Squall of the Dead – A Final Fantasy VIII rom-com-zom fanfic.

Chapter One

In the damp gloom of Balamb cemetery, the Garden's finest, who had valiantly battled against the Sorceress Ultimecia, twelve months previously, were gathered solemnly around a freshly dug grave, heads bowed in sorrow and remembrance.

One person was missing from the ranks of the elite members of SeeD. The bubbly, spunky, green-eyed ball of energy, Selphie Tilmett, could not be seen. Her bright yellow hotpant outfit, so easily spotted even on such a dismal day as this, was conspicuously absent. She was, however, among her comrades, even if it was in a mahogany casket with brass fittings, being slowly lowered into a cold, dank hole in the ground.

"…and now we commit the body of our sister Selphie to the ground. Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust…"

The promise of eternal resurrection in the name of Hyne passed Irvine by as he grabbed a handful of dirt from the wooden box handed to him by the sympathetic, black-suited pallbearer. Watching as the brown dust slipped through his fingers, he thought sadly of the evening preceding his beloved Selphie's death.

There had been a party atmosphere buzzing within Garden, in anticipation of the first anniversary of SeeD's greatest victory, Ultimecia's defeat. All week there had been all kinds of events to commemorate the occasion, including a "Battle of the Bands" concert, organised by Selphie and her Festival Committee, featuring musical ensembles from all three of the world's Gardens, and a carnival for the junior classmen, including stalls, games and a bouncy castle – although Selphie herself proved that the young cadets shouldn't be the ones to hog all the fun, tugging off her boots and flinging herself onto the inflatable fortress, her signature "Whoo hoo!" being heard all around the island.

These festivities had culminated in the Great Ball, to which all SeeD members and older cadets had been invited. Irvine was the most excited about this occasion, because he had some plans.

He had talked about it excitedly with his good friends Zell Dincht, who had rigged up the spotlights the way Irvine had asked; Quistis Trepe, who had given him wonderful and practical advice about how he should act at a formal dance (as a former street kid who did most of his growing up at a military academy, Irvine was not exactly au fais with posh ceremonies); and most of all, from Rinoa Heartilly, who had helped him in doing the biggest, and most important job of all: choosing the ring.

For he was to propose to Selphie.

Irvine blinked back tears as he thought of that moment. The music has dissipated, the twinkling of the stars and the mirror ball reflected on his nervously perspiring face, and the spotlight illuminated his intended (Zell had got the job just right, with a touch of masking tape, and Quistis' exceptional geometry skills). Beautiful Selphie, resplendent in a blue ballgown, styled and straightened hair spritzed with glitter, green eyes wide in wonder, and sudden nervousness. "What?" she gasped as she tried to move, self consciously, out of the light. But thanks to Zell's ingenious programming, it followed her. "Oh my gosh!"

Irvine remembered the way Selphie had gawped at him in the second spotlight, his sweaty hand clutching a microphone and the other, slightly damper hand, nervously flipping open a leather-bound, velvet lined box. Inside was a gold band, with a large sparkling diamond, setting off the golden ring perfectly.

"So like, um…" Irvine had started nervously. "I'm here tonight to ask a special girl a very important question." He licked his dry lips and tried to surreptitiously clear his equally dry throat. Momentarily, he forgot about the microphone and his coughs echoed about the hall. He approached the lovely Selphie, spotlight tracking him all the while.

"So um… like… Selphie Tilmett…" Irvine announced, finally kneeling at her feet once the two lights had merged into one. "Will you… marry me?" he croaked, presenting the box to Selphie.

Selphie's eyes grew even wider, and her jaw dropped in delight. Zell rushed over and shoved a microphone under the aghast Selphie's nose.

She gasped and gaped for a minute longer. "So…" Irvine asked again. "Will you…?" Please say yes, he inwardly thought. He could take the humiliation if she did say no, but he didn't want her to say it. Because he wanted to be with her for the rest of her life.

Tragically that day had already come to pass, all too soon.

Running across Balamb High Street the next day, in an attempt to reach her fiancé on the other side of the road, Eager and longing to be in his arms, she had dashed out into the road, not noticing that a lorry, laden with hot dogs, bound for Balamb Garden's kitchens was trundling towards her at a great speed…

Irvine clutched a rose he had been handed to throw into the grave. He crushed the stem in his fist and winced as the thorns dug into his palm. The pain hurt so much, yet it could not numb the hurt of losing his betrothed.

Irvine could no longer bear to hold the flower any longer, so relented his grip. The withered flower tumbled on top of the coffin, followed, unconsciously, by a few drops of his blood.