Hope Estheim/Lightning

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Pairing: Hope Estheim/Lightning
Alternative name(s): HopeLight; HopuRai; HopeRai
Gender category: M/F het
Fandom: Final Fantasy XIII
Canonical?: No
Prevalence: popular
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HopeLight (also known as HopuRai and HopeRai) is the pairing of Hope Estheim and Lightning from the Final Fantasy XIII series.

Like the English name HopeLight, the Japanese version, HopuRai (ホプライ), is a portmanteau of their names, ホープ (lit, Hōpu) and ライトニング (lit, Raitoningu).

Relationship in canon

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Final Fantasy XIII

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII

Other media

Fan community

HopeLight shippers usually do not claim that the ship is officially, unambiguously canon, but they do often assert that endgame status is heavily and intentionally implied.[1]

On Archive of Our Own (AO3) as of this writing, HopeLight is the second most-tagged relationship within the Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XIII Series fandom tags, the most-tagged relationship in the Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII fandom tags, the second most-tagged ship involving Lightning, and the most-tagged ship involving Hope Estheim.

After the release of XIII-2 and the reveal of Hope's new appearance as a 24-year-old (later 27-year-old) man, enthusiasm for HopeLight grew. The XIII trilogy's conclusion, Lightning Returns, was hotly anticipated.[2] Many HopeLight shippers looked forward to Lightning meeting and reacting to the 27-year-old Hope, and speculated about the would-be circumstances of their reunion.[3] Many of these same shippers were dismayed that Hope was physically reverted to his 14-year-old form in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII,[4] and retained this outward appearance in all his interactions with Lightning.

Fanon and tropes

HopeLight fans overwhelmingly ship Lightning with an adult version of Hope, rather than with the 14-year-old version from the first game[5]

Relationships written between Hope and Lightning are sometimes set after the end of the events in Lightning Returns once Lightning has successfully shepherded the souls of Nova Chrysalia to Earth. Such fics often circumvent the major age differences of the two in both Final Fantasy XIII and Lightning Returns (during which Hope is 14 years old when Lightning is 21), while encapsulating the long history that the two have in spite of how they aged so little over the course of a millennium. Hope and Lightning have a uniquely close relationship, as Hope was both one of Lightning's earliest companions in the wake of the Purge at Bodhum (where he catalyzed a sense of empathy in her, and she a sense of confidence in him), and her only consistent companion during the events of Lightning Returns.

In many HopeLight fan works set after Lightning Returns, Hope has been restored to his adult form upon entering the New World. In other post-canon works, Hope may still be left with his teenage body; in these cases, both he and Lightning often defer a romantic relationship—with each other or with any other partner—until Hope's body ages to that of an adult.

In HopeLight AUs, Lightning and Hope may be depicted as the same age, or both may be aged up such that their age difference is no longer a subject of moral and legal concern.

Alternatively, some fans unabashedly ship HopeLight with Hope as a teenager, physically and/or mentally.

In occasional dark AUs, Hope may be consumed with obsessive desire for Lightning—this often is due to the corruptive influence of Bhunivelze.

Related ships

HopeLight is often considered a sister ship to Fang/Vanille and Snow/Serah. In fan works, these particular couples often act as wingwomen and wingman, supporting Hope and Lightning in developing a romantic relationship.

Hope/Light has been compared to other ships with similar dynamics—such as relationships between a younger man and a somewhat older female mentor, or between a gruff, experienced, action-oriented woman and a gentler, more innocent, more passive man. These include the relationship between 2B and 9S from NieR Automata[6] and Jude x Milla (JuMira) from Tales of Xillia.[7]

Notable fan works

This list is non-exhaustive.


Fan fiction


Challenges and events

External links and resources