Silencing the Memories

By Kristi Lockheart

There she knelt, with her hands clasped together and her head bent forward in prayer.

He began to go to her, motioning for the others to wait. when he reached the platform, he saw her eyelids open, revealing her vibrant emerald eyes. A light smile touched her lips, and it seemed that he could read her thoughts- So he came to rescue me after all, they said.

This was where things went wrong. First the voice spoke- kill her, it told him sinisterly. He tried to fight it, but how do you win when you're up against your entire body and soul? The answer to that question is simple: you can't.

Cloud took out his sword, meaning to kill the one woman that he loved, when another voice cried out. This one was not located deep in his soul, as the other one had been, but was instead right behind him.

"Cloud, stop!" This brought him back to his senses. He gazed stupidly at his sword, as if he had never seen it before in his life, before shaking his head to clear his mind.

Why did he have to be so weak? It was so easy for Sephiroth to control him. Sephiroth would have succeeded in causing Cloud to murder Aeris if Tifa had not called out.

He shook his head again, trying to regain control of his mind. First he had to give Sephiroth the black materia, and now this?! What the hell was wrong with him?

Cloud threw his sword aside and reached out a hand for Aeris. He was afraid of what Sephiroth might make him do if he kept his sword in one hand.

Now it suddenly seemed as if he could see everything in a much clearer form. He saw a bright smile break out on Aeris's face. Her hand began to reach out for his, then Cloud could feel a whoosh of air from above, and could sense, rather than see, Sephiroth leaping down from the sky.

Everything now seemed to move in slow motion. He saw Aeris's head slowly turn, saw the smile disappear from her face, and saw her eyes widen in terror. He saw Sephiroth's cloak flying upward, then saw Sephiroth's masamune go through Aeris's back and reappear through her stomach.

Aeris's hands dropped to her sides, and her head lolled forward. Her eyes became dark and vacant, and Cloud knew that she was dead.

Then Cloud saw Sephiroth pull his masamune out of Aeris, causing Aeris to fall to the floor. Then Sephiroth started laughing.

* * * * *

Cloud had thought that the dreams would end after they had avenged Aeris's death by killing Sephiroth, but he had been wrong. The dreams had only gotten worse, and the memories had only gotten stronger.

Cloud knew the reason behind this. The truth was this: Sephiroth was not really dead. Sure, they had killed him in his bodily form, but that didn't really kill his spirit.

The reason why everything was worse now was because now the only way that Sephiroth lived was through Cloud. Cloud could feel Sephiroth in the sinister voice that spoke in the deepest depths of his heart, could see Sephiroth in his own eyes, and could sense that Sephiroth shared his own mind. Sephiroth had never really let go of his grip on Cloud's mind. In a way, Cloud supposed that he was still Sephiroth's puppet. So in the end, Cloud guessed that Sephiroth had gotten the last laugh after all.

Cloud knew that there was only one way to silence Sephiroth's persistent voice forever. That was why he had come here today.

He gazed over the clear blue waters, expecting to see some sign of her. He supposed that the tranquillity of this place was a sign in itself, but he did not want to accept that. Unfortunately, he had no other choice.

"Aeris," he whispered, and felt tears prick the corners of his eyes. He had come to her final resting place. It was because of this area that the perpetual dreams had begun, and it seemed fitting that this was where they should end.

Even now, the memories began to stir within his heart. It seemed that they wanted one last round before he put an end to them. Before he put an end to everything.

Cloud faced the placid lake. This would be where the final battle with Sephiroth would take place.

He unsheathed his sword, looking at it, holding it, for what would be the last time.

Now he reached into his pocket and took out a small picture of Aeris. It portrayed her as he had always remembered her: serene, smiling, and beautiful.

"My love," he said softly as he gently caressed the picture. "We'll be together soon."

He bent over and placed the photo on the calm surface of the lake. He just let it float there for a while, watching Aeris's features blur as the water clouded the picture.

He was held in a trance-like state until her picture began to slowly sink, preparing to join her at the bottom of this lake.

"What dark secrets this lake holds under its pacific surface," Cloud speculated. "I'll just be one more."

He sighed. Was he actually going to go through with this? He knew that answer: yes.

It was too late for a change of heart now. And even if it wasn't, Cloud wouldn't have changed his mind. If this was the only way to join Aeris and forever rid himself of Sephiroth, so be it.

"Now we'll be together," Cloud whispered. Then as an afterthought, he added: "Forever."

He pressed the blade to the left side of his chest, where he could feel his heart thumping at an insane rate.

Cloud closed his eyes, then drove the sword through his chest. He clamped his teeth together hard enough to chip more than one, but he did not scream. It was his way of proving to Sephiroth that he was not weak. Of course, it came at the ultimate price.

Cloud now pulled the sword out of his body. The first sensation that he felt was disembodiment. He could actually feel his soul leaving his body to become one with the Planet.

The next feeling that he experienced was surprise. He pressed a hand to the gash in his chest that would be the cause of his death. He found it hard to believe that so much blood could flow from just one injury.

Surprisingly, he felt no pain, but as each moment passed, the feeling of leaving his body grew stronger and stronger.

Cloud threw the bloody sword on the clean, white sand. The bright red blood was obvious against its pale background of creamy sand. Cloud felt that the sword would be the only suicide note that anyone would need.

His strength was running out, and fast. Cloud found it hard to stand on two legs, so he got down on his stomach and crawled, leaving a trail of bright red blood behind him.

He used up what little strength he had left as he crawled into the lake. By the time that he began to sink towards the bottom, he was already dead. He had joined the Planet.

If one had seen him at that moment, they would have thought it odd. A big smile had spread over his face. They would have thought this odd because they would not have known the reason behind his smile: Cloud had won the final battle with Sephiroth. The dreams would never return, and the memories were silent at last.

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