And after a million years, here's the next chapter!

Thank you for your reviews and sticking with this story! They really kept my muse going while I was stuck on one stupid part of this chapter. Literally, just one. Everything else came together after I got through that one part. Ugh.

Enjoy and let me know what you think in the reviews!

Chapter 14

Prompto woke to bright lights and swearing in an accent that he usually associated with Hermione or Ignis. The man in the cell in front of him was neither of his friends. His hair was a lighter blond than his own; he was probably from Tenebrae. He didn't look good; skin pale and sweaty, clothes torn in multiple places, various cuts and bruises in different stages marring the parts of his body Prompto could see. The Empire had done a number on him. It didn't bode well for the gunman, that he was sure of.

He couldn't remember much before he'd woken up in this cell. He recalled being alarmed at the tremors that signaled his friends had succeeded in waking up the Astral. He'd given half a thought on joining them but had decided against it. They'd given him his assignment, one he'd been thankful for. Being Noctis' best friend had changed his life in the years he'd known him, but Prompto could say he hadn't been prepared for the journey they'd been on so far. Oh, he laughed everything off and acted like it was all going to be okay but sometimes he wondered just what he'd signed up for when The Marshall had approached him about being a part of the Crownsguard. He wouldn't trade his friendship with Noctis for anything, his friends were the only real family he had, but he missed the easy going life he'd led where his biggest worry was if the lighting would cooperate for the perfect shot he was desperate to take that day.

He wondered how that family was faring right now. Had they realized he'd been taken? Had they made it out of the Meteor? He didn't even know what day it was, how long he'd been gone.

The man in front of him groaned, opening glowing gray eyes filled with resignation as he looked around. Prompto realized he was chained to the wall with shackles on his wrist. He peered at Prompto, his voice devoid of any emotion as he said, "You're new."

Prompto was free to move around unhindered, the only thing keeping him prisoner the complex lock on his cell. He crawled to the front instead of remaining against the wall, letting the man see him better instead of trying to strain his eyes. "Yeah, I think I was just brought in. Maybe? I don't remember much after being ambushed by the Magitek."

The man snorted, "Tell me about it."

Prompto asked, "Who are you? Why do they have you locked up?" Why were they beating you, he wanted to ask.

"I know the wrong person apparently." He looked to the side, his eyes finding the small window across the room. Prompto hadn't noticed it before. "Only she would get mixed up in another war. I swear that woman doesn't know how to lay low and keep her head down, pissed these fuckers off enough that they have a bounty on her head." He rolled his eyes, a self-deprecating chuckle leaving his mouth. "I just had to fall for a Gryffindor, bleeding hearts the lot of them."

Prompto's eyes narrowed at the term. Hadn't he seen that somewhere, a piece of clothing maybe? It was an unusual term, one he'd filed away to ask about later. He just couldn't remember where from at the moment. "That blows, man. But why keep you? You didn't do anything."

The man frowned. "To get information out of me, not that I'd give them any. They'll probably use me as bait eventually. She'll come for me too, that one's always been loyal once she decides to care about you." He shifted, his face screwing up in pain when his arm bent a little bit in the wrong way. "Merlin's saggy balls, I'm going to make them all pay when I get out of here."

Prompto's eyes widened, the familiar name Hermione used as a curse word sometimes having fallen from the man's mouth. "Do you know Hermione?"

The man stilled, his mutters ceasing at the name. "I don't know who you're talking about."

But Prompto had seen it, the quick recognition in his eyes before he'd deliberately forced his expression blank. "It's okay! I'm a friend of hers." He shook his head, but Prompto didn't stop. "It's true! If I had my camera, I'd show you. She has a lot of curly hair, fights with it regularly. She can use the King's magic." Prompto debated with himself but knew this one piece of information would make his fellow captive believe him. "She has letters carved into her arm that she didn't put there herself."

The man's eyes snapped up to him, wide and disbelieving. "Where is she? Is she okay? Does she know I'm here?"

Prompto thought about how aggressive Hermione had been with Ardyn. "I think she does." But she hadn't told them. "What's your name?"

"Draco," he said. "Is that why you're here? Because you know her?"

Prompto shook his head. "Not exactly, but you don't have to worry. My friends will come for me, and she's with them. They'll have us both out, and probably destroy wherever we're at in the process."

Draco slumped against the wall. "I can't believe she's alright. We all thought… well never mind that. Everyone was wrong, obviously."

Before Prompto could ask any more questions, the door leading out of this room opened. Two Magitek dragged a beaten body past them, Prompto recognizing the curly hair and Crownsguard clothes immediately. "Hermione!" he cried out, standing. He cast a quick look to Draco who was watching the proceedings unfazed. Loqui marched in after them, his appearance triumphant in the wake of this accomplishment. If she was here, did that mean the others were captured as well?

The commander didn't pay any attention to Prompto, focusing all his attention on Draco. He had the Magitek position her in front of his cell, her back to Prompto. They held her by the shoulders, making her kneel in front of them. She didn't raise her head, posture defeated. Loqui was grinning as he gestured to the girl. "Looks like we didn't need you after all. One word about you and she was surrendering herself to us. You'll have to forgive her appearance. We didn't part on the best of terms the last time we met."

Draco didn't bother to look at Hermione. "She's not that stupid."

Loqui laughed, his head thrown back in delight. "I beg to differ. Oh, how she begged us to let you go. She promised us anything to ensure you weren't harmed."

Draco ignored him, finding the ceiling fascinating all of a sudden.

Loqi's smile faded just a bit, pulling an ornate pistol from a compartment on his armor. He leveled it at Hermione's head, Prompto watching in horror but unable to do anything. "It's too bad you were so defiant. She'd give us all the information we want, but I find I want it to come from you. You need to learn who your betters are, that Niflheim will not be trifled with."

Draco snorted, "I know who my betters are. There aren't many, and you definitely don't make the cut."

"Last chance," Loqi warned.

Prompto slammed his hands on the glass. What was Draco doing? This man was going to murder Hermione! "Stop!"

Loqi ignored him, studying Draco's face. With a cruel smirk, he pulled the trigger, Hermione's body jerking at the impact of the bullet on her skull. The Magitek threw her body to the ground, letting blood and other matter spill over the floor. Prompto cried out, sinking to his knees in shock. Draco watched with little interest, making a face of disgust as some fluid seeped through the bottom of his cell.

Loqi was no longer smiling. "We just killed the girl you've been protecting."

Draco sneered. "Do you think I'm stupid? I knew that it wasn't Hermione. You don't understand; I know how this works. I used to be one of the bad guys. She has far more value than I do. You would never have killed her to get information out of me. Go be a B-rated villain somewhere else."

Then the Magitek and Hermione were gone, vanished right in front of them. Delighted clapping sounded around the room. Ardyn walked into the room, grin out in full force. "Well done, Draco! I knew you wouldn't be so easily fooled." He gestured to the angry Loqi. "Let's go, Commander Tummelt. We have other things to attend to."

Prompto stayed quiet until after they'd left, still in shock over what he'd just witnessed. "How did you know?" he cracked out.

Draco breathed deep, closing his eyes as his head fell back. "I've known Hermione for years, since we were stupid kids. Nothing they could do to her is worse than what's she's already gone through. She would be kicking and screaming should they ever take her prisoner. Besides, I know every inch of her better than anyone else. This illusion did not compare."

Ignis shook his head as he redid the splints and bindings on Hermione's arm. "I cannot fathom you having the bad luck to break your dominant arm in all three places. Should your healing not take effect, I estimate a recovery time of 8-12 weeks. Since I think it will unless we encounter any more difficulties that lead to further injury, I think you'll be fully healed before then."

Hermione groaned, "You do realize the kind of life we lead, don't you?"

Ignis' lips twitched as he stepped back. "I suggest taking it easy for the most part. Use your magic from a distance. We were remiss in not training both your hands for your chosen weapons, but we'll make due." He frowned as Noctis stomped out of the camper they were staying in at Wiz's Chocobo Post. "Still no word from Cindy?"

Noctis shook his head, shoving his hands in his pockets. "None. She promised to call when she had something."

Hermione blew out a breath in frustration. "Cor wants us to stay put until he has something as well. He doesn't like that we're almost two people down."

Noctis scoffed, "Yeah? Well, it's not his best friend stuck with Niflheim." He stomped off after that, headed towards the black Chocobo and her baby.

Ignis sighed, "I'll go talk to him."

Gladio walked out of the camper as well, nodding to Ignis as he pulled Hermione off her seat and took it. He settled her on his lap, mindful of her wounded arm. "What's the verdict?"

"Broken in three different places," she responded cheerfully. "I'll be quite useless with the daggers for a while. I'm afraid fighting with my left hand isn't as strong as the right."

Gladio grunted, "We'll fix that. For now, you just let us do the fighting."

Hermione rolled her eyes, letting her head fall back onto his shoulder. "You mean, I'm forbidden from running around and stabbing things? How ever will I survive?"

Gladio growled low, leaning down and nipping her neck for her cheek. Hermione tilted her head to the side, giving him further access should he want it. He did, biting her a little harder and then soothing it with his tongue. He inched a hand under her shirt, grazing his fingers up her abdomen until he passed over the middle of her bra.

Ignis kept his face straight as he headed for the camper, barely sparing the two a glance. "I meant it when I said you need to take it easy, Hermione. That means no fooling around."

Moment broken, Gladio buried his face in her neck, laughing softly. Hermione frowned after Ignis but didn't protest. She waited until Gladio had lifted his head before re-positioning herself so that her head was on his shoulder. Usually she would curl into his chest, but her broken arm prevented that.

Gladio ran a hand down her hair, the curls still tangled from earlier. "It's good to see your eyes back to normal, no more red for you."

Hermione laughed, "I used to think my eyes were boring, but now I'm so glad they're brown. I don't know how I'd like it if the Astral's decided to take up permanent residence in my head."

"You'd be a messenger then," Ignis said as he walked back out. Delicious smells wafted from the open door. He'd started to cook. "It is considered a great honor to become a conduit for the God's."

"No thank you," she said simply.

"What are you cooking, Iggy?" Gladio asked.

"One of Noctis' favorites." Ignis looked at the prince as he stared off into space while absently petting the Chocobo's. "I'm hoping it will cheer him up."

It didn't much to Ignis' dismay. The prince ate, but he didn't speak unless someone asked him a direct question. He retired not long after dinner, citing tiredness from the long day. They heard the door to one of the room's slam, Hermione wincing as she heard something break a moment later. She was going to have to fix that before Wiz found out.

Ignis sighed, casting his eyes to the clouds that had begun to form when they'd settled down for dinner. Hermione laid her good hand on his shoulder in a comforting squeeze. "You tried, Ignis. I would just let him be tonight."

Ignis nodded, reaching up and patting her hand in thanks. He stood, gathering the dirty dishes. "What was the prince trying to ask you about after our fight with the Archaean?"

Hermione moved to help him stack, but he shot her a look that had her hunching her shoulders and sitting on a vacant seat. Gladio rubbed a hand over his mouth to hide his smile, but Hermione saw it. She sent him a small glare, rolling her eyes when the smile got bigger. "We had a vision when the Archaean disappeared. Princess Lunafreya was with him, speaking to him I believe. She was holding a trident, one I could feel was imbued with magic, but I don't think she meant to fight him. I think she was waking him up."

Ignis paused in his gathering to look at her. "She must be forming a covenant with them, asking them to help Noctis."

She pursed her lips as she thought about it. "That makes sense. The first king had to gain the Astral's allegiance when he stopped the daemon manifestations the first time. I guess we wouldn't be incorrect in thinking Noctis has to do the same. The Archaean was the first, but I doubt he'll be the last Astral we have to deal with." She stopped talking when she noticed Ignis and Gladio were staring at her. "What?"

Ignis was the first to speak. "I did not know King Somnus was required to forge alliances with the Astral's before he could end the daemon invasion the first time. It is not in our history."

It wasn't? Merlin, how was she supposed to explain this? She decided to feign ignorance. "Really? Well, I guess different countries tend to have different historical accounts. Anyway, if she's forming covenants, we should expect another test of sorts to come our way." Hermione looked up at the clouds, noticing they were darkening in color. It could be just a typical storm, but...They wouldn't have long to wait if that was who she thought it was.

Gladio said, "She must be pretty dedicated to helping Noct. Even if Niflheim doesn't think she has the ring, they'd still want the Oracle back under their power. Staying in Lucian territory is a great risk."

"She doesn't have a choice," Hermione explained. "Only the Oracle can awaken an Astral. It is their duty to help the Lucian Kings, even more so if they happen to be the Chosen as Noctis is. She'll continue, even if it is to her detriment."

Ignis had narrowed his eyes as Hermione seemed to be a wealth of information that even he did not know. Once again, things were not adding up when it came to the princess. How she was able to acquire the right medical supplies for her arm was one, certain things during their travel another. Then there was the secret she was obviously keeping during her loss of composure with the Niflheim Chancellor. It bothered him, but Ignis didn't know how to bring it up with the rest of the group without angering them. They were drawn to her in different ways, would not take questions to her character lightly. Her words stopped him short though, the tone of her voice sad as she spoke of the Oracle. "What do you mean?" he asked. "Is something wrong with Princess Lunafreya?"

Hermione looked surprised by his question, as if she'd forgotten she wasn't alone during her speech. She shrugged. "Waking a God is no easy feat, I'd imagine. You've seen how I get when I use too much magic. Without rest and proper recovery time, I risk endangering myself. Excluding Titan and Ifrit, he brought this plague to Eos in the first place, she has four other God's to wake and convince to align with Noctis. And if she's as dedicated to her calling as I think she is, she'll be performing her regular duties along the way. All this will take a toll on her, one I don't think she'll easily recover from."

Hermione forced herself to stop talking. She was rambling, she knew. Who knew what kind of information they had their hands on? Did they even know that Ifrit turned on humans long ago? Standing up, she gave them what she hoped was a convincing grin. "I think I'm going to go clean up, get some sleep. Hopefully, Cindy will have something for us in the morning."

Gladio stood as well. "I'll help you. No way are you going to be able to do anything with that arm."

Well, she could, but Hermione didn't know how to decline his help without answering why. She nodded, entering the trailer and headed straight for the small bathroom. Gladio was right behind her, his large frame making the restroom seem tiny. Hermione wanted to laugh as he accidentally bumped his elbow into a wall. "Still want to help me out?"

Gladio nodded. "You'll just make a mess of yourself if I don't. We'll manage. Start the water. I'll go grab a trash bag."

Hermione did as he asked, careful not to let the water hit her arm. She didn't have a cast, but she had no desire to have to go through the torture of drying her splints and changing out her bandages the muggle way just to avoid suspicion. She'd already bungled things up earlier; she was sure she was going to have to be more careful around Ignis until he forgot about her slip-ups.

Gladio came in a moment later, garbage bag in hand. "Let's get you out of your clothes before we put this on."

Hermione sighed, sitting on the toilet so that he could take off her shoes. "This is not how I imagined you'd see me naked."

Gladio laughed, "Me either, sweetheart. Don't worry; I'll be getting naked too. Gotta wash that hair of yours." He winked at her. "Plus, we'll save water by showering together."

The bathroom was steamed up by the time they made their way into the shower, Hermione's arm secured in its cover. Her face was in full blush mode, Hermione having to fight the urge to look lower than Gladio's waist. The man was doing a valiant job of respecting the line they had yet to cross, keeping his eyes forward or on her face.

He wrapped his arms around her, bringing them close until her back was pressed against his chest. He kissed the top of her head. "See? This isn't so bad."

Hermione made a sound that was neither an agreement or disagreement. She wished she could be as carefree as he was about this. It was just so intimate. She could feel he was affected by their close proximity.

Gladio reached over for the bottle of generic soap, keeping his arms around her while he squirted some onto his palm. After rubbing his hands together, he ran his hands slowly down her body, lathering her limbs and torso as he worked his way down. Her breath hitched as he passed over the junction of her thighs, his fingers barely skimming the curls before moving on. Hermione thought she was going to die by the time he made his way back up. His palm brushed against the trash bag Hermione had forgotten completely in her quest to remain breathing while he washed her.

It crinkled, the sound out of place in the steamy bathroom.

Tension popping like a bubble, they broke into fits of laughter, Hermione's snorts mixing with his deep chuckles. Turning in his arms, she wrapped her good arm around him, pressing a chaste kiss to his chest. Gladio ran a hand down her back, bringing her closer for one last squeeze before turning her around. "Alright, let's do your hair."

They stayed in the shower long after the water had gone cold, content to just hold each other after the long day they'd had. It had been Hermione's first confrontation with a divine being. She'd known they were out there, her experiences with the Archaean before this had been proof enough, but it was different than coming face to face with one. At that moment, her thoughts had been entirely on making sure they all got out alive, but a part of her had been awed by his presence. How could Niflheim not have been affected by the power, the beauty of it all?

Gladio helped her dress once they got out, Hermione bruising her lip to keep from crying with every move of her arm. Ignis was waiting for them when they stepped out, a vial in his hand. "Normally, these curatives only work on injuries not related to the bones, but this is the best we have."

She took it gratefully, watching him as she swallowed it down. He was observing her, saying nothing. She set the empty vial on the counter, resisting the urge to hunch her shoulders at his gaze. He'd looked at her like that when they'd first met, like she was a puzzle he was trying to figure out.

She took the second room, all parties agreeing that Noctis should be left alone for the night. When Hermione was finally alone, her thoughts turned to Draco. Aranea hadn't called her yet; it was discouraging. Loqi's a bloodthirsty man. She couldn't help but remember Ardyn's words to her. Merlin, what was happening to him? Why was he here in the first place?

How was it that he would be the one to follow her here and not Harry or Ron?

Hermione put a stop to those thoughts as soon as they took a turn, fiercely reminding herself that they had families. She didn't want them here, in the middle of another war and fighting for their lives. No, her world may have its fair share of issues, but it wasn't demons and world domination, not anymore.


The sky was cloudy the next morning, thunder rumbling in the distance. Noctis looked tired, bags under his eyes and clothes wrinkled. Ignis had tried getting him to eat, but he hadn't been hungry. The slow denials at his question didn't improve his disposition.

He kicked the side of the trailer. "Damn it!"

Hermione placed a hand on his shoulder, but he shrugged it off and moved away from them. Her shoulders slumped at the gesture even if she tried not to take it personally. Gladio gingerly placed his arm around her, mindful of her injured arm. "Let him be, Hermione."

"I…" Hermione glanced away. "Alright." She looked towards the wooded area. Maybe she could help in some way, but she'd need to be away from them to perform the magic.

There was a grim staring back at her.

She startled, blinking her eyes in shock, but when she opened them again, it wasn't a grim but a black dog. Gladio frowned down at her. "What's wrong?"

Hermione started pulling Gladio in the dog's direction. "That dog, do you see it?"

Gladio looked forward, raising his eyebrows as the canine walked further away from them. "Yup. He looks familiar." He pulled her to a stop. "Stay here. I'm going to grab Iggy and Noct."

She picked up her pace as soon as Gladio started jogging back. The dog was walking away from them, and Hermione was afraid he'd disappear if they let him out of their sight.

He came to a stop just a bit from the Chocobo post. Hermione caught up to him, panting slightly as she bent down to scratch his ears. Her brows furrowed when she felt a presence behind her. She stood quickly, spinning around to face the intruder.

The woman was watching her with a serene smile on her face. Hermione's eyes narrowed. "I've seen you."

"Gentiana," Noctis exclaimed as the boys caught up with her.

Gladio gave her a questioning look. "Why do you hate me?"

Hermione opened her mouth, but Gentiana was already speaking. "Hear me, oh King of the Stone. By the Stormsender's blessing, will the path to the Stone be opened. The Oracle goes hence in her King's name."

Noctis sent Gentiana a pleading look. "Luna… Where is she now?"

Gentiana only said, "The eye of the storm. When the covenant is forged, the Oracle and ring shall await their King at the walls of water. Stray not from the path."

And then she was gone. Hermione watched Noctis bend down and interact with the dog, taking a notebook out from under its bandana. She murmured, "Gentiana, one of the messengers of the Glacian."

Ignis heard her. "Yes, she is very faithful to the Oracle."

Gladio was watching Noctis as he looked to the sky. "Walls of water has to mean Altissa. We're going to have to get over there."

Ignis nodded. "Yes, it seems Caem might serve the crown as it did before."

Gladio was already pulling out his phone. "The hidden harbor. I'll get Iris on it."

Hermione was focused on the single lightning beam that had touched down for all to see. "Ramuh's trial has begun."

Noctis came up to her, shrugging. "We'll get to it after we get Prompto back."

Hermione whipped her head around to face him, Gladio and Ignis stopping what they were doing. "What the bloody hell do you mean, we'll get to it? Noctis, you can't just ignore this trial until we save Prompto. We don't even know where he is!"

Noctis glared at the ground. "He's my best friend."

She sighed, "Look, I get it, but he would understand. This is important."

"No! You don't get it!" Noctis turned his glare on her. "He never signed up for any of this! He was just the kid that wanted to be my friend. You wouldn't get that. None of your friends are in danger!"

Hermione recoiled as if slapped. Oh, she didn't get it? She didn't get it? She itched to hex him, could feel her hand sparking with her magic.

Ignis and Gladio laid hands on her shoulders, deflating her anger with their reminder that they could easily restrain her if necessary.

She tilted her chin up, eyes frosting over as she looked over him. "I think you're being stupid, but it's your call. Who cares if you piss off a deity? It isn't like Lady Lunafreya isn't risking her life to wake them up for you." She shrugged off her companion's shoulders, walking away from them and into the woods. No one followed her, and she was completely fine with that.

Her phone rang as she was fuming against a tree. She recognized the number, answering immediately. "You've found him."

Aranea chuckled, "I did. They have him at the same base you're happy-go-lucky friend was brought to. They're not all that interested in him right now, too busy working over your friend still."

She gripped the phone tighter. "Prompto's there? What about the Regalia?"

"This damn lightning storm has halted progress on moving the car, but the base they're at is where it's heading."

Hermione let out a sigh of relief. "Thank you."

"Just remember you owe me a favor, honey. I'll ping the location to you." Aranea paused, and then said, "You think instead of a favor, I can get a kiss?"

She blew out a breath, once again ending the call to the Niflheim officer's laughter.

Ignis stepped out from behind some trees. "You've managed to locate Prompto."

Hermione frowned. "What are you doing here?"

He raised a brow at her tone. "You didn't think we'd let you run off on your own, did you?" He tilted his head to the side. "Who do they have, Hermione? Is this person the reason for your meltdown with the Chancellor?"

She looked to the ground. "Don't ask, Ignis."

Ignis stepped up to her, pushing his glasses up impatiently. "What are you hiding? If you've been lying all this time-"

"I'm not lying," Hermione protested. "Not exactly. I just haven't told you everything about me."

He stepped back. "I see. And are you willing to divulge this information now?" When she shook her head, he let out a small sigh. "Very well. I will let this go for now, but eventually Hermione; you will have to come clean."

She'd known that, had known that her secret couldn't stay that way forever. She let him escort her back to their group. Noctis looked apologetic when they met up, Gladio looking over her from behind him. The prince opened his mouth, but Hermione held up a hand before he could get a word out. "I know where Prompto is."

Gladio looked at Ignis sharply while Noctis' eyes widened. "Where is he?"

"At a Niflheim base, but I'm not sure which one yet. My contact should be sending me the location shortly, I hope."

Noctis moved to hug her, but she stepped back before he could. "But I still think you should complete Ramuh's trial before we storm the base. He chose now to test you for a reason. My contact tells me they aren't interested in him right now." She looked down. "They have another person they're focusing on."

"He's not being hurt?" Noctis asked softly.

Hermione shook her head. "No, and it buys us time to get Ramuh's blessing." She looked up. "I'll let you know when I have the location."

She walked away, intent on getting her Chocobo ready to leave. Gladio caught up with her a moment later. "Who's your contact?"

She pursed her lips. "You won't like the answer."

Gladio grimaced. "She's with Niflheim, Hermione."

Hermione nodded slowly. "I'm pretty sure that's how she was able to feed me the information."

He pulled her to a stop. "Did you call her?"

She hesitated for a moment and then shook her head. "No, she had other information for me." She pressed a finger to his lips before he could ask. "Don't."

His lips pressed into a thin line. "You don't trust me?"

"I trust you with my life," Hermione told him and left it at that.

After an hour of no contact from Aranea, they decided to start the trial. The ride on the Chocobo's was tense. Noctis kept glancing at her with a guilty expression, but Hermione was still angry by his outburst and not in the mood to hear any apology he had for her. Gladio had insisted she ride with him, Ignis agreeing after she had failed to manipulate the reins properly with one hand. The problem was, he was upset by their conversation earlier, and was sitting stiffly behind her, the arm around her only there to keep her steady.

They had been traveling along the open road, but Ignis suddenly made them veer halfway to their destination. Hermione saw why as they passed a Magitek blockade. Soldiers were patrolling the area, bigger armor at the ready and blocking the street.

When they reached the area where the lightning struck down continuously, it was to a single tree surrounded by rocks. The tree was different from the others known in this region, sparking with intense power. Noctis walked up to it, reaching out to touch it.

Hermione felt a twinge in the back of her mind, her free hand coming up to her head as she swayed a bit. Ignis and Gladio glanced at her in alarm. "Are you alright?"

She swallowed as the twinge grew stronger. "Uh-"

"The revelation of the Stormsender awaits the King… Hurry hence to the eye of the Storm. Foreign hordes fear the True King's ascension. The fearful seek to seal the path of what must come."

They looked around, but Gentiana was nowhere to be found. Hermione turned to the three men also checking all corners of the clearing. "You heard her, right?"

They nodded. Hermione fell to her knees as pain exploded in the back of her head. She heard: Your trial begins…

And then her body was no longer under her control.

AN: I've just accepted at this point that this sassy Draco is what my muse will continue to give me. I blame Gryffindor influence through the years.

Next chapter is already done, so I will see you all next week! Review!