Chapter 1 : A Walk Down the Street

Aerith walked down the small street glancing at the people she passed to see who was most likely to buy one of her flowers. 'Hmm, maybe it was a mistake to come here.'

Aerith usually sold here flowers more closely to the castle of Hollow Bastion but today she felt like adventuring out a bit more, this however was soon becoming a pointless little adventure as most of the people in this area didn't seem like the type to buy flowers. 'He's drunk, he's drunk, she's drunk, ahh...? Not a clue what's wrong with that guy but I think I'll keep away.'

Most of the people in this area were just travelers from others areas of the planet, the harbor wasn't to far away from here either. There weren't many from the castle area that came this far down, the people who lived there were either very rich family's or servants to the castle and either way they didn't care what happened outside their part of the land.

She carried on down towards the end of the street receiving a few looks from passers by. "Hey babe..." A drunken man stood up pointing to Aerith.

"Who, me?" She pointed at herself looking round for anyone else.

"Yeah.. hic.. you..." He took a few steps closer to the flower girl. "..how about selling... hic.. me one of yur flowers."

"Oh." Aerith stared at the man, she could smell the alcohol on his breath from two meters away. "Which one would you like?" She held out the basket to show him.

"Huh? I wasn't talkin about 'those' flowers." He took a few steady steps towards her.

"But these are all I have." Aerith looked confused and glanced around her body to see if she had tied some to her clothing.

"I was talkin about this flower." The man reached out and grabbed Aerith by the arms, pulling her closer to him.

"Ahh! Let me go!" She struggled to free herself from the mans grip.

"Don't.. hic.. you want my business?" He pulled her closer to kiss her lips.

"Ughh, get off!" Aerith pushed as hard as she could to free her self, making sure his lips didn't reach hers. "Ah.. em.. Maybe you... ughh.. would like that girls business instead." She forced her body away form his, nearly breaking her back in half just so she could speak and point over the mans shoulders.

"Huh?" He released her and turned round to look at where she was pointing, nearly tripping on his own feet while doing so. "Which girl?" He looked back round to Aerith but she had disappeared. "Who are you talking abo... hey? Where did she..hic ...go?"

Aerith ran around the corner as fast as she could, dropping her flowers all over the floor. 'Please don't let him follow me.' She pushed up against the wall and shot a quick look around the corner to see if he had spotted her. The man was still stood in the same place looking round but after a few moments he seemed to give up and headed back towards the pavement.

'Oh thank god.' She brushed herself off feeling a bit dizzy from what just happened. 'I think I should get out of here now.' She continued down the street but soon found that it was a dead end. 'This can't be happening.' The only way back to the castle was the way she came, but that meant trying to pass the man she just escaped from.

'Why did I have to come down here? I should have listened to Squall about this place been dangerous.' The flower girl crept back to the edge of the corner and peeked round. 'I don't see him.' Aerith edged out a bit more quickly looking round to find him. 'He's not there.' She let out a sigh of relief and stepped out onto the street. 'Maybe he got bored and went after someone else.' She felt a chill go down her spine just thinking about it.

After taking a few steps a shadow appeared out from the door behind her and grabbed hold of Aerith, she let out a slight yelp before the figures hand was placed over her mouth.

"Thought you could get away huh?" She recognized the voice and the foul breath, it was the same as man who attacked her a few minutes ago. He threw her against the wall causing Aerith to hit her head and fall to the ground.

She recovered quickly and backed up against the wall bringing her legs up to her chest and wondering why the other four or five strangers in the street didn't even care to look at what was happening. 'Why aren't they helping me?'

The man in front of her leaned down and cupped her chin with his hand. "I think I'll have that flower now." He leaned down kiss her. Aerith closed her eyes, which were now moist with tears, she was too terrified to do anything else but just wait for it to happen. But it never did happened. She felt something cold brush against her neck lightly and after a few seconds of waiting she opened one eye and slowly looked up.

A long thick blade separated her self and the man in front, the sharp end pointed towards her attackers neck. The smooth end of the blade brushed against Aerith's neck again but quickly the sword was brought up closer to her attacker. He backed off steadily straightening himself up, his eyes never left the blade that was stretched out in front of him.

Aerith wiped her eyes and slowly looked down along the blade until it came to the handle, from there she followed the hand which gripped it tightly and up the arm until she met the face of the swords owner. He had deep blue eyes and long blond hair that was spiked up, his uniform was like that of a Soldier from Midgar and his eyes were filled with a cold rage, fixed on her attacker.

"Huh? What do you want?" The drunken man pushed the sword away and pulled out a knife, pointing it to Aerith. "I saw her first so just get lost."

The stranger pulled the sword back and rested it on his shoulder, if anything the comment the drunk had made had only seemed to annoy him even more.

"You heard me! Get lost." The drunk slashed the stranger's arm with the knife but it seemed to cause little discomfort to him. Without delay the blond stranger swung his sword and hit the drunk with the flat side of the blade, sending him flying over to the other side of the street.

"You-you asshole!" The drunk slowly stood up, his arm was obviously broken but this didn't seem to deter him. He ran forwards slashing the air with his knife until he reached the Soldier. This time however he wasn't so lucky, the stranger spun his sword round hitting the drunk's arm with the razor sharp edge of the sword. He screamed out in pain as the knife and most of his arm fell to the floor.

"Y-you bastard!" He gritted his teeth trying to push the pain back. "Thi- this isn't over." He turned round and ran down the street tightly gripping the remains of his arm. "You haven't seen the last of me!" Aerith could barley hear him shout as he turned the corner, after a few seconds she once more turned her attention back to the stranger.

The Soldier brought his sword up over his shoulder and slid it down his back where it stayed, he spun round and looked back at Aerith who was still sitting against the wall with her arms around her legs.

Aerith watched him as he walked up to her, hoping that all this didn't just mean that now she was his instead of the drunks. 'What's he going to do? Why did I have to come down here, I'm really in for it now.'

Once he reached her, the stranger kneeled down and held his hand out. Aerith moved her head back not sure what he wanted from her but when she felt the hard surface of the wall behind her she felt that there was nothing else she could do. He pushed some of Aerith's hair back out of her face and gave her a smile. 'Oh god what's he going to do?'

He pressed down with two fingers on her forehead, in the same area that Aerith had hit the wall earlier. She felt a shot of pain as he did but after a few seconds the pain disappeared totally and a cool green mist settled down on her face, the cut that had been there had now healed.

'He can cast magic?' Aerith stopped tensing her body and for once rested herself feeling better, only certain people could cast magic. 'And only people with a kind heart can cast Cure magic.' It wasn't as powerful as the cure spell Aerith new how to cast but it still meant that the stranger in front of her was a kind person not like the drunk who had tried to attack her.

"Who are you?" She asked curiously, tilting her head slightly.

The stranger stood up and held his arm out towards her, Aerith smiled and took his hand pulling herself to her feet. "Aerith!" She looked round as someone called her name.

"Aerith are you ok?" Another blond haired man ran up to her, he had a cigarette in his mouth and a pack of them strapped to his head.

"Cid!" Aerith ran up and hugged him. "What are you doing here?"

"Me? I should ask you the same question." He pulled himself free of Aerith's tight grip. "You know it's dangerous down here."

She looked at the floor trying to avoid answering. "I-I just well, you know.." Aerith looked around at pointed to her flowers, which were now scattered along the floor.

Cid let out a heavy sigh and put his arm round her. "Yeah I know, but like I've said, it's too dangerous for you to come here alone."

"Hmm well what about you?!" She stomped her foot on the ground and gave Cid an annoyed look.

"Me? What about me?" He asked pointing to himself.

Aerith reached out and took the cigarette out of Cid's mouth and threw it on the floor, stepping on it to put it out. "I thought you had promised to quit."

"Oh ah well..." Cid scratched his head trying to think of away out of this. "Well I see you met Cloud." He pointed over to the stranger who had kept quite the whole time.

"Cloud?" Aerith looked at where Cid was pointing. "Oh, your name is Cloud? Hi, I'm Aerith."

The stranger just nodded back.

"Does he talk?" She looked back at Cid.

"Yeah, he's just the quite type though, he's one of my old buddies from back in Midgar, we spent a lot of time working together." Before Cid had come here he had lived in Midgar, which was far across the ocean. But when his airship business took off he decided to move to the capitol of Hollow Bastion instead. After living here a few weeks the ruler of Hollow Bastion had taken an interest in Cid's work and decided to have him build ships for his purposes instead, this also meant that he would be allowed to live in the main section of the city and Cid was happy to accept.

Soon after Cid met Aerith, she was alone wondering around the streets, only seven years old at the time. Cid had decided to take her in after she told him her parents had been killed by some rebels attacking the gates to the city, they had been unlucky enough to be caught in the crossfire. After that he had raised her like his own daughter.

"Come on Cloud, say hi." Cid patted Cloud on the back knocking him closer to Aerith.

"Em, Hi." Cloud's face went red with embarrassment and he quickly tried to hide it.

Cid rolled his eyes. "Well I hate to break up this little get together but we really should get you home." He took a few steps away and looked back at Cloud. "Well, cya later."

Cloud waved his hand and turn in the opposite direction.

"Oh, you're not coming with us." Aerith asked trying to hide her disappointment.

"Nah he's got some stuff to do first but I'm sure you'll see him again, Cloud's taken a job working for royal army." Cid explained.

"Well, I guess I'll see you around." Aerith smiled at him. "Oh! I almost forgot." She walked up to Cloud and gave him a small kiss on his cheek, which made his face turn bright red again. "Thanks for helping me earlier." Not wanting to embarrass him anymore she ran back to Cid and headed back towards the castle, once more removing the cigarette that had found its way to Cid's mouth.

Cloud watched them for a moment and then turned and walked back to the hotel, for the first time in awhile he had a smile on his face.