"Young, beautiful, and somewhat mysterious, Aeris met Cloud while selling flowers on the streets of Midgar..." —Description
Aerith Gainsborough, alternately known with the first name Aeris, and other times with the surname Gainborough, or Gainsbourg, is a playable character in Final Fantasy VII and a major character in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII; appearing in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- and Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII-. She is the last of the Cetra, an ancient race with powerful magical abilities, and so the Shinra Electric Power Company hunts her throughout her life seeking to exploit her powers. Aerith is portrayed as an independent, outgoing and kind young woman who displays an intuitive understanding of others and is deeply in-tune with nature. During Final Fantasy VII, she is part of a love triangle of two women who are in love with Cloud Strife.
In Final FantasyEdit
Appearance and PersonallityEdit
In Final Fantasy VII, Aerith wears a shin-length pink dress that buttons up with the front and a red bolero jacket. She wears brown boots and metal bracers on her wrists and around the edges of her jacket sleeves. In all her appearances Aerith's hair is drawn back in a thick plait with a large pink ribbon; within the ribbon she keeps the White Materia orb given to her by her mother.
Her segmented bangs frame her face and she has emerald green eyes. Aerith wears the same basic attire in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children with new details to her jacket, giving her two pockets on the breast and replacing the metal bands on the sleeves with leather belts. This is how Aerith appears in most of her spin-off appearances.In Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-, Aerith wears a blue and white dress with a red camisole underneath and white wedge sandals with pink straps. During their first date Zack Fair buys her the iconic pink hair ribbon, and later suggests Aerith continue to wear pink, likely prompting her wardrobe change to what is seen in Final Fantasy VII. In Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII- Aerith wears a pink, white and red top tied around the neck with buttons up the front, and a frilly white and green skirt. In Kingdom Hearts, Aerith wears a variation of her original Final Fantasy VII attire, abandoning the jacket and bracers, instead wearing a series of metal bracelets on one arm. She also wears a thick bright blue belt. Her outfit in Kingdom Hearts II is based on her Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII- outfit, but her skirt is pink.
Aerith is upbeat and joyful, and several times in Final Fantasy VII attempts to cheer up her fellow party members. As she was raised in the Midgar Slums, Aerith maintains that she can take care of herself, and is capable of fighting off Shinra troops, as well as demonstrating more subtle forms of savvy. When Aerith has made up her mind about something, she will not listen to anyone who tells her otherwise. Aerith and Tifa can often be found spending time together when the party splits up and are good friends.
As a child, Aerith was reluctant to accept her Cetra heritage, and in Final Fantasy VII she admits to Cloud she considers herself alone, as she is the only remaining Cetra. She exhibits strange personality quirks at times, such as being afraid of the sky in Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-, and claiming she can "hear the wind calling her" in Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII-. These traits may be influenced by her Cetra heritage allowing her to communicate with the Planet.
Aerith was born to Ifalna and Professor Gast Faremis in Icicle Inn on February 7th, 1985, making her half-human and half-Cetra. When she was barely twenty days old Professor Hojo tracked Gast down, killed him, and captured Ifalna and Aerith. The two became subject to numerous experiments at the hands of Hojo and Shinra as they researched the Cetra.
Seven years later, in 1992, Ifalna and Aerith escaped the Shinra Headquarters, but Ifalna was wounded and only made it as far as the train platform in the slums under Sector 7 before she collapsed. Elmyra was there to wait for her husband's return from the Wutai War and before passing, Ifalna asked her to keep Aerith safe and so Elmyra brought Aerith home with her.
For years Elmyra raised Aerith alone as her adopted daughter in the slums of Sector 5. Shinra relocated her, and Tseng of the Turks, who considered Aerith a friend, attempted to persuade her to join Shinra willingly instead of capturing her, but Aerith refused. At the time, the Wutai War was still waging and ate up most of Shinra's resources, which meant that the Neo Midgar project - the project Shinra primarily wanted Aerith for - was put on hold. As Aerith grew up she continued to hear the Planet speaking to her, and although she was reluctant to admit it, she was aware of her heritage as a Cetra and tried hard to hide it.
Aerith spent a great deal of time in the Sector 5 Church. Due to the Mako Reactors draining the life out of Midgar and the surrounding areas, little could grow in the area. Regardless, Aerith cultivated a flower patch out of the dirt under the church's floorboards.
Crisis Core/Before CrisisEdit
"I have twenty-three tiny wishes, but you probably won't remember them all, so I put them all together into one... I'd like to spend more time with you."
—Aerith's Note to Zack
In 0000, a fifteen-year-old Aerith first meets Zack Fair when he falls into the church from the Sector 5 Reactor. When he awakens, Zack mistakes being in heaven and Aerith as an angel, but she quickly corrects him. As a repayment for saving him, Zack suggests a date, but Aerith brushes him off. She shows him around, and Zack buys Aerith her trademark pink hair ribbon. The two go to the Sector 6 park and Aerith tells Zack she is afraid of SOLDIER members, as they frighten her for being experiments who love to fight. Zack says he is from SOLDIER, and she apologizes. Tseng calls Zack back to the Shinra Headquarters, but he promises to see Aerith again.
Aerith and Zack continue to speak frequently over his cellphone and see each other for the next two years, and after Angeal's death, Zack returns to the church and Aerith holds him as he cries. Zack suggests that Aerith sell flowers to make money, as flowers are a luxury item in Midgar and constructs flower carts for her. The two head out to the slums to sell flowers, but it does not go well. Aerith asks Zack for "a few tiny wishes", and Zack has her write them down for him on a piece of paper. This is the last time the two would see each other, as later that day Zack is dispatched to Nibelheim with Sephiroth. In the years after Aerith overcomes her fears and ventures above the plate to sell flowers.
In Episode 6 of Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII- Aerith sells flowers to Rude when he goes on his date with Chelsea. In Episode 11, on August 9th, 0002, the player Turk meets Aerith coming out of her house, surprised by the blooming flowers. Aerith tells the Turk she wishes to leave Midgar to see the world, as she can hear the wind calling to her. AVALANCHE arrives searching for her, and the player Turk helps Aerith evade them.
Shears defeats the player Turk and Aerith is taken to the church to meet the leader of AVALANCHE, Elfé. Elfé tells Aerith AVALANCHE wants to bring down Shinra and protect the Promised Land, and it would be in her best interests to ally with them. Aerith hears an "old voice" coming from Elfé, inadvertently leading to the discovery of the Turk spying on them from the rafters. After the Turk battles Shears and Fuhito, Elfé is stricken by a sudden weakness, and AVALANCHE retreats. Tseng arrives and the Turk allows Aerith to flee while they distract him.
When Zack escapes Shinra custody years later, the final Angeal Copy who was left watching over Aerith when Zack left Midgar, leaves behind a letter from Aerith as it fades. As Zack reads it he finds out Aerith has been doing well selling flowers in Midgar, and during the four years he has been gone she has written Zack eighty-nine letters, though he never receives the rest of them. Tseng has the letters and sends the Turks to find Zack before the Shinra army so they can save him and deliver them, but the Turks ultimately fail.
Aerith tends the flowers in the church, while, outside Midgar, Zack is gunned down by Shinra forces. She looks up and clasps her hands. Although in Final Fantasy VII Aerith states she is unaware of Zack's fate, it can be speculated that the final scenes in Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- have retconned this to her sensing his demise.
Final Fantasy VIIEdit
On December 9, 0007, Aeris meets Cloud as he flees from the bombing of the Sector 1 Reactor. Cloud has the option to warn her to get to safety, buy a flower from her, or blow her off. Later, after a failed attack on the Sector 5 Reactor, Cloud falls into the church and wakes up on the flower bed.
Reno of the Turks comes to apprehend Aeris who asks Cloud to become her bodyguard, offering him a date as payment. Cloud helps Aeris escape and takes her home, but sneaks out during the night to return to Sector 7 alone. Aeris heads him off and Cloud agrees to bring her along. Taking a break in the Sector 6 playground, the pair see Tifa on a chocobo cart, and assume Don Corneo has kidnapped her.
Through an idea of Aeris, she and a crossdressed Cloud infiltrate the Don's mansion and try to rescue Tifa, who reveals she did not need rescuing and was trying to get information on Shinra from Don Corneo. Don Corneo tells them Shinra has learned where AVALANCHE's base of operations is, and is planning to drop the plate covering the sector to destroy the entire area. The party's attempts to stop Shinra fail, and Aeris is captured by Tseng while taking Barret's daughter Marlene to safety.
Cloud, Tifa and Barret attempt to rescue her from the Shinra Headquarters, but are captured themselves. Aeris's heritage is made known to them, and during their captivity, Sephiroth manifests through Jenova's remains to attack Shinra, and the group is freed from their cells in the process. Traveling with Cloud and his friends as they pursue Sephiroth, Aeris becomes close to them. In Gongaga the party runs into Zack's parents who haven't heard of him for years and Aeris reveals she used to be his girlfriend. Following a visit to Cosmo Canyon, she fully comes to terms with her powers and duties as the last Cetra, although the knowledge of her task makes her feel more alone. In Gold Saucer Aeris is one of the possible date options for Cloud, and if the two go out she talks about how much Cloud resembles Zack, but as she has got to know him better she has realised he is different as well.
The party tracks Sephiroth to the Temple of the Ancients, and Aeris uses her Cetra powers to help decipher the temple's mysteries and find the inner chamber. Sephiroth reveals his plan to use the Black Materia to call Meteor, the ultimate Black Magic. The temple itself transforms into the Black Materia, but Sephiroth manipulates Cloud into giving it to him. When Aeris attempts to stop Cloud, he attacks her and is knocked out by a party member. While he is unconscious Aeris contacts Cloud in a dream, and tells him that as the last Cetra only she can stop Sephiroth. When Cloud awakens, Tifa and Barret tell him Aeris is gone. Cloud follows the clues she had given him in the dream to the Forgotten Capital.
In a temple underneath the city, the party finds Aeris praying on an altar. As Cloud approaches her Sephiroth attempts to take control of him to make him kill her, but Cloud resists him. As Aeris finishes praying and lifts her head to see Cloud, Sephiroth, still using Jenova's body as a vessel transformed into his likeness, descends from the ceiling and impales her with the Masamune. Aeris collapses into Cloud's arms as her hair ribbon unravels, the White Materia bouncing off the altar into the water below. Enraged, Cloud turns on Sephiroth, who detaches a part of Jenova's body to fight Cloud, transforming it into Jenova∙LIFE. After Jenova∙LIFE is dispatched and the party pays their respects to Aeris, Cloud carries her to the pool of water in the center of the city and lays her body to rest beneath the water. Reeve later brings the news of her death to Elmyra Gainsborough and consoles her.
Aeris was praying for Holy, the ultimate White Magic to defend against Meteor, called by the White Materia she wore in her hair. The party learns Aeris had succeeded in calling it just prior to her demise, but Sephiroth is blocking its power. After Sephiroth is defeated, Holy is released but by this time, the Meteor has fallen too close and Holy's energy is unfocused by its gravity. Within the Lifestream, Aeris commands it to emerge from the Planet and push Meteor back. This gives Holy the room and time it needs to fully focus its energy, and in January of 0008, Holy and the Lifestream destroy Meteor and save the Planet.
Aerith's role in the Lifestream fending off Meteor is expanded in the novella Hoshi wo Meguru Otome, which depicts Aerith in the Lifestream immediately after her death helping to fight Sephiroth's influence over it as well as consoling other dead characters from the game. She reunites with Zack, whom she is surprised to learn is dead, and helps Tifa and Cloud when they fall into the Lifestream and into Cloud's Subconscious. When Holy fails to defeat Meteor, Aerith commands the Lifestream to push it back and help Holy destroy it.
Aerith is the central character in the On the Way to a Smile novella "Case of the Lifestream - White". As Sephiroth avoids dissolution and spreads Geostigma using the Lifestream tainted with his memories, Aerith tries to help heal the spirits of the dead and contain the damage being done to the Lifestream. Despite the help of the spirits of other Cetra, those infected with Geostigma die faster than Aerith can heal their spirits, so she resolves to try and contact Cloud and stop the infection on the Planet itself. Aerith considers creating avatars similar to Sephiroth, however, she decides against this as she would rather meet Cloud as he remembers her.
Final Fantasy VII: Advent ChildrenEdit
"I never blamed you. Not once. You came for me... that's all that matters."
Cloud has a vision of Aerith as she assists him in the battle against Bahamut SIN.
Aerith's appearance is first hinted at when Cloud and Tifa collapse wounded in the flowers of the Sector 5 Church - they later awaken healed. Aerith appears to Cloud in a vision as he rides to the Forgotten Capital to save the children of Edge from Kadaj. Standing behind him she questions his reasons for coming, and Cloud tells her he wants to be forgiven. When Aerith asks "by who?" Cloud turns to see her and the vision ends.
When he loses his cellphone during his fight with Kadaj and his brothers, Aerith leaves a message on it as it descends into a pool of water, assuring Cloud she never blamed him for her death. During the battle against Bahamut SIN, Cloud is consumed by Bahamut's attack, and in the midst of the fireball sees a vision of Aerith, who takes his outstretched hand and transfers enough energy to him for him to cut through Bahamut's attack and destroy it.
In the battle's aftermath Cloud pursues Kadaj and his brothers on motorcycle, eventually confronting Kadaj in the Sector 5 Church. Kadaj attacks Cloud with a blast of energy, destroying the flowerbed. Water full of energy from the Lifestream erupts in a geyser from the hole, healing Cloud of his Geostigma and sending Kadaj fleeing. Cloud follows him, and in their battle Kadaj absorbs Jenova's cells to become Sephiroth. Sephiroth covers Midgar in the corrupted Lifestream and as Marlene and Denzel watch it descend over the city, she senses Aerith's presence.
When Cloud defeats Sephiroth and he is transformed back into Kadaj, Aerith calls down healing rain over the city, healing most of the inhabitants of Geostigma. Hearing Aerith's voice and mistaking her to be his mother, Kadaj dissolves into the Lifestream. His brothers attack Cloud and the three are consumed in an explosion.
Floating in a void of white space, Cloud senses Aerith's presence and also mistakes her as his mother. She and Zack joke over people calling her that, and tell Cloud his place isn't with them yet. Cloud awakens in the water of the Sector 5 Church, and the Moogle Girl tells him "she" said to wait there and he would be back. Using the water, Cloud heals Denzel and the remaining children and the group celebrates. As Cloud surveys his friends he sees Aerith speaking to children near the entrance of the church, then walking to the light-filled doorway where Zack waits. Aerith turns and smiles assuring Cloud that "everything's alright", and she and Zack walk into the light, Cloud smiling as they fade. During the ending credits, Aerith stands among the fields of flowers as Cloud rides his motorcycle through the countryside.
In Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete, as Tifa is about to get crushed by falling foundation during the battle against Bahamut SIN, an image of Aerith about to meet her death at the hands of Sephiroth is superimposed over Tifa in Cloud's right eye. During the new ending, phones around Edge ring, and Aerith's unheard voice tells the children who answer to go to her church to be healed, confirming what was implied in the original release (that it was Aerith who directed the children there). Aerith is no longer seen on the field in the ending in Advent Children Complete during Cloud riding his motorcycle during the credits.
In Kingdom HeartsEdit
Aerith is encountered by Donald and Goofy on the first trip to Traverse Town, where she explains the nature of Ansem Reports, as well as the Keyblade to them. She had a few more appearances along with Leon and Yuffie. Later, she showed up in Hollow Bastion after Ansem, Seeker of Darkness disappeared, and spends her time studying the Heartless's research in Hollow Bastion's library. If you talk to her a multiple number of times she will give you the missing Ansem Reports that Maleficent had and Curaga, the strongest Cure spell in the game.
In a scene exclusive to Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, Aerith reveals she was aware Cloud was at Olympus Coliseum, and mentions Cloud seeking Sephiroth when she discusses the matter with Sora.
During the end credits she was seen with Leon and Yuffie inside the Hollow Bastion library, and was the first to greet Cloud when Cid returns him to their world.
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of MemoriesEdit
A memory-based version of Aerith appears in the Traverse Town floor in Castle Oblivion, along with Leon, Cid, and Yuffie. At first, she, like the other characters, expresses disbelief that she seems to know Sora despite not remembering him. After speaking with Sora one-to-one, however, she comes to realize that she is just a projection based off his memory of her. She along with Maleficent in Riku's trek through the castle, are the only ones to realize this. She tells Sora to be on his guard. However, it seems that Sora is the only one who can see her in the first place, as Donald and Goofy assume that she had gone back with Leon, Yuffie, and Cid already.
Kingdom Hearts IIEdit
Aerith is a member of the Hollow Bastion Restoration Committee. In Kingdom Hearts II, she wears a modified version of her Before Crisis outfit, though wearing a pink skirt instead of blue. She helps during the invasion of Hollow Bastion by healing Yuffie and presumably continues to aid other characters or fight against the Heartless. Aerith assisted Sora later in the game during his movement against the Master Control Program by downloading the deletion program while guarding the computer room.
In her last appearance of the game, during the ending credits, she is seen sitting on a ledge and looking up towards the Radiant Garden's sky, possibly wondering what happened to Cloud and Sephiroth after their fight at the Dark Depths (assuming the player has completed the sidequest involving them). Throughout the story she encourages Cloud to do what he must to fulfill his goals. Aerith is sure that Cloud will find his light, which will lead the way back to them.
On Sora's TeamEdit
As she and Cloud Strife join Sora on his journey thrugh other worlds, her heart touched many others like Sora does. She gets along well more with Frankie Stein, Ghoulia Yelps, Lock, Shock, and Barrel, and Tsukune Aono.