Crimson Lies Chapter 40


By Ashbear

Final Fantasy VIII and all the characters belong to Square.

Foreword: Okay, I know I said I wasn't going to do notes before this chapter, but I did because I felt guilt in the delay.  I just want to thank all of you again, for so much.  I understand that in writing the end no matter what…people might not like it, either because of how I ended it…or because I did end it.  But I'll do final notes in a few days separately, to explain things…well some things.  So again, I thank you for the wonderful journey and hope that you think of this story as a whole, and not necessary as this final chapter.  Again I want to thank Wayward Tempest for the poem she wrote - used again in this chapter…thank you Nicole for so much.  Please, I would love to hear your final comments…until next time ~ Kristine

Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road.
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go.
So make the best of this test, and don't ask why,
It's not a question, but a lesson learned in time.
It's something unpredictable, but in the end is right.
I hope you had the time of your life.

--Green Day

Our lives are mere specks upon the shadows of the earth; we are travelers amongst the stars, if only for a brief period of time.  Very few legends are passed from generations but those that are, are truly extraordinary.  Not only do they keep alive a culture that may no longer exist, but they also keep alive the ideals and morals of a nation.  If history is bound to repeat itself, maybe our best defense is the knowledge of the past.  We are helpless to stop it, but maybe with some chance, and some fate, we will be aware of its coming.

 Every war from those civil among countries, to those raged within our minds, must have two opposing sides.  What is right, what is wrong?  Two different viewpoints; two sides never meeting eye to eye.  Is this world, and too many others, so filled with politics that we forget the simplest necessities of life?  From the basic of survival…food, water, shelter…to those more secondary?  Need, want…love?  Is it our right as human beings to have love?  Such eternal feelings that we are overwhelmed with all reasonable senses? 

 We are but passengers upon this world, into the heavens we soar everyday.  But when we take our final breaths, does our soul have to also fight a war between two sides?  Between right and wrong, good and evil, salvation or damnation?  In our final moments, do the politics that have become the norm fade into happenstance?  If given an eternity of questions, may we never find the answers? 

 Legends, wars, politics, life…love…what are they to us in our final moments? 


 Some sounds will forever be etched into memory…waves crashing against rocky shoals, a twig cracking under toe on an autumn's day, the first cry of a newborn child.  None so haunting to Squall Leonhart as one he had heard a thousand times before…the sound of metal meeting flesh.  In one instant the dreams and hopes of two souls would forever change destiny.  Neither could have known the outcome, but it was always written within their stars…their shooting, magnificent, and truly dynamic stars.

 The sound penetrated the room as if magnified a million times over.  It was sharp, piercing, and cut through her very bone.  He still lay cradled in her arms, as it the tip of the gunblade emerged from her abdomen.  When the metal and flesh collided, a radiating light emitted from her body, temporarily blinding all those around.  Her blood now covered him far more than that of Mitchell's, yet she never seemed to show outward signs of pain.  It was if her final resolve was to go with dignity, making the suffering her own, and not that of those around.  Her angelic smile tried not to weaken, their eyes locked in an emotional bond that went beyond mere words.  

 "Squall, sure…you feel…all right?" she gasped between broken breaths.  Her only concern remained his health, still riddled with guilt from the earlier attack.  Her mind was in denial of the pain, trying to stay focused only on him.  He reached to her face, as the weight of her body started to slowly descend upon him.  And as she fell, so did his heart, this couldn't be happening…it had to be some gruesome nightmare. 

 The others watched in horror as Mitchell used his last moments of life to end hers, before he fell into a darkened pool of his own blood.  Seifer was the first to move letting go of Quistis, who stood motionless from the shock.  He left her side only long enough to make sure the beast was really gone.  Hyne only knew where his soul resided, because this time Mitchell truly was…  

 The words still escaped as Squall managed to get to his knees, now mirroring her position a moment ago as he cradled Rinoa's weakened body.  He wanted to say something to make it better, to take away the pain…anything…but the words never came.  He could feel her heartbeat resonate through his body, one forged of an unsteady rhythm. 

 How in the hell could he be all right?  The torture inside was almost easier to endure when he thought she betrayed him, then he could lay blame on her.  Now he felt nothing but hatred toward his own inabilities, his own failures - as a SeeD, a Knight, and as a human being.  He was nothing, nothing without her.  If he could do something, say something, make the pain she felt inside just go away.  Still he sat there holding her tightly, feeling her dying heartbeat…and could say nothing.  He felt a slight convulsion and for the first time, she broke their eye contact.  They didn't close, but instead they focused on something…something that the others could not see…a ghost.

 "Ellone…" she muttered with a certain peace, as a freezing wind swept through the room.


 It was hard to watch the unfolding scene; it was her greatest moment of failure.  She had tried so hard, sent so many messages…but somehow they still ended up at the future she attempted to prevent.  When Ellone left this world, she believed that the afterlife would be different…a final, an end.  She never knew of the purgatory she alone would have to face.  Two years of watching, waiting, caught in an existence between two planes…not dead, but far from alive.

 Her abilities had grown stronger in the latter days and had been able to do so much more…but still they ended up here.  Now Ellone's spirit stood silently in the same room as her adoptive family, seeing them all together for the first time.  Their images became clear, not just the amber and cerulean hues their auras once projected.  Never had she seen the face of her biological half-sister, born to her mother and the man that now lay slain by his own desires.  It was both strange and unnerving, the resemblance between herself and Alexandra, not in their physical appearance but in their inner character. 

 She watched as Zell stood holding Alex, still in shock of what they had witnessed.  She watched as Seifer tried to comfort Quistis, who had now fallen to her knees.  They were two people she never envision finding comfort within each other.  After watching them together, she couldn't imagine them apart.  Brought together by betrayal and redemption, she now realized that their strength grew when their souls combined as one. 

 But in the center of the room lay the most horrific sight imaginable.  Her heart reached out in sorrow to her brother, in watching her failure now become his.  Ellone had done everything in her power, and things far beyond, to try to warn them of this moment.  She watched as Squall embraced the woman that he would give his eternal salvation for, even as a ghost she could shed silent tears.

 Rinoa's body was barely conscious after the trauma.  Her dark-hair matted with sweat and blood as her pale face grew dimmer by the second.  Ellone wondered how much time her friend would have left on the mortal plane.  She let out a small gasp unconsciously, as she was trying to be the strong older sister even in death.  A sudden chill ran through her, when she realized that Rinoa had heard the sound.  No living person should have that ability, yet maybe with a sorceress it was different, or maybe she was closer to that side now, than the world of the living.

 Their eyes met for a brief second before Rinoa whispered her name aloud.  This was Ellone's judgment, her time in between realms would end, but the younger girls torment would just begin…she wished this hell upon no one.  Ellone turned as the guilt started to overwhelm, she had to turn her face from the humiliation.  She alone took the guilt of all, taking it as her own.

 There was a full-length mirror attached prominently on the wall behind her.  When she turned, Ellone expected to see no reflection…but was shocked when a younger version of herself looked back upon her with innocent eyes.  The image was from about the same time-period as leaving the orphanage.  The very one she now blamed for scarring Squall so deeply the first time.  She could have never known how hard the young boy would take her leaving…but now she hated the reflection in the mirror.

 Edea had sacrificed so much to keep her hidden from the world, the white SeeDs who gave their lives…so many countless others had suffered because of her.  In the loneliness of the solitude, Ellone found innumerable ways that she had altered others lives.  Too many hours in the dark had passed contemplating the outcome if she had never been born.  She had tried to change the past before, so Laguna could be there with Raine…but it wasn’t possible, she learned that fact all too well. 

 Ellone shook herself out of the delusions as she felt a presence behind her and guilt was momentary put aside.  She found the resolve to turn back around, and was shocked to see Rinoa's spirit holding out her hand.  It was a transparent figure that did not speak.  Even though her mortal body was still alive, with the power of a sorceress she was able to leave her body…if only for a moment.  Moving closer the two apparitions touched fingers, and in an instant Ellone's spirit was transferred into that of Rinoa's human form. 

 Opening her eyes, Ellone was shocked to be seeing out of those of a living being.  She realized that Rinoa had sacrificed her last minutes of life, to give Ellone the opportunity to say goodbye to the family she left behind.  With this gift she also felt the suffering of the host, and the pain growing in her lungs with every breath.  Yet she was grateful for this opportunity, to do what she couldn't so long ago.


  He shivered as the cold breeze hit his skin.  It was as if a thousand chilled raindrops had fallen on him all at once.  He looked at his arm as the hair stood on its end with the sudden change in temperature.  Zell remembered looking at his arm another time like this, but in the visions it wasn't from the cold it was from the raindrops of blood.  Suddenly he felt an overwhelming sensation they were not alone. He let go of Alex, quickly scanning the room for what he didn't know.  Then he saw it, the mirror.  At first, he had looked past the reflection thinking nothing different of it, and then he grasped who Squall was holding…it was no longer Rinoa's image in the reflection.

 Zell was the first to go toward her, so many feelings clouding his thoughts.  His visions, his dreams, all leading to this one moment, somehow in a blink of his minds-eye everything made sense.  Ellone had been among them, watching and acting as a guardian angel.  In his dreams, she had always said goodbye…

 Squall still clung to Rinoa tightly, not allowing those around too near them.  Zell moved in, gently tapping him on the shoulder.  Squall would break from the moment ignoring any silent request made.  The martial artist finally pointed toward the mirror, and the others followed his lead.  The gasps of those around made the Commander break eye contact with Rinoa for one moment.  Squall froze with shock at the different image; he had to reassure himself by looking back down into his arms…he could only see Rinoa's face.  Reluctantly he loosened his grip, no longer holding her completely for himself, but for his family to say goodbye to the sister they lost over two years ago.  

 "Ellone…Sis?"  Zell was the first to speak, although the words were hard to say as he gazed into Rinoa's eyes.  "We did it, you did it.  Ally is back at Garden safe with Selphie and Irvine."  He paused shaking his head at thought of Irvine, and to the myth he had told back on a stormy Dollet evening.  "Great, now I'm going to have to tell Irvine his stupid legend was true…  That guy just loves hearing he is right.  Hell, they are never going to forgive themselves for missing you."

 Zell watched the reflection of his Sis in the mirror, no longer controlling the tears running down his face.  He continued smiling through the grief.  For in reality, it was not tears of sadness but of joy, the opportunity to speak with her one last time.  "Your visions led us here; we all owe you our lives and gratitude.  I'll always love you Elle."

 She wanted to speak, but her host too weak using all the energy just to breath.  The words made her feel ill.  Zell was thankful the visions had led them here, they were meant to lead anywhere but here.  One thing was right, they had managed to save Allison, for that she was eternally indebted to them. 

 "Hey Elle its me, Quisty…remember at the orphanage when every evening I would go outside to the flower fields and try chasing the sunset with a butterfly net?  Every night you asked me if I had managed to capture it, yet you knew that would never happen… but you always were there giving me encouragement.  I understand now, it was the dream that made the chase worthwhile…  Sis I finally caught the sunset, it's more beautiful than either of us could have imagined.  I'm…so…sor-"   

 She couldn't continue, the guilt of looking into Rinoa's eyes and speaking to the very one she had accused of killing was too much to bear.  Seifer held her tight, as she buried her head into his chest.  She did not want Ellone to see the tears; Quistis was always the strong one…  That's how she wanted Ellone to remember her, and not as the person she had become the last few years. 

 Seifer looked down at Rinoa's form still bleeding within Squall's arms, and then looked at the mirror as if reassuring himself the vision he was witnessing.  Two images… the same but different.  He was the one to always question; he was the one always full of doubt.  However, he too could feel Ellone's presence in the fragile body that lay in front of him.  Just as he could also sense the host quickly fading.  Rinoa had sacrificed a chance to say goodbye to her friends, so that Ellone may see her family…  He had to accept the gift, the miracle, before him.

 "Um…Ellone…Sis," he hesitated with tears in the corner of his eyes.  The words felt strange after so long, much longer than the rest of them.  It was only five years ago he led Galbadia's search for her, eventually leading her to the Lunatic Pandora.  Back then, he would have sold her to the highest bidder.  Hell if it wasn't for Fujin and Raijin, she would have been turned over to Ultimecia, just has he had Rinoa to Adel.  "I know that I've done a lot in the past.  I was wrong…God I was wrong.  I promise you that I will always watch out for my family…your family.  Thank you for this chance at redemption, thank you for the chance at my life."

 He didn't know what else to say as he still felt the stranger among them.  With every hour, those feelings were fading, but he still couldn't help feel this was their time with Ellone.  He hadn't even earned the right to say goodbye…to her or Rinoa for that matter.  Seifer returned the embrace from Quistis, hiding his face in her long strands of hair.  It was because of Ellone and her dreams that led him back to Garden, he felt whole and part of a family he had once forsaken.  More important than that, he felt loved in return…a feeling so foreign. 

 Alexandra slowly appeared from behind Zell, more at a loss of what to say than the others.  This was the sister she only learned about through her own nightmares… the sister she would only meet one time through another's body.  One who died too young, one who's eternal future was now going to be decided by the acts that brought them all here.

 "Ellone…it's me Alexandra.  I'm glad to finally meet you."  Tears trailed down her face as she looked at their reflection in the mirror.  Ellone was beautiful; the pictures she saw never did her justice.  Maybe the beauty lied more within, a soul of pure splendor…one who would sacrifice all for her family. 

 "I'll never forget you.  I'll never forget what you have brought each one of us.  The best gift in life I ever received was knowing that someone as wonderful as you were…is my sister.  The tides of fate brought us together, now they will carry you on to a better place, I love you.  For now, forever, you will be my sister."

 This left Squall.  Again, just like so often in his life, he felt alone.  Surrounded by all that loved him, by the ghost of the sister he mourned for the last two years.  Yet he was alone…without her.  Goodbyes were never easy for him, down right impossible.  He owed it to her as a testament to the life they shared with her.  After his minutes of silence, he finally found the courage to speak.

 "Ellone…I miss…if she's in there with you, somewhere, tell her that I will…always...." 

 He closed his eyes unable to say anything else coherently.  Returning Rinoa's body to him, he prayed that the sound of his heart could reach her no matter where her spirit was.  He watched what signs of life remained from both the soul mate within his arms, and the reflection shinning in the mirror of the sister lost long ago.  Emptiness was drowning him inside, fear, hate, every negative emotion known to man all embodied into one horrible ocean of trepidation; his soul was slowly drowning on dry land.  Nothing could save him, but having her spirit return into its own vessel.

 "I can't…I'm scared.  I just found her…I can't lose her.  Sis, I love her, I always have.  Allison alone…  Please Sis…if she's there don't let her leave me." 

 It was if he was pleading to Ellone, begging of her to make everything okay.  She looked up to see the sadness clouding his eyes.  The same eyes that she had seen during his childhood, the same eyes he had seen in space, but now so much more hurt.  It was something that her soul couldn't fathom, to see her reflection in his eyes again…  She had helped him once back then, but now at what price? 

 She didn't care…those eyes….


For two years and seven days, I existed within a plane of two realities…not of this earth, not of the afterlife.  I watched fragments of my loved ones lives as their souls tormented in anguish.  I was only a mere observer into their world, yet I found answers there that I did not seek.

 A blood relation, neither of us knew of the others existence until I found this realm, my biological sister.  The child was a result of a lascivious, deplorable act against my mother during times of war.  Alexandra, raised by one of many I held responsible for the murder of our mother.  Yet that doctor and his family sought repentance for Esthar's crimes by never hiding the truths they knew from her.  They hid her from a father who ordered her execution as a mere infant, when she was found not to contain the same powers I had possessed. 

 Through the aura of my sister, I found means to communicate to my other family, warn them, and finally bring them to this place.  I used her as a beacon into their world, until at least I was strong enough to use my own abilities.

 Through it all, I never lost sight of the simple fact: I had other siblings not of blood, but bound together by our childhood and our destines.  My family came in many forms, many faces.  I love each one the same, no matter the trials they were put through.  Each found a way to gain redemption, to gain the peace they sought.  The bond of Knight and Sorceress brought two together; circumstances united the others.  The last years served as proving grounds to them, to the ultimate sacrifices they would have to face... 

 That day two years ago would forever change history, not of just my family, but of nations.  With my last ounce of strength, I brought Rinoa into this realm for a few brief seconds.  I showed her what destiny had planned. 

 One constant remains, they had to go through this torment.  To each it was a growing experience; life would forever change.  Had things remained the same, simple pleasures in life such as love would have gone astray.  Over time all would have drifted apart, it was destines cruel adversary, fate, which decided that.  

 It was a test of their will and all passed…but me.  Had I been stronger, had I been able to warn them more, if for one second I could let them know the beast was still alive, but even in death…I failed.

 It is too hard for me to speak within this body, yet they know I'm listening.  I see each one as they appear today, yet each still holds a unique spark from our time together at the orphanage. It is like my reflection in the mirror, and I can see their images from all those years ago, time has been so cruel to them on more than one occasion.  I have heard all their words today, and forever will hold on to their memories. 

 But most of all, I can see his pain; I hear his heartbeat.  I feel her try and reach to him. My host body starts to heavily convulse.  The stress is weighing too much on her.  I have to leave… leave this plane and return to the one I have been in trapped…  I finally gather enough energy to speak one solitary word to them, the one that both Alexandra and Zell already knew was going to be said, the one that I told them so many months ago.  Just like their dreams I say "goodbye" and then, I smile.

 A vile feeling envelops my body, and my worst fear comes to light.  Rinoa can no longer hold on, her internal damage too much for any mortal person to survive.  I can see the dread in Squall's childlike eyes.  It is not fear, it is something far worse than that… it is the end of his existence, for he too is dying with every shallow breath.  She gave her final moments in life for me to see my family once again…I close my eyes, which are now hers… together we are falling into strangled darkness.

 But that was then…


Rinoa opened her eyes, she was standing on vast barren land.  A tempest raged around her, lighting bolts tracing streams of silvery fire into the ground.  It took her a while to focus, as the wind vigorously blew her hair.  She pulled strands clinging to her lips back, as the tips whipped with force stinging her face.  There was something almost eerily familiar about this place, one found only in the most horrific nightmares. 

 "Rinoa…"  Ellone's voice sounded over thundering gale in the background.

 She turned to meet the face, still in shock of the environment she was standing within.  "Ellone?"  The voice questioned the speaker, although it never needed to…maybe it was to believe in the reality she was facing, maybe it was to end the fantasy she had dreamed.

 As the older girl walked toward her, the winds died down leaving a calming on the horizon.  So quickly the backdrop changed, as if trying to ease the young girl's fear.  She had weathered this storm, just like so many others in her life.  Ellone embraced her hugging Rinoa tightly.  "I can never repay you for those final moments…you will never know how grateful I am." 

 The confused girl looked down embarrassed from the words.  Forcing away the feeling of regret, she tried not to ponder on the loss of never saying goodbye herself.  She focused her energy on the still almost translucent figure in front of her.  "Ellone, where am I?"

 "Between two planes, a place my spirit has been imprisoned for years.  From here, you can see into the mortal realm, portholes really.  Ones you can witness bits, pieces, and fragments of the lives of the living."

 "A ghost…"  Rinoa whispered looking to the soil, as the barren earth seemed to be cracking under her feet.  She reached down at the sight of stray white feather.  Picking it up, she ran the soft tips over the ends of her fingers.  "I'm a ghost, a memory…I'm dead?"

 "No… you're not dead."

 Rinoa lifted her attention from the feather, looking at the woman in front of her.  There had been too many strange coincidences…  Too many things that no one could explain, but this place held many mysteries within, even the young sorceress could sense this.

 "You're wondering how," Ellone looked at her smiling, she always had a way of calming a person…that hadn't faded even in her passing.  "Rinoa, when I first arrived…my soul was as lost as yours, but I never had the power of a sorceress.  I had a power almost greater in this realm…one that not even Hyne could control.  Over the years I learned to use that ability, not just as I had on the earth, but I could foresee certain events your future."

 "But you saw it?  You saw my future…and somehow you changed it?"

 Ellone looked away not sure how to answer.  There was no peaceable answer.  "I can't say if it was destiny, fate, or…  I only know that your future is to raise your daughter.  You have faced the true test of any sorceress, or human being, you fought between the two sides within.  It hasn't always been that way, nor will it be in the future…but you survived."

 Rinoa looked into the far off distance, trying not to let the mourning show on her face.  Somehow this is not how she pictured death, it wasn't of clouds and cities of gold, it was a barren wasteland.  Not that she would depict eternity often, but somehow when she allowed her mind to venture into the mystery it never seemed this…lonely. 

 She stammered as Ellone's words sank in, "You just said…'know that your future is to raise your daughter'…not past tense."

 Turning quickly the younger girl grabbed Ellone's arm trying to remain composed.  "What, what is going on here?  There is something you're not telling me, isn't there?"

 She couldn't look the fearful girl in the eyes.  Yes, there was something she was hiding, something that would devastate the younger one if she ever figured it out.  But that was not to be for now, it was a future that she didn't need to know about…  There was one thing that Ellone was sure, that Rinoa's story wouldn't end here…it would go on for decades. 

 "What…what are you not telling me?  Is it about who I pass my powers onto…who?"  This time the questions came out as begging, obviously afraid of the answer.

 Ellone took a deep breath, inhaling the arid atmosphere before answering the question.  "You don't, not yet."  With that she reached out her hand tears in her eyes, knowing there was one thing she could do…one thing that would change her soul forever.  A destiny she would have never guessed, but now the pieces of her life seemed to fall into place…maybe she knew the final outcome since her childhood.  She pushed Rinoa backwards with surprising force, knocking her to the ground…and into history. 


 When Rinoa sat up, she was no longer in the desolate wasteland but standing in Garden two years ago.  She felt someone brush beside her and turned quickly surprised as long hair caught in her collar.  In that instance she froze, when the moment she had lived so many times in her mind played itself out.  This time she already knew her part, like an actress portraying a role.  A blurry form of Quistis ran in front yelling toward a now collapsed figure in Balamb Garden.

 "Ellone…"  The dark-haired sorceress whispered under her breath.  As if by magic, the instructor yelled the same exact word, only with much more urgency.  Rinoa knew…Rinoa knew every line by heart.

 "Rinoa, please can you help her?"  The instructor's words rang just as grave now as they had two years ago, the same desperate look covering the blonde woman's face.

 The younger girl spoke the same 'lines' as she did that day, not with the same emotion…but with a certain monotone voice, trying to figure exactly what was happening.  "I don't have a GF or any magic junctioned…Quistis…I can't help…I can't help her…I'm sorry."

 Folding her arms to her chest, Rinoa tried not to let the vision take over.  She had to get through this for some reason, like it was some kind of un-sacramental test from Hyne.

 "It's all right."  The fallen girl echoed the script as Rinoa remembered the events.  And just like back then, the Ellone held her hand out…  The sorceress looked around, remembering everything just as back then…everything up to this moment when she lost consciousness.  It had always been a blur, but she remembered she was told to run…to run away to save them.  She hesitantly reenacted the scene, leaning toward Ellone and then a bright light radiated enveloping both bodies.  A darkness overtook them, as she felt herself falling to the hardened concrete ground.

 "Rinoa?  Can you hear me?" 

 "Yes…"  This she did not remember, this did not happen…did it?

 "You have enough power to save me…"

 "No…I'm not strong enough."

 "You are now…you have to try for Squall, for Allison."

 "Allison?  How do you know about Allison?  Ellone where am I?  When am I?"

 "Rinoa you can do it…don't just lay there, get up!  Use your strongest healing spell now you…I…don't have much time left!"

 "Oh Hyne no…I…can't…I'm not strong enough…"  The guilt from the failure clouded her mind, just as it had done in her nightmares for the last two years…if only she had been strong enough.  Ashen light passed in front of Rinoa and she used all her strength to stand, it felt as if she had a dagger in her chest.  She tried to cover her mouth in pain, but blood surged through her lungs.  She spat out what seemed to be rivers of the scarlet liquid trailing down her body. 

 "Ellone…I can barely see you…"  Her vision clouded with mist within her memories and the fog of the reality she was facing.

 "You can do it…now!"

 The scream echoed in her head, it was the only words that she could hear.  With her shaking hand, Rinoa lifted it skyward to the heavens calling on all her inner strength, emotions past, present and future.  She had to do this…she had to save Ellone this time and end the eternal nightmare.  She called out the spell in between hurried gasps of air.  Lighting traced around her fingers dancing on the tips like flames to a fire.  With a surge of energy, they quickly radiated forth calling a force beyond all known comprehension. 

 Within the summoning, Rinoa had momentarily lost sight of her intended target.  She had never seen Ellone cast a counter spell with quickness, nor had she ever seen her even use any magic.  Especially with a speed unknown to any sorceress, as if she had the spell ready for centuries.  She had cast reflect upon herself, acting as a power transmitter, making the spell rebound tenfold.  The force came back to Rinoa with intensity unspeakable.  In her weakened state, it again knocked her to the floor as she screamed with unfathomable pain.

 Her mind a blanket of pure white and every moment of her life passed before her eyes.  It was as if the good was trying to outweigh the writhing pain; it was as if muscle in her body was being torn apart and every bone was shattering at once.  At last, she no longer had the strength to scream nor cry as the torment continued for what seemed an infinity.  Yet it wasn't.  She soon choked on a breath of fresh air, not met with the flavor of blood.  The realization dawned upon her it wasn't breaking the layers of bone and muscles, but mending them past any known medical or magical abilities.

 "Oh Hyne, Ellone what have you done!?"  Her mind cried out, but the words never left her mouth.  The scene around her faded from the familiar silhouettes of Garden to the stormy realm she had found herself in earlier.

 The older girl stood from lying on the broken ground, looking completely different from before.  It wasn't in appearance, as much as the aura surrounding her…one of agony and unspeakable torture.  "I did what I had to do."

 "No…Ellone…what did you do?  You can't go on…your soul…it will be trapped in this damnation forever.  You will lose yourself in this place…you will…"

 "I know."  She smiled weakly.  "I couldn't let him suffer anymore, he had suffered enough.  He can't wait this time; I saw my reflection in his eyes…his childhood…mine…"

 "Where am I?"  Rinoa screamed afraid of the answer, she looked down at the feather in her hand now seeming more matured than the freshly detached one she had grabbed.  "Oh my God…"

 "You weren't strong enough back then to save me, but I am now strong enough to save you."

 "Ellone…I…I wasn't trying to…  How long has passed since I arrived here?"

 "For you, just seconds…for me generations…  I had to convince her it would work, she never knew who I really was when I suggested..."

 "But…Elle no…all for…how many lives were sacrificed?  Ellone it's not worth it!  You never could see the future, could you?  It was always your past…  If he knew what you have done, it would kill him…"

 "No Rinoa, if he lost you it would kill him.  I did it, I finally did it…I changed what couldn't be changed…Rinoa you must run from here.  He loves you and always will…"  Rinoa saw the young woman reach out again pushing her off a ledge that now seemed to have appeared.  She lost the feather she had been clutching tightly in her left hand, and it floated gracefully up into a sudden gale. 

 And then darkness…


Squall still held on to Rinoa's delicate body, refusing to let go.  The ex-commander, ex-SeeD, and now ex-knight, reached to his own neck, feeling for the chain that was a phantom of his memory.  Their daughter was once Rinoa's only salvation; now she would be his.  He would continue in this world not for him, but for the child they both created. 

 He flashed back to their night at the cabin, their first night together in two years.  Never would he forget that, never had he felt such tranquility in the days that followed.  Their relationship grew deeper than ever before, his soul would follow that bond anywhere. 

 Looking down, he smoothed the hair behind her ears as gravity let the tears run their natural course.  Everything that he had ever been or ever would be, turned to frost in the bitter torment of those moments, all his reasoning forsaking rational thinking.  He tried to thaw his heart as a frigid chill ran through his veins, never realizing all within the room felt the cooling temperature once again.

 Against the wall Zell held Alexandra tight, as tried to fight back the flood of tears.  He looked into the mirror afraid of what he might see.  The reflection back was only what he saw in front of him…nothing more, nothing less.  He closed his eyes as the pain was becoming too great.  If only he had interpreted the clues sooner, if only he had stopped Squall from grabbing the gunblade...if only.  The signs had always been in front of him, but even he couldn't see the writing on the wall. 

 He shut his eyes only to have the vision haunt him, but something didn’t feel right.  The cold breeze hit the martial artist, at that moment.  Somehow, around here it had become the norm to feel unexpected climate changes.  He looked back into the mirror rubbing his eyes.  Maybe through the sting of tears his vision blurred, but it looked as if beautiful iridescent streams of light were radiated from the blood-covered woman.  He looked back to his friend, and the scene in his arms hadn't changed to the blind eye.

 Squall remembered the poem Rinoa read to him that night before she gave her life to save their daughter.  The way she read each word aloud, the way her hair fell gracefully highlighting her face, the very essence of life she breathed.  It was the only true night they were a family.  The one night that all the truths were known and they could look upon each other with unadulterated eyes.  The words forever etched on his mind, on his soul. 

Through his tears, he choked out the verse, "Feel my heart, you’ll see the truth.  And my last thoughts …"

Squall grasped lowering his head upon hers.  Only to his surprise, a sudden jolt of electricity surged through his heart into hers…

 "And my last thoughts, will be of forever…with you," a voice rasped from below.

 Squall released his hopeless grasp, just enough to search her soft face for signs of life.  To his astonishment, her intense brown eyes were staring back through the crimson stains.

 "Squall…I always loved you, better than you knew."

 She reached up placing her hand on his face, each covered in blood but never looking more at peace.  He smiled gently back at her leaning down to meet her lips.  So much emotion passed between the two with one simple act.  They knew they would never be apart.

 "How?"  The word escaped his lips, although somehow still kissing her.

 She parted slightly as her eyes closed for a moment.  Was it a dream, was it fantasy?  Had she ever been stabbed?  The blood covering her told one story, the freshly healed wound told quite another.  If for one second her dreams had come to pass, had Ellone sacrificed her soul, her sanity and loyalty, to save Rinoa?  Had Ellone scarified so much more than could ever be spoken?  Could one moment in time have crossed generations, have spanned lifetimes?  Was it truly possible to turn back time…and if so, at what cost?  Were the visions of the future truly the past? 

 "I don't know," she cried looking back at him.  "I…don't know."  It wasn't a lie, but was it the truth?

 He didn't care.

 Quistis buried her head in Seifer's chest.  Somehow, her life was like a phoenix rising from the ashes, watching a miracle that none of them should ever question.  Somehow, somewhere they must have done something right.  She felt as the man that supported her started to rise to his feet, helping her up with him.  There were no words needed to be spoken…they had so much left to look for, a lifetime to make up for the mistakes they had made in youth.   Maybe it wasn't a fairytale ending, but it was as close as she could hope.  She had to find herself, something she had never done before.  There was nothing left for her at Garden, only something left within its prison walls…someone who she would be waiting for…no matter how long it took.    

 Seifer released Quistis to aid Squall into getting back onto his feet.  They were far from out of the clear, they still had to leave this place unnoticed…but together he would be sure as hell they found a way.  He didn't make it this far only to fail…not again.

 Alex watched as the sorceress was locked tightly in the arms of the man who completed her.  For in that instance, Alexandra knew what Rinoa wasn't sure about…she could sense it and so much more.  It was far greater a sacrifice than one should have to face, but some secrets had to remain even from her best friend…sometimes lies are best.  However she knew one thing, Ellone would forever be a part of her.

 Looking to the corpse covering the ground, Alex felt not the slightest ounce of remorse.  "Goodbye Dad," the words ran cynically off her tongue.  Maybe the voices of dead could finally find the justice they long desired.  Maybe now, there would be peace to her mother's memory; Jefferson Mitchell's trial and judgment decided out in that very room…now his soul would face a sentence of perpetual damnation.  To the countless lives he destroyed, to the countless masses he renounced his verdict a fitting reflection to his life.  He was only a man…only a monster.

 Zell led the way, attempting to scan the hallway.  He quickly opened the door, as Squall gently carried Rinoa in his arms.

 The man still shaken from the events looked down in his arms for reassurance.  She smiled in return, and then gently closed her eyes.  "Rinoa let's go get our daughter." 

 Laying her head upon his chest, she listened to his heart…now knowing exactly how precious of gift each beat was.  A gift neither would ever take for granted again, a gift that nobody in that room would ever forsake.  Maybe to the world she would be dead, and that would finally bring her peace…maybe history could write what they wanted to about her…she didn't care.  Betrayer, warlord, dictator, cold-blooded murdered….she was dead to them, all of them.  She would find someone else to be…yet again.  Forever her stories would be told in legend, the lies would live on… but the truths only to a privileged few.

 She was tired, but had no will to sleep.  For right now, she wanted every second of life…to enjoy each and every precious one.  She knew they would have many more seconds, and many years of them, but something was special about these.  Something magical, something spiritual…something that neither of them could ever describe to another living soul.   

 As they were about to leave two Galbadian soldiers came around the corner looking at what they thought to be the final appalling act of Sorceress Heartilly.  They looked on in horror as the dead president lay on the ground covered in his own blood.  Finally, one spoke up demanding an answer.

 "Did the sorceress do this?"

 Everyone stared in disbelief, as the soldiers seemed to echo a nightmare begun two years ago.  Nobody dared move a muscle.  Nobody dared to breathe.  Nobody dared tell the truth

 Irony is a fickle creature…redemption for ones mistakes comes in many forms.

 Quistis approached the soldier daring to look him directly in the eyes, saying one simple word.  One that she should have answered two years ago…


 Our lives are mere specks upon the shadows of the earth; we are travelers amongst the stars, if only for a brief period of time.  If given the chance to have your dreams fulfilled with a simple yes or no question, could one always make the right choice?  Are the dreams you dream, reality or fantasy?

 ~ * The End * ~

Final Fantasy 8 Fanfic