Author's Notes: Hiyee! Oh no, quite a number of you felt sad after reading the last chapter. So sorry, didn't mean to. :passes Cloud and Vincent plushies: Well, this chapter is for all of you! It's a little different from the others. There's still a central poem, but I've also included random lines in italics from random stuff that I like. :D The format's quite similar to the very first chapter. Oh and today's February 7th! Happy Birthday, Aerith :hands out pink cookies:
Thoughts are in '…' and spoken dialogue is in "…".
Disclaimer: Square Enix owns Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, its predecessor and all their characters.
-Chapter 12: Borrowed Heaven
And ask ye why these sad tears stream?
Why these wan eyes are dim with weeping?
I had a dream–a lovely dream,
Of her that in the grave is sleeping.
Slowly they drifted, side by side, like smoke trails from a flame dancing in the wind. All they had was this fleeting moment together, in this intangible existence, held by the hope that the ashes left behind would be enough for both of them to cling on to. Would he even remember? Or would all traces of her be swept away after this, like dust in the wind? Yet, what did it matter. Just this moment was enough to treasure for a lifetime, for all eternity. There he was, fast asleep, and she need only reach out to feel the warmth of his skin.
My fallen tears are pilling up on the winds of time. At the end, I feel your breath.
She held him close, willing all his pain away. If only she had the power to do just that. 'After all this time, you're still that poor messed up kid.' A sad smile crept across her face. At least, he was here with her now.
His blood poured out, mingling with the flowing Lifestream. Summoning her power, she whispered words of a foreign tongue. To think it'd been two years since she'd last cast a spell, and what a spell that was. A warm glow bathed the two souls and slowly, the green life force snaked into him, gradually closing his wounds. "Rest now. Nothing can harm you here."
She murmured a quiet prayer and the endless green faded away, leaving only the two of them behind, surrounded by lilies as far as the eye could see. Such a gentle flower it was, not a thorn did it bear. All it asked was for someone who loved it enough to stroke its side.
"So this is where you wanted to be…" She whispered to the man that now lay in her arms.
Stalks of gold and silver swayed around them, performing a silent waltz in the wind. She stroked the pure white petal of one that tickled her side. So flawless, so beautiful… so sad.
"Thank you for tending to my flowers. You planted these white ones, didn't you?"
There was no response, only the rise and fall of his chest.
She turned to the face that rested against her breast, her cheeks turning a shade more scarlet. He appeared so at peace, who would have guessed. She'd almost forgotten how he'd looked like. Sometimes, she'd wondered if it'd been all a dream. Yet here he was with her, resting in blissful ignorance.
'Oh my… He was beautiful.' She mused, a girlish smile on her lips.
His breath brushed softly against her skin, its warmth lingering. How she'd missed this feeling, the touch of his skin against hers. She could stay like this, lost in him… forever. If only she could be selfish just this once and keep him all to herself. If only they never had to say goodbye.
But she was weak.
She traced her fingers across his forehead, slowly caressing his cheek. He smiled slightly, burying his face into her.
Bending down, she placed her lips against the tip of his ear.
"Cloud… Cloud……" She called, her voice trailing off.
The blonde stirred, his eyelids fluttering open. All she saw was blue. There was such a sense of déjà vu, and it didn't seem too long ago that he fell into her life. Yet, she would have liked to watch him sleep a little longer, to gaze fondly at his innocent slumbering form. What did he dream of? She felt so guilty waking him up.
I saw her as 'twas yesterday,
The bloom upon her cheek still glowing;
And round her play'd a golden ray,
And on her brows were gay flowers blowing.
Cloud surveyed the area lazily. The familiar floral scent carried on the breeze, the calm glow that bathed the area, the euphoria he felt being held in her arms. Cloud looked up, gazing into her infinite emerald eyes. He reached out, pushing aside the strands of hair that framed her face. She smiled back, that gentle, loving, smile he could never forget. It was unmistakable…
"Just a dream…" He said absently, his voice barely audible.
The fool. And what a fool she was for wanting to believe him. "That's right… Just a dream…"
His eyes lidded over, a carefree expression on his face. 'Just a……'
No, something was different. Cloud jolted up at the sudden realization: She'd never spoken to him before.
He cupped her face in his hands, almost frantically. Even through his gloves he could feel it. He just knew, it had to be...
She laughed. "Cloud, what are you doing!"
And for the first time in what seemed like eternity, Cloud smiled. He pressed his face against hers, slipping his arms around her. He could hardly believe it. "Nothing, nothing at all."
No I'm not impossible to touch, I have never wanted you so much. Come here, come here…
He closed his eyes, unable to wipe the grin off his face. After all this time, he finally felt her body against his. And it was just like he remembered. Never. Never again would he let anything come between the two of them.
Well I'm in no hurry, you don't have to run away this time.
"Don't ever leave me again, Aerith." He whispered to the woman he held in his arms. He breathed in the sweet scent that filled the air, the fragrance so delightful he nearly lost himself. The flowers, she smelt just like them. Yet, let these ephemeral blossoms fade away. All he wanted was to hold her forever. As long as he had her by his side, nothing mattered. Nothing mattered at all.
Hold me. Whatever lies beyond this morning is a little later on.
She didn't know what to tell him. He was so happy, she couldn't bear to… Instead, she nodded, embracing him tighter.
'Just a while more, then I'll be ready. Just a little while more…' The Planet owed her that much. At least let her hold him before letting go. Just this one last time.
She let out a soft sigh. 'Please never think that I ever wanted to.'
They stayed that way for some time, simply enjoying each other's warmth. Goodness, how they'd missed it. All this while they had been clinging on to memories of a time long gone, pretending they were only yesterday. In love with a dream, a dream they never wanted to wake from. Cloud looked up, his eyes tracing the horizon. "I'm surprised I actually made it here. I was afraid I'd never see the Promised Land, or you." His gaze fell back on her, on her billowing curls that danced around the flowers.
'Oh, Cloud. If only you'd stayed silent like your usual self.' She half-mocked inwardly.Do you love me, as I love you?
She pulled away, staring into his cerulean eyes. What a mistake that was. Her breath escaped her, her eyes closed, and all she could do was lean in to his kiss. 'Cloud… Don't do this to me.'Are you my life to be, my dream come true?
She stopped just as his lips touched hers. "You're… still alive." She said it as softly as she could, hoping he wouldn't hear.
Curse his Mako enhancements.Or will this dream of mine fade out of sight?
"What?" He gasped, and she heard his voice break. Something else, too, shattered.
Cold. She just felt so cold. 'Let me do it all over again. God, what did I do.'
She climbed to her knees and pulled him to her, clinging on to him like her source of salvation. He collapsed into her, unwilling to hold himself upright. This was the last straw, he wasn't sure he could take any more. If they held each other tight enough, perhaps they could stop themselves from crying. What wishful thinking it was. He trembled slightly against her, thankful that she was smothering him. If only she was kind enough to kill him.
"Why? I thought I was done for. Why?" He choked.
"I… healed you."
God dammit. All his plans, thwarted by the one person he did everything for in the first place. Irony had to be laughing at him right now.
He clawed into her back. Perhaps if he could disappear into her, then no one would be able to send him away. Heaven and hell be damned, there was no way he was leaving her. Who was he supposed to be angry at? That question was beyond him. All he knew was that it wasn't her.Don't you know me?
"Aerith, why did you? All I wanted was to be with you." He shook his head slightly in her bosom.
She buried her face into his soft spikes. Didn't he know that was all she wanted, too? "I had to, Cloud. It's not your time yet. You have to go back." Aerith bit into her lip, 'Be strong… for him.'
Cloud let out a heavy sigh. If anyone had said that he would have scowled and walked away. Anyone but her. He pulled away slightly, going on his knees as well. He stroked her loose hair, the honey strands catching the light. It was prettier let down like this. "All right, on one condition."
Aerith blinked slowly, clearing her mind. "Anything, I'd do anything at all."
He cupped his fingers behind her ears, stroking them gently. She closed her eyes, taking pleasure in the tiny shivers he was giving her. Cloud drew her head to his, pressing his forehead against hers. "Come back to me, that is all I ask."Don't you know me by now?
Aerith sucked in a short breath of air, bowing her head. "You know I can't."
Cloud sighed and fell back down, pulling her along with him. She stroked his face apologetically and climbed on his lap. Her back to him, staring out at the world around them, things looked a little different. This place was beautiful, wasn't it?
He entwined his fingers around hers. They looked so fragile, he would have laughed if anyone had said she could fight, had he not seen it with his own eyes. He played with her perfectly manicured pink nails, remembering the times he used to hold her hand. If he didn't think of the future, this was more than he could have asked for. The breeze caught her hair, exposing the nape of her neck. He kissed it softly before wrapping his arms around her, asking, "Then what do we do now?"
She squeezed his hands gently, "We don't have much time... Let's just enjoy this moment while it lasts."
Touch me deep, pure and true. Give to me forever.
Knowing they were on borrowed time put everything into perspective. There was no point holding back, or having second thoughts. If things were different, perhaps the words wouldn't have come as naturally as they did. This was it, and all they could do was cherish the moment before it slipped away.
"Do you still watch the sun rise?" She asked.
"No. There's not much reason to look forward to a new day." He replied, almost too naturally.
She turned round, pretending to look shocked. "Cloud Strife! There will be no moping about in these fields."
"Wha...?" He tried to pout.
"You heard me. No sulking, no self-loathing, nuh-uh. Not if I can help it." She wagged her finger playfully and poked the tip of his nose, giggling.
Aerith climbed out and placed her hands on his legs, leaning on them for support. He felt a little uneasy without her pressed against him, this empty space between them more terrifying than staring down the depths of a chasm. He glanced from her hands to her face; she had that look about her. That mischievous glint in her eyes that told she was up to something. It filled him with such a sense of wonderment, how someone could be filled with such rapturous energy. It was utterly disarming, undeniably seductive.
She took his hands in hers, jumping up. "C'mon, Cloud! Get up!"
She pulled him to his feet despite his weak protests, doing a tiny skip or two before dragging him off.
"Aerith, wait! Where are w...!" Cloud queried, absolutely lost.
She simply laughed. Aerith turned while running, looking straight into his eyes. She held it there for a while, the gaze possessing a burning intensity that threatened to consume him. She always seemed to pulsate with this blazing aura, and he would gladly step into the flames.
And I would run away, I would run away with you.
Aerith spun back round, relishing the wind against her face. Only with him did she feel so alive. Back then, she always wished she could fly. Out of the towering oppression of Midgar, away from the clutches of her captors. But now she knew flying was over-rated. No, she'd much rather feel the ground at her feet, hear the leaves rustle as she brushed past them, steal glances at him as they sped off hand-in-hand. Running as fast as their legs could carry them, not caring where they were headed. Just him and her, the rest of the world could wait.
Aerith slowed down to catch her breath, her face flushed. "Hey, do you know what I missed most?" She quizzed.
Cloud raised an eyebrow, genuinely confused. "No, what?"
Aerith leaned forward, hands behind her back.
'I know I missed that the most.' He thought to himself.
"That line of yours." She teased.
"Huh?" He was hopeless at this.
She lowered her voice, crossed her arms and pulled a sulk, "You can't do this—"
"—It's too dangerous." He finished for her, laughing. She giggled along.
"You remembered!" She clapped her hands and bounced slightly.
"How could I forget." He said with a lopsided grin.
Aerith flexed her biceps playfully, "One day I'll make it into SOLDIER, just you wait!" She joked.
"Yeah, once you stop panting." He chuckled.
"Oh, you're terrible!" She shoved him lightly and he faked a fall, dragging her along as she squealed.
She propped herself up, bending slightly over him as she recovered from the startle he gave her. She always behaved so impulsively with him. Cloud ran a finger through her cascading hair, teasing the strands as they caught the breeze. He blinked slowly, listening to the wind as it whispered to him.
"How do I know that you're real?" He mused, fingering the fabric of the flowing dress she had on.
"How do you know that I'm not?" She pinched him softly on his jaw. "I'm as real as you want me to be."
"If everything's a dream, don't wake me." He caressed the side of her face.
But she knew otherwise, his words cautioning her of the future ahead. She dreaded having to do this, yet it was the reason she was here. "Cloud…" She looked purposefully into his eyes, "Geostigma is depleting the Lifestream."
Aerith paused, willing herself to continue. "It'll destroy everything, Cloud."
"Let it. And hopefully it'll get rid of me." He stated nonchalantly, turning to the flowers that knelt by his face.
Aerith cupped his cheek, gently persuading him to look back at her. She didn't want to resort to this; she already hated herself for it. "Cloud, it'll destroy me."
His breath caught in his throat, the blood in his veins running cold. Cloud sat up, panicked.
"With the Lifestream gone, so are the souls within it. We won't be able to see each other again…" She explained, digging her nails into her arms.
"And I would have helped him." He hung his head, hating himself for what he had done.
She felt horrible. "No, Cloud, you wouldn't. Even if Vincent hadn't come, I know you wouldn't."
"You think too highly of me." He turned away, ashamed.
"No, you just think too lowly of yourself." She patted his cheek lightly, smiling.
"Hmph…" He shook his head, smirking slightly. Cloud looked down, only to find a flower staring right back at him. He treasured the ivory-coloured flowers, only they knew his pain and loneliness. However it was the yellow-tipped ones, as vibrant as the Sun yet as comforting as butterscotch on a rainy day… They were the ones he truly loved.
Loved so much that he loathed himself.
"I think… I want to be forgiven." He paused, trying to convince himself. Mistake after mistake, failing her was all he seemed to be good at. "Hmm… I want to be forgiven."
She reached out, pulling him into an embrace. He didn't deserve to be forced into this, she just wished there was some other way. She ran her fingers through his hair, circling her thumb round the back of his neck. "There's nothing to be forgiven."
He hung his head lower, resting his jaw on her shoulder. "But… I just stood by and let you die. And now this…"
She held him closer. After all these years, he still managed to blame himself. "No, Cloud, you did nothing wrong. It had to be done… All that mattered was that you tried to come for me."
She brushed her lips on his left temple before kissing the spot softly, "Save me, Cloud. One last time."
He closed his eyes. "Okay." He breathed on the side of her neck, putting his lips to it. He trailed kisses up, pausing at her jaw. "What do I do?" He asked.
Aerith held his face at the tips of her fingers, her head tilted and just a hair's breadth away, "You'll know, in time." Cloud leaned in, pressing his lips against hers. His tongue danced around hers sensuously, his trembling kiss a hint of their escalating passion. Aerith parted slightly, inhaling a small breath. "Cloud… Thank you." She leaned back into him, unable to bear the loss of feeling his mouth on hers…
I strove to reach her, when, behold,
Those fairy forms of bliss Elysian,
And all that rich scene wrapt in gold,
Faded in air–a lovely vision!
She lied atop his chest, her honey-brown hair trailing onto the ground. Time seemed to stand still whenever she was in his arms… Oh how she wished it were true. She listened to his steady breathing. Was he asleep again? She smiled to herself. All she hoped was for this moment to last longer.
Yet, she could feel this was it. It's foreboding presence nagging at the back of her mind. No matter how hard she struggled to put it away, this time she couldn't. She let out a soft sigh, it was all her reeling soul could muster. Aerith shifted slightly. She knew the time would come, but by no means did it make it any easier.
Will you stay with me? Wait until the wind passes? All my tears are still flowing.
Cloud ran a hand down her back, and she trembled slightly. "Don't go, please don't go. Stay here with me." He pleaded. Was he greedy to ask for more? No, perhaps just selfish.
It surprised her that he knew. Perhaps he could feel it, too. Perhaps. She looked into his eyes. It was back again. That look of desperation and hopelessness. It was foolish of her to have thought they'd somehow go away, though she prayed some day they would. In her heart she knew she could never bear to leave him, not like this. But what choice did she have?
Forever love, forever dream. Stay with me like this. Hold my trembling heart in the dawn.
She held his face gently in her hands and brushed her lips against his forehead. "We have forever, Cloud. What does 'now' matter?" She kissed him slowly down the side of his face. Perhaps enough love could mend this broken man in her arms.
"It matters to me." Cloud whispered, his eyes reflecting the skies above.
He hurt her without even trying.
Beautiful girl, I'll search on for you.
Cloud tilted her head slightly so he could face her. "Will I ever see you again?" He asked, his eyes seeking an answer. Above everything else, he feared he would lose her forever.
Aerith pulled away slightly, her face beautifully sad. "Do you want to?"
"More than anything else." He moved in to kiss her, afraid this vision of her would haunt him through sleepless nights. She was his sole promise of an unattainable paradise, the one thing he refused to let Sadness lay claim.
He kissed her slowly, wanting to remain in this evanescent intimacy. They parted, the warmth of his breath still lingering on her skin. She smiled, "Then we will."
"I l-" Cloud mouthed.
Aerith placed a finger to his lips, trailing down them to his chin. "Ssshhh… I know." She kissed him, hoping to seal her burning desire to bind him here with her, never to let him go. "Tell me some other time."
Till all of your loveliness in my arms come true.
She combed her fingers through his golden hair, wrapping stray strands around them as she pulled him to her for one last consuming kiss. "Cloud, it's time." She murmured, breathless, through closed eyes.
Good night, good night. Parting is such sweet sorrow.
"Time for what?" Cloud whispered dreamily, lost in her arms. His consciousness was slowly slipping away, yet the feel of her skin against his was still incredibly pleasurable.
That I may say 'Good night' till it be morrow.
Aerith opened her eyes, taking in the sight that lay before her. The hint of an afterglow on his skin, the slight swelling in his lips, that precious expression of quiet bliss on his features. She would miss him. She leaned forward, placing her lips against his ear. Closing her eyes, not wanting to watch, she whispered as gently as she could, "Time to wake up."
And I awoke, but oh! to me
That waking hour was doubly weary;
And yet I could not envy thee,
Although so blest, and I so dreary.
And ask ye why these sad tears stream - Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Ah, I hope it wasn't fluff overdose, heh heh. I actually drew something for this chapter but I wasn't too sure on how to do the Lifestream so I passed it over to my friend. But the poor guy has a very hectic life, so I guess it's up to me now. Will have it up on my Deviant Art account on Valentine's Day:big grin: It's funny how my previous artwork was uploaded on Valentine's Day last year as well. For those interested, the address to my Deviant Art account is in chapter one! Oh yes, since people keep asking me. Yup, there are references to other fics scattered all throughout Advent of Dreams! You might have caught one to "I Know What's Beneath the Snowfields", or "Breathing" and in this chapter there's reference to "Ephemeral Blossoms" and one of my favourite fics of the moment, "Morning". There are many more if you try to find them, go give all these fics a look:glomps authors:
Oh, the lines in this chapter were from:
Tears, X Japan
Come Here, Movie Theme: Before Sunrise / Before Sunset
Simple and Clean, Utada Hikaru
In The Still of the Night, Movie Theme: De-lovely
Dreams Cakes and Milkshakes, Poem from Before Sunrise
Kissing You, Movie Theme: Romeo + Juliet
Runaway, The Corrs
Forever Love, X Japan
Beautiful Girl, Jose Marie Chan
Act II Scene II, Romeo Juliet
Hollowed Shame: Thank you! You're very sweet :huggles:
Magenta2: Whee! What a small world! I didn't know I knew you already :smiles:
SwT-LiL-AnGel: Oh no! So sorry you had to read the whole thing again! Tell you the truth I had to, too:lmao: Ah, Cloud will be all right, I think. At this moment, anyway. Heh heh. :grins:
i won't tell: Thank you, thank you! LOL! Your reviews are always the most fun to read. :smiles: Yeah, I'm better at angst than humour, too! And fluff, for that matter! Haha, this chapter is rather different from all the rest. I played Chain of Memories, too! They might as well have called it FFVII-2, I used Cloud more than Sora:points to an ENTIRE deck of Cloud cards: I shall not admit how many times I reloaded the moogle shop. :sticks out tongue: Hindi song? You're from India? Cool! I have a number of classmates from there!
Strife711: Hello! You my boy need to update. Like, now:lmao: See, I'm beating you, and I'm about one of the biggest procrastinators to ever walk the face of this Earth. :sends over muse:
KokoroHikaru: Hihi! Thanks for the review! Yeah, no Denzel here! Though he is cute! Too bad he came on after I was done with the orphanage chapter!
avalon-chan: Lol! I don't know which is better, begging or demanding. :grins: Well, I guess I need to write something about Vincent. Maybe in the next chapter!
Beneath The Remains: Loved your fics! Waiting for the one on Aerith :big grin: gets popcorn ready:
generalquistis: Tifa, my girl:worships ground you walk on: Did you catch that line from your fic:grins: Hope you write more Cleris fics!
corkykiggs:sobs: Maybe ate the review, it wouldn't be a first! Well, as long as this one got in! Thank you so much! Oh, don't cry… :passes pink tissues: