A/N: This collection of One Shots follows the 'Noctum Will Rise' verse. It is highly recommended that you read that fic before you read these.

Disclaimer: This collection of one shots is only meant for entertainment purposes.

Setting: Takes place a couple months after Noctum ends.

Scars

She had never considered herself a particularly vain person before. True, she was a girl and there was a level of feminine pride when she regarded herself in a mirror. It was just that she had never worked especially hard at it. There were never long grooming sessions where her hair had to be just right or her eye shadow had to be this exact shade to enhance the color of her eyes. Those were reserved for special occasions. In the every day, it was just the normal routine and usual grooming.

It was not until recently that she spent more time looking at herself in the mirror. When she started seeing all the imperfections that appeared on her face and on her body. Maybe she had been so busy with the every day things of her busy royal life and had not noticed, but she noticed them now. It had started out as merely something that caught her attention and then had quickly changed from fascination to obsession.

To have her notice such things now when she was busier than ever. She had a kingdom to reorganize and rebuild. She had a council full of advisors that did not agree with her. She had a country full of citizens that were expecting results. She had a working crystal that she needed to figure out. Yet, the thing most prevalent within her mind was Noctis. He could drive her to distraction just with the mere mention of his name. She wonders if she could distract him like he seemed to distract her, even when he was not even there.

It was not as if she had that many opportunities to even see him for him to affect her so. They were from different countries and they were both rulers. They could not just drop everything just to look upon each other. They both had responsibilities. They both had conferences to attend. It did not matter how strongly they felt for each other, there was a point where things just took more precedence. As deeply and as intensely as they felt for each other, there were things that they were obligated to do first. That being such, it did not stop the affect that he had on her.

With Noctis' official visit to Tenebrae, her anxiety increased, as did the amount of time she spent looking at herself within a mirror. It was not that she was trying to make herself prettier in his presence. Well, there was a little bit of that but this was an entirely different issue. It was more the fact that he had taken to giving her a certain look whenever he looked her. Oh, she knew that he loved her. He still had not said it aloud but she knew from the way she felt around him. He did not reach out to touch her very often. Touch seemed as unnatural to him as wearing white would be. It was in his voice and in the way the air sparkled around them whenever they were in each other's presence. There was feminine intuition afterall.

No, this was different. It almost outweighed the knowledge that she knew he loved her. Somehow it was not enough. Not enough because there was that look to his eyes that hinted that he was not entirely happy with what he saw in her and it looked like it pained him to see it. That there was something deficient within her that he could see and his already quiet nature would never let him express. Lest he hurt her feelings. Which was the real reason why she was staring in the mirror longer. She was looking for that something that she seemed to be missing and in her search for that lack, she found all the imperfections within her person.

Insufficient. That was how she had felt whenever he gave her that look. That look that he had just given her as they had passed each other in the halls. Oh, he had greeted her and they had spoken a few words. He had smiled one of those rare smiles that had butterflies swarming within her stomach and had promised to see her later that evening. Later that evening in private, that is and it made her feel all the more anxious as she looked in the mirror again.

This had to stop. She was a ruling monarch for goodness sakes. She was more than sufficient, was she not? Any man would want her. Noctis should want her too. Noctis did seem to want her. It should not matter all that much if there was something that she lacked because he seemed to love her anyway. Yet, that feminine pride in her would not let this pass. She knew there would be no one else but Noctis. She wanted to think that there was no one else for him either, but she could not help but start to feel that maybe she was not all. He was a King now. Who would not want to marry a king?

It is with this underlying panic and anxiety that grips her, that she passes the rest of her day. The meetings almost go unheard to her ears and she moves about the day lost in her own musings. Musings that revolved around every insecurity that she never thought she had. It does not help to hear that the council had volunteered several of the ladies in waiting with the task of showing Noctis and his party around the city. Something that she had promised to do herself. How dearly she had wanted to show him her favorite spots, her favorite places to dine and she had not been able to because of who she was.

Catty was never a word that she would have associated with herself, but she cannot help but describe herself as such when the aforementioned ladies in waiting returned from their tour. As they chattered around her, giving her updates on how things had progressed, she feels her mood completely worsen to panic. They were filled with wonder at the party from Nihilsomno. They were equally enchanted by their King. Her ears were filled with their praise of him. How he was quiet yet courteous. How he interacted with his friends. How his friends were just so charming. She almost wanted to cry.

She almost did not make it to dinner that night. There was no way she would show herself to be insufficient tonight. Not when she could only see beauty and grace within her own ladies in waiting. How much more feminine. How much more complete than she. She would not be able to bear that look again from across a table full of dignitaries and her oh so charming ladies in waiting around her. It would be considered rude. It would be considered an insult. So, tonight called for a little extra grooming and a stunning dress.

Her heart nearly broke when she entered the dining hall and saw Noctis turn to greet her. His smile waned as he looked at the cleavage she had been determined to show. Without another word, nor a glance, he escorted her to her chair and pulled it out for her. Then politely gave her a bow and headed towards his own seat at the other end of the table. Was her insufficiency her breasts? She admits to herself that she had never given them much thought and she certainly never thought Noctis preferred larger ones. She felt the impulse to run.

She stayed in her seat and acted as dignified a Queen that she had been taught to be. The chatter around her not heard at all but she kept a smile plastered upon her features and did not dare look in his direction. When it was over, she made rushed but polite excuses and all but ran back to her rooms. Back to her rooms where she nearly burst into tears. She thinks she would have. She was just about there. The tears were accumulating in the corners of her eyes.

"Stella?"

His voice never ceases to send shivers down her spine. He is standing on her balcony, just at the door, but he has not entered. Of course he would rush to her. He who could sense whatever she was feeling as if he was feeling it too. He may have found her lacking but that did not mean he did not care. She felt her heart beat faster at the thought.

His teleporting powers, as well as his other powers, had greatly improved with the reactivation of his new crystal. It was to the point where he could appear in any room within the castle. He just did not because he respected the privacy and did not take advantage. She was so thankful for his nobility and sense that she is almost relieved. That is until she realizes that he can feel her emotions and he does not need to see her for that. Right now she knows he does not understand what is wrong and she is faced with a moment of male ignorance.

"Stella, are you going to come out?" he asks from the doorway. She cannot see him but she can imagine the worry that is on his face. That worry that is always in his eyes.

She hastily wipes the wetness from her eyes before she makes her way to face him.

"Sorry," she manages weakly.

"What is it? What is wrong?" he asks and the torn expression on his face makes her heart sing in triumph that he cares as much as it also makes her ache.

She could say it was nothing and try to distract him but that is not in her nature to do.

She is about to be honest with him when she sees it. She sees the way his eyes flash to her cleavage again and the look in his eyes when he does. It is enough to make her pause and reassess everything that she has been thinking. Was that, guilt, in his eyes when he looked at her there? Her mouth forms a big 'O' as it all comes to her. It comes with such clarity that she almost wants to hit herself for her foolishness. He had not been looking at her breasts at all.

"Why do you look at it like that?" she asks him instead.

The question startles him and he looks away from her. He stays quiet for so long that she does not think he will answer.

"Because I am the one who did that," he answers finally.

Unconsciously, her hand reaches up and rubs against the scar in the valley of her breasts. The place where his blade had embedded itself into her chest. Even now, months later, she can feel the phantom pain of it. It had scarred instead of disappearing when she had come back to life. So had the scratch he had made on her arm. Just like the mark she had left on his chin. She reaches up to his face to touch it.

"And I did that," she says and she is sorry that she was responsible for marring his perfect skin. Hers eyes look up to his and the intensity of his gaze makes her feel it all the way down to her toes.

"I deserve more than just that," he says reaching to take her hand. "For what I did," and his eyes look at her scar again. "It pains me whenever I see it. That I am responsible for marring such perfection."

She cannot even describe the relief that she feels at his words. He thought she was perfect? It feels like she's floating and only his hand over hers was keeping her on the ground. It had never occurred to her that the sight of it would bother him so much, but she should have guessed. Should have guessed when she knew that it was always clearly visible in the V neck shirts she always wore. She smiles brilliantly up at him and clutches the sides of his face so she can kiss him. She kisses him to comfort the both of them and she feels so complete when she feels his lips respond. One of his hands moves to wrap securely around her waist while the other keeps her head in place.

A sweet sigh escapes her lips when they part and they enjoy a moment of quiet as they both catch their breathes.

"Do not feel guilty for this," she says. "I know you would not have done it if I had not tricked you in the first place."

"The outcome was the same."

"The outcome is that I am standing here, with you, where I belong. It would not have been that way if you had let me kill you."

His intense red eyes look at her scar again but he does not look any less guilty at her words.

"I want you to kiss me," she says.

He looks at her questioningly for a moment and then the hand behind her head pulls her towards his face. But she pushes against his chest and shakes her head. Red eyes look at hers in question.

"Not there," she says. She points to the scar on her chest. "Here."

"There?" he asks and the agony and confusion on his face tempts her to kiss him again.

"Yes, there," she insists.

He looks so torn as he looks down at it and she knows this is right. To kiss it would be to accept it and it would help him, it would help the both of them to move past it. As he lowers his face, she runs her hand through his hair and smiles as she feels the light press of his lips against her scar. It feels like a prayer, like some sort of reverence. When she looks into his eyes again, she can see that some of the guilt has lessened. It was not entirely gone but it had lessened. It was a step. A very small step, but it was forward and not backward and that was enough for now.

"I want you to do that whenever you decide you feel too guilty and feel the need to stare at me that way again," she says, because she does not like his guilt. Especially when he was not to blame.

"Even in public?" he asks with a raised eyebrow and she rolls her eyes at the completely male comment.

"I suppose some self control is needed in those situations," she says, trying not to laugh.

"Will this alleviate your worry that I do not find your breasts to be insufficient?"

The questions startles her and she's completely mortified. She pulls enough away from him to look up at his face and sees the smirk on his lips. She feels her face become hot and she is sure she has never blushed so scarlet in her life. He knew, oh of course he would be able to read her through their connection. Too busy in her self deprivation she had forgotten that he would hear her thoughts too.

"And tell me why I would ever think there was any part of you that I would find deficient."

Embarrassed was a word that she felt was insufficient at the moment.


A/N: If there are any requests, I am open to them.