The Broken Rose: Chapter 23 – Written in Her Skin

The Broken Rose Page

<–Chapter 22                                                                                                                                 Chapter 24–>

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 by Miss N (TWITTER)/nvalkyrja (PIXIV).  The links go to her respective pages; there is no direct link to the artwork.  THE PICTURE HAS BEEN SLIGHTLY ALTERED IN APPEARANCE AND TO INCLUDE THE CHAPTER NUMBER AND TITLE.  ALL RIGHTS BELONG TO THE ARTISTs.

*******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.


Author’s Note: I’m sorry for this chapter’s length.  I usually try to keep them around 15-20 pages, but there was just no good place to cut this.  Hopefully, it flows well, and you don’t feel overwhelmed.  Thanks ♥


Sephiroth’s lies finally catch up to him for he cannot hide from an Ancient’s dreams.

A fan art of Sephiroth and Aeris/Aerith. Sephiroth is kneeling in front of her with his arm around her waist and his head right below her breast. His face is buried in her stomach and his eyes are closed. Aeris has her hand on the top of his head, and she’s looking down at him with a compassionate expression and slight smile, while his one black wing stretches off into the top left and out of frame. The words “Chapter 23 Written in Her Skin” sit in the top middle. They are pink.

It was another dark eve when the snows fell hard, burying the shore in white. Their veranda and stairs were wholly covered, and the Whispers slept in the weft of cold tears.  But inside the Gate was cozy and warm as ever and always it’d be. The little Cetra slumbered in peace upon her protector’s lap. Up in his office where snow brightened darkness, but emerald eyes cut through it more. His screen dually dulled as he did mundane work, and he smiled as he rubbed tiny fingers.

In the midst of strange dreams, she’d squeeze his great hands and his heart hurt to his murmured name. She wore a white dress.  It was her preferred color, the general had come to know.  This one’s bow was in the front, starting beneath her breast.  It fell just above where the skirt did end, and the straps were as thin as her fingers.  Sheer over silk and whiter than winter to complement smooth, rosy skin.  Sephiroth thought it more than fitting.  She was purity eternal.  Aeris might bite her lip to deny, but he would hear none of it.

“What happened to you was never your fault.  It changes no ounce of your innocence.  There is no act you could perform to sully that perfect state, and such filth cannot taint you.  What one does to another reflects on the actor…never the victim, my rose.”  The general bowed his head afterwards, but Aeris kissed him with tears in her eyes.

When it snowed this hard and froze this cold, the Whispers turned nearly silent, though Sephiroth always heard the hum of life beneath the chill.  Frosted rooftops could not shield this truth, as he stood upon his own.  His face remained still, but emerald burned cold.  He was happy that had no effect.  Perfect vision could see all the town as snowdrops swirled through moonlight.  Standing atop of Heaven’s Gate, the general scanned the whole.  The lighthouse still flashed white as a beacon.  The waters not yet bearing ice.  Red would imbue the snow shimmered air if that danger did present.  Beyond he gazed.  Slits slicing his light, but never could diminish.  There was the cove where he’d hunted before, leading to glittering caverns.  The angle was wrong to see such details, but he was certain no one was within.  And am I a benevolent angel now…to watch over part of what I wished dead?  Sorrow twisted lips that still bore perfection into what despair would shape.

Slivers cut the length of the town, searing through Wesker’s Square.  There were people out, brave souls so bundled, though the paths were mostly clear.  Walkways were heated so if they did venture, they wouldn’t be burdened by sleet.  This did not lessen the pristine and pure in picturesque splendor around.  And I, their mayor, a winter angel, he thought again with a sigh.  Misted breath then swirled with snow, and he blinked to clear lashes long.  They were doing their job at the very least, useful beyond the aesthetic.  Not that I find the aesthetic that useful.  I am only so by design…  Then he recalled how Aeris did love them, and his smile turned true as the storm.

Brought back to the moment, her image collided with the joy of her on his lap.  Dark lashes trembled as she scrunched her brow and curled closer into his chest.  This skewed the little rose tiara Sephiroth had placed on the side of her head.  Dappled in diamonds and rubies red, the device burrowed beneath her braid. That framed her temples in a thick plait the Cetra had done herself.  He’d pinned it up then wound the tail before putting the crown before.  Unveiled joy gentled angelic mask until she’d clasped her hands.  Before adoration he did not deserve, Sephiroth had to look away.  Those tiny hands though, so burdened with rings were resting against his chest.  The shine of splendor echoed in emerald for one matched the Mako glory.  Another was pink as her blushing cheeks, oval diamond surrounded by whiter.

He noticed them still against his black shirt, as the general chanced a glance down.  Her neck was adorned with a pink teardrop, circled and chained in clear white.  They caught emerald glitter, scattering back to bless Mako in starlight unjudging.  With Aeris on his lap, Sephiroth was more thorough for he’d no desire to rush.  The budget was charted several months out, though it was mere formality.  There was always enough as he’d told her before.  Who knew not killing the Planet could be so rewarding…  He wished bitterness did not rule his heart, but it was impossible to forget…what he had done, what he had tried, what had almost come to pass.  The general did not deserve his position by his harsh self-assessment.  And certainly not her.  Aeris squeezed his hand.  Tiny fingers were interlocked with his, so he caressed her palm.  The Cetra’s lips twitched up into smile, but sleep turned them somber again.

“My Aeris…” he whispered, shaking his head, still not believing just how.  While she knew nothing about his foul truth, it was still an impossible joy.  She knew how he killed.  He’d burned down a whole city.  Two to my count at this point… but this did not trouble the maid.  Emerald narrowed as he scowled at his screen, needing both hands to answer email.  He disengaged the one ever gentle, but his heart was still cut by her cry.

“I’m still here, my Aeris.  I’ll never leave you.”  Pulling the blankets up to her shoulders, he ensured his arms did surround.  The Cetra relaxed as she breathed in his scent, while he went back to the task at hand.  Tapping reply, Sephiroth shook his head.  She feels so safe in her murderer’s arms.

Pupils turned thin as the edge of a blade as the tiny maid shrieked and thrashed.

“It hurts, it hurts!  Please make it stop!”

All thoughts of work were dashed from his mind as the general enclosed his charge.  “Aeris, little flower, who’s hurting you? Wake up, little one.  Wake up!”  The room blazed neon at the final “wake up,” but she seemed beyond even that call.

“It hurts, it hurts, it hurts so much!”  She writhed around phantom pain.  Beneath her heart, tiny hands clenched, as tears flew down her face.  Her lips were white, her teeth exposed as their grating assailed his ears.  Kicking her legs, tensed hands squeezed tighter to the Cetra’s torturous screams.

“Make it stop…” she continued to sob, her body wracked with convulsions.  Small hands twisted beneath her breasts, nails scoring her own tender skin.  Sephiroth held her as close as he dared and begged her to awake.

“It’s in me.  It’s in me!  It’s cutting my bones.  I can hear them bleeding around.  Please Sephiroth.  Please, please don’t!  Please, please, take it out!”  And while he stared her back sharply arched, as screaming broke the night.

All hope and light were drawn from the room to swirl eternally in his eyes.  A universe starless, eternal, and cold.  A power hated but ever borne.  Past the ends of where only dark dwelled and where only horrors could seethe.  He was the horror.  He was the dark…and yet love called her by name.

Choking breath left the Cetra in gasp, as terrified green looked up.  Darting like leaves in the teeth of a gale over that cold, angel face.  Her breath was too quick, her pulse far too rapid, and she shook as though left for the frost.

It has come, he thought.  It has finally come.  No lie of omission can tame it.  She sees through my mask to the truth of my horror.  I need not say a word.  Her terror names me what I am: murderer, enemy…alien.  I thought I knew pain before, long ago.  That was nothing, and I am a coward.  Mako was sealed.  He could not watch it, all love to leak away.  She held fear now, but soon hatred would blossom.  Even my strength was a lie.  What does it matter that I can crush bones or carry her to the world’s end?  I must bear the truth of my terrible lies and my even more heinous deeds.  What love she was tricked into feeling for me will turn to pure hate in her heart.  Open your eyes, you worthless wretch!  Face the loathing you more than deserve.

Slender arms were thrown around his neck, as Aeris lost speech to her sobs.  She kissed his cheek, his temple, his lips over and over again.  Sephiroth was frozen.  His hands on the chair, rigid as brittle steel.  Slivered eyes darted as summer had done, while his computer screen faded to black.  Reflected in darkness, his image and hers were thrown back within emerald gleam.  She was begging him hold and comfort her, shaking so hard she could swoon.  He blinked three times, fanning the air with those glorious, elegant lashes.  Her pleas broke the spell and her fear stirred strong arms that had no other task. Engulfing the maid in leather clad might, he clutched her as though he were drowning.  Too strong to quake, he gave her his warmth, as Aeris’s shivering ceased.

“I love you so much.  I…wish I could tell you how deeply it goes, Sephiroth.  If you understood…”  Weeping stole words, and his great hands attempted to caress comfort back, but they stalled so clenched above her spine, so near that fateful spot.  As if sensing his tortured, Aeris tightened her arms, believing no power she had could hurt him.  Her tender grip could bring similar ease his powerful one gave her.  Rubbing her cheek against his own, she continued to whisper love.

How is she comforting me? he thought.  When she was the one so tormented. 

She ran her palms along his shoulders always in love with their breadth.  Nor did silver hair suffer neglect, as slim fingers slipped through without tangle.  There was nothing about him she did not love, so blessed to wake up in his arms.  She squeezed her eyes shut, basking in the joy of just being in his embrace.  Pulling back, Aeris sweetly sighed to rest her hands near his collar.  Unable to stop her endless awe for the utter beauty before.  Shrouded with sadness, but ever more so despite the endless despair.  She kissed him again to the fallen’s still shock, but his grip on her waist brought soft giggles.  No more entrenched in nightmare’s mire, her terrible fear unwound.  She traced his jaw with careful knuckles, and he blinked rapidly once again.  Resettling herself onto his lap, Aeris lifted her head to his brow’s descent.  Silver caressed her flushing breasts, and she reached once again for that silk.  Burying her fingers in that rich mane, her heart quavered for the pain in his own.

“Aeris, my flower, I’m…so very sorry.”

“What are you sorry for?”

“I…”  He clutched her small hand, knowing too soon such would be forbidden.  “I must always apologize to you, little love, but…”  He shook his head, so moving hers.  Even now, even suspecting, he had to hold on to his hope.  Just one more day.  Let her love me for just one…more…day.  I’ll tell her tomorrow I promise.  Let me have this last ounce of time.  No one has ever loved me before.  I never knew it was better than life.  I could be dead, though that cannot be, but if I were, I could still have her love.  I’d bless the darkness that conquered the gleaming if I could only have that.   Desperation leaked through the mask, and Aeris kissed his great hand as he clenched it.  I’ll ask for nothing, nothing again if I can just have one day more.

“Will you tell me what you dreamed?”

Self-loathing compounded for how she did tremble at memory of that terror, but always it was to her general that Aeris turned for support.  The dreams webs were sticky within summer eyes, and she blinked to help them unravel.

“It was strange, Sephiroth.  It dwelled past the mists.  I only dreamt rape before.”  She clung to him harder, and he found himself murmuring gentle words of care.  Rubbing her shoulders and slender arms, opening his palm on her tender belly.  Protecting his Aeris had become so inherent, so integral to his existence.  He could no more divest himself of that task then he could empty his eyes of their Mako, and she held to it…this utter protection, this safety he’d ever provide.  Rape was her past, but no longer her future so built by her present life now.

Smiling up at her Great General, Aeris laid her palm over his hand.  “Because of you though, I dream about summer, even through winter’s chill. But…”  Her lip trembled as memory returned, misty but coalescing.  Sephiroth kissed her on the brow then straightened her little headdress.  He found a smile for his “tiny queen,” so pure in her flowing, white dress.  Aeris took a deep breath and let her eyes lift to her beloved’s face.

“There was a sword…a great shining sword.  Scraping my bones, blooming beneath my breasts.  I tried and tried to breath around it, but I couldn’t draw any air.  My lungs were frozen and blood filled my throat in a place that sang with white light.  I wanted to writhe.   I wanted to scream, but all I could do was shut my eyes.  I thought there’d be darkness, but there was just light and voices that whispered my name.  A myriad voices, all singing different, but the harmony wove sweetest song.  A chorus of splendors around sharpest pain telling me I had done well.  I wanted to answer, but the pain came again.  I…S-Sephiroth!  Whatever is it?!”

The breath hissed against his teeth as the general clutched his tortured heart.  Slivers sliced emerald to bleeding Mako, raw upon lashes and skin.  It could not be contained nor ever erased, the vision that stained his poor soul.  He tried and he tried, but there she was, looking at up her killer with care.  He ripped long fingers through silver skein, but moonlight could never be torn.  He wanted to rend his face to the bone, but winter could not be clawed.

“Aeris, my Aeris.  No, no, never mine.  You can never be mine, sweetest flower.  How can I have what I trampled to dust, what I rent, what I raped, what I tore?”

“General, no, you never raped me!”  But his guilt would let nothing through.

“Oh gods, oh gods, what I have done.  What horrors my evil has wrought.  They bleed from the seams of my soul into yours that you must bear nightmare’s dreams!  Aeris…oh, Aeris, I must put you down.  I’m unworthy to touch a rose…”  His hands did not shake because he’d this task, and Aeris stood there as her love did bleed, powerless to staunch such wounds.  Then she cried out as still with such grace, her angel fell to his knees.  Both fists pressed the floor to his lowered head as moonlight’s shroud framed blackest guilt.

“I’m sorry, so sorry, but you can’t forgive me.  You cannot absolve such a sin.  Hate me, my flower.  Hate me as you must.  I accept it.  I take it for mine…”

Aeris whimpered, undone at her guardian’s terror, worn on a face that had never shown fear.  She flung herself upon his neck, but despite warmth, he was as stone.

“I can no longer lie to you, Aeris.”

And she trembled as though a statue did speak.

“You have to know the truth.  I kept this from you because I am selfish and wanted your love more than life.  I am a coward, a monster, a killer.  Nothing will change these truths.  You have to know who you are, little one, and…what I was, all of the horror.  It’s written within this world’s memory, and the stars won’t let me forget.  I tried…”  Mako froze open upon a past he was forced to see.  “But I’m fallen and failed.  I thought I could atone.  That what I did here truly mattered.  That I could make up for all my past sins, but I can’t, Aeris…I can’t.  No matter what I do, little one, my truth seethes beneath my skin, and I…cannot take it.  Oh gods, I must tell you.  I’ve held it for far too long…”

She held him tighter wishing and praying she had even a piece of his power.  For so long he’d given her nothing but comfort when Aeris had needed it most, but now it was he who needed a strength even greater than his own.  And she didn’t have that.  Nobody did…but the Cetra had something far greater.

“Sephiroth,” she sobbed into his ear, “whatever are you saying?  What’s wrong, my angel?  Why are you hurt?  Why are you so ‘guilty?'”

“No, not angel, never that.  Abomination…alien horror.  From the dark between stars beyond where light lives is where I come from, little one.  I am the foulness that worms through the veins of this world that you once saved.  What I did to it…what I did to you…what I made all endure.    You have to know.  You have to know…you have to know it all.”

Aeris leaned back, and in Mako’s cold her innocence was resplendent.  He tried not to look, but his eyes were drawn to loveliness timeless and wise.  Before him stood she, the last of that blood who knew all and was still so pure.  She smiled at him as no other had done, and her fingers held oldest truth.  So tenderly, she brushed his hair back to see that tortured face.  Always in beauty his grief did dwell, but neither guilt nor despair stole the glory, and Aeris pressed her lips to his brow as so often he’d done to her.  Two hundred and fifty days and now he’s in need of my protection.  I owe him this much.  He’s asked for nothing, and this costs nothing to give.

“My angel,” she whispered, “my Great General, my guardian…my Sephiroth.  What you’ve done for me…”  The Cetra shook her head for weight of his pain. “You took me away to paradise and kept every promise you made.  There’s nothing you wouldn’t do for me and you ask nothing in return.  You care for me for no other reason than you believe it’s what you must.”  She took a deep breath and tilted her head.  She was so beautiful he could’ve believed that she was the angel and his was a farce, made more of a mock by one wing.

“I know who you are, Sephiroth.  You’re my rescuer, protector, and love, but…I also know ‘what’ you were in the past, and I tell you now, it doesn’t matter.  There is nothing you did that I don’t know about.  Everything you were was laid bare.  I knew who you were the day you saved me, and even then I was glad.”  White blazed around searing green and nearly matched luminescence.  Aeris stroked his cheek tenderly, pushing more silver away.  “I prayed you would kill me wh-when you were done, because you had done it before.  I thought that you’d be like them…but you weren’t.  You were gentle and careful and kind.  You taught me those words. I learned ‘gentle’ from you.  The moment you swept me up in your arms, my life was ever changed.  The instant you had me, I was safe, and you prove it more every day.”

She bit her lip as his jaw dropped in utterly unleashed awe.  Sliding her palms over those solid shoulders, Aeris brushed her touch down his arms.  She wanted her fingers encased in his and in near trance he lifted his hands.  The Great General was looking at her as a child to limitless light.  As if she were a deity he would serve as an angel always should.

“What you did in the past…it doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t matter anymore.  Not in this time.  It’s empty dust.  Y-Yes, it still affects us and wounds us, but even mine grows less each day.”  She tilted her head and squeezed his hands.  “You should be allowed that, too, Sephiroth.  You suffered in silence for so very long.  You…carried this burden so heavy, but now there’s no longer a need.  I always knew.  It was no secret, and I never cared at all.  I know what you are.  I know what you did, and I tell you…it doesn’t matter.    You are more than worthy of my love, and you’re worthy of absolution.”

“No, Aeris, no.  No, no, no, how can you forgive me?  As though it is nothing, as if I am not the worst of all possible horrors.”

“You are not, Sephiroth, and you never were.”

“I tried to destroy the Planet…”

“That was never you, my love,” Aeris told him with no doubt, but he looked away unable to bear the forgiveness that flowed from her soul.

“Oh, my Aeris, how do you know?  Even I’m not sure it wasn’t…the burning desire had seared through my soul, leaving nothing but hatred behind.  I hated everything, little one, and I thought this world was my due.”

“You were tricked into it, my general.”  She warmed her palm on his cheek again.  The penitent angel allowed her to turn his face back toward her light.  “You believed a horror’s lies.”

“Yes, I believed.”  He clutched that small hand ever careful in his desperation.  “I wanted that truth.  I wanted it more than all.  I had been told that she was dead.  I just wanted to believe…”

He bowed his head, and Aeris sore wept for emerald eyes could not.  Could not or would not?  She wondered then.  Does he believe not even tears are deserved?

“I wanted to believe in whispering horror, because I thought it was she I’d always sought, and the lie of love was no different from the prior ones I’d been told.  It wove its way between the false seams, and I was thoroughly snared.  I would’ve done anything.”  He bowed his head.  “And I did just to keep that façade…but you, you Aeris, you truly do love me, and I believed it was because you forgot.  How could you know what I had done and look at me with such eyes?  I don’t even think my true mother could-”

“Stop.”

Both her hands clenched.  Her cheeks burned deep red and tears marred her vision, as for moments her past was blurred, too.  Forgotten the fear that followed defiance for her heart knew he’d never do that, and she could not bear to hear the voice she adored spout such fallacy.  He silenced himself at his flower’s command, though emerald still shimmered with doubt.

“Sephiroth, I doubt any in this world wouldn’t have wanted the same.”  She stroked his cheek as his forelocks tickled the tender skin of her hand.  “Fueled by lies, consumed by hatred, drowning in despair.  Whatever you were,” Aeris told him, staring straight into wintry light, “it died in the mists, and who you are now rescued me.”

“I chased the dark and found only shadows, so a shadow was what I became…”  Those mists coalesced in Mako light as he tortured himself for his weakness.  “When I found out what I thought was truth, I did nothing but read more lies.”  His eyes shut so tight, Aeris so feared she’d never see their light again, but it always glimmered on the edge, tingeing those glorious lashes.  “After two days, you start to see visions, and after three you’ll believe anything.  After four the voices start, and after five they never cease.  After six the world melts around, and after seven all that’s left is the darkness…it whispers your name and bleeds through your mind and tells you you’ve found what you seek, but this truth is so awful, so bitter and foul you’ll never be whole again…”

“You chased the darkness,” Aeris whispered, “because no one ever told you about the light.”

“I wished that I’d been led to you before…”  He grimaced in regret.  “You’re the light I should’ve sought, not the corruption that lives in my eyes.  I would worship the ground you walk on, Aeris, or carry you over it.”

“I don’t want that though.”  As always, she looked without any fear into what “corruption” made shine so bright.  “I don’t want your worship…j-just as you don’t want to be my ‘master.'”

“I’m not your ‘master.'”  His lip curled in disgust at the memory of that name.

“And I’m just your little flower.”

“You are far more than that, Aeris…my Aeris still?”  He gazed at the Cetra in cautious hope.

“Yes, of course I’m yours!”  This time when she threw her arms around his neck, the Great General had an answer.  He crushed her as close as he dared, and the little maiden sobbed.  Not in pain, no never that, she shed the tears he couldn’t.  Though Aeris did wonder if a few on her neck came from eyes that claimed not to weep.

“Aeris…” he begged, “will you say it?  Will you say you forgive me?”

“Sephiroth…I forgave you so long ago there’s nothing to forgive anymore.  It belongs to the ages, your absolution.  As your skin bore guilt, mine wears that skein.  You’re absolved.  It has been made clean.  You’re not fallen anymore.  You’re my angel of light.  I will tell you this as often as needed.  W-We can protect each other.”

He buried his face into sweet chestnut hair not knowing who or what to thank.  What if…I can thank the Planet?  The one I once tried to destroy.  Does it forgive me as she has done?  Is the stars’ judgment so harsh?  Have the centuries mattered to my absolution?  She said it…it must be the truth.

“You don’t blame me then?”  He shook silver away to pull back.  Clearing her bangs, too, and in sweet afterthought straightening her little crown.

“No.  I never did.”

“And…you truly don’t care that I murdered you?”

You didn’t murder me, and even if you did, I told you you’re forgiven.”

“Then…”  He clutched her cheek and Aeris must’ve imagined the quiver.  “You truly do love me?”  He took her tiny hand in his, searching the Cetra’s face.  The jest had to fall, the trick had to spring.  He’d never been meant for joy.  The simulation would end, this longest game to test beyond endurance.  A dream that seemed 200 years with his victim for his love.  It would be the cruelest lie to make his shield complete.  Trust no one and nothing, let it bounce off the ennui that would ever be his true face.

She kissed him and if this was not the truth, Sephiroth did not want to live.  Turning his head, he returned taste for taste until his little rose moaned.  Standing then, he brought her up, so communion continued on high.

“Yes,” she whispered.  “Yes, yes, yes.”  So spoken in between.  “Of course, I love you, a-and I want you.”

His thoughts spun to that truth, but if she did love him, knowing his sins, then maybe, just maybe…

“I thought when you knew, you’d hate me, my Aeris, or you would be tortured by fear.  I wanted to tell you for so very long.  I was a coward for keeping it still.”

“Sephiroth,” she whispered, horrified to hush, “how are you ever a coward?  You hunt monsters, a-and you killed the worst ones…the men who hurt me for so long.  You’re the strongest and bravest person I know.”

“I would’ve left you everything…”

“What do you mean by that, general?”

“I’d promise you that I’d go away and trouble you no more.  You’d be safe forever in this estate.  I’d…care for you in absentia.  I prayed you would hate me at the very least and not only be mired in fear.  That you’d want me to suffer in knowing your joy in living here without me.”

Aeris buried her face in his neck with a sob.  The flower maid could not believe how deep his self-loathing did go, as Sephiroth looked her way, blinking hard, perplexed by her tears to the same.

“Sephiroth…”  It was muffled in moonlight washed hair so she sat up with a sniff.  “I wouldn’t want to live in Heaven’s Gate without you.  I mean…”  Despite rue a brief smile bloomed.  “You are my angel, and I’d never want to go anywhere without knowing I could come back to your arms.”

The general could no more deny her wish than he could change the pale of his skin. Enclosing her tighter in his embrace, he kissed her brow in more disbelief before Aeris returned her head to his shoulder.  She closed her eyes, trying not to drown in joy.  Again, in his arms, safe and secure, and better…his torn soul was lighter.  Wounds so ancient, cuts that deep cannot heal so swift, but that which allowed the rents to bleed was gone in her declarations.  Like her, time would help the process, though perhaps never fully seal.

“You are stronger than me, Aeris.”

“Mm, I seem to be in your arms.”  She giggled and squirmed and a slight smile bloomed on her general’s perfect lips.

“I told you before.”  He gave a slight squeeze, and the little maid squeaked in surprise.  “There are many kinds of strength.”

“Well I don’t know how I won against this kind.”  Tiny fingers lay on a thick forearm.  Even with two hands she could not best it, and Aeris couldn’t be happier about that.  “I almost think…somehow since you’re good now, you’re stronger, because you have…more righteous purpose.  You protect me and everyone, Sephiroth.  Your power has a worthy cause.”

“It seems fitting, my Aeris, that I spend eternity on this world I once tried to destroy.  I should have to use my inexhaustible strength protecting those I attempted to kill.”  He laid his lips to her brow for longer in proof of his constant protection.  “Especially you, my little flower.”  I can protect her until the end of all days.  How am I allowed this great privilege?  I love her.  I shield her, but best, she loves me.  She loves me and she knew my dark truth.  She always knew…she always knew, and yet…she still loves me.

“You’ll never be alone.”  She kissed him again.  “I’ll always be with you, Sephiroth.”  She sighed, wreathed in angel scent and strength.  His hair shrouded her like a pale veil.  “I’ll be with you…”  Aeris then floated in her own bemusement that the glory before was for her.  A slight hand shaking lifted to him, and the general kissed a small knuckle.  “My beautiful angel…”

“Yes,” he admitted with smile turned wry, “I’m the most beautiful abomination ever conceived.”

She sucked her teeth though enjoying the kiss and more on remaining knuckles.  “You still think that?”

“That will not change.  I may be forgiven, but I am what I am.  I was created to be the most perfect soldier and the means were of horror’s ken.  I accepted that after my greatest defeat when my mind was once more my own.  I endure the darkness that lives in my cells that gives me my limitless might.”  He looked at her oddly.  “Knowing the truth does bestow higher power.  Once I found out my real origins, I knew I’d never lose control again.  If I’d had this…”  Mako turned to mist as the past swirled through gleaming green.  A slender finger on his face made it flicker and turn towards her.  The ageless knowing had returned, and he nodded as though it was shared.

“You know now…and when…it…did take you over.”  She shuddered and his arms became a shield.  To his full height the Great General stood, and somehow Aeris thought he grew stronger.  That’s impossible.  He’s already so strong, but it’s like his power grows f-for me.  “You weren’t you.”  She swallowed and the fear left her gorge.  “Who you are now is the truth.  You may have been ‘made’ to be the perfect solder, but you’re really a perfect protector.  You didn’t choose to fall, but you chose to be redeemed, and you chose to save me.”

Aeris needed some moments to hide her face against his neck, and Sephiroth remained forever her guardian, his smooth stride soothing her fear.  He walked to the small window high in his office that revealed endless snow.  While he watched the frigid, she basked in his warmth.

“There was no choice, Aeris,” the general murmured.  “I could not have left you like that.  I chose to be mayor.  I choose to hunt monsters, but for you my soul is bound.  I have to protect you.  There’s no better penance.  There’s no better price to pay.  I told you before, I love guarding you, ensuring that you’re ever safe.  Seeing you happy, knowing you’re well is a prize I don’t deserve…but you deserve it,” he said to her pout at his deprecating words, but then when she kissed him, he realized that love was better than any reward.  She’d no obligation to give him this gift and he demanded no recompense.  He couldn’t say that she’d chosen this love, but he’d do everything to make himself worthy.

Shifting the Cetra to just one arm, he rubbed his thumb under her chin.  Aeris lifted her head, and he brushed his hand along that delicate skin.  She squeaked and squirmed as starbursts spread through the shivering summer.

“So now you know the heart of darkness.”  And for a moment he could not find grief.

“But I still see an angel of light.”  She played slim fingers through silver threads.  “I have a question though, my general.”  He chuckled again to this possessive.

“You can ask me anything, Aeris.  I need no longer fear the truth…I should’ve known.”  Mist swirled again.  “It would’ve saved me before…”

She slid her cheek against his smooth and tightened her grip ‘round his neck.  Sephiroth realized in love’s bittersweet that his flower was trying to hold him.  He waited for slender limbs to loosen before tossing her to his other arm.  Aeris gave a shortened gasp as she clung to his solid shoulders.  Exhilaration had pinkened her cheeks so breath came heavy and hard.  Summer eyes darted to the shift in position, and she glared slightly when he laughed low.

“You did say you wished to fly, little one.   Is this not what you mean?”

Soft skin grew redder as Aeris pouted, and Mako turned jade to deep blush.  “Y-You remember that question?”  It seemed beyond ages, but Sephiroth placed his brow to hers.

“Of course, little one.  You asked it of me the day we took our first walk.”  He halved his lids in pain’s memory.  “It was the first time you saw my wing…”

“And loved it,” she whispered ever ensuring, “as I love everything.”

The Great General took her hand in his, caressing the delicate palm.  Still brow to brow he found a smile.  “What did you wish to ask?”

The flower maid blinked, suddenly puzzled by any thought not filled with him.  When it returned, her face lost all color and Sephiroth’s lips turned in frown.  He held his rose closer, sensing without effort that she needed the extra care.

“Why…were you in my church that day?”  The end faded to less than breath, but he could’ve heard a fly on the breeze, and his hearing was shaped for his Aeris.

Separating their brows, Sephiroth shook silver out of his face.  It swept over her throat and breast that turned brighter belying the pale.  Winter ruled outside the Gate, and ice ever shadowed his skin.  War forged his heart, but proved the veneer hid a ceaseless flame.  Love did not temper but rather wove through a soul that had borne dark regret, but before that bright gift, that soul had sought out another path to forgiveness.

“I’d gone there to atone.”  His brow drew together as the general’s sharp eyes cut to a more recent past.  “Little did I know when I stepped through those doors…”  Sephiroth shook his head then gazed at her when the Cetra laid her head to his shoulder.  Her lids were squeezed tightly so he kissed her brow and murmured, “I always have you.”

Aeris nodded unseeing, unneeding the vision.  His arm around her was enough.  The general ensured her pulse was calmer before he continued on.  “I wish I’d gone sooner.  Why didn’t I?”  It was not a question for her, as forlorn he watched winter weep.  “I had so many crimes to confess.”

“All those crimes are forgiven now,” she told him, nestling closer.  Sephiroth turned to gaze at this rose still blushing in his one arm.

“Yes…they are because of you, and all those who would hate me are gone.”  He lowered his head for briefest moments before Aeris kissed him on the cheek.  The general jerked back to her in shock, and Aeris just grinned sublime.  He kissed the expression from her lips, but it only grew to be shared.  It lasted a moment until he remembered what he’d seen that day.  She slid fingers through his pale hair, and he wanted her back in both arms.  “If I’d gone sooner, I could’ve found you before your worst horrors began.  I thought of it often, little rose, but…I was so ashamed.  I thought if I went and people were there, I’d face their accusations, and though I deserve them, all I true wanted was a place to plead.”

He gazed at the Cetra as she silently tangled her fingers in moonlight and ash.  Somehow so enclosed Aeris’s fear could not own her this day.  Thoughts of her church, her once inner sanctum usually brought agony, but now her love’s own overrode, and she could give nothing but comfort.  He’d hate that, she realized as her other hand passed along leather lined shoulder.  Hate it so much that I comfort him, while he speaks of the home of my pain.

“When I stepped through the seams and walked into…that, I thought I’d be blinded by rage.  And it frightened me, Aeris.  Oh gods…how it did.  I’d not felt such since…”  And he flinched.  Tiny fingers laid their penance against his unworthy cheek, and Sephiroth had to turn back.  He had to see her and witness the proof of his ever forgiveness.  “It was righteous anger even more virulent than what I had felt before.  Before was…muddled, a jumble of haze with that…horrible voice to cling to, but this was a clear and crystalline ire, as though cut from the heart of pure wrath.  And when I saw you…”

The flower maid gasped and hid her face to bright, blazing eyes.  Shutting only showed searing red as Mako ignited his lashes.

“I’m so sorry, my Aeris.”

“N-No, don’t be,” she assured him still shielding her face.  Her little hand lowered and she brushed his lids where the veins stood against the stark light.  The general sighed, and Aeris had to giggle as his breath brushed her skin in sweet cloves.

“You always find mirth in the strangest of places,” he told her while sharing it, too.  “What amuses you this time, my Aeris?”

“Oh…”  She glanced shy.  “It’s just that, well, you always smell so good.”

“And you’re a fair flower yourself.”  Sephiroth couldn’t help his sideways smile.  Drawn out of him by her at an instant, though halved it diminished nothing.  He looked back at the dark computer screen before striding to his desk.  Sitting back down, he kissed her on the brow, and Aeris loosened her hands.  They were a bit stiff from clasping so long, and summer widened as he immediately eased this.  Massaging those digits thinner than twigs between his much thicker fingers.  As always, the Cetra just gaped in awe, her astonishment never ceasing.

“I…love how your hands are so very large and yet you can do this.”

“Of course, I can do this.”  He switched to her left as he woke his computer again.  The screen blared quite boorish.  Even Mako flashed judging to this harsher, unnatural light.

“I know you can.”  She settled in, causing him blink several times, but Sephiroth’s free arm still always encased her, so the Cetra would feel secure.  Aeris kissed the hand upon hers, and her general smiled briefly down.   “I’m just so amazed at how gentle you are.  I don’t think that’ll ever cease.”

“I hope to always surprise you, my Aeris, with how gentle I’ll be with you.  That’s all your life will be, my love.  Gentleness, kindness, care.”

Slivered eyes cut across the bright screen cowing it with a sharp slice, but Aeris only had gaze for him sitting sideways on his lap.  She worried her bottom lip with her teeth causing dark pink to deepen, while summer just shimmered over his face where silver bangs then led her eyes.  Over broad shoulders, down his pale throat to a top button slightly strained, and though Aeris did not directly think it, she knew wiggling would cause worse below.  His touch idly lingered on her palm before calming her wrist like still waters.  One of his feathers in envy would mourn that it could not brush half so lightly.  She lifted her free fingers to hook in his shirt where that button seemed like it was begging.

“Sephiroth?” she whispered and his gaze fluttered down with the help of magnificent lashes.  A slight smile curved his lips for true, as liquid light spilled on her face.

“Yes, my flower?  Do you have a question?  I’m not doing much of interest.”

“No…no question, a-and everything you do is interesting to me.”

He chuckled and it broke against her skin in low reverberation.  She sealed her eyes with parted lips as his arm closed tighter around.  The caressing hand stroked slim forearm and without warning limned the edge of her jaw.  Aeris shuddered as his other fingers played against her tender belly.

“What do you wish of me, my little rose?”  His voice was a low, tender growl.  And though halved emerald gleam blessed her skin, there was nothing in Aeris’s world or caring not inundated in light.  She did not understand how it held all the hues the universe could claim.  Beyond all those stars that dared judge one greater than they would ever be.  It did not matter that he had been “made.”  He’d made himself worthy in action.

“Sephiroth…”  The name was barely breathed.  She was not even sure that she spoke, but Mako flared bright, light swirled round the sliver, forever cut and reformed.  Aeris wet her lips, making it jade and tried not to tremble for her power.  “Sephiroth, I want to be yours.”

The general’s brow creased in his confusion.  “You are mine, little one.  You are my Aeris and always will be.  Nothing will change that now.  I have you forever, here safe and loved in the Whisper by the Dreaming Sea.”  He darted his gaze over his rose, ashamed for how slivers could cut.  They never would her, and he held the bemusement as a wall against what could not be.

The Cetra lifted her other hand, which he’d instantly released.  Joining it with the other above her innocent heart ached with knowing.  “You know what I mean, my general.  I want you to…use me.”

Silence fell like black of night as Sephiroth stared wide eyed down.  Mako was frozen past the uncanny of what unblinking could bring.  White crescents shook around black lined emerald as he tried to douse his grief.

“I’ll never use you, little flower.”  His whisper hushed with horror.  “You will never be used by any man, never again for all of time.  You are not for their use.  You are not for their pleasure.  You will only live now for your own.”  The smooth inside of his forefinger painted gentle on her jaw.  “Nor are you for mine-”

“You know what I mean!”  Her hands curled into fists.  That helped fight the gasp that wished to escape for feather touch again.  Only an angel could be so gentle…  She forced the spare thought to scatter.  Blinking swift with glistening summer, Aeris glared up at her bemused love.  “I w-want you to…I want to be used.  I…don’t know what else it’s called.”

Sephiroth sighed and cupped her cheek, as he tilted his head to the side.  Perhaps the angle would break this illusion for she could not possibly want that.  She doesn’t understand what she’s asking me.  That’s the only explanation.  It’s only right I give her this, too, this…more explicit truth.  “There are…quite a few names for it, my Aeris.”  Sephiroth couldn’t control his smirk.  “I suppose,” he considered, thumbing her lips as he let light cascade down, “‘coupling’ would be the least vulgar term.”

“Then that’s what I want to do.”  She clutched his wrist, playing her own tune along fine, silver hairs.  “I…”  Aeris blushed, and the general laughed lowly, shaking his head to her innocence.  She glared back up and he instantly quelled it, subdued by his rose’s pluck.  “Well, some of my stories h-had that within, but when I first read, I was confused.  Then when it got to…that part, I was terrified.”  Sephiroth relinquished the grip on her chin to wrap Aeris in his arms, called to the task by his flower’s fear, as embers in jade did subside.  The Cetra pouted, but not petulantly.  It was more in rumination.  She always still relished the warmth of his arms, and she laid her palms on leather sealed strength.  “The first time, the book fell from my hands, and I just sat there trying to breathe.”

“Where was I, little one, when you were so afraid?”

“Oh, you were out hunting, dear general!” she assured with a pat to his arm.  It lessened his guilt only a bit for the responsibility held.  “You were out being the great protector you are for me and all the town.  You’ve never failed in that task, Sephiroth…” she whispered to lingering rue.  “Not that night and not ever, a-and I remembered that, too.  I was still safe, curled up on the couch nestled in blankets with my book.  I picked it back up and tried to keep reading e-even though I was afraid.  I didn’t want to read about rape…”

Aeris hid her face in his chest as he cupped the back of her head.  Burrowing strong fingers into wavy hair, he pressed his lips to her crown.  The Cetra drew deep ragged breaths that were washed with vanilla and frost.  “Not at all…”  she half-sobbed, muffled against and the general rubbed her back.  From midst to low, he let his touch play over that which he’d always protect.  “B-But it wasn’t that…”  She lifted her gaze and wonder replaced any fear.  Wetting her lips til they shimmered deep pink, the Cetra reached for his hand.  Sephiroth would deny his flower nothing and so fragile and strong did thread.

They both loved the sight of her tiny fingers like matchsticks against his far larger, and Aeris as always was more than impressed with how gorgeous her general’s hands were.  Many she’d seen, more had been brutal, but none had been made like his.  The maiden peered up, realizing that “made” was exactly how he’d describe them, but she did not care how he’d come to have such.  Regardless, to her, they were art.   She kissed the back, and he lined her forefinger with the caress of his thumb.  The flower maid squeaked to his low laugh, so mirthful to pure fascinations.

Me.  She’s fascinated by me.  It’s absolutely absurd, and I love it as she loves my light.

“Wh-What was I saying, Sephiroth?”  Her tone now mimicked a dream.  Aeris circled her fingers upon the broad back of her general’s hand.  Tiny kisses rained down on that pale.  Endless thank yous for gentleness.  Never once and never ever has m-my Sephiroth ever struck me.  These hands so strong protect me now.  She squeaked as the other opened upon the softness beneath her breasts.

The general smiled indulgently down.  “You were explaining the story you’d read.”

“Oh!  W-Well like I said, it wasn’t rape, but that didn’t make sense to me.  They were going to do that, but she wasn’t screaming or trying to escape.  He wasn’t beating or holding her down, f-forcing himself inside.”  She squeezed his hand harder with both of hers, and Sephiroth held her closer.  “He was being…gentle.  Gentle like you.”  Summer was huge as the maiden stared up.  Apprehension rode her face like a wave, but hope dwelled between every crest.  “And I started to wonder and started to think that I…wanted to try it, too.  No one could be gentler than you, Sephiroth, n-not even someone in a book.  H-He was…just a man, a-and you’re so much more.”  And she wiggled closer.

The general stricken could only gaze down.  How am I worthy of this?  With her hand still ensconced he swept a knuckle beneath her lifted chin.  Her tiny whimper held no trace of fear, and that cut his heart even more.

“I want to…try, Great General.  It’s different, because it’ll be you.  You said I needed to give consent.  Then…I do, Sephiroth.”

“But can you, my Aeris?”  Mako pulsed bright as he examined every inch of her face.  The wide eyes, blushed cheeks, and stubborn set lip that caused a crease between her brows.

“I know what I want!”  She glared through the gleam before gasping to her defiance.  Residual fear thinned some of her color, but Sephiroth’s own mirth grew.  Both in truth and to show this behavior was more than welcome: it was her right.  He adored what Aeris once thought “defiant,” her voice’s reclamation.

And what a voice it is, he thought.  My willful rose.  I love it.  I want her no other way.  He kissed her on the brow.  The laughter radiated against her forehead above the hidden eye.  “I love this, my flower,” he told her as forelocks spilled over surprise.  The Cetra still held that twinge of worry that he’d beat her for acting so, and Sephiroth must’ve picked up that hint, for he shook his head, saddened to frown.  The squirming that followed made the general bite his own lip briefly to Aeris’s grin, and his continued reaction caused that to blossom into a giggle more flushed.  When he cupped her cheek though, her free hand stiffened to the brush of his thumb on her throat.  Her reaction caused jade to flood the dark room where the screen once more did fade.  She tried to speak, but a whimper was all her parted lips would allow.  The second attempt yielded a moan as the sweet caress moved to her throat.  As though his fingers would play pleasure out, and the general could not help his slight smile.

The moment his touch descends on my skin I feel myself…open up.  I-Is that right?  Is that okay?  I’ve never felt that before…it must be okay if it’s different, because nothing before was good.  What did I do to deserve this joy, utter gentleness, and care?

“S-Sephiroth, I have to know.  Why do you want me so badly?”

He was almost blindsided by such heavy doubt, so he blinked several times in succession.  The Cetra swore she could hear those lashes battering the air in their wake.  Spare strands of silver were caught in the weft, and he spent some time clearing them out.

“I m-mean I can tell you want me so badly.”  She wiggled right on the spot.  He didn’t quite hiss, he just forgot the silver enmeshed in the fringe.

Vision would only do him disservice and make his “problem” worse.  The tiny, pure maid in her white dress with the bow this time in the front.  Above that, soft breasts competing with fabric for which one was more fair.  Though she is more pink…  That didn’t help either, and the general sighed, One task at a time.

“Aeris, for one, just because that happens…”  He looked askance and winter might’ve blushed, but if pink there was it did not last long, or hers increased to take more in.  “…it doesn’t necessarily mean a man wishes to couple.”  Memory froze in crystalline emerald and he prayed their powers of mind were not shared.  If I would never penetrate hers, there’s no chance she’d invade mine.  ‘She’s always wet…’ Faugh, you are dead, and that swell is not for me to hear.  Only echoes ring through my thoughts, the words of filth now turned to ash.  “It can be an involuntary inconvenience, as originally it was.

“Wh-What do you mean?”

Sephiroth had to chuckle.  His thumb breezed over her palm’s epicenter, and the Cetra’s lids fluttered in bursts.  How could she forget his feather touch when it caused so profound a reaction?  The blush grew deeper as Aeris then wondered what the brush of a true frond would bring.  She squeezed his hand tighter as he cleared his throat.

“Initially,” the general began, “it was a base reaction.  You were warm and wiggling on my lap.”  He shrugged with a bare hint of guilt.  “I was quite confused to be honest, Aeris, for I had no thought of you in that way.  You were the sweet, darling maid I was blessed to protect after a century of abuse.  I thought myself selfish for how dare I have such a, ah…profound reaction.”  He glanced to the side and half-wished he could distract himself with his computer screen, but the little maid was staring up at him in rapt attention.  No fear rode her features.  Aeris was entranced by such foreign concepts, nor did she notice she wriggled closer.  Sephiroth did though and his mouth shut with a click as he grimaced before forcing a smile.  “…then I remembered that sometimes it happens without any conscious desire.  I was more curious and worried for you, since, well…”  He rubbed his temple.  “I was…sure you could tell.  I’d…never had quite a reaction like that to anyone else before.”

Aeris’s lower lip dropped in confusion as she tilted her head to the side.  Blinking huge eyes as summer sweet swirled, and he could hardly stand her innocence.

“I mean…”  His sigh was almost a groan, and Sephiroth briefly covered his face.  When did I become so awkward when I can kill with such grace?  “When you…wiggled and bounced on my lap, I had the…greatest reaction.  Even though I didn’t consciously desire you, it would seem, ah, ‘part’ of me did.  That’s the reason I’d move you over, but you always wiggled back.  Plus, it seemed the worse my, ahem, issue grew, the harder you squirmed, little one.  Of course, that motion made it worse, and then you’d squirm even harder…”

Aeris covered her face with both hands to Sephiroth’s swift alarm, but then he heard the little maid laugh, and the smile spread broad on his face.  Gently taking her dainty wrists, he revealed his sweet, tittering rose.  The Cetra so loved the enclosing clutch of his large hands around her limbs.  She lifted her chin and closed her eyes, and he bent to taste her laughter.  Amidst of swirl of fragrant hair, silver and chestnut spun.   The mirth was shared as he couldn’t help smile to cause rents in his stubborn guilt.

“It was so strange to me, Sephiroth,” she told him when their communion was done for the moment.  “To know a man wanted me, a-at least so it seemed, but would never take me by force. A-Also, I can tell you’re much larger than any of them.”

“Ah, ahem, you’ve mentioned that before.  Truly?”  He rubbed both temples.

“Yes.”

“Well…there’s that.”

“And, of course, at first I was terrified because you can rip me apart.”

“I never will, Aeris.”

“I know that now.”

She rested her wrists in the curve of his hand, just the one was more than enough.  His other arm covered her tender belly and also served as a rest for her limbs.  Aeris’s back and sides were protected by his thick forearm covered in leather.  He looked down in love and guardianship, while her gratitude framed adoration.  The little maid had to close her eyes to silver caressing her cheek.  Disbelief shook her, and Aeris fought the fear that once more this glory would fade.  The kiss to her brow stilled those shivers, as he murmured, as always, “I have you.”

“You do.  You do.  You truly do,” she whispered to the past dark.  “You have me, my general, my angel of light.  I don’t have to fear anymore.  It’s why I felt so comfortable then, e-even if you probably weren’t.”  Aeris, at least, owed him her eyes as she peered up with a new flush.  “I was overjoyed you’d still never rape me even though it seemed that’s what you wanted.”

“Faugh…” Sephiroth voiced his disgust, massaging her palms ever gentle.  The Cetra turned one hand over and that eased his revulsion immensely.  He near laughed aloud for her obvious request to work on that part of her hand.  She’s so comfortable with me now, he realized in slight shock though it had been long known.  She’s not afraid…and now my truth is revealed.  Though she always knew before, and…she’s truly not afraid.  Aloud he continued, “Never my Aeris, though I was worried that’s what you would fear.  That’s…all you’d known for a hundred years-”

“But I don’t think all coupling’s like that…”  She stroked the space beneath her lip.  “I think r-rape and that are very different.”

“They are.  One is a crime more abominable than any except perhaps murder.”  He shook his head as disgust re-descended.  “And I am not sure, as you yourself said that it was worse than death.”

“I’ll never recover from what they did…never completely, Sephiroth.”  She quaked only briefly to his saddened nod, as Aeris squeezed his fingers.  “B-But now I have you and I don’t have to worry about that horror ever again.  Every day I get better.  Every day past the first, I put it more behind me.  You allow that.”

“No, my Aeris.  Never ‘allow.'”

“Well you provided the means,” she stubbornly said.

He chuckled and blessed his lips with her brow, and the little maid smiled again.  “Well,” he continued, “as I was saying at first it just happened by rote.  You’d climb on my lap, settle right in, and…well, I’m sure you now understand.”

She wiggled while gazing up at him with an upturned lip in her teeth.

“…yes, as you…see.”  Sephiroth did not hiss because he would not allow that.  Ill enough to have pupils like a striking snake.  He need not sound like one, too.  “Then you started to show what I perceived as interest, and I truly felt ashamed.  How could you possibly want any man after what you’d endured, especially me, your foul murderer?  In my head I was no better than they…the ones who’d ripped you apart for long years.  How dare I have such depraved dreams?”

Aeris laid her hand over his so he stopped the motion of fingers sublime, but she didn’t care.  He needed compassion far more than she needed caress.  “Your thoughts weren’t depraved at all, Sephiroth.”

“You were nowhere near ready, my Aeris.”

“N-No, no, I wasn’t, but they were just thoughts.  You didn’t act on them, general.  You didn’t rape me, and I’m sure you never thought about doing so either.”

His brows pulled together, silver arcs rumpled as slivers sliced through past intent.  “No, in no image were you ever unwilling.  Faugh…such concept is abysmal.  You willing and warm is what I oft dreamed.  I want you no other way.  It’s the only way such an act should occur…the only way it ever will.”

The little maid sniffled and he tilted his head, catching the lone tear on his finger.  “I…just don’t understand.”  She clenched small fists.  “Why do you want me so?  You could have anyone.  I’ve been used so many times.  I’ve been defiled, tainted, and torn-”

“You are not defiled, Aeris.”  His voice was lost to disbelief, while her cheek disappeared beneath his large hand as the general tilted up.

Aeris wished she could drown in liquid light as it froze her for love never cold.  She knew that to others the Mako was frigid.  Glacial pools of emerald ice, cut between slivers like a blade’s edge. Unmoving to mesmerize.  She knew the power that lived in their depths and the source that fueled strange luminescence, yet when he poured that light on her, Aeris witnessed no horror.  She wanted to dwell with him in that glow and tell him he was no more alone.  She saw through the wall he’d held for so long, built with two centuries’ stones.  The pain he’d endured to make him the Great, the lies that had driven him mad.  The truth so revealed when it was too late to change the terrible past.  She laid her hand over his much larger.  A-And now he comforts me.  He protects and cares for me, and my presence brings him peace.  He knows I love him despite his conscience insisting he doesn’t deserve.

“My Aeris…” he murmured strangely confused for the shift he could not have predicted.  Summer had caught, without him releasing, a torment ages old.  Sephiroth shook his head.  She mattered now.  His charge, his flower…his Aeris.  “You can never be defiled.  Such a concept is absurd…for you especially since you radiate innocence, but it would be true for any.  What was done to you unwilling can only lessen their worth.”

She shook her head. It could not be believed, through emerald light poured only truth.  “I was only worth much because I’m so small, a-and death would just give me back.  I’m…so tiny, general.”

A crease appeared between arched brows.  Then they lifted as his nostrils flared.

“I never got bigger…” she told him in a voice as minute as she.  “No matter how many men h-had me, I was always t-tiny and…tight.  That’s why you paid a fortune for me…th-that’s why it hurt so much.”

The little maid cowered against his chest, and Sephiroth rubbed her exposed shoulder.  Unconsciously forcing his fingertips play sweet promises through her skin.  Care, warmth, ever protection, and love beyond it all.  Aeris sniffled amidst angel scent that shivered through silver hair.  With a sigh that nearly emptied her out, the Cetra re-lifted her gaze.  He held her chin with a gentle, curled finger, and Aeris kissed his errant thumb.  Letting the light wash over her face, he caressed her cheek with smooth knuckles.  Crystalline green mocked emerald for hardness as he recalled other fists.  I crushed them to pulp to the chorus of screams before fire swallowed it all.  They’ll never beat and bruise her again.  This brush is all she’ll enjoy.

“Aeris, please hear me.”  She augmented caress by rubbing her face on the general’s hand.  Little fingers had clasped his wrist as the Cetra blinked up to his call.  Bending to her so their brows met, Sephiroth laid his palm over fingers so frail.  “It hurt because they hurt you.  That is not your fault.”

“It always hurt though, Sephiroth.  Th-They loved that.  It felt…good to them.  I thought I was defective.”

His free fist tightened til the knuckles bled frost, whiter than moonlight on snow.  Then he remembered they were all dead, and he wished he could kill them again.  Mako strands shot through the heart of that sliver as the general envisioned more blood.  He would ensure each death would be different, each dying scream glutted with pain.

“You are not defective, Aeris,” he whispered to keep her from fear.  His voice would be filled with that unholy power, and he was terrified to true call back the dead.  “They were for hurting you so, for making you think you were anything less than perfect, my little rose.”

“But wh-what if we do…”  She squeezed his wrist harder, making no dent in his fortitude.  “And what if it still hurts.  That would prove I am defective.  I know you’d be gentle, more gentle than dawn.  I-If it doesn’t hurt too much we st-still can-”

“No, we cannot.”  Sephiroth shook his head so grieved she’d even consider such.  “You will not be force to withstand such pain.  This is not a game of endurance.  Coupling is a joy both people should share, not something one person withstands.  That is what you suffered for so long, my flower, and we already know its name.”  He sighed, tossing silver to sit back up, and the skein swept over soft skin.  She sealed her eyes to bathe in its fragrance, and her little moan lifted one brow.  A dreaming look stole over her face, and the general stared perplexed.  “The real question, my Aeris, is why would you want me?”

Summer burst open in shock.  “Sephiroth…” she whispered softer than sleeping sea, “I-I…”  Aeris reached up for his face.  He clutched her fingers in his warm palm, kissing them despite his doubts.  The Cetra blinked quite a few times, searching his mournful visage.  Glassy summer pooled in mirror and she knew he could see himself.  The sight turned rue to endless awe for her vision could hold no lie.  He was as she saw him in a pure paradise world, hand in hand beneath endless blue.  “You are…”  She fought for awe torn breath.  “The most beautiful man I’ve ever seen.  No…no, no.  I’m…I’m wrong.  You’re the most beautiful person.  It’s hard to think of you as such, because your glory is t-transcendent, and when I think of your strength, Great General, i-it’s like you’re…better than human.”

Skin of marble reflected it true as Sephiroth froze with emerald ice eyes.  Coldly cut against darkness, near lost in wintry seas.  The Cetra gasped more shocked than `frightened for her little hand was still encased, but when she tugged, he did release for even as stone he would not trap her.  Unwavering Mako would’ve chilled any heart that did not overflow with love, and Aeris raised her little hands there, as he bowed his head with deep sigh.  It was unknown if his breaking came before or after memory’s motion.

“From innocent tongue, my horror invoked, from sweetest lips spoken true…”  Light burned his lashes without any singe, and Aeris laid a hand to his chest.  One for his heart and one for hers, one ever broken, one healing slow.

“What do you mean, dear general?”

“Look at me, Aeris.  Take it all in.  Understand what you are seeing.  The eyes you so love.  The face you adore.  The strength that you bless every day.  The light in my eyes reflect empty worlds, colder than starlight on snow.”

“I only see glory, m-my Sephiroth, and they’ve never frozen me.”

“And yet they bring the northern chill.  I’m a monster, my Aeris.”  He turned away toward the night and the snow’s quiet fall.

“You’re not,” she told him with quiet insistence, squeezing the arm at her waist.  The Cetra laid her ear to his chest, gazing up to his tortured profile.  The high bone of his cheek, aristocratic nose, the lashes enmeshed in his bangs.  She hated the frown that assailed perfect lips and wished she could kiss it away.

The once fallen sighed, returning his stare to her upturned face.  Gleaming eyes widened.  She needed to witness the reasons he was so foul.  It’s not just the Mako that swirls in my eyes, but the corruption that slivers my pupil.  That makes my skin winter and moonlight my hair.  That gives me the strength you adore.  “I’m an alien abomination, Aeris, crafted to wear an angel’s face.”

“You’re not an alien.”

His next words were caught in blinking surprise for she’d brushed his last off like spare dust. It had taken no ounce of consideration for her to arrive at this conclusion, and Sephiroth only wished it were true, but he had no doubt of what he was.

“Aeris, you…you know I’m not human…”

“Then what are you?

“Something far worse.”

“Something worse than those men who abused me for decades?”

Slivers locked in gleaming ice darted cross her face.

“You see?”

“Aeris…you know what my blood contains.  I…am so, little flower.”

The Cetra pursed her lips and shut her eyes tight, clutching his hand with her two.  After some moments, she peered back up with scrutinizing squint.

“How alien are you then?”

He lifted his gaze to darkness unseen beyond Gaia’s blue veil.  “I have memories that are not my own…worlds I’ve never been to, stars I’ve never seen.”  Slivers in emerald fell back to her, carven now of that abyss.  “Ones that would not judge me, because they would not dare.”

“Yet…both of your parents were human, correct?”

Sephiroth shed shock for disgust.  “Barely the one, but technically…yes.  Humanity should not have to bear the burden of one who’s name I’ll never speak.  As for my mother…”  Emerald turned quiet as he halved his lids with a sigh.  “I don’t deserve hers…nor did she deserve to bear me.  I pity her greatly.”  His head bowed again, as slim fingers brushed his jaw line.  “Imbued with corruption and robbed of all peace, she attempted to flee the pain.  But it followed her to her grief.  She dwells in a cave encased now in crystal and gods willing has found some solace.  I hope she knows not what I’ve done.  The horror I became.  Ever agony has ruled her life.  She doesn’t deserve anymore.”  Snow shimmered in emerald like crystalline tears, replacing what he could not shed.  “If only I had known this then, but I was denied even her name.  It just takes one lie to burn down your world…one ember to spark a blaze.  The truth is a light I was never allowed, so I made my own fueled by blood.  I cannot forget.  I don’t deserve to.  Those screams echo still in my head.  Perhaps it is they that finally drowned out that alien voice so vile…”

Agony gritted his teeth as he winced, shaking his head to what he could not change, but the tiny flower upon his lap had nothing to give him but love.  She threaded her fingers through his one hand and squeezed it with all of her might.

“I was a lost child.”  His gaze cut the night.  “And lost children only want one thing.”

“What’s that?”

“To be found.”

Dew arose in summer eyes that Aeris filled with his sight.  Sephiroth had to look at her, and her adoration pierced his heart.  It was a needle, never a blade, attempting to mend the rents.  There were too many, but she was tenacious, and innocence has no end.  Coupled with love, the Cetra would never give up on her great protector.

“Look at us then…two broken people, neither thinking the one is good enough for the other.”

“You honor me still, my little rose.  You think me a person.”

“You are a person.”

“Am I?”  The way he looked at her now.  In desperate need of an answer.  Yet it was one he would never believe unless she proclaimed the negation.  His vision was perfect and could freeze a snowflake in emerald from leagues away, but this simple thing: his own personhood, was beyond Sephiroth’s grasp.

He saved me.  I have to help him.  He’s asked for nothing else.  He…hasn’t even asked for this.  He doesn’t think he deserves.  I think that forgiveness is just like his promise to me of safety and care.  I need reassurance, and he does, too.  Her glorious smile lit all the darkness he’d ever borne in his soul.  No one else in all of the world would ever behold such a sight.  Her cheeks flushed like dawn on summer’s best day, and the gleam from her eyes bested his.  Not in cold brilliance.  No, never that.  This light was the kindler of souls.

Ever so slowly, he lifted a hand to cup this sweet luminescence.  It was for him.  Only for him, and Aeris kissed the broad plain of his palm.  Only I will ever hold her.  The arm around crushed carefully.  The little maid’s squeak turned into a giggle, and the glory of smile just grew.  I alone can touch her delicate skin, fragile wrists, and tender belly.  He opened his palm against the last, and he forgot how sweetly she’d squirm.  How can this be?  How am I worthy?  “Aeris…I can’t be for you.”

“Why ever not?” she asked with a hum.

“I am the fallen.  You are the pure.  It would be profane…”

The Cetra squeezed his hand this time, shaking her head in sorrow.  “What was profane was how I was treated, and you’re no longer fallen.  You’re absolved, my general.”

“My soul will never be clean.”

“I think it can be, Sephiroth.”

“I’ll always be a one-winged angel…”  Again, her guardian turned away, as Aeris rethreaded their fingers.

“And I’ll always have my awful past.  D-Does that make me less pure?”

“Dear gods, no, Aeris.”  He snapped back towards her, ashamed he had caused that assessment.

“Our pasts were both awful.”  She nestled in closer, which silenced his waiting words.  The little maid blinked with a tremulous frown, trying to clear it from her vision.  The general’s arm tightened at her waist, drawing her back to the now.  She raised her face with a wavering smile, and he kissed her softly on the brow.  “But the present is glory and the future from now will only grow from this joy.  I’m here…with you, wrapped in your arms, warm and safe as it freezes outside.  I live in a palace in paradise.”  He had to half-smile for that sweet description.  It was the one Aeris always made, and it forced his perspective to bend.  “I live with my angel of light.  I have everything I could ever want or need.  It’s so wonderful it could be a dream.  I’m still so frightened, Sephiroth…it’s the thing that scares me the most.  That I’m still dreaming even though it’s been two hundred and fifty days, b-but…”  She took a deep breath, and he opened his palm against hers.  The little maid smiled, observing how her slight fingers did not reach the base of his.  “I never had a dream like this…so elaborate and long.”  She pursed her lips in scrutiny then glanced up to his low laugh.  “So either I’m dead.”  His mirth ceased as though cut.  “Or you really did take me away.”  Aeris stroked her chin with her free hand.  “Though b-both could be true I suppose.”  Shaking her head, the Cetra returned to her smile, which broke Sephiroth from his grief.  “I want you, my angel.”  Summer turned dewy and each drop awoke emerald light.

He ever so gently separated her fingers to re-entwine their hands.  Stretching the flesh between delicate digits, so careful, ensuring no tears.  It was near translucent with visible veins and bones he would never let break.  Aeris pressed their palms even tighter, and her fingertips stroked his smooth skin.

Sephiroth, mournful, brushed her thumb with a sigh.  “I desire you, too, my little flower…I have for a long time, and that want brings me shame-”

“Why does it still?”  Aeris struggled to understand.  She’d absolved him.  She loved him.  She’d given consent.  She had his admission…and of course, beneath, proof.

“Because I’m not human.”  He sandwiched her hand between his two, bowing his head to silver in spill.  “I don’t deserve you.  I am corruption, my rose.”

“You can’t corrupt what’s already tainted.”

“No, none of that.  What did I tell you?”

“Well, what did I tell you?”  The maid threw back, much to continual shock.

The smile invaded the corner of his lips against the general’s behest.  He recalled how he’d told her she’d never cause wrath, but was delighted she wasn’t the same.  She was no longer afraid to show her true anger, and that, too, served to lessen his doubts.  As that lessens, desire grows…  He couldn’t help but think as she squirmed.  Glaring up at him from leaf sharp eyes with a no-nonsense expression.  Will you now scold me, little flower?  Anticipation swirled jade through his eyes.

“You’re human enough for me, Sephiroth.”  Aeris tugged on a silver forelock.  It neither pulled him down nor tore to the general’s spreading grin.  “A-And I’m not human either,” she declared with abundant satisfaction.  “At least not fully, so…what does it even matter?”

The Great General chuckled while shaking his head.  He loved this willful flower.  Cupping her cheek, Sephiroth ran a thumb over her delicate cheekbone.  The Cetra’s eyes fluttered to the sensation, as she desperately grasped at annoyance.

“The difference, my Aeris, is I’m not…of here, while you most certainly are.  Your blood is of the oldest kind.  Your people were the Ancients.”

Aeris caught his “torturous” hand, and Sephiroth ceased the motion.  The little maid held the warm palm to her face, lifting summer to Mako bright.  “Were you born here?” she simply asked, and the light narrowed but did not diminish.

“Yes, but alien corruption poisons my blood and inundates every cell.  The foulness makes light leak from my eyes around an evil, slim pupil.  It winters my skin, silvers my hair, and forces me bear the one wing.”

She searched through the sorrow so etched on his face.  “Do you ever mourn its loss?”

The smile he gave held nothing of joy, only long resignation.  “There’s no loss to mourn.  I’ve always been broken.  I was never whole, little one.”

“And that’s what you see when you look in the mirror…”

“When I must, but I’d rather avoid it.  I need no reminder of what I am.  Horror.  Abomination.  Alien.”  He played thick fingers beneath her chin, and she lifted her head with a gasp.

“I-Is that all you see?”

“It’s the sum of what I am.”

She grabbed his hand, causing Sephiroth cease.  “You know that isn’t true!”

“I know you believe it isn’t.”

Incredulously, she stared up at him.  “You can’t see the beauty at all?

“I see…slit pupils in corruption’s gleam, skin of deathly pallor, unnaturally silver hair.”  He shook his head, sweeping that silver over her tender skin.  “Where is the beauty in this?”

Aeris laughed aloud and kissed the hand still held in her clutch.  “There’s no place it isn’t.  There’s no place it can’t be.  All you’ve said is what makes you angelic.”

He shook his head swiftly with a noise of disgust.  “Corruption cannot be angelic, my Aeris.”

“And yet, here you are, my general…and you’re not corrupt.”  Aeris kissed his palm to prove her words were true.  “You’re compassionate, warm, and my powerful guardian.  What could hurt me now?”

The sigh stirred silver in front of his face.  “It’s hard to be warm with emerald ice eyes.”  Aeris shrugged to that and continued to seek the heart of those slivers in green.  “And I bear corruption in my cells.  What I did in the past-”

“Cannot change, but what you’ve done now is all.  Even before you rescued me, you took care of this little town.”

“I must have some purpose to serve, little one.”  The pain veiled his eyes with bowed head.  Sephiroth still saw Aeris nod, though, as if in satisfaction.

“Exactly, and you serve it well, though I wish you could be happy without.”  She reached for his face to answer the palm still laid upon her cheek.  He slid his touch over her shoulder, down her arm to her tiny hand.  Rubbing thin fingers ever so gently, knowing them fragile as glass.  “You saved me.  You guard me and care for me.  You’ve done more than anyone could, Sephiroth, to ensure I’m happy and well.”  Her breath turned ragged as Aeris remembered.  “You…you allowed me to heal-”

“Allowed, sweet one?”  He kissed minute digits.  “There’s no ‘allow,’ just obligation.  What else could I do?” he asked her perplexed and no longer wary to show it.  There was nothing he needed to hide from his rose.  Never anymore.  I can be bemused, mirthful, unsure.  She’ll never use it against me.  The games we’d play are mutual.  We are no longer toys for the cruel.  “You needed help so desperately, Aeris.”

“And you chose to help me.”  Her arm ached from holding it high for so long, and her touch trickled down his chest.  A fingertip snagged at his top button, which parted with no protest.

“There was no choice, Aeris.”  He shook away moonlit mane, but it settled gently upon her still.  The white of her dress and the blush of her skin contrasted but did not compete.  All were as lovely as new brightened dawn, no matter how cold the morn.

“There’s always a choice, dear general…”  She laid her ear to his heart and looked up.

“No, little one.”  He shook his head in fervent and utter denial.  “I owe you more than the world, and I can deny you nothing.  I could have a thousand lives and live a million years, and still never repay what you’re due.”  Encircling the Cetra in his arm, Sephiroth took both her hands into one.  “Caring for you is a gift, my Aeris, and the fact you love me beyond what’s deserved.  It’s as though that darkness beyond the stars is merely a shield for the light.”

The little maid shut her eyes as she breathed, surrounded by moonlit vanilla.  Sometimes she needed to bask in the moment and ask time to just leave them alone.  It would acquiesce for it could not touch them.  Forever belonged to the two.  Deepest breaths and long exhales gave the Cetra near giddy smile, and she twirled her finger around a long bang, as his hand caressed her soft belly.

“You more than saved me, m-my Sephiroth.”  The term still stumbled her tongue.  Aeris kept her eyes closed, but she wasn’t tired, and she grinned broader to his lips on her crown.  “You brought me to paradise.  That makes you an angel despite what you think, regardless of what you ‘lack.’  I couldn’t care less that you’ve only one wing.”  She opened her eyes to look up.  Rue painted his features beyond beautiful, but cold light still reflected her hope.  “You can still fly either way.  I know what you did…”  She squeezed his hand tighter, making her fragile wrists ache.  “And I don’t care.  I love you, Sephiroth.”

“I love you, my Aeris…”  He massaged aching palms, a remedy for her stubbornness.  The Cetra squirmed then with a sigh.  Jade bled in response, reminding the general of what he couldn’t really forget.  A crooked, slight smile curled perfect lips as he allowed Mako light fall on soft pale.  Lovely face lifted to smooth, exposed throat where the pulse played against creamy skin.  He wanted to lay his lips around it and taste the moans that would surely ensue. 

“My gentle tyrant,” he murmured, “dozing in my arms, a sleepy and petulant rose.  She shows all her thorns then delicate parts.”

“Mm, you haven’t quite seen all those yet…”  It was more than a whisper and then Aeris hid behind a small hand, giggling.  Peering up through the screen of slender fingers, she bit her lip to his utter delight.  “And I’m not a tyrant!” she insisted in huff then squeaked as Sephiroth stood.  How in the world do I ever forget how incredibly strong he is?

“Well, I am your general,” he conceded in joy.  “You command, and I obey.”  The little Cetra nearly burst with joy, kicking her legs in delight.  It hindered him not, as his computer forgotten was left to fade in the night.  It would sleep as he hoped she would not…at least for a tidy while.

Aeris paused with one foot lifted and bare, blinking in consideration.  “I…can’t command you in that, though, Sephiroth.  J-Just like you won’t command me.”

“I can’t command you in that.  There’s no ‘won’t’ about it.”  He swept from his office with her in one arm.

“You’re able to…”  she whispered without any fear as she laid kisses along his jaw line.  Sephiroth returned them as he carried her down the stairs to the second floor.

“I am not, my Aeris.”  Then the general sighed, realizing her implication.  He kissed her brow as his boots made no sound on these deep carpeted steps.

Soft lips replied to tickle his ear.  “Not that I could make you do anything, Great General, but it’s still not right to demand.  You c-could for me, but you won’t.”  She tightened her hold on shoulders that mocked a steel wall.  “You’ll…never force me, so I can’t force you…in p-principle.”

His low laugh erased residual fear, and he paused on the steps to taste her lips.  The remaining he took with a leap barely noticed, landing lighter than breeze borne feathers.  Aeris immersed in the throes of the kiss wondered if they had flown at the last.

“Which room, my Aeris, yours or mine?”

“Your bed smells so good…vanilla steeped frost.  Wintry but never cold.  I love it so much, my Sephiroth.”

He laid his brow to hers with a smile.  She was enamored of his “angel’s” scent that needed concentration for his notice.  It could be worse…I could reek I suppose.  Fair fragrance, an undeserved gift.  But the way Aeris kissed him, her palm blessing his face, made the fallen forget his grief.  She’d heard his truth.  She knew his dark, and she loved him more and still.  His room so sparse could not be bare with his flower held in his clutch, and Sephiroth relented to set her down only because she still gripped his shoulders.  Measuring breadth with unleashed awe, as his thumbs traced beneath her breasts.

Aeris shuddered a bit and fell forward against a warm and solid wall.  The Great General curled hands around her ribs, though flesh now clothed the bone.  No more so sharp to cut tightened skin, though long fingers could still mesh together.  This was not the time to keep his grip still, and a chuckle answered her moan.  The little maid kissed that exquisite jaw line, and when she bit his ear he laughed aloud.  Sweeping moonlight tickled her throat, as Sephiroth tossed the skein back, but when his lips slid over that skin, Aeris could not even gasp.  He let his tongue lay a thin line of pleasure along her quickening pulse, but stopped right before the crease of her breasts where that pink tear was cool on his lips.  It warmed quick enough in the nest of her blush, while curled fingers tangled in silver.  The little crown still adorned her hair, as in care he undid her wrapped braid.  The shush of those waves against his face shut the once fallen’s eyes with smile.

Aeris ran her hands in continuous awe over his endless shoulders.  They had to be so.  Though her hands were small, that wall just went on and on.  The general answered by cupping her own so easily in his large palms.  Gently he slanted his mouth over hers and Aeris slid a hand back to his cheek.  Sephiroth caressed the line of her spine, forcing the kiss to dispel ancient pain.  She arched her back with a little moan, so caught in the weft of their tongues.

“Kissing…” she murmured against his lips as the Cetra dove in again.  Locking her limbs around his neck now to brace herself for the sweetest plunge.  His kneeling position with her on the bed granted them perfect height, and her joy overflowed the deep wells of summer when he surrounded her with his arms.

“It starts like that, Aeris,” he whispered now, laying a few more to her reddened cheeks.

“D-Does it, my general?”

“Yes, little flower.  That’s how it begins….how it always will if you wish.”  He’d dug long fingers into her hair to cup the back of her head.  Quick, careful kisses blessed Aeris’s lips before he pressed a longer one to her brow.  Temples and eyes where the lashes did brush were next where caress did trail, and the general blinked as he returned to her lips so she giggled to splendor’s flutter.

“I love kisses, Sephiroth,” she barely breathed, as her neck was then adorned.  The Cetra wanted to keep up with him, but her general was a far better player.  Kiss and caress caused her to writhe and wish her seat was not the bed.  “A-And I also love sitting on your lap.”  In an instant there she was.  He sat down beside her, and Aeris then scrambled to plop down hard in “her” spot.

“Before you,” she whispered within moonlight veil, “I-I didn’t even know what kisses were.  When you gave me that first one the…day we m-met, I thought I would die with joy.  Whenever you kiss me I-I feel like I open.  It feels…”  She wriggled again.  Sephiroth closed his hands around her forearms ever careful not to crush.  For a moment in terror he thought himself brutish, but Aeris just pulled herself closer.  “And your strength, your strength, your…wonderful strength.  There’s nothing I can do to best it.”

“That’s a lie, little flower,” he said in her ear, a low growl as soft as a purr.  Careful teeth pressed the soft lobe before tracing the line of her jaw.  “You need only command.”  Sliding his grip down the Cetra’s forearms, Sephiroth tied their fingers together.  Aeris tugged on her hand, and he instantly loosened.  She needed one free to slip down his chest where winter skin contrasted black, and as she tried to undo his buttons, he did all he could to distract.  Covering caught fingers with myriad kisses, he opened his palm on her neck.

Aeris stiffened with a tiny, “Oh…” biting her lip in concentration.  It bled pink through her teeth as her fingers shook, but there was no fear in that tremble.  Revealing her wrist, Sephiroth breathed warmth sweeter than honeyed cloves.  All the nerves fired to the trace of his tongue and a press that would leave a pink mark.

“I t-told my th-therapist, Sephiroth…l-last time I was there about…this.”

“Did you now?” he replied with no mercy for wherever his touch met her skin.  A forefinger teased her exposed throat, robbing the Cetra of speech.  If she could have, Aeris would’ve crushed his hand, and the general’s chuckle proved this was known.  He merely caressed her inner thumb before lining fingers in that sensation.

“Y-Yes…”  The flower maid lifted her head, as if pleading with him for quarter.  He kissed her, stilling his hands for a moment to allow Aeris catch fleeting breath.

The general knew he had to be careful, but her skin seemed to be made for his touch.  She’d never stopped squirming when she’d found his lap, and his thoughts still brought him shame.

“And…what did she say to you, little flower?”  He wrapped his free arm around her waist, laughing low for her languid position.

“She…she said…” Aeris attempted, managing to sit back up.  Sephiroth took some pity through his crooked grin to tilt her face up to his light.  The Cetra swallowed, gripping his wrist between her two little hands.  In sweet revenge for his prior laughter, she undid the buttons of his cuff.  “She…thought it was good.”  Then Aeris gulped as his forefinger played at her neck.  In joyous release her languor returned, and her thighs spread like open wings.  “V-Very good, general.”  Fingertips dug beneath loosened cuff, as the Cetra tried pushing it back.  “Though,” Aeris murmured, kissing his hand.  “She was a little surprised at how soon.”  Keeping her summer gaze locked with his, her green brought warmth to his winter.  “She thought you were the perfect choice, though.  I told her how you’d wanted to use, um, couple with me for a very long time, but you wouldn’t because of consent.  She said that was right a-and we both agreed that you were the best choice of all.  Your gentleness knows no bounds.”

He bowed his head then and his smile turned sad in a way she couldn’t explain.  Still as curled on perfect lips, the rue came bleeding through.  In awe the Cetra still wished to trace them with fingers, lips, and tongue.  Their deep seashell hue didn’t quite burst with pink (unlike her own and…elsewhere), but subtler shade just enhanced perfection shaped for regret.

“If ‘gentleness’ could be my legacy, Aeris, I’d be a far happier…man.”

The little maid turned and kissed his palm before meeting his gaze again.  Tiny fingers swirled on its broad surface as she searched through his grief.  “You still do that…”

“Do what, my Aeris?”

“Believe you’re not human.  Think yourself an abomination.”  Her gaze turned almost to a glare as if daring the general’s challenge.  “You’re so much better than any mere man, and not just because you’re the strongest.  That’s…part of it.”  Aeris had to fight for her ire.  A large palm opened against her belly, and she nearly squeaked at the sensation.  “A-All other men only hurt me.  Everything you’ve done has helped me heal.  E-Even in this.”  Still holding bright emerald, the Cetra pushed down his hand.  Jade light erupted to widening gaze as fingers skimmed over her thighs.  The dress’s white fabric had shivered up to leave the maid more exposed, and thick fingertips could not ignore the invitation of such soft inner skin.  He still would never breach that wall…not without permission, but Aeris kept her hand atop his where it rested between her legs.

She wet her lips til they glistened in Mako and Sephiroth could not deny this.  He kissed her to taste sumptuous desire, and the Cetra raised a hand to his shoulder.  She had to have something solid to cling to when his lower hand began its caress.  When she wriggled upon him, he ate at her mouth like he was a thief at a feast, and the arm around her waist locked tight, while his other then sought her soft breasts.  Splendor of silver and chestnut waves tangled as sweet as the dance of their tongues, and he wanted to give her the millions of kisses that she’d so deserved from before.  Tilting her chin, he traced her mouth’s edge with his tongue as the little maid whimpered, but there was no fear in his flower’s voice now, as the general slid her back to the bed.  Clutching her hands, Sephiroth trailed his lips over her jaw before going lower.  He breathed on her skin, warmth calling pulse to pound against her throat.  Locking his lips, Sephiroth slid his mouth over pattering hum and heat.  The moan therein fluttered against his low laugh, but he never ceased the caress.  Then Aeris gasped for the sudden slight prick to that vital quiver of life

“I…like that.”

“What?”

“Your teeth at my throat.”  Danger without any threat.

My rose has grown bolder.  “Do you?”  He chuckled against, letting his tongue tease the sweet of skin that fluttered against perfect lips.

“Y-Yes, they’re quite sharp.”

“Are they?” he asked, tracing point and edge before covering them with his lips.  A rain of kisses fell on her neck, and Aeris could only moan.

“May I, my flower?” he asked to the straps of her dress so stark against blush.

“Y-Yes, Sephiroth…”  The stutter was borne from breathlessness, never an ounce of doubt.  He still double checked, pausing the jade against his love’s ecstasy.  Then over slim shoulders the garment was pushed, so chestnut alone framed her breasts.  He blessed every line with his perfect lips giving the thickest one extra care.  Aeris frantically scrabbled at the pale garment, desperate to push it down.  She wanted that soft brush on all of her skin and writhed to the warmth on that scar.  Though its origin’s memory could never fade, it struggled to overtake this. All of his fingers traced the blades on her back, eking out every ache.  In brief flutter of thought, she imagined his wing and where its foundation held source.

Chestnut hair made her a nest when Aeris fell back on the mattress.  Her dress was half off, and his tongue blessed her stomach, making a mock of each line.  Releasing a cry as silver then joined to sweep over her quivering flesh.  Warm palms circled both of her ankles before ascending to her calves.  Aeris sealed her eyes as behind them light bursts wove colors like gleaming thread.

“My Aeris…”  The low voice called to her and a glimmer split her lids.  Sephiroth was kneeling again by the bed in sight without lifting her head.  “At any time, you can tell me to cease if there’s something you don’t wish me to do.”  She forced a hand up to grasp at bright silver, twisting it round and round.

“I trust you, my general,” came the brief whisper and cold light could not conquer love.

He slid his hands up her slim thighs beneath what dress still remained.  They opened for him, as Aeris pushed up, too curious to ignore.  He lent the Cetra his one hand so she would have some support.  The slightest mischief curled his lip and burned through glowing eyes before the Great General bent to a task he’d choose as his primary job.

A rose of the morning will bear sweetest dew, but a field of them could not compare.  Tiny digits clenched on his great hand for Aeris could not even cry.  The bursts of light she’d thought so fair spread visions to now best the summer.  From kissing she knew the skill of his tongue, the length and grace of the tip.  Obedience was never her general’s demand nor did he command any pain, but for the first time Aeris had no choice once her prior one had been set.  He beckoned his rose as he spelled out her name, reclaiming it to her flesh.  Exquisitely slow, buried in pink, each sensual letter was written.  Sephiroth kept his gleaming eyes veiled for he needed no sight for this spelling.

Never in this life or the last had the Cetra been so open…through her volition and his gentle skill, her petals could only bleed dew.  Her tiny flower fully bloomed because she had a choice.  Gasping breath mimicked bitter tears, which made long lashes flutter up.  Only to check and ever ensure that his Aeris was not in distress.  Her own head thrown back as she clung to his hand in a grip that death would envy, but Sephiroth’s strength had been shaped for such, and she made not a dent in his power.  Finally, to finish her name with a flourish, the Great General peered fully up.  Still immersed in her thighs with lips sweetly coated.

A flower must bear its burden of dew in the right circumstances.

Each breath brought a whimper as Aeris lunged forward to kiss him to his slight shock. Gripping his face between her small hands, the Cetra half-choked on her tears.  Sephiroth held her hard to his heart, as he let Aeris now lead the dance.

“I take it,” he spoke in between kisses, “that you” –she assailed curling lips– “quite enjoyed…”  Her moan brought him silence but brightened his smile.  Chuckling behind the sweet assault, the general cupped the back of her head.  When she was spent with residual shivers, Aeris flung her arms around his neck.  Listlessly clinging with heart matching breath’s rush, while her angel caressed her back.  He slid careful fingers along her spine, causing contortions in arch.  Sephiroth rubbed his cheek along hers, praying pleasure would overtake pain.  Though his Aeris owned nothing of agony now, the once fallen would always remember.  Ecstasy was assisted by full breasts on his chest, pressed against the black of his shirt.  Imagination granted him grin to the contrast of pale against shadow, and he wished she’d succeeded in freeing more buttons so winter and cream could more meet.

“Oh gods…” she whimpered, shuddering still in aftershocks of delight.  “Oh gods…”

The low laugh shivered her more, but brought neither fear nor cold.  She was near naked, exposed, and bare, yet she’d never felt more safe.  The snow fell gentle but relentless in the grey and black cold of the night.

“Wh-What was that?”  She skimmed leather cloaked shoulders to steady her shaking hands.  Pulling back gently, Sephiroth’s slight smile did not diminish his joy.

“I wrote your name, my little rose?  Did I not spell it right?”  The general cocked his head to the side as mischief twirled light through the jade.  Quivering fingers found his cheek as Aeris’s pulsed in hot blush.  “I can always try again if you wish.  I only wrote your first…slowly though and several times.   Should I include your last?”  He pressed perfect lips to the tip of her fingers, and Mako light washed his lashes.  “Though,” he pondered quite devilishly, “I have a longer name than yours.  Perhaps I should spell that out.”  Tilting her head, he parted her lips with a gentle thrust of that tongue, letting it spin with her own in the promise of all he would write.

Aeris attempted to sit up that time, burying fingers in silver.  No matter how tightly the Cetra might grip, not a single strand would be lost, and she just prayed the Gate was soundproof for her cries could’ve reached the far stars.  He painted her full name and his in her flesh, supporting her when strength did fail.  Needing no hands for this eloquent task, Sephiroth let one caress her back, but Aeris had no space in her mind to consider the rest of his talents.  Her voice turned raw and fingers stiffened to endless waves through her flesh.  He may have been her winter angel, but that veneer could not quell endless heat.  All of that fire curled on his tongue as those soaked petals opened wide.  This slight penetration that caused her to shudder with only pleasure’s pall.

Aeris couldn’t recall when she finally fell back.  Ecstasy had robbed her of awareness, but when she emerged from where only light dwelled, she found more of it blessing her face.  Still in her white dress that was more of a belt riding between hips and breast.  Before her, so casually propped on his hand, lay her Great General.  The pure silver shroud covered dark garb, black shirt and his long leather coat.  Somewhere it registered strange in her head that the latter still draped his length.  The exquisite contrast of frost skin and fabric made Aeris’s eyes swiftly flutter, and the Cetra then wished she’d succeeded in sundering all of those fastens before.  In the shield of his laughter, Aeris remedied this, though she balked a bit nearing his belt.  Sephiroth kissed her on the brow, and she sighed half-surprised in relief.  Blinking back up, she tried to speak, but her lips were trembling too hard.  Not that words lived to render the splendor that dwelled before summer’s gaze.  His bed was a bit larger than her own, but lying across it, he was longer.  Encased still in black boots, his legs hung off the edge, losing no grace for position.

Aeris found solid shoulders again in attempt to pull herself closer, but the Cetra only had power to quiver as aftershocks still claimed her skin.  At her gesture, he drew the maid into his arms so her world became only that glory; her sun emerald, her air angel’s scent.  Though it was darkness shrouding that pulse, her lips found the winter hued truth.  Like night of confession, she kissed that sore spot, and he crushed her as close as he dared.  Emerald sealed tight as the fallen just wished to dwell in this now for all time.  I can, he remembered.  I have been forgiven.  I’m not fallen anymore.  The past was his skeptic to howl in his ear, but Aeris’s sigh dashed that dark.  It could not touch him with her in his arms.  As she will no more be tormented.  I protect her…and she protects me.  Regret bowed his head to her crown.  Sephiroth wanted her life to be joy with no task she need to fulfill.  The Cetra had done more than her duty in saving the world from him.  Then the torture of a hundred long years.  It’s enough.  Now should be her time.  She need not waste an ounce on me…but as he held her, the truth bloomed so clear.  As protecting her was a joy to him, so it was with his Aeris.  It was no task, nor any hardship, but the easiest job to complete.  Burying her face in his scent with a sigh, she continued to pour love and hope.  It surrounding the general as sure as his arms protected his tiny rose, and another thread of guilt in his heart twinged to despair’s doubt.  They’d ever hold that greatness together, pulled from the dark of the past, but other ties were lining the rue, not dissolving, but offering ease.  I have been forgiven…  He thought again as Aeris lifted her head.

“What happens next?”   Her gaze was drowsy, but not dare call sleep.

“What do you wish, my Aeris?”  He slid a forelock behind her ear, in love with waved tresses disheveled.

“I-I…”  She pulled back a leather lapel, attempting to scrutinize.  The general glanced down, first humoring her, then blinking at realization.  She was near bare and he was full dressed, save lined frost in midst of black.  Fingers like feathers tickled her jaw and left the skin of her neck quivering.  A gasp stole what answer the Cetra had formed and Sephiroth gently laughed.

“It took you so long to speak my name, but I’ll ‘spell’ yours whenever you wish…”  He kissed her neck, jaw, then check, trailing each over her skin.  In his arms, her back sharply arched, and his large hands then slid up her spine.  Even without sight he found every line, caressing new memory in.

“I-I can have…th-that every day?!” Incredulity forced the words out.

“You can have that whenever you want.  I quite like writing, my Aeris.”  Those perfect lips lifted in his half grin before she kissed him to taste that sweet tongue.  His kisses were slower and deeper now, and the maid could not cease her writhes.  “Whatever you want, you’ll have, little one,” he murmured between every one.

“Wh-What do you want?”  She tried to kiss back when he was busy on her cheeks and throat.  Missing often or hitting his jaw, causing chuckles that rolled against.

“Your joy, little flower.  However that might manifest.”

Tiny hands shook to reach for his face, and Sephiroth let Aeris hold it.  Emerald swirled jade pulsed through halved lids as he waited for what words would bring.  Covering one set of small fingers with his, he smirked to her fluttering eyes.  The way she reacts to my touch is a marvel.  I’ve never seen such a sweet sight…

“I want you, Sephiroth, my Great General…”  She pulled herself close to his ear.  Clinging as hard as she could to his shoulders, that stalwart, unwavering wall.  Sephiroth rolled her onto her back and lifted himself above.  Moonlight rained down upon quivering breasts as the snow outside mocked frozen stars.  Aeris stared up, eyes widened to white as her breath became gasping rush.  The Cetra was caged between his arms that stood like two pillars of steel.  Lined still in leather, the black fabric creaked to the muscle so thick within.  Without any effort, he rested on fists, each larger than both of her hands.  His knuckles were whiter, thinning pale skin, as long forelocks framed the maid’s face.

Never had breasts been so ripe and full to unblinking Mako eyes.  The tips were pinker than a shoal full of coral, tight as they asked for a taste.  Every scar would be retraced.  His fingers had just been the start, and though her dress still swam over her belly, Sephiroth would claim that space, too.

Ever so slowly he lowered himself, gritting his teeth to the force of desire.  Still fully clothed (at least where it mattered), there was no need to rush.  His rose was not made for forceful plowing.  She had to be opened with care.  Gently entered with kiss and caress to frame every inch she could take.  Every so slowly to his endless watch to ensure she was not in distress.  Never again would she endure that.  Her tightness would not be a curse.  She’d never be “punished” for being so small.  He clenched his jaw at abysmal thought.

Sephiroth mourned for lower buttons before finding the pink flesh below.  Despite the fabric, her heat poured through, and the general shut his eyes.  Placing his brow against one swirled with sweat, he pushed just slightly harder.  It was precursor to what would occur to duel joys, and kissing her temples, he mimicked the motion.  Deliberately slow in gentle preview.  There’d be no brutal pounding.  The shush of soft silver over smooth leather made a chorus to rhythm so smooth.  He kissed her temples, cheeks, and slack lips as Mako bleed between the seams.

“Is it well, little flower?”   He could not have known that moment of question would unleash heartrending screams.

She saw only the shadow made by his light, and, in that dark, memory dwelled.  The inexorable strength that full flung the maid over, on her back instead of her knees.  It didn’t matter.  Once more she was there: helpless, weak, and under a man’s utter mercy.  Men have no mercy.  The brutal past howled.  All they have are needs, and you’re his.  You’re his Aeris.  He can do with you what he wants. 

Frigid emerald seeped over her breasts, pulling the tips up to his sight.  Scars and scores sharpened, and the thick mark across thrummed chorus of agony.  His kisses near burned her with lust to be quenched, but that would be done deep inside.  The truth of desire against exposed flesh caused her poor petals to wither.  Closing in tight like an immature bud, she recalled how much he could hurt her.  The mock of full plowing proved to her one thing.  H-He could split me in two.  Behind the buttons against the black fabric, it could not be ignored.  This was her warning.  All of his kindness was yet another farce.

She hadn’t meant to scream aloud.  It should’ve just rang in her head.  Her general had been nothing but patient with her.  He’d allowed the Cetra to heal.  Let her become whole, permitted the belief that she was a person to bloom.  I consented to this, she reminded herself.  I told him I wanted him, too.  I-I caused this.  I-It’s all my fault.  How dare I deny him now?  He’s been nothing but careful and gentle with me.  He deserves this, a-and I said yes.  But heartrending sobs still ravaged her throat as Aeris flung arms over her face.

“I-I’m ready, g-general. I’m r-ready for you.”  Her thighs shook as she forced them wider.  Back or knees it did not matter.  She’d never escape searing pain.

“Aeris…”  That low tone rang through its despair, and the Cetra chanced a glimpse up.  Sephiroth was gone, and the only shadows came from mundane and memory.  Wildly, Aeris looked about until a caress turned her round.  By her side once again the general lay, mournful to maiden’s terror.

“Sephiroth, why?  I said I was…ready.”

“You are clearly not, little one.”

It was Aeris who flung her arms around his neck, and Sephiroth (as always) who answered.  Clutching her close, he smoothed back her hair, murmuring comfort as the Cetra sobbed.  The apology falling made him full speak for such a thing could not be borne.

“No, my Aeris, no apologies.  You have done nothing wrong.  I cannot command you in anything, but for this, my love, I will beg.”

“I’m tempting you…”

“Never.”

“How am I not?!  I-I promised you my flesh…”

Sephiroth cupped her tear-soaked cheek and lifted her face to his own.  Summer shivered in crystalline emerald that poured down nothing but love.  “Aeris, your flesh is always your own and consent can be revoked.  I told you before.  Don’t you remember?”

She swallowed.  “E-Even after I say y-yes?”

“Of course,” he assured then sighed as he laid the kiss of protection again on her brow.  “Little one, when I promised to protect you, that vow was beyond eternal.  That cannot be sundered by any force, neither death nor time.  You are mine to protect, mine to care for and love until ages spin their end.  I have obligation laid on my heart, and I could not be happier.  This is a penance I do not deserve, but I more than gladly accept.”  He kissed her again so soft on the lips, tasting her tears to his sorrow.  “You have chosen to love me, my flower-”

“No, no, there was no choice!”  Aeris returned the kiss to his cheekbone, and the general closed his eyes.  Her skin held this truth deeper than scars, more real than dark memory.  Their loves were equal, and if he could’ve wept, one tear was all he would need.

“Indeed…you don’t lie, but what I mean, little one, is some words will stand absolute, but others must not, and the ‘promise’ of flesh is one that falls in the latter.”

He met her gaze then, and Aeris stared into pupils like thin and blackest flame.  Or are they the wick and emerald the fire, swirling to coldly burn?  Yet never had cold filled her with such warmth, and her shivering was utterly ceased.

“S-So you’re not going to t-take me?”

“Not until you’re ready, my Aeris.”  A sad smile played with his perfect lips, and she wanted to kiss it sweeter.  “A weeping maid is not prepared, no matter how much she insists.  I don’t want your fear, and I’d kill all your terrors.  That’s not the way it will be.”

The Cetra heaved a shuddering sob, tears leaking in her relief.  Even if I say yes, if I’m afraid, he won’t just…force himself in.  I’ll never be taken like that again.  This life…it must be a dream.  Residual guilt still wracked the maid as did more for his soiled hair.  But Sephiroth cared as much about that as he did their stalled communion.  First and foremost, he loved this flower, and tied with that he was her protector.

“It’s my job to ensure you’re happy and well,” he told her with a smile.  A yawn sealed the deal, and he sat back up with Aeris held in his arms.

“C-Can I still sleep with you?” she asked tentatively, gazing up with summer unsure.

Laughing so gently, he kissed her brow, asking only, “What’s your preferred room?”

She wanted his to Sephiroth’s surprise.  His was sparer with mattress more firm.  Furrowing his brow, as she rained soft kisses, he considered replacing it now.  It mattered little to him as he rarely slept, but she loved his angel’s scent.  The fragrance just lived in his every pore, inundating his silver washed hair.  Aeris wished to dwell in the world of this fragrance, and he laughed as her nose found his neck.  He easily held her while sitting up, each moment erasing those lasts.

With her permission, the general removed the white dress that still circled her waist.  He took off his shirt to drape it on her, but Aeris had better ideas.  There were so many blankets ornate and soft, she’d no need of extra coverage.  That tender caress was more than a gift, and she wanted it on all her skin.  “Alongside your arms h-holding me tight.  It…it’s like true heaven…”  These covers were scattered all over the Gate so quite a few dwelled in his room.  He laid her down on his bed where the blankets helped nullify firmness.  A glimmer echoed in emerald eyes, and he snatched her small crown from the folds.  The Cetra yawned, murmuring briefly.  She’d quite forgotten her little headdress, but he knew it was one of her favorites.

Removing his boots, he left her a moment to change into older pants.  When the general returned, Aeris was watching for him, unwilling to slumber without.  She was blinking hard and more frequently, but stubbornly shunned any sleep.  Silver hair stroked the bare skin exposed where his black shirt remained in part, and her lip became trapped between her teeth when he drew her against his chest.

I won’t weep.  She truly did try, but sliding tears made her liar.  Miniscule dew shimmered in Mako, swiftly kissed away. Then thick forearms locked beneath her breasts, and more silent drops blessed her face.

Sephiroth murmured, “I have you.”  His ever promise that encompassed all needs. Ever unyawning, he closed his eyes though she fell asleep long before.  Perhaps, he thought, letting slumber approach though on his guard for what it might bring.  Perhaps this time I’ll dream about her and that place I saw in her eyes.  Where we two stood hand in hand in a world made of purer light.  Not even the shadow of my wing could invade the beauty there…and I had two, because she believes I am fallen no more.  Perhaps the non-fallen can chance to dream of something better than horror. 


<–Chapter 22                                                                                                                                 Chapter 24–>

12 thoughts on “The Broken Rose: Chapter 23 – Written in Her Skin

  1. Pingback: The Broken Rose: Chapter 22 – Shame | The Shameful Narcissist Speaks

  2. Pingback: The State of the Writer: 5/31/20 | The Shameful Narcissist Speaks

  3. I was craving AeriSeph soooo bad.
    Thank you for this beautiful new chapter.
    No, it wasn’t too long, it was perfect. I’m glad you didn’t split it. I didn’t expect Aerith to be aware of Sephs past and his little breakdown was so touching. Nobody ever loved him before…… 😦 This broke my heart. Also, the way they FINALLY made some progress on physical pleasure was so nice and satisfying. Slowly but steady… ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so happy I could deliver! I figured people wouldn’t mind hehe. It just didn’t make sense to split it due to how everything flowed together. The next chapter is a lot shorter though. Only around 14 pages at this point. I just startee editing it.

      Ah! I’m so happy that was unexpected! See I figured I’d said/shown something that gave away she already knew so hearing you weren’t expecting that is lovely. I was just saying to my other friend it’s one of my favorite paradigms to have one person so worried about something then when they tell the other person they’re like “oh yeah I always knew and it’s not big deal.” If pulled off it’s so jarring for the other person.

      Ugh, that line gets me, too. It’s like being stabbed in the heart because it seems absolutely plausible in canon ;_;

      Like

  4. ❤ ❤ ❤ Absolutely beautiful chapter. I loved the twist that Aeris knew all along. Also loved that they are starting to explore a physical relationship and that such patience and care is going into it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahhh you have no idea how difficult it was to NOT give that away, though I feel like it was pretty obvious she knew all along. I actually love that paradigm. When a character is freaking out about something and it’s a REALLY big deal to them because they think the other person is going to judge/hate them, but then when they tell them they’re like “Yeah I knew” and they pretty much shrug it off. It’s like this “Wut?” and they’re so deflated by that response because they were expected hatred revulsion the entire time. This is a sad comparison, but it’s almost like wanting to come out to your parents but being so afraid to because *obvious reasons* and then when you do they’re like “yeah we know and we don’t care. It’s not a thing to us, you are what you are and we love you.” Maybe that’s what was in the back of my brain with it, though if I have a kid I don’t want them to ever have to come out per se because I don’t have expectations that they’ll be het. I’m rambling now lol. I had my coffee, but I’m glad I manage to express what I was going for 😀 ♥

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Also, I want to apologize for not saying something in my earlier comment about the awful situation going on right now. I was going to say that reading this was a really good mental break for me, but then felt like it would be dumb to say so because if I feel sad, I know the black community feels a *lot* sadder right now. I’ve been thinking of you and hope you are doing okay and are safe. I’ve been trying to educate myself about where to donate and how to help after work every day, but if you have any advice for me about how to be supportive, I would welcome it. No pressure, of course, but I just wanted you to know I am listening. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh don’t worry about it! I swear if I ever think the world can’t get crazier, kaboom, here’s more crazy lol.

      I donated to a bail fund. That’s a good place to start. Actually…I have a link somewhere that has some great places. Let me see…ah here it is! https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2020/06/heres-support-fight-black-lives-even-cant-protest-person/?fbclid=IwAR1_P2zdegc-jf8c20j2FvlqcKNBn066uNttOE4ihPJOQlS0QcyzNciWhTU

      Since I’m pretty physically unable to do much I’ve been looking at stuff like this. I will say that as bad as it is, it’s also kind of perfect because the right series of events and situations came together. People are out of work because of the pandemic, which means they have nothing else to do daily. They’re angry from just years of pent up frustration, and the very response is so telling. Like we’re protesting police brutality while the police keep being brutal. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t tragic, but it also shows a lot of people who were either on the fence or on the other side that it’s an actual issue. Granted it’s frustrating it took this much, but that’s pretty par for the course as well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Very true; it’s so crazy to me that the police are just amping up the brutality and racism when . . . that’s exactly why people are protesting. I should not be surprised, but it’s sickening. And thank you so much for the link! I’ve made a few donations here and there and plan to make more this week. I’m trying to spread them around a bit so I can support many avenues of positive change (bail funds, counseling for black women, BLM, etc.). But mostly I know I need to educate myself and then spread that knowledge where I can, which takes time. I’m glad you’re safe, though; it’s such a scary time. But this movement is sorely needed and you’re right that it’s a perfect storm.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: The Broken Rose: Chapter 24 – Juxtaposition | The Shameful Narcissist Speaks

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