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Left Your Mark On Me

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Nowhere was truly safe in Spira. The people did what they could, but Yuna knew this fact more than most. The more people who gathered together, the more they ran the risk of Sin appearing, or being surprised by any number of fiends that wandered the landscape. And considering that Yuna had been kidnapped by the Al Bhed upon arriving in Luca, she should have been looking around every corner, suspicious all the time.

That meant carrying more of a burden than Yuna already did, so she often left the surveillance to the guardians she took with her. Still, no one could have predicted fiends inside the blitzball stadium, considering the heightened security for the game and Maesters Mika and Seymour being in attendance. Wakka was inside the blitzball sphere, and instead of celebrating the Aurochs’ win against the Luca Goers, his blitzball was taking out fiend after fiend instead.

Yuna would have jumped in the water herself, but Lulu was already pulling her away from the balcony and into the safer areas beyond the stands. “Come,” Lulu said, and there wasn’t denying the worry but determination in her voice. “We have to go.”

“Wakka’s down there,” Yuna said. “We have to help.”

Lulu’s lips pressed together in a thin line. “Our priority is to guard you. Wakka knows what he’s doing.” Her “I hope” went unspoken, but Yuna knew it was there.

“But-”

Coming up behind her, Kimahri grabbed her by the waist, gently, and tugged her back. “Yuna go,” he said, and there was no arguing with the Ronso. “Now!”

Staff in hand, the three of them fought their way through the fiends that crossed their path. Yuna cast protective magic and Lulu fired off spell after spell, one corner of her mouth quirking up whenever an enemy burst into pyreflies in her flames. Kimahri cleared a path with his lance, but for every fiend they cut down, two more took their place. The battles seemed never ending, but Yuna told herself they would face worse on the pilgrimage. All she had to do now was try to keep those she could safe.

She was leaning over a collapsed Yevon guard, administering a cure spell, when there was movement out of the corner of her eye. “Kimahri!” she cried, pointing in that direction - only to see one of the most beautiful sights light up the sky.

A silver white dragon rose from the waters of the blitzball sphere, dancing with the mist. Its scales shimmered in the sunlight, and in spite of the dangers around them, Yuna stood up, eyes fixed on the events unfolding before her. “An aeon,” she breathed, but one unlike any she’d ever seen. She remembered being a child and her father showing her the first of his aeons - Bahamut, the protector of Bevelle. This filled her with the same sense of awe and power, but this was not an aeon from any temple in Spira. It was something different - something special. Precious.

The dragon twirled around the stadium, letting out a scream that could shatter glass. Icy blue fire erupted from its mouth, taking out the fiends it found in its path as it worked one loop, then two, then three around the stadium. The pair of Mi’ihen fangs fell at Kimahri’s feet, corpses smouldering as the pyreflies flew out of their bodies. Lulu laid a hand on Yuna’s arm, keeping her from moving any closer, and Kimahri shifted to close in on Yuna’s other side.

Within a few minutes, the fiends disappeared under the dragon’s onslaught. Yuna swore she saw the aeon grinning as it did one more victory lap before retreating, nuzzling against its summoner before disappearing into the sky. She couldn’t see much, being so far away from the other person, but she could just make out green hair and an outfit to match, a swirl of fabric around a feminine body.

“What was that?” Yuna asked, clasping her staff to her chest, heart pounding in her chest from the adrenaline of the fight and what she’d just witnessed. “I must know who that summoner is!”

“No time for it now,” Lulu said, her tone gentle but firm. “We must meet up with Wakka and check on the others.” Behind the mage, Kimahri nodded in agreement, arms crossed over his chest. “Maester Seymour spoke of seeing you off before you left Luca. Perhaps he might know.”

Yuna sighed. “Yes, of course.” In all things, the pilgrimage took priority. Her curiosity about the other summoner would have to wait until the chaos around them settled, and she found a free moment again.

It didn’t stop her from looking back over the stands, at the retreating figure in green, wishing she could say thank you for saving them all.

***

“That was foolish.”

Rydia rolled her eyes at the red-cloaked man glaring at her with one good eye. While a few people passed by, no one paid any attention to the pair of them, tucked away behind a stack of crates on an empty dock. “There were creatures attacking! What did you expect me to do, stand by and let them kill people?”

“Your magic is unlike any they’ve seen here.” Auron’s gruff voice wasn’t loud, but it still carried weight behind it, and Rydia had the image of being yelled at by her father or uncle. She didn’t budge under his stare, but she felt the weight of it heavy on her shoulders. “It will give you away as something different. It has the potential to… make things difficult.”

“The only one making things difficult here is you.”

The summoner kneeled on the ground, wrapping her arms around her knees. It seemed like ages ago that she had been home in Mist, learning magic from her parents and developing her summoning skills. All that ended when Auron showed up, and a ginormous creature arose from the sea. Rydia would never forget the flames, or the screams. She’d run for her life that day, and though she hated to admit it, she owed Auron her life. He found her in the chaos, pulled her to safety, and she’d been by his side ever since.

Only somehow, they’d both been transported somewhere else by the thing Auron called Sin. Spira, where Auron was originally from. It wasn’t all that dissimilar from her village of Mist, but traditions here were different. The few people she spoke to claimed that she had been affected by Sin’s “toxin” and there was no such place as Mist.

They told her she could never go home.

Auron hadn’t been much better, but at least he hadn’t abandoned her at the first opportunity. He was a little too gruff and needed to lighten up, but he stood by her, and together, his sword and Rydia’s magic and summons, they made their way towards civilization. Auron was looking for someone named Yuna, who was also a summoner, to fulfill a promise to an old friend. When she pressed him for details, Auron never answered her questions.

The townspeople talked, though. Summoners here were revered, as they were the only ones who had the power to defeat Sin. Lady Yuna, as the people called her, had just started her pilgrimage and was already making a name for herself as being kind, generous, and with a resolve of steel. If Yuna came from summoners, maybe she would know of Mist and of a way to send Rydia home.

Until then, there was nothing to do but follow Auron and hope she found her way - and take care of the fiends that crossed her path. Luca was one of the bigger towns they encountered, and Auron had been clear that cities didn’t exist in Spira. Their best bet was to follow the trail of Yuna’s pilgrimage and meet up with her halfway. But Rydia had never been good at waiting, or standing by when she could be doing something to help. So when fiends attacked the stadium, summoning the mist dragon was a no brainer, and Rydia didn’t care if Auron didn’t approve of it. People were safe now - wasn’t that more important?

When he didn’t answer for a few long minutes, she finally sighed. “So what do we do now?” she asked, not looking up at him.

His hand landed on her shoulder, surprisingly warm and gentle. In their time traveling together, Auron had been polite, but hadn’t shown much in the way of softness. Perhaps it was underneath that gruff exterior after all. “Now, I go to offer my services to Yuna,” he said. “Unless you plan to stay here?”

Rydia blinked up at him, refusing to admit there were tears in her eyes. “You would leave me behind?”

“You are your own person, yes? If that was your choice, I would do what I must. I have a promise to keep.”

“It’s not like I get any choices in this situation. I’m stuck with you, aren’t I?” She rubbed at her eyes with the heels of her hands. “What promise could be so important that you’d track down a girl halfway across the world just to say hello?”

Auron didn’t answer. He stepped away from her, hoisted his katana over his shoulder, and walked off, never looking back.

“Hey!” Rydia scrambled to her feet. “Where are you going?”

He didn’t slow down, and Rydia wasn’t about to let him get away. He was her only link to Mist, even if he’d only been there briefly, and she hadn’t yet given up hope of getting back to her village. Being on her own, without her family, was hard enough, and the thought of navigating this foreign world by herself was terrifying. Rydia had to stay with Auron.

And maybe Lady Yuna might be able to tell her something helpful along the way.

***

Maester Seymour and his attendants met Yuna and her guardians on the balcony at the edge of Mi’ihen Highroad, overlooking Luca and the stadium. Though his words were kind, and he spoke of meeting up with her again, but something about his tone didn’t reach his eyes. Yuna kept a grip on her staff and nodded politely, still trying to figure out why a Maester, of all people, would take such an interest in her.

Lulu pointed out that Seymour was likely looking out for a summoner on pilgrimage, the success of which would benefit all of Spira. Still, Yuna couldn’t help but feel as if there was something else, something she couldn’t put her finger on. Something that made her not want to trust the Maester, though he hadn’t done anything untoward towards her. She didn’t want to linger on it, though, not when there were other matters to attend to.

Like Wakka retiring from his blitzball career, when the Aurochs had finally won a game, in order to become her full time guardian. “Are you sure?” Yuna asked, watching Wakka’s face as he toyed with his blitzball, passing it back and forth between his hands.

“Never liked long goodbyes anyway,” Wakka said. “Sorry for making you wait, Yuna. I had some promises to keep, ya? From now on, I’m your full-time guardian.”

Those promises had meant so much to Wakka, and the last thing Yuna wanted was to see a man she loved as a brother give up on his dreams to support her. Still, she knew there was no changing his mind, so she bowed to him, deeply. “Then welcome back… Sir Wakka.”

Wakka grinned at his new title, spinning the blitzball on one finger. “That’s me! Let’s get going, ya?”

The sound of footsteps on the stairs carried up towards them, and Yuna’s guardians tensed. The last thing she expected to see was a man with his left arm tucked into his haori and a katana slung over his right shoulder. Yuna blinked, for she recognized this man - someone she hadn’t seen since her father left for his own pilgrimage a decade earlier. “Sir Auron!”

Collectively, Yuna, Wakka, and Lulu all bowed to Auron in Yevon’s prayer. Auron didn’t flinch. “Yuna.”

“Sir?” she asked, voice timid as she rose back to standing.

“I wish to become your guardian. Do you accept?”

Yuna gasped. Sir Auron was a legend in the temples, for guarding her father, Lord Braska, and helping defeat Sin. Any summoner in their right minds would love to have him at their side for the battles that lay ahead. But why he’d want to dedicate his time and lay his life on the line for her, of all people, was beyond her.

Wakka, however, found his words first. “You’re serious?”

“You refuse?” Auron raised one eyebrow over his sunglasses.

“No, no! We accept!” Yuna glanced over at her other guardians. “Right, everyone?”

“O-Of course!” Wakka stammered. “No problem at all!”

“But why?” Lulu’s voice still held a current of calm within it, but Yuna knew her well enough to know when she was confused.

“I promised Braska.”

One hand went to toy with her necklace, remembering the last time she saw her father alive. The hugs he had given her, how he told her to be strong, that he loved her. “You promised my father?” Auron had smiled at Yuna then, too, though it had been small. She could still see hints of that younger man in his face, but it was hardened now. Perhaps the pilgrimage had done that to him. “Thank you, Sir Auron. You’re welcome to join us.”

As she bowed to Auron, she saw a wisp of green fabric behind him. Yuna let her eyes travel upward, from the high boots to the emerald leotard with gold detailing, a cape clasped to the thin straps at the girl’s shoulders. And her hair stood out from the crowd, a vibrant shade of green, as if her outfit were designed to match.

“And this one,” Auron said, gesturing to the girl, “comes with me.”

“Hi!” the girl said, flicking green hair out of her eyes. “I’m Rydia!”

“The summoner from the stadium!” Yuna beamed, happy to finally put a name to the face. She’d thought she’d have to ask around to find this mysterious summoner, and now she was standing right here, like Auron had brought her some sort of gift. “Your aeon was so powerful! Truly magical. Thank you for helping those you could.”

“Of course! I wasn’t going to let anyone get hurt if I could do something about it.” Rydia paused, crinkling her nose. “Wait. Aeon?”

Yuna blinked. “Yes? The dragon creature you called? I’ve not seen one like that before. I must find its temple so I can pray to its fayth.”

“You mean the mist dragon?”

“Yes?”

“Huh.” Rydia shrugged. “We never called them aeons. Eidolons, my father told me.”

The other members of the party glanced at one another behind Yuna’s back. Auron kept silent, as if he knew all this information already, letting the conversation play out. “We’ve never heard that term before,” Lulu said, narrowing her eyes.

“And I’ve never heard of aeons,” Rydia answered, “but if they’re magical creatures that you can call upon in times of aid? Seems like the same thing to me.”

“You are also on a pilgrimage, then?” Yuna asked, her heart falling a little at the thought that Auron may have promised himself to guard two summoners. It was unheard of, but Sir Auron was a legend. If anyone could manage it, he would be the only one who would try, and no one would stand in their way.

“No, no. I just want to get home.” Rydia shifted her weight from one delicate foot back to the other. “To the village of Mist! Do you know how to get there?”

Everyone was silent for a moment. “No such thing as Mist, ya?” Wakka said, scratching the back of his head. “Unless Sin got it and wiped it off the map. Lots of villages get lost that way.”

Rydia’s face fell. “Sin did come,” she admitted softly, “but recently. Just a couple weeks ago.” She glanced over at Auron for confirmation, who nodded. “So you should have still heard of it. Right?”

“Rydia is under the effects of Sin’s toxin,” Auron added. “It is taking some time for it to wear off.”

Silence washed over the group, and Yuna’s heart broke as Rydia tried to control her emotions, watching them all flicker through the girl’s blue eyes. To deal the amnesia and confusion that came with being close to Sin was a fate Yuna didn’t wish on anyone. If it was within her powers to help, then she would. Leaving Rydia behind wouldn’t do anyone any favors, and Yuna had witnessed for herself how powerful her magic was. “Perhaps we will encounter it along the way?” she asked, trying to be hopeful, though she didn’t know of anywhere called Mist, either. “And you can tell me about your eidolons, too.”

“Yuna,” Lulu laid a hand on her arm, “you mean for her to come with us?”

“She has Sir Auron’s trust,” Yuna said. “And that means she will also have mine.” Yuna bowed to the other summoner, smile twitching at the corners of her lips. “Welcome to our pilgrimage, Rydia. May the road ahead be kind to us.”

There were tears in Rydia’s eyes as she bowed back, hands pressed together at her heart instead of cupped in the traditional Yevon prayer. Yuna almost asked if she’d forgotten the prayer, but refrained, not wanting to stress the girl out any further. Being under the influence of the toxin was hard enough, and her memory would come back in time. For now, there was nothing to do but go forward.

“Now, we go to the temple at Djose,” Yuna said, gesturing towards the Highroad ahead of them. “And guardians? Don’t forget to smile!”

***

Traveling was better when there were more people around to help pass the time. Auron never spoke much and took up the rear alongside the huge cat-like being, their silence suiting each other. The redhead with the ball and the woman in pseudo bondage gear led the way, the path worn, like it had been used for years and years.

Which left Rydia with Yuna in the middle of the pack. From the start, she was nothing like Rydia had expected summoners of Spira to be. In her village, most had the gift of eidolons and magic, and thus it was normal to practice together, share knowledge and struggles and accomplishments. But the people here treated Yuna like she was some sort of saint. Everyone who stopped her, from the old historian who wanted to chat the party’s collective ears off to the little girl with her mother, received the same warm smile and gentle words.

“Lady Yuna, are you going to bring us the Calm?” the little girl, named Calli, asked, hands folded behind her back.

Yuna kneeled down to be at Calli’s level. “Yes. Very soon.”

“Yay!” Calli started to run around Yuna, and Rydia smiled, waving at the girl as she passed her by.

“We’re looking forward to another Calm, My Lady Summoner,” Calli’s mother said, gently stopping Calli and tucking her back into her side.

“I’ll do my best.” Yuna bowed to them both, watching them walk off in the other direction.

Since it didn’t look like there were any fiends wandering in their direction, and no one seemed concerned about heading out right away, Rydia figured it didn’t hurt to ask. “What’s the Calm?”

“The Calm,” Lulu said, like she was talking to a child, “is a time of peace. It comes after a summoner defeats Sin, and lasts until Sin reappears.”

“That… doesn’t make any sense.” Rydia had seen Sin for herself. A giant creature with what looked to be a thousand eyes, rising out of the water and spewing fire. The idea that it would be defeated only to come back again was terrifying.

“Sin dies,” Yuna explained, “and is reborn.”

Rydia shook her head. “But can’t we defeat it for good? So it won’t keep destroying villages and killing people?” No one immediately answered. “Or do you just like, accept it? That this big ugly thing is going to come back one day and maybe you’re next?”

Reaching out, Wakka spun his blitzball on the tip of one finger, watching the ball move rather than meeting anyone’s eyes. “You really don’t remember anything, do ya?”

“I’d like to think I’d remember some immortal, apparently indestructible creature who lit my village on fire and watched us burn and die.” She still saw the flames when she closed her eyes, heard the screams of those she’d grown up with. That night would haunt her for the rest of her life. “Especially if it happened more than once.”

Lulu glared at Wakka, and only then did he stop toying with the ball. “The toxin,” she said. “It must have been worse than we thought.” Though she was coming to Rydia’s defense, it didn’t sound like she was, and Rydia fought the urge to shrink inside herself, wishing she hadn’t said anything at all. Auron would have answered her questions later. “Sin is our punishment for our vanity. If we atone, one day, Sin will not return.”

“That’s a lot of ‘maybe’ to be riding on something huge like that.” Rydia almost rolled her eyes, but she caught Auron staring at her, reminding her of her place, that the village she knew was gone. If she had any hope of returning there someday, she needed these people to help guide the way. “And summoners are the only ones who can defeat Sin?”

“Yes!” Yuna beamed. “I have been training most of my life for this journey. I can defeat Sin. I will defeat Sin.”

“And I’m a summoner too, so I guess that means I can help.” Rydia held out a hand to Yuna. “To working together?”

“Two summoners on the same pilgrimage?” Lulu raised an eyebrow, dismissing the idea, and Rydia rolled her eyes. “It’s not been done before.”

“I want to help,” Rydia repeated. “And I have the magic and eidolons to do so.”

Wakka groaned. “Aeons! They’re called aeons!”

“Eidolons,” Rydia said, “and I have more than just the mist dragon, thank you very much. Besides, I thought it was Yuna’s call.”

The other summoner nodded, sliding her hand into Rydia’s. Her skin was warm, a few callouses from how she carried her staff, but otherwise so soft and gentle. Yuna gave her hand a squeeze, holding a moment longer than usual before letting go, and Rydia swore she could still feel her touch lingering in her palm. “Then we shall be glad to have you, Lady Rydia.” Then she turned to the rest of her guardians. “Let’s continue on. Hopefully we might be able to make the travel agency before nightfall.”

With that, the conversation was over. A sour look stayed on Lulu’s face, but Rydia was as smug as she could be. Sin was evil and had hurt so many people. If she could right those wrongs, then she had a responsibility to help. Her parents, rest their souls, would have wanted that. And then Rydia could find her way back to Mist once the threat had been eliminated.

All that mattered right now was the way Yuna smiled over at her, and the butterflies she made in Rydia’s stomach. It was almost enough to distract Rydia from the constant ache of being so far from her home.

Almost.

***

The travel agency was a godsend. The accommodations were better than what Rydia was used to when she and Auron traveled earlier, and the workers assumed she was one of Yuna’s guardians. No one bothered to correct them, and as such she was given a room with Lulu. The other mage promptly shut the door before Rydia could go in, however, which left her with nowhere to go. Most of the workers spoke another language - Al Bhed, Auron explained - and weren’t much for conversation.

So Rydia wandered. She already knew what fiends lingered on the road, but the agency and the stables looked to be well-patrolled and she wasn’t going far. Just past the stable was a small hill overlooking the water below, the sun setting on the horizon. The oranges and reds bathed the landscape, and Rydia smiled to herself. Spira was a simple world, perhaps a dangerous one, but there was still beauty to be found here.

The last rays of sunlight silhouetted a young woman’s form, legs tucked underneath her, shoulder-length hair blowing in the wind. From the moment they’d met, Yuna had always been surrounded by one guardian or another, never taking a moment for herself. It crossed Rydia’s mind to leave her be, but when else would she be able to talk to the other summoner in private? She did notice Auron lingering by the door to the travel agency, also granting Yuna her privacy while still keeping guard, but she ignored him. If Yuna wasn’t interested in talking, then Rydia would go, but she wouldn’t know what happened until she tried.

She kept her footsteps soft, not wanting to disturb Yuna when she looked so much at peace. “Hey you,” she called over, softly, voice carried on the wind, “do you mind if I join you?”

Yuna looked over her shoulder and smiled, shifting to pat the ground next to her. “Not at all.”

That was all the invitation Rydia needed. Taking her cape off, she laid it on the ground like a blanket so she would have a spot to sit beside Yuna. Together they looked out over the sunset in quiet companionship. “I wish I could live in a place like this,” Yuna finally murmured after a few long minutes of silence. “Peaceful. Living with a smile on my face everyday.”

“Then why don’t you?” Everyone had a place that felt more like home to them. For Rydia that had been Mist, its tight knit community and the people who knew her the best. “This place seems like it’s a little remote, but it’s not to say you couldn’t set up a home here if you wanted.”

Yuna sighed. “It’s not my calling.”

“I see.” Rydia did, in a way. It didn’t mean she didn’t also believe that Yuna could come back here and make a life for herself once her pilgrimage was finished. “You want to defeat Sin.”

“Yes. So children like Calli can grow up in peace. So we can go to bed at night and not worry if our homes will still be there come morning.” Yuna looked down at her hands, folded in her lap. “Not everyone is born with the summoner’s gift. It would be selfish to waste it.”

“Perhaps. You have a good heart, Yuna. A blind man could see that.” Certainly more pure of heart than Rydia thought of herself, anyway. She just wanted to find a way home, knowing she didn’t fit in here in Spira. Too many questions and not enough answers. “I think you can do it, you know. Beat Sin.”

She bowed her head, brown hair falling into her eyes. “You really think so?”

“Of course! We wouldn’t have made it this far down the Highroad without your magic to keep us going.” Magic that had once been at Rydia’s fingertips, too, but healing magic had escaped her ever since Sin attacked Mist. Maybe she could get those spells back someday, but she did wonder if it was a side effect of that “toxin” that Auron liked to blame all of her questions on. The battles they’d faced while traveling did give Rydia a chance to prove that she could still cast some offensive magic, and her eidolons were still with her too. “It’s impressive to watch. The best summoners in my village would be envious of your skills.”

“Really?” The flush lit up Yuna’s whole face, and she ducked her chin as she looked away, gaze back out over the water. “I felt the same watching your mist dragon above the stadium.”

Rydia giggled, unable to help herself. “Auron was so mad,” she said, covering her mouth with her hand so her words didn’t carry to the waiting guardian by the entrance to the travel agency. “He was all ‘you have to watch what you can do’ and ‘people will ask questions.’” Rydia rolled her eyes. “I saw my chance to help and I took it. Wouldn’t you do the same?”

“Absolutely.” Something eased in Yuna’s posture, and she rested a hand next to Rydia’s, almost close enough to feel the heat radiating off the other summoner’s skin. “Will you come with us?”

“With you where?”

“I know you’re looking to go home to your village, but…” Yuna bit her bottom lip and met Rydia’s eyes. “Will you come with us to battle Sin? Join us on our pilgrimage?”

Hesitating, Rydia glanced over her shoulder at Auron. From here, she couldn’t tell if the guardian was awake or not, leaning back against the building, still as a statue. “Do you mean as one of your guardians?”

Yuna’s fingers twitched next to Rydia’s, brushing over her knuckles. A chill ran through Rydia’s body that had nothing to do with the setting sun. “If you wish it.”

“Don’t you have to clear it with your other guardians, or…”

“Guardians are my decision, and mine alone.” Looking down at their hands, Yuna drew a breath and moved her fingers over Rydia’s, a silent invitation to lace them together. Rydia moved without thinking, remembering their gentle touch from the balcony overlooking Luca and how she hadn’t wanted to let it go, and how eager she was to have it back again. “I want you to stay. Please?”

How was anyone to say no to Yuna when she asked like that? Rydia looked over at her, one green eye and one blue, face bathed in the warm glow from the sunset beyond. She’d been a goner the moment Yuna bowed to her that first time, but even more so now. If her magic could keep Yuna safe as she journeyed to battle the creature that destroyed Rydia’s home, then that’s what she would do. “Of course I’ll stay,” Rydia breathed, leaning her head against Yuna’s. “I’d be honored.”

They sat like that for a long while, watching the sun dip beneath the horizon. A breeze came with the darkening sky, and Rydia tucked Yuna into her shoulder, arm around her back, so they could keep each other warm. It wasn’t until the stars were twinkling above them that Auron cleared his throat, and his footsteps seemed louder for the quiet of the world around them. “It’s not safe to be out here much past nightfall,” he said, and though it was dark, Rydia swore she saw him smirking behind his collar. “Yuna, you need your rest.”

“Oh!” Startled, Yuna jumped up from her seat, brushing dirt from her skirt. “Of course. Good evening, Sir Auron, Lady Rydia.” She bowed to him, the movements seeming rushed, but no less genuine, before making her way into the travel agency.

Rydia moved to follow, only to be stopped by Auron’s hand on her shoulder. “Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” he asked, concerned, but without the reprimand she might have expected otherwise.

“No,” Rydia admitted, “but I haven’t since we got to Spira.”

“Yuna must put her journey first. It is her duty as a summoner.”

“And it’s my place to help her get there.” She squeezed Auron’s hand briefly, and she swore she saw softness in the old guardian’s eyes. “We’ll be fine. I promise.”

She could still feel the weight of Auron’s eyes on her as she went inside, finding the room she was supposed to share with Lulu already locked from the other side. Kimahri waited outside Yuna’s door and spared her a passing glance before looking away. It didn’t matter where she slept. There was a roof over her head and peace in her soul. In spite of the strange turn of events that had become her life over the last few weeks, Rydia finally felt a bit at ease.

With that thought in mind, she leaned back against the door and smiled to herself. Something good was going to come of all this. Rydia was sure of it.