Disclaimer: Nothing Final Fantasy is mine. Sad. The song Safe & Sound and its lyrics belong to Taylor Swift and some others, I'm sure, who aren't me. Also kind of sad.

A/N: Obviously, total spoilers for the end of Lightning Returns, which was the most fantastic game ever. I mean, seriously. I love it times like a thousand. (And I totally kicked its ass, 120+ side quests complete, thankyouverymuch.) But in regards to the story, I could not have wished for a better ending. How about that Lumina being Lightning thing?! Awesome. And Lightning not having to take up Etro's place and remain forever in the Chaos (which I was scared of since like Day 3 when I talked to that ghost-girl and was like, "No, don't keep them apart anymooooore!")? Also awesome. And the graphics? Holy crap: gorgeous. The epilogue scene with the train...honest-to-god, that looked like live-action. Not Lightning, so much (not that she was bad by any means, and I like that they gave her and the others skin texture, because, what? Skin texture? Awesome!), but the environment was freaky good. But anyway. I could go on and on about how happy I am for a fictional character until you're all sick of me, but instead, I'll just leave you with this little fluffy ficlet.

I hope you enjoy it, and reviews as always would be love.


Come Morning Light

(just close your eyes; the sun is going down

you'll be alright; no one can hurt you now)

Somewhere outside, summer insects droned along in the heat of the afternoon, but it was dim and cool in the villa—or at least, it would have been, had Serah not been standing directly over the stove. Idly brushing the hairs from her vision, she stirred the pan in front of her in an equally absent fashion, listening with half an ear to the comfortable chaos behind her.

"Hope! Don't just stand there," Nora chided good-naturedly, and she shoved a stack of ceramic plates into her son's arms.

The boy half-smiled and half-grimaced, not enjoying this intrusion into his and Vanille's conversation, but he was at a loss on how to refuse, and the Pulse girl saved him the trouble by taking half the stack.

"Here, I'll help you," she said in her usual lighthearted way, and the clatter of plates on the table swiftly followed.

Serah returned her focus to the pan, giving the ingredients another cursory stir, but then her gaze drifted up to the open window and out across the rolling hills. The unending lines of grape vines rustled quietly in the warm breeze, and along one of the half-dirt, half-cobblestone roads, a man rode by on his bicycle on an unhurried journey.

It was beautiful here, she thought—entirely different from Cocoon or Pulse, but beautiful all the same in its own right. She was still amazed, sometimes, that she was here at all…that any of them were here at all, much less here, in the Farron's new home, about to enjoy what Serah certainly hoped would be an entirely fantastic reunion dinner. It seemed so right—being here, living this quiet life—that it was startling to remember that once, reality had been utterly different and so fraught with danger. Here, the only threat was catching her toe on an uneven cobblestone, or…or she couldn't even think of anything else. Getting stung by a bee, perhaps.

Her crystal-blue eyes grew more distant as her mind wandered back, as she recalled the day she had woken up in this land, in this life. They had been out there, somewhere, in the sky and amongst the stars, and Lightning had finally been there, so close, and the elder Farron had faced her and reached out and invited her to a new beginning. She'd so willingly taken her sister's hand, and they had drifted up into the heavens and faded away…

Only to wake up here, in a body she was familiar with and in a land she was not, and to discover that despite Lightning having been beside her, once again they were separated. She had ventured out into this unexplored world, a world she had curious half-memories of, as if the Chaos had imparted them to her to prepare her for her fresh existence, but outside of establishing her immediate area, she had been unable to discern much else. She'd had no idea how to track down her sister.

But then, a week into her new life, when she'd figured out the basics and gotten as settled as could be expected, there had been a knock on the door, and there had been Lightning, confident and composed and standing on the step with a triumphant grin just beginning to curve her lips. Serah had cried out in ecstatic surprise and all but tackled her sister, and then life had assumed a comfortable routine.

Over time, Lightning had found everyone—Snow first, and then the others—and now, finally, they were all together again.

"Mm, smells good!"

Serah nearly jumped out of her skin as Snow's voice sounded directly in her ear, and she reflexively rapped the back of his hand with the wooden spoon. "Not yet! Have you no manners? I mean, it's still cooking!"

He pouted—adorably, in Serah's opinion, although she could just imagine Lightning merely cocking an eyebrow at the expression—and straightened to his full height, but his hungry eyes remained fixed on the food. "Can't I do some sort of taste-test?" he wondered hopefully.

"It's burning hot," Serah denied, stirring the pan's contents again.

Snow relented to that with a disgruntled look, and he peered at the meal. "Food in this place still throws me. What's this stuff again?"

"Ratatouille," she replied.

"Bless you," he remarked without skipping a beat, and when she wrinkled her nose at him, he just chuckled and helped himself to a slice of crusty bread, instead. "It'll be wonderful, I'm sure. 'Course, I could just compliment you now if you'd let me try it, but…" He trailed off meaningfully with an exaggerated shrug.

"It'll be ready soon, Snow!" Serah laughed.

He nodded, adding musingly, "Yeah, and Sis still needs to come back."

Serah finally turned away from the stove and scanned the kitchen. Fang and Sazh were talking with Bartholomew; Dhaj was trying to lure the stray cat that liked to wander by into playing; Hope had determinedly resumed conversing with Vanille, an event Nora watched with maternal fondness from the corner of her eye as she laid out the cutlery on the long dining table.

The younger Farron frowned. "She went to the village to get wine a while ago…" To the room at large, she wondered, "Hey, have any of you seen my sister?"

Hope hefted one of several green-tinted bottles. "Yeah, she passed through about half an hour back. Dropped these on the table."

Serah's frown didn't fade. "So then she left? Where'd she go?"

Hope shrugged his ignorance, and Vanille reassured, "I'm sure she didn't go far. Would you like us to help find her?"

"No, that's not necessary," the other girl replied, and she glanced back at her fiancé. "Snow, could you keep this moving? Just stir it slowly, and do not eat it, okay?"

Snow grinned at such an admonition but reported to duty. "If you insist!"

Serah let the smile flit about her lips before she crossed the crowded kitchen and passed into the hallway, which was quiet and cool in comparison. Her feet made almost no sound as she ascended the well-worn stone steps to the second storey, but as she stepped into her sister's room, its occupant was nowhere to be seen. Serah looked around anyway, amused as she often was by the profusion of books; in the short time they had lived here, the elder Farron had all but bought out the village's bookstore and now maintained quite an impressive library.

Some things hadn't changed, Serah thought, as the topmost tome on the nearest stack was The Art of War. But some things had, because the ones underneath it were volumes of French poetry.

She crossed to the window, brushing aside the thin curtain and looking down on the patio and garden, and found what she was looking for. Turning quickly, she walked downstairs and then outside into the summer heat, and she paused for a moment to relish the steady beat of the sun on her skin before she continued towards the dappled shade of the olive trees, whose gnarled limbs offered reprieve from the light.

Reclined on an ancient wooden bench, her legs outstretched and crossed at the ankle and her head resting on one hand, the elder Farron slept the afternoon away.

Serah was almost tempted to let her be; it was so strange to her, even now, to see her sister in an attitude of tranquility, to see her so unguarded as to take a nap in the garden. The lines of care and worry had smoothed from the older girl's face, and the tension had faded from the set of her shoulders. No longer did she expect to be called to battle without a moment's notice; no longer did she fear for her younger sister's safety.

Here, amongst the vineyards and her books, she could be at peace.

Serah reached out a gentle hand to touch her sister's arm, and recalling a request that had been made upon their reunion, she said, "Claire, dinner's almost ready. Wake up."

Claire Farron stirred, blinking beneath the angled pink strands, and she regarded Serah with a measure of confusion. "I—what? I was asleep?"

"Must've dozed off," Serah confirmed. "No harm done, though. We haven't started yet."

"Oh," she mumbled, but before she could rise from the bench, her sister was slouching beside her. Claire seemed uncertain at that action, as dinner was apparently impending, but when Serah relaxed into her side, their shoulders touching, she allowed the diversion and swept her gaze back across the vineyards. For several moments, there was nothing but the susurration of the leaves and the distant-sounding voices from the villa until the younger Farron ventured to speak.

"It's nice, isn't it," Serah breathed in wistful tones.

Claire nodded, and briefly, she squeezed the other girl's hand. "It's perfect."

Serah's head dropped to her sister's shoulder, and her eyes slid shut. "I'm glad you found me."

Claire renewed her hold.

"Always."

(come morning light, you and I'll be

safe and sound)