Rose of Mideel Chapter 9

The Forests of Nibelheim

By Chocobo Goddess

They moved through the heavy forest around Nibelheim, swiftly and silently. The scout who had spotted the dragon said it was roughly a mile away, on an irregular course toward the airship. Cloud decided to take the most direct path he could with Sephiroth. He instructed the other men who came with them to stay near the ship, just in case it got past them. Then he motioned for Sephiroth to follow him, and they disappeared into the woods.

Adrenaline raced through Sephiroth’s blood, reminding him of what it was like years ago when he was in SOLDIER. He had loved hunting monsters; especially in this area. He had once believed that was why he had been chosen for the Nibelheim mission.

How wrong I was, he thought with a grimace. Cloud saw the expression and sneered.

"What, you don’t like working with me again, General?" he said venomously.

"Shut up, Strife. I wasn’t thinking about you, so don’t flatter yourself. I was regretting what I did here."

"Kind of late for that, wouldn’t you say?" When he received no reply, he "hmph"-ed and kept moving. They continued in silence for a few minutes until they reached a clearing. Cloud motioned for them to stop and wait while he got his bearings. Sephiroth looked out into the brush, trying to pin down the reason for his apprehension.


I know. There’s supposed to be a black dragon in the area, but I don’t hear or see any sign of one. Can you tell where it is?




Look out, Seph!!

A searing pain shot through his body and he bellowed in surprise. He looked down to see the ridiculously wide blade of the Buster sword protruding from his chest. As it withdrew, he heard Cloud say calmly behind him, "This is for Aerith, you son of a bitch."


"S-Strife…" Without the support of the weapon, Sephiroth stumbled to his knees. He clutched at his chest and looked up at the man he now recognized as the source of the Planet’s disquiet. Darkness encroached on his vision, but he valiantly attempted to draw Masamune. Failing, he crawled forward, trying to ignore the blood pouring from him and staining the ground below. "Gods…Aer..Aerith…oh, Aerith…"

"Shut up!!" Cloud shouted, kicking him and making him collapse further. "You have no right to say her name!" He punctuated each word with a kick. "How dare you act like nothing happened? How dare you?! How dare you imagine you’re worthy to look at her, let alone talk to her? Kiss her? You bastard, you killed her last time! And you expect us to sit back and accept it?!"

Cloud’s fury drained out of him all at once. He realized that Sephiroth had stopped moving. Dully, he cleaned his blade on the grass and sheathed it. Without another glance for his enemy, he turned and left the clearing.


Aerith pulled her wrap closer around her shoulders. She thought about Sephiroth, worrying about how he and Cloud would work together. His warmth still lingered on her lips. She would touch them every so often as if to assure herself that he really had kissed her like that. It sent a little thrill to her belly when she thought about him. She allowed herself a tiny smile, anticipating his return and the conversation about their plans. Their kiss didn’t change the plans much, but they definitely would be talking about it later…Aerith hugged herself and leaned on the rail.


Cid got everyone settled, and the confusion died down in a few minutes. He was still shocked at the display he’d witnessed. Never thought Aerith would go for him, of all people. He chewed on his cigarette. Ah, who am I to say? Women always go for the assholes. Look at Shera 'n' me. Besides, Vin said the guy was safe. Whatever, it's her life. Looking over at Aerith, he noticed her dreamy expression and sighed. Poor kid. I just hope Spike doesn’t do something stupid. He glanced at Tifa, who still hung back, arms crossed over her stomach. She didn’t like the plan for some reason, Cid remembered. Weird, though, because didn’t she hate Sephiroth, too? He rubbed his unshaven face, wishing he could just drop everyone off. He missed his assistant Shera, not that he’d ever tell her that.

No one makes a cup of tea the way she can. Cid grinned inwardly. Maybe when I get back, I’ll actually compliment her. Nothing like a little praise to set her off-balance. He crushed the cigarette to death and lit another, already halfway home in his thoughts.


Tifa was miserable. Why did Sephiroth have to choose that moment to kiss Aerith? Gods, Cloud, you’re not going to let it go, are you? How are you going to explain yourself to Aerith?

She began to get the feeling that "doing this for Aerith" was becoming just another excuse for Cloud to continue his vendetta against Sephiroth. Because Aerith’s happy, isn’t she? But she can’t be! This is Sephiroth we’re talking about here! Tifa felt nauseated. Whether from worry, or at the thought of Sephiroth and her best friend in love, she wasn’t sure. I don’t know what to think. We wanted Aerith back, and now we have her, but she said Sephiroth was brought back to watch over her, too. I wish Cloud would get back soon. I want to go and put this whole thing behind us. I want to go home. I want…I want…

A cry went up from the men guarding the ship, as Cloud Strife emerged from the woods, the front of his clothing covered in blood.

Oh, no, thought Tifa and Cid in unison.

Cloud, you didn’t…

Shit, Spike, you did, didn’t you…

And once again, they had the same thought:

How do we explain this to Aerith?


Aerith had been humming to herself, taking in the view of Mt. Nibel’s beautiful forests, when the first pang of anxiety shot through her heart. Immediately, she tensed, alert to the sensation. What’s wrong? She automatically sent to the Planet, forgetting again that she wouldn’t hear its answer. When she remembered, she closed her eyes. I must concentrate. Sephiroth said you could hear me, there must be some way for you to communicate. Please, dear Friend, what is wro…


~~A flash of red agony, in her chest, like something piercing her breastbone…Something tearing away, leaving a void…~~


Then it was gone. She gripped the rail, knuckles turning white, and drew a ragged breath. "Seph?" she whispered, "What…"

The men’s shouts drew her attention, and she saw Cloud, alone, running toward the Highwind. His clothes were drenched in blood that was not his own, and she knew then what the images had meant. She felt colder than the lake at the Ancient City.

Oh, no, no, no...

Cloud batted the helping hands of the Highwind’s men away, climbing the ladder as fast as he could. "Board the ship, we’re taking off! Now!" He growled. They leaped to obey him. When he reached the top, he stood before Aerith silently, the still-wet blood running down his legs and pooling on the immaculate deck at his feet. Tifa was at his side, checking him for wounds. Without taking his eyes from Aerith’s, he said softly, "I’m okay, Teef. Tell Cid that we’re leaving now." She stood there indecisively until he finally looked at her. "It’s okay. I promise." He nearly touched her face, but stopped when he saw that he’d leave a smear of blood. "Just get me something to clean up with. I’m not hurt."

Tifa looked like she was going to cry at any moment, but she turned and nodded to Cid. He yelled orders at his men to prepare for takeoff.

Amid the noise and the rising hum of the Highwind’s engines, Aerith and Cloud stood across from each other. He was calm, serene; she was horrified. Her body was rigid, hands clenched, one at her chest to hold her wrap closed, the other buried in the fabric of her dress. Unfamiliar anger built up within her. She looked away and said something too low for him to hear.

"What?" he said.

"You killed him." It was a flat statement, but Cloud didn’t miss the pain behind it. They both swayed as the ship lifted up from the ground. The wind picked up, helping the blood to dry.

He nodded. "I needed to get him away from you. He was…"

"He was NOT the same man we fought before!" She exploded. "How could you?" Aerith's breath came in sharp, deep sobs. "How…why…oh, gods, Cloud, what have you done?" Her legs gave out and she fell to her knees, weeping. He went to comfort her, but she recoiled.

Cloud tried a soothing, reasonable tone. "Aerith, you need to rest. When you wake up, we’ll talk about this, okay? And you’ll see why I needed to kill him again."

She glared up at him, tears flowing down her face. He took a step back at the fierce disgust and…hatred? in her eyes. "Don’t touch me, Cloud Strife, don’t ever touch me. You don't know what you've done. Oh, gods, you killed him. I can't believe you killed him!" Her last few words came out in a strangled gasp. Her mind reeled. My dearest Friend…I will never hear your thoughts again…and Sephiroth, oh, Sephiroth, I’m so sorry…so sorry…I was falling in love with you, and I never got a chance to let you know…

Cloud stood by awkwardly. Tifa returned and waited, uncertain, towel forgotten in her hands as she watched her friends. Cid sighed, turned the ship toward Kalm, and soon the forests of Mount Nibel were left far behind.

Chapter 10

Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic