ardwynna: (Serious!Kadaj)
Title: After the Fall
Chapter: Prologue
Fandom: FFVII (Marriageverse AU)
Characters: Sephiroth/Aeris, Cast, OCs
Rating: PG-13
Words: 786
Story: Prologue | Ch. 1 | Ch. 2 | Ch. 3 | Ch. 4 | Epilogue
Notes: All Marriageverse fics are back in public view for anyone interested.
Summary: Sephiroth learns something terrible about being human.

On an autumn afternoon when the sun had cooled, and the leaves were still wearing shades of mostly summer, a small group gathered on top a green hill to say goodbye. There were no words. There was no song.

Sephiroth wore black, as he always did. Today his wife and daughter wore it too. He stared at them, Aeris with her head up, proud, strong, rigid with rage, and Ella holding her mother’s hand, staring dry-eyed into the pit at their feet. Sephiroth could not bear to look for himself. It was easier to look at Ella. He had no idea how she was coping, if she was, if she even understood. He had not seen her for days, not since Aeris had thrown him out, screaming through her tears, threatening to rip his heart out.

She was welcome to it, if she could stand to put her hands around that icy stone. She was nearly the only one who had ever believed it was there and she could have it, if it made her feel one whit better, if watching him bleed and die beneath her hands would in any way ease her pain.

The box had reached the bottom some time ago. A wreath of white lilies lay in stark contrast to the nearly blood red wood beneath. Cherry, for someone who loved them. Had loved them. The cold rock Sephiroth called a heart sank lower inside him, pulling him towards the pit. If he believed for one second that the Planet would trade, he would have jumped in and offered himself up. He had half a mind to do it anyway, but Gaia had spit him back out often enough for him to know it would do no good.

The first lump of earth hit the lid with a thud, and Sephiroth flinched in a way he never had on the field. His eyes burned but tears would not fall. The sun sank lower, taking its meager heat with it. Sephiroth felt numb to the core. Damp earth piled in until the box was hidden from view, forever and ever, world without end, and even Aeris’s anger could not touch him now. He watched himself watching Aeris as she guided Ella to stick the little marker in the ground. Just a tin plate for now, with a name and a pair of dates too close together. He would get something better later, something permanent to mark the temporary.

He was vaguely aware of the others now that the casket did not fill his whole view. Cloud’s healthy brood, old enough to understand in a way Ella couldn’t yet, stood somber behind their mother in neat black that did not suit them, single white roses in their hands. And Lockhart, Lockhart, who never turned her back on him, who sometimes looked like she would be the one to rip his heart out if she could ever believe he had one, Lockhart was crying. Her face was wet with all the tears Aeris wouldn’t shed and that he himself couldn’t. Sephiroth looked away.

They had all come, all of Aeris’s friends. Of course they would. They were reliable, loyal. They would stand by her, be there for her whatever happened. She would be fine, eventually, or at least better off than he could ever be again. His eyes drifted over to Highwind, lighting up like he only did for really special occasions nowadays. Barret and Reeve stood beside him, arms folded in respectful silence. Even Vincent was there, though he hung back, trying to stay out of sight. Yuffie had come in all her imperial gravidity, husband in tow to hold their first two out of the way. Ryuusei was almost Ella’s age and they played well together, but not the way she had played with…

Sephiroth looked up at the sky, pretending to check for rain. When he looked back down, Aeris was already leading the procession away. He watched the straight proud line of her back as she moved. She would not bend, would not be bowed, not by this or anything else. Ella turned once and cast a backward glance at him, curious, but her mother pulled her onward. There was nothing left for Sephiroth to do but find the closest cliff and throw himself off it.

A hand on his shoulder stopped him. He turned his head and found Cloud beside him, staring at the fresh grave, with its tin plate marker and scattering of white roses that had not come from Aeris’s gardens. Cloud said nothing. He did not have to. They stood, shoulder to shoulder, staring at the mounded dirt in the way of silent men, and understood each other completely.

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