One thing that Gladiolus was taught from the moment he was able to understand it was that the Amicitia’s were a family dedicated to their duties. Duty to the Caelums, duty to traditions, and perhaps surprisingly, the duty they have to their family. Some may look at Clarus and his home life and think that their household was strict and cold beneath his steely gaze. Rather, he and Gladiolus’ mother provided a warmth that allowed for the Amicitia children to bloom within.
Sundays were the one day of the week that they all were meant to be home and see each other, even if for just an hour. Gladio couldn’t remember exactly when it started, but one day after Iris had been born his mother had called him into their tearoom (a room that young Gladio was not allowed in so he found himself delighted to see what he had thought to be a ‘grown up’ room). She had sat him down on one of the cushions surrounding the low table and the scent of earthy and floral notes filled the air as his mother prepared the tea to steep.
While they waited, his mother talked to him about his day at the Citadel with his father. They continued to talk as she poured their tea and waited for it to cool, only falling silent when they took their first few sips. He remembered that he had been surprised by the sweet taste but also how it tasted like the smell of the herbs in their garden. His mother had laughed when he told her this, telling him that he had a good palate to be able to recognize them.
Much later, during what became their weekly tea time routine, she confessed that she had had tea with him because she was worried that he might not like Iris since she was taking up her attention. Gladio vaguely recalled his mother asking about what he thought about Iris and his noncommittal answers might have been the reason why she had sat him down for tea the next week again.
“I thought that you were going with your father because you were mad at us,” she had confessed one day when the topic somehow turned to their weekly ritual. A thirteen-year-old Gladio had just shook his head and reached over to give Iris (who was now joining them each week) an affectionate hair ruffle.
“I wasn’t mad,” Gladio said with a laugh, his voice crackling a bit which caused his mother to hide her own laugh behind her hand her pride evident as her son grew. “I just didn’t know how the pink blob that was crying a lot was supposed to be my sister!”
“Hey!” Iris cried out, setting her cup down after only just picking it up to take a cautious sip. “I wasn’t a blob—was I?” Her lower lip quivered, and their mother watched in amusement as Gladio attempted to do some damage control to keep her from crying (even though they all knew she really wasn’t upset, even at a young age Iris knew how to toy with her older brother).
Their father joined them when he could, which as Regis began to stick close to the Citadel this meant that Clarus was attending them nearly every week. Gladio enjoyed hearing his mother and father discuss what they could about the things Clarus saw or heard within the Citadel that Gladio didn’t see when he was with him or training. His mother’s reactions always got a laugh out of Clarus, the hard lines around his face revealing that they weren’t from age but rather laughter.
After Iris’ run-in with Noctis, he became a well discussed topic at their weekly meetings. His mother had already heard his grumblings about the stubborn brat as she poured him some of her tea (rosehips, orange peel, lemon grass, and a touch of the wild mint that covered their garden. Gladio would be able to recall it throughout his life). After realizing that Noctis was not originally what he had pegged him to be, coupled with Iris’ infatuation of him, there was constant updates about what the Crown Prince was doing during the week and how Gladio was becoming more of a fixture in his life the closer the two of them got.
A few months after the shift in attitudes towards Noctis, their mother had sat unusually quiet as her two children talked about a change that Gladio had noticed in Noctis. Their father was not able to attend that day due to some important job he had with the Crownsguard, which had been the starting point for where their conversation had led to. The two of them eventually noticed her silence and their conversation died down as they looked to their mother who seemed lost in thought.
After a moment, she raised her cup to her lips as a stray lock of dark brown hair escaped from behind her ear to fall onto her face. She set her cup down and tucked the hair behind her ear, before giving the two of them a look that told them to listen to what she had to say next.
“Your father will always remind you of the duty that you two, yes you too Iris, have to the Crown,” their mother stated as she traced a finger around the rim of her cup, “but I’m always going to remind you of the duty that you two have to each other and to our family.” She paused, her finger poised along the edge of her cup before curling against her hand as she rested it against the tabletop, the expression on her face somehow both soft and fierce.
“Us Amictias’ know where our duties lie but remember that we are here for each other as well as for everyone else. Don’t let one duty make you forget the other.” The two of them had nodded, not fully understanding. At least not until a month later when she collapsed from a sudden hemorrhaging in her brain. Despite their access to the best doctors and medicine in the city, none of them were able to aid against the severity and swiftness of it.
When their mother passed, it was Iris’ voice calling out ‘Gladioooluuuusss’ the next Sunday. The thought of going into that room without their mother was a hard one, but he couldn’t ignore his sister who was sitting in there sobbing with the tea she spilled spreading across the table. It was left ignored as Gladiolus pulled Iris into his lap, the two of them swaying as they cried, until Jared found them and helped them clean the mess up before leaving them alone to grieve.
“What were you thinking?” He had asked her later, finally calm enough to drink some of the tea she had prepared (It was too weak). Gladio was glad she knew the gruffness in his voice wasn’t in anger towards her but came from his inability to handle grief properly at such a young age. Still, she swatted at him and he knew to dial it back a bit, he wasn’t the only one hurting.
“I thought,” Iris started, staring down at her nearly clear cup of tea before looking over to her brother with wet eyes, “It would be nice to keep talking to each other and to mom… I didn’t want to stop…” She started to sniffle before choking back a cry. Gladio reached over for her as she started to cry again, telling him how much she wanted to talk to mom and thought that they could like this.
“We can, we can,” Gladio had murmured over and over, holding her close as their tea cooled, leaving them alone with the overwhelming sense that there was something missing within the room.
“I’m coming, Iris, hold on!”
“Hurry up, Dad is waiting for us! He’s gotta be back at the Citadel soon, something about the Glaives.” That perked Gladio up as he had recently heard of the new training they were receiving for the upcoming treaty signing. He hoped Clarus would let him attend whatever meeting he had with the Glaives after.
Gladio made his way through the house and to the tearoom, where Iris and Clarus were already sitting and talking about the week Iris had at school. Gladio sat down on the cushion that was ‘his,’ glancing across the table to the picture of their mother they had placed there. A cup was set before it, steam curling around his mother’s smiling face as she watched over her family as Gladiolus joined the discussion.