Disclaimer: I don't own Final Fantasy VIII...

Author's Note: Well, here it is...the last chapter of To Love You More. I can't believe that it's almost been two years since I've started this fic. Honestly, it seems like it was just yesterday. Writing this fic has been an especially poignant process because I have decided that, for the time being, it will be my last. I am in the early stages of writing an original novel, and in order to fully dedicate myself to that, I fear I must give up writing fanfiction. Anyway, I don't want to clutter up this author's note about that...I'll have a more detailed goodbye in my profile.

I just want to say, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU to each and every one of you who has read and/or reviewed this fic. Your dedication and kind words have truly touched me, and I couldn't ask for a better way to end my last fic. So once again, thank you. I hope this final chapter doesn't let you down.

To Love You More

Chapter Forty

"See me as if you never knew
Hold me so you can't let go
Just believe in me
I will make you see
All the things that your heart needs to know

I'll be waiting for you
Here inside my heart
I'm the one who wants to love you more
You will see I can give you
Everything you need
Let me be the one to love you more..."

-"To Love You More" Celine Dion

THE warm breeze blew across the lawn, tousling Rinoa's hair. The young sorceress smiled serenely, her eyes closed in contentment. She sat among flowers and plants of every variety imaginable. After moving to Winhill, she had taken up gardening, and now had an eclectic group of species in her garden behind the house. Her and Squall had purchased a cozy, white two-story house, located right next to Raine's old bar. It was the perfect place for tranquility.

Still smiling to herself, Rinoa grabbed the notebook and pen that she had taken outside with her. As much as she loved just being outside in her garden, she did have an actual purpose for being there today. She opened the notebook to a fresh sheet of paper, dated it, and then began her letter.

Dear Marianna,

How are you? It seems like so much has happened since the last time we talked. That was when I told you about the engagement and the baby, right? It's hard to believe that a year has gone by since then! I meant to write you sooner, but Squall and I have just been so busy, first with planning the wedding, then moving to Winhill, and having Hayden. Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me start from the beginning.

Squall and I got married two months after becoming engaged. We wanted to get married even sooner, but we had to wait for everything with the divorce to be finalized. Quistis signed the papers without a problem, and even seemed to be happy for us. She has started a new life for herself in FH, but I'll get to that later. Anyway, it took a lot of last minute planning, but we were able to pull off the wedding without any major problems (well, except for Zell almost losing the rings, but that's another story entirely!), mostly due to Selphie. She was such a lifesaver...I don't know how she had so much constant energy! The wedding was very small, with just our closest family and friends. I think that the biggest surprise of the day was how well my father seemed to get along with Laguna! Besides that, my father even went so far as to tell Squall that he was proud to have him as a son-in-law! Believe me, no one was more shocked to hear him say that than Squall!

The day of our wedding was so beautiful, with not a cloud in the sky. We were especially thankful for that since our wedding was outside. Squall and I wanted to get married at the flower field behind the orphanage that he grew up in. I told you about the promise we made there, right? It just seemed like the prefect place for us to be married. Although I have to admit that seeing my grave there the first time was definitely eerie. Squall was a real sweetheart and had it removed shortly after that. I don't think any of us want to remember that time, least of all Squall.

Getting back to the wedding, it was beautiful. When I stood at the end of the aisle and saw Squall standing at the other end, I saw my future. I saw the years of my life flash before my eyes, with him by my side. I'm sorry to get all mushy on you, Marianna, but Squall just completes me, you know? He's everything that I'm not, and yet, we just click on so many levels. I can't remember a time in my life when I've been happier. Being with him every day, waking up every morning and seeing him beside me, it's just the best feeling in the world.

Sorry to get all mushy on you again. I promise I'll stop doing that. I was talking about the wedding, right? It all went by so fast, and before I knew it, I was Mrs. Squall Leonhart. I felt like such a fool at the reception because I couldn't stop smiling. Did I mention that Quistis and Seifer were there? Squall and Seifer were actually polite to each other! I think Squall began to see Seifer in a different light when he saw how happy Quistis was with him. Speaking of Seifer and Quistis, they are now engaged! Actually, their wedding is in three weeks. It's so amazing to watch the two of them together. They really changed each other. I don't think anyone, least of all Quistis, thought she'd fall in love with Seifer, but I guess anything is possible!

Squall and I went to Esthar for our honeymoon. Squall was skeptical at first because of Laguna being there, but he was a real doll, and left us to ourselves. Things are actually starting to look up between him and Squall. We have both made strides in our relationships with out fathers. Esthar was an amazing city. It was odd to be there, though, since I had been unconscious for most of my last trip there. You should have seen the shopping district, though! If you only knew what I had to do to convince Squall to take me shopping! If it were up to him, our whole honeymoon would have been spent in our hotel room. I guess all guys are the same in that aspect, huh? Although Squall does have a really great body...but I'm sure you don't want to hear about that!

We stayed in Esthar for two weeks, and then briefly returned to Garden to collect the rest of our things. It was really tough to say goodbye to everyone, but we promised to stay in touch, and we have. It seems like we've all split up, though. Seifer and Quistis are in FH, and Squall and I are in Winhill, which leaves Irvine, Selphie, Zell, and Carrie as the only ones still at Balamb Garden. Selphie finally got in touch with Trabia Garden and told them that her home is with Irvine. I doubt it'll be long before Selphie has another wedding to plan. This time, her own! Irvine has pretty much taken over the role of commander, with Xu, Zell, and Selphie helping him out a great deal. Oh, did I mention that Carrie is pregnant with twins? The babies are due in three months, but everyone's already jumping with excitement, Zell most of all. I know he'll make a great father.

Well, with all this talk about babies, I suppose I should talk about my own, huh? Hayden James Leonhart was born four months ago yesterday. Wow, just writing that, I can't believe that four months have gone by already! Hayden is the spitting image of Squall, with those gorgeous blue eyes and that soft brown hair. He is such a good baby, too, hardly ever crying. Being a mother is just the most amazing feeling in the world, as I'm sure you already know. Sometimes, I find myself staring at Hayden in awe, wondering how he can really be mine. Squall is so great with him, too. He was so worried about doing something wrong at first, but now he can't get enough of the little guy. Can you believe that he already wants another baby? Who ever knew how much Squall would love children? I told Squall that one baby is quite enough for the time being. Besides, with the twins on the way, I'm sure that Squall and I will have our hands full with babysitting.

I love my life here, Marianna. Some might see it as boring, but Squall and I have had enough drama in our lives to last a lifetime. We split our time running the bar next door. It used to belong to Squall's mother, and we named the bar "Raine" after her. I think that Squall can really feel his mother's presence there. Sometimes, I think I can, too. I like to think that she and my mother are up in heaven together, watching over us and guiding us in their own way. There is a living area above the bar, but Squall and I haven't touched it. The previous owner left things the way there were when Raine and Laguna lived there. I think Squall wants to honor her memory by keeping things as they are. Sort of like the way he left everything in my room after he thought I had died. To this day, that action touches me.

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you! Remember all of the controversy surrounding who had told everyone that I was pregnant? Quistis found out that one of the Trepies had overheard us talking about it. I guess they broke into Garden's database and found my dad's number, as well as Laguna's. Squall was ready to kill the kid when he found out, but Quistis promised to deal with him instead. I don't know what she said to him, but I hear that the kid's turned into a complete angel. Those Trepies are crazy, I tell you. Lucky for Quistis that she got away while she could!

Anyway, I'll let you go now, but not before telling you about our big surprise. Squall and I have decided to visit Zuwang! We're not exactly sure when, but we're aiming for next month. Of course, we'll bring Hayden with us. I can't wait for you to see him, and to meet Squall. I really miss you, Marianna, and I can't wait to see you. I will never forget the kindness that you showed me. See you soon!



Rinoa put down her pen and sighed in contentment. Despite her hand killing her from writing so much, she was perfectly happy. As she had told Marianna, she loved her life. Sure, there weren't any evil villains that needed to be stopped in order to save the world, but every day was still an adventure, especially with Hayden. As if reading her thoughts, Squall suddenly came running out of the house, shouting her name.

Rinoa jumped to her feet, alarm written all over her face. "Squall, what's wrong?"

"He said it!" Squall exclaimed. "He finally said it!"

Rinoa felt all of the panic she had felt quickly drain away. There was no mistaking the joy and excitement in his eyes. "Squall, I don't know who said what, but you nearly gave me a heart attack! Don't ever scare me like that again!"

Squall grinned sheepishly. "Sorry Rinoa, but I couldn't help it. Come here," he said, taking her hand. "I have to show you something."

"Okay," Rinoa said slowly, unsure of what this was about. She trusted him, though, and that was all that mattered.

Squall led Rinoa into the house and over to the crib in the living room. Hayden lay inside, smiling and cooing happily. "Okay Hayden, tell Mommy what you just said."

"Daddy," the baby cooed, reaching up towards his father.

Squall grinned goofily, and then picked up the baby, cradling him in his arms. "Did you hear that?" Squall asked Rinoa excitedly. "He called me daddy!"

Rinoa smiled at her husband. It was so incredibly amusing to see Squall go gaga over their son. Actually, he kind of reminded her of Laguna in that aspect. "Yes, I heard him. I just can't believe that he's already talking. You're a smart one, little guy," Rinoa cooed as she tickled him.

Hayden giggled, and then to his surprise, stared straight at Rinoa and said, "Mommy," happily.

Rinoa's eyes widened. "Squall, did you hear that?"

Squall grinned. "And you said I was excited."

"You were!" Rinoa eyes gleamed mischievously. "Hey, isn't it Hayden's naptime?"

"Yeah, I guess so," Squall replied innocently. "Why do you ask?"

"You woke him up, didn't you?" Squall put on his most innocent look, but it was to no avail. "Squall, Hayden's been up all night. He needs to rest."

As if on cue, Hayden yawned sleepily. Squall couldn't help laughing, and then gently placed his son in the crib. Hayden seemed to fall asleep instantly, sucking on his thumb contentedly.

"That was fast," Squall commented.

"What did I tell you? He needs rest without you waking him up every two seconds."

"Well," Squall said, "He's not the only one who needs their rest. You've been up all night, Rin. I think it's time you went to bed, as well."

"Are you kidding me? I'm not the least bit tired."

"You sure about that?"

She nodded. "Absolutely."

"In that case," Squall said, smirking, "I think we're going to have to take advantage of that."

"Oh, really?" Rinoa said, grinning back. "You think so?"

"I do," Squall said, picking up his wife and throwing her over his shoulder.

"Squall," Rinoa laughed. God, how she loved this man.

Yes, her life might be boring to some, but it held all of the excitement that she needed. As Squall carried her up the stairs, she was reminded once again of how lucky she was to be there. Sure, the road there hadn't been easy, but they had made it. That was what counted, what it all came down to. She finally had her happy ending, and damn, did it ever feel good.