These are the Editing Notes 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!
<–The Box Contains More Chapter 8 Between the Seams of Chapter 8–>
Holy shit it’s been a while since I’ve updated this. I have it on my schedule for every fourth Saturday or something like that. I switch up what I work on on Saturday just because I have so much. I’d like to say I’ll increase when I publish these, but I’m lucky to get to it when I do. Just a reminder, I wrote these notes three years ago now while I was editing the fanfiction. My writing has improved since then (at least I think so), and it’s a mix of then writing and now, though I don’t always indicate where that happens. I try to remember to use italics when I’m inserting future me into a conversation, but I did some editing on this before like a few months back, so even though it’s future me, it’s not necessary now me lol. Anyway, if you have any questions, you know where to find me!
Mmmm chocolate…oh wait, oh what?
Welcome back. Chocolate is like God’s gift to your mouth. One of the side effects of mostly eating healthy (or at least for me) is going through phases where you just want to eat ALL the food. That’s happening to me right now. I eat all the food; weigh myself; flip shit, and then go back on track the next week and hopefully undo the damage. Tis a long journey, but it’s all about the climb, isn’t it? No, fuck that…I want the goddamn results.
Ah yes, this is when I was overly concerned with reducing myself down to an impossible size hehe. I was seriously and sadly obsessed with that…like so many other people. I have a far different viewpoint on it now, especially since I can’t physically stand for more than ten minutes due to still unknown reasons.
So I asked what your favorite season one. I’ll answer mine is a brief dialogue.
Random Person: Hey Adrienne, what’s your favorite season?
It counts! It’s a “season;” it’s Christmas, and I love Christmas cause I’m a Christmas goth. At least I finally found an Advent Calendar that I could get on board with.
I’d drink my Advent Wine on Advent Sunday while watching Advent Children.
I’m not even going to try to ease my way into this conversation to what my editing notes are. There is no graceful segue. You’ll have to be content with non sequitur. At the time of this writing I was helping a friend by beta reading a sexy time part she had to add to a story, and this got me thinking about the line between romance sex and erotic sex. Romance sex tends to focus on feelings whereas erotic sex focuses on the physical. Now obviously you can weave physicality into romance sex and emotions into erotic sex, and frankly you have to. You can’t just have all emotions and feels or fluids and flesh, but there’s a delicate balance between what’s expected in each genre. She is more of an erotic sex writer where I tend to take the romantic path. I can and have written erotica (nothing published) and I often push the envelope in the ideas process and then dial it back when it comes to the writing portion and pare it down even further when I edit.
No sexy time for a while yet with this story, though. What did I say before? You can’t marry (or fuck) the princess before you slay the dragon, and dear god is there a “dragon” to slay. Hehe in trope land this is not really quite accurate, as the Dragon is more the Big Bad’s top enforcer. TV Tropes doesn’t agree with my point of view on this having Jenova as the Dragon to Sephiroth on its page where I really see that as quite the opposite. Jenova was the catalyst to his insanity, the start of his darkness. It wormed its way into his head and gutted everything he ever was. But for that incident (much like Isildur’s refusal to destroy Sauron’s ring), there would be no story. I know I keep bringing this point up and driving it in (ughhhhhh), but it seems to be a bone of contention with so many people insisting that Sephiroth is just plain evil, but I think my interpretation is far more accurate and in a way darker. Sephiroth is the Lucifer/Satan of the FFVII world, the fallen angel, the most beautiful and the best…but there’s something worse than he is. Jenova is the dark source, the antitheses of the source, the distorted absolute. I don’t know what the Unholy Sephiroth to Kether is (nor would I call or write its name), but that would be represented in Jenova. I looked it up in my Dictionary of Angels, but I’m till not going to write it, and I talk more about the horrifying implications of Jenova further below in my discussion about war.
But for now we should move on to brighter and happier things, and as such is lacking we shall go to the editing of Northern Lights.
“…neither flower girl nor former general thought anything strange of sitting together in the Kalm hotel drinking coffee in the late morning sun.” Well, that’s pretty light there isn’t it? It’s such a normal thing for them to be doing, though neither of them is “normal.”
“When only the black dregs stained their cups, Sephiroth walked to the window. Despite all the joys that morning contained, he would not watch Aeris disrobe.” There is a lot about consent in this story without actually saying the word. Though it was mostly Chapter 10, many things in this story spurred the inspiration for The Broken Rose.
I like the part with the window and his coat; I just hope it doesn’t slow down the pacing. It’s total fanservice. Lest we forget this…
Did the air suddenly leave the room?
“Unfastening his coat he swirled it from his shoulders to stand bare-chested in the breeze.” Omg stahp…
“Though it was a bit chill, Sephiroth wasn’t cold…” The cold doesn’t bother him anyway. “…as he watched the people below. Where once he would’ve believed that was their place, now he felt a twinge of sad envy.” This ties to above when I spoke of them drinking their coffee. Seph wants to be normal, but there’s a wavering here. On one hand, his “monstrous” attributes (super strength, glowing eyes, mind control/manipulation, etc.) all serve to help keep Aeris safe, but on the other hand, they’re the “reason” his true mother “abandoned” him and left him with both that lie and all others. He thinks he has to choose between Aeris and Lucrecia, because he can’t stay with the former if he must seek the latter. It kind of sets the stage for the toxic idea of having the choose between your mother and your girlfriend/fiancee, which makes perfect sense for Sephiroth’s story arc, since he’s never had a non-toxic relationship with a mother figure or a father figure, but with the latter, I could see him doing what Stan Smith (American Dad!) did and becoming his own father figure when that time comes (yes, I do have ideas for them to have children at some point, but you’ll have to wait for those stories, won’t you ;)).
Seph tends to think in absolutes (sigh…), but he doesn’t have to…he doesn’t have to at all. The Great General doesn’t believe he’s worthy of forgiveness. Even though he was mind-raped and manipulated, he’s thinking “I was a soldier. I was a general. I should’ve fought,” but he gave into the lie, which wasn’t his fault, because he had no other truth.
“His hair was far softer than the lick of the lash he’d last remembered there.” This chapter is turning into a sea of sads. “…slivered eyes turned towards his wrists. They’d wanted him to be perfect, so no blemish would ever mar that flawless skin. *If scars there would be, I’d have them here. My track marks would shame an addict.”* Narratives about “the perfect soldier” have a huge problem: the foundation is war. I included a major discussion about this in my “Final Fantasy VII Revelations” essay even though Marvel has now turned me into a liar with one of my points. *grumble grumble* But the important takeaway from the essay is this.
“Why the difficulty in finding a positive super soldier narrative persists is tragically obvious. Because the foundation of it is war. Why create the perfect soldier if he’s not meant to kill and lay waste?” To quote George R. R. Martin “War makes monsters of us all.”
This of course leads to an even darker conclusion that within the VII’s narrative framework, Sephiroth was the ultimate Nazi. He literally committed genocide by killing the last member of an entire race, and if we consider that Jenova mutated and killed so many of the ones prior that they died out, this supposition is uphold since Sephiroth essentially becomes Jenova or at the very least becomes the parasite’s host. FFVII takes the often lamented idea of “I’m turning into my mother!” and makes it a literal horror motif. Happy Mothers Day btw mwahahaha >:)
Of course now that I’m writing about it, it again comes back to Jenova and not Sephiroth being the genocidal entity, and since I’ve seen some sources that state it was the eldritch abomination in his form that murdered Aeris, it’s open for debate/speculation. The one main point I’ve started to make about the relationship between Sephiroth and his false mother is that while it is a pseudo-matriarchal entity, he would not exist as he is without it. Without being augmented with alien cells in utero, Sephiroth would not be what he is, but Jenova would still be an alien eldritch abomination.
There are some very dark implications in VII, much more than the narrative presents at face value. No one really know what Jenova is besides an alien entity. We don’t know where it comes from (though I have a theory about that here), how many planets it has consumed, nor how long it has kept up this cycle. It’s also possible that what it does on Gaia is exactly how it operates. We know it consumes the life energy of planets, mutating the life there, injecting its own DNA and taking DNA from its hosts to serve its own purpose. We know the Cetra sealed it away so that it could not fulfill this purpose. We know it didn’t die, but rather just laid dormant and possibly in wait. It is possible that while the Shinra was a greedy corporation bent on power and world domination under its power hungry (former and thankfully dead) president that it didn’t just stumble up n Jenova by accident. Since it didn’t become active until after it was found and the Cetra’s seal was broken, it is possible that it wanted to be found.
When Sephiroth approached it in the Nibelheim reactor, it probably recognized that he had a large amount of its cells and was therefore “compatible” in a way that no other creature had been compatible before, Because he’d been augmented in utero, he’d always had a part of it. It’s possible that it realized it could use this human/alien hybrid to its advantage as a sort liaison between, though not to negotiate, rather to mutate and destroy (think when Captain Picard was turned into a Borg or the human/dalek hybrid before the latter realized how terrible of an idea this way…daleks aren’t really known for their mind control), and because it’s a known controller of minds, it got into his head.
Either it never had any way to be mobile, or it lost its ambulatory functions for some reason or another, but a parasite needs a host. Because he already contained a large portion of its cells in addition to being Mako enhanced, his body at least could endure what the alien would do to him, because he had enough of the regenerative cells to survive it. It’s possible that the living beings Jenova mutates were unable to withstand such corruption for long enough for it to fulfill its purpose, because the infection eventually kills them, but since Sephiroth was born “infected” and was the first stable human to be so, the alien monster realized this was a golden opportunity. If Sephiroth is the analogue to Satan, this is a torturous version of a hell he neither wanted, designed, nor deserved.
I may go back and add this to my “Heart of Darkness” essay, because all of the past few paragraphs are new ideas.
“That ribbon adorning lowered his eyes, and he wondered if she’d done that on purpose. *She has no guile,* he quickly remembered, *and her memories are sweet within pain.”* That ribbon…I love what happens to that ribbon. Love, love, love it.
“Never was skin more white in this world so bathed in the humble daylight. He could’ve been a statue so perfect was he with each muscle carved from pure marble. His hair was all colors and then none at all as if it mocked the very sun…” To her he really is perfect. Because he’s “woken” up from the nightmare that he was, and because of the awareness of that, he’s broken, but in that brokenness is perfection. There’s something in my eye…
Alabaster and marble: two ways Sephiroth’s skin is described. Alabaster is very white
whereas marble has grey veins running throughout.
“…eyes burning like jade drenched coals…” Those jaded eyes.
“It may live in you, but it’s not all you are. You’re more than your genes and your cells…” Gestalt and of course the Tree of Life, which is arguably the source of the idea of Gestalt. All of the Sephiroth together are greater than their sum. It’s the veritable key to the universe.
“His moonlight hair spilled on her belly as her mouth unfolded like a rose soaked sweet in dew.” This sentence right here is probably one of the most (not so) subtle erotic lines I’ve ever written.
*“It’s him again…but then it isn’t,* she thought as he turned away. *All black and silver and emerald and pale, but beauty above it all. It was madness before and riotous anger that hid the glory from his face.* He returned with her shoes to much gratitude, and when he looked down she thought, *And grief.” Always grief, always grief. It’s never ever ends.
“’Shall we go, little one?’” The tide of Prufrock poem runs throughout this entire narrative. “He offered his hand gloveless as she would want.” He’s uncovered before her, revealing himself in layers, like the ones in the in between.
“’Se-‘ Aeris turned to see what held him, and her face turned as pale as his hair. Clapping a hand over her mouth, white tinged the green round her eyes.” Aeris almost calls his name in public and is mortified she nearly “gave him away.” He repeats his mantra of “never apologize,” not that it would matter if she did…call him out that is.
“Beneath her feet the Planet hummed loud, and Aeris gasped for shame in forgetting.” Hehe, she forgets about her “dear friend.” It’s most favored child forgot about it…oh, now that’s not funny, but kind of sad. She’s the only one who can hear it; the only one it has to talk to. So while it’s amusing on the surface that she forgot about it for a little bit, it’s sad in the depths. The Planet’s voice is a parallel for Jenova; one benign, the other malevolent.
I really love his name for her: little flower.
“’There was something wrong down there.’ Aeris full shivered. ‘I never want to find out what.’” Oh Aeris…if only. “’You’re gone from that place, little flower, and you never have to return.’” Oh Seph, if only, too. He isn’t lying about this. She doesn’t have to return, but we know she’ll feel obligated to. It still comes down to choice.
“’I thought you’d…done something to it in order to get to me.’ She was ashamed to admit, but still couldn’t lie as his face blanked to the mask.” For soon fulfilled foreshadowing.
“’My cells regenerate far too fast for me to tan or burn.’” You cannot use the word “regenerate” without thinking about the Doctor.
“’It’s as though I wear a death shroud.’ He looked up again at the sun. ‘A winding sheet of my very skin.’” Morbid. A winding sheet. It reminds me of the old cover of Anne Rice’s novel Lasher. Can I find that? Yes..
A winding sheet is what a corpse is wrapped in before burial, and Sephiroth is saying that’s his very skin. Such a dark implication. Corpse. Rotted. Corrupted. Oh what a happy note to leave on, this dance of death we lead, though irony we find for that dark definition in our two protagonists. Death has already found them both, and for now it leaves them be. No questions tonight. I’m too tired to think of one. We’ll continue this when we do.