Claire "Lightning" FarronWhere do I even start with Claire and her younger sister Serah.
In some ways, I’ve already told their relationship by delving into Serah’s journey because Lightning and Serah are the crux of Final Fantasy XIII as an entity. As much as Serah is needed for the narrative, Lightning is too, because their sisterhood is what the saga is all about. It’s their journey. They’re both catalysts - the role one plays is reversed in each subsequent game, and that’s their motivation. At its heart, the saga is a tale of the love that two sisters share, spanning three whole games - and these two sisters are willing to destroy worlds, timelines, history, and take down Gods in order to be together again. We’re seeing it more in media these days - just look at Frozen - but that’s ninety minutes, not ninety plus hours. Lightning loses Serah. Serah loses Lightning. Lightning loses Serah again. But does irrefutable fact and separation stop a Farron?
No. No it doesn’t. If that doesn’t sound beautiful, I don’t know what is.
And they need each other equally, even if they have a habit of thinking one can survive without the other in an impossible situation. Saving the world, but dying from repeated visions? Lightning will be fine. Making sure the world is reborn but not saving yourself, due to non-acceptance of your worst parts? Serah will be okay. It doesn’t matter how well intended those sound, it’s blatant lies. They can’t live apart from one another without feeling that a part of themselves is missing, for the record.
For Lightning, Serah is everything. She’s her entire purpose in life, the reason she became Lightning and assumed the name - and though it was out of love, she ends up pushing her sister away, and when Serah needs her most, Lightning doesn’t believe. She doesn’t want to. Serah is terrified of telling her the truth, of becoming a l’Cie, because she knows how Lightning will react - negatively, by pushing her away. In moulding herself into a caregiver, Lightning becomes cold and distant, and even threatens her sister in her refusal to listen.
Serah leaves, distraught, and Lightning loses her, the one person she cannot afford to lose. In fact, she completely fails her. All those years of protection? Moot. She fails Serah as family, as a sister - and also as a substitute mother. At this stage, they’re not on the equal ground they eventually reach; not that Light sees Serah as incapable, but she sees her as someone who she must protect and the person she lives for. In losing Serah, she fails her daughter, her everything. It becomes Lightning’s greatest regret, because she just wants Serah to know that she’s sorry - and Serah does, in the end. She forgives her.
Then came the rewrite.
And because Lightning is equally everything to Serah, when Lightning is whisked away to the shores of Valhalla, she cannot be happy for the simple reason that Lightning isn’t there - and the fact she knows she’s alive, that she isn’t gone, taunts Serah with a fickle hope because she cannot bare to be apart from her. It’s a universal feeling. And because Lightning cannot leave Valhalla, she entrusts Serah as the seeress. It’s a gentle prompt on a journey she knows her sister will take, one that she will see through - even if it triggers the Eyes of Etro, that might have stayed dormant otherwise. But, Serah keeps going, even knowing the truth of her likely death. It’s in her theme, the princess’ greatest want - to find Lightning again someday.
In the ruined New Bodhum of 700AF, Serah briefly does. She asks Lightning if, after everything, when the timeline is fixed, they can be together again… but not yet. One thing at a time. But that time comes too late for Serah.
Lightning is willing to go against her morals and beliefs if it means a reunion with Serah, which is the whole point of Lightning Returns. Though filled to the brim with sidequests, Lightning spends a lot of her time monologuing, as the world gently reminds her of a long lost sister she feels no emotion for because she, herself, has stripped them away because you know who led her down the path to her death? Lightning did. In becoming an epitaph, Lightning keeps Serah’s soul anchored. It is never Bhunivelze’s to bargain with, but when he wakes her up Bhunivelze still doesn’t get it, because Lumina holds onto it instead. Even in serving him, and even unknowing, Lightning continually protects Serah from being used as a bargaining chip for her allegiance. The projected images of Serah are false, filled with regrets she never had. And when she learns the truth of Bhunivelze’s deception, Lightning cuts him down.
What else can I really say about the Farrons that hasn’t been said already?
Just one other thing, really. When they make their way to the new world, their journeys finally closed, they’ve come full circle. They’re back in that normal life again, the life they had back in the original Bodhum - all the stronger and resolute for it.
And most importantly, they’re together. A happy ending, justly deserved.