Appointment With Destiny Chapter 5
Aeris covered her eyes and waited for the chocobo to sink in the water. She could feel its movements beneath her, Holding her breath until she couldn't hold it anymore, she spread her fingers for a peek. The first look make her squeal in terror and hold Sephiroth even tighter.
"He's running on the water!" she cried.
"Of course," said Sephiroth sounding amused. "All gold chocobos can."
"But how can that be?" she asked. "He doesn't have webbed feet or anything."
"It's what he's bred to do," said Sephiroth
Aeris didn't say anything else. Sephiroth could feel her heartbeat gradually slowing down. She was holding him so tight her body was almost molded into his. He felt a flush of warmth. Aeris had been seen leaving Elmyra's house. The phone rang in Midgar just as Sephiroth was preparing to spring a surprise inspection on his men. Canceling the inspection he set out at once to find her.
His first stop was Kalm. He knocked on the door. When Elmyra answered, he asked to see his future bride. She let him in and went to get Aeris. When she came back, she was alone. Her eyes were wide with fright.
"She isn't here!" Elmyra wrung her hands. "I don't know where she is. I saw her go to bed last night and that was the last time I saw her!"
Sephiroth turned and walked away
It wasn't hard to track Aeris down. She didn't know enough to disguise her trail. His first plan was to let her walk herself into exhaustion, but when he come up over a rise and caught a glimpse of the Elfadunks looking at something in the distance before they took off running, he knew they were after Aeris. His worse fears were realized when he saw her lying on the ground at their feet. He'd slain the beasts with a few well placed slashes.
A cure spell had reversed the effects of the Elfadunks attacks. Sephiroth was relieved to see her eyes flutter open, but relief wasn't strong enough to calm his anger at almost losing her. It had gotten the best of him and he'd held her much tighter than he intended to. Being this close to her now was starting to get the best of him. He was just thinking of nuzzling her ear when she spoke again.
"Why didn't tell me that instead of scaring me?" she asked, with her eyes on the shoreline before them.
"Tell you what?" he asked.
"Why didn't you tell me a chocobo could run on water?"
"Not just any chocobo," he corrected. "A River chocobo or a River-Mountain chocobo can run in shallow water."
"Whatever," she replied- "Why didn't you tell me?"
"I'm not responsible for your emotional outbursts," answered Sephiroth.
Aeris slapped him.
Sephiroth was so startled, he reigned the chocobo up sharply. They had come aground. Aeris let go of Sephiroth and jumped off the chocobo's back. She ran up the beach. Swearing under his breath, Sephiroth jumped off the chocobo and went after her.
Aeris looked back and saw him coming. She picked up her pace on the sand. Sephiroth slipped and stumbled to his knees. It didn't improve his temper. He pushed himself to his feet and followed her.
It wasn't easy trying to run in a dress that kept trying to wrap around her legs. Aeris picked up the front as high as she dared and ran as fast as she could. She could hear Sephiroth catching up with her. The memory of a trick played on her by an elementary friend came to mind. Sephiroth was closer now. Aeris put on an extra burst of speed, forcing him to compensate by running even faster. just as his hand would have grabbed her, she twisted to one side and dropped to the ground.
Sephiroth couldn't stop fast enough, he overshot her position, glancing back with a startled look on his face. His foot landed on a patch of loose stones and he went into a slide. Unable to retain his balance he fell. Aeris was already up and running the other way.
Clever, thought Sephiroth. You won't get away that easy Aeris.
He pulled himself up. His right palm burned where a stone had gouged it. He gave it a brief examination, then watched her run up a nearby slope. She looked back at him as she ran over the top of the hill and kept going. Sephiroth let her go, more concerned with brushing the leaves and dirt off his clothes. He was almost finished when he heard Aeris scream. He waited for the second one before he walked toward the hill.
Just as he thought he would, Sephiroth found Aeris surrounded by three tiny men wearing caps and boxing gloves. She had a large stick in her hand. The tiny men danced around her waving their gloves in a threatening manner. One of them darted forward and took a swing at her. Aeris swung her stick and he ducked back. At the same instant, another tiny man came in from the side and took another swing. He missed her but just barely. The third one connected with her left leg. He didn't get away unscathed. A blow from Aeris' stick sent him rolling. He hopped up immediately and rushed her again. She swung the stick and missed. He hopped out of reach. She looked up and saw Sephiroth standing back at a distance.
"Help me!" she cried.
Sephiroth folded his arms. "Why?"
She looked at him as he just asked the world's dumbest question.
"Can't you see what's happening?"
She clubbed another tiny man. One of his friends swung at her. He only managed to punch the fabric of her skirt as she backed up.
"You're doing just fine," said Sephiroth. "I'm going back down to the beach. Come on down when you're ready."
He turned away.
"Sephiroth!" Aeris shouted after him. "Don't leave me here with these . . . these things!"
He looked back.
"They're just goblins. Punch them back."
Sephiroth turned his back on her again and continued on his way.
He's really going to leave me here! thought Aeris.
While her attention was on Sephiroth, one of the goblins slammed his fist into her left hip. Aeris turned around and slapped him. He reeled back, narrowed his eyes and came at her again. She kicked him this time, making the a connection in his delicate regions and he went down. She turned just in time to knock the next goblin away with her stick. The third goblin came straight at her. She knocked him flat.
He didn't look back.
The goblins moved away from Aeris and whispered among themselves.
"I don't know what you're planning to do but you'd better leave me alone!" she said, hoping they couldn't hear the fear in her voice.
They grinned at each other, intent plain on their faces.
"I mean it!" she said, backing away. "Leave me alone!"
They rushed forward as one. Aeris ran toward them holding her stick high. Caught off guard by this unexpected move, they goblins fell away from her assault. Aeris flew by them dropping the stick. The goblin squealed angrily and set off after her.
Aeris ran down the slope with the angry creatures in hot pursuit. On level ground now, Sephiroth was walking just ahead of her.
He ignored her.
Hold her arms out, Aeris ran up behind him. Sephiroth whirled around, swung her off her feet and pivoted. He set Aeris on the ground in front of him then whirled again, drawing his sword to face the goblins.
"Stay behind me." he ordered.
Panting for breath, Aeris was more than happy to do as he said.
The goblins slid to a stop, eyeing Sephiroth.
"We only want the woman," said the one in the lead. "You can go free, if you leave now."
Sephiroth raised an eyebrow. "I guess we have a problem then, because I want the woman too."
The goblins looked at each other. The leader spoke again.
"Stand aside and leave her to us."
Sephiroth raised his sword. "Take her."
The goblin growled and cast Sleepel.
"Know your enemy," said Sephiroth casually. "That doesn't work on me."
He sprang forward swinging his sword. The lead goblins head went rolling across the ground. The last two goblins glanced at each other. Sephiroth took a step toward them. Screaming in fear, they ran for their lives. Sephiroth examined his blade.
"Not a drop of blood," he said.
He slid it back into his sheath and turned toward Aeris. Her face was pale. She pulled her eyes away from the goblin's body and looked at him.
"You killed him."
"I gave him a chance," he said, looking into her eyes. "He chose not to heed it."
"Why didn't you help me before?"
"You like to slap people." He moved closer. "I was going to let you slap the goblins around so you could get it out of your system. They attack without provocation too."
He gave her a faint smile. "Besides, I've seen your temper. I knew you'd beat them off."
He moved even closer. Aeris tried to step back but he seized her shoulders and held her in place.
"Do you want to slap me now Aeris?"
She looked into his eyes realizing they really did have a glow of their own. The sun gave his silver hair a radiant sheen. She shook her head.
"Speak to me," he said.
"N-no." she said.
His eyes were so intense. She saw him again on the hill in England wearing his grey sweater an remembered her first impression.
"Why did you bring me out here?" she asked. She could barely get her voice above a whisper. What was wrong with her?
He raised and held her chin with one hand and traced her lower lip with the tip of his thumb.
"Maybe I just wanted to be alone with you." His eyes swept over her face and found her eyes again. "You're a very beautiful woman Aeris."
He traced her lip again.
"S-s-shouldn't we get back to Elmyra's now?" asked Aeris.
"I'm not in a hurry," he answered.
"But she's got a lot of people working on my wedding dress!" said Aeris. "She might need to take more measurements."
"You're afraid of me."
It was true. What could she say?
Sephiroth took her face in both his hands.
"I've dreamed about you every night for six months," he said. "I brought you here, but it's still hard to believe you're here in person."
"You could have let me go," she said. "You didn't have to come after me."
"Yes I did." He brushed a strand of hair off her face. "When I was told about you as a child, I resented the fact that my future had already been decided by someone else. I practiced my spells. I did everything I was supposed to do, but I never actually expected to claim you. Up until six months ago, I thought of my destiny as more of a nuisance than anything else, but when the dreams started . . . "
His voice trailed off. He brought his face closer to hers. His lips would have touched hers, but Aeris pulled back at the last minute.
"I don't even know you!" she said. "You're a stranger to me."
"You've got a month to learn about me before the wedding," he said. "You might as well get used to me, Aeris because you're never going back to your world again and I'll never let you go."
"You'd marry me, even if I didn't want to marry you?" she asked.
"But why?" she asked with a touch of anger in her voice. "You're not so bad looking. I'm sure there are women all over this planet dying to be in my shoes."
He raised an eyebrow. "'Do you find me attractive?"
Aeris blushed again. "That's not what I meant."
"You find me unattractive?"
"Stop putting words in my mouth," she said. "I just meant you could take your pick of any woman you wanted."
"I have," he said.
"That's only because someone told you that you had to have me," she said.
"You're wrong," he replied. "I knew you were right for me when I first dreamed of you, and I know it even more, now that you're here."
"I had plans," she said plaintively.
"So did I," he said taking her face in both hands again. "But you're my destiny."
Aeris wanted to protest, but her mouth wouldn't say the words. Her mind faded away as she gazed into his bright green eyes. There was something in their depths she couldn't make out and she couldn't look away. A goblin giggled at the top of the hill. It pointed at them and ran away.
Sephiroth frowned after it and took his hands away from her face.
Aeris felt as if she'd been asleep for a long time and just awakened.
"We'd better go," he said.
"Yes. We should go." Aeris shivered.
"Are you cold?"
"No. Why do you ask?"
"You're shivering," he said.
"I'm all right," Aeris looked around. "Where's your chocobo?"
The animal in question came galloping toward them.
"How did you do that?" she asked.
Sephiroth didn't answer the question. He jumped upon its back and held his hand out to her. Aeris moved closer. He leaned down and pulled her up in front of him.
"Well?" she asked.
"If I tell you everything now," he answered. "What will that leave you to discover after we're married?"
"Like why you threw me at Elmyra?" she asked.
"If you'd had the chest your mother gave you the key to, you would have known that was part of the ritual," he said. "Jerin's victory. Until the wedding, Jerin's way is my way."
"How could a spell do all this?" asked Aeris. "Didn't he just say, "every generation one of your descendants will have to face one of mine and win?""
"Jerin was a very complicated man," answered Sephiroth. "Even I don't quite know what to make of him. Whatever Jerin did, whether or not it was done on impulse, he seems to have put a lot of thought into his spell, or whatever it was. It was the only way to make sure things went HIS way. He was the greatest spell caster of all us all, because he learned his skills directly from the mother of our line. HER skills were even greater than his. Who knows what she might a passed on to him at the end?"
"Talk about obsessed!" said Aeris. "If the first Cetra had used her powers on Jerin, instead of running away, I wouldn't be here."
"I'm glad she didn't." Sephiroth turned the chocobo toward the sea.
Aeris didn't talk on the way back. Sephiroth didn't let the chocobo run as fast as it had before so he could prolong the feel of her arms wrapped around his body. When they reached the outskirts of Kalm, Aeris thought of a reason for getting away from him.
"I can walk from here."
"No you can't," he said firmly. "Monsters live wherever they want to out here. You'd probably run into one before you got home."
This isn't my home, she thought sadly.
"Sephiroth, please tell me the truth." Aeris turned to look at him.
He stopped the chocobo. "What do you want to know?"
"Is it true there is no way for me to ever go home again, or there is and you don't want to tell me?"
He studied her face before he answered.
"The Cetra left a dying world to live on this planet. It became their home. They lived and died here Aeris. You never belonged to that world you were in. This is your home and it will always be your home. With me."
Aeris bowed her head and said nothing.
Elmyra was waiting in the yard when they rode up. Sephiroth stopped in front of her. Before he could help Aeris down, she hopped down by herself and ran into Elmyra's arms. Her body shook as she cried. Elmyra looked at Sephiroth for an explanation.
"If Aeris gets away from you again, I'm going to hold you personally responsible," he said.
Speechless, Elmyra watched him ride away.
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