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Songs of Yesterday
by The Angel of the Lion

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
George Santayana, The Life of Reason.


If nothing else is left, one must scream.
Silence is the real crime against humanity.

Nadezhda Mandelstam, Hope Against Hope.

“Who’s there?”

“It’s me,” a voice from the darkness growled.

“I’m sorry, sir. Come right in. I didn’t recognise you Commander Leonhart.”

Squall entered the front gate of Garden, his arm around Rinoa. He looked down at her, smiling and kissed the top of her head softly.

“Did you have a nice evening?”

“It was wonderful. Thank you.” She still couldn’t believe that it was quite real. Squall had always been so cold, so uncaring, and there he was taking her out for dinner at an expensive restaurant and, the most perfect part of all, a moonlit walk along the beach. She couldn’t help feeling that something was wrong.

“If you don’t mind, could you come with me to my dorm? I have…I have something I need to tell you.” Alarm bells began to ring in Rinoa’s head.

“What could he want to speak to me about? This can’t be anything good. And just to make it worse, I’ll have to tell him tonight. I’ve been putting it off for far too long. I have to do it tonight.”

“Are you alright? You don’t look too well.”

“I’m fine, she lied. Just a little tired, that’s all.” The feeling of dread began to deepen in her stomach, as she began to think. “Just how do I tell him I’m pregnant?”

“She knows. She must know. That’s why she looks so afraid. She knows what I’m going to ask. And she’s going to say no.”

He patted the top pocket of his jacket, making sure that the ring was still there, that he hadn’t lost it on the way back to Garden. He knew that he was just being foolish. He had already checked several times before, just to be sure. He was nervous. So nervous that he couldn’t bear the thought of anything ruining his plans.

“Maybe I shouldn’t do it.”

“No, I’m no coward. I’m not going to back down now. I’ve been planning this for so long.”
He took a deep breath to build up his courage, before unlocking his the door to his room.

“Rinoa, I need to tell you this,” he began in earnest.

“Hold on,” she interrupted. “I…I have something very important to tell you. It can’t wait.”

“But Rinoa, I…I love you, and I was wondering if…if…”

“Could Commander Leonhart please report to my office immediately. I repeat, could Commander Leonhart please report to my office immediately. This is urgent.” Squall sighed at the sudden interruption from the PA system, knowing that the moment was ruined, his courage ebbing slowly away from him.

“I…I guess I’d better go.” He kissed her on the forehead and turned to leave, disheartened.

“Wait, Squall.” She grabbed his trailing arm, pulling him back around to face her. “Did you mean that? Really?”

“That I love you?”

“Yes,” she whispered.

“I meant it with all my heart, you’re everything to me. I just wanted you to know.” He looked down at the floor, too embarrassed to look her in the eye. He had been saving this revelation for the moment he proposed.

“Thank you.” She threw her arms around him, kissing him deeply.

Shocked, he turned to leave.

“Oh and Squall?”


“I love you too.”

“Squall, this is an urgent request from Esthar. A group of militants is trying to overthrow the government there. They are encamped outside the city, which is where SeeD will engage them. You will command a group of almost a hundred SeeDs. We’re sending our finest fighters to back you up. Estharian forces will also be there.”

“If Esthar has its own army, why does SeeD have to be there?”

“Their army has insufficient numbers and the soldiers are not as well trained as SeeDs. Besides, President Laguna specifically requested your presence.”

Me? Why me?

“When do we leave?”


“Immediately?” Squall’s heart sank. “I won’t be able to ask her until I come back.”

“Is that a problem?”

“No. No it’s not.” He left the Headmaster’s office, taking the ring box out of his pocket. “I’m taking this with me. There’s no way I’m letting her find this. It has to be a surprise.”

“Squall. Please be careful.” Squall could see the concern in Rinoa’s eyes. She seemed truly afraid that something might happen to him.

“I’ll be fine. I can take care of myself.” He gently stroked her cheek. “Before you know it, I’ll be back here with you.”


“I promise. I’ll be here.”

She smiled, remembering the previous promise they had made in the flower field. Squall had stayed true to his word, and she had no reason to doubt him now.

“Can I tell you something before I go?” she asked, tentatively.

“Of course. What is it?”

“I…I’m…” She couldn’t do it. She couldn’t tell him. “I love you Squall.”

“I love you too.” He kissed her goodbye and stepped aboard Ragnarok.

“I will tell him. It’ll just have to wait. I have plenty of time to tell him.”

Chapter 1 Nightmare

I look inside myself and see my heart is black.
I see my red door and it has been painted black.
Maybe then I'll fade away and not have to face the facts.
It's not easy facing up when your whole world is black.

The Rolling Stones, Paint It Black.

Four Years Later:

“Rinoa, can I come in? I need to talk to you.”

“Sure Quistis. I’ll be right there.” I ran around the room trying to get changed quickly. What was so important that she had to get me out of the shower for? I stared in the mirror and was satisfied with my appearance. Well, apart from the hair. I looked like I’d been dragged through a hedge. I gave it a quick run through with my hairbrush and answered the door. “Sorry about the wait.”

“That’s alright. Please, Rinoa. Sit down.” I could see the solemn expression on Quistis’ face. I hadn’t seen her this worried in a long time. Fear began to spread through the pit of my stomach. I could sense that she would be the bearer of bad news.

“You’re scaring me now. What’s wrong? And when did you get back from your mission?” I bombarded her with so many questions, but I only wanted the answer to one. “Where’s Squall?”

“It’s Squall I came to talk to you about.” Her voice seemed deadly serious.

“He’s okay, isn’t he?” My heart was leaping in my chest and my stomach filled with a feeling of dread. “Please. Tell me what happened.”

“Squall left the battle field in pursuit of the rebel leader. We searched for days but couldn’t find either of them. All we found was this.” Quistis handed Squall’s gunblade to me, which I immediately dropped in shock and despair.

“No, Quistis. What are you trying to say?” Tears had begun to stream down my cheeks. I couldn’t control it. I knew what she was about to tell me.

“He’s dead Rinoa. He isn’t coming back.” Her words hit me like a bombshell, forcing all the life out of me. He isn’t coming back. I sat down gently on the bed, waiting for the words to sink in. No, this can’t be true. He promised. He promised me. Of course he’ll come back.

“No. No, I don’t believe you,” I screamed at her.


“I won’t believe you. Get out!”

I sat up with a start. I was breathing heavily and my sheets were drenched with sweat. That dream again. I’ve been having that dream ever since that day four years ago. I just can’t forget.

Believe me, I’ve tried. I’ve tried so damn hard. I tried to get away from everything. I left Garden, left my friends. Everything reminded me of him, and that was the last thing I wanted. I couldn’t take wandering through the halls of Garden, getting sympathetic looks from everyone I passed. I knew what they were thinking.

She’s all alone now. She has nobody, not since her boyfriend died.

I was so desperate to get away from things, I even went to live with him…my…father.

Things didn’t change though. He was still all wrapped up with his work, didn’t care about me. He didn’t even notice how ill I was becoming. I didn’t eat, didn’t sleep. I spent every night at the bar, drowning my sorrows, hoping somehow that alcohol would wash away my memories.

I knew it was a stupid thing to do, but at the time, I didn’t care what happened to me. As far as I was concerned, my life was over. I just wished I could curl up and die.

Until one day…

I’d been drinking heavily the previous night and hadn’t eaten a thing for days. As soon as I got out of bed I collapsed, waking up a few days later in hospital. And that’s when they told me…told me I’d lost my baby.

I was devastated. As if losing Squall wasn’t bad enough. But somewhere inside me, something clicked. I don’t know, maybe I saw the light. I realised what I’d been doing to myself and I vowed I’d stop it. It wasn’t what he would have wanted.

Sure, it was difficult at first. I got so many jobs, but none of them really kept me occupied. I still couldn’t take my mind of Squall, off the life we could have shared together. On a whim, I decided to visit Zone and Watts. After all, I had been meaning to return to Timber, to see what it was like liberated.

I hadn’t meant to stay, it just happened really. I enjoyed their company, I’d really missed them. They asked me to stay the night, but that night became a week. After that, I found a job. A good one. I’ve stuck with it ever since.

Right now, I’m a journalist for Timber Maniacs. I write travel articles, so I get to see the world. I guess it takes my mind off things. I just want to forget my past, act like it never happened, become a normal person again. I think I’m getting there. I just need more time.



Looking at the clock, I saw it was 7.30. Damn, I’m going to be late for work. I leap out of bed, and start my morning routine. I slip on my favourite t-shirt and pants and brush my hair. I wish I had time for a shower. I undo the clasp on my necklace and put it on carefully. Staring in the mirror, I sigh, seeing the Griever necklace clash against that given to me by my mother. I guess I’ll never escape him.

I walk over to my bed and pull out a large, metallic box from underneath it. I open it and pull out a faded photograph. Every day I look at this and it makes no difference. It makes me smile though, to see how happy we were back then. Before it happened. A photograph won’t bring him back though.

I stuff the photograph away, not wanting to be lost in my thoughts again. Checking my watch, I know it’s time to leave. I grab my bag and leave my apartment, hopefully leaving my thoughts behind too.

Chapter 2 Reflection

Life levels all men:
Death reveals the eminent.

George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman.

Diary of Quistis Trepe

2nd May

Today was a poignant day for me. It’s been four years without him. Those four years sure have dragged. I didn’t realise how much I’d miss him being around. It’s been really difficult.

That day. It was the beginning of the end for all of us really. The six of us thought we’d be there for each other always. We went through so much together, but Squall’s death? We couldn’t deal with that.

A few days afterwards, Rinoa left. She didn’t even say goodbye. I guess I can understand her wanting to leave. If I was in her position, I’m not sure if I’d want to stay in Garden. Still, I wish she’d have said goodbye. I know I was a little jealous when Squall and her fell in love, but she was my friend. I miss her. I don’t even know if she’s alright. I haven’t heard anything from her for four years. I don’t even know where she is. I visited her father’s house soon after she left, but he said she wasn’t there. Now, I’m not sure if he was telling the truth. Maybe I should try and find her. I miss her.

A few weeks later, Irvine went back to Galbadia Garden. He said that there was too much sadness here. I kind of agree with him. Selphie was broken hearted though. She’s not been the same since. It’s strange to think that she used to be bright and happy. Now, she’s forever down, and she’s become so serious about her duties at Garden. I can’t blame her. Garden is the only thing she has left.

And as for Zell. Well, Zell still lives in hope. It’s admirable really. In the beginning, we all had our hope, but now…now, that hope is dead. Zell, on the other hand, still believes Squall’s out there. He’s been taking a lot more missions on since that day. I know he’s only doing them in the hope that he’ll find Squall. Sometimes, I just wish he’d face up to reality. Squall’s dead. He’s not coming back.

He’s not coming back.

On a brighter note, it’s also the four year anniversary of me becoming the Commander here. I still don’t feel like I’ve earned it though. Everywhere I go, people stare at me, as if they’re saying,

“Squall should be the Commander, not you. You’re just second best.”

I hate that, but at the same time, I know it’s true. If Squall were still here, he’d be Commander. I guess I didn’t earn this. I guess that’s why I stay awake at night. I guess that’s why I dream of him. Dream of him being angry with me. He calls me a traitor, says I’ve stolen his place in life. Maybe I have.

Maybe I’m just a fraud.

Chapter 3 Waltz for the Moon

To live in hearts we leave behind
Is not to die.

Thomas Campbell, Hallowed Ground.

“Leon. Hey, Leon, I need some help out here.”

What is it now? Can’t this guy take care of himself yet? I slowly stood up, leaving my room and heading out of the house to where Maron was screaming.

“What?” I demanded.

“What do you mean, what? There’s a monster out here!” He was waving his arms around frantically, pointing in the direction of the so called monster.

“It’s a bite bug.” I still couldn’t believe this guy. He was panicking about a damn bite bug. Even the children of the village weren’t afraid of bite bugs.

“Leon, don’t just stand there with your hands on your hips. Do something about it.”

I sighed, drawing my twin pistols from my waist. I took one shot at the bite bug. It fell to the floor dead.

“Thank you.”

I shook my head, still in disbelief, before heading back to the house.

I’ve got to get out of here. It’s driving me crazy. Sure, Winhill’s a nice place to live for a while, but then, well it gets boring. All I have to do here is fight a few little monsters. Anyone could do that.

Well, maybe not anyone. Maron couldn’t. I kind of feel sorry for the guy. Everyone says he’s not been the same since his sister died some twenty years ago. He still hasn’t gotten over it. Apparently, she died giving birth. The father was a foreigner and never came back for her. I guess that’s why nobody likes strangers here.

Still, they took me in, and I’m grateful for it. Maron was the one who found me on the beach in Esthar whilst he was out fishing. He took me in, gave me somewhere to live. All I had to do in return was kill a few monsters, keep the town safe.

I guess that was okay for a while. I just want to get out of here. Same old routine every day. I need some excitement. Something to keep me occupied so I don’t spend every hour of every day thinking.

But what I want more than anything is to remember. Remember what happened before.

I opened my curtains, looking up at the sky. Getting late. Maybe I’ll go get a drink.

Walking down the stairs, I noticed a strange sound coming from the living room. Sounds like someone crying.

I stood at the door trying to be as silent as possible. Maron was in there, looking at all the stuff his sister Raine had left him. He pulled out a musical box with a couple dancing on top. He wound it up and the music started. It sounded familiar somehow.

Suddenly I wasn’t in that room anymore.

I was stood in a large, spacious ballroom with my back against the wall and a glass in my hand. I was wearing some kind of uniform, maybe from the military or something. Glancing across the room I noticed the floor was full of couples dancing.

And then, I saw her.

An angel.

She looked at me, her deep brown eyes boring right into the depths of my soul. She pointed towards the starry, night sky and walked towards me, the heels of her shoes clicking against the floor. I took a deep breath and composed myself.

“Hey. You’re the best looking guy here. Dance with me?”

Why would she want to dance with me? Look at her, she’s beautiful.

“I don’t dance.” It took all I had to refuse her. I just really don’t like to dance.

“I get it. You’ll only dance with someone you like.” She wasn’t going to give up that easily. Moving her hand towards my face, as if trying to hypnotise me, she said, “You’re going to like me, you’re going to like me. Did it work?”


“I told you, I can’t dance.”

“Don’t worry. You’ll be fine.” Despite myself, I let her drag me onto the dance floor as the music started.

That music.

It was the same.

She placed one of my hands on her waist, and took the other in her own. Her touch made me shiver, it was so gentle.

I started to dance in time with the music. At least, I tried to. I don’t know how to dance. Soon I was tripping over my own feet. I’d had enough.

I tried to leave the dance floor, but she dragged me back and made me try again. It didn’t matter, I was still clueless.

After a few seconds, I managed to crash into another couple. I thought she’d be mad, or at least a little embarrassed, but she pulled her tongue out at the two people glaring at us. And then…then she smiled.

Something in that smile made my heart melt. I was entranced by it. Before I knew it, I was dancing as if I’d been doing it my whole life. I actually started to enjoy myself.

We both stopped dancing, staring at the fireworks outside. Looking back at each other, I found myself staring into those eyes. I leaned forward, hoping to kiss her, but she pulled back.

“I’ve gotta go.” She smiled as she walked off the dance floor, leaving me gazing after her.

“Leon. You alright.” Maron was shaking me by my shoulders.

“I’m fine.”

“You look like you’ve blacked out or something. You sure you’re okay?” I nodded. “Fine. Get some rest or something.”

“Yeah. I think I’ll do that.” I climbed back upstairs, lost in thought, and lay on my bed.

Who is she?

Chapter 4 Anything But Ordinary

Shed some skin for the fear within.
Is starting to hurt me with everything.
Freed from our memory.
Escape from our history.

Manic Street Preachers, Everything Must Go.

The receptionist behind the counter glared evilly at me as I rushed into the building.

"Late again," she remarked dryly.

Just who does she think she is anyway? It's not like she's my boss or anything. She’s just one of those people who think they are far senior and important than anybody else there. There’s one in every work place. The annoying thing is, she's all sweetness and light when the boss is around. I hate two-faced people.

As soon as her gaze returned to her work I pulled my tongue out at her and opened the door to my office. I quickly hung my coat up and sat behind my desk in the pretence that I hadn't been late at all, and had in fact been hard at work for some time now. It was lucky I did, as this was the moment that Helana, my boss, chose to walk through the door.

"Rinoa, how's the article on the music festival going?"

I cringed, realising that the deadline was in a few days time.

"'s fine," I lied. "Almost finished."

"Oh, that's a shame because I don't need you to do it anymore," she said matter of factly. Helana had a habit of constantly changing plans without informing anybody. It was infuriating, but you learnt to live with it. Either that, or you got fired. "I asked someone else to do it."

"What am I doing instead?" I asked, praying that it was not another article about some cheap tourist attraction. I wanted to finally be free from reporting on fairs, circuses and theme parks, and various other small places that nobody would ever visit in a million years, no matter what I wrote.

"I've heard about this adorable little place from a friend of mine. Erm, what was it called?"

I sat there patiently, knowing that she would soon remember.

"Winhill. Yes, that's it, Winhill."

"Really?" I asked, shocked that she had heard of such a small village.

"You know it?"

"I've heard of it," I replied. I knew that my voice had been tinged with sadness, but thankfully, Helana was far too self-absorbed to have noticed.

"Well, here's your train ticket to Dollet." She handed me an unmarked, white envelope. "I hear that they're a bit wary of tourists there, but I'm sure you'll be fine. Just give me a nice article about the village for the newspaper. A little about it's history maybe. Oh, and don't forget to ask about monsters, I hear the village sometimes becomes overrun by them."

"Excuse me. I'm going to Dollet?"

"There aren't any trains to Winhill. You have to take a boat from Dollet. Now, there's only one a day, so don't be late." She looked at me knowingly. I bet the receptionist had been talking. "Well, hurry up and pack your things. I want you on that train in two hours."

I hastily threw my clothes into my suitcase, double-checking that everything else was packed. I was notorious for forgetting things. Often, I would turn up to do an interview without a tape recorder or a notebook. It's a wonder I even remember to wake up in the morning. Satisfied that everything was in my suitcase, I headed for the train station.

"Damn," I cursed as I saw the traffic outside my apartment. I'd never make it to the station in that.

I decided that walking was probably my best option, even though I was carrying a heavy suitcase.

I had to wonder just how much worse my day could get as I began to run, trying to get to the train on time.

"I'll get the sack."

I got on to the platform just before the train pulled away. The guard was about to wave the train away.

"Hey, wait!" I shouted at him. "I need to get on that train." Grudgingly, the guard opened the door for me and let me on board. I breathed a sigh of relief as I slumped down into my seat. I had made it, just. Maybe I wouldn't get the sack after all.

On the other hand, could I really do this? Go to that place? Squall had told me so much about it.

A few months after we defeated Ultimecia, Laguna told Squall that he was his father. Admittedly, he took it pretty hard at first. He'd spent all his life alone, without a family, and suddenly he had a father again. I think he was glad in the end. He found out about where he came from, who his family was. Together, they visited Winhill and went to see Raine's grave. He told me all about the village, everything that he found out when Ellone sent him into Laguna's past, and everything that he did and saw when he went there himself.

Can I really face going somewhere that will just make me think of him?

I guess I have to.

At first, being in Timber made me think of Squall, of the time we spent together on the mission. Time, however, is the best healer of all. Now, I just see it as my home.

Maybe being in Winhill won't be as bad as I expect.

"Next stop, Dollet. Next stop, Dollet. This is the end of the line."

I picked up my suitcase and waited for the train to come to a halt. The station at Dollet was refreshingly modern, at least compared to the rustic charm of Timber. Compared to stations such as Deling it was fairly old-fashioned, but fitted into the town extremely well.

Outside the station, the rest of the town seemed to be very grand, with a mixture of old fashioned, and new buildings. The new buildings seemed to be grouped together, obviously built over the ruins from the Galbadian invasion. At the peak of the hill just outside the town, was the now deserted communications tower.

I shook my head, knowing that this would bring thoughts of Squall. I had heard so much about the SeeD exam that Squall had taken. To the younger cadets in Garden, it was legendary. I was told by a junior classmen that Squall had fought alone against an invincible machine created by the Galbadians, followed by hundreds of their best soldiers. These over exaggerated stories became more preposterous every week and Squall hated it.

"Must they talk about me all the time?" he would ask. "You'd think they were in the presence of a hero, not a mercenary." No matter what anybody said, Squall refused to believe he was anything but ordinary. He could never see what others did.

Being here in this place made me realise how much of Squall's life I'd missed out on. I realised that, although we had been through so much together, there were still some things that we could never have shared. There were some things that I was never a part of.

Heading into the harbour, I scanned the shoreline for the boat to Winhill. There was a large passenger boat bustling with people that I assumed was heading for Balamb. My mind wandered to all the friends that I had at Garden.

Were they all okay?

"Hey, you heading for Winhill?" a gruff voice asked me. I looked and saw a middle aged man in a small wooden fishing boat.

"Yes," I replied, suddenly unsure of myself. Should I go ahead with this?

"Well, hurry up and get in then. I don't have all day." I automatically clasped the rings on my necklace for comfort, before stepping forward.

I can do this.

Chapter 5 Arrival

Gone the dream, it’s all faded now.
Take me home.

Ash, Gone the Dream.

I peered over the side of the boat, into the depths of the ocean below. I could see my reflection staring back at me, taunting me. It had changed so much in the last four years. The last time I truly stepped back to look at myself was that night I took a walk with Squall along the beach. I was just strolling along the sand, letting the waves lap gently over my feet, when I noticed my reflection in the water. I had never before gazed into the mirror and seen someone so filled with happiness. Squall asked what I was looking at, and I told him that for the first time in my life, I was happy. He told me that was the way it would always be. It wouldn’t change.

Time would go on, seasons would change, but our love would live on forever.

Haunted by these memories, I saw another reflection materialise beside my own.

“Squall,” I whispered. His face was just as I remembered. He hadn’t changed since the night he left, cold blue eyes still penetrating deep within my soul, somehow filling me with an inexplicable feeling of warmth. He just stared back at me, smiling.

The illusion didn’t last long, dispelled by the tear that cascaded down my cheek into the ocean.

“Hey, kid? You alright?” asked the boatman. I had almost forgotten that he was there, lost as I was in my own world. I nodded, not looking directly at him. “What business have you got in Winhill?” He obviously wasn’t one for conversation. I got the feeling that he wasn’t just asking out of curiosity.

“I’m a journalist,” I replied.

“Hmph. We don’t need any more of your types in the village. We don’t want you to do anymore damage.” His mood was suddenly hostile. Helana was right, they certainly were wary of outsiders.

“I’m not here to do any damage. I’m just here to write an article.” I tried to explain my situation to him, but I was sure that he wasn’t about to listen.

“That’s what they all say. Then they go and show us to the whole world, put us on TV and everything. I just don’t trust arrogant journalists.” He turned away from me and I could tell that he was contemplating turning around and taking me back to Dollet.

“Look, I don’t want to change your village at all. All I want to do is write one little article to keep my boss happy. It’s not as if anybody will read it anyway, so there’s nothing for you to worry about.” He looked at me as if I’d just sprouted three heads.

“You’re a funny thing.” He laughed at me. “You’re not like anyone who’s ever come here before. I like that. Can’t be doing with stuck up people.”

“Whatever,” was the only reply I could think of. Sure it wasn’t very imaginative but it was the best I could come up with. This was the first time in four years I’d ever been given a compliment. It made a refreshing change from what I usually heard.

“You have to get over him. You’re just being stupid. Pull yourself together Rinoa.” I couldn’t begin to count the number of people that had said that to me. As if they had any idea what I was going through.

My thoughts were interrupted by the boatman laughing once more.

“You know what, you sound just like my son. Well, he’s my foster son technically. Anyway, that’s all he ever says. Whatever.”

It’s worse than that. I’ve started to sound like Squall.

It was only now that I had begun to realise the effect that the death of his family and the lack of friends must have had on his life. Sure, I had lost my mother, but I always had a father, even though most of the time we weren’t even on speaking terms. I’d always had friends as well. I’d never been alone. Until now, anyway.

I didn’t see anyone from Garden anymore, I lost touch with all my old school friends years ago, and after the liberation of Timber, I lost touch with Zone and Watts. I didn’t even get on with anybody at work. This must have been what it was like for Squall. And to think, I used to tell him to let people in, to share his feelings with others. Ironic, isn’t it? Look who’s the lone wolf now.

“I’ll have to introduce you to him.” I wasn’t even aware that he was still talking to me. “Anyway, enough about my son. My name’s Maron.” He held out his hand for me to shake. I obliged just to be polite.


“Rinoa. Unusual name. Sounds familiar. I can’t place it though. Don’t you just hate it when that happens?” I nodded in agreement, not really understanding what he was talking about. “Is there any reason I might have heard of you?”

“No,” I replied. Of course, I knew why he had heard my name. Everybody knew my name after the Ultimecia incident. Back then, I didn’t mind so much. Maybe because that was my life at one time. I wasn’t the same woman, no, the same girl, that I had been back then. I couldn’t take anymore questions about what it was like to be a sorceress and what it was like to have been close to the legendary Squall Leonhart.

“Never mind. I’m sure it’ll come to me.” He stared off into the distance, as if he was trying to place my name at this very moment. It was then that he noticed the shoreline. “We’re almost there,” he told me. “Where are you going to be staying?”

“I have a room at the hotel.” At least I hoped I did. Helana usually set me up at various hotels so that I didn’t have to make my own travel arrangements. I hoped she had done the same this time.

“Isn’t it beautiful,” he said, pointing towards the village, which I presumed must be Winhill. I had to admit, it had it’s own quaint appeal. It seemed very cosy and picturesque, but not the kind of place you could live in. It was so isolated and small, I think I would go crazy if I lived there. Maybe when I’m older this would be the perfect place to live, but right now, I was glad I was only staying for a few days.

The bottom of the boat ground to a halt against the shoreline. I picked up my luggage and stepped off the boat, letting my shoes sink into the sand. He took hold of the guide rope and pulled the boat fully ashore.

“Don’t want it floating away,” he pointed out to me as if I didn’t have a clue what he was doing. I may be a city girl at heart, but I had travelled and wasn’t completely uneducated in the way of the world. “I’ll carry your bag,” he offered.

“No, really. I’m fine.” I effortlessly picked up my bag and set out towards the town. “At least let me walk you to the hotel.”

“Fine.” I was just being polite. It wasn’t as if I could get lost. In fact, I’m sure it’s impossible to get lost here. There are only a couple of streets in the village.

“Follow me.” I trailed slowly behind him, taking in the breathtaking scenery, the endless fields, and the wonderful view of the sea. I could see why Raine liked her little place in the world. “That’s the shop over there.” He pointed towards the building to the left. “Just go there if you need to buy anything. And here’s the hotel.” He led me into a building on the right. The ground floor seemed more like a restaurant than a hotel, as it was filled with wooden tables. Each one had a vase of what looked like fresh flowers on them. The smell spread throughout the room creating a pleasant atmosphere that was warm and welcoming. In the far corner, elevated slightly, was a grand piano that appeared almost identical to the one my mother used to play in the Deling City Hotel. I smiled, remembering how she taught me to play all those years ago. I hadn’t played recently. I’m not sure why. When I was younger and I argued so much with my father, I used to sit at the piano for hours, writing my own songs and playing those my mother taught me. It always cheered me up, took my mind off everything else. Maybe I should try it?

“Do you need any help?” The sight of a friendly receptionist shocked me after being in work that morning.

“I have a room reserved under the name of Heartilly.”

“Here’s your key, Miss Heartilly. Your room is Number 3. Would you like me to show you the way?”

“No, I’ll be fine, thanks.” I just wanted to be alone for a while.

“I’d like to invite you to my house for dinner,” Maron said before I could leave the room. How was I going to get out of this one?

“I’m sorry. I’d love to but I have so much work to do.” I hated lying, but this was necessary.

“Oh, that’s fine. What are you going to write about?” I hadn’t really considered that, so I had to think quickly.

“I’d like to find out about how the town becomes overrun by monsters.” I could remember being told about that this morning.

“You’d better go and see my son, Leon. He’s like the monster hunter of the town.” Monster hunter? That could make an interesting story. “He’ll be just outside the town. There’s a cave down by the beach. He hangs out there a lot. You should try looking for him there first.” This could be fun.

“Alright, I will. Thanks.”

Chapter 6 Here With Me

So, so you think you can tell
Heaven from Hell,
Blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field
From a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?

Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here.

I turned the key in the lock and stepped into the room that would be my home for the next few days. The best I can describe it as, is cosy. Maybe it’s a little old fashioned but that fits in with the rest of the village. I threw my bag onto the bed and opened it. I unpacked all my clothes, folding them neatly and placing them in the draws beside my bed. I hated my room to be untidy. I then removed my notepad and pen and put them into my pocket. If I was going to interview this Leon it wouldn’t do to forget them. The last thing I removed was my laptop. I placed it on the antique wooden desk in the corner of my room so that I could begin to type my report up later. I picked up my key and my purse from the bed. After all, you never know when you might need some money. Taking a look out of the window, I saw where I should head. At the far end of the beach, was a steep cliff face, into which a cave was set. I guess that’s where Leon must be. I just hope he’s not like his father.

I took a deep breath, allowing the fresh sea air into my lungs, which are far more accustomed to factory smoke and car exhausts. It’s been so long since I’ve visited the seaside. It almost feels like another world to me now, after spending the last few years in Deling and Timber. I removed the boots from my feet and allowed the sand to sink between my toes, only to be washed away by the waves lapping over my feet. It’s so peaceful here. There isn’t a soul to be found on the beach, no children making sandcastles or splashing in the water. It’s almost as if I’m the only person in the world at the moment. I embraced the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks in the distance, and revelled in the fact that there were no sounds of civilisation. I was far from the hustle and bustle of what I would call home, but even though the surroundings were unfamiliar, they comforted me in a way that I cannot describe. Squall’s description of the place may have been fair, but right now, I disagreed,

“Just some little place in the middle of nowhere,” he had told me. “Nothing to do, no challenges. The only danger’s the odd weak monster that wandered into the village.”

I guess that bit was true, but he never told me about this. About how beautiful and picturesque the surroundings were. About how everything was different from city life, the air, the atmosphere, everything. Then again, Squall had never been able to appreciate the beauty of the world. Life here seems so simple. I can’t remember the last time that was the case. It was probably before Mum passed away, and that was an age ago. At least now, I’m old enough to realise that she’s in a better place, watching over me. Over the last four years, I had felt deep inside that she was with me. Maybe I hadn’t been totally alone.

I reached down to the necklace that I wore everyday, that I had worn everyday for the last 16 years. I ran my finger around the platinum band that had once been my mother’s wedding ring. I can still remember the day she gave it to me, when she was on her death bed.

“Rinoa,” she had told me. “One day you will truly know happiness. That is the day that you find true love. Only you will know when that day comes, but make sure that you do not let it go. I have never mentioned this to anyone before, but that is my greatest regret. I let my true love go, never to be known again.”

“But, you love Daddy, don’t you?”

“Of course sweetheart. But when you are older, you will understand fully about fate and what is meant to be. For now, you are too young.” She stroked my hair gently. “You have a wonderful life ahead of you. Do not worry.”

“Mummy. Are you going to die?”

“Don’t think of it as dying, Rinoa. I’ll always be there for you when you need me. I’ll always watch over you.” She slipped her wedding ring off her finger and placed it on the chain that hung around my neck, the one she had bought for my birthday. “See, I’ll always be with you.”

And with that, she took her last breath and passed silently into the light.

I smiled at the thought that she was always with me, and deep down, I knew that she had told me the truth. She was always there. What troubled me still was what she had told me about love and fate. I knew now that her true love certainly wasn’t Caraway. Sure, she had cared for him, just like I had once cared for Seifer, but they weren’t meant to be. He hadn’t even been with her when she died.

The one she truly loved was Laguna Loire. In the past he had told me many stories about my mother, about what a wonderful woman she was. I could tell he felt the same about her.

“There are so many things I regret in my life,” he told me. “But two rank above all others. One was that I didn’t find my only son sooner. The other was going away to war and leaving your mother, the woman I loved, behind.” I could tell from the look on his face that this had haunted him ever since he left her room in the Galbadia Hotel. Then he looked straight at me. I had never seen him so serious before. “I know of his feelings for you. This is meant to be. I don’t want you two to make the same mistakes that Julia and I did. Who knows, maybe you’re here to undo that very same mistake.”

At the time, I did not pay much attention to his words, but in hindsight, I know that I should have heeded the warning he had given.

Sorry Laguna. I guess I wasn’t able to stop your mistake repeating itself. Squall isn’t here with me now. I don’t even feel him watching over me.

At least I have something.

I studied the ring he had given me closely. Like the memory of Squall, Griever hadn’t dulled over time. It was really quite fitting that Griever was depicted as a lion. It represented Squall so well. He was never afraid and he would always fight if he needed to. I guess that he was my guardian in a way. He would always protect me.

But I guess I’m on my own now.

I let go of my necklace with a sigh, the two rings clashing together as they fell. Those two rings given to me by the only people that I truly loved. People who are no longer here.

I was brought out of my thoughts when I realised that I could go no further along the beach, my path blocked by jagged rocks, rising up from the ground. A quick glance to my right confirmed that I had made it to the cave without realising. I slipped the boots back onto my feet and stepped into the cave, my footsteps echoing slightly as I walked. As I rounded a corner, I could see someone with their back turned to me. As it was dark, the only thing I could tell was that they were fairly tall and well built. The figure seemed to be working out, doing some sort of exercise routine in time to the drips of water falling from the roof of the cave and splashing on the floor below. I stepped out into the middle of the passage.

It was familiar, the exercise.

It was a SeeD exercise routine, designed to improve strength and stamina. I had seen it performed so many times before. Squall would practice it every morning before he went for a shower. How could Maron’s son know anything about SeeD?

The figure seemed to become aware of my presence, turning around. I will never forget the sight that stood before me.

“Squall.” The world seemed to stop for a few moments as I stood there, rooted to the spot, dumbfounded.

Was this just a dream?

No, it can’t be. He’s standing in front of me. He’s really there.

It was definitely him. The scar was there, the earring, the pendant too. It was him.

Unable to control my emotions any longer, I ran towards him and fell into his arms, as I had done once before. It felt so good to be with him, in his arms. I could feel his warmth on me. It was really him, and he was really here.

“Squall,” I whispered.

“Who the hell are you?” he shouted, pushing me away, roughly. I fell against the floor, hitting my head. He stared down at me, as if he couldn’t recognise me.

“Squall? Squall, it’s me.”

“I don’t know who the hell you are, but my name’s not Squall, alright?”

It felt as though my world had fallen apart. There, in front of me was the man I love. The man I had loved ever since I met him. And he didn’t know who I was. This was everything that I had wished for over the last few years. I had found him, alive. But things couldn’t be worse. Tears flowed freely down my cheeks, washing away all the hope that I had harboured over the years. Unable to stay in this place any longer, I ran.

I just ran.

I wanted to forget everything.

How could he not remember? Or maybe he does remember, and he came here to get away from me?

But he told me he loved me. The last thing he said before he left was “I love you too.”

Was that a lie?

Had everything with him been a lie?

I ran back inside the hotel, exhausted, the tears still falling from my eyes. My gaze drifted to the piano in the corner of the room.

Well, it had always helped me in the past. When Mum passed away, I just sat at the piano for days on end, finding comfort in my music. Maybe now, it would help.

“May I?” I asked the receptionist. She nodded and left the room, sensing my need for a quiet moment alone.

I sat down on the stool, familiarising myself once again with the keys. I sat up straight, positioning myself to play. The only thing that I could think of to play was the song that I had written when I returned to Caraway’s mansion after Squall had left.

I gently pressed down on the keys, the sound drifting gracefully around the room as I began to sing.

It's been a long, long time since I looked into the mirror
I guess that I was blind
Now my reflection's getting clearer
Now that you're gone things will never be the same again.

The words just flowed from my soul. I didn’t even realise that I could still remember them, it had been so long.

There's not a minute that goes by every hour of every day
You're such a part of me
But I just pulled away
Well, I'm not the same girl
you used to know
I wish I said the words I never showed

I know you had to go away
I died just a little, and I feel it now
You're the one I need
I believe that I would cry just a little
Just to have you back now
Here with me
Here with me

The more I played, the less I could notice around me. The room began to disappear, and soon there was just me. Just me, sat at the piano, the music coming from the very depths of my soul, singing out my pain.

You know that silence is loud when all you hear is your heart
And I wanted so badly just to be a part of something strong and true
But I was scared and left it all behind

I know you had to go away
I died just a little, and I feel it now
You're the one I need
I believe that I would cry just a little
Just to have you back now
Here with me
Here with me

And I'm asking
And I'm wanting you to come back to me

My tears continued to flow in the realization of the words that I was singing. All the pain, the hurt, the anger that I had bottled up over the last four years was finally emerging, and taking over me. There was nothing I could do to save myself from the darkness that had enveloped me.

I never will forget that look upon
your face
How you turned away and left
without a trace
But I understand that you did what you had to do
And I thank you

I know you had to go away
I died just a little, and I feel it now
You're the one I need
I believe that I would cry just a little
Just to have you back now
Here with me
Here with me

As my song ended, I could do nothing but sit there, in tears, sobbing quietly to myself.

So this is what it means to be alone?

Slowly, I wiped my eyes, brushing the tears away as best I could.

It was then that I noticed the figure in the doorway, watching me.

It was him.

A/N I’m sorry if you thought that Squall was a little harsh on Rinoa, all will be explained in the next chapter. And don’t worry, the other characters will be back shortly.

NB. The song I used in this chapter was Here With Me by Michelle Branch, which I obviously didn’t write myself.

Chapter 7 Faded Memories

How many dawns?
How many dusks?
One old affair frequently hangs on my heart.

Faye Wong, Jun Xin Wo Xin.

I had hoped that the walk along the beach would have cleared my head. Anything to forget that, that…dream? Or was it a vision? What am I talking about, of course it was just a dream. A vivid dream, but a dream all the same. I shouldn’t worry about it, it doesn’t mean anything.

Then why can’t I forget?

I gazed out towards the horizon, letting the cold sea breeze sting my cheeks, as I have done so many times before, wondering where I was really from. I have no idea where I was born, where I grew up. Somewhere out there is my home. I just don’t know where.

I sighed, as I often did when I became too absorbed in my own thoughts. I knew from experience that thinking this way only resulted in me feeling even more depressed and unsure about who I really am.

That’s the reason I first started hunting the monsters that occasionally found their way into town. I needed something to occupy my time, to stop me thinking about my past.

I began to walk once again, heading towards the one place I knew I wouldn’t be disturbed. The one place I knew I could be alone. I spent much of my time in that cave, hidden slightly by the rocky coastline of the Winhill shore. The slight dripping sound of the water as it hit the cave floor, comforted me slightly, bringing a sense of familiarity. I found a large cavern and began to exercise, as I had done every day since I arrived. I’m not sure how I know the set of exercise I perform, but I can tell that Maron does, and he’s hiding it from me. Once, a few weeks after I came here, he caught me exercising and lost it. He told me that I should stop immediately, that it was wrong and would make people believe I was a true outsider. He said I would be cast out of the town. That is why I like to be alone so much. I know I don’t belong here.

I relax a little, feeling my muscles contract and relax in that familiar pattern that is so natural to me. And then, it happened again.

I was still performing the same set of exercises, but the setting was different. I was in a spacious, airy room with a set of double doors leading to a balcony above the ocean. The room itself was fairly plain, a grand piano in the corner being the only distinguishing feature.

“You do realise that you can have a lie-in, don’t you?” I looked around for the person who had spoken to me. It was her. “You are the Commander, you can have time off whenever you like.” She was sitting upright in the double bed at the centre of the room. “Come back to bed.”

I was once again stood in the cave, surrounded by nothing but rocks and water. The room around me had disappeared and I was alone once again. I shook my head, trying to make sense of what had just happened. Was this just another dream? But how can it be a dream if I’m still awake? I didn’t even pass out. What the hell just happened? Maybe I should go and see a doctor? But what good could that do? They won’t know what’s happening to me. There’s no use even trying to make sense of this.

I began to exercise once again, trying to clear all thoughts of what had just happened, but before I could completely immerse myself in my actions, I became aware of a presence. Turning around, I saw the figure of a young woman standing in front of me.

It was her.

Sure, she looked a little different, older perhaps. Her hair was slightly shorter, falling just on to her shoulders, and she seemed to have lost a little weight, but it was unmistakeably her.

“Squall?” she whispered.

Who’s Squall. And just who is she? How is she invading me mind? How is she getting into my head? I don’t even know her. She ran into my arms. Instinctively, I pushed her away.

“Who the hell are you?” I demanded. I saw her fall to the floor, hitting her head. I felt a twinge of guilt. I hadn’t meant to hurt her.

“Squall? Squall, it’s me.” What is she talking about? I don’t understand.

“I don’t know who the hell you are, but my name’s not Squall, alright?” My name is Leon. Why was she calling me something different?

As soon as I said this, she began to cry, fleeing from my presence. I couldn’t just let her go. I needed to know who she was, and why I saw her in my mind. I followed her, keeping a safe distance behind, watching her run gracefully along the beach. The scene unfolding before me seemed somehow to be familiar, my mind racing, trying to discover why it felt like I had done this before.

I was running along a beach with pure, golden sand underneath my feet. Turning around, I saw her running after me, laughing heartily. For some reason, I didn’t pick up my pace as I noticed her catching up to me. For some unknown reason, buried deep within me, I wanted her to catch me. She moved closer and closer to me, until finally she threw her arms around me, tackling me to the ground. We rolled on the sand, until we both came to a stop. I was lying directly on top of her, smiling as she collapsed into a fit of laughter. She laced both of her arms around my neck, pulling me closer, our lips almost touching.

I have to sit down, unable to run any longer due to the shock I was in. Why does this keep happening to me? What is it that’s happening to me? Only one person can possibly have the answer to all of my questions, and that person was quickly leaving my sight. Taking a deep breath, I get back on my feet and begin to run after her.

I finally caught up to her when she entered the hotel on the main street. I was just about to step through the doorway, when I heard something that made me stop in my tracks.

I know you had to go away
I died just a little, and I feel it now
You're the one I need
I believe that I would cry just a little
Just to have you back now
Here with me
Here with me

Is that her singing? She has the voice of an angel. She plays the piano too? I propped myself against the frame of the door, watching her, listening intently to every syllable that she sang.

I never will forget that look upon
your face
How you turned away and left
without a trace
But I understand that you did what you had to do
And I thank you

I know you had to go away
I died just a little, and I feel it now
You're the one I need
I believe that I would cry just a little
Just to have you back now
Here with me
Here with me

As she finished her song, she just sat there, sobbing quietly to herself. I wanted to go to her, but I didn’t know what to say, so I just waited until she noticed me. As she wiped the tears from her eyes, she looked straight at me, saying nothing. It was as if she was waiting for me to make the first move.

“Sorry, for before,” I began awkwardly. “I just need to know who you are.” She rose from her position at the piano and walked slowly towards me.

“You…you really don’t know who I am, do you?” she sobbed, looking up into my eyes.

“Sorry. All I know is that I see you in my head, and I don’t even know who you are.”

“Squall, look at me. Can you honestly say that you don’t know who I am?”

“Why do you keep calling me Squall? My name is Leon.”

“No, no. You’re name is Squall Leonhart,” she cried, throwing her hands to her head in frustration.

“How have you been getting into my head? What are you, a sorceress or something?”

“No, well, yes, but that has nothing to do with it. I don’t know what you’re talking about. What do you mean getting into your head?”

“So you’re a sorceress.” I pulled out my twin pistols and aimed them directly at her head. If there was one thing I had been taught since I came here, it was that a sorceress cannot be trusted, and they must not be allowed to walk free.

“Squall. What are you doing? You never cared about me being a sorceress before. You accepted me for what I was, what I am. What’s happened to you?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Is she crazy or something?

“I’ll prove it to you.” She took her purse out of her pocket and opened it, removing a piece of paper, which she handed to me. On closer inspection, I found it to be a battered photograph. Nothing spectacular, lots of people carry photographs with them. However, what I saw on the photograph shocked me so much, I let my pistols drop to the floor, astonished by what was in front of me.

She was on the picture, standing in an exquisitely decorated ballroom in a long, flowing red dress, which complemented the deep brown shades of her hair that cascaded over her shoulder. What really shocked me, however, was the man who had his arm around her shoulders.

It was me.

Admittedly, my hair was a little shorter than it is now, but it was definately me. I was wearing some sort of uniform, military I guess, and I was smiling, actually smiling. When was the last time I did that?

“Sit down,” she ordered me, seeing how shocked I was at the photograph.

“When was this taken?” I asked.

“About five years ago. It was a ball to commemorate the one year anniversary of the defeat of Ultimecia.”

“Ultemicia? The sorceress?”

“You don’t remember that either?” I shook my head, confused over what was to remember.

“It was us that defeated her. Well, it was really you that defeated her. You were a hero, the Commander of Balamb Garden.”

“Garden? That’s where SeeDs are trained isn’t it?” Maron had always told me that SeeDs were terrible people, killing anybody for money. And now, this stranger was trying to tell me that I was once a SeeD. Why should I believe her? Then again, there was the photograph, and the fact that I saw her with me. Maybe I was seeing the past.

“You remember?”

“No, it’s something somebody told me about. Are you a SeeD?” She laughed slightly, despite herself.

“No, I was never a SeeD. I was your client for a time. You took me with you when you fought Ultimecia. I lived at Garden with you after that.”

“With me? You mean, we were…you know?” That would explain why I saw her in my bed. She nodded, once again breaking down into tears. I could see how much I had hurt her by not being able to remember her.

“Is that why I can see you?”

“What do you mean?”

“The last few days, I…I’ve seen you in my head. At first, I thought they were just dreams, but now…”

“What did you see?”

“I was alone at a dance in that ballroom.” I pointed to the photograph, sure that it was the same place. “You dragged me onto the dance floor. I wasn’t very good at first, but you helped me. I think the music was called Waltz for the Moon.”

“So you can remember.”

“That really happened?”

“That was the first moment we met. I was sure you hated me for dragging you out there.”

“I didn’t hate you. At least, I don’t remember hating you.”

“Can I ask you something? Why does Maron think you’re his son?”

“He doesn’t really think that I’m his son. He looked after me when I came here four years ago. In fact, he was the one who found me.”

“Found you? Four years ago? That was when you left.”

“I left?”

“On a mission. You…you never came back.” It was obvious that this still hurt her. She couldn’t look me in the eye when she said it.

“I left on a mission?” My mind began to race. If I was on a mission, wouldn’t I have been in uniform? Wouldn’t I have I.D. with me? Wouldn’t I have a weapon with me? Maron had never mentioned any of these things.


“Are you alright?” she asked. “You…you look angry.”

“Maron,” I growled, leaving the hotel and heading through the streets towards his house.

Part 2

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