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 an unknown artist. there is a watermark on the bottom left, but try as i might i was unable to locate any artist by that name through my search methods. THE PICTURE HAS BEEN SLIGHTLY ALTERED IN APPEARANCE AND TO INCLUDE THE CHAPTER NUMBER AND TITLE. ALL RIGHTS BELONG TO THE ARTIST.
*******MAJOR CONTENT WARNING*******
Consistent and sustained graphic descriptions and mentions of rape/ sexual assault, sexual slavery/bondage, slavery, human trafficking, physical abuse, graphic descriptions of violence, mental abuse, emotional abuse, psychological abuse, body shaming, starvation, torture, forced pregnancy, forced childbirth, miscarriage, forced miscarriage, abortion, and other potential disturbing and triggering topics.
Aeris revives a prior, joyful discussion, but Sephiroth remains haunted by the past.
The morning next was near as dark as the eve for the Whispers slept beneath blizzard. Frosty fingers painted the panes of every single window, nor could the balcony outside her room be divined from whirling white. The sands, too, surrendered to this raining pale as white foam churned upon. Untroubled, the town just pulsed warm beneath the rampant, heavy fall. It was a time for comfort sipped through tea, hot chocolate, or even spirits. To drown within words or grow lost in a screen for entertainment or contacting friends.
Sephiroth was currently drawn to the latter for responsibility’s sake. With such severe weather, he always ensured no emergencies had ensued. If the storm had fallen too swift, folk could be taken unawares. There’d been enough times he’d received calls or messages of distress. In the town proper danger was mild, but the outskirts or sands could hold peril. This was one of the times he blessed tainted eyes for their perfect and always lit vision. They were also a beacon for the so lost, paired with black garb on white snows. Though Sephiroth usually found them first, and it was strange his sight was a relief. I suppose I’m better than freezing to death…and they’ve only known me as their “mayor.” History remembers otherwise, but to the Whispers, that’s less than a ghost. I’m what I am now…what I have been for over a hundred years. Their mayor…the general as a term of respect, and the in between matters no more…
Such storms were violent blown in from the sea. And north. He bitterly thought. That grim locale ever causing grief. Will it never ease? The general sighed. It was winter time, and blizzards were not bizarre. Nor did the north continue to bleed. It was all just residual. One day perhaps, all will be healed. Mist filled Mako. The source of it is now expunged. It exists just in me, and that’s not the full truth. I just carry it like an old scar.
A high, sweet murmur interrupted his thoughts, and the general looked up from his phone. There was no one to rescue, and the news was mundane. He slid past a piece about Midgar, though not before emerald lit the word “justice,” and attempted to not wear its rue. But that tiny noise on the backdrop of ice brought Sephiroth back to true warmth.
His flower slumbered in utter peace, awash in a sea of soft hair. Silver, too, cloaked her, as did several blankets in the white light of pristine snows. Aeris wiggled a bit and brushed down the covers, exposing her waist to jade gleam. Her next breath called whimper as she reached back a hand, flailing in search of his. Catching his fingers, she sighed then content to curl them around her soft side.
“My Aeris…” he whispered. She glanced over her shoulder with a smile to melt ancient ice. The light of the north might live in his eyes, but that could not quench jaded fire. Scooting back, Aeris couched her rear against his instant reaction. Living heat within cold flared endless light along his luxurious lashes. The general blinked quickly several times, unwilling to even stare down. She couldn’t be real. She couldn’t be here. She couldn’t be squirming against. Wiggling as though the world might end in this sea of whirling white. Sephiroth could never wish for that…not after his fallen sins, but he could splay his hand across that soft belly, as he pushed against her firm rear.
Aeris pulled in her stomach as she stared down, still shocked he didn’t care. His palms were against that marred morass, fingers kneading with no hint of disgust. Each line could be traced by those careful digits in hopes of erasing her shame. The only care Sephiroth had for such marks was due to how much she had suffered. She was beautiful, his tiny, soft rose. As though sensing this, Aeris looked up. She whimpered with joy when his other arm snaked beneath her in total embrace. Pushing against his burgeoning length, the Cetra glanced over her shoulder. Nearly giddy to his bemusement, she more than loved it when she squirmed again.
The Great General hissed in his “defeat,” but was overjoyed for the loss. Sliding one hand from her quivering belly, he ascended the smooth mount of hip. Beneath the blankets to circle soft skin before giving her rear a firm squeeze. It was Aeris’s turn to squeak as he smirked and kissed her on the brow. Bouncing a bit, the Cetra flipped over and flung her arms around his neck. Nor were Sephiroth’s hands displeased for both now had occupation. Even better though was the taste of her lips in a kiss to awaken the dawn. It was sweet despite morning (not that he’d care) but roses could bloom from her tongue. Silver fell and warmed her skin as nothing else ever could. No drops from moon or heavenly star could ever match this splendor.
A great sigh of breath lifted her head, and his mouth closed on her throat. “Is this well, little one?”
Her hands curled on his shoulders for the vibration of voice on her neck. His tongue flicked her skin, summoning moans, enhanced by his low, knowing chuckle. He slid toward her chin with careful, brief nips, and Aeris forgot how to gasp. A squeak took its place when one caught her true, and Sephiroth swiftly pulled back. Staring in panic and fear of blood bloom as remorse filled the Cetra’s ears. That hurt far worse and she raised her chin higher, offering back tender flesh.
“It’s alright,” she whispered. “I…actually like it.” And she shivered at soft lips’ return. Afterwards, he took her wrist and limned it with his tongue. Holding her gaze with Mako in jade while her pulse beat against sharp teeth. But same as those slivers she’d never be cut, though the blood beneath trembled in flow.
“You’re like the snow, but much, much warmer.” She cleared the forelocks from his face. She loved their spill, but wanted to bask in that emerald light unobscured. I could look at his face for a million years and never grow bored with this sight. He’s beyond beautiful…
“Am I, little flower?” He slightly grinned to indulge words so frequently uttered. The general could never grow tired of them. They were part of her ever assurance. Those tiny fingers caressing his cheek laid lashes against frosty skin.
“Mmhm,” Aeris murmured, while pushing her breasts against him as bare as that fact. “It’s i-incongruent, but oh so lovely, the winter warm of your skin.”
The Great General allowed a small sliver to shine down on this sight. Her chest was significantly different than his and far more interesting. I suppose she’d think the opposite. Well I’ve seen myself for centuries. There’s not much new to light my sight. He lifted one hand to her back. The dip of it low above her rear brought guilt for what pressed her belly. Aeris shuddered now to emerging bumps dotting each inch of her skin. A skirl of jade proved the general’s notice, but another task now creased his brow. Thick fingers drew a line up her spine, slow and thoroughly. He parted her hair in order to seek, but not even slivers could find what he dreaded. There’s nothing there…only soft skin. There’s no hint of my terrible crime. I’m blessed to protect this tender flesh without being forced to face sight of her scar, and dear gods, my Aeris…dearest of gods, you let my palms caress this splendor. My unworthy grasp causes such reaction…you wriggling against my full lust. You’re magnificent, my little flower, and…you’re only for me by your choice.
Aeris kissed him again and again, though she did squeak a bit for her soreness. It was deeper in though still never torn. The maid brushed his cheek with her knuckles. Sephiroth lowered his face to her hair where muffled rue cut at her heart.
“It’s fine, general, I promise. Remember it’s now by my choice.”
“I never want you to think I’m coercing you, Aeris.”
“Never!” Shock curled her lip. Pushing back off his shoulders, she sought out his gaze which Sephiroth could only give. Pouting a bit at his stubborn self-hatred, Aeris kissed him right over his heart. Slow ache bathed her lips as the Cetra swirled through eternal vanilla in frost. Or frost in vanilla…what does it matter? He always smells better than good. A large palm covered one half of her face when he lifted it for a true kiss.
I alone, he thought once more as she allowed him to enter her mouth. I, the once fallen, can touch this rose, caress her perfect, smooth pale. Pleasure my flower whenever she so allows. I have her. She’s mine as I’m hers. Is this the fallen’s penance?
The Cetra squirmed and hummed on his lips. This union could last near forever. His arms were locked around her small form in utter and greatest protection. Nothing and no one could hurt Aeris now. She was guarded forever from harm. The Cetra couldn’t help it. One tear escaped, bleeding past rue on their lips. Sephiroth, still cupping her blushing cheek, pressed smaller kisses to miss no ounce. Not even the bitter repelled his tongue. It was his task to make them all sweet. It was also his joy to make her full breakfast and carry his flower downstairs (after dual showers that merged into one and would’ve been more except soreness). The little maid donned a blue ruffled dress with a large white bow trailing in back.
“You and your bows,” the general murmured, tying a sea-washed one in her hair. It held back some forelocks, but kept her bangs free to trail over the pale of soft breasts. The Cetra twisted to look up at him, and he kissed her on the brow.
Aeris then handed her sapphire necklace, saying only, “Please?”
Sephiroth took it, soft shaking his head for she need not even ask. The piece was exquisite. But she is more so. No base jewel can ever compare. Aeris put a few rings on to match in shock for how idly she did. Luxury had become second nature like warmth and safety and love.
Myrna and Nellie were coming for dinner and had informed them to just provide wine. Not that their cupboards, pantry, and all weren’t fully packed to the brim. Sometimes Aeris would stare there and weep, nearly fainting with joy at the sight. More than enough to last many blizzards, and he assured her that this went for all. She whirled to bury her face in his chest as though hunted by memory hollow. Sobbing and shaking as Sephiroth held her, rubbing her back with sweet vows.
“No one goes hungry here, little, and you never will again. All of the others, the ones who were hurt, live under this promise as well. The entire world over such darkness is vanquished…even far north in bleak cold. Oh, it’s frigid forever and haunted by night, but no horror now seethes at its heart.”
“Thank you, Sephiroth, thank you so much!” Her little fists balled upon black, but the greatest of generals shook his sad head, so winter light hair spilled upon.
“Oh no, little flower, you cannot thank me. I didn’t do this. It was you.”
“W-We both did it.” Her tears lit in emerald.” Me in the past, but you in the future.”
“I couldn’t have done so without you. Without you, my flower, the dark would consumed. You saved the world so I could help you. You fixed the future long ago in the past…”
Later that evening after friends and wine, Aeris splayed on his side wrapped in leather. It was the third or fourth day they were beset by snow, though the blizzard had softened its fray. Stalactites of ice hung from every window, shimmering as they sang in the wind. A glossy digest spread under her fingers, as Sephiroth went through his phone. He’d have a few tasks once this harsh weather cleared. It had caused some minor damage. There’d also been sightings of monsters near town, and Mako blazed narrowly. Imagining other baleful lit eyes and dripping jaws hungry for blood. The Cetra gave a sweet little hum and squeezed the hand draped on her waist. Those fragile fingers focused him more on necessary tasks.
Luxurious lashes descended in joy in a long blink disrupting foul vision. He had to smile. Such joy couldn’t be borne without some expression to mark. No one will use this against me again…I can be joyful, happy…free. This is no cruel lie, no testing, no trick. She has made my old title sweet.
“Yes, my flower?” He rubbed her soft palm, and she giggled to that lightest brush.
“Can we still be married?”
Emerald shot down in unleashed surprise. He hadn’t forgotten that surreal conversation, but surely… “You’d still want that, Aeris?”
“Why wouldn’t I, Sephiroth?” She peered up with a pout quite confused.
“Because of…what I am.” He squeezed that little hand, so gently against her belly.
The Cetra tilted her head as if different view would grant her sight of his strange castigation. “You’re my love and protector. That’s all you are. Nothing else matters to me.”
“I’m an alien abomination. At the very least, I still have its cells.”
“So what if you do?” Aeris inched herself closer.
“I can’t be for you.” He sighed. “What else can I be than what lives in my veins?”
“You’re my guardian angel.”
“Fallen you mean.” Silver blessed her to his lowered head. It was incongruent that as he mourned his heart, moonlight bathed her in sweetest fragrance.
“You’re not fallen, my angel. Not anymore. You’ve been redeemed b-by my say so.” Aeris gave a brief and petulant nod, and the corner of his lips might have twitched.
“I’ll always have its cells though…”
“Well then you’re an enhanced human. Very enhanced…” She curled her hand on his thigh with shy smile. “And beyond any definition of strong.”
The general cleared his throat and gingerly crossed his legs. Combining sweet awe with dainty touch would lead to his undoing. He gazed askance with a now definite smirk.
“So, you only love me for my strength then?” Sephiroth asked, using the moment’s mirth against oldest grief.
“Oh no, not at all!” Aeris gasped with pink spots increasing their heat on her cheeks. “I love you for you, but I do so adore how you use it with kindness and care.” A silver lock tickled the back of her hand. Aeris caught it with delicate twist. Around her small finger it twirled like spun silk. “No one will ever be as strong as you…right?”
“No,” he confirmed with no part of pride. It was merely morose reminder. Staring straight forward through darkening mists, he idly rubbed Aeris’s hand. “The methods to make me are thankfully lost…never to be revived.”
Aeris reached for his other hand, which he, of course, wouldn’t refuse. “So, it could never be repeated?”
“Never more again,” he vowed. “The means to make thi-” He blinked hard as Aeris pursed her lips. “…people like me has long been lost to the ages. Buried in Midgar…and burned into ashes. It’s better this way, little one. My terrible making came with a price. Thousands were twisted by ‘tests.’”
Aeris shuddered as the mists in her mind opened on rooms bright and cold. Needles and drips through echoing halls, steps shuffled in herald of screams…
“It was a dark, unspeakable time,” he continued, and the words, though grieved, brought Aeris back. “Forging a heart made for war.”
“You’re not the horror, Sephiroth.” She was assured by those darkest mists.
“Perhaps…not anymore.” The general lifted the Cetra’s chin, filling her eyes with different light. “I’m trying, my Aeris, to ever atone.”
She stretched herself up for a kiss. His blink fluttered lashes to tickle her cheeks, so a giggle parted her lips.
“I think,” she murmured between each sweet press. “I think you’ve done more than enough.”
“I’m trying so hard to believe that.” He slid the small maid to his lap. Always ensuring there was no resistance. Never abusing his strength. She wiggled and squirmed, still wrapped in his coat. Sephiroth kissed her once more on the crown. “By your belief, I may not be so, but I’m the result of abomination. A myriad, screaming, ceaseless horrors. Who knows how many died in their tests to create the perfect soldier? What amount of blood blackened those labs? How many ghosts haunt those deadened halls?” In sudden realization Mako grew huge on a shockingly paler face. “How many didn’t die, but had to live twisted? How many of them still live…” The monsters whose blood fed his great sword slunk soberly through his mind. Tiny fingers grazed his cheek and the horrors melted as summer would snow.
“We don’t haunt them anymore, my Sephiroth…and all the others are free.” The last was promise crafted for him to destroy what gnawed at his soul. “We all found rebirth just not in the same way.” Riffling through leather, Aeris retrieved the magazine though she scrambled to re-find her page. “Now I-I was looking up things about marriage and weddings.” The Cetra scrunched her face turning the digest aside. “Some of it seems very strange.”
He was truly nonplussed, but so used to the mask that only one brow lifted high. Then low laughter echoed through a chest once so hollow now filled with both love and pure light. “Like what, little one?”
“It seems like people would change their names?” She picked up her phone to turned it towards. Sephiroth scanned the screen so showed about those historically wed.
“That’s true,” he agreed, cupping her hand as it held up the brightened device. It was force of habit, him lending support, but Aeris still relished it. “Some people still do that. Some hyphenate, some keep the same, some do a portmanteau.”
“A port…manteau?” She laid her head against his chest, gazing up with unending awe. No matter how long Aeris looked at her general, she could never be satisfied. In a midwinter blizzard, she was safe and warm. Summer closed to those strong arms around.
“An amalgamation, little flower. A combination of names if they blend just right.”
“How do they decide?” Aeris asked, twirling a silk lock in favorite distraction. Her hum of delight filled the general’s heart when his arm tightened around her soft middle. He caught her free hand in gentlest grip, and she nestled close to careful caress.
“They discuss it.” Sephiroth slightly shrugged. “It’s a prior held conversation.” He smiled. “Like the one we’re having now.” Still holding her hand, he tilted her chin, and summer blessed him with verdant hue. “No one is forced to do anything, Aeris, that they don’t explicitly wish.” She blinked hard at those words, swallowing tears.
“You…knew my last name, Sephiroth. You g-gave it to me the second day, when we went to the doctors. How…how did you know it then?”
The Great General sighed and the mist swirled deep. It was old knowledge, bitter but pure. His pupils cut runnels through Mako that blazed more frigid than winter wild. No trace of ocean or even veranda could be viewed through such wind whirled white. It may rage. It may freeze. It will never harm her. I only hope my words will obey the same.
“When I was revived, it was in the Crater…I was reborn from the cold of the north, but that cold held no horror…not anymore, and my soul was hollow, but free. Gutted by pain that gnawed on the edges and too soon came flooding back. I remembered everything, my Aeris, and I drowned in both guilt and shame. How long I lay there, I can’t recall. How long I wandered, I don’t remember, but when I came here to this peaceful town, a hundred years had passed. Enough time for those who’d been alive to have died, but this world has a long memory. Yet, it held no malice for me in the least, nor did its denizens. Oh, for certain, they knew who I was, but they were far more frightened than hateful. Once it was clear that I meant them no harm, they even showed me respect. Respect.” His bark of laughter held no mirth, but her hand to his cheek silenced rue. It leeched out at her touch, so Sephiroth clutched it close, wishing to pray this wasn’t a dream.
“They made me mayor eventually, a story prior told, but in that interim, I found information. Words…that could’ve saved all. In this future time, knowledge is given where once it was used to control. I looked for myself one curious eve, and in doing so found my true mother…there was her name, and there was her face. Never so much did I wish I could weep. I could only stare at the story before and in reading could only fight pain. She could not take hers and so ran away. I cannot fault her for that. I bear her no malice. I carry no hate. How can I? She gave me my life…and suffered for it in far worse ways than any mother ever could. What I mean to impart is as I found my name, so I found yours, my Aeris. We belong to the ages now, little flower. Our names…will never die. Though each day takes us away from the wounds, the pain ever sleeps in our skins.”
She looked past the glass to a night clear a cold and the whispers of starlight on snow. “We’re just a tiny island of light in a sea of endless darkness,” she breathed still holding his face. He shut his eyes and touched her hand.
“A pinpoint of it in an ever dark sea…and it’s only growing darker.”
“How do you know that?” Near hushed with a shudder.
“I know… This planet, this…world is your domain. Mine…is the blackness beyond.” He looked toward it then with dark sharpened pupils cutting through emptiness. “Stars won’t reflect in my eyes, my rose, and the distant only grows deeper. But it doesn’t matter…” His gaze fell to her, back down to earth, brightly burning. “We are both here.”
“Your last name is Crescent,” she whispered through tears.
“As my mother before me.” He bowed his head for she who’d been too long denied.
“I like it. It’s fitting, the…way your eyes are.”
They shot open. “What is this, my Aeris?”
“The…shape of your pupils. They’re fine and slim like a crescent moon. And all around, that great emerald light, but unlike the moon, they rarely change. They’re unwavering, steady and sharp…but you’ve never cut me.”
“I did once before…”
“Not the you that is Sephiroth Crescent. When you f-first found me, I was Aeris Gainsborough.” She shook. “I-I’m not that anymore.”
“You are yourself, Aeris, and always will be.”
“I can…be whomever I want. I want to be Aeris, but I want something new. The moon changes but always returns. Your eyes are like it, though they remain steady, unblinking and watchful and bright.” She lifted her hand to the light she’d so praised, and it lit all the lines in her palm. “I…want to be Crescent.”
He closed her in both of his arms.
“A-And I want to be the general’s wife.”
He sealed his eyes, but those words did not fade. They were real and not selfish desire. “I want to be the last Cetra’s husband,” he answered. “What do you think about that?”
She burst into tears and he kissed each away, but too many escaped so held her.
“My Aeris, my flower, my sweet little rose…I should’ve done this properly.”
“P-Properly, Sephiroth?” the flower maid sniffed.
“Well usually, one would give a ring.”
“I have lots of rings though.” She uncurled her hands, and the stones did not dazzle because emerald was the highest of light.
“This one would be special,” he softly said, laying her palm on the back of his hand. “Generally, a diamond for a particular finger.”
“I have plenty of those!” She wiggled her fore.
Sephiroth chuckled. “Indeed you do, but this one would mark the engagement.”
“What about you? Do you get a ring?” Aeris examined his hand with a pout. He threaded their fingers gently together with care for tissue thin skin. Gazing down, the Great General smiled in his halved and bittersweet way.
“Usually not until the wedding day. Did not your research inform?”
“It…did.” The pout deepened so her bottom lip stuck out. “But that doesn’t seem very fair at all. You’re getting married, too. Both people should have some sign.”
He looked at his hands bereft of adornment and Aeris’s covered in gleam. She deserved every drop, every speckle of light, but summer decreed he did, too. “It’s hard to fight reason that echoes so sound. Nor would I deny you your wish. I agree with you, Aeris. I should have some sign that I belong to you.”
She flushed at that claim. “Well…I-I’ll get you one, and you’ll get me one, and for the w-wedding we’ll pick together.”
“That…would please me well.” He tilted her chin to kiss her soft. It was Aeris who deepened passion’s plunge, marking promises young and old. When he’d thoroughly seared hot rose on her lips, Sephiroth tossed back his hair so it swept. Her exposed skin so shivered with no trace of cold, and the general traced the lips he’d so blushed.
The ice white winter still blurred a pale night that could still touch nothing within. Everyone’s safe and everyone’s warm, the Cetra could finally believe. She tried to fathom her unending joy as she sat wrapped in his coat on his lap. His hand stroked her hair, gliding through chestnut with no tangles within to be caught. Battling joy’s tears until she gave up to let velvet in leather contain. I’m protected forever by the strongest of all. Was any maid ever so lucky? This night in snow’s rage while she melted in warmth, and the past seemed a far-removed dream.
“It is a bit odd,” Sephiroth pondered, gazing down at his little flower. My little fiancée now, I suppose. The threads of his heart could barely withstand. They were not made for this. Agony and war, of course, but never was joy meant to bind. That was as foreign as mercy in Midgar. Her soft sigh destroyed that bleak thought. His next words came tumbling back to his mind, but he was able to render them better. “Usually marriage proposals go quite differently.” He had to laugh softly at that. Amusement deepened with her lifted expression as blinking summer peered up.
“How do they ‘usually’ go?”
The general cocked his head to the side so silver slid over her throat. Aeris gasped, but could not be upset to so sweet a swirl on her skin.
“Well,” he considered, running a finger beneath his bottom lip, “generally the man goes down on one knee.” He swiftly stood to her overjoyed squeak and smiled as he set the maid down. She was still delighted if slightly confused when Sephiroth made his words true. Moonlight spilled over like silvery fire. “Then he takes her hand.” Performing that, the general closed hers in warmth that ever belied winter white. “Now…” Sephiroth’s rich baritone strummed air that could’ve been made of strings. “This part’s important.” Emerald grew wide to the roiling Mako within. “He looks in her eyes.” And prays that no horror dries all the words from her tongue. Prays…truly? Can I pray? That seems a device of the pure… It was as though Aeris had heard his shamed thoughts for she laid a soft palm to his face. The general’s long lashes erratically fluttered to scatter the light on her own. “Then…” He exhaled with slowest blink where slivers diminished no light. “Then he asks her, ‘Will you marry me?’ and he hopes her answer is, ‘Yes.’” The briefest of pinks stained wintry cheeks like blood diluted in snow. “And this is where he’d present the ring. Alas I am lacking in that vital piece, but we’ve discussed that, little one.”
The Cetra thought for a moment, gazing at him, drinking beauty like finest wine. “Well that all seems so silly,” she finally declared with a titter to soften the blow. Aeris certainly relished her hand sealed in two. One was enough to engulf fragile fingers, but he’d encapsulated it as he knelt.
The flush disappeared to leave him both pale and resplendent in bemusement. “Whyever would you think that?”
“Well for one, it’s settled.” She bounced a bit forward, and the great coat slipped over bare shoulders. Aeris laid her small hand atop of his so all four now were occupied. “That’s also a lot to put onto one person. It’s like you’re…paying me homage.” She scrunched up her nose, but he nodded to reply.
“I’ll always pay homage to you, little flower. No proposal is needed for that.”
“You know I don’t want that. I-I just want you, a-and you shouldn’t lower yourself…nor hide your regal height. You told me marriage is a joining of equals. Remember…when I was scared about Myrna and Miers?”
The general nodded and brief rubbed her palm to still fear ever below the surface. “I do remember, little one, but I’ll never be equal to you.”
Her lip trembled as she squeezed his hands hard, which Sephiroth would always allow. She wanted him to know his utter greatness at how her full power could make not one dent.
“I used to think the same, Sephiroth. Wh-When I used to call you ‘master?’ When I was terrified to even think your name let alone have it to pass my lips. I-I’d whisper it sometimes when you were out, and then cower in fear that somehow you’d hear. Someway you’d know and return straight away to beat me for such utterance.”
Leaning forward, he melded their brows. Even memory’s fear tore his heart. “That was more than wrong, my little flower.”
“And you thinking that’s wrong, as well.”
Sephiroth couldn’t help gentle laughter as he slowly shook his head. “Ah, my Aeris, you have my heart. How dare I give something so torn? This is why you deserve a new ring. That would be flawless and new. My heart’s an unworthy gift for a rose…”
“And yet it’s all I want.” She slid herself closer so her legs dangled off. “You’ve more than made up for all of your ‘crimes,’ a-and I love looking up at you.”
He would deny her no joy. If Aeris so loved it, he would provide her the vision of what she adored. It mattered not what he thought deserving. Certainly not love…yet I must accept it. What’s been given will fight my dark past. Obeying his flower, Sephiroth rose with grace, and Aeris stood before as he towered.
The height of kings, the height of gods…he’d vehemently deny the last. She fell into his arms, which would ever and always enfold.
“Because of you, Aeris…I can shut my eyes, and in my dreams now I am whole. I’m no longer broken, and I never was. I have two perfect wings.” It was bittersweet bared and his bangs tumbled over, caressing her face with moonlight. “They’re still black as sorrow, but covered in stars, and no more does their judgment burn.”
The Cetra reached up as his arms tightened more to duel and perfect joys.
“All that I was died in the mist…”
“Yet it lives again in the light.”
“I swear by that light. I swear it by darkness, and I swear it by blood. The light of my eyes, the dark of my heart…and the blood you were forced to shed-”
“No, my general, never forced. I chose to pay that price. You lost far more that darkest day. I awoke in light. Because of you, my Sephiroth, I’m protected by glory. Forever and ever I’m safe. You’re…’whole’ to me l-like I’m ‘whole’ to you.”
“You’re perfect, my little rose.”
Aeris swallowed joy that again overflowed. Not even the blear of that marred her love’s splendor. Within winter’s windings, an eye of calm flowed, turning snow still as earthbound stars. The light tried to frame them, but they made their own echoed beyond the eternal. Brighter than diamonds in high summer noon so the dark past so briefly dissolved. It had no place here in moments made light, and who could say which one shone more?
Aeris laid her head against his solid chest, and the truth from his heart filled here own. Bled from the broken, pain from the pure, the Cetra accepted it all. It did not freeze Mako, and she almost believed a tear pale as ice warmed the light.
The Broken Rose
Author’s Note: I never expected this story to become what it did; to expand to quarter of a million words in length (unedited). It was supposed to be a brief foray into a terrible but necessary topic in order to see if I could do it…to see if I could write about something so horrible, because my next original story does similar. The narratives are different as well as the frequency of the atrocity, but the goal was the same: show how a victim of sexual assault should be treated. I’m fortunate to have never been in such a position, and I wanted to make sure I didn’t write anything that would diminish or insult anyone who had.
I’m not done with Aeriseph, FFVII fanfiction, or indeed this story. I still have notes/ideas that are hitherto unrealized, as well more story threads that grew out of the telling (not to mention a long list of other fanfic ideas). I would like to return to it some day, but I’ve been feeling the call of my next WIP for a while, though who’s to say if that will last until completion. I tend to be at the mercy of whatever story is forefront in my head, and I might feel the itch to expand upon the sort of universe I created in this one or Northern Lights.
For now I’ll say thank you all so much for reading. I appreciate every comment and like left more than I can ever say or you can ever know.