Lulu doesn't know what it is, but as they flank Yuna and walk forward, ever closer to the end she both hopes for and dreads, his words echo. Braska asked me to, he had said in Luca. Braska asked me to.Over and over, and the Highroad is long and the phrase spirals hundreds of times in her head. She tries to poke through it, eyes on Yuna's straight back as they walk forward. Auron is behind her, silent in voice and step, but loud in how he inhabits the space, as if his presence alone is a sharp clap of noise in the solemnity of prayer, a sacreligious word in a temple full of priests."Your thoughts are loud," he says.The surprise shows; of course it does. She doesn't stop walking, or falter, but she catches her moogle tighter to her. "I apologize.""No need," he says. "You should ask, if you are so curious."They are far enough from the others that it wouldn't hurt. She keeps her eyes ahead. "High Summoner Braska asked you to lead his daughter down this path.""That was not a question."Lulu risks a look back. "You are as clever as they all say." She looks away, because it almost hurts to look at him, a legend. Her mind is flailing away from the truth of him and she doesn't understand why. "Was your High Summoner a clairvoyant, then, to know the future?"Auron snickers and she almost does stumble then, his voice deep and amused. "No such thing," Auron says. "He was a know-it-all. Even you can admit that's worse."Lulu's questions have no answers, but she suddenly feels comfortable in a way she hadn't. The phrase keeps spiraling, over and over, but she's not going to find the solution, she thinks. Not yet.
Her hands are still shaking, a potion is trailed across her skirt and the ground and she has already cursed herself for never taking the time to learn even the cursory cure magics. She was always relying on Yuna, whose healing magic was so warm and comforting, so unlike hers, which is more like salt water, quenching a thirst in all the wrong ways."Let me," he says.Lulu freezes. The sand is cold underneath her legs where she had fallen, and her arm burns.He bends beside her. His hand is warm, when it cups her elbow, and he uses water to clean the wound. It drips, staining the sand under them red. He follows with a potion that's cool as he pours it along the gash, and then his hands, green and red smearing together under his fingertips, stinging, and she holds her breath and looks at him."I fell," she says. "The rocks.""You hit your head." His reply is soft, all the gruffness gone. "We need to regroup, and go care for Yuna, before she dances herself to death." The tone is wry, but there's sadness there that any other time she was try to pluck out. Not now, though, not not, maybe never. She feels sick.His thumb brushes along her arm, rubbing away the black of the potion, revealing white skin and a jagged red line. "Time," he says. He hasn't let go yet."I'm not afraid of scars," she replies."And you're smart enough to know what I mean." He rises. "Yuna, now."She watches him go, and Yuna needs them now, it's time, but she still takes a moment to press her face into the soft belly of her moogle and think of the tears she will not cry.