Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy VII.

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Sacrifice

Cloud watched in horror as Sephiroth descended onto the flower girl. He couldn't move, he tried to warn the praying girl but it was as if his voice had been muted. He barely noticed a dark brunet woman rush past him and pushed Aerith's unaware body out of harms way; only to be impaled instead. Pain flared throughout Tifa Lockheart's body as Sephiroth's long sword smoothly slid into her back and out of her chest, Aerith, who had now regained her senses let out a shrill scream of terror. Tifa's eyes widened a fracture and turned to look at her blond best friend. Her lips parted and she spoke her last few words:

"Goodbye Cloud." Sephiroth roughly tore his sword out of her fragile body and flew up wards. The Cetra was meant to die there, not her. Tifa closed her eyes, never to reopen them again and gracefully fell forward; her hair slipped out of its tie and followed the movement of her body. Aerith ran forward and caught her best friend before she hit the floor, crimson blood smeared on the flower girls pink dress but she didn't care, all that mattered now was the woman that lay in her arms. She sat in the centre of the altar cradling Tifa's lifeless form, rocking backwards and forwards Aerith gently stroked her friends deep brown hair and let her tears overflow onto the dead woman that she idolised.

Cloud couldn't breathe. He couldn't move. He couldn't talk. He couldn't do anything, only watch. She had been his life, as a child he always tried to impress her, always doing things to make her smile. He left her but when he came back she was still there for him. He took her for granted – everyone did –now she was gone. Images on Tifa flashed through his mind.

/flash/

An 8 year old Tifa missed her footing on the rope bridge, he tried to save her but they both fell of the mountain.

/flash/

Seeing 14 year old Tifa's surprised and sad eyes when he told her he was leaving for SOLDIER.

/flash/

A15 year old Tifa as a tour guide.

/flash/

Tifa close to death after trying to take revenge on her father's death.

/flash/

"Goodbye Cloud"

/flash/



Hot tears ran down his face uncontrollably as another image came to mind:

/flash/

"Hey, why don't we make a promise? Umm, if you get really famous and I'm ever in a bind... You come save me, all right?"

"What?" He asked his best friend with surprise evident in his voice.

"Whenever I'm in trouble, my hero will come and rescue me. I want to at least experience that once." Tifa smiled dreamily.

"What?"

"Come on--! Promise me--!"

"All right... I promise."

/flash/

He had failed her, he had broken that promise. Now he paid for it with her life.

"Why are you just standing there!?" Aerith screamed at him as she clung harder to Tifa, "Why? Why did she..." Her voice cracked, "I was meant to die! Not Tifa, never Tifa."

Cloud found himself moving towards her, he placed a hand on Aerith's shoulder and looked at her; she was coved in blood that was not her own. Silently he took Tifa's limp form from the distraught flower girl and cradled her in his strong arms.

-x-

He stood waist deep in the clear blue lake silently crying for Tifa. He held her close and studied her features one last time, eyes closed, pale face and a sincere smile on her lips. She looked so peaceful there in his arms. Violent sobs racked his body and he howled out into the night, he felt like he was being ripped apart slowly, he screamed and screamed for the pain was too much to bear all on his own. Cloud didn't know how long he stayed there i the lake with Tifa, hours, days, weeks? He didn't care anymore. He placed a soft kiss to her forehead and slowly lay her down in the water.

"Goodbye Tifa." He whispered hoarsely and watched as she went under the surface of the water. Her long hair faired out underneath her and to cloud, she looked like a goddess. When he lost sight of her to the depths of the waters he forced himself to turn away and head back to the shore.

Tifa Lockheart was dead.

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A/N: Please tell me if you want me to continue with this story.