Lightning stepped onto the platform and out into the bright sunlight. She knew exactly where she was, and what she was doing here. The memories of the past few days were blurry, but she knew what she had agreed with Serah, Snow and all the others. She brushed a lock of hair out of her eye, then smiled and looked at the clear sky, the sky of a world that was humanity’s and humanity’s alone. There, they had all agreed to meet before finding a permanent home. And Lightning would get the time so long denied to her, the time to be with Serah. The thoughts flew through her head.
“This journey is over now. I wonder when the next will begin? I only know...” she then looked straight ahead at the sunlit road. “...that soon, we'll be together.”
The sun had set and the new world’s single moon rose slowly in the sky, blotting out all but the brightest stars. At the head of the valley, in warm clothing to stave off the chilling breeze, Serah waited. She had been waiting there each evening for the past few days, and still no sign. She sighed: she was sure they had spoken of it clearly, as they journeyed across the void to their new home. The group would meet here. She had met up with Snow and Hope quickly enough, but the others had been slower coming and now Lightning was the only one still absent. There had been talk of a pink-haired woman arriving at the station earlier that day, but all searching had proven fruitless. That reporter Aoede coming round each of them and stirring their memories hadn't helped matters, making Serah forget her new work as a teacher and drift back into wondering where her sister was.
“Lightning.” she whispered to the air around her. “Where are you? I want to see you again. I know we promised, but...”
She heard a footstep behind her and turned. Snow was there, in shirtsleeves and with his long hair combed back and tied into a short ponytail. He had toyed with the idea of cutting it a bit shorter, but he had grown to like his wild look, and with his face now lightened with a smile more frequently than it had been for the past five hundred years, it did not hold its previous lank qualities. He had also discarded the fighting gloves he had worn for so long, and his hands were beginning to develop a tan on their substantially paler skin.
“Still here, Serah?”
“You make it sound like I’ve been here forever. Thought I’d wait for her. If that was her..”
She broke off and turned towards the rising moon. Snow walked up beside the woman who was now his wife. It wasn’t official, but it was as good as settled between them. The wedding was planned for when the whole group could come together again. He put a comforting arm around her shoulders.
“She’ll come back, Serah. Just believe in her. You know Big Sis. She always comes back.”
“Yeah. She’ll come if there’s a wedding. And we did agree on that.”
She reached up and felt the engagement pendant she still treasured, at last in the company of its fellow around Snow’s neck.
“To think” said Snow. “I thought you wouldn’t love me, after all those years and what I'd become. And after all the promises I couldn’t keep, no matter what I did.”
Serah placed a hand on Snow’s chest, leaned her head against him. The past week or so had stirred such memories in each of them.
“I could never stop loving you, silly. Whatever you were, though I might have to move on with my life, you would always have a place in my heart.”
Snow and Serah pressed closer, and Snow felt the same inner warmth he had felt on the day he had made his vow to her during the Bodhum fireworks.
“I’ll always love you, Serah. I may have lost sight once, but I know now, and nothing will ever change that. Listen to me: I sound like something from a book. Or Noel when he’s talking about Yeul..”
“Noel is Noel. Just like you’re Snow. And... Lightning... Oh, Snow. I want us all to be together.”
“I’d like that.”
“And we’d like that too.”
Snow and Serah turned, and saw everyone coming up to join them. Hope led the way, Fang and Vanille walked side-by-side, Noel held Yeul’s hand, and Sazh carried Dajh on his shoulders. All were dressed in normal clothing, although Yeul, Noel, Fang and Vanille had styled themselves vaguely as they had done in the old world.
“You all came.” Serah smiled.
“You kidding? Of course we did.” said Hope.
“Good thing too.” said Snow. “We’d have needed to meet Lightning alone up here. Not sure she’d like that on her first day back.”
“We agreed, didn’t we?” Noel.
“She promised to find us again.” Yeul.
“She helped us, and provided us with a beacon to come together. And when the news came, we knew it was time.” Vanille.
“We wouldn’t miss the family reunion for the world.” Fang.
“Especially one involving Lightning.” Sazh, with Dajh giving a joyful laugh.
Snow gave a chuckle, then turned back towards the moon. As he did so, he thought he caught a flash of movement far away, down the hill towards the edges of the town. Serah saw it too and came forward, squinting in the dim light. The movement did not reappear for a long while, then manifested as a human figure walking up the hill. Everyone saw it this time and came forward, but Serah remained foremost, her hands coming together slightly as if in an ancient prayer of Gran Pulse.
Then the figure came fully into view, and a beam of moonlight accentuated and softened the bright pink hair, the light-coloured top and the light-brown trousers. The feet were bare, partly hidden by the grass. Serah let out a stifled gasp and came forward a step. The woman stopped a few feet away, her face still in shadow, but the silhouette unmistakable. They all stood, the familiar figure and the small group of tried-and-tested friends, glimmering in the light of the moon. Finally, the figure spoke.
“Serah, I... Thanks for waiting.”
Serah gave a nod, then rushed into her sister’s arms.