Crystal Bits of Snowflake Disclaimer: The characters, items, places etc of Final Fantasy VII are property of Squaresoft Ltd. These objects are used without permission for entertainment only, not for making money. No infringement is intended.

"Winter's cityside,
crystal bits of snowflake,
all around my head and in the wind,
I had no illusion,
that I'd ever find a glimpse,
of summer's heatwaves in your eyes" -
Alphaville, Big in Japan

Crystal Bits of Snowflake
by Nanaki Lioness

The air was cool and crisp, the nearing of the night only adding to the cold atmosphere. In the small village of Nibelheim, the land was always icy, and the sun rarely shone down on the cobblestone streets.

At the well in the centre of the village sat a young boy, no older than about eight. He was only wearing blue shorts and a white t-shirt. He had his knees drawn up to his chest, his arms wrapped tightly around them for warmth. This meager protection though, did not do much to stop him from shivering violently. The fine hairs on his arms were pricked up, trying to catch the small amount of heat radiating unseen in the air, and his gooseflesh was raised. His blond hair, slightly spiky, was pulled tightly back into a ponytail, and even that seemed to be on end with the cold.

His eyes were focused on a door to a house opposite him. His own home. His mother was waiting for him there.

Yet he could not go home.

He couldn't explain to his mother about what the other kids had done to him. He ran his fingers softly across the cut on his left cheek with gloved hands. It was painful to touch, but it had stopped bleeding. Blood had caked around it though, and it came off onto his fingers in flakes.

He heard a door open, and the soft melody of a piano could be heard. He did not look up; he knew who was playing it. Mrs. Lockheart was the only one in the village whos smooth hands could run across the keys of a piano, manipulating them into playing sweet songs, flowing like a river to the sea. And her daughter was beginning to become as good.

Tifa Lockheart…he smiled slightly despite his sorrow. He had loved her the moment he had laid his blue eyes on her. He had continued to love her more as he heard her soft voice, had heard her velveteen laugh, had seen her wine colored eyes sparkle with mirth.

"Cloud…?" He looked up in surprise. There she was, standing in the doorway, looking at him with concern etched across her young features. She stepped out carefully onto the icy floor, walking towards him after closing the door behind her. Cloud smiled weakly at her. She had never spoken directly to him, and he was surprised she even knew his name.

She eased herself up next to him, smiling. She looked worried as she saw the cut on his face. She reached out to touch it, but withdrew at the last moment, content with simply running her fingers lightly above it.

"What happened?" she asked. Cloud almost told her the whole story, but held his words back. He didn't want to drive her away.

"Never mind Tifa," he said. "It's not important." Tifa didn't press the conversation.

"It's so cold out here," she said, wrapping her arms around herself. She was wearing only a light green dress. "Why are you out here?"

"I can't go home right now," Cloud said. Tifa looked confused.

"Sure you can," she said. "Your mom can sort that cut out for you."

"No," Cloud replied hurridly. "I…I don't want to trouble her." Tifa's face softened in compassion.

"Cloud, you're hurt," she said. "She's your mom, of course it'll be no trouble. She'd want to help you."

"I guess…" Cloud relented. He felt like she was the key to the lock keeping his hurt inside. He wanted to unload his problems to this girl. But he didn't. Couldn't.

"Cloud, talk to me," Tifa said softly. Cloud looked at her, shock evident on her features. She looked as thought she had read his thoughts. He knew she meant the concern in her eyes. He wanted to unleash his soul to her.

"The kids in the village," he began. "They hurt me."

"This isn't the first time, is it?" Tifa said almost knowlingly. Cloud shook his head. "Why do they do it?"

"I don't know," Cloud said. Tifa put her hand on his arm, and he could feel the electric shocks that ran through him. Her silken touch was what he needed. It felt so good to have her hand on him, even if it was only lightly. "I guess they just don't like me."

"Do they always hurt you?" Cloud shook his head.

"Sometimes they just say things."

"What like?" Cloud thought for a moment. He didn't want to discuss it any more. It was too painful, more than he had ever imagined. He wasn't ready to even think about the memories he had tried to repress, let alone talk about them. Maybe one day he would be. Just not right now.

"Tifa, I don't want to talk about this any more." Tifa nodded, understanding, and withdrew her hand.


Both the two children looked up to see Tifa's father standing in the doorway to his house. "What are you doing out here in this cold?! Come back inside!" He took one look at Cloud, and the boy could see the hatred in the man's gaze, asking the silent question. 'What are you doing with him?'

"Okay Papa!" Tifa called. Her father nodded approvingly as she jumped down from the wall of the well.

"Why did you come out here for anyway?" Cloud asked. Tifa did not reply for a moment.

"I was worried," she eventually answered. "About…you." Cloud couldn't reply' he was too surprised. "But I gotta go in now. Take care Cloud." With that she began walking away.

"See you around?" Cloud called. Tifa turned back round, and smiled.

"Yeah," she answered. "See you around."

And then she was gone, back inside the warmth of her house. He jumped down from the well and began walking to his house. It was a brazen thought, that he might see her again, but it didn't stop him from thinking it. He pushed open the door to his house, ready to face his mother with what his enemies had done to him once again.

He did not see Tifa pull the curtains back in her room, and look outside at his retreating form. He did not see her slowly close the curtain as he shut the door to his house. He could not see her slowly lower her head into her arms, and cry.

She stayed like that for a long while. When she finally lifted her head, the ground outside had begun to set with a white layer of soft snow. Snowflakes flittered through the air, gently touching the surfaces around them. Their milky whiteness carressed everything they came into contact with, the snow becoming a white sheet across Nibelheim.

And that was all she could see.

Dedicated to Chocobo Ghost, the light in my life. Love from your Angel xxx