Cloud and Aerith in Final Fantasy VII
In this essay I will be exploring Cloud and Aerith's relationship during the game that started it all, Final Fantasy VII. Many CloudxTifa fans do not
understand how CloudxAerith fans draw the (very logical, IMO) conclusion that Cloud and Aerith were romantically interested in each other, so this
article is not just for CxA fans, but to educate CxT fans, as well. Hopefully, both sides of the fandom will garner a new appreciation for the beautiful
and tragic love story between Cloud and Aerith after reading this essay.

The Opening Scene...

So, let's start from the VERY beginning, shall we? How about with the opening scene of FFVII? You can see this FMV in its entirety here. It starts with
a scene of stars. Those stars turn into tiny green bursts of energy from the Lifestream, which is leaking from a pipe in Midgar. Kneeling at that pipe
with her hand outstretched is Aerith Gainsborough, the sweet flower girl we all know. Being of Cetra origin, she is more than likely communicating
with the planet via the energy flowing through the pipeline.
NOTE: Stars have a special meaning for Cloud and Aerith via Cait Sith's prediction, but we will cover that a little later! ;-)

Aerith then stands and turns her head, as if sensing something. She then walks out into the busy Midgar streets. Something interesting to note is that
she emerges directly underneath a sign advertising the play,
Loveless...
Some things to keep in mind for later:

Loveless is a play that has made several cameo appearances throughout the Compilation of FFVII. A quote of interest occurs during the final act of the
play between a woman and her lover...

"Do you really have to leave?"

"I promised. The people I love, are waiting."

"...I don't understand. Not at all. But...please take care of yourself."

"Of course...I'll come back to you. Even if you don't promise to wait. I'll return knowing you'll be here."

This is relevant, of course, because of the lines spoken by Aerith later in the game, which we will cover later. It is also relevant to many other games in
which Cloud and Aerith appear, as Cloud is portrayed as searching for Aerith or promising to return to her. These games will, of course, be discussed at
length in other essays. I will post links to those essays when I finish them.

Aerith is associated with
Loveless again in Advent Children/Advent Children Complete...
This Loveless sign literally falls and smacks Rude on the head during his battle with Loz. You can clearly see Aerith's face with her eyes closed. Her
signature spiky bangs are also visible.

We will discuss more about Aerith and
Loveless later. For now, let's move on...

After Aerith steps out into the street, the camera pans back to show Midgar in all its dark glory. It's the title screen for the game. Shots of a moving
train are also shown; the train pulls into the station. Cloud jumps off the train and the player takes control.

So... the first two characters shown for the game are Aerith and Cloud. Clearly they are being set up as the main hero and heroine of the game. A
remake of the opening scene for
FFVII was also created as a technical demo for the PS3. You can view it here. Once again, only Cloud and Aerith were
shown. Aerith's face was hidden as a teaser for the fans due to the fact that
Advent Children had not yet been released (Aerith's full face was not shown
to fans during production) and Aerith's face was being saved as a treat to show to fans upon their viewing of the movie once it was released.
Aerith Gainsborough in FFVII vs Aerith in the FFVII tech demo for PS3.
Cloud Strife in the FFVII tech demo for PS3.
This is not the only technical demo made for the PlayStation console, however. Prior to releasing the PS2, Square also made a technical demo to
showcase the PS2's graphics. Only, they used
FFVIII for that purpose. You can see the demo here. You'll notice that the demo showcases only Squall
and Rinoa, the hero and heroine of
FFVIII, and an official romantic couple in the game.
Rinoa waltzing with Squall in FFVIII vs Rinoa in the FFVIII tech demo for PS2.
Squall and Rinoa waltzing in the FFVIII tech demo for PS2.
Square could have chosen any scene in FFVII to showcase the PS3's capabilities, but they chose to show a scene which only revolves around Cloud and
Aerith, much the same as they chose a scene from
FFVIII that was all about Squall and Rinoa. Again, Cloud and Aerith are clearly being shown as the
main hero and heroine of the game. Not only that, but they are being displayed in a way that only a canon romantic couple has been displayed before. It
doesn't take much to draw conclusions from this. I mean, Square could have easily chosen the Highwind Scene, the Lifestream Event, or any number of
scenes with just Cloud and Tifa. **They simply chose not to.** Instead, Cloud and Aerith are being highlighted right alongside the very canon couple of
Squall and Rinoa.

Okay, moving on...

Cloud and Aerith's first meeting...

After Cloud's first bombing mission with Avalanche, he meets a flower girl in Sector 8. As we all know, this flower girl turns out to be Aerith. However,
she and Cloud are not formally introduced until later...

Flower Girl: "Excuse me, what's going on?"

Cloud:  Option 1: "You'd better get out of here!"
Option 2: "Nothing, hey..." (Engages you in further dialogue)

Cloud: Option 1: "Don't see many flowers around here." (Engages you in further
dialogue)
Option 2: "Never mind." (Aerith leaves the scene.)

Flower Girl: "Oh these? Do you like them? They're only 1 gil."

Cloud: Option 1: "Buy one."

Option 2: "Forget it." (Aerith [Flower Girl] leaves, lamenting "Not again!")

For this scene, I chose to have Cloud buy the flower from Aerith. Why? For three reasons:

1. In
Final Fantasy Dismantled, an official Square-Enix manual, Cloud remembers purchasing the flower from Aerith...

After successfully blowing up the first reactor, we decided to disperse once and run away separately so as to avoid attention. The rendezvous would be the
station in 8th Street, last train for Midgar.

People were confused about the news of terrorist attack, and the street was dim because of the unsteady supply of Mako energy. Here I met a flower girl.
She’s a girl with impressive eyes. She’s around my age, or elder by one or two years. But the innocent radiance in her eyes simply makes her suddenly
look younger.

Unexpectedly, I came to think of the color of my eyes. Bathed in Mako energy, they shine a pale light, and this is what labels me a SOLDIER. For me,
it's the mark of my enemy, ShinRa, so I desperately want to erase it.

“Excuse me, what happened?”She asked me the question, and then I bought a flower from her, which is rare in Midgar.

Maybe she’s pleased that the flower was sold, because the worried look on her face had vanished. If this smile costs only one gil, it is a good purchase.
(Chap. 5:
The Introduction of Scenario; page 138)

These are Cloud's thoughts after meeting Aerith. He remembers buying the flower from her in an official source, which is why I believe this option fits
the storyline best. However, S-E has never stated that any optional scenes in
FFVII have a canon outcome, so please feel free to come to your own
conclusions on this scene.

You'll notice Cloud is impressed with Aerith's eyes and admires the radiance that he sees within them. He buys the flower from her and is gratified when
the tension drains from Aerith's face. And then Cloud thinks about Aerith's smile and how he made a good decision buying the flower from her because
it gave him the chance to see such a beautiful smile. Clearly he was attracted to her from the very beginning. Not only did he find her eyes and smile
lovely, but he was obviously keen on pleasing her as well.

Now, Cloud isn't the type to show interest in much. However, his inner thoughts here have betrayed that cool facade he presents to the world. He is very
clearly showing interest in Aerith. Cloud doesn't show this type of interest toward any other female during the game. Not even when they were children
and Cloud had a crush on Tifa did he say anything about admiring her eyes or smile. In fact, Cloud never makes any type of remark about Tifa's looks.

2. Marlene's official character art for
FFVII shows her holding a flower...
Marlene's official art by Tetsuya Nomura.
Marlene concept art by Tetsuya Nomura.
They cross a highway that has been more or less demolished until they reach an old playground.)

Aerith: "The gate to Sector 7's in there."

Cloud: "Thanks. I guess this is goodbye. You gonna be all right going home?"

Aerith: "Oh no! 'Whatever will I do!?' ...isn't that what you want me to say?"

Option 1: See her home
Option 2: Take her to Sector 7

Cloud: (Take her to Sector 7)

Aerith: "I could do that. But won't I be in your way?"

Cloud: "What do you mean in the way?"

Aerith: "Nothing!"

(Aerith puts her hands behind her back and looks up at Cloud.)

Aerith: "Can we take a break?" (She walks to a large, moogle-shaped children's slide.) Aerith: "I can't believe it's still here." (She climbs to the top)
Aerith: "Cloud, get over here!"

(He climbs up and sits beside her.)

Aerith: "What rank were you?"

Cloud: "Rank?"

Aerith: "You know, in SOLDIER."

Cloud: "Oh, I was..." (The screen goes solid white, briefly.) "First Class."

Aerith: "Just the same as him."

Cloud: "The same as who?"

Aerith: "My first boyfriend."

Cloud: "You were... serious?"

Aerith: "No. But I liked him for a while."

Cloud: "I probably knew him. What was his name?"

(Aerith shakes her head.)

Aerith: "It doesn't really matter."

(A huge gate opens in the back. A large carriage drawn by a chocobo comes out. A woman is riding in the back.)

Cloud: "Huh? Hey, back there....." (He stands up) "Tifa!?" (The carriage drives out and the gate closes.)

Aerith: "That girl in the cart was Tifa? Where was she going? She looked kind of odd..." (She hops down and chases the cart.)

Cloud: "Wait! I'll go on alone! You go home!"

(She doesn't listen. She chases the carriage off screen. Cloud shakes his head and goes after her.)

At the beginning of this scene, Cloud asks Aerith if she will be okay going back home by herself. Aerith responds with nothing more than pure sass and
sarcasm. She doesn't appreciate being treated as though she were made of glass and she makes this known to Cloud. Meanwhile, we have Cloud
continuing to express concern for Aerith's well-being.

As for the optional dialogue, I chose to have Cloud take Aerith to Sector 7, as the other option just has Aerith saying that it would be out of the way for
Cloud to escort her home. Either way, Cloud is reluctant to leave the flower girl alone.

When Aerith is worried that she would be in the way if she went with Cloud to Sector 7, Cloud acts confused and asks why she would think such a thing.
He clearly doesn't consider Aerith a burden and even seems to enjoy her company. And he certainly doesn't seem to think she would be in the way.

Let's compare this to a scene with Tifa...

(Cloud and Tifa are preparing to jump from the train)

Tifa: "Scary... huh."

Cloud: "Too late to be saying that now. Why'd you come along anyway?"

Not only is Cloud completely unconcerned about Tifa's safety, he's totally rude to her, demanding to know why she had come with them if she was just
going to get scared. Cloud's demeanor around Tifa is uncaring and impolite. However, with Aerith, Cloud is constantly concerning himself with her
safety, protecting her, and being an absolute gentleman. He is a better man when he is with Aerith, plain and simple.

Aerith and Cloud then take a break and sit atop a moogle-shaped children's slide at a park to rest. So, why did I call this a date? Because the creators
themselves consider it a date...

Date in the Park

In Scene 04-10, Zack and Aerith have a date in Green Park in the sector 6 slum.
An identical situation is seen in “FFVII” as well, which features a scene of Cloud and Aerith on a date in the same park. (Crisis Core Ultimania, Keyword
Collection)

As you can see, Cloud and Aerith's scene here is referred to as a date. They are also being given another direct parallel to Zack x Aerith, a canon
couple. This, combined with everything else we have experienced thus far, continues to set up Cloud and Aerith as a romantic couple.

While Cloud and Aerith are resting and enjoying one another's company, they begin to talk about Soldier. Aerith opens up a little, telling Cloud a bit
about her previous boyfriend (Zack). And, Cloud, who typically has trouble talking to others or showing emotions, does something rather interesting.
He asks Aerith if she and Zack were serious. Normally, Cloud doesn't express any interest in other people's relationships. And yet, here he is, asking
Aerith if she and her ex were serious. Why in the world would he do that? The most logical explanation is that he is simply interested in Aerith
romantically. Otherwise, why would he care about her previous relationship with a man? You certainly never see him caring who Tifa has been with.

At the end of this scene, Tifa appears briefly in a carriage bound for Don Corneo's. Cloud calls out to her but she ignores him (and, yes, she did see
him, saying later that she had seen Cloud with Aerith in the park). Aerith remarks that Tifa appeared to look a bit odd and proceeds to run after the
carriage. Cloud tells Aerith that she should go home, that he can go on alone. We can assume from his many episodes of concern for Aerith's well-
being that this is once again Cloud worrying about putting Aerith into a dangerous situation. Aerith, on the other hand, shows her tenacity once more
and chases the carriage off screen.

So, here's a question: Why is it that Aerith was the one who was so concerned over Tifa's safety that she chased after the cart? Cloud was just sitting
there doing nothing. Aerith ran after the cart and all Cloud does is tell her to go home, that he can "go on" alone? He doesn't say anything like, "I
must find out what is going on with Tifa!" or "I must find out if Tifa is okay!" Nothing like that. And he certainly wasn't the first one to run after her.
It was Aerith. Pretty interesting, if you ask me.

Wall Market and the Rescue of Tifa...

This scene is pretty much a goofy quest to dress Cloud up like a girl in order for he and Aerith to get into Don Corneo's to find Tifa. So, there isn't
much of interest in this section. However, there are a few parts I would like to bring up.

(Cloud and Aerith arrive in Wall Market, busy with the hustle and bustle of people. Aerith runs around, checking things out.)

Aerith: "This place is scary in a lot of ways. Especially for a girl. So we've got to find Tifa fast."

Once again, Aerith shows off her street smarts by telling Cloud about the dangers of Wall Market. She may look naive, but she is clearly anything but.
Aerith knows the streets of Midgar well.

Another thing of interest is the fact that it is Aerith talking about finding Tifa quickly. Why wasn't Cloud the one talking about getting to Tifa?

There's also this amusing optional dialogue with Johnny outside the Honeybee Inn, a local brothel:

Johnny: "Man... Should I go.... or not? I get so mental at times like this. I'm hopeless! Hey!! Aren't you...? What!! You mean, you're.... too?"

Option 1: Yeah, me too.
Option 2: Don't bring me down to your level.

Cloud: "Yeah, me too."

Johnny: "You're Tifa's childhood friend, and you brought a girlfriend to a place like this!? What kind of guy are you!!"

This is kind of a funny exchange, especially considering Johnny sees Cloud with Aerith and automatically assumes she is his girlfriend. XD

(Outside Don Corneo's)

Aerith: "Hey, this looks like the Don's mansion. I'll go take a look. I'll tell Tifa about you."

Cloud: "No!! You can't!!"

Aerith: "Why?"

Cloud: "You DO know... what kind of... place this is, don't you?"

Aerith: "Then, what am I supposed to do? You want to go in with me?"

Cloud: "Well being a man, that'll be pretty hard. Besides if I bust in there, it'll cause too much commotion."

(Aerith is giggling.)

Cloud: "But, I just can't let you go in alone... Oh, man...... First, we'll need to find out if Tifa's alright.... What's so funny, Aerith?"

Aerith: "Cloud, why don't you dress up like a girl? It's the only way."

Cloud: "WHAT!?"

(Aerith speaks to the doorman.)

Aerith: "Just wait. I've got a cute friend I want to bring."

Cloud: "Aerith! I can't....."

Aerith: "You ARE worried about Tifa, aren't you? Then come on, hurry!"

The first thing to note about this scene is that, once again, Aerith is ready to put her safety on the line to check on Tifa. Cloud, on the other hand,
refuses to allow Aerith into what is clearly a house of prostitution. He insists on accompanying her, but only women are allowed inside. Finally, Cloud
shows concern for Tifa's safety, saying that they need to find out if Tifa is okay.

While Cloud laments about the problem of getting inside, Aerith quickly formulates a plan. Cloud can go into Corneo's with Aerith if he is dressed as a
woman. Cloud refuses at first, even though it is a reasonable plan; it is the only way he can get inside to check on Tifa without causing a ruckus.
However, Aerith insists that if he is truly worried about Tifa, he will do it. Only then, Cloud relents.

So, why is it that Aerith has all of the plans to save Tifa? Cloud even initially refused Aerith's plan, even though it meant he could finally get inside to
check on Tifa. If Tifa really was his "true love", I don't believe for a second Cloud would have hesitated to do whatever it took to get inside that place.
However, all he does is dilly dally while Aerith is the one prepared to go the distance to assist a woman she has never even met. Why isn't Cloud
prepared to sacrifice whatever is necessary to go after Tifa if she is his "true love" like CloTis want me to believe? Pretty strange behavior for a man to
balk on saving his "true love" when all it requires is for him to dress in drag.

- Rescue Tifa From Don Of The Slums -

(They go to the Don's mansion and speak to the doorman.)

Door man: "Damn!! Your friend's hot, too! Come in, come in!! Two ladies coming through!"

(They enter the mansion. A receptionist speaks to them.)

Receptionist: "Hey, ladies. I'll go and let the Don know you're here. Wait here. Don't go wandering around..."

Aerith: "Now's our chance. Let's find Tifa."

(Cloud goes upstairs and through a door. He comes out in a torture chamber. Aerith follows. They see Tifa there, dressed like... .. a slut, to be blunt
about it.)

Aerith: "...Tifa? Nice to meet you. I'm Aerith. Cloud's told me a lot about you."

Tifa: "...And you are? Hey you're the one with Cloud in the park..."

Aerith: "Right, with Cloud."

Tifa: "Oh....."

Aerith: "Don't worry. We just met. It's nothing."

Tifa: "What do you mean, 'Don't worry'... about what? No, don't misunderstand. Cloud and I grew up together. Nothing more."

Aerith: "Poor Cloud, having to stand here and listen to both of us call him nothing." (She turns to Cloud.) "Right, Cloud?"

Tifa: "Cloud?" (She checks him out.) "???? Cloud!? Why are you dressed like that!? And what are you doing here!? Forget that, what happened to you
after the fall!? Are you hurt!?"

Cloud: "Hey, give me a chance to explain. I'm dressed like this... because there was no other way to get in here. I'm all right. Aerith helped me out."

Tifa: "Oh, Aerith did..."

Once Aerith and Cloud are inside, they start searching for Tifa. You'll notice that, once again, Aerith is the one to run off in search of Tifa as soon as
possible while Cloud just stands around. Also, please note that I am using the script by
Little Chibica on rpggamer.com, so the use of the word "slut"
was not my doing.

Anyways, Aerith is quick to introduce herself to Tifa and they both go through the niceties of telling each other that they aren't interested in Cloud
when, in fact, both of them are. Another thing to note is that Tifa tells Aerith that she and Cloud grew up together and that nothing is going on between
them, which is another reason I always choose to have Cloud tell Aerith that Tifa's isn't his girlfriend. Even Tifa denies it, so I see no reason to have
him lie to Aerith.

Tifa is understandably shocked when she realizes that Cloud is the blond woman with Aerith. And when she hears that he and Aerith have been
together since the fall and that they've been helping one another, she becomes very jealous...

Tifa: in Don's Mansion

Hmmm... I was in a complicated mood today—I was happy, but somehow, I felt annoyed at the same time.

Though I need to get more information no matter what, it’s still risky to visit Don’s mansion by myself… that notorious lecher!
I knew I should have settled my determination, but I couldn't stop my teardrops.
Cloud came to rescue me (and dressed like a girl!) when I was thinking that I might not survive this time. Therefore, I was very happy. I thought I had
an illusion when I first saw him in the park.

It’s just that...I was displeased at the way Cloud and another girl soon became good friends.
Well, Aerith is a very good girl, I was fond of her soon, too. No wonder…

Besides, what really makes me angry is this fellow, Don Corneo!
How dare he ignore me and Aerith, and choose Cloud as his partner without a second thought? How!?
Probably because Cloud perfumed himself with cologne and wore a tiara and even a beautiful dress... Anyway he was still rude whatsoever!! (
FFVII
Dismantled
, p. 142)

Please note the italicized section... Tifa first says that she is happy, but she is also annoyed. And why is she annoyed? Tifa remarks that she was
"displeased" at how quickly Cloud and Aerith had became good friends. Cloud and Aerith's closeness is quite evident to Tifa in this scene. She is seeing
him act quite differently than before, when he refused to fulfill their promise, refused to help her without pay (and nearly walked out on her), telling
her that Avalanche and their cause meant nothing to him, and asking her why she came along when she got scared. His relationship with Aerith is on a
completely different level than his relationship with Tifa, and it is plain for her to see. That is more than enough of a reason for her to be jealous.

Cloud: "Tifa, explain. What are you doing in a place like this?"

Tifa: "Yeah, ummmm...."

Aerith: "Ahem! I'll just plug my ears." (She walks to the other side of the room and does so.)

Tifa: "I'm glad you're OK."

Cloud: "Thanks. What happened?"

Tifa: "When we got back from the Number 5 reactor, there was this weird man. So Barret caught him and squeezed some information out of him."

Cloud: "That's when the Don's name popped up."

Tifa: "Right, Don Corneo. Barret told me to leave the lech alone... But something's been bothering me."

Cloud: "I see. So you wanted to get the story straight from Corneo's mouth."

Tifa: "So I made it here, but now I'm in a bind. Corneo is looking for a bride. Everyday, he gets three girls, chooses one of them, and then.... ...and,
well..... Anyway, I have to be the girl... or I'm out for tonight."

(Aerith turns.)

Aerith: "Sorry... but I overheard... If you know the three girls, there's no problem, right?"

Tifa: "I guess so, but..."

Aerith: "We have two here, right?"

Cloud: "No, Aerith! I can't have you get involved."

Aerith: "Oh? So it's all right for Tifa to be in danger?"

Cloud: "No, I don't want Tifa in...."

(Tifa walks to Aerith.)

Tifa: "Is it all right?"

(They start to walk out of the room together.)

Aerith: "I grew up in the slums... I'm used to danger." (She turns to Tifa.) "Do you trust me?"

Tifa: "Yes. Thanks, Ms. Aerith."

Aerith: "Call me Aerith."

In this part of the scene, Aerith gives Cloud and Tifa a moment to discuss Tifa's plans. Aerith overhears and offers to be one of the girls that the Don
chooses from. And what is Cloud's first reaction, when he knows that both Tifa and Aerith are going into a hazardous situation? He strongly objects to
Aerith's involvement because he doesn't want her to be in danger. Where is the concern for Tifa's safety? Aerith is the one to ask him if he is okay
with Tifa being in danger, to which Cloud makes a half-hearted objection. But who was his primary concern? Which woman was first on Cloud's mind
when he thought of both of them being at the mercy of the lecherous Corneo? Aerith. His objection was immediate and passionate.

Don Corneo then picks either Tifa, Aerith, or Cloud based on how well you managed to dress up Cloud. If the Don picks Aerith...

[If Aerith was picked]

(Tifa meets him outside the door.)

Tifa: "Cloud!!"

Cloud: "Tifa!!"

Option 1: You all right?
Option 2: We've gotta help Aerith!!

Cloud: "You all right?"

Tifa: "Of course! If you take me lightly, you're gonna pay for it!!"

If you pick the first option, Cloud asks Tifa if she is okay, to which she has a pretty awesome comeback. XD

Cloud: "We've gotta help Aerith!!"

Tifa: "Hey, don't you even care about how I am? ......never mind, let's go!"

If you pick the second option, Tifa shows her jealousy once more, demanding to know why Cloud is concerned more for Aerith than her. Tifa clearly
feels threatened by his relationship with Aerith. If the Don picks Tifa...

[If Tifa was picked]

(Cloud is about to go in to the Don's room when Aerith screams from the torture chamber.)

Aerith: "No--!! Help!!"

(Cloud rushes down the stairs.)

Aerith: "No-!!"

Kotch: "Ha ha ha... Wait, you!"

(Cloud looks down. Kotch is comically chasing Aerith around in circles. Aerith runs up the stairs and Kotch follows. When Aerith reaches Cloud,
she kicks Kotch in the crotch.)

Aerith: "I'm so sorry!"

(Kotch loses his balance and flails his arms...)

Kotch: "oh, oh, oh...." (He falls down the stairs.) "heh, heh, heh..."

Cloud: "Aerith!!"

Option 1: You all right?
Option 2: We gotta help Tifa!

Cloud: "You all right?"

Aerith: "I told you. I'm used to danger. To tell you the truth, my heart was pounding."

Cloud's first order of business is to assist Aerith, who is being chased by Kotch. Once again, he is shown going to Aerith's rescue and showing more
concern for her than Tifa. Aerith, on the other hand, manages to take care of herself when she takes Kotch down with one well-placed kick to his happy
sacks. This is one tough little flower girl!

If you pick Cloud's first optional dialogue, he will ask Aerith if she is okay. Aerith tries to brush it off, but then admits that she was scared. And you
know what? Cloud is fine with that. He isn't rudely demanding to know why she put herself in danger if she was just going to get scared. However, he
did do that exact thing to Tifa earlier in the game. Cloud is gentle and kind around Aerith, plain and simple. The fact that he treats her better than Tifa
is quite telling.

Cloud: "We gotta help Tifa!"

Aerith: "Ye... yes, you're right... .....let's hurry!"

If you pick the second option, Cloud says that they need to help Tifa. Aerith is shaken, but responds in kind, saying that they should hurry. What is
different here? The lack of jealousy. Aerith isn't jealous of Tifa, which suggests that she doesn't consider Tifa's relationship with Cloud a threat. And
what does this mean? It means Aerith, who can grasp the truth deep inside people's minds, sees nothing between Cloud and Tifa. Tifa, on the other
hand, who doesn't even have special abilities, can plainly see the relationship growing between Cloud and Aerith. It's obvious.

Let's move on to the next scene of interest...

After the Plate Falls...

Barret, Tifa, and Cloud are all standing next to a pile of debris where the gate to Sector 7 once stood. It's all gone now. Once Cloud, Aerith, and Tifa
learned what they needed from Don Corneo, they went to help Avalanche. But they were too late. Marlene was left in Aerith's care, but Aerith was
kidnapped by the Turks and taken away in a helicopter to Shinra HQ.

Cloud stands silently with his back to Tifa and Barret while the two lament the staggering loss of life. Barret is blaming Shinra... Tifa is wrestling with
her own feelings. Both of them realize that the tragedy was largely in part due to the actions of Avalanche. Tifa consoles Barret, telling him that she
believes Marlene is safe. Earlier, when they saw Aerith in the helicopter, Aerith called out to Tifa "She's all right" before being taken away.

(Barret faces Cloud, whose back is still turned.)

Barret: "An' what about you?"

(Cloud looks up, still not turning.)

Cloud: "..........." (He leaves the playground.)

Barret: "Yo! Where's he think he's goin'?"

Tifa: "Oh! Aerith!"

Barret: "Oh yeah, that girl. What's up with her?"

Tifa: "...I don't really know... But she's the one I left Marlene with."

Barret: "Damn! Marlene!!" (Barret runs to the exit of the playground, then stops and turns.) "Tifa. There ain't no turnin' back now."

(He exits. Tifa heads for the exit, stops and looks back over her shoulder... then exits. The scene fades.)

(The scene fades back in. Cloud is walking along the broken highway, away from the playground.)

Tifa and Barret: "Cloud!"

(He turns to see Barret and Tifa run up.)

Barret: "Take me to Marlene!"

Tifa: "You're going to help Aerith?"

Cloud: "Yeah.... But before that, there's something I want to know." (They speak briefly about the Ancients and Cloud collapses.)

So, here we have Cloud IGNORING Barret who is crying over the death of his friends, IGNORING Tifa who is drowning in her own guilt, IGNORING
the deaths of Wedge, Biggs, and Jessie... And why is this? Because he is lost in thought over the loss of Aerith.

Cloud then turns and walks away without a second thought, without offering any words of condolences for two people who just lost three good friends,
without asking for any assistance. He is going after Aerith. He even ignores Tifa in her time of need to go after Aerith. And Tifa knows who is on
Cloud's mind.

Cloud walks off screen and Barret and Tifa follow him. Barret's primary concern is his adopted daughter, Marlene. But Tifa knows what's up. She asks
Cloud if he is going to help Aerith and he confirms that he is. So, in other words, with or without Barret and Tifa, Cloud is going after Aerith.

At Aerith's House...

Cloud tells Elmyra that the Shinra have kidnapped Aerith, however Elmyra already knew as Shinra soldiers had taken Aerith from her home.
Apparently, Aerith had gone to Seventh Heaven, rescued Marlene, and taken the little girl back to her own house. Elmyra then tells Cloud and
company all about Aerith being an Ancient and how she was not Aerith's real mother. She also tells them about Aerith's unusual abilities and the day
that the Turks first came around, demanding that Aerith be returned to them.

Cloud: "It's amazing how she's avoided the Shinra for all these years..."

Elmyra: "The Shinra needed her. So I guess they wouldn't harm her."

Tifa: "But, why now....."

Elmyra: "She brought a little girl here with her. On the way here, Tseng found them. She probably couldn't get away fast enough. She decided to go to
the Shinra in exchange for the little girl's safety."

Cloud: "Must be Marlene."

Barret: "Marlene!! Aerith was caught because of Marlene!? I'm sorry. Marlene's my daughter. I'm ...really... sorry..."

Cloud remarks admiringly at how Aerith had eluded Shinra for so many years and Tifa wonders why Aerith had suddenly been captured. Elmyra
explains that, during Aerith's rescue of Marlene, Tseng had found them. Aerith had negotiated with him: she would cooperate with him as long as
Marlene was safe. And so she was allowed to take Marlene to her house, but, in return, she had to go with Shinra.

Cloud: in Aerith’s house

The 7th Sector was ruined.
We couldn’t stop the explosion at the pillar of the Plate. Biggs, Wedge, and Jessie are gone. Though they are nice folks…
Besides, there’re a lot of deaths, people who believed Shinra, and those who disbelieved….
And then, Aerith was kidnapped.
In exchange for Marlene’s safety, she was taken away by the Turks.
If only she was not involved in this battle, between me and Shinra…..
Aerith’s mother told us that she’s a foster child. And because she’s the last survival of “the Ancients,” Shinra was after her since she’s little.
So far, it seemed the Turks had never tried to forcibly take her away in violent manner. They just persistently asked for her cooperation.
But, Shinra was entirely impetuous this time.
If Shinra changed the strategy all of a sudden, then no one can guarantee her safety.
I need to get in the Shinra building.
I need to rescue her……by all means! (
FFVII Dismantled, p. 145)

In this passage, we have Cloud's inner thoughts while at Aerith's house. He regrets getting her involved in his issues with Shinra and remarks how
Shinra had become more violent in pursuing Aerith. Keeping that in mind, he knew that Aerith was not safe and follows it up with proclaiming that he
needs to rescue Aerith by any means necessary.

Cloud's dedication to Aerith's safety is quite apparent in the above passage. He has devoted himself to the role of bodyguard and fully intends to go
through hell and high water to ensure that the flower girl gets rescued. This is a huge deviation from earlier, when Cloud was balking at rescuing Tifa
because it involved him putting on a dress. He won't dress in drag to rescue Tifa but he will rescue Aerith by any means necessary? Pretty interesting...

Later in the scene, Barret goes upstairs to check on Marlene. Cloud goes upstairs as well, but attempts to leave when he sees Barret crying. Barret
stops him...

Barret: "Cloud!"

(Cloud turns.)

Barret: "You gonna go help Aerith, right? She's done so much for me.... If it's the Shinra you're dealin' with, I can't just sit here! I'm comin', too!"

(Marlene runs around Barret to Cloud.)

Marlene: "Guess what? Guess what? Aerith was asking me lots of questions. Like what kind of person Cloud is. I bet she likes you, Cloud!"

Option 1: I don't know
Option 2: Let's hope so

Cloud: "Let's hope so."

Marlene:
"I won't tell Tifa."

Barret knows that Cloud is going after Aerith and he fully intends on going with Cloud. After all, she saved his daughter's life and he wishes to repay
her. Meanwhile, Marlene speaks to Cloud for the very first time. Apparently, she and Aerith talked a lot during their flight from Sector 7 to Aerith's
House. It seems Aerith asked Marlene a lot of questions about Cloud and the bright little tyke picked up on the fact that Aerith likes Cloud. She
mentions this to Cloud and he has two optional responses.
I chose to have Cloud respond with the second option due to this quote in the FFVII 25th
Anniversary Ultimania
:

Marlene is a sharp girl — Even though she’s only 4 years old, Marlene is perceptive and well attuned to the woman mind. The scene where she
ascertains that Aerith has favor for Cloud and tells him so, then says “I won’t tell Tifa!” demonstrates this grownup behavior.


Marlene will only respond with "I won't tell Tifa" if Cloud says that he hopes Aerith likes him. If Cloud responds with the first option, Marlene tells
him that he's stupid. XD The above quote, however, seems to indicate that option two is a more valid choice, as Marlene is confirmed as having said
"I
won't tell Tifa"
in a canon source.

Marlene also seems to understand how Tifa feels about Cloud and promises that she won't tell Tifa that Cloud reciprocates Aerith's interest. Marlene is
the first character in the game who is clearly a supporter of Cloud x Aerith.
After all, we certainly never see her trying to get Cloud and Tifa together.

(Cloud goes to leave.)

Tifa: "You're going after Aerith, right?"

Cloud: "Yeah."

Tifa: "I'm going with you."

Tifa knows that Cloud is going after Aerith and says that she is going along, much the same as Barret. They tell Elmyra to go somewhere else, as her
home is no longer safe. With that done, the trio head off to Wall Market to search for a way to Shinra HQ, which is on the upper plate. Once they have
it figured out, they climb to the upper plate and arrive at Shinra HQ.

For a moment, they argue about how best to go in. They end up sneaking in through a stair well and start climbing.

Shinra HQ...

During the climb...

Barret: "Don't know... why the hell... we gotta climb..."

Cloud: "...because we don't want to start a commotion until we've saved Aerith. I doubt that's possible though..."

Barret: "...heh heh heh."

Cloud: "Knock it off. You're giving me the creeps."

Barret: "So there are times when even you fight for other people. I am impressed."
Cloud awakens in a church in Sector 5. The flower girl from before is kneeling next to him...
Marlene only receives a flower during the course of FFVII if Cloud buys one from Aerith. Later, Cloud has the option of giving the flower to Tifa, or
giving it to Marlene. I always choose to give it to Marlene because, once again, I feel it is the best option in regard to the plot due to Marlene's character
art. It also sets the stage quite nicely for Marlene's closeness with Cloud during
Advent Children/Complete. But, as I said before, I won't believe there is a
"canon" outcome for any optional scene unless S-E comes out and says so.

3. From
Maiden of the Planet:

This time, Cloud had separated from his body and was now in an absentminded state but, in the abyss of the Mako world, he saw a hand there to guide
him. It was white and delicate - it reminded him of the hand that gave him a flower in Midgar. Unconsciously, he stretched out his hand...

This was from the final FMV of FFVII where Cloud reaches for Aerith's hand while he is surrounded by Lifestream. Here we have Cloud remembering
buying a flower from Aerith in an official novella. Honestly, I think I have enough proof here to announce that Cloud buying the flower from Aerith is
canon, however S-E has not issued a statement on this matter. Until they do, I will continue to call this an optional scene. However, I am sure you now
understand why I choose to have Cloud buy a flower from Aerith, right? ;-)

For information on the canonicity of
Maiden of the Planet, go here.

SO... Not only does Cloud fancy Aerith from the very beginning, but it is clear that she likes him as well. After all, she sold Cloud a flower for only one
gil. Flowers may be commonplace in reality, but in Midgar flowers are a rare commodity. If you go to the Honeybee Inn, Aerith finds herself surrounded
by guys. She notices Johnny and the state he is in (freaking out about whether to go into the brothel or not) and gives him a flower and ALSO gives him
one gil. He thanks her and says he will treasure both items always. Then, Aerith turns around and sells one of the pervs hanging around her a flower for
300 gil! And then there is another guy she sells a flower to for 500 gil! So, Aerith makes a pretty good living selling those lovely flowers...

Selling flowers will richen both wallet and streets?

Aerith’s interest is taking care of the flowers, but flowers rarely bloom in the Slum because the sky is covered by the Plate. Aerith’s dream is to plant a
lot of flowers around the Slum—for such a dream, Zack suggests that she should sell those flowers she plants, and not just around the Slum, but make
the whole of Midgar full of flowers. His plan that “If Midgar is full of flowers, then your wallet will be full too!” opens up a gate to a new world to Aerith.
(
Crisis Core Ultimania, Aerith's profile)

Aerith will only sell her flowers for one gil if she takes a liking to you. This probably has something to do with Aerith's Cetra abilities...

Although Aerith’s ability is inferior to the pure blooded Ancients, she indeed inherits the mysterious power like “hearing the Planet’s voice” and
“grasping the truth concealed deep inside people’s mind.” (
Crisis Core Ultimania, Aerith's profile)

**************************************************************************************************************************************

"Aerith detected that the present Cloud is not the real him during their encounters. She knows it because of her mysterious, inherent ability." (FFVII
Ultimania Omega
)

**************************************************************************************************************************************

Quote: text near image of Aerith in the Church, saying to Elfe "The voice I heard inside your mind is familiar."

By the power of the Ancients, Aerith immediately noticed AVALANCHE’s leader, Elfie’s secret.
I feel like I'm being called by the wind, therefore, I'm going to have a journey. (FFVII 10th Anniversary Ultimania, Aerith's profile)

Aerith's Cetra heritage gives her many gifts, one of which is the ability to see into the hearts and minds of others. This is why she charges the dirt bags
outside the Honeybee Inn 300 gil or 500 gil for a single flower, and then turns around and sells a good person like Cloud a flower for only one gil. When
she felt sorry for Johnny, she gave away one of her flowers for free and threw in one gil to ease his anxiety. She can see right through Johnny and
Cloud, and she knows for a fact that they have good hearts. The other perverts hanging around the Honeybee Inn get raked over the coals by the shrewd
flower girl.

Another thing important to note is that Cloud and Aerith first meet under a sign for
Loveless. The camera starts at the Loveless sign and pans down. If
you put all of the screens together, this is what you get...
- Flowers Blooming In The Church -

Aerith: "...You all right? ...Can you hear me?"

Cloud: ".....Yeah....."
Internally: Back then... You could get by with just skinned knees....
Out loud: "What do you mean by 'back then'?"
Internally:       What about now? Can you get up?
Out loud: ".....What do you mean by 'that time'? .....What about now?"
Internally: Don't worry about me. You just worry about yourself now.
Out loud: ".....I'll give it a try."

Aerith: "Oh! He moved!"

Cloud:
Internally: .....How about that? Take it slow now. Little by little.....

Aerith: "Hello, hello?"

Cloud: ".....I know. Hey... who are you?"

Aerith: "Hello, hello!"

(The scene fades in to show Cloud lying in the middle of a flower patch in the floor of an old church. The Flower Girl from Midgar [Aerith] kneels next
to him. She stands. Cloud manages to sit up.)

Aerith: "You okay? This is a church in the Sector 5 slums. It suddenly fell on top of me. It really gave me quite a scare."

Cloud: "......I came crashing down?"

Aerith: "The roof and the flower bed must have broken your fall. You're lucky."

Cloud: "Flower bed... is this yours?"

(He stands up and brushes his clothes off.)

Cloud: "Sorry about that."

Aerith: "That's all right. The flowers here are quite resilient because this is a sacred place. They say you can't grow grass and flowers in Midgar. But for
some reason, the flowers have no trouble blooming here. I love it here."

(She begins to tend to her flowers.)

Aerith: ".....So, we meet again. Don't you remember me?"

Cloud: Option 1: "Yeah, I remember you."
Option 2: "Never saw you before."

Cloud: "Yeah, I remember you.....

Cloud: Option 1: "You were selling flowers."
Option 2: "You're the slum drunk."

Cloud: "You were selling flowers."

Aerith: "Oh, I"m so happy! Thanks for buying my flowers. Say, do you have any materia?"

Cloud: "Yes, some. Nowadays you can find materia anywhere."

Aerith: "But mine is special. It's good for absolutely nothing."

Cloud: "....good for nothing? You probably just don't know how to use it."

Aerith: "No, I do... it just doesn't do anything. I feel safe just having it. It was my mother's...."

(She looks skyward.)

Aerith: "Say, I feel like talking. Do you feel up to it? After all, here we are meeting again, right?"

Cloud: Option 1: "I don't mind."
Option 2: "Got nothing to talk about."

Cloud: "I don't mind."

Aerith: "Wait here. I've got to check my flowers. It'll be just a minute."

(She checks her flowers.)

Aerith: "Just a little longer. Oh! Now that you mention it..... We don't know each other's names, do we? My name is...."

(The PLAYER names Aerith/Aeris)

Aerith: "I'm Aerith, the flower girl. Nice to meet you."

Cloud: "The name's Cloud. Me.....? I do a little bit of everything."

Aerith: "Oh.... a jack of all trades."

Cloud: "Yeah, I do whatever's needed."

(Aerith giggles.)

Cloud: "What's so funny? What are you laughing at?"

Aerith: "Sorry..... I just..."

(They turn to see a mysterious figure in the doorway of the church....)

Note: There are optional dialogues present here, I simply chose the ones I thought fit the script and plot best, taking into account what we already know of
Cloud and Aerith. Since we know that Cloud was attracted to Aerith from the very beginning and treats her with nothing but gentle kindness once they are
officially introduced, there is no reason in the world for him to be rude to her or not remember her. While there is no evidence to prove which are the "canon"
choices, I simply used common sense to deduce the correct dialogue.

At the beginning of the scene, Cloud engages in an internal monologue with himself, that part of him which remembers being a kid and getting skinned
knees. It is the part of Cloud which is now suppressed beneath the facade of being a cocky First Class SOLDIER. This proves that, while Cloud is being
controlled by Jenova, and while he presents a false front to the world, the real him is present deep inside and is clearly aware of what is transpiring.

The origin of the saying "not interested". In the scene when the young Cloud explains his mental state by saying, "I used to think people around me
were foolish", surprisingly, he shows the posture of shrugging his shoulders. If we consider this, the part of his coolness that keeps him away from the
surroundings and the part of his asserting "not interested" all have nothing to do with the influence of Jenova cells, they belong to the real Cloud's
personality. (
FFVII Ultimania Omega, p. 180)

My statement above is confirmed here in the Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Omega. This is proof for all of those that claim that Cloud's actions were
controlled entirely by Jenova or that Cloud was not his true self (but some sort of Zack puppet) during the earliest parts of
FFVII. According to the
above quote, Cloud was himself despite the influence of Jenova cells. His real personality was present. Honestly, Zack and Cloud are exact opposites
(Zack was a "ladies man", very outgoing; Cloud is introverted and cold), so I am not really sure why anyone would believe that Cloud "became" Zack.
You would have to be completely ignoring Cloud's character to believe something as ignorant as that.

For more information on this subject:
The Real Cloud.

After Cloud's inner monologue, he awakens and discovers Aerith kneeling next to him. She tells him what happened and lets him know that he is at a
church in Sector 5. This scene is especially important, not just to Cloud and Aerith fans, but to the creators of
Final Fantasy VII. It has been reused
many times during the
Compilation of FFVII:

* During
Before Crisis, one of the characters falls through the church roof.

* In
Crisis Core, Zack is shown making a similar entrance and meeting Aerith in the same way Cloud does years later. Why is this important? Well,
because Zack and Aerith are a canon couple during
Crisis Core. Zack is Aerith's first love and old boyfriend. And, while their relationship is in the past
during
FFVII, Cloud is introduced to Aerith in exactly the same manner that her first boyfriend was introduced to her. The parallels between the two
couples cannot be ignored (and neither can the fact that Cloud x Aerith is being hammered home here by giving it a direct parallel to the canon couple
of Zack x Aerith). Official quotes which speak of the parallels between Cloud and Aerith's first meeting and Aerith's first meeting with Zack (with the
most essential text in italics)...

Quote: text near img of Aerith's pointing to the Church's roof
Just like Cloud in FF7, Zack fell to Aerith’s Church. Meeting him brings along her first love. (Final Fantasy VII 10th Anniversary Ultimania, Aerith's
profile)

**************************************************************************************************************************************

Meeting with Aerith

The scene from this game where Zack falls from the sector 5 Mako reactor down to the slum church and meets Aerith is
basically the same situation in
which Cloud and Aerith meet in “FFVII”
. According to Mr. Nojima from the development staff, this was made as a scene to intentionally connect them, and
in the same way Zack’s “one date” line connects to Aerith’s “one date” line to Cloud in “FFVII.”
(Crisis Core Ultimania, Keywords Collection)

**************************************************************************************************************************************

The setting that “falling from the roof of the Church” repeats Aerith’s encounter with Cloud was decided in the beginning. Though we’re talking about love,
they are still young and there’s no time to describe “how they become fond of each other” in the game. So I made it like “falling into a sudden crush.”
Personally, the setting that Aerith’s “how about one date” to Cloud in FF7 reappears in Zack’s lines is the greatest joy to me. Even though this line was
casually placed in FF7, I care a bit about the saying that “it was thoughtless of her to say that.” The way of having Aerith receive Zack’s words is a defense for
her
. (Crisis Core Ultimania, Nojima interview, p. 579)

This interview is critical, because we have Nojima here talking about how the "date" lines between Aerith and Zack are parallel to Cloud and Aerith's
scene. This gives Aerith some background and shows that she didn't just flippantly ask a complete stranger on a date. This scene was made with the
intention of showing that Aerith picked up/learned these lines from Zack. And Nojima did all of this to give depth to Aerith's later proposal to Cloud to
escort her home in exchange for one date. He also, apparently, did this to defend Aerith from people who were criticizing her for suggesting Cloud take
her on a date after they had just met. How sweet, Nojima! <3 <3 <3

* In
AC/ACC, after Aerith heals Cloud, she transports him back to the church. For the second time in his life, Cloud awakens lying in Aerith's
flowerbed (albeit a flooded one) after a traumatic event. The fact that he sees Aerith soon after awakening once again provides a sweet tribute to when
they first met (officially).

* In
Reminiscence, this scene was shown as one of the important scenes during FFVII. So, if the creators consider it important, who are we to argue?

Aerith meeting Cloud is something she was destined to do, as proven by the italicized text below...

Quote: text near picture of Cloud and Aerith in church
After the Reactor exploded, Cloud and Aerith merely exchanged words briefly.
Meeting him again in her favorite Church, the wheel of Aerith’s destiny
started spinning
.
Quote: in game text of pic of Cloud & Aerith in church
"So, we meet again." (
FFVII 10th Anniversary Ultimania, Aerith's profile)

Cloud meeting Aerith is also in his destiny...

Quote: text near image of Cloud and Aerith
Aerith, who is pursued by Shinra for her ability to hear the voice of the planet.
Cloud's meeting with her leads him on a new path. (Final Fantasy VII 10th
Anniversary Ultimania
, Cloud's profile)

And what is Cloud's new path?

At first he has little interest in their goal of 'protecting the planet'. But after meeting Aerith, an Ancient, and reuniting with his fated rival Sephiroth, he
throws himself fully into the battle to save the planet
. (Final Fantasy VII 10th Anniversary Ultimania, Cloud's profile)

It seems to me that both Cloud and Aerith were fated to meet one another and begin a new path together that would ultimately lead to saving the
planet. And so this scene, in which Cloud awakens in Aerith's flower bed was nothing more than pure destiny, something which is typically associated
with true love and/or soul mates, not friends.

Stealing the Planet from Mother…
Calamity from the skies… Aerith who sells flowers in Midgar saw the commotion and felt uneasy. (something about Avalanche against Shinra) At the
same time, Cloud joins Avalanche in their bombing activities. Aerith meets Cloud and their destinies collide. They start a journey to the Promised
Land. A battle that puts the Planet’s future at stake takes place. (#056,
FFVII Art Museum Cards)

Once again, Cloud and Aerith's meeting is associated with destiny. Not only that, but it states that their destinies collide, suggesting that the destiny of
Cloud was intertwined with the destiny of Aerith.

For more information:
FFVII Art Museum Cards.

"Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone - we find it with another." --Thomas Merton

Cloud Becomes Aerith's Bodyguard...

(Cloud and Aerith are in the Sector 5 church. They turn to see a mysterious figure in the doorway...)

Aerith: "Sorry, bad timing on my part."

(Cloud moves toward the person.)

Aerith: "Cloud! Don't let it get to you!"

(She steps back, behind Cloud.)

Aerith: "Say, Cloud. Have you ever been a bodyguard? You DO do everything, right?"

(Cloud smooths his hair.)

Cloud: "Yeah, that's right."

Aerith: "Then, get me out of here. Take me home."

Cloud: "OK, I'll do it... but it'll cost you."

Aerith: "Well then, let's see...... How about if I go out with you once?"

(Cloud makes an affirmative nod. He confronts the person.)

Cloud: "I don't know who you are, but.... You don't know me.....?"
Internally:
......I know you.
(The screen goes white, briefly)
"Oh yeah...... I know you. That uniform...."

(Three Shinra guards run in.)

One of the guards: ".....Hey, sis, this one's a little weird."

Cloud: "Shut up! You Shinra spy!"

Another guard: "Reno! Want him taken out?"

Reno: "I haven't decided yet."

Aerith: "Don't fight here! You'll ruin the flowers!"

(Cloud and Aerith run to the back of the church.)

Aerith: "The exit is back there."

(They exit.)

This scene shows Reno and some Shinra guards entering the Church. Cloud automatically moves to confront Reno, but Aerith stops him to make a
quick bargain. Despite the fact that Aerith has managed to elude the Turks by herself for many years, she asks Cloud to help her escape the church
and assist her with getting home. Why was this?

"First off, it bothered me how you looked exactly alike. Two completely different people, but look exactly the same. The way you walk, gesture... I
think I must have seen him again, in you... But you're different. Things are different..." (
FFVII, Aerith)

**************************************************************************************************************************************

"At first when I met Cloud, I believed he was similar to Zack. Little actions, the way he spoke... his kindness. But Cloud is Cloud. I, now undoubtedly,
love Cloud much more than Zack. But Cloud is clueless." (
FFVII Dismantled, Aerith's monologue in Gongaga, p. 159)

As we can see from these quotes, Aerith was struck by the similarities between Cloud and her old boyfriend, Zack. This was what initially drew her to
him and made her comfortable around him so quickly. This is most likely why she used some of Zack's lines on him, as well. XD Not only was she
curious about Cloud, but she was attracted to him.
Cloud accepting a date as payment for protecting Aerith...
Remember all of the stuff I said about Loveless before? It's a play that has some touching scenes between a woman and her lover. And, here we have
Cloud and Aerith standing beneath a sign advertising this very play. Keep this in mind for later when I discuss
Loveless further.

Moving on...

Cloud and Aerith's Official Meeting...
Aerith calls out to Cloud, but he is helpless. Cloud asks Barret to help out and the big man steps up and begins firing his gun arm at the glass
enclosure. The tube malfunctions and the door opens, allowing Red XIII to leap out and attack Hojo.

Cloud: "Now's our chance to get Aerith!"

(Cloud runs into the tube and helps Aerith up from the floor.)

Aerith: "Thanks, Cloud."

Cloud runs into the tube and assists Aerith to her feet. She thanks him for his help. Meanwhile, Red XIII turns and begins talking to the group, which
leaves them understandably stunned. A new specimen is coming up on the elevator. Red XIII tells them that the creature is strong and he will assist
them with defeating it. And what is Cloud's reaction?

Cloud: "We'll take care of that monster. Somebody take Aerith somewhere safe..."

That's right. He wants to make sure that Aerith is safe. At that point, you can choose either Barret or Tifa to take Aerith to safety. After the boss
battle Aerith and Barret/Tifa return to the lab. And what is Cloud's first question?

Cloud: "Aerith, you all right?"

Tifa: "She seems all right, ...in many ways."

Yep, he asks Aerith if she is okay. This is someone who wasn't even involved in the boss fight that just took place. And yet Cloud is still concerned for
her well-being. Tifa then makes a cryptic remark that I always took as admiration for Aerith (and perhaps a little jealousy as well). After talking a bit
more with Red XIII, Aerith says something that will be repeated throughout the Compilation...

Aerith: "Cloud... so you did come for me."

More on that later... After this, your entire party gets captured by the Turks.

Escape from Shinra HQ...
Aerith asks Cloud if he'd ever been a bodyguard and then proceeds to "hire" him to get her out of the church and take her home. Cloud does not
hesitate to accept her offer, which fits in nicely with what we already know about Cloud's obvious attraction to Aerith from the very beginning.
However, being a Soldier for hire, Cloud tells Aerith that she will have to pay him to be her bodyguard. After all, Avalanche had already hired Cloud
with the promise of 1500 gil to assist them with a mission.

Aerith, on the other hand, has other ideas. She offers to "pay" Cloud by going out on a date with him. Cloud accepts her offer with no further attempts
to negotiate, which again shows his romantic interest in Aerith. If he wasn't interested in her romantically, why accept a date as payment when he had
only been accepting gil previously? His interest in her during this scene cannot be more clear.

Let's deviate for a moment and look at a scene in which another woman asks Cloud for assistance...

(Cloud goes back up the elevator and goes to leave. He is followed by Tifa.)

Tifa: "Listen, Cloud. I'm asking you. Please join us."

Cloud: "Sorry Tifa..."

Tifa: "The Planet is dying. Slowly but surely it's dying. Someone has to do something."

Cloud: "So let Barret and his buddies do something about it. It's got nothin' to do with me."

(He moves to leave)

Tifa: "So! You're really leaving!? You're just going to walk right out ignoring your childhood friend!?"

And later...

Cloud: "You got the next mission lined up? I'll do it for 3000."

Barret: "What....!?"

(Tifa whispers to him.)

Tifa: "It's ok, it's ok... psst, psst..... (We're really hurting for help, right?)"

Barret: "Uh..... ugh..... (That money's for Marlene's schoolin'......)"

(Barret turns.)

Barret: "2000!"

(Tifa walks to Cloud.)

Tifa: "Thanks, Cloud."

So, not only does Cloud blow off Tifa when she asks for help, but when he finally relents, he demands 3000 gil, which is double his previous fee of 1500
gil. Barret manages to haggle him down to 2000 gil, but he has to use Marlene's school money to pay Cloud. These two scenes show an astounding
difference in Cloud's character. With Tifa and Avalanche, he is the cold mercenary, refusing to fulfill his childhood promise and demanding large sums
of gil to help them.

With Aerith, Cloud agrees to assist the lovely flower girl for the promise of a date only. He doesn't blow her off or try to walk away. He doesn't attempt
to negotiate a fee or demand gil. He simply nods and agrees to take Aerith out for one night, something that will most likely cost him gil. But, he
doesn't seem to mind the prospect of spending money to spend time with Aerith. Again, this makes his interest in Aerith all the more obvious.

After a brief scuffle with Reno and the Shinra guards, Cloud and Aerith escape from the church...

Cloud Laughs...

- Let's Go, Bodyguard! -

(Cloud and Aerith are sitting on the roof of Aerith's old church.)

Aerith: "Ha, ha..... They're looking for me again."

Cloud: "You mean it's not the first time they've been after you?"

Aerith: "...no."

Cloud: "They're the Turks."

Aerith: "Hmmm......"

Cloud: "The Turks are an organization in Shinra. They scout for possible candidates for SOLDIER."

Aerith: "This violently? I thought they were kidnapping someone."

Cloud: "They're also involved in a lot of dirty stuff on the side. Spying, murder... you know."

Aerith: "They look like it."

Cloud: "But, why're they after you? There must be a reason, right?"

Aerith: "No, not really. I think they believe I have what it takes to be in SOLDIER!"

Cloud: "Maybe you do. You want to join?"

Aerith: "I don't know... But I don't want to get caught by THOSE people!"

Cloud: "Then, let's go!"

(Aerith follows Cloud. They jump across many rooftops and pieces of debris, heading away from the church. Cloud gets far ahead of her.)

Aerith: "Wait... Wait, I said!"

(She catches up, carefully, femininely judging each gap.)

Aerith: "Puff... wheeze... Slow.... down.... Don't leave me...."

Cloud: "Funny... I thought you were cut out to be in SOLDIER?"

Aerith: "Oh! You're terrible!"

(Cloud laughs.)

Aerith: "Hey.... Cloud. Were you ever in SOLDIER?"

Cloud: "........I used to be. How did you guess?"

Aerith: "...Your eyes. They have a strange glow..."

Cloud: "That's the sign of those who have been infused with Mako... A mark of SOLDIER. But, how did you know about that?"

Aerith: "........Oh, nothing."

Cloud: "Nothing....?"

Aerith: "Right, nothing! Come on, let's go! Bodyguard!"

(Cloud continues across the rooftops. Aerith follows, more closely.)

Cloud and Aerith discuss the Turks and how they have been pursuing Aerith for some time. Clearly Aerith isn't willing to share her Cetra heritage
with Cloud just yet, however you can see by their exchange how natural it is for Aerith and Cloud to talk and joke with one another. Aerith jokingly
states that the Turks must think she has what it takes to be in Soldier and Cloud teases Aerith about her previous comment when she is unable to
keep up with him. Her response makes Cloud laugh, a huge departure from the Cloud we previously saw with Avalanche, who was perfectly willing to
walk out on his "childhood friend" and who made it clear to Avalanche that he didn't care about them or their cause. And now we have Cloud joking
and laughing with Aerith. What a difference! As a matter of fact, this is the **only** time in
FFVII that Cloud laughs...

Cloud's Rare Smile

At the start of FFVII Cloud posed as a "cool ex-SOLDIER", and kept up a cocky front. After it is revealed that he was never in SOLDIER, and he
begins to act like himself, but he still doesn't show his emotions very much.
The only time he laughs in FFVII is during a conversation with Aerith at the
start of the story
, when Jenova is still in control of his consciousness.

Even after rediscovering his true self and beginning a new life, he is bound by a sense of guilt and mostly keeps the same sullen expression. When you
think of this, the smile he shows at the end of AC (see image to the left) is deeply emotional.
Quote: text near image of Cloud and Aerith in FFVII laughing
Cloud laughing with Aerith after outrunning Reno and Shinra in the slum church. (FFVII 10th Anniversary Ultimania, Cloud's profile)

For Cloud to be laughing and joking with someone is pretty extraordinary. I would say it is safe to assume that being with Aerith simply makes him
happy. After all, that is the most logical explanation for his gaiety.

When talking about the "rare smile" which Aerith brings out in Cloud during the game, the FFVII Ultimania Omega says that “there seems to be
something between them”. (Aerith’s info page,
FFVII Ultimania Omega)

So, not only does Aerith make Cloud laugh, she makes him smile. This is something Tifa never accomplished in the entirety of FFVII. The UO then
goes on to say that, because of Aerith's ability to make Cloud smile (something quite rare), "there seems to be something between them". What could
be between two people that make each other happy, that are obviously attracted to one another, and who were bound by destiny to meet? Why, true
love, of course. That is the only answer which makes sense here.

After their merriment ceases, Cloud and Aerith talk about Soldier. Obviously, Aerith knows all about Soldier due to her experience with Zack. But, she
is not ready to share her past relationship with Cloud, and so she blows it off for the moment.

The two continue on with Aerith calling Cloud her bodyguard. Cloud does not correct her.

Cloud at Aerith's House...

(Cloud and Aerith hop down from the rooftops across pieces of debris. They land on a dirt road)

Aerith: "Whew! Finally made it off! Now what..."

(She looks around, then scampers forward)

Aerith: "My house is over here. Let's hurry before they get here!"

(Cloud and Aerith travel through the Sector 5 slums to Aerith's small cottage. They go inside.)

Aerith: "I'm home, mom."

(Her mother, Elmyra, walks over.)

Aerith: "This is Cloud, my bodyguard."

Elmyra: "Bodyguard.....? You mean you were followed again!? Are you all right!? You're not hurt, are you!?"

Aerith: "I'm all right. I had Cloud with me."

(Elmyra nods.)

Elmyra: "Thank you, Cloud."

(She goes upstairs.)

Aerith: "So, what are you going to do now?"

Cloud: "...Is Sector 7 far from here? I want to go to Tifa's bar."

Aerith: "Is Tifa...... a girl?"

Cloud: "Yeah."

Aerith: "A girl... friend?"

Cloud: "Girlfriend?"

Option 1: No way!
Option 2: Yeah, that's right.

Cloud: "No way!"

(Cloud shakes his head quickly.)

Aerith: "Hee hee hee.... You don't have to get THAT upset..."

(She moves toward Cloud... a small step.)

Aerith: "Let's see, Sector 7? I'll show you the way."

Cloud: "You gotta be kidding. Why do you want to put yourself in danger again?"

Aerith: "I'm used to it."

Cloud: "Used to it!? ....Well, don't know... getting help from a girl..."

(She makes an amusedly angry gesture.)

Aerith: "A girl!! What do you mean by that!? You expect me to just sit by and listen, after hearing you say something like that!?"

(She calls upstairs.)

Aerith: "Mom! I'm taking Cloud to Sector 7. I'll be back in a while."

(Elmyra comes downstairs.)

Elmyra: "But dear... I give up. You never listen once you've made up your mind. But if you must go, why don't you go tomorrow? It's getting late
now."

Aerith: "Yeah, you're right, mom."

Elmyra: "Aerith, please go and make the bed."

(Aerith goes upstairs. Cloud speaks to Elmyra.)

Elmyra: "That glow in your eyes... you're from SOLDIER, right?"

Cloud: "Yeah. Rather I used to be..."

Elmyra: ".... I don't know how to say this, but... Would you please leave here, tonight? Without telling Aerith."

(Cloud goes upstairs. Aerith meets him.)

Aerith: "You need to go through Sector 6 to get to Sector 7. Sector 6 is a little dangerous so you'd better get some rest tonight."

(Cloud walks toward the bedroom door.)

Aerith: "Cloud...."

(He turns to her.)

Aerith: "Good night."

(She goes downstairs.)

Cloud: "Oh, man..."

(Cloud goes to bed. He dreams, we presume.)

Cloud:
Internally: "...seem pretty tired...... .......!? I haven't slept in a bed like this ....in a long time. ....Oh, yeah. Ever since that time."

(The scene fades in. Cloud is lying on a bed in a one-room house. A woman is in the room, working in the kitchen area. She stops and walks toward
him.)

Cloud's mom: "My, how you've grown. I'll bet the girls never leave you alone."

Cloud: "...Not really."

(She paces a bit.)

Cloud's mom: "...I'm worried about you. There are a lot of temptations in the city... I'd feel a lot better if you just settled down and had a nice
girlfriend."

Cloud: "...I'm all right."

Cloud's mom: "You should have... an older girlfriend, one that'll take care of you. I think that would be the perfect type for you."

Cloud: "I'm not interested."

(The scene fades back in. Cloud is lying on a bed on the second floor of Aerith's house. Aerith is in the next room.)

Cloud: "...I must've fallen asleep."

(He gets up.)

Cloud: "Sector 7's past Sector 6... I should be all right by myself..."

(He sneaks past Aerith's room and goes downstairs. He exits the house, leaving Aerith behind.)

In this scene, Cloud and Aerith arrive at her home and he is introduced to Elmyra, Aerith's foster mother. The first exchange of note is when Cloud
mentions Tifa and Aerith asks if Tifa is his girlfriend. This shows that Aerith is interested in Cloud's availability. While you can choose to say yes or
no, I felt the best answer was no, as it is clear that Tifa is not Cloud's girlfriend based on how rudely he treated her previously, how he refused to assist
her without payment, and how he accepted a date from another woman as payment. With all of these factors being taken into consideration, it would
not make sense for Cloud to consider Tifa his girlfriend. He is quite obviously a single man if he has plans for a date with Aerith.

The next exchange of note is when Aerith announces to Cloud that she will lead him through the dangers of Sector 6 and on to Sector 7 so that he can
meet up with Avalanche at Seventh Heaven. Cloud's first reaction is of surprise that Aerith would willingly put herself in danger, but Aerith, having
eluded the Turks for years on her own, is not shaken by the prospect of a hazardous journey. Cloud, being rather old fashioned, balks at "getting help
from a girl". At this point, Aerith's true mettle is revealed. She is no meek, feminine flower girl. Aerith responds with outrage, basically telling Cloud
to shove his sexist comment, that she is going anyways, if only to prove to him that she can. On the outside, Aerith appears to be a fluffy, sweet flower
girl. But, deep inside, she has an unbreakable will and strength of character that is unexpected.

Quote: text near picture of Cloud and Aerith in Aerith's house
Although Aerith indeed looks like a weak young girl, in fact, she has a strong will. Once she decides something, she’ll absolutely remain constant and quickly
pull others to join the decision
.
Quote: in game text of pic of Cloud & Aerith in her house
"Mom! I'm taking Cloud to Sector 7." (
FFVII 10th Anniversary Ultimania, Aerith's profile)

After deciding that they would depart in the morning, Cloud is cornered by Elmyra who asks him to leave during the night without telling Aerith. It is
obvious that Elmyra is concerned for Aerith's safety. Cloud is clearly worried as well...

Cloud: awoke from a nap

It’s quite amazing.
Previously, I met a flower girl, Aerith, at the 5th Sector of the Slums, and now I am at her place. I fell down from the reactor to the Slum underneath.
The Church’s roof and the flowers Aerith grows alleviated the impact of falling, so I survived safe and sound. And for some reason, Shinra is keeping
an eye on her.
When we were at the Church, a rascal with a strange tone came to seize her. The name is Reno, his clothes shows exactly that he belongs to the Turks,
a secret troop of Shinra, which undertakes some dirty work that never goes public. Why do the Turks want to capture her? They called her “the
Ancient”…..
Well, it’s midnight already, seems about time to leave for the 7th Sector. Aerith declared that she’ll show me the way. But if I let her, it seems hard to
tell who the bodyguard is. I’m gonna slip out of here. (
FFVII Dismantled, p. 141)

Here Cloud says that if he allows Aerith to put herself in danger to show him the way to Sector 7, it would be hard to tell who the bodyguard is. In other
words, if Aerith puts her safety on the line for him, he isn't much of a bodyguard. This, combined with Elmyra's request, lead to Cloud's decision to
depart at midnight, while Aerith is still sleeping.

However, while he is waiting, Cloud begins to dream. His dream is of a memory of being at home with his mother, a memory sparked by sleeping on a
comfortable bed in a cozy home. Cloud's mom tells him that she is worried about him and that she would feel better if he settled down and had a
girlfriend. She then goes on to say that the perfect girlfriend for Cloud would be someone older, someone who could look after him. This is important
because Aerith is actually 22 years old, while Cloud is 21. Tifa, on the other hand, is 20. So, according to Cloud's mom, Cloud's perfect type of girlfriend
is far more likely Aerith than Tifa.
So, what stirred up this particular memory? This is an interesting question with no real answer. However, I think the most likely answer is that the
creators of
FFVII were nudging the Cloud x Aerith train a bit. I mean, Cloud just met Aerith and became her bodyguard in exchange for one date.
They have talked and laughed together and here he is, in her home, sleeping in the room next to hers. Throwing in a memory where Cloud's mom
tells him that his "perfect type" would be an older girlfriend that could take care of him is an obvious lead-in to Cloud and Aerith's blooming
romance. Aerith is older and she is also quite nurturing. Squaresoft made it clear with this dream sequence that Aerith is Cloud's "perfect" girlfriend.

Also, in a somewhat optional piece of dialogue, after Elmyra tells Cloud to leave in the middle of the night, she also says,
"The last thing Aerith needs
is to get her feelings hurt again..."
Why would she say this? When did Aerith get hurt previously? During her relationship with Zack. Zack left and
never came back. He never wrote or called. He simply disappeared. This was obviously hurtful to Aerith, as it would be to anyone in similar
circumstances.

Why is this important? Because, not only is Elmyra beginning to view Cloud and Aerith as a possible romantic couple, but Squaresoft is hinting that
Cloud could be Aerith's new boyfriend through Elmyra's words. In fact, shortly after Elmyra makes her statement, Zack is referenced when Cloud and
Aerith share a date in the park. Honestly, if Elmyra sees enough romantic interest between Cloud and Aerith that she is viewing Cloud as a possible
future boyfriend for Aerith, then I am not going to argue.

Aerith surprises Cloud...

Aerith: "You're up bright and early."

Cloud: "How could I ask you to go along when I knew it would be dangerous?"

Aerith: "Are you done?"

(Cloud smooths his hair.)

Aerith: "You have to go through the slum in Sector 6 to get to Tifa's 7th Heaven. I'll take you there. Come on!"

(Aerith runs out. Cloud follows.)

This bit is awesome because it shows Aerith's tenacity and pluckiness. This girl isn't going to put up with some guy telling her she can't do something
just because she is a girl. This is why Aerith is my favorite character. Her outward appearance belies the sheer nerve and inner strength one would
expect from a tougher-looking character. But this girl isn't afraid to wear pink with pride!

Cloud, on the other hand, continues to display his concern for Aerith's safety. He tells Aerith that he didn't want her to go with him due to the fact
that it would be a dangerous journey. Aerith, however, is having none of it.

Cloud and Aerith's Date in the Park...
In the first part of this exchange, Cloud tells Barret that they need to avoid making a commotion until they've rescued Aerith. Barret understands that
Cloud is concerned for Aerith's safety and says that he is impressed with Cloud. Why is this? Because, up until this point, Barret never thought Cloud
would fight for anyone else. He never had any reason to believe that Cloud would act in such a heroic manner. This is due to Cloud's cold demeanor
previously when dealing with Avalanche. However, for the first time, Barret sees that Cloud is willing to fight for someone else: Aerith.

He wasn't willing to fight for Avalanche without being paid, he refused to fulfill his promise to Tifa, he even initially refused Aerith's plan to rescue Tifa
because he didn't like the idea of dressing in drag... but he is climbing 59 floors to the top of a building swarming with the enemy so that he can save
the flower girl he's only known for a few days. He is fulfilling his promise to protect Aerith... and the only payment he has waiting for him is a date with
her. Barret is helping because he feels guilty that Aerith was captured while protecting his daughter. Tifa is helping because she is the one who sent
Aerith into danger to begin with. She expressed her guilt to Elmyra earlier when she said,
"It's my fault... I was the one who got Aerith involved in
this."

The trio eventually makes their way to the 66th floor. They spy on a meeting with Shinra's top goons and then follow the mad scientist, Hojo, up to the
67th floor laboratory. They discover a red lion-like creature in a glass tube (Red XIII) and they also come to realize that Hojo has the remains of
Jenova contained within the lab. They follow Hojo to the 68th floor research lab and spot Aerith inside a glass tube...

Cloud: "Aerith!"

Hojo: "Aerith? Oh, is that her name? What do you want?"

Cloud: "We're taking Aerith back."

You'll notice that Cloud is the one to call out to Aerith first. He then informs Hojo that they are taking Aerith with them. Hojo, however, has other
plans. He lifts Red XIII up from the 67th floor and puts him in the tube with Aerith. Apparently, Hojo is hoping to breed Red XIII with Aerith, as they
are both the last of their kind. Red XIII looks as though he is going to attack Aerith and the flower girl panics. She has no staff, no way to defend
herself. She is powerless against an attack from the "mysterious beast"...
(Rude and Tseng lead Cloud, Barret, Tifa, and Red XIII into the President's office. Their hands and feet are bound.)

Cloud: "You all got caught, too?"

(He turns to the President.)

Cloud: "Where is Aerith!?"

President Shinra: "In a safe place."

Regardless of who is in your party, Aerith is noticeably absent in this scene. More than likely, she is being kept separated because she is considered a
"precious specimen". Cloud is the one who demands to know where the flower girl is. President Shinra is elusive with his answer and then proceeds to,
in the nature of all villains, go into a long-winded speech about his plans to discover the Promised Land, which he believes is Mako-rich. He then
intends to bleed it dry of all its Mako (which, as we all know is condensed Lifestream). This would leave the planet, for all intents and purposes, dead.
After this, Cloud and company are taken away and thrown into cells (right next to Aerith, actually).

Barret and Red XIII are thrown into a cell together, while Cloud and Tifa are thrown into a cell directly next to Aerith's. Cloud has the option to
wonder how Barret, Red XIII, and Aerith are doing. When he wonders about Aerith, she hears him...

Cloud: "I wonder how Aerith is doing?"

(The camera moves over to show Aerith's cell. She is lying on her cot.)

Aerith: "Cloud, are you there?"

Cloud: "Aerith!? You safe?"

Aerith: "Yeah, I'm all right."

(She swings her legs over the side of the cot.)

Aerith: "I knew that Cloud would come for me."

Cloud: "Hey, I'm your bodyguard, right?"

(She walks to the door of her cell.)

Aerith: "The deal was for one date, right?"

(Tifa sits up.)

Tifa: "............oh, I get it."

Aerith: "...!? Tifa! Tifa, you're there too!"

Tifa: "EXCUSE me."

Aerith again repeats that line, about Cloud coming to save her. This is a recurring theme within the Compilation of FFVII. In Advent Children...

Aerith: "You came, even though you're about to break."

This was said in response to Cloud finally making the decision to go to the Forgotten Capital, where Aerith is buried. For a long while he had avoided it
due to the pain it caused him. But, when he finally neared a place of such power for the Cetra, Aerith was ultimately able to break through his guilt to
speak to him. This was a pivotal point in the movie.

Also in
Advent Children...

"I never blamed you-- not once. You came for me. That's all that matters."

This was a private message from Aerith to Cloud. She tells him she never blamed him for her death. He went to the Forgotten Capital to rescue her
from Sephiroth. That was all that mattered to her.

And so Aerith says many times throughout the Compilation that Cloud has come to her, to either save her or just be with her. The bond they share is
so strong that it transcends death, as shown in
Advent Children/Complete. This is something that is associated with soul mates, not people who are just
friends.

And back to the scene at hand...

Next we have Cloud referring to himself as Aerith's bodyguard. So, we have definitive proof that Cloud fully intends to collect on that date with Aerith.
Cloud's contract with Aerith was to be her bodyguard in exchange for a date. If he didn't want to go on the date with Aerith, why bring up the contract
to begin with? In fact, it seems to me that Cloud enjoys being Aerith's bodyguard. And why wouldn't he? He has a beautiful woman who admires him
and considers him to be her hero. This same woman is interested in him romantically and, as we have been shown, Cloud is also interested in her
romantically. Elmyra saw it, Marlene saw it, Barret acknowledged it, and even Tifa has been forced to admit it.

Aerith then responds with confirmation of the "payment" of their verbal contract: one date. However, she is already considering making it two...

Aerith: *being excited now*

Cloud, you came!
When I arrived at Shinra Building and was handed over to the man called Hojo, I couldn’t help thinking that I won’t be able to escape anymore.
I don’t know why but that man gave me the shivers.
The way he looked at me is like measuring a piece of experimental specimen….
In short, he wanted a hybrid from Red 13 and…oh forget it, I don’t want to talk about it. Anyway Professor Hojo is absolutely a weirdo!
Although Red told me that “the acting was to throw Hojo off guard”, but he seemed quite serious at that moment.
He does look like a savage beast, however, he is more human than most of mankind. Like what he tried to convey, we should cherish this Planet.
It’s just…I can also feel the excessive strain— he seems to push himself too hard.

And Cloud really is a hero!
To Tifa and to me as well, he’ll come wherever we’re in a pinch!
Well, as for the one-date payment, I think I should make it two! (
FFVII Dismantled, p. 148)

Here we have Aerith's inner thoughts from when Cloud arrived to rescue her. Once again, she is happy that Cloud had come for her. She refers to him
as a hero and says he will always be there for she and Tifa. She also admits that she should go out with him twice to repay him for all that he has done
for her. This is due to Aerith's increasing affection for Cloud.

An interesting note: Aerith's unique abilities allow her to see that Red XIII is under stress from pushing himself too hard. This is another example of
her ability to see into one's heart and mind.

And back to the scene...

When Aerith mentions her promised date with Cloud, Tifa responds with dismay. Aerith is surprised to hear Tifa's voice as she was having what she
thought was a private conversation with Cloud. Take note of this. Aerith thought her conversation with Cloud was private, Cloud knew it wasn't. And so
he referred to himself as Aerith's bodyguard right in front of Tifa. He brought up a contract in which the payment was a date with Aerith right in front
of Tifa. And here we have yet another reason why I never have Cloud choose to say that Tifa is his girlfriend. If she was, he wouldn't have been talking
about something like this right in front of her. And yet, here we are, with Cloud not caring what Tifa thinks.
Tifa, on the other hand, is very clearly jealous of what is going on between Cloud and Aerith...

Quote: text near image of Cloud, Tifa and Aerith in the Shinra Building Prison where she yells out "EXCUSE Me?"
Seeing Cloud and Aerith developing their world together before her eyes, she inadvertently lets slip her peevish feelings. (
FFVII 10th Anniversary
Ultimania
, Tifa's profile)

This quote is even further proof that Cloud and Aerith are developing a romantic relationship. It states that Tifa sees "Cloud and Aerith developing
their world together" right in front of her. In other words, this is a two-person world, a world with only Cloud and Aerith and their budding relationship.
If this relationship was not clearly romantic in nature, then Tifa would have no reason to react with jealousy. And yet she does. She responds with
anger, directed at both of them. And why? Because Cloud is developing a world with another woman, a world which does not include Tifa. And his
relationship with that woman is on a completely different level than her relationship with him...

Both of them share feelings for Cloud. Tifa was close to Aerith, who can also be called a love rival. With that point in mind, they were also good friends.
Nevertheless, it is not hard to imagine that she carries complex feelings as a woman toward Aerith, who had built up a special bond with Cloud that was
different from Tifa's. (
FFVII 10th Anniversary Ultimania, Tifa's profile)

If Aerith has a "special bond" with Cloud that was different than Tifa's, a bond which elicits jealousy from Tifa, then this bond can only be a romantic
one. If their bond was platonic in nature, Tifa would have no reason to be jealous. And yet she is forced to admit that Cloud and Aerith have feelings for
one another. If the feelings were not reciprocated, then they wouldn't be "developing their world together", as two people in love do. If the feelings
were one-sided, if it was simply Aerith having feelings for Cloud, there wouldn't be any development of any special bond, there wouldn't be any
development of a special two-person world between the two of them, and Tifa would still not have any reason to be jealous. After all, if Cloud isn't
returning Aerith's feelings, why feel so threatened? The reason is because he clearly DOES return Aerith's affections. So, Tifa has a lot of very good
reasons to be jealous.

Tifa: "You know, Aerith, I have a question."

Aerith: "What?"

Tifa: "Does the Promised Land really exist?"

(Aerith shakes her head.)

Aerith: "...I don't know." (She walks to the middle of her cell and looks upwards.) "All I know is... The Cetra were born from the Planet, speak with
the Planet, and unlock the Planet. And....... then...... The Cetra will return to the Promised Land. A land that promises supreme happiness." (She looks
back down.)

Tifa: "...What does that mean?"

Aerith: "More than words...... I don't know."

Cloud: "...Speak with the Planet?"

(Tifa sits back on the cot.)

Tifa: "Just what does the Planet say?"

Aerith: "It's full of people and noisy. That's why I can't make out what they're saying."

(A beat.)

Cloud: "You hear it now?"

Aerith: "I, I only heard it at the Church in the Slums. Mother said that Midgar was no longer safe. That is.... my real mother." (She sits back on the
cot.) "Someday I'll get out of Midgar... Speak with the Planet and find my Promised Land. ...That's what mom said. I thought I would stop hearing her
voice as I grew up, but...."

This scene gives us a better understanding of what the Promised Land truly is. President Shinra thinks that it is a land full of Mako. However, Aerith
states that it is a land that "promises supreme happiness". And so you get the idea that one's Promised Land is different for everyone. Your Promised
Land is what makes you the most happy.

Another interesting thing of note is what Aerith says about the Church in the Slums. The Church where Aerith's flowers grow is the only place in
Midgar that Aerith can speak with the Planet. Why is this? We can assume that the Lifestream flows close to the surface here, Lifestream that is free
from the seeking hands of Shinra. The rest of the area around Midgar is dead and lifeless. Nothing grows there. This is due to the fact that Shinra has
been sucking up the Lifestream (Mako) and using it as a power source. The only reason flowers grow in the Church (and at Aerith's house) is because
of the proximity to the Lifestream. The Church is also a sacred place, which may be another reason why Aerith can speak with the planet there.

The next morning, Cloud and company are surprised to discover that their cells are open. They look around and realize that Jenova has escaped. They
also find President Shinra dead, impaled with Sephiroth's sword. Cloud and the others corner Palmer and are questioning him when Rufus arrives on a
helicopter. And what is Cloud's first order of business?

Cloud: "Get outta this building with Aerith!"

Barret: "What?"

Cloud: "I'll explain later! Barret! This is the real crisis for the Planet!"

Barret: "The hell's that supposed to mean?"

Cloud: "I'll tell you later! Just take my word for it! I'll go after I take care of him!"

Barret: "Awright, Cloud!"

Yep, that's right. Cloud's first concern is Aerith's safety. Not Tifa's... AERITH'S.

After a couple of boss battles, the team escapes Shinra HQ and proceeds to the edge of Midgar. They all discuss what they are going to do next and
ultimately, they all decide they should go after Sephiroth. They each have their own reasons, but they decide to stick together (even Red XIII, who says
he will remain with them until they reach Cosmo Canyon). A few interesting bits of dialogue...

Aerith: "You know what? This is the first time I've ever left Midgar..."

Option 1: Really? ...You worried?
Option 2: It's dangerous. You sure you want to go?

Cloud: "Really? ...You worried?"

Aerith: "A little,... no, maybe a lot. But I have a bodyguard, right?"

If Cloud asks Aerith if she is worried about leaving Midgar, she responds that she is worried, but she has her bodyguard to protect her.

Cloud: "It's dangerous. You sure you want to go?"

Aerith: "I thought you'd say that!"

If Cloud tells Aerith that it's dangerous, she responds with her usual sass. It isn't surprising that she gets so feisty considering how many times Cloud
has told her that something was "too dangerous" and acted overprotective. He fulfills the bodyguard role well.
(Barret starts boxing with the air)

Barret: "We need a group leader for our journey. 'Course only me could be the leader."

Tifa: "You think so...?"

(Aerith walks to Cloud.)

Aerith: "It would have to be Cloud."

(Barret stops abruptly and looks at Aerith.)

Barret: "^#$^%....... awright. Go Northeast to a town called Kalm. If something happens, we'll meet up there."

While it seems as though Tifa and Aerith were thinking the same thing, Aerith was the one who was bold enough to step up and nominate Cloud as the
leader of their group. At this point, the player is allowed to choose a party and leave Midgar behind.

After leaving Midgar, everyone meets up in Kalm. Cloud tells everyone about his past with Sephiroth and the whole Nibelheim event as he remembers it
(which isn't exactly the correct version). The next day, your party makes its way to the Mithril Mine, where they see the giant serpent, the Midgar
Zolom, impaled on a stake. They guess that Sephiroth was the one to destroy the beast and proceed into the mine, where they run into the Turks. After
a brief discussion, your party continues on to Junon.

After arriving in Junon and rescuing Priscilla, Cloud and company find out that there is a big parade being held to honor Rufus, the new president of
Shinra. With the help of Priscilla's trained dolphin, Cloud is able to climb a tower to get to the town above. Being mistaken for a Shinra Soldier, Cloud
gets hustled off and changed into a Shinra uniform.

Aerith's Dream...

Using his Shinra uniform, Cloud is able to smuggle his friends on board a ship bound for Costa del Sol. They are also all wearing disguises...

A soldier: "Umm.... It's me, Aerith. Hey, Cloud. Did you see the Airship at Junon?"

Cloud: "...I heard it was big, but I didn't expect it to be THAT big."

Aerith: "That was REALLY something. Hey, do you think I could get on it?"

Option 1: I'll take you someday
Option 2: I dunno...

Cloud: "I'll take you someday...keep hoping."

Aerith: "Wow! I'm really looking forward to it! Let's ride the Airship together, OK? Promise, promise me!"

In this scene, Cloud has the option to promise Aerith that he will take her for a ride on the airship. This is important because of Aerith's official FFVII
CG render:
Cloud's CG render is of him facing the Shinra HQ, preparing to draw his weapon. At what part of the story was this from? That's right, it's from the time
that Cloud busted into Shinra HQ to rescue Aerith. During that time, Cloud was fulfilling a promise to Aerith... to be her bodyguard and protect her.
Both Aerith and Tifa's official renders are tied to Cloud due to the fact that they both hold affection for him. However, Cloud's official CG render is tied
to Aerith, not Tifa, through his promise to protect Aerith and subsequent quest to rescue her from Shinra HQ.

Cloud: "I dunno... It's a Shinra weapon. We probably should've destroyed it."

Aerith: "...Hmm. But just once, I'd like to ride it. Just once, I'd like to ride that Airship."

If you choose the more cautious option, Cloud basically tells Aerith that it's too dangerous and that they should have destroyed the airship since it
belonged to Shinra. Aerith, however, as always, is the eternal optimist. She hasn't given up on her hope of riding that airship. And, most likely, she
wants to do so with Cloud.

After an encounter with Sephiroth and Jenova on the ship, everyone arrives safely in Costa del Sol (including Shinra). After accosting Hojo on the beach,
your party heads for the mountain pass and finally arrives in North Corel, Barret's old hometown. Barret tells Cloud and company about his past and
why the people of the town hate him. You learn that Barret lost his wife, Myrna, when there was an explosion at the Corel Reactor.

Eventually, your party rides the Ropeway to the Gold Saucer...

The Gold Saucer...

During your time at the Gold Saucer, you can play around all you like. However, eventually you run into Cait Sith...

(Cloud goes to the Wonder Square. When he arrives, a... stuffed cat riding a giant moogle approaches.)

Cait Sith: "Hey you!! What're you lookin' so down for!? How 'bout it? Want me to read your fortune!? A bright future! A happy future! Oh, but don't
hold it against me if it's not a great prediction! Oh, so sorry! I'm a fortune telling machine. The name's..."

(The PLAYER names Cait Sith)

Cloud: "You can only read the future?"

Cait Sith: "You kidding!? I can find missing things, missing people, anything!"

Cloud: "Then can you tell me where a man named Sephiroth is?"

Cait Sith: "Sephiroth, right? Okay, here goes!!" (He does a little fortune-telling dance...)

Cloud: "...Ordinary luck. It will be an active fortune. Give into the good will of others, and something big'll happen by summer. ...wait... what's this?"

Cait Sith: "Huh? Let me try again." (He does the dance again)

Cloud: "Be careful of forgetfulness. Your lucky color is... blue? ...Forget it."

Cait Sith: "Wait, wait give me another chance! Wait! Let me try it again!" (He does a super-fast dance!)

Cloud: "...What the!?"

Aerith: "What?"

Cloud: "What you pursue will be yours. But you will lose something dear."

Cait Sith: "I don't know if it's good OR bad... This's the first time I ever got something like THIS." (He nods) "Then shall we?"

Aerith: "What are you talking about?"

Cait Sith: "As a fortune teller, I can't help but think about this. If I don't see what it leads to, I won't be able to relax. That's why I'm going with you!"

Aerith: "What are we going to do, Cloud?"

Cait Sith: "I'm comin' with you no matter WHAT you say!"

(He joins the party!)

A lot of people want to completely dismiss Cait Sith's fortunes as baloney. However, you'll notice that, in this scene, the harder he tries, the more
profound his fortunes become. His first fortune doesn't really make much sense. But, the second fortune tells Cloud to beware of forgetfulness. This is
pretty important because Cloud has forgotten his true past and doesn't recover it until the Lifestream event.

And, as for the third fortune. This one is incredibly significant because it foreshadows future events. Cloud does eventually find Sephiroth, he even
locates the Black Materia. However, during all of this, Aerith is murdered. She is the "something dear" that Cloud loses.

The name of my divination machine is not Dotty!
The collection of Cait Sith’s fortunetelling.

Cait Sith ambushed in Gold Saucer and waited for Cloud’s gang. He introduced himself that “I’m a fortuneteller here.” But this is never an absolute lie,
fortunetelling is Cait Sith’s innate specialty. His extraordinary ability is shown as "tickets" in FF7, and is also revealed as surmises of destination in BC.

The List of Cat Sith's fortunetelling:
*In FF7:
The location of Sephiroth:
“What you pursue will be yours. But you will lose something dear “
The development from now on:
“Ordinary luck. It will be an active fortune
The affinity * between Cloud and Aerith:
“You are perfect for each other! Aerith's star and Cloud's star! They show a great future!"
*In BC:
The place to find “Support material”.
The direction to every door in the Reactor. (
FFVII 10th Anniversary Ultimania, Cait Sith's profile)

In this passage, we are told that, while Cait Sith lied about being a fortuneteller at the Gold Saucer (he's really a Shinra employee), he really is a
fortuneteller and that fortunetelling is his innate specialty. His ability is also referred to as "extraordinary", which dispels the belief that Cait Sith's
predictions are all random nonsense. If they were, then fortunetelling wouldn't be his "specialty" and his ability certainly wouldn't be considered
"extraordinary". You'll also notice that there is a list of Cait Sith's fortunes and what they mean, including the location of Sephiroth and how locating
him will cause Cloud to "lose something dear".

The fortune telling with deep meaning.
Cait Sith’s divination about the direction toward Sephiroth turns out three consequences. Disregard the previous two, the noticeable one is the third
result which becomes the chance for him to follow the party—“What you’re looking for would be yours, but you’ll lose something very dear.”
As the storyline moves on to the event of Forgotten City, the “something very dear” can be read as losing Aerith, and it also hint the event of Cloud’s
reaching his self breakdown when the story goes to the Northern Crater. (
FFVII Ultimania Omega, p. 120)

In this passage, Cait Sith's prediction about Cloud losing something dear is referred to as a fortune telling "with deep meaning". It goes on to state that
the "something dear" can be interpreted as the loss of Aerith. Again, if Cait Sith's fortunes were all nonsense, then none of them would have "deep
meaning", would they?

After meeting Cait Sith, Cloud and company are framed for murder. Apparently, a man with a gun arm killed several people at the Gold Saucer.
Believing it to be Barret, the owner of the Gold Saucer sends Cloud and his friends down below to the Corel Prison. After talking to some people, you
find out that the only way out of the prison is to enter and win the chocobo race via Mr. Coates.

Eventually, Cloud and the others locate Barret and he tells them the story about how his hometown was betrayed by Shinra. He fills everyone in on
Marlene's real father, Dyne, who also had a gun arm graft performed after losing his left arm. Barret locates Dyne and discovers that his old friend has
gone quite mad and is the one responsible for the deaths at the Gold Saucer. They fight, Dyne loses, and then commits suicide.

After locating Mr. Coates, Cloud is chosen as the rider for the chocobo race. After winning the race and explaining his situation to Dio, the owner of the
Gold Saucer, Cloud and company receive a full pardon. They are also given the buggy as a gift, so it will be far easier for the group to cross land masses
and rivers. Hearing a rumor that Sephiroth was heading toward Gongaga, Cloud and the others set off.

On the way to Gongaga, the friends stumble upon the Turks as well as Scarlet. They learn that Shinra is looking for Huge Materia and have plans for
some kind of ultimate weapon. Eventually, they make it to Gongaga, Zack's hometown.

Gongaga...

While you're in Gongaga, you have the option to visit Zack's parents...

(Cloud enters a house near the southern edge of Gongaga. A man gets up from a chair inside.)

Zack's father: "You a traveller? Hey wait, that glare in your eye... you in SOLDIER?"

(A woman, presumably his wife, comes around the table)

Zack's mother: "Oh you're right! Don't you know anything about our son? His name is Zack. It's been close to 10 years since he left for the city, saying
that he didn't want to live in the country... He left saying he's going to join SOLDIER. You ever hear of a Zack in SOLDIER?"

Cloud: "Hmmm... I don't know."

(Aerith looks down)

Aerith: "Zack..."

Zack's parent: "Young lady, you know him? I remember he wrote us 6 or 7 years ago saying that he had a girlfriend. Could that have been you?"

(Cloud turns to Aerith)

Aerith: "That can't..."

(She turns and leaves the house)

Tifa: "Zack..."

(She follows Aerith)

Zack's parents recognize Cloud as a member of Soldier from the eerie color of his eyes. When Aerith hears that Zack has been missing for five years,
she is understandably shaken and confused.

Cloud: "What happened to you two?" (He follows them outside. Aerith is standing behind a house, facing a rock.) "Aerith..."

Aerith: "What a shock..... I didn't know Zack was from this town."

Cloud: "You know him?"

(She turns to Cloud)

Aerith: "Didn't I tell you? He was my first love."

Cloud: "............"

Aerith: "Zack.... SOLDIER First Class. Same as Cloud."

Cloud: "Strange, there aren't that many who make First Class, but I've never heard of him."

(She turns back to the rock)

Aerith: "That's all right. It's all in the past now. I was just worried because I heard he's been missing."

Cloud: "Missing?"

Aerith: "I think it was 5 years ago. He went out on a job, and never came back. He loved women, a real lady's man. He probably found someone
else..." (She walks to Cloud) "Hey? What's wrong?"

Option 1: Poor guy
Option 2: (jealous... envious...)

Cloud: "Poor guy."

Aerith: "I don't really mind that I haven't heard from him. But I feel for his parents."

At the beginning of this exchange, Cloud is again showing interest in Aerith's romantic past. Aerith asks Cloud if he knew Zack. Cloud, still being
confused on his past, says that he didn't know him (which we all know is false). Aerith remarks that her relationship with Zack is in the past, but that
she was concerned when she heard that he hadn't even been home in the past five years. She then goes on to say that Zack was a "lady's man" and
states that he more than likely has another girlfriend by now. At the end of the exchange, Aerith notices that Cloud has fallen quiet. The player's first
option is to have Cloud show sympathy for Zack, to which Aerith states that she doesn't really care that she hasn't heard from him, but she feels bad for
his parents.

Cloud: (jealous... envious...)

Aerith: "Are you... jealous? Hmm? Hmmm? Are you, Cloud?"

(Cloud turns away)

Aerith: "I'm kidding. I'm sorry. Let's go, Cloud."

The second option is the more amusing of the two. Cloud becomes envious of Zack's past relationship with Aerith, to which Aerith playfully teases Cloud
about being jealous.

Cosmo Canyon...

After your group leaves Gongaga, the buggy breaks down just outside of Cosmo Canyon, Red XIII's hometown. At this point, you learn that Red XIII's
real name is Nanaki. You also learn about his painful past.

While staying in Cosmo Canyon, Cloud and company meet Bugenhagen, a man who studies the Planet, and whose knowledge of it borders on that of the
Cetra. He can hear the cries of the Planet, just like Aerith. He takes the group of friends in and educates them on the Planet and the Lifestream.

After speaking at length with Bugenhagen, Cloud and his friends sit around the campfire...

Aerith: "I learned a lot. The elders taught me many things. About the Cetra... And the Promised Land..." (She looks down) "I'm...... alone..... I'm all
alone now..."

Cloud: "But I'm..... we're here for you, right?"

(She shakes her head)

Aerith: "I know. I know, but... I am the only.... Cetra."

Cloud: "Does that mean we can't help?"
Aerith's CG render is tied to her dream of wanting to ride an airship. And not just with anyone. That dream is tied to Cloud. And what about Tifa's CG
render? Well...
Tifa is shown sitting at the well in Nibelheim gazing up at the stars. The well is also tied to a promise with Cloud. And what about Cloud's CG render? So
glad you asked...
This scene is very important because, despite his initial slip up and backpedaling to cover himself out of embarrassment, we have Cloud verbally
displaying feelings for a woman, and that woman is Aerith. When Aerith says that she is all alone, Cloud tells her that he is there for her. Even when
Aerith despairs about being the last Cetra, Cloud makes it clear to her that he still wants to help her (albeit by covering his concern with "we").

This scene is apparently etched in Aerith's mind as well...

She looked up into the sky like the time she sat beside Cloud around the kindling fire in Cosmo Canyon. (Maiden of the Planet)

This memory was recalled by Aerith after her death, while she was thinking of Cloud. Why else would this memory be so important to Aerith unless
Cloud had expressed feelings of support and affection for her?

After the scene around the campfire, Red XIII settles some things with his father and decides to carry on with Cloud and company. After leaving Cosmo
Canyon, the group ends up in Nibelheim, where both Cloud and Tifa grew up. However, they are both apprehensive about returning for good reason. A
tragedy happened here years ago.

Upon entering Nibelheim, Cloud and Tifa are confused. The town, which burned down years ago, looks as though nothing ever happened. And the people
of the town are denying that a fire ever occurred. After noticing some weirdos in black capes, the group heads to the crumbling Shinra mansion, where
Cloud has a brief encounter with Sephiroth.

Cloud and company leave Nibelheim and wind up in Rocket Town, where they meet Cid Highwind and ask him if they can use his airplane, Tiny Bronco.
Cid tells the group no initially, and you learn his story as well as the story of Shera and the leaning rocket at the edge of town. Then Shinra shows up.
Rufus demands that Cid allow him to take the Tiny Bronco so that he can continue his pursuit of Sephiroth. Cloud and the others have a boss battle with
Palmer and escape with Cid and the Tiny Bronco, however the tail gets damaged by gunfire and the comrades end up landing in the ocean. At this point,
the player can use Tiny Bronco like a boat, and go almost anywhere in the world.

After talking to Cid, Cloud learns that Shinra believes that Sephiroth is on his way to the Temple of the Ancients. In a shop just outside of the Gold
Saucer, Cloud and company learn that Dio, the owner of the Gold Saucer, bought the Keystone to the Temple of the Ancients. When Cloud arrives at the
Gold Saucer, the stone is sitting in Dio's museum. Dio makes a bargain with Cloud: he will give Cloud the Keystone if Cloud will fight in Battle Square.
Once Cloud's fight is over, Dio gives him the Keystone.

The Gold Saucer Revisited...

When the party tries to leave the Gold Saucer, they are informed that the tram is being repaired, and so they decide to spend the night at Ghost Hotel.
After talking in the lobby, everyone goes to their rooms. At this point, the date mechanism kicks in and Cloud will go on a date with Aerith, Tifa, Yuffie,
or Barret. So, what drives the date mechanism? The affection rating system...

The values at the start of the game are set like this:

Aerith:  50
Tifa:   30
Yuffie: 10
Barret:  0

From the start, the affection rating favors Aerith. The reason for this is because Aerith is the default character for Cloud to date at the Gold Saucer.
You'll also notice that Yuffie and Barret are even lower than Tifa. Their dates are more difficult to get due to the fact that Yuffie and, most definitely,
Barret are not romantically interested in Cloud and have no place in the love triangle.

So, what determines when points are given? Well, you have optional dialogue and actions throughout the game. The choices you make will build the
affection felt toward Cloud by Aerith, Tifa, Yuffie, or Barret. In the same sense, you must understand that Cloud's affection for said characters is also
being expressed by the choices he makes. For example, when you enter Seventh Heaven, and you have a flower:

"Give it to Tifa"    (+5 Tifa)
"Give it to Marlene" (+5 Barret)

If Cloud gives the flower to Tifa, he is expressing interest/affection for Tifa, so Tifa's affection for Cloud also goes up. If he gives the flower to Marlene,
he is showing kindness to the little orphan girl, hence Barret's increase in affection.

Another example is when Aerith asks if Tifa is your girlfriend:

"No way!"            (+1 Aerith)
"Yeah, that's right" (-5 Aerith)

If Cloud shows interest in another woman, Aerith's interest in him wanes. But, if Cloud denies that he is interested in Tifa, Aerith becomes more
interested in him and her affection grows.

More examples... When everyone lands in the sewer:

Talk to Aerith first: (+3 Aerith)
Talk to Tifa first:  (+3 Tifa)

When Cloud, Aerith, and Tifa are all dumped into the sewers quite suddenly, he has the option to check on either Aerith or Tifa first. Whomever he
decides to speak with first is obviously the one he is most concerned about, hence the increase in the girls' affection scores. Again, Cloud shows
interest/affection, the girls show interest/affection. It's a two-way street.

In response to Marlene telling Cloud,
"Guess what? Guess what? Aeris was asking me lots of questions. Like what kind of person Cloud is. I bet she
likes you, Cloud!"

"I don't know"  (-3 Aerith, +3 Tifa)
"Let's hope so" (+3 Aerith, -3 Tifa)

This scene is a little different as it occurs without either Aerith or Tifa around. The score is determined solely on whether Cloud shows interest in Aerith
or not. So, how Cloud feels is definitely reflected during the affection rating system.

An interesting note: even if Aerith and Tifa's scores are tied, Aerith will take priority over Tifa, which again shows how Cloud automatically favors
Aerith over Tifa.

In Aerith’s case, if you play the game normally, the partner that generally comes will be Aerith. (FFVII Dismantled)

This quote confirms that Aerith is the default character for the date with Cloud. It also suggests that you would have to play the game **abnormally** in
order to get anyone else, including Tifa. This means that the only date being considered in regards to the storyline is Cloud's date with Aerith. Some
people consider Cloud's date with Aerith to be canon. However, I am leaving this one up to you, reader.

This is the payment she suggests when Cloud says that it'll cost her to hire him to be her bodyguard. This line shows the composed and mischievous side
of her. It may be because of this promise that it's easier to have Aerith be the other party in Cloud's date when they're in the Gold Saucer. (
FFVII
Ultimania Omega
, p. 30)

This quote states that there is only one promised date within FFVII, and that is the date Aerith promises Cloud when he agrees to become her bodyguard.
That is why it is "easier" to have Aerith be Cloud's date. It is simply the only choice that makes sense in regards to the storyline.

The Planet’s largest amusement park is run by Dio. Cloud and company visit this place many times in their battle. They meet Cait Sith here. A promised
date that ends in a magical night. In the city of desire that floats above the sands, the light memory of the two people is asleep even now... (??!!)

“I think I must have seen him again, in you... But you're different. Things are different... No, Cloud... I'm searching for you...” (
FFVII Art Museum
Cards, #111)

This card speaks of a "promised date that ends in a magical night". Again, the only promised date within FFVII is the date Aerith promised Cloud. This
is followed up with one of Aerith's lines from their date.

Now that I have shown that Aerith is the default character for the date with Cloud and how her date is the only one that makes sense in regards to the
storyline, let's move on to the actual date, shall we? :-) During the date, you have the option of taking part in a play in which Aerith plays the part of the
princess and Cloud plays the part of the hero, Alfred. There are tons of options during the play and it can go all sorts of ways. But, there are options that
lead to Cloud kissing Aerith's hand...
It may be optional, but it's still a kiss! ;-)

After the play, Cloud and Aerith take a ride on the gondola...

(The gondola trundles off. The camera switches to the interior of the gondola, Aerith sitting on one side, Cloud on the other. Aerith looks out the window
constantly.)

Aerith: "Wow, how nice."

(Cloud looks out the window. FMV sequence of the gondola passing through beautiful searchlights, rides, and various happy things.)

Aerith: "Oh! Look, Cloud."

(Cloud looks out the window. FMV sequence as the gondola passes the Chocobo track and the Chocobos hurtle past the window.)

Aerith: "It's so pretty."

(FMV sequence. The gondola rumbles along its track, through dazzling fireworks, lighting up the entire Saucer.)

Aerith: "It's beautiful, isn't it?" (She looks down) ".........first off, it bothered me how you looked exactly alike. Two completely different people, but look
exactly the same. The way you walk, gesture... I think I must have seen him again, in you..." (She shakes her head) "But you're different." (She looks
down again) "Things are different..."

(FMV sequence. The entire exterior of the Gold Saucer is lit up with fabulous, starry fireworks displays. Aerith continues to speak.)

Aerith: "Cloud... I'm searching for you..."

Cloud: "............?"

Aerith: "I want to meet you."

Cloud: "But I'm right here."

Aerith: (I know, I know... what I mean is...) "I want to meet..... you."

(One final, brightest, most stunning yellow flower of fire lights up the night sky. The gondola returns to Round Square.)
The gondola ride is made quite romantic by the sights of the Gold Saucer and the beautiful fireworks. Aerith tells Cloud that she was initially bothered by
the similarities between him and Zack. But, then she states that Cloud is different and that "things are different". Her enigmatic statement simply
means that she understands that Cloud and Zack are not alike and that her relationship with/feelings for Cloud are not the same as what she had with
Zack. Aerith actually came to this realization back in Gongaga...

"At first when I met Cloud, I believed he was similar to Zack. Little actions, the way he spoke... his kindness. But Cloud is Cloud. I, now undoubtedly,
love Cloud much more than Zack. But Cloud is clueless." (
FFVII Dismantled, Aerith's monologue in Gongaga, p. 159)
In the gondola, the line “I’m searching for you” has deep meaning. (you understand, right?) (FFVII Dismantled)

Aerith's mysterious lines, "I'm searching for you" and "I want to meet you" are simply both indications that Aerith realizes that Cloud is putting on a
facade. She wants him to be himself so that she can "meet the real Cloud". While Cloud's real personality is at the forefront, he continues to act out a
false life as a cocky First Class Soldier. Aerith wants to get past that, to see Cloud for who and what he really is.

Even though Aerith perceived that Cloud had lost sight of his true self, she still has great affection for him. (FFVII 10th Anniversary Ultimania, Aerith's
profile)

****************************************************************************************************************************************

"I'm searching for you."... "So you won't have a breakdown."- what Aerith told Cloud reveals many deep meanings. Aerith detected that the present
Cloud is not the real him during their encounters. She knows it because of her mysterious, inherent ability. (
FFVII Ultimania Omega, p. 29)

****************************************************************************************************************************************

When Aerith thinks of Cloud and Zack's similarities, she sees that the present Cloud is not the real Cloud. Her meaningful lines like, "I'm searching for
you" and "I want to meet you" all mean that she has discovered the existence of the real Cloud, although he's not aware of it himself. (
FFVII Ultimania
Omega
, p. 31)

Aerith's desire to become closer to Cloud is evident during their date.

After their date, Cloud and Aerith spot Cait Sith acting suspiciously. He has stolen the Keystone and gives it to Shinra. He then forces Cloud and company
to take him with them to the Temple of the Ancients, as he apparently has Marlene (and possibly Elmyra) in custody.

The Temple of the Ancients...

Cloud and company arrive at the Temple of the Ancients. They find Tseng inside, wounded by Sephiroth, and Aerith becomes upset...

(Tseng goes and slumps in another corner. Cloud goes over to Aerith, then faces away from her back.)

Cloud: "You crying?"

(Aerith shakes her head and turns around)

Aerith: "...Tseng's with our enemy, the Turks, but I've known him since we were little... There's not a lot of people I can say that about. In fact, there
are probably only a handful of people in the world who really know me."

Cloud is clearly showing concern for Aerith here, worried that she might be crying over Tseng. Aerith admits that she and Tseng have known each other
since they were children. Cloud then uses the Keystone and the group gains access to the interior of the temple. During that time, they learn more about
the Cetra and Lifestream. They also learn Sephiroth's grand plan, to wound the planet and then draw the energy into himself to become a god. While this
is going on, Sephiroth is slowly gaining control over Cloud's mind, who struggles against it. Sephiroth splits and the comrades have a boss battle with a red
dragon.

After the battle, Cloud and company do some looking around and realize that the temple itself is the Black Materia. Therefore, one cannot remove it from
the temple without being crushed inside it as it grows smaller. Since Cait Sith is a remote-controlled puppet, he volunteers to be the one to retrieve the
Black Materia. However, before he goes, Aerith asks him to read one last fortune...

Cait Sith: "Well, everyone.. Take care of yourselves!"

(Aerith turns to Cait Sith, then looks down)

Aerith: "Cait Sith..." (She runs over to Cloud) "Come on, Cloud... Say something."

(Cloud rubs the back of his head)

Cloud: "I'm not good at this."

(Cait Sith stops hopping and spins around to face Cloud.)

Cait Sith: "Mmm, I understand. I feel the same too."

(Aerith claps her hands)

Aerith: "Why don't you read our fortunes?"

(Cait Sith does his fortune-telling dance)

Cait Sith: "Say, that's right... I haven't done it in a while, huh? I'm so excited. Right or wrong, I'm still the same 'ol me. Now, what should I predict?"

(Aerith claps her hands, then stands over by Cloud)

Aerith: "Hmm, let's see how compatible Cloud and I are!"

(Tifa turns away.)

Cait Sith: "That'll cost ya. Exactly one date!"

(She turns back)

Cait Sith: "Here I go!" (Cait Sith does his fortune-telling dance, then stops hopping and faces away.) "This isn't good. I can't say it. Poor Tifa."

(Tifa turns away. Aerith runs over to Cait Sith)

Aerith: "No! Tell me! I promise I won't get mad!"

(Tifa turns back around. Cait Sith turns to Aerith and starts hopping)

Cait Sith: "Is that so? Then I'll tell you. Looks good. You are perfect for each other! Aerith's star and Cloud's star! They show a great future! Cloud, I'll
be your matchmaker, preacher... I'll do whatever you want me to! You just call me when it all happens!" (Cait Sith turns to the doorway, still hopping. He
stops and sadly slumps down.) "Thank you for believing in me, knowing that I was a spy. This is the final, final farewell!" (He hops off to the altar room.
Aerith watches after him. The screen fades to black.)

Aerith: "Be strong Cait Sith!!"

Now, a lot of Cloud and Tifa fans like to dismiss this fortune as more of Cait Sith's baloney, but as I showed earlier, Cait Sith's fortune-telling ability is
referred to as "extraordinary" for a reason. This is because he has the ability to tell some profound fortunes, including his prediction about Aerith's death.

The name of my divination machine is not Dotty!
The collection of Cait Sith’s fortunetelling.

Cait Sith ambushed in Gold Saucer and waited for Cloud’s gang. He introduced himself that “I’m a fortuneteller here.” But this is never an absolute lie,
fortunetelling is Cait Sith’s innate specialty. His extraordinary ability is shown as "tickets" in FF7, and is also revealed as surmises of destination in BC.

The List of Cat Sith's fortunetelling:
*In FF7:
The location of Sephiroth:
“What you pursue will be yours. But you will lose something dear “
The development from now on:
“Ordinary luck. It will be an active fortune
The affinity * between Cloud and Aerith:
“You are perfect for each other! Aerith's star and Cloud's star! They show a great future!"
*In BC:
The place to find “Support material”.
The direction to every door in the Reactor. (
FFVII 10th Anniversary Ultimania, Cait Sith's profile)

One of the predictions listed here is "the affinity between Cloud and Aerith". It then goes on to specify the part of the prediction that states "You are
perfect for each other! Aerith's star and Cloud's star! They show a great future!"
Remember when I stated at the beginning of this essay that stars had a
special meaning for Cloud and Aerith via Cait Sith's prediction? Well, there it is. ;-)

You'll also notice that Cait Sith reports that Cloud and Aerith are perfect for one another. This follows closely along with Cloud's memory while he was
sleeping at Aerith's house, of his mother saying that his "perfect type" would be an older girlfriend (like Aerith). And so this prediction is just a
continuation of the idea that not only is Aerith perfect for Cloud, but he is perfect for her. They are an ideal couple.

The last fortune telling from Cait Sith No. 1.

After solving the puzzle about Cait Sith's replaceable body, he tells one last fortune of Cloud and Aerith's affinity. The results of it turns out "Aerith-
san's star and Cloud-san's star! They promise a great future!" After that, it will become a sad prediction if we get to know what would happen afterward.
But if we catch the meaning of the "future" from another angle, we can see hope... perhaps.

Cait Sith's lines, which seem to expect Cloud and Aerith's wedding, now makes it more painful. (
Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Omega, p. 151)

Here we have a second official quote speaking of Cloud and Aerith's affinity, their special bond. It goes on further to say that the prediction is sad "if we
get to know what would happen afterward"
. And what is that? Aerith's unfortunate death, of course. It also mentions the part where Cait Sith tells Cloud
he will be his
"matchmaker, preacher" and confirms that Cait Sith has actually predicted Cloud and Aerith's wedding, which makes the prediction even
more painful (again because of Aerith's death).

Cloud and Tifa fans like to say that Cait Sith's predictions cannot be correct because Cait Sith reported "a great future" between Cloud and Aerith and,
as we all know, Aerith dies. However, this would imply that Cait Sith is omnipotent, which we all know that he isn't. While he predicted that Cloud would
"lose something dear" he could not possibly know what that meant. Likewise, at that very moment, while Cloud and Aerith are standing there very much
alive, Cait Sith is able to predict that they have a great future. This is done without any knowledge of Aerith's death. So, as far as the prediction of Cait
Sith is concerned, Cloud and Aerith have a long life ahead of them. And that includes a "great future" AND their lives together as husband and wife.

Another thing I would like to point out is that Cait Sith's prediction can only be considered sad if his fortune about Cloud and Aerith's "great future" and
expected wedding are correct. It is only painful if Cloud and Aerith are truly in love and are expecting to have a wonderful life together as husband and
wife... only to have it ripped away with Aerith's death. It is sad and painful because the two of them have their hearts broken, they are forcibly separated,
and are no longer able to live the happy lives they deserved.

Something interesting of note is the fact that, before he reads the fortune, Cait Sith says
"Poor Tifa". This occurs whether Tifa is in your party or not, so
it is not an optional piece of dialogue. This is further proof that Cait Sith's prediction is 100% true. If this prediction was not serious in any way, then why
would it be bad for Tifa? If it were merely a lie, a joke of some sort, then why would Cait Sith say
"Poor Tifa", even when she's not around? How can a lie
be bad for Tifa in any way? It can't. The fact is, the prediction is true, which is why Cait Sith feels such sympathy for Tifa. He has just discovered that
Cloud and Aerith are perfect for one another and that they are going to get married. He has a very good reason to feel sorry for Tifa.

Now, how about that line
"But if we catch the meaning of the "future" from another angle, we can see hope... perhaps." What hope is there for a couple
where one of them dies? Well, that becomes apparent at the end of the game when Cloud states that he thinks he can meet Aerith again in the Promised
Land, thereby giving their love a chance to continue. More on that later...

All in all, this scene gives us a better look into Cloud's feelings for Aerith... and Tifa. Cloud stands right there and has Cait Sith tell him that he and
Aerith are perfect for one and that they have a great future together. Cait Sith then turns to Cloud and says,
"Cloud, I'll be your matchmaker,
preacher... I'll do whatever you want me to! You just call me when it all happens!"
And what does Cloud do? He just stands there and takes the news. He
does not reject Cait Sith's offer to be the preacher at he and Aerith's wedding either. In fact, he makes no protest about it at all, even when Tifa is in your
party.

The fact that there is a prediction about Cloud and Aerith's wedding proves that, not only does Aerith love Cloud, but Cloud loves Aerith. Otherwise, why
would they get married? And how could there be hope for Cloud and Aerith's "great future" TOGETHER if Cloud does not return Aerith's feelings,
especially a future in which Aerith is dead? If Cloud did not love Aerith back, then that would mean that there was no hope for THEIR future (as a
couple). The only logical explanation is that Cloud loves Aerith and they are soul mates with a future together of a spiritual kind, in which not even death
separates them; a future in which they can be together for eternity in their Promised Land.

Moving on... After Cait Sith retrieves the Black Materia, there is nothing left of the temple but a great pit. The Black Materia sparkles at the bottom.
Cloud climbs down to get it, followed by Aerith. Once he has retrieved the Black Materia, Cloud strikes up a conversation with Aerith about it. He asks if
she can use the Black Materia to which she replies no, that it would take a great deal of spiritual power to use it, or taking it to a place of great power,
like the Promised Land. And then Sephiroth shows up...

Aerith: "Sephiroth is different. He's not an Ancient."

Cloud: "He shouldn't be able to find the Promised Land."

(The screen flashes white. When it fades, we see Sephiroth standing at the edge of the pit.)

Sephiroth: "...Ah, but I have." (He floats up, over the pit.) "I'm far superior to the Ancients. I became a traveler of the Lifestream and gained the
knowledge and wisdom of the Ancients. I also gained the knowledge and wisdom of those after the extinction of the Ancients. And soon, I will create the
future."

Aerith: "I won't let you do it! The future is not only yours!"

(Sephiroth floats higher.)

Sephiroth: "Ha, ha, ha... I wonder?"

(The screen goes white.)

Sephiroth: "Wake up!"

(The scene fades back in, to the bottom of the pit. Cloud clutches his head and falls to the ground.)

Cloud: "Sh... shut up!"

(Sephiroth floats to the ground. He kneels down.)

Sephiroth: "There, Cloud... good boy."

Cloud: "The... Noise..." (We see Cloud's double standing straight as Cloud writhes on the ground below it. Eventually Cloud stands up and melds with the
double.) "Wa...... aaaa....aaa...." (Cloud begins to run, in slow motion, to Sephiroth. It takes almost half a minute for him to make the few feet to
Sephiroth. Cloud's double just stands where Cloud once had. Cloud gives the Black Materia to Sephiroth. Sephiroth stands up and begins to laugh.)

Sephiroth: ".......Well done."

(The screen goes white as Sephiroth rockets skyward. The camera moves to above the pit. Cloud falls and clutches his head, trembling. Aerith goes
over to him.)

Aerith: "Cloud, are you all right?"

Cloud: "...I gave the Black Materia to Sephiroth...?" (He straightens for a brief moment, then falls at Aerith's feet.) "Wha... what did I do... tell me,
Aerith."

(Aerith bends down to him)

Aerith: "Cloud... be strong, OK?"

(Cloud starts writhing on the ground.)

Cloud: "Urrrrrrgh... What have I done!?"

(Aerith kneels down by him.)

Aerith: "Cloud... you haven't done anything. It's not your fault."

(Cloud stands up slowly... and punches Aerith. She falls backwards and Cloud falls onto her, landing blow after blow.)

Cloud: "I...! I'm----!"

(Cait Sith arrives. Tifa is frantic by the edge of the pit)

Tifa: "Cloud--!!"

Cait Sith: "Oops! This looks like I came at a bad time! I'm Cait Sith No. 2. Right pleased to meet you all!"

(Cloud continues to beat Aerith.)

Tifa: "Cloud, what are you doing!?"

(Cloud stops and falls to one side. The screen goes white.)

Cloud: "Everything is white... What did I do? I don't remember anything... My memory... since when...? If everything's a dream, don't
wake me."

(The screen goes black.)

During this scene, Sephiroth takes control of Cloud's mind, forcing him to hand over the Black Materia. After that, he forces Cloud to fall on Aerith and
beat her. Why is this? What was the purpose of making Cloud beat up a member of his party? To bring him despair. Even in
Advent Children/Complete
Sephiroth tells Cloud he wants to take away everything that Cloud cherishes.

Quote: text near Sephiroth in Jenova chamber
Sephiroth trembles in humiliation at being wounded by Cloud, a mere grunt. (
FFVII 10th Anniversary Ultimania, Sephiroth's profile)

Sephiroth hates Cloud. Cloud, a mere grunt, was able to wound Sephiroth and toss him into the reactor, effectively killing him for a time...

FFVII/BC/CC/LO - Nibelheim
Burnt down the village and made his way to the Nibel mako reactor. Took the head of his “mother” Jenova but was fatally wounded by Cloud and falls into
the mako reactor, and for a time was dead.
(FFVII 10th Anniversary Ultimania, Sephiroth's profile)

And what better way to cause despair in one you hate than to force them to hurt the person they love most in the world? Sephiroth could have had Cloud
climb to the top of the pit and beat Tifa, but he didn't. He forced Cloud to hurt Aerith.

The mysterious voice and the young Cloud
Facing Sephiroth between the murals, he begins to lose himself. At this moment, the voice that calls for Cloud is Sephiroth’s voice that expects to awake
him as a “puppet.” And it will make it clear when he gets the Black materia. But still, the “real Cloud” who tries to resist Sephiroth’s control is shown by
the figure of his other self—the young Cloud. (->p. 179) When Cloud plans to hand him the Black material and, when he loses his mind and attacks
Aerith, players can control the young Cloud and call for him.

Caption:
The young Cloud is crying while trying to stop Cloud’s body. (
FFVII Ultimania Omega, p. 152)

As you can see from this quote, Cloud's true self is in despair, crying while trying to stop Cloud's actions. After Cloud is able to regain control, he loses
consciousness and begins to dream...

Cloud's Dream...

- Aerith's Wood -

(The scene fades in... a calm green forest. Aerith pokes her head around one tree.)

Aerith: "Cloud, can you hear me?"

(Cloud speaks, though he does not appear on screen.)

Cloud: "Yeah, I hear you. Sorry for what happened."

(Aerith comes out from behind the tree; we see her profile as she faces to the side.)

Aerith: "Don't worry about it."

Cloud: "...I can't help it..."

(She goes back behind the tree.)

Aerith: "Oh..." (She jumps out from behind another tree on the opposite side of the forest, not visibly walking the distance between them.) "Then, why
don't you REALLY worry about it?" (She runs forward and wipes one eye.) "And let me handle Sephiroth." (She starts giggling, turns pure white, and
disappears. She comes out from behind yet another tree.) "And Cloud, you take care of yourself." (She walks back behind the tree, off-handedly leaning
back so that we just see her head.) "So you don't have a breakdown, okay?" (She goes behind the tree. She drops down from the sky, slowly, puppet-like,
landing very softly on the ground. Cloud also floats down, closer to the camera. He looks around.)

Cloud: "What is this place?"

(Aerith puts her hands behind her back and looks skyward.)

Aerith: "This forest leads to the City of the Ancients... and is called Sleeping Forest." (She looks at Cloud.) "It's only a matter of time before Sephiroth
uses Meteor. That's why I'm going to protect it. Only a survivor of the Cetra, like me, can do it." (She turns and walks a distance into the forest. She
turns back to face Cloud.) "The secret is just up here." (She shakes her head.) "At least it should be. ...I feel it. It feels like I'm being led by something."
(She cocks her head to one side and waves, cutely, femininely, childishly, to Cloud.) "Then, I'll be going now. I'll come back when it's all over."

Cloud: "Aerith?"

(She turns and runs off into the forest, getting smaller and smaller, until she disappears into the bright green sunlight. Cloud starts to run after her,
slowly, but does not go anywhere, just as in a dream. Eventually he stops, and Sephiroth speaks, from somewhere.)

Sephiroth: "Hmm........ She's thinking of interfering? She will be a difficult one, don't you think?" (Sephiroth floats down from above, just as Cloud did.
He lands, kneeling, where Aerith stood moments before.) "We must stop that girl soon."

(The screen flashes white, then goes completely dark.)
The first point I would like to make about this scene is the fact that Aerith can speak with Cloud in his dreams...

Aerith: Inside Cloud's dream

Cloud... can you hear me?

I'm talking to your heart while you sleep right now. I hope this reaches you okay, like when I hear the voice from the planet.

Sephiroth is trying to summon Meteor using the Black Materia... He's trying to wound the planet badly. If Meteor really does fall, then everyone's going to
die. People, animals, flowers... The life on this planet will disappear completely.

The only one who can stop it is the last surviving Cetra. Me. I realize that. That was the duty of the Cetra.

So, leave Meteor to me. You just think about yourself, Cloud. Remember your own ways... so you don't have a breakdown.

Well, I'm off. When it's all over, we can meet each other again.

Oh, Cloud... I enjoyed our date at the Gold Saucer. The view from the gondola that night was really beautiful. I'll never forget it.

I'll never forget you, Cloud... (
FFVII Dismantled)

Why is Aerith able to speak to Cloud in his dreams? Sephiroth can speak into Cloud's mind and even control Cloud through the strength of his will and
the Jenova cells inside Cloud. But Aerith has no Jenova cells. So, how is it that she can speak into Cloud's mind? She certainly wasn't shown being able to
do this with anyone else. And yet here we are, with her
"talking to [Cloud's] heart" while he sleeps. How does one explain Aerith's ability to speak directly
to Cloud's heart while he sleeps?

The answer is painfully simple: she and Cloud are soul mates. We already know that they were attracted to one another from the start and that meeting
was destiny for them. We also know that they have an "affinity" for one another and a "special bond". They were also confirmed to be a perfect match
and destined to be wed. And now we have Aerith appearing inside Cloud's dream, speaking directly to his heart. What other reason could there be for such
a profound bond? Cloud and Aerith are soul mates, it's really the only explanation that makes sense when you take everything else into consideration.

Cloud, on the other hand, is clearly distraught over what transpired at the Temple of the Ancients. When he won't let it go, Aerith teases him and then
tells him that she will handle things from that point on. She is concerned for Cloud...

When she left her companions and headed for the Forgotten City, Cloud's heart was like an egg that was on the verge of cracking open. It wasn’t going to
crack open like the way an egg hatched but, as if only the yolk was going to seep out of it. It was as if his mind was going to shatter. She wanted to comfort
him. If she wasn't the last survivor of the Cetra she probably would have done so without a doubt.

However...

The pale black and silver white man, who was once a hero, had taken over the will of the "disaster that fell from the skies", Jenova, and was in a state of
madness. He was going to summon the most powerful destructive magic, Meteor, using the Black Materia. Having been passed the mission from her Cetra
ancestors, she had no choice but to carry it out. Sooner or later Sephiroth was going to summon the giant meteor that will surely inflict an enormous
amount of damage to the Planet. It would cause a wound that could destroy the very Planet itself. Without a doubt, the Planet would then concentrate a
large amount of the Lifestream to heal itself. It was Sephiroth's intention to make all that power his. After that, he would become one with the Planet and
become something equal to a god. He would probably then burn all the humans he hates to death. The future of the Planet and the cycle of all life would all
end as she knew it.

Aerith could sense from the whispers of the Planet that something could be done to prevent the worst from happening. She also knew that it was
something that only she, the last remaining Cetra, could do. She could only obtain the in depth knowledge from the Forgotten City. But heading there also
meant that she would become the greatest obstruction to Sephiroth's plans.

That was where Aerith hesitated. Will she let all humans die or was she going to avoid such a disaster in exchange for her life... But she never did think
about it and was already prepared. When she did hesitate about leaving Cloud in sorrow, she would think about how it wouldn't save her companions or the
people of the world. She had already made up her mind. There was no other choice. It was all for Cloud too. (
Maiden of the Planet)

In this section of the novella, it becomes clear that Aerith knows just how fragile Cloud's heart and mind have become. She then goes on to admit that,
were she not a Cetra, she would have stayed with Cloud and comforted him. However, being the last Cetra, she knew that it was her duty to go to the
Forgotten City to find out what she needed to do to stop Sephiroth's destructive plan. But, deep down, she knew that Sephiroth would probably end up
murdering her. Even so, she fully intended to do what she had to in order to save her companions, the world, and Cloud, even if it meant
"leaving Cloud in
sorrow"
.

"Let me handle Sephiroth. And Cloud, you take care of yourself.

So you don't have a breakdown, okay?"
Quote: text near pic of Aerith in the Sleeping Forest talking to Cloud in his dream
Even though Aerith perceived that Cloud had lost sight of his true self, she still has great affection for him. As an Ancient, Aerith had planned to
accomplish the mission. On the one hand, her last concern is Cloud. (
FFVII 10th Anniversary Ultimania, Aerith's profile)

Aerith is more worried about Cloud's state of mind and the sorrow in his heart than she is for her own well-being. And this is someone who understands
that her life is forfeit the moment she interferes with Sephiroth. Aerith has a truly caring and selfless heart.

“So you won’t have a breakdown..”
Aerith appears in Cloud’s dream, she seems to console him with such advice. This line can infer that Aerith has seen through the essence of Cloud. (
FFVII
Ultimania Omega
, p. 156)

After Aerith attempts to comfort Cloud, she tells him she feels like she is being led by something. She then tells him that she will come back when it is all
over. In the quote from
Dismantled, Aerith even remembers their date at the Gold Saucer. At that point, Aerith leaves, running away into the Sleeping
Forest.

Cloud, on the other hand, starts trying to run after her in his dream. Why? Why would Cloud run after Aerith unless he wanted to be with her and/or
didn't want her to leave? He didn't have any reason to think she was in danger. After all, she told him she would come back when it was all over. Sephiroth
didn't appear until **after** Cloud had started running. What reason did Cloud have for running after Aerith before he even knew she was in danger
unless he just didn't want her to go?

Okay, remember when I said we would talk about
Loveless later? Well, it's later! ;-) At the beginning of Disc 3, if you enter the Highwind and talk to Cid,
this conversation happens:

Cid: "You ever see the play 'LOVELESS'?"

Cloud: "Yes."

Cid: "Yeah? Really? Well, that's fine. They've been doin' that play every summer since I was a kid. An' I remember seein' it just once... That was when I
was in Midgar interviewing to be a pilot. I had some free time and thought I'd catch the play. Now, I'm no big fan of the theater or anything. But this thing
put me to sleep, just like I thought it would. Finally during the last scene, the guy next to me woke me up tellin' me my snorin' was too loud. So about all I
really remember of that play is the end... The sister of the lead asks her lover," (He gestures dramatically) "Do you really have to leave?" (He shakes his
head) "And the guy says," (He gestures again) "I promised. The people I love are waiting." (He shakes his head) "......I don't understand. Not at all.
But...... please take care of yourself." (He nods) "Of course... I'll come back to you. Even if you don't promise to wait. I'll return knowing that you'll be
here." (He turns away and taps his foot.) "I remember thinking when I heard those lines," '*&%! What the hell's he talkin' about?' But, you know... now
I'm not so sure... I think I understand......"

Do these lines sound familiar? They certainly should! First we have a woman asking her lover, "Do you really have to leave?" In the scene above, when
Aerith leaves, Cloud runs after her. It is clear that he doesn't want her to leave.

The next line is,
"I promised. The people I love are waiting." This is very similar to what Aerith tells Cloud when she says she is the only one capable of
stopping Sephiroth and that, as a Cetra, it is her duty. In a way, she has a promise to the Planet, to protect it. And Aerith knows that her people, the
Cetra, will be waiting for her in the Promised Land.

After that, we have the line,
"But...... please take care of yourself." In the scene with Cloud and Aerith, Aerith says, "And Cloud, you take care of
yourself."
These lines are pretty much the same.

And, then, the last line is
"Of course... I'll come back to you. Even if you don't promise to wait. I'll return knowing that you'll be here." In the above
scene, Aerith tells Cloud,
"Then, I'll be going now. I'll come back when it's all over." The similarities in these lines are undeniable.

I believe these scenes are similar for a reason. Why else would the game developers bother putting these lines into the game if not to mirror Cloud and
Aerith and upcoming events? The fact that the conversation takes place between a woman and her lover should also not be overlooked. Cloud and Aerith's
conversation is directly parallel to that of two lovers. I don't think it needs to be much more obvious than this that Cloud and Aerith are a romantic couple.

One last thing... Cid's lines of
"I remember thinking when I heard those lines," '*&%! What the hell's he talkin' about?' But, you know... now I'm not so
sure... I think I understand......"
resemble Cloud's lines at the end of the game: "......I think I'm beginning to understand. An answer from the Planet...
the Promised Land... I think I can meet her... there."
Cloud's lines here are insinuating that he can be reunited with Aerith in the Promised Land. This
ties in nicely with Aerith telling Cloud that she would come back when it was all over. It also parallels the lines from Loveless in which the woman's lover
promises to return to her.

And, there you have it... Aerith first appears under a sign for
Loveless. She is indeed loveless, as she has not heard from Zack in many years. Enter Cloud,
who buys a flower from Aerith under the
Loveless sign. He, too, is loveless. But, seeing the two of them standing beneath that sign, the player gets the idea
that the two of them may not be loveless for long, and that they have a destined love in their future. And, finally, the resemblance between the final scene
in
Loveless and Aerith's final conversation with Cloud.

Cloud's Fear...

(Cloud awakens in a bed at the inn at Gongaga village. Barret and Tifa are standing next to the bed.)

Barret: "You look like you was havin' a nightmare. How are you feeling?"

Option 1: I seem to be OK
Option 2: Not good
Option 3: Don't really know

Cloud: "I seem to be OK."

Barret: "That's good. Man, I didn't know what was gonna happen."  

Tifa: "You know, Cloud, Aerith is gone."

Barret: "Everyone's out looking for Aerith."

(Cloud sits up in bed and shakes his head.)

Cloud: "......City of the Ancients. Aerith is headed there."

Barret: "By herself!? Why did she go by herself!? Hey, we're goin' too."

Cloud: "Only the Ancients, only Aerith can save us from Meteor..."

Tifa: "Then we must go. What'll we do if something happens to Aerith? If Sephiroth finds her, she's in trouble."

Cloud: "Sephiroth... already knows."

Barret: "Hey! Why are you still sittin' around?"

Tifa: "Let's go, Cloud."

(Cloud shakes his head.)

Cloud: "No." (He holds his head) "I might lose it again. If Sephiroth comes near me I might..."

Barret: "Yeah, godammit! It's 'cuz of you that Sephiroth got the Black Materia in the first place. It's your damn fault!"

(Cloud lets go of his head)

Cloud: "My fault?"

Barret: "I know you got problems... hell, we all do. But, you don't even understand yourself. But you gotta understand that there ain't no gettin' offa this
train we're on, till get to the end of the line."

Tifa: "Cloud, we came this far... Aren't you even going to settle up with Sephiroth?"

(Cloud clutches his head)

Cloud: "No..." (He shakes his head) "I'm afraid. If this keeps up, I may go crazy! I'm afraid..."

An interesting thing to note here is just how afraid Cloud is. His mind is on the verge of cracking, his heart is full of sorrow, and he deeply fears being
controlled by Sephiroth again. We know that Cloud's first response when Aerith left was to run after her (in his dream). However, after Sephiroth
appeared and said "WE must stop that girl soon", Cloud understood that Sephiroth fully intends to use him against Aerith. Sephiroth has already made
him hurt Aerith back at the Temple of the Ancients. What else could he make Cloud do? It is this fear that is holding Cloud back, the fear that he could
be used to harm Aerith again.

Eventually, Barret and Tifa convince Cloud that they won't allow him to fall under Sephiroth's control again and he agrees to go with them. They make
their way to Bone Village in search of a Lunar Harp that will allow them to pass through Sleeping Forest. Once they have retrieved it, they enter the
Sleeping Forest. After travelling for awhile, they stop for the night in an old shell house...

The Forgotten City...

(They all rest for the night. The scene shifts to later that night. Cloud is awake, and standing away from the others. He looks up.)

Cloud: "I feel it..."

(The others come in. Cloud must have woken them up.)

Cid: "Do you know what TIME it is!?"

(Cloud turns to them.)

Cloud: "Aerith is here... and so is Sephiroth."

Cid: "Wa, wa, wait a minute. You serious!?"

Tifa: "But how can you tell?"

Cloud: "...It's not an excuse. I feel it in my soul."

Cid: "Shit, Cloud, we can't be sittin' around on our asses."

Cloud: "...right. Let's hurry and find Aerith."

(They leave the house.)

During the night, Cloud awakens because of a feeling he has. He tells the others that he knows Aerith and Sephiroth are near. And how does he know
this? He says he can feel it in his **soul**.
Like I said earlier, Cloud shares Jenova cells with Sephiroth, which is why Cloud can sense Sephiroth. It is also how Sephiroth manipulates Cloud. So, how
is it that Cloud knows **in his soul** that Aerith is also near? The only explanation is that they share a deep spiritual bond, like soul mates would. This
ties in perfectly with what we saw earlier when Aerith was able to enter Cloud's dream and speak directly to his heart while he slept.

Cloud tells the others that they need to hurry and find Aerith. They leave the shell house and arrive at an intersection near the entrance of the Forgotten
City. Cloud stops and looks north...

Cloud: "Aerith's voice...... Coming from there?"
As you can see from the picture, there is no way that Cloud could have heard Aerith's voice from where he was standing. He was much too far away. So, if
he didn't hear her voice physically, then the only possible explanation is that Cloud heard Aerith's voice speaking inside himself, resonating down the deep
spiritual bond that they share.

The Death of Aerith Gainsborough...

([Cloud] rushes north. Passing through a tunnel, he reaches a secluded, calm, mirrorlike pool. Sunlight shines from above, though it is still midnight. He
continues. He enters a small, spiral-shaped building. Taking a long, glass stairway there, he reaches a huge, elegant, crystalline city, suspended in space.
Continuing on, he finds a small shrine. Aerith is kneeling inside it.)

Cloud: "Aerith?"

(There are five columns forming a path to the shrine, no wider than Cloud. Below them is a pool of pure, blue water. Cloud leaps onto the first column.
The others move as if to follow, but Cloud waves them away. He leaps across the other columns and reaches the shrine. He steps onto the stairs leading up
to the glass platform where Aerith kneels. The screen goes red for a moment. Cloud shakes his head and reaches for his sword... then shakes his head
again and continues. He stands before Aerith. She does not move. He faces away and draws his sword. She still does not move. He turns to face her. He
lifts his sword above his head. She still does not move. Cloud brings down his sword.)

Cid: "Cloud!"

Tifa: "Stop!"

(Cloud shakes his head and steps back.)

Cloud: "Ugh... what are you making me do?"

In the first part of this scene, Cloud follows what he believes to be the sound of Aerith's voice. However, as I showed above, Cloud was too far away to hear
Aerith's voice in a physical sense, which suggests that he was hearing her from a spiritual sense through the bond they share. He finally locates the flower
girl, kneeling at an altar in prayer.

The others attempt to follow Cloud to where Aerith is praying, but Cloud waves them away. Cloud very clearly wants to be alone with Aerith. Doesn't the
fact that he wants a moment alone with Aerith imply that she is something more than a friend to him? Doesn't the fact that his friends allow him to
approach her alone imply that they are aware of how he feels for Aerith? Tifa was Aerith's friend, too, so why wasn't she allowed to pass? If Cloud was a
mere friend to Aerith, then why was he singled out to approach her alone?

Also, this is the exact same thing Vincent did when he approached Lucrecia beneath the waterfall. Vincent wanted a few moments to speak alone with the
woman he loved. Cloud is no different.

After he has reaching Aerith, Cloud struggles against Sephiroth's will. Sephiroth forces Cloud to draw his sword and advance on Aerith. When he raises
his sword to bring it down on her, the others cry out for him to stop. This brings him to his senses and he stops. I would like to point out that Cloud was
not able to resist Sephiroth's control before this. And he isn't able to resist later when he gives the Black Materia to Sephiroth **again**. However, when
it came down to saving the woman he loves, Cloud was able to resist Sephiroth's control. And, since Cloud could not be forced to kill her, Sephiroth steps
in to do it himself.
(FMV sequence. Aerith kneels in the small shrine. We see now that she is praying. She looks up for the first time and sees Cloud. She smiles. Beautifully.
The camera pans up. Falling from the bright white light from above comes a black figure. It falls faster and faster. We see that it is Sephiroth. His sword
is drawn. Faster he falls, straight for Aerith.)

(His sword pierces through Aerith's body.)

(The next few moments seem like hours. Cloud's heart pounds in his ears... and ours as well. Sephiroth, his sword through Aerith's body, just stares at
Cloud. His eyes glitter, cat-like, a sly smile on his lips. With a great noise of grating metal, he pulls his sword from her body. Aerith falls forward, her eyes
wide open in shock... but the smile does not leave her face. Then her eyes close. As she falls, her hair ribbon comes undone and a small materia, glowing a
pale green, falls from it. It bounces once, emitting a small, pure sound against the glass floor. It bounces again, and again, until it falls off the platform
into the clear water below.)

There are some things here I would like to point out. The first being that Sephiroth arrived at the FC before Cloud did. Remember what Cloud said earlier?

Cloud: "Aerith is here... and so is Sephiroth."

Cid: "Wa, wa, wait a minute. You serious!?"

Tifa: "But how can you tell?"

Cloud: "...It's not an excuse. I feel it in my soul."

So, why didn't Sephiroth kill Aerith the moment he arrived? It was just the two of them. He saw her praying. He knew what she intended to do. And yet
Sephiroth waited around until Aerith had already gotten her wish to the planet and bonded Holy to humanity. That was rather counter-productive of him,
don't you think? Why didn't he kill her before she did this? It would have fueled his plans much better if he had done so. By killing Aerith after she was
done praying, he actually **helped** Aerith to summon Holy. So, why make this troublesome girl even more of an obstacle by allowing her to summon the
only magic capable of stopping Meteor? I mean, he showed up in the Sleeping Forest right after she left. He knew where she was going and what she
planned to do. So, why wait?

I think the answer is pretty clear. Sephiroth wanted to force Cloud to kill Aerith. He tried; he almost succeeded. Why would Sephiroth **want** Cloud to
be the one to kill Aerith? For the same reason he made Cloud hurt Aerith at the Temple of the Ancients. He wants to cause Cloud despair. And what
better way to cause despair than to force someone to kill the person they love most?

When Cloud was able to resist Sephiroth's control, Sephiroth decided that the next best way to cause Cloud despair was to kill the woman he loved right in
front of him while he stood there helpless. And, as we all know, Sephiroth causes Cloud to start a downward spiral into grief, guilt, and despair that lasts
for the next two years (
Advent Children/Complete). Sephiroth gets his wish. You can see it all over Sephiroth's face, the way he smirks at Cloud as he pulls
his sword from Aerith's body... He is gloating.
(Aerith's body falls forward. Cloud catches her before she hits the floor, cradling her in his arms. Sephiroth stands, looking skyward, his arms spread.)

Cloud: "...Aerith." (He gently shakes her body.) "This can't be real!"

Sephiroth: "Do not worry. Soon the girl will become part of the Planet's energy. All that is left is to go North. The 'Promised Land' waits for me over the
snowy fields. There I will become a new being by uniting with the planet. As will this girl...

Cloud: "...Shut up." (He bows his head closer to Aerith, trembling. He abruptly looks up to Sephiroth.) "The cycle of nature and your stupid plan don't
mean a thing." (He slowly turns his head back to Aerith's sleeping face.) "Aerith is gone. Aerith will no longer talk, no longer laugh, cry...... or get
angry......" (He holds her body closer to his and bows his head forward.) "What about us...... what are WE supposed to do?" (He gently rests her on the
floor.) "What about my pain?" (He trembles.) "My fingers are tingling. My mouth is dry. My eyes are burning!"

(Sephiroth moves for the first time. He slowly lowers his arms and looks at Cloud.)

Sephiroth: "What are you saying? Are you trying to tell me you have feelings too?"

(Cloud quickly stands up to face Sephiroth.)

Cloud: "Of course! Who do you think I am!?"

(Sephiroth starts to laugh.)

Sephiroth: "Ha, ha, ha...... Stop acting as if you were sad. There's no need to act as though you're angry either." (He rises into the air, looking down at
Cloud.) "Because, Cloud. You are..."

(He rockets, spinning, high up into the air. His body becomes a tiny green sphere, which lands at Cloud's feet. The screen glows red. Cloud covers his eyes.)

(Boss battle with Jenova-LIFE)

(The screen goes black.)

Jenova: "Because, you are...... a puppet."

Cloud: "I'm...... a puppet?"

Cloud runs to Aerith and scoops her up in his arms. He is in denial, in shock over what has just occurred before his very eyes...

(Caption beside the screen of Cloud holding Aerith's body) "Vacantly, he could only hold her lifeless body tight in his arms..." (FFVII Ultimania Omega)

Cloud is cradling Aerith's body close to his own. His shoulders and head are bowed over her in grief. He pours his heart out in front of everyone, including
his arch-nemesis, something very uncharacteristic of Cloud. And then he says something really incredible. He tells Sephiroth that
"the cycle of nature and
your stupid plan don't mean a thing"
...

So... wait a minute. Sephiroth's plan no longer means anything to Cloud??? This is Sephiroth's plan to destroy the world and everyone in it! And it no
longer means anything to Cloud??? Why? He says so right after:
"Aerith is gone." Cloud's plan to settle up with Sephiroth has ceased to mean anything
to him. Saving the planet has ceased to mean anything to him. Saving everyone **on** the planet (including Tifa) has ceased to mean anything to him.
Why? Because the woman he loves is gone.

Cloud holds Aerith's body closer and bows his head over her. He then goes on to talk about he and Aerith as a couple when he says
"What about us......
what are WE supposed to do?"
Here is a great summation over what I mean when I say that Cloud is speaking of he and Aerith as a couple...

"Cloud is speaking of he and Aerith in the first person plural the same way that couples do. Some people argue that Cloud does not mean he and Aerith as
he says this. They interpret this phrase to mean that Cloud is asking how the group is going to fight Sephiroth without Aerith, since she told Cloud in the
Sleeping Forest that only a survivor of the Cetra can do it. However, this interpretation doesn't fit the context of the passage at all. Cloud is in the midst
of grief and shock over her death, while he is clutching her body close to him with his head bowed over her. He is in the midst of talking about his own
pain and the loss of Aerith. Why would Cloud suddenly switch topic to ask how the group is supposed to fight Sephiroth without Aerith?" (Anastar,

Devotion
)

In other words, Cloud is sitting there talking about Aerith being gone, how she will no longer talk, cry, laugh, or get angry. Why would he suddenly ask
how they are supposed to fight Sephiroth now that she is gone? It makes far more sense for him to ask "What about Aerith and I? What are Aerith and I
supposed to do?" I mean, this is a woman he was clearly attracted to from the start, a woman he spent a great deal of time protecting, a woman who made
him smile and laugh, a woman he dated, a woman who was predicted to be his wife... and she is gone. It is natural for him to feel lost, to wonder what he is
going to do without her.

Some comments on the Japanese version of
FFVII from a Japanese descendant...

"When Cloud says 'What about US? What are WE supposed to do?' in Aerith's death scene, the phrase is directed to Cloud and Aerith in a personal sense,
almost like a talk between him and her. The language usage in this scene is painful, soft, and personal, instead of Cloud's usual rough manner of speech.
Although he doesn't indicate love in and of itself, it's the only scene in the game where Cloud shows a soft side, so it's pretty much sure that Aerith was
very important to him and more than just a friend. Aerith is the only person who captured Cloud's attention like this in the game. Since your actions
reveal who you love in Japan, then his feelings for Aerith are suggested in this scene." (Shadow Spirit)

What Shadow Spirit is saying here is that, in Japan, there are polite ways of speaking and there are rude ways of speaking. Cloud's typical way of speaking
was very rough, bordering on rudeness. However, during this scene, Cloud's manner of speaking suddenly changed into a gentle and personal dialogue.
So, what was going through Cloud's mind after Aerith's death?

Aerith is dead. Right in front of my eyes...

I couldn't stop Sephiroth. She was in my reach, and all I could do is stand there and watch as his sword ran through Aerith.

All the time Aerith used to smile, like a flower. But, Aerith won't smile any more. I won't be able to hear her innocent laugh again.

What did she do? Why did Aerith have to be killed? What am I supposed to do about this anger, it's like endlessly boiling up and burning up my body.

Yet at the same time, I was afraid. Like a chill coming from the core of my body.

When I found Aerith there, offering up some prayer, what did I try to do? If my friends hadn't stopped me at that moment, I would have struck my sword
down onto Aerith. It was something separate from my own will... it was like when I gave Sephiroth the Black Materia---

Who am I? I'm EX-SOLDIER Cloud... right?

Tell me, Aerith--- (
FFVII Dismantled)

Cloud expresses his feeling of helplessness here and then goes on to speak ever so sweetly of her. He compares her smile to a flower and says that she had
an innocent laugh. Cloud doesn't speak of anyone else like this, not even Tifa. Remember earlier in the game? Cloud spoke of Aerith's radiant eyes and
how he liked her smile. It is Aerith's smile, her eyes, and her laugh that he remembers and that he admired. Cloud never once mentions anything about
Tifa that he likes.

Cloud then goes on to speak of the anger toward Sephiroth that he is feeling. He has even more of a reason to hate Sephiroth now that the evil maniac has
killed the woman he loves right in front of him. Cloud states that his anger is endless, boiling inside him.

Cloud also talks of his fear, the fear he felt when Sephiroth was trying to force him to kill Aerith. Cloud is struggling with his identity as well. And the
interesting thing is, he asks **Aerith** who he is, not Tifa. Cloud knows that Tifa was the one who grew up with him, that she knows very well who he is.
And yet we have Cloud asking Aerith to tell him who he truly is. Doesn't this suggest that Cloud knows he has a special bond with Aerith and that she
understands him best? If he didn't believe that Aerith was the only one who truly understood him, then he wouldn't have asked her to confirm his identity.

And did Aerith have any thoughts during her death? She certainly did...

Even the slightest hesitance may have meant that her prayers wouldn't reach the Planet. But she had done it. The requirements were fulfilled before
Sephiroth struck her, after realizing her intentions. She accepted the death that she had felt long ago as the sword pierced through her. She looked at
peace.

But a cry came through to her.

It wasn't the sound of her cry. If it was then she would have felt the blood gushing up through her throat and the fury that forced its way out from the
depths of her soul - It was the sound of Cloud's heart cracking. It was the cry of his heart that could never be healed of the grief he had towards Aerith's
death, the blame towards himself and the hatred he had for Sephiroth.

She was surprised at the great sorrow he had for her. She was a little happy that he thought so much of her but she also felt the pain that was many times
greater. There was nothing she could do about Cloud's suffering and the pain ached in her heart.

The pain continued even though she was in the Lifestream.

Although she had lost her body, she recognized the pain by creating an image of herself in her mind. Aerith looked down as she put her hands to her
throbbing heart... (
Maiden of the Planet)

Aerith was at peace during her death. She had known she would die at Sephiroth's hands the moment she interfered and she had accepted that death.
However... Aerith heard a cry. It wasn't a physical cry. Cloud wasn't screaming in pain and rage. He was mute with shock and denial. It was the cry of
Cloud's heart that she heard. This ties in with Aerith's ability to speak directly to Cloud's heart while he was sleeping and reinforces the idea that Aerith
and Cloud are soul mates. If Aerith can speak to Cloud's heart and can hear the cries of Cloud's heart, this suggests she is tied directly to Cloud's heart
and his soul through a special bond.

In this passage, it is made clear that Cloud has been plunged into despair over Aerith's death. It states that Cloud's heart breaks and is filled with grief
over Aerith's death, guilt over not being able to save her, and hatred toward Sephiroth for murdering her. It speaks of Cloud's suffering and the pain this
knowledge causes Aerith.

Something very interesting of note here is the fact that Aerith is surprised at Cloud's reaction to her death. It says that she didn't fully realize just how
much she meant to him. Why would Aerith be surprised if Cloud's emotions reflected a platonic type of feeling toward her? They were very obviously
friends prior to her death. The only reason Aerith would be surprised is if Cloud's feelings were much more than platonic. The only reason that makes
sense is that Aerith realizes that Cloud loved her deeply and romantically. Perhaps she even realized the depth of their bond at this point.

Let's deviate for a moment and look at Cloud's reaction to the death of someone else within
FFVII. Let's compare this scene to when Cloud discovered an
injured Tifa in the Nibelheim reactor.

Tifa: "How bad was I when Sephiroth cut me?"

Cloud: "I thought you were a goner. ......I was really sad."

Tifa: ".........."

So, Cloud believed that Tifa was dying. He picked her up and gently moved her to the side. But, that was it. He says he was "really sad", but... did his heart
break and cry out in pain? Was his heart filled with grief, guilt, and hatred? Did it cause Cloud to suffer? No. Actually, he just moved her to the side and
then left her there. Apparently, chasing after Sephiroth was of greater importance to Cloud at the time. He could have stayed behind and tried to help Tifa,
but he didn't. He could have held her and wept, but he didn't.

Now, look back at when Aerith died. Cloud, held her and wept. His heart broke and cried out in suffering. He was filled with grief that tormented him for
two years afterward. He left a dying Tifa behind to chase after Sephiroth. And yet, when Aerith died, Cloud was so devastated that Sephiroth stood right
behind him and struck a pose and Cloud basically told him to get lost.

So how did Tifa survive? Her martial arts teacher, Zangan, rescued her. If you want Tifa's ultimate weapon, Final Heaven, during the course of
FFVII, you
have to find Zangan's letter on Tifa's piano...

"Tifa, what's happened to our town? Was it all an illusion, or just a dream? No, it was neither. I remember trying to get people out of the flames, but not
having the strength... Burning with anger, I went to the reactor to kill Sephiroth. But he was nowhere to be found. Instead, I found you, collapsed inside. I
felt saving you was far more important than going after Sephiroth. There were several others that were still alive inside, but I was only able to save you. As
I was coming out of the reactor, Shinra troops were just arriving. I recall a scientist named Hojo was in charge. He ordered the troops to gather up
everyone still alive for the experiment. I didn't know what type of experiment he was talking about, but I wasn't about to let them have my dearest
student. Putting you on my back, I headed down the mountain to the village. I used the Cure spell on you many times. And started to head for Midgar to
look for a doctor for you. I don't like that city, but my Cure spells weren't helping. I decided to go to Midgar to find a doctor I could trust. I'm worried
about you, but I can't settle down in one place for very long. Have you recovered fully? Are you well? I wonder how many years have passed since then? I
just got into town again, but I can't believe it... The whole town is back to normal, except for the strange beings with black clothes all around... The town
reeks of Shinra, but I won't go after them. You may think I'm running from them, but it's just that I don't want anything to do with Shinra anymore.
Feels like time is running out. I'm sure you'll find this letter. And this gift for you. It should come in handy. I can't even jump anymore. But I hope you
continue to sharpen your skills and remember what I taught you. To my most precious student, From Zangan."

You'll notice that Zangan says that saving Tifa was of greater importance to him than going after Sephiroth. Why wasn't it of greater importance to Cloud?
Why did Cloud just leave her there to die? Why was revenge more important to Cloud than saving Tifa? Why was it Zangan who carried Tifa down the
mountain to get her to a doctor? Cloud could have done this very thing. He just chose not to.

But, with Aerith's death, everything else ceases to matter to Cloud. The object of his hatred, Sephiroth, is right there within striking distance. And yet
Cloud cannot let go of Aerith's body to turn and attack Sephiroth. He just holds her and grieves. In the end, it isn't even Cloud who attacks Sephiroth, it is
the other way around.

So, what about the creators of
FFVII? What are their thoughts on Aerith's death?

Feelings about Aerith, the tragic heroine

- You can’t talk about FFVII’s heroines without talking about the tragedy that befalls Aerith at the Forgotten City. That event was a very memorable
scene not only for the FF series, but all RPGs.

Kitase: In the past FFs as well, important characters died and went away. Like Galuf in FFV for example, they followed a pattern where the character
would go down after giving it his all in a fight. In this case, often it went that the characters think something like, they’ve tried so hard, and just accept the
death and overcome it. When creating stories I think that is an option, but in FFVII we were thinking, could we take this a step further? Bring out a sense
of loss somehow? What I didn’t want to have was the kind of story development where even when a character dies there’s no sense of loss, on the contrary
it just raises motivation and pushes you forward.

Nojima: Kitase’s loss talk has been consistent since back then.

Kitase: And with a lot of stories, before they die there’s a lot of dramatic preparations, aren’t there? Like a “pre-prepared excitement”, or “using this as a
step to fight evil further”, those are the kinds of developments I wanted to avoid. In reality, death comes without warning, and you’re left feeling dazed at
the gravity of the loss… Rather than wanting to fight evil, you’re just overcome by a great sense of loss, like you just want to give up everything. I was in
charge of the direction of that scene, and I tried to bring out that sort of sense of realism.

Nomura: It’s related to ‘life’, one of the themes of FFVII, so it’s not portrayed as a “death for excitement’s sake” but expresses a realistic pain. Death
comes suddenly, so I think the emotion there wasn’t excitement or anything, but sadness.

Nojima: Speaking from a scenario standpoint, FFVII is ‘a story of life cycling through the planet’, so someone needed to be part of that cycle. In other
words, although what happened to Aerith isn’t really based on logic, as far as the story goes, maybe one of the team was destined to lose their life from the
very start. But how that one became Aerith wasn’t decided through a notice as is popularly mentioned. It was decided after everyone, including myself,
racked our brains about what to do. (
FFVII 10th Anniversary Ultimania)

And so, in FFVII, the creators wanted to portray a sense of loss and realistic pain. They wanted the player to sympathize with Cloud, "feeling dazed at the
gravity of the loss"
. They also wanted the player to be so full of sorrow, "like you just want to give up everything". This ties in with Cloud ceasing to care
about Sephiroth, his plan, or anything else because Aerith was gone. He gave up on everything when the despair of losing Aerith washed over him. Nothing
mattered anymore.

"The main issues of contention for fans worldwide are still Aerith's death and the ending sequence with Sephiroth. With the plot I wanted people to feel
something intense, to understand something. Back at the time we were designing the game I was frustrated with the perennial dramatic cliché where the
protagonist loves someone very much and so has to sacrifice himself and die in a dramatic fashion in order to express that love. We found this was the case
in both games and movies, both eastern and western. But I wanted to say something different, something realistic. I mean is it right to set such an
example to people?" (Tetsuya Nomura,
Edge magazine, May 2003)

According to Nomura, he was tired of the cliché where the main protagonist sacrifices himself for the woman he loves. He goes on to say that he wanted to
avoid the cliché where the male hero dies for his female love interest. This suggests that, with Aerith's death, he wanted to switch those roles and have the
heroine die for the sake of the man she loves. And, as we all know, part of the reason Aerith went to deal with Sephiroth and summon Holy was to protect
Cloud. So, according to Nomura, instead of Cloud dying for Aerith, Aerith died for Cloud.

"In the real world things are very different. You just need to look around you. Nobody wants to die that way. People die of disease and accident. Death
comes suddenly and there is no notion of good or bad. It leaves, not a dramatic feeling but great emptiness. When you lose someone you loved very much
you feel this big empty space and think, 'If I had known this was coming I would have done things differently.' These are the feelings I wanted to arouse in
the players with Aerith's death relatively early in the game. Feelings of reality and not Hollywood." (Yoshinori Kitase,
Edge magazine, May 2003)

In this interview, Kitase states that he wanted to cause an emotional impact with the player by having them relate to Cloud's pain. Cloud was the one to
suffer when Aerith died. And so the player would feel the gravity of Aerith's death through Cloud's emotional reaction. And what Cloud felt was clearly
described by Kitase above. He spoke of
"great emptiness" and goes on to talk about losing "someone you loved very much". By making it **Cloud** who
had lost someone he desperately loved, Kitase and Nomura made Aerith's death scene in
FFVII one of the most emotional and powerful scenes in any video
game before or since. This is what they wanted to achieve with Aerith's death, an emotional impact on the player caused by seeing Cloud's pain.

Aerith's Burial...

(The screen fades in. Aerith's body is resting against one wall of the shrine. Cid stands before her. He looks skyward as if in prayer, then turns and leaves.
Tifa kneels next to Aerith. She reaches up and touches Aerith's face, her hair, then covers her mouth, squeezes her eyes shut, and runs off. Cloud walks
over to Aerith. He gently picks her up and carries her to the secluded pool. FMV sequence. Cloud slowly lowers Aerith into the clear blue water. He
releases her and slowly backs away. She floats on the surface for one brief second, then her face sinks beneath the water. Her hair fans out around her
body as she descends into the deep, peaceful water.)
During this scene, the others come up to offer Cloud their condolences. Why is this? If Aerith was just a mere friend, like she was to everyone else, why
would everyone be comforting Cloud? Doesn't this imply that they understand just how deeply he cared for her? Doesn't this also imply that they
understand that Cloud is suffering the greatest loss?

Grief is what’s left the friends.
After the battle with Jenova LIFE, the party members leave that place without a word. At this moment, how they behave is slightly different. We can see
that everyone grieves for Aerith respectively, and their looks that worry about Cloud.

Caption:
They reveal in various ways, some silently shakes head while some is in great agitation. (
FFVII Ultimania Omega, p. 157)

This quote confirms that the other members of the party also grieve for the loss of Aerith. However, they are worried about Cloud. This suggests that they
know just how heart broken Cloud is, and they are concerned for his emotional well-being.

Cloud is then left alone to bury Aerith in the spring. No one else was visible in this scene. Just like when Cloud approached Aerith alone at the altar, Cloud
was allowed a special moment alone with her. If Cloud considered her a mere friend, like all of the others did, why was he the only one to carry her to her
final rest? Doesn't this indicate how special Aerith was to Cloud?

And what was going through Aerith's mind at the time of her burial?

Underwater...

Aerith was sinking. Lying stretched out with an expression as if she was asleep, she quietly sank into the cold and tranquil lake. The net of light scattered
by the ripples of the surface danced upon her motionless body. It was as if it was trying to tie onto her.

Her kind face could no longer have those expressions that were full of energy. The feelings of joy and fun that would spread to everyone around her, the
anger she had towards the weak, and the endless tears she had in sorrow... None of them were going to appear again.

Her body was going to be silenced for eternity.

However, that didn't mean the end of Aerith. She was watching. She wasn't watching through her beautiful green eyes but through her soul... She watched
within a discarnate body filled with the energy of life, as it overlapped her physical body. She watched as the surface of the lake drew further away. She
watched as the human shapes gazed at her from the hazy other world (the world where things were alive was another world to her). She watched Cloud's
face which looked as if his heart was going to fall apart from the sadness of losing her, the anger and hate he had for her being taken from him.

"Don't blame yourself. There's nothing to worry about anymore. It's going to be all right even if Meteor falls. So don't let yourself be dragged down by
those feelings. Just think about how you can be yourself."

She tried to say it but her lips wouldn't move. There was no magic that would let her thoughts reach Cloud from her spiritual body as Cloud disappeared
fast into the distance. The light that twinkled on the lake's surface became weak and distant as she sank. She fell smoothly into the depths of the Cetra
ruins, The Forgotten City. Aerith, the last remaining survivor of the Cetra had fulfilled her mission to protect the Planet. The final place where she was
supposed to reach had no boundaries no matter where she went... (
Maiden of the Planet)

Aerith followed her body down deep into the spring. She looked up at Cloud's face from under the surface and she is concerned for him. She doesn't want
him to blame himself, she just wants him to connect with his real self. Aerith tries to tell him this, but she is unable to reach him. This is due to the state
of Cloud's mind, as we will see later on...

Cloud, on the other hand, is clearly at the breaking point. This scene states that his heart was going to
"fall apart from the sadness of losing her" and goes
on to talk about the
"anger and hate he had for her being taken from him". Cloud's heart is breaking, that much we know. He is devastated over losing
Aerith. However, I would like to point out that Cloud's anger and hate, directed at Sephiroth, was due to Sephiroth taking Aerith away from him. It wasn't
because Sephiroth had taken Aerith away from Cloud, his friends, everyone else... This was personal. Sephiroth took Aerith away from **Cloud**. This
implies that Cloud considered Aerith to be a part of his life, someone that was irreplaceable, someone he could not be without. This also suggests that Cloud
considered Aerith to be much more than a friend.

Cloud's Resolution...

(The scene fades in. Cloud and the others are in one of the spiral-shaped shell houses in the Forgotten City. Cloud is facing away.)

Cloud: "Everyone, listen to me." (He turns.) "I'm Cloud, ex-SOLDIER, born in Nibelheim. I came to settle up with Sephiroth."

Tifa: "...What's going on?"

Cloud: "I came here by my own free will... Or so I thought. However..." (He gestures with his hand.) "...To tell the truth, I'm afraid of myself." (He turns
away.) "...There is a part of me that I don't understand. That part that made me give the Black Materia to Sephiroth." (He cringes away from...
something.) "If you hadn't stopped me, Aerith might've been... ...There's something inside of me. A person who is not really me." (He turns back and
shakes his head.) "That's why I should quit this journey. Before I do something terrible." (He raises one fist. He is shaking.) "But I am going. He
destroyed my hometown five years ago, killed Aerith, and is now trying to destroy the Planet. I'll never forgive... Sephiroth." (He stops shaking but does
not lower his fist.) "I... I must go on." (He lowers it.) "...I have a favor to ask of you. Will you all come with me?" (He looks up and shakes his head.) "...
to save me from doing something terrible."

Cid: "Well, we'll face it when that happens."

(Cloud shakes his head.)

Cloud: "I don't know how Aerith tried to save the planet from the Meteor. And I guess now, we'll never know. But!" (He nods.) "We still have a chance.
We must get that Black Materia back before Sephiroth uses it. Let's go."

(The screen fades to black.)

This scene takes place at the end of Disc 1. In this scene, Cloud tells everyone that he is afraid of himself because there is a part of him that is easily
manipulated by Sephiroth. He cringes when he thinks that he might have been forced to murder Aerith.

Cloud understands that he is not himself and that it would most likely be wiser to simply quit and let someone else take over chasing Sephiroth and saving
the world.  However, he has a score to settle with Sephiroth that includes the destruction of his hometown five years prior, the current death of his beloved
Aerith, and the future destruction of the Planet. Cloud vows to never forgive Sephiroth and asks the others to go with him which, of course, they agree to
do.

At this point in the game, Cloud does not know about Holy, nor does he know that Aerith was successful in activating it. He simply plans on retrieving the
Black Materia from Sephiroth before he has a chance to destroy the entire Planet. The main thing to take away from this scene, from a Cloud x Aerith
point-of-view, is that one of the reasons Cloud has decided to go on, one of his main reasons for fighting, is for Aerith. Part of it is for revenge, but part of
it is to save the Planet she loved and fulfill her dying wish. More on this later...

After Aerith's death, there aren't many Cloud x Aerith moments, but it certainly doesn't mean there is no hope for them. From this point on, I will skip
around and cover many areas throughout Disc 2 and 3 that are important to Cloud and Aerith fans...

Cloud, the Puppet...

When Cloud and company finally catch up to Sephiroth and manage to retrieve the Black Materia, Cloud is completely taken over by Sephiroth's will.
When they discover the **real** Sephiroth (not some Jenova-spawned version of him) sleeping in a chunk of Mako in the Northern Crater, Cloud gives
him the Black Materia and Sephiroth begins summoning Meteor. All hell breaks loose and the friends are forced to abandon Cloud in the Northern Crater,
flying away on an airship with-- of all people-- Rufus Shinra.

At this point, Cloud falls into the Lifestream like a cast-away puppet...

Cloud was falling into the Lifestream.

He wasn’t falling into it as the dead or as a soul. He was falling into the Sea of Mako alive, in his living body. He was going to pass out.

In the Northern Crater, he found out that his memories were false. He was just a doll who the mad scientist Hojo had transplanted Jenova cells into. A
being made to merge with Sephiroth for his resurrection. But as a failure, he was an inferior clone that wasn't even given a number.

He was thrown out like trash in Midgar. Then he met Tifa. He met his "real" childhood friend, Tifa Lockhart. That time, with Jenova's power to duplicate
memories, the memories that Tifa had of Cloud was instantly transferred to him. The missing parts were then filled with his own memories of being in
Soldier to complete it all. That was how the patched up personality of Cloud Strife, based on the young man that existed in Tifa's conscious, was born. While
that "Cloud" held many contradictions about himself, he built up a fictitious character so that he wouldn't be doubtful of himself. That character was
himself.

However, the disguise was going to be stripped away.

It started to fail a long time ago. After coming into contact with many Sephiroth clones, the resonance inside Cloud's conscious uncovered many suspicions.
Before long after Aerith's death, the dam he had built holding back his suspicions started to overflow. Using the anger he had towards Sephiroth and the
goals he had in mind he somehow managed to suppress it but, that only lasted until he met the original Sephiroth.

In the Northern Crater before Sephiroth who had Jenova at his core, Cloud's brittle character fell apart. Right after that, even his conscious came under
his control as Cloud himself handed over the key to summoning Meteor, the Black Materia.

Cooperating with the one enemy he hated and being made to turn against his own goal of stopping Meteor, Cloud's character completely collapsed. His false
mosaic ego shattered into pieces and in his empty conscious, only the despair of how he was no one but a failed Sephiroth clone remained.

And so...

Now no longer of use, Cloud crossed into the Planet through the Northern Crater, - abandoned into the Lifestream.

With his ego lost, what was going to happen if the highly concentrated Mako, containing the aggregated memories of the Planet, entered his system?

He was equal to a dried up sponge soaking up a liquid. His blank conscious and vast nonsensical memories were all going to be buried away. This state in
which someone was expected to be extremely intoxicated was commonly refered to as "Mako poisoning."

With his mind being infringed beyond the point of recovery, Cloud floated within the Lifestream. Before long, his living body that shouldn't be in the
Lifestream, was ejected through one of the natural Mako energy geysers into the nearby coasts of Mideel. With his character lost, he was now a crippled
person in confusion.

***

Aerith knew one of the reasons why there was a place that the Lifestream couldn't approach. That place had a barrier that Sephiroth setup. The disaster
that would fall from the skies, Jenova, brought with it a meteor that created an enormous scar on the Planet due to its impact. Now that place, where lots of
energy was gathering to heal the scar, had become a cradle for Sephiroth's resurrection. The flows of life all around were drawn into the unnatural swirl,
preventing a discarnate entity like Aerith from approaching it.

Aerith was eager to talk to Cloud as his living body flowed out of the swirl. She had been trying to while his body was being carried to Mideel. But with his
mind shattered and filled with despair, Cloud couldn't hear Aerith's voice. No matter how much she cried out, her voice wouldn't reach Cloud just like the
time when they were separated in the Forgotten City.

Helplessly watching Cloud's body return to the surface, Aerith stood in the sea of Mako in dismay. (
Maiden of the Planet)

During this scene in Maiden, the events of FFVII are recalled. We then see Aerith's reaction to Cloud entering the Lifestream. She was desperately trying
to talk to him, but the chaotic and emotional state of his mind made that impossible. Aerith then compares her current difficulty to her previous attempt to
contact Cloud, right after her death and burial in the Forgotten City. At that time, Cloud was filled with despair, guilt, and hatred. This storm of emotions
prevented her from speaking to him then, and it is the same here, with his mind full of despair.

"How can I save Cloud? How can I stop Meteor? I didn't think that Holy would be held back. At this rate, the Planet's going to end up the way Sephiroth
wants it... What can I do? Tell me, Cloud..."

Aerith cried as she thought about the shattered Cloud that even her prayers wouldn't reach. His wrecked character could no longer be fixed. If he wasn't
Cloud in the first place then, who was he? Knowing him only as a former member of Soldier, there was no way she could guess. She embraced the feeling of
helplessness that she couldn't put into words.

"Cloud... I miss you. I miss the real you..."

Her whispers and thoughts became expanded into waves and spread out in the Mako.

Her memories of being with Cloud came to mind again. Her impression was that even though he wasn't very social, there was some cheerfulness about him.

"I felt something odd about him but, was everything really just made up and part of his false character? Cloud wasn't real at all? ...No, that can't be true.
There were things that only Cloud could think of. Things that he done because he was Cloud. He was never an empty vessel to begin with!"

But she couldn't figure out the truth. Her thoughts just went in circles. Aerith delved into her memories again. Memories that showed Cloud's
individuality. The way he walked. She remembered all his actions one by one... (
Maiden of the Planet)

During this scene in Maiden, it is again implied that Aerith's prayers are unable to reach Cloud due to the tumultuous state of his mind and heart. It is also
revealed that, although Aerith didn't know anything about Cloud's real past, she was able to recall details about Cloud that were **Cloud's** and no one
else's. She knew that, although Cloud was acting out a false persona, there were aspects of his character that were genuine.

Cloud and Tifa in the Lifestream...

Cloud eventually surfaces when the Lifestream erupts at a small town called Mideel. He is suffering from extreme Mako poisoning and his mind spins in
confused circles. He cannot even speak.

Ultimately, Cloud's location is discovered by Tifa and the others and Tifa rushes to Cloud's side at Mideel's small infirmary. It is there that she chooses to
remain, giving up everything else to stay by his side and nurse him back to health. But Cloud's condition does not improve.

At one point during the game, Cid and the others return to Mideel to check on Cloud and Tifa. His condition remains the same. However, there is an
interesting optional piece of dialogue...
Cloud and the others see that Aerith has already prayed for Holy and was able to successfully bond it to humanity. In this scene, Cloud remembers speaking
with Aerith in his dream. He says that Aerith has left them hope and laments over the fact that it cost her her life and future. It's interesting that Cloud
wouldn't only mention Aerith's loss of life, but her future as well. I mean, you would think her dying would be enough of a loss. However, he also mentions
Aerith losing her **future**. The reason it is interesting is because we already know that Cloud and Aerith were predicted to have an upcoming wedding. Is
Cloud perhaps thinking of his lost future with Aerith as his wife?

As Cloud continues to speak, he apologizes to Aerith for taking so long to understand what her mission entailed. He mentions that he couldn't think after
losing her so suddenly. And, as we all know, Cloud's mind was so full of despair, guilt, and hate that Aerith's voice could not reach him. His mind was
chaotic and he was unable to focus on the task which was most important: saving the Planet and stopping Sephiroth.

Cloud ends his personal speech to Aerith with saying that he understands what she was trying to do and then says that he will do the rest. This is like a
personal promise from Cloud to Aerith, that he will complete her mission...

When she died, Aerith's expression was calm. Finally, I was able to know the reason why.

Why did Aerith brave the dangers all alone and go to the Forgotten Capital, what for? We couldn’t even think about it. We were so sad at her death, we
didn't even try to find out the meaning to it. Even though Aerith told me. I'm the only one who can stop Sephiroth... Even though she told me so.

"Holy", the ultimate white magic to combat the destructive magic "Meteor"--- The only way to save this planet from being destroyed by a meteorite. Aerith
had already called Holy. In exchange for her own life, she left us... she left the planet the hope for a future.

But Holy still haven't activated yet. Because somewhere, he's stopping it.

Aerith... will your life be lost in vain? You'll see, we'll defeat Sephiroth and release Holy's power. I'm sure of it.

We'll save the life of this planet you loved--- (
FFVII Dismantled)

As this quote from Dismantled shows, Cloud considers the mission to fulfill Aerith's wish to be of utmost importance. He even promises her that they will
save the life of the Planet she loved so much. Very sweet words from a man who typically does not share his emotions. But, with Aerith, those walls seem to
come down, much as they did during her death scene.

Tifa, on the other hand, makes sure Cloud knows that she is coming along, as do all of the others. They understand that Sephiroth has stopped Holy from
moving and that, in order to save the Planet, they must locate and defeat him. If they do, Aerith's wish will be freed and Holy will protect the planet.

What Are You Fighting For?

Before the final battle with Sephiroth, Cloud tells everyone that they should go see the ones they love most and decide what they are fighting for. He tells
them that they don't have to return and go into battle with him against Sephiroth. He wants them to be sure before they decide anything. And what is Cloud
fighting for?

Cloud: "For me, this is a personal feud. I want to beat Sephiroth. And settle my past. Saving the planet just happens to be a part of that. I've been
thinking." (He nods) "I think we all are fighting for ourselves. For ourselves... and that someone... something... whatever it is, that's important to us.
That's what we're fighting for. That's why we keep up this battle for the planet."

Cloud admits that his reasons for fighting are personal. He wants to defeat Sephiroth and settle his past, which includes a very old score with Sephiroth. He
then states that everyone is fighting for themselves and for whatever it is that's important to them. He also mentions a "someone" or "something" that is
important to everyone. As we all know, Cloud has promised Aerith that he would save the Planet. Is she his "someone"? His next words about the subject
make it more clear...

Cloud: "I know why I'm fighting. I'm fighting to save the planet, and that's that. But besides that, there's something personal too... A very personal
memory that I have. What about you all? I want all of you to find that something within yourselves. If you don't find it, then that's okay too. You can't
fight without a reason, right? So, I won't hold it against you if you don't come back."

Cloud states that his main reason for fighting is to save the world, but then he goes on to state that there is a personal element to his reason for wanting to
save the Planet. He calls this reason
"a very personal memory" that he has. And what do we already know of Cloud's wish to save the planet? We know for
a fact that he promised Aerith he would save the life of the Planet she loved. He promised her he would complete her mission. And so the personal reason,
the memory tied to Cloud's ultimate goal of saving the Planet... is Aerith.

Cloud and Tifa fans like to try and argue that Cloud is talking about Tifa or his memories with Tifa here, but that doesn't make any sense. Tifa is standing
right next to him. Why would he refer to her as "a memory"? Why wouldn't he just come out and say that he is fighting for Tifa if she is his "true love"?
Also, when has Cloud saving the Planet ever been tied to Tifa? What is a fact here is that Cloud promised Aerith, in a very personal speech, that he would
complete her mission to save the Planet. Tifa's not really a factor here at all.

We Shall Fight Together...

(Aerith's Theme begins to play in the background.)

Red XIII: "......Although she's not here, she left us a window of opportunity..."

(He looks at Cid. Cid turns to Cloud and nods.)

Cid: "We can't let it go like this."

(Cloud turns away and stares out the window.)

Cloud: "......Aerith. She was smiling to the end. We have to do something, or that smile will just freeze like that." (He turns to the others. He nods.) "Let's
all go together. Memories of Aerith...... Although she should've returned to the planet by now, something stopped her and now she's stuck...... We've got to
let go of Aerith's memory."

In this scene, Cloud talks about Aerith's smile again and how they need to free her smile. Cloud then speaks of his memories of Aerith and says once again
that she's trapped within the Lifestream by Sephiroth, unable to complete activation of Holy because of him. What he says next is odd, and I always believed
it was a mistranslation (since, as we know,
FFVII had a notoriously bad translator). Why would Cloud speak of freeing Aerith's smile so that she can take
Holy to its final completion and talk fondly about his memories of her... only to turn around and say that they need to let go of Aerith's memory? It doesn't
make sense. A translation of one of the
FFVII Art Museum Cards sheds some light on this...

#064 CLOUD STRIFE
Cloud’s misery all began 5 years ago. Cloud who is very stubborn about his own past is involved in this huge battle
that saves the Planet. However, dream and reality… Cloud’s journey to retrieve and overcome the barrier he set for
himself becomes a journey that saves the Planet.

“But I can't remain trapped in an illusion any more...... I'm going to live my life without pretending.”
(Cloud who decides to pick himself back up.)

“Memories of Aerith, we’ve got to set her free.”
(Before he decides to go for the last battle.)

This translation makes far more sense than the previous one. I mean, Cloud was talking about freeing Aerith's smile and making sure that she doesn't stay
stuck. Why would he start talking about letting her memory go? No, the way it should read is thusly...

Cloud: "......Aerith. She was smiling to the end. We have to do something, or that smile will just freeze like that." (He turns to the others. He nods.) "Let's
all go together. Memories of Aerith...... Although she should've returned to the planet by now, something stopped her and now she's stuck...... We've got to
set her free."

With that goal in mind, Cloud and company head for the Northern Crater...

The Final Battle...

Cloud and company come under the control of Sephiroth's potent mental powers. He holds them in the air and torments them mercilessly. Just when it
seems as though all is lost and everyone is giving up...

Cloud: "...Holy...... Holy... is there...... The Holy is shining...... Aerith's prayer is shining......!"

Tifa: "Holy...... Aerith......"

Cloud: "It's not over yet...... This isn't the end yet!!"

(Cloud assembles his party and prepares for the final battle. Sephiroth unleashes a final fire ring that drives away all the characters not in the current
party.)

 "Eyaaaah-----!"

Tifa: "...We're not gonna lose!!" (She floats up above Sephiroth.) "Aerith is here... everyone is here... Cloud is here with us! There's still many things for
us to do... I'm not giving up!!"

(Cid floats up alongside Tifa.)

Cid: "Hoo-ok......! I can't be foolin' around in the bottom of this hell hole... I still have lots of stuff to do with my life!"

(Cloud floats directly in front of Sephiroth.)

Cloud: "Aerith's memories... Our memories... We came... to tell you... our memories... Come Planet! Show us your answer! And Sephiroth! To the settling
of everything!!"

Cloud sees the light of Holy shining down below. He is immediately filled with hope knowing that Aerith's prayer is waiting for them to free it so that it can
be galvanized into action. He cries out to rally his comrades and they prepare to face Sephiroth.

Cloud wanting to show the Planet their memories was always rather confusing. As we saw before, when Cloud and Tifa were thrown into the Lifestream at
Mideel, their memories had already merged with the Lifestream. So, why would he need to show his memories to the Lifestream? For that matter, why
would Aerith need to show her memories to the Lifestream? She has merged with the Lifestream, so we already know that her memories have become a
part of the Planet. The answer? Another poor translation.

Cloud: "Aerith's wishes... Our wishes... We came here so we could share them with you. Now, Planet! Give us your answer! And you, Sephiroth! Now you
answer for everything!" (This same scene in
Reminiscence of FFVII)

This translation makes things far more clear. First, Cloud speaks of Aerith's wish, something he clearly holds close to his heart. That wish was that the
Planet she loved so well would be saved. It is a wish that Cloud promised Aerith he would fulfill. And so he makes it clear to the Planet that he intends to
fulfill that wish.

Next, Cloud mentions the wishes of himself and everyone else on his team. He then tells the Planet that they have come to share their wishes (Aerith's,
Cloud's, etc...) with it and demands that the Planet show them an answer to their wishes. And what was Cloud's wish? We will find that out soon...

And, finally, Cloud turns to Sephiroth and levels a deadly threat at him: Sephiroth will answer for all of his past crimes against Cloud, Aerith, the Planet,
everything! Cloud and company then throw themselves into battle against a transformed Sephiroth. They defeat Bizarro Sephiroth and enter into battle
against the One-Winged Angel, Seraph Sephiroth.

After Sephiroth's physical form is destroyed, Cloud and the others prepare to leave. However, Cloud realizes that Sephiroth's soul is still intact and mocking
him from the Lifestream. He is still blocking Holy. Sending his consciousness into the Lifestream, Cloud enters a spiritual battle against Sephiroth...

(FMV sequence. Cloud rockets headfirst through a strange tunnel. The very air moves out of his way as he shoots faster and faster. The walls of the tunnel
seem to be intangible; made up of air or steam or thoughts. Cloud can almost glimpse past memories as he travels; for split-seconds we hear the sweet
piano of Aerith's theme or the low cello and clangs of church bells of Sephiroth. The tunnel ends and Cloud floats through a vast black space; bright blue
tendrils of whatever untouchable stuff this world is made of waft past. He enters another tunnel, this one of stone, then water, then air. As the tunnel ends,
Cloud opens his eyes and sees exactly who he had expected. Sephiroth. He narrows his eyes and prepares to square off against his archenemy in the depths
of his subconscious.)

(Battle sequence with Sephiroth. The two face each other. Cloud, leaning forward, his sword-grip tight with anticipation. Sephiroth, shirtless, holding his
Masamune at eye level, catlike. The camera switches rapidly between the two, their eyes filled with hate as they glare at each other, their swords at the
ready. Cloud's inner energy steadily climbs until his Limit is prepared. He leaps into the air and summons a Limit he hadn't known up to this point- an
Omnislash. Sephiroth barely moves as Cloud comes screaming down at him, his sword dealing two, five, a dozen, twenty blows, fire burning behind each and
every one. With the final stroke, Cloud leaps into the air, gathering energy. Light streams into the sword, reaching a pinpoint, and Cloud brings it down.
Sephiroth stumbles, clutching his chest, then falls to his knees. His piercing, hateful eyes continue to stare at Cloud as the scene fades to black.)

Scene 144
- The End of the Beginning -

(FMV sequence. Sephiroth, bloodied, a expression of shock and horror on his face, rises, flailing, into the air. Rays of white light emanate from his body,
increasing in intensity for a few moments before Sephiroth disappears, somewhat anticlimactically, in a small shower of glowing red embers.)

And so Cloud defeats his arch-nemesis! More on this...

Cloud and his companions defeated Sephiroth.

Sinking into the Planet's scar and absorbing the Mako energy, the original Sephiroth was revived with his wounds fully healed. In the battle that unfolded
afterwards, the will he inherited from Jenova, his own ambitions and the strong thoughts he had inside him granted him formidable power but, the humans
still managed to crush him in the end. Sephiroth's physical body was destroyed and full of wounds, he retreated.

But only Cloud knew about his retreat. Having been exposed to Jenova's cells, there were traces of Sephiroth's conscious in him - Part of his conscious
resonated with it. Cloud could feel the existence of his remnant somewhere inside the Lifestream, continuing to obstruct Holy even now.

Letting only his conscious enter the Sea of Mako, Cloud went in pursuit of him. Riding through the currents, his old enemy was waiting for him. Sephiroth's
soul was not yet destroyed and was still a threat to the Planet.

In the world of conscious energy, their swords clashed with each other as they confronted. Sephiroth, the strongest Soldier and the most admired person,
tore his long sword across Cloud like a beam of light. But Cloud wasn't afraid. Believing that he had won, Sephiroth raised his long sword for his next strike
and at that instant, Cloud struck out at him unleashing all the strength he had. His large blade slashed into Sephiroth's body during that brief opening. His
attack opened up another opportunity for him as he struck out at Sephiroth again. It was an unstoppable storm of slashes - fifteen unavoidable attacks one
after the other, cut through Sephiroth.

The mad apostate angel smiled boldly. But the damage he had taken was far beyond what he could endure and his spiritual body started to fall apart as he
laughed. Beams of light blasted out from inside his body as if they were cutting him apart. Sephiroth was destroyed. Cloud's nightmare that had been
continuing since five years ago in Nibelheim finally came to an end.

The Holy that was no longer obstructed immediately came into action. (
Maiden of the Planet)

As Cloud stands within the Lifestream, he begins to be surrounded by its green, glowing tendrils...

An Answer From the Planet...

(Cloud watches his rival vanish, panting from the intensity of the battle, a slight smile of victory on his face. His attention is abruptly removed from the now
empty air to the area around his feet. Green tendrils and droplets of lively energy snake upwards around his body as he watches with wonder, raising his
hands in an attempt to touch the intangible green. A second presence, this one pink, joins the green as they coil themselves around Cloud, the only light to
be seen in the darkness. They bring more and more of themselves reeling inwards, forming a tight sphere of brightness around him before they dissipate,
leaving only streams of green weaving into a column around him. Cloud watches them as they waft upward.)

Cloud: ".......Lifestream?"

(They too float lazily outward, dissipating, leaving only green spheres, dancing around Cloud. The air above, around him, in him, takes on a bright green-
white glow. Aerith's theme begins to play softly in the background. Cloud gazes upward, the green dots still bouncing happily. He raises his hand to meet
that above him. The camera moves out to show the green light pouring down around Cloud from above, a perfect column until it washes out along the
ground at his feet, as if it were solid. One fragile, graceful hand reaches down from amidst the source of the light, toward Cloud's hand, as Aerith's theme
continues. Cloud smiles broadly in his joy, at last united with

(Tifa stretches her hand toward Cloud, perched on a narrow ledge on the wall of the Northern Crater. Massive boulders and debris crumble from the walls
around her as the Northern Crater begins its collapse. She is too far away. Cloud falls. Cloud snaps to his senses as the tiny rock ledge he is balanced on
slips further, cracking beneath his feet, inches from tumbling to the green Mako ocean at the bottom of the crater. Tifa falls. Her platform crumbles away,
sending her plummeting headfirst towards the sea of green. With lightning speed, Cloud rushes toward the wall of the crater, his feet somehow finding the
tiniest footholds, leaps toward the crater wall, catches Tifa by the waist as she falls past, and grabs a handhold at the lip of a larger rock ledge, leaving him
dangling precariously by one hand, Tifa held tightly by his side.)

Cloud: "......I think I'm beginning to understand."

(Tifa looks up at him.)

Tifa: "What?" (She holds on tighter and leans her head against his chest.)

Cloud: "An answer from the Planet... the Promised Land... I think I can meet her... there."

(Tifa looks up at him, then closes her eyes and leans her head back down.)

Tifa: "Yeah, let's go meet her."

The first thing I would like to point out about this scene is that, when Cloud is surrounded by Lifestream, he reaches into the light as if yearning for
something. That is when Aerith's hand appears in response. The scene takes place in the following order:
Cloud was the one reaching for Aerith, yearning to be reunited with her. This was, after all, the wish he expressed to the Planet earlier. And he received his
answer during this scene.

Just before Cloud and Aerith's hands meet, Aerith's hand disappears and it is suddenly Tifa reaching for Cloud. The crater around them is collapsing...

This time, Cloud had separated from his body and was now in an absentminded state but, in the abyss of the Mako world, he saw a hand there to guide him.
It was white and delicate - it reminded him of the hand that gave him a flower in Midgar. Unconsciously, he stretched out his hand...

His conscious returned to his body. Tifa’s hand grasped his as the ground below him collapsed away.

If the hand hadn't been there to guide him then he would have been at the bottom of Hades right now. It was good timing. Cloud realized that he had been
saved. (
Maiden of the Planet)

It is made clear in Maiden that Aerith saved Cloud's life in this scene. If she hadn't been there to guide him to Tifa, the ledge he was standing on would
have collapsed and dropped him into the depths of the crater below. Of course, there are contradictions here... For one, we clearly see that Cloud was the
one who reached first. As such, it was no unconscious gesture, it was quite deliberate and filled with a kind of sad longing. But, then again, the Compilation
is **full** of contradictions... >_<+++

As Cloud and Tifa are hanging on for dear life, Cloud begins to speak about his wish and the answer given to him by the Planet. He tells Tifa that he finally
understands that he can "meet" Aerith once again if he can find his Promised Land. What he really means is that he is searching for a way to be with
Aerith again...

Cloud: "I think I understand now."

Tifa: "What?"

Cloud: "The planet's answer... The Promised Land... I think I can find her there."

Tifa: "Yeah, let's go see her." (This same scene in
Reminiscence of FFVII)

In this "corrected" translation, it is confirmed that Cloud truly is searching for a way to be reunited with Aerith. His use of the word "find" proves this, as
one has to first be searching for something before one can find it. At this point, Cloud has discovered that he has to find his Promised Land before he can be
with Aerith again.

Also, we know that Cloud had previously asked a question of the Planet if the Planet has given him an **answer** to something. And when did he ask?
Earlier, when he said
"Aerith's wishes... Our wishes... We came here so we could share them with you. Now, Planet! Give us your answer!" And Cloud's
statement here shows exactly what he wanted to know: "How can I be with Aerith again? Where can I find her?"

Tifa, on the other hand, hangs her head and seems to accept Cloud's desire to be reunited with the flower girl. At this point, the only thing she can do is
support his wish and try to assist him. And so she invites herself along, determined to aid Cloud with his fondest wish.

And what is Cloud's response? Absolutely nothing. Cloud and Tifa fans like to assert that **both** Cloud and Tifa are planning on seeing Aerith again in
the Promised Land. However, Cloud said absolutely **nothing** about Tifa. This has been confirmed in **two** official English translations now. He said,
"I think **I** can meet/find her there." His plans don't include Tifa and he certainly never asked her to go along. Plus, this isn't the first time Tifa has
invited herself along when she wasn't asked...

(Cloud goes to leave.)

Tifa: "You're going after Aerith, right?"

Cloud: "Yeah."

Tifa: "I'm going with you." (At Aerith's House)

*****************************************************************************************************************************************

Cloud: "...I understand now. Aerith... I'll do the rest."

Tifa: "You mean, WE..." (At the Forgotten City)

*****************************************************************************************************************************************

And it won't be the last time either...

"Denzel had collapsed in front of Aerith's church. So I thought she must've brought him to me." Cloud paused and looked away.

"You went to the church."

"I didn't mean to keep it from you."

"But you did."

"Sorry."

"Did I say you did anything wrong? But next time, I'm going with you."

"Fine."

"And Cloud, you're wrong."

Cloud looked at Tifa with a puzzled expression.

"Aerith didn't bring Denzel to you."

"Right... Just what I thought."

"You're not listening to me. Aerith brought that boy to
us. Right?"

Cloud stared at her. Eventually he smiled. It had a kindness to it, as if to say
everything will be alright.

                                                                                                              *  *  *

Several days after they had that conversation, Cloud left. (
Case of Tifa)

This happens two years after the events of FFVII. In it, Cloud finds a boy named Denzel just outside of Aerith's church. The tyke had collapsed from the
effects of Geostigma, a disease caused by Sephiroth's negative influence on the Lifestream. Cloud believes that Aerith had brought Denzel to him and he
admits this to Tifa.

Tifa, however, seems more stuck on the fact that Cloud has been lingering in Aerith's church. She then promptly invites herself to go with Cloud the next
time he goes. Not wanting to argue, Cloud answers with an abrupt
"Fine". However, we know for a fact that this is most certainly **not** fine with Cloud
as he **continues** to visit Aerith's church by himself and never **once** takes Tifa with him.
.. **EVER**.

Tifa then goes even further by telling Cloud that he's wrong about Denzel. She tells him that Aerith didn't bring Denzel to **him**, but to both of them.
Once again, Tifa is inserting herself into Cloud's two-person world with Aerith. And he clearly doesn't like it. How do I know this? Because he moves out a
few days after that. And where does he go? Aerith's church... **without** telling Tifa.


What can we take away from this? Where Aerith is concerned, Cloud clearly doesn't want interference from anyone else. Whether he is visiting her church
or searching for a way to be reunited with her, this is something he prefers to do alone. Tifa means well, but she only manages to drive Cloud away. He
obviously didn't want her going along with him to the church or he would have asked her to join him. He also clearly thinks that Aerith brought Denzel to
him, not to both he and Tifa. When Tifa inserts herself into his ideas about the boy, he just stares at her and says nothing. He certainly doesn't agree with
her. It is much the same when Tifa invites herself along to see Aerith in the Promised Land.

Honestly, what else was Tifa supposed to say at this point? Cloud has already made his love for Aerith clear. It is she that he wants to be with in his
Promised Land, the place that promises him supreme happiness. All Tifa can do is accept it, agree, and try to help him achieve his goal. Aerith makes him
happy and she knows this.

FYI: At the end of
Advent Children/Complete, Cloud is confirmed as finding his Promised Land. It is Aerith's church. More on that in the upcoming,
revamped article on
AC/ACC... Stay tuned! ;D

The End...

Cloud and Tifa are reunited with their friends, all stranded and clinging precariously to the interior of the Northern Crater. Just when they begin to think
they are doomed, the Highwind crashes nose-first into the crater. Cloud and company waste no time boarding and try to outrun Holy as it erupts from the
Northern Crater. But, the Highwind is damaged. Thinking quickly, Cid pulls a lever and transforms the Highwind into a sleek jet craft that rockets to
safety. From the air, they watch as Holy intercepts Meteor...

But it was all too late.

Midgar was about to become the impact point for the Meteor from the skies and it was already too close to the ground. The gravitational force between the
Planet and the giant meteor stirred up whirlwinds that mercilessly revolved on the plate of the upper city. As a result, the Holy energy that stretched in
between the Planet and the meteor only increased the destructive power between the two instead of having the effect it was supposed to have.

At this rate, not only will the residents of Midgar taking refuge in the slums get involved but, the Planet would be damaged so badly that it would be beyond
recovery. Sephiroth's plan was crushed now but, everyone knew that the worst was yet to come.

The Planet was meeting its demise.

"Lend me your power, everyone!"

Aerith cried out. Her waves of thoughts expanded through the Sea of Mako. Carried by the Lifestream, it spread throughout the Planet.

"I can't do this alone. Lets all protect the Planet!"

The cry of the last Cetra shook the countless consciousnesses that she had awakened during her journey. The entire Planet's conscious was awakened. Of
course, among them was also the consciousness of those that were suspended for their atonements. With their strong wills combined together, they
managed to control the enormous energy of the Planet.

"I've been waiting for this! Lets light the fuse and blow that meteor away with a bang!"

"It's the Avalanche Lifestream Division’s turn! Now that Barret isn't here, I'm the leader!"

"Nooo! I wanted to try being a leader too! That's so unfair, Mr. Wedge!"

"You guys are never serious even though you're Barret's companions. Lets take this seriously and do it for Marlene."

Under their command, countless streams of light appeared on the surface, intertwining together with the Lifestream. Then covering the Planet protecting it
like a net, it slipped beneath Meteor and pushed the battering ram from outer space back. The movement of light was like a valkyrie leading her immortal
army, riding across the heavens.

"Hey Aerith, did you see Cloud's finishing?"

Zack guided his energy into the second wave as Meteor was thrown back losing its force. "That was one my sword techniques too. Doesn't it make you fall
in love again?"

With enough space, Holy now started to take effect. Acting as a barrier, the parts of Meteor that came into contact with it was eroded into dust and was
released into space. The Meteor was no longer a threat to the Planet and was now just helplessly waiting to be destroyed.

The Planet had avoided its destruction.

Aerith's thoughts were freed.

Aboard the Highwind, Cloud saw it. So did Tifa, Barret and the others. They saw Aerith's smile that never left their memories, appear in the Lifestream and
gently, it faded away as it returned into the Planet.

As time started moving again, their sadness was healed a little.

And so, the records of life that the Planet created continued.

Continued into the birth of a new era... (
Maiden of the Planet)

As told by both Maiden and the final FMV of FFVII, Aerith is the one who ultimately saves the Planet from Meteor. Although Holy failed, Aerith, the last
Cetra, is capable of speaking with the Planet and bending the Lifestream to her will. However, summoning the entirety of the Lifestream is an onerous task
that a single Cetra cannot accomplish. And so she rallies the countless souls in the Lifestream awakened during her journey through its depths. Zack is
there, and so is Dyne, Jessie, Biggs, and Wedge. In fact, it states that the entire Planet's conscious was awakened by Aerith's cry.

Using the Lifestream, Aerith and the others are able to push back Meteor and protect the Planet, saving millions of lives, including that of Cloud, the one
most important to Aerith. And so, in the end, it was ultimately Cloud, the hero, and Aerith, the heroine, who were responsible for saving the Planet.
Without Cloud, Sephiroth could not have been beaten back and removed as the obstacle to Holy. And, without Aerith, there would have been no Holy and no
summoning of the Lifestream to save the Planet from Meteor. Of course, they did these things with the help of their friends. But, without Cloud, there
would have been no stopping Sephiroth. And, without Aerith, the Planet and everyone on it would have been destroyed. This is the ultimate proof of just
who the hero and heroine of
FFVII are: Cloud and Aerith.
Aerith, the Non-Optional Girl... **An Opinion Piece**...

If you are interested in why I believe that Cloud's love for Aerith during the events of FFVII is not optional, then keep reading... Otherwise, thanks for
stopping by! I hope this article gave you a clear view of why Cloud and Aerith fans believe they are the intended pairing of
FFVII. :-)

Regardless of what choices you make during
FFVII, it does not change these facts:

1. Cloud was attracted to Aerith from the beginning, admiring her radiant eyes and saying that her smile
"was a good purchase".
  * Cloud never admits any such thing about Tifa. In fact, he never makes any remarks on her appearance... ever.

2. Cloud and Aerith's meeting in the church was reproduced with Zack and Aerith in
Crisis Core, giving Cloud and Aerith a direct parallel to Aerith's first
romance as well as giving them a straightforward link to another canon couple in the same universe.

3. Cloud and Aerith meeting one another was described as
"destiny" in multiple official sources.

4. Cloud agreed to become Aerith's bodyguard without asking for money. Instead, he accepts a date with her as payment.
  * Cloud had just recently refused to fulfill his promise to Tifa, told her that her cause with Avalanche didn't mean anything to him, and also refused to
help Avalanche further without being paid (and even more money than what he had received for his last mission with them).

5. Cloud smiles and laughs with Aerith. It is the **only** time during
FFVII that he does either of these things.
  * Tifa was not able to get Cloud to smile or laugh **at all** during the course of
FFVII.

6. When Cloud is at Aerith's house, he remembers his mother telling him that the perfect girlfriend for him was someone older. As we all know, Aerith is
one year older than Cloud.
  * Tifa is one year younger than Cloud, which suggests that Cloud's mother would not have considered her an ideal match for her son.

7. Cloud and Aerith have a date in the park where they discuss Aerith's romantic past.
  * Cloud never asks Tifa about her ex-boyfriends. In fact, he doesn't seem to care who she's been with.

8. Tifa is immediately jealous of Aerith and the bond she has formed so quickly with Cloud. The only reason for Tifa to be jealous is if she sees romantic
interest between the two of them.

9. Cloud continually expresses concern for Aerith's safety whilst ignoring the fact that Tifa is in the same amount of danger. Cloud is also supportive when
Aerith is frightened.
  *By comparison, we have Cloud rudely demanding
"Why'd you come along anyway?" when Tifa becomes scared before they jump from the train. The way
he treats these two women is like night and day.

10. When Aerith is kidnapped, Cloud states he needs to rescue her
"by all means!"
  * Cloud ignores Tifa, who is drowning in her own guilt after the plate falls, and heads out to rescue Aerith with or without her.

11. Cloud braves Shinra HQ, a massive skyscraper crawling with his enemies, the most difficult quest he has faced so far, in order to rescue Aerith.
  * Cloud is reluctant to rescue Tifa from Corneo because it means he will have to dress in drag.

12. Barret notices the change in Cloud when they are entering Shinra HQ, remarking that
"there are times when even you fight for other people". This was
said in response to Cloud's stony resolve to rescue Aerith, regardless of the risks involved.
  * Barret knows that Cloud previously refused to fight for either he or Tifa without compensation.

13. Cloud mentions being Aerith's bodyguard right in front of Tifa. This is the deal he had made with Aerith, the deal where he is her protector in exchange
for a date. If Cloud is bringing up his deal with Aerith, then that means he fully intends on collecting on that date with Aerith.
  * Cloud never plans on any dates with just he and Tifa... ever.

14. When Tifa hears of Cloud's plans for a date with Aerith, she remarks rather harshly,
"EXCUSE me." This was confirmed as a jealous outburst from
Tifa when she saw them
"developing their world together" and noticed the obvious "special bond" Aerith had with Cloud that was different than Tifa's bond
with Cloud. Aerith's
"special bond" with Cloud is clearly a romantic one or Tifa wouldn't be getting jealous.
  * Aerith is **never** jealous of Tifa's bond with Cloud, which implies that she doesn't see anything romantic going on between the two of them. And,
considering Aerith's ability to see inside the hearts and minds of others, this is a pretty profound statement.

15. Aerith's CG render is tied to her dream of riding the airship with Cloud. Cloud's CG render is of him just before he busts into Shinra HQ to rescue
Aerith.
  * Tifa's CG render is tied to her promise with Cloud.

16. When Aerith is feeling alone at Cosmo Canyon, Cloud tells her he is there for her and he wants to help.

17. Cloud and Aerith have a **second** date at the Gold Saucer. This is the default date for
FFVII and is the only one being taken into consideration
regarding the storyline. It is also the one date that makes sense as it is the **only** promised date within the game.
  * Cloud doesn't date Tifa unless the player chooses to have him do so. In order to get the date with Tifa, the player has to play the game in a way that
isn't considered "normal".

18. Cloud shows concern for Aerith when she cries over Tseng at the Temple of the Ancients.
  * The night before the battle, when they are sitting under the Highwind, Tifa starts crying. And what does Cloud do? He looks away.

19. Cait Sith makes a prediction about
"the affinity between Cloud and Aerith" which states that they are perfect for one another. He also predicts that
they are destined to be married. Cloud makes no objections to this prediction, even if Tifa is present. Cait Sith remarks
"Poor Tifa" regardless of whether
Tifa is present or not.

20. It was confirmed that, despite the fact that Aerith dies, she and Cloud still have hope for a future together. Therefore, Cait Sith's prediction of Cloud
and Aerith's
"great future" stands firm.

21. Aerith is able to communicate with Cloud in his dreams due to her ability to speak directly to his heart. This implies a profound bond like that of soul
mates.

22. Cloud tries to run after Aerith in his dream even before Sephiroth appeared and began to threaten her. This suggests that Cloud desperately did not
want Aerith to leave.

23. Cloud and Aerith's lines together just before Aerith leaves are strikingly similar to those spoken in the play,
Loveless, between a woman and her lover.
Cloud also first met Aerith under a sign for
Loveless.

24. Cloud feels Aerith's presence in his **soul** and can hear her voice from distances so great that he could not possibly hear it with his physical senses.
This reinforces the idea that they are indeed soul mates.
  * This kind of thing never occurs between Cloud and Tifa.

25. Sephiroth forces Cloud to beat Aerith and then attempts to make Cloud kill Aerith. This implies that Sephiroth knows Aerith is Cloud's weakness and
being forced to harm her will cause Cloud the greatest amount of suffering.

26. When Sephiroth attempts to make Cloud kill Aerith, Cloud is able to resist Sephiroth's will. This is the **only** time in the game Cloud is able to
overcome Sephiroth's mind control once he is under the evil maniac's influence.

27. When Aerith dies, Cloud holds her close and pours his heart and soul out in front of Sephiroth and everyone. He abandons his pursuit of Sephiroth and
his quest to save the Planet, saying that none of it means anything to him anymore. And why? Because Aerith is gone.
  * When Tifa lay dying in the Nibelheim Reactor, Cloud set her aside and went after Sephiroth. It was Tifa's teacher, Zangan, who considered her life more
important than pursuing Sephiroth and it was Zangan who saved her life.

28. It was confirmed in
Maiden of the Planet that Aerith's death broke Cloud's heart and he was consumed with grief over her death, blame toward himself,
and hatred toward Sephiroth.
  * When Cloud thought Tifa was dying, he said he was
"really sad". o_0 Seriously?

29.
Maiden of the Planet confirms that Aerith can hear the cries of Cloud's breaking heart. This ties her to his heart and soul once more.

30. In
Maiden of the Planet, Aerith is surprised over Cloud's reaction to her death. She didn't realize how much she meant to him, which suggests that his
feelings for her were not platonic in nature. After all, she knew they were friends before her death.

31. The game developers confirmed that, rather than the cliché of having a man die for the woman he loves, they decided to flip things and have a woman
die for the man she loves. They also stated that they wanted to achieve an emotional impact on the player caused by seeing Cloud's pain (
"feeling dazed at
the gravity of the loss"
caused by losing "someone you loved very much").

32. Cloud's companions come to offer him their condolences after Aerith's death. This suggests that they understand the depth of Cloud's feelings for
Aerith.

33. Cloud alone is the one to put Aerith to rest at the spring. This indicates just how special Aerith was to Cloud.

34. After her death, Aerith can see that Cloud's heart is falling apart
"from the sadness of losing her". Cloud is also being consumed by the "anger and
hate he had for her being taken from him"
. And so we know Cloud considers Aerith's loss very personal: he "lost her" and she was "taken from him".
This suggest that Cloud considers Aerith an irreplaceable part of his life.

35. Even though Aerith was gone, Cloud continued to speak about her and remember her with fondness.

36. In the Lifestream, it is Aerith who guides Tifa into
"Cloud's closed heart". What we can take away from this is that Aerith has access to Cloud's heart,
even when it is closed to all others. Yet again Aerith is associated with Cloud's heart, just more proof that she is his soul mate.

37. Cloud promises Aerith that he will complete her mission and save the Planet she loved so well.

38. Cloud states that he is fighting to save the Planet and that one of the things he is fighting for is
"a very personal memory". Since we know Cloud had
promised Aerith that he would complete her mission to save the Planet, then naturally the personal element associated to his desire to save the Planet is
Aerith.

39. Cloud also states that one of the reasons he is fighting is to free Aerith from Sephiroth's control:
"Although she should've returned to the planet by
now, something stopped her and now she's stuck...... We've got to set her free."

40. After Cloud defeats Sephiroth and is surrounded by Lifestream, he reaches toward the light with longing. Aerith reaches for him in return, both of them
yearning to be reunited. In this scene, Cloud's actions clearly show that he wants to be with Aerith.

41. Earlier, Cloud told the Planet that he had come to show it everyone's wishes, including his and Aerith's. He then demanded an answer from the Planet.
While dangling from a ledge, he tells Tifa that the Planet had given him an answer to his wish:
"The planet's answer... The Promised Land... I think I can
find her there."
If the Planet's answer to Cloud's question is that he can find Aerith in his Promised Land, then logically the question Cloud had asked of it
previously was "How can I be with Aerith again? Where can I find her?" This shows two things: 1.) Cloud desperately wants to be with Aerith again,
regardless of whether she is alive or dead. 2.) Cloud's Promised Land, the place where Cloud will find what makes him most happy, is associated with
Aerith. And this is hardly a surprise since we already know she was the **only** person in the game who ever made him smile or laugh.

42. Cloud mentions his desire to be reunited with Aerith in his Promised Land right in front of Tifa, which makes it very clear that these two are not an
item, regardless of what optional choices the player has made.

43. The lowest affection rating for Aerith in the game is 24. However, it is possible to completely eradicate all romantic interest in Tifa during the game,
driving her affection rating all the way to zero.

So, there you go. These 43 facts remain regardless of what optional choices you make during the game, regardless of what optional scenes you get
(*COUGH*Highwind Scene*COUGH*), and regardless of which girl the **player** personally prefers. No matter what, Cloud is attracted to Aerith, protects
her as his bodyguard, and goes on at least one date with her. No matter what, Tifa is jealous of the budding relationship between Cloud and Aerith. No
matter what, Cloud and Aerith are confirmed to have a
"special bond" and are predicted to be married. No matter what, Cloud is devastated over Aerith's
death and one of the reasons he fights is for her. No matter what, Cloud is longing to be with Aerith at the end, reaching for her hand and asking the Planet
how he can be with her again. No matter what, it is Aerith that Cloud wants to meet in his Promised Land. And, no matter what, it is impossible to use the
affection rating system to eradicate all of the romantic affection between Cloud and Aerith.

Also, regardless of what optional choices you make, Cloud still makes his affection for Aerith clear right in front of Tifa. He calls himself her bodyguard in
front of Tifa, bringing up a deal in which the result is Cloud dating Aerith. Cloud also doesn't object when Cait Sith offers to be the preacher at he and
Aerith's wedding (even when Tifa is standing right there).

Cloud and Tifa fans like to assert that the High Affection version of the Highwind Scene is canon, even though they don't have any proof of this (
see this
essay). They even go so far as to suggest Cloud and Tifa had sex under the Highwind, which is equally as absurd (see this essay). And, yet, right after Cloud
rescues Tifa from falling and they are clinging to the side of the Northern Crater, he says, right in front of her, that it is Aerith that he wants to see again
in his Promised Land. And this is **after** he and Tifa supposedly confessed romantic feelings for one another (High Affection version of the Highwind
Scene) and, according to rabid CloTis, had sex. If that is the case, then Cloud just used Tifa for sex, played her feelings, and dropped her like a rock.
Because it isn't Tifa that Cloud wants to be with in the place of supreme bliss (his Promised Land), it's a completely different woman (Aerith).

Also, Cloud demanded an answer from the Planet, remember? This is after he showed the Planet his wishes. His answer was that he could be with Aerith
again if he could find the/his Promised Land. And so the wish he expressed to the Planet was quite obviously how he could be reunited with Aerith. This
scene **also** took place after the supposed confession of love and alleged sex on pointy rocks under the Highwind. **IF** Cloud confessed romantic
feelings for Tifa under the Highwind, then why would he be seeking a reunion with her confirmed
"love rival"? **IF** Cloud confessed romantic feelings
for Tifa under the Highwind, then why wasn't Tifa the one he states he wants to be with? Why wasn't his wish about her? And why doesn't he care about
how she is feeling when he ignores her and says he wants to be with Aerith?

These scenes only make sense if you take the Low Affection version of the Highwind Scene into account. If Cloud and Tifa only shared feelings of a platonic
nature, then they are only friends. And Cloud doesn't come off like a cold-hearted jerk who could care less about Tifa's breaking heart. If they are only
friends, then it makes perfect sense why Cloud would be seeking a reunion with Aerith again instead of wanting to be with Tifa.

In my opinion, the Low Affection version of the Highwind Scene is the one being followed throughout the rest of the game as well as the Compilation
(during which Cloud and Tifa are not portrayed as being in any romantic relationship and there has been **zero** progression toward a romantic
relationship between them). Not only that, but the two Highwind Scenes are merely there for replay value and nothing more. While the **player** can
choose for Cloud to show romantic interest in Tifa, it doesn't change the fact that he loves Aerith. In other words, Cloud's love for Tifa is **optional**.
Cloud's love for Aerith is **not optional**.

A good example is
FFX, where Tidus can show romantic interest in Rikku or Lulu. Between Rikku and Lulu, it is Lulu that seems more inclined to show
interest in Tidus, but it doesn't mean that either of them were intended to be Tidus's love interest. Regardless of any optional scenes or dialogues,
regardless of affections levels, Tidus still loves Yuna and they are the intended pairing. The scenes with Rikku and Lulu were simply thrown in for replay
value. They don't actually mean anything in the end. It is much the same between Cloud and Tifa.

Though Cloud can date Tifa, Yuffie, or Barret instead of Aerith, it doesn't change the fact that Cloud and Aerith love one another and are the intended
pairing of
FFVII. And, although Cloud has an optional scene with Tifa that may or may not show affection between them under the Highwind, it doesn't
change the fact that Cloud and Aerith are the intended pairing of
FFVII and Cloud loves Aerith regardless of any affection and/or optional scenes he might
feel/share with Tifa (or anyone else).

An interesting note: Yuna is the default character for cut scenes when there is a tie, much like Aerith is the default character for the date scene at Gold Saucer, even
if there is a tie between she and Tifa (or anyone else). Coincidence? I think not...

The bottom line? Cloud loves Aerith. The **player** can choose for Cloud to **also** love Tifa, but you cannot eradicate the love between Cloud and
Aerith. He can love **both** Aerith and Tifa (optionally). Or he can love just Aerith. He cannot love just Tifa. This was the original intent when the game
was created, regardless of the current fan-pandering stance that Square-ENIX has now taken.

One final thought in regard to Square-ENIX's fan-pandering... Throughout the Compilation and all spin-off games in which Cloud, Aerith, and Tifa appear,
Cloud x Aerith gets actual solid proof while Cloud x Tifa gets fluff that seems to satisfy the fans, but doesn't actually have any true meaning to it. Want
proof of that? Just read through my site... ;-)
Therefore, this dialogue is clearly a reference to Aerith and her protective feelings for Cloud. After all, a guardian angel is someone who is deceased, so we
know it can't be Tifa. Angels are also associated with saviors and Aerith becomes not only the savior of the entire Planet, but she saves Cloud's life many
times over between the events of
FFVII and the end of Advent Children/Complete.

After some time, one of the Weapons advances on Mideel and attacks. During the attack, both Tifa and Cloud are cast into the Lifestream...

Under pressure with the Meteor drawing near, the Planet released its massive biological destructive Weapons and the flow of the Lifestream was disrupted
by their activities. The amount of energy that surged up onto the surface was never seen before. Gushing out into Mideel, Cloud who was peacefully resting
there with Tifa nursing him by his side, both of them get swallowed up into the Lifestream.

Both of them were engulfed by Mako as they fell into the Planet. For Cloud, it was the second time but for Tifa, it was her first experience.

Aerith risked everything she had in this golden opportunity.

She desperately tried to talk to Tifa who was about to get intoxicated by the highly concentrated Mako. Guiding her conscious, Aerith took her into Cloud's
closed heart.

In truth, Aerith really wanted to do it herself. But she couldn't carry out the task. That's why she entrusted Tifa with it. She entrusted Tifa with all the
feelings she had for Cloud in her heart. She entrusted them to the one that was going to "live" together with Cloud...

And so, Tifa accomplished the task. Collating her own memories with that of Cloud's, she looked for the things that only the real Cloud could know.
Proofing it all, the closed door was opened. Not leaving Soldier allowed Jenova's power that was implanted in Cloud to copy the Soldier traits of his close
friend, Zacks. Drawing out the deep memories that were firmly clammed up inside all of that, she reconstructed his original character instead of the fake
character he created to protect himself. (
Maiden of the Planet)

Because Tifa was engulfed in Lifestream, Aerith believed she would be able to speak with her. Whether she was successful or not isn't reported here, it
simply states that Aerith guided Tifa's conscious
"into Cloud's closed heart". I believe this was possible because it is stated that a person's conscious is
their soul...

"It's full of the knowledge of the Ancients. No... not knowledge... consciousness... a living soul..." (Aerith at the Temple of the Ancients)

*****************************************************************************************************************************************

"The body decomposes, and returns to the Planet. That much everyone knows. What about their consciousness, their hearts and their souls? The soul too
returns to the Planet." (Bugenhagen at Cosmo Canyon)

*****************************************************************************************************************************************

"Lifestream.... In other words, a path of energy of the souls roaming the Planet." (Bugenhagen at Cosmo Canyon)

Aerith states that consciousness is the same as a living soul. Bugenhagen also states that a person's consciousness is their heart and soul. He later
confirms that Lifestream is a stream composed of souls roaming the Planet. In other words, Lifestream is composed of souls; it is full of the consciousness
of everyone and everything that has ever died. However, as we all know, most of that energy merges together and loses its individuality. It is then reborn
into new life on the Planet. There are only a few exceptions to this rule, people with a strong will, like Sephiroth and Aerith. They are able to retain their
individuality within the vast sea of consciousness.

"...Father realized that the Planet was more important than science."

Aerith found out when Tifa and Cloud’s memories merged with the Lifestream when they fell. She also found out that it was Hojo who shot her father
when he tried to stop him from taking her as a newborn sample. (
Maiden of the Planet)

And here is a quote where it talks about Cloud and Tifa's memories merging with the Lifestream. This is interesting because it allowed Aerith to observe
their memories of the time they visited the laboratory of Professor Gast (Aerith's father) after her death. During that time, they watched videos that
showed Gast's conversations about the Cetra and the Planet with Ifalna, Aerith's mother (among other things, including when Hojo arrived to kidnap
Ifalna and Aerith). So, logically, if Aerith was able to see these videos through the memories of Cloud and Tifa, then she was most likely able to see
everything else within their memories.

So, what is my point? After being dunked into the Lifestream, Tifa's mind and memories merged with the Lifestream. She is not from Soldier and she is
not a Cetra. Her consciousness, her very soul, was merging and dissipating into the Lifestream. Were it not for Aerith's interference, she most likely
would not have survived...

"I'll say it again, he's got Mako poisoning. I've never seen a case this bad... An immense amount of Mako-drenched knowledge was put into his brain all at
once...... No normal human could have survived it...... It's a miracle he did!" (Mideel doctor, speaking about Cloud)

And what about Aerith guiding Tifa into "Cloud's closed heart"? Again, we see Aerith being associated with Cloud's heart. We already know that she can
speak directly to Cloud's heart and that she can hear the cries of his heart when he is suffering. Bugenhagen stated that one's heart and soul are the same
as their consciousness. Based on what
Maiden says, Tifa could not have gained access to Cloud's memories without Aerith's help. If Cloud's heart, his
consciousness, was "closed", then that means no one could get in. And yet we have confirmation that Aerith has access to Cloud's heart, even when it is
closed to all others. Furthermore, we know that Tifa would have most likely died within the Lifestream before she ever had a chance to help Cloud
reconstruct his past were it not for Aerith's help. But, with the flower girl's assistance, Tifa is allowed inside Cloud's mind.

Aerith is the one who wants to help Cloud rediscover his past. However, she did not know him in the past, Tifa did. That is why it says that she entrusted
Tifa with the task of helping Cloud to reassemble his buried memories. With Tifa there to guide him, Cloud is able to reconstruct his true self. And, once
Cloud and Tifa escape the Lifestream, Cloud is back to his old self again (with the bonus of knowing his real past).

Remembrance...

Back at Cosmo Canyon, Cloud and the others are meeting with Bugenhagen to assist them with where to go next on their mission...

Bugenhagen: "Do you see it? What is it that you are searching for?"

(The scene fades back in; we are at Bugenhagen's observatory, now, the entire party is present. Cloud and Tifa stand on either side of Bugenhagen; Barret
stands in the back; Cait Sith stands behind Cloud, Red XIII is in one corner, and Cid is leaned casually against a wall, smoking a cigarette.)

Cait Sith: "Nope. Not a thing. Naw. Can't come up with a thing."

(Cloud looks down)

Cloud: "I remember Aerith a lot. No... not that. You haven't remembered. You haven't forgotten. That's not it... How would you say it... Aerith was right
there all along. Right by our side. She was so close, we couldn't see her. What Aerith did... The words she left behind..."

Tifa: "That reminds me... I was the same."

Red XIII: "As was I."

Barret: "Me too..."

Cloud: "She said that she was the only one who could stop Sephiroth's Meteor."

Tifa: "But Aerith is gone."

Red XIII: "Is it impossible for us to carry on... what Aerith tried to accomplish?"

Barret: "We ain't no Ancients, if that's what ya mean."

(Cid turns his head toward the group)

Cid: "What, did that girl go off to that place?"

Cloud: "That's it!!"

Cid: "What's it?"

Cloud: "We don't know about it. What did Aerith know? Why did she face Sephiroth without running away?"

Red XIII: "I see... She returned there once again, correct?"

Bugenhagen: "Hmmm. Perhaps I'll have you take me there."

When asked what they are searching for, Cloud says that he "remembers Aerith a lot". In other words, he has been thinking about her a great deal. He
then goes on to say that Aerith was their only chance to beat Sephiroth and they never even knew it. She was right there with them, traveling beside them,
and they never understood just how precious and important she truly was. And, now that she is gone, they are without hope.

However, Cloud and the others desperately want to try and carry on with Aerith's mission, they just need to learn **what** it was she was doing in the
Forgotten City. And so they decide to return to that tragic place, in order to try and learn more about Aerith's mission to defeat Sephiroth and save the
Planet. Wise old Bugenhagen decides to accompany them...

Knowledge of the Ancients...

Upon returning to the Forgotten City, Cloud and company arrive at a small shrine. Bugenhagen is able to speak with the Planet here and he tells everyone
about Holy...

Cloud: "Search for Holy... How do we do it?"

(Bugenhagen lifts his arms up, his too-long sleeves drooping down.)

Bugenhagen: "Speak to the planet. Get the White Materia... This will bond the Planet to humans." (He nods.) "Then speak to the planet. If our wish
reaches the planet, the White Materia will begin to glow a pale green."

(Cloud slumps.)

Cloud: "...This is the end." (He looks up, shrugging.) "Aerith had the White Materia... But when Aerith died, it fell from the altar..." (He shakes his head
sadly.) "That's why...... this is the end."

At this point, no one knows that Aerith had already prayed for Holy and was successful in activating it. They are devastated over the news that Holy may be
lost to them forever, and the Planet doomed to die.  However, Bugenhagen discovers a keyhole in the shrine, and Cloud and company set off on a new
mission, to locate the Key of the Ancients!

Aerith's Hope...

After finding the Key of the Ancients, Cloud and company return to the shrine at the Forgotten City...

(The camera moves to show Bugenhagen as he places the Key into the music box. He bounces happily.)

Bugenhagen: "Ho Ho Hooo!"

(He tosses the key the rest of the way in. FMV sequence. As he does so, the crystals vibrate as the stone pillar in front of it recedes into the ground. The
camera pans up; high above the shrine, a wave of water pours over a cliff over the cavern, creating a curtain of water around the shrine. Bugenhagen floats
back over to Cloud, who is watching with awe.)

Bugenhagen: "Now, go inside. Hope may be inside... Or......"

(Cloud enters the curtain of water. Bugenhagen floats by the shrine as the water pours around them.)

Bugenhagen: "This was just a screen to project an image! Look! Look at the image projected on the screen of the water!"

(FMV sequence. The camera floats past Cloud to show what he sees: Aerith. Her image is projected perfectly onto the moving pane of water, causing her to
distort as if in a dream. We see her kneeling in prayer in the altar. She looks up, a smile on her face; then we see her body fall forward on Sephiroth's
sword. We watch the materia fall from her hair as she falls, bouncing once on the floor, then twice. It falls with a small splash into the water. We now can
see what happened to it after it fell. It is sitting peacefully at the bottom of the pool, nestled in the sand. It is glowing a pale green.)

Cloud: "...It's glowing."

Bugenhagen: "Ho Ho Hooo!! It's pale green!!"

(Cloud touches his face.)

Cloud: "...Aerith. Aerith has already prayed for Holy. ...After I gave the Black Materia to Sephiroth...... Aerith's words came into my dreams... She said,
she was the only one who could stop Sephiroth...... And to do that, there was a secret here... That was Holy...... That's why, she had the White Materia.
Aerith knew about here... and what she had to do. Aerith has left us great hope. But, it cost her her life... her future... I'm sorry... Aerith. I should have
figured this out sooner. ...You left us without saying a word...... It was all so sudden, so I couldn't think... That's why it took so long for me to find out...
But, Aerith... I understand now. Aerith... I'll do the rest."

Tifa: "You mean, WE..."

(Cloud turns to Tifa.)

Cid: "The big gift the flower girl left for us... It'd be sad if we didn't finish it!"

(Cloud turns to Cid. He nods. He turns to face both of them and raises his arms.)

Cloud: "Thank you... Aerith. Aerith's voice has already reached the Planet. Just look at the glow of the White Materia. But...... how about Holy? How come
Holy isn't moving?" (He shakes his head.) "Why?"

Bugenhagen: "Something's getting in its way."

Cloud: "......Him...... He's the only one that could do it. ...Sephiroth. Where are you?"
As we know from Maiden of the Planet, Aerith was with Cloud from the moment he fell into the Lifestream at the Northern Crater until he surfaced in
Mideel. During that time, she was attempting to speak with him, but the chaotic nature of his mind made that impossible. And, as we all know, Aerith is
not only a healer, but she is associated with angels via her Limit Break, Great Gospel...