Team Nora

NORA - No Obligations, Rules, or Authority - were a neighbourhood watch group based in Bodhum, Serah’s hometown. With Snow as their leader, the group consists of Lebreau, Maqui, Yuj and Gadot. Lebreau and Gadot serve as guest party members in Final Fantasy XIII as Snow’s group is naturally present during the Purge. It’s in large part thanks to them that the citizens of Bodhum survive the potential genocide, as they rally around and protect them from the Sanctum. Once what’s left of the main cast reunites with them at the end of the game, NORA set out into the wilderness of Gran Pulse and help create, and protect, New Bodhum.

I haven’t had an opportunity to mention the four (five) of them before now, but they’re all quite excellent, all of whom deserved much more screentime than they actually got. Whilst they are not part of the core cast, like Serah they have masses of impact offscreen and all of them are long dead by the time Lightning Returns rolls around which has to affect at least some of the cast a lot (coughs, Snow).

For Serah, Lightning was her only family (and by blood, she still is), but when Serah started dating Snow she also gained the acquaintanceship of his team. When Serah starts dating Snow, she gains them as a family.

As an orphan, Snow’s family was NORA. He’s the leader, and him becoming patron to Yusnaan is unsurprising because Snow inspires those who serve under him; he looks out for his crew and is something of a father figure. They’ll kid around and upstage him as kids are wont to do, but all of NORA deeply respect Snow. And when Serah comes into the picture, they fold her into their group, even if she’s not strictly part of it, because to them, she’s family. It’s automatic. You don’t have to be related by blood to be family, and Serah’s never had this support network before, because it’s always just been her and her sister. It’s a clashing contrast to Lightning’s adamant refusal of Snow addressing her as ‘sis’ and how Snow’s family, NORA, readily treat Serah as part of their family circle.

NORA assist Snow every step of the way when he’s trying to reach the Vestige in the opening minutes of XIII. If she’s important to Snow, she’s equally important to them. It’s not just for him, either - they all love Serah, and if Snow’s their dad, Serah is most certainly their mom.

Unfortunately the player doesn’t see NORA and Serah interact on screen until the start of XIII-2, where Serah shares the team’s house and is under their protection. Serah’s non-fighting status at this point can be largely attributed to NORA being dependable and looking out for her: that’s their role. Though Serah is alone, she always has NORA, and though it’s not something she shares with them, they know. They fiercely watch out for her and try to ease her worries, which is one of the reason they gift her a cat.

And when the moment comes for Serah to choose to stay or go, they support her. They kind of already know she’s going to leave before she decides, as they go about replacing her pendant’s chain and cleaning the survival knife as parting gestures. Gadot lays down the law to Noel that if Serah isn’t kept safe, he’ll have to answer to him. It’s been their role to protect Serah for so long, that it’s hard to let go, but they don’t deny her the opportunity. And they don’t try to stop her, because they trust Serah, and have belief in her choice.

Personally, I like to think that it’s Serah’s interactions with Snow and NORA are what make her treat the rest of the cast as her family, not just her friends. Adding a half dozen other people to her family makes her life all that more richer. She looks after people, and if there’s trust, if she cares, they’re family.

Which makes NORA’s presence in the new world at the end of the saga all that more sweeter, really.