The front door creaked open. “You scoundrel!” Aeris was giggling as she walked in with Vincent, Blackfire crackling on her shoulder and Keys a quiet shadow between them. Scathach, Merlin knew, would already be perched over the door; it was the Gargoyle’s favorite spot, when she wasn’t sneaking down at night to listen as he read treatises on the theory of magic. “I knew you were hiding something since the Great Maw!”
“Hmm.” Vincent didn’t deny anything, carefully shutting the door behind them. “Will you be able to handle your new guest?”
“She’s actually very sweet,” Aeris admitted. “Though she did look a little worried when… Merlin!” Aeris beamed at him. “Guess who’s staying with us?”
Oh, dear. “Did you invite Sephiroth to tea, young lady, or merely convince Maleficent to wear something other than black and purple?” Merlin inquired.
“Oh, that would be fun.” Aeris smiled. “It’s Naminé.”
“Na – Naminé?” Merlin sputtered. Surely not!
“The little Nobody girl who helped Sora?” Archimedes arched a feathered brow. “How in the Worlds did she get here?”
“Axel brought her.” Aeris cast an amused look Vincent’s way. “And you said he didn’t know when to trust people. Although he did kind of eep when I smiled at him….”
From the carefully bland look on Vincent’s face, the sniper thought eep was a perfectly reasonable reaction to being smiled at. Especially by Aeris in a playful mood.
“Who-hoo-hoo, I’ll bet he did!” Archimedes chuckled, wings pressed to his breastbone. “He lost his Heart, not his mind!”
“It seems to have been a bit more than that.” Merlin beckoned to a few chairs as he picked up his scroll. “You’ll want to be sitting down. Oh, it’s not all bad news! Not even most of it. But it is rather odd.” He frowned. “And given we can reasonably pin most of it on Xemnas, I rather think we’ve been underestimating our enemy. That never ends well.”