not a day went by when serah didn't think about the people whom she loved dearly, people she hadn't seen in what felt like forever. she still went about her life as best as she could, but that feeling of missing the ones she cherished most was in the back of her head constantly, reminding her of just how alone she was and how she didn't know if they were okay or not. sometimes the worry almost put her back in that bad place, where all she could do was teach her students and not much else after, too busy in her own head and sick with dread. she hadn't felt that weak very often in her life, but when it hit, it would hit her hard
. she wanted to be optimistic about most things in life, more inclined to believe in the power of hope and the good in others, which might have made her more susceptible to a spectacular downfall, now that she thought of it. being practically incapacitated because of something bad happening in her life seemed like the natural balance of things, believing in hope on one side and then feeling like hope couldn't possibly exist in the other. it was a pendulum that'd she'd been swinging on her whole life ever since her parents died. still, that didn't mean she was incapable of bouncing back, not in the slightest. she was proud of herself for being able to get up and find out just what happened to lightning, even if everyone was telling her it wasn't worth it. serah had never felt more empowered in her life, ready to take on the world and find out the truth for herself. it was all most people in her life wanted for her, to be able to stand up on her own and not have to wait on someone else to do things for her. it wasn't a problem before, back when there seemed to be very little to worry about, and serah couldn't lie and say she wasn't used to it. lightning did her best to provide for the both of them when serah wasn't old enough to do anything to help, and it kind of stuck to her because it just seemed easier. she didn't blame anyone for that but herself, though.
regardless, the idea of looking around for lightning and snow and even noel had popped into her head more times than she could count, and had even acted on it a couple times since she'd settled in zephyr. it didn't take her long to figure out, though, that this world didn't operate in the same way it did back home, and that was another kind of heartbreak all in itself. having new students did help ease that pain, but a part of her always wondered what had happened after she disappeared. where her friends looking for her now too? had she been forgotten just like lightning had? the answers to these questions still hadn't come no matter who she asked or where she looked, and after a while it seemed better to try and make herself not so sick with worry everyday. it was a whole different struggle in and of itself, but serah had overcome worse things before, and she was more confident in herself than she had ever been before. she could get through it if she just held out a little longer; she'd told herself this over and over again, and it had yet to truly fail her. plus, it helped that zephyr felt like home to her, maybe not quite as advanced as new bodhum was in some spots, but that feeling of living off the land was more than present here. she couldn't imagine living anywhere else, except maybe cascata, if only to be close to the sea again. a nice ocean breeze sounded so good to her when she was feeling homesick, missing new bodhum with every fiber of her being.
it probably wasn't a good idea to think of all these things whilst shopping for herself, but the quiet that to people sometimes. of course, she spoke briefly with the owners of various shops, stores, and stalls with whom she was pretty much on a first name basis with since she had been living in zephyr for so long now. serah didn't know some quite as well as the others, granted, and there were still some that she'd only shared smiles and short greetings with. as she perused over selections of fruit, wondering which ones she should get and what needed to be restocked, serah picked up a container of cherries, opening the lid a little and inspecting them closely. she had been thinking about possibly making a small cake for herself - it wasn't like she had anyone to really celebrate anything with right now - and she was in the mood to try something different other than the usual strawberry topped cakes that were made for lightning's birthday almost every year. it felt wrong to eat that kind of cake without her sister around, so the cherries were sounding like a good substitute. she paid for the cherries and put them in her special shopping bag, just about to make her way back home when she saw it. she almost dropped everything in her hands in shock and disbelief. the urge to rub her eyes to check if what she was seeing was actually there came to her, but she held it back, afraid that closing her eyes would make it go away. serah would be able to tell if she had seen lightning anywhere, yet she almost couldn't bring herself to trust in what her eyes told her. despite this, serah made her way towards lightning, wanting to catch up before lightning could potentially disappear again, heart pounding and very nearly out of breath with how she was holding it in, hoping that the person she was looking at holding a knife similar to the one she now had was actually her sister and not some kind of trick or dream. as she got closer, serah finally took a deep breath in, steeling herself for what could either be disappointment of elation beyond words, and she called out, "lightning!" her hands clenched into fists, she continued, her voice trembling some as it slipped past her lips. "lightning, is it really you?" part of her was terrified about what kind answer she was going to get, but she stood firm, waiting to be acknowledged in one way or another.