Aerith woke up. She couldn't remember falling asleep, so perplexity furrowed along her brow. Tired greens took in the ruined room. Mateus was nowhere to be seen. The embrace and conversation they had shared couldn't have been a dream. The pain was small now, but still throbbed in her abdomen. He must've left for something or other - Chaos business, or whatever you'd call it. He had to keep up appearances, as she did. If any of their allies found out about this thing they shared... No, she wouldn't think of the consequences. There was nothing shameful about it.
Sitting up should've been an Olympic sport. A deep groan accompanied every small movement, and even still once she was sitting properly. She felt heavy, that same underwater feel cascading over her. A moment was taken. With a couple deep breaths, the last being held, she finally pulled herself to her feet. Legs felt like jelly, so she opted to taking baby steps. Slowly, she moved out of the room, hand to the wall as both guide and walking aide. Little by little, she made it to the throne room where Firion was last seen. There was only evidence of that horrifying fight left. No person was waiting for her.
With a frown, she ascended along the ramp, boots skidding against red carpet. With a sharp gasp, she found herself against the throne. A glance behind told her the rug had come somewhat loose and decided to trip her. At least she didn't hit the ground.
Eyes closed, gravity was allowed to pull her down. She rested in the throne, arms splayed across one of the armrests, head resting upon them. It was troublesome to move the small distance she had.
Time sped away from her. She didn't know how long she had been sitting in that throne, wondering how Firion was doing;If he was even alive. What of Mateus? Would he be back soon? It was lonely without him. She didn't like this time alone. It gave her reason to think over everything that had happened and what might occur. It was frightening and something she didn't want to face until it smacked her. For now, why couldn't she just live in the present? Happy with her enemy.
A sigh escaped pink lips and she sat up. Slowly, knees were drawn to her chest. Her wound stung just a little bit from the small action, but it wasn't enough to persuade her to choose a differen't pose. Images tugged at the back of her head, ones she hardly recognized. Head leaned back against the throne, and then found itself on top of her knees.
She tasted blood.
Lips parted, a hot stream sliding out the corner of her mouth. As she fell back, arms collected her, holding her near. She could hear voices, but words weren't very clear. Her vision was going, but she could make out the slender neck of her Emperor. The very weight of his wordless voice crushed her heart. Heartbreak, anger, and confusion.
It was hard to breathe, air coming and going in shallow huffs. Still, she was held closer, crushed into his strong chest. Everything felt so distant. She couldn't hear his voice now. The only thing constant was his scent. Some sort of incense coated every strand of gold hair. Strength losing her, a single word and image stood out in her mind's eye, Gardenia...
Gasping sharply, Aerith's eyes snapped open. She looked up, around, and forward. Still, she was alone. Had she been asleep? What a horrible nightmare.
Looking to the source, Mateus stood in the exact center of the doorway. Immediately, she relaxed, breathing a soft, "Mateus..." With a bit more strength, she swiftly added, "I didn't see you when I woke up. I thought I'd try walking but I got tired."
Careful heeled clicks carried him to where she sat, nestled in that throne and looking far smaller than she was. He didn't say anything, but the concern was obvious behind his usually collected countenance. Long fingers ran through her hair. Her eyes squinted, then closed. She relaxed heavily under his ministrations, allowing him every access to her head.
"Where did... you go?"
"I was summoned to Chaos' throne. T'was nothing of import." He certainly said that quickly. Aerith sat up and gave him a look, expecting more. He looked away, fingers relinquishing their hold on chestnut locks. "We should leave this place. We've lingered too long."
A knot formed in her stomach. Taking his outstretched hand, she got to her feet. "You're not telling me something important." He didn't say a word.
With his help, they left the Chaos Shrine behind them. All the while, Aerith tried putting the pieces together. What had happened was probably the consequences she hadn't wanted to worry about. Because of Kefka's death, Mateus was now in hot water. Killing a fellow warrior didn't sit well with Chaos. Now, they were on the run, to protect himself and her. What she didn't know was they were running to solely protect her.