Hello and welcome to this litte one-shot of mine. The past weeks I worked on on these three scenes after the end of Final Fantasy XV had left me shattered. I expected that SquareEnix wouldn't grant us a happy ending with everyone living happily ever after and yet I weren't prepared for THAT. So I tried my hands on explaining the canon end to be more...lively?
Writing this and creating my own headcanon did help me accepting the end as it was presented. Now I smile when I think about the Chocobo-Gang and I would feel honoured if someone feels the same after reading this. As I said in the summary, this one-shot will be indeed canon-compliant as far as we've seen it during and after the game. All I did was adding a little bit of extra information.
All of them were at their limit, panting away heavily their uprising weariness. Gladiolus pushed Prompto up who just had broken down from pain. A pool of blood appeared on the ground where Prompto stood. His left arm was slit by a blow which had been aimed at Ignis. Prompto had pushed him away and taken the hit. All of them knew they wouldn't last much longer, but as long as one of them was standing nothing would enter the Citadel.
Ignis fought his way to Gladio who tried to get out of his chopped jacket. They could hear the loud impact of one of Prompto's machines beside them. He held it with one hand.
"Gladio, I may can't see but this is not good. If this goes on..."
"Then what? You are with us till the end you said," Gladio argued while tossing his jacket away. "We have to give him time." With those words he conjured his heavy sword and jumped at a newly appeared giant.
And their end it would be, Ignis thought with a smile on his face, igniting his clenched fist and unleashing a thunder storm above the small crawling beasts.
It was in this moment that somewhere in the distance a small line of yellow light was seen, growing bigger and wider until it covered the whole horizon. Warm rays of sunshine flodded over the realm, reaching into the destroyed city which was their home and pushing back the shadows in which the monsters were hiding. Prompto lowered his pistols in awe and watched the sun rise for the first time in ten years. The slightest touch of the warm light made the Deamons become thin fog.
For a few seconds the group stood motionless, now completely alone, catching their breath when finally Prompto jumped with cries of pain and joy on his lips. Gladio lowered himeself on the stairs laying spread-eagled. Ignis enjoyed the warmth on his face while for the first time he saw light instead of darkness.
They celebrated and congratulated one another, patting each other's back and smiling for being still alive. Now all they had to do was wait for their friend to emerge from the Citadel.
They waited quietly and sat on the stairs for hours. All of them were hungry but they wouldn't dare to eat while one member of their precious group was still missing.
They waited until the first day in 10 years turned into dawn, preparing for yet another round with the demons until dusk if they had to, but Noctis wasn't the only one letting them wait. No demon, no future king. Prompto was the first to get nervous, but Gladio told him to wait, although he too became anxious. The three suspected deep in their hearts why their friend wasn't coming back but neither wanted to admit it.
"I've had it, I'm going to look for him," Prompto said before climbing the stairs, followed by a mumbling Gladio and a silent Ignis. "I bet he dozed off after his fight."
"Sleeping through the first day in a decade, typically," Gladio grunted. He and Prompto were talking to lighten the spirit while using the elevator up to the throne room where they expected Noctis to be.
The doors opened with a chiming noise and gave way to the vast floor. Prompto didn't wait till the doors had opened to their full extend and jumped out. Blood stains were left on the rim of the door where his injured arm had touched it. Gladio followed but Ignis stayed where he was unable to leave the elevator. He felt it. In the last 10 years he had learned to feel his surroundings, seeing in another way than before. He had learnt to see what others couldn't see. Tears formed in the corner of his scared eyes when he couldn't see Noctis pure aura.
Gladio was the first he heard to cry out loud and Ignis feet went weak. He collapsed on the spot sliding down the cold wall of the elevator. With a deep sight he covered his face.
Gladio and Prompto had found Noctis who still sat on the shattered throne, his hand on the armrest with his head slummped and the sword of his father in front of him. Before Gladio could move a muscle his injured friend had already climbed the heap of stones which once was the staircase and had reached for Noctis, touching his cold, expressionless face.
"Nocto," he cried while tearing on the clothes of his friend who fell in his arms like a lifeless puppet. Gladio approached them and took the sword at Noctis' feet, clenching it hard and tossing it through the room. It fell chinking on the stone floor and vanished somewhere in the shadows.
"Wake up." With a hard slap he punched Noctis in the face, failing to leave any mark at all.
"You bastard, you can't leave now," he said aiming for another slap to the other side. "We had you back, you stubborn idiot. We need a king." Before he could hit the dead Noctis again, Prompto took the blow like he did hours before for Ignis. His eyes were full of tears and puffy red. He said nothing but looked with a plea to Gladio who turned away, unable to bear the pain in Prompto's gaze. Gladio's whole body shivered in silent agony of loosing his king, his pupil, his friend.
The darkness outside didn't seem to reach inside. The throne which Noctis had claimed back in his death was shining with a strange glow; an odd spectacle of pure light in a destroyed and shattered castle without an heir.
Suddenly Gladio reached for Noctis. Prompto pressed the body of his dead friend tighter but the rage in Gladio's eyes had vanished. Tenderly Gladio pulled his dead king up carrying him out, step by step with Prompto by his side who was on the brink of loosing his consciousness. A small piece of paper slid out of Noctis clothes and glided to the ground. Gladio didn't notice but Prompto picked it up. The moment he recognized what he was holding his face contorted with pain. It was the photo Noctis had asked him to keep. Gladio hadn't stopped to see why Prompto was falling behind, instead he crossed through the vast throne room, legs and head numb but somehow going forward.
They found Ignis sitting in the elevator, his glasses in one hand and covering his sore eyes with the other. When he heard them coming to a stand Ignis tried to stand up while facing the other side of the elevator. Even if he couldn't see Noctis in Gladio's hands he knew he was there.
Prompto leaned on the doors white as a sheet and nearly fell when they opened to the entrance hall. It was an awkward progression walking through the once lively forum which was filled with memories. Ignis had to hold Prompto until they had reached the end of the stairs since he wouldn't have made it on his own.
Even the darkness of the night around them was different from before. There were no clouds hovering minaciously in the sky. There was no pitch black hole where the heaven should have been, but a beautiful deep blue canvas painted with stars and a big moon shining upon them, lighting the streets.
As gentle as his sore back would allow it Gladio laid his friend down. Prompto was beside him clutching Nocti's body only seconds later, Ignis sat a few stairs above them. Gladio didn't waste time. He collected every wooden piece he could find, feeling his anger rising up again. Anger at Noctis for leaving them in a destroyed world, anger at the gods for being as helpful as snow in summer and at himself for not being able to keep his promise, for not being able to protect his king. He was no shield anymore but a shovel burring his dear friend.
A new day dawned when Gladio had finished building a wooden pile just big enough for a human to fit on. All three had reached the end of the line. They hadn't slept or eaten for days and all of them, especially Prompto, needed medical attention. But they had to finish this before they would leave this place once and for all.
The pile stood where once, years in the past, the Regalia had been parked, in a time all of them had been eager to leave for their journey. They had thought all would be well. They had thought Noctis would marry Luna and bring peace to a war stricken country. What they hadn't expected was a journey like the one they had had to bear. And yet none of them would have wanted to miss a single moment. They had formed a bond stronger than anyone of them could have imagined.
And now they had to say goodbye to the one they had believed in all those years. He hadn't failed them. They stared into the rising sun with tears in their eyes while setting the wood on fire. Prompto had laid the photo he had picked up under Noctis' dead fingers. The photo was one of the first things to catch fire but soon everything stood in high flames. The face and body of Noctis vanished behind the shining light of the fire.
Ignis wanted to leave, worried for Prompto who needed medical care. He grabbed Prompto and led him through the gates. Gladio was still standing, watching the fire turn everything to ash. He would stay there until the last spark would be blown out by the soft wind.
A few days later they licked their wounds both physically and mentally. Gladio had decided to bury himself in work. He had returned by himself, slept a few hours, taken a shower and had vanished to Lestallum where he and Iris now were organizing a rebuilding troup. His wounds he had left unattended, just covering them with bandages risking yet another scar adorning his chest.
Prompto was at Hammerhead helping, as good as possible, to dismantle the last signs of the fence which had protected the gas station for years. He had lost a lot of blood and his arm had been slit to the bone, but just as Gladio Prompto couldn't sit still. Both needed work in order to keep their minds busy. The fence itself wasn't necessary anymore since every trace of Daemon had vanished the day the sun had come back. The peace everyone had wanted, Ignis thought.
He was with Prompt at Hammerhead sitting in an old camping chair holding Prompto's stack of photos in his hands. It gave him a sense of relieve feeling them between his fingers.
"Prompto, look," he heard Cidney shout who had been re-aranging the garage up until now. Ignis didn't hear fear or worry in her voice but only curiosity.
"It can't be," his friend whispered while limping towards him.
Ignis shifted in his chair and asked, "What is it?" He turned his head hoping to hear what they might have seen.
"Ignis, it's the island. It's glowing." Ignis stared to where he thought his friend was staying. All of them had experienced strange things in their life: a giant holding a meteor, huge monsters crawling out of the ground like being of thin air, living gods manipulating nature. Glowing stones themselves weren't that strange to them having seen Lestallum at night. Nevertheless Prompto was excited about something.
"Glowing?" he wasn't able to finish his thinking since Prompto immediately pulled him up.
"We need to go, now."
Ignis was pushed forwards in urgent hurry. "You still need rest, let me-"
"No." Ignis felt a light pressure in his back forcing him to sit down on leathern cushions. He was in the Regalia it seemed. The sensation of gravity lowering him down was followed by a loud bang on his left. With a roar the motor started up and Prompto drove out on the street pressing Ignis into his seat.
"Talk to me, what did you see."
"It's still there, Ignis, there is a blue light coming from the island at Galdin Quay."
"You mean Angelguard?"
"Yes," was Prompto's only response, eyes fixed on the street.
In the distance Gladio saw the light in the sky as well which was changing colours now from blue to brown. He knew the light could mean nothing and yet it could also mean everything.
"Iris? I have to go," he said after he grabbed his shoes. Grunting he tried to lace his shoes which wasn't an easy task with a slashed chest.
"Where do you want to go now? It only has been three days since..." Iris couldn't continue. She stood in the door frame, her black hair short and trousers covered with dusk.
Gladio was stuck for an answer and rushed past her.
"Gladiolus, you came here half dead you won't le- Gladio!" But her brother was already outside launching his motorcycle. Two years ago he had Cid build it for him so that he could drive fast between Hammerhead and Lestallum. Sitting bent over was more than painful but Gladio had endured far worse than this in his past. He would make it.
While both parties drove, the light changed colour again now shining in a violet hue. The street hadn't been renewed yet, so sometimes they had to drive slowly since vast parts of tar were missing, destroyed by rampaging Daemons. Finally they met at the gateway towards the sea. By that time a turqouise shine emitted from the island.
With a wink Gladiolus drove ahead with Prompto and Ignis following in the Regalia. They had taken the car with them when they had left Galtea. It had been a total loss but Cidney had made the impossible possible and now the car was as beautiful as it has ever been.
Some people had gone back to the once lively holiday destination in order to build up what once was but the group of three only had eyes for the distant island. Some workers stood on the seashore wondering about the strange signs.
"There is a boat," Prompto pointed at a small ship which laid down on the wharf.
Gladio nodded in silent agreement and strode with big steps over the bridge down to the floating vehicle. Together they helped Ignis aboard and Prompto pushed some buttons bringing the engine to life.
"Can you drive this?" Gladio asked.
"No." Prompto was smiling for the first time in these days while he somehow single-handedly made the ship move. "Gladio, we saw a similar light when... do you think, well, it could be him?"
Gladio watched the light change to a red colour, and Ignis too had his face turned at the island immersed in his thoughts.
"No, I think nothing." He now sat down next to Ignis arms folded."I just hope."
Together they made it to the shore of the large rock setting foot on the island for the first time. They weren't sure what they were searching for which was why they focused to get closer to the centre of the light. Prompto stayed near Ignis who had trouble to move on foreign ground, while Gladio went ahead.
They walked further without finding anything but they kept looking for the source of the shine.
"Hey, Gladio, there is a figure," Prompto whispered. Suddenly the shine grew wider, increasing in intensity. Even Ignis turned his head away to cover his eyes.
"Nocto?" It was Ignis who asked the question causing Gladio to look at him in astonishment.
The light was too intense for them to see anything more than silhouettes. "Why would you ask for him, Ignis?" Prompto wanted to know.
"Shut up," Gladio interrupted, ordering them to hold their breaths, "Do you hear that?" There was a rustle in the air almost forming words.
He who restored light to the world...
"Who is this?" Prompto tried to open his eyes but the light was too bright and yet he thought he saw a figure in the centre of the flash.
... fulfilled his duty as King of the Stone. To be King once more.
As suddenly as it had come the light vanished and gave away the sight to a person. There was indeed someone standing right in front of the group. Gladio was the first to find his voice.
"Gentiana...no...Shiva?" There was Shiva in human form smiling at them in blissful harmony. They could see that she was holding two bundles, one on each arm. The group noticed that they had been standing in fighting position and relaxed as soon as they recognized the Glacian. Only that she wasn't alone. One after another appeared right behind her as if emerging from nothing.
The first to appear was an old wise looking man with long robes emitting a violet shine, followed by a bulky looking man in brown.
"Guys, what is happening?" Prompto asked, but neither Gladio nor Ignis had an answer.
A tall warrior with black hair and ice-blue eyes holding a golden sword was now standing on Shivas' left. For a moment Gladio mistook him for Noctis and as he mused about why a god in human flesh looked like his dead friend another figure appeared. A slender woman with long white hair clothed in an airy dress eyed them suspiciously. Prompto took a step backwards not risking to be near her. The five figures were completed by a man in woolen robes with red hair and firey eyes.
Gladio gasped, his face contorted with rage. "Ardyn."
The red glowing figure clutched his hands in front of his chest smiling boastfully. The group tried to conjure their weapons but failed. Without their king their source of power had vanished too, but being weaponless wouldn't stop Gladio from punching the life out of this bastard. Shocked he had to find out that when he wanted to jump at the throat of his enemy he couldn't move a muscle. Ignis and Prompto were frozen in motion as well.
Don't fret for the fire of rage has been extinguished.
They heard Shivas' voice in their heads.
Brave soldiers of the King, protectors of realms, don't be mistaken. Have faith in your King for he defeated the Darkness in the fallen Chosen. What you see is the foolish Infernian once again united under the Astrals.
Ignis couldn't believe what he heard. Although he lived in darkness he saw six shining lights in various colours standing before them. Prompto too was speechless to see the Astrals united in human flesh, something no mortal had ever witnessed. While Shiva had spoken he indeed had noticed two glinting horns on the head of the Ardyn look-alike sticking out of the firy red hair. And yet he was the spitting image of their late foe. Gladio wasn't convinced as well.
"Why is he looking like him."
Shiva nodded to the god of fire, eyes now slightly open.
Foolish mortals. You see what you want to see, boasting in anger. But we sense fear in your hearts.
Gladio huffed, disagreeing with her on the last part. But Shiva continued as if she didn't notice.
Once we were like you, mortals but Chosen. We fulfilled our duty and got a new life. Humans called us gods. The Fallen one was shunned by his brother, chosen by the Stone. You see him now as the Infernian but once he was called Izunia, brother of the Fallen.
Gladio didn't dig it but knew when it was best to keep silent. Prompto on the other hand wasn't as wise.
"That is a cool story. Someone should write it down."
"Prompto", Ignis scolded his friend and asked Shiva to continue. Ignis felt a strange aura besides the holy ones and he wanted to knew what it was.
Su ees ot suoicarg eb dlouhs uoy. Slatrom citoidi fo hsnub.
A low growl was vibrating in their head but they couldn't understand the speech of the god. They looked at Shiva.
The Infernian misses common decency as it seems. I ask you to ignore his assertion for he, what would you say, is grounded.
Prompto and Gladio snickered out loud and Ignis as well couldn't hide a smile. Nevertheless he wanted to try and ease the tension.
"Great goddess of Ice, please tell us, what is what you and your kind wants us to do?"
Shiva was still holding the two bundles but now she showed them what it was. Prompto squealed in delight and grabbed one of it, a small child with black hair, sleeping soundly in the arms of the goddess. Prompto cried out both in pain and surprise, but his arm would fall off before he would let the child fall to the ground.
"What the..." Gladio looked at the infant in Promptos arm and now Ignis knew why he had felt Noctis' presence the whole time. Gladio stumbled back unable to comprehend why there was his friend, as a tiny child.
It was his own choice. As well as the Oracle's.
She turned and they saw the second bundle had beautiful blond hair, almost shining white.
"Wow, no, I'm out." Gladio turned on the spot ready to leave the island but was stopped by Ignis. "Let me through, this is insane."
"Have some respect. You said earlier all you can do is hope. Here is your hope," Ignis whispered. Prompto sat on the ground rocking the child.
He who was chosen could have been one of us, like we was one of you once. But the King and the Oracle chose another life with you mortal humans. It is our wish that you protect your king once more until he can claim his throne.
"Yes", Prompto didn't wait to see what his friends would think of the idea to raise a person they knew almost their whole life. But neither of them would, of course, deny the wish of the gods.
Very well, we shall leave you now with our gratitude and blessing.
One after another they vanished with a nod to the group who were assambling now beside Prompto and looking at their friend. All but Shiva and Ifrit were gone when Ifrit stepped foreward reaching for the child in Promptos' arm. Gladio was there immediately to shield both of them but Ifrit just pushed him away as if he was a mere bush in the fields. Ignis trusted the goddess of ice to interfere should her counterpart do something rush, so he kept still.
Gnihtemos tfel eh.
Shiva didn't translate but watched calmly how the god of Fire approached the once to be king. A small cloud of smoke formed around his fingers and twireled around his hand until it became a solid form; a piece of paper which he gently laid in the hands of the sleeping prince. Prompto laughed nearly choking on his tears.
With this the red-shining god disappeared followed shortly after by Shiva who still held Luna.
Gladio had fought his way up again and stared at Noctis, ruffeling through his own hair. "He is going to be a pain in the ass."
Ignis nodded with a smile on his face. He felt as happy as he had never dared to believe. "Yes he will."
The bells were ringing for quite some time now and the guests were gathering in the throne room. Gladio was watching the doors to the throne itself where Noctis and Luna enjoyed their last moments of peace. Prompto stood with Cidney and their son a few feet away, people talking and laughing everywhere he looked. He hadn't seen the throne room this full since his early years as shield of the prince.
He smiled when he saw how his sister was greeting the still arriving guests. She had waited for this day for twenty years, as all of them had. Even Cid, too stubborn to die before he saw a Lucis on the throne again, had made his way up to the Citadel although Gladio expected him to sleep through most of the ceremony sitting in his wheelchair. His eyes darted away from the people and up to the ceiling where new mosaics had been added. It was strange to see himself besides gods and depicted as shining warrior who fought of the darkness along with his friends. Theirs and Noctis' last fight was now a scene in the never ending history of this country and future generations would see them stepping inside this room. He hadn't wanted to add the second scene but Ignis and Prompro had been adamant.
Besides their image another one had found immortality on these walls. Surrounded by a cheering crowd was the saviour of aeons in the past, riding a black Chocobo and waving to the people. Black clouds surrounded the scene depicting the fall of Ardyn. Another smaller image beside it showed him in his last moments, smiling, as Noctis vowed in his victory that he would never be forgotten.
Gladio had preffered that Ardyn's name would vanish from the minds of people but for some reason his friends thought it best to raise a monument for their foe.
His attention drawn back to the people around him. Aranea, in the shining white armour of Tenebrae, was accompanying the embassadors of Luna's home.
"It's time." Ignis had come to him and gave him the sign to start the ceremony. Gladio nodded.
The door in his back leading to the throne had been closed up to this time. Gladio pushed it open, giving way to the sight of a richly decorated throne on which Noctis and Luna slept. He took some steps inside, watching them sleep.
It had been strange years. They had had to rebuild their nation and they'd had to raise a child without knowing if Noctis would ever be the same. They still did what they had to do, living mostly here supervising the rebuilding of the city while Aranea, Cor and others had watched over the progress in other areas. They weren't fathers for him, they had never dared to take the place of their late king, but they had been friends. Noctis never let shine through if he could remember anything from his past life but sometimes as child he had had nightmares of giant monsters wielding swords made of flames or about a huge wave swallowing everything in its way. Ignis had been the one to ease him when Noctis had woken screaming in those nights. And it was Ignis who had watched over him, living with him for the most part since all of them hadn't trusted Prompto to care for a child.
He had grown and so had Luna, who was protected in Tenebrea under the guidance of Gentiana.
"Oi boy! Rise and shine." Noctis nearly dropped his head when Gladio suddenly shouted for him.
"The hell you are. Sorry, Lady Luna."
She smiled at the old commander and friend. "Is it time?" she asked, smoothing her dress. She wore a perfect replica of the gown which had been lost in the destruction of Altissia.
"Yes, everyone is waiting."
Noctis stretched and positioned himself besides Luna, the large banner with his name hanging behind his back, the sun shining on the blue sea of flowers.
"Let them in."
Gladio took a step back bowing to the king.
Together with Ignis and Prompto he took stand at the door and watched the people pouring in, celebrating their king and queen. However an old veteran wearing the crest of Galahd made his way out of the crowd and stopped in front ot the group of three. He didn't say a word but straightened in front of them, taking his fist to his chest in formal salute. Prompto and Gladio answered his greeting and watched bewildered as the old man whose name they couldn't ask for fused back into the crowd.
No space was left in the area in front of the throne where the king and his queen stood. Gladio, Prompto and Ignis watched from the back how Noctis received his crown, a silvery adornment with two fragile looking horns, and vowed to protect their realm and his people. There was no doubt that he would keep his promise. Just when Noctis, now crowned king of Lucis, turned to face the crowd he looked at his old friends, nodded and mouthed two words.
Ignis smiled and shed a tear which didn't go unnoticed.
"Are you getting sentimental in your old days?" Although Gladio mocked his blind friend, his voice too was hoarse from emotion.
"Shut up, Gladio." The three stood there and enjoyed this moment of triumph with their Nocto standing tall in front of his throne.