"Awake already?" he asked softly, and she wondered how he could always tell. She doubted she would ever ask him, though. She liked to think that it was because he was always so aware of her that he noticed everything...
"Mmhmm," she answered, wondering idly if she would ever catch him sleeping. He always woke up before her. "It isn't that early."
"Perhaps not," he agreed, "but I thought you'd be tired."
She lifted her head to look at him, returning the faint smirk on his lips with a smile of her own. "I always sleep well with you," she said. She lay back against him. "I was dreaming, anyway..."
"Not a nightmare, or you would not be so calm."
"Right..." she replied. "It was a good dream..."
Sephiroth gently began playing with her hair. "What was it about?"
She smiled and closed her eyes to remember it. "I dreamt that I was sitting atop a hill... You know, that one a ways past the pagoda that overlooks part of the city..."
"I know," he said. They had been there many times.
"And it was early autumn," she went on. "The leaves were just beginning to turn color... I was sitting at the crest of the hill, and you were down below, talking with the children."
"The children?" he queried, sounding puzzled, but not for any obvious reasons.
Her smile broadened as she answered. "Our children. There were three of them... The eldest was a girl, Kari's age, and another girl a few years younger, and then a little boy, and he sat in your lap. I remember he had just asked you where babies came from, and you looked to me for help..."
"And did you come help me?"
Aeris laughed. "Worried that I won't in the future, are you?" she teased. "Yes, I did go down. But you know how dreams are... when I reached you, that wasn't the topic at all, and I'm not even sure it was the same place. The younger girl was trying to braid your hair, but you didn't want her to because you knew she'd just tangle it... So I was laughing, and I went to lend you a hand, and then I woke up."
"Why do you suppose you woke up just then?" Sephiroth asked.
"I don't know... but I think I'm glad I did."
She held him more tightly, her arms about him. "Now I have you for real, all to myself..."
One of his hands trailed down her bare back, coming to rest at her waist. "...do you really think we'll have three children...?" he murmured absently.
"Probably? What makes you so sure?"
"Well... Whenever I have dreams that vivid, they tend to come true in some way or another."
He paused thoughtfully, and she could imagine him frowning. "Aeris... what were they about? Your dreams that came true?"
"...there was one... where Jenova was talking to me, and then she used you to push me off... some sort of cliff... and then you came back to yourself and followed. I landed somewhere, and I had your hand. I begged you not to go, you said she was waiting, and I said you'd never come back if you went. You asked me for strength, and I didn't give it to you..."
"We had that very same conversation," Sephiroth said quietly. There was no doubt in his voice. "I... wanted you to say you loved me back, and you didn't. It should not have hurt so much."
She pulled back again to look at him. "How do you know?"
"I was in the dream, wasn't I?"
"Do you mean to say that we were both... dreaming the same dream, each from our own point of view?"
"Is that so impossible?" He reached up, tucked a tendril of her hair behind her ear. "We are linked, you and I."
Sephiroth frowned. "Nothing of mine was withheld from her, not even my dreams. She was a part of everything but my most unconscious thoughts."
"No wonder you went mad," she murmured, settling down.
"Why did we not share that last dream of yours?" he asked.
"Maybe we did," Aeris replied. "I'm quite certain that I don't always remember these dreams. I only get a sort of déjà vu when something reminds me of them."
"...I wonder if we would even have met if we hadn't been what we are and done what we did," she mused, mind travelling down a stray train of thought. She knew Sephiroth would be able to follow it. "If you hadn't gone insane and I hadn't tried to stop you... Would we even be together?"
"...probably not," he said slowly. "If I had never gone insane, you would have still had Zack..."
"Zack was a friend of yours, wasn't he?" she asked thoughtfully.
"I suppose you could call him that..."
Aeris smiled. "I'd like to think that we'd have been together anyway, even if it's unlikely... Maybe you would have met me through him... But I suppose, what does it matter? As long as I'm here with you now... everything else is all behind us."
There was a long pause. "Even your death?" Sephiroth asked softly.
"You know I forgave you a long time ago. You've never forgiven yourself, though, because you've never understood why you did it."
"I do understand, Aeris. I have understood for a long time, but I did not want to admit it..."
She pulled back and looked down at him. "Why then?"
"I did not tell myself it was your punishment... I told myself it was... not a reward, but what you deserved. Your friends could not appreciate you, I thought. Your life had to have been lonely, like mine, when no one could understand you. So I returned you to the Planet, telling myself that when I became one with it, you would be part of me too. And you would be happy..."
Aeris stared into his eyes. "I think... I would have been..." she whispered. "I'm certainly happy to be with you now... I love you so much..."
"I love you more," he said, a smile tugging at his lips.
She laughed and kissed him, not challenging his words. It was a playful argument they often got into. One that he won quite frequently. This time, she would just let him have his way from the start. She lay back against him after a moment. "...I know it," she said quietly, abruptly.
"Know what?" he asked, aware that she was not replying to his words.
"I've found my Promised Land," she answered. "It's here, with you."
"...how ironic that I was searching for mine, and yet for so long it was following me," Sephiroth remarked.
"And it is so wonderful to know that you'll never run from me again."
"Of course I will never run from you. I am no longer afraid of anything, least of all you." He rolled over on top of her as if to demonstrate how easily he could dominate her and exactly why he had no reason to fear her.
Aeris smiled slightly, trailing a hand along his chest. "What about yourself? Are you afraid of yourself?"
"No, not even myself." He bent down to kiss her, so deeply and yet so gently that she moaned softly. "You've said it yourself," he went on, pulling back. "That I'm not really very frightening."
"Not frightening at all," she breathed. "I'm glad, Sephiroth... so glad..." She trailed her fingers through a thick, silken lock of silver hair. "But enough talk..."
"As you wish..." he murmured, grinning. She would treasure that expression forever, she thought with a smile before his kiss made everything else melt away.
Author's Notes(the more seriouser ones): This fic didn't exactly turn out like I thought it would. I wanted it to be a lot darker, for one thing. I'm utterly amazed at the number of warm and fuzzy scenes I managed to write. lol. And I certainly didn't expect it to turn into an AeriSeph. I was inspired by "I Know What's Beneath the Snowfields," an AeriVin. I thought it would become an AeriVin, too. But it didn't. It seems like whenever I stick Sephiroth and Aeris in the same story, I always end up throwing them together. At first, I really didn't know why, but I think I've thoroughly analyzed all the reasons with this fic. All in all, though, I'm pretty satisfied with this. Hey, I finished it, and that's an accomplishment. I've never finished a story before in my life. Haha. Go me! *dances*