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Title: Sephiroth a Jenova
Fandom: FFVII
Pairings: past Hojo/Sephiroth, future Cloud/Sephiroth
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Huge consent issues

Cloud looked down at the scarlet-clad warrior he’d just defeated, feeling an unaccustomed hesitance at the idea of killing him. Normally he wouldn’t feel the slightest doubt, would just kill him and start trying to make his way up the mountain of glass and ice, but after meeting Sephiroth he couldn’t keep from fearing that this man was another slave. He couldn’t afford the energy to check that suspicion though, not when he didn’t know what further trials he might face. Maybe he could do that later, after he’d freed Sephiroth and destroyed the silver demon.

He disarmed the man, throwing the weapons as far away as he could, then removed his boots, tossing them in the same direction. He had enough rope to hogtie his opponent, and it wouldn’t really help him climb the mountain after all. Good job he came from mountain country then, and the ice wasn’t quite as good an idea as Hojo-sensei probably thought it was. He took a deep breath and turned to the mountain, looking for the best way up and planning out a couple of alternate routes and points where he could switch between them before beginning to climb.

The climb was actually pretty easy for him - he barely needed any of the small magics of his childhood - but then he had to get into the building on top of the mountain. It was small, and windowless, but at least there was a door. But the Star Queen’s aura swamped the building so much that he couldn’t really tell anything specific, and maybe she had devoted a portion of her attention to monitoring it. Could he risk calling on the Star Lady to help him sense any traps? If he called the right way, just opened himself to her rather than specifically invoking her then he thought he could.

He matched deed to thought, and examined the door visually while he waited to see if the Star Lady would grant him her aid in this. She did, and he was oddly appalled by the carelessness Hojo-sensei had shown at the last - there were no traps at all. Not on the building anyway, and it was a strange relief to open the door to find a curtain of flames encircling the point where he knew the focus had to be.

This really wasn’t what he’d expected of the focus that bound the declared child of a goddess into slavery. It was a dried, oddly shaped piece of meat with a cord looking a bit like dried gut coming from it, and yet he could feel the Star Lady’s approval in his skin. If not for that he might have wondered if Hojo-sensei had created a very elaborate decoy to hide the real focus of those spells from him. He knew flesh and blood made for the very best foci, but the vast majority of such things were deeply evil, enough to cripple their victims, or taint them as well as their users, and Sephiroth had neither been injured, nor tainted from such workings.

And now he could feel the Star Lady’s amusement, why...oh! He felt her bring up the memories of Sephiroth’s dreams of a distant past, where he was a woman, who died shortly after giving birth to a son. Cloud felt his cheeks heating at the thought - that wasn’t something that would have occurred to him, but it fitted the legends of how the Star Lady came into existence. Enough wool-gathering. He needed to destroy this thing - but how? This wasn’t something he’d really studied that much - could it affect Sephiroth if he chose the wrong method? It wouldn’t with a normal focus...and it wouldn’t with this. According to the Star Lady anyway, but he couldn’t do anything other than trust her.

Fire, as intense as he could manage. He needed to reduce the focus to ashes. A jewel or glass bauble he could simply shatter. And had the focus been metal he could have simply melted it. But for this he needed ashes, and so he called up the fire that lay at the heart of the stars, holding it in his hands and feeding it into the focus. And now it was as difficult as he’d expected. He could feel the magics imbued in the focus twisting around him, trying to find something to latch on to, but he blocked and ignored them, searching down the bits that fell onto the pedestal, or to the floor, unburned. He needed to be absolutely certain so when he could see no more pieces, he lowered his mental wardings enough to cast a sensing spell to find any that remained.

That was a mistake, and Cloud raised his wardings the moment he sensed those writhing magics trying to lock onto him. But they’d seemed to be dying down, and he gave it a slow count of 500 before cautiously checking again. The magics seemed to have dissipated, and a swift sensing spell confirmed that he’d found and destroyed all the pieces of the focus - whatever it might have been to start. Thankfully. He thought he might have enough energy to check if that scarlet warrior was under a slavery spell, but not to create more starfire by himself, and he had the feeling that the Star Lady would not be able to offer him more than the information and almost passive assistance she’d provided to date.

oo08080oo


Sephiroth’s hands clenched in response to the pain washing over him and he shut his eyes against the flood of memories washing through his mind. It was worse than any other pain he could remember, more than physical, as if something was grasping and twisting his very soul. When it finally faded he could feel a distant pain in his right hand, insignificant compared to what he’d just endured but very real, and Sephiroth focused on that, trying to feel his own body again. Eventually he felt enough of a connection that he could open his eyes, and he looked down at his needlework with a sense of dismay.

He’d ripped it when he clenched his fists, destroying almost three months of work. It was his dragon, not one of the pieces Hojo-sensei had commanded him to make, but that made its destruction hurt even more - it felt almost as if he’d destroyed a piece of himself. He slowly forced his hands open, and hissed softly when he saw the blood staining his work where he’d broken the needle and driven the broken pieces into his hand.

He set his needlework aside, planning to see if he could salvage any of it later, and pushed himself to his feet, careful not to put any pressure on his right hand. Then he bent to pick up the basket of his hair, and realised that his regained memories hadn’t changed him at all - or at least he didn’t think they had. Now wasn’t the time for those concerns - he needed to take care of his hand, and then he could try to work out what had just happened and what it had done to him.

It wasn’t far to the room with the few medical supplies Hojo-sensei felt he needed in the tower, and since he’d managed to avoid pushing the broken needle further into his hand it was a simple matter of pulling them out with tweezers. That started his hand bleeding again, and he swabbed the holes with vodka before rubbing ointment on and wrapping his hand - albeit a little clumsily. But it didn’t have to be perfect - it just had to last a few hours for his flesh to heal over properly, instead of around the needle.

He couldn’t face his ruined work just yet, so Sephiroth moved to his bedroom and lay down, placing the basket with his hair by his side as he stretched out and shut his eyes. He needed to find out just what his new memories were of, and try to work out how they’d affected him. He didn’t feel as if regaining a number of memories had affected his feelings or personality at all, but would he really notice? And if they hadn’t changed him, why not? He didn’t think a spell that had finished could still work to preserve its effects.

He began sorting through his memories, trying to find the newer ones - but that wasn’t right was it, these memories couldn’t be really new, just unfamiliar to him, and so he shifted the focus of his search slightly before achieving success. He remembered going through the motions of a...sword drill? Yes, that’s what it was called. And the memory was layered, with the implication of doing the same drill so many times that all the memories had combined into one. That probably explained why there was no emotional aspect to the memory as well. Did any of those memories have an emotional context to them? Or anything beyond pure development and refinement of skills? He couldn’t tell from the outside, but every ‘new’ memory he checked until it grew dark outside was as devoid of feeling as the first.

He should probably eat whether he felt like it or not, or he’d regret it later, and he stood, taking the basket of his hair with him as he went down to the kitchen to order his meal. It only occurred to him to wonder if he still needed to drag his hair around with him when he reached his work room, and he decided that the easiest test would be to try to braid it - if he couldn’t do that he certainly wouldn’t have the option of cutting it, and he’d need the braided ‘rope’ to get out of the tower if he was truly free.

He couldn’t imagine what he would do if that was the case, but it was a nice thought, and while he brushed out his hair he let himself imagine having the option of refusing to lie with Hojo-sensei, or being free to offer himself to his saviour, the knight-adept Cloud. Except...would he even want Sephiroth? He’d been so good about making sure Sephiroth felt safe when he stayed the night after Sephiroth had offered what little help he could with Cloud’s quest, but had that been his sense of honour, or simply a lack of interest?

He hoped it was Cloud’s honour; that the dreams he’d had since meeting his saviour might someday become more than just dreams. He let himself remember some of the better dreams, about Cloud pushing him down to the bed, kissing him, and touching him, while encouraging Sephiroth to touch him back. He’d never wanted to touch Hojo-sensei back, and that line of thought was enough to jolt him out of his almost meditative state. Why was he thinking about that now? He’d never been able to really think about how much he hated those visits, the ones where Hojo-sensei stayed overnight and took his pleasure in Sephiroth’s body. He put that little mystery out of his mind and split his hair into three sections in preparation for braiding it.

He hadn’t suffered thus far, but then this was no further than he’d been permitted to act even before he’d regained so many memories. It was stupid to brace himself against anticipated pain, but Sephiroth did so anyway as he brought the left section over the middle section. It didn’t hurt, and he relaxed a little as he brought the right section of his hair over the new middle section, leaving himself unprepared for the pain that flared in his hands, spreading to his wrists and starting to move down his arms from there until he let go of his hair and finger-combed his efforts out.

He put his hands in his lap, letting them relax as he recovered from the pain, and looked down at them with a soft, bitter, laugh. He should have known better than to try that. The rules about his hair were enforced by the day to day spells, the ones that were tied only to him, and couldn’t have been affected by a change in masters or by the destruction of that secondary focus. He wished he could find out for himself which of the spells cast on him were still in effect but the spell Cloud had used to detect them in the first place was like nothing in his experience. Or was it? Could he have learned about it before the spells that had made him what he was now?

Probably not. All the new spells that he remembered how to use seemed to be battle spells, to go with the household and personal grooming spells he’d learned after being shut in here. Even if he had known a spell like that...Cloud had seemed to have problems interpreting the results, and Sephiroth knew that he understood far less about spellcraft than the knight-adept did. Should he think more respectfully about Cloud? He was certain that he belonged to the knight-adept now, even if he didn’t know why he was so sure of that. It would probably be best to wait and see how his new master wanted to be addressed, in case he had specific requirements.

oo08080oo


Cloud wished he didn’t have to come back here, that Sephiroth had been able to leave when Cloud destroyed the focus keeping him a slave. But the spells on Sephiroth’s hair, limiting what he could do with it, weren’t tied to anything but him. And that meant Sephiroth probably wouldn’t be able to leave the tower without Cloud to help him. The Star Lady seemed to agree, and Cloud had the sense that she attached a lot more importance to his failure in keeping his wards up while destroying the focus than he was comfortable with.

“Sephiroth a Jenova.” He didn’t bother calling up with more than the simple name. And it only took a few moments for Sephiroth’s hair to come tumbling down the wall for him. He didn’t expect Sephiroth’s reaction when he got into the tower though - as soon as he let go of his hair Sephiroth was on his knees, bowing to him, without even taking the time to collect his hair.

“Master.”

“Sephiroth?” What was that about? Cloud took a stumbling step backwards in shock. “Please, get up. Why do you think...that I’m your master?”

“Because I can acknowledge that I always hated sharing my bed with Hojo-sensei, my previous master, and that I wanted you to do more than merely sleep in my bed the night you shared it with me. I...if I was free what would I do? Wouldn’t I have some idea of that if I was anything but a slave still? Please, if you doubt that I am yours then check. Find out what spells remained after you succeeded in your quest.”

“Yes, that would be a good idea.” See how badly he’d messed up by letting his warding fall too soon. “Sit down then. Please.” Sephiroth obeyed at once, and Cloud cupped his hand against the other man’s cheek, letting his magic interact with the magic that still veiled Sephiroth’s own core. The ‘minor’ spells, tied only to Sephiroth remained, as Cloud had expected, but they were changed slightly, open to his manipulation as they hadn’t been before. He’d missed something last time - he didn’t know what he’d missed, but it had probably been important. At least Aeris would have recorded the results from his last scan so she could help him work out what he’d missed. And he’d be able to suppress these spells for a while - a good thing, since Sephiroth was right; lowering his wardings had maybe turned him into the secondary focus for the slavery spell-set and certainly identified him as Sephiroth’s master.

“You’re right.” He stepped back, feeling an odd reluctance to stop touching Sephiroth. “You’d best brush your hair out and braid it. Even if you want me to cut it short I’d rather not leave it behind when we leave here - tomorrow.” He’d rather leave right now, but it was late enough for that to be a bad idea.

“You’re giving me the choice?” That looked like real shock on Sephiroth’s face, then he blushed and bowed his head. “Please, forgive me, I didn’t mean to doubt you.”

“I’m not angry. You’re allowed to ask questions unless we’re in a fight or similar situation. And it’s your hair, so you have the right to decide how you wear it.” It would be hard for Sephiroth to travel with his hair like this, but Cloud wouldn’t deny him the chance to try. “I don’t dare try breaking the spells tied just to you until someone with more experience has a look at them.”

“As you wish. Might I have some time to think about what I want to do with my hair?” Sephiroth had started drawing it up before he spoke. “And...how should I address you?”

“I’d like an answer before we go to bed. And you can call me Cloud, or is you’d feel more comfortable addressing me formally Sir Cloud, or Sir Adept are both equally acceptable.” Sephiroth needed to know the formalities anyway since Cloud would have to report in open court, and Zack or Aeris might well want Sephiroth there to answer any questions that Cloud couldn’t. “I’m very close to the Prince - who is the Earth Lady’s consort. Until he says otherwise you’ll need to address Zack as either Your Highness or Prince Zack. And you’ll need to address Aeris as either Your Divinity, or Earth Lady. Also, you can’t use the name a Jenova, not anymore.” He shouldn’t have been using it to start with, not given what Cloud could deduce about his history unless adoptions among the goddesses worked very differently than those among mere mortals.

“Oh, right of course. Hojo-sensei often reminded me that the only reason he let me claim a mother was that no-one would be interacting with me who did not already know what I was.” Sephiroth glanced up from under lowered lashes with a flirtatious smile. “So, Sephiroth ne Cloud then?”

“I’d rather not. You haven’t committed some terrible crime, and there’s a chance Aeris can find a way to truly free you. But no woman has ever been called Jenova, only the Star Queen carries that name. She’s killed any woman who dares name her daughter so, and the infant as well if she is not renamed within the day.”

“And you wish to keep my ancestry quiet. As you wish Sir Cloud. What name should I use instead then?” The absolute trust in Sephiroth’s voice, and near adoration showing on his face made Cloud want to shiver, but he couldn’t let his unease show.

“There’s two real options. The Star Queen has never truly taken a mortal form for more than a few days, or there would be tales of that. The legends about the Star Lady’s origin are that she was once a mortal woman named Lucrecia - and that’s all we know of her name - who served as the Star Queen’s avatar in some form while bearing a child. That would make you Sephiroth e Lucrecia. Or if you’d rather it would be legitimate for you to carry the name of a foundling taken in by someone affiliated with the Star Queen - Sephiroth le Star. I’m not comfortable naming you as mine in any way just yet, but later, if you still wish to carry my name when I qualify as a knight-magus, we can talk about you becoming my consort.” He’d have to study more with magic now, and that would give Sephiroth time to decide what he wanted and make a free choice, not a coerced one, even if the coercion was indirect and not of Cloud’s doing.

“I...you’re considering keeping me?” Why was Sephiroth so surprised by that - surely he knew how beautiful he was, and how powerful, even with that power-tap still in place. And Cloud should have recognised the additional power available to him earlier, except he hadn’t needed to use his magic after he’d recovered from destroying the secondary focus.

“So long as you want me to keep you, and those I must answer to approve.” He didn’t understand why the Star Lady’s pleasure was humming along his bones at his words, but it meant that she probably wouldn’t object if he claimed Sephiroth as his consort, which only left Zack and Aeris who could deny his choice.

“Please, Cloud, I want to be yours.” Sephiroth put his brush down and slid to his knees as he pleaded, one hand coming to rest on Cloud’s ankle. “I don’t want to be free, can’t imagine being free, and I’ve dreamed of being yours for as long as I can remember.”

“Sephiroth, get up please.” He wasn’t going to say anything else with Sephiroth in such a supplicating position, and he seemed to get the message before Cloud’s patience ran out, standing with a natural grace, keeping his head bowed throughout. “You’re beautiful, and yes, I want you.” More than he should, and he suspected the Star Lady had something to do with that - at least he hoped it was her doing. “But I can’t be certain you really want me, that it isn’t an artefact of the slavery spell-set until the Earth Lady examines the spells that remain on you herself.” He simply didn’t have the training or the experience to recognise more than the core and power-tap spells in the slavery spell-set. “And we really don’t know if we could live with each other.” He was a court knight, and he might end up as a temple knight, but either way they wouldn’t have the space to really avoid each other if he named Sephiroth his consort, then found he had problems with him.

“Then you’ll take me to bed with you once you are certain I want it?” Sephiroth glanced up, an expression of such hope on his face that Cloud couldn’t refuse him. Not that he really wanted to.

“Yes, I will, I promise.” He could offer a kiss without taking advantage of Sephiroth and he stretched up on his toes to do so, stroking his cheek as he pulled away. “Take care of your hair, then pack a small bag with the things you absolutely can’t live without. Remember you’ll have to carry it for three days, all day, so don’t make it too heavy or too large.” He hadn’t dared bring his horse here, not when there was nowhere to leave him safely at the tower and he’d been able to secure stabling and fodder for him at the last village. He wouldn’t be able to get another horse there, but they could use Darken as a packhorse until they got somewhere he could buy a horse for Sephiroth.

“Yes Cloud.” Sephiroth sat down and picked up his brush again. “Could you give me some advice on what to pack?”

“Clothes, and extra socks. If you have any money or jewellery in here you might want to pack that. I’ve got food so you don’t need to worry about that - or water, although I’ll need to refill my canteens before we leave. If you want to pack your hairbrush or toiletries you can, but you won’t have the time to tend to your hair properly while we’re travelling, and I can buy you soap and that sort of thing when you need it.” He’d packed far less than he could carry, even with the extra canteens - and Sephiroth would be leaving his whole life behind him now. “You should definitely pack all the needles and pins you can find, and if you want to pack a smaller bag with things you’d like to bring, but don’t think you can carry, I might be able to carry that for you.”

“Thank you Cloud. Ah...would you be willing to cut my hair to my waist instead of cutting it right off?”

“Of course, if that’s what you want. Why don’t you tie your braid off at the length you’d like, leave a bit of space then tie it again before you braid the rest?”

“Yes sir.” Sephiroth glanced up with a smile and began working on his braid, without showing any hesitation, or sign of pain. That was what Cloud had been waiting for, and he let himself relax, moving to sit down. “Sir Cloud?”

“Yes Sephiroth?” He was careful not to let Sephiroth see how much that formal deference bothered him.

“I think I’d rather be Sephiroth le Star than e Lucrecia.”

“Then that’s how I’ll present you to Zack and Aeris.”

Good to see another chapter.

Date: 2010-02-10 01:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] skeptic7.livejournal.com
I am glad that you are continuing this. What does the powertap do to Sephiroth? Are you going to have the rest of the spells broken?

Re: Good to see another chapter.

Date: 2010-02-10 03:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jessara40k.livejournal.com
I'm afraid this is actually the last chapter, although I might write an epilogue showing how Cloud takes Sephiroth as his consort. The powertap limits how much magic Sephiroth can use, leaving the larger part of his power available for his master's use. It's the main reason Cloud doesn't want to risk messing with the slavery spell-set himself.

The minor, daily spells, will be pretty easy for cloud to break himself; he just wants to wait until he has a more experienced magic user to guide him through it. The slavery spell-set is something they're going to need Aeris to deal with, but Cloud wants it broken, although Sephiroth is a bit ambivalent about the idea.

Re: Good to see another chapter.

Date: 2010-02-11 03:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] skeptic7.livejournal.com
You can't stop here! I can't imagine the rest of the story without more input. What is a "knight-adept", a "knight-magus"? Why would Cloud assume that he would be living at court or a temple instead of a house some where. Is slavery normal among magic users? Isn't someone going to track Hojo down and find out what he was up to?

What does Cloud normally do for Aeris and Zack when he isn't looking for hidden towers? what does Sephiroth know about the outside world? What does the outside world think of him?

Re: Good to see another chapter.

Date: 2010-02-11 08:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jessara40k.livejournal.com
I only intended to write a version of Rapunzel (I feel a bit guilty about making Sephiroth so helpless when he's such a strong character in canon and I've put him into the role of a woman who actually rescued herself and survived years in a desert) but maybe I'll come up with some ideas for sequels in the future.

A "knight-adept" or a "knight-magus" is a knight with more training in using magic than a knight-initiate - who really knows just enough to use it in combat and avoid hurting himself and/or the people around him with his lack of control as a knight-novice could. The knights who can't use magic at all don't have that sort of clear delineation of skill level in how they are addressed and referred to.

Cloud doesn't have lands of his own, which makes him a court or temple knight, dependent on having a sponsor, and he doesn't quite realise that Zack and Aeris are just waiting for a good reason to reward him with enough lands to be secure.

Slavery spell-sets are normally used on demons and elementals, and they're only used by sorcerors like Hojo - in other words evil magic users. A good magic user who isn't a knight is called a wizard, and wizards sometimes use powertaps, but only on volunteers or very rarely as a punitive measure on a sorceror who hasn't committed enough crmes to deserve death.

In this AU Hojo is an immensely powerful and dangerous sorceror, because he's so greatly favoured by Jenova, who is one of, if not the most powerful of the Queens, so I don't know if Zack and Aeris would consider it worth the risk of starting a hunt for him. Especially since Cloud had left their lands in search of the source of the silver demon, and he found Sephiroth in ungoverned lands.

Cloud is pretty much a roving troubleshooter; he goes wherever Zack or Aeris sends him and does whatever they need doing.

Sephiroth knows nothing of the world outside his tower, and people are probably going to see him the way he presents himself - as a concubine.

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