Bittersweet Night Sky

"Aerith?" She heard in the distance a voice she so well knew calling her. "Aerith, wake up." The voice called again, this time closer, louder and yet in a whisper. He felt one hand caressing softly her cheek, moving her light brown hair off her eyes as they opened in a blink. Aerith looked back, rolling her head on the pillow and saw, there in front of her, a pair of sapphire blue eyes glowing in the small night light coming from the window of her bedroom. Under the sheets Aerith slid her hands to her eyes and rubbed them forcing to open from her deep sleep.

"Cloud?" She asked in a yawn. "Is something wrong?"

"No." The blond man shook his head. "I need you to come with me."

"Ok." Aerith agreed. Not understanding the reason why in the world he was waking her up in the middle of the night, she trusted him, if he needed her she would go, regardless of anything. Pulling the warm sheets to the side, she got up and headed for her closet to get something to wear while Cloud waited at the doorway, back turned at her while she quickly took off her night clothes and dressed a white sleeveless until the knees dress and took out a red short jacket so she wouldn't be cold. Reaching out for Cloud, she placed her hands on his shoulders and pushed him slowly towards the hall, down the stairs to the main living room.

"So… Where are you taking me?" Aerith asked curiously, fixing her fringe with her fingers.

"Can you wait outside for just one second, I have to get something first." Aerith nodded and headed through the door into the night. She closed her eyes as she breathed in the fresh night air, standing still in front of their house in Hollow Bastion hoping they didn't make much noise coming downstairs so the others wouldn't wake up. Taking a good grip of her red cotton coat to her chest as to get cosy, she looked up at the starry sky, her emerald green eyes lost in the vast darkness above. A gentle breeze blew, waving her light brown hair softly in the night. She sighed, not a restless sigh nor a peaceful one, a sigh of tiredness. The heartless had been attacking again over Maleficent's command, so all of her friends including herself had been busier than ever, in Merlin's house, Cid's new office. Times were difficult once again, but not everything was lost. He was finally there with them. Suddenly, as she thought about how grateful she was for him to have returned, light but yet noticeable steps were heard coming from behind, she turned around on her feet, only to find a dark figure come into the street lamp's faint light. The light illuminated first, his boots, then his black clothes, showing his strong muscled arm, and finally the spiky blond hair followed by two ocean blue glowing eyes in his ever so coolly and distant expression.

"Cloud…" She called softly, smiling at the man. "You startled me… just a little bit." She motioned with her fingers.

"Sorry…" His voice echoed in her ears.

"Are we ready to go yet, or do you need another look in the mirror to perfect your hair?" Aerith giggled, taking a few steps closer to him looking up into his eyes.

"Already did!" He teased her looking down avoiding the emerald green eyes whose he always thought were intimidating every time they looked at him. A pair of big round inquisitive green eyes that whenever they caught something to look at, they could bring out everything they wanted to know.

"Oh you!" Her soft voice turned into a giggle.

"Follow me Aerith." Cloud started, and in a gesture he grabbed her hand in his and pulled the girl in white along the silent, dark street which in a more attentive look they could see the moisture of the night gathering on the building's walls and on the street lamps that stood still along side of them as they passed by down the street. "I want to show you one place I know." He turned his head back at the following girl as they walked, and as he did he could see a glimpse of her eyes glowing dark green anytime they passed under the light of a lamp. They walked, footsteps echoing in the street, making a sound of sand scraping onto the stone floor under their shoes. Aerith kept silent as the man holding her hand in front of her leaded them further into the streets of Hollow Bastion.

"Isn't it dangerous to be out this hour in the night?" She asked breaking the silence.

"It is if you're not with me." Cloud ever so coolly replied but kept going without looking back at the girl. She made an effort not to roll her eyes as he pronounced those words and kept going.

"May I ask where we're going?"

"You may, but I'm not answering. It's a surprise." Cloud once again evaded the curious girl. She knew no matter how many times she asked, he was not telling her a thing, so she might as well go along with him and not ask questions. As they glided down the road hand in hand, Cloud watched Aerith through the corner of his eye, smirking slightly at the girl's expression of confusion in her face.

"We're here." Cloud finally stopped in the middle of a street with nothing but walls from the many houses around, and a few benches scattered around the floor, once for people to rest at, but now just the shatters of some fight with the heartless.

"But there's nothing here." Aerith concluded looking around, her hair loose from sleeping, waving in the gestures of her head.

"Look again." And with that, the blond spiky haired man looked around to check if someone was watching them, and slowly crouched near a yellow wall where a bench was leaned on. He effortless pushed the bench away as well as some pieces of broken wood and motioned for Aerith to get down. Behind where the bench and wood had been, a small and yet fit for an adult to pass through, hole on the wall could be seen. "After you." Aerith frowned an eyebrow at Cloud but did as he said so. Crouching on the floor, she passed trough the hole, placing one hand on the wall bricks that were showing, for support, she went on all fours inside the hole, followed two seconds later by Cloud. As Aerith crawled down the hole it wasn't long before she felt the green, soft and fresh texture of grass under her hands. Rising to her feet she couldn't believe her eyes. She was standing at the entrance of a small circle-shaped garden, lined with a green grass carpet and right in the middle of the tiny garden stood one lonely but beautiful cherry tree, flowered with light pink cherry flowers and its log and branches a perfect smooth dark brown. Around the tree, a bunch of white daisies gathered in a vast flower bed on the ground. But the most surprisingly of all, was a huge round fountain in the corner of the garden, throwing a singing water over its stone star-shaped recipients to make the water fall waterfall-like. The fullmoon light illuminated the garden in a soft white light making the waterdrops fall gently shining like the stars in the sky. She opened her mouth in awe and lifted her hand to cover it as she looked around the flowers and cherry tree. The garden had been hiding there inside the tall walls of an abandoned house. Aerith could see the broken wood stairs leading into the shattered glass door up on the porch of the house.

"How did you find this place?" She turned at Cloud, eyes widened glowing a shiny emerald green.

"Once me and Leon were fighting some heartless outside in the street we accidentally made that whole on the wall, but we noticed it leaded somewhere inside this house. We went to look and got to this place but it was nothing like this. The fountain was a huge pile of stones, the tree was dry, almost dead, and there were just a few flowers around, mostly grass and wild herbs." Cloud informed as he looked into the girl's happy eyes. "I decided to fix everything, take care of the tree and water the flowers. Leon helped me a lot constructing the fountain. I… wanted to make you this so we could have our own secret place. And…" Cloud suddenly stopped talking and looked down, avoiding eye contact.

"And?" Aerith asked, blinking. "What's wrong?"

"And I wanted you to have some place where you could remember me when I'm gone." Aerith's smile faded from her lips as he said that, her hands dropped along her body.

"What do you mean?"

"Aerith…" Cloud gave one step forward towards her. "I have to go away tomorrow."

"Go? Where?" Aerith's eyes started watering as she didn't want to believe those words. "You're going after him aren't you?" It stroke her. Cloud had always been in a constant search for Sephiroth, that one winged devil, and he would never rest until he got even with him, until he killed him. Cloud looked down once again, silent. "Cloud-"

"Please Aerith." He interrupted. "I need to do this. It's my only way to be in piece. It's my only way of finally having some rest."

"If that's something you have to do…" Aerith let a tear come down her cheek. "I can't really stop you. Just promise me you'll be careful." Cloud nodded and reached for her cheek, cleaning with the back of his finger the wet vertical trail her tear left behind on her cheek.

"When I come back, I'll stay forever." Cloud assured the girl. "This garden is my gift to you. If sometimes you feel lonely, come here and you'll feel me. I'll be here."

"Thank you for this Cloud." Aerith looked up at him and smiled. "It's beautiful. But in that case, I have a gift for you too" As she said that, Aerith walked closer to him, and slowly leaned forward, eyes not leaving his. Leaning closer and closer to him, she felt his warm breath on her nose until their lips met softly. Cloud lifted his hands to her waist as she placed hers on his back and stood there in that unforgettable kiss.

"Just seeing your face looking at the garden, made my whole life have meaning." Cloud parted from the kiss, keeping his forehead gently pressing hers, closing his eyes as he spoke. "Thank you Aerith."

"For what?" She whispered, eyes filling with tears.

"For being my light."

The next morning, Aerith was awaken by the first sun rays of the morning passing through the cherry flowers above in the branches. She slept there under the tree in the arms of the blond soldier but sitting up on the grass, she noticed he wasn't there anymore. Next to her, was his necklace though, a silver current with a wolf pendant bringing it down with its weight.

"I'll be waiting for you." Aerith looked up at the sky and held the necklace tightly in her hand.

-The end