One-shot Aeris POV. Nothing was as it seemed to be. Reality is merely the way you percieve the world around you and that is easy for a Cetra to manipulate. Spoilers. May not be a fic for people who...
They didn't know. How could they have possibly guessed? When I wove lies for them, I did it well. Of course, if they had known, I wouldn't be mouldering in my watery grave, waiting to rot into nothing. Maybe they would have realised that a Cetra is harder to kill. Maybe they would have killed me themselves, or at least tried. If I had the strength left to do it, I'd crawl out of here and teach Cloud how to find a pulse. But enough. I'm getting tetchy. A sword through your guts and being half drowned will do that to you. Besides, it wouldn't do for the mask to slip now.
Nothing to do now but bide my time. My body heals itself surprisingly quickly, but it can't keep up. The blood loss, the water and the septic shock are too much for my system. All that's left is to wait, paralysed, for my death to catch up with me.
They say your life flashes before you when you die. I wait for it, but there's nothing. I start to sort through memories myself, out of boredom. I never thought I would be bored when I died. But then, I'd never planned to die.
Ilfalna was my mother. That much is true. One of the great secrets of lying and getting away with it is only to lie when you have to.
Ilfalna and I were in the care of ShinRa. I don't remember much from that time, just a few scattered images of white rooms, brightly lit. We escaped and Ilfalna died. I don't remember crying. Maybe I did. I didn't know her well enough to feel upset about it now.
Elmyra believed that she found me then and took care of me in her homely way. She was easy to fool. She wanted to believe it so much. Maybe I was even doing her a favour, granting her dearest wish, if only in fantasy. It took a handful of images planted in her head to convince her it was fact. I remember being surprised. I hadn't believed it would be so easy.
I found it weird. While we - AVALANCHE, or whatever it was we became - travelled, no one ever wondered about what I could do or what my abilities as a Cetra might be. Images in someone's head was something Sephiroth did without raising a sweat, and true, he was made from JENOVA, not a Cetra as they had thought. But still, no one ever thought to ask if I might share that ability. And no one asked me what else we might have planned.
I didn't meet Elmyra until I was fifteen. I grew up in the Temple of the Ancients. There were precious few of them left, but they were alive. After all, Ilfalna had to have come from somewhere - another question no one thought to ask me. Perhaps I had gotten too good at discouraging them and diverting their attention.
They found me and guided me to them. I don't imagine it was easy. I was a small child and they had hidden themselves away from the rest of the world. They raised me and taught me. It hurt to give that thought and the credit for all their work to Elmyra. I was the product of so much hard work. I am... I was the last thing that they left in the world. The buildings somehow don't seem to matter.
Even in the depths of the forest, far from Midgar, they could feel Sephiroth's presence in the world and... Well, they had plans for me.
Time passed quickly and it didn't seem long before I returned to Midgar and ensconced myself with Elmyra. She was pleasant enough and believed I had been there for years. The Turks, still looking for me, simply surmised that I had been good at evading them. It worked out very neatly.
Everything took a little longer than I had thought. It was only a matter of time until Sephiroth flipped and began taking orders from JENOVA. He had climbed too high in ShinRa for them to keep secrets from him forever. It would only take a tiny mistake. I didn't have long.
I had returned to Midgar because I would need some people around me who could fight. I was going up against... Well, more accurately, I was in competition with Sephiroth and probably ShinRa too. In short, I needed muscle.
Zack seemed like he would work out, right up until he got himself killed. Maybe he was a bit too idealistic. I had already given him one or two doubts about his glorious leader, but perhaps it was too much. It was a shame. He would've been perfect. And I genuinely liked him, although not as much as he thought.
Cloud was a poor second choice. Falling through my roof persuaded me he would at least be hard to kill. He dealt with the muscle side of things without much trouble, but I could never quite forgive him for not being Zack. There was so much I wanted him to live up to. It made it easy for me to play him the way I did. I'm not sure now, looking back, that I could have done that to Zack. I could have put memories into Cloud's head, like I did with Elmyra, but it didn't prove necessary. He was already good enough at fooling himself without my help. It seems Sephiroth did deem it necessary but we all have different ways of achieving our goals. While Sephiroth rained down destruction, ensuring Cloud's obsession with him, I appealed to his hero complex. After all, don't I look like somebody who needs looking after?
I feel like I'm choking. I'm not breathing. That's probably it. I'm only half way through. There's so much more to my life than this. What kind of epitaph is this, if I can't even recite it to myself once before I die?
I was supposed to be the saviour of my people. I was supposed to use the black materia. I already had the white. The black materia, and then the white, to create a surge of energy and I was supposed to be at the centre of it. My grand destiny. Sephiroth has the same thing planned and now I can't compete with him. He'll take my place and who knows then what fate awaits the planet? I would have restored the Cetra and put the humans back in thier place. It's laughable, but I would have become the very enemy that Cloud and his band of clowns are trying to fight. Now, with this death, Sephiroth has made me a saint.