"Ever changing from red to blue, those emotions could not become lies."

- LM.C, Liar Liar

He looked over the mail, scowling. Another failed class. Even if he wasn't already in his twenties, it felt like with every failing grade he was mailed, he got five years older. It was like it was going to wear away at him.

The doorbell rang. He sighed, and tossed the mail to the counter. "Coming."

His apartment was fairly well-to-do, thanks to his father. Being on the 5th floor, his room had an intercom and camera on the entryway like most others – so you know who you're letting into the building when they buzz for you.

He flicked the on switch. Standing in the entryway in front of the guarded door was a girl in uniform – a school uniform. The Sanctum Academy one, to be precise. She had salmon pink hair flowing over one shoulder in a twisting wave, but he couldn't see much else besides that and her uniform. Oh, and she had bags with her. What looked like a single luggage bag.

He raised a brow. Just who the hell was this?

"Hello?" He spoke through the intercom. On the camera, he saw her do the same.

"Is this the residence of Hope Estheim?"

He paused for a minute. Yes, his name was on the directory, but she spoke so formally.

". . . Yes? And who is this?"

"Lightning Farron."

That . . . wasn't helpful. He was about to ask for more than her name, but someone else came into the entryway. Another pink haired woman, a bit older this time, and an egregiously tall blond man. He couldn't hear what they were saying with the intercom off, but realized they looked a little out of breath. The man put a hand on the girl's – Lightning, or something? – shoulder, to try and lead her out of the building. She responded with what looked like a hard fist to his gut. If the man was any smaller, it looked like it would've hurt a lot more.


Hope didn't hear anything about the strange occurrence until the day after, when he got a call from someone he hadn't spoken to in a long time.

"Hello?" He answered the phone after two or three rings.

"Hey, is this Hope?" the voice on the other end asked. After an acknowledging grunt, the voice seemed to cheer up. It was a man's voice. "Hey, how're you doing? It's Snow, remember?"

He thought back. Of course he remembered. His mother . . .

But that was so long ago. No more bad blood, he reminded himself.

"Do you need something?" Hope responded after the usual conversational rounds of 'I'm fine, how are you?'s.

"Listen, uh, I wanted to apologize for yesterday."

"Yesterday?"

"Yeah. A girl rang up your apartment and such, right?"

"Oh, that. I thought it was you from the lobby camera . . . What was that about, anyhow? Who was that girl?"

Snow cleared his throat on the other end of the line. "You remember my wife, Serah, right? She has a younger sister named Éclair."

Now that puzzled the young man. "Éclair? Not Lightning?"

"Lightning? Oh, I guess she told you that. Look, it's kind of a long story, do you mind if we meet up? I – well, we; Serah and I – we want to ask a favour. I know it's kind of out of the blue, but . . ."

It didn't take long for Hope to agree. Anything to get his mind off of his slowly failing university career.

AN:

[/gulp] So here's the first chapter. I'm still not sure how I'm gonna work this out – it's still a plotbunny-induced WIP. I've seen a lot of – cough, and wrote – stuff where Hope is older, so I thought, hell, why not make Lightning younger?

Just a little bit, I promise.

I've seen age-switch fics, but so far, none for HopuRai. So, here goes the family flow chart as it is for this AU:

Hope – twenty-one. I imagine that if he didn't grow up the way he did in FFXIII, he'd have little direction in life.

Lightning – Fourteen-fifteen-esque. And already a hard-ass.

Serah – eighteen-twenty-ish – Lightning's older sister.

Snow - . . . Nothing's different about him, OTL.

I'm gonna try and portray Lightning's name change with as much maturity as possible, because I'm afraid I might end up making it seem juvenile. I know the prospect of it during her mid teens can be seen as . . . well, childish. (IMO, it's freaking cool.) Next chapter will be up soon!