The Orphan Chapter 27
Face of Heaven
By Kate Lorraine
And when he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine,
That all the world will be in love with night,
And pay no worship to the garish sun.
-Romeo and Juliet (William Shakespeare)
Laguna stood there near the door trying to think of what he would say to her. Rinoa Heartilly, the girl his son had died for. He was never good with such things, such darkness. That sight of her on top of Squall, covered with blood still haunted him. What state she was in now he could hardly imagine. But he needed to talk to her. She was perhaps, the only living person who could bring him relief from his guilt.
Laguna walked over to the entrance to the balcony where she had gone, as a student told him, to watch the stars. He saw the most particular sight then. She had turned her left as though she saw someone there beside her. A thin smile curled on her face as she raised her index finger to the mysterious visitor. Laguna stood there with his mouth half open.
He coughed loudly to alert her to his presence. She jumped at the sight of him and turned around to greet him. Laguna stepped out onto the balcony.
"Hello Rinoa." He said as his eyes wandered over the edge of the stone rail. From here he could see the meadows behind Edea's Orphanage. The flowers were in bloom this time of year. The pink flowers were absolutely gorgeous during the day and as he understood, Squall grew up here. Garden was here to pick up Cid today. The old headmaster had recovered from his illness, as Laguna heard.
"Hello Laguna," Rinoa said as she turned her face upward toward the sky. Laguna watched her. It was strange she almost looked happy then as her eyes followed the path of a shooting star across the sky.
"I wanted to talk to you about Squall, Rinoa." Laguna said. "If it's not too painful for you.." he said, trailing off awkwardly.
"No," she said as she turned her large dark eyes over to him. "Yes?"
"I want you to know that I'll always be here for you, if you need someone to talk to. Do you have anywhere to stay? If you need anything at all, I'll be honored to . . you know." he said.
She paused and tossed some of her hair over her shoulder. "I'm going to stay with my father for a bit. I can't stay here anymore. I'm not too popular at Garden now." Rinoa chuckled sarcastically but immediately found her gravity again. "You have a question for me, Laguna."
Laguna cleared his throat. "What happened, Rinoa, between you and Squall when the two of you disappeared?"
Rinoa was silent for a moment as she pondered the question. "Laguna, Squall made a discovery. He realized that he loved me but in the end, by choosing to be with me he also choose death and therefore to be forever apart from me. That's the tragic irony of it. What happened in the few days in which we disappeared is of no consequence. It was just a lot of insanity which, perhaps would better be forgotten."
"I'm sorry Rinoa," Laguna said. "The witch Alexandra was truly evil. I just wish I didn't have to leave the two of you to deal with her."
Rinoa shrugged. She had a distant look in her eyes as though she was far away .
"Laguna, I don't know what you have heard in Garden or on television, I . . .I don't believe that Alexandra was evil. She said to me once that hate was love which was returned and I'm beginning to understand what she meant by that. In the end, I guess we will never know, if Squall and I tricked her and used Maniac Athena on her, or if she willingly allowed me to use the crystal on myself."
"Why?" Laguna asked perplexed.
"Love, Laguna. To bring back the dead one must have their love, so that they'll wait for you. Alexandra didn't have his love, he would never have come for her. Perhaps, in the end she wanted what was best for him instead of for herself, and so gave up her powers so that he might have another chance at life."
"I have no idea what you are talking about, Rinoa." Laguna said, throughly confused.
"Are you feeling okay?"
Rinoa shrugged. She looked over at Laguna sadly, with sympathy in her eyes. "Don't be too hard on yourself Laguna. One day perhaps you and Quistis will understand what really happened on that night of passage. As for now, don't mourn too much for Squall's passing. He wouldn't want you to."
Laguna frowned. He bid her farewell and stepped out of balcony. Yet as he stood at the door he hesitated. For a moment he looked back. He could not believe what he saw. She was embracing something, embracing thin air.
What did the evil sorceress's power do to her? He wondered in amazement.
As Rinoa heard Laguna's footsteps fade away she turned her eyes back to the meadow. She placed her elbows on the stone ledge and felt the nighttime breeze stroke her face. Suddenly, a strong gust of wind blew a mass of petals and feathers into her face. Rinoa smiled as she reached out and caught a one of them.
He came then, like a mist of perfume. Slowly and quietly he came up from behind her.
"What did he want?" the shade asked her. Rinoa turned her face around to her right. There he was, standing, her black angel. He looked so real then that she could almost see the moonlight reflecting off the leather of his jacket. It was hard to believe that she was looking at a shade. It seemed as though he had woken up from that coffin and had sneaked up here to find her.
"Nothing, Squall. He just wanted to ask about you, about what happened between us and Alexandra."
He frowned and crossed his arms over his chest. "Don't tell them anything, Rinoa. Not about your powers nor about me."
She watched him fondly and smiled. "So you haven't changed. You will always be cold introverted loner Squall."
He smiled at her and reached over with one hand.
I don't care what they think, his eyes whispered as he took her into his arms. She watched him with surprise as he kissed her. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed her lips up against his. He felt so real it was impossible to pretend that he wasn't
He drew back then, keeping his lips an inch from hers.
"Squall," she whispered. "You shouldn't have shown up so suddenly at your funeral. What would they think should they see me watching you?"
She could feel his warm breath against her skin.
"Hush," he whispered. "Nothing anyone thinks is of any consequence to me anymore. As long as I am with they can see me in whatever light they wish."
He raised his right hand and cupped her cheek in his palm. She felt him gently stroking her with his thumb, tenderly pulling strands of hair away from her face. His eyes were black in the shadows and his face unreadable in the darkness. She just felt the delicate touch of his lips as he kissed her lightly and slowly.
"Do you think, Squall," she asked. "That one day we may be together in life, once more?"
He sighed. He kissed her once more, his lips lingering on hers for a second longer as though he couldn't bear to leave her.
"Whatever you choose, Rinoa, it does not matter. Whether it be in life or in death, I will never leave you again."
She smiled through her tears of joy as she leaned over and hugged him fiercely.
And for you, Squall, I will cross the stars.
Author's note: Note how Rinoa is looking at both the night time sky and the meadow at once. This is ironic because in FF8 Squall promised to wait for her at the meadow, in this story he will be waiting for her from the stars. It's funny that she is watching both at the same time as he comes to her.
Author's Notes :Dueling for a Haunted Lady is actually the chapter in the Iliad where Paris and Helen's husband duel for her.
Author's notes: Notice that the only two people to fall in fighting Alexandra is Squall and Seifer. In a way, Seifer's defeat foreshadows Squall's. Seifer and Squall are like mirrors of each other. Should one thing happen to Seifer, the opposite usually happens to Squall.
Author's notes: On Squall's dream back in the chapter "Sorrow of Heaven." Those who interpreted it would see that the marble statue is Rinoa, the rain is Raine and the lightening is Squall. Pretty much that dream was a manifestation of Squall's guilt for what he had done and was about to do to Rinoa. Of course many of you were mislead in that you thought that all dreams predicted the future therefore Rinoa was going to die. No, no. There is no scientific proof that dreams do that, frankly I never had one that did. Dreams are just little movies of your private conflicts. Also note that in the dream the "garden" is struck by lightening but he doesn't even look. This is one a way of foreshadowing his eventual betrayal of Garden.
Author's Note: Stone Forest is poetic way of saying cemetery. I thought this was obvious but I guess it's not. So that's what Quistis was talking about.
Squall& Rinoa's Relationship
I dislike stories that have Rinoa and Squall professing their eternal love for each other every two and half paragraphs. I think Squall's actions are more important than the words that he speaks. If you study the Rinoa in this story you would see that she and Squall share an intimate relationship with each other. In the end, I don't believe in having characters love each other by saying those cliched three words "I love you." They were never said in the game and they will never be said here or any sequels that should follow, unless I think of innovative place to put it.
In this story Squall questions his love for Rinoa however, in the end he finds his reasons for loving her. The bond Squall and Rinoa share at the beginning of the story metamorphosizes into the one in which they share at the end, which is a far more intimate one.
Alexandra's Significance and metaphor
Alexandra is not just your average villain. She represents something that is evident in almost every gamer that fell in love with a video game. Alexandra leaves her world of reality in attempt to escape into this fantasy world. However, in entering this world she treats all those whom she meets as puppets. They are not real people to her, just characters in a story or figures in a video game.
In writing about Alexandra I was bringing up the issue of fanfiction in general. When you write a fanfic you change fate. And some authors like to insert themselves into these stories as well. Therefore, this presents the other side of the story in terms of those who like to fiddle around with fate. Remember the next time an author tries to pair together characters in s creative way, or when they try to rewrite the game. I'm not condemning or commending such a thing. Stories are to raise questions not to give answers.
Difference between Squall and Seifer-
In this story Squall and Seifer are a reflection of each other. Notice that as Seifer is elevated higher in his quest for glory and power, Squall slowly slips from his position of the same. If you accept the premise of this story than FF8 would have had a very ironic ending. Seifer, whose dream has always been to have the love of many, has only the friendship of his posse. The loyalty of one, which is in fact Squall's dream. However, Squall on the other hand, becomes the commander of Garden and defeats Ultimecia. He has glory and power but not the love of one since he's confused about his feelings for Rinoa. It's interesting and tragic in a way how they achieved each other's dreams instead of their own.
In this story Squall comes to the realization that he had been after the wrong goal all along. However, his love for Rinoa leads him to betray SeeD. Because of this decision, we can never be sure if Squall us really the hero or the villain of this story.
Laguna and Squall's relationship- I don't hate Laguna. Maybe this story gives the impression that Laguna is an awful guy but that's pretty much just setting the stage for the sequel which is about Laguna's past, his motives and such.
Why Cid is not in the story - probably a lot of you wondered why I choose to do away with all the adults at Garden. Well, the thought that a bunch of adults would send a army of seventeen year olds out to fight a war disgusts me. That's why I needed to eliminate the adults. Had the adults been there, the choice would not have been up to Quistis to fight. Anyway, I'm sorry I had to kick Cid out. I don't really see his significance to the story anyway.
Significance of all the Crossing the stars stuff -
okay this is for everyone who didn't understand why Squall had to die. Remember at the end of Chapter 16 where Squall said "Destiny will never allow me to love you. Tragedy awaits those that cross the stars, Alex." Well that is very important. The irony of course is that the chapter is entitled "crossing the stars" and here Squall is talking about the consequences of doing so. In chapter 24 Alex says "I can give you this, the world, the moon, the sea. It will all belong to you and all I ask in return is that you cross the stars." What she means then is that if he agreed to forget Rinoa and love her she will give him everything. He was never meant to love her, you see. Fate says that he and Rinoa are to be together. In chapter 25 Squall says"It's too late for me to cross the stars." This is very interesting. I was trying to pull a Henry James here. While Alexandra thinks that what Squall means is that he wants to change destiny and love her, what he really means is that it's too late for him to save himself. Squall then says "Alexandra, I'm sorry." She thinks that he is trying to apologize for loving Rinoa when what he really means is that he sorry for what he is about to do. Then of course, he says "Destiny can be rewritten," which means that Rinoa will change destiny by resurrecting him. The reader's first impulse would be to take it to mean that he is changing Rinoa's fated death by killing himself. However after 27, the reader realizes that what he really meant was that Rinoa can change destiny and undo his death. That's why Squall's last words to Rinoa are "I promise you will find me, do you understand?" What he means is that he will wait here for her. That he will not pass on. That if she loved him enough she can pass the tests and bring him back to life. In the end Rinoa says "and for you I will cross the stars," she does not mean go against fate here. Here she means, I will do what Alex told you and I will travel past the stars to bring you back to me.
Squall had to die in this story because he questioned his love for Rinoa. You see in the world they live in, a perfect world, there should be perfect love. However, Squall goes against that when he begins to wonder if he really loves Rinoa that is the beginning of his demise. That is the underlying reason why Squall died. It is also the reason why Alexandra loves him. He is able to see the gray between the good and the evil. In the end of the story however, Rinoa reveals that she too can see the gray when she talks about how Alex wasn't really evil. Alex said to Rinoa in chapter 20 that "hate is when love is not returned." what Alex meant was that she loved Rinoa too, but unlike Squall, Alex didn't believe that Rinoa can ever return her love. It's funny to me in a way when people ask me how I can kill Squall. I wonder if they realize that this is a story testing the bond between Rinoa and Squall. Such a story is by its very nature forbidden. If one thing Final Fantasy 8 stated clearly was that Rinoa and Squall belong together. How can a lowly author like me try to break what is unbreakable? Well, that's why Squall had to die for contemplating breaking the bond between him and Rinoa. There is no other possible ending. Had Rinoa been the one to question her love for Squall, she would have been punished with death as well. However she never did.
Of course now the question is did Squall ever love Alexandra? Well as long as she is in a position of power and inside Rinoa's body, the answer is no. However, should she have shown up in her rightful body without powers of destruction, the scenario might just be very interesting. In the third installment of The Orphan Trilogy I planned to deal with that. However, I seriously doubt if The Orphan will ever be a trilogy simply because I'm rapidly losing my enthusiasm for writing.
What exactly happened at the end - Okay, at the end, Rinoa inherits Alexandra's power. If you read chapter 9 carefully or even chapter 25, you would see that. Yes now Rinoa can read minds, posses others, see ghosts - all of it. Alexandra had all her power sucked out of her. She is trapped in the future as a simple helpless child. There will never be anymore of a threat from her despite the fact that she is still alive.
Possibility for a sequel - Of course the chapter called crossing the stars hints at the possibility of a sequel. I don't know. If I do make a sequel it will be about Laguna sorting out his past, Rinoa going to get Squall back and some exploring of the Cetra Ruins by Squall's friends. But you see, I seem to have lost my enthusiasm for the characters of FF8. I'm not sure if I can go under for another twenty chapters. I'm afraid that my story is going too far from the true story of FF8. So don't count on a sequel, really don't count on it. In the end, I want to ensure you that sequel or no, The Orphan is a complete work and it stands alone fine without a sequel.
I would like to thank first and foremost my editor Christina. Thank you for encouraging me week after week to write. Without you this fanfic would never have gotten past chapter 3. It was primarily for you that I wrote this story. Thank you for your friendship and patience with everything especially my Laguna rantings. You are truly the one most responsible for the completion of this fanfic. This story is dedicated to you. Thank you, I truly mean this, thank you Christina. I haven't met too many stars that shine as brightly in the sky as you do.
Secondly I would like to thank Fifi. You always told me what was good in my stories and pointed out what needed to have more work. I awaited eagerly, perhaps more often than I should, on the Internet for your enthusiastic letters. While Christina was the one I discussed the outcome of my stories with, you were always the one who I tried to surprise with each twist of the plot. Thank you Fifi, I am truly blessed to have two such wonderful friends.
Thirdly I would like to thank Sarah, or better know as the author of the miraculous Forgotten Destinies to which my fanfic can't compare. It was you that told me that late night in November that I should start a fanfic. Had you not been there The Orphan would have never come into being. Thank you Sarah.
Finally I would like to thank all those who took the time to read this story. I know it was long and at many times boring. I tried my best to make it as true to game as I could. I hope at some point you recaptured the same pleasure you experienced playing FF8. So for now goodbye. No matter if you read the next installment or not or even if I choose to write one, you have really made my day for staying with me to the very end of this story. I know that wherever I am right now, I would feel a little less lonely, thanks to your good graces. So until next time, adieu.
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