Disclaimer: I do not own, nor do I even think I own, FF-7 and its compilations, or any characters within them, in any way, shape, or form. This also extends to any RL trademarks, businesses, and/or companies (Like McDonalds, Wal-Mart, Barnes and Nobles, ect ect ect) that may or may not find its way into any of my stories. I'm just…borrowing them for awhile…:P Yeah… I like the sound of that~


Chapter One

"Cloud."

'He...he actually smiled… at me.'

"Cloud?"

'God…that smile…'

"Cloud! Kupo!"

A smack to back of his head brought Cloud from dreamland back into reality to a very furious moogle. The students of Lake Homey High were milling about ready to leave and go on their carefree weekend, while Cloud fumbled to collect his things from his locker. It was annoying to him, made more so by the moogle's presence. Shutting the locker, he turned around, walking straight on past the creature; painfully ignoring it.

Sighing, the moogle followed closely behind. "Cloud…why do I get the feeling you hasn't heard a word I said? Kupo."

Trudging past the people that flocked around, yelling across the street at their departing friends, people who had cars piling around them chatting, and all the people who had to get one last good laugh in before the weekend; it was pretty normal, and it was damn near annoying Cloud. Not that a moogle flying around him, trying to get his attention was annoying either. Nope, not at all.

Soon the school grounds turned into the nearby residential area, as Cloud walked on, still ignoring the furry creature. Thoughts of what occurred earlier today played across Cloud's mind teasingly. 'I can't believe he actually knew my name…,' Cloud sighed mentally,letting his mind play the event over again, 'well he can say my name any day.' A dreamy look shied on his face at these musings, walking past shaded house after house in mindless search of his own. He knew he was making a big deal out of a simple 'bump' in the hallway...but a guy could dream. And dream he was, as it soon became apparent that his attention was trying to be gained again.

"CLOUD! KUPO!"

'And the dream dies as soon as it begins…' Cloud thought irritatingly, coming to a full stop. Eyes closed, he took in a deep breath in and out before he stated to his familiar, "Mog. I thought I told you in no uncertain terms to not bother me when I'm at school."

"Cloud, focus," Mog screeched, "Your killing me here dude, Kupo!"

Shaking his head, Cloud ignored him as he continued on his way home. He never wanted to be seen talking to someone who no one else could see. He already wasn't considered 'normal' by Lake Homey standards, he did not need to add talking to himself to that list. Mog, in his unyielding need to do his job, never seemed to get that point through his head. It was annoying…

Catching up with Cloud, Mog landed on his shoulder, sighing as he face-palmed. "Cloud. Please tell me you managed to remember what day it is…"

"Yep," came the short monotone reply.

"And that you've been hearing what I've been telling you…"

"Yep."

A small sigh reached Cloud's ears at that, with a quite response, "why do I doubt that, kupo…"

Stopping once more, he crossed his arms as he watched in the distance a couple holding hands as they walked. Irritation set in at the sight, and it showed in his voice as he spoke, "You've been saying the same thing for the past two weeks now. I think I've got the hang of it."

"Well…just in case you haven't," Mog said as he flew of Cloud's shoulder, "I'll run by it again...hey wait up, Kupo!"

Having seen the couple kiss, Cloud had once again walked off in the direction of his house. The scene was enough to make him feel ill, but for totally different reasons then the average.

"As you may know, tonight is your seventeenth birthday," Mog decided to say as he reached Cloud; "also as you may know, this marks a very important step towards unlocking your true potential. A very important day for you as a sorcerer...and me too of course! Kupo!" Mog had puffed out his chest at that statement, his pom pom dancing widely in the air.

Continuing his pace towards home, Cloud only half listened as Mog went on about the ceremony that was to take place tonight; his thoughts on more important matters to him. Not a day goes by that he wished he was normal; that he could live a normal life. He barely had time for himself, his only friend, Yuffie, and he barely even sees her most of the time anyways, always off on vacations with her mom.

Smiling at the thought of his friend, he vaguely remembered that she was off somewhere again, and that he would probably come home to about a dozen messages talking about her trip so far and asking how he was doing. Just the thought made him quicken his pace even more. He always looked forward to her stories of the places she would see and the people she would meet. She meant a lot to him; more then she probably even knew.

"…the Elite Three of the coven of Stonehenge will be there as well," Mog had said, shuddering as he continued, "it would be in your best interest to stay as calm and collected as possible with those guys. I have a reputation to uphold you know! Kupo!"

Yuffie would probably slyly interject a few hints towards his ever present predicament; one in which he was beginning to wonder if it was a good idea to tell her in the first place. The smile he had at the thought of his friend slowly died down in to a neutral, almost blank look, as thoughts started swirling in his head at a mile a minute. How he despised who he was, all the rules, all the secrecy; being a sorcerer was no fun in the park. Magic was a bitch. He was lucky that he was even allowed to tell Yuffie about it, if only because she had the 'sense' as he was always told some humans possessed. He didn't even want to think about what he would have done if he wasn't able to do that one simple thing.

"…just remember that one rule and you will be fine. Probably knocked out for a few days, but…eh… that's pretty normal for most. Luckily it's the weekend, so if it does happen, you won't miss out on school! Kupo!" Mog finished with gusto, landing on Cloud's shoulder to rest his wings.

Just on the outskirts of his home, Cloud stopped again, looking towards the ground. Eyes shadow cast under his blond bangs, he stared at nothing in particular. Mog sensing this change in mood shot Cloud a worried look, "you okay buddy? Kupo."

"What if…" Cloud whispered slowly, "...what if I don't want to do this Mog?" Clenching his fists, he continued, voice rising, "what if I don't want to be better? What if I just want it all to just. Go. Away! Huh? What about that!" He screamed at his familiar, making it fall off and fly in the air once more. An elderly couple passing by gave him strange looks, but he just shot them an icy glare, and they continued on.

The worried expression that had been on Mog's face changed quickly into that of empathy. "You know why that isn't even a possibility, Cloud…" His look of empathy soon changed back to its previous worried expression, as he followed Cloud, who stormed off down the lawn into his house. He barely made it into the house at all, as Cloud had slammed the door on his way in. Mog could only shake his head in worry as Cloud made his way into the kitchen, after sloppily dumping his bag on the ground, heading straight for the answering machine, effectively ignoring the moogle. Taking a hint, Mog went off to wait.

Turning on the answering machine, Cloud went about making something to eat, desperate to hear Yuffie's voice to quell his ever increasing anxiety.

"HEeeeEEEeeeEYY CLOUD-KINS! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" Yuffie's voice came out rather loudly, making Cloud jump a little. He only laughed as she went on about her trip in Japan in a highly excited manner, leaving no detail untouched, no stone unturned. When the message cut off at its time limit, another came on in its place, Yuffie continued on as if she didn't just have to call back again to continue her story.

A smile couldn't help but form on his face past his anxiety, as she came off her adventure telling high, asking how his week had been, and if he wasn't going to do something about that predicament he's been having for a couple years now. Despite the churning in his stomach at the thought, he couldn't help but roll his eyes as she said in no uncertain terms that if he wasn't going to do something about it soon, she was going to do it herself. "And you know that will only make things so much worser for you Cloud," she said deviously. Well, he wasn't about to deny that. Yuffie was somewhat of a wild card in that regard. He was sure that she would do just what she said she would do.

Sitting down with his food, he could only stare at it as she went on to tell him about tonight, and that she would be praying that he comes out unscathed, that she was only a phone call away if he needed anyone to talk to. "You know how stuffy that stuffed bear can get!" A small smile formed on his face at that, but was quickly abandoned as his anxiety came crashing down on him as her last message played out, and he was left in a silence.

Forcing himself to eat his meal, thoughts once again raced through Cloud's head. He didn't want to do this. He didn't want to partake in something that was forced upon him by birthright. It….it wasn't fair to him. He wanted a say in what Cloud would do, not the other way around. He…hell, he didn't really know what he wanted, but it wasn't this. Never this.

Hands shaking, he got up to put his plate in the sink. Noticing the dirty dishes, Cloud mindlessly began washing them, trying his hardest not to think of unfairness of it all, but ultimately failing. Who were they to tell him what he would do? Who he would be with? How he would live his life? What about what Cloud wanted? Why was he to be punished for something that was beyond his control? These thoughts made Cloud hate himself for who he was even more. 'Magic...' Cloud though scathingly, 'who needs sit anyways.'

Dishes clean and put away, Cloud was left with nothing to do but think, as he looked around the house for anything that needed doing, noticing his mom had all but cleaned the house while he was at school. 'Perfect…' Cloud thought, 'the one time I want to do chores. Good job, mom.' Reaching the couch, he jumped on it resting his head on one of the arms, grabbing the remote as he flicked through channel after channel looking for something good. Even stupidly funny cartoons weren't enough to distract his thoughts from the encroaching night.

Rubbing his eyes he laid across the sofa, looking towards the ceiling, watching the fan in morbid fascination. Thoughts drifting back to his current predicament, Cloud began to wonder why he even bothered with it at all to begin with. Why he let himself agonize over it, when he knew damn well that nothing would ever come of it. It wasn't that he feared rejection, despite not really knowing how the guy felt about the thing; it was the pure and simple fact that that is not what they had planned for him, that made the whole thing like only a distant dream.

There was no 'normal' for Cloud. No. He couldn't simply go up and ask the guy out, or even talk to him at all. He was not allowed to fraternize with 'mortals' like that, the fact that him being a guy not even the issue. Though as Cloud thought more about it, it probably would be a big deal, though he was also damn sure he wouldn't give a flying fuck if they did. 'Heh…come to think of it, guys dating guys isn't all that normal is it,' Cloud thought to himself, eyes starting to close as weariness started rearing its ugly head.


He didn't know how long he was out for, when his mother woke him up to get ready. His nerves must have shown in his entire demeanor, because his mom held him in her arms whispering that everything would be okay, and that it would only last for so long and then he would never have to worry about such a thing again. It did little to sate his nerves, but at least she tried, and he was grateful. Mog waited at the door, as Cloud came outside, his mother waving him off, telling him she'd be there later. As they strolled down to where they were to go, Cloud couldn't help but ask his familiar, "Umm…you want to run by me again what's going to happen Mog?"

He expected some smart remark, for all that he gave him a hard time about it, but all Cloud got was a small smile and the creature going off on what would happen, and how it would happen, and who would be there. In his nervous, anxious meanderings, he listened to every word, hanging onto them like life line.

Entering the forest of Lake Homey, and walking deeper into it, Cloud forced himself to stop thinking about things that would only distract him. It wasn't fair, what they were making him do, not just the ceremony, but the things attached to the after. He could live with just getting a power boost; it wasn't like he used magic much anyways. Only when he trained to keep it under control did he even consider using it. He just wished they weren't so damn pushy about his 'soul mate'. 'As if,' Cloud thought bitterly.

It wasn't that he didn't like the girl, she was pretty nice, but it wasn't what he wanted. He'd be damned if he didn't make that bright and clear to them. He couldn't care less that the big three were going to be there. To be quite honest, they didn't frighten him as much as they seemed to do others. Cloud would stand strong about that fact, even as he gives in, because the alternative isn't all that much better. At least his frustration would be known, be damned if it didn't make them sweat too. A sly grin formed on his face as he entered the forest glen; the lake and the surrounding mountains a shining beacon of Lake Homey's proud history.

Sorcerers and sorceresses he had never seen before littered the place, all getting ready for his Unlocking. His nerves, and fleeting confidence, started to rattle as he gazed around. Drums, incense, and small tables were strew around the area, dancers and musicians alike readying themselves for the ceremony to come. His stomach turned for the second time today, as he went forward to the center, where the Elite Three of the coven of Stonehenge stood waiting.

Cloud couldn't help but see the sorceress he was 'preordained' to wed standing there in the background, her long brown hair flowing in the wing, and by the look in her amber eyes, seemingly just as distraught about the whole situation as well. Tifa did not like the arrangement the same way he did, but it wasn't like she and him could do anything about it, though. So he really didn't blame her.

"Okay Cloud, just remember," Mog whispered in his ear, "Clear your mind of all thoughts, emotions, and attachments, and you'll do fine buddy. Kupo." Flying off towards the food, he left Cloud alone. Taking a deep breath in and out, Cloud walked towards them, his head held high.

Sephiroth, Genesis, and Angeal, stood prompt and center at the far end of the Grace upon the ground. Stopping just on the outside of the Grace, he stood up straight, hands to his sides, as he stared the Elite Three of Stonehenge down.

Clearing his throat, Sephiroth spoke the solemn words of initiation, the chatting of the fellow sorcerers and sorceresses dying at the sound of his voice, "We are gathered here today in celebration of that of Cloud Strife. Of which seventeen years have passed since the dawn of his birth." Turning his attention towards Cloud, the man continued, "Cloud Strife, are you ready to Unlock your dormant powers, completing that which you were born to fulfill?"

"Yes," was all Cloud said, purposely leaving out the 'sir'.

Sephiroth only smirked at the lack of respect, but continued on, 'then by the light of the Celestial Being, thy deed be done. Step forth." At the command, the beat of a drum sounded through out the glen.

Stepping towards the center of the Grace, Cloud stood proudly as he stared off in front of him, trying to clear his mind of all thoughts, emotions, and attachments. As the drum beats got more frequent, and a strange hypnotic singing joined in, Cloud could all but feel the air begin to change. Chanting from the Elite Three and the surrounding sages began at an eerie pace, making Cloud lose his focus.

Thoughts were spurned on by the feelings that that the beats of the drum, and the singing, and the chanting; all speaking on a level with him, as if they knew all his troubles. It was a heady feeling, and he soon forgot, even as the beats grew louder and more pronounced, the singing becoming more and more hurried, the chanting staying a steady pace, to clear his mind, as thoughts of Zack Fair plowed through. What he wouldn't give, for just one moment to be with him. The passing glances, the wandering eyes, Cloud never really felt quite right around the guy.

He would constantly have to tell himself that he wasn't at all being freakish about it, that or Yuffie would beat it in him that he wasn't. He knew though, that despite any feelings he may have had for the guy, and even if Zack himself felt the same way, that even were he to have the guts to tell him, it could never be. Zack was a 'mortal', pure and simple. And people like Cloud, as horribly unfair as it was, never fraternized with them. It was against the law passed down for generation to generation. A law to protect the interest of the dwindling society that he was apart of, and he hated every bit of it.

The Grace, now a pale glowing white, and the drum beats and singing getting frantic, the air around Cloud changed drastically as he felt something inside him open. A sudden rush of power overwhelmed him, as he felt himself lift off the ground. A powerful wind ripped through the glen, but it did nothing to stop the constant drum beats, singing, and powerful chanting.

His mind raced and reeled, despite the several warnings he was given about doing such a thing. He couldn't help it. Flashes of Zack tore at him bit by bit. His smile, the way he would sheepishly rub the back of his head, his smile, the way he said his name, his smile. Every time, Cloud was hit home with the fact that it would never be. That he would continuously be a salve to his own kind's wishes. As the power rushed through him, consuming him, he could feel tears run down his cheeks at the realization.

'What I wouldn't give to be able to tell Zack how I felt…what I wouldn't give."

Was the last thought that crossed Cloud's mind as he succumbed to darkness.


AN: ...So...How'd I do? I know it isn't what I promised in my profile, but I don't really want to force those three, and this just seemed to be the only ice breaker in my Writers block on them :P So tell me what you think about my first Tale of Mysticism, a series of completely unrelated, plot wise, stories delving in the realm of magic.

-Midnight