A/N: Implied Zaerith and character death. Takes place at the end of Crisis Core. I love the scene near the end despite how heartbreaking it is. Standard disclaimer applies.


freedom


She places a flower onto the garden bed, a silent reminder. It's euphoric with colors, dancing, shining silently in the sun. A drop of water splashes onto the flower, the petals sagging from the pressure before gaining life once again. There's more now, the hole in the roof letting the shower fall in. She lets a smile slip on her face; the rain is cool, soothing, wonderful. It's not until the heartbeat from the Planet warns her, informs her. It's when the world stops spinning for a split second and the hope is dragged from her being, her body. She is not in Midgar anymore but in her mind, spiritually protected. But it only lasts for a single breath before she clasps her hands together.

Begging, pleading, crying.

Don't let it happen, let him live, please—

It's been years since that day. The promise. The glow in his eyes. It was the day she knew that it was him, would always be him. But now the affection is brimming, leaking into the soil on that which she stands. There is a sword in her heart, there is a man who is on the outskirts of town. There's a single inhalation, gasp, breath before it ends. Before the Planet lets her cry. Her hands unclasp, the death grip released. Before she can think, she's gone, past the flowers and out of the church into the streets, she's running but she doesn't know where.

She doesn't understand.

(But maybe she doesn't have to.)

"Why?" She wants to scream, to shout, but her heart tells her differently. She knows, she knows, she knows but it hurts.

(Pain is a funny thing.)

Up ahead, there is a flower petal; it's the same color, the same texture. It flutters once, twice, and is gone, carried away with the bustle of Midgar streets. She's lost track of time, of place. She fingers the ribbon tied into her hair. It's soft, so soft.

She doesn't mind letting the water spill over her cheeks, and she pays no mind to those who look at her, at the sight of someone who is not broken yet not entirely whole, either.

He's dead.

(But the flowers...)

Later on, when she is more composed, she settles herself in the church. There is a pang of sadness when she steps inside and sees the hole, the aide memoire. She picks up a fallen petal and places it among the other flowers. It's still there. She picks up the euphoria and intakes the smell, the sight, the touch. It's as soft as that which lies in her hair.

She places the flower onto the bed, a reminder, a memorial. His body is on the edge, his soul returned to the Planet. The Lifestream caresses her but she is untouchable as she stands beneath the rain. Fitting, she thinks. The Planet is crying.

The ribbon is loose and it falls gently, cascading to the ground. Her hands reach down, pries it from the clutches of the garden. She prays. The ribbon is soft beneath her touch, and it smells of flora and life, not of death and despair.

Because when the world stops spinning in that one instant, she is safe with him.

Aerith closes her eyes and breathes.

It smells of euphoria, Zack. Of you.