Disclaimer: I do not own FFVII

Summary: Shelke resents Lucrecia's vicarious attempts to repent through her

In Shelke's opinion, the woman who had been Lucrecia Crescent was a coward. Some might say that she was hardly qualified to judge, but she disagreed, she was in a unique position to do so, burdened as she was with the scientists lingering memories plaguing her mind.

She had been beloved, in every sense of the word. Her parents doted on her as one does a much favoured child that came along late in life, Grimoire Valentine loved her like the daughter he had never sired, Vincent Valentine loved her as a woman and even Hojo, depraved though he might have been, held some depth of feeling for her before the promise of her womb eclipsed that fragile sentiment. Her son, if she had been permitted to stay with him, would doubtless have loved her too.

She exuded an irresistible pull that drew people toward her and into her clutches. Even tangled up in her web as they inevitably found themselves, the flies did not struggle as they were smothered in softest silk and given the kiss of death.

She lived in a child's world, where anything was possible if she would only believe.

Her laboratory was her castle, and the gullible admirers she attracted were her court. Vincent Valentine became her prince, but she was a fanciful princess, and safe in the certainty that the prince would always be dutifully waiting for her to come back to him, unchanged and unharmed by the ravages of time, she did play and frolic the days away.

But time waits for no man, and as her body aged, her mind stayed stationary, stagnated, Shelke would say. She was stubborn, to a repellent degree. Her lust for knowledge and the lack of care taken in her impatience resulted in Grimoire's death. She was remorseful, but consoled that she had not meant to cause such tragedy, soldiered on along her path to damnation.

One casualty would not stop her from realizing her dreams. In the name of science, she would prevail, and then she would have her happy ending.

Vincent was the next victim of her godlike arrogance that she could achieve the impossible where no one else was capable of doing so. Instead of the slow death he should have suffered, eviscerated, torn open as the blood cooled in his veins, dignity stolen and irretrievably lost to him, he should have passed on with the demons who would grow to despise him, and he them in return. To be received into the Lifestream, and be granted a hero's rest. This was not to be, as well-meaning but foolish Lucrecia had an attack of conscience and tried to fix him.

It would take more than glue and a new coat of paint to fix this broken toy however, and she failed, giving him the gift of endless suffering, and a lifespan to match. Hojo could not have done worse had he tried.

Before Sephiroth was ever born, or conceived, the man who would be adored, respected, feared and abhorred throughout his torturous existence, but never understood had been cursed with eternal solitude. He was alone in the truest sense of the word, the attributes his mother had so fervently prayed for him to manifest only contributing to the damning isolation that he found no escape from. And when liberation was offered, he was too weak to refuse, and the planet in its entirety suffered along with him.

Shelke hated her, as fiercely as she had ever done, and she could not imagine how anyone could have loved this woman, this pampered child. She was petty and selfish beneath the facade, a pretty face and only that, so much so that when the imps of conscience began to snap at her heels, she had only to look in the mirror, smile, and tell her reflection that she was only human, the way her son would never be able to.

From beyond the grave, she pulled the strings, clouding Shelke's mind and adding to the imbalance that a decade of net diving had wrought on her psyche. She was immortal in spirit, and she would always be remembered by he who would not acknowledge that she deserved to be forgotten.

She resented her interference fiercely, the mental tug-of-wars that made her voice feelings that were not her own, regrets for events she would never have allowed to occur, pleas for clemency when she had earned any and all anguish for what remnants of her still lingered. It was no less than what she had done to the others.

But Vincent Valentine would never see her as the monster she had been, ignorance and curiosity the means to her destruction, and his own. He doubted, now, unsettled by the revelations that Deepground had unearthed, and it pleased Shelke to see him gravitate toward other companions, ones who understood him as Lucrecia had only claimed to do. They would assist her in her mission, to destroy the sentient memory of the woman who had broken so many good men, shattered like glass and crushed beneath her feet.

She was no damsel, no princess and less maternal than the calamity itself. Not even a mother then, merely an incubator, a parasite.

In the end, science is the only place where she will be remembered, not for her dubious achievements, but for the atrocities in which she played her dutiful part. She would never be loved as she once was, and the only one who might have done so was slowly learning to give his loyalty to those who would give in kind.

No matter how sorry she was.