Update! So soon! Hope you all enjoy because I love this disaster crossover so much.
Chapter Four: The Prince, The Oracle, and The Nora Boy.
Teaching Aloy to speak King's Speech was challenging and nostalgic all in one. She was a remarkably clever girl —maybe even a genius— and picked up words almost faster than he could teach them. Putting them in the correct order was hard for her, but that was alright. He'd had a beast of a time mastering that aspect of the language too. But Luna had always been a patient teacher, something he tried to emulate as he taught Aloy —and by extension Rost, who was never far away— to speak and understand the tongue he now held so dear. It was the language of not only Luna, but also his King after all.
"Luna! Bast!" Luna looked up from where she was kneeling in the dirt, patiently teaching Bast about the various plants in the royal garden and what they were useful for. In the two years he had lived in Tenebrae as the ward of Queen Sylva, they had figured out that Bast responded much better to any lesson if it took place outside and involved something practical.
Vocabulary lessons had become infamous adventures through the mansion and grounds in search of new words to teach him, and his conversation skills had been honed by arguing the finer points of Tenebrae wildlife and herbology on top of all the maths, literature, and sciences the royal tutors had been striving to get him caught up on.
Bast —a leggy, high-energy twelve year old by that point— clambered to his feet at the approach of a familiar voice, absently holding out a hand to help Luna out of the dirt as he called, "Over here, Ravus-nii!"
Ravus Nox Fleuret —such an annoying mouthful, it had taken Bast forever to understand the purpose of last names beyond adding emphasis to the disapproving tone of the tutors—, elder brother of Luna and Bast both, rounded the corner, his expression fondly exasperated, "I thought I would find the two of you out here rolling in the dirt like savages."
Luna giggled softly as she took Bast's hand and pulled herself up, "We were not rolling, aniue, we were gardening."
Ravus huffed and placed a hand on each of their heads to ruffle their hair. He ignored Bast's playful growl of indignation as he spoke, "Well, you two need to come inside and clean up, probably change too. Mother says we are going to be receiving some very important guests in a few hours, and I doubt she will appreciate having to introduce her daughter and her ward looking like that."
Both of them looked down at their respective outfits, taking in the dirt and grass stains marring once pristine white and grey fabric. Their hands were grimy from poking around the various plants and Bast's knees were scraped from where he had clambered up one of the imported Duscaen apple trees to retrieve a snack for himself and Luna. Luna's hair had a few twigs hidden in it from their escapade through the garden maze and her white slip-on shoes were her favorite pair, the ones with a myriad of scuffs and faded shine marks on them.
Luna's ears turned slightly pink and Bast flexed his hands in unease. If they showed up to a guest greeting looking as they did now, Queen Sylva would definitely be angry —considering the fact that a part of Bast still subconsciously thought of Queen Sylva as a human version of All-Mother, the thought of attracting her anger of terrifying, even though she had never raised a hand against him—. Luna cleared her throat, formal even at age twelve because of her strict Oracle training, "Of course. Thank you for informing us, aniue, we shall go prepare at once. Come, Bast."
Bast darted after Luna with a quick "thank you" thrown over his shoulder at the amused Ravus. The two clattered their way into the manor, only separating when they reached their respective rooms and the servants appeared out of nowhere —he had learned several stealth tips from the servants during those two years, but even after he became basically invisible to everyone else when he wished, they would always have him outclassed— to help them prepare.
For Bast, it was a whirlwind of muttering manservants and woodsy shampoos —he had put his foot down on floral scented shampoo as soon as he knew enough of the language to do so, he was not a flower and didn't want to smell like one—, stiffly formal outfit unearthed from his wardrobe, and a practiced maidservant wrestling his shoulder-length blond hair into some semblance of submission.
It was a flurry of organized chaos he had experienced several times before over the last two years, but one that still overwhelmed him sometimes, particularly in regards to his clothing. A part of him was still very much the tribe boy who thought a tunic and leggings with a bit of facepaint and maybe a necklace was the height of formality. Not four or more layers of clothing in the form of a white undershirt, a white button-up shirt, black pants tucked into matching boots, a calf-length white frock coat that had a ridiculously high —and stiff— collar with sylleblossom blue edging and trim and the family crest of the Nox Fleuret family embroidered over his left breast —and a cravat, because of course there was, it wasn't like he didn't already feel like one of Luna's dress-up dolls—.
His shoulder-length hair got wrestled into tight bun at the base of his skull that was held in place by a pokey silver clip, then sprayed —the part he hated most even over the outfit— to keep at bay any wayward strands that might work loose —he'd overheard the servants making a running bet on how long it would take his hair to work loose out of any given style, the record so far was an hour and ten minutes—.
Topping off the entire —in his opinion unnecessary— ensemble were the twin daggers he'd been given for his last birthday —really it was just the day they'd found him in the jungle, but he couldn't remember his original birthday anymore, so he didn't care—. They were, to be honest, the only part of the process he liked. Their weight inside their conjoined scabbards against his left side was soothing. Even though the black-bound hilts were fanciful and engraved with both the royal crest and the image of the head of the Astrals, Bahamut, they were fighting-quality and deadly sharp. He'd been training with knives most of his life —even before somehow arriving in Tenebrae— and the red-tinted blades were one of the most familiar, comforting things he'd ever been given.
Finally released from the clutches of the servants, Bast fled his chambers as fast as he could without risking messing up his appearance —otherwise he'd have to go through the entire process from the beginning— and went to find Luna. Luna was still trapped in her chambers, being fluffed and pushed and primped into the formal hairstyle of an Oracle-In-Training by Madam Wen, so Bast instead padded off in search of Ravus.
Ravus was in the main hall, helping Queen Sylva oversee preparations to receive their incoming guests, and Bast had to wonder who was coming that was important enough to warrant all of the effort. Ravus flashed him a brief smile when he spotted the younger boy sidling up, "Luna?"
Ravus nodded in understanding, "Ah." Madam Wen was the royal hairdresser specifically hired to take care of the female royals. She was also one of the few people who could terrify Bast into not being glued to Luna's side at every opportunity.
Bast examined the activity around them, "Who is coming?"
Ravus rested his hand briefly on the Bahamut-stylized hilt of his formal sword in a nervous gesture, "I actually do not know. Mother is being especially quiet about it, but it must be someone very important to warrant all of this." His forehead crinkled and he lowered his voice, "I suspect the King of Lucis, personally. I cannot think of any other guest that would require such secrecy as well as such formality."
Bast wracked his brain for several seconds before he remembered the geography and politics the tutors were just beginning to successfully drill into his head. Lucis was Tenebrae's oldest ally, and their royal family was tied very closely to the Nox Fleuret's, especially the Oracles. Which would explain the secrecy and all of the fancy preparations. Niflheim, Lucis's chief enemy, was Tenebrae's nearest neighbor.
Luna appeared out of the crowd not long after, coming to stand next to Bast without prompting as they waited for their guests to arrive. Queen Sylva gave them both an approving look before everyone moved outside to stand in front of the main doors.
The deep-throated growl of a car that always raised the hairs on the back of Bast's neck —he had been told repeatedly what a car was and that it wasn't dangerous except at high speeds, but it still sounded like an angry machine to him and years of hearing the stories of the Metal Devil and the fallen machines were hard to overcome— heralded the arrival of a very plain black car that pulled up to the bridge leading to Fenestala Manor.
The car stopped, then quieted, and from the car stepped a tall man with dark hair and clothing as fancy as anything the Nox Fleuret family used, only done completely in black with gold buttons and chains. Luna made a soft noise, like she had spotted something beautiful and precious and clutched Bast's fingers without warning. A shiver of her magic prickled against his skin with awe and joy and sorrow so deep it threatened to take his breath away as Luna breathed, "He's here."
Bast risked a glance at Luna's face in confusion. He didn't see what was so special about the man slowly making his way over the bridge toward the welcome party, but then he traced the path of her eyes and realized she wasn't looking at the man. She was looking at the boy curled up in the man's arms.
He was confused until the man reached the halfway point of the bridge. Then he felt it, the cold, tingling thrill of foreign magic against his skin, crackling against the base of his throat like thunder and waterfalls and fathomless heights. The sheer depth, the sheer power he could feel pulsing softly from the boy in the man's arms —even stronger and deeper than the impressions of old fire and towering stone the man gave off— really did Bast's breath away.
Magic was foreign to his body, just as he was foreign to it. He could accept it, and it came to his call more readily than even most natives, but he had always been able to feel it in a way no one else could. Except perhaps Luna. It was one of the many reasons they had bonded so strongly, her magic was the same as the magic of the Haven that had saved his life. She had been safe in a way no one else had, and their identical ages made her far less intimidating to approach than either Queen Sylva or Ravus.
He had grown used over those past two years to the steady, low-level thrum of the magic of the world against his senses, the tingle that came from absorbing it into his own body, the brushes of Luna's purifying power whenever she touched him. But that moment when he became able to sense King Regis, sense Noctis, was not one he would ever forget. Like looking at the ocean for the first time, like standing at the top of a high cliff and looking straight down. The sudden sensation of being so very, very small was not one easily forgotten. If ever.
Bast could never remember the rest of the greeting ceremony after that point. He was too wrapped up in the low, soul-deep thrum of power he could feel coming from the sleeping boy in the man's arms as well as the jumbled wash of joy-sorrow-love that came from Luna's white-knuckled grip.
His daze continued for a week into their visit, receding enough for him to process words and commands —and Ravus's concern— once far enough away from their guest —who did turn out to be King Regis of Lucis as well as his son Noctis, brought to Tenebrae for recovery from a bad injury—, only to come back full force at the most unexpected of moments. For once, Luna's presence didn't help. Her magic was jumpy and her excitement palpable to everyone, not just Bast, for that first week while they waited for the royal doctors to finish last minute treatments and surgeries and allow the young prince visitors.
Thankfully, by the end of the week, Bast had become inoculated enough to the foreign magic of the Lucian royal line to once again be able to think straight. Just in time to be formally introduced to Noctis Lucis Caelum.
The meeting took place in an airy study, Noctis was in a wheelchair, and one of Bast's first thoughts upon seeing him was that he was awfully small for someone who gave off such waves of latent power. Wide blue eyes —like a summer sky, or Luna's favorite flowers— stared from Bast to Luna with fascination as they were introduced and the first words out of his mouth were an awed, "You're twins!"
Luna laughed softly and tugged Bast closer, "My apologies, Noctis-sama, but no. Bast is the ward-son of the Nox Fleuret family, our similar appearances are just a coincidence."
Noctis's face scrunched up in confusion, "Ward?"
King Regis, watching from just behind Noctis's wheelchair, murmured an explanation in his son's ear that had Noctis frowning and declaring stubbornly, "I say you're twins. Even if you have different parents."
Luna and Bast exchanged only the briefest of glances before Luna smiled, "If that is what you wish, Noctis-sama." Her gaze switched to King Regis, "With His Majesty's permission, can we take Noctis-sama out into the gardens for some fresh air?"
The permission that was granted them was the start of a trend and the moment his twosome with Luna became an unexpected threesome.
Noctis went everywhere with Luna. Or perhaps it was more accurate to say that Luna followed Noctis everywhere with a dedication that baffled everyone but Bast. No one else could sense what he sensed. Feel the way Noctis's magic reached for Luna's and how Luna's reached back, intertwining like twin heartbeats, inseparable halves of a whole that spilled out into two bodies. They were meant for each other, literally meant for each other in a way that went soul deep, a way that no one else could ever hope to compete with.
Which was —looking back on it— the reason he had spent the next three weeks of Noctis's stay hating the prince's existence with every fiber of his being. Because Noctis had a deeper bond with Luna than Bast could ever hope to have even though they had known each other a few weeks compared to Bast's two years. He'd hidden it for Luna's sake —no matter how much he seethed, he never would have done anything to make her cry—, played nice with the prince during the day, smiled and laughed like nothing was wrong even when his heart felt like it was burning for reasons he couldn't fully understand —not that understanding would have changed anything, Luna belonged to Noctis, heart and soul without reserve—. Three weeks stretched to a month, then a month and a half in that manner, and Bast had to come up with excuses to not be in their company more and more often as his anger —his jealousy— grew and became harder to hide.
He was never sure, afterward, if what happened next was because he had played pretend too well, or if Luna had always known how Bast really felt and could not bear the thought of her best friend despising her prince so. If she had known how he felt at the time, then what she had done next was inarguably the cruelest deed she ever had or would perform in her life. Even if it had worked out in the end.
A month and half after Noctis's arrival in Tenebrae, Luna had approached Bast in private, for once without Noctis trailing along on her heels, "Bast?"
Bast glanced up from the book he'd been half-heartedly thumbing through, trying not to let the hope that he'd finally get a day with Luna all to himself show on his face, "Yeah?"
Luna's white hands twisted together in a rare nervous gesture, "I have a request."
Bast put the book aside immediately, "Of course. What is it?"
Her next words plunged his heart into his shoes, "I have Oracle training with Mother that will take all day today. Possibly all of tomorrow as well. I know it might seem foolish to ask, but … could you stay with Noctis until I am done? Keep him company?"
He wanted to say no. He wanted so very badly and passionately to say no. But Luna's eyes were so sincerely worried, her magic fluttering like nervous butterfly wings against his senses as she explained that Noctis was shy around the servants and she didn't want him to be lonely. That of everyone in the castle, she trusted Bast to look after Noctis in her absence.
He had never been able to deny Luna anything, especially not when she looked at him like that. So he swallowed back his jealousy and agreed. Tried to take pleasure in her delighted smile before they had to part ways again, her to her training, Bast to his unwanted task.
Noctis was not a bad child. He was nice even. Friendly, if subdued from his injuries and chronic pain. He had recently relearned how to walk for short periods of time and was practicing when Bast came in. But Noctis's look of disappointment when Bast told him that Luna would not be able to see him for the day, and possibly the day after that, didn't help Bast's feelings for his task —Noctis even commented once, years later, on how he'd picked up on Bast's bad temper that day—. But Bast had a promise to keep, so he swallowed his pride and played with Noctis the entire day, taking him everywhere he wanted, doing the things Luna usually did with him —and had once done solely with Bast—.
Every second of it had hurt him in the heart. But he'd pressed on until, to his relief, Noctis dozed off beneath a shady tree in the gardens. Bast had made to leave, go find a servant to keep an eye on Noctis while he went and cooled his temper in the training room, but whirled back around in alarm when Noctis's magic twisted and flared like a silent cry of terror.
Bast crouched by the prince's side in an instant, frantic that he'd been hurt while in Bast's care —and what would Luna say if that happened?—. Noctis's magic flared again, followed by a muted cry from his lips, and Bast reached out to shake the prince's awake from what was clearly a nightmare. Bast's hand touched bare skin and the world briefly shattered into visceral flashes of Darkness-surprise-fear-blood, so much blood. Agony all down his back and legs, a body heavy on his. Looming shadows ever closer in a blur of terror-anguish-save-me-someone-anyone-save-me-PLEASE-. Noctis woke up with a gasp and Bast recoiled from both the prince and the tug of his magic trying to force the nightmare into Bast's head instead of the prince's.
Noctis looked around, wild eyed, magic swirling tight knots of panic-fear-nausea until he spotted Bast and his trembling frame relaxed. Bast watched in astounded fascination as Noctis's magic unwound, the panicked swirling changing to low eddies of relief that curled around Bast's skin like one of Ravus's pet cats seeking comfort. Words tumbled from Bast before he could stop them, "What was that? Your nightmare- that- that…"
Noctis curled in on himself, not questioning how Bast knew what he'd dreamed, "The daemon that hurt me. It … I still see it. When I sleep sometimes. Dad keeps telling me it's gone and can't hurt me anymore, but I still … I still see it. Feel it. I can't make it go away. Only Luna can." His breathing hitched, "I was so scared. When it came after me … Maura was dead. I was all alone…"
And with that, for just a few moments, Bast forgot all about how much he thought he hated Noctis. Because he could see his first few days in the jungle in his mind's eye when Noctis said those words. Feel the terror and helplessness that had only really started to go away when Luna came into his life and banished his nightmares with her golden magic.
Bast shuffled over to sit next to Noctis, not touching, but close enough to be felt. They sat in silence for several minutes until finally words pushed themselves out of Bast's lips, "Before Queen Sylva's foresters found me … I was all alone. There were … monsters out there. Everywhere I looked. I was afraid. That they would find me, that they would get me whenever I slept. After I got taken to the Manor … I kept dreaming the monsters had followed me there. That they were waiting, right at the end of my bed to snap me up. Luna … Luna made the nightmares stop. She used to stay with me every night, sometimes all night. Holding my hand so that I knew I wasn't alone."
Blue eyes watched him curiously, "Used to?"
He couldn't keep the traces of bitterness out of his voice, "She stays with you now. All the time."
A guilty flinch, "Oh." Bast shrugged and stared out over the garden. Silence hovered between them before Noctis added, "I'm sorry."
Surprised, Bast looked over at the prince, who worried his bottom lip for a second before he continued, "I hate it when Dad's too busy to spend time with me. I didn't mean to do that to you with Luna. I just…" couldn't help it hovered unsaid in the air. Bast sighed and felt the growing pool of anger and jealousy drain out of the pit of his stomach. Because Noctis couldn't help it, Bast knew that. He could feel it in the way the prince's magic hummed and beat in time with Luna's. It was just … hard. To know that no matter what Bast did, Luna would always pick Noctis first. But … if Noctis and Luna were the same, then that meant Noctis would always pick Luna too. And if it made Luna happy, then maybe, just maybe, Bast could be happy with that? For Luna's sake.
He didn't think he could. But it was suddenly hard to hate the boy who was so alone and afraid that his magic would even show Bast his memories —the boy who suddenly reminded Bast a lot of himself—. Bast pursed his lips together, then sighed, "It's … okay. You can't help it. Besides, you make Luna happy."
"You make her happy too." Bast shifted to stare at Noctis questioningly. Noctis fiddled with his shirt, "She talks about you a lot. When you aren't around. About how brave you are, and how smart. She's says you're her best friend."
A thread of happiness, tentative and fragile but warm, wound around Bast's heart, "Oh." He blinked a few times, then felt a tiny but genuine smile tug at his lips, "Thanks." Noctis gave a tiny smile back and for the rest of the day, things weren't … perfect between them. But better. Even if it was just a little bit.
Luna was busy the next day too, and unexpectedly three days after that. Bast loyally went to keep Noctis company every time and during those times discovered that Noctis was actually a lot of fun to be around when Luna wasn't there to accidentally remind Bast about his jealousy. Noctis was eager to please and happy to learn just about anything. Bast had fun being the teacher for once, as he taught Noctis about plants in the garden, or how to walk so that he didn't make any noise across hard tiles or grassy ground.
When Luna came back, Bast still felt an intense twinge of unhappiness at the way her magic rushed to Noctis's in greeting. But then Noctis called to him to come play with them rather than letting Luna do all the coaxing and two wellsprings of magic swirled around his skin in welcome as he approached and the anger bled away again in favor of bragging to Luna about how Noctis was picking up his silent walking technique even faster than she had or getting her to laugh over something silly the prince had done.
A month later, the inseparable twosome had clicked into a threesome and Bast no longer had to fake enjoying time with Noctis as well as Luna. Ravus found the three of them endlessly amusing, and King Regis, for all his magic rumbled of mountains and deep forest secrets, had a nice laugh when Bast told him silly stories about his son.
"Bast?" Bast looked up from where he'd been watching Noctis's magic twitch and curl in the prince's sleep and gave Luna a questioning noise. She set aside the book she'd been reading aloud until Noctis had fallen asleep and stood up. She crossed the gap between them silently, and Bast felt concern zip through him as she took both her hands in his, letting him feel the way her magic fluttered uneasily, butterfly wings in a stormy breeze.
He twined his fingers around hers gently, trying to calm the flutter of magic, "What's wrong, Luna?"
Luna stared at their joined hands for a long time, forehead wrinkled, "I don't know. I've been having … bad dreams of late."
"Do you want me to stay with you tonight?" He didn't have Luna's nightmare-soothing magic, but if she thought his presence might help…
So he did. Slipped out of his room and padded down to Noctis's after the servants had put everyone else to bed. The door was unlocked and Bast crawled onto the bed without hesitation. He could barely make out Luna's form on top of the covers in the dark, running a hand through Noctis's hair as the younger boy slept. Bast took her free hand and twined their fingers together as he settled on Noctis's other side. Luna squeezed his fingers in silent gratitude and at first Bast thought that would be that.
He had just started to doze off when Luna whispered, "Bast?"
"Can I ask another favor?" Her magic hummed between them, low and serious, like the calm before a thunderstorm.
Bast blinked the sleep from his eyes and propped himself up on one elbow, "Of course."
"It is a very big favor."
"I know." He could feel it in her magic, more serious and subdued than he could ever remember it being, "Tell me."
"Can you … will you … look after Noctis for me?"
He frowned at Luna's silhouette in the dark, "Is this about your nightmares?"
Her magic stilled under his skin, like an animal, startled and frightened. Then it tightened around his hand in a silent plea, "Please, Bast. Promise me that you will protect him, no matter what."
"If that's what you want-."
There was something in the air, weighty and watching. Like Gentiana-sama's magic when she came to deliver a message, like Queen Sylva when she promised King Regis that Noctis would have the best care and protection that Tenebrae had to offer. Bast knew then, that whatever he said next was going to be permanent. It was going to be something not just for the next day, or the week, or even the year. It would be always.
"I promise," he whispered and the air shivered around him like silent thunder, "I promise to protect Noctis, no matter what."
The air trembled again, rumbling with something impermeable and unshakable. Something that sounded like a voice in a tongue he could and couldn't understand murmuring, So It Is Spoken, So It Will Be Done. Forever and Always.
Forever and Always.
Bast heard Luna's shaky sigh of relief, sensed her smile in the dark, "Thank you, Bast."
He could not bring himself to smile back, "Goodnight, Luna."
The next day, flying ships of metal carrying soulless machines that walked like men fell from the sky and Tenebrae burned.
Bast did not speak to Luna again for twelve years.