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!
Warning: Some brief discussions of rape/sexual assault.
Dearest readers (yes I chose to go with a letter format this time) (Future Narcissist: Bahahaha, omg, how presumptuous was I last year? Ah, well rest assured, I’m still JUST as presumptuous, I’m just self-aware of it. Wow, enjoy the ride, followers if you can deal with me *chuckles quietly to self*),
It did indeed take me three days to reedit Chapter 3 due to my anal perfectionism. I was going to separate it into parts, but then I remembered I’m writing this editing blog preemptively even before I post any of the story on the interwebs. By the time you read this, it will all be done. I considered for a brief second posting chapters of the story in drips and drops, but I knew that could just never be. I didn’t know exactly where the story was going or how it would climax (giggity…omg grow up), so I could not in good conscience put anything up. Plus I’m not quite sure which site I’m going to pick. I’m leaning towards Fanfiction.net, but may also patronize Archive of Our Own (or AO3) since they have NO Aeris/Sephiroth fanfiction (FN here, um I have NO clue what the fuck I was talking about. I think I was just defective in my search methods. There are plenty of Aeriseph fanfictions on AO3 written by people who share my annoyance and disdain with FF.net’s draconian censorship. Luckily Northern Lights isn’t (hopefully) too graphic so it should be fine there, but my WIP has no chance of being on that site for too many reasons to go into. If I mention them even here I’ll need to put a warning on this installment). I’d prefer to post it on both. I already have a following on Fanfiction.net from prior and currently with my one shot Borrowed Lives, but I like AO3 and (as mentioned) it has no Aeris/Seph fic (lies!) so it would be a bit of a novelty, and that should ideally garner hits. Hopefully AO3 is okay with simultaneous submissions. You never know. Sites can be cray. (Oh lord I was adorably clueless…)
I used to be much, much, MUCH more into the fanfiction world. I had several up for FFVII and even a few for FFVI, which was (arguably) the first game I started writing fanfiction for. I adored VI; it was my first Final Fantasy and it was very hopeful and uplifting at the end. It set the foundation for what I wanted out of an RPG, because it had 12 mandatory main characters and managed to have enough plot for all of them. I was very impressed, but I think Square got to big for its britches (even prior to the Square Enix mind meld, which is almost as bad as Windows 8, ughhhhh, that’s a rant I need to write) and tried to do something similar with Chrono Cross, and there are just way too damn many main characters and not enough plot to go around. I’m still going to finish the game eventually (just like I’m going to finish FFVII, which does not remotely have that problem), but it did get a bit under my skin. I’m working on playing all of the Final Fantasies in order starting with the original (holy shit, I’m STILL working on doing this. I’m in the process of watching an LP of FFIII so that tells you where I currently stand), and well, I kind of gave up on it because it’s really hard and resigned myself to watching HCBailly’s Let’s Play of it. Yeah, so I didn’t realize you had to equip stuff not just have your characters have them (capital E next to the equipment), because I can be a total idiot. No matter though; I’ve done enough to be able to speak about the game play and watching HC’s LP will give me what I need on the story and the music (the latter of which is phenomenal so far).
Lord…babble, babble (Babel?). It’s like I live in the tower, but it’s been quite a few days since I’ve had a chance to update this blog. I sadly haven’t been able to watch any more of James and LaDonna’s ASOIAF videos. There are at least two more I need to view, but the problem is I can’t do it at night because they freak me out. I don’t really know how to explain this, but whenever I watch something that is symbolism/metaphor heavy and very intense, I get excited and frightened all at once, like I’m about to discover some great truth that will uncover the veil from the universe and what waits beyond will be terrible and wonderful to behold. At nighttime, that kind of fear is greater grown in the silence, and my mind is just awhirl with what I’ve seen and what it could mean. I will say that I would never play FFVII by myself at night. There are just way too many creepy parts, and I’ve said before that FFVII would make an excellent horror story, it already has the pertinent elements of a Cosmic Horror Story. Such a paradigm would be very easy to translate (ha).
I am going to get into the editing shenanigans soon, but first I want to talk about blood debt. In my head canon a blood debt is when a character either kills another character or gives their life for them so in the next life the character that died is owed a blood debt. So obviously reincarnation has to come into play and at least one of the characters has to remember what happened. This is of course the basis of Northern Lights and pretty much every other of my FFVII fanfics, but I’m honestly surprised that no one has ever written a story like that (or rather I haven’t found one yet). I keep story ideas in OneNote, and one of them concerns this kind of plot. The male character kills the female character in a former life, and he remembers it and wants to spend his life making it up to her. I’m thinking that they have to find the thing that made him kill her in the first place and vanquish it. So yeah…basically Northern Lights hehe, but I think a cunning writer could take this idea and really run with it. Maybe have blood debt be part of the religion of the world, because there’s only one way to repay a blood debt: you have to die for this person The other party cannot dissolve the blood debt, although I’m a little on the fence with that if it comes to family. Because say your mother gave her life for you either in childbirth or voluntarily. I’m not sure if that would count as a blood debt because you already share blood. So for some more examples, lets say a character gets mortally wounded saving another. They are going to die, but before they do, they (for whatever reason, not necessarily maliciously) kill the other character. That would settle the blood debt. Blood for blood; life for life; death must have his due.
I had an idea for another story where the guy falls in love with a girl who looks exactly like his mother, but isn’t related to him at all. The guy wouldn’t know who his birth mother was having been adopted or abandoned. He finds out what she looks like after falling in love with this girl. Seriously, you guys, if you want to use either this idea or the one above, please take them. I’ve already written the above and sort of this one (although I really don’t mention it) because, well, we’ve already seen this.
Now it’s time for the reedit.
I really do give Seph a LOT of weeping angel characteristics: marble skin, moving faster than you can blink, not blinking himself (sort of a meta reference), along with being well an angel and deadly. The not blinking thing could be chalked up to his cat eyes although he doesn’t have a third eyelid. I wanted a creep factor but not THAT much off a creep factor. Although I’ve written another angel character who didn’t have cat eyes, but also didn’t blink. It’s an angelic trait (should add it to my angel head canon…), but I suppose it’s appropriate. They are the watchers…
“It was as though emerald light had been slashed open for darkness to seep starkly through.” Yup, creep factor activated. I like my protagonists to be a little scary. I’m not so much for the vanilla hero. They need their flaws; they need their darkness; they almost need to go bump in the night.
“‘Imagine being a spectator at your own hellish descent, but having no power to change your course.'” I take the Paradise Lost symbolism and run with it here with the added layer of the lack of control. Lucifer was in complete control of his actions. He choose to rise up against God; Sephiroth arguably didn’t even have this luxury. I already had my rant about him being mind fucked by an eldritch abomination, cosmic horror, alien space god. I will stand by that viewpoint and defend it to my dying day. I would be his lawyer and present all the evidence for why while he’s not necessarily innocent, he’s still not entirely culpable for what happened to him.
“‘I was cursed. I was tainted by that which had dripped down from the cold stars so long ago. Death is the best thing that ever happened to me, child, but I didn’t deserve that gift.'” There are only two ways to end the game Call of Cthulhu. You either die or you go insane. Sephiroth kind of did both, not necessarily in that order. Insanity was the bread in a death sandwich. There IS a potential third way to end it. You have to hide. You have to conceal yourself from the horrors this world has under its veil. This very paradigm may make a stark statement about our reality. Hide from the true horrors lest you go insane. I have another story idea about this (I’m all about my story ideas today, aren’t I?). It’s a horror parody that starts around a game of Call of Cthulhu. Not going to say much about it here just in case some of you get wild ideas about taking it (I know your tricks!), but it’s a long way in happening. I want to write an actual horror first before I deconstruct the genre in parody.
“‘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.’” Poor Seph…if only you knew. This part I”m quoting is his soliloquy of sorts. By the way side note, I LOVE the word soliloquy. It sounds like a something in French or any other language more beautiful than English. (Future Narcissist again. Well, I just looked up the word “soliliquy,” and wow…I do that ALL THE TIME. I’m constantly speaking my thoughts aloud to myself to solidify them in my head though I do care if people are around. I don’t generally talk to myself in company. I’m not that rude.) It’s one of those words that sounds like a song on your tongue just aching to be released to awaken the air. I know about the term from Shakespeare (of course) as he was the master of the soliloquy. One of my favorites being Hamlet’s “What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason…” Oh man Hamlet. Now THERE’S a character with mommy issues, sheesh…
“’Then one day I realized my blindness was due to my eyes being closed.'” Am I being metaphorical? Even I’m not sure. I didn’t write this line with that intent; I wrote it to literally mean his eyes were closed, but I am a firm believer that one can write something without knowledge that one is making a reference or a metaphor, because there are things that exist in the zeitgeist that we’re all exposed to regardless of our knowledge of their existence. Having knowledge of them can lend you aid in deliberately making reference, but this isn’t necessary. I have never read Paradise Lost and had no idea that Lucifer had been chained in Hell. Although there’s a line from the song Memoro de la Stono that mentions “angels chained by a beast locked in slumber.”
I’ve heard this song numerous time (it’s from FFXII, a game I’ve never played nor do I have any interest in playing.. I don’t play Final Fantasy with others. That’s a whole lot of nope). It’s been on my iPhone since I went to the Distant Worlds concert (twice) a few years back. The second time I went they did this version of To Zanarkand and I bawled my eyes out when it got to the middle bridge. There was a screen that showed videos and it had Yuna doing her Sending.
I just lost it at that middle part. It’s just filled with such longing and grief like you’re ever seeking but never finding, but you can’t give up the search. To give up the search it to admit defeat and that’s just not an option. The second concert (like the first) did an encore of “One Winged Angel”, and I’m not going to lie, when I rose for the standing ovation for the first, I kind of fainted. Was that excited. For the second concert they didn’t have a choir, but had the audience sing it, because of course everyone there knows the words! If you didn’t and you’re a Final Fantasy fan, you need to
Now you might not know all the Latin, but, no no fuck that. You should KNOW. I’m sorry. Okay *deep breaths* I don’t want to roll over you all elitist style. It’s not fair to assume. The words are from Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, which is one of the most influential pieces of 20th Century music, and everyone and their mother has heard “O Fortuna.” The lines “sors imanis et inanis” from OWA are from that particular song. Maybe I’m being too stringent; maybe it’s because I’ve sung Carmina Burana on multiple occasions, or maybe because I’m a crazy fangirl, but to me the lyrics to “One Winged Angel” are common FF fan knowledge. Level 1 shit. Crap, where was I? Oh yes, singing “One Winged Angel”. So they had the audience sing it. Well it was after I heard myself doing it that I formulated the pipe dream that I wanted to be an opera singer. Now this will never happen; I’m far too old to start. Plus I don’t live in a locale conducive to such endeavors. I’d have to move closer to New York, and well, it’s just not going to happen. I’d be happy to be in a choir so I can sing Christmas music, which is proving to be far more difficult then you’d think. I don’t particularly want to belong to a church (I even went to a church concert for Christmas last year, and it really wasn’t the music I wanted to sing), but I definitely want to sing the more religious songs. Yes, I’m ridiculous. I accepted this fact long ago. Not like ridiculous is an insult anymore.
Holy halibut am I flighty today. I was working on making some other point. Let me try to unravel it, do some inception searching…oh yes, I was talking about prescient writing. Yes, so while I’ve heard “Memoro de la Stono” and the “angels chained” line, what happens to Sephiroth is way too close to what happens to Lucifer in Paradise Lost. Our fallen hero is chained in the slums of Midgar, below the city proper. If you look at the nine worlds in Norse mythology Hel or course lies below Midgard as do the slums. You’d be hard pressed to argue that the slums aren’t a type of hell, and he’s chained in the lowest part by his own behest as Lucifer was in PL (the last part is per the Ice and Fire experts James and LaDonna. As mentioned, I have yet to read Paradise Lost. I’m sure once I do, I’ll have other insights and will need to thank them for putting me on the right path). The point is that Paradise Lost is pervasive in our society to the point where it’s possible to reference it without having read it. It’s symbolism and metaphor fill so many things that nearly everyone has seen. Every rebellion story has a hint of it in there. It’s a tying thread. It’s like how we all know the Golden Rule even if we haven’t read the Bible. It’s knowing that JRR Tolkien is the foundation of modern fantasy and if you write fantasy, you’re inherently referred to Tolkien, because you must. Everything flows back to that…it’s like the Absolute in the Tree of Life. Oh yes…meta-references galore. You may not know the source, but you’ve seen enough narratives that refer to it or refer to something that refers to something (and on) that refers to it, and it doesn’t diminish in descending. It might change; it might mutate, but it is never lessened, rather in repetition it becomes more of itself.
“‘…the place I’d been created.” Sephiroth doesn’t say “born.” He always refers to himself as a creation because he thinks he’s a monster.
“She’d drawn pathways from the city to the lands of her desire. Just tracing them Sephiroth caught both her hope and sorrow that furrowed his brows wondering why.” The former general can’t fathom why he sensed such sorrow from her little drawings and words, and this is, to put it bluntly, male privilege. Aw shit son…I’ve scared some of you away. You didn’t know I was a terrifying feminist, dd you? Worry not you’re little heads; I’m not out to institute a female dominated society or kill all the men since that’s not even what feminism is about. Plainly put, all it is is saying, “Hey, women deserve equal rights because they’re people, and we’re not there right now, so we need to do something about that.” Privilege does exist. It’s no one’s fault; it was established long before we were all born. The only thing you can do is acknowledge and work to alleviate it.
Whew, now that THAT’S out of the way, yes, Seph has never had to think about his movements and actions like Aeris does. Now he also has some crazy, awesome other privileges like being a super soldier (and all the awesome perks that come with that), a general, and elite. We have some wealth/upper class privilege thrown in there, too. FFVII does a lot in the social injustice department, as we’ve already seen and we’ll see more of later.
Barring his time in the Northern Crater Sephiroth has never experienced what it’s like to be weak, and that was temporary. He doesn’t really understand weakness/vulnerability. His NC time was actually more of an aberration than a revelation. If he hadn’t saved Aeris, she would’ve most definitely have been gang raped, possibly killed, more than likely sold. He’s never had to live with this being an every day reality so he can’t understand the longing in her drawings, the fact that she’s trapped here for reasons that are more than obvious to her, but that he’s oblivious to. Real world example, whenever I go out at night, I am constantly thinking about how I’m going to carry myself, where I’m going. I make sure I walk in such a way that I don’t look like a victim. I couldn’t even imagine jogging at night, because God forbid something did happen, I’d have to deal with the “questions.” Those “questions” being: Why were you out that late? What were you wearing? Did you try to fight him/them off? Are you sure you didn’t provoke him/them? And all manner of other bullshit victim blaming. My husband never thinks about these things because there isn’t that omnipresent, overarching threat to his person like the plate above the slums (just discovered metaphor! Go me!!). Aeris is just used to things being that way, but Seph is bemused by the feeling he gets, which I’ll discuss again a little later.
I’m not going to talk too much about how Aeris got to her church in the slums. Maybe that place held her memory and that’s how she wound up there. I like that she was put there because the flowers held a part of her spirit that poured into nourishing the blooms. Her being put there and him coming there make me happy. You could say that his “compulsion” was the Planet, but he can’t hear it. Hm, that doesn’t mean that it can’t influence you, which is kind of dark and sad seeing as we know Sephiroth’s past. Even though it’s benevolent as Aeris says, even a benevolent tyrant is still a tyrant.
I think Aeris mentions her first night in one of the prior chapters before she meets Seph. I’m debating whether or not I should go back and take that out since she explains it to him here. Why have it twice? Her flowers are white as ice. What do you think that parallels? 🙂
“‘There I lay flowers in memory of my friends and all of those who died beneath.'” She, the martyr, is the one who lays flowers for the dead.
“’The Followers of Seph,’” he repeated flatly with an expression to match. “’Who or what are ‘‘The Followers of Seph?’’”
“’Well…’” Aeris put a hand over her mouth but Sephiroth still heard the suppressed giggle. “’To put it quite plainly…they’re fangirls. They’re fangirls…of you.’”
“’Fangirls.’” His voice was deadpan. “’They used to call themselves the Silver Elite…it seems they have evolved.’” A little comic relief after the bombshell of who his mother really is. We need it; that part was a intense.
“’I’ll take you out of the city, child. If that’s what you desire.’” The world just opened up for Aeris at these words. As mentioned before he can’t understand the life she’s led. He realizes she’s little and frail, but he also knows that she bested him so physical strength isn’t the end all being all of a confrontation, but in Midgar the powers she had in the Lifestream don’t mean very much. Just like on the altar in the Forgotten City, Aeris can be readily killed or worse. Sephiroth is thinking more metaphysically and mystically when it comes to her, but Aeris has been long steeped in reality since she’s lived in the slums in the past and for the last two years. Right now in this moment with him, she is the least afraid she’s every been, which is super ironic since he’s her murderer, but Aeris isn’t stupid. She wouldn’t have survived as long as she did, and you could chalk her “slip up” in Wall Market to the world’s influence. She may not consciously know she’s the safest she’s ever been right now, but that awareness is starting to grow in her heart.
“’You once protected the world from me. Let me protect you from the world.’” Just added this line on the “read through” edit. I had it in my notes from before, but never put it in. I like it; it’s a turn around and makes a subtle reference to the blood debt. He knows he owes her far more than he can ever repay since (unfortunately?) he can’t die. I’m trying to imply her immortality, too (so long as she isn’t killed).
What he said; that simple “I’ll take you out of the city…” means so much to her, Sephiroth just can’t know. I know I’m spending an inordinately long amount of time on this, but I think it’s important to understand just how big of a deal this is to the little flower girl. She truly thought she was trapped in the city indefinitely. She believes she was put there for a purpose, but she doesn’t know what it is. Aeris doesn’t want to shirk her responsibilities, but it would be far better to figure it out in a place where she doesn’t need to live in constant fear. The Cetra still feels guilty about this because if she was put in Midgar, shouldn’t she stay in Midgar? Buuuuut the Planet led her to Sephiroth who has the ability to take her out.
“’Where will I go once I get out though…outside must be even more dangerous than within. What will I do to protect myself? I don’t even have my staff and the Planet’s been so fickle. If I die again there’s not even anyone left to remember or mourn me, and I still never even knew my purpose – oh…’” She’s just standing there musing while holding his hand like it’s totally natural and Sephiroth is sitting there hiding his bemusement, wonder, and (honestly) delight (he’d never admit that now not even to himself. It’s not even a flicker in his conscious mind. He doesn’t deserve delight…) all during it. She’s trusted her tiny, frail hand to his, and is kind of casually saying some horrible things about what could happen to her on the outside not considering the full implications of him taking her out of Midgar. The little “oh” at the end is her registering shock when he stands up. He is so much taller than she is. Now this again possibly my head cannon, but I do have figurines of them, and Sephiroth stands head and shoulders above Aeris. I envision their height difference to be about this if not more. Aeris looks far sassier in this picture than I imagine, but it’s a nice depiction of them even though the sword’s in the wrong hand *grumble*
This is the first time she’s ever stood this close to him, and she really sees how tall and imposing he is. It’s a bit different when you’re being carried by someone or standing far away.
“The tears came before Aeris could cage them and Sephiroth could find no words. Skin to skin she felt only sincerity and the sorrowful core of regret. She caught herself finally and tugged at her hand to his instant release.” Sephiroth is not now or ever going to hold Aeris against her will. I realize in retrospect that free will is a huge part of Northern Lights. His was taken from him in the original story, and in this they’re both acting by a certain compulsion. She obeys the will of the Planet and he is bound by his obligations. Neither is truly free, but then…no one is truly free. “Freedom is life’s greatest lie…” per Loki *squeeeeeee!!!* Come on just LOOK at him!!!
My god…come on, he’s fucking gorgeous and he’s REAL. Like he actually (kind of) exists. Don’t get me wrong Sephiroth will always always be my number 1 fangirl crush, but Loki/Tom actually exists. Like I could meet Loki one day. Sephiroth is far too beautiful to ever truly exist (unless we really do start dabbling with genetic stuff and that has some whole other ramifications to consider), and I’ve seen some goth boys who come pretty close.
Hey wait a minute…
What the hell was I talking about? Oh yes freedom. Screw freedom. I don’t know which one I’d kneel to…that’s my biggest dilemma.
Tywin Lannister gives us another “inspirational quote” about freedom in “No man is free. Only children and fools think otherwise,” in response to his son Tyrion’s insistence that he does have that gift. Again though these words are spouted by villains and tyrants, it’s hard not to see the truth in them. Our reestablished hero and heroine are certainly pulled by strings not of their own making. Sephiroth now has two obligations on his hands: seeing the flower girl someplace safe before searching for his true mother’s grave, and Aeris still has to figure out literally why she’s alive. It lays like a geis on her heart, and while she has incredible guilt at leaving, she still believes it’s the right thing to do.
I leave you with that readers, a question to ponder. Does freedom truly exist? You could say that having enough money would put you in that state, but I believe you just become its tool. We are all slaves to something. It’s what life’s about. Perhaps the only true freedom lies in death, but most certainly not for our characters. Aeris’s work had just begun after she was killed, and Sephiroth was tormented upon his demise.
I bid you adieu, dear followers. Chapter 4 will be next. There’s a quote to pick and a picture to consider for that next endeavor.
The Shameful Narcissst
P.S. I’ve been thinking about changing my name to The Dark Seraph since I think that sounds hella, kick ass cool, plus there’s a picture of me dressed as a dark angel that I use on Facebook, Twitter and WordPress.
It’s a consideration…The Dark Seraph writes about dark/fallen angels. Fitting, meta, gothic. I don’t need much else to sell me on an idea. For true though now adieu. (Future Narcissist – Yeah no this is not going to happen hehe. I still like the term “Dark Seraph,” and in one of my later posts I have a google search party for it, but “that’s another story and will be told another time…”)