I am back with a new chapter everyone! So sorry for the wait but let's get going!
The days during Noctis's rehabilitation seemed like they went on forever. It was the same basic thing day after day, retraining his legs to walk. He had been bedridden for so long he needed to gain back that muscle as well as work through any pain he would feel. Even though his legs healed almost completely, there was still some left over damage. It was just another scar that would be left with him for the rest of his life.
But he was going to push through it as long as he could see Prompto by the end of it. He was going to get back to him and stay by his side again. Once he was back he would never let go again, holding on with all the strength and love he had to offer.
So everyday when he wasn't spending his time chatting with Prompto, he worked on his recovery to his fullest. He wanted to make sure he did whatever he could to get back out into the world and back to his boyfriend. The ache of not being able to see him everyday already was weighing down in his heart, and he knew he wouldn't be able to take much more of the separation.
By the time he was told he was going to be released, he couldn't have been more ecstatic. As much as he wished to tell Prompto right away, he managed to keep some restraint. He had it all planned out after all. He wanted to make the best surprise that he could give; showing up unexpectedly for a visit.
As Noctis was cleaning up the items from his room he heard a knock at the door and turned around. He grinned at who he saw. "Uncle Ardyn! You're the one who's picking me up?"
"Yes, I know usually Ignis is your driver, but who says an uncle cannot switch it around. Besides, I know you would like to make a stop on the way back, wouldn't you?"
"Huh? What are you talking about?"
Ardyn smiled. "No need to hide it from me, it's written all over your face. You wish to visit Prompto now that you are free to wander as you please."
Noctis blushed lightly as he lowered his head. "Was it that obvious?"
"Young love is always very obvious, my dear nephew. But it is a wondrous thing to obverse. Now come, let us hurry before visiting hours are over."
Noctis smiled as he gave a nod, gathering the last of his things before he headed out of the room. The two of them did what was needed before they could actually leave the building. Once free from the rehab facility, the two walked through the parking lot until they arrived at Ardyn's car. It was a bit old fashioned, but it was 'stylish' and 'retro' as Ardyn constantly said, but he did the best he could to take care of the car.
Noctis slid into the passenger seat and stared down at his phone. Last he had texted he had said that he was going to be eating lunch soon, but he had left it at that. Prompto still had no idea that today was his release day, and he hoped it could stay that way. On the other hand, he was so tempted to text him and tell him the great news right away.
Thankfully Ardyn started up the car and all of the thoughts were currency halted as he reached to turn on the radio. Music was always a good distraction to get his mind off of heavy subjects, and right now he needed something.
Ardyn chuckled. "Having trouble staying calm?"
"A little," Noctis admitted. "I just want to make a good surprise for him."
"There's no need to over do it," Ardyn said as he backed out of the parking lot. "I am sure Prompto will appreciate you being there in the first place."
"Yeah I know, you're right about that. I just, ah, I can't wait to see him. He's been doing better since… well since his last attack. I should be allowed to visit him at least."
"In other news," Ardyn paused as he turned the corner to the next road. "We have made progress in the funding for the Scourge."
"Oh! That's great! I can't wait to tell Prompto that as well!"
Ardyn smiled lightly. "I'm glad to see it as well. The progress has really gone forward since I was younger."
"It hasn't been around for very long though, right?" Noctis asked. He knew he had heard of the research before, but there was never any major coverage, at least not in the time he was alive.
"The research has been going on for the past forty years, but funding has always been rather limited. Even my own contributions have only helped very little."
That caught Noctis by surprise. With his eyebrows raised he looked over at his uncle, who still remained focused on driving. "What do you mean? I never heard that you sent funding to the Starscourge research."
"I had kept it secret before. You know as much as I love helping our people, I am not one to be constantly in the public eye. I leave that to your father."
"But why did you do it? And why not my dad then?"
With a heavy sigh, Ardyn's shoulders relaxed slightly. He put on his turn signal and turned down a road into a quiet neighborhood. After he pulled the car off to the side and put it in park, he looked over at Noctis.
"There was once a woman whom I cared for very dearly. She was like a sister to me, and we were always very close. But she succumbed to the Scourge and I was helpless to save her."
Noctis saw the fondness that Ardyn held in his eyes as he spoke of his former love. He had never seen his uncle look like that before, never seen him actually talk about someone fondly that wasn't immediate family.
"Who was she?"
Ardyn smiled gently. "Aera Mirus Fleuret."
"One of Luna's family?" Noctis gasped.
"Yes, I was friends with her aunt. We often met as children and grew to be close friends."
"I… I've never heard of her before. I guess Luna doesn't like to talk about it?"
"Most likely it is a hard subject to bring up. Though Luna was only a baby when Aera passed, she wouldn't have remembered her," Ardyn sighed. "The Scourge had gotten the best of Aera, and after that I dedicated myself to helping fund the research. It was in honor of her."
Noctis leaned back in his chair, soaking up this new information. "But then why keep it secret? Couldn't you get a lot more funding if the public knew and also wanted to help?"
"Yes that is true, but then again there is the publicity. I wasn't for that. Then there was of course one other factor. Even if my interests are good, there will always be those who try and turn it against me. People will claim that the royal family only is funding the research for themselves and not for their people. Even Luna's family choose the same method as I did when it came to this."
Noctis couldn't argue there. He had seen many times before how the public could twist and turn the actions that his father did. Sometimes it was even what he did, the smallest things could lit a fire in the public eye.
"So that's why you didn't have dad help fund it back then? You wanted to keep it to yourself and secret? Like an anonymous donor?"
Ardyn nodded. "It was what I could do. I still gave plenty of money to the funding, and I still do, but they can only do so much in researching. It takes many years and study as things progress. But now your father has publicly declared he is pouring his own portion of funding in."
"Even with the risk of the public reacting negatively," Noctis added.
"He truly is a caring father," Ardyn replied. "Even if the public claims how selfish it seems, in the end it is a father caring for his son. If the public can't see that, then that is their own fault."
"Hm, I guess that makes sense."
"But don't worry. Your father and I are going to do what we can, we both wish to see you happy and the young Prompto recover," Ardyn said before he started up the car again and headed back out to the main street.
"Thanks uncle Ardyn," Noctis said as he started to smile a little. "I hope it's enough…"
"It will be. We will have to make sure of it."
When they arrived at the hospital, Noctis practically jumped out of the car, running right to the entrance. Just as he got close enough he slowed down, noticing a few people passing by were staring at him. He sighed and regained his calm demeanor. He was still a prince after all, and he had to keep his image to what was expected.
Ardyn came by, placing a hand on his shoulder, and gave a nod. "Come, you can express your joy as soon as we arrive in his room."
They got up to the desk and told the receptionist who they wanted to visit. Thankfully there were no hold-ups or questions made after Noctis gave the necessary information. The woman at the desk wrote up their visitor stickers and handed it over to the two of them before they were finally let into the hospital to walk down to Prompto's room.
Noctis could already feel his heart pounding as they walked down the hall. While he tried to keep himself calm, he couldn't help but think of what was going to happen when Prompto saw him. "What if he is asleep? Or what if his brother is visiting? My visit would just distract from that."
Before he even knew it he stood before Prompto's room. He came to a halt and stopped to breathe in deeply. He knew now there was no going back and he had to do what he wanted. He was here to bring a surprise to Prompto, and hopefully cheer up his day.
"Okay… I got this," Noctis muttered aloud before he turned and stepped into the room, his eyes landing right away to the table where Prompto was sitting. "Prompto?"
Prompto looked over and his mouth practically dropped to the floor. "N-Noct?"
"Hey Prom, it's me."
Shooting up to his feet, Prompto nearly tripped as he ran over towards Noctis, who moved to meet him halfway. Once Prompto was in his arms, he held tightly, soaking up the warmth from his love. He couldn't even begin to explain the feeling that was overwhelming in his heart.
"What are you doing here?" Prompto asked softly.
"Here to see you of course, what else?"
"But when? I mean when did you… you know, like walk here?"
"I didn't walk all the way here," Noctis chuckled, resting his head on top of Prompto's. "But I am walking."
"That much is obvious! But why didn't you tell me?"
"Cause I wanted to have it be a surprise. Didn't I surprise you?" Noctis asked, looking at Prompto carefully.
"Totally! This is like… like such a big shock. You're here and you're walking again! You're all healed!"
"Good. Cause that was the plan," Noctis said as he squeezed another hug from Prompto.
He had Prompto back in his arms. All he wanted was to latch on to this happy feeling that swelled in him. This love was something he wanted to cherish and explore deeper. But he still was limited. As long as Prompto was still sick he would never be able to express his feelings how he wished he could have. Even though he was new to the feelings of expressing his love, he was willing to go the extra mile to wait for it.