This looks at Aeris' final journey to the City of the Ancients as she is followed by her future murderer. (One-Shot, AeriSeph)
By Cat Alex
She had been travelling for nearly a week and now she was tiring. To be alone, leaving her friends, was proving difficult, but not impossible. Aeris Gainsborough, last Cetra of the Planet, was taking what she knew to be her final journey. The City of the Ancients called and she heeded, knowing she would never leave the city again. It chilled her to think of that, but she knew that her sacrifice would not be in vain. The Planet would be saved through her actions.
Still, it didn't make her feel better. She was still young, with her whole life in front of her and now what? She had perhaps a week at most before she returned to the Lifestream; with no proper goodbye to her friends... and Cloud. She knew when those blows had fell upon her from Cloud that it wasn't him, but either Sephiroth or Jenova. She still couldn't tell whether Sephiroth was truly controlled by the Crisis or not, though he seemed at home killing and terrorising. Though when she saw him, she couldn't help but feel something unnameable tug inside of her. Aeris didn't really want to think on that when she had far pressing matters at hand, such as getting food on the little money she had and making a camp with her pathetic tent putting up skills. She'd made do, but most of the time ended up camping out under the stars despite the threat of monsters on the plains. She suspected that the fact she hadn't been devoured by monsters yet was somehow orchestrated by the Planet.
Aeris was lucky to have gathered enough money to have Costa Del Sol have a boat ship her out to the Northern Continent. She didn't lie that far from Bone Village, but it would still take a stout day's walk to get there yet. Plus, she liked to savour the time she had left with nature even though the Planet was urging her to hurry before it was too late. The Planet could sense Sephiroth was drawing close. Aeris had hoped he didn't realise what she was planning until it was too late, yet the man was following her with ease. If he had only got confused over where she was heading, perhaps she could have avoided her death but... no, it wasn't meant to be it seemed. She thought back to her last words to Cloud and felt a wave of sadness engulf her.
This forest leads to the City of the Ancients... and is called the Sleeping Forest. It's only a matter of time before Sephiroth uses Meteor. That's why I'm going to protect it. Only a survivor of the Cetra, like me, can do it. This secret is just up here. At least it should be. ...I feel it. It feels like I'm being led by something. Then, I'll be going now. I'll come back when it's all over.
But she wouldn't be coming back, it seemed. The last thing she told him was a lie. But all the rest had been truth; it did feel like she was being slowly drawn toward the City of the Ancients like a magnet. And she did have to protect it - for the sake of the Planet. At least she had told Cloud how to reach her, so he'd be there... at the end. She trusted him to sort her out after the end for her. The Planet still kept interfering with her dreams, stopping her from properly seeing what was going to happen. She always saw him falling, falling... like an angel of death, clothed in flowing black, sword raised... She could never see further than that, but she knew that somewhere below, she was there. Aeris firmly put those darker thoughts to the back of her mind and focused on the tasks at hand.
With a dainty yawn, the woman prepared to camp out under the stars once again. Perhaps tomorrow she could sleep in a proper bed in Bone Village before moving on. She settled down for a mundane evening, rolling out her sleeping bag and lighting a fire with magic.
Sephiroth had been pursuing the woman from the moment he overheard her conversing with Strife in the boys mind. She had been so... playful and cheery for a woman who seemed to know she was going to die. He had seen the glimmer of sadness in her iridescent emerald eyes - something Strife missed, too wrapped up in guilt and stupidity to see. Yes, he had predicted that she was going to be a difficult one and he'd been right. She was tougher than her friends had ever thought. She was surviving on her own - he'd seen her take down a few monsters alone with relative ease before trudging on whether rain or shine.
Sephiroth had opted to follow the girl rather than move ahead so he could plan as he went and see anything she may have had 'hidden up her sleeve' if you will. He'd seen nothing of the kind, except the exceptional power he could sense within her. She had an incredibly magical potential he hated because he knew it was going to waste. Soon, she would die; he knew as well as she did that he was going to kill her. Why didn't he do it right then? He'd always imagined there was a time and a place for things, and to kill her in the City of the Ancients with her friends watching in horror sounded perfect to him. Mother agreed too, with a flourish in her usually sharp, cold comments. He didn't tell Mother, but another reason he didn't kill her in her sleep was that he wondered if he could still use her in some way before the end. He didn't like power to go to waste and she was pretty in her simple way. Power enticed him and it emanated in waves from her. Something else tickled his mind, but he had no knowledge of it and did not want to investigate further.
Watching her get ready for a quick meal and then sleep, he limbered up Masamune with some deft katas before stalking into the night. He had monsters to kill for both some practise and enjoyment.
Aeris woke to a hazy morning dew wetting her face. She felt stiff all over and cursed camping out under her breath as she stood and stretched. No monsters had attacked her again and she thanked the Planet, who remained strangely silent on the matter. Aeris supposed that the Planet was unhappy at losing its last daughter and she didn't want to press it on the subject.
She packed everything up into a bundle and hauled it onto her back, though she didn't really know why she bothered carrying the tent about anymore. Grimacing, she adjusted the straps and began to head towards Bone Village, which loomed out of the approaching forest.
Suddenly, the plains fell very silent and Aeris peered about worriedly. The birds were quiet and Aeris halted, her skin prickling.
'Sephiroth,' she thought, a certainty passing through her mind. It was the Planet assuring her of the truth. 'Better the devil you know than the devil you don't' rang in her mind. Better Sephiroth than something else following her.
Still, a shiver ran through her spine as she remembered the silver haired man taunting Cloud, manipulating him. Yet something tugged at her when she saw him and it worried her. She felt the Planet's sadness and tried soothing it with her own thoughts of reassurance before ignoring the silence and heading on.
Sephiroth watched the woman in pink halt and then seemed to be talking to someone he couldn't see or hear, though he couldn't see her lips moving - it was just the way she looked, her head tilted slightly. She came to some kind of resolution and then purposefully walked on toward the forest where Bone Village rose out, the skeletons of long dead monstrous creatures making up its structure.
He didn't care for Bone Village, only what lay beyond. The City of Ancients beckoned him, as it summoned the girl to her death. Jenova had been silent, seemingly dealing with other matters while he pursued the girl. He was glad to have a clearer mind for once, for when Jenova settled herself in his head, he found his judgement clouded at best. Her call was like that of a
Siren in his mind, something he couldn't resist. But for now, he was... as much of himself as he could claim to be him. It disturbed him to look back to a time when he was the Legendary Great General Sephiroth, conqueror of Wutai in the Shinra-Wutai War. When he reflected on it, he had been different. What had changed?
He thought on this as he followed the girl, keeping his distance yet close enough to see her. Was it him that changed? When he found out about his heritage, he'd taken it less than well. To learn that your mother came from a geological stratum and that you were created, rather than born. A parallel to those monsters in the Nibelheim in those containers... he remembered what Zack had said to him back then. Those words still haunted him.
"Normal members of SOLDIER? You mean you're different? H... hey, Sephiroth!"
"N...no...... ...Was I?"
And it had all led him to here. A path where he was following a girl in pink he was preparing to murder. How had he ended up like this? He wasn't sure anymore. He had been weak back then, but Mother made him strong. He was going to be a God. The thought comforted him, even as another part of him, buried deep inside panged as he imagined running the girl through with his sword.
Jenova gave him everything; life, power and a seat at the head of the Planet. And he couldn't turn his back on Mother, who gave him everything. Lives were lost, but it was for a grand purpose. Sephiroth had found as he went along that taking lives meant less and less to him. When he had been Shinra's General he was already used to killing, but they were soldiers, not innocent people. He had been built to kill, infused with the power of Jenova - Hojo had conditioned him since birth.
He still watched Aeris happily walking along and taking in every sight, sound and smell and wondered what she had to be happy about. His mood darkened slightly. Why was she so happy, when her death advanced with every passing day? When he thought about it, they weren't so different... but she had to die.
Spotting a monster stomping nearby toward Aeris, he drew out Masamune and struck it down with ease. The monster roared in pain and Sephiroth fluidly ran from Aeris' sight as she spun around, her emerald eyes wide with fear. She couldn't see him as he peering from his crouched position and was glad when she continued on, though with a little more wariness in her speeded up gait. Sephiroth slowly wiped the blood from his sword and carefully sheathed it. Straightening, he followed once more.
Bone Village was a minute's walk away and a smile spread across Aeris' face. The roar in the distance had scared her earlier, but nothing had charged her way so she carried on. She guessed that Sephiroth had something to do with it, but didn't know what to think of it, so didn't, instead focusing on her journey. She thought she'd made pretty good time getting to Bone Village, which made her shiver a little. One or two less hours on the Planet looking at all she could. She softly cursed Sephiroth and Jenova for messing her life up before entering the thick forest and reached the entrance of Bone Village.
The forest beckoned her. With a small smile, she strolled past the excavators and headed toward the gentle silvery forest.
"Hey, that's dangerous!" a man called out suddenly, startling her to a halt. She spun around to face a skinny young excavator with a mass of brown hair surrounding his thin face heading toward her. He stopped in front of her and fumbled with the hardhat in his hands before leaving it alone and looking down at her.
"That's the Sleeping Forest, you know. It's dangerous to enter it when it's sleeping. You'll get lost and never come out. You need the Lunar Harp," he informed her and Aeris shook her head. She had heard of the Lunar Harp, but if she had any hope of her friends helping her perhaps escape death at the hands of Sephiroth, then she'd need them to be able to get through.
"It's alright, really. I can get through here without a harp. But I thank you for the concern," she replied with a gentle smile, and with that turned away and entered the forest, the leaves quivering and bending toward her and then away again as if greeting their mistress.
The boy was confused and worried for the woman, but let it go. Her conviction was so strong, he supposed she knew more than he did. Just as he turned to return to work a black leather clad hand gripped his shoulder unnecessarily tight.
"Excuse me, I'm looking for a woman in a pink dress, green eyes and long chestnut hair. Did she pass through here?" a deep menacing voice questioned and the boy didn't dare look at this stranger.
"Uh, yes, she just entered the Sleeping Forest. But she'll get lost - the forest confuses people when it's sleeping," the boy squeaked and the man merely grunted and released him.
"It is no challenge for me," the man said arrogantly and the boy ventured a glance. A tall silver haired man stalked into the forest clad in all black with a long thin sword that looked impossible to wield. The boy took one look before running off. Some things were just better off left alone.
Aeris was welcomed by the forest and she felt perfectly at home in its environment. The silvery trees begged to be examined and she did take a brief look, feeling the smooth trunk. Soon she felt a disturbance and immediately knew who was entering the forest. In an instant she had concealed herself behind a tree and mentally felt out for the forest.
Please help me/, she whispered and she felt the forest stir, it leaves shifting though there was no breeze. She felt, rather than heard the answer: /We help.
Though Aeris had flattened herself against a tree, she felt no fear. She held none for Sephiroth; she knew he would not kill her here. What would it matter what she really did here? Still, she would not take too many risks in his presence and anyway, it would be fun to let the forest mess him about until he was hopelessly lost.
The man stalked by and she stopped breathing as a long silver strand of his hair brushed her cheek as he passed her. It had felt like silk. He looked determined as he headed on past the silvery trees, never pausing to admire them. He acted as if he couldn't even see trees, he appeared so focused. It was unsettling to watch from her hiding place.
We puzzle him. He is lost already. He cannot remember where he entered us.
Aeris indulged a smile as she watched her pursuer turn around with a confused expression on his face. He turned again to look to his left, but shook his head and paused to stand deathly still. That's when the idea to struck her to tease him some more.
She stepped out into the open before him and his jade eyes were focused on her in an instant.
"You should have listened. You'll never find your way out now," she said teasingly and he scowled and began to walk over to her purposefully. Quickly she drifted into a patch of trees and within a moment he had lost track of where she had gone, turning around once more and frowning. She giggled and he turned to where the sound had come from, but she ran on again and he couldn't follow.
Sephiroth realised how clouded his mind had become and soon found anger coursing through his veins. He loathed people playing with him and this girl treated him like a simple game for her amusement when they both knew he was going to kill her! His blood began to boil, but he kept his composure.
"Well done. I have been sufficiently fooled. Now show me out of here," he said icily and Aeris stepped out in front of him and peered up at him with amused emerald eyes, examining him uncomfortably.
"Hmm, I'm not sure. I am having quite a bit of fun," she mulled and Sephiroth's gaze became frostier, if possible.
"If you do not," he said with a silky vehemence, "I will burn this forest down until I can see a way out." His hand rested warningly on his Masamune and Aeris saw all his Materia glinting pointedly.
Aeris' blood froze at that. She knew from his expression he meant it. There was no way she'd risk something as beautiful and precious as this forest for some childish game she was playing with a dangerous man. Her amusement faded and a worried expression took over, mingled with seriousness.
"Don't do that. I'll guide you out. For a little price," she said, recovering her humour a little, and Sephiroth frowned.
"What? Isn't my threat enough?" he said irritably, avoiding her penetrating gaze and she tipped her head, watching her future murderer with interest. Something always had tugged at her when she laid eyes on him and it seemed like now was going to be her last and only chance at exploring what it had meant.
"One kiss is all I ask. Nothing more," she simply replied and Sephiroth nearly choked in front of her. He wanted to splutter, but it would have been equally unattractive and less than fear inducing. A kiss?! What was she thinking? Had he really got it wrong thinking she knew what was going to happen?! It was an interesting, if shocking, suggestion and one that Sephiroth entertained the idea of. There had always been something in the back of his mind that shifted when she was about, but he never explored it in his life. Perhaps she had experienced something similar?
"I suppose," he found himself saying and Aeris was as surprised as he. They remained very still for some minutes before Aeris moved herself so she was directly in front of him. Silence reigned once more.
Then slowly, she rose up onto her tiptoes, keeping her balance by lightly holding his shoulders. He tipped his head forward for her and she inched closer until her lips gently pressed against his. It was bizarre for both of them; the emotions felt by both were strange and overwhelming. Eventually, he pushed her away, unable to stand the emotions any more and Aeris dropped her heels to the ground and lowered her head, her mind spinning.
"Oh. It's what I thought," she mumbled sadly and walked off to the exit, followed by the still in shock Sephiroth. He couldn't name those feelings - didn't want to. He felt Jenova stir briefly in his mind, as if warning him, and Sephiroth hardened. His face became stony and his hand rested on Masamune's hilt to remind him of his purpose as the woman in pink trotted ahead of him.
Aeris found the City of the Ancients to be ethereally beautiful. The giant shell houses with their cosy interiors that had held up well despite no-one living there properly in some number of years. She had led Sephiroth out of the Sleeping Forest, both silent after what had occurred. Although Aeris felt strange and mixed up, she was glad she had ventured forward, for she believed she had gained something from it... a small piece of information that both comforted and saddened her. But she shelved that away and had run ahead of Sephiroth, leaving him to follow. He seemed to hold no interest in chasing her down, or keeping her in his sight. She had guessed that he had no concerns about her destination - they were both too tied up with fate now. And so she had installed herself down under the lake where the small plateau sat. It was an altar of sorts from what she gathered from the Planet. She had looked it over and trembled, allowing herself to feel the fear of her demise. Sephiroth was mistaken that Aeris wasn't troubled by her death - she was afraid, but she refused to allow it to stop her. She was all that was left of her people and she was the only one capable of doing what needed to be done.
She had sighed and returned to the nearest shell house to spend one night of rest before her appointed task began.
Meanwhile, Sephiroth had surveyed the city and placed himself under the lake in sight of the altar. Jenova told him that this was the place - he felt it himself. All that was left was for him to wait for her friends to watch her die and be crushed. It wasn't comfortable, but he emptied his mind and listened as Jenova explained what was to be done.
Time passed and with the morning Aeris was on the altar praying. She could feel that her friends weren't far from her. A day away, perhaps - she wasn't clear now her mind was focused on praying for Holy. She could sense Sephiroth was dangerously close to her and worried that he would strike before she could finish her task. The fear only strengthened her determination though, and bolstered her concentration. She would not fail!
And so she remained hour after hour, as Sephiroth remained in his position for hours. Until... she felt Cloud coming and her heart swelled while her stomach sunk. The end was nearing. But hope was still inside of her. A power was building in her heart and soul, growing with each minute now. She was so close... just as Cloud was now under the lake and approaching. Aeris heard his footsteps come near and then halt. Sephiroth was moving into action.
Sephiroth felt Jenova shift through his mind and begin extending her control, trying to manipulate Cloud. Meanwhile, Aeris remained resolute, praying with every fibre of her being. Sephiroth could almost feel the power she was gathering, feel her prayer to the Planet for Holy to come. He didn't know much about Holy, but could sense that what she was doing was special and powerful - not exactly magic, not quite prayer alone. Jenova was screaming in his head for him to kill her since Cloud appeared to be resisting and Sephiroth gave Aeris one last look before Masamune was in hand and he dropped down.
Aeris couldn't truly see what was happening, but she could almost feel the events around her. She was aware that Cloud was nearby, struggling with something, but knew she could not help. What she was doing was far more important. Her prayer was strong and the waves of power she felt inside of her had grown to almost unbearable levels. A realisation hit her - Holy would come - and her heart soared with happiness. She had done it, but it quickly fell again when she knew what was about to come. She could sense him even as he fell, coming closer with her death. And a smile beatifically lit her face as she knew that it didn't matter anymore; she had won against the Crisis. Holy would come...
She could see Sephiroth in her mind's eye falling toward her, Masamune raised to bring death and she thought back to the brief kiss they had shared. She had known that they had been made soul mates, feeling the Planet stir uneasily at the connection they had shared for those short moments. She had been linked to a vessel of the Crisis and the Planet was not happy for its last child to be bound to another so impure. Aeris didn't know how to react when she found out herself; the man who was going to kill her was meant to love her. Perhaps in a twisted, obsessive way, he did. But it was too late now; they had had their paths chosen in early life and no choice but to walk them. It was unfortunate fate that they did not cross earlier, or led different lives. It was pointless to think of what should have been. This is where life had led her and she would have liked to have had longer... death was a mere six feet away now. The Planet would look after her after the end. Aeris felt the Lifestream flowing underneath her in the ground, calling her. Her eyes opened and locked with Cloud's intense blue ones.
I'm sorry, Cloud... but others need taking care of...
His sword pierced her stomach, the blade red with her blood. Blood spilt out onto the floor and Aeris' eyes widened in shock, though she knew it was going to happen for so long now. Slowly, her emerald eyes closed for the last time and she drifted to the floor. Sephiroth's sword exited smoothly and he stood, coolly watching the scene as her friends froze in abject horror. Jenova had a good view of the scene through his eyes, cackling madly in his mind while he watched on. What he had just done had disturbed him, he realised to his surprise. And his chest hurt. He had a horrible feeling growing inside of him that when Aeris had died, she had taken something of him away with her. The feeling clawed at him, but he forcefully set it aside.
Jenova had work for him to do.
"...Aeris. This can't be real!" Cloud cried, his voice cracking as he stared at her lifeless body.
"Do not worry. Soon the girl will become part of the Planet's energy. All that is left is to go North. The 'Promised Land' waits for me over the snowy fields. There I will become a new being by uniting with the planet. As will this girl......"
His words rang hollowly in his ears. Jenova was surging through him like a cancer, urging him to destroy Cloud. Words could break the boy more than anything else.
No-one noticed as the White Materia in Aeris' hair came loose and slowly bounced onto the nearby platforms and finally fell into the water. No-one had known what Aeris had done for them. Not even Sephiroth knew the extent of her sacrifice. In the waters below, the White Materia began to glow an aqua green.
But all things must come to an end, as Sephiroth found out the hard way. His dreams of becoming a God were shattered with his body and he felt his body tear apart. His Spirit energy swirled around and was suddenly enveloped in Lifestream, twisting, binding him tight. A constriction, then... he was released. He felt different, but he couldn't place what was missing. He was intermingled with the rest of the Lifestream now, flowing under the Planet's crust. Then a dazzling light engulfed him and he was... elsewhere.
He looked down and found he was back in his body. He found himself on an extremely green field. All the colours were too intense - the sky, the grass, flowers...
"Sephiroth... you're here," a delicate voice carefully said and he turned to face Aeris standing ten feet away from him. She looked a little wary, but still to his amazement her eyes held compassion for him. He would never understand her. He had killed her, but here she was at the end of it all.
"Why are you here?" he brusquely questioned, his arms folding across his chest. Her head tipped. She had known that this was never going to be easy. She came closer, knowing he could do no harm here. Aeris knew how confused and likely angry he was, but she had to persevere if he was ever going to be rehabilitated and move on. Together, hopefully.
"Jenova's taint has been removed from you, Sephiroth. And with it clarity should come. I don't know what to say. Your life..." her words trailed. She had so much she wanted to make him understand that she had learnt from the Planet. Her heart had tugged from what the Planet had allowed her to see and hear. She was glad Cloud had found himself, that all had righted itself in the end. Now she had only one more task, and he was standing before her now, looking as fearsome as possible.
"Why should I believe you?" he carried on relentlessly, despite knowing her words to be true. That was what was missing in his head, his body. His head was clear and empty of Jenova's presence. He felt alone and it made him uncomfortable in Aeris' company, so he kept his arms folded protectively. Anger still simmered inside of him as his jade eyes focused sharply on Aeris' shimmering emerald ones.
"You know what I say is true. There is so much I want to say... aren't you regretful of your actions?" she asked and he unfolded his arms and shrugged uncaringly. He didn't want to think on his life. She drew even closer and decided to try again, to make him just look inside, to make him look introspectively.
"You could have been an angel, Sephiroth. You could have had many things you had desired when you were a General. Yet, you chose to be a demon. When you look back on it all now, do you regret it? Do you wish you had been the angel instead?" Aeris gently asked him and Sephiroth flinched and turned away, his hands balling into fists. Her words had cut deep.
"Shut up," he snapped, emotion building inside of him, tormenting him.
Aeris regretted some of her words and slowly approached him, every step careful.
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said some of that. Because... neither of us really got to choose the lives we ended up living, in part. We both should have been looked after better. I would have ended growing up in Icicle Inn, and you would have likely lived in Nibelheim," she said and tentatively placed a hand on his shoulder. He froze, but didn't shake her off. He just remained frighteningly still, as if he was planning a surprise attack. Of course, he could do no harm here, but that didn't make it any less off putting for Aeris.
"Lived? Jenova was my mother... I was made. My life would have been the same no matter what changes were made," he said bitterly and Aeris lightly shook her head, strands of her hair brushing his shoulder.
"I learnt a lot here. Jenova was not your mother - a woman named Lucrecia was. She was injected with Jenova cells and showered in Mako so you would become the strongest. You were born, not produced. You had a mother like anyone else and she loved you very much. It was Hojo who took you away from her and left her for as good as dead. I... I've so much to tell you, but... I'm scared," she confessed and Sephiroth turned to face her, her hand slipping from his shoulder. He looked... confused, but it was mingled with anger.
"I can't hurt anyone anymore, so what does it matter? You have no true reason to be afraid. Your lies are not very amusing," he growled and Aeris backed away from his imposing form. His arms were crossed and his intense eyes were focused on her. Aeris didn't know how to get through to him - until the memory of the Sleeping Forest rose unbidden in her mind. If she gained his trust... and perhaps his love, it would makes things so much better. She wanted him to be happy, as strange as that sounded in her mind. She wanted the man who killed her to find peace in this strange afterlife. The Planet wanted to exclude him from moving on, but to do so meant excluding Aeris. She wouldn't move on without a soul mate and so she'd been left with the job of suitably rehabilitating the man until he could be reborn once again. It wasn't going to be easy.
"Do you remember the Sleeping Forest?" she asked suddenly and Sephiroth's eyes narrowed, wondering what the Sleeping Forest had anything to do with what was going on. The memory held... buried feelings he didn't like to probe further into.
He refused to answer, unwilling to talk about any feelings he might have felt then. Aeris could see the obstinate expression on his face and wanted to chuckle, but kept her face still. To be like this after suffering a great defeat and be gifted with the removal of Jenova's taint was unbelievable. Wasn't he in the slightest humble? She decided that perhaps the most direct approach was best - he didn't seem to like mincing words and with the facts, he could maybe learn to change, to trust her.
"Sephiroth... I am here because I'm your soul mate. I can't... I refuse to move on without my soul mate, and that won't happen until you review your past, learn and repent. It will be hard... I understand how painful it may be for you, but... I will be here with you, by your side," she said as calmly as possible, although her heart was pounding.
He remained deathly still, his eyes locked with hers and Aeris gave in and trembled slightly. She was afraid of his rejection now, but not him himself. Sephiroth noted her slight quiver and wondered if this was some peculiar dream, or strange form of torture by the Planet for his crimes. Words failed him. Sephiroth couldn't understand how he had got away with such little punishment. The Planet could have been so much harsher on him... could have eternally tormented him, withheld him from ever entering the Lifestream... but instead, left him to work through his crimes and 'to learn and repent' as Aeris had told him. Left him with his supposed soul mate, who was still frozen in his gaze. He took a brief moment to look at her and allowed himself to remember the kiss at the Sleeping Forest. That unnameable connection... had a name.
Sephiroth lowered his head and his shoulders slumped. This woman had defeated him - he could take it no more.
"Why...?" was all he could say and Aeris sidled over to him and took one of his large hands in her dainty one.
"You can't cheat fate. Before even our lives had been chartered in any way, this had been placed upon us from our time before on the Planet. The Planet doesn't want me to be alone and hates none of her children. And you are a child of the Planet and not born of the Crisis. Do you want to come with me?" she said softly, trying to peer under Sephiroth's curtain of silver hair but failing to see his obscured eyes.
Slowly, he raised his head and sighed deeply. He supposed this was a new beginning, of sorts, for him and felt his heart stir hopefully. He didn't know what to think anymore.
"I will come with you," he said finally and he marvelled at the bright smile that broke out on her face.
"I'm glad. We have some way to go, but... I think we'll survive." She led him away in some direction that Aeris perceived to be the correct way and Sephiroth felt an unused smile tug at his lips. He could feel himself changing already and it scared him a little.
"So... repentance," he began and Aeris glanced at him while they walked. He was finally on the right path. With her.
AN: Just a little thought I had. I've wanted to write an FFVII one-shot for a while now and this is what was produced. I love AerSeph, but I find it hard to think how to get them together, really. This just popped into my head. Thanks for reading and thank you kindly for any reviews I receive. Oh, and I fiddled only slightly with the plot - Aeris did use the Lunar Harp - but we can overlook that, right?