Note: This is the Editing Blog for my FFVII fanfiction Northern Lights (which you can find at the end of that link). I will be discussing a myriad of topics along with my frequently tangential and harried editing process. You should be able to garner some enjoyment and insight from this without having read the story and/or without prior knowledge of the original game, but if you’re a fan of paranormal romance and/or dark fantasy, you may find it to your liking. The story will be spoiled in this editing examination, though I will do my best to mark spoilers for any other narratives I mention. Thanks for your interest and enjoy!
I thought to myself, “Why not, I’ll write up my notes on chapter 3. This is the last night I can stay up this late as I go back to work on Monday.” Le sigh. I’m obviously very grateful to have a job to go back to, but these past two weeks have been very productive, and I’ve written for at least four hours every day (Future Narcissist again. Yeah…last year was super productive. This year not so much. I don’t know why I felt like I achieved so much less this year, but when I went back to work I was so anxious and stressed that it threw me into a depressive state. I was actually not stressed to be back at work as I like my job, but rather I was stressed that I still had and still have so much to still do.). Granted, I’ve done little else (besides exercise. Don’t wanna be fat forever, plus it’s part of a master plan), and I feel kind of bad I didn’t practice the piano as much (only about 4 days out of the 15 I was off), and that’s something I definitely need to catch up on. I’m teaching myself Aeris/Aerith’s Theme so that I can record myself playing, put it on YouTube and post on the blog I write for. Oh FYI just so you know I do a Daily Cosplay or rather Awesome Cosplay of the Day post here every day, and there are many other fantastic things from amazing people so I highly recommend. Most of my cosplays are from Final Fantasy. I see you look so shocked. Yes, really, I can see your shock and awe. I’m that much of a sarcastic bad ass.
So to continue this chapter…Seph is quite shocked that Cloud and Vincent are dead. The seeds of concern are beginning to germinate after they were sown in the crack in the wall. He has an inkling that something is not completely right. Actually, he got this when he first came to the tower before he fell asleep and awoke in his cage. He didn’t really dismiss it, but was too wrapped up in other things to give it much thought, but he is now, and he will be even more so as things progress.
Anyway, he’s shocked by this news since they were like him (in terms of being augmented with Jenova’s cells and Mako) and either shouldn’t have aged or the aging process should’ve been slowed. Vincent was locked in a coffin for, what, 30 years if not longer? I believe that happened before Sephiroth was even born and he’s around that age, but when Vincent was released, he didn’t look much older. More haggard, sadder, but not really aged by time. A hundred years really wouldn’t do much to either of them. I mean I guess it’s safe to assume that because of the “corruption” in his blood, Seph is essentially immortal. There’s a word I use later that should remind you of something; it definitely does for me hehe. So a hundred years isn’t really a long time for them, and they way he questions her is in his “general’s” voice. She’s quite terrified by this and he’s instantly contrite.
“’I felt their souls pass within, but I never saw them…I never saw any of them. There is only an echo in my heart of where they all used to be…’” Her admission of not seeing anyone could be argued I suppose because of Advent, but we’re kind of going by Cloud’s vision on that, and he’s always been an unreliable narrator.
ASOIAF is full of those. Everyone is unreliable because they all have a limited perspective, and we the readers are being told what they see. Now as the novels have progressed and we’ve been given more perspective, we have more ability and cause to cry, “Bullshit,” in certain situations, but when you first start reading, I for one tend to take things at face value on my first read through (it’s why FFVII was so refreshing for me because you can’t take it at face value, there’s way too much going on below the surface, but the last one I played prior to that was FFVI, which is very face value). I went along with Robert Baratheon when he demonized Rhaegar Targaryen as a rapist who started a terrible war similar to Paris with Helen of Troy (minus the rape…this should’ve been a clue). Robert’s viewpoint was supported in the character of Viserys not necessarily in word, but in showcasing the insanity and instability of (at least) the Targaryen males with Aerys being another damning example. But THEN you get Barristan Selmy’s point of view when he tells Dany about her brother and then you’re like, “Wait, this is kind of conflicting,” and then you remember that it’s the winners of wars who write the history books and are alive to spread the tales. Then I saw what Rhaegar looked like and knew for sure that Robert was a fuck face.
Seriously, no, that’s not evil. Sorry, Robert you brain dead drunk. You can go fuck yourself. How dare you kill that beautiful thing.
This is another reason I’m not that fond of Cloud…and the one and only instance that I’m in accord with Cersei. Want to see something amusing? Okay here’s Cersei.
And now here’s Cloud as a woman. Like not just in a dress, but a full blown female (note the boobs).
Uncanny right?! He looks like Cersei Lannister (albeit with shorter hair)! Like not just the fact he’s wearing a dress, there’s something about his expression that’s akin to her, too. Oh man I love the internet.
“There could be nothing worse than what happened next. Tears formed in her summer green eyes as her murderer knelt on her bedroom floor…” I’m pretty sure crying in front of your mortal enemy is pretty much the worst.
Fine, I was wrong…that’s the wurst. But Sephiroth is more shocked by her apology. He can’t accept apologies from her. It’s not possible because he has no right to grant them. He has no authority in which to accept an apology (by his belief). This becomes extremely important later.
“’You’re happy to have been beaten?’” Incredulity raised her voice.” Lots of shock and surprise from the two of them.
“’My nightmares are full of blood and screams. My memory full of death. The scrape of steel on naked bone…the stench of burning flesh. They all come back to haunt me now that I’m alive again. The memories…they never leave. All the ones I killed. All the ones I wronged. In waking it’s unbearable. In dreams it’s a thousand times worse.’
“Do…do I haunt you, too?”
He turned his head and if Aeris did not see it, she could not have burned her tongue with the words. But if sorrow existed it lived in his eyes as he forced himself to face her.
“Oh, little flower…you haunt me worst of all.” I love this line from Seph. It’s one of my #amwriting posts. There’s just a hollowness about his words as though he’s empty of all but grief and it just resonates in everything he says. The “Do I haunt you?” leaves me feeling empty inside myself. He is haunted by his heinous deeds and the people he slew. Imagine that. You killed someone and did horrible things while you were under mental manipulation, but you were cursed to remember everything. Then you were vanquished/defeated/killed, but you couldn’t die so back you come to this side of the veil. You find one of the people you killed, the one “you” had a personal vendetta against (“you” in parenthesis because Jenova would have a vendetta against the Cetra) and you are forced to face this person, and they forgive you. They fucking forgive you. I…almost think that’s worse than hatred. Hatred you expect and can almost be prepared for, but forgiveness…forgiveness would be a gift you don’t deserve.
Alright the “death” he’s speaking of has to be the one at the end of the game, and this is really a part where interpretation has to come into play. Was the Sephiroth Cloud defeated in the Northern Crater the same one he defeated in Nibelheim? Or was the Nibelheim Sephiroth the only real one and all the others were shadows/clones protected by the Sephiroth/Jenova amalgamation? (They killed him a long time ago.)
I don’t think this riddle of FFVII will ever be answered, which makes it not only one of the greatest games, but one of the greatest stories of our era. Stories that still have you scratching your head and looking for interpretation/clues after nearly two decades are only discounted by those unable to see the validity. It’s timeless to the point that people who weren’t even alive when it came out know about it. For the purposes of Northern Lights, we’ll say that Cloud defeated the real Sephiroth there (begs the question of why weren’t they able to find him in Advent, but again in this story I’m not really worrying about the events in Advent), and since Jenova was defeated (but not destroyed) at that time as well by Holy (maybe…see what I mean by interpretation? Since Jenova shows up again in Advent so not completely destroyed. Evil never dies), so I’m just going with that. It was the real Sephiroth in the Northern Crater for the purposes of Northern Lights. I don’t think I’m going to have too many people quibbling about this. I’ve heard of fanfictions where Harry Potter gets knocked up by Professor Snape. I could probably have a scene where everyone learns the true meaning of summer and it still wouldn’t be half as fucked up/crazy as that. Any up for interpretation character death is beans compared to that.
One of the saddest parts about Seph’s time in the Northern Crater is that (per this story) he was so close to his true mother and he never knew it at the time.
Ah, I had him say “prayed,” but he wouldn’t say or do that. Sephiroth doesn’t feel he has the right to pray. He doesn’t believe he has the right to ask the Planet or powers that be for anything after what he did. I’m sure the devil feels the same way…
I don’t mention him sidestepping when he talks about his journey back down to inhabited lands. This is fine. He may not have been strong enough at the time to do so, or it could’ve just been implied that he did it to get across oceans and whatnot. He also might not want to explain it to her at the time as it would just be something else frightening and alien about him. Angels and aliens are often interchangeable in stories. They’re both visitors from a different plane. I like how FFVII has subverted that paradigm, but then again not really. As mentioned in prior posts, angels were NEVER the cute, squishy fluff that we see today. They were always both great and awful to behold, and I’m happy to see modern narratives (Doctor Who, Supernatural, Constantine, Legion, The Prophecy, etc.) bringing that back. Granted they think they’re subverting a trope, but you often have to go backward to go forward, find the antithesis before you discover or rediscover the thesis.
“Once open my eyes would no more close, I had spent all my strength in that action. So I was forced to bear the pinpricks of ice as they fell into unblinking green.” He can’t even close his eyes to the falling snowflakes. Sephiroth is almost literally in Hell like the Lucifer he represents in Paradise Lost. It’s a cold one though, but I do mention that the snow is melting on his skin. He’s warmer than the average person because the corruption burns in him deep. His temperature is constant, which is convenient. Like literally…the cold never bothered him anyway.
He still has his clothes, too. This is a bit of a parallel to Aeris. I was wondering/worried about this. I love his outfit in the game. I mean, I think it’s really hot and a beautiful man in black leather is just like the best thing ever, so I really wanted him to have them in this story. I was thinking that similar to how he walked through the fire with clothing unscathed his timelessness could potentially extend to it? I don’t know. This might be one of those things that I don’t really worry about. Again, pregnant Harry Potter. Whenever I think of something that might get some eyebrow lifts of head tilts because it doesn’t make complete sense, I’m just going to scream, “Pregnant Harry Potter,” and drop the mic.
Can I just say I love, love, LOVE the “little flower” epithet? Oh, I did before? Well I’m saying it again. It’s just…so sweet and endearing. It’s like with him just saying that he’s promising to protect her. It almost reminds me of the Hound’s “little bird” term for Sansa, but with Seph there’s absolutely no bitterness behind. He’s not bitter, because that’s not an emotion he feels he’s entitled to. Although he realizes his mind was taken over, he still blames himself for his actions where Aeris sees what happened to him and doesn’t fault him and/or believes he’s paid his dues. The fallen angel disagrees. He thinks that because he was so strong, he should’ve been able to fight it, but he “let the dark in” because on some level he did want to believe he was better. Who among us has not thought the same? Let him cast the first Prius.
“’Are you…are you weeping for me, child?’” He whispered in disbelief. Her soft palm was damp with the salt of her tears, and it was the most delicate thing he’d ever held.” Sephiroth can’t believe she’s shedding tears on his behalf. No one has ever done that for him before. He’s also being incredibly careful with her hand in his. He’s not used to being gentle and really isn’t sure how much pressure he can exert. There’s also the shock and awe that she’s allowing him to touch her anyway.
“’Don’t I deserve to be bound in chains? Don’t I deserve to be beaten?’” Your murderer is asking you these questions and you vehemently believe the answer is, “No.” How do you even handle that?
Aeris seems to accept his explanation about what happened. Is this foolish or wise? She has the Planet telling her to trust him, and she felt herself that the corruption was gone (despite what he believes). The cells while from something horrible and dark, well, it’s like your life is what you make of it. If your father was a murderer, does that mean you have to be one? The Ice and Fire Gurus, James and LaDonna, bring this up, too, in regards to babies and young children. They are innocent and malleable. You can’t blame them for what they’re parents have done, and I think that statement is more than appropriate in Sephiroth’s case.
Hehe, they’re having their first “argument.” She insists on his redemption, believing he’s paid his dues. Seph believes that will never be. Then he says that line that might have single-handedly lead me to write this story:
“’When I pierced you your dying heart struggled to beat around the blade of my sword. It convulsed in hopeless agony as your hot blood washed my face. I felt you die and I enjoyed it. That is what makes me a monster.’” Her reaction is more than appropriate.
Leaving it here for tonight. This looks like it’s going to be a 3-4 day edit chapter (I have to do the reread through edit after the first is done). Thank you all for your forbearance as I ramble my way through this. I hope you enjoy my expositions and comparisons. I wish you light and luck until we meet again.