himself lucky that at least the uniform fit well for Insomnia High, especially since most of his clothes were far too big on him. His parents always said he would grow into them, but so far Prompto was too short and too thin for the clothes they got him. So what if the uniform was frayed and faded? At least he had one.
Nevertheless, Prompto was grateful for what he had, knowing it was more than he deserved. Living just on the outskirts of the Boroughs, the poorest area of Insomnia, Prompto knew that he had a trek ahead of him to get to school everyday. He was willing to do it, though. Insomnia Central had been a horrible place for him, the bullying reaching its peak when he ended up with a broken arm.
Waking up early enough to get to school, Prompto nervously readied himself for the day, trying his hardest to get that flip in his hair down. It never worked, and he gave up, resigned to just be the poor Nif that no one liked at the school. As long as he wasn’t bullied then he was fine; he preferred to be left alone and ignored to being hurt.
While the sun was still rising, Prompto got on the train to take him closer to the school. Absentmindedly, he looked at his wrist, noticing how the number went down the closer he got to Insomnia High. It was close to the Citadel, so he figured that was why. He hoped that whoever was there wasn’t sentenced to an eternity in the dungeons. That would be just his luck.
When he stepped off the train, Prompto looked around at the gorgeously expensive district he was in, assessing how out of place he really was with his frayed and secondhand uniform. Taking a deep breath to calm his nerves, he made his way towards the school, noting the students with similar uniforms getting into their parents’ cars and heading in the same direction.
As he made his way closer, he realized that the number was decreasing steadily with each step. 5,326. Just over two miles. It was exactly where the school was, and Prompto’s heart beat rapidly in his chest. Was his soulmate there? What would they be like? Were they kind?
Prompto dismissed the thought entirely, knowing that there was no way his soulmate would be nearby like that. It had to be a mistake. The numbers supposedly never lied, but Prompto knew his luck, and there was a first time for everything.
After a brisk walk, trying (and failing) not to pay attention to his wrist, Prompto made his way to the school. Standing outside of the gate, he looked at his wrist. 627. He was getting closer and closer the more he approached it. Why was this happening? There was no way his soulmate was someone who went to this school. It was far too expensive of a place, and Prompto barely managed to get in on a scholarship.
Taking a deep breath, Prompto stepped past the gate and into the school, immediately going to the office. There were several people there, busying about, and Prompto noticed that the prince’s companions were there, discussing something with the staff. The prince of Lucis went to Insomnia High? Prompto felt out of his depth far more now. There was no way he could go to a school with the prince .
“How can I help you?” a staff member asked, looking at Prompto pointedly.
“O-Oh,” Prompto said, startled out of his thoughts. He approached the woman and looked at her nervously. “I-I-I’m new here. Prompto Argentum.”
“Ah,” the staff member replied. “The transfer scholarship. One moment.”
She walked away and returned with a pile of books and a folder on top of it. Setting it on the counter, she looked at him pointedly. “The folder has your schedule and locker information. These are all the books you will need. Take your time figuring out the school grounds. No one will blame you for the first week if you’re late.”
“Thank you,” Prompto said. He took the folder and looked at the locker information, realizing there was no way he could keep all of them in his meager messenger bag that was already tearing. Memorizing the information, he thanked her again then grabbed his items and set out to find his place within the school.
Unable to look at his wrist now that he had a mountain of books, Prompto carefully shuffled through the halls and around the students until he found the locker that was his. It was next to a locker that had way too many hearts on it, and when he looked closer, he realized that it was the prince’s locker. There were love notes plastered all over it, saying Prince Noctis, I love you! and various other sickeningly sweet messages.
Prompto couldn’t believe that his locker was next to the prince of Lucis. Putting his textbooks neatly in the locker, he kept the folder and looked at his first class. Deep breaths, Prom. You can do this. No one will look at you or notice you. Not with a prince here. It’s a blessing you’re going here. No one will care.
Subconsciously, Prompto looked down at his wrist and startled. 100. His soulmate was exactly 100 steps away from him. Curiously, he took a step to the left. 101. Two steps to the right. 99. Prompto looked around and saw that the only way right was a stairwell.
Why not? At least I can find out who it is. If they’re horrible I don’t need to talk to them. With a sense of growing excitement and (mostly) trepidation, Prompto made his ascent, taking each step decisively. 98. 97. 96. Each step brought the number down until he was at the top of the stairwell. 77. Just a mere 77 steps away.
Prompto looked at the busy hall, no one else paying him any mind. Somehow, inherently, he knew they weren’t his soulmate. There was something about being so close to one’s soulmate that drew others nearer. If no one was noticing him, then they couldn’t have been it.
Step after step, Prompto drew nearer until he reached the end of the hall. There, he only had two choices. The door to the left, or the one to the right. He went left, and the number increased. With a deep breath, he turned right and approached the door, opening it very quietly and slowly.
Inside was a music room, a grand piano being played with a delicate and yearning melody. There was only one person in the room, one person that his soulmate could have been. Prompto stopped and stared, his eyes wide as he watched the prince of Lucis play the piano, a mere five steps from him. As he played, angled so Prompto was out of view, he saw a flick of his wrists. There it was. The same exact number as his.
“Impossible,” Prompto whispered, his voice caught in his throat. There was no way. He couldn’t be prince Noctis’ soulmate. It was impossible. He was just a poor Nif orphan who had to be grateful that he got what the world granted him. This was not one of them. There was no way.
Suddenly, the playing stopped, and the prince’s body tensed. Prompto stared, wide eyed and terrified, as the prince turned around, his stormy blue eyes captivating him far more than any photo of him could. Prince Noctis looked down at his wrist, his expression surprised and excited.
“It’s you,” Prince Noctis breathed, his smile growing wider and wider still. “You’re my soulmate.”
Noctis stood up, startling Prompto like a lamb in the woods. There’s no way. I’m not good enough for prince Noctis. I’m less than worthless. Before Prompto knew what he was doing, he bolted, running away from the prince in a panicked terror. Not worthy. Not worthy. Not worthy. The words kept repeating in his mind, and he ended up dropping his bag in an effort to escape.
Prompto ran until he reached a dead end. Still panicked, he wrenched open a utility closet and stepped inside amongst the cleaning supplies. He made himself as small as possible and sat behind a bucket and mop, his knees drawn to his chest. Not worthy. Not worthy. Not worthy. You’re just a poor Nif orphan that no one wants. The prince won’t want you. Just stay away from him. You’re not worthy.
Holding his hands up to his ears, he tried to silence his mind, rocking a bit to try and calm down. Not worthy. Despite his attempts to silence his own downward spiral, it wasn’t working. He wrapped his arms around his legs instead, his chin resting on his knees as he felt tears come to his eyes.
Why did it have to be someone that he wasn’t worthy of? Why couldn’t it have been another pauper like him, someone who was a worthless criminal who treated him as poorly as he deserved? The prince was magnanimous, kind according to all reports, and worth so much more than he was. It was impossible for him to be worthy of that, to live up to someone as amazing as the prince of Lucis.
“Hello?” a voice called, echoing down the otherwise silent hallway. Prompto nearly let out a whimper, and he buried his face in his knees, wishing that whoever called out wasn’t the prince looking for him. “The number says he’s nearby, Ig.”
“Check every door,” a voice replied in a smooth Tenebraean accent. “He probably panicked.”
“You think?” came a gruff retort, the answer coming from someone with a deeper voice.
Prompto began to hear every door open and close, save for the classrooms that were already full. He pulled back, trying to hide himself as much as he could. It didn’t matter how low the number was. If they couldn’t see him or find him then he was safe from hurting the prince. He wasn’t going to be the one to disappoint him with who he was. There were better people out there to love him.
“This is the last door,” the Tenebraean voice said. “We need to find him or else it becomes a security issue.”
“I’m two steps away, Ignis,” the prince declared. “He has to be here.”
The door to the utility closet opened, and Prompto did his best to be silent, making himself even smaller as he buried his face into his knees. No one would see him, he thought, and then he could go back to his life. Just another day, and he could go home and transfer back to Insomnia Central. Anything was better than letting down the prince of Lucis. Anything was better than being discovered as the most worthless soulmate in existence.
“Hi there,” the prince’s voice said, suddenly so close to Prompto as he shook in fear. Tears came to Prompto’s eyes once more, realizing that he should have just ran away from the school in entirety. “It looks like you’re my soulmate.”
Trembling, Prompto looked up at prince Noctis with apologetic eyes. “I-I’m sorry.”
“For what?” prince Noctis asked, his voice gentle and curious. He looked so hopeful, so excited. Tears descended down Prompto’s freckled cheeks when he realized he was about to disappoint someone so magnanimous. “For running? People panic sometimes like that.”
“For me being your soulmate, your highness,” Prompto replied. The prince startled and frowned. “I’m sorry. I’m not worth it. You can just move on with someone else. I-I… I will understand.”
“I’ve been looking for my soulmate for years,” prince Noctis explained. “I’m not about to let you slip through my fingers. What makes you think that you’re not worth it?”
“Everything, your highness,” Prompto said, his lip trembling a bit. He wiped the tears off his face, trying to compose himself. “I belong with the buckets and mops, not with the prince of Lucis.”
“It seems fate thinks otherwise,” the man called Ignis declared. Prompto’s messenger bag was in his hand, looking like a ratty rag compared to Ignis’ chic attire.
“Ignis is right,” prince Noctis offered. “You’re worth more than you think.”
Prompto looked at the prince, not quite understanding what he was saying. No one found him worthy, so why would the prince? Even his parents thought he was a nuisance. He just wanted to disappear before prince Noctis saw the truth.
“I… You don’t know that,” Prompto said. Quickly, he remembered his place. “I mean, your highness.”
“You’re my soulmate,” prince Noctis smiled. “Why don’t we just start with names? Hi, I’m Noctis. What’s your name?”
“Prompto,” he replied. When would he find out that he wasn’t worth it? Would his name give it away? His blond hair? The many freckles he had? His own parents wanting nothing to do with him?
“Prompto…” Noctis said, testing the name on his lips. “I really like that. Prompto and Noctis. That has a nice ring to it.”
“It should be Noctis and Prompto, your highness,” Prompto said, his cheeks burning red when he realized what he said. “I mean… I don’t know what I mean.”
Noctis smiled, leaving Prompto to wonder exactly what about him was worth smiling about. He stood up and held out a hand for him, his expression sincere. “C’mon, Prompto. Let’s get out of this closet and go to the Citadel. The teachers will excuse you for official Citadel business.”
“It’s my first day here,” Prompto said. He looked at Noctis’ hand and decidedly took it, terrified of what this meant. The moment they touched, his number changed, transforming into a beautiful design of the royal crest, matching the one that appeared on Noctis’ wrist. He knew that the numbers changed when they connected with their soulmate, but he didn’t realize that it would be so obviously with Lucan royalty.
“Wow,” Noctis said, facing Prompto with a smile.
Unexpectedly, Noctis kissed him, a soft and gentle kiss that was too sweet on Prompto’s lips to deny. Despite his better notions of his own worthlessness, he rested his hands on Noctis’ shoulders, kissing him in return. Was this what it felt like to be with one’s soulmate? He never felt anything so beautiful or passionate in his life.
“Double wow,” Noctis added, smiling gleefully at Prompto, who was blushing bright red. “Come on, Prom. Let’s go home.”
Prompto followed Noctis, uncertain of what his future would become.
Three months later
Prompto clutched Noctis’ hand tightly, standing in front of the throne room doors. Since word got out that Noctis had found his soulmate -an orphan Nif adopted by ‘gracious’ Lucians- he had been living at the Citadel with him. It was still an odd feeling, and Prompto was adjusting to it slowly. He never planned to live in luxury, to be guarded and valued. He never expected his life to be worth anything, let alone to be wanted so much, especially by Noctis.
Since he had been pulled out of poverty and into the life of kings and princes, Prompto’s parents had suddenly wanted to be there for him through everything. Noctis was quick to notice the bruises on his body, though, the places where his parents had hit him in an attempt to silence him. The king wouldn’t stand for it, and his parents were barred from seeing him. Oddly enough, Prompto didn’t mind as much as he thought he would.
Each day was something new, something beautiful, and Prompto was slowly beginning to find his worth beside Noctis. It was something he really had to work on, and the king had graciously found a therapist for him to process and change his own terrible thoughts about himself. Noctis was by his side the entire time, encouraging and helpful, holding him as he cried after sessions that were particularly rough.
Noctis was something that Prompto valued more than anything. Noctis was kind, loving, wonderful. He had his own issues, including a disability and depression after an accident when he was younger, but Prompto didn’t see those as a problem to work around. He was excited to be there by Noctis’ side, to help him and encourage him in the same way Noctis encouraged him. They worked together, facing who they were with genuine interest and love. Prompto wouldn’t change a thing about Noctis.
True love and soulmates didn’t quite adequately describe how Prompto felt about Noctis, though. It was so much more than love, more than anything in the world. He would do whatever he could for Noctis, even if it meant leaving him because Noctis didn’t want him anymore. Yet that never happened. Noctis only wanted him around more and more each day, and Prompto was steadily learning how to be loved. He loved Noctis so fiercely in return.
They shared everything together, including their classes at school being the same. The staff was extremely quick to rearrange Prompto’s schedule to match Noctis’, mostly because it was a security threat to have them in separate places. It was easier to keep a careful eye on them if they were in the same place.
“Ready?” Noctis asked as they stood in front of the throne room doors.
“I’m terrified,” Prompto admitted.
“I’ll be by your side the entire time,” Noctis reminded him, dressed gorgeously with his royal raiment, including a waist length cloak with a golden chain for the clasp. “You’re going to be a prince, and then after high school we can get married.”
Prompto took a deep breath, steading his nerves. He was dressed in a similar suit, save the trim on his was silver instead of gold. He wore a long white cloak, almost like a train from a bridal veil. Once he was crowned a prince of Lucis, the cloak would be removed and replaced with one exactly like it, save it was black with the Lucian crest on it.
They had practiced it many times, but now that it was here, Prompto was terrified of messing it up. “Ever at your side, right?”
“Definitely,” Noctis agreed with a smile. He held out his hand, the Lucian crest from where his number used to be calling to him. Prompto took it and immediately felt grounded, safe. If Noctis was with him, he could do anything. “C’mon, Prom. Let’s get you a crown of your own.”
The doors to the throne room opened, leading Prompto towards his future with Noctis, where he was loved and wanted. Perhaps, Prompto thought at that moment, he was worthy after all.