Disclaimer: I don't own Final Fantasy 8 or any of its characters. However, I do own some characters and they happen to be the evil ones. Also, I would like to give credit to a Korean drama called Stairway to Heaven, which this story is loosely based on and inspired from.

Lost Memories of my Love

Part I : Before the Fall

Chapter 1 – As it Begins

Rinoa stood silently, staring out her window dreamily. She had woken up at what seemed to be an eternity ago, just leaning on the window sill and staring outside into the daybreak. She watched in awe as the enticing darkness turned into a cheerful morning. Never had she taken the time to sit and watch the beauty of the sunrise – she took it for granted. She watched as the stars faded and the navy sky turned into a bright blue. She watched the white clouds float by, feeling the light wind brushing against her skin through the open window.

When the number of chirping birds increased at her ears, she knew that she had been standing for a while. She couldn't sleep – she was so nervous about the forecoming day. She looked at her alarm clock. It read 6:59. Then, in about five seconds, it hit 7:00, and the alarm started going loco. She walked to her bedside table and turned off the ringing.

First day, she thought, It's my first day at Garden.

She got dressed into her given Garden uniform. She looked really different. She looked like someone she didn't know. She tied her long, black hair up into a high ponytail. She looked even more different. Never did she think that she would see the day where she would have joined Garden, to learn to fight. She always detested hurting things; she always hated the thought of killing another living being and following someone else's orders. But things had changed … things had changed a lot. She had been through so much, and she was willing to take on a role, a responsibility. To serve and protect others.

Rinoa did always detest SeeDs. She hated the fact that they never thought for themselves, they would just do what they were told. Heck, they would've killed Hyne if somebody told them to. She didn't hate them because they served and protected others, no it wasn't that at all. It was the fact that it was always for others. They never fought for themselves – it was always for somebody else, relying on somebody else. Being the independent person she was, she hated the mere thought of relying on somebody, listening to somebody else.

But things had changed. Being around SeeDs made her feel safe, feel secure. As much as she hated their way of living, she admired their strength and determination to finish what they started. Being around SeeDs made her see the other point of view. Being around SeeDs made her … made her feel somewhat jealous.

She was jealous of the fact that the SeeDs were so proud, so strong. She was always a weak girl. It was in fact her that relied on others, relied on SeeDs. She wanted to be independent. Being independent had become an obsession of hers ever since her mother died. She just didn't want to rely on anyone else.

She packed her bag. Leaving home at last, she thought. She got so bored of Deling. Exploring it everyday just lost its purpose, and it was no fun by herself. All her friends were at Garden. She wanted to be with her friends … with Squall.

Rinoa was always afraid of being alone. She mightn't have wanted to rely on others, but she hated being alone. She was a people person, she always had to talk about something or other, and she always had to share her thoughts and feelings. Lately, she had been alone. Ever since her friends went back to Garden due to the fact they had nowhere else to go, Rinoa was left alone at home in Deling.

But that's changing now, thought Rinoa as she packed her books. Now I won't be alone. Now I can be at Garden, explore something new, and be with my friends.

Rinoa went downstairs, and was greeted by her father. Oh great, thought Rinoa, Of all the days to be home, he decided today.

She never got along with her father. She wasn't ever able to put her differences aside with him; she always had to have something against him. He was never at home; he was always out at work. Rinoa didn't mind that at all, but it did get lonesome sometimes and she wanted somebody to argue with.

"Good morning, angel wing," said General Caraway. He was sitting at the dining room table with breakfast, reading the newspaper. "Big day today, eh? Would you like me to drive you?"

"Don't you have more important things to do?" asked Rinoa flatly, grabbing a piece of toast and shoving it in her mouth.

"It's okay," said Caraway. "Anything for my angel wing. Besides, this is going to be the last time I see you for a whole year."

Rinoa rolled her eyes. She didn't think her first day at Garden was going to go so well. She did look quite nice in the uniform, but wasn't sure whether she was going to fit in with everyone else. Most of them were her friends, but she just felt a little ... awkward. She wasn't as strong as any of her friends. She was going to be a beginner, much lower than all of her friends.

"It's not as if you see me everyday in the first place anyway," grumbled Rinoa.

"Oh, I'm sorry, Rinoa, it's just that I'm really busy ... I took today off just for you. I try to make time for you, I really do."

"Well it's a bit late for that isn't it?" said Rinoa gruffly.

The doorbell rang.

Rinoa abandoned her unfinished conversation with Caraway, ran to the door and opened it. It was Squall with his car parked on their driveway. He was standing in front of her, looking very smart and adorable in his SeeD uniform.

"Oh, Squall!" chirped Rinoa. "Come in!"

"Thanks," said Squall, stepping into Rinoa's huge house.

"Squall's here," Rinoa called.

"Good morning, General Caraway," said Squall politely as he met Rinoa's father.

"Hello there, Squall," said Caraway. "Here to take my Rinoa away from me?"

"Yeah, that's it," said Squall, trying to avoid any more small talk.

Caraway chuckled. "So, how's President Laguna?"

"He's fine," said Squall blatantly, not wanting to speak about his father.

"Excellent, excellent," said Caraway. "Anyway, do you mind waiting for Rinoa outside? Just some last goodbyes. Then you can have her all to yourself."

Squall looked at Rinoa, who shrugged. He went outside anyway.

"I really am going to miss you, angel wing," said Caraway.

Rinoa didn't say anything. Miss me my foot, thought Rinoa.

He got up and stood right in front of his daughter, holding her shoulders.

"Make me proud," said Caraway.

Rinoa smiled meekly. "I will," she said quietly.

Caraway put his arms around his daughter. Rinoa let him that time. She usually didn't get on with him, but she was leaving so it didn't matter to her. He hardly held her … he hardly acted like a father to her. She found it awkward that he had decided to act this way towards her, especially on the last day she would see him for a while.

"Take care."

"You too," said Rinoa.

"No, you can't leave me!"

Her mother ran outside to her car, ignoring the pleas of her daughter.

"Mother! Please, NO! I swear, I'll be a much better daughter if you let me come with you!"

She ran outside to the car, and started banging on the car window.

"Don't leave me here!" sobbed the girl.

"Be a good girl. I've had enough." The mother stepped on the gas pedal and drove out the gate without hesitation.

"MOTHER! NO!" the girl screeched and screeched.

Her brother sat on the doorstep, watching it all happen.

"Ashleigh, give it up," he said. "She doesn't care about us anymore."

"No, you're wrong!" cried the girl. "This is all ... this is all HIS fault!" She pointed into the small house, and through the window, sat a man at the table. That man was their father, the reason why their mother left. She'd had enough of him.

"I don't give a damn," said the brother. He stood up and walked into the house.

"You're so ungrateful, Seifer!" cried Ashleigh after her brother.

"A ponytail ... that's different to my Rinoa," said Squall, as he was driving to the Garden.

"Well ... I guess I'm different since I'm in Garden now, huh?" said Rinoa.

Squall snickered.

"What?" asked Rinoa. "I'm just ... scared."

"Why scared?" asked Squall.

"I'm not gonna fit in, am I?" said Rinoa with a deep sigh.

"Don't worry about it," said Squall, "You'll fit right in. There are a lot more people like you, new and just beginning training. They're all feeling the same thing."

"If you say so," said Rinoa nervously. He had somewhat made her feel a bit more at ease, but even Squall's words couldn't take away the butterflies fluttering around in her stomach.

Squall drove into the parking lot and parked his car. The two of them walked into the Garden together. Rinoa knew the place very well, but that day, it all seemed so new to her. It was as if she had never been there before. As she walked through the Garden gates and into the main build of the Garden, students scurried past in panic, not noticing Rinoa at all.

At this, Rinoa felt a little better. She was afraid that as soon as she walked through the gates, everyone would know she was the new girl, or even so, Commander Leonheart's girlfriend. As much as she liked being Squall's girlfriend, she didn't want people to judge her by it. She wanted them all to treat her like an equal, not as the Commander's girlfriend. It might have been different to Squall, she knew he would've expected special treatment for her because she was the Commander's girlfriend, but Rinoa didn't want that at all.

The commander's girlfriend. The thought made Rinoa think. It was funny … Squall was the type of person to stay distant from girls, stay away from other people. He was such a closed up, mysterious guy. Rinoa had never heard Squall refer to her as his girlfriend before, it was always 'Rinoa'. She learnt to get used to it, she didn't mind at all. She knew it was hard for Squall to say something like that … but the commander was opening up ever so slowly. She was grateful, and it appeared that Squall's comrades were too – they were always saying she was a miracle worker for getting Squall to even say something other than 'whatever'.

Squall read the worried look on her face. "Don't worry, you'll be fine. If anyone mistreats you, they can answer to me."

Rinoa smiled and looked at Squall. She didn't say that was what she was afraid of. She didn't want anyone to answer to Squall because they had treated her badly. It gave her a sense of relying on someone. He had always said that she was his strong girl, but he didn't realise that he was so protective of her, not giving her any room to be a strong girl.

He smiled a small smile back at her. "Here's your class," said Squall. "You'll be okay."

"Okay," said Rinoa nervously. She gave Squall a gigantic hug, as if she was never ever going to see him again, as if she was going into class and never coming back out again.

"Whoa there, hurry up or you'll be late," said Squall, patting Rinoa on the back.

Rinoa nodded enthusiastically, and ran into the classroom. Squall snickered and left to get to his own class.

-One Year Later-

"Congratulations on finishing your course," said Quistis.

Quistis, Squall, Zell, Selphie, Irvine and Rinoa were hanging around Balamb after school that day

"Thanks," said Rinoa, grinning, "I'm so happy! Seems like yesterday that I just came here, shaking in my boots ... now look at me, I've got my first rank!"

"Congrats," said Zell, chewing on his hotdog.

"Yeah, keep up the good work!" said Selphie brightly.

"You'll be just like us in no time," said Irvine.

"Thanks guys," said Rinoa. "Going home for the summer now. What a thrill."

"Why not stay here with us?" asked Selphie.

"Caraway wants me home," said Rinoa. "I don't see the point, though."

"Oh, well it's not that long," said Quistis, "We see you every other day of the week anyway."

"Yeah, I guess so," said Rinoa, nodding in agreement. Quistis was always right.

"Get us some souvenirs, wouldn't you?" said Irvine.

Rinoa giggled. "But of course."

"We'll come visit you as well," said Zell.

Rinoa nodded enthusiastically. "I'd like that."

"Of course you would," said Irvine, grinning.

"Why so quiet, Squall?" said Rinoa, suddenly noticing Squall hadn't said a thing since they got there.

"As an expert Squall observer," said Quistis, "I believe he's going to say—"

"...I don't have anything to say," said Squall, with Quistis saying it at that exact moment as well.

Everyone laughed, save for Squall, who seemed a tad bit annoyed.

"Whatever," said Squall.

"Oh lighten up, Squall," said Quistis, punching her friend in the arm playfully.

Rinoa smiled, trying to hide the fact that she was slightly thwarted with Squall's secretive behaviour. She never liked this side of Squall.

"Don't worry, I bet he's just sad because you're leaving," whispered Quistis, loud enough for everyone to hear.

Rinoa laughed. Quistis always made her have hope in Squall. She once told her 'Squall's been like this for years. Ever since you walked into his life, you've made him become the boy he once was … not this man.' Rinoa took those words to heart; she always believed in them … she always believed in Squall. But somehow she wasn't in the mood that day. She didn't know why, she usually would have tried her hardest to get Squall to soften. But there was something in the back of her mind bothering her … it must have been the anxiety of going back home. She didn't want to, but she knew when respect was needed, and she had to pay her respects her father, as much as she disliked him. He wouldn't have called her home if there wasn't anything important on … he would have been too busy anyway.

"Anyway, I'd better get going," said Rinoa with a sigh. "Caraway is expecting me back any minute. I'm already late as is."

"You want me to give you a lift?" Squall offered.

"Oh, it's okay, Squall," said Rinoa with a smile. "I'll just take the train home."

"Are you sure?" said Squall.

Rinoa nodded. "Positive."

"Aww, the year's gone by so quickly," said Selphie.

Rinoa smiled. "You'll see me again soon."

She said her goodbyes and caught the train back to Deling. From Deling station, she caught a bus to her house. She knocked on the door and waited for an answer patiently. She didn't have the keys to her own house, but she wished she did. She found it stupid to be knocking on the door of the house she lived in ever since she was born.

The door swung open, and a middle-aged woman was the one who opened it. She was about a head taller than Rinoa, and she wore quite expensive clothes and about a tonne of make-up was slopped all over her face. She had long, wavy brunette hair and she looked quite confused.

"Uh ... am I at the right house?" said Rinoa, completely confused.

"Who are you?" asked the woman.

"I'm Rinoa," said Rinoa slowly.

The woman's look of confusion turned into a look of glee. "Oh, so you're Rinoa! Sweetheart, Rinoa's home!"

Rinoa blinked in puzzlement, and before she knew it, Caraway was at the door, standing next to the woman.

"Rinoa," said Caraway, "You're home." He walked to his daughter and put his arms around her, holding her tight.

"Uh ... nice to see you too," said Rinoa, not knowing what else to say.

As Caraway let her go, he stood next to the mystery woman again.

"Rinoa," said Caraway, "This is Sera. She's your new mother."