Disclaimer: Final Fantasy VII, its characters, and settings are all property of Square Enix so I can take no credit nor claim any ownership of that. I do take some credit for the story’s plot.
Banner Artwork Disclaimer: The featured artwork for the banner is entitled White rose I and was created by the very talented Deviant Artist RemusSirion who was gracious enough to grant me permission to use it here. The picture has been slightly altered from the original. All rights belong to the artist, and links are included for both the artist page and the work.
Chapter Artwork Disclaimer: The featured artwork for this chapter is entitled Raven pen and was created by the fantastically talented Deviant Artist omegaptera. The picture has been slightly altered in appearance and to include the chapter number and title. All rights belong to the artist, and the image is used her with their permission. Links are included for both the artist’s page and the work.
*******MAJOR CONTENT WARNING*******
Consistent and sustained graphic descriptions and mentions of rape/ sexual assault, sexual slavery/bondage, slavery, human trafficking, physical abuse, graphic descriptions of violence, mental abuse, emotional abuse, psychological abuse, body shaming, starvation, torture, forced pregnancy, forced childbirth, miscarriage, forced miscarriage, abortion, and other potential disturbing and triggering topics.
Aeris’s first letter of reclamation to herself.
It’s been twenty-one days since I was last used. My insides are healing, and my bruises have faded, but I’m still so afraid. I’m terrified to wake back up and find myself starving and chained. Every time I shut my eyes, I expect this dream to end. My wonderful master, the Great General, says that will never be. He tells me he has me. He vows that I’m safe, and I just want to believe.
The day after he bought me and carried me away, he took me to get “medical attention.” I didn’t understand what that meant at first and was afraid I’d be sold again. I didn’t want that. No, not at all! He’d been so gentle and kind, but then he told me I’d see doctors, people who’d make me well.
My insides still hurt from the day he’d bought me. My old master had used me that morning. So many times that I lost count. Then the others, they had their turn. It hurt so much and when my new master bought me, I thought he’d just use me, too. But he didn’t, and still never has. He’s so wonderfully gentle and kind. He says he wants me to be happy and well. He tells me that every day. But happiness is something for the strong, not for weak things like me. He also swears I’ll never be used and that he’s my protector. Then he sweeps me up into his arms as if I’m as light as a leaf. I just can’t imagine being so strong. It must be wonderful…never having to worry about being beaten or used. He still hasn’t used me, and I don’t understand. I don’t understand at all…
My master was sorry I had no clothes, only his shirt on my back. I started to tremble because he shouldn’t do that. Why would he apologize to me? Slaves don’t have clothes. That’s never allowed. We only wear whip marks and chains. I thought his shirt would be my clothing, but he told me I’d have my own.
He said all my doctors would be women, and they’d help me heal. I didn’t know why they would care since I’m just a slave. When we went to there, I was terrified. We had to leave his house. Though I’d only been there for one day, I felt so safe within. I had my own room, though that made no sense, my own bed, and my own bathroom. I was so safe and warm in my bed wrapped in a thousand blankets. I’d never known softness against my skin, but I’d woken to that in my room. When we did leave, I tried not to cry, but I just couldn’t help it. I didn’t want my master to sell me. He promised me that wouldn’t happen before picking me up in his arms. I love when he does that, dearest gods. I shouldn’t, but I feel so safe. I’m safe in my room. I’m safe in my bed, but I’m safest in my master’s arms. I buried my face against his shoulder near the silver spill of his hair. He lets me put my arms around his neck, and he smells better than everything good. It’s like the winter lives in his skin and yet he’s ever warm.
He carried me to this very large building, and everyone there was so kind. Though they did ask me a million questions. So many they made my head spin. They were going to send my master away, but I cried and clung to his coat. I was so afraid that he would sell me if they let him leave me alone. I begged him and begged him not to do that. I begged him to stay by my side. He stroked my hair and promised again that he’d never abandon me.
There was a doctor for my insides, but she said she wouldn’t do an exam. I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I was glad because they hurt. I was torn all the way in, but I wasn’t bleeding anymore. I answered the doctor’s questions while clinging to my master’s hand. Then she asked me to lay down so that she could look at my stomach. I squeezed his hand as she stared a long time at all the loose skin on my belly. I kept my legs closed as she pressed down, because my insides hurt so much. I hoped she wouldn’t make me spread them. That would just make the pain worse. Then the doctor asked when I’d given birth, and everything went black. When I came to, I was in my master’s arms with his emerald light falling down. He looked so worried, and I just shook. I was terrified he’d beat me. He said he was sorry and looked at the doctor who seemed as sad as him. I tried to answer her again, but the world’s edges curled, and I cried because I couldn’t.
When I was fully conscious again, my master still held me, and there was no more talk about…that. I did try to explain what my life had been and how I’d been used every day, but the doctor stood up and left the room before I could really begin. She covered her mouth, and I started to tremble. I didn’t want to be punished for making her leave! But my master’s low voice caressed all my skin, and he assured me I never would. She returned in a bit with another woman she called a therapist, and my master carried me to a new room. I couldn’t walk then, though now I’m much better. I don’t know how I stood in my church. I had no choice. My old master would hurt me for the things my new master allows.
When we got to the other room, my master set me down on a soft chair. Then he sat down beside, and I clutched his hand as he asked me if this was alright. Then the therapist repeated his words, and I thought I’d faint again. I swallowed the terror and begged my master not to leave me alone. The therapist looked so sad, but she nodded and told me that his staying was my choice. She’s the one who wanted me to write these letters, and I asked my master if that was okay. He told me there was nothing he’d ever deny, and I didn’t need any permission. That made my head spin, and the therapist asked if she could see me twice a week. I looked at my master, and he stroked my hand and asked me if this was okay. It makes no sense. He always asks, and I don’t understand why he does. He’s the master. I’m the slave. I’m ever his to command.
There were so many other doctors to see, but none of them hurt me at all. They only touched me with my permission. That’s a word my master gave me. He also mentioned my fingers and wrists, but they don’t really hurt since they’ve healed. There was a doctor who rebound my wounds but told me master he’d done a good job. He only slight smiled but seemed very glad that I was being tended. They gave me what’s called “medicine,” and that took away my pain. That was strange, too…that pain can be healed. I’m lucky my master’s so kind.
The doctors told me I should gain weight and said I should eat things for ‘nutrition.’ I asked my master what that meant, and he said I’d have more than I needed. I cried then because it couldn’t be true. I couldn’t be allowed to have that. Before that day I was always in pain from hunger’s gnawing ache. Even thirst was a constant claw like a mesh on the back of my tongue, but from that first night he’d fed me warm soup, my master promised I’d never more starve. Nor would I be thirsty. Nor would I be beaten. Nor would I be used again…
I still have trouble with the stairs, but my master will just scoop me up. His silver hair will fall around, sweeter than morning mist. I try to imagine what it would be like…to be so big and strong. Then I shake as I remember the lash. Thinking myself above what I am only made them hurt me more. My master just kisses me on the brow and tells me again how I’m safe.
Down to his kitchen he’ll carry me. I’ve never seen so much food! It’s odd because he doesn’t need to eat. Something else keeps him alive. But he cooks for me. My wonderful master will soil his hands for a slave. He said I can have whatever I want whenever I’m hungry. No matter the time of day or night, he said he would see to this need. He’ll make me dinner or lunch or breakfast. Meals have different names. There’s also tea. That’s a drink and a meal…well sort of a meal, more like half. Before I ate whatever I could and hoped my masters wouldn’t see if I stole. Scraps and leavings, moldy with rot, but I was grateful for every bite.
Nothing now ever touches my skin that isn’t utter softness. Nothing not warm and nothing rough. Please, no, never again! Nothing rough! Nothing brutal! Nothing tearing my tender insides! It hurt so much that very first day, but now the pain is gone. I sleep on a bed that has blankets and pillows, more than I could dream. I could drown in the softness, enveloping warmth. I’ll never be cold again.
I’m not only allowed to sleep in a bed, but I have my very own room! I live here now…in his beautiful house like a palace by the sea. That’s this massive thing that rolls on the sand. It’s what the shore’s made of. It goes on forever ‘til it meets the sky, and that’s forever, too. At night it’s drenched with millions of stars and the waves reflect their light.
I haven’t been outside alone or down to see it up close. I’m so afraid. There are always men lurking. What if they offer him money for me? More than the million gil he paid?? I know that he’s rich, but I’m so worthless. He hasn’t even used me…
I’m allowed to go anywhere in his house, even sit on the furniture. My master let me see his room. It has a “balcony” like mine. That’s kind of like an outside floor that’s high above the ground. It’s surrounded by railings so you can’t fall, but I was still terrified to peer out. I know that he showed me my very first night out the window of my own room, but what if this paradise just disappears right before my eyes? What if it turns to darkness and steel and I’m chained and beaten again? I cover my face and he kisses my crown, promising me I’m safe.
If it’s ever cold I have warm blankets or he turns up what he calls ‘the heat.’ Then he’ll hold me in his arms while I’m wrapped in his coat. I just stare up in utter awe, waiting for him to beat me bloody and use me like he should. But he never does, and I don’t understand why he bought me that day. Why am I here if I’m not being used? Why hasn’t he beaten me? Why did he buy me? Why does he want me? What am I doing for him? He tells me that that life is over, but it’s the only one I’ve ever known…the only one I remember. I’m happy though, that I’m not being used even though it makes no sense.
My silver master says he doesn’t own me, and I’m only his to protect. I didn’t even know such a concept existed before he told me that. Protect, guard, and shield. It means to keep safe. That’s what he does for me. He took me away from my horrible master. He was the worst of the three. I lost count how many times he used me that morning before my great master appeared. He’s never chained me. I don’t think he has any, and he lets me wear clothes. I’m no longer naked, and I also have shoes and lovely jewelry. A slave could be blinded for looking at that, but now it brightens my skin.
I’m trying so hard not to cry and mess up this pretty letter. It’s fancy paper, cream- colored smooth, and the pen just glides along. The closet I have goes on forever with all the clothes there are. It’s more like a room, even bigger than a shack in the depths of the slums. There are more clothes than I could ever wear in a month or even a year. They arrived in boxes brought by men, and I cowered upstairs in my room. My master was speaking with them at the door, and I thought he’d finally sell me. I’m worthless and broken and make him no money, yet he lets me eat every day. Then that low voice called my name and I curled into a ball. Hiding on the far side of the bed with my knees pulled up to my chest. I was wearing one of his black shirts and it smelled so good like him. It was strangely comforting even though I was scared of being sold. My master called my name again, and fear choked me. I hadn’t answered!
“Y-Yes, great master?” I said very soft, but his hearing’s perfect so he heard.
“Come here and see. Oh yes, you can’t walk. May I pick you up?” And he did. My wonderful master did. My gentle, silver-haired master with his emerald cat eyes that brilliantly glow filled with such patience and care. He thinks they’re cold, but I find them glorious like a gleam from heaven above.
There were boxes and boxes and boxes some more filled with more things than I could imagine. Dresses and shoes and blouses and skirts and also containers called “makeup.” My master lifted a brow at that, but when I saw a pink ribbon I cried. I sobbed even more when he bound up my hair, and still he didn’t beat me. He didn’t care that I soiled his shirt and shimmering hair with my tears. He just wiped them away with a silk handkerchief and promised me all would be well.
He also bought me a stepping stool, but that happened before the clothes. This was so I could climb into my bed in case he wasn’t around. My master told me he’d always be there if I ever called, but he didn’t want me to ever feel helpless or have to sleep on the floor again. But I didn’t mind. I had pillows and blankets and the floor is carpeted soft. Walking on it is like wearing fur shoes that squish between your toes. It was far better than the cold concrete that used to bruise my flesh.
I couldn’t even hold this pen when I first tried to write. He gave it to me, made of a great feather blacker than sorrow’s night. His face was so sad, and yet he still smiled, placing it in my hand. The pinion was soft and smells just like him. It’s longer than both of my hands. He gave me a journal bound in black leather. It reminds me of his great coat. He has lots of them. All in black but some have buttons and others have clasps. He’s so very tall, taller than tall. He’s the tallest man I’ve ever seen. It hurts my neck to look up at him, but it’s like he knows my pain. He’ll slide his fingers over the hurt and the ache flees at caress, but I don’t really mind even with the pain. I love looking up at him. He’s kind. He’s gentle. He took me away and he’s never hurt me even once. I know it’s only been twenty days, but that’s such a long time for kindness.
My wonderful master will read to me. It helps me remember more words. It’s why I can write this, because he’s allowed, though he doesn’t say it like that. We’ll sit downstairs in that library or his living room or up here in my own. I’ll sit on his lap, which I really love, and he’ll wrap me in his arms. I’ll curl against his chest and cry. I just want it to be real! He tells me it is, promises, vows, and holds me as long as I need. If I weep too long, I’ll grow tired and yawn while he’s reading a verse. I’m still so afraid he’ll get angry at me for falling asleep at those times, but he never has and he never does as his low voice reveals poetry. Sometimes I’ll watch as his eyes chase the light that flees before his pupils. It’s almost like it doesn’t want to be cut by his slivered stare, but the words on the page don’t seem to mind, and they sound so nice through his chest. I’ll lean my ear there and just shut my eyes. His heartbeat’s so steady and strong. It thrums with the cadence of his words, finding its place in between. After each poem he’ll smile at me and kiss me on the brow. It’s better than air, better than water in a way I can’t explain. Water is wonderful, and I can have that and food whenever I wish. But that press of his lips to my skin, dear gods, I can’t explain the joy.
Kisses. What are they even for? I’ll return them to his cheek and thank him for not using me. He’ll brushed the hair out of my face and sadly shake his head. I have to thank him every day. I didn’t want this to end! Kissing his gentle hands is next because they’ve never struck me. I make sure my lips press every knuckle and my great master will softly sigh, but the only knuckles I felt before belonged to brutal fists. I don’t want that. No, never again! His hands are so large and he’d hurt me! But he just slides them under my chin. Rubbing beneath so gentle, so soft. When he wraps his other arm around, I just melt against. There just aren’t words, none that I know, for how wonderful this is. I won’t be hit. I’ll just be held. I’ll never be used again… Everything he does with me is gentle as if I deserve such care. He’s never punished me at all. He lets me sleep…sleep in his arms and vows the most wonderful things.
“My beautiful, little, broken rose. I promise you’re forever safe.”
“I’m with you master…” I shake in his arms and that makes him hold me closer. “I’m here in beauty, safe and warm, bathed in the light of your eyes.”
Right now I’m smiling thinking of kisses, that gentle brush on my skin. It’s funny but scary to witness him holding my little hands in his. I don’t understand how he can do that without crushing my fragile fingers. If any man ever tried to hurt me, my master would never allow. He makes me that promise every day, and I gaze up so gratefully. I’d do anything to keep this protection, but he demands nothing at all.
Sometimes he’ll read me stories, too, and no one in them is used. I guess they’re made up. They have to be. That’s just not how the world works. Of course, right now I’m not being used, and that makes no sense either. Maybe right now I’m in a story, but all of them come to an end. I don’t want this to end. Please don’t let it end. I want to live on in this dream. I want to be allowed to eat every day. I want to be safe and warm. I don’t want to be chained. I don’t want to be beaten. I want to live in the strongest of arms. Please, please, please don’t let this end! I don’t want to come back to life.
I bury my face in my master’s chest when these thoughts frighten me so, and he just murmurs gently down and seals me in his embrace. Wherever or whenever I fall asleep, I wake up in his arms or my bed. Covered in blankets, safe and warm, with my head upon the pillows. Before awareness fully dawns I’m so afraid I’ll wake from this dream.
But then true nightmares will descend, and I’m right back where it began. I scream and scream but it’s all real. It’s the beginning of those hundred years! My silver master will never come. I’ll be beaten and used forever. I shriek and beg as the lash is laid on. He has my great master’s strength! The bones in my wrists are crushed into pulp when he grabs my arm. I can only scream as I try and try to beg my old master for mercy…
I hear my name then. The voice is low, but urgent in its timbre. I open my eyes and there I am…in my perfect master’s arms. I throw my own around his neck and sob like my heart would break. He just holds me close, and I become lost in the scent of silver hair. This is the truth. It just has to be. His arms are warm and solid. The dream strikes slowly fade away, but my scars will always remember.
“Is this real, master?” I asked to make sure. “Am I truly here with you?”
“Yes, little flower.” That’s what he calls me, “little flower, little rose, little one.” I don’t mind being “little,” “little” for him. His names for me are so sweet. My littleness doesn’t cause me pain, not here with my wonderful master.
I’m supposed to see the therapist twice a week and the other doctors once. They want to keep a close eye on me to make sure I’m getting better. The therapist lets me talk about my life, and my master’s right by my side. She always tries to hide her tears while his bright stare just hardens. He’s much better at shielding his face, but I can see the wrath burning in emerald. I never ever, ever, ever want him to look at me like that. I think I would die from instant fright if I ever angered him so, but even if something has drawn his ire, when he looks at me, he’s gentle. He’ll let me hold his hand in my two and squeeze it as hard as I can. I can’t hurt him, and he doesn’t mind. He never crushes my fingers.
Men…men are everywhere, and they’re the worst monsters of all. I wanted to die when they were using me, but even when I did I came back. It didn’t matter how much it hurt. They didn’t care about my pain. I’ve heard them in the halls on the way to the doctors where only my master’s allowed. He always carries me through the building so I can hide my face in his silver hair. No man can hurt me so long as I’m wrapped in my master’s strong arms, and if I hide against him, conceal my body, they can’t see what they’d want to buy. He tells me he’ll never sell me, though, because I don’t belong to him in that way. I don’t understand. Of course, he owns my every single part. He’s just chosen not to hurt or use me and wants to keep me for himself. But if one of them offers him more than he paid…no no! My master is rich! He’s mayor and the Great General. No one could best a million gil! Please no, not again. I don’t want a brutal master! I want to be held and warm and safe in his powerful arms. I just want to belong to him. I ask him, I make sure I’m still “his Aeris,” and he tells me I always am. I’ll always be his. That’s all I want, to be his forever more. The most wonderful thing I’ve ever heard is him saying, “My Aeris…” while holding me close. I’m his…I’m his, I’m ever his. No one else can ever claim me. I reach up and touch his face, and he whispers, “My Aeris,” once again.
“Please…” I beg, “Let me be yours. I want to be ‘your Aeris’ forever.”
“You are my Aeris forever,” he vows, and I can’t stop joy’s tears. I want this to be true so bad it hurts more than my insides did.
I’m sitting in my room wearing clothes and jewelry. My dress is a color called lilac, and it has a gauzy bit over the solid. They’re both the same color, but the outer is see-through like peering through a soft mesh. The sleeves start real low right near my breast, leaving shoulders and forearms bare, but I have shawls to wear over it in case I get too cold.
The dress falls all the way down to my calves and is lined in silver smoke. The same design swirls by my chest and edges along the sleeves. And I have boots that reach my mid-calve right near where the skirts fall. The shoes match it with silver on the toes and traced around the inlays. They’re soft inside and don’t hurt my feet. It’s almost like walking on carpet. I don’t deserve this or the rings on my fingers or the glittering jewels in my hair.
The rings are made of precious stones and the metal’s better than gold. My master told me what all were called, but I’ve forgotten now. I’ll have to ask him the names again so I can write them down. One ring is redder than fire’s heart and the other is green like his eyes, but the gleam in his emerald is alive. Oh! That’s what the green is called. It’s an emerald like his light, except it’s still, dead stone. His eyes are better with their attendant glow and their pupil shiver thin. The jewels in my hair are like glittering snow, a crown before my ribbon. That’s lilac, too, and he tied it for me. I still can’t do that yet.
I know long ago I braided my hair, but my fingers don’t remember. He’ll gently brush and bind it high with a ribbon amongst the waves. He always lets me pick the color, because he says, it’s my hair. The high bangs hang long to brush my chest. They’re similar to his. The headband he’ll slide amongst the waves contains those shimmering stones.
I looked in the mirror and couldn’t stop crying. It couldn’t be me there. This wasn’t a slave. She was a person, but her face was soaked with my tears. My silver master stood behind, as I leaned against him for support. This had to be false, but that maiden remained as he bent to kiss my brow.
My master will sweep me up in his arms so effortless it must be a dream. He’ll smile so gently down at me. I think he enjoys it, too. He can cradle me easily in either arm. I can’t imagine being so strong. It must be wonderful to have so much power to not be tiny and weak. No one could ever beat him. No one would ever dare try. I can’t even circle his wrist with my hand, but he can hold both of mine with his one. He always lets me try it though, smiling gently when I fail.
Every night, I thank my master for not beating and using me. That just makes him sadder, but I have to thank him each and every day. It’s a wonderful thing. Not to be beaten, not to be used, not to be starved and chained. Being allowed to see the sun and hear that whispering sea. Having my injuries tended and healed, being swept up in powerful arms. Arms that close around me tight and yet are more than careful. He’s never hurt me, not even once. He’s never hurt me at all…
Every night before I sleep, he’ll kiss me on the brow. Just like I thank him, he’ll then promise, “My Aeris, I have you now. My tiny rose, my perfect flower, you’ll never be hurt again.” I stare up at him in utter awe just soothed by the sound of his voice. The words “my Aeris” filter through, and I sob into his chest. He rubs my back and apologizes, which makes my weeping worse, but I have to tell him, he has to know I’m not crying because I’m sad. This is joy because I’m his and then he just looks sadder.
I never ask the Planet for anything not since it forsook me. It still sings in my head though I ignore it. I just want one more day. Just once more let me wake and be here with him in paradise. I know I don’t deserve this grace because I’m a terrible slave. I deserve more beatings, more brutal abuse, but I don’t want to lose this joy.
This isn’t life. Life is being used at least three times a day. Life is being beaten bloody. Life is shackles destroying your skin. Life is hunger and cold. I don’t know what this is. It can’t be a dream. Those are horror, too.
I’m no longer hungry and no longer cold. I’m not being beaten or used. This may change at any moment. He may come and use me right now. He might walk in holding new chains. He may whip me and crush my frail wrists, but he hasn’t…yet. My insides stopped hurting after a few days of not being forced. My bruises have faded and because he’s so gentle I don’t have any new ones. My legs are better, and I can walk a little, but not for very long.
Why do I now live in the strongest of arms, the gentlest to ever exist? Why am I given the softest of kisses pressed against my brow? Why does he promise I’ll never be used? If I’m not, then what am I for? Why am I here…here with him? Why won’t he ever use me? I’m little and weak. I couldn’t stop him just like I couldn’t stop them. He’s my great master, all powerful. There’s nothing he couldn’t do. One day I know this reprieve will end, and he’ll use me like he should.
Aeris, the Great General’s slave
Author’s Note: Chapter 6 has been twice edited, but needs one more once over. I’ll post it as soon as that’s complete. Until then thank you so much for reading.