A Mist Over Winhill Chapter 11

Childhood's End

By Kate Lorraine

Selphie walked up to the crumbling wall of Trabia Garden.

"A . .direct hit?" she asked in sorrow.

"Horrible," Irvine muttered as he watched Selphie begin to climb the twisting vines of the decaying wall. Behind him, Zell followed leaving Squall and Rinoa standing there still in the snow.

Irvine watched Selphie as she spoke to the survivors of the missile attack.

I should say something to comfort her. Irvine thought as he tentatively walked up to them.

"Hey!" Selphie's friend suddenly said. "Have you been taking care of Selphie?"

Irvine smiled. "She's my little buddy."

"That's all?" Selphie asked giggling. "That doesn't sound like you at all."

"Well Selphie," Irvine continued. "Pretty girls come and go but you'll always be my little dancing nightingale."

She was silent then for a moment. "Now I really didn't expect that from you."

Irvine shrugged. "I like ya a lot Sefie."

She smiled and jumped in glee. "Wait for me at the old basketball courts, Irvine. I'll be there soon."

* * * *

"Where's Rinoa?" Zell asked as the group congregated at the run down basketball courts.

"She probably doesn't know that we need to meet here," Irvine said. "Hey Squall, since Selphie's not here yet, why don't you go find Rinoa?"

Why me? Squall wondered. If she wants to leave so let her. What happened to all your evil sorceress gibberish? Why is she suddenly considered one of us?

"Squall?" Irvine asked. "Hey you listening?"

"She'll show up if she wants to." Squall replied.

"Yo, Squall," Zell said. "That's pretty harsh."

Squall scowled at all of them. Finally he gave in and throwing his hands down in disgust, he went searching for her. A few moments later he found her in the old cemetery that laid on the outskirts of Trabia Garden.

"What are you doing?" he asked as he saw her crouching in front of one of the tombstones, rubbing the dust off the carved lettering.

"Looking. . for someone." she said without turning as she drew her hand back, sighed in resignation and began to walk away. She crouched down at another tombstone down the row and picked some of the dirt out of the letters so that she could see what was written beneath.


"A man," she said. "That my father told me to find. He's supposed to be the one I am destined to be with."

"So you are looking for him in a cemetery?"Squall asked. I see your logic, he probably killed himself when he realized that you were his destiny.

"I asked someone if they recognized the name and he told me that he thought he saw something carved on a tombstone of that name. So I came here since this is where all the tombstones are."

"What's the name?" Squall asked.

"I can't tell you. My father made me swear not to." she said absently as she moved on, browsing the next round of graves.

"You can tell a stranger on the street and yet you can't tell me?" He asked.

"Well Squall," she said as she patted her hands to get the dirt off. "You are too close to this sorceress business for me to share that information with you."

"Whatever," he said nonchalantly. "We are meeting at the old basketball courts. Come, don't come, it's up to you."

* * * * *

"Hey Irvine," Selphie said as she appeared in the basketball court. "What's with all that nightingale stuff?"

Irvine grinned as he walked up to her. He took pleasure in the fact that he was half a foot taller than her. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Squall casually take a place leaning against a fallen wall.

"I grew up Selphie, in an orphanage by the sea. There was this girl I knew there. She was my best friend."

"Is this your secret, Irvine?" Selphie asked as she felt her face fall. So maybe Irvine was in fact loyal to one girl, and he had led her this far just to drop her with the harsh truth.

Irvine boldly walked up to Selphie and bent down slightly so that she would be forced to look into his face. "She used to play with me when no one else would. There was a beach nearby, we used to sit there for hours and she would tell me stories, beautiful stories, sad stories, romantic ones, she was my only love."

"You are you taunting me, Irvine?" Selphie exclaimed. "What is it? Do I remind you of her?"

Irvine threw back his head and laughed as he watched her hilarious pouting expression.

"You don't remember any of it, Selphie? None at all?"

Selphie gasped suddenly as she drew her hand up to her gaping lips.

"The stone orphanage by the sea! The lighthouse . . . I am that girl! Oh Irvy!" she yelled in glee as she hugged him by the neck choking the life out of him.

"Wait a second," Zell interrupted as he stepped closer. "This is strange as hell but I think I remember that orphanage too. I remember setting off fireworks. You were there Irvine . .and you Selphie . . .and some more kids."

Selphie giggled as she jumped up and down clapping her hands. "We all grew up together. Oh this is just spiffy!"

Zell scratched his head, "this is really strange. You, me, Selphie, I didn't remember any of this."

"Do you remember a girl named, who was our older sister." Irvine implored growing serious as he hugged the hyper Selphie to his side. "Her name was Quistis."

"Quistis," Zell muttered, taking on a thoughtful position, testing the word on his tongue.

Irvine glanced at Squall from the corner of his eye. Squall was no longer leaning against the wall, he was standing now, frowning deeper than ever. He looked so vicious he could probably scare small children if there were any nearby. Truly, one should not be allowed to have such frozen transparent eyes. They were enough to make one turn to stone.

"No," Zell finally responded. "I don't remember that name at all."

Irvine turned all his attention to Squall now.

"I know you remember, Squall," Irvine hissed accusingly. "You remember what she did right? Your sister. . .and what she gave up .. for you."

Squall closed his eyes. He knew then even though he had not the concrete memories that Irvine was insinuating something.

"It was her choice," Squall suddenly said in words which surprised even himself. "I never told her to do what she did . .. for me."

"But it was you!" Irvine said. "You destroyed her life. You could have said something. They were all waiting for you to make that choice, Cid, Edea, me, Selphie, all of us but you never did . . .you let them take her!"

"No!" Squall suddenly said as he flung his arm out in a gesture of disbelief. "It wasn't my choice."

"What's going on?" Rinoa asked as she suddenly appeared.

"It's a lie," Squall hissed once more as he turned to leave yet he didn't take two stepped before he fell to his knees.

"Squall!" Rinoa said as she bent down beside him. She hardly laid her hand on him when he suddenly collapsed unconscious. She caught him before he could fall face down on the floor and cradled him in her lap.

"What's going on?!" she asked glanced wildly at him and then at the group of stunned spectators.

There was no answer. Shock was written on the face of all his friends.

"Wake up, Squall," Rinoa whispered as she leaned over him. "Please wake up."


~dreamworld ~


The girl with the golden hair flung back her head and laughed.

"You will never beat me, Squall."

He collected his cards and shuffled then. "It's that plus rule. I don't understand it."

Quistis smiled brightly. "You will, sooner or later. If you don't I would be a bad teacher won't I? And you know how I want to be a teacher when I grow up .. ."

"Hey you two playing cards again?" Seifer asked as he appeared in the garden. "Poor Squall, you still haven't learned that it's impossible to win against Quistis?"

Quistis frowned at him and shoved her cards in her pocket. "Mind your own business, Seifer."

Seifer laughed lightly and punched Squall playfully on the shoulder. "Come on, let's go beat up Zell."

Squall glanced up and saw Ellone wandering unsteadily into the garden when he suddenly pushed his two playmates aside.

"Maybe. ..later." he said absently to Seifer as he ran over to Ellone. "Are you okay sis?" the tiny boy asked.

Ellone looked up . "Squall," she whispered with fear in her voice. "They're coming. I can feel it. We need to get out of here. They know I am here!"

"No," Squall suddenly said with alarm in his voice. "They can't . . I" Squall remembered his mother's voice echoing through his head. "I'll protect you," Squall assured her. "I will."

"What's going on?" Quistis asked as she approached the two. Although Quistis was much younger than Ellone, she did look mature for her age. Squall didn't feel queer calling her his older sister especially since she reminded him so much of Ellone herself. She reached over and touched Ellone on the shoulder.

"Nothing,"Ellone said quickly.

"The soldiers are coming," Squall explained to Quistis against Ellone's wishes. "They're gonna take Ellone. I have to protect her now that Raine is dead."

Quistis looked troubled. "Ellone are they close by?"

There came a sudden loud knock at the front door of the orphanage and the three children were frozen in place.

"It's them," Ellone said in fear.

"Go, Ellone," Quistis ordered as she reached over and grabbed Squall's tiny hand. "Let me and Squall take care of it. Run to the meadows and hide."

Ellone hesitated for a moment staring at the two children in disbelief. Squall was five, Quistis, six, what could they possibly do? Yet in her distress she followed Quistis's orders and ran to the field, she would not let them take her.

Quistis looked at her small friend whose freezing hand was hanging onto her like a clamp. He knew too well the terror of the Estharian pursuit and at that moment Quistis would have done anything to bear the burden for him.

"Come on Squall," she whispered. "It will be okay, don't be afraid."

She walked him into the house where she saw two tall Estharian soldiers standing. There were more of them outside but the small orphanage could not possibly accommodate them all. Cid and Edea stood before the soldier with terrified expressions across their faces. They had begun to regret agreeing to shelter Ellone here. Her powers would be enough to destroy the world should she fall to a mad witch like Adel.

"She's not here!" Cid said in distress. "I've never even heard of that name, now would you please leave, you are scaring the children."

The two soldiers glanced around the orphanage at the rows of frightened youngsters.

"Are you sure these are all the children under your care?" One of the soldiers ordered.

"Yes!" Edea said pretending to be irritated. "These are all."

"Alright then. I know you have her, we'll be keeping an eye on you but as for now, we'll leave you-" one of the soldiers began before his buddy's eyes suddenly lite up.

"Wait a second" he said and across the room. He shoved Quistis aside roughly and grabbed Squall by the arm. "Well well, look it's the Loire boy. See I told you, Dan, they're here. Where is your sister boy?" the soldier demanded.

Edea took a step forward in horror before Cid grabbed her and assured her that it was useless. The soldier grabbed Squall tightly with both hands and shook him.

"Come on, where is she? Say it!" the soldier demanded. Squall refused to speak a word. He stared back coldly at the man with a bitter hatred that enough to send a chill down the older man's spine. The other soldier walked over to the pair.

"Where is Ellone!" he demanded and he reached down and slapped Squall across the face violently. "Where is she?" he said venomously.

Edea was trying to resist her husband's efforts to restrain her. "Stop it! Let him go." she bellowed to no avail.

The soldier shoved Squall against the wall pinning him against it. His buddy drew out a switchblade and drew it up to the little boy's throat.

"I don't care if you are a kid, I'll gladly slit your throat open so you can go join your mother and father. Now where is she?" he demanded. Squall looked away, there were tears in his eyes but he refused to give them satisfaction of seeing him weep. No he would not let his mother and father's death be in vain. If it was his life that was the price for honoring the memory of his dead parents then so be it.

But someone came to his rescue. Quistis reached over and grabbed the soldier's arm, the one who was holding the blade.

"Stop it, stop hurting my brother. I am Ellone. Let him go."

The soldier's mouth opened in a pearly grin. "I knew this would work."

The other one shoved Squall aside roughly. He reached over and took Quistis by the arm and began to drag her away. The children of the orphanage regarded Squall as he slowly got back to his feet. They were all watching, waiting for him to tell Quistis no, that he would not allow her to do this but he said nothing. Cid said nothing and neither did Edea as they watched the little girl with hair the color of the mid summer sun, throw away her future with both hands. Yet they did not speak up either because to give Quistis was to give one life, to give Ellone would be giving a billion.

The front door was left agape where Quistis disappeared. Finally Squall broke out of his trance and ran after her. He caught up with her outside of the orphanage. He stood there, unmoving as he wondered what to do. Her hair was lake of gold in the wind and her eyes, the color of dew speckled spring grass. She saw him as well and nodded sadly. In a moment of strength she yanked herself from the guards and ran over to him. She managed to grab him by the arm before they caught up with her. Leaning over she had only enough time to whisper, "Squall, don't ever forget me." She caught his hand and place something in it as they pulled her away. This time the guard picked her up and carried her to their helicopter.

Squall looked down at his hand.

A Gilgamesh card.

* * * * *

~dreamworld end~

* * * * *

"He's coming around!" Selphie squealed as Squall began to stir in Rinoa's arms. Rinoa looked down in relief as Squall drew his hand up to his scarred forehead. She drew her arms away from him as he sat up.

"What happened, Squall?" Zell asked. "You had all of us scared out of our wits."

Squall ignored him as he sat there for a moment holding his hand to his forehead.

"Was it what I said?" Irvine asked. "I'm sorry Squall. I didn't know you were going to faint on me."

Squall glared at Irvine for his demeaning comment as he struggled to his feet. Rinoa reached over to help him and was surprised when he didn't push her aside.

"Leave me alone," Squall said under his breath as he stumbled away. Rinoa glanced at the confused expressions on the faces of his friends.

"Let him be. Why don't you guys go back to Garden first? Let me talk to him." She said as she glanced in the direction where he disappeared.

Irvine who knew that he was the last one Squall wanted to see at the moment, agreed immediately. Zell nodded too as he realized that Rinoa had a way with Squall. Selphie who didn't really cared either way, followed Irvine as he left.

And so Rinoa followed Squall in the direction where he had gone. She found him standing alone on the outskirts of Trabia Garden. She walked up to him quietly listening to the soft crunch of the virgin snow under her feet.

"Do you want to talk?" she asked him as she came to his side. He stood there with his hand on his hip as though he was in deep contemplation. She rubbed her bare arms trying to generate a bit of warmth as they stood together, silently, in the snowfield.

"Don't hide yourself from me, Squall," she whispered quietly. "I'm not one of your teammates here by order. I follow you of my own free will and I'll always be here by your side as long as you would have me here."

He spoke up then, to her surprise. "No, you're wrong. Everyone leaves you sooner or later. My mother, Quistis, Ellone. You agreed with me remember? In Timber when I said that we are all always alone."

"Yes but I also said that there was the hope for something better. You are that hope, Squall, for me. I know that now. When you collapsed today I was so afraid. I've never been so scared in my life. If you should die, Squall, I can't imagine how I would go on living."

He looked up at her face for a moment and realized that she was completely serious.

"Don't say that," he ordered urgently. "Should I ever die I don't want to think that I will have your blood on my hands as well." Somehow her words were so wrong, he couldn't quite place why they sounded so terribly erroneous. Something he had seen a long time ago seemed to burst free at that moment and surface from beneath the ocean of his unconsciousness.

Winhill. The mist over Winhill.

She shrugged and kicked the snow under her feet.

"Will you tell me now what's troubling you?" she asked as she rubbed her arms some more.

"Quistis," he said softly. "I had a dream about her. It's probably Ellone that's doing this to me. Ellone isn't happy with the present so she wants to change the past."

She nodded in understanding.

"So what do you plan to do?"

"I think I would like to find Quistis. I think I know where she is." Squall stated faintly.

Rinoa lifted an eyebrow. "Are you sure about that, Squall? She might not be the Quistis you remember."

"I don't care. I need to find her. You don't need to come with me, this is just something I need to settle with my past."

"No," she said. "If you are going to seek out the sorceress Quistis, there's no way in hell am I letting you go alone."

He shrugged and turned. "If you insist."


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