heavenlygarden: (❀ inhuman soul)
Aerith Gainsborough ([personal profile] heavenlygarden) wrote2012-02-05 04:30 am

Ghost

The sunshine filtered through the broken rafters and warmed the tender irises that were in the midst of blooming. A sweet, saccharine scent filled the air and gave the dilapidated church a new sense of life. Between the pews, a small girl hurried toward the blossoms, her expression bright and lively. In her hair was a rosy pink bow.

"Come on, Tifa! We need to water them!" Marlene beamed at her guardian, who was a few steps behind her, before searching for the watering can. Upon finding it, she brought it to Tifa so that it could be filled to the brim from a spigot.

"That should do it." Tifa murmured, turning off the spigot and taking the watering can from Marlene, "I'll water the first half and you water the second, alright?" she smiled encouragingly at the little girl, knowing Marlene wasn't strong enough to carry a full watering can.

"Okay!" Marlene stepped back, took a seat on a pew and watched Tifa contentedly. After a moment of silence, she began to swing her legs and look around the church's entirety. This was one of her favorite places. Tifa often said that it felt like she was still here and Marlene had to agree - though she mostly knew about Aerith from stories. Regardless, it felt like there was a calm, soothing presence protecting the church. If Cloud and Tifa had agreed, Marlene would have gladly slept on one of the pews.

Unfortunately for her, the conditions were not ideal. The roof was crumbling bit by bit - though Cloud promised to repair what he could - and there was no physical protection for a little girl if someone decided to cause some mischief inside of the church's walls.

Like they did. She shuddered at the memory of the Jenova brothers. If Tifa and Cloud hadn't saved her - and everyone - she wouldn't be...anywhere.

As that thought crossed her mind, a light, carefree laughter resounded beside her. But...

There was no one beside her. At least, no one she could see. What was going on?

"Hello?" Marlene kept her voice down in case Tifa started wondering about her sanity, "Is anyone there?"

The laughter trailed off and a warm sensation touched - was that the right word? - the top of her head. Jumping, Marlene vaulted off of the pew and ran toward Tifa.

"Tifa! There's someone in here!" she clung to the woman's waist, trembling.

Tifa frowned, placed the watering can on the ground and surveyed one end of the church to the other. Upon seeing nothing, she eyed Marlene quizzically.

"What did you think you saw?" she knelt beside the girl, genuinely concerned, "Are you sure it wasn't just a shadow or -"

Marlene cut her off before she could make another guess. Her voice was higher than normal and her body shook uncontrollably.

"It touched the top of my head!" she covered her head with her arms and blinked back confused tears, "I heard it laugh and then...it did that."

Tifa mulled over Marlene's words and sighed. The girl had said that she wasn't afraid to visit the church again, but maybe she was? Tifa couldn't exactly blame her. Thus she schooled her voice into a calm tone when she answered her:

"In that case, you better stay close. I will finish up the watering and then we can go home." Tifa paused before adding, "There's nothing to fear here, Marlene. I promise."

All the same, she kept her senses open and alert. Marlene wasn't someone who lied. If she saw, heard or felt something, Tifa knew that she wasn't making it up. Yet, she didn't have any answers.

I can't protect this place. It's not a haven like it used to be. Aerith, I wish you were here. I know you could bring everything back to life and put a smile on Marlene's face.

Just imagining her best friend beaming caused Tifa to smile - albeit sadly. Thankfully, Marlene didn't notice. The little girl was seated on the edge of the garden, sniffing one of the irises to calm herself.

We'll be fine. That realization brought a sensation of pure warmth radiating from her chest. It was almost as if she was being embraced - considering she could feel the warmth against her shoulders, neck and back as well.

Raising her arms, she instinctively tried to hold the one who was hugging her, but it was no good. The space was empty. Perhaps she had imagined the warmth as well? She was standing near a ray of sunlight. But what about what Marlene had said earlier...?

"Tifa?" she had finally merited Marlene's attention. Quickly dropping her arms to her side, Tifa smiled shakily.

"I'm okay." she bit the inside of her cheek and stepped out of the garden, "I think we've done enough for today. Cloud will be worried about us."

It was a weak excuse, but Tifa knew that if she didn't leave the church immediately, she might never be able to. As she took hold of Marlene's small, slender hand, she tried not to inhale too deeply. Only when she was outside the church's doors did she allow herself to breathe freely. Yet, the scent still clung to her - her shirt was saturated with it.

It was her scent. Aerith's. And there was no mistaking it.