The soul flowed in the Lifestream. She was one with it, one with the other souls... but not quite. Something still held her back. She sensed a presence in the Lifestream, someone who was actually alive. More than one... but the other quickly disappeared, dissolved into the Lifestream, joined them, became one. But not quite. There was something different about that soul. Her memory called to her. Sephiroth...? Was he dead? Then... the other... Cloud?
She strained herself and for a moment, found sight. Wonderful sight. Cloud... she reached to him. But she was not alive, her substance failed, the image wavered, died. She was sightless again. It wasn't so bad, to be almost entirely without senses. There was a swell of energy, a general discomfort among the souls around her. Time had passed quickly. It did not surprise her. Time was indefinite here, ebbing and flowing, like an ocean, like the Lifestream itself. Meteor-something to do with Meteor. Holy was not stopping it. She strained herself, strained her essence. She had no form, no shape, only dim thought, emotion, and fading awareness. Stretching, she felt the Lifestream surge, surge to stop Meteor. She pushed with her soul, her effort, her mind. Meteor, dissolved, destroyed, dead.
She felt a tug at the Lifestream... no... just her. Something was calling her, and she was powerless to resist. Her soul was pulled through the current, out of it, as if giant fingers had plucked her from the water. She tried to struggle, but there was no body to struggle with. She tried to scream, but had no mouth to scream with. She tried to look at her captor, but found no eyes to see with. Moments passed, suspended in nothingness, in void, no presence near her. Then, even her faint consciousness began to fade. Slipping away, sliding, like so many forgotten memories...
Aeris opened her eyes. Eyes...? She blinked, looked around. She was surrounded by flowers, brilliant reds and pale blues among the vibrant green leaves. So familiar. She felt the soft stems underneath her, sat up. It was a field of flowers, thousands of them, differently colored. And the sky-a beautiful, clear blue. Aeris climbed to her feet. The Promised Land. The Cetra will return to the Promised Land. A land that promises supreme happiness. What happiness? All she felt was...... emptiness. A lonely heartache. Cloud.........
Voices... people... others of the Cetra? One of the voices was familiar. Aeris turned around to face the Cetra. "...Mother?"
Ifalna smiled and stepped forward, away from the group. "Aeris..." Her green eyes sparkled, her long brown hair tied back in a flowing ponytail, her magenta dress wrapped around at the bottom with blue silk. Much the same as when Aeris had last seen her, on the steps of the train station, fifteen years ago... when she was only a little girl. But her mother-her true mother-was happy now. This was her Promised Land, the Promised Land for all the other Cetra, too, Aeris realized as she looked around at all the smiling faces. She managed a weak smile, so weak... she wasn't happy. Her mother seemed to notice, and tilted her head in concern. "What's wrong?"
Aeris shook her head, looked down at her feet. "I... Cloud..." She trailed off, sighing.
Ifalna nodded. "You love him." Aeris looked up at the words. She was almost surprised, but it was true. It had always been true. "But you won't be able to see him again. You have to let go. All of us had to learn to let go."
Aeris felt tears come to her eyes. She didn't want to let go. How could she? She sniffed, wiped at her eyes. Crying would do her no good. "Why couldn't I just stay in the Lifestream? Then, someday... maybe I'd meet him again."
Her mother shook her head sadly. "It... doesn't work that way. All we can do from here is watch. We can live our lives however we want-this place; it's very fertile-but, when it comes to the real world... we cannot interfere, other than how I did with you. But now there are no more Cetra still living, no one to talk to as I once talked to you."
Aeris lowered her eyes, stared at her feet. Flowers flattened beneath large brown boots... She lifted her head. "Can I watch, then? If I can't be with him, I at least want to see him." Ifalna took her by the hand and turned to walk through the field of flowers. Aeris followed blindly, not paying any attention to the beautiful surroundings. At last, they stopped, and she looked up. They were standing on a grassy area, a sparkling blue lake stretched out in front of them. A cluster of tall trees stood to one side of the lake, a tree house in their boughs.
Ifalna waited a moment, then led her up the ladder to the house, taking her inside a comfortable living room. A soft couch sat against one wall, a brightly colored woven rug upon the floor, a rocking chair in the corner. A table sat in the middle of the room, and the wall opposite the couch held a large bay window with a window seat. Sunlight streamed in, casting light upon the floor, the table, and the sofa. Ifalna walked through the door on the far side, gesturing to Aeris to make herself comfortable. She sat down on the soft cushions, staring at the wood grain of the table. Her mother came back into the room, setting a rather large mirror upon the table. Aeris blinked, looked at Ifalna questioningly.
"Mirrors here allow you to look to the real world, if you want them to," her mother explained.
Aeris nodded and turned to the mirror. "So, I can see Cloud through this. I can watch him?"
"How?" Aeris inquired.
Ifalna smiled. "All you have to do is think of what you want the mirror to do." Aeris looked into the glass, willing it to show her Cloud. She blinked as the image suddenly appeared in place of her own. The Highwind, now an airplane, had landed at the edge of Northern Crater once more and Cloud was standing at its edge, shaking his head. Rock had crumbled from the side, making any path downwards quite impossible. Aeris leaned forward, putting her elbows on the table and her chin in her hands.