Rose of Mideel Chapter 5
By Chocobo Goddess
Vincent had finally convinced Cloud to get some rest, with the promise that he wouldnt leave Sephiroth alone in the room with Aerith. After much grumbling and many dark looks, Cloud had admitted that he was tired and left for his quarters with Tifa. Yuffie, Nanaki, Barrett, and Cid were also similarly sent to bed. Vincent had pointed out that he needed no rest, and therefore would be the best person to keep watch. Soon he was the only one left awake, keeping his attention on the sleeping man beside the bed.
Several hours later, Aerith stirred, and Vincents red eyes flared. Withdrawing further into the shadows, he wanted to see what would happen. This is your test, Sephiroth. How will she react to you? If she shows fear, I will kill you. If not then what?
Her eyes opened slowly, fluttering as she woke. She gasped at her surroundings, then promptly ignored them when she noticed the sleeping man.
Sephiroth was sitting in a chair, with his head and arms resting on the bed. One hand held hers, their fingers laced together. Vincent watched as she became concerned, lightly stroking his hair and whispering his name.
"Sephiroth, wake up. You cant sleep here, you need to go to bed."
He opened his eyes and gave her a drowsy smile. "Im all right, Aerith." He sat up and stretched. "How are you feeling? You had me worried."
"Im better. A little tired still, but I think Ill make it." She swung her legs to the floor, testing them before standing shakily. "I want some air."
He was on his feet in a heartbeat, supporting her arm and back. "You shouldnt be moving around yet," he chided.
"If I have to sit in bed any longer, Ill scream. Please, Seph, just for a moment. I promise I won't be long."
Seph? Thought Vincent, still unnoticed. She called him Seph? Does she remember who he is? What he did to her? And why is he acting like this? He thought about how Sephiroth had insisted on staying with her until she woke, even with Cloud threatening to run him through. Before that, Sephiroth had courted disaster by calling AVALANCHE on the PHS, which had saved her life. Deciding to wait and see the former ShinRa General's intentions, he remained still as they went to the door. Sephiroth grabbed a blanket from the bed and wrapped it about Aeriths shoulders before letting her go outside.
Vincent followed in silence.
The wind felt so good on Aeriths face, cool and fresh after the stuffy warmth of her room. Sephiroth had shown her how the other door in her room opened out onto a small balcony. She pulled the blanket tighter about her and smiled. I am alive! She thought. I am alive! My Friend, I am so happy!
She had forgotten for a moment that she couldnt hear the Planet. As she remembered, Sephiroth saw her demeanor change abruptly. Before he thought about it, he moved behind her and put his arms around her, resting his chin on top of her head. Aerith sighed and leaned back against him.
Long moments went by as the two enjoyed the feel of the wind, the muted thrum of the Highwinds engines the only sound. Sephiroth wondered if he should release her, but she seemed so content where she was.
I am supposed to guard her, he thought wryly, So here I am, guarding her from the wind. I can only hope Strife doesnt take it into his head to check on us right now. Im still not strong enough to fight him.
GLAD YOU ADMIT THAT, came the now-familiar voice.
He smirked. Its stupid for one to ignore ones limits, he replied. Thats only basic SOLDIER thinking. Im not that different now from what I was before Jenova.
He got the distinct impression that the Planet was amused. IF YOU SAY SO. There was a hesitation before it continued. SEPHIROTH?
WILL YOU PLEASE TELL HER I HAVE NOT FORSAKEN HER?
He frowned. I will, but will she believe me? I mean, wont she just think Im trying to make her feel better?
THAT IS THE POINT.
No, youre being deliberately obtuse. He grew impatient. How can I tell her that I hear you, in such a way that she will believe me? How can I prove to her that there was some mistake, and you really arent mad at her?
WILL THINK OF SOMETHING. PLEASE TELL HER.
"Aerith?" He said quietly. Vincent pricked up his ears.
"I was thinking about a question you asked me earlier. About if I thought the Planet was angry with you. Remember?"
She was quiet for a moment. "Yes," she whispered.
Vincent was more curious than ever. Why would Aerith be asking Sephiroth about the Planet? Why not just ask it herself?
Sephiroth was speaking. "What if I told you I knew it still loved you?"
She whirled in his arms, her hands bracing themselves on his shoulders. "How?" she asked tearfully. "How would you know? I cant hear it anymore."
"I know," he said, very softly, "I can."
Vincent nearly gasped. He hadnt expected this.
Aeriths dark green eyes searched her guardians face for a hint that he was joking, or lying, but found none. "You? Truly?"
Sephiroth nodded, then looked away uncomfortably. "That is how I was able to find you. The Planet has been talking to me since I woke. I dont know how, or why, but there it is." He met her eyes and was struck speechless by the naked hope in them. He forgot what he had been about to say. Instead, he felt the sudden urge to hold her closer.
Aerith let him, putting her own arms around him. She forgot about the blanket, forgot about the wind and the cold air. She cried in her mind, My dear Friend, you have not left me alone?
"No, it hasnt," Sephiroth murmured, his mouth close to her ear. "It hears everything you think. Its telling me as we speak." He closed his eyes. The Planet was feeding emotions into his mind that he didnt know how to translate. Love? Tenderness? Love? Friendship? Trust? Love?
MUST SHOW HER. PROVE IT.
How does one show love? he asked. Im not used to this!
WAIT. WILL TELL HER MYSELF. THROUGH YOU.
Sephiroth felt something take his mind, not the way Jenova had, forcibly with sharp claws, but gently and instructing. It made sense, suddenly, to give himself over to it. He felt one of his hands press against her back and the other go to her face. His fingers brushed her hair from her eyes and trailed over her cheek to her jaw, tilting her head back a bit as he lowered his mouth to hers.
Aerith saw the change come over him as he let the Planet tell him what to do. She trusted him, but was still unprepared for the shock that went through her when their lips made contact. But then, she understood. Beyond any doubt, Sephiroth now heard the Planet, and she felt all of its love for her in that one simple act.
Then he pulled away, just an inch or so. She opened her eyes to see him come back to himself again. She sighed inwardly, expecting to be released at any moment. Instead, he smiled briefly, a glint of humor in his glowing eyes, and took another kiss. Then another. And another. They began to run together, growing deeper and more serious, until he finally slowed and let her pull away, breathless.
Vincent had become a statue in the corner, frozen and afraid to move at all.
Aerith rested her head against Sephiroths chest, letting him fix the blanket and envelop her in his arms again. He nuzzled her ear, grinning like an idiot.
NOT WHAT I HAD IN MIND, EXACTLY, the Planet chuckled, BUT EFFECTIVE. YOU REALIZE, SHE KNEW WHEN I ENDED AND YOU BEGAN.
And she didnt push me away? Sephiroth smiled. Being alive again may just have its merits.
"Sephiroth?" Aeriths voice was muffled by his chest. "Can you tell the Planet something for me?"
"Tell it I said, Thank you. That was so very, very nice." She raised her head, blushing and grinning herself. "I mean it was so very "
" Wonderful?" His mouth quirked up at the corners.
She blushed again, darker red, and nodded. Vincent thought he had seen and heard everything.
Sephiroth made a show of thinking, as though he were communicating her message to the Planet.
OHO, it said, YOU KNOW I CAN HEAR HER. DO YOU THINK YOU CAN MANAGE WITHOUT ME NEXT TIME?
Sephiroth nearly laughed. Go away. I dont need any more coaching. Aloud, he said, "It says Youre welcome, and now you have to go inside. Neither the Planet nor I want you to become sick again."
They went back into her room. Vincent saw the door close, but didnt care. His mind was in a mad whirl of confusion.
Aerith and Sephiroth, together!? Sephiroth hears the Planet, and Aerith cannot? What is going on here? Shes otherwise her old self, but hes nothing like the man we fought. Do I tell the others? No, how can I without letting Aerith know I was out here watching them like a Peeping Tom? Why is Sephiroth acting like this now? Is this what he was like before he went mad?
And dammit, but how the hell am I supposed to get off this balcony?
Sephiroth made sure Aerith was back in bed and covered before sitting beside her. She laid her head against the pillow, her hair streaming out over her shoulders. He picked up a lock and toyed with it, still smiling. "Do you want the Planet to tell you anything else through me?" he teased.
She giggled, a cheerful, light sound. "No, but you can kiss me again if you like." Suddenly embarrassed by her boldness, she bit her lip and pulled the covers up higher. Sephiroth tugged them back down.
"You know, its difficult to reach you through four layers of wool. Come here," he said. "Like this." He put an arm around her shoulders and had her lean against him. "See, this is far more comfortable." He lightly kissed her mouth, then the top of her head. "And you are far more accessible."
Aerith sighed happily and snuggled into his embrace. She was about to say something, when they both heard a thump and an angry cry from the room next door.
"Thats Yuffies room," Aerith said, worried. They both listened sharply and heard the ninja berating someone for sneaking around her room at night. They looked at each other, then laughed quietly. It sounded like whoever had been stupid enough to spy on Yuffie was getting more than hed bargained for.
Satisfied that her friend was all right, Aerith curled herself against her bodyguard. Sephiroth covered his feet with the blanket that had been around her shoulders. In the darkness, he thought, I know she already said this, but thank you, Planet.
WHY DO YOU THANK ME?
I didnt think Id want to come back. But now, I see why you asked me to. Im here to take care of her, but more than that, I want to. And I will, no matter what her friends think. He smiled ruefully to himself.
SOMETHING ELSE ON YOUR MIND? The Planet asked.
You dont miss anything, do you? I was just thinking I hope thats not the last time I get to kiss her. I never much cared for romance in my old life. I must have been missing something.
SUCH AS THE RIGHT WOMAN?
That would make a difference. I can only assume thats it, since I had plenty of opportunities to test that theory. I never met anyone else who affected me so.
SHE HAS ALWAYS BEEN MY FAVORITE CHILD. SHE IS UNIQUE.
The Cetra mentioned that. The rude oneDerrin?was not too nice about it. Half-breed, he called her. As if that matters!
IT DOES. YOU REMEMBER WHY SHE IS BACK. COULD NOT ENTER THE PROMISED LAND.
What will happen to her this time, Planet? Does she have to give up her life again? Does she have to go face that sterile world again?
NOT IF YOU DO YOUR JOB. PROTECT AERITH. THAT IS ALL. IT IS YOUR SOLE PURPOSE HERE. NONE OTHER.
And what is her purpose?
SHE MUST DECIDE. THE CHOICE WILL BE OFFERED IN TIME.
Sephiroth yawned, looking down at Aerith. She had fallen asleep. He smoothed her hair once more and turned on his side to face her. She instinctively moved closer against him.
Beautiful girl, he thought as he began to drift, Whatever lies ahead, I promise I will take care of you.
He fell into a deep slumber, safe in the knowledge that the Planet approved.
Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic