Remember to Live

"Take care of her, Claire. Be strong."

Those were the last words that Claire and Serah Farron heard from their mother. Their mom was on her death bed because of some unknown illness. The disease…ate her alive. It took away the life that was once present in her eyes and took the color of her skin. It took her strength and it took her joy. And it also took her life.

As soon as she passed, a fifteen year old Claire ran out of the house while hearing Serah's sobs from the bedroom. She never was one to give or receive comfort, even when she was young. The persona she adopted after the death of her mother wasn't something completely foreign to her. In a way, Claire's sister Serah understood even more than Claire herself did.

Claire hated heartache. She hated getting close to people, because something always seemed to take them away. With her parents, it was death. With her family, it was distance. With friends, it was Claire's lone-wolf personality. Who could get close to such a person when they were only determined to push others away?

But Claire didn't always shove people away so brutally. She had a heart that she knew how to use. She loved, even if she was afraid to. She loved Serah despite the fear that someday her sister would be taken away too.

Even at fifteen, Claire made a life-changing decision to make sure that future didn't unfold. She sped through high school and joined the Corps as soon as she graduated. The girl wanted to be strong for the sister that had no other family to depend on.

That wasn't the only change, though. And even if that was drastic, Claire's other decision was different. She became Lightning. She didn't just change her name; she literally became this new person named Lightning. Lightning had a lot of differences from Claire. Lightning was easily irritated by people who did things for no reason. She realized at a young age how much life was worth, and if there was no purpose, there was no reason to keep going.

Lightning was also a very angry person. Claire, even though she had a ton of sorrow and loss in her life, always tried to get back up after every trial and face the new day. Lightning faced the new day, but she acted as if she never fell. Lightning was invincible.

At least, on the outside.

An eighteen year old Serah Farron snapped out of her thoughts long enough to look out the window to see the beautiful sunlit beach from her spot in the house. It had been six years to the day that the two of them lost their mother. The anniversaries always hurt the worst, even if their mother was gone every other day of the past five years. The date on the calendar was more of a reminder that on this day, they lost someone very important to them. Life hadn't been the same since then.

Serah had adopted the strength she always admired in Claire since that day. Claire, not Lightning. Claire wasn't afraid to face the sadness. She lifted her head up high and kept searching for hope until she found it. Lightning acted like she didn't need hope. She acted like she didn't need anything at all, not even Serah.

Did it hurt? No, not really. Serah, wise beyond her years, understood that this was Claire's way of coping. Even if Claire ordered Serah to call her "Lightning", Serah thought of her sister by her old name. Claire didn't die the day that their mother did. She was alive. Serah just hoped that Lightning would discover that soon.

She needed to realize that feeling emotions was okay. It was okay to keep living.

*…*…*…*…*

Six years. They dragged on and they flew ahead. They were full of pain, and they were full of happiness. Success and failure. Love and hate. And loneliness. Lots of loneliness.

Lightning kept walking down the empty path, this being a routine of hers. This day of the year, Lightning normally stayed at the Corps the whole day so that she wouldn't have to talk to Serah or see her going through the family photo albums like she normally did. How could Serah look at such pictures and smile? How could she laugh when she knew that the people in those pictures were dead? They would never be able to create another pleasant memory with them again.

Lightning had trouble looking back and appreciating the memories for what they were: just memories. They didn't have the power to hurt her or help her; it was all about what she decided to do with the memories. And she subconsciously chose to let them get to her. She couldn't view anything without a negative twist. The young girl that she once was, Claire, was dead in her eyes. She even told that to Serah before. Claire—the girl who knew suffering but chose to be strong in her weakness, ceased to exist that day.

In that girl's place, Lightning stepped in. Lightning only knew strength, not weakness. She knew anger, not sadness. And she only knew love when it came to her little sister, and the parents that she clung to even while they were dead.

There were a lot of secrets Lightning kept bottled up inside herself: She was capable of feeling pain, despite what people thought. She knew how to love; she just chose not to. And she knew how to smile, but she didn't.

How could she smile when life seemed so pointless?

Serah grew up, extremely well. She could now take care of herself. What did she need Lightning for? Lightning tried to show her sister that she cared, but she often came across as the tough, stoic soldier that she was. She didn't even feel like Serah's sister sometimes.

The young woman's feet carried her to a certain place, and when she reached her destination she had subconsciously been wandering towards, she stopped dead in her tracks.

I haven't visited this place for years, she thought. So why am I here?

Regardless of her questions, Lightning's steps continued forward, down the path of the graveyard where her parents now were. Her heart started beating irregularly in her chest, and something she hadn't felt in a very long time swelled within her chest: sorrow.

Sorrow was all that Lightning remembered. She hadn't felt its full affects in a long time, since apathy replaced it. She forgot how to feel happiness. She forgot how it felt to be free. She forgot what it was like to face her sorrows without backing down. She forgot what it meant to have true strength.

She wanted a life away from sorrow. She hated the feeling in the pit of her stomach that never faded. She wanted a change in her life, but she didn't know how to accomplish it. She wanted to feel happiness, and rediscover the girl that she discarded in favor of the girl who wore a tough mask all the time.

Lightning wanted to remember how to hope.

She walked until she reached two gravestones, the two that belonged to her mother and father. They were connected by a beam that was like a bench for people to sit on and meditate on. They were beautifully polished, as were the other tombstones that sat in this small graveyard. But the roses in front of the stones were unique, as was the inscription that brought tears to the stoic soldier's eyes.

Three simple words. But they gave Lightning more hope than any of the speeches from grief counselors ever did. Maybe there was hope after all. There was a purpose out there, and all she had to do was find it. It was okay for her to recognize her past and how it affected her. But it was also okay to set a future for herself that contained happiness.

Life was precious. People only got one chance to live it, so she had to live it the best that she could. Through the sorrow, the pain, and the trials, she would stand tall. And she would let go of the regret that was killing her inside in favor of a new life. She wouldn't be dead inside anymore.

Lightning stared at the tombstone for a few more moments, and a smile slowly worked its way onto her lips at her revelation. The young woman smiled and turned away from the tombstones, the inscription that was imbedded in the tombstone now imbedded in her heart as well.

Remember to live.

*…*…*…*…*…*

Author's note: Hello people! This is my first FFXIII fic that's not a crossover, and I wrote it all in one night. I feel like it turned out really well. (: If you liked it, please review it and make me happy. And check out my other stories too. Thanks for taking the time to read this all!