Soundtrack Recommendation: Love Grows off FFVIII, with Waltz for the Moon when it becomes relevant.
Disclaimer: I don't own any characters, locations, etc. from Final Fantasy VIII, and so on, and so forth, like you've seen in a million other FFVIII fanfic disclaimers.
The night was perfect. The sky was clear, the stars and moon shining with all their nightly beauty, blessing the earth with white rays of pure light. Her eyes traced across the canopy overhead, watching it with a childlike wonder. She hadn't had time to really enjoy the night sky for the last few months, and now that they had finally caught a measure of peace, she was taking that moment to look at the unparalleled beauty of the night.
What made this calm, quiet, peaceful moment even more perfect, Rinoa knew, was not that she was enjoying the sky, but that she was enjoying it with someone who also appreciated seeing this sky again, someone who had feared he'd never see the sky again.
A light cut across the sky, slashing a pure white line through the dark, back-lit canopy of space, and Rinoa watched it with wide-eyed wonder, remembering a similar shooting star on an equally memorable night. She remembered what had happened, and knew he remembered as well.
Rinoa turned to her right and pointed up at the star overhead, and he turned to her, having seen the same thing. He smiled, an honest, real smile on his face, and stepped closer.
He reached up, left hand closing around her wrist, and then moving up, threading its way into her fingers, interlocking with hers. He slipped a hand around her waist and pulled her close to him.
"There's something I haven't told you yet," Squall whispered to Rinoa as their faces drew close.
"I know," she responded, smiling as she felt his breath on her face, and inhaled his scent. "You don't need to say it. We both know."
For an instant, there was silence, a perfect moment of peace between them, and Squall pulled her closer, and slowly kissed Rinoa. She pulled him in as well, bringing both of their souls together under that starry sky as Balamb Garden flew across the sea, silent, undisturbed, and perfect.
Long moments passed, and as air began to run short, they broke the kiss, albeit very reluctantly. As they withdrew, Squall looked again into Rinoa's eyes, and felt her warmth through his shirt. She giggled quietly, and he releaded her hand, wrapping his other arm around the small of her back and holding her close.
"You know what this reminds me of?" she asked as she laid her head against his chest and neck, looking out toward the glittering ocean.
"What?" he asked in response, and she inclined her head slightly to look at the autumn moon and the vista of stars.
"The night we first met," she said wistfully. "Everything is so similar, except you're actually smiling this time."
Squall snorted quietly, not angry or annoyed, but instead almost laughing.
"I'm not faking it this time," he whispered, and she nodded as he leaned his head forward, kissing her on the top of her head. After a moment, she leaned back and looked up at him, and a mischievous grin appeared on her face. " . . . what?"
"You want to try it again?" she asked, and he blinked.
"We're not dressed up," he remarked, and she shook her head.
"You don't need to be dressed up to dance, Squall," Rinoa explained. "Get those Garden training regimens out of your head and actually start acting like a person." As she finished, she stuck her tongue out at Squall, and he couldn't help but laugh again.
"Okay, fine," he replied, and nodded. He leaned forward and kissed her once again, and heard her sigh quietly in content as she did so. They broke once again, and she shook her head slightly.
"Or we could keep doing that," she added. "I don't really mind."
Any response Squall would have made was cut off as a flash of light momentarily blinded them, and they both turned their heads toward the door opening onto the balcony.
"Ha!" Selphie shouted, pumping her fist in the air as Irvine held a fold-up cell phone in one hand. "I knew I bought that camera-phone for a good reason! Suck it, batteries!"
"Um," Squall began, his expression shifting to something between surprised and almost mortified. Rinoa's body shook against him as she laughed, and he started to calm down as she stepped back, out of his grasp, and threaded her fingers through his own.
"Well then, Commander," she remarked. "Shall we dance, or do I need to hypnotize you again?" Squall turned back to her, and managed another quiet, small smile.
"You've always had me hypnotized," he replied, and looped an arm around her shoulder. "I accept."
"Hey hey-heyheyey!" Zell Dincht said quickly and quietly as he hopped up onto the stage where the Garden band was playing, and had just finished up their most recent song, a fast-tempo boogie. The dancers out on the floor were breaking up, some going to get drinks or food, others finding new partners for their next dance. The brawler approached the leader of the band, and clapped a hand on his shoulder.
"Um," the SeeD began, to which Zell jabbed a finger into his face.
"Waltz for the Moon," Zell said simply and bluntly, and then gestured across the floor with his head, where Squall and Rinoa were walking out onto the stage. The SeeD blinked, and then nodded, understanding. Zell grinned, gave him a thumbs up, and hopped off the stage, and ran across the floor toward the food tables, his duty finished. The brawler began to grab some cookies, and turned around to see Quistis leaning against a pillar, watching the pair as they moved onto the floor.
"Yeah, I got things set up," he remarked as he walked up beside her, and Quistis nodded.
"Good," she replied, smiling. "They deserve this, you know."
"Absolutely," Zell replied, and then peered across the dance floor, before chewing up and swallowing the cookie he'd grabbed. "You need a partner, Quistis?" he added as he finished, to which she shook her head.
"I'm fine,' she answered with a smile. "You go have fun."
"Cool," Zell spoke, and as he did so, he spotted Selphie dragging Irvine onto the floor, the sharpshooter's hat atop her head. "I feel sorry for that poor bastard."
Squall and Rinoa moved onto the floor, and they waited for the music to start.
"I wonder what song they'll play," she remarked, and he shrugged, glanced across the floor. He spied Zell next to Quistis, and the brawler gave him a thumbs up and a grin stained by chocolate cookies, and he froze.
If he's making those guys play another metal song I will kill-
His mental threat ended as a light series of violins began, and the familiar tune sounded in his ears, bringing back a thousand memories of the last time he'd danced to this song. He blinked, and Zell's grin widened, if possible, as Selphie cheered in the background and Rinoa's grasp on his fingers tightened.
"Waltz for the Moon," she remarked, her voice echoing her happiness at the familiar song. "You remember?"
"I can't forget," he replied, turning toward her, and moved into a proper stance, one arm at the small of her back, and the other grasping her hand high.
As the brass and violins began to play the dance beat, they began the waltz, feet stepping in time. They twirled in synch, their feet and bodies part of a singular whole, a joined pair that flowed across the dance floor in harmony. As their legs weaved, their eyes never left each other, and both he and she knew where their next steps would take them, each leading the other into their parts of the waltz.
The song began to pick up, and they broke apart, holding one another's right hand high, stepping into each other's place, and rotating around one another. Their hands separated, and they spun, tracing movements around each other in perfect synch, closing in once again and drawing into a series of spins and steps in close.
The song suddenly began to slow, and right on cue, Squall and Rinoa drew close, bodies pressing against each other on the dance floor. He stared down into her eyes, and the lights dimmed, as they always did when this song was played at this intimate moment. Memories of the flash of fireworks played in his mind, and how she had slipped away while he was distracted, leaving him alone again.
He instinctively pulled her in close, not wanting that to happen again, and she smiled in the darkened light.
"I'm not running away this time," she said, and he nodded.
"I'm not letting you go Rinoa," he replied. "Stay close to me. I'll never let you go again." As he spoke, Squall wrapped his arms around her, embracing her tightly as he kissed her on the dance floor, as the couples continued their slow flow around them, celebrating life, love, and victory.
Squall raised his head groggily and peeked out the window.
He wasn't sure when he'd fallen asleep, and he wasn't sure what time it was as he started to wake back up. There was a faint sliver of sunlight on the horizon, turning the sky into a brightening gray and the ocean into a darkened silver sheet, meaning that it was probably getting early in the morning. However, that didn't concern Squall as he lowered his head, and slowly tightened his arms around Rinoa's stomach.
He could feel the warmth of her skin against his, and could smell the delicate scent that the sweat hadn't worked away. Squall softly exhaled and kissed her at the base of her jaw, and smiled as he nuzzled closer.
So many times he had nearly lost her. In Deling City, in the Garden battle, and in deep space. He remembered when Seifer had been torturing him, and one of the things that he had held on to was her face, even before he had understood his feelings for her. He remembered the chill of her comatose body, and hugged her a little closer, not wanting to let go of that blissful warmth. He remembered the final battle with Ultimecia, and how his rage at her loss had fueled his ultimate Limit against the dark Guardian Force of Griever.
He remembered her delving through time and saving him when despair had nearly killed him.
He had saved her so many times in the flesh, and she had saved him just as many times, if not more, in the spirit. Two souls, intertwined, their futures inextricably together.
"I know you said we didn't need to say it," he whispered, almost beneath the sound of her quiet, steady breathing. "But I need to say it anyway. Rinoa . . . I love you."
With those words, and the content memories of the previous night, the balcony, the dance, and afterward, Squall Leonhart slid back into a peaceful, silent slumber, his arms enfolding the woman he loved.
In his grasp, the young Sorceress cracked an eye open ever so slightly, and smiled contently.
"I love you too, Squall," she whispered.
See, Peptuck can write short, happy, non-violent, meaningless fluff! This is a simple one-shot I whipped up because I felt like it; takes place after the ending to The Gunblade Saga. Its a small, happy Christmas gift to my readers and all fans of Squall/Rinoa fluff. Hope you enjoyed it!