Disclaimer: FFVIII and its characters do not belong to me. Hopefully that will do.

Golden Day

by Shandy

He lounged back in his chair, boots stretched upon the desk. Paperwork shifted underneath his feet as he tried to find a comfortable position. Truth be told, his incessant fidgeting was starting to annoy Kiros. Something is troubling him. Kiros had spent a lot of time around the President of Esthar in his lifetime and had become very attuned to his moods. Restlessness, itching, leg cramp, there's always a way to tell.

"Laguna," he said patiently. "Is there a problem?"

His old friend's green eyes seemed pensive for a moment, before he answered, "Do you think I should have told him?"

Kiros had never forgotten that day on the hilltop. Laguna Loire, crouched at his wife's grave, had said his goodbyes to Balamb Garden, and his son along with it. "It's a sign," he had claimed, as together they had watched the Garden sail into the distance, "To look to the future, not hold onto the past" and his little adopted daughter had nodded her agreement, misunderstanding his real meaning. Thus did he make his decision not to become an active father. That day on the hilltop he said goodbye to a lost past, a dead wife, and a forgotten son.

But that day on the hilltop had been over two years ago. Laguna had held fast to his decision, but nowadays he was more prone to bouts of reflective silence, and there was more grey in the President's hair than perhaps there ought to be.

"You already know what I think, Laguna."

The President winced with displeasure. "Of course. Hyne, Kiros, you always were too sure of yourself for your own good. Don't you ever get doubts?"

Kiros didn't answer the question, but said instead, "It's never too late."

At that, Laguna stood. He picked up what looked to be a small rectangular piece of card from his desk and pushed it face down across the table to him.

When Kiros Seagull picked up the card and flipped it over, he found himself wishing he could eat his words.

The honour of your presence

is requested at the marriage of

Miss Rinoa Caraway


Mr Squall Leonhart

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It reminded him of Winhill, in a sense. Laguna didn't know why the couple had chosen to have the wedding here, an open field in the middle of nowhere, but he got the sense that by doing so, they were sharing something very private and precious with their chosen guests. We had a flower field too, he reflectedBut this one was green and bathed in sunlight. Ours was gold and it was moonlight that glittered in your eyes when you held up your ring. As he surveyed the stretch of the field from the front of the house where his private engine had landed, he felt the pure life-giving quality of it, and for the first time, found himself wondering if the rumours were true. Was it possible that Squall Leonhart had died at the Last Battle, and Rinoa Caraway had resurrected him by calling upon the powers of a Sorceress? Dismissing the thoughts – such things were beyond him to comprehend - Laguna walked on. As he did, he decided that what he liked best of all in this place was the sense of tranquillity.

Edea's house nearby was an entirely different matter. Laguna wasn't even acknowledged as he stepped over the threshold and into the chaos. He wondered if this is what stepping into a beehive was like – overcrowded, buzzing with excitement, and frankly a little oppressive. Laguna thought he recognised a few of the people constantly bulling past him – when he looked in on the kitchen, for example, a familiar boy with a wicked-looking facial tattoo managed to knock down two women carrying bouquets and trip over a spare chair. He even caught a glimpse of Edea herself. Usually a picture of feminine calm, Laguna was surprised to find himself applying the phrase running around like a headless chicken as he watched her fret over allocations of confetti. The poor headmaster of Balamb Garden seemed to be fulfilling his role as husband by being bullied into lending a hand by his wife, while at the same time being scolded for getting in everyone's way. Outside, a tall young man with a long ponytail was setting up two aisles of silver chairs.

Only their dearest, closest friends, he realized Not for the first time, Laguna found himself wondering why exactly the bride and groom had opted to invite him. Politeness, probably. Infact, when he thought about it, doubtless there were several factors that made it common courtesy to invite him – the fact that he had been a part, if a small part, of their victory in the Sorceress War. He had personally invited them home to Esthar for a Medal of Honour ceremony in their name. Ellone most likely had something to do with it, too.

Seeking shelter from the beehive, Laguna retreated to a quieter region of Edea's house - a narrow, window-lit corridor full of old wooden doors. He seized the handle of the one closest to him, and entered.

Although subconsciously Laguna knew he had been searching for him ever since he arrived, when he ducked into the little room he was almost surprised to find Squall Leonhart standing there, alone. Well, not the 'alone' part. When they first met, the boy almost seemed made to be alone. With the reflexes of a true soldier, Squall immediately turned from surveying himself in a mirror and Laguna found himself looking into the eyes of a man, not a boy.

"Lag –Mr President," he said, looking startled.

"'Laguna', Squall," he said dismissively, "And I'm sorry about invading your room so suddenly, heh, but, well, if you must know, I was looking for some peace and quiet."

Squall just stared blankly at him. Way too serious, Laguna sighed inwardly.

Laguna stuffed his hands in his pockets, trying a more open approach. "Well I uh… got your invitation so…"

If anything, Squall only looked more surprised.

"Heh… heh… No one mentioned I was coming, huh?"

"Selphie took care of the invitations," Squall replied. Then, seeming to finally shake himself out of his own shock, he quickly said, "I apologise, I was just a little startled to see you, outside of… you're quite welcome." But he didn't smile, and he didn't say 'Laguna.'

Laguna always had the feeling that Squall didn't have a lot of respect for him. You were a silly Galbadian soldier, Squall had said to him once. I didn't like your attitude at all. Of course, it didn't help that Squall had witnessed Hyne knows how many of his private memories. Laguna had lost track of the number of wrong decisions he had made in his life, but he'd made some right ones, too. What if Squall was only aware of the wrong ones?

"Well, how are you feeling?" Laguna probed. "Butterflies in your stomach?"

Squall looked at him absurdly, in a what right does a complete stranger have to ask me these questions sort of way. "I…"

Squall was saved from having to talk about butterflies, however, as the door clicked once more and a delighted cry of "Uncle Laguna!" sounded. Quite sure he wasn't the only one in the room glad of the interruption, Laguna happily swivelled on the spot to see Ellone's smiling face come into view. Sighing more heavily than he meant to, Laguna opened his arms as she approached and gladly welcomed her into a warm embrace. He always managed to feel at ease when little Elle was around. She was a constant reminder of the memory of loveliness that was Raine. But besides that, she was a familiar face in this world where he didn't seem to have a place.

If it made Squall jealous or uncomfortable in any way, he didn't voice his opinion. Laguna knew that Elle had been trying to rebuild her relationship with Squall, but he didn't seem to welcome her as readily or as enthusiastically as might have been expected for an orphan boy.

Just the word orphan made waves of guilt wash over him unbidden. But that's what Squall had been when he abandoned him, an orphan boy. Laguna suspected that the little boy with the puppy-dog eyes Ellone was trying to revive was long gone.

"Angelo," Squall said suddenly. He knelt and put his arms around the dog that was trailing at Ellone's feet, ruffling its fur, holding it like one would a rock in a raging river.

"Oh, I knew she would follow me in here." Ellone tutted, as she prised the dog away from Squall's death grip. "I shouldn't have given her any scraps. Squall, you're going to get dog hair all over your clothes." But Laguna could tell that Squall really couldn't have cared less about his clothes. He somehow got the feeling that for Squall, having something that belonged to Rinoa, anything, here with him, was a lingering reminder of her presence. Just like Elle is something that belonged to Raine. Maybe we're not so different after all.

Even so, Squall Leonhart was quite the enigma. Was he even proud of his son? His son, the prodigy who became Commander of the most famous military Academy in Centra at seventeen. His son, the Gunblade master, the boy that dealt Ultimecia that final killing blow. The Lionheart, some called him. The rest of the world is proud enough for me, he thought, and felt like laughing hysterically.

In any case, Laguna tended to measure a man not by his deeds, but by his nature. And from what he'd learned, Squall was the type of man whose icy coldness could hit you like Shiva's blast. And more importantly, the type of man that would not forgive. But he must be a good man. Rinoa and Ellone were practically angels, and they both worshipped him. Looking at Squall crouched on the floor with his arms around Angelo, boyish once more, all Laguna's fears and doubts about himself seemed come to life right in front of him. Why did I take in Ellone and not Squall? How was it possible that he could love her, and not love his own blood?

Am I fit to be a father?

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Laguna liked Selphie Tilmitt; she had a certain childlike bounce and always called him Sir, which, if nothing else, made an old man feel some pride. "I'm so glad you could make it!" she chimed as she led him to Rinoa's temporary room, dressed in a blue bridesmaid's gown. "Did you like the invitations? I made them special on my computer! Was it a long trip? Doesn't Squall look handsome? He wouldn't leave his Gunblade at Balamb; isn't that silly? Oh! Look, here we are - she's right in here!"

Selphie winked at him and rapped on the door with the back of her hand, calling "Is she decent?"

In the centre of the room, Rinoa Heartilly was stood on a little white stool in front of a mirror. Her snowy white gown hugged her figure, its train raining down behind her, all glitter and lace.

The Instructor was in the little room too, in blue folds to match Selphie's. Even with her trim spectacles gone, Quistis Trepe had a certain sense of order about her – her hair was neatly done up, her face and nails immaculate. But then, Quistis had never seemed the type of person who would let her hair down. She looked a little sad too, but then, she always did. The young woman bobbed her head respectfully, addressing him "Mr President."

Laguna waved his hand towards her, embarrassed. "No need for that! I'm just 'Laguna'."

Rinoa, who had no such qualms about being familiar, swept around exclaiming "Laguna!" She hopped off her stand and gave him a hug right there and then.

"Have you seen Squall?" she blurted, "I'm worried about him. The last time I saw him he looked really nervous." Laguna noticed she was toying with the end of a chain around her neck and had been even when he entered the room. "I would go and see him but it's bad lu--"

"Relax, Rinoa!" Selphie smiled from the sidelines.

Laguna leaned close and whispered in her ear, "He's in good paws."

Rinoa's perfect eyebrows furrowed together in confusion for a moment, before she smiled in recognition and quietly said "That's my girl."

"Okay, Rinoa," Quistis said in her gentle tone of voice. "You're all set to go. I'm going to go and see if Matron needs any help. Will you be okay here with Selphie and Laguna?"

"Sure, Quistis! Thankyou so much!" And Rinoa hugged her too before she left, seemingly unable to contain her excitement. "Oh, I can't believe it's finally happening!" she squealed, as she hopped back onto the white stool. "Rinoa Leonhart," she tested on her tongue. "Mrs R. Leonhart. Mrs Caraway-Leonh – ugh, definitely not."

"No! No!" Selphie practically shouted, raising her arm like she was back in a classroom. "I know one you'll like! Mrs Squall Leonhart!"

Rinoa grinned cheekily. "I sure like the sound of that! Hey, what about R. Leonhart? It sounds really professional, don't you think? Hey, you were going to be a journalist, weren't you, Laguna? Don't you think R. Leonhart sounds like a writer's name?"

Bringing up such a long lost ambition made him feel like laughing. He remembered the night – how could he forget? – he had first related it to another living soul. I want to quit the army and become a journalist he'd told her enthusiastically, foolishly. So I can tell people 'bout all the things I've seen on my travels. Except when it came to it, he didn't really want to tell anyone about what he'd seen or done on his 'travels.' Some of his memories made him ashamed, the others, sad, or regretful. All his dreams had sunk to the bottom of a great sea, including the two women he had loved. Of course, he didn't think of voicing any of these thoughts, not for a second. Instead, he simply smiled and said, "It sure does, Rinoa. It sure does."

Seemingly bored of all talk, no action, Selphie suddenly bounced up on her feet and declared, "Okay, I'm gonna go check on Squall!"

"Oh! Are you?" Rinoa piped up, "Then will you do me a favour?"

"Name it!" Selphie called, like it was some kind of competition, already at the door.

"Will you check that he doesn't have that damn gunblade lying around somewhere? He takes the thing everywhere with him, swears it brings him good luck, but I ask you, how is it appropriate to wear a deadly weapon to a SeeD exhibit on a school open da-"

"Okay, Rinoa!"

"Oh! Oh! And Selphie!"


"Will you make sure his hair isn't sticking up at the back, not that I don't trust Ellone but there's these really unmanageable bits at both sides just at the nape of--"

"I'll check, Rinoa!"

"And Selphie!"


"Tell him I love him."

Selphie smiled, directed a wink at Rinoa and closed the door. The urgency in Rinoa's eyes faded as she returned to the mirror, soothed by the soft, snowy folds of her dress. "What do you think, Laguna?"

You look like your mother. "You're a vision."

She beamed, and smoothed her dress. Her face was alight with pleasure - cheeks rosy, eyes bright. With that look in her eyes, he realised it was true; it might have been her mother standing there, talking of becoming a singer. Roses and wine, he thought.

For a while he drifted through memories of the brief, mysterious flame that had been Julia Heartilly, until his thoughts settled again on the groom. I am alone with the only person who really knows him, he realised. This may be the only chance I will ever have. Laguna stuffed his hands in his pockets, musing over the best way to put the question to her. His feet shuffled on the floor nervously, but Rinoa Heartilly was her mother's daughter and just as easy to approach. "Sometimes…" he said quietly, "I don't know how you get through to that boy, Rinoa."

"Squall?" She frowned, causing her forehead to wrinkle, but she was pretty even doing that. "You two don't really talk much, do you? Well, it's true he can be quite quiet sometimes. Do you mean you want to know what type of person he is? Um, it's difficult to explain Squall Leonhart. I'd have to tell you in a Rinoa-type way."

"Rinoa," he laughed, "Believe me, that would be perfect."

She blinked. "Okay… well… for starters… there's a lot more going on in his head than he lets on." She gave him a sheepish grin and added, "You've probably noticed that already. He… he dreams in his sleep a lot." She gave Laguna a side glance, her cheeks tinged red.

She went on in her disjointed description, "Everyone thinks Squall isn't capable of being romantic… or even caring…" Her voice went quiet. "But he is… the best person I know…" Her voice and visage went soft then, and Laguna perceived at that moment just how deeply she loved him.

Presently, she broke out of her trance and continued, "Oh yeah! And he always points out mistakes in movies – "That's not right", she mocked in a deep voice, "He should be dead after that hit", "That wouldn't have fixed the car, he didn't even check the catalyser--"


"Sometimes I'm forced to give him a swat on the--"


"I'm sorry!" she apologised, "I'm talking too fast. Am I not making sense?"

"It's not that…" he said gently, fumbling to find the right words to use without causing offence… "I just meant… how do you even begin to get through to him?"

"Well… uh…" At that moment, her eyes lit up as if struck by sudden inspiration "I know, think of it as… a ticket queue!"

"A ticket queue?"

"Yes. But instead of trying to get a ticket for a concert seat, you're trying to get a place in Squall's heart, right?"

"Okay…" he said, amused.

"Well… you have to get in line to get tickets, don't you? And it was like… I came along, saw nobody moving this queue along, and got tired of it. I thought it was ridiculous. So I pushed past everyone, demanded a ticket and walked straight on in there."

"You really wanted to see that concert," said Laguna, with a smile.

"I really did," she smiled back.

But do I?

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The reception was held back at the garden. The couple, or the Commander atleast, had a duty to Balamb Garden. And as Laguna understood it, the couple had first met in this very ballroom.

Standing amidst the rest of their friends and admirers, it dawned on Laguna that he already knew the answers to his questions, and had long before Squall Leonhart ever decided to get married.

He cast his eyes to the newlyweds. They were gazing at each other, oblivious to the rest of the room, recalling some fond memory that he would never know. All Squall's coldness seemed melted away. His son smiled, and his face was suddenly beautiful. In that instant Squall Leonhart was a vision of everything he could be, the best version of himself. He was Rinoa, or Ellone, he was a boy and a man, he was a hero, he was an orphan. He was so like his mother that Laguna wanted to turn his face away in shame.

Leonhart suits him better, anyhow. It was a bitter conclusion, but the fact that it was a conclusion made him sigh in release, and besides, it was a bitter story to begin with.

A melody started up, a sweet piano solo. He watched numbly as the bride and groom led each other onto the dancefloor. The silky music washed over him to such an extent, that it played several minutes into the song before he realised.

Eyes On Me. The song she had written for him, back at the very beginning.

So I guess this is the end.

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AN: Um, A few things I wanted to say. I'm not entirely pleased with this story, it does have its flaws, but as I reviewed it I found it difficult to rewrite it any other way, the majority of it just wrote itself. Also, I think I wrote Laguna more than a little out of character. He's far more serious than I meant him to be. But I have some justifications for that, the first being he's older in this story and feels even more guilty than (I'm assuming) he did before… he's had a lot of time to reflect, and secondly that serious situations call for serious attitudes. There's not much in this story that he could have been light hearted about. And yes, the ending is a little abrupt, and bleak, and not really in the style of the rest of the story, but I kinda liked it that way. I meant it in the way that… he recognises that his story (or atleast this chapter of it – sorry to go all Tidus on you) has basically come to an end because of the paths he has chosen and all the things he had abandoned.

Oh, and another thing. I hate the title of this fic. I think it's stupid. Hopefully one day I will think of something better.

I do have some other FF8 stories planned which are not bleak at all, mostly Squinoa or Squall-centred.

Amusing quote from Disc 1:

Squall's thoughts during the 'dream sequence' where Laguna is pursuing Julia:

(...He talks to himself too much...)