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.
“I’m so afraid to love you, but more afraid to lose.
Clinging to a past that doesn’t let me choose…”
-Sarah McLachlan “I Will Remember You”
They lunched on the beach not far from the house. She ate while he merely looked on. Aeris couldn’t help but turn to peer back though a stone seemed to grow in her heart. Life in Midgar had taught her practicality and that dreams were for feeding dead embers. The ocean crept in and she shut her eyes drowning in leather and pure winter skin. Visions behind taunted the maid, and a tear cut through her lash veil. There’s enough salt in the air, and I’m a silly, dumb girl to think such foolish thoughts. She refused grief as his arms wrapped around, and Sephiroth lifted her up as he stood. Blue skies had been swallowed and even the sea, though it still whispered, had turned sadly grey. “The storm’s coming soon,” he said with a quick sniff as the Cetra curled into his chest.
The breeze had matured into almost full gale, and Aeris shivered for want of her coat. Frantically rubbing her hands on chilled arms, she tried to force some warmth back in. A harmony of buckles clinked in her ears and sweet heat was dropped over her shoulders. Aeris blinked up to the wind whipping silver across alabaster skin. More than new warmth made the flower girl blush as he fixed black leather around her slight form.
“Sephiroth, no! I’ll get sand in your coat.” She tried peeling it off, but his hands though gentle were adamant. He fastened the top buckle which came down to her waist as the length dragged behind like black train.
“Hush, little one.” He laid lips to her brow, and the tears in her eyes fought the fall. “There have been far worse things than sand on this coat. You know that too well, Aeris.”
“But what about—”
“You know I won’t be cold.” He smiled as he tossed wind-blown hair from his face and offered the maid his hand. Aeris gathered the leather in one of her fists for even fastened is slid off her shoulders. The complexity of straps and buckles rang softly in her clutch. She was thankful he’d left his epaulets in their room for she couldn’t bear such heavy armor.
Entrusting her small fingers to his, the flower maid gave up trying to hide her awe. Does that lush moonlit mane taunt the skin on his back or is he so used to it he feels nothing at all? She blushed as he smiled, the softest of chuckles waiting behind his lips. Where his skin ended and hair began was near impossible to tell just by hue. My fingers could find it, she thought and quick shyness turned her head to watch the sand twist like beige snakes. The coat slipped just slightly, but enough for bare shoulder to swim into his view.
Emerald yielded before sultry jade to paint light on that perfect pale palette. He knew she was clothed even under his coat. But even a monster can dream. Have you had your fill of looking at me, Aeris? It would be playful and teasing and wrong, but she wet her lips and the sigh of the sea became a beckon for what couldn’t be. Aeris tried hiking his coat to her hips and that lifted the skirts of her dress. For someone so short her legs were quite long and the sunscreen had kept them unblemished. The motion pulled Sephiroth’s gaze to her, and there was no armor for this. He drew her near so she leaned on his arm where hard muscle warmed her check.
“You know you’d make a very poor pillow…” she tittered peering up.
“You had no problem this morning, little rose, resting against my chest.” The wind attempted to scatter his bangs as they broke against her face. Lips so pink could beg only one purpose, and he bent to take it with her sigh.
The weight dropped from heaven like the plate long ago, and the kiss shattered in plaintive cry. She was in his arms and trembling wildly though the rain was barely a mist. Through an almost dusk dark, Sephiroth’s eyes gleamed, the only part of his face so astonished.
“I have you, little flower,” he promised. “Nothing can hurt you. There’s no need to be afraid.” She whimpered still trying to bury herself in both his coat and his embrace. “Isn’t this part of the world that you love?” He kept his voice taut to cage the smile. “What does your dear friend say?”
“It thinks it’s funny…” It would’ve been petulant if the little Cetra wasn’t so scared. “A-And just because I love this world it doesn’t mean I adore every aspect.” Her eyes were tight shut as more thunder wandered the dark painted vaults of the sky. “I’m not particularly fond of poison ivy either, but I do accept its existence. Just because you love something, it doesn’t mean you love every part.” The faintest slice of summer cut his face, and the general carefully tightened his grip. Her teeth chattered now and Sephiroth narrowed his eyes, while laying a palm to her cheek. “I-It sounds like the world is coming to an end, splitting apart at the seams. Th-Then the…horror will come rushing in, the darkness and all between. I know it’s silly…I know it’s not true, but it frightens me all the same…”
Salt was salt, but he could’ve smelled her tears buried deep in a thousand oceans. All these terrors, little flower…is it because you’re with me, and I’m the ultimate nightmare? He swept the maid up still wrapped in his coat and began to stride across the sands with long steps. She locked her fingers in moon drunk silk as the heavens grumbled above.
“This coat…” Her voice melted to whimper as another dull roar rent the sky. Aeris swallowed and tightened her grip to which Sephiroth held her closer. “This coat,” she tried again, “I-I like it.” Subdued summer fixated on his face. He kissed her cheek in gentle assurance that she need not try to speak, but his flower was stubborn, and he shook his head as she whispered, “It smells like you…”
A spear of lightning pierced the clouds like silver borne death from the sky. Sephiroth covered her ear with a his palm, but Aeris still stiffened to what chased the light. “And that, oh that.” She shook. “Dear gods, what if it catches us? I-”
“Do you know I can move faster than you can blink?”
“Y-You can?” She did so in surprise to his mild smile.
“As long as I concentrate.”
“So…you can move faster than the lightning?” She gave him a sideways glance.
“Well…no, not quite that fast, little flower. It’s part light so it’s quicker than me, but it’s electrified, so I can tell where it’s going to strike. I’ve…learned how to avoid that. Even now the air smells like a hot iron left in cold meant for winter’s kiss.”
She shuddered but he knew it wasn’t the storm and the smolder of jade almost woke pride. “Is it…different from Mako?”
“Very much so, little one.” Her eyes were full open, almost wide to her awe, and Sephiroth swore he could see slightest smile. “It’s clean and makes the raindrops taste pure.” He lifted his head and flicked out his tongue, and Aeris couldn’t help the soft laugh. His motion was fast so she barely saw pink, but his lips matched that hue in the dim.
The Cetra attempted to taste the rain, too. Drops speckled her nose and brushed the tears from her cheeks before one found its way to her lips. It was cool as the air and pure as he said, but she didn’t taste it alone. His tongue was still quick to slow slide along hers as his hand covered half of her face. The next report from the sky still made Aeris jump, but if asked, she could not have said why. Even through the storm the ocean still whispered, and the thunder faded before dying alone. The sea took its bones but let the rain stay for the Planet thought that was enough.
“I never asked you, Aeris,” he murmured with his teeth pressed against her rouged lips. “Does this place satisfy you, little one? Do you like the house we saw?”
She had her hand to his cheek as her eyes snapped open, and his narrowed at summer in doubt. She tried to recede it, but it was too later, and he held the maid close in concern.
“I…did. I loved it, Sephiroth, it’s just…”
“What is it ‘just,’ little flower?” The shadow of ire burned under his words that someone had frightened his rose. The lame homeowner? Was there something I missed? She was never once out of my sight.
“Well…” Her mind raced for she was already a burden and his other obligation called loud. “There…there are no flowers here.” It had been quickly noticed throughout the whole town. Not a single bloom was bright sprung. The air pulsed with spring, despite the cool breeze, and the Cetra expected such bounty, but the Whispers, so lovely, had not even one daisy, and that seemed to her quite strange.
Sephiroth chuckled to fading heat, happy no one needed to die. “That’s not true, little one.”
“Have you seen some?” she asked, brightening in his light.
“I’m holding one in my arms.”
She blushed as he shook the bangs from his face, one tip painting soft dew on her cheek. His lips were half-lifted in what would’ve been smirk had not gentleness now ruled his face. Lids lowered to keep rain from tarnishing emerald, the thick fringe clung wet to his cheeks. For the angle, the worse kept from soaking her so he bore the brunt of the storm. Drops shimmered in silver on shadowed daylight to crown him in mist and sorrow. It’s like his hair has drunk its fill of moon and spills the excess from the edges…
She slid a strand behind his ear and let it play through her fingers like water. “You’d think your hair being so light it would take the hue of the dusky sea, but it doesn’t….instead it shines right through like a thousand diamonds at noon.”
“Do you miss them, Aeris?” He turned to her then and their lips were mere inches apart.
“Miss what, diamonds?” She initially blinked so confused, then again to a spare drop’s invasion.
“Your lilies white as ice.”
“Oh.” Her teeth found her lip as a finger twisted moonlight. “I think of them…all the time. They were paler than your hair.”
Her took her hand and gave it a kiss, holding longer to drive out the cold. “The Whispers will not be flowerless long, now that you’re here, little rose.” Soon you’ll leave her…you’ll leave her forever. She’ll be safe in this place and you know it. She won’t need you anymore. No one will again. You’ll be less than a ghost lost in cold white seeking what you don’t deserve to find. His obligation to her was running out. Thinking otherwise was like taming the tide. He was so used to the sound of her heartbeat and the soft, summer scent of her skin. Her tiny form in his embrace, curled against in utter trust. This is where she runs for fear…right into my arms. His dark torn heart beat once for joy before sorrow dragged it down.
“It’s sadder today…your poor, broken heart,” she said, suddenly looking up. His hair could not hide it, nor could his face. It was laid bare before her eyes. Aeris gave a little, “Oh,” curling fingers on his cheek.
The instant was gone where the mask could’ve saved him, and Sephiroth lowered his head for shame. I don’t want to leave you, Aeris. I want you in my arms til the death of time, but this moment won’t last, and I don’t deserve it…I don’t deserve it even now. Even if I had no grave to find, you are not for me.
A golden beam cut a path through the sea from a crack near the horizon. Sephiroth stopped glad for the distraction as the rain misted a rainbow on blue. Their meeting had been a bit later than planned and evening was fast approaching. Obfuscated in storm, the wrinkling waves now bright lit the sun’s resting place. “Look, Aeris,” he called the command stirring her gaze slowly away from his face. “Look at the sea. How it swallows the dusk in soft fire.” He turned back to her more interested in the light so brightened by her joy. “You’ll view this fair sight every eve, but it’ll never come close to your beauty.”
“Nor yours, Sephiroth…” she murmured so swallowed by pulsing Mako light.
“My full name now?” He smiled at the re-given title then turned his gaze back to the waves. “Then at night the moon and a myriad stars all shimmering against the sea.” Emerald bright slid back to her, pupils thinned by that path of light. “That all will be yours, little flower,” he promised.
“You think so?”
The flat tone made him search her face. She was not meant for dejection, and the general wondered why she carried it now. “I know so.”
She answered his look with a kiss on the cheek that Aeris hoped would satisfy. It was better than a match in unending darkness, but it didn’t lift his concern.
The sun cracked the vault and the rain tried to muster, but soon even the mist gave away. Aeris wished it return even with thunder for it would explain the damp on her cheeks. What am I going to do dear friend? Soon he’ll go away. The Planet thrummed and the ocean sighed, white caps lapping the shore.
“Are you alright, Aeris?” The low voice shut her eyes. He was walking again and the motion was soothing, almost enough to forget.
“I’m okay. I just…” She forced a weak grin. “I’m just such a burden to you…I’m keeping you from what you seek.”
He shook his head. “This obligation is far better than the next one I must face, and you know your weight is nothing.” He smiled, shifting her to one arm. “But your presence is better than light.”
Her head found his shoulder. “If I’m a rose, what then would you be?”
“A shadow, a ghost, or a thorn.” He looked ahead as Aeris sat up seeking cracks in the flawless mask.
“A white shadow maybe,” she conceded that one. “That’s similar to a ghost. You’re most definitely not the last, unless you’re thinking a thorn to offset my rose.” Daylight splashed upon his far cheek but even shaded his face broke all molds. “And that’s not possible because you’re lovelier than me.”
Sephiroth turned to her incredulous, as Aeris inhaled at beauty unleashed. “Your eyes are cruel, little flower, to show you such blatant lies.”
“They’re not lies, Sephiroth.” But he looked away so she was caught in the echo of light. “The Planet itself insists on this truth.” The flower girl gave it a half-reproachful nudge. “And it’s always tried flattering me.” She sighed and shut her eyes again, sliding her arms around his neck. The yawn wouldn’t wait, and though his shoulder mocked marble, it was still a warm place for her head.
The once general smiled, eyes lighting the sea, as he slid the Cetra back to both arms. “Are you comfortable, little flower,” he asked glancing down. It was meant to be a quick look to confirm, but once spilled, the emerald could only stay.
“Yes…very much so, Sephiroth. Comfortable, warm, and safe.” Her braid and bangs were haphazard and damp, stray strands tangled across her face. He’d never seen anything more beautiful in his life, and he bent to kiss her brow.
Aeris smiled and buried her fingers still deeper in silken, moon-kissed hair. If everyone could feel this safe and protected, how wonderful would this world be? The image of children huddled in gloom made the Cetra suppress a whimper. They had only each other, and that wasn’t enough for the dark plate so heavy above. She didn’t want to count them for she knew there were less, and her dear friend was silent just letting her see as mournful music awoke memories.
“Were you always this sleepy, my little flower?” Midgar dissolved in the thrum of his voice. Aeris couldn’t tell him for no words had been formed to express her gratitude at being distracted.
“No,” she answered half opening her eyes to the worry on her guardian’s face. “Remember I told you? I only sleep well when I’m safe.” It was the brief flash that proved his surprise for his expression never moved.
“Then…dream of light, little flower.” He quieted his voice and her repose was almost instant. She looked even tinier in his arms, wrapped in his great black coat, but more than that she looked so happy, and Sephiroth could not fathom why. Her brow did furrow beneath his scrutiny and the general hoped his thoughts hadn’t snuck in.
The whirr of the Whispers bounced off the waves without overriding the natural hush. It was so different from what he had known for the windmills too helped this balance. Gone was the reek and the pall of corruption…unless he counted himself. Which I do. Always and ever…but she forgives me. He remembered it like a lost song, the melody once found destroying all false notes as though they had never been sung.
Aeris did dream to his soft command, but it was not light as Sephiroth had wished. Through the Whispers it started, and she held her shoes and flower basket in either hand. It was whole as though it had never been broken by her attackers so deep in the slums. She was desperate as sand clung soft to her soles for she needed gil to survive. In Midgar her stock had been quite a bounty, but here in the sun it wasn’t enough. The flowers in her clutch were more beautiful than ever in colors the rainbow did not know, but the townsfolk looked at her oddly for they had never seen such things before. They patted her head and said she was pretty but for flowers they had no use. The sky above grew darker and darker until it turned into iron and steel, and she stood on the grave of a thousand dead children as the petals blew over their bones.
She awoke with a start to tears on her face and a gentle voice calling her name. Their room in the Chatham coalesced in her eyes, raindrops sprinting along down the window. Her protector’s low, familiar tone made the flower girl twist around. Sephiroth was sitting close to the bed, legs crossed as he read her old book. Upon seeing her awake he laid down the volume open upon his knee. The black leather coat clothed his shoulders again making flawless skin gleam like frost. Aeris glanced down to see her white dress and gave a huff of self-annoyance. It’s probably now wrinkled and that’s all my fault for falling asleep again. The sight of him cooled this a bit for she could give him nothing but gratitude. There were two blankets wrapping her round, and the query swam in her eyes.
“You were shivering a bit,” the once general told her. “How do you feel, little one?”
“I’m alright,” she assured, rubbing her arms as she blinked her gaze away. Sephiroth stood and placed the volume still open upon the nightstand. The Cetra lifted her head to follow his eyes, which held all the expression on his face. He sat down beside and took her hand, while Aeris tried not to wilt for that scrutiny. She couldn’t imagine being interrogated by one such as him. Those pupils would slice right through to a truth I didn’t even know I carried. But as always his palm was gentle and warm, while his beauty stilled her gaze on his face.
“You seem troubled, little flower,” her guardian began, “when by all rights you should be glad. A beautiful house by the dreaming sea that whispers in its sleep. You whisper, too…did you know that?”
“Wh-What do I say, Sephiroth?”
Something you must soon forget. But he only sadly smiled. “What is your worry, Aeris?” Turning her hand, he gently traced the lines upon her palm.
Not just when we kiss, not just when he speaks, his very touch stills my troubles. Opening lids she didn’t know where shut, Aeris forced herself to remember. Her guardian’s brows furrowed pale skin as he tilted his head.
“I can’t afford the house.”
One brow lifted high, but he gave no response and just gently swirled his thumb on her palm.
“I-I mean, it’s…too big for me anyway.” She pushed on before the silence could grow. “I’m…just a small girl. What need do I have for an over large seaside house?”
His frown said plainly and without words that she was so much more than just a “small girl.”
I-I know how much gil I have, Sephiroth.” Speech tumbled out, a poor barrier to Mako light. “It’s only enough for a few months. In the slums, well…” Aeris shrugged. “It’s…different, you know? Unless I find some work in the Whispers…but,” she recalled with utter dejection, “there are no flowers here. Maybe…” She pressed a knuckle to her lips. “Maybe I could work at this inn. They’d probably give me a room. Then I could stay here and save until I could afford to rent.”
“You can stay here as long as you wish, Aeris,” Sephiroth promised, his voice barely besting the rain.
The flower girl jerked her head up to half-lidded emerald smolder. She tried to see what he was hiding as the Planet hummed in her ears. “Oh no. Oh no, no, no,” she admonished, waving a finger. “I know what you’re thinking, and you’re not going to do that. You are not going to pay my rent!”
“I have no intentions,” he solemnly promised, “of paying your rent, little one.”
“Oh.” Surprise shut her mouth with a click, finger curling like grass in the sun. The instant she’d thought it, the flower girl had made ready for an arduous fight, believing it better if they were still enemies as she’d claim an easier win. He’d insist under the guise that he owed her her life. You’ve given it back to me, Sephiroth. That and so much more. You rescued me. You brought me here. But even greater you’re my friend. I needed that more than anything, and that’s what you gave to me. She gazed up in gratitude and sighed in relief.
“Good.” She swallowed. “I was worried you’d insist—”
“I’m going to buy you the house.”
Rain gurgled in the gutters and drummed lazy fingers on roof and window pane. Each wrinkle in the distant sea welcomed the drops like lost kin. The soul of the Planet beneath the damp sands whispered love in its daughter’s ear, and the flower girl felt her heart pulled taut, each thread of it close to torn.
“No.” The tension eased but little in the explosion of that one word. “You are not buying me a house. I refuse to accept that,” she declared glaring up, and those eyes burned with sadness above. With motion so swift it fell between blinks, he slid from the bed to the floor. On his knees looking up, still holding her hand, the great general didn’t care that he begged.
“Please Aeris…” He bowed his head. Summer stole the burn from jade to warm her cheeks with tears.
“Y-You—” She swallowed gathering the pieces of the argument that she had let drop. “You can’t afford to buy me a house!”
“I can, little flower.” When he raised his face, she covered her mouth to stem the tide of tears. “I told you as long as you’re with me, you’ll never want or need. Even though…” He looked away briefly. “Even though I will be gone, I can protect you still. What is a house but protection, my flower, a shelter from sun and storm?”
“But you don’t even know how much it will cost.” Aeris valiantly tried to use logic.
“That doesn’t matter, little one.”
“Or if it’s even for sale!” She cried desperately.
“The sign I read said ‘sale or rent.’” The Cetra muttered under her breath. “Unless,” Sephiroth did concede, “he’s rescinded on the last. Then…” He shrugged. “I’ll have to persuade him that selling would be for the best.”
“No Sephiroth,” Aeris gasped in horror, “you are not going to use manipulation against that poor man!”
His face so flawless cracked with pain. “I never said I would do that, Aeris.”
“But you were…thinking it…” The flower girl trailed off for everything in his expression said that he was not.
“No, little one, I never would. I’d never do that again. Gil would be the great persuader not what would be mental rape.” He reached forward and took her other hand. “Aeris, I can’t lie to you. If it were between seeing you hurt and invading another’s mind, you can guess which path I’d choose. The aftermath would flay me raw for what I’d done before…but there is no torture I wouldn’t endure in order to see you safe.”
“Oh Seph…” She squeezed his great hands, knowing she couldn’t make a dent in his power. A heavy sigh left her spirit no lighter as she met those glittering eyes. “If…I let you do this, will your guilt be assuaged?”
“No, little flower.” He wouldn’t break his promise so quickly and give her any lies. “That burden will never release my heart, but the bonds will be slightly lessened knowing you’re happy and safe.”
Aeris couldn’t help it and started to sob. Maybe his powers of manipulation manifested even beyond his control. It was a frightening implication, but the little Cetra’s hands were encased in his and she felt nothing but strength benign. “Will this make you happy, Sephiroth?” She searched his face through her tears.
“My happiness doesn’t matter, little one.” He bowed his head in silver surrender, and Aeris could only sigh.
“Somehow I knew that you’d say that.”
“It would make me sadder if you didn’t accept it.” He looked directly at her. “Please, Aeris…” She squeezed her eyes shut for he was not meant to beg. “I owe you so much. Let me take care of you.” The sudden hand on her cheek awakened her skin and lifted her lids to utter pain. “I can’t leave you…” He blinked quickly twice and freed her fingers when Aeris tugged. “I…I can’t leave you…” She laid her hand over and leaned into his palm. “Without knowing you’re happy and safe.”
“I…” she stuttered, “I can…take care of myself, you know.” It was an attempt to be indignant, but she pressed her cheek harder to his palm.
“Of that, little flower, I have no doubt.” Aeris imagined the sad half-smile. “You managed so long in the slums so dark. Let me help you live in the light.”
She did not say yes, neither did she nod, but Sephiroth knew he had won. Aeris for her part could not understand how slivered eyes could be so pleading. She was in his arms in between the seas sighing as tears ran down black leather like rain.
Are you weeping for joy or weeping for grief? But why would you grieve, little flower? He stood up and held her tight as Aeris shook and sobbed. There was joy in her grief and grief in her joy, and none could see in between. When the force of them both made her weak, his strong arms kept her standing, and when the end of the tears stuck to her lashes and lids, he cleaned them gently away. The salt did not deter the kiss from above as she drowned in a silken moon sea.
The rain fell slow as evening wore on, so Sephiroth opened the window. Without the fear of lightning and doom, the flower girl enjoyed the fragrance. The melding of fresh with salt, wind, and sand let Aeris’s mind still for the moment, and the breeze was blowing a fortunate way to not bring the elements in. The Planet full burble like a bird in spring plumage, and Aeris tried to ignore as she smiled. This is where you want me, my dear friend…I can fulfill that request if not the other. That you must cease for it won’t be. Obligation is the master of all.
Dinner was ordered though she wasn’t hungry for the turmoil still trembling inside, but her protector would worry, and the food here was good as she ate in the quieting eve. Then later when night cleared the remnants of rain, he read to her by the starlight. She followed the words by the light of his eyes til she shut summer green to just listen. I don’t want to wake…I don’t want to drown. I’ll only drown in sorrow. As the final word faded, she met his gaze where her purest image dwelled, caught but uncut in the sliver of black amidst the emerald light.
Sephiroth tilted her chin and parted her lips as the silver cascade washed them both. It took only one hand to undo her loose braid so chestnut waves buried his fingers. Oh, little flower, I want you so, but how can you be touched by me? Your dear friend would open and swallow me down to crush me with darkness forever…
He pulled away with a soft bite for her lip, but Aeris reached up for more. Lifting the flower maid onto his lap, the once general wrapped both arms around. “You’re like the moth that dreams of the fire or the lily that yearns for the frost.”
“Maybe I’m just drawn to the brightest and most beautiful.”
Sephiroth chuckled, “I’d never take you for a narcissist, Aeris.
She squeezed the hard shoulders beneath black leather as he slanted his mouth over hers. When breath finally failed her, she threw her head back so his lips glided over her throat. Please don’t leave me…she ached to say it in the part of her mind still coherent, but she couldn’t beg for that. She couldn’t be so selfish to ask him to stay when he’d been denied so much. The poorest child in the darkest slums had its mother’s memory for comfort, but the greatest of generals could never claim that and had to search the northern wastes for her grave. A single tear stirred behind her closed lids, but she’d wept enough for this one day.
When evening deepened to the ocean’s sigh, he held her still face to face. Changed into night clothes to his removed leather coat so silver cloaked him crown to knee. Aeris twirled a bang round her finger as her guardian laid lips to her brow. It was impossible not to stare at him, the angel’s face and flawless skin. Her hands slid over the marble shoulders as Sephiroth gazed down with halved lids. She wanted to wish that none of this was real and that her life was the slums so dark. Better that than what more tomorrows would bring. Better that than the day they would part.
“Just promise me one thing.”
“I’ll promise you all.” He sealed his eyes but light gleamed round the seams.
“Don’t leave without saying goodbye…”
Sephiroth drew her close as the wind tickled the drapes, murmuring, “I promise.”
So Aeris fell asleep in the warmth of his arms, and when she awoke, he was gone.
Author’s Note: I think this is a less evil cliffhanger than the one in Chapter 8, or do you disagree? Either way, we are two chapters away from Part I’s ending, and when Chapter 13 is posted we will officially be halfway through! Another thousand thank yous for all of your support. The next chapter Establishments will be posted next Friday June 19.