Chapter 6: The Party And Announcement

Strago was holding onto the blindfolded Relm so she wouldn't trip and hurt herself. Relm would've preferred Gau's touch though. She knew she couldn't complain unless she wanted to arouse Strago's suspicions and she didn't want to have to tell him before she was ready. "You don't have to hold me, Gramps. I'm a big girl now."

"If you say so," Strago said as he let go. Relm was a little wobbly at first, but she soon gained balance as she adjusted to the terrain which was pretty flat.

Gau decided to be a little annoying. "Watch out for that rock ... Don't trip in that blade of grass ... NO! Don't step there! That's chocobo do-do" He laughed at what he said, but Relm paid no attention to him. She was careful where she was walking and no blade of grass was gonna trip her up.

"You're getting almost as bad as poor, old Gramps here, worried about the littlest of things," Relm said.

Eventually, they arrived at their destination. Strago took off Relm's blindfold to reveal their destination. They all looked around the place they had just stopped at. It was an area near the forest behind her house. They were a bit east of General Leo's grave, just outside of town. The aroma in the air from the tress, grass, and flowers mixed in with the smell of barbecued food was beautiful.

The food was already cooking. It couldn't have been any better unless both Gau and Relm were alone in their secret spot. She leaned over to whisper in Gau's ear. "You know something I feel like skinny dipping. Isn't that strange?"

"You do? Really? Maybe after the party? ... You are in a strangely good mood!" Gau whispered back.

"Come on you two, get something to eat!" Locke said, interrupting the two. "It might be gone before you know it."

Everyone was there, even Shadow, who was over by the trees by himself. He had stayed in Kefka's Tower, but apparently fate determined that he hadn't suffered enough and, therefore, survived. He was found by a woman from Albrook who took him back to help him recuperate. He had commanded her to leave him there, but she did no such thing. Now that he's back to normal, he's gone back to being the loner that he always was. The lady hoped that they could've had a relationship, but he said that he could never go back to that kind of life.

The food was quickly eaten. All that was left was the cake. It was a triple layer, double chocolate cake with fudge icing. It needed the three layers in order to serve all the guests. Relm told Gau that he could have the honor of cutting the cake. Gau accepted and cut off a nice size piece which he gave to Relm.

"YUM! This is delicious. Who made this wonderful cake?" Relm exclaimed as she took a bite out of the soft and moist chocolate fantasy. She enjoyed it so much, she took another bite, one so big, it wouldn't all fit in her mouth. After, Relm managed to swallow the cake, she excused herself for making such a pig out of herself.

Gau laughed at Relm and then decided to cut more cake for everyone else. Relm glared at Gau for a few seconds before putting on a smile that made Gau laugh inside.

Soon, the cake was gone too. The time to make the announcement was drawing closer. Now was the time to open the presents. Strago told Relm that she had to open his present first. It turned out to be a paint set. Every time a special holiday came up, Strago would always get a paint set. Gau could see that she didn't really care much for it. Of course, she did have a dozen sets in the closet already. However, she didn't want to let the old man down and put on a big coverup smile.

Next was Locke. "Sorry, Relm. I couldn't afford any wrapping," Locke said as he took a necklace out of his pocket and gave it to Relm. It was a gold necklace with a sapphire jewel. It shined very brightly, as did Relm's face at the sight of it.

"Thank you, Locke. I love things with my birthstone! I love it!" Relm said, giving Locke a quick hug.

"Wow! Even better than I thought! And you're welcome," Locke said, surprised he treasure hunted a necklace with her birth stone on it. No one heard him though. They were all too busy admiring the necklace.

Cyan gave her a small sword and told her if she wanted to learn how to use it better, he could teach her personally. Sabin gave her some weights to give her body some muscles. Edgar accidentally gave her some lingerie that was meant for some woman that he had met. He ended up sending the sketchbook that he had for Relm to that woman. He hoped she liked it. He let Relm keep the lingerie. He said that someday, she would probably want to put it on for a special someone. Gau smiled at the thought of that.

Gogo, Mog, and Umaro all got her various types of coloring supplies, due to lack of good money where they lived. Terra and Celes both made Relm a pretty red dress. She looked so excited, jumping up and down at the sight of each new present she received. Setzer had made her a model of his airship with his own hands, not the cheap imitation that they had at the auction house.

As she was thanking Setzer, there was a thunk sound a few feet away from the crowd. Gau went over and picked up a box-like gift, except it was wrapped in a black cloth. He assumed it was another gift for Relm, but from who? He gave it to Relm who carefully unwrapped the gift from the cloth. It turned out to be a photo album and an attached letter. Relm opened up the letter and read it.

Dear, my daughter,

This is my gift from me to you. I hope you enjoy it. There are many pictures that you have not seen of both your mother and I. I had this album for a long time, ever since I left that day. At the time, I thought leaving was the right answer. Now I know it was not. It was just one of my many mistakes in life. Now I am doomed to life a life of torture and guilt. I do not expect you to forgive me for what I have done now or ever. I just thought that should finally learn the truth about me. If you ever do want to find me, I am sure you will even if you think you will not. I wish you all the happiness with the one you love. Sorry I could not stay for the announcement. The guilt is getting to be too much.

Your father,

"Shadow, is it really you?" Relm said in a low voice. Then she heard a woosh behind her. She turned around to see nothing at all.

"Would you rather wait?" Gau whispered in her ear.

"No, we'll still have the announcement," Relm said to Gau as she gave him the album and letter to put away until later, letting everyone overhear.

"Announcement? What announcement?" Strago asked confused.

"Um, Gau and I have an announcement to make," Relm said in a clear voice, making sure everyone heard. Everyone turned towards Relm and Gau as they moved to a clear spot.

"Well, Relm and I have been friends for several years now. Almost two years ago, I kinda accidentally fell in love with her. I didn't tell her until a few months ago, though, because I was afraid it might ruin our friendship. But, I'm sure that she feels the same way for me. You might all think she's not a very nice person, a bitch maybe, but I can assure you she's not. She has been hurt over the years and it caused her to form a hard shell and an attitude to match so she couldn't be hurt so easily. If you noticed today, you might've seen an almost whole different person. The reason for that is me. I helped her open up her shell again and showed her that life is not always full of hurt and pain. I was there for her when she needed someone. And now, we want to make it official that we want to be there for each other for the rest of our lives," Gau said.

"You're getting married?" Strago asked in confusion and surprise. "Relm, you can't do that. You're too young."

"No, we're not getting married. At least not yet. We thought it was about time we told everybody. And if Gramps can accept it, I will probably still live in my old house. But, if he don't I may have no other choice but to move out ... and probably move in with Gau. I can't exactly afford to build a house or even to rent one. All I'm asking for is you all to accept us, please," Relm explained.

The crowd of people, except for Strago, all nodded in agreement and some wished them happiness together. They didn't see anything wrong with them having a relationship together. After all, she was sixteen. She could make her own decisions now.

Relm looked at Strago. Strago looked back at her. "Relm, I'm surprised. All this time you were lying to me. I still see you as a little girl and I think you're still too young to make a decision this big."

"But, Gramps, you know who Gau is, what he's like, almost everything about him. Why would you have a problem with someone that you know pretty well. I'm sure you know that he won't hurt me deliberately," Relm said with tears in her eyes.

"I'll think about it Relm. And then I'll let you know. OK? That's the best I can do. Just remember that I still love you. And I always will," Strago explained and then turned to go back.

Gau looked at Relm, wiped away her tears and kissed her for the first time in public.