Cloud and Aerith in Advent Children
The importance of Aerith is established early in Advent Children. Even in the AC menu, she is the second character to
be shown, directly between Sephiroth and Cloud. These three make up the original villain, heroine, and hero of the
game. Although Aerith's name is never spoken throughout
AC, it is made clear that her companions have never
forgotten her. From
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children -Reunion Files-:

"In the first script, we realized that none of the companions ever talked about Aerith. Someone suggested that if they're
not going to say anything, they should at least wear something that shows how they feel. So we had them wear a ribbon
as a way of saying that they haven't forgotten about Aerith." (Nomura)

Before AC, Cloud was living at the new Seventh Heaven in Edge, just outside of Midgar, with Barret, Tifa, Marlene, and
Denzel (as told in the official novella
Case of Tifa). Barret has since left to work in Corel, digging for oil. The office for
Cloud's delivery service is located in his bedroom, which is very stark and barren in appearance, almost as if he doesn't
come by often. During the events related in
CoT, it is revealed that Cloud spends most of his time traveling around on
Fenrir, making deliveries and he is often gone for long periods of time. His relationship with Tifa has become strained
ever since Barret left and Cloud hides things from Tifa (such as the modifications for his bike, the fact that he had
started his own business, and the fact that he was frequenting Aerith's church). Tifa is often seen scolding Cloud like a
mother and Cloud acts guilty, like a rebellious teenager. During the novella, Cloud meets an orphan boy named Denzel at
Aerith's church. Cloud believes that Aerith brought Denzel to him and feels a certain attachment to the boy, eventually
taking him to live at Seventh Heaven. However, by the end of the novella, Cloud disappears without a word to Tifa and
begins to reject the company of all of his former friends. In
Reunion Files, it was stated that "His inability to forgive
himself has caused him to distance himself from Tifa and the others"
.

During the events of
AC, Cloud is living in Aerith's church and has not told anyone where he is nor has he told anyone
that he is afflicted with the terminal illness, Geostigma. For me, this was the first big ClAeris hint. Why live in a place
that reminds him of Aerith? Why not live at Seventh Heaven, which is in much better condition and isn't far away at all?
Why run to a place that reminds him of the flower girl he lost when he finds out he is terminally ill? Why is it that he
feels most at peace here?

Back at Seventh Heaven, Tifa is still answering Cloud's calls for him. It is during this scene that you catch a glimpse of
Cloud's desk, cluttered with receipts. However, if you look closely to the right, you will notice a picture of a bouquet of
flowers inside someone's home. During
Case of Tifa, Cloud was hired by Aerith's adopted mother, Elmyra, to take
flowers to Aerith's grave in the Forgotten City. This photo
has to be of those flowers. It is the only explanation that
makes sense. I thought it was rather sweet that Cloud wanted to keep a photo of flowers meant for Aerith. ^_^

During
Advent Children, Aerith's presence is felt by her association with water. Every time the camera pans in on
ripples in a puddle or a drop of water, Aerith's presence is near; every time the song "Water" begins to play, Aerith's
presence is being focused upon. From Reunion Files:

"...Aerith has a sort of 'watery' image about her, so we used water to convey her presence".

Another possible reference to Aerith is the angel statue in Edge, right outside Seventh Heaven. Aerith is, after all, the
savior of the world in
FFVII. Nothing is said about who erected the statue or what it represents. But, it is possible that
the people of Edge decided to honor Aerith's sacrifice with this statue as a memorial for her.

The first time in the movie where Aerith makes her presence known to the viewer is the scene in the church after Tifa
is defeated by Loz. Cloud arrives too late to help her, but is concerned for his injured companion. However, he falls
unconscious from the effects of Geostigma. Immediately after Cloud falls to the ground amid Aerith's flowers, a water
drop is seen and the song "Water" begins to play. After that, a white light (which is later shown to be associated with
Aerith) appears all around Cloud and Tifa, surrounding them both until they appear to be lying amid nothing but flowers
and light. Nearby stands a wolf in the flowers which was confirmed to be a manifestation of Cloud's guilt (in this case,
toward the death of Aerith). In this scene, Aerith is shown to be watching over Cloud and Tifa as she heals their
wounds. From
Reunion Files:

"'There's some foreshadowing that the church is where Aerith is going to appear,' says Nojima. 'There's a point in the
plot where Cloud and Tifa are lying unconscious on the flowers here, and their wounds are healed....'"

The first time that Aerith is seen in Advent Children is during Cloud's ride through the Sleeping Forest on Fenrir to
rescue the abducted children from Kadaj and company. This scene is the turning point for Cloud, the beginning of his
emotional healing. After this scene, with the help of Aerith several more times throughout the movie, Cloud slowly
begins to forgive himself, his guilt and grief starts to lessen, and Cloud regains the will to fight once again.

Cloud rides toward the Forgotten City to rescue Marlene and Denzel, both kidnapped by the silver-haired men. Looking
distressed, Cloud rides toward the site of Aerith's grave; the journey is clearly a difficult one for him. From
Reunion
Files
:

"The Forgotten City is tied to Aerith throughout the film. Here, Cloud is constantly reminded of her no matter how
painful it is for him." (Nojima)

Also from RF:

"Cloud finds himself lost in emotion, as he races his motorcycle to the enemy's base".

Again, from RF:

"I think that part of the reason we decided to have Kadaj's base in the Forgotten City is because it's the one place that
Cloud avoids. But at the same time, perhaps he's drawn to it. There's a sort of hidden meaning to it, with the maternal
essence of Aerith that lingers there." (Nomura)

And again, from RF:

"When Cloud regains consciousness, Reno and Rude tell him about the orphans being abducted, and that they had been
taken to Kadaj's base, in the 'Forgotten City'. Upon hearing this, Cloud hesitates, because of the association with Aerith's
death."

As Cloud rides, he finds himself thrust suddenly into a white world. Aerith's Theme begins to play. As the camera pans
around Cloud, you spot a familiar figure-- it's Aerith, standing back-to-back with him in a gorgeous field of flowers.

"You came," Aerith says, sounding happy, "even though you're about to break. Mmm?"

Aerith tenderly places her left hand on Cloud's left arm, the limb affected by Geostigma. Cloud hangs his head and turns
his face away slightly, almost as if he is ashamed to face the flower girl that he believes he failed to protect.

"That's a good sign," Aerith continues in her quiet and gentle voice. "So... why did you come?"

"I think..." Cloud begins hesitantly "... I want to be forgiven. Mm... more than... anything."

"By who?" Aerith asks teasingly, showing everyone that she is still the same lovable Aerith we know from FFVII.

Cloud tries to turn and face Aerith then, but finds himself back in reality, where he is still astride Fenrir, speeding
through the Sleeping Forest. The reason for his abrupt return soon becomes evident as Cloud is attacked by Kadaj's
gang.

During the battle with Kadaj's gang, Cloud's cell phone falls into the Forgotten City's spring, which is also Aerith's burial
site (this will become important later). Just when it seems as if Cloud has been defeated, Vincent appears and whisks
Cloud to safety. During their conversation, Marlene appears, having somehow escaped from Kadaj's gang. Cloud tries to
explain to Marlene that there will be fighting that he has to do. But Vincent questions Cloud's motives with his words:
"Cloud... you sure this is about fighting?" Immediately after this question, a flashback from Cloud's memories is shown.
It is the conversation Cloud had taken part in earlier, when the Turks informed him that the children had been taken to
the Forgotten City, which Kadaj had been defiling with his presence. After an argument with Tifa, Cloud asks the Turks
to rescue the children, but they refuse. Once Reno and Rude have left, Tifa turns to Cloud and asks:
"Which is it, a
memory or us?"
Tifa is asking Cloud to choose the present (AVALANCHE, his friends, his family-- people who need
him now) versus the past (the memory of Cloud's failure to protect the woman he loved and the guilt and regret it has
caused him). Cloud's mind immediately focuses on Aerith as he turns away from Tifa:
"But... I let you die...." he thinks
to himself. The background around Cloud turns white and a gentle breeze blows through his hair. Aerith is near.

Sighing loudly, as if frustrated, Aerith teases Cloud:
"Dilly dally shilly shally. Isn't it time you did the forgiving?" Aerith
wishes for Cloud to forgive himself for her death.

Immediately after Cloud hears Aerith's voice in his mind, the scene switches back to the Sleeping Forest. Cloud turns to
Vincent.
"Are sins ever forgiven?"

Vincent ponders this for a moment, clearly understanding that Cloud is considering their "sins" to be the same. "I've
never tried."

Cloud seems to have a sudden realization at hearing this, an epiphany of sorts. "You mean.... Never tried...?"

Cloud has suddenly just realized a great truth. You have to work hard to be forgiven. How can he be forgiven or forgive
himself if he does nothing at all? Why would he be deserving of forgiveness if he just gives up? And he also realized that
Vincent never attempted to do this for himself. Vincent has lived years and years with the burden of his sin, the fact that
he feels responsible for what happened to Lucrecia all those years ago. He never attempted to earn forgiveness because
he felt as if it were a just punishment for him having failed to protect the woman he loved. But... Cloud has decided to
give it a try and, as he walks away with Marlene, he tells Vincent just that:
"Well, I'm gonna try. I'll phone in the verdict."

Also, I would like to point out the comparison of Vincent and Cloud's "sins". Vincent considers his sin to be that he
could not save Lucrecia, the woman he loved, from the evil machinations of Hojo. Cloud considers his sin to be that he
failed to protect Aerith, the woman he loved, from being murdered by Sephiroth. Both of them were the bodyguards of
these women. And yet they failed to protect them from their fates. That is why Cloud asks
Vincent if sins are forgiven
(rather than someone else).

After the scene with Vincent, Cloud's phone is shown again, slowly sinking toward the bottom of the spring at the
Forgotten City. The song "Water" is playing as the phone drifts slowly downward, playing saved messages from
Cloud's friends, all of which had been trying to reach him without avail-- Reeve, Barret, Yuffie, Tifa.... The phone lands
in the soft silt at the bottom of the spring and Aerith's gentle voice is heard:
"I never blamed you-- not once. You came
for me. That's all that matters."

Cloud's phone then touches the bottom and stops functioning, the screen going black. But, still... there is a glimmer of
light from... somewhere... We know for certain that Cloud heard Aerith's words, because, just above the spring, we see
the wolf standing, gazing into the water. Slowly, it fades away. Cloud's burden of guilt is beginning to lessen.

An interesting Easter egg for Aerith is the
Loveless poster which strikes Rude on the head during his fight with Loz. If
you look at that poster carefully, you can see that it has Aerith's face on it. ^_^ I find this interesting because the play
Loveless is about waiting for someone you love no matter how long it takes, regardless of why or how you got
separated.

Later in the movie, we start to see a real change in Cloud after his encounters with Aerith. When he arrives on the scene
of the battle with Bahamut Sin in Edge, Cloud tells Tifa:
"I feel lighter. Maybe I lost some weight, all that dilly-dallying."

It is entirely possible that Aerith was able to start the walls crumbling down around Cloud's heart with, not only her
words, but her touch. When Aerith touched Cloud's arm in the flower field, it was very reminiscent of a scene in the
official novella
Maiden of the Planet, where Aerith got to meet Barret's old friend, Dyne. Dyne's entire figure was
covered in blood and he had been unable to be reunited with his wife, Eleanor, in the Lifestream. Aerith told Dyne that
the blood bound to him was created from his guilt. Aerith touched Dyne's arm and the blood covering him began to
disappear until he was completely cleansed. Aerith gave Dyne the ability to start over again and rebuild his heart. It was
only after his guilt was eradicated that Dyne was able to be with Eleanor again. It was much the same way with Cloud.
Cloud was unable to see Aerith's face in his first visit with her in the flower field. But, after their conversations and that
gentle touch to his arm, Cloud's guilt and grief began to lessen. Cloud was beginning to forgive himself. He was healing.
And, later in the movie, Cloud was finally able to see Aerith's beautiful face in its entirety. In fact, Cloud is able to see
Aerith in the next ClAeris-oriented scene I am going to discuss...

The battle with Bahamut-Sin in Edge had already begun when Cloud finally arrived. The monstrous dragon was being
attacked from all sides by Cloud, Barret, Yuffie, Vincent, Cid, and Red XIII (with Cait Sith). The beast finally decided it
had had enough and headed skyward to unleash its Mega-Flare attack on Edge. As the dragon summon soared higher
and higher, it was becoming more and more difficult for Cloud to reach it with his attacks. And so Cloud's friends all
help him attempt to reach Bahamut, each one pushing him higher and higher-- Barret, Cid, Yuffie, Red XIII (with Cait
Sith), Vincent, and Tifa, one-by-one, all lend their strength to Cloud's flying ascent.
"No giving up!" Tifa cries after
Cloud.

Cloud soars straight up at Bahamut, who unleashes a massive burst of energy. Cloud enters the energy bubble and
begins to falter, slowing as he plows through the chaos of Bahamut-Sin's blast. He isn't going to make it. Suddenly, all
of the clamor and turmoil disappear and Cloud is surrounded by calmness. Cloud's eyes open wide in amazement as he
is surrounded by white light. Reflected in one of Cloud's wide blue eyes is the figure of Aerith, descending from the
heavens, her arm outstretched. Cloud reaches toward Aerith as well and their hands meet (as they never had the chance
to do at the end of
FFVII), energy surrounding their hands and transferring from Aerith to Cloud, rushing up his arm.
This is Aerith's Limit Break, Fury Brand.

"Ready?" Aerith asks.

Cloud bursts from the energy blast, a new fierce look upon his face, and races across Bahamut's body, performing his
Climhazzard Limit Break, cleaving Bahamut-Sin in two. As Bahamut falls to the ground, destroyed, Cloud lands on a
nearby girder, his face still mirroring shock and wonder. After all, it has been two years since he has seen his beloved's
face. From
Reunion Files:

"The ending scene of the battle with Bahamut, the scene where Aerith reaches out her hand, is homage to the last scene
from a previous production. It was Tetsuya (Nomura)'s idea...." (Nojima)

Later, when Cloud is battling Kadaj in Aerith's church, Cloud is once again crippled with pain from Geostigma. Cloud is
in no condition to fight and Kadaj readies a bolt of power to send down on him. However, Cloud need not worry. A
surge of water rises up from a hole in the church floor and explodes into Aerith's Great Gospel Limit Break, raining its
healing drops down on Cloud. A surge of water rises up against Kadaj who shrinks away from it as if it pains him, and
then flees. The holy rain continues to fall upon Cloud, healing him of Geostigma, the marks upon his arm disappearing in
green light. For several moments, Cloud stands quietly in the rain, gently touching his left arm, which was once afflicted
with Geostigma and is now shown to have a pink ribbon tied around it in memory of Aerith. When Cloud really should
be chasing down the bad guys, he stands serenely in Aerith's church, gazing out at the flooded flower bed swimming
with flower petals, a look of utter contentment on his face.

But, then, the rain stops and a water droplet is shown. Aerith's gentle voice goads Cloud into action:
"Let's go... Cloud."

Cloud jumps on his bike and races after Kadaj.

Later in the film, during the battle with Sephiroth, the villain summons a dark cloud forth, an anti-Lifestream made up of
all of the souls who had perished from Geostigma. Aerith, however, fights back against this scourge on the planet as
shown in a scene with Marlene and Denzel, who are looking out a window at Seventh Heaven. Denzel is in pain from
his Geostigma and Marlene is attempting to comfort him. Suddenly, an image of Holy is shown falling into the water at
the Forgotten Capital (the scene of Aerith's death). Marlene quickly turns and looks out the window:
"Is it her???" A
brief glimpse of Aerith's flooded church is shown, along with the image of Aerith praying at the altar of the Forgotten
Capital.

Meanwhile, the battle between Sephiroth and Cloud rages on. Sephiroth, however, has noticed a change in Cloud,
teasingly asking:
"Oh... where did you find this strength?" Cloud refuses to answer him and the battle rages on. Later,
on the rooftops, Sephiroth knocks Cloud down and impales his shoulder with his Masamune.

"Tell me what you cherish most," Sephiroth says menacingly. "Give me the pleasure of taking it away?"

Cloud reacts to Sephiroth's command to tell him what he cherishes most, and images flash through his mind. The first
person Cloud thinks of is Aerith. And it isn't Aerith before she died, it is Aerith as she is now, the Aerith that is with him
at present (This nullifies the argument that Cloud was thinking of those he had
already lost vs. those he could lose at
present; Cloud has already realized that Aerith is
still with him. Why, then, would he be thinking of her as someone
who was taken away?)- Cloud thinks of Aerith reaching for him during his battle with Bahamut; he thinks of when their
hands were finally able to meet. The second image that races through Cloud's mind is Aerith just before her death, as
she was praying on the altar at the Forgotten Capital. Does Cloud fear that Aerith, who is with him once again, will be
taken away as she was before? It certainly seems that way. Since Aerith was the person Cloud thought of immediately
after Sephiroth asked him what he cherished most, then I believe it is safe to assume that Aerith is the one most dear to
Cloud. Cloud is thinking of those most dear to him, those who could be taken away forever.

The second person Cloud thinks of is Zack, who was his best friend. Zack sacrificed his life to protect Cloud and Cloud
is remembering Zack as he was during their ride to Midgar in the back of the truck, during a time when Cloud was
suffering from Mako poisoning. Clearly, Cloud cherishes the memory of his best friend a great deal as evidenced by this
scene and a prior scene in
AC where Cloud visits Zack's grave. Zack could also be taken away from Cloud, just as
Aerith could. If they are denizens of the Lifestream, along with Sephiroth, they could be put in peril. This point is
hammered home when Sephiroth summons forth a corrupt anti-Lifestream.

The fourth image to pass through Cloud's mind is Aerith again. And, just as before, it is Aerith as she is now, reaching
for Cloud during the battle with Bahamut, reflected in Cloud's wide blue eyes. After all, this was the first time Cloud had
been able to see Aerith's face in two years. I am sure he felt as if he was finally able to "meet her" again. And the
thought of Sephiroth somehow taking Aerith from him again was probably terrifying for Cloud.

The fifth image that passes through Cloud's mind is that of Tifa, then Marlene (sixth), and then Denzel (seventh). These
three are his current family. Tifa acts as a mother-figure to Marlene, Denzel, and Cloud (as confirmed more than once
in
CoT and RF). Marlene and Denzel are like younger siblings to Cloud (Marlene's father is Barret, of course; Denzel
idolizes Cloud as his hero, like most younger brothers would do). Lastly, we see Tifa with Marlene and Denzel, from the
picture on Cloud's desk.

I feel that the order of these images is very important. If one was put into a situation where they were facing death,
their first and foremost thoughts would be of the one most dear to them. For Cloud, it was the woman he loved. After
that, Cloud thought of his best friend. And, lastly, Cloud thought of his family. It's that simple.

After Sephiroth is defeated, he disappears in a burst of black feathers and Kadaj, wounded, falls to the ground. He
stumbles into Cloud's arms and lies there, calling him "brother". Cloud looks on, concerned and saddened by the fate of
Kadaj, who was merely another puppet of the will of Jenova, just like he once was.

"Kadaj?" It is the voice of Aerith.

Kadaj looks up at the sky.
"Huh?"

A gentle rain begins to fall. It is Aerith's holy rain-- Great Gospel. "You don't have to hold on any longer."

"Mother!" Kadaj cries. "Is that...?" He doesn't appear to be pained by the rain anymore and, in fact, seems to revel in it.

"Everyone is waiting... if you're ready."

A tear rolls down Kadaj's face as he smiles and reaches toward the sky. Bursting into thousands of Lifestream-green
lights, Kadaj fades away, up into the sky. From
RF:

"Initially, the church scene was placed immediately after Sephiroth's defeat. None of the sequences with Kadaj were
there, such as the scene where Kadaj feels Aerith's presence and disappears into the rain. We wanted to make Kadaj
someone who also needed salvation. I'm glad that this part made it into the movie." (Nomura)

Also from RF:

"The original script didn't have the scene where Kadaj disappears and Aerith's presence is felt, but I thought they really
needed to be saved from their tragic existence. I wanted to include a scene that strongly suggests they were saved in the
end...." (Nomura)

After Kadaj disappears, the scene shifts to Edge. All over the city, Aerith's healing rain is curing everyone from
Geostigma, from orphans in the street to Rufus Shinra himself, surrounded by his loyal Turks. All over the city, people
are celebrating and smiling up into the miraculous rain.

Aboard the Shera, Cloud's friends are also celebrating. A droplet of water falls from a window on the Shera and another
one forms slowly. Tifa's eyes are drawn to the droplet, the symbol of Aerith's presence.
"Somehow... I knew you were
there. Thank you."
Tifa turns and smiles.

The camera shifts to Cloud again, who is standing in the rain with his face up, eyes closed, looking utterly content and
at peace. The rain continues to fall all around him, covering him from head to foot in Aerith's healing rain. But... Cloud
is already healed. So, what reason does he have to stand in the rain? Is it because of its association with Aerith? Is it
because Cloud feels close to her during this moment? I believe so.

Cloud's moment of peace is interrupted, however, as he is pierced with a bullet, shot from behind him by Yazoo.
Though Cloud is obviously in pain, he turns and charges the two, who prepare to attack him with their Materia. Yazoo
and Loz fire energy at Cloud who meets it with sword held high. An explosion erupts and Cloud is engulfed.

The next time Cloud is seen, he is floating in a white light, eyes closed, on the brink of death. Aerith's hand appears and
she gently places it on Cloud's forehead as her theme begins to play. It is obvious from this scene that Aerith is healing
Cloud of his wounds. Aerith may love him and want to be with him, but she does not wish for Cloud to die in order for
that to happen.

Cloud reacts to the comforting presence through his semi-conscious state:
"Mother?"

"Again?" Aerith removes her hand. "Why is everyone calling me their mother lately?" Aerith's voice is tinged with
amusement

"I guess they must be fond of you." It's Zack, watching over Cloud with Aerith.

"This one's a little too big to adopt," Aerith says teasingly.

"Tough luck, friend," Zack says to Cloud. "Sounds like you don't have a place here."

In this scene it is evident that Cloud's time is not yet up. Zack informs him that he doesn't have a place "here", "here"
being the whitespace that he and Aerith are currently in-- the realm of the dead.

Cloud fades away from them and drops down into yet more whiteness. As he lies there, the wolf appears, walking up
next to him and bowing its head. Slowly, the wolf fades away. At last, the remainder of Cloud's guilt and self-loathing
has disappeared.

The moment the wolf disappears, Cloud opens his eyes. He is lying face-up in Aerith's flooded church (much as he did
after he fell through the church roof in
FFVII, landing in Aerith's flower bed), floating amid the flower petals, and
surrounded by children, all of whom have their hands on him. Cloud gets to his feet and gazes around in surprise.

"It's like she said," a little girl with a moogle doll says. "'Wait here and Cloud will come back'."

Cloud stares at the girl in wonder and amazement.

After Cloud is reunited with his friends and heals Denzel's Geostigma with water from Aerith's holy rain, his gaze pans
around the church. Nearby he spots a figure in pink, kneeling in front of two children, who are looking up at her as she
speaks. It is Aerith. Cloud's eyes widen in astonishment, mixed with a little longing, as he watches Aerith rise and walk
away. She is heading toward a doorway that is filled with light. Leaning against the door frame is Zack, who is
watching Cloud with his arms folded.

Aerith stops just before reaching the doorway and turns to Cloud, giving the audience their first glimpse of her
amazingly beautiful face
"You see? Everything's... alright." She smiles at Cloud and then turns away, heading for the
doorway. She moves past Zack, who waves at Cloud and then follows Aerith through the doorway. What is interesting
about this scene is how much brighter and more colorful Aerith was than Zack. They were standing in the same light
and yet Aerith was much more vibrant. Also, even though Aerith led the way through the door and Zack followed
behind, he was the one to disappear first. Aerith's image lingered much longer.

Cloud stares after them for a moment and then a beautiful and peaceful smile appears on his face.
"I know. I'm not
alone... not anymore."

The Bonus Video- After the credits, there is a bonus video starring Cloud and Aerith. The song ("Calling" by Kyosuke
Himuro) was picked out especially by Tetsuya Nomura, who had this to say about it:

"In the scene where it plays I'm trying to portray the message of the film and Cloud's feelings through silence and song.
I think people will feel the persuasive power of the song when they view the scene."

And here are the lyrics for "Calling":

I wonder how many sleepless nights you have to count, before you find your way
After how many lives are lost, will the strife end?
Clowns that cannot be saved, just tumbling atop of history
Like someone said one day before
The answer is in the wind.

How many times does your face have to be hit as you turned it away, before you stop pretending that you don't notice?
How much pain must you endure, before you smile freely?
If you're going to accept defeat again, still bound by rusted chains
Like someone said one day before
The answer is in the wind.

With your voice strained and your hands gripping tightly
Waiting for the time when your destiny is sure to change
With the faint power of a tiny love
Always waiting for your sadness to be embraced

Pitiful frauds working their puzzle of lies
Foolish romanticists who gracefully entertain with clumsiness
The premonition of the coming of the day when history will tell you nothing
Like someone said one day before
The answer is in the wind.

With your voice strained and your hands gripping tightly
Waiting for the time when your destiny is sure to change
With the faint power of a tiny love
Always waiting for your sadness to be embraced.

The song itself has a very upbeat melody, but, as you can see, the lyrics are conflicted, mirroring hardship, pain,
sorrow, love, and hope. The video itself was filmed on location in Hawaii. The scenery is real and Cloud and Aerith are
interposed on top, a special treatment that no other characters in the film were given. So, yes, Cloud and Aerith have
their own little music video with a song that speaks of sadness, love, and hope. A huge ClAeris hint? Methinks so. ^_^

The video starts with a view of some swirling clouds. Appropriate, no? ^_^ Then, Cloud is shown, riding Fenrir down
the highway through many different locations. Aerith is then shown, standing in a field of yellow flowers. Suddenly, she
turns her head, as if sensing the approach of someone. Ironically enough, the words "the answer is in the wind" are
spoken right when she turns. ^_^ As Cloud rides along, yellow flowers begin appearing here and there along the
roadside. As he continues on his journey, the flowers appear with greater frequency until, at last, he rides off into a
huge flower field. The camera follows him no further. From
Reunion Files:

"In keeping with the notion that Cloud is in the live-action world at the end, we filmed the video for the ending credits in
Hawaii. There are fields of flowers on both sides of the road, and the colors- yellow and white- are the same as the
flowers in Aerith's church..." (Nomura)

I believe this scene makes it crystal clear that Cloud is going to meet Aerith. Why show her in the flower field at all if
Cloud was not going to meet her? It would have been pretty easy to just leave Aerith out of the video altogether. And,
yet, the creators chose to include her. Why would they have done that if it was not their intention to show that Cloud
has found a place where he can be with Aerith again? Aerith is shown in the live-action world, right along with Cloud,
not in whitespace, as before. She is vibrant and looks, well... alive. It is my belief that the flower field has become
Cloud's Promised Land, the place where he is most happy. Here, he can feel close to Aerith, perhaps even visit with her
and/or see her.

After the song ends, Cloud's desk back at Seventh Heaven is shown. The first thing that catches your eye are the yellow
flowers on Cloud's desk, picked from the very flower field Aerith was standing in. Behind the flowers is a picture of
Cloud with all of his friends and, pushed to the side and behind this picture is the photo of Cloud looking morose with
Tifa, Denzel, and Marlene. Strewn all over the desk and pinned all over the walls are pictures of the flower field. This
scene makes it clear how important that flower field has become to Cloud, how often he visits the flower field, and
negates any claims that Cloud is not going there to visit Aerith. Why would the flower field be so important to Cloud if
Aerith wasn't there? Why would Cloud have so many pictures of the flower field if Aerith wasn't there? Why would
Cloud be stopping in the flower field to pick flowers if Aerith wasn't there? Either Aerith is the one luring Cloud there or
he has become obsessed with flowers. XD Which is most likely?

From
Distance, the directors' commentary:

Nomura:
"The words 'memetic legacy' are used a lot in the film but in AC, rather than focusing on memories we wanted
to show that consciousness is what lives on. We took the ending of the game and expanded on that idea. Even if they're
dead their consciousness is still with us. As for Cloud... he sees Aerith several times throughout the film. It's not that he
sees her because he feels her presence. He sees her because her consciousness lives on inside him."

So, what is Nomura saying? Basically, he is saying that Aerith lives on in Cloud's heart. He is using subtle language, so
as not to upset the CloTis, who make up a large part of the
FFVII fandom, but, when it all boils down, he is confirming
that Aerith is the one in Cloud's heart. I have followed
AC since it was first announced. I remember some of the early
scans that stated that Aerith was the one in Cloud's heart and that Tifa understood this. More than once, it was stated
that Aerith lived on in Cloud's heart. I even remember a scan that said that Cloud's dream was to meet Aerith again.
However, these heavily pro-ClAeris statements disappeared after Nomura said that he had been told not to contradict
certain fan interpretations of the game. And, after that, things became much more subtle. But, as you can see from all of
the scenes with Aerith, the creators still managed to portray the deep feelings and connection between Cloud and Aerith,
something Cloud clearly does not have with Tifa.