A/N: Whoo! My first FFVIII fanfic! I've been wanting to do one for soooooooo long. I actually planned to do an in-game one first, but this struck me suddenly. Basically, a few years after the game. Squall & Rinoa. Bit of Irvine & Selphie too. Innocent, sweet... fulfilling. (Hopefully)

A New Promise

As they had done every year on the anniversary of Ultimecia's defeat, the five SeeDs, plus Rinoa and Ellone, made their way to Edea's house to celebrate old times with the promise of the future. After things had returned to 'normal' as Cid had described it -at which point Zell would always blurt out: 'NORMAL? How can anything be normal again? Squall's SMILING. How less normal can you get?'- or at least, calmed down, Cid had had several SeeDs and students working on restoring the place. It had taken a long time, the house was very big and the damage very great, but eventually, over a year with breaks for the weather and holidays, it had been completed. Finished, and better than ever, just in time for the birth of the Kramers' first child, Mideon. Edea lived there all the time, it served as a sanctuary for passing strangers, another home for the children of Edea's ship. When he could (which seemed to be most of the time) Headmaster Cid resided there too. He usually left control of the garden to Quistis, and their seemed little doubt to anyone that when he took up early retirement (which he seemed likely to do) his job would fall to her.

Ellone spent a great deal of her time there too, caring for the children that happened to be there and helping to look after little Mideon, but she also spent a lot of time in Esthar, with Laguna Loire, or wherever he happened to be. She'd attempted to rope Squall into spending time with them too, but it was too late really. Not too late to get to know each other, but too late to be a great part in each other's lives. Squall had groan up, and he had other things to do with his time now… namely Rinoa. He accepted Laguna as his father, Ellone as his stepsister, but he'd gone passed the point of needing a family- after all, he had her.

All the family he needed... Squall twitched nervously.

Edea's son had been born just days after the first anniversary, and was now nearly three years old, and quite the troublemaker. Despite this, Squall refereed to him as 'a good, strong kid' in the same way one might refer to a younger brother. Although he had nothing to do with the old orphanage or the defeat of Ultimecia, Squall had no objection to seeing him every year, our every month, which was about how often he could spare to come visiting.

He was usually the first to arrive, but this time, he was a few minutes late. The nerves of what he was about to do were getting to him, and he'd been pacing around the airship in anticipation before finally summoning up the courage to join the warm, fiery glow of the party so close by. Selphie and Ellone had already arrived. Mideon was alive and wriggling out of Selphie's arms and making a dash for Squall's legs the moment he walked through the door.

"SQUALLIE!" He squealed energetically, grasping his left leg. "Squall-squall!"

Giggling, Selphie snuck up behind him and tried to pull him away with no avail. Squall looked amused.

"I don't get it, Squall." She smiled, "You never even liked kids. He's so attached to you."

Squall wanted to laugh and say he was fond of the kid too, and scoop him up in his arms and take him outside to kick a ball, but he was a high ranking SeeD now and rarely let himself relax, even amongst his friends. It was the one pretence they still allowed.

He looked down at Selphie, and her smile told him that his silence spoke on its own.

"He's obviously got good taste."

Squall, (with difficulty, due to Mideon still on his leg) turned around to see Rinoa in the doorway. She was clothed in a long blue dress with a black sequin shawl draped around her shoulders. As usual, she wore no fancy necklace, just the silver chain with his ring on. She looked amazing.

Squall hadn't actually seen Rinoa in two whole weeks. He'd been off on an important mission, and she'd been with her father in Deling City. He'd only just managed to return back to Balamb to change is clothes and get ready to come here. He'd stopped in Deling briefly on… business, though. Maybe he should have popped into see her. But she'd probably have left already. And he knew he'd see her tonight. Oh Hyne, what if she'd seen him there? He hoped she didn't think he'd been ignoring her. Ignoring her- what a laugh! That was the last thing on his mind.

"Rinoa-" He started.

Right on cue, Mideon took his arms off Squall's leg to cover his eyes. "Ehhh… smooching." He gagged. Selphie laughed quietly and pulled him away, leaving the couple on their own in the front parlour.

"Whoa…" Squall said as they broke away. "Er… I guess you're happy to see me?"

Rinoa laughed and snuggled down into his chest.

"No, silly. Of course I'm happy to see you! I was afraid you wouldn't make it."

"I wouldn't miss this." Squall said, stroking her hair, "Not for the world."

Rinoa looked up at him and smiled, then frowned. "Did you visit my father this morning?" She asked.

Squall nearly choked. "Er…no!" He said hastily. "I only got back last night… what would I be doing in Deling City?" He rubbed the back of his neck uncomfortably.

She shrugged. "Somebody thought they saw you, is all. No reason to get so worked up Squall!"

Squall tried to gulp down his nerves and hoped she couldn't read his guilty face. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door, and Zell and Irvine burst in.

"Yo! Squall! Rinoa! Miss anything?"

Squall tried to suppress a groan at his exuberance. "Party hasn't started yet."

"Well, not ours!" replied Zell, casting a suggestive glance at where Squall's hand was resting around Rinoa's middle.

"Why, hi there!" Irvine tipped his hat. Squall couldn't believe he'd kept it four whole years. "Where's Selphie?"

"IRVINE!" Selphie burst out of nowhere and knocked the cowboy to the ground. His hat flew off and landed on one of Edea's potted plants.

"Heya, Sefie." He drawled, and with that they began such a display that when Edea walked in, holding her son, she was forced to cover his eyes again, before rolling hers.

"You two haven't changed since you were children!" She sighed happily, with all the warmth of a mother, "You used to roll around on the ground then, too. Immediately, you didn't have your tongues wrapped together then…"

Giggling, the two of them slowly edged apart. Cid came in from the kitchen holding a bottle of champagne.

"Who are we waiting for?"

Ellone appeared at the bottom of the stairs. "I haven't heard Quistis arrive or- hey Squall!" She waved at him happily.

"Hi, Elle."

"Yeah, where is she?" Frowned Zell, "Couldn't find anyone to watch the school?"

"Like she'd miss this!" Said Selphie from Irvine's lap.

"You're right, I wouldn't." Quistis arrived from the back door. "Sorry. I was taking a stroll, lost track of time. Well? What are we waiting for? Let's party!"

It was such an unusual phrase from Quistis that even Squall had to stifle a laugh. Needless to say, Quistis did look in the party mood. She was wearing an extremely slimming pink silk dress which trailed along the floor and a faux jacket of brown fur. Squall assumed it was fake as he couldn't imagine Quistis –for all she was tough- ever dressing up in a dead animal. The anniversary get-together was regarded as 'the biggest small party of the year' and very dressed up for such a small gathering. Even Selphie was wearing a posh dress. Immediately, it was almost identical to her usual overalls with a poofy yellow skirt that stopped at the knees and a ribboned back, but it made a noticeable difference. Irvine was wearing a smart suede suit, and Zell and Squall were both in their SeeD uniforms, now pinned with medals.

There was a sharp popping sound followed by the trickling of champagne. "You heard the Instructor!" Laughed Cid, "Drinks, anyone?"

The party sped all too quickly on. To begin with they entertained themselves with talk of the passing year, idle chit-chat and racing around after Mideon. Eventually, after coaxing Squall to play some sort of battle game with him under the table, the little boy tired himself out and fell asleep in his lap.

"Aw, c'mon kid!" Squall groaned, "That one lil' game tire you out?" The boy said nothing, but snoozed on gently. Squall didn't have the heart to move him. "Huh. We'll make a SeeD out of you yet."

Ellone, who was hovering overhead, smiled.

"Has anyone seen Mideon?" Edea whispered, casting her glance about, "It's way passed his bedtime; he's probably hiding."

"Had anyone seen Squall?" Rinoa echoed, "He disappeared some time ago."

Ellone giggled quietly and pointed to the table. "I think they're both under there."

Edea pulled up the tablecloth and smiled and the adorable sight.

"Squall," she smiled softly, "Why didn't you bring him to me?"

Squall eyes didn't leave the sleeping child. "I didn't want to wake him," he sighed, "He looked so cute…" Suddenly, he straightened up. "I mean, er… it only just happened. By accident. I wasn't holding him or anything."

Edea laughed musically and lifted Mideon into her arms. "I'll put him to bed," she said. "By the way, Squall. Cid wanted your help in the kitchen."

As they walked off, Selphie bounced up behind Ellone. "Awwww! Wasn't that just the cutest thing you ever saw?"

"Yeah… Squall will make a great dad one day."

Rinoa coughed into her champagne so badly that Ellone had to pat her on the back. "Oh, come on, Rinoa! Don't tell me you weren't expecting it. Who else would ever be the mother of Squall's children?"

"Yeah, Rin. He's completely crazy about you."

"And you've been going out four years now… to the day!"

"He's avoiding me."

"What? Don't be ridiculous!" Ellone shrieked quietly. "Squall loves you. He wouldn't avoid you."

"He's been avoiding me all night. And he was in Deling this morning, I'm sure of it. He didn't even stop in to say hello. He even came to my house-"

"Why to your house?" Questioned Selphie.

"To speak to my father. Business, I suppose."

"Ah!" Said Ellone knowingly, "that's OK then. Don't worry, Rinoa, my little brother isn't going to dump you."

"Then what's-"

"And look at the time!" Ellone said suddenly, "I wonder where Cid is with that dinner! I better go see if I can help…"

Selphie looked at Rinoa quizzically.

"What does she know that we don't?"

"I don't-"

"Rinoa," Squall appeared at her arm, touching her elbow gently. "Can I- with you… outside for a moment?"

Rinoa frowned. "Er, OK." She mumbled worriedly.

"Don't be too long," warned Selphie, "Dinner's nearly ready."

Neither of them acknowledged her.

Squall pulled her clear of the house, far from the noise and light and into the field of flowers. All of Rinoa's fears instantly melted away. He wasn't going to dump her. How could he? Even Squall wasn't as insensitive to dump her in a place so special to them.

Squall looked at her for a second that contained an eternity, taking in every detail of her in a single glance. She stood in a pool of moonlight and rippled silk, her long dark hair cascading down her back. So little of her had change over the passed four years. Every curve, every smile, was just the same.

Squall knew he had changed a lot. That had worried him, at first, realising he wasn't the same person, but it hadn't taken him very long to understand that the same person had been inside of him all the time, and it was that person Rinoa and fallen in love with. She found him after he'd been hiding for so long.

Not much had happened in four years, not to them, anyway. The world had got slowly better, the garden had flourished, but his time spent with her had simply flown by. There had never been and never would be anyone else. He was twenty-one years old now, a man at last. He had money –more than enough to support them both. He was ready, and, he decided at last, had been for some time.

"Rinoa," he started, a little breathlessly, "I love you."

"I know you do," she tilted her head in confusion. "I love you too. But what's this about?"

"I know you think I've been avoiding you. But I haven't."

"Were you in Deling today?"

"Yes."

Rinoa readied herself to leave, but Squall caught her arm.

"I went to see your father." He explained.

"Why?" She froze in his grip, "Why didn't you just come to see me?"

"I went to see your father to ask for his permission to marry you!"

Rinoa spun round. In Squall's free hand was a pale blue diamond ring, glinting in the moonlight. There was no box, he'd pulled it right from his pocket.

"I hope I'm not pretentious, having the ring already, thinking you'll say yes and…" He stuttered, "I mean… oh, man. I mean, hell, I love you. I want to marry you. Will you? I mean, you know, marry me? Because I've thought about it a lot, for a long time. I'm… really no good with words. But I know that I'm never going to love anyone else as much as I love you. We've been together four years now, and I've never wanted anything else. You should know I probably should have done this years ago. But we were so young! I mean, we're not old now, but I can't wait any longer and-"

"Squall?"

"Yes?"

"Stop talking and let me say yes."

"OK. Wait- yes?"

"Yes!" Rinoa fell into Squall's arms and kissed him with such vigour and happiness she thought she would burst. Squall slipped the ring on her finger.

"I made you a promise, Rinoa Heartily, in this very place, just over four years ago." Squall smiled, gazing into her eyes. "Now, I'll make you a new one. I promise to stay with you till the very end, love you to the end of my life. I'll be your knight till the end of the world, protect you with my last breath. You'll never have to come here to find me… because I'm never letting you go."

A/N: And there it is. Simple stuff. Kind of a oneshot, but there's a follow-up story which makes sense on it's own... you know what comes after marriage, right? There's meant to be a wedding, but I'm going to skip it for the time being, straight to... well, read and guess!!

R&R please, I'm giving up my valuable revision time for you! Sniff-sniff You guys can make me so happy... don't you want to make me happy? I'll give you cookies...

Requests? Other pairings?