I thought about this for years, didn't really want to write it, and I finally wrote it. Now it's so big that I have to break it in to parts.
Just to note: This story starts off with people speaking in italics, and that just means that most of the time Alfonse does not register those words as a language he understands. Along the way, you'll run into Old Norse words, because apparently Fire Emblem Heroes loves to throw in a healthy dose of Old Norse Mythology, ahaha.
A list of words can be found in the end notes.
Alfonse may seem out of character, but there's a reason for it.
Of Golden Gray
When he blinked, he stared at panels of gray. It surrounded him from all around, obscuring portions of the dreary, rainy sky and the metal city below him. His legs were collapsed beneath him— couldn't hold his weight for some reason, and his small figure shook from the cold breeze. Ice seemed to seep through his sleeping cotton clothes.
Something pulsed behind him, casting a blue light. He turned his body and stared up at an enormous crystal. Its glow was bright and warm— just like the times he felt when he opened gates.
But he didn't remember opening this one.
He sat there, trying to recall what led him here, until someone had noticed him.
It was a person dressed in armor he didn't recognize, and spoke a language he didn't understand. Fear lurched in his heart and his breaths picked up. Where was mother? Where was father? Sharena? Feh?
When their armored hands reached for him, he scrambled to his feet at the cold touch of steel.
He wanted to say something, anything— but the words were stuck in his throat.
More armored people— maybe soldiers? Guards?
They approached him, speaking in a garbled mess of syllables and hard sounds. He stumbled back until he could no longer. The crystal behind him pulsed comfortingly, wrapping its soothing warmth around him.
Calm yourself, it seemed to say, no danger here. You are safe.
So, he stood there. Quietly allowing one of the people to gently pick him up and carry him away.
Away from the crystal.
Away from home.
More gray, and towering windows lined with gold.
His bare feet were freezing from the floor.
He stood on shaky legs.
In the middle of a spacious room.
On the little floor halfway up the steps.
Next to the guard that picked him up.
A man sat on the high throne. He looked like a king— much like his own father— but this one looked kinder.
A man who was worn from the years he sat on that throne.
Then again, this king was not much different from his own father.
There were others seated around the King, and they constantly sent him looks.
He felt like an odd stain with his cream colored clothes in the midst of sleek gray and marble white.
Their language floated above him.
In one ear.
Out the other.
It was hard to understand.
Nothing seemed familiar.
The tones of confusion and building frustration was easy to pick out. Even the fear that laced their sounds.
He wanted to ask where he was, who they were— where was home?
But his own words were still stuck in his throat.
Then the King stood, and the voices stopped.
All he could do was stand in the middle, half hiding behind the guard— maybe soldier.
The King had knelt to the floor, right in front of him.
He said something, syllables clashing in a way that was odd to him, and paused.
It became apparent that the King waited for an answer to a question he did not understand.
Silence ticked away the seconds, and the seconds tocked away the silence.
The guard suddenly moved away from him, fully exposing him to the waiting King.
The smile on the King's face was kind. He gestured to himself and repeated a single word, over and over and over.
"Regis," he said, "Regis."
Occasionally, the King would pause and gesture to him.
It took time, seconds, minutes— but he finally understood.
The King had asked for his name.
He took in a trembling breath and spoke clearly, his own precious name rolling off his tongue. It was nearly swallowed in the grandness of the throne room.
His name must've sounded funny to the King— just like the King's name sounded funny to him.
But he didn't laugh, nor did the King.
"Alfonse," he said again, afraid that he'd forget. His hands twisted the hem of his shirt and his legs stopped shaking.
It was his name.
"Alfonse," the King echoed.
It was all he had.
"Alfonse," he said a little louder.
It rang beautifully in the air, a shard of himself, the very core.
It was all he had left of home in this world of cold gray.
They placed him in a room.
The walls were lighter than the dark halls, mixing with white and dark wood.
Someone kindly gave him a set of clothes to change out of.
But it stayed untouched on the dresser as he couldn't find it within himself to change.
A guard stood outside his door.
The window was difficult to open.
Someone dropped by with a simple plate of food, warm and inviting.
But it stayed on the night stand as he couldn't find it within himself to eat.
He settled on the bed, on sheets not so dark.
It was soft, comfy, and nothing like home.
He ran a hand through his hair, gently tugging the small golden hair ornament. It held part of his bangs out of the way. It was a simple little thing: flat pieces of gold intertwined with tiny white feathers adorning a small, light blue gem at the heart of it.
It glowed softly, humming with a piece of his own life melded into it.
When night fell, the room became darker and darker and darker.
Alfonse sat on top of the covers as he clenched the ornament in his hands. Its blue, tiny light was his only comfort.
He quietly waited for the sun to rise.
It became apparent that Alfonse was not going home anytime soon.
There was a kid older than him.
He was the King's son. A prince.
He had hair as dark as night, a smile as bright as day.
"Noctis!" he constantly introduced himself, "Noctis!"
Alfonse, out of politeness, only nodded. He still didn't understand many words.
Someone tried teaching him, but personally, he had better luck learning more from Noctis than the struggling lady he had.
Noctis showed him a smile figurine of a dog like creature with long ears, a "carbuncle".
Then a tiny box with colors that moved on the surface, a "smartphone" for emergencies.
Noctis dragged him around the large castle, sprouting words and pointed at everything that had a name.
It was nothing like home.
Lights turned on with a flick of a switch— not a wick of a candle or magic flames burning to life: "Light switch."
Large boxes moved up and down from floor to floor with a few presses of a button: "Elevator."
Smaller boxes rolled on the streets with passengers inside them - an experience that Alfonse wasn't sure he'd like to try anytime soon: "Cars."
Weapons of guards that shot tiny pieces of metal from a large distance: "Guns."
His cream colored clothes were exchanged with grays and blacks. He didn't like it, but he couldn't say anything to change it. He quietly took it in stride. It was obvious that some of his clothes used to belong to Noctis.
His hairpin stayed clipped in his hair, but it no longer held a portion of his bangs out of the way.
Alfonse developed a habit of twirling a finger in his hair, brushing over the strands that faded to a soft gold. He was scared of the thought of cutting his hair somewhere in the future. Even though he knew it was natural for it to fade into gold, he was scared of cutting it away.
Of cutting away his last bits of home.
Of what makes him Alfonse.
The only comfort he ever found was the castle garden.
There were trees and flowers that grew in patches of grass, between the paved walkways and along the surface of pillars.
It reminded him of Sharena.
It was it strange to say that Noctis reminded him of her?
Alfonse couldn't help but worry now.
Was she fine?
He wasn't there to help her anymore.
Is someone with her in the morning?
He wasn't there to nudge her out of bed.
Did she find someone to go to in the middle of the night?
He wasn't there to chase her nightmares away.
Was Sharena with Mother?
He wasn't there to shield away their father's eyes.
Would she be alright on her own for so long?
He wasn't there for her.
Sometimes, Noctis would talk for as long as he could about anything and nothing at all. He never did mind if Alfonse didn't fully understand.
Alfonse, himself, had began to piece words together. He understood simple greetings now, the names of many things, places, and people.
He learned about Ignis, met the glasses wearing boy with a serious look in his eye. It was interesting how Ignis taught him the names of food, and occasionally teaching Alfonse the basics in writing when the other had time.
He would always join Noctis and the King at the table. Sometimes the food was terrible enough for him to make a face, but he kept it to himself and ate it anyway.
"Do not waste food, Alfonse," his father's voice would echo in his head.
King Gustav always said to act his role— a prince destined to be king and nothing else.
But here, Alfonse wasn't a prince.
He was just Alfonse.
A young six year old who slowly lost words of his own language to the syllables of Noctis' words.
So, the next time Noctis stuck out his tongue from the weird, pretty much nasty mushy thing they ate, Alfonse did the same thing.
He didn't miss how the King's face lit up when their laughter rang endlessly in the dinning hall.
It seemed that Noctis quickly caught on to what Alfonse preferred.
The two would spend hours in the garden.
Sometimes, their lessons were held there, and they played afterward.
Alfonse understood what "tag" was, and he learned "freeze tag". Noctis came up with games that had them running around the castle halls for hours until dinner.
Sometimes, Alfonse would spend an entire afternoon in the gardens, tending to the cream "white lilies" that grew by the fountain. A "Kingsglaive" watched him from a far. Noctis told him that the King wanted them safe.
Alfonse understood it.
Alfonse gripped his hands to the seat— a bit afraid to let go as the "car" moved. Noctis was beside him, talking to him in a reassuring tone, that "we're safe here! Relax— You'll like it!"
The words didn't make any sense, but Alfonse forced himself to breathe out. The King had laughed, patting Noctis first, then him. It was warm and reassuring.
He was safe here.
With the King.
He twirled a finger in his hair.
So many buildings, people, cars all zipped past the windows and Alfonse was safe.
"Hey, what's this?" Noctis suddenly asked him one day. Alfonse blinked at him. He understood the words, but he didn't know what he asked for.
Noctis pointed to a flower and asked again, "In your language— what's your word for flower?"
In his language.
The word for flower slipped from Alfonse's tongue like a fresh taste of home.
"Bloom?" Noctis echoed back.
Alfonse tried again, "Blóm."
Excitement lit up Noctis' eyes as he quickly pointed at the fountain, "What's that?"
"And the water?"
Then Noctis pulled Alfonse to his feet and touched the closest tree, "What's the word for tree?"
Askr, Alfonse didn't say. It wasn't completely right. This tree was not an ash tree, that much he knew.
Instead, he said, "Baõmr."
Noctis smiled and repeated the words, pointing at each one as he spoke.
The words were butchered, but the other kept repeating the words with Alfonse's help.
Soon, Alfonse began to hear his "Flower, fountain, water, tree".
He almost laughed— maybe even cried when he grabbed Noctis' pointing hand and pressed it against his chest.
"Home," he began in Noctis' language, "My home — Askr. Called Askr."
Alfonse shook his head and tried again, "Askr."
Noctis said it again and again, getting better every time.
Alfonse twirled a finger around soft gold, waiting in anticipation.
When he finally heard "ash tree" from Noctis' lips—
It reminded Alfonse of home.
A year later, Alfonse understood more and more.
He began to read with Ignis' help. He began to write as he practiced with Noctis in little letters to each other. The King encouraged it, even joined in the fun of exchanging short notes to the boys in his spare moments.
Alfonse began to learn more and more.
Ignis learned how to match his words with pictures, to describe more than tell.
Noctis learned to speak bits and pieces of Alfonse's words.
King Regis learned to tell stories with Noctis at his side, translating words and phrases when he could.
Alfonse began to speak more and more.
Phrases of his tongue mixed with theirs and he was encouraged to speak when he could.
It didn't matter if he couldn't speak theirs fluently.
The King wanted to hear him speak, to hear his voice.
He used their words for things he couldn't place for his own. He found that the fluffy yellow creatures he would see in this "T.V" were called "chocobos".
That the mighty big boxes were "airships".
And the lights that lit the streets as "Street lamps".
His vocabulary expanded, and he grew about an inch. His own memories of home seemed so far away.
Some days, Alfonse found himself speaking to Noctis or Ignis, repeating the names of those he remembered as he twirled a lock of gold around his finger.
"Feh. An owl. Sharena and I we rescued."
But he never told them about the owl Sharena saved one day. He remembered how the tree branches shattered their window from the gusty storm. He remembered how Sharena caught a flying bundle of dirty white feathers. He remembered the tiny owl always scuffled up to their shared bed during the night.
"Gustav. He is… father."
He never told them about the strong, stern man. The King that held a mighty axe and cared for others in his own way. He used to smile in Alfonse's earliest memories, but not much. The last Alfonse remembered of him was the frown that weighted heavily in his mind. He also remembered the time he used to play with his father, of how he will protect Askr, his home, when he becomes king - or rather, if he becomes king.
He never told them about the wonderful lady. She always tucked him and Sharena to bed, always greeted them in the morning. She loved them, and he loved her. She never failed to read them a story anytime in the day. Alfonse never once forgotten how she would always wrap her arms around him, warm and kind.
"Sharena— sister, only sister. I'm older."
He never told them about the sister that stayed glued to his side day in and day out. She was always happy, never failing to smile. He always helped her in the mornings, brushing her hair before pinning her hairpin into place. He remembered coming up with games around the castle. She charmed others with her joy, and made everyday an adventure with or without him. He was always there for her when she was scared of the dark, or woke from nightmares.
Was it still weird to think that Noctis was like Sharena?
Alfonse never told them more than their names.
He didn't tell them he was a prince.
When he would grow older with more words to speak to truly capture his family, he'd tell Noctis— and Ignis, too.
Noctis was asleep.
Noctis promised that he would be home in a few days and they'd play when he arrived.
No one expected an attack by a "summon".
Alfonse sat by the bedside, quietly reading a book he tried to understand. It was a simple tale— one about a carbuncle being a messenger for oracles.
There was a second little book beside him. It contained hundreds of words that translated between his own and theirs. Noctis said that he should put it on the phone that the King gave him, but Alfonse still had a difficult time operating the thing. So, he stuck with the hard cover journal. It made it easier, if not better.
The sun filtered into Noctis' room, and Alfonse began to wonder if the other dreamed.
He could tell— no, feel that something wasn't right.
That's why Noctis was asleep.
He wanted to tell King, but he didn't know how. Would he sound crazy if he just said that he knew?
Instead, Alfonse closed his books and buried his face in his crossed arms on the bed.
He could imagine the little carbuncle stuffy as Noctis' little guardian in his dreams.
Alfonse didn't know when he fell asleep, but the next thing he knew, he stood at the front of the Citadel.
He turned and saw Noctis, healthy and lively as always. What he didn't expect was the carbuncle the size of a cat leading the way to him.
"Draumr," Noctis used Alfonse's word before slipping back into his own, "How did you get into my dream?"
He didn't know how to answer that.
The carbuncle ran ahead to the plaza and a phone chirped a "notification". Noctis shared the screen with Alfonse, who read the letters and pieced together the words, "Something feels wrong!"
Then there was no warning.
A giant gray, giant monster appeared, dressed in heavy, large armor. It carried a sword several times their weight combined.
It struck the tiny carbuncle into a wall.
As it came towards them, they both panicked. How could they defend? They were small— children.
The sword came down, and a barrier saved them in the nick of time. The little carbuncle had protected them.
The moment couldn't have been longer than a seconds.
But when Alfonse blinked, he found himself standing taller than his short height. The floor was further now, and his clothes had changed from their usual grays and blacks to soft cream colored cotton lined with gold. He couldn't help but notice that his hair was slightly longer, a portion of his bangs pinned out of his eyes again.
He looked to Noctis.
He was no longer a child with a black hoodie. Noctis was a young man dressed casually in a monochrome theme. His night colored hair was longer too, and taller than Alfonse by few inches. As he spoke, his voice was deep and determined.
"Alfonse," he almost paused, as if surprised with his own tone, "let's go."
Noctis raised a hand and a sword appeared in place. He was more than ready to take down the monster.
"Right behind you," Alfonse said. His voice nearly the same as Noctis', yet lighter, kinder. He didn't care if Noctis understood the words, but his intention was clear.
He didn't think as he poised to draw a sword out of its sheath. HIs hands wrapped around a solid handle. A beautiful sword materialized as he drew it, brandishing it at the ready.
Fólkvangr —his mind supplied. And the white stones at the hilt burned with tiny flares of white flames.
The boys shared a nod, and they were off.
They struck at the monster, hammering it down with their weapons. It took a couple minutes adjusting to their bodies— and their strikes were clumsy at first, but it straightened out. Alfonse took advantage of his smaller frame and created openings for Noctis to deal the heavy hits.
It was simple teamwork.
Of light and dark.
So, when the final attack from the monster came down on Noctis, Alfonse was there to help add force behind his parry. The monster was thrown off balance and they both dealt the final blow.
It slowly turned into mush, melting away its defeated body before it completely faded away.
And just like that, Alfonse blinked and the sword in his hand was gone. He was himself again, and so was Noctis.
The carbuncle took them to the end of the plaza, to the black car that Alfonse knew so well.
The King's car.
Noctis shared his phone with Alfonse, shortly explaining that this car was his safest place.
No, their safest place, as Noctis corrected himself.
Alfonse had no problem climbing into the car with the other not too far behind.
When the door shut, they settled in the backseats for a moment.
"How grow? Ah, no—" Alfonse struggled to piece the sentence structure for a moment, twirling a finger in his hair, and tried again, "How did I grow? How did we grow?"
Noctis shrugged, "I don't know. I just knew that I will be a king one day. I would be strong to protect and fight."
"…We become kings?"
Noctis' laugh was drowsy, "One day…"
"One day," Alfonse echoed.
When Alfonse awoke, he saw the King crying tears of relief over Noctis, who was no longer in his deep sleep.
He caught the other's eye, a silent understanding that what happened was real. It was something important— very important to hold on to.
To cling to.
To remember the strength they had as kings to a future ahead of them.
And yet, within seconds, it became vague memories of the wild dream they shared together.
"Al," Noctis began to call him. It was nice. Short. Endearing.
"Noct," Alfonse began to call the other. It was easy. Close. Brotherly.
There was familiarity now.
It was easy to respond to his nickname, and not stumble over Noct's name.
Alfonse did not mind it at all.
The trees in Tenebrae were enormous, tall, and vast. Alfonse couldn't help but stare up at the tree tops high, high above them.
Would it be strange to say that it almost felt like home? Of the forests he would see in the distance from his room back home? In Askr?
Their Queen was kind, and welcomed them with open arms.
She almost reminded Alfonse of his mother.
He met Lunafreya.
She was young like them, but her eyes were older, wiser. She smiled when they first arrived.
She was kind.
She told them a story when they were alone in a bright room, where the warm sunlight filtered through the windows.
She told them of Noct's role.
The True King of a prophecy.
Of how Noct would save more than just his own kingdom, but everyone.
As young as they all were, as naive they all were, it was agreed that the three of them would work together to make it true.
Lunafreya showed them two notebooks. Red for Noct and blue for Alfonse.
They befriended her dogs, Umbra and Pryna— their newly acquainted messengers.
Alfonse was awed at their soft fur. He could feel how kind they were, of how Umbra's golden eyes promised to always deliver their notes with utmost care, of how Pryna's vibrant blue eyes promised to be watchful over them. He could almost hear their voices in his head, like the Crystal that spoke to him when he first arrived.
Those were promises Alfonse knew would never be broken.
He met Gentiana.
Her eyes were always, always closed.
Except for a single moment.
He sat at a balcony, reading another tale as he twirled a lock of gold.
She looked down at him with her olive green eyes, and Alfonse looked back with his own teal.
They were quiet for a while. The book on Alfonse's lap felt heavier as the seconds passed.
Eventually, Gentiana reached out. Her hand was awfully cold, almost like ice as she brushed a thumb over his cheek and touched his hairpin.
When she spoke, Alfonse understood them perfectly.
"You do not belong here, Lost Child of Askr. We, Astrals, seek not to keep you, nor do we seek to remove you."
A shiver of frost crawled down his spine, as if to root itself in the foundation of his bones.
She closed her eyes when she left a light kiss at the crown of his head, "May Shiva's blessing grant you years in Eos."
Alfonse fell asleep on the balcony the moment her hand left his skin. In his dreams, he was older. A familiar sword was in his hand, its small white flames flickering to life. And the world before him rapidly lost its light.
Eos rapidly lost its light.
Hours later, Alfonse woke up to the King placing him into a bed in the same room as Noctis.
"Hvílð, Alfonse," he said to him, "Rest."
Alfonse met Ravus.
He was much older than Noctis, more of a moody teenager than an adult.
He disliked the way Lunafreya spent a lot of her time with Noct. He often eyed Alfonse in quiet confusion every time he spotted him.
"Who are you?" Ravus would always ask.
"My little brother," Noct would always say. Ravus' face would always twist in deeper confusion.
Noctis had never used his own language for brother.
It was always Alfonse's "bróðir."
When Lunafreya asked Alfonse one day, he smiled and swirled the word in Noctis' own word, "Brother."
There was only faint hum in the air before it happened.
Alfonse stood at Noct's side, one hand gripping the wheelchair when the world rocked and became aflame.
Armored soldiers fell from the sky and "bullets" killed others left and right.
The fire engulfed the trees and the air was full of screams.
The King carried Noct in one arm, and held on to Lunafreya with his free hand. He told Alfonse to hold on to Lunafreya, and he did.
He still held on when she stopped, slipping her hand out of the King's. Noctis screamed, but King Regis only faltered once.
Alfonse didn't miss how the King wanted to turn around, how he wanted to go back and save them both.
But the soldiers flooded around them, and he already knew that the King could not come for him.
Alfonse looked at him in the eye with a single word, "Fara."
Go, leave, travel— the words he didn't know how to say in their tongue in that very moment.
The King left them behind.
Noctis never turned away.
Alfonse quietly stood there.
He did not cry when they aimed their weapons at him.
Within days, Alfonse found himself trapped with Lunafreya.
His grays and blacks were changed to Tenebrae's white outlined by black. He had forgotten his trusty book of words were back in Lucis. So, he began another one on loose sheets of paper to hide in his sleeves.
Alfonse could do nothing else but stay by Lunafreya's side.
The soldiers were from Niflheim — the land of mist in Alfonse's words.
He remembered that near Askr was a kingdom called Nifl, where ice and snow covered its lands.
Niflheim here was different. Very different.
He had never visited the lands, only trapped in the walls of the Fenestala Manor.
But he heard stories. The soldiers that guarded his door often complained.
Gentiana would cover his ears, and set him by her side many times a day.
Lunafreya told him never to repeat a few of their words. Those words, according to her, did not deserve to be part of his growing vocabulary.
Ravus ignored him. Maybe he hated him.
Alfonse did not dare to talk to Lunafreya's brother. The anger that plagued the teen's eyes were enough of a warning to stay away.
But Alfonse didn't like the idea of leaving it be. He told Lunafreya. He twirled his hair as he struggled with his words to say it right.
"For Ravus, I do something. How do I make him smile?"
The next day, Lunafreya took him to a field full of beautiful vivid blue flowers, untouched from the burned forests not too far from there.
"Sylleblossoms," Lunafreya called them.
"Sylleblossoms," he echoed back.
Alfonse, for the life of him, didn't know how to translate that in his head.
As they picked the best, they were guarded by Niflheim soldiers, who sneered at Alfonse.
"Worthless," they often said under their breath, "Not even a real prince."
"Does it matter? Neither of them are royalty anymore."
"Nothing but glorified trophies."
Alfonse didn't understand half of that, but the spitting tones did hurt.
Their mouths clamped shut when Lunafreya looked at them.
Together, they weaved a flower crown.
Lunafreya placed one on his head, nearly obscuring his glowing hairpin. She smiled softly as she spoke, "You are worth it."
Alfonse stared at the flower crown in his own hand and placed it on her head. It was nice, how it adorned her blonde hair and made her radiant.
Before he knew it, words rolled off his tongue in a familiar, flowing ease.
"You are worth it, too."
Alfonse forgot to speak in her words.
Ravus' jaw was open for reasons that didn't make sense to Alfonse.
Alfonse, himself, stood on a chair with his hands poised over Ravus, and the "Sylleblossoms" crown rested lopsidedly on the teen's head.
"Smile," Alfonse said, placing his hands on his hips to make a point, "For Lunafreya. For you."
Ravus looked conflicted between scolding him and flushing in embarrassment. A few seconds later, Alfonse was pulled from the chair and sat properly at the table.
"Sit properly," Ravus said, but there was no bite to his words as he ruffled Alfonse's hair into a tangled mess, "Did Lucians ever teach you table manners?"
Alfonse twirled a finger in his hair, looking at anything but Ravus.
Lunafreya barely hid her laughter behind her hand at the dinner table.
The Nilfheim Commander yelled at Lunafreya, demanding something of her.
But she stood firm on her decisions.
She would not bend to them.
Alfonse was sure that everyone saw the armored hand of the Commander lift. He saw how Lunafreya's eyes narrowed. He saw how far away Ravus was to do anything.
His body moved before he even thought.
He pulled Lunafreya to take a few steps back, silently supporting her to prevent her from falling.
The armored hand had missed her face and the room was silent.
Lunafreya stood in front of Alfonse, hiding him as much as she could.
"As I said," she addressed the commander once more, "I will not leave Tenebrae. These are my people, and I will not leave them. I refuse."
Alfonse didn't know how silently relieved Ravus was after that meeting.
He didn't know how grateful Lunafreya was for standing strong right behind her.
The last thing he had of home was nearly taken from him, yanked out of his hair by the Niflheim Commander.
"A child from the streets doesn't need this anymore."
Alfonse knew those words, and only felt dread when the hand began to crush it.
That hairpin was Alfonse's proof of his home, the Askr of his memories — other than his name.
It was that same dread, that fear that drove Alfonse to reach for it. His fingers sparked with a bright white flame— the hilt of a sword creating a ghost of itself, but it died when a hand wrapped around his windpipe.
It wasn't Lunafreya who saved him.
It was Ravus, who punched the Commander and demanded to let him go.
Alfonse dropped to the ground like a nothing.
It burned to cough, desperately getting air back into his lungs.
A soft light flowed from Lunafreya's hands, easing the pain away and air to flood in.
Ravus was on the floor a moment later. The hair ornament was cradled victoriously in his bruised hand.
"Fine— keep the thing," the Commander seethed as he left.
The elegant hair ornament was returned to Alfonse's hand.
Lunafreya gently pried it from his trembling hands and tucked it back in his hair.
As if it never left.
"Al," Lunafreya began to call him. It reminded him of Noctis. Of how nice it was. Of how endearing it was.
"Luna," Alfonse began to call her. It was short, easier to say, and still lovely as her full name.
"Al," Ravus had shortened, too.
And Alfonse stared at him, twirling a finger in a lock of gold.
He didn't know how to shorten Ravus' name.
"Ravi," he settled with.
"Yeah, sure," Ravi snorted, and did nothing more than pinch Alfonse's cheeks in vengeance.
It was familiar, like a family again.
He lost Noctis and the King, and maybe he wouldn't see them for a long, long time, but that was fine.
Luna and Ravi sheltered him, and he supported them in what little ways he could.
And Alfonse didn't mind at all.
There was a scary man in his room.
He smiled toothily and tips his dark hat in greeting, "Hello there, little one."
Those words were easy to understand. Too easy to understand.
How Alfonse's language flowed out of a man that felt downright terrifying.
He turned to bolt from his room, but a cold hand caught the back of his shirt. He looked up, and met with amber eyes.
"Come now, why are you scared of me?" the man spoke. Alfonse hated how it seemed to slither and hiss.
"You know, I've been hearing curious things about you for quite some time now. A young boy, who happens to speak a language not of our own, was found before the Crystal in Lucis and later adopted into the Royal family, and yet here you are."
The man gestured around them, flourishing Alfonse's room, "Abandoned by your King. Your family."
Alfonse had half the mind to speak against that, but the man plowed on.
"The other day, I felt a pulse of unusual magic here in Tenebrae— a magic not of an Oracle or the Bloodline of Lucis."
He leaned a little closer that Alfonse started to feel a little ill, "Tell me, little one, who are you?"
"Who are you?" he quietly tossed back. Though his body shook, he would not falter.
The man laughed, brushing a hand against the hairpin, over the blue gem that flickered in the daylight, "Why, I'm Ardyn Izunia, Chancellor of Niflheim."
Alfonse tried to pry the hand from his shirt, but the grip was strong.
Ardyn leaned a little closer with a sly smile, "I'll ask you one last time, Alfonse."
A hand gripped his face and forced him to look up at Ardyn.
"Who are you?"
Alfonse didn't know how to answer that.
Here, he was Alfonse.
A young child who lived with Lunafreya and Ravus.
A friend of Noctis, Prince of Lucis.
At home, he was a prince.
The heir apparent to the throne of Askr.
The son of Gustav and Henriette.
"Who do you think I am?" he asked instead.
Ardyn's grip on him only tightened, "You wouldn't want to know that, boy."
Then he was released. Alfonse eagerly took several steps away from the man, who chuckled.
"Run along, Little Alfonse," Ardyn spoke, no longer using the familiar lilts and rolls of Alfonse's language.
His tone sounded like mock amusement echoing in Alfonse's head, "Pray that you would not meet your end by my hands."
Alfonse could hardly stop twirling a lock of gold.
It was curled for the rest of the day.
Alfonse could finally speak without too much trouble. Gentiana helped, but not as much as Luna and Ravi did.
Luna made it a point to have Alfonse read out loud for half an hour everyday.
Ravi made him write letters and worked at his structures.
This language of Noct's, of Luna's, of Ravi's was rather difficult.
The words did not come easy as Alfonse realized how often he had to drop the rolls in his 'r's and shorten his vowels.
Yet, at the end of the day, the two siblings would sit in front of Alfonse, ears open to hear and mouths ready to speak.
"Vatn," Alfonse would say to them.
"Water!" Luna would define.
"Vant," Ravi would attempt to say.
"Blóm," Alfonse would say.
"Uhm— Flower," Ravi would define.
"Bloum," Luna would try to say.
Words were butchered and words were learned.
And soon, the words that spilled out of Alfonse's tongue weaved beautifully between two.
Of Eos and Askr.
Alfonse never knew how often his mixed tongue awed those around him.
Luna and Ravi argued.
It was often nowadays.
Alfonse was left out of it, always asked to stay in the other room.
No one ever told him to stay away from the door.
Ravi's tone was serious, determined, "I have to do this, Luna!"
"You do not!" Luna's tone was near pleading, determined in her own way, "Stay here with me, with Alfonse— Let us stay together. Please, Ravus."
There was always silence every time she said that. Then Ravus would sigh and agree with her.
But this time was different.
"I'm sorry," Ravus said, "But, this is the only way to protect what I have left."
A door clicked shut and silence reigned on the other side.
Alfonse peeked into the room a moment later. Luna's shoulders were haunched over and shook with quiet tears.
Despite the siblings keeping the topic hidden from him, Alfonse already knew what they agreed about.
He slipped into the room, placing a hand lightly on her shoulder. She was older, taller, and his height was at her chin instead of her collarbone now.
He stayed there, offering his support in a form of a random hum of notes. The melody jumped and swerved on the spot.
It reminded Alfonse of the times he did the same with Sharena, humming notes that either clashed or harmonized. There was no real intent other than to fill the silence.
Vaguely, he wondered if Sharena would do something better to comfort Luna, but she wasn't here.
But he was.
The room echoed with Alfonse's notes and drowned out stifled sobs.
The next day, and the next, and then the day after that—
Alfonse hadn't seen Ravi.
Not in the halls.
Nor the library.
Or even in their rooms.
But the guards that kept Luna and Alfonse restrained to the Mansion were gone.
They spent time in the middle of Luna's favorite field of Sylleblossoms.
"Tell me about your home," she said to him, "Tell me of Askr."
His hands nearly dropped the half finished flower crown. Alfonse couldn't help but stare at her for a long moment before he nodded, "Okay."
Then he spoke to her. There were far too many pauses between his words, constantly switching between his words and hers for things he couldn't translate.
It scared him how he struggled to remember the halls of the castle, the foods he ate, the scenery of his window, the details of his shared room.
How big was the castle? Where was his father usually found? His mother? Were there any gardens? Didn't he used to discourage his sister from sneaking extra snacks from the kitchens? How vast was the forest in his window? Did he used to wake up before his sister? Didn't he used to put her own hairpin into place in the morning?
The lock of gold in his hair was constantly twirled.
Before he realized it, Alfonse spoke of his family.
Of the owl in his room.
Of his father waiting for him in the study every afternoon.
Of his mother reading to them stories in a tucked corner of the grand library.
Of his beloved sister being always by his side.
Luna reached over, brushing away at his wet cheeks.
He never realized that he started to cry.
When he looked at her in the late afternoon light, she smiled, "Thank you for telling me."
Alfonse couldn't stop crying.
If I am wrong in any of the definitions, please tell me, and I'll correct it.
Blóm - Flower
Kelda - Fountain
Vatn - Water
Baõmr - Tree
Askr - Ash Tree
Draumr - Dream
Fólkvangr - "Field of the Hosts" It's a meadow or field of Freya's Realm.
Hvílð - Rest