Disclaimer: I do not own FF7, any related characters, scenes, locales, etc. I just write fanfic (like this one) about it.

Warnings: deathfic, sadness, etc. If you don't like Aeris, death, blood, violence, sad things, etc, this is not the piece for you. So, please, save yourself a load of time and click the back button, or hit the backspace bar. Either works.

Author's Note: for some reason, I've been in a really Aeris mood lately. She was probably one of two characters I actually liked in FF7, and I still liked her in Advent Children, even though they changed her name for no intelligent reason. Crisis Core… let's just forget about Crisis Core for a minute, ok?

Music: 4 different versions of Aeris' Theme, from FF7, the Piano Collection, Advent Children and Crisis Core, as well as "The Burdened" from Crisis Core, and "The Promised Land" from Advent Children.


Flexing her hands, she coiled lithe, lightly toned fingers around the pale banister. The water beyond that banister looked cool, welcoming, the soft glow of the Lifestream illuminating it. A soft smile quirked on her lips. This place was peaceful, comfortable. Though she had never been there before, until now, it felt so familiar.

Closing bright emerald eyes, Aeris breathed in deeply. Deep beneath the ruined city on the surface, this cavern was pristine, the air fresh and untouched for years, decades, centuries, maybe. Aeris did not know the history of her people so well as she would have wished. Her mother had died too soon.

With a sigh, she sagged against the railing. Despite how much ShinRa had done to her, the few remaining of her people, the world itself, she could not wish ill upon them. Her hands wrung the railing. She just wished they would realize what they were doing to the planet. When they realized, they would stop. She was sure of it.

Clasping her hands, closing her eyes, she listened. The water flowed far beneath her feet in a current she could not pinpoint the source of. A soft breeze ruffled her hair, the pink ribbon Zack gave her which still tied it up. The Lifestream, she could feel its tendrils dancing below the water, deep within Gaia, and high high above it, though it was so distant now, that she could barely make it out.

The rocks and dirt, the cavern, the world itself: it was crying.

Silver bracelets clicking together as she unclasped her fingers, she let her hands fall to her sides. Eventually they ended back up on the railing.

Holy. It was the one thing which could stop the Black Materia, Meteor, Sephiroth, the Calamity. Holy… Aeris let her gaze drift to the crystalline waters, searching it for the fabled White Materia. One could not exist without the other, and yet, it seemed now that only one would be found.

Reaching up, she tightened the pink bow on her hair, fingers brushing the cool, faintly radiant sphere her mother had given her. It was a materia, but did not seem to do anything. Her mother had said it would protect her, which was what mattered. It was her last keepsake.

The sound of footsteps came to her ears, and she turned, slowly at first, looking over her red denim encased shoulder, up to the top of the cavern ruins. They had come. A smile ghosted across her lips. Now was not the time for her to leave, though. She had yet to find Holy. Turning, she clasped her hands again, reddish-brown brows pulling in in concentration. Holy. Her mind probed for it; it felt so close, so close but just out of reach somehow, like something was blocking her, like she couldn't use it yet.

The planet needed this!

Her emerald eyes opened to slits, watching as a tuft of golden spikes became visible over the lip of her secluded platform, and then he was there. His SOLDIER uniform was only slightly rumpled. It was just like the one Zack had worn. And that sword… There was no mistaking the little details across the hilt, the top guard, everything; that had been Zack's mentor's sword, and then Zack's, and now…

Tseng had never told her what happened. She could only hope for the best.

The hiss of the Buster Sword being freed from its bindings made her squeeze her eyes tight, refusing to look. She had only seen Zack raise that sword in a salute to hopes, dreams and honor. This was…

It did not matter what Cloud did. She could feel it now. Her sweet smile became just a touch sad, though she knew this had to happen. They would find Holy, and be safe. The planet told her that.

The yelling of the others did not register, though she knew they were making Cloud stop. His own voice was frustrated, struggling against the Calamity. She did not have to open her eyes to see it, but she did.

Cloud had taken a few steps back, arms trembling as if combating some unseen force. The tip of the Buster Sword was digging in to the crumbling stone of the dais. That held it at bay.

Holy! Her eyes widened, lips parting. She had to tell them! It had been there, all along! It was right—

The breath caught in her lungs, torso going ridged. Her hands loosened, fingers falling apart as her hands tumbled to either side of her. The ring of her bracelets barely reached her ears, and she swallowed. She swallowed again, trying to get the taste of blood out of her mouth, to make it go away, but it only got worse. She licked her dry lips, and knew they glistened red now.

Sagging, she saw the blade, glistening now with her blood, her life force. It would all return to the Lifestream soon. That blade was a work of art, beautifully curved, shining, so difficult to wield yet so graceful at the same time. She could feel his presence behind her, so near, and she shivered.

No phoenix down would help her now. The Calamity, she could feel his taint, seeping into her veins, her cells, invading her body and killing her just as surely as the Masamune, protruding from her, was. There was nothing else to be done.

Slowly, the blade retracted, until the final, harsh yank to free it jolted her. Aeris forced a smile, blinking to keep the tears from showing in her eyes.

She hadn't tightened the ribbon in her hair enough. She could feel it unravel, her mother's gift, the materia, Holy, slipping from its bounds. All she could hear over the rush of blood in her ears was the chime Holy made as it bounced across the stone floor, down the winding columns leading up there, before it finally hit the water with a soft splash.

It would sink. It would go back to the Lifestream, and she would follow it there.

Though she couldn't speak, couldn't say goodbye, that was her final, silent promise. She would follow it.